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“A11 are raised and borne
This cycle of industrial glory and regeneration, broadening like a golden river through the South, is assisting, with resistless power, the coming change. When the South was practically stationary in its development, when the planter waited for the rain to distil its drops into the cotton and the grain to imprison the gold of the sunshine, political anomalies, comparatively speaking, were unimportant. To-day the old South is being resurrected in a new form and exceeding glory. New peoples are clasping our hands, and, as bone of our bone, we are bidding them welcome to the dear land. Millions of dollars start the music of the machine and the engine. Mills are distilling their cloudy incense over our increasing fields. New cities lift their towering walls to the glory of our prosperity. Golden genii rise from the dark mines of the earth and hold out to us their offerings of commercial greatness. Our waterfalls are enthralled to add to our fulness, and the unerring winds of modern commerce have filled our harbors with the ships of the world.
The first demand of this industrial regeneration is the absolute settlement of political complexities. Its demand is even now insistent and we cannot, if we would, longer deny its potential request. The State which does so delay will not march abreast with its fellows in the industrial progress. This demand is as absolute and certain as any condition which ever touched a commercial and industrial existence. Then arises the crucial question, how can we remove our political complexities, give the Negro his franchise, and preserve the Constitution and at the same time not imperil our civilization? I reply that it seems to me by far the best to adopt an honest and inflexible educational and property basis administered fairly for black and white. By this method the white race controls the States he has created, and this control is based upon the eternal foundations of the law and the Constitution. I crave your indulgence for a short time whilst I discuss this idea of an educational and property franchise, not in any detail, but in some of its higher and more general aspects. It appeals to the elements most needed in good citizenship. It will cultivate the desire for the acquisition of property and of education; and whilst attaining these two great ends of good government it will accomplish the immediate purpose for which we are striving, the settling and composing of our anomalous system of franchise. All of us hail the day of highest intelligence in those who control the government. Ignorance is the bottom of our woe. With the Negro made intelligent he is no longer dangerous to the State. He is no longer prey to the demagogue. With this system walks education with its uplifting and splendid effect upon the people. It is a necessary and vitalizing concomitant of the restricted franchise. This plan will not destroy the so essential self-respect of the Negro. It will allow him, through the open door, to see the play of the brightest light which touches the brow of any man, the splendid sun of American citizenship. He can grasp it, if he wishes it, without delay or wrong. It is his if he complies with the law, whose equal and fair provisions compel him to be a better citizen of his country, and a more intelligent and potent factor in his place. I believe that it would be an incentive to the acquisition of intelligence which could be attained so quickly in no other manner. He will no longer be the mere flotsam and jetsam of politics. My experience of political affairs is that as the Negro becomes intelligent so surely does he become a higher voting element, owing allegiance to no party as a mere matter of course. More than this, the adoption of this plan will bring to the South a fair, quick, and honest trial of the question of the Negro franchise. It will bring it in a manner which will cause no apprehension in the minds of any fair citizen. The question of Negro franchise has never yet been fairly tried. Let us a moment discuss this question. It is most important. The objection has been strenuously made against the adoption of a fair franchise system that we cannot safely proceed in the change. Is this a fair objection? I reiterate, sir, that it is not. Will the civilization of the South be affected or impaired? Will the Negro vote overwhelm that of the white? Is there necessity for the appeal to the law of the Higher Defence 2 An investigation of the status of the franchise shows that after the adoption of an intelligence and property basis the political control of the South will be entirely under the domination of the white man. A fair intelligence basis will practically produce the same result. An intelligence and property basis will give numerical control to the white man entirely in every State, congressional district, and, with only few exceptions, in every county in the South. There is no shadow of suspicion that this fair franchise amendment will again give the Negroes control of the South. Day by day, even the spectre of such contention disappears before the industrial growth of the South. Within the last few years from every country is seen the line of immigration into the South. Along our roads, in the streets of our cities, over our once quiet fields, is heard the tramp of the thousands of feet of those coming amongst us for the occupation of their lives. Further, the white man is increasing in a far greater ratio than the Negro. Aye, sir, we appeal to the populations as they stand to-day, and, with all of the earnestness demanded by the importance of the question, I ask, how can ten millions of comparatively ignorant Negroes overwhelm the civilization of twenty millions of white people with the intelligence of all the centuries behind them? Let us be fair, Mr. Chairman. Let us look the facts squarely in the face, and not listen to our prejudices and our fears without foundation for either. I am reminded that we have once drunk of a bitter cup; that we have tried the Negro franchise; that upon the consideration of a fair franchise there arises before us the horrid phantasmagoria of the Reconstruction. Sir, every intelligent man, submitting himself to the calm, cold light of reason, must admit the absolute change of circumstances between then and now. There is no need for argument on this proposition. Consider yourself the status of affairs at that day, and you must admit that the Negro franchise was not fairly tried. The South prostrated, the boom of the cannon yet reverberating over the land, passions inflamed, men yet wearing the blue and the gray, the sword not yet turned into the scythe and the pruning-hook, the fields unploughed except by the furrow of war, your State government in the hands of your then enemy, your citizens disfranchised, with bound hands, standing about the ruins of their homes, the Negro only five years out of slavery and a citizen, I ask you, Mr. Chairman, in all fairness, are not the conditions changed as no conditions have ever been changed in any country within that period of time? Under this impartial view, I earnestly urge that no fair-minded man can say that a fair franchise in the South will bring back the days of Negro rule or the horrors of Reconstruction. A careful investigation of the figures by Mr. Gannet,