Imágenes de páginas

the various branches of knowledge. Examine them in the progress of their various studies. Then, casting aside all prejudice of color, tell us if they have not capacity to understand and appreciate the principles which lie at the foundation of a truly Republican government. The loyal heart of the nation is fully aroused to the importance of educating the race morally, intellectually, civilly, and politically. The great defender of human liberty, Abraham Lincoln, says in a letter to Governor Hahn, “I congratulate you on having fixed your name in history as the first Free State Governor of Louisiana. Now, as you are about to have a Convention, which, among other things, will possibly define the elective franchise, I barely suggest to you whether some of the colored people may not be let in, as, for instance, the intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks. They would probably help in some trying time to keep the jewel of liberty in the family of Freedom.” President Johnson said on this question of negro suf. frage, “Were I in Tennessee, I would introduce negro suffrage, gradually, first to those who had served in the army, those who could read and write, and perhaps a qualification to others.” The voices of patriots all over the land are proclaiming that freedom and the right of suffrage are inseparable. It has become a historical fact that stands out boldly upon American records that the black men of this country have vindicated this Government, and “cemented its soundation stones with their blood.” Shall we then resuse them support to maintain the laws 2 Can we say, in justice, they shall not become citizens 2 The voice of liberty in thunder tones which shakes despotisms and make oppressors tremble, says, “Freedom means universal rights, universal justice.” That voice has been always speaking, not only in our own country, but through the patriots, statesmen, poets, and philanthropists of other nations. England has proclaimed universal liberty and human rights, through her Wilberforce, her Locke, her Pitt, her Shakspeare, and her Milton. Ireland, through her O’Connell, her Father Mathew, and her Curran, speaks loudly for the precious boon of liberty. Germany —freedom-loving Germany—sends forth her sweetest notes of freedom through her Schiller, Luther, and Humboldt. France breathed the pure, immortal flame of liberty from the fires which burst from the noble heart of Tafayette, whose pulse throbbed with that of our own Washington, as they struggled together for human rights. Italy boasts of her Garibaldi-thousands of voices chant the strains of liberty at the mention of that name associated forever with freedom. In our own beloved land, the combined voices of millions may be heard speaking for universal freedom, universal justice. Through our martyred Lincoln, our living Johnson, our Banks, our Butler, and hundreds of others we speak. Louisiana has her Durant, her Hahn, and many others who are raising their voices in favor of humanity and universal suffrage, Can the sneers and scoffs of the enemies of freedom— the hiss of Copperheads, or the combined powers of any despotism silence this voice? Never ? Ideas do not travel backwards. This voice of Freedom is now awakening those who have been fighting in the ranks of treason and rebellion. The Stephenses, Bells and Reagans of the “so-called Confederacy”—have recently had the

penetration to discover “the truth,” that freedom pointed to the right of suffrage. Who knows but we may live to see the rebels who have gone to Brazil, in the hopes of finding slavery, return with the conviction that equal rights, republicanism and democracy are better than slavery and oppression. God has given human beings reason and energy, and man has no right to chain that reason and energy by oppressive laws, or in any way prevent the exercise of those rights, which in equity belong to all. Kossuth, in reviewing the rights of man, exclaims, “Liberty is Liberty, as God is God.” The adoption of the constitutional amendment has extirpated slavery from our country. God grant that all things pertaining to its unjust laws, or to its spirit may also be extirpated. The rebel Legislature have recently made laws in direct opposition to the Constitutional amendment, which reads: ” Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party has been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” These Legislatures also, true to their slaveocratic instincts, ignore by their acts the self-evident truth that man has an inherent right to enjoy civil, religious and political liberty. There is not on earth a Republic but this that legislates the rights of man away. No nation but this disfranchises freedmen because of their color or race. In slaveholding Brazil they do not go so far as do the enemies of negro suffrage in this country. In Brazil, freedmen, regardless of color, are equal before the law, and eligible to any office. In the British West Indies, the

blacks were sent to the Republican Chamber of Deputies, as representatives. And yet, in what nation, we ask, have they fought for liberty as they have in our Tevolutionary war, in the war of 1812, and in our recent great struggle for freedom? In regard to political rights, we do not as a nation stand on the same broad basis as did our revolutionary fathers. Washington, Jefferson, IIancock, and Hamilton, went to the polls and deposited their ballots where the negroes did theirs. These revolutionary patriots advocated the cause of equal rights, and maintained the rights of all freedmen to the ballot box. The black man voted under Washington’s, Adams,' Madison's, and Jackson's administrations. In five of the New England States they have been voting ever since the revolutionary war. In Pennsylvania they continued to vote until 1838. In Maryland and Virginia they voted until 1832. In New Jersey until 1839; and in North Carolinia and Tennessee until 1835. Negroes, after fighting in New Orleans under Jackson, helped to elect the hero to Congress. “The black people of this country have been ardently and universally loyal, and ever ready to fight against the anti-democratic and anti-republican principles which despots have sought to establish in this Republic. They are Americans by birth, and love freedom with an undying love which they instinctively know is destined for all Americans. “At New Orleans, Mobile, and other cities, how did they spend the fourth of July, 1865? Was not American freedom honored by them 2 Was not the memory of Abraham Lincoln glorified by this grateful people 2 On that day the black men of this nation proved themselves worthy to assist in carrying out the principles inculcated by the Declaration of Independence. They proved on that day the right to demand the same freedom the white man claims. “The negro wants no protection but just and equitable laws. He only asks, in the spirit of 1776, to be enfranchised from the thraldom of oppression. He knows as well as we do that distinctions growing out of color or race are incompatible with justice. This is an age of progress not only for the white man, but for the black IIl:UIl. “The black man is becoming intelligent, and looks upon the enemies of liberty just as the intelligent white man looks upon slavery, serfdom, vagrant acts, oppressions and wrongs, as all just men do. He knows that the nation imperatively demands cqual rights and justice, and he believes, with us, that this demand will be satisfied. He exclaims with the friends of equal rights, ‘Let there be freedom for all, education for all, labor for all !? Justice demands this, and nothing else will be satisfactory. “We want no more Opelousas ordinance, which prohibits freedmen from coming to town without special permission : which prohibits them liberty on the streets after ten o’clock at night; which declares that freemen shall not reside within the limits of the town, unless they be in the regular service of some white person or former master; which refuses freemen the right to hold public meetings, to preach, or to carry arms; which refuses them the liberty to barter, or to sell goods, without

« AnteriorContinuar »