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tion of the voting population and its adjuncts which control the local elections in this District ? With what complaisance the social elements of this capital fostered the brood of traitors who rushed hence to the service of the rebellion in 1861 ! Are these fruits of our errors pleasing ?
“I would not be vindictive, I would be just. I do not want to legislate against the white citizen for the purpose of advancing the interests of the colored citizen. It is best to guard against all such legislation. Let the laws which we pass here be of such pure republican character, that no person can tell from the reading of them what color is stamped upon the faces of the citizens of the United States. Let us have no class legislation, no class privileges. Let our laws be just and uniform in their operation. This is the smooth sea upon which our ship of state may sail; all others are tempestuous and uncertain.
“And now, Mr. Speaker, who are the persons upon whom this bill will operate, if we shall place it upon the statute-book of the nation? They are citizens of the United States and residents of the District of Columbia. It is true that many of them have black faces, but that is God's work, and he is wiser than we. Some of them have faces marked by colors uncertain; that is not God's fault. Those who hate black men most intensely can tell more than all others about this mixture of colors. But, mixed or black, they are citizens of this republic, and they have been, and are to-day, true and loyal to their Government; and this is vastly more than many of their contemners can claim for themselves. In this District a white skin was not the badge of loyalty, while a black skin was. No traitor breathed the air of this capital wearing a black skin. Through all the gradations of traitors, from Wirz to Jeff. Davis, criminal eyes beamed from white faces. Through all phases of treason, from the bold stroke of Lee upon the battle-field to the unnatural sympathy of those who lived within this District, but hated the sight of their country's flag, runs the blood which courses only under a white surface. While white men were fleeing from this city to join their fortunes with the rebel cause, the returning wave brought black faces in their stead. White enemies went out, black friends came in. As true as truth itself were these poor men to the cause of this imperiled nation. Wherever we have trusted them, they have been true. Why will we not deal justly by them? Why shall we not, in this District, where the first effective legislative blow fell upon slavery, declare that these suffering, patient, devoted friends of the republic shall have the power to protect their own rights by their own ballots? Is it because they are ignorant? Sir, we are estopped from that plea. It comes too late. We did not make this inquiry in regard to the whitè voter. It is only when we see a man with a dark skin that we think of ignorance. Let us not stand on this now in relation to this District. The fact itself is rapidly passing away, for there is no other part of the population of the District so diligent in the acquisition of knowledge as the colored portion. In spite of the difficulties placed in their pathway to knowledge by the white residents, the colored people, adults and children, are pressing steadily on.
“ Taken as a class, they surely show themselves possessed of enough of the leaven of thrift, education, morality, and religion to render it safe for us to make the experiment of impartial suffrage here. Let us make the trial. A failure can work no great harm, for to us belongs the power to make any change which the future may show to be necessary. How can we tell whether success or failure shall be the fruit of a practical application of the principles upon which our institutions rest, unless we put them to a fair test? Give every man a fair chance to show how well he can discharge the duties of fully recognized citizenship. This is the way to solve the problem, and in no other way can it be determined. That success will attend the experiment I do not doubt. Others believe the result will prove quite the reverse. Who is right and who wrong can be ascertained only by putting the two opinions to a practical test. The passage of this bill will furnish this test, and to that end I ask for it the favorable consideration of this house."
Mr. Boyer, of Pennsylvania, said: “The design of this bill is to inaugurate here, upon this most conspicuous stage, the first act of the new political drama which is intended to culminate in the complete political equality of the races and the establishment of negro suffrage throughout the States. Constitutional amendments with this view have been already introduced at both ends of the Capitol. The object of the leaders of this movement is no longer concealed ; and if there is any thing in their action to admire, it is the candor, courage, and ability with which they press their
The agitation is to go on until the question has been settled by the country, and it may as well be met here upon the threshold. The monstrous proposition is nothing less than the absorption into the body politic of the nation of a colored population equal to one-sixth of all the inhabitants of the country, as the census reports will show. Four millions of the population so to be amalgamated have been just set free from a servitude, the debasing influences of which have many a time been vividly depicted in the antislavery speeches of the very men who are the most prominent champions of this new political gospel.
“The argument in favor of the American negro's right to vote must be measured by his capacity to understand and his ability to use such right for the promotion of the public good. And that is the very
matter in dispute. But the point does not turn simply upon the inferiority of the negro race; for differences without inferiority may unfit one race for political or social assimilation with another, and render their fusion in the same government incompatible with the general welfare. It is, as I conceive, upon these principles that we must settle the question whether this is a white man's government.
“The negro has no history of civilization. From the earliest ages of recorded time he has ever been a savage or a slave. He has populated with teeming millions the vast extent of a: continent, but in no portion of it has he ever emerged from barbarism, and in no age or country has he ever established any other stable government than a despotism. But he is the most obedient and happy of slaves.
“Of all men, the negroes themselves are best contented with their situation. They are not the prime movers in the agitations which concern them. An examination of the tables of the last census will demonstrate that they do not attach much importance to political rights. It will be found that the free people of color are most numerous in some of those States which accord them the fewest political privileges; and in those States which have granted them the right of suffrage they seem to see but few attractions. In Maryland there were, in 1860, 83,942 free people of color; in Pennsylvania, 56,949; in Ohio, 36,673. In neither of those States were they voters. In the State of New York, where they could not vote except under a property qualification, which excluded the most of them, they numbered 49,005. But in Massachusetts, where they did then and do now vote, there were but
9,602. And in all New England, (except Connecticut, where they are not allowed to vote,) there were at the last census but 16,084. If the American negro, in his desire and capacity for self-government, bore any resemblance to the Caucasian, he would distinguish himself by emigration; and, spurning the soil which had enslaved his race, he would seek equality and independence in a more congenial clime. But the spirit of independence and hardy manhood which brought the Puritans to the shores of a New England wilderness he lacks. He will not even go to Massachusetts now, although, instead of a stormy ocean, his barrier is only an imaginary State line, and instead of a howling wilderness, he is invited to a land resounding with the myriad voices of the industrial arts, and instead of painted savages with uplifted tomahawks, he has reason to expect a crowd of male and female philanthropists, with beaming faces and outstretched hands, to welcome him and call "him brother. There will he find lecturers to prove his equality, and statesmen to claim him as an associate ruler in the land. If he cares for these things, or is fit for them, why does he linger outside upon the very borders of his political Eden? Why does he not enter into it—avoiding Connecticut in his route—and take possession? The fact is, that the fine political theories set up in his behalf are not in accordance with the natural instinct of the negro, which, in this particular, is truer than the philosophy of his white advisers.
“They are but superficial thinkers who imagine thąt the organic differences of races can be obliterated by the education of the schools. The qualities of races are perpetuated by descent, and are the result of historical influences reaching far back into the generations of the past. An educated negro is a negro still. The cunning of the chisel of a Canova could not make an enduring Corinthian column out of a block of anthracite; not because of its color, but on account of the structure of its substance. He might indeed, with infinite pains, give it the form, but he could not impart to it the strength and adhesion of particles required to enable it to brave the elements, and the temple it was made to support would soon crumble into ruin."
Mr. Schofield, of Pennsylvania, said: “The cheapest elevator and best moralizer for an oppressed and degraded class is to inspire them with self-respect, with the belief in the possibility of their elevation. Bestow the elective franchise upon the colored population of this District, and you awaken the hope and ambition of the whole race throughout the country. Hitherto punishment has been the only incentive to sobriety and industry furnished these people by American law. They were kept too low to feel disgrace, and reward was inconsistent with the theory of service owed. Let us try now the persuasive power of wages and protection. If colored suffrage is still considered an experiment, this District is a good place in which to try it. The same objections do not exist here that are urged on behalf of some of the States. Nó constitutional question intervenes. Here, at least, Congress is supreme. The law can be passed, and if it is found to be bad, a majority can repeal it. The colored race is too small in numbers here to endanger the supremacy of the white people, but large and loyal enough to counteract to some extent disloyal proclivities.
“Both the precept and practice of our fathers refute the allegation that this is exclusively a white man's government. If we can not now consent to so slight a recognition, as proposed by this bill, of the great underlying theory of our Government, as declared and practiced by our fathers, we are thrown back upon that new and monstrous doctrine, that the five millions of our colored population, and their posterity forever, have no rights that a white man is bound to respect.
“Who pronounces this crushing sentence ? The political South, And what is this South? The Southern master and his Northern minion. Have these people wronged the South ? Have they filled it with violence, outrage, and murder? No, sir; they are remarkably gentle, patient, and respectful. Have they despoiled its wealth or diminished its grandeur ? No, sir; their unpaid toil has made the material South. They removed the forests, cleared the fields, built the dwellings, churches, colleges, cities, highways, railroads, and canals. Why, then, does the South hate and persecute these people? Because it has wronged them. Injustice always hates its victim. They are forced to look to the North for justice. And what is the North? Not the latitude of frosts; not New England and the States that border on the lakes, the Mississippi, and the Pacific. The geographical is lost in the political meaning of the word. The North, in a political sense, means justice, liberty, and union, and in the order in which I have named them. Jefferson defined this North'