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A Human Episode With a Foreword


ISSUE:  Spring 1927

I

The African in America is and will be for centuries one of the baffling problems of this Republic. Some approach this problem with despair; some with passion; some with bewilderment; some with patience; some with hope. The doctrinaire and the controversalist have, perhaps, overdone this determining fact in the life of the South. Silence, vigilance, slow time, and a finer and truer technique in the study of all the social sciences, seem to be the truest prescriptions for this ancient racial ailment. Such policy, however, must be based upon the dual theories that there is but one thing to do with a human being and that thing is to give him a fair chance, and that it is also a very solemn duty to take care that the improvement and progress of backward peoples should not be permitted to come at the expense of higher and more advanced groups, nations, or races.

In the meantime, any aspect of the tangled situation that reveals the black man at his best, or the white man at his best, is of high value in keeping the problem human and seeing it whole and justly. Why is it that the old-time darkey is a sort of romantic heritage, more sacred, perhaps, to the South than elsewhere, but essentially a national heritage, a symbol of the better negro as known and interpreted to us through the better heart of the elder South? It is not alone, if at all, because the negro of the olden time was a better negro, but because the eye that beheld him was a kinder, friendlier eye, which discerned his fidelity, and used patience and magnanimity as becomes the higher group in appraising his qualities.

The old South, with its largeness and poise, has passed away. Not only in the South, but throughout the nation, a new democracy has formed. The old attributes of spirit do not obtain in this new democracy. This new order is alert and vigorous, and stands rightly on the granite base of racial unity and integrity; but it has not the assured power and leisure which gave to the elder age ability and inclination to behold and interpret handsome qualities and quiet virtues.

The Quarterly Review thinks that dignity, beauty, and noble good sense inhere in the two documents herein set forth, and esteems it a privilege to print them for the fineness they embody. These documents lose force by elaboration and labored elucidation. In stark simplicity and under the forms of bare legalism, they here tell a moving story in which is implicit the whole tragic impact of the two races past and present, and they also cause to shine out brightly the friendliness of the human heart and the brotherhood of men, whether high placed or lowly, rich or poor, black or white. James McAllister, negro drayman, and Williamson W. Fuller, scholar, gentleman, millionaire! “Somewhere behind the diverse currents of their lives flowed a single spring of feeling, kindness, taste, and beauty,” and because of that common source, hosts of other men catch clearer views of justice, gentleness, and good will.

II

North Carolina         Will
Cumberland County.

I, . . . William James McAlister, . . . do make this my last . . .

Will and Testament   :

1. —

I give, devise, bequeath my entire estate, real personal and mixed to my friend Mr. William W. Fuller, of New York.

I do this for the reason that I have no children, and my wife is dead, and Mr. Willie Fuller has always helped me when I needed it, and has been my nearest and best friend. My wife, now deceased, belonged to his father and mother; it was my pleasure to be near the family during and after the war, and the intimacy that sprang up then between me and Mr. Willie, then a small boy, has been continued through life. When I have been in trouble and needed either help or advice, I knew where to turn and Mr. Willie never failed me.

He may not ever need my little home, I pray not, but he will know better what to do with it than I; and, in this I want to show my appreciation for what he has done for me.

2. —

I nominate and appoint him, the said W. W. Fuller as executor of this my. last will and testament.

Witness my hand and seal in the City of Fayetteville, this May 4, 1921.

    his  
      William X James McAlister (Seal).
    mark  

Witness:
  E. R. McKethan.
  Jarvis D. Jones.
  D. B. Hedgpeth.

III

This Agreement, dated the 20th day of May, 1926, between Williamson W. Fuller, of Briarcliff Manor, New York, (hereinafter called “Donor”), party of the first part, and Frank H. Stedman, Edwin R. McKethan and William 0. Huske, all of Fayetteville, North Carolina, (hereinafter called “Trustees”), parties of the second part.

WITNESSETH:

Donor has simultaneously herewith assigned, set over, transferred and delivered, and doth by these presents, assign, set over, transfer and deliver to said Trustees and their successors Five thousand dollars ($5,000.) par value, of the 7% Preferred Stock of Bethlehem Steel Company, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, to have and to hold said shares of stock in trust as follows: Trustees shall collect the income and profits therefrom and shall, between the 20th and 30th days of December in each and every year, distribute or expend all such income and profits, including that now accrued, to, or for the benefit of, colored residents of Cross Creek Township, in the County of Cumberland in the State of North Carolina by delivering or paying to such of said colored residents as said Trustees may select all income and profits on said shares of stock then held by said Trustees, in such proportions or allotments, and in food, clothing, fuel, medicines or money, all as said Trustees may choose, whose judgment and action shall be final and conclusive.

The Trustees may sell, exchange and convey said shares of stock, or any part of them, if in their judgment it is desirable to do so, and must invest the proceeds of such sale or sales in securities approved by them, whether or not they be securities in which trustees are authorized by law to invest, and thereafter hold such substituted securities in trust as if they were originally deposited under the terms of this agreement. Donor shall have the right to deposit additional securities or property with said Trustees from time to time, on the trusts hereby created.

The securities, moneys and properties held by said Trustees hereunder shall be known as “The James McAllister Christmas Fund.” Upon the removal from Fayetteville, death, disability or resignation of any Trustee, the vacancy so caused shall be filled, as soon as convenient, by the remaining Trustee or Trustees. If any such vacancy shall not be so filled within sixty (60) days after it occurs, the same shall be filled by the appointment of a new Trustee by the Mayor of Fayetteville.

The Trustees shall serve without pay or compensation A human episode

and shall charge no expenses of any kind to said trust funds, except freight, express, telegraph, telephone and postage expenditures: they shall not be required to give any bond nor to keep any books of account nor to make reports to Donor or any other person, and their actions hereunder shall be final and conclusive on anybody and everybody.

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