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Harper's Weekly 03/16/1867


At the election held last June in Georgetown,
District of Columbia, one man only voted in
favor of equal suffrage. When the result of
the late election for Mayor and Council of that
city was announced the solitary voter remarked,
quietly, that the egg he laid last summer had
hatched. This election was peculiarly inter-
esting, and it has shown distinctly two things—
that the colored citizen is intelligent enough to
know his interest, and independent enough to
act accordingly. The horrible consequences
of the vice and ignorance of colored voters are
not yet apparent, and the theory that they
would vote just as “massa” dictated is effect-
ually annihilated.

As we said last week, slavery essentially in-
jures the enslaved, although probably less than
the enslaver; and it has long been plain to ev-
ery observer that if the freedmen could not
be safely trusted with the ballot the enslavers
ought certainly to be disfranchised. No race
was ever so long enslaved as the African has
been in this country, and none has ever suffered
so little essential injury. The conduct of the
freedmen at the polls in Georgetown was most
memorable. It was another evidence of the
absolute difference between them and the “low-
er classes” of any other country. The contrast
between their behavior and that of the “supe-
rior white race” at the polls of the “bloody
Sixth,” in New York, or of the estimable
"Dead Rabbits,” or of the Mackerelville con-
stituency, or of any other characteristic body
of “Conservative” voters, was not humiliating
to the colored citizens.

The sense of responsibility of which every
individual colored voter in Georgetown seemed
to be conscious showed exactly that kind of
"education” or intelligence which are most de-
sirable in voters. The throng was dignified
and decorous. As the “Conservative” roughs
and bullies of Baltimore and Washington had
announced their probable coming, there were a
hundred and fifty policemen ready to receive
them. But the peace was not broken. There
were plenty of sneers and insults offered to the
colored voters, which they wisely disregarded,
and they carefully abstained from every thing
which even seemed like provocation. One of
them was uncertain if his name were registered.
There was another man of the same name in
the same registry precinct, and only one name
was on the list. He wished to vote, but it was
thought the other man had voted, and he final-
ly agreed with two or three companions that it
was better not to offer his vote. A crowd of
colored voters was assembled from curiosity
near one of the polls; but some of the leaders
went among them, urged them to give no occa-
sion for remark, and to retire quietly, which
they did. Every thing showed the most ad-
mirable self-restraint under exciting and often
exasperating circumstances.

The result is known. The candidate of the
party of equal rights was elected by ninety-six
majority, and the same party elected seven of
their Councilmen to four Democrats. A fairer
or more peaceful election was never known.
It was an ample vindication of the wisdom of
Congress in passing the suffrage bill, and of
those who insist that justice is the best policy.

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