The book, ‘The Prostrate State: South Carolina Under Negro Government,’ was written by James Shepherd Pike. It was initially published in the year 1874. However, its reprint has been done in 2016. James Shepherd Pike, who was a veteran anti-slavery journalist in 1873, was sent to South Carolina as a reporter. He was then working under the New York Tribune as a report to provide a progressive report of state’s reconstruction government. During this period, James wrote some articles that were published in the New York. The articles were later combined to form a book titled, the prostrate state. According to James, the government of southern Carolina was politically corrupt, and there was intense public embezzlement of the public funds. The aim of this essay is to provide a comprehensive review of the chapter of the ‘The Prostrate State: South Carolina Under Negro Government.’
Summary of the Content
The chapter one of the book commences by providing a general view of the Columbia which is a capital city of southern Carolina. The city is located in the geographical center of the country. The environment is endowed with wild animals, shady residences, and nice conditions for driving and riding. However, during Christmas and New Year the country experienced extreme cold which made activities such as skating and sleighing. The author reports at the present continuous tense where he says, “Yesterday, about 4 p.m., the assembled wisdom of the state, whose achievements are illustrated on that theatre, issued forth from the state-house”. The crowd, therefore, represented a significant percentage of the elite population. The assembly was formed by individuals from African state. From the look of things, it seemed possible for the elegant looking men to crowd the market-house or a courthouse in a random manner.
The objective of every physiognomy and Negro was to present themselves for everyone to see them. They ranged from rough-hewn customer to genteel serving-man. The variedness’ of the dresses they wore extremely conspicuous. However, one can quickly identify the second-hand frock-coat and threadbare. Contrary, there was some disdain of modesties in the dirty garments used in the field. Those were mainly the slouch hats, and stub-jackets meant for soiling labor. It was nearly impossible to hide the old, torn trousers. The barren ground and the dusky roads are the principal representatives of the legislative boundary of South Carolina.
George McDuffie and Robert Y. Hayne was conspicuously placed in the scene. It was a clear indication of how dreadful the impact of slavery was. The view was terrifying. Jefferson tried to imagine the perspective southern revolutionary patriots who fought for justice. Those are the patriots whose main agenda was to alter the social setting from barbarism to a decent living free from slavery. A low-country planter seems astounded by the spectacle of the body of people marching down the street. The author consents that what had awaiting them in future was unclear and emancipated. As far as the Negros were concerned, it was easier to predict what will happen to them.
An experience earned through a period of 2000 years resulted in the civilization in South Carolina. The period was marked by a gradual change of a small portion of the white from a small beginning. The white later attained culture, wealth, refined and eventually civilization. The growth and development economic-wise made it possible for the whites to resist any foreign tyranny. The process of resistance occurred openly a situation which led to achieved liberty and independence. It is advisable to conclude that independence resulted from civil war whose participants were the statesmen and orators who represented the councils of the nation. Practically, the society had been remarkably reduced to nothing before independence. The civil war results in a complete change of things. The intelligent, the rich, the culture and the state wisdom had been reduced by a force that can be equated to a social volcano.
The traditional aristocratic society managed to tolerate the harshness of the ignorant democracy inherent in the human history. The government and its powers facilitated such forms of the ruling. The government is a portion of the population formed by assembling the intelligent predecessors who through corruption and ignorance have managed to exonerate the whole population. The rioting facilitated by the slaves have managed to influence and put the master under watch within his territorials. Practically, this is born out of malice and a need for vengeance. However, in the absence of vengeance, the issue of slave riot has minimal chances of occurring. A closer look at the situation indicates that the government is composed of the House of Representatives who are individually individuals of white origin. They are chosen on the bases that they are good looking citizens with great standing in the society.
There is conspicuous hostility toward the black who are practically the slaves and immigrants of South Carolina. The mass had been enfranchised to participate equally during the election period. Pauperism and ignorance had been cushioned by intelligent and wealth facilitated by a single act of the legislature. The race which could understand and internalize the public affairs and the private virtue was incomparable with barbarians. There was a significant change especially when their state of morality, property, and education are relatively compared with their past and current situation. When the Negron regained power and dominated the rest through certain methods, there occurred a scene of pillage, incompetency, and profligacy geared towards the English-speaking folks. The wealth was plundered by intelligence, ignorance, and pauperism of Americans.
There was a lack of pride among the Negro as far as their race and aspiration are concerned. This due to the fact the political power and civil rights had not been achieved yet. They were craving for social equality and its eventual results such as elusive privileges and intimate association among the society. The present government was obligated to provide equality through the promotion of peace or stoppage of slavery and discrimination.
Evaluation of the Book
The author of the book manages to provide a vivid account of what transpired in South Carolina in 1870s. The South Carolina, which was then known as the prostrate state is extricated to bring into to light the general behaviour of the Negro legislators. It presents the general insufficiency of decorum and a failure to manage public affairs effectively. The book was first published as some newspaper pieces hence its unclear how it came to be referred to like a book as far as history is concerned. The book creates a sense of authority to the reader due to the special choice of words.
Based on how the information presented by the author, it can be concluded that the selection of incidents and events depended entirely on the key arguments that author wanted to support. He blames the freedmen and the government for the failure to facilitate effective reconstruction. Also, the author seems to despise the government with much passion.
The book provides the historical flow of events about slavery, governance, and violation of human rights. Racism is well discussed in the book. The author manages to draw a bigger picture of how slavery was based on racism and how racism has endured into the contemporary world. Lack of education, ignorance, and poverty are the key issues that have been discussed throughout the book. The poor are always mistreated and oppressed by those in power and the rich. The slaves offered cheap labor to the rich. Society had achieved a state of capitalism where the gap between the have and have-nots continued to widen over time. This form of social setting is what makes James despise the ruling government and oppressors
In the first chapter, the author brings into perspective the general picture of slavery, poverty, and oppression perpetrated by the Negro legislators. The chapter elucidates the extra-ordinary bottom-up social set up. The preceding chapters lay down the historical events that occurred in South Carolina. Criticism of the white man and Negro legislature, inclusive of ignorance and poverty and the key issues inherent in the book. Hostility, immigration, and redemption are well described in the book.
However, what I like about this book is how the author manages to capture the general events that transpired during those ancient days. The experiences faced by the slaves and how they came to redeem themselves from slavery is mesmerizing. The reader can gain several lessons from the book that can be applied in the process of making decisions in the modern world. From the historical point of view, an individual can predict the present and the future. However, the relevant authority should consider changing the wording in the entire book to reflect the current Standard English language.
The book, ‘The Prostrate State: South Carolina Under Negro Government,’ is the work of James Shepherd Pike. James Shepherd Pike was a journalist who had been posted by the New York Tribune to South Carolina. The pike’s key responsibility was to collect, record and disseminate the information collected from The Prostrate State as accurately as possible. The information was later published in the newspaper to facilitate state’s reconstruction government.
The author of the book brings into clearly the events such as slavery that occurred before independence. He argues that slavery and oppression were perpetrated by those who were rich towards the illiterate, poor and underprivileged individuals in the society. Rebellion and riots facilitated by the slaves brought significant changes to the general life of Negros. There was a stiff conflict between the white and the black in terms superiority and intellectualism. The black felt inferior in the face of the white man who felt superior. The most conspicuous theme in the book is slavery accompanied by ignorance, education, and oppression. The book is therefore essential in examining the black government during the reconstruction period, and historians can learn from the events described in the book.
This book is about the dominantly Black government in South Carolina during the early period of Reconstruction and is a valuable aid for historians wanting to see what was in the minds of some people at that time. This book is about the dominantly Black government in South Carolina during the early period of Reconstruction and is a valuable aid for historians wanting to see what was in the minds of some people at that time.
Pike, J. S. (1874). The Prostrate State: South Carolina under Negro Government.
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- The Prostrate State: South Carolina under Negro Government