The Incoming White Population
April 17, 1868
White foreigners and other white citizens will gravitate toward Virginia and her untapped potential and natural resources. The Dispatch clarifies that black and white citizens behave very differently. The white laborer demands order and is able to improve while the black man is still stuck in a barbarous state. This fact alone makes white citizens even more valuable than any black citizen.
The Incoming White Population. There ought to be no doubt that a large white population will be introduced into Virginia in a few years. The attractions of climate, soil, mineral wealth, waterpower, admirable outlets to the greatest markets, and the social character of her white population, must draw into Virginia a large part of the tide of immigration into this country. Besides the new-comers from across the Atlantic, we shall have accessions from both the northern and southern States. The northern people are too sagacious not to discover the fine field for speculation that Virginia affords, and the difficulties in the way of restoration to order and thrift that prevail in the southern States will cause many of their citizens, especially those who were born in Virginia, to turn their footsteps in search of occupation and security in this State. So that a few years-a very few-will make a great revolution in our condition. This inflowing tide may be increased or diminished as our measures and domestic arrangements are wise or injudicious. Virginians must not forget the difference that exists between the white and the black man. The white race has been elevating itself steadily in the scale of civilization from the dim period of the barbarous ages to the present time. The black race, save in a state of slavery, has not improved one jot or tittle since it was first discovered by the whites. There is a distinct difference in the dispositions and habits of white and black laborers, growing out of their constitutional organization. The white man requires more of order and the systematized comforts of home than the black. The latter cannot be drilled into system. He would leave the most comfortable bed and go to sleep on a plank, with his feet roasting at the fire, which he will keep burning all night. He will eat his hog and hominy in the chimney-corner rather than be annoyed with the discomforts of a table and its simple order. The customs that have prevailed in the South in the lodging and feeding of the negro grew out of his own unalterable nature. The white man is a different being. To provide for him will be less expensive than providing for the negro; but he must be lodged and fed in a different manner. He must have the table and the bed. He must be comfortable; and will not be content unless he is. Unless he is content, he will leave. His labor is more economical than black labor; he is more orderly and provident, and will take better care of what is put in his keeping; and his year's labor will average better-i. e., in districts adapted to his health and energy. The Virginia farmer who expects to employ the white laborer ought to prepare to provide for them as white laborers. It will be a great mistake to import them before this preparation is made. This done, and the proper economy in farming operations adopted, tillage will become neater and far more thrifty than it has been in Virginia. There will be less waste, less idleness, and more gain. As the time passes with this system, its advantages and conveniences will rapidly increase. The farming community will find largely increased supplies of labor in the families of the smaller class of farmers-those who have their fifty and a hundred acres who will be ready for the periods of heavy work of seeding and harvesting, and work by the day or week during the emergency. In a short time labor will be abundant, and so systematized that farming will prosper, and its results be more than ever compensating. This condition of agricultural industry must be brought, about in Virginia sooner or later, but by a perfect study of the subject and proper efforts amongst the people it may be greatly hastened.
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“The Incoming White Population,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 19, 2019, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/986.