Harper's Weekly 04/03/1869


The late address of the Democratic members
of the Indiana Legislature, who resigned their
places rather than vote upon the Fifteenth
Amendment, is ludicrous and humiliating; but
it contains the substance of the Democratic op-
position every where. Kentucky has rejected
the Amendment; so has Delaware; so will New
Jersey; the Democratic members of the New
York Legislature opposed it—and all virtually
for the reasons laid down in the Indiana ad-
dress. This, therefore, may be considered the
latest political manifesto of the party that calls
aloud for “statesmanship.”

“We believe,” say the Indiana gentlemen,
“the government was formed for white men,
in the interest of white men, as well as we know
it was created by white men.” The italics are
theirs; and grammar, truth, reason, and com-
mon-sense sink in one general ruin in this
comical performance. The real opinions of the
founders of the government are so familiar to
intelligent persons that it is needless to repeat
them. Their general view was that slavery was
inconsistent with the principles of the govern-
ment; but that it was rapidly disappearing, and
would soon end, while color was not a bar to
the suffrage. If Washington, and Madison,
and Hamilton, and Jefferson, and George
and James Otis, and John Adams,
the men who signed the Declaration and the
Constitution, were living to-day, every body
knows how earnest would be their support of
the Amendment.

And if it were not so—if the fathers had held
a different opinion in their time and under their
circumstances, is it impossible for Indiana Dem-
ocrats to see that we live in other times and cir-
cumstances? Now that there are no slaves;
now that the suffrage is equal in the old slave
States; now that we must have a vast population
of pariahs, or extend the suffrage to all; now
that agitation of the question is as wise and
timely as the discussion of the Louisiana pur-
chase; now that the country has finally and
authoritatively pronounced upon the subject,
why do not the Indiana Democrats take up a
now line, which there might be some hope of
holding? Presently we shall have these be-
wildered statesmen opposing the prohibition of
the African slave-trade. They will be sending
petitions to the White House, praying General
Jackson not to relax his terrible hold of Mr.
Nicholas Biddle. They will go to the people
of Indiana upon the question of adopting the
Montgomery Constitution. These worthy gen-
tlemen call themselves “hard-headed represent-
atives”—of lignum vitæ or iron-wood?

The Indiana Democratic representatives de-
clare that “every thing is made to bow to this
insane folly of negro worship,” but they propose
to protest to the end. If “all constitutional and
legal barriers, and middle walls of partition (sic)
between the races, are to be broken down,” what
ghastly consequences will not follow? These
people are to be educated! They are to labor!
They are to be equal in the making of the laws
that govern them! And if you break down
middle walls of partition what is to prevent the
ingenuous Democratic youth of Indiana from
intermarrying with those who are not white
people? What is to become of the instinct of
inferiority that we Democrats are forever prating
of, if constitutional and legal barriers give way?
If “the degraded colored race” are not to be
treated as cattle, “then will our whole State be
flooded with this population.”

And more of the same, said the sententious
but fatigued usher announcing the Smith fam-
ily at the levee. The feeblest clap-trap of a des-
perate Democratic campaign speech of twenty
years ago is put forth by these worthy Indiana
gentlemen as an inevitable step of progress.
And the party which will not learn, which in
the midst of the war cried out for surrender, and
when the war was over demanded repudiation
and restoration of the rump of the slave power,
can only falsify history and insult human nature
in its frantic and futile effort to save some relic
of antiquated injustice.

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