Black Suffrage After the Civil War


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 27, 1865

The May 27, 1865 edition of Harper's Weekly features a cover article on Lewis Payne, the would-be assassin of Secretary Seward, news of the capture of Jefferson Davis, and important information of Black Suffrage following the Civil War.  We have posted the entire newspaper in readable form.  Simply click on the thumbnail below to be taken to a large, readable version of that page.

Capture of Jefferson Davis

Capture of Jefferson Davis

Black Suffrage

Black Suffrage

Jefferson Davis Accused of Treason

Jefferson Davis Accused of Treason

Abraham Lincoln Chicago Funeral

Abraham Lincoln Chicago Funeral

General Johnston's Surrender

General Joseph Johnston's Surrender

Joe Johnston Surrender

Johnston's Surrender to Sherman

Battle of Fort Mahone

Battle of Fort Mahone

Battle for Mobile

Battle For Mobile Alabama

Abraham Lincoln's Tomb

Abraham Lincoln's Tomb




[MAY 27, 1865.


if only in presence of the family, and go unscathed. The colored men may be forbidden to bear arms ; to attend church ; to sit upon juries. Their wages may be restricted. There is no enormity whatever of which they may not be made the victims, if they are not to be enfranchised. If the sole, final law in the State is to be the will of those who are unfriendly to them, it is doubtful whether mere emancipation is an advantage. And as men of practical wisdom, knowing history and human nature, we have no right to refuse, while we have the power, to secure to the Southern freedmen the right to work and enjoy, " in its most extensive sense."

Is it said that it is foolish to suppose the white citizens would lay the black under disabilities ? Why so ? Are those who were perfectly willing to sell other men's children likely to shrink from forbidding those men to learn to read or to bear arms ? Are those who were willing that others should be made to work for nothing too humane to say that they shall have only a shilling a day ? Or, again, will it be urged that palpable self-interest will prevent such legislation ? But the same reason should have abolished Slavery at the South long ago ; and the people who were too ignorant to see that can not be supposed to have learned suddenly that justice is the truest policy. Why should we expect of the whites of North Carolina and Georgia, even when they are loyal, what we do not find in the intelligent Empire State? When the gilded clubs of the Fifth Avenue in New York refuse to recognize free colored men as equal citizens, how can we ask the hovels of Alabama and Mississippi to acknowledge the equal rights of those who have been always despised slaves ? Five years ago the white citizens of the State of New York contemptuously declared that color should be a political disability, and that ignorance and drunkenness should not. Would it be very wonderful that the white citizens of Louisiana should declare that color shall he a bar to knowledge or to high wages ?

If we are asked whether it is probable that the people of New York would wish to do in South Carolina what they refused to do at home, we reply that five years have undoubtedly opened their eyes and hearts, and that they will do it at home whenever the opportunity is offered. And even if we thought otherwise we should have no doubt what they ought to do ; for the same principle that makes it right in one State justifies it in all. The opportunity is not now given to us to decide the question in New York; but it is in the late rebel States, through our Senators and Representatives. The colored citizens at the South are more than half the governed. In South Carolina a large majority of the population is colored. We have no more right to abandon them to the will of the whites because their color has been a badge of servility than we have arbitrarily to disfranchise the white's because their color has been a sign of treason. And if the representatives of a State organization in South Carolina, which disfranchised any citizen of the State because of his color, should claim seats in Congress, it would be the plainest duty of Congress to refuse to receive them until a republican form of government should be established in South Carolina.

If any opponent of this view should retreat upon the assertion that the United States have nothing to do with suffrage in a State—that the national Government can not even prescribe the qualifications of voters at the national elections --we remind him of the simple fact that none of the insurrectionary States will ever again be organized except upon the terms that the United States ordain. Not a man will vote in Virginia or Carolina by any other authority than that of the United States. According to a doctrine which was proclaimed rather truculently at one time, whenever what was called active rebellion ceased in a State, the State was at once restored with all its privileges to the Union. Active rebellion has ceased in Virginia, in Georgia, in South Carolina. Does any sane man propose that the forces of the United States shall be immediately withdrawn, and the voters under the Constitutions of those States be invited to send Representatives to Congress ? No. The United States will withdraw their hand when they are satisfied that peace is secure. They can not believe it to be secure until the State Constitution shall forbid the State imperatively and forever to allow any legal disability upon the grounds of color or race. And that result should be secured by an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, making every native and properly naturalized citizen, if unconvicted of crime, a voter. After that the " Negro question" will take care of itself.

When more than half the adult male. population of the late rebel States are enfranchised . they will instantly appear to be as good as, any body. The " natural antipathy" will vanish. They will be courted as much as they are now contemned. Their most sweet voices will be wooed by demagogues as obsequiously as those of ignorant foreigners are now. We shall hear FERNANDO WOOD assert that his life-long aim has been the restoration of his fellowcitizens of African descent to the rights so long and wickedly withheld ; and the Honorable AUGUST BELMONT declare that, as a free-born American, he has cherished no hope so dear as the enfran-

chisement of his fellow-countrymen of every color.

President JOHNSON says that freedom is the right to work and enjoy the fruits of toil in the most extensive sense. That means political as well as personal liberty.


THE second series of the Seven-Thirty loan has been exhausted—in other words, the people of the United States have subscribed, in forty-five days, including Sundays and holidays, three hundred millions of dollars in support of their Government. History may be ransacked in vain for a parallel.

England stood aghast with amazement when the French nation, stirred by all the appliances of imperial menace and bureaucratic intrigue, offered the Emperor 750,000,000 francs, or $150,000,000, for the war in Italy. A bagatelle of $150,000,000 has been lent our Government half a score of times since our war began ; and now we are tendering $30,000,000 a day.

Four descriptions of United States Bonds—besides old five and six per cent. Bonds, interest-bearing legal-tender Treasury Notes, and certificates of indebtedness—are now in market.

1st. SIXES OF 1881. These are long bonds, running for twenty years from 1861, and bearing interest at the rate of six per cent. per an-num. They were issued at the beginning of the war, and many of them were sold at 9 @ 94, gold being then at par. They are now worth 110, or excluding interest, say 106 1/4. Most of these bonds are held in Europe. The whole issue is $282,561,000.

2d. FIVE-TWENTY BONDS. Of these bonds there are two descriptions, known as old and new bonds. The old bonds are dated in 1862, and mature in 1867-'82. The new bonds are dated in 1863, and mature in 1868-'83. Of the former, $510,545,000 are in existence; of the latter, $86,000,000. Both are redeemable at the pleasure of the United States at maturity, but payment can not be demanded until twenty years have elapsed from the date of the bond. Both bear interest at the rate of six per cent. per annum, payable semi-annually in gold. Of the old five-twenties, a large proportion are held in Europe. When gold rose here to 250 and above, the five-twenty bonds, which were offered to purchasers at par in legal-tender currency, could be laid down in Europe at 35 @ 40 cents on the dollar. Our English friends, who took the rebel cotton loan (now offered at 13 per cent.) at or near par in gold, would not touch five-twenties. The shrewd merchants of Amsterdam—the wisest financiers and the richest in the world—eschewed cotton rebel loans, and subscribed for $150,000,000 of five-twenties. Germany followed the example, and took from $100,000,000 to $150,000,000 more. Amsterdam can now sell its bonds at a profit of nearly 100 per cent. on the original investment; London can not realize on its cotton bonds even at a loss of 85 per cent. People here who subscribed for five-twenties at par when gold was 200 per cent. have, at present prices, made 50 per cent. in gold on their investment—no mean profit—to say nothing of the interest in gold, which has at times amounted to 15 per cent. in currency.

3d. TEN-FORTY BONDS. These bonds, of which $172,770,000 are in existence, are so called because they are redeemable at the expiration of ten years, and payable forty years from date. They bear interest at the rate of five per cent., payable semi-annually in gold. These bonds were issued at the solicitation of friends of the Government, who urged that five per cent. was enough to pay for money. Agents of European bankers likewise suggested that foreigners would be more likely to place confidence in a five per cent. bond than in one bearing a higher rate of interest. Neither in this country nor its Europe, however, have the five per cent. bonds be-come favorites. The original issue was disposed of with difficulty, and very few of the bonds have been placed in Europe.

4th. SEVEN-THIRTY NOTES. These securities are so called because they bear interest at the rate of 7.30 per cent. per annum, payable in currency. At the expiration of three years from their date they are either payable, or fund-able into new five-twenty bonds, at the wish of the holder. Of these notes few, if any, have gone abroad, and yet in a few months six hundred millions of them have been disposed of at par to the people of the United States: The second series, as we stated, has been taken up in just forty-five days. It is now announced that the third and last series authorized, consisting of $230,000,000, is offered to the public on the same terms as the two previous ones.

Our national debt it is now pretty safe to estimate at three thousand millions of dollars. There are those who believe that claims for damages, and the military and other expenses of Government, which must remain large for many years to come, will so far exceed the revenue from customs and taxes, as to render further loans indispensable. But it seems unlikely that this will be the case, at all events to any extent. All hope of successful resistance to the National authority having vanished, the

(Continued From Previous Page) " followed the remains of President LINCOLN from Washington, the scene of his assassination, to Springfield, his former home, and now to be his final resting-place. He had been absent from this city ever since he left it in February, 1861, for the national capital, to be inaugurated as President of the United States. We have seen him lying in state in the Executive Mansion, where the obsequies were attended by numerous mourners, some of them clothed with the highest public honors and responsibilities which our republican institutions can bestow, and by the diplomatic representatives of foreign governments. We have followed the remains from Washington through Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Chicago to Springfield—a distance in circuit of 1500 or 1800 miles. On the route millions of people have appeared to manifest, by every means of which they are capable, their deep sense of the public loss, and their appreciation of the many virtues which adorned the life of ABRAHAM LINCOLN. All classes, without distinction of politics or creeds, spontaneously united in the posthumous honors. All hearts seemed to beat as one at the bereavement; and, now funeral processions are ended, our mournful duty of escorting the mortal remains of ABRAHAM LINCOLN hither is performed. We have seen them deposited in the tomb. The bereaved friends, with subdued and grief-stricken hearts, have taken their adieu and turn their faces homeward, ever to remember the affecting and impressive scenes which they have witnessed. The injunction, so often repeated on the way, 'Bear him gently to his rest,' has been obeyed, and the great heart of the nation throbs heavily at the portals of the tomb."


BRING home the battle-flags, all stained and torn With bursting shell and grimy battle smoke,

The flags that through the fierce fight ye have borne Amid the hissing lead, the sabre's stroke,

And place them on each waiting armory wall, That they may speak of the great past to all.

Bring home your muskets, stand them one by one In the vast arsenals, and then leave them there, The glorious work which called them forth is done, The din of war is no more in the air;

The battle-echoes fade and fade away,

And Peace is dawning on a broader day.

Bring back the cannon, let the spider spin

Her thin-laced web within them where they stand, No more their throats shall wake with dreadful din The drowsy hamlets of our wide-spread land, Or cast tile. into bells that ne'er shall cease To fill the air with sweet-toned notes of peace.

Bring home the leathern knapsacks ye have borne with bending backs along the dusty ways, The mounted cross-belts ye've so proudly worn; A new light shines from brighter, happier days, The cloud. of war is swiftly passing by,

And once again the sun shines in the sky.

'Bring back your swords, and lay them by at home; Ah, is it not a proud, a noble thought

To—know your children in the years to come

Shall point to these and say, " Our fathers fought!" Bring back your swords, and hang them on your walls, To grasp again whene'er your country calls.

Come home, ye veterans; welcome, welcome home! "Come,"- say the lips of mothers and of wives; Your children's joyous voices echo "Come!" We thank the God of Battles for your lives; And now the morning dawning on the night Breaks in the future beautiful and bright.



SATURDAY. MAY 27, 1865.



THE late Chief Justice of the United States, ROGER B. TANEY, will be forever infamous for endeavoring, under the solemn sanction of the highest court in the land, to work that utter demoralization of public opinion which would have made JEFFERSON DAVIS'S crimes unnecessary, even for his own purposes. The present Chief justice, SALMON P. CHASE, will be forever honored as the first eminent public man who has proposed that policy which will render all future crimes like DAVIS'S abortive. In a letter read at the twelfth American Congregational Reunion in Brooklyn Chief Justice CHASE writes ; " I would like to say to the Christians who shall assemble at your reunion an earnest word on the present great national duty of granting to the freedmen of the South the right of self-protection by the ballot."

President JOHNSON, in a speech delivered in Baltimore before the death of Mr. LINCOLN, after saying that to save the Union he would be willing to sink the whole African race, was interrupted by a voice in the crowd which said, "Don't do that, Governor,. give them the ballot;" to which Mr. Johnson instantly replied, "Yes, and I would' do that, too !" Last week, when a deputation of colored men waited upon him, the President said, in his reply, that he had always maintained that the slaves had as much right to be free as. those who claimed them as property, and that freedom means liberty to work and enjoy, the fruit of your own toil, " in its most extensive sense." That is to say, freedom is the right to be protected in the fulfillment of all the relations of citizens exactly as other men are. For no man has the liberty to work and enjoy the fruits of work, in its most extensive sense, who is the victim of disabilities which are not imposed upon other free men.

In this country, where the Government rightfully exists by the, consent of the governed, every

man has an equal right to a share in political power. Suffrage for colored Americans is, therefore, not a privilege for which we plead—it is a right which, as American citizens, we consistently demand. Nor is the claim of this right vitiated by any traditional and uniform exclusion of colored citizens from the ballot-box. Mr. Justice CURTIS, in his masterly opinion dissenting from that of Chief Justice TANEY in the DRED SCOTT case, distinctly declares that, in his opinion, it is untrue that the Continental Congress intended to say that the white race exclusively were endowed with the natural rights asserted in the Declaration of Independence. It is from these rights that our political rights spring. And that there may be no doubt that the fathers did not mean to make color a political disqualification, it is enough to cite the action of Congress on the 25th of June, 1778, when, in discussing the articles of Confederation, South Carolina, always Tory and aristocratic, proposed the insertion of the word " white" as a condition of general citizenship. Eight states voted against it, two for it, and one was divided. The Constitution of the United States was subsequently adopted by the voters in the several States, and South Carolina was the only one in which color was a disability.

The conditions of suffrage in the States at the beginning were either of age, personal freedom, property, or residence, except in South Carolina. North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, all admitted colored voters if they were old enough, had lived long enough in the State and county, owned sufficient property, or had paid the proper taxes. The disability of color has crept into the State constitutions in exact correspondence with the increasing' demoralization of the public mind produced by slavery. White citizens at the North sacrificed the political rights of their colored fellow-citizens to propitiate the Southern slave interest. The most abject submission was the price of the Southern political alliance. Thus in the State of New York, by the first Constitution, " every male inhabitant of full age," who had lived six months in the county, who had a small free-hold, or who had paid a certain rent or taxes was a voter. It was only in 1820 that New York condescended to tarnish her fame by making a man's complexion vitiate his natural rights; and the provision in her present Constitution of 1846, which decrees that "no man of color" shall vote unless he has lived in the State three times longer than is required of any other citizen and has paid a tax which others are not obliged to pay, is as absolute and arbitrary a violation of the principle of our Government as if it declared that no man between the ages of forty and forty-five should have the right of voting. Complexion is no more an actual disability than red hair. Habitual drunkenness is a disability; yet it does not disqualify.

We may add that slavery was not satisfied with restricting or destroying the political equality of colored citizens in the free States. But the laws passed in some of these States to protect the personal liberty of colored men, to prevent the native free inhabitants of Wisconsin and Massachusetts from being kidnapped by JAMES M. MASON and his confederates and sold in Virginia and elsewhere as slaves, was among the pretenses for rebellion which MASON and his party put forth, at the South, and which were alleged in extenuation of treason by MASON'S political allies at the North. The political franchise of colored citizens is no new thing. It is older than the Constitution of the United States. If we are startled by the suggestion now, our surprise is only an evidence of the terrible thralldom in which we have been held by the slave power.

But aside from the undoubted original right, it is enough to urge the voting of the blacks at the South upon President JOHNSON'S own ground. Political enfranchisement is indispensable in ors der to secure to the late slaves the liberty to work and live, "in its most extensive sense." The white population at the South have been educated in a contempt for colored men of every degree as an inferior race. Mr. JOHNSON undoubtedly expressed exactly the general Border State feeling about them in his Baltimore speech, to which we have alluded. He was willing either to exterminate them or to enfranchise them, as a means of conquering the rebellion. We do not mean, however, in these days, when we grow ten years in ten hours, to hold public men too precisely to words or even to opinions; and FREDERICK DOUGLASS is doubtless right in saying that it was only Mr. JOHNSON'S way of expressing a preference for his own color. We merely mention the fact to illustrate the universal feeling of men who have been educated amidst the influences of slavery.

If this be so, and the political power in the late insurrectionary States be intrusted exclusively to the whites, the colored population will be left entirely at the mercy of those who have always regarded them with contempt, and who doubtless feel bitterly toward them as the real cause of the war which 'has desolated the South. If colored men are not to, be enfranchised, it may be, made a penal' offense in the reorganized States to teach them to read. They may be deprived of the right to testify in courts of law, and any villain may enter the house. of a, colored man, may commit what atrocity he will,




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