South Needs Immigrant Labor
The antebellum North received the bulk of immigrants from Europe. The immigrants avoided the South as blacks trained (by white craftsmen) in skills and trades dominated the labor force. All this changed after the war as the black labor force mistook freedom for indolence and vagrancy, and Southern white farmers sought more dependable labor from abroad.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute  
South Needs Immigrant Labor:
“Since the first settlement of this country the great need of the South has been men. We want settlers, honest, industrious, home-seeking immigrants, and I do not believe any country can offer inducements greater than those presented by the South. We expect hundreds of thousands in the next few years from less favored sections of the Union, but we want also high-class foreigners. The Negro in the South has been our chief reliance for hired labor, but they are yearly becoming more uncertain and unreliable and worthless.
Slavery was the greatest manual, moral and intellectual training school for a weak and depraved race that history has ever known. Before the war the Negro was the main agricultural laborer. There were four million slaves, probably half of them laborers. At the same time were engaged in agricultural labor 803,052 white laborers and 215,968 white laborers in the other occupations of the South.
The Negro in slavery was kindly treated. His great pecuniary value, rising from $1000 to $1,800 just before the war, was in itself a bond for the “best moral and material care” and he was devoted to his master. History presents no parallel to his fidelity during the Civil War, as it was necessary for the enemy actually to occupy our territory before the slaves could be persuaded to leave their masters.
Since the war the South has spent hundreds of millions upon asylums, hospitals and schools for them. The average young Negro is indisposed to labor, indolent, thievish and inclined to be insolent, and as the older heads of the race die out it seems that we must be forced to substitute other laborers for them. The South is the Negro’s best friend. When he remains with us, observes the unwritten law of the land and is willing to labor for a living, we welcome him.”
(Annual Agricultural Resources and Opportunities of the South, J. Bryan Grimes, Farmers’ National Congress speech, 1901, pp. 15-16)