The Montgomery Advertiser from Montgomery, Alabama on July 25, 1901 · 9
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The Montgomery Advertiser from Montgomery, Alabama · 9

Montgomery, Alabama
Issue Date:
Thursday, July 25, 1901
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) - i t''Lnid takefrrom the States who, the control - . rrA inn oasis ui iuiilimbq 6W ",ia oni iaoe it completely ' ' . m control ot Congress, that the B4e.ri wai nit prepared to e notion "" ILi a departure Irom the prac-r . it B government or to transfer pe J 'eaa Tthe control ot suffrage. 10 COn.ii'e Democratic party resisted so I1 ";; departure ana enange ana "d ? iv ot the Republican , leaders forced to egroe to the views of ..,re forccu .,,,, i huh work tlS"tutlonal history Thorp says, on cfj i'ticth Congress has boon "Th. wn0 caU themselves SJlalW "ecauBe It neglected to N , t he work of reconstruction and oerfcttn . - th elcctlv0 "" hind and of fue right to horn olllco r Srtlor tne control of tho na- holir . .v h For tional Kfvernnir. " ii an utiUKUul ".ber ol men posseting wide po- number " , ,1 knowledge 8na ePer!nL 111 "tci 1 k"7,!" Klt was not under tho pu ini of tho radicals .though thso 86 nresent m respectable numbers TfrenucViy gave utterance to their uHcal faith with such eloquence and ha their extreme views fciva I 1 a great tradition In our hM- The controlling minds of that congr Knew .th d"n0Ulii' tnJ Emeers of attempting so radical a hn in our political Institutions as m efve the national government the er to control the elective franchlst the right to hold office." "The long established doctrine of w duary Sta'.e sovereignty checked ev. !rv effort of the Republicans to effect .he Innovation. For nearly a hundred ;.,ar that doctrine had gathered sirength and at last 'had permeated ev-prv StaU Constitution, and every election' law lr the country. It was too rmly embedded In the political mind ind in the political traditions of the npople to be obliterated by to sudden J procedure as an act of Congress In the form of a Joint resolution which m become a part of the Constitution must be ratified by three-fourths of the Bistre. The Civil War, though profoundly affecting the thought of the ountry had not prepared the public mind to accept 60 radical an innova-'ion. The policy of the opposition was therefore clear. It could not defeat a luffrage amendment in some form but it might largely determine the form. Fully conscious of the practical value of the doctrine of residuary sovereignty !n the States, It could compel the Republicans to so word their amendment as to recognize that sovereignty and thus practically continue to the States the riKht to regulate the elective franchise." The history of this amendment shows that rive substitutes for the Stewart resolution were offered and defeated. Finally Wilson of Massachusetts offered as a substitute that no discrimination should be made In any State imnng the citizens of the United States In the exercise of the elective franchise or in the exercise of the right to hold jfflce in any State on account of race-, color, nativity, property, education or relisioius creed, which substitute was ormosed bv Sherman of Ohio, Conkling of New York, but by a small majority .he Senate agreed to the Wilson amendment. When the resolution was sent lin k to the House a committee of conference was appointed, and the committee was 'unable to agree and it seemed as If tha 15th Amendment was doomed to defeat. It Is useless to consider the history of the debate further. The amendment was finally parsed in lis present form, but only after repeated efforts had been made to so amend it an to mike every citizen of a State II years old or upwards a voter, not to be disfranchised except for crime. 4 rvlnw of these debates disclose the fact that there is a very genera! popular misconception of the purposes and effects of tho twn amendments t ih "(institution. H?neo when the Committee on Suffrage was organ'zcl t!i first step taken. was to appoint a special committee to ascertain and re-poit what powers the State of Ala-kim. had under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to regulate and control Its suffrage,. Although among th member of the Committee were soini o? tho most distinguished lawyers In the Ftate, each member of the Committee, realizing the responsibility and gravity of the task to wnicn we nan been assigned, examined for himself the law and decisions on the subject. A careful examination of the decisions of the Supreme Court establish beyond controversy the following propositions: First Tha right of suffrage was not necessarily one of the privileges and immunitlei of citizenship before the adoption of the Fourteenth Amend-in nl. Second That amendment does not add to these privileges and Immunities but simply furnishes an additional guarantee for such as the citizen al ready had. Third-That at the time of the adop tion of that amendment suffrage was not coextensive with the citizenship of the State, nor was it at the time of the adoption of tha 'Constitution, and that neither tha Constitution nor the Fourteenth Amendment made all citizens voters. Fourth The inhibition In the Fourteenth Amendment that no State shall deprive any person within Its jurisdiction of the equal protection of the laws was designed to prevent any person or class of persons from being singled out as a special subject for discriminating and hostile legislation. Fifth The Fifteenth Amendment to th Constitution does not confer the right of suffrage, the right to vote in the States comes from the States, and has not been granted by the United Mates. The Fifteenth Amendment simply Invests citizens of the United States with the right of exemption from discrimination In the exercise of the elective franchise on account of thfir race, color or previous condition ef servitude and empowers Congress to enforca that right by appropriate legislation. Sixth Th main purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment as has often been declarer! wan to establish the cit izenship of free negroes, which had been denied in the Dred Scott case and to mako all backs born or naturalized In the United States citizens of the United States. Seventh Any action of a State not directed by way of discrimination against the negroes as a class or on account of their race does not come within the Fourteenth Amendment. Kltrhth The Constitution in Its pres ent form so far as civil and political rights are concerned, forbids discrimination by the general government or the States ugalnst any citizen because ot hl.i race. Mr. President This review of the debates in Congress, and the construc-t oil bv the hlarhpst courts in the land of the objects, purposes and effects cf two amendments to the constitution show beyond controversy that they do not oppose, as jnany seem to believe, art Insuperable barrier to the disfranchisement of tho negro. That there were many supporters Of the Fifteenth Amendment, when It was being framed, ho desired to so amend it as to place wholly ynder tho control of the Federal Government all future elections In the States, and to make It imposslblo for any state to regulate Its suffrage, we concede, but the history of that amendment also shows as wo have ,een that, many of the States of the North whose Senators and Representatives participated In tho preparation ef that amendment to the Constitution, contained considerable bodies of negroes Uttle better fitted for the duties of electors than the lately manumitted slaves of the South, and It is only fair to assume that they were unwilling to proscribe a rule of such tyranny end disaster, and that Its adoption by the requisite number of States would have been rendered doubtful If such a pur-posa had found positive and arbitrary expression therein. 'Mr. President, as wo have seen the first Section ot tho 'Fourteenth Amend-meii: mndo all negroes citizens of the Uti Ud States and of the Slates of their rjs.atnco. The Amendment which fol-lowed prohibited the dtnlnl or abridge-mint of that vote for three certain specified re ttmns, or either of them, and for those only. Fpr any other reason their right to vote may be denied or abrlc.ged. You cannot, say that because the effect ot our plan will bo to restrict ihe right of the negro to .vote that It necessarily vlclates the terms or spirit ot that amendment. For with the sme force of reasoning you could say that an educational or property qualification Imposed en all alike would result In denying to the great mass of negroes tho right to vote, and was therefore unconstitutional, if the effect or result ot a law restricting suf-fraga was to determine Its construction It would hav been held that tho effect of the provisions found In tho Mississippi Constitution requiring a voter to be able to understand or give an Intelligent explanation of the Con-stltntlon militated against this article of the Federal Constitution. It would have been held that the laws of Mas-sachuetts wheh Imposed an educational quaWiestlon, of Rhode Island, which demanded a property qualification, were In conflict .with the Fifteenth Amendment. In the one case It could bo truthfully sold that the whole or greater part ot the negro race in those States were disfranchised, because they on account of their poverty or ignorance were unable to vote. Yet, In the debates In Congress and In every judicial construction of the two amendments, the presence and continual existence cf these and other restrictions on suffrage in the laws and constltu-t ons of other American States show thnt they are not antagonistic to the two amendments, that the question of their violation of the amendments is not determinable and has not been determined In a single Instance by the effect or result of the restrictions imposed upon the voting of the negro race. I therefore assert that the State can impose any restriction it may see tit on suffrage which is not directed in hostility to the negro race, not imposed on account of his race, color or previous condition of servitude and will not when tested by enlightened Judicial construction bo disturbed. If we abridge or deny the negro the right to vote, wo take this action not in hostility to han as a race, not on account of his color or previous condition of servitude, but because his exercise of suffrage without restriction make it unsafe to the life of the State and detrimental to all the interests of the people among whom he resides. We can deny the right of suffrage to the natives of other countries, or extend the age of majority from 21 to 30 years, for i: ha3 been decided that the Fifteenth amendment was intended to protect the negro race alone. No, Mr. President, we are not in this hour of our State's deadly peril seeking to wreak any vengeance upon the negro or venting any ill will on account of his race or color; but we are restricting our suffrage for the sake of the life of our Uovornment. for its honest and faithful administration, for the siki of our civilization, for public morals, i"; personal integrity, for the emancipation of all that is good and pure anium: uti from that bondage of the soul and of thought which has been lorceu to participate in wrong doing from fear of a greater evil. We perform this duty for virtue, for decency, for religion, for liberty, for life itself. The enfranchisement of the negro rate furnhmul n; of the darkest chapters in the- hl.-Ur.y of this Itepuo-11c. Whtii l,e, laid down his sword a: Appuiu.ittox the South rcvognized tiia; the abolition of slavery was cne of the inevitable resuits of its failure to tfcta-blhtn a separate and independent Government. It submitted loyally to this S'ganti.-i confiscation of proper- tr. U'hich it h:irl HcrillireH mirl,,!. M,a sacred guarameo of the Federal com pact, following swutiy upon the abolition of slavery, came the enfranchisement oi thu negro race. The shaekels were scarcely stricken from his limos before the ballot was placed in his hands? Not only was he clothed with the right of suffrage, but he was eievated by military force to the control of the States of the South, a condition ef affairs more humiliating than that to which any free and enlightened people had ever been subjected. Then ensued a carnival of crime, of robbery and jobbery without parallel In history. A horde of most venal and rMirrlint n A vent II re, c cru t hnrnrl ery haunt of vice and crime, swarmed into tne soutn, and oy appeals to tne passions, the credulty, the prejudices and the ignorance of the blacks, organized them into a compact political party, ami by aid of federal power, secured control of every department of the State governments In all of the Stales of the South. The leadership, of course, foil to the white adventurers, whose scanty stock of portable property won for them the name of carpet-baggers. They organized the negroes, tampered with the electoral returns, stuffed the ballot boxes, secured &!1 the lucrative offices, Increased salaries, devised the various methods by which taxation was increased and Imposed on the impoverished States of the South a burden of debt which destroyed public credit and bankrupted the public treasuries. In speaking of this period, Mr. Brice, in his celebrated work, "The American t'oinisonwealth," says: "But as the voting power lay with those who were wholly unfit for citizenship, and had no Interest as taxpayers in good government, cs the legislatures were reckless and corrupt, the Judges for the most part subservient, the federal military ofilcers jound to support what purported to be the constitutional authorities of the State, Congress distant and little Inclined to listen to complaints of thoso it had mistrusted as rebels, greed was unchecked and roguery unbanisnsd." But. not satisfied with clothing the black man with every political right, with elevating him to the cntrol of his former masters, the jadlcal party in the North undertook to regulate the social relations of the races, v;th the avowed purpose of forcing arfimi-latlon of the negro, and destroying Southern civilization. Impoverished though .-"he was, crushed by defeat, exhausted by the protracted struggle' In which she .iad lost tho flowor of her manhood, rullylng her sons from the ashes ot her homes and the graves of her dead Bhe closed her deolmated ranks, determined at any cost to preserve her social purity and maintain her civilisation. She braved federal bayonets rnd federal power and her brave sons stood with unvlclding ranks around the Innjr temple of her social system. In every village and town of the State was heard the voices of her sons, rallying ber force to the conflict, and under the leadership of Houston the olund-eierii were driven from their Power and honest government restored. The gallant Randall gathered together that small Spartan band ot Pemocrats at the national capital, and by his skill, courage and superb leadership arrested .-j Artr.A tM Inst and most humll- courage ana niciu " -'"f rl..ii and defeated this last and mpst humil iating measure of hat to tne bouin. The grant of unrestricted auffrage to the negroes of the South was the co- lossal crime ot the nineteenth century. No peoplo could be imagined more hopelessly unfit for this important power, it wae thrust on the negro In hot and vengeful taasto, without rre vlous preparation not to elevate or protect him, but to humiliate and do-grade us. It created an epoch of clime, corruption and misrule river before known In any civilized land. It filled our halls of legislation v Ith men to whom honesty was an unk.m vn virtue. It elevated to the bench nun without legal training, to whom Blackstone was a myth and Kent a meaningless name. It filled the land with crime, intensified racial prejudice, demoralized our labor and retarded our growth and prosperity. It hindered immigration, rendered life and property Insecure and allayed the Investment of capital and the development of our marvelous resources. It has prevented aiyy division of our people on economic or political questions, reprersed freedom ot thought and debauched our suffrage. To prevent a recurrence of the frightful mlsgovern-meht which followed roconstruction, It has forced our people to adopt methods to retain honest government which were repugnant to their consciences and which have debased and lowered our moral tone. No king, however despotic, would have subjected his subjects to the peril, the ignominy, the moral and financial gln which has walked In the train of this unwise experiment. As the editor of Tho Chicago Chronicle recently said: "The history of the world may be searched In vain for a parallel to the spirit of savagery which Inflicted upon a defeated and impoverished peoplo the unspeakably barbarous rule of a servile racn. Just liberated from bondage." As a distinguished English statesman recently wrote, "To nearly all Europeans, such as step as the grant of the suffrage to the negroes en bloc, seemed then, and still seemB monstrous." After over a quarter of a century's experience, we know that It is as much a failure today as it was the hour It was first Inaugurated. Hence I but voice the sentiment, not only of the white people of Alabama, but of the Intelligent, unbiased Judgment of the North and of the civilized world when I denounce the fifteenth amendment as not simply a political blunder, but a crlme a crime against the white people of the South a crime against the black people of the South a crime against local self-goverament, and the sovereign rights of the States. For I am sure the time has come when we can challenge the criticism and the favorable verdict of the civilized world to whom we can show and who have already seen and known that we have tried In humiliation and under protest, but still in patience, the experiment of unlimited suffrage, wjiich heedlessness, animosity and hate put upon us. That we have tasted its bit' terness, drained the cup of hatred and empericlsm to its dregs, Inhaled Its poison until the State reels from its effects, and that it has been demonstrated after a third of a century that this investiture of the unqualified ele ment of our population with the sovereign robe of suffrage was a costly and a ghastly failure a crime against us as well as the negro. In the dark days of reconstruction Thomas A. Hendricks declared in the Congress of the United States that the fifteenth amendment was a violation of the original compact between the States and changed the nature of our government. Its adoption was secured bv force and fraud and in the States of the South its ratification was compelled by military authority. The pretext that Jt was necessary to secure the results of the war Is not sustained by history, for Congress had solemnly declared that the war for the Union was not waged to free the slaves, and Abraham Lincoln had said, "I did not at any time say that I was in favor of negro suffrage. I declared against it. I am not in favor of negro citizenship." This opinion It is said, he never changed. The impartial student of history knows that this amendment would never have been proposed had It not been confidently believed that its adoption would perpetuate the rule of the Republican party. Can anyone at this day, who has studied the history of that period stand In this presence and contend that this amendment would have been adopted had it been then supposed that It would result in the South casting a solid Democratic vote. Mr. President, what is the situation that confronts us in Alabama? We have here two distinct races; one two thousand years in advance of the other, representing the highest type of modern civilization, the other a race whose ancestors were a hundred years ago naked savages, living on the banks of the Congo or Niger. The records of history are largely narratives of man's advancement from barbarism to civilization. The great dominant white races of the earth have been thousands of years in reaching their present state, of development. The advance has been by slow processes, long and laborious struggles, and not by sudden leaps and bounds. Every step taken seems necessary In the march to the present development. For two thousand years while the 'white races have been progressing, the negro in Africa remained stationery, as uncivilized today as he was before the birth of Christ. In the rase of the great. Asiatic and European races we find that the early stages of dovelopment are lost in the mists of antiquity. From the days of the Roman Empire to the present hour, a perusal of history shows that advancement and progress has been slow, gradual, laborious but sU.idy, development depending largely on the progress of the arts, sciences and good government. With the progress of learning and material prosperity there has come a growth so to speak of the human mind, until today the white races hava reached their highest tvpe ot culture and development. Yet a study of the African races back to the daya of the Pharoahs of Egypt show no such progress. So the singular condition exists in the South of the most primitive, rudimentary race living eide by side wlt tho most cultured and highly developed. It has been truly said that not greater is the interval which separates the chipped tllnta of the stone age and the maxim gun of today. A hundred years ago a body of savages were torn violently from their homes In Africa .sold to masters representing the highest type of civilization, put to work on the plantations, taught the arts of agriculture and mechanics, deprived of law by all participation In government, forbidden to read or write, and civilized as far aa was possible by contact with a highly developed and civilized race. Suddenly, without previous preparation, they are enfranchised, made citizens of thp most advanced government of the earth, forced from their simple primitive lite Into all the turmoil of politics, organized Into a compact political par-ty, clothed with office, and at the point of the bayonet set. In control f the government administered formerly by their masters. The proudest, bravest and most cultured portion of the Anglo-Saxon race in America compelled by military power to submit to the domination of their former eluves. As oon. however, as the Federal bayonets were removed all this structure of negro domination whloh malignity and savage hate had framed after so much deliberation, by so many gross violations of the cardinal principles of our government toppled to the ground. The whites, though numerically infe. rlor In many States, found the means by the grace of Ood to restore white supremacy and good government. To THE MONTGOMERY "ADVERTISS3. establish this, however, the whites In the South and In Alabama were forced to stand In solid phalanx to the detriment of their political life, forgetting all differences of oolnlon on political and governmental questions, casting their ballots solidly for the Democratic party. Division amongst them meant ruin; If they divided Into factions hern was this great mass of illiterate, purchasable votes, easily influenced by the appeal of the unscrupulous to passion or prejudice, a constant menace to our peace and security, and standing rje-tween, holding the balance of power. Mr. President, the white race must dominate became It is the superior race, and in that domination the negro will find the safest pledge and guarantee of Just and Impartial administration. We remember with gratitude that during the dark days of the war, when our father and brothers were at the front lighting the battles of the Confederacy, the negro was left at home, and In many cases was the eole protector of the helpless and defenseless women and children ot tho South. We recall with gratitude the fact that In not a single instance did he betray hlB trust. He worked In tho cotton and corn field to feed the armies that were fighting to rivet the chains of slavery on hie limbs. No higher tribute could be paid to the Institution of slavery. While all this is true, while we propose to accord to tho negro all his rights in the courts, to share with him more than his Just proportion of the educational fund and to accord him that Justice which the strong always owe to the weak, we can never consent to share with him the responsibilities of government. Mr. President, this Is not a sectional Issue, the race problem is no longer confined to the States of the South. The acquisition of the Sandwich Islands, the Philippines, Porto Rico and the control of Cuba has forced the race problem to the attention of the whole country and in the wise solution of this question we have the sympathy instead of the hostility of the North. Mr. President, wherever the white man has come In contact with an Inferior race, whether In Massachusetts. In Kansas, in California or In Alabama, whether with the Mongolian, the Indian or the Negro race, race instinct will assert Itself and the white will dominate and control. It has been wisely eald that this race instinct is of divine ordination. It should not be decried, derided or denied, because It preserves the integrity and purity of each race. The races of men are the creations of God, the markers of his will. He who attempts to overcome this race Instinct is defying a power which is higher and wiser than that of man, and which will in the future a It has in the past, preserve the social purity and integrity of each race, preventing that assimilation and debasement, the very contemplation of which fills our minds with horror and rP-puKnance. Mr. President, the whole force of the opposition to the suffrage plan seems to be directed against Section 4. It la claimed that it violates the Federal Constitution by indirectly denying the suffrage to the negro. It is not true that this section denies the rlsht of suffrage to the negro for It simply allows the lawful descendants of soldiers to vote. The son of a negro soldier is embraced in this class to the same extent as the son of the white soldier. It cannot be claimed, however, that because there may be more descendants of white than colored soldiers that this renders the provision unconstitutional. The same argument coujd be made against the soldier clause Itself. It could be said with the same force of argument that because an educational and properly qualification or even a poll tax affected more negroes than whites it was unconstitutional. I am wholly unable to comprehend the consistency or loelc of the argument which assails the descendant clause as unconstitutional and admits the legality of the section which excludes all sol diers from the operation of the suffrage qualifications. Neither section singles out the negro as a subject of hostile legislation. It is not class legislation, for the class legislation denounced by the courts is legislation discriminating against some and favoring others. As Judge Miller declared In the Slaughter House cases the action of the State must be directed by way of discrimination against the negroes as a class, on account of their race In order to be violative of the Federal Constitution. It may be conceded that the clausp erects an arbitrary standard of qualification, but the state in the exercise of its sovereign power to regulate suffrage can act arbitrarily provided it docs not deny the negro the ballot on account of one of the three grounds mentioned in the fifteenth amendment. As Senator Morton de clared the State might deny the right on the ground that the negro was incompetent to exercise the suffrage ln-tellleentlv. It is claimed that the test required Is not a rule or condition to which all citizens similarly situated may conform and which is required under the decisions of the Supremo Court. I challenge those advocating the minority report to cite a single decision of the Supreme Court which sustains f.helr contention. If the argument is sound the soldier clause is equally objectionable for a man who was not a soldier in any of the wars mentioned eould by no exertion on his part become a soldier now. It Is claimed it establishes a permanent, hereditary governing class, which is undemocratic and , unAmerlcan. The argument is utterly misleading. The descendants of soldiers admitted to the suffrage by this clause are already voters. The son of the soldier does not inherit from his father the right to vote. He simply retains what he al ready had under the system of universal manhood suffrage which has heretofore prevailed In this State. It is claimed "we had better pursue the course which our fathers traveled and use the helm with which they steer ad." Mr. President, the conditions which surround us are not the conditions which confronted our father, Extraordinary conditions require ex traordinary remedies. I venture thu prediction that If they had been slm llarly situated. If their slaves had been clothed with suffrage and good government, honest elections, and the nreservatlon ef the splendid civiliza tion which they had created had been In jeopardy they would have followed the paths which we have trod and would have adopted the same methods to secure their safety. The gentlemen of the minority have refused to bold ly face the perplexing problem we are forced to solve. I do not question their sincerity but the arguments which they have advascsd show that they have not risen to the height of this great question. Their reasoning smacks ot special pleading, ot carping criticism, and of fault-finding without offering any remedy, Mrv1 president, no one denies that the State has x a right In the exercise of her sovereign power to regulate suffrage to provide that all soldiers shall bo allowed to vote or be exempted from the operation of any restrictions Imposed on others. It Is claimed that this is Justified on the ground that it Is solely a recognition of valiant servieeg rendered. Why then I ask, if this be true, an the State not go further and say that In recognition of your valor In war, your willingness to sacrifice life for the common welfare we will not only exempt you but thoso nearest, dearest and closest, your lineal . descendants, from the operation of any .provision restricting suffrage. Be long as the State dose not violate the provisions of the amendments to the constitution there U no limit on its power to con trol the suffrage of Us oltlsens. Delegates ot the Convention, our plan may ! be imperfect but I ask Its critics, those ' who have been so persistent in denouncing it as unwise and dangerous what better plan have you to offer? we cannot afford to leave the ballot In the hands of enough negroes to form respeotabls faction, tor If we do, whenever the whites divide, they hold the balance of power and we have failed to accomplish eur mission. Have we grown so careless of the past that we can undergo that danger? Cannot we, brothers, kinsmen, Inheritors of the glorious past, united as we are by every tie of affection and Interest, Joint sharers of the blessings of free government transmitted by our fathers, can ws not forego our petty bickerings and unite to accomplish this glorious mission? Let us be equal to this great occasion, this golden opportunity in the life of our Slate and put into our Constitution an article on suffrage that will guarantee to future generations the blessings of Anglo-Saxon civilization and liberty In this State. We cannot afford to disfranchise the ignorant or illiterate white. It was the Illiterate and uneducated white man that fought the battle of the Confederacy. They and their descendants were educated not in books but in the traditions and principles of free government. The race to whom they belong have been educated for centuries in the practice, participation and conservation of free institutions. The men who won Magna Charta from King John were uneducated and illiterate, and yet, In the language of another, they were the men who, from merely hereditary aptitude, acquired for generations in the administration of free institutions were enabled to lay their foundations deep and secure in England. The negro on the other hand has no traditions of liberty, no pride of ancestry, no environments which fit him to Intelligently discharge the great duties of citizenship. I for one can never consent to cast my vote to deprive a single man who wore the gray or his descendant, whether he be learned or illiterate, the right of suf frage. Mr. President, the Committee has been fortunate In having as its Chairman not only a distinguished lawyer, learned in 11 the learning of the law, patient and painstaking, but a patriot who has lived in that section of the State where the evils of an un restricted suffrage have been most se verely felt and who has earnestly la bored to present a plan which will carry out every pledge and yet accomplish the mission for which 'the people have delegated us to assemble in Convention. Mr. President, I feel sure that this Convention will give the State such reform In suffrage, such purity in the ballot as the people have demanded and that this Convention will prove equal to Its great task- will solve this problem with all the wisdom possible to the fairest mind-solve It permanently without make shifts or subterfuges, so as to make permanent good government In Alabama. Mr. Oates In the time limit fixed, I shall endeavor to say nothing except that which may be eonsldered to some profit, and Is absolutely pertinent to the question In hand. Now, sir, it has frequently Deen as serted that the nrlmar.v object in call lng this Constitutional Convention was to completely eliminate the negro from politics, or disfranchise the negro. This, gentlemen. Is stating the ques tion too narrowly. The primary ana broader object was to seek to reclaim our beloved State from that evil Into which It had fallen, of dishonest elections. 'How did we get there, and who la responsible therefor? I am by nature a conservative. I am entitled to no ciedlt for it, because I was born that way. I am not radical In anything, pertaining to public af fairs; never was, and as long as I re tain my memory and reasoning powers, never will be. and I never will, if I know It, be a party to an injustice to anyone it matters not what may be called the exigency. Now. sir. we will take the negro. We find him in his native Africa, a savage. He is not responsible for his being in America and in a state of slavery. He Is not responsible for his emancipation. He is not responsible for his enfranchisement. He had no agency in any of it, and there is not a delegate on this floor who will rise in his place and sajr that he had, or that he did. Then, how was he en franchlsed? You know by whom. By the policy of those who fought us In war and conquered us. the Federal ad ministration. They saw proper, as a part of their policy, towards this con quered people, and this large population who had been emancipated from slavery, by a war that had been urged upon us. As a part of their policy they passed the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Articles of the amendment. The negro, therefore. Is not responsible for it, It was the work of the white man. The negro, when Informed that he had been emancipated, was grateful to those whom he understood had done that work, and, gentlemen, whether it was beneficial to him or the reverse, this was but the bubbling up of nature, Even the scorned earthworm that you trample upon will turn and sting you. It Is enly nature. Everything the birds of the air, the animals and human beings, desire to be free, although In the case of African slavery, it had benefited the negroes becasue it lifted them higher in the sunlight of civilization than anything before. It was a blessing to them. But it was only natural that they should aspire to free' dom and welcome it, and when it came, to be grateful to those whom they understood brought It. In a like spirit of gratitude, the.y were grateful to the people whom they understood had en franchlsed them. They were much mislead and misinformed, and I think with all their misinformation that they did remarkably well. Now, when the distinguished dele gate, the Chairman of this Committee, was on yesterday addressing this Con vention, pointing out the abuses of the elective franchise at the hands ot these people, he seemed to charge it alto gether to them. I differ with him in reference to that part of our history by charging It to the carpet-baggers and scalawags with white skins who led it on. I want to place the respon sibility where it belongs. Mr. Coleman (Greene) Did the scal awags lead away the white people that way? Mr. Oates They led the negroes and the negroes have always been led by white .people. One statement of the Chairman (Mr. Coleman) was that a negro boy 16 .years old had voted sixteen times. Gentlemen, I happen to know about that, and the Chairman probably got it not directly, but lndi rectly, from me? My law partner, with the act of 1868 In his hands, In which the carpetbag Legislature had made It an Indictable offense to challenge anybody who offered to vote, with that statute In his hands, carried his office boy, 16 years bid. to the voting place In my town of Abbeville, and voted him one time for every year he was old. He did it to show the Infamy of carps t-Dag leg islatlon. and not that of negro enfran' chlsement. Let me say, furthermore. I suffered as much from reconstruc tlon and took as great a part In it per sonally as nnybody else, but that Is not material to the consideration of this question. I am making no complaint now on that, though I had a right to complain. I will tell .you what I conceive to he true statesmanship. It is to act with conditions as we find them. We may be Indignant about some of our past history. We may feel that what transpired twenty-live or thirty years ago Is Irritating, and as I have seen black heads banked around the polling box, and I could not ret there to vote without swimming through them about 100 yards deep, I felt the sting of it. When a company of Federal troops was sent to my town, I was arrested and put under bond of $10,000 that I would not hurt any carpet-bagger, because I and one or two mora one-armed men like myself, got after one and run him out of the county, and I haven't any leaped for the Kuklux of that day. They were menicient, or tne negroes would never have been led Into the en ore thoy were. The negroes were enfranchised, and 1 think wrongfully. I opposed It. It Is the only instance in history where the Congress of the United States violated Its fundamental law, and undertook to fix suffrage for the States. They never did It before and have never done it since. The negroes were enfmiicniued and they went right on and crowded to the polls, and they were In the hands of carpet-baggers and scalawags, and Doing lea by them, "uro'jgnt govtrn-mental evils almost untold, and there were but two ways to corrjet It. One ot these was to taite uhot guns ; nd go to the polls and disperse them. we either had to leave our homes or Btop that kind of thing, and it we took guns to the polls somebody would have gotten hurt. The other way was to cheat them. I was an advocate of the latter because it didn't take life. Now, I never changed votes with my one hand, but I upheld it and counselled It in those who did. I am Just as guilty as those who did. I am about like a parson who lived in my county before any railroads had come to that country, and they hauled cotton in wagons here to Montgomery and these black prairie roads were almost impassable. The old parson Tiad a fine six-mule team loaded with cotton one day ,and. with bis son John to drive, he started to Montgomery. The roads were awtul, and the wagon sunk Into the mud and had to be pried out time and again, John wag a little wick ed and disposed to swear. The old man protested, "Johnny, my sun, don't curse that way, that's wicked." After a while the wagon got stuck and be tried to pry It out, and tried to get the mules to pull it out, but it was all without effect, and John says, father if you will Just step aisde and let me cuss these mules a little while, 1 believe we can get this wagon out. The old man Beelng that everything else had been tried in vain, got out behind a tree and says. "Now. Johnny, you may curse them Just a little." Well, Johnny mounted the saddle mule and popped his whiD and hollered "Hell and twelve, come out of the mire." The mules got down steadily to it. The old man saw the wagon moving, which so delighted him he cried out, "Thirteen an the devil, cuss them a little more, Johnny." I was no better than Parson Reaves. I told them to go It, boys, count them out. We bad to do it. Unfortunately, I say it was a necessity. We could not help ourselves. We had to do It ir do worse. But we have gone on from bad to worse until it has become a great evil. It has gone to the point where the negro found out some time ago that it was no use for him to vote. White men have gotten to cheating each other until we don't have any hon est elections. That Is the trouble we have to grapple with. Now, it Is said that the right way to grapple with It is to disfranchise the negro, and according to our platform no white man shall be disfranchised. It no white man is to be disfranchised, then there Is nobody to disfranchise 'but the negro. As we have taken an oath here to support the Constitution of the United States, and if there is nobody to be disfranchised but negroes and we dis franchise them, how does that fit the Constitution that we have sworn to support. 'Now, the platform has pledge In It. I was nominated under it. I wasn't there when the platform was adopted, nor was I present at Birming ham at the meeting when the delegates ratified It, and said they would stand to it. I said all the time on the stump that I would vote for and support a reference of the Constitution back to the pen pie. I was opposed to increas ing the rate of taxation; but I was In the field and wanted to come to the Convention, not for any honors It would bring to me personally, but to pay a debt of gratitude I owed to the people of Alabama for having honored me. I was Willing to aid them by lending my feeble efforts to help them out of the trouble into which they had fallen In consequence of this evil of universal manhood suffrage, which had been thrust upon us without our consent and without our agency. And I said to them I am for making a Constitution which will elevate the suffrage and I am for eliminating from the right to vote all those who are unfit and unqualified, and 14 the rule strikes a white man as well n a nei'ro, let him go. There are some white men who have no more right and no more business to vote than a negro and not as much as some of them. Now, it Is truj statesmanship not to legislate, especially in making a fundamental law, on account ot the smarts and wrongs done us in our past history. That is not It. It is to deal with present conditions, whether they came by our permission or were thrust upon us. That don't make any difference. You are considering today a Constitution for the people hereafter, people who have to succeed us after my hairs have gone down to the grave and after you and I sleep in Mother Earth. You every man of you. are doing n work that, It Is to be hoped, will be beneficial to those who eucceed you?. Now, to what shall we look? Shall we go back to the irritations of the past to guide us. or shall we look to our present surroundings and cast aside the things of the past, which are not alive today? I have said about all I Intended along this line. Now, as to the question whether this grandfather clause, so-called, is constitutional or not. Gentlemen ,1 do not claim any more for myself than I concede to any other man In this Convention or out of It. I am keeper of my own conscience. You are keepers of yours. I never vet blamed a man who honestly differed with me In opinion. Thank God. I am constituted on broader lines than that and can concede to my fellow man all I claim for myself. I believe that this clause which the minority report against has two objections to it. One is, I believe, it Is unconstitutional. I mav be mistaken, but my belief Is more that way than it is in favor of its constitutionality. As to the one that precedes it about the soldiers, gentlemen, I am doubtful about that, but the soldier who has served his country Is always pretty-near the American heart, and If there is a doubt In that case, it can be waived in favor of them. I am die-posed to waive It. I say this Just here before entering upon the argument. There were two points. It seems, that have been In the minds of the committee. One was not to disfranchise any white man, in obedience to tht platform. The other not to violate the Constltutlonof the United Btates. They sail between Scylla and Charlbals. If ever there was an Instrument framed more artfully to sail between those points, I have never seen it. Tw ex-Judges of the Supreme Court and able lawyers, astute gentlemen, closely giving their attention to this work, and they have produced a masterpiece of its kind, and I am glad that I am able to concur with It in the main, but I would be untrue to myself, sir, If there Is any part of It which I can not endorse, If I sit down here like a mummy and a whipped cur and gay nothing. From my boyhood, I have acted upon the advice ot that greatest of poets wiio makes the father say to the son on leaving his household, ahd after giving much advice, this above all: "To thine own self be true, and It must follow , ... Am the night the day, thou canst not 1 then be false to any man." ' New these decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States none ot them have settled this question none. I want to give a very short space of time to their consideration, and in order that I may be brief, I have not brought the volumes here to quote from, but have brief extracts. But in the case of Yarbrough, 110 U. B it Is simply declared that the Fifteenth Amendment was designed primarily to ' prevent discrimination against colored men where the right to vote may be granted to others. Now, there Is no difference among the committee on that Then, in the Crulkshank case-why, there is nothing in that except this: They say, "Inasmuch, therefore, as It does not appear in the counts of the Indictment that the Intent of the defendants was to prevent these parties from exercising the right to vote on account of race or color, it does not appear that it was their intent to interfere with any right granted or secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. We may suspect that race was the cause of the hostility but it is not so averred." That decision went off simply on a question of pleading an Insufficient averment in the indictment. The courts might suspect, bat they could not decide when It was not in the case. Now, In the Williams case, which la the latest, 170 U. S., it said: "The Con stitution and laws of Mississippi are not limited by their language or ef. fects to one race. They reach the weak and vicious white man as well as the weak and vicious black man, and what ever Is sinister in their Intention, if anything, can be prevented by both races by the exercise of that duty. which voluntarily pays taxes and re- frains from crime. This 1b the premise from which Judge McKenna, deliv ering the opinion of the court, draws the conclusion as to the legality oi the Mississippi Constitution. He said: The Constitution and statutes oi tne State do not on their face discriminate between the races, and it has not been shown that their actual administration was evil, only that evil was possible under them, and hence the Supreme Court of the United States have not disturbed the Judgment oi tne court below." . . That was I will state it ror tne oene fit of some gentlemen who may be present who have not heard it tne case of Williams who had been con victed of murder, and an appeal .taxem to the Supreme Court of Mississippi. It was over the clauce In the Constitu tion which provided that only qualified electors were eligible as Jurors. That was the point. Now, I say that the question has never Deen aeciaea. It Is only a matter of Inference fsom the cases which have been adjudged as to what the Supreme court or me United States will decide. I lay downs this proposition by which I am governed, and I Delleve that It Is sound law: To include a class as voters on grounds that are repugnant to tne equality of rights and privileges that are the common heritage ot tne peopic, violates the spirit of the Constitution, if not its letter. Now, would it be constitutional? Suppose that this Convention was to declare, in favor of the negro race as voters, practically excluding the whites. Vvould that be sustainable? I think not. Such dis criminations are not allowable by tne Fifteenth Amendment I have not th p time to express my opinion on the ; kl clause admitting soldiers to the fran- " 4 chise, which I hope to do some time t4 hereafter. But as to the clause admit- l ting descendants of soldiers golngf . back to the Revolutionary war and S coming on down through all the wars f. to the Spanish war the descendants of those who were soldiers are 9 be s,fl''?T,"s?t mined to the franchise. If not disfran- i chlsed by other parts of the Constltu- , - ; , tlon. and are residents of the State- as prescribed. Gentlemen, there are : f two points of objection. The first is, ; i I believe that is unconstitutional. That Is. I am more inclined to think that-more Inclined to that view than I am to think that it is sustainable before-the eourt. The object of it Is what? Among ourselves, why let down the bars not only for the soldiers, but the descendants ot the soldiers? What la It for? Is It not to let In nearly all white men. and Isn't It to keep out the negroes? Isn't It in fact a discrimination? If It be a discrimination, then it is violative of that clause of the Constitution. While I would like never to have naa the Fifteenth Article of Amendment, when you swear me to keep it, gentlemen, I never have when I ever have felt my honor grip. I've let that be mv border. When I reel tnoi inia clause Is contrary to the oath I have taken. I cannot support it. Even if it is a matter of doubt, I would rafnep not do It. It is not consistent. Sucli action would not be consistent with my onth to suport the Constitution of the United States. We pass to another point. I msiss that It Is not at all necessary. The way it is now the gap is mighty narrow and the gate is mighty near closed on the road that will admit any negro to the franchise. They would be very few and far between, like an) angel's visits, and even without this, the conditions are such that you would find eliminated: from the franchise about three-fourths; of them. Now. gentlemen, is It good! to be radical In anything, or Is it not best to be reasonable? We have m race of people amongst us here, and I am not one of those who concur in the opinion that there is a race-war on. Not so. Some claim that there Is a- race war that Is as Irrepressible as was the conflict between free labor and slave labor as proclaimed by Lincoln. Not so. They say, "Oh, well, history shows that two races of people never did live In the same country long. The white race always drives out the colored and Inferior race." Are we not people ot the United States? Are we not Southerners who fought for four Immortal years against four and a half i times our own number, and carried 1 the flag of the Storm-Cradled Nation to victory on a hundred fields? Is It not possible for us to do what no other people have done? I maintain that It is. Some people say you cannot, while the negro Is here unless he In thoroughly subordinated and practically a slave. I say no, you can admit him to some participation In our government so long as the white man rules, and he ought to rule, but he ought not, because he Is strong like Samson, to strike down the weaker, who gets in his path, when God and the Bible teaches him to do kindly unto those who are In his power. The President Tho time of the gentleman has expired. Mr. Sando.-s (Limestone) I move that the time of the distinguished gentleman bo extended for twenty minutes. Upon a vote being taken, the motion was carried. Mr. Oates Gentlemen of the Convert- ' tlon, I thank you for your kindness, . but I will endeavor not to consume 1 much time. I am not a man who loves to speak Just to bear ray voice. I have heard it long enough, so that I am not particularly enamoured with it Now. thts thing presents to us a problem much deeper and broader' than that ot merely going to the polls and casting a ballot and electing somebody to office. It Is one that affects us and ' our future for years and years to come. What to It? wm we completely ex- t ft i 0; ' r ,' i .1 If i ,1 1 s ... . , ....... vv ;U 11 " i '' ." . TORN PAGE h BAD ORIGINALS

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