The Black Vote After the Civil War


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 20, 1865

The May 20, 1865 edition of Harper's Weekly is full of interesting Civil War content.  It features details on the capture of John Wilkes Booth, and provides detailed descriptions of the Funeral and Burial of Abraham Lincoln.  We have posted the entire newspaper for your research and perusal.  Simply click on a thumbnail to be taken to a complete, readable version of that page.


The Capture of John Wilkes Booth

Black Vote After the Civil War

Black Labor After the Civil War

Abraham Lincoln's Cleveland Funeral

Abraham Lincoln's Cleveland Funeral

Abraham Lincoln House

Abraham Lincoln's Springfield Home

Savannah Georgia

Savannah Georgia Johnson Square

Abraham Lincoln's Chicago Funeral

Abraham Lincoln's Chicago Funeral

General Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant






[MAY 20, 1865.


(Continued from Previous Page) funeral car passed under a magnificent arch thirty-six young ladies in white placed wreaths upon the coffin or car. On page 308 there is an illustration of the catafalque upon which the coffin was laid at the City Hall.

From Chicago the train proceeded on its way to Springfield.


" OH ! weep not, weep not, mother,

And dry your tears, fond wife, Your sorrow is not anguish,

You have not lost a life ;

You, with a proud, sweet sadness,

In all the after-days,

Shall hear his name but uttered In tones of loving praise;

" And all shall joy in telling

How in his happy youth, With steadfastness unshaken,

He died to serve the truth While I, in bitter wailing,

Can only bow my head, My heart alone preserving

The memory of my dead.

" For few among the many

Of all we daily meet
Will ever care to cherish

The ones who met defeat—And yet he fought as bravely

As cheerfully he died, No service to his country

Had ever been denied.

Thus spoke she, standing sadly,

In the doorway of the room ; Before her lay the sunshine,

Behind her lay the gloom ; She could not take the token

The light around her shed—Her heart was ever sighing,

"My day of joy has fled!"

At last, with sudden courage,

She raised her timid eyes--What sight had changed her pallor

To such a glad surprise? What form is that approaching?

Whose arms enfold her now? Whose lips are pressing kisses

On lip, and cheek, and brow ?

His own ! his own ! no other !

Oh, welcome back again ! The swelling tide of rapture

Atones for all the pain ; And, listening to the story,

So seldom heard below,
Of light instead of darkness,

And joy instead of woe—Her heart is singing praises

That he indeed was spared, And in the hour of triumph

With double joy had shared.


SATURDAY, MAY 20, 1865.


IN his excellent proclamation to the people of North Carolina General SCHOFIELD announces that the United States troops will protect them "until a civil government can be established in harmony with the Constitution and Laws of the United States." This is a clear statement of the exact situation of the late insurrectionary States. It is desirable, upon every account, that there shall be as little delay as possible in intrusting the local government of the States to their own loyal inhabitants. But it is plain that the immediate authority of the national government can not safely be relaxed until that proportion of the adult male population of a State which guarantees internal security is empowered to vote. The question of the hour then is, when the Government is ready to allow an election for any purpose whatever to be held in any such State, who shall be permitted to vote?

By the Constitution of Virginia R. M. T. HUNTER is a legal voter in that State. Would the Government of the United States allow him to vote there now ? Undoubtedly not. The Constitution of South Carolina did, and probably does, allow only those to vote who own ten slaves or ten thousand dollars. Would not the Government of the United States now permit other persons to vote than there ? Undoubtedly. There is no authority at present in Virginia and South Carolina except that of the United States ; and they, and no other power, will decide who is to vote in reconstructing those States. The conditions of voting will be prescribed by the United States, and not by the State Constitutions. And if the conditions should be those named in the Constitutions they will be valid, not for that reason, but because the United States so determine.

In the States of which we speak there are three classes: the hopeless rebels, the poorer whites, and the blacks. The first of these classes is the smallest, and it will be always disloyal and dangerous, the Bourbons and Jacobites of

American politics. The second and third are very large. Together they form the great majority of the population. By the census of 1860 it appears that, in the eleven late rebel States, the exact numbers were 5,447,222 whites, and 3,666,110 colored and Indian population. The present proportion is undoubtedly more favorable to the blacks. In two of the States they are a majority of the whole population. In five others they are more than one-third, and in every one of the old Slaves States they are enough, when united with the loyal whites, to control the State. Upon what good grounds, therefore, can the ballot be refused to the loyal black citizens of the Southern States ? They are the sturdy working-class. They have always been unfalteringly true to the Government. Had they been otherwise—had they made common cause with the rebels chiefs, as the poorer whites were obliged to do—the triumph of the Government would have been indefinitely delayed. They are free men, and the plainest good policy requires that their self-respect be aroused, and their willing industry encouraged, without which no class of citizens is contented or valuable. There is but one way of securing this result. It is to give them the ballot.

That the mass of the population at the South, both white and black, is ignorant, is very true. But so are great masses of the Northern voters. Education is a good thing; but it appears that some of the staunchest patriots in the land can not read, and that some of the basest traitors are highly educated. Education, although at the expense of their country, did not prevent ROBERT E. LEE and his associates from trying to destroy their country. ROBERT SMALLS, whether he can read or not, is to our thinking a much sounder and safer voter than ROBERT TOOMBS. Any black man who has succored a Union soldier escaping from the tortures of rebellious slavery is quite as able to vote wisely as the extremely accomplished JUDAH BENJAMIN, Or PIERRE SOULE, Or ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS, Or JOHN SLIDELL, Or WADE HAMPTON, Or CHARLES J. FAULKNER.

The question is not whether, abstractly, political privilege should depend upon education. It is, whether in States, which we wish to re-store to their peculiar action in our national system at the earliest moment, we shall require conditions of our black fellow-countrymen whose fidelity has saved the nation which are not required of the whites in the same States, nor in other States of ignorant foreigners who can not speak our language, and who have no especial interest in our institutions. Instruct them, say some, and their political rights will follow. But why is that not equally true of the whites ? If ignorance is the difficulty, why intrust the States to ignorant white men? By such a plan a discrimination is made at the outset based upon color. The Government says, in effect, that ignorant loyal men who are black are not fit to vote, but ignorant loyal men who are white are fit. The Government thus flings its whole weight against the ignorant men who have been true to it, and favors those who have been false. The mischief is incalculable. For by that act it recognizes what is called the inferiority of the blacks, which has been always urged as the reason for enslaving them. After such a precedent, is the class of ignorant white loyalists who have believed, and do still believe, that blacks are made to be slaves, likely to educate or enfranchise them.? The whites may not be able to enslave the blacks, but they will in every way despise and degrade them. No disfranchised class has a fair chance. And the very fact that the blacks have been made personally free will make them discontented so long as they are disfranchised. They will presently refuse to be governed by a minority. If they can not have legal redress they will still try to redress them-selves. Is this the way to peace ?

The colored race was brought into this country against its will and by our inhumanity and cupidity. It has wonderfully increased until there are now some four millions of them among us. Their blood in every degree is mingled with the blood of the whites. They are men and Americans as much as we. Their ancestors came from Africa, as ours from England, Holland, Germany, or Ireland. They are an essential, integral, inevitable, most valuable and important part of our population. Having been enslaved, their color has been a sign of servility, and they have been made the victims of an in-human prejudice and the objects of the most cruel partisan contempt. They have not resisted, for resistance was hopeless. They have protested silently by still wearing the form of man, of which we could not deprive them. Their long patience which merely hardened our hearts did not alienate God. Whom we forgot he remembered. Our history darkened. The State right to enslave, which we held ourselves bound to respect, struggled with the human right to be free, which we could not deny. The victims did not raise a hand, but the crisis came. The political and commercial effort to outrage nature and to treat men as brutes and chattels culminated in a civil war which has spent costly lives not to be counted, and wasted the long accumulated profits of our sin. It has steeped us in blood to our lips, and utterly failed ; and kneeling among the dead and mangled bodies of our first-born and best beloved, amidst the fire and storm of battle, we have acknowledged

that God has made of one blood all the nations of the earth.

We have now the power and the opportunity of settling this question of the colored race in this country which has rent us from the beginning, and will heave and hurry us until it is put honorably to rest. We have already declared them to be men and citizens. Our Government rests upon the broad principle that governments justly exist by the consent of the governed. For that principle the colored men fought with our fathers in the Revolution ; and side by side in the fiercest fields of this war they have defended it side by side with our brothers. Within the enemy's lines they have been the guides, the messengers, the friends upon whom we have uniformly relied. To see a black face was to find a true heart. Do we mean to be as faithful and honorable and friendly as they have been ? Do we mean to trust them as they have trusted us ? Do we mean to give them the chance of securing their own welfare as we have the chance of securing ours ? Do we mean to be just ? If we do, we shall give them a vote in the reconstruction of the insurrectionary States. If we are unwilling to do it, our victory has come too soon, and we shall pay the penalty of premature success.


FOR some time after the late terrible events it was feared that Mr. SEWARD might have been so seriously injured by his accident and the subsequent murderous assault as to be compelled to retire from the public service. As that apprehension has been happily dispelled, and as the characteristic assertion of some of the Northern friends of the rebellion that Mr. SEWARD ought to retire because his presence in the Cabinet would be so distasteful to Messrs. LEE, DAVIS, WIGFALL, & COMPANY as to disincline them to submission, has also disappeared in derisive laughter, it is now insinuated by those who suggest what they desire that President JOHNSON's policy will not have the cordial support of the Secretary, and that therefore Mr. SEWARD will resign. Those who say this are not aware, perhaps, that Mr. SEWARD'S friends in the Baltimore Convention of last June secured the nomination of Mr. JOHNSON as Vice-President, and that it is therefore a great waste of ingenuity to assume any grave difference between the President and Secretary in their general policy.

Mr. JOHNSON and Mr. SEWARD had served together in the Senate, where they were firm personal friends. There Mr. SEWARD had seen that his fellow-Senator, a land-reformer, a stern Union man, a trusted representative of the people of the South as distinguished from the planting aristocracy, was the very kind of leader by whom the political power of the aristocracy was ultimately to be overthrown in its own section. Mr. SEWARD had watched Mr. JOHNSON'S heroic position in the dark winter of 1860-'6l. He had heard his terrible denunciation of the conspirators in the Senate. As Secretary of State Mr. SEWARD had supported Mr. LINCOLN'S "Border-State policy," as it was impatiently called ; and it was while pursuing that policy that Mr. LINCOLN had appointed his friend Mr. JOHNSON Military Governor of Tennessee. With his ad-ministration there Mr. SEWARD had been, of course, officially familiar.

As the time for the meeting of the Union nominating Convention approached, the perilous chances of the civil war made it essential that a candidate for the Vice-Presidency should be named whose character and career certified that, in case of his succession to the Presidency, the established policy of the Government would not be changed or menaced. And we venture to say that the man whose nomination Mr. SEWARD most earnestly desired was ANDREW JOHNSON.

When the Convention assembled the nomination of Mr. LINCOLN was a foregone conclusion. But the candidate for the Vice-Presidency was not so easily determined. One point, however, was universally admitted by the wiser part of the Convention. Pure and honorable as Mr. HAMLIN'S career had been, and personally unexceptionable as he was, his nomination was not advisable. As the Convention was composed of men who had heretofore acted with different political parties, political comity required that the Union Convention of 1864 should not repeat the party action of the Republican Convention of 1860, but, by naming a candidate formerly identified with the Democratic party, should prove that it appealed to no partisan traditions, but to the hearty sympathy of all Union men in the country. Who should this candidate be ? It was upon this question that the caucusing of the Convention turned. For whom would the sixty-six votes of New York be cast ? As they went, so would the Convention probably go. It was soon clear that the choice practically lay between Mr. JOHNSON and Mr. DICKINSON of New York, and it seems to us indisputable that the final decision was made in the caucus of the New York delegation, and made by the friends of Mr. SEWARD in favor of ANDREW JOHNSON.

Mr. LYMAN TREMAINE, the old political friend of Mr. DICKINSON, very properly and very powerfully led the DICKINSON movement. Mr. DICKINSON'S long identification with the Democratic party ; his instant and entire devotion of

all his powers to the cause of the Union and the Government ; his incessant and effective service from the outbreak of the war ; his vast majority of one hundred and eight thousand votes in his own State as the Union candidate for Attorney General showing his great popularity in the State which it was necessary to carry at the Presidential election ; his national fame ; his spotless character ; his heroic repudiation of old party ties ; all these arguments were pungently and impressively presented by Mr. TREMAINE, without an unkind word against any other candidate, and with an applause both in the caucus and Convention which showed how hearty was the appreciation of Mr. DICKINSON'S claims and character among that great representative body of faithful American citizens. In the caucus of the New York delegation Mr. TREMAINE was supported by some who had no sympathy what-ever with the party to which he and Mr. DICKINSON had belonged, but who regarded the latter gentleman as a conspicuous national representative of what was called the War Democracy, and who thought that his nomination would greatly strengthen the ticket in the State of New York.

The discussion in the caucus was animated and exciting. It betrayed the differences and animosities which prevail in New York politics. But the one thing steadily obvious in all the tumultuous conflict of opinion was that the friends of Mr. SEWARD were favorable to ANDREW JOHNSON. Mr. PRESTON KING and Mr. RAYMOND tranquilly urged the irresistible advantages of a candidate who was a Southerner, a Border-State man, an old Democrat, yet a Union man who had been tried in the fire of the hate of the rebel chiefs whom he had denounced. They pleaded his solitary fidelity in the midst of the defection of his old associates in the Senate ; his actual sufferings in the cause ; the great confidence reposed in him by Mr. LINCOLN, who had intrusted to him one of the most difficult and delicate of responsibilities at a most critical time. They depicted the cordial sympathy between the President and Mr. JOHNSON, and the rare popularity among the people of a man who had been born and bred in the humblest circumstances, yet who had risen to merited distinction. They recounted his services and his long practical experience of public life. They pointed to his administration of Tennessee, which only the bitter enemies of the Government and friends of the rebellion condemned, and contended that by selecting a candidate who did not live in the State of New York the dangers of political division in that State would be avoided. They did not forget to recall also that, in all the long course of a public life during which he had been an ardent and conspicuous actor, his personal character had been unsullied by suspicion. No man could deny that ANDREW JOHNSON was a name so identified with unswerving devotion and willing sacrifice to the country that it would be hailed with vast popular enthusiasm.

Meanwhile Mr. DICKINSON'S friends were not idle, and his chances were imposing. Mr. SIMON CAMERON come to offer the fifty-two votes of Pennsylvania for Mr. DICKINSON if New York would unite upon him. Many of the New En-gland delegations were ready to adopt him upon the same condition. But the friends of Mr. SEWARD, without denying the claims of Mr. DICKINSON, still held firmly that it was wiser to nominate Mr. JOHNSON. Had they yielded, Mr. JOHNSON would not now be President of the United States. It is pleasant to remember that when afterward in the Convention it appeared that Mr. JOHNSON had a larger vote than any other candidate, the friends of Mr. DICKINSON at once acquiesced. The vote of New York was thrown as a unit, and it was Mr. TREMAINE who promptly and honorably moved that the nomination of Mr. JOHNSON should be made unanimous by the Convention. Nor is it less agree-able to record that one of the last acts of President LINCOLN, at the earnest request of the Secretary of State, was the appointment of Mr. DICKINSON, to his own great surprise, to his present responsible post.

If, therefore, Mr. SEWARD retires from the Cabinet, it will not be because the President is not of his choice. And why should he retire? He is in the ripeness of his powers, and his work is not yet done. Who would do it so well as he ?


IF it seems too incredible to be true that the conspicuous rebel chiefs were accessory to the assassination of President LINCOLN, it should be remembered that the crime is no more atrocious than many of which they are notoriously guilty.

It is surely not so black a crime to shoot one man as to murder hundreds of men by starvation. Yet that was done, and done with the knowledge of these chiefs who by a word could have prevented it. The poor crazed, emaciated, dying soldiers who were sent to Annapolis from within the rebel lines were tortured and slain with the complicity of DAVIS, ROBERT E. LEE, BENJAMIN, and the rest. The filet of the starvation can not be denied. The proof is conclusive. And the men who would starve a sergeant or a private are not too honorable to connive at the shooting of the Commander-in-Chief:

(Continued Next Page)




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