/J LOYAL PUBLICATION SOCIETY, 8 6 3 BROADWAY. 87. A fetter to BY COUNT A. DE GASPARIN. TRANSLATED BY MARY L. BOOTH, AUTHORIZED TRANSLATOR OF •‘MARTIN’S HISTORY OF FRANCE.” FRANCIS LIEBER, President. J. A. 8TEVENS, JR., Secretary. W T. BLODGETT, Ch. Executive Com. LE GRAND B. CANNON, Treasurer. LE GRAND B. CANNON, Ch. Finance Com. JAMES MOKATE, Ch. Publication Com. NEW-YORK : 1 8 6 5.
LOYAL PUBLICATION SOCIETY. 863 BROADWAY, NEW YORK. DECLARATORY RESOLUTION. The object of the Society is expressed in the following Resolutions, formally adopted by unanimous vote of the Society, at its first Anniversary Meeting, Feb. 13, 1864; and at the second Anniversary Meeting, Feb. 11, 1865. Resolved and declared, That the object of the Loyal Publication Society is, and shall be, to publish and distribute tracts, papers and journals, of unquestionable loyalty, throughout the United States, in the cities and the country, in the army and navy, and in hospitals; thus to diffuse knowledge and stimulate a broad national patriotism, and to aid in the suppression of the Rebellion by the extinction of its causes, and in the preservation of the integrity of the Nation, by counteracting the efforts of the advocates of a dis- graceful and disintegrating Peace. And further: By the dissemination, North and South, of well-considered information and principles, to aid the National Government in the suppression and final extinction of Slavery, by Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; to reconcile the Master and Slave to their new and changed conditions, and so to adjust their interests that peace and harmony may soon prevail, and the Nation, repairing the ravages of War, enter upon a new, unbroken career of liberty, justice and prosperity. Persons sympathising with the design of this Society, and wishing to contribute to its support, may send their contributions to LE GRAND B. CANNON, Ch. Finance Com. 863 Broadway. N. Y. by whom receipts will be promptly returned. OFFICERS OF THE SOCIETY. President. FRANCIS LIEBER. Treasurer. Secretary. MORRIS KETCHUM. JOHN AUSTIN STEVENS, Jb. Finance Committee. LE GRAND B. GANNON, Chairman, JAMES A. ROOSEVELT, WILLIAM E DODGE, Jr. T. B. CODDINGTON, JACKSON S. SCHULTZ. LEVI P. MORTON, GEORGE C. WARD. Publication Committee. JAMES MoKAYE, Chairman, JOHN AUSTIN STEVENS, Jr., DR. F. SCHUTZ, GEO. P. PUTNAM, W. C. CHURCH, THEODORE G. GLAUBENSKLEE, CHARLES ASTOR BRISTED. Executive Committee. WILLIAM T. BLODGETT, Chairman, CHRISTIAN E. DETMOLD, , CHARLES BUTLER, SINCLAIR TOUSEY, J. BUTLER WRIGHT, GEORGE BLISS, Jb., OLIVER K. KING.
LOYAL PUBLICATION SOCIETY, 863 BROADWAY. A'o, 87. RECONSTRUC T10 N. LETTER TO PRESIDENT JOHNSON, BY COUNT A. DE GASPARIN. THAN SLATED BY AL ABY L. BOOTH, ArTHORmD TRANSLATOR OF “MARTIN’S HISTORY OF FRANCE,” AND AUTHOR OF THE “ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK.” SECOND EDITION. NEW YORK. 18 0 6.
Kt- nooo Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1865, By THE LOYAL PUBLICATION SOCIETY, In the Clerk’s office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
LOYAL PUBLICATION SOCIETY, 863 BROADWAY. No. 87. LETTE R FROM COUNT DE GASPARIN TO PRESIDENT JOHNSON. TRANSLA TED BY MABY L. BOOTH. To Mr. Andrew Johnson, President of the United States : Mr. President : Pardon me this step. I should have entreated your permission to address you thus publicly, but time was lacking. And this was my fault ; I hesitated till the last moment ; I said to myself that ray opinion was not of sufficient importance to be made known, and that questions of internal organization should not be meddled with by foreigners. Now, at the last instant, as it were, when scarcely a month separates us from the opening of Congress, when it is scarcely possible to trace these pages in haste and to transmit them in time to America, my conscience cries out that I was wrong ; that a sincere word always has its value ; that the present moment may be decisive ; that you are about to take an irrevocable step, and that a friend of America has no right to be silent if he believes that he has any counsel to give which might be useful.
4 Yes, you are about to take an irrevocable step. The South once returned to Congress, without the negro question having first been regulated, this question is transformed into an insoluble problem, and the whole work of your presidency becomes impossible. The work of Mr. Lincoln was the war and the abolition of slavery ; he gloriously achieved it. Your work, not less glorious, is the reconstruction of the country and the proclamation of the rights belonging to the freed negroes ; and this work you will not suffer to be endangered in any manner whatsoever. I am wrong in making a distinction between the rights of the negroes and the reconstruction of the country. The rights of the negroes are the very condition of reconstruc- tion. Or rather, the war and the reconstruction, the abolition of slavery and the political enfranchisement of the colored race, the work of Mr. Lincoln and your own, are the same thing at the bottom. The rebellion had only one cause, slavery ; the victory over the rebellion was possible only on one condition, the suppression of slavery ; reconstruction will be effected only by one means, the absolute destruction of everything connected with slavery. And this is why you are verging on a critical moment. The Southern representatives and senators are about to knock at the doors of Congress. I am not among those, as you know, who desire that they should be tardily opened. But I should think myself abjuring both your noble cause and the simplest laws of common-sense if I did not place the decision of the questions which concern the situation of the negroes in the South before the return of the South to Congress. The guarantees to be demanded from the South evidently precede its readmission. Guarantees first, readmission afterwards ; such is the logical order. The terms cannot be inverted without risking poignant regret. You have therefore reached your last crisis, and it is not the least perilous one, for the great fundamental question is hidden by a question of form, insignificant in appearance. Unreflecting minds will be tempted to think that the point
at stake is merely a dispute as to the constitutional form of procedure ; but it is to know whether you shall remain the masters of your future—whether you shall finish what you have begun. The problem of the colored race, which must be shown in all its fullness, and called by its true name, will not suffer a division. It must be resolved entire. After freeing the colored race, you cannot leave it, so to speak, suspended in the air, halfway between heaven and earth, between servitude and freedom. Neither can you introduce into your Congress the states which have just fought for slavery before insuring to their slaves of yesterday the guarantees of common law. Two connected and inseparable discussions are thus opened. Permit me to accost them without further preamble. I feel the more at liberty to enter with you into these questions, inasmuch as I have hitherto sincerely admired the acts of your administration. After the death of Mr. Lincoln, I trembled, I confess. In mourning this great citizen, in mourning, I almost dare say, as one mourns a friend, I could not help fearing lest the inheritance might be too heavy for his successor. But your attitude speedily reassured me. It was firm and commanding ; we all felt, on seeing you thus resolute, that the destinies of a great people did not depend, thank God ! on the pistol of an assassin. You have been firm and gentle ; you have comprehended that civil wars are ended only by kindness ; you have not permitted the political scaffold to be erected in the United States. You have given to your victory that character of complete magnanimity, the example of which has been unknown to our old world. At the same time, you have maintained the sacred rights of justice. You have given, not a hackneyed amnesty, but individual pardons. You have desired that the leader of the rebellious government should be subjected to trial, and that judgment should precede pardon. You have thus protested
6 against the doctrines which confound rebellion and foreign war, and which transform insurgents into belligerents. Crime has remained crime ; but you have shown yourself ready to mitigate, with rare generosity, the sentences of the tribunals. This was beginning the vast work of reconstruction at the right end. Much more, you have invited the rebel states to reorganize ; you have felt that it was necessary to abridge, as much as possible, the always perilous interval which separates the close of the struggle from the complete re-establishment of order. You have proceeded unhesitatingly in the disbanding of the army. Thanks to the measures which you have taken, the military regime has lost its chance of power, the balance between the receipts and the expenditures has been re-established, the redemption of the national debt has been secured ; lastly, all the friends of America have been permitted to discern the near approaching moment wrhen liberal institutions will resume their full sway, without having been in any manner weakened by civil war, a fact unique in the history of mankind ! I bow before the wisdom of such a policy. It is simple, like everything that is great. It is resolute, like everything that is good. If a few petty mistakes have been made, if the withdrawal of the garrisons from the South has, perhaps, been (fleeted with somewhat excessive haste, these errors are honorable, for they proceed from that trusting generosity which wins the heart and which is the privilege of true strength. I would observe here, moreover, that foreign questions have been treated with not less good sense and decision than internal questions. By the immediate and rapid disbanding you have provided against temptations -which might have been created by your immense armies. You have firmly presented your maritime reclamations with respect to England ; but, without abandoning your just protests against the act which, from the first moment, transformed insurgents into belligerents, you have shown the most obtuse that the discussion in no event will degenerate
1 into a rupture ; lastly, you have taken care in no manner to favor the absurd Fenian movement. With respect to France, you have not given way to the passions which the Mexican enterprise was calculated to excite. You have prudently postponed and reserved the decision of this delicate affair. You leave the Emperor Maximilian time to transform, if he can, into an American state, free and living its own life, a state ruled at this moment by European occupation. You see, Mr. President, that it is in a spirit of cordial and respectful approbation that I submit to you the observations suggested to me by the two solemn questions which will be discussed in a few days at Washington : Shall the Southern states be immediately admitted to Congress ? Shall the right of suffrage be granted to negroes. CONGRESS. I. I shall not stop to establish the competence of Congress ; this would be insulting to you. Your authority as President is very great; you can do much more in America than Queen Victoria in England ; but your power does not go so far as to decide all questions authoritatively and finally. If it depended on you alone to fix the definitive bases of the reconstruction of the states, the conditions of their return to Congress, and the guarantees to be exacted from those who have passed the last four years in assailing the national flag, and attempting to overthrow the Constitution, the United States would not be a free country. Once more, this leaves no room for demonstration ; we do not demonstrate that which is self evident. Even your authority as commander-in-chief docs not exceed the limits where that of Congress assembled begins. The American Union has never forgotten the political maxim proclaimed of old by Jefferson—the superiority of the civil power ; this it is that always has the final decision.
What I state here every one knows in America. Mr. Lincoln called it to mind in his proclamations. You have not neglected to call it to mind in turn. The states which, by your request, have summoned conventions and proceeded to reorganize provisionally, all knew well that the final conditions of their return would be fixed by Congress. The admission or readmission to Congress is a question that belongs to Congress or to no one. They knew this the more inasmuch as the congressional discussions called forth by the rebel states which had already claimed the right of being represented at Washington in a preceding session, had been echoed far and wide. No mistake, therefore, is possible. Congress can neither divest itself of the absolute right of admitting new states, nor of reopening its doors to those which have attacked the Constitution by armed force, nor of deciding authoritatively what guarantees should be exacted after such a crime, nor of regulating whatever relates to the abolition of slavery and the condition of the colored race. Competence, moreover, is far from excluding influence ; and what influence can be compared to yours ? If you do not finally decide questions, you shape their decision. The provisional reconstruction effected by your request is a first step toward definitive reconstruction; your acts, your speeches, are precedents of the highest importance. The general impulse which you have given is accepted, I am convinced, by the great majority of Americans, and will naturally make itself felt in the deliberations of Congress. A single word of yours contains a whole political system ! On the day that Congress takes up the question of the freedmen, it will remember that you have called them “ fellowcitizens.” * II. Would to God that there was nothing to decide but a question of competence between you and Congress ! It would speedily be resolved by common accord ; for the
9 authority of Congress, I am sure, has no more declared champion than yourself. But the adversaries of this authority take their stand on quite different grounds. The state rights, which have already furnished to the South a pretext for war, and a point of support for slavery, still furnish it an argument for setting aside the jurisdiction of Congress. It claims the right to return on the spot, without waiting for readmission, bv virtue of state rights ! We, who judge from a distance, who view things as a whole, and who are ignorant of your constitutional subtleties—we cannot even conceive the possibility of such a pretension ! The question seems to us too simple to leave room for debate. The states which claim the full right of returning by law have rent in a thousand pieces both their rights and the common Constitution. They have solemnly decided that they were no longer what they wish to be to-day—regular and official members of your federal representation. For four years, they have fired upon the flag of the Union. In the eyes of America, as in the eyes of foreign nations, they have ostentatiously repudiated all political association with you. This is what they have done ; and now that their plan has failed, now that it suits them to return to Congress, to return thither unconditionally, to return thither for the purpose of resuming the old quarrel as far as possible, and of saving by their votes what remains of slavery, they impudently declare that their right to do so has neter been forfeited, and that their ordinances of secession are as if they had never existed, since they have declared them null, and of no effect I Null ; that is a matter of course. Of no effect; that is quite a different thing. Whatever may be done, a fact has been consummated which was styled the Southern rebellion ; and on the day that this fact was consummated, the South ostentatiously renounced the rights which it suits it to reclaim to-day. Doubtless, its acts of secession were unable 2
10 to separate a single acre for a single day from the territory of the Union ; but they separated its members from the Congress of the Union. Congress is not a mill from which men go and come at pleasure. “ The rebel states,” said Mr. Lincoln, “ have ceased to be in practical relations with the Union.” Very well, the reestablishment of these practical relations cannot depend on their caprice alone. It is certainly permissible for those who have suffered so much by the crime of the South, to take precautions against the repetition of this crime, and these sufferings. This is not only permissible, it is prescribed to them by the indefeasible laws of common sense. The members of Congress would be lacking in their first duty if, before opening their doors to the Southern senators and representatives, they did not assure themselves that the contest was really ended, that it would not spring up anew in another form, that the freedmen were truly free, and that the struggle would not recommence on the morrow or the day after. Before recognizing the constitutional rights of those who, so far as it depended on them, have overthrown the Constitution, the least that can be done, as all will grant, is to demand some guarantees. Face to face with those rights abjured and trodden under foot by the Southerners, arises a higher right, the right of living, the right of maintaining the public peace, the right of preventing new attempts at crime, the right of keeping one’s eyes open, and not introducing the enemy one’s self into the stronghold which he has assailed. Who (unless it may be Mr. Buchanan) has disputed to the Union, the President and Congress, the right of repelling force by force, of suppressing the rebellion, of taking military occupation of the rebellious states, and of governing them ? State rights would not have prevented a manoeuvre of Grant, a march of Sherman, or an energetic act of that governor of Tennessee, named Andrew Johnson. War is war, and the peace which is the end of war forms a part of it by this title. So long as the definitive conditions of this
11 peace have not been fixed, not only by the President, but by Congress, no particular state right can prevail against the general right of completing the work of the national defence, fully purifying the present, and insuring the safety of the future. Those who read Mr. Lincoln’s proclamations were not ignorant of this. The whole South knew that the Presi- dent, in laying down certain conditions of political reconstruction, regulated these things only so far as it belonged to him to do so. No speech, no presidential proclamation, could or would have encroached upon the inalienable authority of Congress. The latter will decide, therefore, whether it is proper to admit the Southern deputations. It will decide thereon without forgetting two things : First, that the Congress which made war should make peace ; it would be out of the question to substitute for it another Congress by the preliminary introduction of the very persons against whom the war has been waged. Secondly, that the rebellion and-slavery have been one and the same; it would be out of the question, therefore, to commission the rebellion to regulate the destinies of slavery. To forget these two things would be at once to lack dignity and earnestness. Nothing would more resemble child’s play than proceedings by virtue of which the South would be admitted to Congress before Congress should have regulated the conditions of peace in the South. . Again, if this were only child’s play I It would be, besides, an act of real cruelty. The war has profoundly modified the situation of the South ; it has created an entire new class, the class of freedmen. Are you at liberty to shut your eyes to such a change, and unconditionally to establish state rights as if nothing of the kind had occurred ? What will be the protection of these millions of men ? In the presence of the state rights, what will be their rights ? Will you abandon them to the regulations of the state ; to the tribunals of the state ? Are their liberty, their property, and their family, under the jurisdiction of the state alone ?
12 Shall no guarantee be secured to them ? Shall those Southern states, who have proved what they are capable of doing in the negro question, be the sovereign masters of tho negroes ? Their representatives once admitted to Congress, without guarantees to the colored race having been previously stipulated, it will be too late to think of the oppression and wretchedness which will be heaped upon this race. The abolition of slavery will then become a farce. The negro question will then reappear entire, and you will perceive that the solution has escaped your hands. The question of negro suffrage, abandoned to Southern legislation, will not even be thought worthy of discussion. How can you then keep your word to those whose cause you have defended ? It will be necessary to begin the war anew. It will be necessarv to attack, when it is too late, those state rights which will have resumed all their force. The word of the United States is pledged. In the proclamation which abolished slavery, one solemn sentence, suggested at the last moment by Mr. Seward, declares that the slaves of the rebellious states shall henceforth be free, and that the government of the United States shall “ maintain their liberty.” And even though the proclamation did not say this, you would not be the less bound by the most sacred obligation which can exist on earth. In freeing the slaves, you constk tuted yourselves their protectors ; they cannot henceforth be oppressed without a stain upon the honor of America. No, Congress cannot abdicate in behalf of Southern legislation, and permit the negro question, so to speak, to be juggled out of its hands. It can do this the less, inasmuch as this question, which is in the,highest degree a federal one, is connected at the same time with one of the most express stipulations of your constitution. Your constitution declares that the Union shall guarantee to each of the states comprising it “ a republican form of government.” Now we may ask whether, in the Southern states, where the negroes are in great numbers, an organization which should absolutely
13 exclude them from the ballot-box would not abolish, in point of fact, and in a definitive manner, that government of the majority, which constitutes the essence of a republic in the eyes of Americans? III. We are now at the heart of the discussion. Permit me, Mr. President, to dwell on the truly disastrous consequences which would be entailed by a resolution of Congress admitting the representatives of the South before the establishment of guarantees. These consequences are self-evident. In the first place, the South itself would regulate the conditions of its return. By its vote and influence it would participate (and participate largely, be sure), in the decision of the questions pertaining most directly to the subject of the war itself. These questions would escape your control ; you would no longer be masters of the situation. The rights of the colored race, for instance, would depend on the opinions that might prevail at Charleston and Richmond. The work of abolition could not be finished. You are not a centralized country. The rebel states once readmitted, their sovereignty would raise up barriers which would everywhere arrest your action. The negroes would find themselves imprisoned as it were in a new condition which would not be much better than the old one. In Congress, party cabals would be formed from the first moment. The eighty votes of the South would be sought after, courted, and set at a high price. You would witness the reappearance of the old quarrel, somewhat transformed, yet the same. The men whom you have conquered on the battle-field would then have an opportunity to conquer you on the floor of Congress. And the saddest and most terrible thing would be that you would have left them the ground on which they had always manoeuvred, the ground of the negro question. It depended on you to end it, to suppress it. You would have had a single moment for this and you would not have profited thereby. All this bloodshed would perhaps have been in vain ; you would perchance be forced to begin it anew.
14 The South is adroit. It does not speak openly as yet. It understands that it is important before everything to gain admission to Congress, and to avoid the establishment of serious guarantees. But can you be deceived in the slightest degree concerning its intentions ? Not only docs it reject negro suffrage, and oppose every measure which would insure the real freedom of the colored race, but it is determined to seek revenge. Now, a means of revenge offers which, be sure, it will eagerly attempt. You have borrowed three billions, for the purpose of levying armies against the South, of attacking its strongholds, and of subduing its rebellion. It could not be expected to entertain much love for this national debt. To pay the interest and to redeem the principal, it will be necessary to levy taxes. Do you think that the South, which also had its debt, and which has repudiated it, will be eager to support heavy burdens in order to pay the creditors of the Yankees, to meet the obligations of the Yankees ? And do you think, on the other hand, that it would be absolutely impossible to form party cabals among you that would propose, if not openly to repudiate the debt, at least to diminish the revenues without which bankruptcy would come of itself with giant strides ? In support of the observation w’hich I present to you, I might, as you knowr, quote wrords of strangely serious import which have been uttered in the South. Despite the prudence which they have decided to show till further orders, these states, accustomed of old to repudiation, have let slip more than one threat which should be to you a solemn warning. If you do not enforce upon them, before their readmission, a positive and direct pledge with respect to the national debt—a pledge which shall be the condition itself of their readmission—you know to what perils you expose the honor of the country. The creditors of America know it also, and your credit will gain nothing thereby. But I had rather speak to you of your honor than of your credit. You are resolved, I know, faithfully to pay your debts. You are giving proofs of it at this very moment,
and your policy, if it be maintained, promises a redemption the promptitude of which will be a cause for astonishment. Nevertheless the peril is close at hand, and the unconditional admission of the South would speedily endanger your whole policy, beginning with the measures designed to fulfil your most sacred obligations. IV. It is so easy to proceed differently ! The point at stake, Mr. President, is neither to withdraw the generous advances which you have made to the South, nor to strengthen the system of military occupation, nor long to postpone the Southern representation in Congress, but only to insure the results acquired at the cost of so many sacrifices ; to end (and consequently to remove) the cause of enmity which, so long as it subsists in any form whatsoever, will not permit you to enjoy pefice. The point at stake, in a word, is to reestablish a true union. When the loyal states shall have done what they alone are competent to do, when they shall have set the seal on the abolition of slavery, when they shall have guaranteed the complete freedom of men of color in the South, when they shall have secured to them (prudently and progressively, I mean) the civil and political rights without which there are no citizens, when they shall have voted the transitional measures for federal protection, without which these rights would remain a dead letter, and when they shall have received besides the pledge of the South with respect to the national debt, then we shall witness the opening of an era of pacification. The reconciliation, impracticable on the fiery ground on which vou have contended with so much violence, will be- come sincere as soon as the negro question shall have disappeared. New debates, new interests, and new passions, will give birth to new parties. You will discuss, you will contend, you will gain and lose Congressional battles ; but all this will be without peril, for the fundamental quarrel of the North and the South will no longer be at hand to envenom
16' everything. You will be divided on other bases, in accordance with other principles, in other proportions, and with a view to other ends—it will be henceforth only the normal conflict which characterizes the life of free countries. And, to put an end to the negro question, you do not need to amend your Constitution. This would be, I grant, a difficult undertaking. But why add a new amendment to that which abolishes slavery. Let the political equality of the races be established in fact, and it will be established by law. Your Constitution recognizes no middle-ground between slavery and freedom. It may have tolerated slavery; it certainly has not sanctioned in advance the proscription of four millions of men who would be neither slaves nor citizens, although born on your soil. It has made no provision for Helots. NEGRO SUFFRAGE. V. Everything brings us back, as you see, to the great problem which contains within itself your whole future, to that great problem which it is necessary to resolve with wisdom, with prudence, with moderation, with good sense, but also with firmness—negro suffrage. This problem is not only great in itself, it is great through its close connection with the debates on slavery. This regulated, your conflict is ended, you have completed your gigantic work, and the nineteenth century has witnessed an incomparable progress. To finish in this manner what you have commenced, you have at your disposal the power which has so well served you hitherto, the power of principle. What is it that has made your strength ? Your principles. This was well known by the enemies who strove to prove that slavery was not the point in question. The South had unfurled the flag of slavery ; and this is why no European state, however powerful, was able to recog
17 nize the South. This is why it was impossible (impossible, I repeat the word) not to show respect to your blockade ; not to endure patiently for four years the scarcity of cotton ; not to accept the duration of the struggle ; and not to stifle the faint attempts at intervention. Oh, preserve your principles, do not cast away your buckler ! Be not too scheming, I entreat vou ; content your- selves with being just, simply just, frankly just. Men are never mistaken in being just; they are always mistaken in not being so. It is something for a politician to have conscience on his side, and to count on the blessing of God. Now, I ask, is there a clearer question of conscience than that to which you are now called upon to give your attention ? We, who live at a distance from America, and who, strangers to the discussion of details, see only the great phases of your debates •—we cannot even conceive the possibility of hesitation in such a matter. Your negroes, who have ceased to be slaves, are men. This word expresses everything ; they are entitled to the position which your laws make for men. “ It is in vain to say that this is the country of the white man ; it is the country of man.” This admirable saying of Mr. Sumner seems to me to sum up the question. Where find in your constitution the distinction between the white man and the black man ? Where find it in the conscience and the Gospel ? AVill your democracy invent an aristocracy of the skin ? The saying of Mr. Sumner reminds me of another not less worthy of admiration. “ Our fellow-citizens,” you exclaimed the other day. On that day, Mr. President, you framed in advance the bill which will secure the rights of the colored race. Ou that day, yielding to the impulse of a generous heart, yielding to the evidence of justice, imprudent through that imprudence which is prudence itself, walking first in the way in which you will not walk alone, in which you are followed at this time by the sympathies of the whole world, you proclaimed once more the noble American policy, the policy of principle. 3
18 There is a very different policy, that of compromise. You know whither it has long been leading you ! It is that which the South imposed on you yesterday ; it is that which she will bring back to you to-morrow, if you do not put an end to the negro question without her aid. VI. The negro question, in the opinion of some men, has but one rational solution—the expatriation of the former slaves. This rational solution is the solution of insanity. A race is not exported. The nations who have had the misfortune to attempt, or the greater misfortune to succeed in it, have imprinted an ineffaceable blot on their fame. Spain expelled the Moors, France expelled the Huguenots, Russia is endeavoring to rid herself of the Poles. And what has always happened, whatever may have been their first intentions ? By attempting impossibilities, they have been led to atrocities. There is a force of events in great social crimes which carries us whither we would not go. We dream of a peaceful and beneficent expatriation, we make for ourselves bucolics, we already see the proscribed race surrounded with the joys of the fields, in their new country, flowing with milk and honey. These courted yet far from innocent visions, however, correspond to no realities. The fact is; that the people whose happiness we thus pretend to insure, desire to be happy in their own way, which is not ours. We wish to give them a new country, they are attached to the old one. It becomes necessary, therefore, to root them out, harshly and violently. And the work is never finished ; it must be constantly begun anew ; we are exasperated at pursuing an end which we never attain, and the moment soon comes when we harden ourselves into cruelty almost without remorse. That cases of voluntary expatriation may occur, that the peculiar situation of Hayti, Cuba, and Mexico, may open prospects to the negroes by which a number may wish to
19 profit, and that a girdle of black states may thus be formed, by degrees, around the Caribbean sea, is probable, and perhaps desirable. But to prescribe exile, to tear an entire race from the soil of the Union—this is radically impossible. The iniquities which would be entailed by such a measure, would be greater than could be endured by the conscience of the nineteenth century. And do not delude yourselves ! Your negroes are no longer Africans, they are Americans, as much attached as the whites to the soil of the common country. They love their state, their district, and even the field which they have cultivated under the lash. The officers who have lived with the innumerable negroes who have taken refuge under the banners of your armies, have not forgotten the care with which the greater part of them have saved their wages in order to buy a little field in their neighborhood, amid their friends, near the cemetery where their fathers and children repose. This sentiment, which is very profound, and extremely general among them, is one of the best guarantees of the future prosperity of the South. The Southern planting, which can nevei’ dispense with the assistance of the negro, would ill adapt itself to the so much talked of plans for expatriation. These plans, therefore, we may be sure, are to the South only weapons of war ; they are used to day to oppose the right of suffrage; they will be used in the future to oppose all guarantees, and to keep up a state of semi-servitude: it will be demonstrated to the North that it is not worth while to put an end to the most odious abuses, since the colored race is destined some day to be removed. The South will do this; but as to believing in the real expatriation of the blacks, or as to wishing it, it is much too clearsighted for anything of the kind. It is necessary to shut out, and to shut out quickly, this prospect of expatriation ; for if an end be not put to this scheme, nothing will be done in behalf of the former slaves. What do I say ? it will be thought justifiable to do everything against them. Hypothetical expatriation has all the disadvantages of prescribed expatriation. It lets loose the
20 evil passions ; it exempts one from the necessity of treating as men these individuals encamped on the soil which they are unworthy long to inhabit, and necessarily condemned to quit by their race. It is convenient to cite Liberia, and to preach future colonization in such a manner as to quiet one’s conscience, and to throw off all constraint; we wait for the opportunity to be beneficent, and are exempted meanwhile from the necessity of being just. This path once entered upon, there is an end to all progress. And how can you expect the negroes to progress ? They would gladly lend the ear to the virile counsels, Mr. President, which you addressed to them of late ; they would gladly walk in that path of labor and good conduct through which “ blacks become whites,” but what would be the use ? The future offered to them w’ould be exile I Their race would be proscribed in advance ! They would be loaded with contempt and loathing ! What is granted to all men without exception, to the lowrest emigrants from Europe, would be wholly refused to them ! Whither would they flee ? Would not men seek everywhere to rid themselves of their race ? And how hope for the progress of the w’hites if expatriation is in store as one of the chances of the future ? The whites would accept what was inevitable ; in the presence of a race definitively admitted to the enjoyment of all the civic rights, they would adopt a new mode of action. Facts accomplished have a prodigious power. But so long as the fact is not accomplished, so long as the negro is encamped, not settled on the territory of the Union, so long as he is made a provisional and contingent citizen, something that is no longer a slave and that is not a citizen, so long as the prospect of expulsion is kept open, the prejudice of skin will have full scope. By humiliating the negro, by violating his rights, by trampling his person under foot, by forbidding all contact between his epidermis and the noble epidermis of the whites, will you not be thwarting the designs of Providence, and aiding in an exile that is not desired by God ?
21 Our miserable Phariseeism likes to persuade us that, in obeying our worst passions, we are serving the designs of * Providence. I know well that questions of race are always delicate ones, and I am not astonished, Mr. President, that you should have deemed it incumbent on you to call to mind the difficulties thereof in your speech addressed to a colored regiment of the District of Columbia. These words, I fear, will be abused. What was, doubtless, in your mind only the prudence of the executive power wishing to let alone the whole question, and to reserve the competence of Congress, will become in the hands of your adversaries a veritable plan, a programme which they will take care to translate in this wise : no decision at present with respect to the negroes ; postponement of the right of suffrage ; probable recourse to expatriation. The mixture of the races is feared ! It is feared lest, in some of the Southern states, where the negroes are in the majority, they may succeed in obtaining the election to certain offices, certain judicial posts 1 Who knows even, it is exclaimed, with a dismay blended with horror, whether we shall not run the risk of seeing negroes seated in Congress ! Would to God that this might be ! It would be your most glorious victory, and the whole world would applaud with transport. But there is no reason for conceiving such hopes or such fears. You can certainly intrust the right of suffrage to a few negroes without their ceasing on this account to play a humble part among you. It is asked whether they would not amalgamate with the reSt of the nation. What is meant by this ? The intercourse between the races will always be confined within the most restricted limits ; you have for a guarantee of this the sentiments that prevail in the United States. By obtaining the right of suffrage on certain conditions, the negroes will not be introduced into the bosom of your families. I say more ; this mixture of the races is to be dreaded only in case they are kept in a degraded and almost servile position. Then only will the number of mulattoes go on increasing.
22 Human dignity is a powerful barrier, and I am astonished that, those who desire barriers at any price should strive to suppress this one. I am above all astonished at the gravity employed in computing the influence which four millions of free negroes would exercise on the purity of the American race. These apprehensions might be in some degree comprehended in a very small country with a fixed population ; but in the United States ! Are not statistics at hand to reassure you ! The four millions of free negroes will be only too soon lost, swallowed up, submerged, in the increasing waves of immigration. They will be submerged, they will lose those chances of political supremacy which are to-day gratuitously attributed to them ; the societies of immigration will preserve good order therein, and the movement for the invasion of the South by the North, now that the bulwark of slavery is overthrown, will soon everywhere surround the four millions of negroes. Behold the solution of the problem of the races ; the solution as it is given by your precedents and your natural aptitudes : introduce liberty everywhere, the common law everywhere, and fear nothing ; your almost indefinite power of numerical aggrandizement will charge itself with the preservation of the white race. And at the same time, the black race will have been protected. Slavery protected it in its way. You owe to the freed slaves a new protection, the only one possible henceforth ; the protection of the common law. To-day a question is propounded, which to them, mark well, is a question of life and death. Thrust back, by brutal injustice, into a species of political and social limbo, between slavery and freedom, they must inevitably perish. There is no air respirable between slavery and freedom. If those around me are neither my fellow-citizens nor my masters, they are my enemies ; I embarrass them ; I disquiet them ; I am an anomaly in their national organization which disturbs the present and threatens the future ; being restrained neither by the interest which often arrests the master, nor the respect which one man bears to another they permit themselves everything under such a
23 regime. The extermination of a race may go on rapidly ; at all events, its degradation will not be long in coming. How many times have I heard it said since the victory of the North, “ The Americans will kill the freedmen. You have desired the end of slavery ; you will witness the end of the negroes. In the pitiless Anglo-Saxon mill the unfortunate colored race will disappear, ground to powder, as the Indian race has disappeared.” I have replied—all your friends have replied—answering for you. We have predicted (and you will not contradict our prophecy) that the crime of the North will not be spared any more than the crime of the South ; that the problem of the freedmen will be resolved in that impulse of intelligent generosity which has resolved the problem of the slaves ; that after having fought the South with those brave negroes whose blood has flowed under your flag, you will not have the heart either to thrust them outside the common law, or to drive them from your omnibuses and street cars. You would not have your friends blush for you before your enemies. You will show to all that, after having conquered the rebellion, you know how to conquer yourselves. You will pursue to the end the reparative reaction which has already been manifested to your honor in the greater part of the Northern states. You will treat your companions-in-arms as men and equals. You will permit no one to point out your coldness and harshness, to maintain that the hatred of slavery among you is inseparable from the hatred of the slave ; that your manifestoes in behalf of human liberty are so'many acts of Phariseeism ; and that your charity is bounded by your interest or your pride. These accusations rouse our indignation. We forcibly repel them. But your acts will be more eloquent than our words. Your acts must be the refutation par excellence of your enemies. They have said, “ The North will be pitiless and unjust towards the colored race.” You will answer them by opening to the colored race the inviolable asylum of the common law. They have said, “ The infamous acts formerly endured by the free negroes, and which formed a
24 separate and odious chapter of every traveller's account of the United States, are about to be extended to four millions of men.” You will answer them by putting an end to these indignities in the North, and preventing them in the South. They have said, ££ Freedom will kill the negroes ; because it will be a lying, inconsistent, and murderous freedom.” You will answer them by conferring on the negroes a sincere and guaranteed liberty. To do this, to save a race, and to defend the honor of the country, you have a single moment. This moment past, the force of a situation irretrievably imperilled will be more powerful than you ; for want of not having been reconciled in the bosom of the law, the races will be impelled to antagonism. A conflict will then begin which will yield neither in horrors nor in disastrous consequences to that from which you have scarcely emerged, and which might have been your last. VII. Is it not true, Mr. President, that I am right in counting on the generosity of your fellow-countrymen ? They will not desire to repeat in the South (and on a frightful scale) what has unhappily been done in the North. Alas ! the example of the North shows what are the conflicts of races. But outside the common law, where pause ? Those who are contemned become worthy of contempt; those who are degraded become debased. In this manner oppression justifies itself, and the more iniquitous it is, the more excusable it seems, until it arrives at the point of considering it very natural not to treat as men those whom it has degraded beneath humanity. It is proposed to you to aggravate your conflict of races, instead of nobly putting an end to it! I shudder on seeing how far your valiant army has sometimes carried violence and disdain towards the colored regiments since the recurrence of peace. Great God ! what would happen if war between the whites and the blacks should be proclaimed, and immensely aggravated by your own hands !
25 It would be war, do not deceive yourselves. After having contended with the masters, you would set to work to contend with the slaves. And this would come of itself, without deliberate purpose. Deprived of all rights, and incapable of resistance, the negroes would suffer brutality and insult. You cannot expect that they would accept as freemen what they accepted as slaves. Complaints, irritation, and bloodshed would ensue, and finally negro insurrection. Already, Mr. President, insurrectionary movements, the inevitable consequence of a badly-regulated state of affairs, threaten, it is said, to break out here and there. By-and-by this will no longer be a threat, but a reality. What will you do, then ? Of these despised blacks, and these whites, your brethren—which will you support ? Happen what will, atrocious repression will be necessary. Between open repression and the obscure iniquities of daily recurrence, between refusals of justice and refusals of labor, between acts of violence and the continual dripping of oppression, the black race will perish. Slowly or swiftly, destruction will pursue its work. The destruction is terrible which is accomplished in this wise by virtue of the force of events, and, so to speak, with a good conscience. Must we not repress insurrections ? Shall we leave the white population of the South to be massacred ? Are we not, moreover, serving the negroes in impelling them, by force of loathing, towards that expatriation which is their true destiny ? Then, is not the inferior race inevitably destined to yield to the superior race ? In inducing them to yield, in exterminating them, if need be, are we not the servants of Providence ? We do not shrink from this role of agents of Providence. In obeying our worst passions we like to assure ourselves that we are accomplishing God’s designs. I do not know of a single one of the great crimes of history, beginning with the religious persecutions from wrhich your Pilgrims proceeded, that was not persuaded that it was doing the work of God. You, Mr. President, whose intellect discerns the great 4
26 phases of questions, you will not be deceived, I am sure, concerning the great importance of the deliberation which is about to take place in Congress, Instead of slaves, will you have pariahs ? Will you have Helots—four millions of Helots ? This is the point at stake. Helots ! the despotic constitution of Lycurgus may have desired them : the Constitution of the United States does not ; and if you create them to-morrow, you will have violated your Constitution. Helots ! No country could create with impunity a numerous class of men that are not altogether men. On the day that, instead of a few thousand Helots, you shall have four millions of them—on that day, ah incommensurable social and political change will take place among you. Helots, whatever may be done, whatever may be said, whatever may be written, are always treated as Helots. And then, woe to you ! Then you will oppress, you will deprave, and, what is worse, you will hate them. Men always hate those towards whom they feel themselves guilty, those who obstruct the progress of the national prosperity, those whose sufferings disturb the peace, whose cries of anguish weary the ear, whose distress compromises the honor of the country. From hatred to murder there is but a step ; “ he who hates,” says the apostle, “ the same is a murderer.” 11 You will kill the negroes in freeing them !” This prophecy of your enemies recurs unceasingly to my memory. Do I exaggerate the gravity of the question ? Let us consider. No one is less disposed than myself to attribute to the right of voting an importance beyond measure. There is nothing humiliating in not voting, if one is excluded by virtue of a condition imposed on all citizens. Conditions of naturalization, conditions of age, conditions of property, conditions founded on certain incompatibilities of functions—I can understand all these. But the condition of color is something far different. It strikes an entire race, it cuts it off forever ; it decrees not an exclusion, but an indignity.digitalcommons.cedarville.edu