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Proceedings of the Civil Rights Mass-Meeting held at Lincoln Hall, October 22, 1883. Speeches of Hon. Frederick Douglass and Robert G. Ingersoll.

1883DC-National-Washington_Proceedings (28).pdf

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The 14h Amendment.

Notwithstanding the 13th Amendment had been adopted—notwithstanding slavery and involuntary servitude had been legally destroyed—it was found that the negro was still the helpless victim of the white man. Another amendment was needed; and all the Justices of the Supreme Court have told us why the 14th Amendment was adopted.

Justice Miller, speaking for the entire court, tells us that:

"In the struggle of the civil war, slavery perished, and perished as a necessity of the bitterness and force of the conflict." That: "When the armies of freedom found themselves on the soil of slavery, they could do nothing else than free the victims whose enforced servitude was the foundation of the war."

He also admits that: "When hard pressed in the contest, the colored men (for they proved themselves men in the terrible crisis) offered their serviced, and were accepted, by thousands, to aid in suppressing the unlawful rebellion."

He also informs us that: "Notwithstanding the fact the Southern States had formally recognized the abolition of slavery, the condition of the slave, without further protection of the Federal Government, was almost as bad as it had been before."

And he declares that: "The Southern States imposed upon the colored races onerous disabilities and burdens—curtailed their rights in the pursuit of liberty and property, to such an extent that their freedom was of little value, while the colored people had lost the protection which they had received from their former owners from motives of interest."

And that: "The colored people in some States were forbidden to appear in the towns in any other character than that of menial servants—that they were required to reside on the soil without the right to purchase or own it—that they were excluded from many occupations of gain and profit—that they were not permitted to give testimony in the courts where white men were on trial—and it was said that their lives were at the mercy of bad men, either because laws for their protection were insufficient, or were not enforced."

We are informed by the Supreme Court that, "under these circumstances," the proposition for the 14th Amendment was passed through Congress, and that Congress declined to treat as restored to full participation in the Government of the Union, the States which had been in insurrection, until they ratified that article by a formal vote of their legislative bodies.

Thus it will be seen that the rebel States were restored to Union by adopting the 14th Amendment. In order to become equal members of the Federal Union, these States solemnly agreed to carry out the provisions of that amendment.

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