The Negro and the Northern White Laborer

September 5, 1866


Accusing the Freedmen's Bureau and by extension the Radical Republicans of forcing the freedmen to leave the south due to poor race relations and seek refuge in the north. Suggesting that this mass exodus will harm the northern white laborer, specifically miners and mechanics, more than anyone else because the freedmen will be taking many of their jobs.


The Negro and the Northern White Laborer. One inevitable consequence of the war of races in the South which the Freedmen's Bureau and those lying Radical emissaries are engendering, is to force the negro to seek a new home. He cannot live in the midst of a people who he is made to believe are his worst enemies; but he will lean to those who at least seem to be sympathizing with him: those who tell him he has rights which are denied him, and that he is entitled to comfortable quarters and equality, which the southern whites are determined he shall not enjoy. He will lean upon these friends and advocates who are so zealous in his behalf. He will desire to go to the liberal and philanthropic communities from which come these warm-hearted philanthropists, feeling assured that in that land he will enjoy the comfort and equality which he is told by its citizens he is entitled to. This is natural and inevitable. And what have we seen pertinent to this view? We have seen agents here endeavoring to induce able-bodied negro men to go with them to the northern land of equal rights and fair dealing for them. The negro is promised there to take his place with the mechanic, and miner, and farm-laborer, at good wages. He is assured that he will be treated as an equal, with all the consideration which belongs to him "as a man and a brother." Let not the northern mechanic who is now endeavoring to improve his own position by shortening his hours of labor, and by other regulations, suppose that he is not to be interfered with by the negro. There are in this region a plenty of excellent negro miners and mechanics of different kinds. The inevitable tendency of radicalism is to carry them North, not only to find that equality which the Radicals tell them they are entitled to, but to become competitors with miners, mechanics, and laborers; to increase the supply of labor and check the progress of those measures resorted to elevate and enlighten the mechanic. Some have already been carried off who now are in the market competing with the man who was taught to call his "white brother." It is thus seen that the principles and the policy and efforts of the Radicals are not to be confined to the South, where they are intended especially to work mischief and disorder. They will react upon the North and subject the northern people as well as ourselves to the deplorable consequences.
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Nat Berry




“The Negro and the Northern White Laborer,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed July 17, 2018,