Short History of the American Negro - Benjamin Brawley
This book, written by a dean of Morehouse College, provides a brief history of negroes in America beginning with the first incidences of slavery in the American colonies and ending with an analysis of the state of the American negro in the early 20th century. The stories of several important negro leaders are given, and the politics of slavery, emancipation, and reconstruction efforts in the south are discussed.
This study of the history of the American Negro endeavors simply to set forth the main facts about the subject that one might wish to know, and to supply in some measure the historical background for much that one reads to-day in newspapers and magazines. The book presupposes only an elementary knowledge of American history, but it does presuppose so much. The principle has been adhered to throughout that institutions are greater than men; hence little chronicle of individual achievement has been attempted, individuals being mentioned generally only when they had to do with significant movements. From the nature of the discussion the treatment could hardly be primarily original, and frequent citation is made to the conclusions of investigators along special lines. At the same time it is hoped that in more than one instance the presentation will be found to be substantially new. It has been the aim to deal with different phases of the life of the Negro—political, economic, social, religious, cultural—with some degree of proportion; but because of the great importance of education since the Civil War, special attention may not unnaturally seem to be given to this featwe. For a more intimate expression of some social phases of the subject than is here attempted, such books as Mr. Baker's "Following the Colour Line "and Dr. Washington's "The Story of the Negro "should be read.
It is perhaps only when one enters upon such a study as this that he realizes how valuable are the investigations of Dr. W. E. B. DuBois in this field. For the earlier years the thesis, "The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade," is really indispensable; and one of the chapters is largely based on the Atlanta University publication, "The Negro Church." In a similar way is another chapter based upon the valuable study by Dr. R. R. Wright, Jr., entitled "Self-Help in Negro Education." The last chapter is naturally much indebted to my own publication, "The Negro in Literature and Art."
The composition of the book has been a pleasant task because of the sympathetic interest it has awakened. If I should here set down the names of all those who have assisted me by conversation, by letter, or otherwise, the list would be a long one. There are a few persons, however, to whom my thanks are more than ordinarily due; but no one whom I may mention is in any way responsible for any statement herein contained, unless he is directly quoted. Of the Department of History of the University of. Chicago, Professor Shepardson has given me some valuable suggestions; Dr. Jernegan will recognize my indebtedness to him more than once; and Professor Dodd, with his accustomed generosity, has taken unusual time and pains in helping me to arrive at accurate conclusions. Mr. Henry E. Baker, of the United States Patent Office, the authority on the subject of Negro inventors, has helped me greatly in his special field. Mr. Emmett J. Scott; of Tuskegee Institute and more recently of the War Department, has kindly assisted on special points; while any student of the subject must now be indebted to the good work that is being done by the Journal of Negro History. For helpful criticism I feel grateful to my colleagues at Morehouse College and Howard University, while to my father, Rev. E. M. Brawley, I am indebted for aid so various and so freely given that space fails me either to record the instances or to enumerate the kinds.
Since the first edition of this book was issued in 1913 great and wonderful changes have taken place in the life of the Negro people of the United States. More than half a million of them have changed their place of work and residence, while four hundred thou-sand men have taken part in the greatest war in history. In sending forth the revised edition of the book I am reminded once more of the sense of co-operation that has come to me from teachers who have found the work useful as a text, and I wish them all joy as they further pursue their task of directing the youth of the race to noble ideals.