SHADOW and LIGHT
WITH REMINISCENCES OF THE LAST AND PRESENT CENTURY.
MIFFLIN WISTAR GIBBS
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
A Fatherless Boy, Carpenter and Contractor, Anti-Slavery Lecturer, Merchant, Railroad Builder, Superintendent of Mine, Attorney-at-Law, County Attorney, Municipal Judge Register of United States Lands, Receiver of Public Monies for U. S., United States Consul to Madagascar—Prominent Race Leaders, etc.
Washington, D. C.
During the late years abroad, while reading the biographies of distinguished men who had been benefactors, the thought occurred that I had had a varied career, though not as fruitful or as deserving of renown as these characters, and differing as to status and aim. Yet the portrayal might be of benefit to those who, eager for advancement, are willing to be laborious students to attain worthy ends.
I have aimed to give an added interest to the narrative by embellishing its pages with portraits of men who have gained distinction in various fields, who need only to be seen to present the career of those now living as worthy models, and the record of the dead, who left the world the better for having lived. To enjoy a life prominent and prolonged is a desire as natural as worthy, and there have been those who sought to extend its duration by nostrums and drinking-waters said to bestow the virtue of "perpetual life." But if "to live in hearts we leave behind is not to die," to be worthy of such memorial we must have done or said something that blessed the living or benefited coming generations. Hence autobiography is the record, for "books are as tombstones made by the living, but destined soon to remind us of the dead."
Trusting that any absence of literary merit will not impair the author's cherished design to "impart a moral," should he fail to "adorn a tale."
Little Rock, Ark., January, 1902.
By BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
It is seldom that one man, even if he has lived as long as Judge M. W. Gibbs is able to record his impressions of so many widely separated parts of the earth's surface as Judge Gibbs can, or to recall personal experiences in so many important occurrences.
Born in Philadelphia, and living there when that city—almost on the border line between slavery and freedom—was the scene of some of the most stirring incidents in the abolition agitation, he was able as a free colored youth, going to Maryland to work, to see and judge of the condition of the slaves in that State. Some of the most dramatic operations of the famous "Underground Railroad" came under his personal observation. He enjoyed the rare privilege of being associated in labor for the race with that man of sainted memory, the Hon. Frederick Douglass. He met and heard many of the most notable men and women who labored to secure the freedom of the Negro. As a resident of California in the exciting years which immediately followed the discovery of gold, he watched the development of lawlessness there and its results. A few years later he went to British Columbia to live, when that colony was practically an unknown country. Returning to the United States, he was a witness to the exciting events connected with the years of Reconstruction in Florida, and an active participant in the events of that period in the State of Arkansas. At one time and another he has met many of the men who have been prominent in the direction of the affairs of both the great political parties of the country. In more recent years he has been able to see something of life in Europe, and in his official capacity as United States Consul to Tamatave, Madagascar, adjoining Africa, has resided for some time in that far-off and strange land.
It would be difficult for any man who has had all these experiences not to be entertaining when he tells of them. Judge Gibbs has written an interesting book.
Interspersed with the author's recollections and descriptions are various conclusions, as when he says: "Labor to make yourself as indispensable as possible in all your relations with the dominant race, and color will cut less figure in your upward grade."
"Vice is ever destructive; ignorance ever a victim, and poverty ever defenseless."
"Only as we increase in property will our political barometer rise."
It is significant to find one who has seen so much of the world as Judge Gibbs has, saying, as he does: "With travel somewhat extensive and diversified, and with residence in tropical latitudes of Negro origin, I have a decided conviction, despite the crucial test to which he has been subjected in the past, and the present disadvantages under which he labors, that nowhere is the promise along all the lines of opportunity brighter for the American Negro than here in the land of his nativity."
I bespeak for the book a careful reading by those who are interested in the history of the Negro in America, and in his present and future.
CHAPTER I 3
Parents, School and Teacher—Foundation of the Negroes' Mechanical Knowledge—First Brick A. M. E. Church—Bishop Allen—Olive Cemetery—Harriet Smith Home—"Underground Railroad"—Incidents on the Road—William and Ellen Craft—William Box Brown.
CHAPTER II 15
Nat Turner's Insurrection—Experience on a Maryland Plantation—First Street Cars in Philadelphia—Anti-Slavery Meetings—Amusing Incidents—Opposition of Negro Churches—Kossuth Celebration, and the Unwelcome Guest.
CHAPTER III 29
Cinguez, the Hero of Armistead Captives—The Threshold of Man's Estate—My First Lecturing Tour with Frederic Douglass—His "Life and Times"—Pen Picture of George William Curtis of Ante-Bellum Conditions—Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lucretia Mott, and Frances E. Harper, a Noble Band of Women—"Go Do Some Great Thing"—Journey to California—Incidents at Panama.
CHAPTER IV 40
Arrival at San Francisco—Getting Domiciled and