Harper's Weekly 09/30/1865


THE “STEADY HABIT” OF EQUAL
RIGHTS.


The Constitution of the State of Connecti-
cut disqualifies all colored citizens from voting.
They may be intelligent, moral, and industri-
ous. They may be the most worthy and ex-
emplary and useful citizens. But the most
exemplary, the most industrious, the most val-
uable of them is considered by the Constitution
of the State not to be the political equal of the
most worthless white citizen whose death or
removal would be a blessing to the State.


The Union party propose to remove this
anomaly of the Constitution by an amendment.
The Democratic party, which is the steady foe
of intelligence and progressive civilization, op-
poses the amendment. There could be no
fairer illustration of the tendency and true
character of the two parties.


We hope any Connecticut man whose eyes
may light upon this paragraph will remember
that the question upon which he is to vote is
the most fundamental one in the country. Do
you believe the Declaration of Independence?
Do you believe that men are created with equal
rights, and that it is bad policy as well as im-
moral to deprive them of those rights arbitra-
rily? Connecticut is asked whether she will
disown Roger Sherman and Oliver Ells-
worth
.


The Constitution of Connecticut allows any
man to vote who is native or has been proper-
ly naturalized, of good moral character, and
of ability to read. But it forbids all who con-
form to those conditions to vote, if they are
colored. Can there be any reason whatever
for such exclusion, except a prejudice, and a
prejudice which is not surprising in the stews
of a great city, but is totally unworthy the
homes of a great State? If the colored citi-
zens own property are they not taxed? And
does an American unblushingly own that he re-
fuses an intelligent man who is taxed a voice
in making the laws?


It is idle to say that the colored men are an
ignorant, worthless class. The Constitution
requires education and morality, and if the
colored citizens are ignorant and worthless they
can not vote. It is equally foolish to urge that
women are disqualified, and why not any other
class of citizens? Such an argument justifies
the closest oligarchy, and denies that govern-
ments justly exist by the consent of the gov-
erned. The arbitrary disqualification of any
class whatever menances the peace of the whole
community. Would Connecticut disqualify all
the educated and moral men of her population
who are over sixty years of age? The govern-
ment which from its manifest justice is in-
trenched in the affections of all its people is
the strongest in the world.


The Democratic party has been nowhere
more malignant in its hostility to equal human
rights, or more bitterly opposed to the defense
of the Union and Government against an oli-
garchy, than in Connecticut. Its principles
have been demolished by the nation, let the
State finish the work. It is not a question of
negro suffrage, it is a question of American
principle. Shall any class of moral, intelli-
gent, industrious citizens be arbitrarily forbid-
den a voice in the laws that tax and govern
them? Let Connecticut add to her other
steady habits that of equal rights for all her
population.



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