And at the fag-end of the procession was a long double file of the proudest,
happiest scoundrels I saw yesterday--niggers. Or perhaps I should say "them
damned niggers," which is the other name they go by now. They did all it
was in their power to do, poor devils, to modify the prominence of the contrast
between black and white faces which seems so hateful to their white fellow-creatures,
by putting their lightest colored darkies in the front rank, then glooming down
by some unaggravating and nicely graduated shades of darkness to the fell and
dismal blackness of undefiled and unalloyed niggerdom in the remote extremity
of the procession. It was a fine stroke of strategy--the day was dusty and no
man could tell where the white folks left off and the niggers began. The "damned
naygurs"--this is another descriptive title which has been conferred upon
them by a class of our fellow-citizens who persist, in the most short-sighted
manner, in being on bad terms with them in the face of the fact that they have
got to sing with them in heaven or scorch with them in hell some day in the
most familiar and sociable way, and on a footing of most perfect equality.
- "Mark Twain on the Colored Man," Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, July 1865
The idea of making negroes citizens of the United States was startling and
disagreeable to me, but I have become reconciled to it; and being reconciled
to it, and the ice being broken and the principle established, I am ready now
for all comers. The idea of seeing a Chinaman a citizen of the United States
would have been almost appalling to me a few years ago, but I suppose I can
live through it now.
- "The Treaty with China," New York Tribune, August 4, 1868, p. 1-2.
| ...on every sin which a colored man commits,
the just white man must make a considerable discount, because of the colored
man's antecedents. The heirs of slavery cannot with any sort of justice,
be required to be as clear and straight and upright as the heirs of ancient
freedom. And besides, whenever a colored man commits an unright action,
upon his head is the guilt of only about one tenth of it, and upon your
heads and mine and the rest of the white race lies fairly and justly the
other nine tenths of the guilt.
- Letter to Karl Gerhardt, May 1, 1883 reprinted in Selected Writings of an American Skeptic, Victor Doyno
The people that's always the most anxious for to hang a nigger that hain't
done just right, is always the very ones that ain't the most anxious to
pay for him when they've got their satisfaction out of him.
Sam Clemens and John T. Lewis
Mrs. Clemens has said a bright thing. A drop letter came to me asking me to
lecture here for a Baptist church debt. I began to rage as usual over the exceedingly
cool wording of the request, when Mrs. Clemens said "I think I know that
church; & if so, this preacher is a colored man--he doesn't know how to
write a polished letter--how should he?"
My manner changed so suddenly & so radically that Mrs. C. said: "I will give you a motto, & it will be useful to you if you will adopt it: "Consider every man colored till he is proved white."
It is dern good I think.
- Letter to William Dean Howells, September 17, 1884
I was a playmate to all the niggers, preferring their society to that of the elect, I being a person of low-down tastes from the start, notwithstanding my high birth, and ever ready to forsake the communion of high souls if I could strike anything nearer my grade.
- "Jane Lampton Clemens"
I do not believe I would very cheerfully help a white student who would ask
a benevolence of a stranger, but I do not feel so about the other color. We
have ground the manhood out of them, & the shame is ours, not theirs, &
we should pay for it.
- Letter to Francis Wayland, December 24, 1885
Even if the Jews have not all been geniuses, their general average of intelligence
and intellectuality is far above our general average--and that is one of our
reasons for wishing to drive them out of the higher forms of business and the
professions. It is the swollen envy of pigmy minds--meanness, injustice. In
the case of the Negro it is of course very different. The majority of us do
not like his features, or his color, and we forget to notice that his heart
is often a damned sight better than ours.
- quoted by Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch in My Husband Gabrilowitsch
Our Civil War was a blot on our history, but not as great a blot as the buying
and selling of Negro souls.
- quoted by Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch in letter to New York Herald Tribune, November 19, 1941
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