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subordinate the almost unanimous will of the white people of the rebellious States to the unity and prosperity of the whole country. Having gone thus far we cannot pause. We must still subordinate their wishes to our welfare.
This bill proposes to commence at the very foundation and build upward.
We have the assurance of President Johnson that bellion has in its revolutionary progress deprived the rebellious States of all civil government,” and that their State institutions have been" prostrated and paid out upon the ground.”
In such a state of anarchy and disorganization the very foundations of society are laid bare; and we reach, as it were, the primary rocks, the everlasting granite of justice and right which underlies all human government.
In the language of the great Edmund Burke: “ When men break
the original compact or agreement which gives its corporate form and capacity to a State they are no longer a people; they have no longer a corporate existence; they have no longer a legal coactive force to bind within nor a claim to be recognized abroad. They are a number of vague, loose individuals, and nothing more; with them all is to begin again. Alas! they little know how many a weary step is to be taken before they can form themselves into a mass which has a true political personality.”l
I shall not stop to consider the objection made to the second section of the bill by the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Paine]. With the purpose and intent of his remarks I thoroughly concur. I conclude, howe er, that the object of the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens], in providing for such a partial and temporary recognition of the rebel governments, was to protect society from the evils of a total abrogation of all law and order. But it seems to me that whatever
* Burke's Works, vol. iii, p. 82.
binding force those governments can have, founded as they are upon revolution and by the hands of revolutionary agents, is to be derived solely from such recognition as Congress may, give them. It may be possible in this and other particulars to perfect the bill. I desire to speak rather to its general scope and purpose.
Government having, by the acknowledgment of the President, ceased to exist, law being swept aside, and chaos having come again in those rebellious States, by what principle shall the law-making power of the nation—the Congress—govern itself? Shall it bend its energies to renew old injustice? Shall it receive to its fraternal embrace only that portion of the population which circumstance or accident or century-old oppression may have brought to the surface? Shall it-having broken up the armies and crushed the hopes of the rebels -pander to their bigotries and cringe to their prejudices? Shall it hesitate to do it right out of deference to the sentiments of those who but a short time since were mowed down at the mouth of its cannon?
It is to my mind most clear that slavery having ceased to exist the slaves became citizens; being citizens they are a part of the people; and being a part of the people no organization deserves a moment's consideration at our hands which attempts to ignore them. If they were white people whom it was thus sought to disfranchise and outlaw not a man in the nation would dare to say nay to this proposition; every impulse of our hearts would rise up in indignant remonstrance against their oppressors. But it has pleased Almighty God, who takes counsel of no man, not even of the founders of the rebellion, to paint them of a different complexion, and that variation in the pigmentum mucum is to rise up as a perpetual barrier in our pathway toward equal justice and equal rights
For one, with the help of God, I propose to do what I know to be right in the face of all prejudices and all obstructions; and so long as I have a seat in this body I shall never vote to reconstruct any rebellious State on any such basis of cruelty and injustice as that proposed by the Opposition here.
Take the case of South Carolina. She has 300,000 whites and 400,000 blacks; and we are asked to hand over the 400,000 blacks to the unrestrained custody and control of the 300,000 whites. We are to know no one but the whites; to communicate with no one but the whites; this floor is to recognize no one but white representatives of the whites. The whites are to make the laws, execute the laws, interpret the laws, and write the history of their own deeds; but below them, under them, there is to be a vast population-a majority of the whole peopleseething and writhing in a condition of suffering, darkness, and wretchedness unparalleled in the world.
And this is to be an American State! This is to be a component part of the great, humane, Christian Republic of the world. This is to be the protection the mighty Republic is to deal out to its poor black friends who were faithful to it in its hour of trial; this is the punishment it is to inflict upon its perfidious enemies.
No, sir, no sophistry, no special pleading, can lead the American people to this result. Through us or over us it will reconstruct those States on a basis of impartial and eternal justice. Such a mongrel, patchwork, bastard reconstruction as some gentlemen propose, even if put into shape, would not hold together a twelvemonth. Four million human beings consigned to the uncontrolled brutality of 7,000,000 of human beings! The very thought is monstrous. The instinct of jus
tice which God has implanted in every soul revolts at it. The voice of lamentation would swell up from that wretched land and fill the ears of mankind. Leaders and avengers would spring up on every hilltop of the north. The intellect, the morality, the soul of the age would fight in behalf of the
op pressed, and the structure of so-called reconstruction would go down in blood.
Does any man think that it is in the American people, who rose at the cry of the slave under the lash of his master, to abide in quiet the carnival of arson, rapine, and murder now raging over the south? Sir, a government which would perpetuate such a state of things would be a monstrous barbarism; the legislative body which would seek to weave such things into the warp and woof of the national life would deserve the vengeance of Almighty God.
A senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Cowan] the other day in the United States Senate said:
“I have no doubt but there are large numbers of the American people who are exceedingly anxious to compel negro suffrage through the southern States. But has any one of them ever made an argument to show that the southern States would be better governed; that there would be more peace and more quiet in consequence of it? I have never heard those arguments if they have been made, and I do not know how anybody could make them.”
I will give the honorable senator an argument most potent and convincing as to the kind of “ peace and quiet " which now reign in the south without negro suffrage and which will reign there so long as negro suffrage is denied. General Ord has just made a report upon the condition of things in Arkan
He sums up matters as follows: “Outrages, assaults, and murders committed on the persons of freed men and women are being continually reported from
all sections of the State, and a decided want of disposition to punish offenders apparently exists with the local civil officers and in the minds of the people. There have been reported fifty-two murders of freed persons by white men in this state in the past three or four months, and no reports have been re ceived that the murderers have been imprisoned or punished. In some parts of the State, particularly in the southwest and southeast, freedmen's lives are threatened if they report their wrongs to the agent of the bureau, and in many instances the parties making reports are missed and never heard of afterward. “ It is believed that the number of murders reported is not half the number committed during the time mentioned."
Or if this is not sufficient, I would answer the distinguished
ator still further by quoting from the report of the officers of the Freedmen's Bureau as to the state of affairs in Tennessee as a further testimony to the condition of southern society without impartial suffrage:
“ Captain Kendrick reports in substance that having proceeded to Union City, he conversed with many of the citizens, who told him that but few freedmen were left about there, as they were driving them away as rapidly as possible. There seems to be a fixed determination that the freedmen shall not reside there, and the citizens force them to fly by ravishing the females, shooting, beating, whipping, and cheating them. The superintendent of the bureau there, while investigating a case of assault upon a negro, was compelled to desist by threats upon his life. The magistrate of the town states that he is powerless to administer justice, owing to the feeling in the community.
“Captain Kendrick mentions the case of a freedwoman named Emeline, living in Union City, who, during the absence of her husband, was brutally violated by a party of whites. She appealed to the justice of the peace, who informed her that nothing could be done for her on account of the feeling in the town. The next day two men, named Goodlow and Avons, of Union City, took her into a field and whipped her. A freedman named Callum was whipped by a man named