NEGRO

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NEGRO (Latin niger, black); a race or variety of the human species deriving' their name from one of their most striking characteristics, their black color; called, also, the Ethiopic race. (See Man.) Their native region seems to be the. central portion of Africa, though some tribes of the negro variety have been found in America and the South Sea islands. The negro formation prevails in Western Africa in the region of the Gambia and Senegal; extending southwards, is most strongly marked in Guinea, and passes gradually oyer into the Caffre (q. v.) and Hottentot (q. v.) formation. In Eastern Africa, it commences to the south of Abyssinia; prevails in Zanguebar and Monomotapa, though not in general pure. Of the tribes in the more central part of Africa little m known. (See Nigritia.) The beat of the climate, in all these regions, may have some effect upon the tint of the skin, but is by no means the only or the principal cause of the black color, since, under the same climates of the torrid zone, there are found all shades of complexion. White men in Africa only become somewhat swarthier, but never black, even in a succession of generations, unless they intermingle with the negroes ; and blacks, in other regions and climates, are not found to lose their native hue. The seat of the black color is the rete mucosum, and the external surface of the true skin (cutis),; and when the rete mucosum is destroyed,, as by disease, &c. (see Albinos), the color is lost: so, in parts of the body, where the epidermis is unusually thick. (the palms of the hand and the soles of the feet), it is of a lighter shade. Negroes are also distinguished from the other races by other external, and by some anatomical peculiarities, particularly in the conformation of the cranium. The projection of the whole visage in advance of the forehead ; the prolongation of the upper and lower jaws; the small facial angle (see Face); the flatness of the forehead, and of the hinder part of the head (occiput), and the compression in the direction of the temples, allowing less space for the brain than in some other varieties; the woolly, frizzled hair; the short, broad and flat nose; the thick, projecting lips, with many other peculiarities of formation, constitute some of the characteristics of the negro or Ethiopic race. The African tribes of this variety have, in general, elevated themselves so far above the simple state of nature, as to have reduced the lower animals to subjection, constructed settled habitations, practised a rude agriculture, and manufactured some articles of clothing or ornament. In political institutions they have made no advance, their governments being simple despotisms, without any regular organization, Their religion is merely the instinctive expression of the religious feeling, inks lowest form of fetichism. (See:Fetich,) Their languages are described as extremely rude and imperfect; almost destitute or construction, and incapable of expressing abt stractions. They have no art of conveying thoughts or events by writing, not even by the simplest symbolical .characters. The negro character, if inferior in intellectual vigor, is marked by ,a,warmth of social .affections, and a kindness and tenderness of feeling, which even the atrocities of foreign oppression have not been ableto stifle. . All travellers concur in de scribing the negro as mild, amiable, sim pie, hospitable, unsuspecting and faithful. They are passionately fond of music, and they express their hopes and fears in extemporary effusions of song. The opinion formerly maintained, that they were of an inferior variety of animals, would not now find an advocate, or a convert, even in the ignorance or the worst passions of the whites. Whether they are capable of reaching to the same height of intellectual cultivation as the Europeans, is a question which we need more facts to decide. (See Civilization.) The most eloquent defender of the negroes is the abbe Gregoire (q. v.), in his work De la Litterature des JYegres, ou Recherches sur leurs Facultes intellectuelles, leurs Qualites morales, &c. (See the articles Africa, Physiology, Philology, Slavery, &c.)