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1865 July 1: Negro Suffrage—“The color of a man in no way affects his rights”

July 2, 2015

The following editorial comes from The Prescott Journal of July 1, 1865 reprinted from the Hudson Times.

Negro Suffrage.

The question of extending to negroes the right of suffrage, especially in the Southern States, is now the all absorbing topic in politics.  Papers, politicians and statesmen are discussing this question.  Our own opinion upon this subject is briefly told.  We would neither allow negroes to vote nor refuse them that privilege, because they are Negroes.  The color of a man in no way affects his rights.  If white men of all classes and conditions, without reference to their education and intelligence, are to be trusted with the ballot, then should all Negroes, with equal justice, be allowed the same right.

But we do not believe the Negroes of the South as a class, should at present, be allowed to vote.  They have none of the qualifications so essential to an enlightened discharge of this sacred trust.  They are unlearned and ignorant, with no just conception of the duties of a citizen, or the principles of free government, and if admitted, in their present state, to the ballot box, would be largely under the control of designing and unprincipled men.

Neither are we in favor of allowing all white men to vote.  It is not necessary to go out of our own county, town, or ward to find white men no more qualified to vote, than the most ignorant of Southern Negroes.  In almost ever[y] precinct in the North, are voters who are ignorant, prejudiced, unable to read the ballots they vote, and who know no more of the issues involved in the election they help control, than a Hindoo [sic].  They are entirely under the control of unprinipled [sic] men, who are even ready to pander to their ignorance and prejudices, or by direct bribery to secure their support.

Such elements in a free popular government are dangerous.  We believe in Free Government—in a Democracy liberal enough and broad enough to admit to full citizenship all intelligent men of whatever nation, caste or color.  But the ballot box needs some protection.—In it are preserved the rights of the people.  Through it Freedom, Humanity and Good Government should find intelligent voice.  Around it should be thrown safe guards to protect it from the assaults of ignorance and corruption.

We have but just emerged from the darkness of four bloody years, brought on by the influence of ambitious, wicked men, in inciting to treason and war the ignorant masses of the South.  Let the ballot box be open to all, and our politics will continue to be controlled by evil influences, the government becomes corrupted again, and revolutions follow.  The ballot box should be guarded by applying a reasonable educational test to every voter, whether black or white.  Then will the foundations of the government be fixed upon the principles of enlightened and impartial justice, never to be moved.—Hudson Times.

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