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Color Problem in the United States
(By Daniel Murray, in Colored American Magazine.) The very interesting article in the November number, 1904, of Chamber's Magazine, London, by Mr. James Burnley, on "Color Problems in America," is exciting no end of comment and is well worthy of careful perusal. The settlement of two of them, the Chi nese by exclusion and the Indian by extermination, is interestingly discussed. The third is more complex and may not so easily be dis posed of. A fourth problem is looming up, and to my mind it is the basic problem, "The Mixed Blood Problem." In greatly in craesing numbers the newspapers of the South are discussing this phase and giving it more attention, probably recognizing that the mixed blood population in their several communities are their kin folks, and will never willingly accept a lower place in the social scale than is common to their fathers, brothers and sisters. The Augusta (ia.) Chronicle, in its issue of November Ist, 1904, has much to say out this line. Anent the invention of the cotton gin, a correspondent in a letter to one of the Boston evening papers having claimed the .same for a Negro and denying Eli Whitney's claim. The fact that I had given much attention to the history of the colored race, suggested an inquiry by letter to me as to the merits of the controversy. I was able to say Mr. Whitney's claim had been successfully defeated, and that the people of Georgia, very indignant over his attempted imposition of a royalty on them through claiming an invention not his own, mobbed him and com pelled him to nee for his life. I could not say that the credit of the invention belonged to Mrs. Nat Greene's slave, but I could say, Whitney who taught an academy and lived at her home was never able to establish conclusively his own claim, and that the state of. South Carolina refused to pay the $50,000 voted him when believing him the undisputed inventor. The Chronicle calls the whole a "vexed question," but denies the Negro's side on the score that no Negro has or could invent such a piece of mechanism. It says, a mixed blod by reason of the admixture could have done it, since many of them have shown intellectual force equal to any white man, and proceeds to differentiate. The editor doubtless never heard of Granville T. Woods, called the "black Edison," and his many improvements in connection with the telephone. For the last two weeks Washington and Macon, Ga., society has been in a nut ter of excitement over the announcement that Senor don Luis Corea, Nicaraguan minister, who is engaged to marry the wealthy Georgia widow, Mrs. Lee Jordon, is a quadroon. Here is the crux of the color problem. Mrs. Jordan in the face of all the testimony says to him, "I am ready, and will go to the end of the world with you.' The New York Journal. November 6th, 1904, under the heading, 'Love Triumphed," devotes a whole page to the case. If it be as claimed, Mrs. Jordan will have distinguished company. Natalie, wife of Prince Nicholas, of Warsaw is Pushkin's daughter, and their daughter is the wife of the Grand Duke Michael, cousin to the pres ent Czar, Nicholas 11. "11l South Carolina we recognize octoroons as white people." These are the exact words of Senator B. R. Tilhnan in the United States senate February 23d, 1903, in answer to Senator Spooner on the Indianola post office case. Had a different classification been urged it would have produced an awkward situation, since in Charleston, S. C, there stands today a statue of Henry Nimrod, the Souths greatest poet, who it is well known, was an octoroon. In the Macon ease the claim comes down to quadroon. The case of Vice-President Richard M. -Johnson is an interesting one on this color-line question, but the case of Thomas Jefferson is equally so and is thus described: Thomas Jefferson's Common-Law Wife and Two Octoroon Daugh ters. The New York Journal in the .rune 19th, 1904, issue, pulbished a double leaded article over the signature of the Hon. Thomas E. Wat son, of Georgia, in which he speaks of the loose lives of Washington* and Jefferson and their fondness for black women. By another author. Washington is said to have written a letter inviting Jeffer son to visit him at Mount Vernon, and says': "I have nothing par ticular to offer you as an inducement to make the journey, but I can provide as bed-mates for you what I trust will prove acceptable, as THE SEATTLE REPUBLICAN likely black wenches as can be found in the state of Virginia." Watson says Jefferson had many mulatto children. In support, we are able to cite the following: In the Anti-Slavery Reporter, Vol. I, London, 1853, page 265, will be found an account of the career of two quadroon girls, daughters of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and later governor of Virginia, and also president of the United States, — Clotel and Althesa, and their mother, known as Currer Graves. About —, the following advertisement appeared in a Rich mond, Va., paper: "Notice. —Thirty-eight slaves, the entire stock of the late John Graves, Esq., will be offered on Monday, November 10th, at 12 o'clock. They are all in good condition, some of them very prime; among them mechanics, field hands, plough-boys and women with children at breast, and very prolific in their generating qualities, affording a rare opportunity to any one who wishes to raise a strong and healthy lot of servants for their own use: Also several mu lattos and two quadroon girls of rare personal qualities, both of them very superior. Any lady or gentleman, Avishing to purchase, can take any of the above slaves on trial for a week for which time no charges will be made." The above commonplace notice, about the beginning of the nine teenth century, ordinarily excited little or no comment in the South, but behind this one there is a very interesting story, as follows: In September, 1782, Jefferson lost his wife, who had him promise her on her death bed, not to bring a step-mother to his home, and he in obedience kept his promise, but in part only. About 1803, when Jefferson assumed the presidency, he left a mulatto woman, a slave of John (Jraves, Esq., of Virginia, as housekeeper for his. home at Monticello, and by whom he had fathered two dauhgters, Clotel and Althesa. The elder, Clotel, when in her seventeenth year, attracted the attention of Horatio Green, Jr., the son of a wealthy gentleman of Richmond, Va., Green having met her at one of those balls common enough in the South, at which only white men, mu latto and quadron girls attend. Young Green had just returned from college, was twenty-two years of age, and purely sincere in his attachment to Clotel, who had just turned sixteen years and was regarded by all who had the good fortune to view her, as the most beautiful girl in Richmond, white or colored. About this time Mr. Graves died, and his property had to be sold to settle his estate. Jefferson could not do anything by way of re lief had he been so disposed, which is doubtful enough, since he was in financial straits which ultimately led to his selling his book to congress to gather the necessary means of living after retiring from the presidency. Thus were the common-law and dauhgters of Jef ferson brought to the auction block. Mr. Green was deeply in love and in the end proved faithful to Clotel and promised to buy her and give her freedom. The mother was first sold and brought a modest sum, and then her younger daughter Althesa, who brought $1,000, and then came the trial for Clotel. She was dressed in pure white. This was done in the hope that her appearance and inno cence might enhance the price obtained. The bidding was quite spirited from the very first, encouraged as the bidders were by the witty comments of the auctioneer. From one thousand, the bids slowly crept up until they reached fifteen hundred dollars, which was the price her lover promptly bid and paid. He would have gladly saved her the humiliation of the auction block but could not obtain a legal title in any other way. Thus ended the slave sale at which the common-law wife and two daugthers of a former president of the United States, weer sold to the highest bidder. Speaking of this and of Alexander Hamilton, as an octoroon, to ;i well-known newspaper writer, he told me of just such a mixture in the family of Thomas Butler King, who represented Georgia in the house of representatives from 1839 to 1843, and again from 1845 to 1849. He was a leading statesman in his day. He had in Washing ton as his common-law wife, a beautiful mulatto woman, who pre sided over his home and in every other respect was accorded the position of a wife. She bore him several children. Henry Lord Page, who was an aide-de-camp on the staff of General MeLaws, and who was killed at the battle of Fredericksburg, was their son, born in Georgia in 1831. Mr. King was born in Hanipden county, Mass., in 1804. and went to Georgia in 1823, when in his nineteenth year. There he contracted the connection previously mentioned, the cir cumstances and events of which made him famous in Washington, I). (\, society and gossip, and are still talked about today in Georgia. FRIDAY, DEC. 30, 1904.