Wendell Philips on Race and Suffrage

Irish and black votes and how the suffrage alllows the citizen or group to be legislators and express their will as the "ruler."

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Wendell Philips on Race and Suffrage - it SPEECH OF WENDELL PHILLIPS, ESQ. At the...
it SPEECH OF WENDELL PHILLIPS, ESQ. At the Anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society, in the Cooper Institute, Xew York. Tcesdat Evening, May 21. The subject which Mr. Tilton has introduced is cer tainly one most appropriate for the consideration of an Anti-Slavery anniversary, the place which the negro has occupied, and which he is to occupy, in the civili zation of the world. Every word that teaches the truth in that point is of imjtortance to ns. Still, in the broadest view of the question, taking into considera tion not years but centuries, measuring by generations, and that is always reasonable in judging nationalities, I think races are of secondary importance. My own conviction is, that, in a historical point of view, great deal too mu:h importance Iirs been given to this subject of races. For thus I read history. At the commencement, in the cradle of history, in the very northernmost portion of Asia, we are told there existed a race which was probably the parent of all science, out of whose scattered relics Egypt gathered enough to fill her cup to overflowing, and to furnish Greece. The second race that received that Siberian civilization was the Hindoo. Long before either African or European civilization commenced, his sword was the keenest, his brain the heaviest, his literature the most finished, his metaphysics the most acute ; and Tocque- ville tells us that every possible question that any one has yet unearthed was not only started, but exhausted in the era of Sanscrit literature. They had their Walter Scott a thousand years before Christ ; their drama touched perfection eight hundred years before our era ; and yet to-day men discuss whether the Hindoo possesses intellect and courage ! Egypt seized the torch from the hand of Asia, and kept it alight for half a dozen centuries, carrying her conquests to the shores of the Indian and Atlantic oceans ; and yet she has been the basest of nations for a thousand years. From the overflowing cup of Egyptian civilization, Greece filled her vase, and for three hundred years led the van of civilization for the world ; and yet " the Greek, a slave and a liar," is the proverb of modern Europe. Borne clutched from Greece the half-extinguished torch, and bore it aloft until the shores of three continents grew bright in "its blaze, and yet to-day the Italian rises, after spending centuries under the heel of petty despots, to hold his liberty Oy permission of those his ancestors called barbarians. Cicero said of the English, that they made the most excellent slaves, and yet to-day John Bull's pluck bullies half the world. How much is there in races when we measure them by centuries? Not much. The negro of old gained himself a place in history, and he may take it ; again. Who knows ? But it is no business of ours. I despise an empire resting its claims on the blood of a single race. My pride in the future is in the banner that welcomes every race and every blood, and under whose shelter all races stand up equal. (Applause.) I hope the negro never will die out. God grant he may figure on the monuments of America a thousand years hence, a symbol of the breadth of our nationali ty ! Col. Higginson says in one of bis private letters, j that he has leen accustomed to a black regiment so j long that a white face actually looks unhealthy to him. ! (Laughter and applause.) Why not? Mr. President, j I have no respect for the civilization that treads softly when it crosses the limits of races. I consider our j necrophobia disgraceful enough on Christian princi- ; pies, and certainly contemptible when we measure it with the yardstick of civilization. I passed a day late- ; ly, with a Professor of a Parisian university, and he '. told me that side by side with him in college, when he was a boy, sat a full-blooded negro. When they came to their trials before the examining committees, one of whose verdicts exempted a man from all civil and many military burdens, the only man of the class that passed that ordeal was the negro, and to-day he is Professor of a Parisian university, above all the laws of conscription, and freed from one-half of the taxes, by virtue of his brains. Another of his own class mates, he said, passed one or two examinations, and held a commission of high rank in the French army one-half of his blood unmistakably black. I honor French civilization. It welcomes genius. It measures a man by brains. It estimates a man by his manhood, and not by his color. I walked the streets of Paris at 5 o'clock of a Sunday afternoon, the most fashionable hour of the most fashionable day, and saw , half a dozen couples, black and white, parading the Boulevard, and I wa the only man uncivil enough to turn around and stare. I honor that civilization ; it is noble and full of self-respect. Ours is but the pale reflection of the barbarous States of the South. It is barbarism and gross ignorance. God has sent us this struggle, in my view, to lift us out of it. I have.no fear of colorphobia. Like all other prejudices, it is a coward. The moment you face it, it shrinks ; it blusters while you yield, bullies if you are afraid, .and retires the instant you make a firm stand. We have tried it in Massachusetts. In the first place men said, If you repeal the law that white men and colored women 6hall not marry, we shall have amalgamation throughout the Commonwealth. Half the legislators, for a dozen years, were afraid to act. Finally, after as many years as the Greeks spent in taking Troy, the statute was erased from the statute book, and nobody has heard of it since. The next trial we had was in regard to colored persons riding in the stages and railroad cars. Corporations made rules excluding.negroes from the cars. After one or two trials, the public sentiment of the State was thoroughly aroused, and the tables of the legislature were piled with petitions. " Bepeal that rule," cried negrophobia, " why, I'll quit the cars." Judging from the noise made, you would have supposed that if black and white sat side by side in a car, the locomotive would cease to run. But, putting his hand on the ominous pile of the petitions, a leading member of our State Senate said to the managers of the railroads, " Gentlemen, I advise you to repeal that by-law ; for if the legislature acts, it may put a curb on you that you won't like," and before November every by-law ceased to exist, and nobody has heard of them since, or of any trouble from their absence. Col. Stevenson said he had rather be whipped with white men than conquer with black men; and Gen. Hunter took away his sword. But when Adjutant General Thomas went to the southwest, he lifted his index finger, and pointing towards Washington, said, " The wind blows North there," and from Brigadier to Lieutenant everj' man closed his lips, and denied all prejudice against color. There will be no negrophobia the moment Government lets its will be unmistakably known that is the chief reason why I blame our Massachusetts Senators for conferring on Col. Stevenson the honor of Brigadier Generalship just at the moment he defied and denounced the policy of the Government. Gross insubordination existed in General Hunter's department arising out of this among other causes the soldiers had inflicted terrible outrages on the negroes there; at the North we were appealing to the negro to enlist. At this crisis. Col. Stevenson, standing at Hunter's side, spits on the government's movement. It was a moment and an act which fixed the attention of the nation. One right, decisive word from the Senate, and no officer in the service would afterwards mistake the purpose of the administration. That word was, " Col. Stevenson, for your services and your apology we overlook your fault; but stay a Colonel till by faithful and hearty cooperation in the new movement you earn the nation's confidence let every officer take warning by your fate." Instead of that, Massachusetts Senators reward the mutineer to conciliate Hunker treason. They must reform that altogether, if they expect trust in future. The great element of power in this country is the privilege of voting. Give the negro his rights in that respect, and there will be no trouble. I will give you an illustration : In Massachusetts and Massachusetts, small as she is, is large enough for a sample forty years ago, the Catholics objected to our Bible in the schools. They said, " We can't read your Protestant version." Protestantism, contemptuous in its sense of strength, looked at them over its spectacles, and said, How do you expect to help yourselves? " So we went on I twelve or fifteen Tear. : and then ther said. CA re na the privilege not to read your Bible." Couldn't think of it, says burly Protestantism. Still the Catholics increased, until out of a hundred and sixty -five thousand men, in Boston peninsula, nearly half were of foreign descent; and they said, "Now, gentlemen, shouldn't you be willing to change that version ? " " Oh, certainly ; it is but just, and right generous, dictated by the sacred law of toleration. There shall be a com mittee to choose out portions that neither has an ob jection to, or there shall be unlimited freedom to read no version at all." Thank democracy for that ! All hail to the ballot box 1 How did the Irishmen surmount the prejudice inborn in the Yankee's bones. breathed in the very air of Plymouth, and embodied m every yellow grain of Indian corn ? He conquered it at the ballot box. When the orthodox Protestant saw looming in the distance a Catholic majority, he took heed to his footsteps. How did he know but a Catholic majority, acting on the rule he had used, might not force Protestant boys to read the Douay version ? He learned toleration from fear of his opponent. In other words, the moment a man becomes valuable or terrible to the politician, his rights will be respected. Give the negro a vote in his hand, and there is not a politician, from Abraham Lincoln down to the laziest loafer in the lowest ward in this city, who would not do him honor. As to this matter of race, friend Tilton, the politician would not known one from the other. Therefore eive the neero his rights; give him his vote; put him on his political pedestal; give him a civil existence, and I wilPrisk races. Do you know a politician who dares to make a speech to-day, without a compliment to green Erin ? Yet I can remember when no political speech was made without a slur upon that nation. But the joliti-cian now is careful what he says against a race which commands five hundred thousand votes. Thanks to the democracy, which does not put the negro under the protection of the white man, but gives to every class the means of protecting itself. (Applause.) That is my future for the black man. I don't care for his race, whether it is first, second, or third. I don't care for his brains, whether they weigh much or little. He has brains to be responsible in the police and criminal courts of his country, and therefore he has brains enough to go to the ballot-box ; and every politician will weigh his wishes, and acknowledge his equality the moment you give his right hand the means of conferring power. That is my future for the colored man, and it is to that I look in every prognostication of the future. Social rights are respected the moment a man shows his worthiness by character, ability and success. From the possession of political rights, a man gets means to clutch equal opportunities of education, and a fair space to work. Give a man his vote, you give him tools to work and arms to protect himself. The ballot is the truetancILajs .1 ground of Archimede?-ntvu"UfrwIiich a man can move Juyutri&T " ItrSeems to me that God has given this lesson for us to learn. In the fifteenth century', Europe was taught nothing but nationality. Under the right hand of papacy, the nations gathered themselves into separate tribes, each in his own place. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries we come to the religious movement; and Luther's name and Calvin's, mark both. In England, France, and Germany, the whole movement of the human mind was towards this truth, that there is nothing between the individual and his God! The eighteenth century finished another work. It said that all men are created free ami equal. So said the French revolution, Citizens are equals. That point they gained. This generation has another work, which is to say. All races have equal rights. " God bath made of one blood all nations to serve Him on the face of the earth." That is the motto of this generation? It will take all our thirty years to learn it. I do not expect this nation can come out of its chrysalis state in less than a generation. We have to teach these Northern States to respect the negro, and until we do, there never will be pence. The South is not strong in herself. All her strength consists in our unwillingness to strike. Why this unwillingness to strike ? Because we do not see John Hancock under a black skin ; and until we do see him, we shall never wage an honest and utter battle. No man who does not grant to the negro his just place, is fit to be enlisted in the army of the Union, if that Union means liberty ; or, if that is an exaggerated statement, certainly no man has a right to lead our army who does not carry that idea in his heart. ( Applang , , .1n. t Th-heaAitiful songto whrctT'we have just listened says. Give the negro his rights he asks nothing more. Nothing more ? He does not ask that. He does not begin to ask so much. There is not the wealth in the nation to give him his rights. The whole nation on its knees could not give him his rights. Take a pellet of homoeopathic dimensions, dissolve it in the Atlantic ocean, and you have more of its essence in any one drop, than you have of real justice in all the demands the abolitionists have made for the negro. We are not rich enough to give the negro his rights. For two hundred years he has redeemed twenty States from savagery and barbarism. Every house built upon its surtace his labor constructed. Every dollar dug from the soil was got by the toil of the negro. " You paid my college bills," says the college graduate to his father's slaves. Agriculture, cities, roads, factories, funded capital all were made by and belong to the negro. Yet what does he say to his master? "Take thy wealth and welcome ; only lift thy foot from off my neck. Give me my wife and children, and keep what my fathers have earned for two hundred years." That is all he demands. And yet bigots and fools fear that if you grant this infinitessimal per cent age, the whole phantasmagoria of our civilization wiil dissolve. I hate the term justice to the negro. There is not wealth enough in all the North to compensate even this generation much less the claim it has as heir to those which have gone before. We welcomed to our platform, in Boston, Thomas Sims, the symbol of Boston infamy the man that Protestant Christianity got down on its knees, and begged Savannah to accept. And yet, on that same platform, the night before. Gen. Hamilton, of Texas, speaking of Catholic, mongrel Mexico one-third Indian, one-third Spanish, and the rest negro said that the present Senators and Bepre-sentatives of Texas acknowledged that they lost three slaves to Mexico, for the last ten years, to one which was lost to the North. And Union men say to them, " Why quarrel, then, with the North, and not with Mexico ? " and they acknowledge that the pretence was gotten up to curb the North as representing democracy. Gen. Hamilton wenton to say : " for five dollars you can hire the Mexican to murder his next-door neighbor; but all the gold in the southwest would not hire him to return a fugitive slave." Would that Mexico might send her mongrel negroes to Boston to teach us Christianity ! It was a proud night when Sims came back to Boston, and prouder still the tale he told us ; for it showed us how far one little candle throws it rays. When he left Boston, there was a chain around our Court House, and the abolitionists were mobbed in the streets. When he got to Savannah, the abolitionists said he would be whipped to death ; and the Southerner, just to prove the Boston abolitionists mistaken, concluded not to punish him at all. They sent him to be employed in building a Baptist institution. The workman said, "Are you that Boston boy t " " Yes." " Well, then, we don't want you." He went to Augusta, and they sent him away for the same reason. Then they placed him in New Orleans. Finding he could get no employ, they tried to sell him ; and it became known that he was from Boston, and his price fell a thousand dollars. See what a Boston education is worth in the market of New Orleans ! When the rebellion broke out, after waiting a few months, he gathered what information he could, and came to Gen. Grant's army. The General says that, " for valuable information received, I grant him his freedom." He had always intended to get back to Boston, but little thought he should reach it the moment he crossed the river at Vickaburg. But we have carried Boston dowu to Vicksburg within a year, and we must carry liberty with It. It is not slaveholders we fight, but it is tbe system that system for which the South undertakes to battle, to kill democracy and plant an institution of caste. That system is our enemy, no matter whether on the banks of the Ohio, or on the banks of the Mississippi ; and wherever the nation strikes, it must strike slavery, not slaveholders, and not only slavery in the Gulf States, but slavery in Tennessee and Kentucky. We adjourn this meeting, if we must adjourn, with the conviction that what we ask of the nation will soon be accomplished Courage, then, my friends ! Tbe President has only to speak, and the nation obeys him. It will take us some time to accomplish our work. A nation is not born in a day. Civilization is not matured in a twelve month. We "hall not be educated in a moment. Men say, "Do you think the negro is educated enough I" All I know is, that he is better educated than we are; for he can bear us, and we, in strict truth, are a great deal more abominable to him than he can be to ns. As I used to say in old anti-slavery times, so we may say now: if he can only bear the white man, the white man ought easily to bear him. He has borne his part in our great national convulsions much better than we have. How sagacious has he been ! He sees the light under every cloud ; the truth under apparent contradiction. Butler let sixty slaves, that had struggled with cane-knives in the streets of New Orleans, be murdered when they reached its pavements. But the black believes in Butler, for all that. At one time the rebels murdered in cold blood thirty negroes, and Col. Hoyt, with John Brown's soul above, went down and broke up seven guerilla camps, and took forty -one lives to answer it. For Hoyt's sake, the negro believes in the Department of the southwest, in spite of its Major Generals. Adjutant General Thomas finds nothing but friends wherever ho gwn in tbe south, west. Stoneman and his men sat down for hours, while a slave woman gave him a meal and watched for him. She knew that her deliverer had come. What more beautiful emblem of the present than that! boat stranded under the fire of the guerillas, with one i of our choicest sons on -board, hid in the hollow, and ' the negro saying, " Some one must die to push this off" ; it may as well be I"; and as he lifted himself to give the impulse, five bullets entered his body, and . the martyr went to his God and ours. So all over the : land, the negro lifts himself to the perilous post of du-' ty, and says, " Why should it not be I ? " The basis of a firmer union will be laid in the mutual respect of the sections begotten of this struggle ; and the place of the negro will be secured for him when every mother whose son is at home alive, because negro courage occupies his place, and every man that loves the flag, and knows that it is safe because bathed in the blood of five hundred thousand sable defenders, will have no word of reproach then for the black race. (Cheers.) I hope another year will not finish before we meet here, our abolitionism lost in the universal joy, to rejoice that there is no chain on the continent ; that there is nothing in the heart of the American which recognizes the distinction of races ; but, like the sub lime monuments of antiquity, record the triumph in which all tongues, all races, and all creeds, mingle their prayers and offerings to a common liberty and a common God 1 (Enthusiastic cheers.) NATIONAL CONVENTION OF LOYAL WOMEN. New Your, May 16th, 18G3. Dear Me. Garrison, There are ever compensa tions for the evils that we suffer. War which seems to me so unnatural and barbarous, yet brings its compensations and its results of good. I say it is unnatural, but it may be called natural, being governed by the laws of disorder," and natural as it has ever, through the world's history, been the cure for oppression, and will be, until by slow degrees man reaches a higher development and a purer atmosphere. I felt bow glorious a recompense may come to women in this time of trial, when I attended the adjourned " Meet ing of Loyal Women," in this city, on Thursday, P. M., held in the lecture room of Dr. Cheever's church. At the morning session, you may know, there was some opposition to a resolution brought in by the committee, affirming that it is the duty of a 'free government to protect the liberties and recog nize the rights of every individual, irrespective of color or sex; those opposing us claiming that we had dragged in an " ism," whereas we held that it was only a broad, philosophical statement of genuine democratic principles, which, as a body of women at such an hour, it was the most natural thing in the world for us to make, and, indeed, which the most of us feel would be a culpable omission not to lay down, as a part of the foundation of a National Loyal League. The adjourned meeting to which I refer was for business, and for some renson or other, the women felt a spirit of freedom that was delightfully refreshing. There was such a desire for the highest and most impartial liberty, such an earnestness and unity that the nation should be lifted out of every shade of oppression into the freedom of a true republic, that all hearts were opened, and many lips unsealed to speak eloquently for the victims of a sham republicanism, and against the restoration of that Union to which a soul truly loyal to justice can never bo loyal. There was a spontaneous uprising of the woman-soul, helmetcd with faith, and panoplied in endurance. I wish you might have witnessed it, for I consider it a result of the great Anti-Slavery movement, which yourself and coadjutors have been patiently carrying forward, till we sec the auroral light of a coming salvation. Women are being freed, being ennobled, are working out their own salvation, and aiding that of the slave, as one of the compensations of this war. I was unprepared to see so many in the audience take part in the discussions ; unprepared for the readiness and eloquence with which old and young women, from various States, expressed their opinions, their emotions, and their patriotism ; but more than all was I unprepared for the unanimous vote which was given to the resolution to sustain and be loyal to the Government, so long as it is true to freedom. Two or three inquired, why we could not pledge ourselves to unconditional loyalty, assuring us that in the event of the election of a President of the Vailandighani stamp, they should favor an instantaneous change of the platform ; but some of ns had seen the failure of politicians and so called statesmen, and preferred to make clean work from corner-stone to capital. Mrs. Stanton replied, that we did not wish to repeat the mistakes of the "fathers," therefore we would have no compromise, with sin ; thus hastening peace, and preventing the repetition of a war for slavery. Mrs. Stanton and Miss. Anthony nobly upheld the old Anti-Slavery banner, Rearing on its folds, " No Concealment, No Compromise." There was very much to cheer us in its hearty acceptance by this large gathering of women. Ever yours, for Universal Freedom, CATHARINE A. F. STEBBINS. The CoifTixEJCTAL MosiHir, for June, 1863, is recci red, and presents the following table of contents : 1. The Value of the Union, by William II. Mnller. 2. A Merchant's Story, by Edmund Kirke. 3. May, Morning. 4. The Navy of the United States. 5. Three Modern Bomances. 6. Mill on Liberty, by Hon. E. P. Stanton. 7. Cloud and Sunshine. 8. Is there anything in It? 9. The Confederation and the Nation, by Edward Carey. 10. Beason, Bhyme and Bhythm, by Mrs. Martha Walker Cook. 11. The Buccaneers of America, by William L. Stone. 12. Virginia. 13. Visit to the National Academy. 14. Was He Successful? by Bichard B. Kimball. 15. How Mr. Lincoln became an Abolitionist, by S. B. Gookins. 16. Cost of a trip to Europe, and how to go Cheaply. 17. Touching the Soul, by Edgar Phelps, 1st Lieutenant 19th Infantry, U. S. A. 18. Literary Notices. 19. Editor's Table. The July number of the Continental will contain articles by the Hon. Bobert J. Walker, written from England. All communications, whether concerning MSS., or on business should be addressed to Johx F. Taow, Publisher, 50 Greene street, New York. J. G. 10 ; ! . A. I 2 tow-: els tion J. its Pa., two of 1- at Sunday, f- issued Mr. Miss I aud and promptly 6 of is let, t the each " The of 1st, -and par ia-: sued as ' are f

Clipped from
  1. The Liberator,
  2. 29 May 1863, Fri,
  3. Page 3

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  • Wendell Philips on Race and Suffrage — Irish and black votes and how the suffrage alllows the citizen or group to be legislators and express their will as the "ruler."

    tmromo – 15 May 2013

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