Harper's Weekly 05/01/1869


Twenty-One States have ratified the Equal
Suffrage amendment—the Democratic party ev-
ery where opposing. Now in party warfare, as
in all other, there is a conduct which wins the
respect of the foe, as there is one which moves
his contempt. Four or five years ago equal
suffrage was defeated in Connecticut by a ma-
jority of seven thousand. Last spring the
Democrats elected their Governor by nearly
two thousand majority, and three Members of
Congress. In the autumn the Republicans
carried the State for Grant. This spring,
when, according to the Democrats, equal suf-
frage was the issue, the Republicans elect their
Governor and gain two Members of Congress,
beating the Democracy in their strongest holds;
and because the majority for Governor is small-
er than that for President, the papers of
which we speak deride the meagre and dismal
majority! The Democratic party are more
signally defeated in the State than they have
been for many a year, and instead of frankly
acknowledging the fact, and seeing that it is fu-
tile to fight upon an issue settled and settled
again, one of their organs feebly peeps that it
isn't much of a shower, and another gravely de-
clares that it is the natural consequence of not
sticking to Wade Hampton's platform of last

The one great truth of our recent political
history is, that the Republican and Democratic
parties were opposed upon the issue of slavery.
The Republicans won at the polls and upon the
field of battle, and again and again and again
at the polls. They have emancipated the slaves.
They have given them civil rights. They have
given them political rights. At each step they
have appealed to the country, and have been
supported. They have been intrusted with the
government for four more years. Their new
administration begins by the plain declaration
that equal rights shall be every where protect-
ed and the laws every where enforced, and by
the urgent recommendation that the amend-
ment to the Constitution be adopted, which
finally closes even the agitation of the ques-
tion; and still the Democratic party piteously
asks its absurd question, as a conclusive po-
litical argument, “Do you wish your daughter
to marry a nigger?”

It preceives that there is a prejudice in the
country against color, but it is unable to see
that the country has learned the mortal peril of
indulging that prejudice. Instead, therefore,
of accepting the facts, however much it may de-
plore them—instead of joining issue as to the
better method of securing an equality which is
inevitable, the Democratic party ridicules the
negro, and argues against him, and denounces
him, and belies him, and all as if there were
really a hope of reducing him again to some
kind of vassalage. The whole Democratic force
is expended in this business, and in sneering at
the President. The party papers have nothing
to say but that every thing is wrong, nothing to
propose but that every thing be undone.

As usual, the Democratic party hopes for re-
invigoration not from fair debate of great poli-
cies, but from the readmission to political priv-
ilege of those who repudiate the American prin-
ciple of the equality of all citizens. But that
will not be enough. The prejudice against col-
or when it was a bulwark of the system of which
the Democratic party was the defense was in-
calculably useful; but with the fall of the sys-
tem the appeal to the prejudice is pointless.
There is no insight, no heroism in the Demo-
cratic leadership. The party is but a disorder-
ly camp of the disaffected and disappointed.
It must find some newer ground than hostility
to equal rights, or relinquish the hope of suc-
cess, unless the conduct of the Republican
party, where it has a majority, as in the Legis-
lature of New York, shall persuade the country
that there is really no choice between the par-
ties. But even in such instances as the Legis-
lature of which we speak, it is the duty of all
good citizens to remark that it is the combina-
tion of a few Republicans only with the Demo-
crats that does the mischief.

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