« PreviousContinue »
INTEREST AND DUTY OF COLORED CITIZENS IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
LETTER TO COLORED CITIZENS, JULY 29, 1872.
I will say to the North, Give up; and to the South, Keep not back. ISAIAH, xliii. 6.
THE immediate occasion of the present Letter appears in the following, from colored citizens of Washington to Mr. Sumner :
WASHINGTON, D. C., July 11, 1872.
SIR, We, the undersigned, citizens of color, regarding you as the purest and best friend of our race, admiring your consistent course in the United States Senate and elsewhere as the special advocate of our rights, and believing that your counsel at this critical juncture in the period of our citizenship would be free from personal feeling and partisan prejudice, have ventured to request your opinion as to what action the colored voters of the nation should take in the Presidential contest now pending.
The choice of our people is now narrowed down to General Grant or Horace Greeley. Your long acquaintance with both and your observation have enabled you to arrive at a correct conclusion as to which of the candidates, judging from their antecedents as well as their present position, will, if elected, enforce the requirements of the Constitution and the laws respecting our civil and political rights with the most heart-felt sympathy and the greatest vigor.
We hope and trust you will favor us with such reply as will serve to enlighten our minds upon this subject and impel our people to go forward in the right direction. Our confidence in your judgment is so firm, that, in our opinion, thousands of the intelligent colored voters of the country will be guided in their action by your statement and advice. Hoping to receive a reply soon, we have the honor to be,
With great respect,
Your obedient servants,
A. T. AUGUSTA, M. D.
DAVID FISHER, sr.
JNO. H. SMITH.
W. H. BELL.
J. L. N. Bowen.
HON. CHARLES SUMNER.
CHAS. F. BRUCE.
WASHINGTON, July 29, 1872.
GENTLEMEN AND FELLOW-CITIZENS:
F I have delayed answering your communication of July 11th, which was duly placed in my hands by your committee, it was not because the proper course for you seemed doubtful, but because I wished to reflect upon it and be aided by information which time might supply. Since then I have carefully considered the inquiries addressed to me, and have listened to much on both sides; but my best judgment now is in harmony with my early conclusion.
I am touched by the appeal you make. It is true that I am the friend of your race, and I am glad to be assured that in your opinion I have held a consistent course in the Senate and elsewhere as the special advocate of your rights. That course, by the blessing of God, I mean to hold so long as life lasts. I know your infinite wrongs, and feel for them as my own. only do me simple justice, when you add a belief that my counsel at this critical juncture of your citizenship "would be free from personal feelings and partisan prejudice." In answering your inquiries I can have no sentiment except for your good, which I most anxiously
seek; nor can any disturbing influence be allowed to interfere. The occasion is too solemn. Especially is there no room for personal feeling or for partisan prejudice. No man or party can expect power except for the general welfare. Therefore they must be brought to the standard of truth, which is without feeling or prejudice.
You are right in saying that the choice for the Presidency is now narrowed down" to President Grant or Horace Greeley. One of these is to be taken, and, as-. suming my acquaintance with both and my observation of their lives, you invite my judgment between them, asking me especially which of the two, "judging from their antecedents as well as present position," would enforce the Constitution and laws securing your civil and political rights "with the most heart-felt sympathy and the greatest vigor." Here I remark that in this inquiry you naturally put your rights in the foreground. So do I,believing most sincerely that the best interests of the whole country are associated with the completest recognition of your rights, so that the two races shall live together in unbroken harmony. I also remark that you call attention to two things, the "antecedents" of the candidates, and their "present position." You wish to know from these which gives assurance of the most heart-felt sympathy and greatest vigor in the maintenance of your rights, in other words, which, judging by the past, will be your truest friend.
The communication with which you have honored me is not alone. Colored fellow-citizens in other parts of the country, I may say in nearly every State of the
Union, have made a similar request, and some complain that I have thus far kept silent. I am not insensible to the trust reposed in me. But if my opinion is given, it must be candidly, according to my conscience. In this spirit I answer your inquiries, beginning with the antecedents of the two candidates.
ANTECEDENTS OF THE CANDIDATES.
HORACE GREELEY was born to poverty and educated himself in a printing-office. President Grant, fortunate in early patronage, became a cadet at West Point and was educated at the public expense. One started with nothing but industry and character; the other started with a military commission. One was trained as a civilian; the other as a soldier. Horace Greeley stood forth as a Reformer and Abolitionist. President Grant enlisted as a Proslavery Democrat, and, at the election of James Buchanan, fortified by his vote all the pretensions of Slavery, including the Dred Scott decision. Horace Greeley from early life was earnest and constant against Slavery, full of sympathy with the colored race, and always foremost in the great battle for their rights. President Grant, except as a soldier summoned by the terrible accident of war, never did anything against Slavery, nor has he at any time shown any sympathy with the colored race, but rather indifference, if not aversion. Horace Greeley earnestly desired that colored citizens should vote, and ably championed impartial suffrage; but President Grant was on the other side.
Beyond these contrasts, which are marked, it cannot be forgotten that Horace Greeley is a person of large heart and large understanding, trained to the support of