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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Civil Rights Mass-Meeting held at Lincoln Hall, October 22, 1883. Speeches of Hon. Frederick Douglass and Robert G. Ingersoll.
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ored" vanished. The negroes became as though they had never been slaves—as though they had always been free—as though they has been white. They became citizens—they became a part of "the people," and "the people" constituted the State, and it was the State, thus constituted that was entitled to the constitutional guarantee of a republican government.
These freed men became citizens—became a part of the State in which they lived.
The highest and noblest definition of a State, in our Reports, was given by Justice Wilson, in the case of Chisholm, &c., vs. Georgia:
"By a State, I mean a complete body of free persons united for their common benefit, to enjoy peaceably what is their own, and to do justice to others."
Chief Justice Chase declared, that:
"The people, in whatever territory dwelling, whether temporarily or permanently, or whether organized under regular government, or united by less definite relations, constitute the State."
Now, if the people, the moment the 13th amendment was adopted were all free, and if these people constituted the State; if, under the Constitution of the United States, every State is guaranteed a republican government, then it is the duty of the general government to see it that every State has such a government. If distinctions are made between free men on account of race or color, the government is not republican. The manner in which this guarantee of a republican form of government is to be enforced, or made good, must be left to the wisdom and discretion of Congress.
The 13th Amendment not only destroyed, but it built. It destroyed the slave-pen, and on its site erected the temple of Liberty. It did not simply free slaves—it made citizens. It repealed every statute that upheld slavery. It erased from every Report every decision against freedom. It took the word "white" from every law, and blotted from the Constitution all clauses acknowledging property in man.
If, then, all the people in each State were, by virtue of the 13th Amendment, free what right had a majority to enslave a minority? What right had a majority to make any distinctions between free men? What right had a majority to take from minority any privilege, or immunity, to which they were entitled as free men? What right had the majority to make that unequal which the Constitution made equal?
Not satisfied with saying that slavery should not exist, we find in the Amendment the words "not involuntary servitude."
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