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American History Stories, Volume IV by  Mara L. Pratt

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A NEGRO'S ANSWER

[36] While the Union soldiers were in the slave States, the negroes, although most of them were at heart with the Union cause, had to be very careful what they said.

The answers, these negroes would make when asked which side they were on, were often very laughable. You see, there were so many spies around, that the poor negro never could be sure whether it was a Unionist or a Confederate that was talking with him. And he knew well enough that if he should make a mistake, and tell a Confederate he was a Unionist or if he should tell a Unionist he was a Confederate, he might be shot down.

One day, a gray-haired negro was seen perched on the top of a rail fence watching the soldiers with great interest. One soldier, thinking to have some fun, called out to him:

"Well, uncle, are you for the Confederates or the Yankees?"

A smile lit up his weather-beaten face, as he replied:

"Why, you see, massa, 'taint for an old nigger like me to know anything 'bout politics."

The soldier said rather sternly: "Well, sir, let me know which side you are on, any way."

The old man kept up his smile for a moment, and then putting on a grave look, which was, quite laughable, answered:

"I'm on de Lord's side, massa, and he'll work out his salvation; bress de Lord."


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