Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

fight not against the logic of events or the de- it will settle everything connected with this crees of Providence. I expected it, sir, and question. Give the freedman the ballot, and I meet it half way. I am for universal suf- we need no Freedmen's Bureau, we need no frage. I bid it "all hail!" "all hail 199 military régime, we need no vast expenditures,

Four million people set free! What will pro- we need no standing army. The ballot will be tect them? The ballot. What alone will give || his standing army. The ballot is the cheap us a peaceful and harmonious South? The and impregnable fortress of liberty. I may be ballot to all. What will quench the fires of dis- | pardoned for quoting the oft-quoted stanza: cord, give us back all the States, a restored

" There is a weapon surer yet Union, and make us one people?' The ballot,

And better than the bayonet; and that alone. Is there no other way? None

A weapon that comes down as still

As snow-flakes fall upon the sod, oth r under the sun. There is no other sal

And executes a freeman's will vation,

As lightning does the will of God; Senators, go to the country with it. Write it

A weapon that no bolts nor locks

Can barmit is the ballot-box." upon the sky. Inscribe it Inscribe it upon your banners,

The ballot will lead the freedman over the and hang them on the outer walls. It is the flaming symbol of victory. Sir, tell me not that Red sea of our troubles. It will be the brazen "the people will vote us down on this propo

serpent, upon which he can look and live. It sition." Address that argument to cowards.

will be his,pillar of cloud by day and his pillar “With the free and the brave it avails nothing.'

of fire by night. It will lead him to Pisgah's You give the white rebel the right to tax the | shining height, and across Jordan's stormy loyal freedman, and to impose whatever bur- waves, to Canaan's fair and happy land. Sir,

the ballot is the freedman's Moses. So far as dens he pleases upon him, and you call that freedom.

man is concerned, I might say that. Mr. LinLiberty without equality is no boon. · Talk

coln was the Moses of the freedman; but whonot to me of civil without political emancipa

ever shall be the truest friend of human freetion! It is the technical pleading of the law

dom, whoever shall write his name highest upon yer; it is not the enlarged view of the states

the horizon of public vision as the friend of man. If a man has no vote for the men and human liberty, that man-and I hope it

may the measures which tax himself, his family and

be the present President of the United States his property and all which determine his repu

will be the Joshua to lead the people into the

land of deliverance. tation, that man is still a slave. You say that the citizen may have all his rights, to testify in

Mr. President, there is one clause of the Concourts, to enforce contracts, to acquire and dis- stitution which I confess, when I commenced pose of property; but he shall not have his most examining the Constitution to find this power essential right, the right to vote, because, you

in favor of equality, seemed to me an objection say, the right to vote is not a natural or a civil

to the exercise of power which I have proposed, right, but a political right. Suppose that is

and that is this clause in section two, article one: true : what of it? It is a distinction without a “The House of Representatives shall be composed

of members chosen every second year by the people difference. It is a special plea, and too narrow

of the several States, and the electors in each State for statesmanship. The only way to give effect shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of to your constitutional amendment--the only the most numerous branch of the State Legislature. practical way—is to exercise the power which If there was any force in that provision of you have to secure every right, natural, civil, || the Constitution before the present amendpolitical, to all the people.

ment was adopted, there is none now. If the I here positively deny that we can give effect States could exclude an elector or any citizen to the constitutional amendment giving free- from the right of suffrage before the adoption dom to the slave, and yet debar him of the only of the amendment, they cannot do so now, and weapon with which he can protect himself in || why? Because the amendment being the last that freedom. Emancipation, in the light of our clause inserted in the Constitution, repeals every Government, means not only the breaking of former clause in conflict with it. It is the subthe chains of slavery, not only destroying the sequent organic act of the people, and by the status of the slave, but it means conferring upon | adoption of this amendment every freedman him every right which every American citizen becomes one of the people, a citizen of the enjoys. The legislation which secures the bal- United States, and no Legislature has any lot is the only appropriate” legislation. Your power to disfranchise him. It has the right to Freedmen's Bureaus are well enough as a tem- regulate the qualifications of whom? Of electporary measure;, but if you will give the freed- ors; of those men who have a right to vote; of man the ballot, he needs no such law. Give those men who do vote. It can restrict them by him equality in fact, the law will follow. The certain limitations and qualifications. But does laws as they are for all other persons will be the word "regulate' imply a power to destroy, all he needs. Give him the ballot, and he will or does it mean to preserve? The word "regbecome an identified element in society, and | ulate means to make rules. Its derivation is the politicians who now jeer and deride him, || from the Latin word regula, a rule. It is to prewho point to his infirmities, will pander to scribe qualifications for the citizens, for those him, and he will become self-sustaining, who are entitled to vote, but there is no power

Sir, the ballot will finish the negro question ; l' whatever to destroy the rights of a citizen or

ment.

to disfranchise a citizen; and though the freed- often been the case; a white man is declared a man might have been disfranchised before the slave and he becomes free, is there any power in amendment, because not then a citizen, he is the State of Maine orany other State in this Union now a citizen by the operation of the amend- to disfranchise him, to take away from him en: ment, and there is no power in the State to tirely the right of suffrage? You will answer, no. disfranchise him.

Well, sir, does the tinge of complexion alter Mr. Clay, when he contended that Congress, || the inalienable, the intrinsic, the inherent, the under the power in the Constitution "to regu- God-given rights of the American citizen? I late commerce” among the severalStates, “had || admit that the States may prescribe qualificathe right and the power to build up commerce, tions, not to destroy but to preserve the elective to establish lines of steamers between this franchise of the freeman. There may be regiscountry and foreign countries, and to build try laws to protect the purity of the ballot and railroads between the several 'States,” never to prevent frauds; the minor under twenty. claimed that under that poweróto regulate com- one years of age may be excluded. In the very merce” Congress had a right to destroy com- nature of things there must be a period of mamerce. And there was one universal opinion jority affixed to infancy; but do you deprive that among the Democratic party that the word minor of the right to vote altogether? No, sir. 6 regulate” simply meant to prescribe the rules Dormitur aliquando jus, moritur nunquam'' and regulations by which commerce already in the right may sleep, but it dies never;"' existence should be carried on. This clause But there is another point in this article one, means that the States shall determine, not who section two, to which I desire to call attention. shall vote, but when, how, and where the elect- Observe that the clause reads: ors shall vote, and that it may determine the "The House of Representatives," &c., “shall be time and place and manner in which they shall chosen every second year by the people of the several

States." vote, and impose restrictions, not disfranchise

Now, who are the people of the several States? I can make this question plain to any one. Are they not the whole people? If there are I ask the Senator from Oregon whether the || any people in the several States not included in Legislature of the State of Oregon can ever this clause, who are they? But Judge Taney disfranchise him-can ever deprive him of his says that people and citizens are synonymous. God-given right of suffrage? "I ask the Sena- And it has been universally understood that the tor from Minnesota whether there is any power people of the States means all male citizens in that State to deprive me of the right of fran- thereof over twenty-one years of age. There chise if I remove there? Is there any power is no limitation in the words of the Constitution, to deprive any of my descendants of that right? | and there can have been,none, if by the people Is there any power to deprive any of the people ll that formed the Constitution was meant the of the United States of that right? If the power whole people of all the States, granting the exists, and it can exclude me, may it not ex- exception as to the subject race according clude one half or three fourths of the people, to the Dred Scott decision. But that excepand leave the governing power in the hands of tion no longer existing, then the words peoan oligarchy?

ple of the several States " must and do mean I ask you whether the State of South Caro- | the whole people thereof, minors and women lina can have a provision that no Yankee shall | excepted. vote in that State? If they could, they would Mr. President, I had intended, in the course adopt it with a will and a vengeance. Can any of these remarks, to present my views against State in this Union decide that no German shall || that class of legislation which is designed to exercise the right of suffrage? I very much secure what is called intelligent suffrage. I doubt the constitutionality of the law of Mas- shall not now argue the point, but will merely sachusetts, which says that the German shall say that I am unalterably opposed to any legisnot vote until he can read the English language, llation whatever which shall determine the rights because that may amount to a virtual disfran- of the citizen by any test of wealth, intelligence, chisement of some. I can say that it would l birth, or rank. I wish to say to my Repubbe a very inexpedient law anyhow, for some lican Union friends that whenever they admit of the best voting that is done in this country that principle, the test of intelligence, they is pure unadulterated German. Suppose that admit away their argument. If we prescribe Brigham Young should organize a sort of im- l intelligence for the negro and not for the white perium in imperio in Utah, and after that State man, it is unequal, it is class legislation. That was admitted into the Union the Legislature || is not the shibboleth of equality of rights for should decide that none but disciples of the all, which you have been crying. Well, if we Mormon faith should vote, or, as all tests of ll apply it to all who cannot read or write, we religion are excluded by the Constitution, sup- exclude a large portion of our fellow-citizens pose that State were to decide that no man who who have always since the foundation of the had not two wives should be allowed the right Government, for eighty-five years past, exer: of suffrage, would it not be the duty of Con- cised the right of suffrage, and exercised it gress to interfere and protect the right of the well. ' Why now exclude them? Why, to reach citizens who may go into that State ?

the case of the poor freeman, and in order to I will ask another question. Suppose, as has inflict a tyrannous and barbarous restriction

upon him, exclude those who for eighty-five | Have any of these Senators who propose to years have exercised the right of suffrage, and prescribe a qualification of intelligence ever exercised it well? Sir, such a proposition as that thought of amending the naturalization laws, cannot obtain five votes in any western Legis- so as to require from foreigners that they should lature. The party which commits itself to an read and write? exclusion of those men, who for eighty-five Sir, the masses may err, but it is not to their years have exercised this inestimable right of | interest to err. If they do err, they are always freemen, is already doomed, and ought to be ready to correct the mistakes which passion and doomed forever

prejudice have brought upon them. But how is I am not opposed to intelligence. I believe it with an aristocracy? Look at this mournful that intelligence and virture are the rock-bound | illustration; look at the rebellion of the edufoundations of our national prosperity and our cated slave oligarchy of the South; look at the national perpetuity, But if the success of our devastations of the bloody war which resulted institutions depends more upon the one than from that rebellion. History, upon many a dark the other-and I think they are inseparable for and bloody page, gives sad and mournful evithis purpose--it depends more on virtue. The dence that the limitation of the powers of Gov. poorloyal slave of the South was more religious | ernment to the educated oligarchy or to an and more loyal than his slave-master; and almost individual has resulted in wicked machinations as intelligent, perhaps, as the mass of the whites | against the welfare of the people, in the decay themselves. While I believe it might possibly of empire, in bloody wars, leaving fearful be safe for the country to permit all to vote, I do devastations in the track of time. not think it would be safe for the country to Why, sir, I will say that there has been in exclude either class altogether, or any large | all time no usurpation, no conspiracy against mass of the people.

the rights of the freemen, except upon the speI believe in the foundation theories of our cious plea of superior intelligence in the usurper Government, that there is more intelligence or conspirators. We shall have to risk someand more virtue in all the people than in any | thing. So we shall, sir, and we must trust that part of the people. That is the doctrine for one ignorant force will counterpoise another which I contend. I contend that the strong in the future as it has in the past. common sense of the populace of America is a But, sir, if we prescribe intelligence as a safe element in this Government.

guide, what grade of intelligence shall we have? The ballot is the greatest educator. Let a When we propose to say that a man who can man have an interest in the Government, a barely read and write shall vote, suppose I move voice as to the men and measures by which his to amend your proposition, adding that the man taxes, his property, his life, and his reputation who understands English grammar and the shall be determined, and there will be a stimu- ground rules of arithmetic alone shall vote; lus to education for that man.

suppose I move to amend by saying that he As the elective franchise has been extended shall have a liberal common-school education; in this country we have seen education become suppose I move to amend by saying that he more universal. Look throughout all our north- shall have graduated with academic honors. ern States at our schools and colleges, our acad- Sir, that is the argument ad absurdum. The emies of learning, our associations; the pulpit, only safe rule is to extend the franchise to all, the press, and the numerous agencies for the that all the virtue, all the intelligence, all the promotion of intelligence, all the inevitable off- practical common sense, all the wisdom, and spring of our free institutions. Here is the high all the learning of all the people shall be emtraining which inspires the eloquence of the ployed in the administration of the affairs of senate, the wisdom of the cabinet, the address the Governmenti I admit that there are restricof the diplomatist, and which has developed tions which, as I have said, are inevitable; they and brought to light that intelligent and ener- must be continued, and must be made appligetic mind which has elevated the character and cable to all. They are the mere regulation of contributed to the prosperity of the country. It || the suffrage. is the ballot which is the stimulus to improve- I was never a “Native American," although ment, which fires the heart of youthful ambition, much of the foreign yote was cast against the old which stimulates honorable aspiration, which | Whig party to which I belonged; but I am like penetrates the thick shades of the forest, and the noble old Senator from Ohio [Mr. Wade] takes the poor rail-splitter by the hand and when he said, "I am willing to give to every points him to the shining height of human man every right that I possess, and if by achievement, or which goes into the log hut of | meritorious endeavor, if by playing well my the tailor boy and opens to him the avenue to part, if by developing any moral and intellecthe presidential mansion.

tual faculties, I can attain to a higher position There will be risk, it is said, in so much ig- of eminence than he, then give me credit for norance in the body of electors. Has there not || it; but to what praise am I entitled if my sualways been risk? Will there not always be | perior fortune is the result of exclusive privirisk in every democratic Government? Has | leges which I deny to my unfortunate fellownot Europe poured annually her millions into citizens? our borders, some of whom cannot read or write, I wish it distinctly understood that in all I and some of whom cannot speak our language Il have said here I am no one-idea, man. I never

n

had "negro on the brain.” [Laughter.] I it is adjusted upon the principle of justice and always fight with the people and for the people. equality. I never belonged to the Wendell Phillips or Sir, I can see now plainly the beginning of Gerritt Smith party. I do not say this from

want the end. I now see the apotheosis of that living of respect forthem, for they were noble pioneers principle which fled the persecutions of the Old in the cause of human liberty; but I am for the World; which sought a home amidst the sterile black man, not as a black man; I am for the rocks of New England; which remonstrated white man; not as a white man, but I am for man against taxation without representation; which irrespective of race or color; I am for God's | exhibited its opposition to class legislation upon humanity here, elsewhere, and everywhere. the bloody field of Bunker Hill, and which

Sir, Mr. Lincoln never said so beautiful a finally culminated in the greatest and most thing in all his life, according to my judgment, as majestic and dominant idea of the world-the when he said, “In giving freedom to the slave Declaration of American Independence. we assure freedom to the free." If we would Sir, I am a man of the people; twenty-five preserve freedom for ourselves and our poster- years of public service make me believe that I ity, let us see to it that all are free, that there understand something of the temper and dispoare no warring, wrangling, discordant races or sition of the people; and I am here to-day to classes out of which is to grow a future conflict

say that it is my conscientious conviction that of races, future war, and final disunion. if every Senator on this floor and every Repre

My distinguished friend on my left, [Mr. sentative in the other House and the President Davis,] the compeer of Mr. Clay and Mr. Crit- of the United States should with united voices tenden, for whom I have such' high respect, || attempt to oppose this grand consummation of quoted from numerous authors to show that the universal equality, they will fail. It is too late freedmen belonged to an inferior race, to which || for that. You may go to the head waters of I refer for this reason: if the Senator from Ken- the Mississippi and turn off the little rivulets, tucky, the loyal and patriotic Senator from Ken- but you cannot go to the mouth, after it has tucky, through the prejudices of education, can, collected its waters from a thousand rivers and with almost barbarous cruelty, parade, in long with accumulated volume is pouring its foamarray, authorities from historians to show that ing waters into the Gulf, and say, Thus far the negro is an inferior race and not entitled to shalt thou go, and no further.' equal privileges with the white man, what may Politicians may choose their course; they we not expect from the southern rebels who may become frightened at the radical march of

or has chastised, and whose secession events; they may throw pebbles into the mighty :P

n votos shall yet vote down? current of popular opinion. But the grand old

Wher beautiful remark river of progress, of liberty and humanity, and in his le

hn. He said: God's eternal justice, will roll on. Gentlemen "In some

of the black man may erect altars to conservatism; but they will

irty in dhe family go down to that vortex into which so many of freedom.”

compromisers, Union savers, and conservaSir, the time m.

thern tives have already gone---that bourne whence slaveholders and thic vern s. thizers no political adventurer ever returns.!

Sir, I may come so near having the co I of the care not who the man may be, though he be a Government, that the loyal black vote may be Senator upon the floor or the President of the the balance of power and cast the scale in favor || United States, however high his title or proud of Union and liberty.

his name, if he is false to human freedom" the If universal suffrage is wrong, our Govern- | places which know him now shall soon know ment is wrong. I am willing to conform to him no more forever!" the principles of my Government wherever I remember well what the noble old Senator they may lead. Ifit turns out, as I fondly hope from Ohio [Mr. Wade] said in his speech ; it may not, that our fathers were wrong, and how he was threatened with the anathemas of that our people are incapable of self-govern- il public vengeance when he was in a slim and ment, and that a wealthy few, an intelligent hated minority; but, thank God, he still lives few, or a single monarch ought to govern them, to look on the graves of his political opponents I cannot help it, but that is not the principle and revilers. Having fought the fight, having for which I am fighting. I am fighting to carry kept the faith, and come up through great tribout to its legitimate conclusion, to its logical ulation, he is not here to surrender the citadel sequence, what I believe to be the decree of of liberty to a few guerrilla bands and the raw Alinighty God, that all men are created equal. recruits who are wasting their ineffectual fires

Gentlemen ask me if I will go before the peo- | upon the fortifications which have withstood ple of Illinois with such a proposition as this.”' unshaken the roar and thunder of the whole Ay, indeed, and welcome it. I have no fear || pro-slavery army. I, sir, though a younger of the result. Through the clouds of the pres- man, have a similar experience. I stood side ent I see the brightness of the future. There by side with the noble Lincoln in every phase is, deep seated in the hearts of the American of these questions. I have fought the fight people everywhere, the firm conviction that and lived to enjoy the delightful pleasure of this negro question, however unpalatable its telling the last Legislature of my State to sweep discussion may be, will never be settled until with a speedy, resistless hand the black laws

[ocr errors]

may serve to

G

2

from our code. And they did it. They did of precious blood, cannot now be changed. The not alter, modify, or amend them, but they hand of a higher power than man's is in this eviscerated them, body and soul, from the revolution, and it will not move backward. It statute-book, and scattered their black and is of no use to fight against destiny. God, not blood-stained leaves upon the simoom of popu- man, created men equal. Deep laid in the solid lar indignation.

foundations of God's eternal throne, the prinSir, what made Abraham Lincoln President 1 ciple of equality is established, indestructible of the United States? I know he was good, li and immortal. very good; he was great, very great, in all those My way to settle our national troubles is to qualities which constitute the statesman; but || punish some traitors, not for the sake of vengeit was his persistent advocacy of the doctrines ance, but for the sake of example. There of the Declaration of American Independence, l ought to be some example made in order to in his debates with Stephen A. Douglas, in his inculcate the idea that treason is a crime in this speeches at the Cooper Institute in New York, I country, and that it will be punished. I would in Connecticut, and in Kansas; it was his clear then extend pardon to all the rebel masses.; 1 definition of the principles of humán freedom; || would withhold it from the leaders of the rebelit was those God-inspired words

lion. I would confer upon the freedmen, made

free by the Constitution and laws of the land, "This Union cannot permanently endure half slave and ball free; the Union will not be dissolved, but

universal suffrage. the house will cease to be divided".

Mr. President, as I said in a speech on the 4th it was this which riveted the attention of the day of July last-and I wish to repeat it here nation, and made him President of the United opinions—I say again :

now, to show that these are no new-formed States. And why, sir? Because, despite the prejudices of education, which we all have, "This is the genius of our Government. I am willdespite centuries of wrong and oppression,

ing to trust the people; and I believe that our Govthere is somewhere, away down in the depths enument, founded upon the will of all, protected by of the human soul-and that soul is deeper than will survive the storms of civil and external conyuloceans; it is like infinite space and has no

sion, and growing in grandeur and power, will be

come one of the mightiest nations on the face of the boundaries there is somewhere in the unfath

earth. Therefore I am opposed to slavery and secesomable depths of the human soul the love of sion, for an undivided Union, for universal freedom, liberty and the hatred of oppression. That

and universal suffrage." chord Lincoln struck, and thus made himself Senators, sixty centuries of the pas". kPresident and his name immortal. Why are ing down upon you. All the i you Senators here from every northern State? || future are calling in

&gIs it because you are able men? But you are gling amid the rise

, Pires in not ti e only able men in your States. There the past, and yet.

, in all the are men distinguished for great ability and illus- nations cif they

Lo seize this trious service in your States. You are here, || great or ctr

vidence of Albecause you have been true to truth, to justice, might:

ur hands to bless to liberty, and to equal laws.

names immortal, to It is too late to change the tide of human carry to land triuinphant consummation the progress. The enlightened convictions of the great work begun by your fathers, and thus lay masses, wrought by the thorough discussions || permanently, solidly, and immovably the capof thirty years, and consecrated by the baptism | stone upon the pyramid of human liberty.

the wo

ad mi

Printed at the Congressional Globe Office.

« AnteriorContinuar »