Page images
PDF
EPUB

EQUAL RIGHTS OF COLORED FELLOW

CITIZENS IN NORMAL SCHOOLS.

LETTER READ AT A PUBLIC MEETING IN WASHINGTON,

JUNE 22, 1873.

A PROPOSITION in the Legislature of the District of Columbia, opening the Normal School without distinction of color, failed through the vote of a colored member, which was the occasion of the following letter, written in reply to an inquiry. The letter was read by the chairman of a public meeting of colored citizens on the evening of June 30, 1873, who said he had conferred with distinguished gentlemen, legal and otherwise, regarding the right of the District Legislature to pass such a bill, and all had stated that their power was unquestionable. He had addressed a letter to the Hon. Charles Sumner upon that question, and had received the following reply :

WASHINGTON, June 22, 1873.

D

EAR SIR, – In reply to your inquiry, I have no

hesitation in saying that in my judgment the right of the District Legislature to provide a normal school where there shall be no distinction of color is beyond doubt. To call it in question is simply ridiculous.

Having the right, the duty of the Legislature is clear as sunshine. It must open the school to all, without distinction of color. Should any persons be shut out from this right on the wretched apology of color, I trust they will make their indignation felt by the guilty authors of the outrage.

I write plainly, because the time has come for those who love justice to speak out. Too long have colored fellow-citizens been deprived of their rights; they must insist upon them. Faithfully yours,

CHARLES SUMNER.

THE PRESIDENT OF HAYTI AND

MR. SUMNER.

LETTER IN REPLY TO ONE FROM THE FORMER,

JULY 4, 1873.

The following is a translation of the Haytian President's letter:

REPUBLIC OF HAYTI,

PORT-AU-PRINCE, September 24, 1872. Sixty-Ninth Year of Independence. HONORABLE SENATOR, — I eagerly seize the good opportunity offered me by the departure of our Ministe Citizen S. Preston, to pray you to receive the testimony of my high consideration, which does not cease to grow, by reason of the eminent services which you render daily to the noble cause of an oppressed people.

I should consider myself as failing in one of my most imperious duties, if I did not express to you the sentiments of gratiture which your name awakens in the breast of every one belonging to the African race.

In assuming the defence of the rights of this people, guided by the most generous sentiments of your rich nature, by a sincere love of justice, you have acquired an immortal title to the gratitude of all the descendants of the African race.

Please to receive this feeble expression of my high esteem for the noble character of an illustrious citizen, and believe in the depth of sentiment with which I declare myself, Honorable Senator,

Your devoted friend,

NISAGE SAGET. MR. SUMNER'S REPLY.

M.

WASHINGTON, July 4, 1873. R. PRESIDENT, - I cannot, at this late day, acknowledge the letter with which

you

have honored me, without explaining the reason of my delay.

Owing to absence in Europe, where I had gone for my health, I did not receive your valuable communication until some time in the winter, when it was put into my hands by your excellent Minister. Continuing feeble in health, I reluctantly postponed this acknowledgment. I now take advantage of convalescence to do, thus tardily, what my feelings prompted at an earlier day.

Please, Sir, accept my thanks for your generous appreciation of what I have done, and your kindness in letting me know it under your own hand. But I beg you to understand that I do not deserve the praise with which you honor me. In advocating the cause of an oppressed people I have only acted according to my conscience. I could not have done otherwise; and now my only regret is that I have done so little. I wish I

I had done more.

In the history of mankind the crime against the African race will stand forth in terrible eminence, — always observed, and never forgotten. Just in proportion as civilization prevails will this enormous wrong be apparent in its true character; and men will read with astonishment how human beings, guilty only of being black, were sold into slavery, and then (such was the continuing injustice towards this unhappy people) how, when slavery ceased, they were still treated with indignity by persons whose lordly pretensions were founded on the skin only. As these things are seen in increasing light, they will be condemned in no uncertain words; nor will the denial of equal rights, on account of color, escape the judgment awarded to slavery itself. Human conduct on this question is a measure of character. Where the African race is enslaved or degraded, where it is exposed to any indignity or shut out from that equality which is a primal right to humanity, there civilization is still feeble.

To the certain triumph of civilization I look with constant hope. It is sure to come; and one sign of its arrival will be that prevailing sentiment which recognizes the perpetual obligations of equal justice to all, and the duty to repair past wrongs by compensations in the future.

In the great debt of the whites to the blacks there is a bank from which, for generations to come, the latter can draw.

Accept, Mr. President, the expression of my ardent hope for the peace, prosperity, and happiness of the Republic of Hayti, and allow me to subscribe myself with true regard, Your faithful friend,

CHARLES SUMNER.

TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF HAYTI.

« PreviousContinue »