Franklin Repository: February 14, 1866Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
A Hero For The Times
(Column 8)Summary: An anecdote about a beggar who falsely asserted he fought in the Civil War to win the sympathy, and donations, of the passing crowd. Once his scheme was discovered, however, the man was forced to flee for his life.
The Relief Bill
(Column 1)Summary: With the bill to appropriate $500,000 for the relief of Chambersburg having passed the "popular branch of the legislature" by a "decisive vote of 73 to 23," the editors express their gratitude to the House for "its decisive recognition of the justice and generosity."What Shall Be The Guarantees
(Column 1)Summary: Although some members of Congress have advocated enfranchising the former slaves and confiscating the estates of disloyal white southerners to remedy the volatile situation in the South, these measures are wholly impractical, say the editors. To counter the treasonous sentiments pervading the region, Congress must guarantee basic rights for the freedmen and women and must ensure that slavery will not return simply under the guise of a different name. The editors contend that the amendment recently introduced by Thad Stevens is a "step in the right direction."
Full Text of Article:The President and the Negroes
The emancipated slave cannot now be enfranchised. The fact is conclusive and theories are fruitless. Many earnest and faithful men have looked to universal suffrage in the rebel States as the main guarantee for future peace and fidelity; but there can be none so blind as not to see that it is one of the issues that cannot enter into the practical solution of the problem of re-construction. Mr. Stevens but reflected the convictions of four-fifths of all classes in his recent speech, when he said--"I hold that the States have a right, and always have had it, to fix the elective franchise within their own States." Mr. Sumner may deliver his most classical and eloquent essays in opposition to the doctrine, but he will be left behind and almost solitary in the great struggle.
Confiscation is one of the issues of the past. It would be but just, but the nation has progressed beyond it in the adjustment of the grave questions arising from the war. The Executive is adverse to it. Peace brought with it that magnanimity that ever characterizes a great and brave people, and confiscation was not demanded. Even with a crushing debt created by causeless war, the loyal people seemed to prefer to bear its burdens rather than demand its payment by those who wantonly forced it upon us. A test vote on the subject recently in Congress, showed but a small minority in favor of it. It is dead--let us deal with living, practical issues.
The emancipated slave, let it not be forgotten, was the faithful ally of the government in its deadly struggle with treason. He betrayed no warrior clad in his country's blue. He was ever ready to aid the fleeing fugitive from rebel pest-houses and prisons. He found them in the swamps and hiding-places and ministered to their wants; and often led them by the north star, his finger-board of freedom, to safety within our lines. Nor did he stop with sympathy--he filled up our shattered ranks, when the North was on the verge of despair, and fifty thousand of his sable race sleep with the martyrs of the Republic.
Of the inhabitants of the rebel States the freedmen stand alone, as a class, in unqualified loyalty to the government. He is disfranchised. In most States he is without the natural right to make or enforce a contract. He cannot testify in the courts, and is without means to protect his person, his property or his family. His late master hates him because he has been unjust to him, and his injustice has in the fullness of time been measurably avenged. He has forfeited life, property and citizenship by his treason; but now he struggles as of old to pervert the very genius of our government and blot it with oppression.
One of the first guarantees to be demanded and perfected in the reconstruction of the rebel States is the complete protection of the emancipated slave. If Congress shall fail to do this wisely and well, then will treason win in the councils of the nation what it lost by the sword, and we shall have slavery, in the guise of freedom, more object and tyrannical than before. If any State shall be admitted to full fellowship that refuses entire equality to all its people before the law, without regard to caste or color, it will be a blistering stain upon the national escutcheon, and will be a staggering blow at the very vitals of our free institutions.
The President has pronounced against any amendment of the organic law; but the loyal people are not content thus to endanger the government by clothing present and future traitors with power to renew the discord the sword has silenced. The nation has emancipated over four millions of slaves, and all bow to the justice of the act; but they were not emancipated to be abandoned to a more cruel fate than Slavery. Their emancipation imposes the duty of protection, and it cannot be evaded or discarded to gratify ambition or to silence the last invention of treason--the cry of war of races. They must be made equal before the law, or their condition as freedmen will be worse than ever was slavery; and to Congress, and to Congress alone, do the loyal people of the nation look for this small measure of justice. The rebel States have already refused it; some in whole, some in part, and only the arm of the organic law can be equal to the task of maintaining "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for the freedmen of the States lately in rebellion.
The proposed amendment to the constitution passed by the House recently, although not all that the case demands, is the best step in the right direction that has yet been taken. It does not propose any violent change in social or political rights, but concedes all such questions to the people of the States. It declares to those States that they can enfranchise their negroes or not, just as they choose. They can do it by degrees, by wholesale, or never do it, as they may prefer; but it declares, also, that the people who have no voice in the selection of Congressmen, shall have no representation there--in other words: that the former slave owners shall cease to be represented in Congress by disfranchised freedmen. Its adoption will reduce the representation of the rebel States in Congress one-third, and leave them the option to regain their old representation, and even an increase of it, whenever they determine to extend the elective franchise. Already prominent men in the South have started the agitation. The Richmond Whig advocates limited negro suffrage in Virginia. Hon. Wm. A. Graham, formerly a rebel Senator and now Senator elect from North Carolina, has declared in favor of qualified negro suffrage in that State; and Hon. John Bell and Gen. Pillow have advised its adoption in Tennessee. We believe that the adoption of the amendment will accomplish more for the freedmen, by the voluntary action of the Southern people, than any measure of Congress aiming at the attainment of direct and positive political advantages for them.
The guarantee of complete protection to the emancipated slave must be perfected before rebel States are re-admitted, or it can never be accomplished; and when that is done, we submit that the protection of our own credit, the repudiation of the rebel debt, and the paramount duty of all citizens and States to the general government, are grave issues which should not be left to the uncertain policy of the future. It is clear that no measure looking to the supremacy of loyalty in the nation will ever be adopted after rebels are admitted to fellowship and representation; and it is no injustice to a conquered people, who exhausted themselves to overthrow the government, to leave to loyalty, not to treason, the perfection of the safe-guards deemed essential to the future peace and prosperity of the Union. We appreciate the embarrassments under which the Union majority in both branches of Congress habitually labor in this work of justice and security; but in their hands are these issues entrusted by a faithful people, and it is for them to act wisely and patriotically for the safety of the Republic. They should sacrifice no attainable good because all that should be accomplished cannot be won. They are the guardians of Justice and Freedom; let them be faithful to their sacred trust, and spare no efforts to make the Union, regenerated in its richest blood, true alike to its patriotic founders and to its heroic defenders.
(Column 2)Summary: From the recent meeting between "a delegation of Negroes and President Johnson," contends the editorial, it has become clear that the President intends to veto the bill granting suffrage to blacks in the District of Columbia. This decision, along with his position on a number of "vital issues," it suggests, will place him at odds with a "decided majority of Congress." Should the President prevail in this battle with Congress, "the vanquished, not the victors" will "have triumphed in the reconstruction of the Union."
Full Text of Article:[No Title]
We give in to-day's paper the detailed account of the recent interview between a delegation of Negroes and President Johnson. It will be seen that the President improved the occasion to give his views fully on the question of the enfranchisement of their race, and the special importance of his expressions arises from the fact that he clearly fore-shadows his veto of the bill now pending in the Senate extending suffrage to the colored people in the District of Columbia.
We are not surprised at the expressions of opinion made by President Johnson. But a short time before, he authorized a publication indicating his aversion to any amendment of the constitution. A few Union members faltered, but the amendment fixing a just basis of representation passed soon thereafter by more than the requisite two-thirds, and it is morally certain that the Senate will pass both the negro suffrage bill for the District of Columbia and the amendment adopted by the House.
The resolution proposing an amendment to the constitution does not require the approval of the President; but the bill for the enfranchisement of the negro in the District cannot become a law without his signature unless passed over his veto by a two-thirds vote--a result not probable after a Presidential veto. The country will, we apprehend, soon witness a decided majority of Congress at variance with the President on several most vital issues, and we fear greatly that the end will be the defeat of all measures essential to the future peace and safety of a loyal people, who have just rescued their government by appalling sacrifice.
We do not choose to discuss the position of the President on the status and future protection of the freedmen, but the reflection is irresistible that he regards the question with singular forgetfulness of the crime of treason. "The question comes up," he says, "whether these two races, (the rebels and freedmen) situated as they were before, without time for passion and excitement to be appeased, and without time for the slightest improvement--whether the one should be turned loose upon the other and be thrown together at the ballot-box with the enmity and hate existing between them. Will not this commence a war of races?"
The negroes who had felt the driver's lash, were allowed to hear the interrogatory, but not to answer it, or we should probably have heard that if the rebel hates the negro it is because the one was faithful to the government and the other faithless; and that if a war of races will follow enfranchisement, it is because the perfidious white man, who has drenched his land in blood to destroy his own inheritance, will inaugurate and prosecute that war.
The question of suffrage is wisely left to the States. All parties excepting the President himself, who has regulated it in his reconstruction experiments, agree that it is not competent for Congress to declare the negro enfranchised anywhere out of the District of Columbia; but it is due to justice and to law, that it be denied because such is the law, and not because unrepentant traitors threaten the nation with a series of petty revolutions. Granted that Congress has no right to enfranchise the emancipated slave, by what right, by what law, does the rebel, still stained with the blood of our brethren sacrificed in wanton war, threaten us with a war of races if a loyal black man is conceded the same rights mercifully conceded to a conquered rebel? The right of the rebel under the law is to die; to expiate his crime--the right of the freedmen under the law is protection. Must his appeal for it be answered by the fear that traitors may be offended?
We must confess that the logic of the President does not accord with enlightened freedom or the claims of justice. If after four years of fearful war to overthrow treason, the prejudices of the traitor, who lives and enjoys his citizenship solely by the boundless magnanimity of the government he labored to destroy, must determine the measure of protection of the freedmen, then will the future prove that the vanquished, not the victors, have triumphed in the reconstruction of the Union.
(Column 3)Summary: In response to criticisms published in southern papers regarding the poor treatment of the rebel dead at Gettysburg, the piece refutes the allegations, avowing that any such complaint "is grossly unjust to our people." If southerners are concerned with the conditions of their war dead, they should "go from one battlefield to another and gather their dead into cemeteries," as northerners do.[No Title]
(Column 3)Summary: The article welcomes the news that the state senate has passed a bill altering the method of selecting jurors in several counties of the state to ensure that a representative of each party has a hand in determining who is qualified to serve. The proposed change is necessary to eliminate a spate of abuses that have recently occurred.Harrisburg
(Column 4)Summary: In his article, "Horace" recounts the proceedings over the Chambersburg Relief Bill, which dominated the week's political news in the state capital. Though its fate had been "doubtful" for sometime, by the time the vote was conducted, its passage was "considered assured."
(Names in announcement: Col. Stumbaugh)Trailer: HoraceThe Normal School
(Column 6)Summary: The letter-writer argues in favor of the establishment of the normal school, averring that the institution would greatly enhance the level of instruction in the district.
Full Text of Article:Hon. Isaac Newton
To the Editors of the Franklin Repository:
The establishment of a Normal School in Franklin County, is a question of great moment to its citizens at the present time. Every parent and every good citizen feels the necessity of providing good schools for the rising generation. Year after year, as the time for opening our schools approaches, the attention of School Directors is directed to the important subject of securing the requisite number of well qualified teachers. Parents are anxious in each particular locality as to whom the education of their children is to be entrusted. The Directors meet to consider the applications of candidates for the schools of their respective districts. At once they feel the delicacy of their situation as the chosen representatives of the patrons of their school. They know full well that their predecessors have too frequently failed to give satisfaction in the selection of teachers.They, themselves, perhaps, in their private positions as patrons, have often blamed School Directors for the appointment or non-appointment of particular applicants. They have asked and reiterated the question. Why do our directors not give us better teachers? They have, perhaps, insinuated that impure motives have governed their action; and almost desponding of good schools at home they have, at considerable expense, sent their children from home to be educated. Now, however, they occupy the responsible position of making the selection themselves; they meet for the purpose of engaging teachers for a district having from 10 to 20 schools, and at once are confronted by the stubborn fact that not more than half the number of competent teachers make application for situations. At that and subsequent meetings, through much tribulation, they toil under the burden of their trust, and finally, fill the schools with good teachers, doubtful apprentices and a few who have been rejected at their first meeting. They are at once made the targets, as their predecessors before them, of the shaft of abuse and crimination deserved or undeserved, until, if duty does not prompt them to a better course, they turn with the disgust from the thankless business of "making brick without straw," while their task masters mercilessly require the "full tale of brick." This is but a faint picture of the history of School Directors for the past few years. Indeed it has always been and must still be the experience of these officers wherever the supply of teachers is not equal to the demand. What then must be the remedy for this state of things? Evidently take means for increasing the supply. We do not say that no one can teach successfully without a professional training in a Normal School. No doubt by a few sessions of experimenting, and perhaps by mistakes which are permanently fatal to their pupils; or here and there a genius "apt to teach" by instinct, some have risen to eminence in their profession. But the great fact remains that these do not afford an adequate supply of teachers for our schools. How, then, will a Normal School remedy this defect in the supply? The Normal School is a school for training teachers in their profession, other schools only undertake to make scholars, who must afterwards learn the business of teaching. The Normal School has a chair on the "Theory and Practice of Teaching." In order to train the teacher, there is in the Normal School a model school. In this model school under the supervision of a Professor the graduating class are trained to teach the branches required in our Common Schools. Here the student gets an experience which enables him to classify his school, and teach it successfully, as soon as he enters his profession. Shall we not exert all our energies to secure such a school in our county? Many from our own county will go to such a school near home who would not go abroad. Many others will come from abroad to be educated here who will be attracted by our pleasant and salubrious valley and will remain amongst us. The expenses of educating our sons and daughters in a school near home will be much lighter than they would if they must go abroad. Every interest, educational, agricultural, mechanical, and mercantile will be promoted by bringing money into our county. All have an interest, all should interest themselves in this great project.
(Column 6)Summary: Farmer condemns the persistent attacks on the Bureau of Agriculture and its Commissioner, Isaac Newton, by the Agriculturalist, a paper published in New York.
Trailer: FarmerSpeech of the President
(Column 6)Summary: A transcript of the meeting between delegation of black leaders and the President.
Editorial Comment: "The delegation of colored representatives from different States of sthe country, now in Washington to urge the interests of the colored people before the Government, had an interview with the President on Wednesday. The delegation was as follows:"
Full Text of Article:
The delegation of colored representatives from different States of the country, now in Washington to urge the interests of the colored people before the Government, had an interview with the President on Wednesday. The delegation was as follows:
Frederick Douglass, of New York; George T. Downing, representing the New England States; Luis H. Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, and Wm. F. Matthews, of Maryland; John Jones, of Illinois; John L. Cook, of the District of Columbia; A. J. Raynier, of South Carolina; Jos. Oats, of Florida; A. W. Ross, of Mississippi; Wm. Ripper, of Pennsylvania; John M. Brown and Alex Dunlap, of Virginia, and Calvin Pepper, (white,) of Virginia.
The President shook hands kindly with each member of the delegation, Frederick Douglass first advancing for that purpose. Geo. T. Downing then addressed the President as follows:--We present ourselves to your Excellency to make known with pleasure the respect which we are glad to treasure for you; a respect which is your due as our Chief Magistrate. It is our desire for you to know that we come feeling that we are friends, meeting as friends. We should, however, have manifested our friendship by not coming to further tax your already burdened and valuable time. But we have another object in calling. We are in a passage to equality before the law. God hath made it by opening a red sea. We would have your assistance through the same. We come to you in the name of the United States, and are delegated to come by some who have unjustly worn iron manacles on their bodies; by some whose minds have been trammeled by class legislation in States called free.
The colored people of the States of Illinois, Wisconsin, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New England States, and District of Columbia, have specially delegated us to come. Our coming is a marked circumstance noting determined hope; that we are not satisfied with an amendment prohibiting slavery, but that we wish it enforced with appropriate legislation. This is our desire. We ask for it intelligently, with the knowledge and conviction that the fathers of the revolution intended freedom for every American, that they should be protected in their rights as citizens and equal before the law.
We are Americans, native-born Americans. We are citizens, we are glad to have it known to the world, as bearing no doubtful record on this point. On this fact, and with confidence in the triumph of justice, we base our hopes. We see no recognition of color or race in the organic law of the land. It knows no privileged class, and therefore we cherish the hope that we may be fully enfranchised, not only here in this district, but throughout the land. We respectfully submit that rendering anything less than this will be rendering to us less than our just dues; that granting anything less than our full rights will be a disregard of our just rights, of disrespect for our feelings.
If the power that be do so it will be used as a license, as it were, or an apology for any community, or for individuals, thus disposed to outrage our rights and feelings. It has been shown in the present war that the Government may justly reach the strong arm into States and demand from them, from those who owe it allegiance, their assistance and support. May it not reach out a like arm to secure and protect its subjects upon whom it has a like claim?
Frederick Douglass advanced and addressed the President, saying:--Mr. President, we are not here to enlighten you, sir, as to your duties as the Chief Magistrate of the Republic, but to show our respect, and to present in brief the claims of our race to your favorable consideration. By the order of Divine Providence you are placed in a position where you have the power to save or destroy us--to bless or to blast us; I mean our whole race. Your noble and humane predecessor placed in our hands the power to assist in saving the nation, and we do hope that you, his able successor, will favorably regard the placing in our hands of the ballot, with which to save ourselves.
We shall submit no argument on that point. The fact that we are subjects of Government and subject to taxation, subject to volunteer in the service of the country, subject to being drafted, subject to bear the burdens of the State, makes it improper that we should ask to share in the privileges of this condition. I have no speech to make on this occasion. I simply submit these observations as a limited expression of the views and feelings of the delegation with which I have come.
REPLY OF THE PRESIDENT
The following is substantially the response of the President:--In reply to some of your inquiries, not to make a speech about this matter, for it is always best to talk plainly and distinctly about such questions, I will say that if I have not given evidence in my former course that I am a friend of humanity, and to that portion of it which constitutes the colored population, I can give no evidence hereafter. Everything that I have had, both as regards life and property, has been periled in this cause, and I feel and think that I understand (not to be egotistic) what should be the true direction of this question, and what course of policy would result in the amelioration and ultimate elevation not only of the colored, but the great mass of the people of the United States.
I say that if I have not given evidence that I am a friend of humanity, and especially the friend of the colored man, in my past conduct, there is nothing that I could now do that would. I repeat, all that I possessed, life, liberty and property, have been put up in connection with that question, when I had every inducement held out to take the other course, by adopting which I would have accomplished, perhaps, all that the most ambitious might have desired.
If I know myself and the feelings of my own heart, they have been for the colored man. I have owned slaves and bought slaves, but I never sold one. I might say, however, that practically, so far as my connection with slaves has gone, I have been their slave instead of their being mine. Some have even followed here, while others are occupying and enjoying my property with my consent. For the colored race my means, my time, my all has been periled, and now, at this late day, after giving evidence that is tangible, that is practical, I am free to tell you that I do not like to be arranged by some who can get up handsomely-rounded periods, deal in rhetoric and talk about abstract ideas of liberty, who never periled life, liberty, or property.
This kind of theoretical, hollow, unpractical friendship amounts to but very little. While I say that I am a friend of the colored man, I do not want to adopt a policy that I believe will end in a contact between the races, which, if persisted in, will result in the extermination of one or the other. God forbid that I should be engaged in such a work now. It is always best to talk practically and in a common sense way. Yes, I have said, and I repeat it here, that if the colored man in the United States could find no other Moses, or any Moses that would be more able and efficient than myself, I would be his Moses to lead him from bondage to freedom; that I would pass him from a land where he had lived in slavery to a land (if it were in our reach) of freedom. Yes, I would be willing to pass with him the rough the Red Sea to the land of promise, to the land of liberty; but I am not willing, under either circumstances, to adopt a policy which I believe will only result in the sacrifice of his life, and the shedding of his blood. I think I know what I say; I feel what I say, and I feel assured that if the policy urged by some be persisted in, it will result in great injury to the white as well as to the colored man. There is a great deal of talk about the sword in one hand accomplishing one end, and the ballot accomplishing another at the ballot-box. These things all do very well, and sometimes have forcible application.
We talk about justice, we talk about right. We say that the white man has been in the wrong in keeping the black man in slavery as long as he has. That is all true. Again, we talk about the Declaration of Independence, and equality before the law. You understand all that, and know how to appreciate it. But now let us look each other in the face. Let us go to the great mass of colored men throughout the slave States. Let us take the condition in which they are at the present time (and it is bad enough we all know), and suppose by some magic you could say to every one, "You shall vote to-morrow." How much would that ameliorate their condition at this time? Now, let us get closer up to this subject and talk about it.
What relation has the colored man and the white man heretofore occupied in the South? I opposed slavery upon two grounds. First, it was a great monopoly, enabling those who controlled and owned it to constitute an aristocracy, enabling the few to derive great profits and rule the many with an iron rod, as it were; and that is one great objection to it in argument, its being a monopoly. I was opposed to it, secondly, upon the abstract principle of slavery. Hence in getting clear of a monopoly we were getting clear of slavery at the same time. So, you see, there were two right ends accomplished in the accomplishment of one.
Mr. Douglass--Mr. President, do you wish--
The President--I am not quite through yet. Slavery has been abolished. A great national guarantee has been given, one that cannot be revoked. I was getting at the relation that subsisted between the white and the colored man. A very small proportion of white persons, compared with the whole number of such, owned the colored people of the South. I might instance the State of Tennessee in illustration. There were twenty-seven non-slaveholders to one slave-holder, and yet that slave power controlled the State. Let us talk about the matter as it is.
Although the colored man was in slavery there, and owned as property in the sense and in the language of that locality and of that community, yet in comparing his condition and his position there with the non-slaveholder, he usually estimated his importance just in proportion to the number of slaves that his master owned with the non-slaveholder. Have you never lived upon a plantation?
Mr. Douglass--I have, your Excellency.
The President--When you could look over and see a man, who had a large family, struggling hard upon a poor piece of land, you thought a great deal less of him than you did of your own master.
Mr. Douglass--Not I.
The President--Well, I know such was the case with a large majority of you in those sections; where such is the case, we know there is an enmity; we know there is a hate. The poor white man, on the other hand, was opposed to the slave and his master, for the colored man and his master combined kept him in slavery by depriving him of a fair participation in the labor and productions of the rich lands of the country. Don't you know that a colored man in going to hunt a master (as they call it) for the next year, preferred hiring to a man who owned slaves rather than one who did not. I know the fact, at all events.
Mr. Douglass--Because they treated him better.
The President--They did not consider it quite as respectable to hire to a man who did not own negroes as to hire to one who did.
Mr. Douglass--Because he wouldn't be treated as well.
The President--Then that is another argument in favor of what I am going to say. It shows that the colored man appreciates the slave owner more highly than he did the man who didn't own slaves. Hence the enmity between colored man and the non-slaveholders. The white man was permitted to vote before government was derived from him. He is part and parcel of the political machinery, not by rebellion or revolution.
And when you come back to the object of this war you find that the abolition of slavery was not one of the objects. Congress, and the President himself, declared that it was waged on our part in order to suppress the Rebellion. The abolition of slavery has come as an incident, and as an incident we should give it the proper direction. The colored man went into this Rebellion a slave. By the operation of the Rebellion he came out a freedman, equal to freedmen in other portions of the country.
Then there is a great deal done for him on this point. The non-slaveholder who was forced into the Rebellion, and was as loyal as those who lived beyond the limits of the State, was carried into it, and his property, and in a number of instances the lives of such were sacrificed, and he who has survived has come out of it with nothing gained, but a great deal lost.
Now, upon a principle of justice, should they be placed in a condition different from what they were before? On the one hand one has gained a great deal. On the other hand one has lost a great deal, and in a political point of view, scarcely stands where he did before. Now we are talking about where we are going to begin. We have got at the hate that existed between the two races.
The query comes up whether these two races, situated as they were before, without preparation, without time for passion and excitement to be appeased, and without time for the slightest improvement, whether the one should be turned loose upon the other and be thrown together at the ballot-box with this enmity and hate existing between them? The question comes up, will we not then commence a war of races? I think I understand this thing, and especially is this the case when you force it upon a people without their consent.
You have spoken about Government. Where is power derived from? We say it is derived from the people. Let us take it so, and refer to the District of Columbia by way of illustration. Suppose, for instance, here, in this political community, which to a certain extent must have government, must have law; and putting it now upon the broadest basis you can put it, take into consideration the relation which the white has hitherto borne to the colored race, is it proper to force upon this community, without their consent, the elective franchise without regard to color, making it universal?
Now, where do you begin? Government must have a controlling power, must have a lodgement. For instance; suppose Congress should pass a law authorizing an election to be held, at which all over twenty one years of age, without regard to color, should be allowed to vote, and a majority should decide at such election that the elective franchise should not be universal, what would you do about it? Who would settle it? Do you deny that first great principle of the right of the people to govern themselves? Will you resort to an arbitrary power, and say a majority of this people shall receive a state of things they are opposed to?
Mr. Douglass--That was said before the war.
The President--I am now talking about a principle, and not what somebody else said.
Mr. Downing--Apply what you have said, Mr. President, to South Carolina, for instance.
The President--Suppose you go to South Carolina, suppose you go to Ohio, that does not change the principle at all. The query to which I have referred still comes up when the Government is undergoing a fundamental change. The government commenced upon this principle, it has existed upon it, and you propose now to incorporate into it an element that did not exist before.
I say the query comes up, in undertaking this thing, whether we have a right to make a change in regard to the elective franchise in Ohio, for instance; whether we shall not let the people in that State decide the matter for themselves?
Each community is better prepared to determine the depository of its political power than anybody else, and it is for the Legislature, for the people of Ohio, to say who shall vote, and not for the Congress of the United States.
I might go down here to the ballot-box to-morrow and vote directly for universal suffrage, but if a great majority of this people said no, I should consider it would be tyrannical and arbitrary in me to attempt to force it upon them without their will. It is a fundamental text in my creed that the will of the people must be obeyed when fairly expressed. Is there anything wrong or unfair in that?
Mr. Douglass, smiling--A great deal of wrong, Mr. President, with all respect.
The President--It is the people of the States that must for themselves determine this question. I do not want to be engaged in a work that will commence a war of the races. I want to begin the work of reparation. If a man demeans himself well, and shows evidence that this new state of affairs will operate, he will be protected in all his rights and given every possible advantage by the State or community in which he lives when they become reconciled socially and politically to certain things. Then will this new order of affairs work harmoniously. But forced upon the people before they are prepared for it, it will be resisted and work inharmoniously. I feel a conviction that forcing this matter upon the people, upon the community, will result in the injury of both races, and the ruin of one or the other.
God knows I have no desire but the good of the whole human race. I would it were so that all you advocate could be done in the twinkling of an eye. But it is not in the nature of things, and I do not assume or pretend to be wiser than Providence, or stronger than the law of nature. Let us now seek to discover the laws governing this question. There is a great law controlling it. Let us endeavor to find out what that law is, and conform our action to it.
All the details will then properly adjust themselves, and work out well in the end. God knows that anything I can do I will do in the mighty process by which the great end is to be reached. Anything I can do to elevate the races, to soften and ameliorate their condition, I will do, and to be able to do so is the sincere desire of my heart. I am glad to have met you, and thank you for the compliment you have paid me.
Mr. Douglass--I have to return your kind thanks, Mr. President, for so kindly granting us this interview. We did not come here expecting to argue this question with your Excellency; but simply to state what were our views and wishes in the premises. If we were disposed to argue the question, and you would grant us permission, of course we would endeavor to controvert some of the positions you have assumed.
Mr. Downing--Mr. Douglass, I take it that the President, by his kind expressions and his very full treatment of the subject, must have contemplated some reply to the views which he has advanced, and in which we certainly do not concur, and I say this with due respect.
The President--I thought you expected me to indicate, to some extent, what my views were on the subject touched upon in your statement.
Mr. Downing--We are very happy indeed, to have heard them.
Mr. Douglass--If the President will allow me I would like to say one or two words in reply.
The President--What I have done is simply to indicate what my views are, as I suppose you expected me to from your address.
Mr. Douglass--My own impression is that the very thing that your excellency would avoid in the Southern States, can only be averted by the very measure that we propose, and I would state to my brother delegates, that because I perceive the President has taken strong ground in favor of a given policy, and distrusting my own ability to remove any of those impressions which he has expressed, I thought we had better end the interview with the expression of our thanks. (Addressing the President) But, if your Excellency, would be pleased to hear, I would like to say a word or two in regard to that one matter of the enfranchisement of the black as a means of preventing the very thing which your Excellency seems to apprehend--that is, a conflict of races.
The President--I repeat, I merely wanted to vindicate my views in reply to your address, and not to enter into any general controversy, as I could not well do so under the circumstances. Your statement was a very frank one, and I thought it was due to you to meet it in the same spirit.
Mr. Douglass--Thank you, sir.
The President--I think you will find, so far as the South is concerned, that if you will all inculcate their ideas in connection with your own, that the colored people can live and advance in civilization to better advantage elsewhere, than crowded together in the South. It would be better for them.
Mr. Douglass--But the masters have the making of the laws, and we cannot get away from the plantations.
Mr. President--What prevents you?
Mr. Douglass--We have not the simple right of locomotion through the Southern States now.
The President--If the master now controls him or his action, would he not control him in his vote?
Mr. Douglass--Let the negro once understand that he has a right to vote, and he will raise a party in the Southern States among the poor, who will rally with him. There is this conflict that you speak of between the wealthy slaveholder and the poor man.
The President--You touch right upon the point there. There is this conflict, and hence I suggest emigration. If he cannot get employment in the South, he has it in his power to go where he can get it.
In parting the President said that they were both desirous of accomplishing the same ends, but proposed to do so by following up different roads.
Mr. Douglass, on turning to leave, remarked to his fellow delegates, "The President sends us to the people, and we will have to go and get the people right."
The President--Yes, sir; I have great faith in the people. I believe they will do what is just, and have no doubt they will settle this question right, and hope that it will be submitted to them for final action.
The delegation then bowed and withdrew.
Local Items--The Wants of Chambersburg
(Column 1)Summary: The piece calls for the establishment of a public library, an academy for boys, a female seminary, a market, and a water-works to improve local standard of living.Local Items
(Column 2)Summary: At the meeting of the McMurray Lodge, No. 119, I. O. of G. T., held on Feb. 5th, the following officers were selected by D. D. John T. Turner, of Carlisle: P. W. C. T., W. W. Paxton; W.C. T., John Gilmore; W. V. T., Mrs. Rachel A. Sloan; W. R. S., Benjamin A. Fahnestock; W. A. R. S., Kate M. Kirby; W. T., Thomas Metcalf; W. F. S., James Aughinbaugh; W. M., J. Newton Shillito; W. D. M., Annie E. Newman; W. G., Frank Keagy; W. R. H. S., Rebecca Seibert; W. F. H. S., William A. Monyer; W. I. G., Cordelia Forbes; W. O. G., John A. S. Cramer.Local Items--Pay of Jurors and Witnesses
(Names in announcement: John R. Turner, W. W. Paxton, John M. Gilmore, Rachel A. Sloan, Benjamin A. Fahnestock, Kate Kirby, Thomas Metcalf, James Aughinbaugh, Newton Shillito, Annie E. Newman, Frank Keagy, Rebecca Seibert, William Monyer, Cordelia Forbes, John Cramer)
(Column 2)Summary: Announcement that Col. Stumbaugh has introduced a bill to increase the pay of jurors and witnesses in Franklin county. The provisions of the bill mandate the pay for jurors and witnesses to be set at $2 and $1.25, respectively. Those witnesses who live within a mile of Chambersburg will receive 50 cents less because of their proximity to the Court House.Local Items--Appointments
(Column 2)Summary: Appointments were made at the Annual Conference of the United Brethren in Christ held in Littlestown on Jan. 25th.Local Items--Promotions Confirmed
(Names in announcement: H. Y. Hummelbaugh, J. B. Jones, J. Dickson, S. Young, A. Tripner, S. Bingham, G. Brickley)
(Column 2)Summary: The Senate confirmed a large number of brevet promotions, including the following men from Franklin county: John L. Ritchie, 200th Pa., to be Lieutenant Colonel; J. C. Sample, 11th Pa. Cav., J. H. Harmony, 21st Pa. Cav., and S. B. Barnes, 10th Pa. Cav., to be Majors.Local Items--Shoulder Dislocated
(Names in announcement: John L. Ritchie, J. C. Sample, J. H. Harmony, S. B. Barnes)
(Column 2)Summary: Solomon Huber fell on the ice last Thursday, dislocating his shoulder and sustaining serious injuries. He has been confined to his room and is recovering slowly.Married
(Names in announcement: Solomon Huber)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 8th, Daniel Bear and Rebecca Arnold were married by Rev. Thomas Creigh.Married
(Names in announcement: Daniel Bear, Rebecca Arnold, Rev. Thomas Creigh)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 6th, Peter North and Mary E. Miller were married by Rev. Jospeh King.Died
(Names in announcement: Peter North, Mary E. Miller, Rev. Joseph King)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 9th, Mollie M., daughter of J. W. Deal, died in Chambersburg. She was 11 years old.Died
(Names in announcement: Mollie M. Deal, J. W. Deal)
(Column 3)Summary: On Jan. 21st, Anna Mary, daughter of John and Catharine Dulabaum, died. She was 5 years old.
(Names in announcement: Anna Mary Dulabaum, John Dulabaum, Catharine Dulabaum)
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