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But she was not insane ; she was a woman. A man may be reasoned and beaten out of a false opinion, but a woman never. She will not yield to logic, not even to the logic of events. Thus it happens that, while the male secessionists at the South have frankly given up their cause, the female secessionists still cling to it with provoking tenacity. To appeal to their intelligence is idle ; but they are vulnerable on the side of the sentiments; and many a one has been authentically converted from the heresy of state rights by some handsome Federal officer, who judiciously mingled love with loyalty in his speech, and pleaded for the union of hands as well as the union of States.
“ DESTITUTE RATION” TICKETS.
FEEDING THE DESTITUTE.
As I was passing Castle Thunder, I observed, besieging the doors of the United States Commissary, on the opposite side of the street, a hungry-looking, haggard crowd, — sicklyfaced women, jaundiced old men, and children in rags; with here and there a seedy gentleman who had seen better days, or a stately female in faded apparel, which, like her refined manners, betrayed the aristocratic lady whom the war had reduced to want.
These were the destitute of the city, thronging to receive alms from the government. The regular rations, issued at a counter to which each was admitted in his or her turn, consisted of salt-fish and hard-tack; but I noticed that to some tea and sugar were dealt out. All were provided with tickets previously issued to them by the Relief Commission. One tall, sallow woman requested me to read her ticket, and tell her if it was a “No. 2."
“ They telled me it was, whar I got it, but I like to be shore."
I assured her that it was truly a “No. 2," and asked why it was preferable to another.
“ This is the kind they ishy to sick folks ; it allows tea and sugar," she replied, wrapping it around her skinny finger.
Colored people were not permitted to draw “ destitute rations” for themselves at the same place with the whites. There were a good many colored servants in the crowd, however, drawing for their mistresses, who remained at home, too ill or too proud to come in person and present their tickets.
At the place where “ destitute rations” were issued to the blacks, business appeared very dull. I inquired the reason of it, and learned this astonishing fact.
The colored population crowded into Richmond at that time equalled the white population, being estimated by some as high as twenty-five thousand. Of the whites, over two THOUSAND were at that time receiving support from the gove ernment. The number of blacks receiving such support was less than two hundred..
How is this discrepancy to be accounted for?
Of the freedmen's willingness to work under right conditions there can be no question. It is true, they do not show a disposition to continue to serve their former masters for nothing, or at starvation prices. And many of them had a notion that lands were to be given them ; for lands had been promised them. At the same time, where they have a show of a chance for themselves, they generally go to work, and manifest a commendable pride in supporting themselves and their families. Until he does that, the negro does not consider that he is fully free. He has no prejudice against labor, as so many of the whites have. We must give slavery the credit of having done thus much for him: it has bred him up to habits of temperance and industry. Notwithstanding the example of the superior race, which he naturally emulates, he has not yet taken to drink; and his industry, instead of being checked, has received an impulse by emancipation. Now that he has inducements to exert himself, he proceeds to his task with an alacrity which he never showed when driven to it by the whip.
Another thing must be taken into account. His feeling for those who have liberated him is that of unbounded gratitude. He is ashamed to ask alms of the government which has already done so much for him. No case was known in Richmond of his obtaining destitute rations under false pretences ; but in many instances, as I learned, he had preferred to suffer want rather than apply for aid.
The reverse of all this may be said of a large class of whites.