The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, November 01, 1901, Page 2, Image 2

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    The Commoner.
can afford to permit any portion of its population
to remain ignorant or to becomo imbruted. The
whites, for their own welfare as well as for the
good of the negroes, must see to it that the free
school is opon to every child, white and black.
The negro has already made great progress in
intellectual development, and this, too, largely
through the aid of the white people of the south.
The former slave-ownors have at their own ex
pense been educating the former slaves, whilo
the more partisan republicans, some of them hold
ing office by the aid of negro votes, have been in
citing tho negro to oppose everything advocated by
the southern whites, regardless of the merits of
the proposition under consideration.
The political rights of tho negro have for a
quarter of a century been the subject, of public
discussion.
The republican party did not urge emancipa
tion in the beginning; Lincoln, the head of that
party, oxpressly declared that he had no intention
of interfering with slavery in the states in which
il then existed, but emancipation followed as a re
sult of tho war and now no one in all the land
would advocate a reinstatement of tho system of
slavery.
The franchise was conferred upon the negro
soon after the war by the republican party, but
during the past few years that party has shown
less and less interest in the political status of the
colored man.
In some of the southern states educational
qualifications have been prescribeu with a view to
securing white supremacy in the state- and local
governments.
While universal suffrage is the ideal condi
tion toward which the world is moving, and while
it is a matter to bo regretted that even educational
qualifications are ever found necessary, it must
be admitted that such qualifications have been
prescribed and are still in existence in some
northern as well as in some southern states.
These qualifications are defended, where they
exist, hot on the ground that the Declaration of In
dependence is wrong, not on the ground that all
men are not created equal or that they are not en
dowed with inalienable rights, nor yet on tho
ground that -governments do not derive their just
powers from the consent of tho governed, but upen
the theory that, when races of different degrees of
civilization are thrown together and must neces
sarily live together under the same government
when, in other words, it is simply a question as to
which race shall exert a controlling influence
then the more advanced race has always exercised
the right to impose conditipns upon those less
advanced.
Every race is capable of self-government it
vould be an insult to the Creator to assume that
He brought into existence a race of people incap
able of self-government and entirely dependent
upon some other race for government but while
every race is capable of self-government, a race
may not bo capable of sharing upon equal terms
in tho control of a government whose blessings,
are enjoyed by, and whose burdens are imposed
upon, several "races differing in their advancement.
No argument will justify one race in invading tho
territory of another race in order to force upon
that race an alien government and the evils of a
qolonial system, but when conditions force the
two races to live under the same government in
the same country the more advanced race never
has consented, and probably never will consent, to
bt dominated by tho less advanced. Whether tho
conditions in the south are such as- to justify the
amendments which have been adopted is a ques
tion of fact which must.be decided upon evidence
not a question of theory which can bo settled
by those far removed from the conditions which
have to be considered.
Northern states imposed qualifications upon
White men before any southern state imposed
qualifications upon black men.
It must bo remembered that a qualification for
suffrage, undesirable as it is, raises a very different
question from that presented by a colonial system.
In tho first place, a suffrage qualification is tem
porary and those who are excluded today may
qualify themselves to vote tomorrow; the condi
tion is not hopeless. Under tho colonial system,
however, the disqualification is permanent. There
are no means provided whereby the subject may
become a citizen.
In tho second place, the man excluded from
suffrage because he cannot meet the require
ments of tho law lives under the constitution and
laws made by the voters for themselves, while the
subject under a colonial government lives under
laws made by tho voters, but not binding upon
tho voters. Both of these differences are im
portant. The temporary character of the obstacle
to suffrage above referred to finds its parallel in
the probationary term prescribed for, and the con
ditions imposed upon, those who seek to be natur
alized. As to the second difference, every thoughtful .
person knows that the danger of oppressive and
unjust legislation is infinitely multiplied when the
man who makes the law not only avoids the pro
visions of the law, but finds a profit in enforcing
its provisions against others. This is the founda
tion of all the crimes committed by empires
against their subjects.
The social phase of the negro question has
seldom been discussed for the reason that no man
or party has advocated social equality between
the white man and the black man. McClure,
Phillips & Co. have recently published a little
volume entitled "Abraham Lincoln, His Book, a
facsimile reproduction of the original with an ex
planatory note by J. McCan Davis." This is a
book prepared by Abraham Lincoln himself for
the use of Captain Jas. N. B'rown, of Illinois, a
candidate for the state legislature in 1858. Mr.
Brown was confronted with the charge that Mr.
Lincoln, whom Mr. Brown was supporting for
the United States senate, was in favor of "negro
equality." In order that Mr. Brown might answer
his critics, Mr. Lincoln made a collection of his
own utterances on the subject, and on the first
page wrote: "The following extracts are taken
from various speeches of mine delivered at var
ious times and places and I believe that they con
tain the substance of all I have Baid about 'negro "
equality.' " The sixth extract quoted in this re
markable little volume contains the following:
Now, gentlemen, I don't want to read at
any greater length, but this is the true com
plexion of all I have ever said in, regard to
the institution of slavery and the blaclc'race.
This is the whole of it, and anything that
argues me into this idea of perfect social and
political equality with the negro, is but a
specious and fantastic arrangement of words,
by which a man can prove a horse chestnut
to be a chestnut horse. (Laughter.) I- will
say here, whilo upon this subject, that I have
no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere
with the institution of slavery in the states
where it exists. I believe I have no lawful
right to do so, and have no inclination to do
so. I have no purpose to' introduce political
and social equality between the white and the
black races. There is a physical difference
between the two, which mmy judgment will
probably forever forbid their living together
upon the footing of perfect equality, and In
asmuch as it becomes a necessity that there ,
must be a difference, I, as well as Judge
Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I
. belong, having the superior position. I have
never said anything to the contrary, but I'
hold that notwithstanding all this there is no
reason in the world why the negro is not en
titled to all tho natural rights enumerated In
the Declaration of Independence, the right of
life,, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
(Loud cheers.) '
The above quotation selected by Mr. Lincoln
himself from one of his own speeches for the pur
pose of answering the criticism of his political op
ponents, sets forth, the great emancipator's views''
on three of the four phases of the negro question.
He believed that tho negro was equal to the white
man in tho natural rights enumerated in the Dec
laration of Independence and he believed that it
was the duty of the government to protect him in
the enjoymont of these rights. He opposed slav
ery, believing it to be wrong in principle, although
he expressly declared that he had no Intention of
interfering with slavery in the states in which it
then existed.
Second, ho recognized the distinction between
political rights and natural rights, and exhibited
that partiality toward his own race which is' in
herent to every one.
Third, he recognized the fact that social equal
ity is not necessary to the protection of the negro
ii the enjoyment of all his natural rights. Mr.
Roosevelt will not find, therefore, in the life or
words of Lincoln anything to justify him in ad
vocating social equality, if his act can be con
strued as representing his views on this subject.
The natural rights of all are the same, and it
is the province of government to protect these
natural and inalienable rights rights which were
vested in man by the Creator, rights which cannot
be taken from him without rendering his life
valueless to him and to his fellows. But man
chooses his society for himself. It is as much a
matter of taste as the selection of a husband or a
wife. It is no cause for offense to any "man that
you prefer to associate with someone else; it de
pends upon your character and virtues whether tho
preference is a compliment to or a reflection upon
him, but in either case you have a right to chooso
congenial companions and in doing so you are
not only within your rights, but you are doing
what every one does. Those who love books en
joy each other's copipany, although some may he
very rich and some very poor. The rich may en
joy each other's company although some are
ignorant and some are intellectual. People are
drawn together by family ties, by church relations, '
by neighborhood associations and in a multitude
of other ways. Usually social, lines are invisible
ones, but they are everywhere recognized. They
are no more inconsistent with universal brother
hood than are family ties or national obligations.
The families of a community are separate and dis
tinct; each is engaged in its work and each de-
cides how far it "will share its confidence and its
companioship with the families about it, but this
does not prevent the recognition of the right of all
families to equal consideration and protection at
the hands of the government, nor does it prevent
the exercise of charity, mercy and benevolence.
The various nations are but groups of families as--sociated
together for mutual protection and benefit.
The fact that each nation has customs, institu
tions and laws 'peculiar to Itself, does not prevent
'its recognition of those natural rights which are
broader and deeper than national boundaries.
So, the members of a race are bound together
by sympathies and sentiments which are both
natural and permanent. Those who oppose social
equality between the white man and the negro
do sd on the ground that they do not believe that
the amalgamation of the two races is desirable.
They think it better for the white man to work
,out the problems of his race while the black man1
is working out the problems of his race. There
can be co-operation and helpfulness without inter
marriage. Bach race can recognize the natural
rights of the other and both can contribute as far
as is within their power, to the strength and de
velopment of the nation. The advocacy of social
equality will tend to throw the white and the blaclc
races into greater antagonism and conflict rather
than to bring them together, and the wiser mem
bers of the negro race know this.
President Roosevelt doubtless recognizes, as all
well informed men do, the great service which Mr."
Washington has rendered to the members of his
race. He is not the only colored man who de
serves great credit, but he is probably its most
conspicuous member of the present generation.