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LETTER TO HENRY RICHARD, M. P., ON THE VOTE IN THE
HOUSE OF COMMONS AGREEING TO HIS MOTION FOR AN ADDRESS TO THE QUEEN, PRAYING COMMUNICATION WITH FOREIGN POWERS WITH A VIEW TO A GENERAL AND MANENT SYSTEM OF INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION, JULY 10, 1873.
UNITED STATES SENATE CHAMBER,
WASHINGTON, July 10, 1873.
Y DEAR SIR, Few events have given me more
pleasure than the vote on your motion. I thank you for making the motion; and I thank you also for not yielding to Mr. Gladstone's request to withdraw it. You were in the very position of Buxton on his motion against Slavery. He, too, insisted upon a division; and that vote led to Emancipation. May you have equal success!
I anticipate much from this vote. It will draw attention on the Continent, which the facts and figures of your speech will confirm.
I find in your speech grand compensation for the long postponement to which you have been constrained. It marks an epoch in a great cause. I know you will not rest. But this speech alone, with the signal result, will make your Parliamentary life historic.
Gladstone acted under some imagined exigency of politics. He cannot, in his soul, differ from you. Honoring him much, I regret that he has allowed himself to appear on the wrong side. What fame so great as his, if he would devote the just influence of his lofty position to securing for nations the inappreciable benefits of a tribunal for the settlement of their differences !
How absurd to call your motion Utopian, if by this word is meant that it is not practical. There is no question so supremely practical; for it concerns not inerely one nation, but every nation ; and even its discussion promises to diminish the terrible chances of war. Its triumph would be the greatest reform of history. And I doubt not that this day is near.
Accept my thanks and congratulations, and believe me, my dear Sir, Sincerely yours,
CHARLES SUMNER. HENRY RICHARD, Esq., M.P.,
A COMMON-SCHOOL SYSTEM IRRESPECTIVE
LETTER TO THE COLORED Citizens of WASHINGTON,
JULY 29, 1873.
WASHINGTON, July 29, 1873. ENTLEMEN, - I am honored by your communi
cation of July 26th, in which, after congratulating me upon returning health, and expressing your sincere hopes that I may resume my labors in the Senate, there to take up again the cause of Equal Rights, you mention that the colored citizens of Washington are now engaged in agitating what you properly call “a common-school system for all children.”
I desire to thank you for the good will to myself which your communication exhibits, and for your hopes that I may again in the Senate take up the cause of Equal Rights. Health itself is valuable only as it enables us to perform the duties of life, and I know no present duty more commanding than that to which
I confess a true pleasure in learning that the colored people are at last rising to take the good cause into their own hands, because through them its triumph is certain. But they must be in earnest. They must insist and
A COMMON-SCHOOL SYSTEM
labor, then labor and insist again. Only in this way car indifference, which is worse even than the stubbornness of opposition, be overcome. The open foe can be met. It is hard to deal with that dulness which feels no throb at the thought of opening to all complete equality in the pursuit of happiness.
Permit me to remind you, Gentlemen, that, living at the national capital, you have a peculiar responsibility. In the warfare for Equal Rights you are the advance guard, sometimes the forlorn hope. You are animated to move forward, not only for your own immediate good, but because through you the whole colored population of the country will be benefited. What is secured for you will be secured for all, — while, if you fail, there is small hope elsewhere. Do not forget — and let this thought arouse to increased exertion — that your triumph will redound to the good of all.
The District of Columbia is the place where all the great reforms born of the war have begun. It is the experimental garden and nursery where all the generous plants have been tried. Emancipation, colored suffrage, the right of colored persons to testify, and the right to ride in the street-cars, — all these began here, and I remember well how they were all encountered.
On the abolition of Slavery we were solemnly warned that riot, confusion, and chaos would ensue. Emancipation took place, and not a voice or sound was heard except of peace and gladness. I was soberly assured by eminent politicians, that if colored persons were allowed to vote there would be massacre at the polls. Then, again, colored testimony was deprecated, — while it was insisted that the street-cars would be ruined, if opened to colored persons. But all these changes, demanded by
simple justice, have been in every way beneficent. Nobody would reverse them now. Who would establish Slavery again ? Who would drive the colored citizen from the polls ? Who would exclude him from the court-room? Who would shut him from the streetcars? And now the old objections are revived, and made to do service again, in order to defeat the effort for common schools, — being schools founded on the very principle of Equal Rights recognized in the elective franchise, in the court-room, and in the street-car. If this principle is just for all the latter, - and nobody says the contrary now, — why hesitate to apply it in education? How often we are enjoined to train the child in the way he should go! Why, then, compel him in those tender years to bear the ban of exclusion ? Why, at that early period, when impressions are received for life, impose upon him the badge of inferiority ? He is to be a man; therefore he must be trained to that self-respect without which there can be no true manhood. But this can be only by removing all ban of exclusion, and every badge of inferiority from color.
As the old objections are revived, so again do I present the great truth announced by our fathers in the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal.” Admitting this principle as a rule of conduct, the separation of children in the public schools on account of color is absolutely indefensible. In abolishing it we simply bring our schools into conformity with the requirements of the Declaration.
To the objection that this change will injure the schools, I reply that this is contrary to experience in other places, where the commingling of children according to the genius of republican institutions has been found