We are reprinting this essay in honor both of the hundredth anniversary of the publication of The Souls of Black Folks, and the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of this article in the April 1953 issue of Monthly Review—the Editors. How "free" was the black freedman in 1863? He had no clothes, no home, tools, or land. Thaddeus Stevens begged the government to give him a bit of the land which his blood had fertilized for 244 years. The nation refused. Frederick Douglass and Charles Sumner asked for the Negro the right to vote. The nation yielded because only Negro votes could force the white South to conform to the demands of Big Business in tariff legislation and debt control. This accomplished, the nation took away the Negro's vote, and the vote of most poor whites went with it.
This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full.