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ADVICE TO THE COLORED PEOPLE.
LETTER TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION OF COLORED PEOPLE
AT NEW ORLEANS, APRIL 7, 1872.
WASHINGTON, April 7, 1872.
Convention should think more of principles than of men,
except so far as men stand for principles. Above all, let them insist on the rights of their own muchabused and insulted people.
It is absurd for anybody to say that he "accepts the situation," and then deny the equal rights of the colored man. If the “situation” is accepted in good faith, it must be entirely, — including not merely the abolition of Slavery and the establishment of equal suffrage, but also all those other rights which are still denied or abridged. There must be complete equality before the law, so that in all institutions, agencies, or conveniences, created or regulated by law, there can be no discrimination on account of color, but a black man shall be treated as a white man.
In maintaining their rights, it will be proper for the Convention to invoke the Declaration of Independence, so that its principles and promises shall become a living reality, never to be questioned in any way, but recognized always as a guide of conduct and a governing rule in the interpretation of the National Constitution, being in the nature of a Bill of Rights preceding the Constitution.
It is not enough to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Equality must be proclaimed also; and since both are promised by the great Declaration, which is a national act, and as from their nature they should be uniform throughout the country, both must be placed under the safeguard of national law. There can be but one liberty and one equality, the same in Boston and New Orleans, the same everywhere throughout the country.
The colored people are not ungenerous, and therefore will incline to any measures of good-will and reconciliation ; but I trust no excess of benevolence will make them consent to any postponement of those equal rights which are still refused. The disabilities of colored people, loyal and long-suffering, should be removed before the disabilities of former Rebels; or at least the two removals should go hand in hand.
It only remains that I should say, “Stand firm!” The politicians will then know that you are in earnest, and will no longer be trifled with. Victory will follow soon, and the good cause be secure forever.
Meanwhile accept my best wishes for the Convention, and believe me, dear Professor, Faithfully yours,
CHARLES SUMNER. To PROFESSOR John M. Langston,
DIPLOMATIC AGENTS OF THE UNITED STATES NOT TO ACCEPT GIFTS FROM FOREIGN
REMARKS IN THE SENATE, MAY 2, 1872.
MR. CAMERON, having moved to take up a joint resolution reported by him from the ('ommittee on Foreign Relations, "permitting certain diplomatic and consular officers of the United States in France to accept testimonials from the Emperor of Germany for their friendly services toward the subjects of the Emperor during the war between France and Germany,” – Mr. Sumner promptly protested:
MUST object to it with my whole soul.
sider it a most vicious proposition, utterly untenable. The Constitution of the United States says:
“No person holding any office of profit or trust under them (the United States) shall, without the consent of the ('ongress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign State."
Not even from the German Empire. Congress has followed one rule from the beginning, I believe, — never to allow its diplomatic agents to receive anything from a foreign power. It has allowed its naval officers, who have rendered some humane service at sea to the subjects of a foreign power, to receive some reward or recognition, some honor, some compliment; but it has never allowed any person in its diplomatic service to receive any such reward, honor, or compliment. I think the Senate will see that this rule proceeds on a ground from which we cannot depart. It is, that our representatives abroad must be kept always above all suspicion of acting under foreign influence, or the temptation of foreign reward. Nor should we, Sir, be gratitied, I think, to see these representatives abroad wearing at their button-holes the insignia of any foreign power.
I hope, Sir, the Senate will not take up this matter again. It ought to be allowed to drop out of sight.
The matter was dropped.
PRESERVATION OF THE PARK AT
REMARKS IN THE SENATE, May 15, 1872.
The Senate having under consideration a bill from the House confirming a grant by the City Council of Washington of a site for a railway dépôt in the public park, Mr. Sumner said :
R. PRESIDENT, - To my mind this bill is inju
reached after the most careful consideration of it in the Committee. I think it ought not to be adopted by the Senate. I say this with reluctance, for I sympathize keenly with every improvement and with every facility afforded to this growing and beautiful metropolis; and may I say, also, I feel a personal sympathy with the distinguished citizen of Pennsylvania particularly interested in this measure? And yet, approaching its consideration with those biases in its favor, I am bound to conclude against it.
Sir, I do not think that this privilege ought to be granted, and my reason is precise and specific. It proposes to take a considerable section of land, which, if you look on the map, you will see properly belongs to the Park of Washington. I am unwilling, at this early period in the history of this metropolis, to begin by cut