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During the decade ending in 1870 there was a slight increase in the colored population, but a decrease in the percentage. The whole population was 942,292, and the Negroes numbered 13,072, or one and one-third percent. By 1880 the number had increased to 19,663, which was a little in excess of one and a half per cent of the total population of 1,206,299. This was the period when the decline in the industrial opportunities of the Negroes in New York became very apparent. Nevertheless, they increased during the next decade in both numbers and in percentage of the whole. In 1890 the city's population was 1,515,301 and that of the Negroes 25,674, or one and seven-tenths per cent of the total. By this time there were few callings open to the men of the race, and the women who worked were chiefly employed in domestic service. But the increase up to the present year was steady, and the population now is estimated at 35,000. The census of this year puts the population of the borough of Manhattan (all of these figures have had to do with this borough and not with Greater New York) at 1,950,000, so the percentage is now slightly higher than it was ten years ago, having increased about one-tenth of one per cent. It will be seen from the figures given above that the Negroes in New York do not constitute a very considerable proportion of the population. The Irish, the Germans, the Italians, the Russians and even the Scandinavians outnumber them, in the order given, while they are about as numerous as the French. Why there should be any race feeling against such an insignificant element of the population seems superficially strange. It is quite true that the Irish seem to have a natural antipathy to the Negroes, but the other north-of-Europe races seem to have no natural feeling of repugnance and the Italians are quite devoid of it. The strangest thing about this strange problem is that so many native Americans should feel hostile—not actively hostile, but in sympathy with the lawless Negro-baiters. I heard many native Americans, even New Englanders, say after the riot that they would have been glad if many of the Negroes had been killed. Property is not rented to Negroes in New York until white people will no longer have it. Then rents are put up from thirty to fifty per cent, and Negroes are permitted to take a street or sometimes a neighborhood. There are really not many Negro sections, and all that exist are fearfully crowded. Nor are there good neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods. Into each all classes are compelled to go, and the virtuous and the vicious elbow each other in the closest kind of quarters. This is a great source of moral contagion, and vice spreads with great rapidity among the women of such quarters. During the day the decent men are at work. Then the vicious and the idle have full sway. If it were possible to make a census of the Negroes and go into this phase of their social condition I have no doubt that it would be found that more men of the race are idle and without visible means of support in proportion to the total number than in any other neighborhood in the world except those frankly given over to the criminal classes. The testimony of clergymen and other religious workers among the Negroes is to the effect that the harm done by this crowding is so serious that it is always threatening to undo the good work of the churches. This is very disheartening to the more intelligent among the Negroes, and they see no remedy so long as this dreadful overcrowding continues, One clergyman said to me that when he saw the dreadful discomforts of the places that Negroes in New York had to call home he could not in his heart blame them for drinking, if that mitigated the hardships of their unwholesome dwellings. The landlords undoubtedly treat the Negroes with very little kindness. They charge enormous rentals for very inferior houses and tenements, which yield more when the Negroes have taken possession than they did in time of seemingly greater prosperity. Of course Negroes in a neighborhood put a blight upon it, but the owners get a very large reward by reason of the higher rentals. Moreover, they make no repairs, and the property usually goes to rack and ruin. The Negroes are not responsible for this, even though they are the cause. I knew a Negro adventurer who took advantage of this prejudice against his people and made profit out of it. He would select a promising land-and-improvement scheme and through a white man would buy a lot. After a dozen houses had gone up, he would appear on the scene with a gang of Italians and begin digging a cellar. The neighbors, always interested in new improvements, would ask who was to build. "I am," the Negro would reply. "I am building a home for myself and family." In a little while there would be consternation in that neighborhood and the promoter of the scheme would be visited. His scheme would be ruined if the Negro persisted. The Negro would express great determination to go ahead. The in self-defense the promoter would buy him out at a handsome profit to the Negro. He did this half a dozen times in as many years, making in the aggregate a handsome profit. As a rule, however, the Negroes in New York are not beholden to the property owners for anything except discomfort and extortion. If they stay in New York, they are compelled to live in places where health, decency and privacy are all but impossible. Housed as they are, it is wonderful that they should be as good as they are; it is wonderful that they are not all entirely worthless. -J. G. SPEED
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