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Scripto | Transcribe Page
State Colored Men's Convention
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Positively assured of a large majority of registered Republican voters in the State, and knowing that our republicanism was too real and intelligent to permit votes to be either idle or diverted from Republican ends, we claimed in the beginning of the contest a Republican victory in the elections of November last. This assured fact, though clouded to some extent by the illegal withholding of the official returns in many cases, has since been made clear and unquestionable by the developments made by the State registrar of voters and his associates. It now appears, from irrefutable evidence, that there was actually cast a majority for the Republican candidates of not less than 15,000.
The temper developed in our present contest reminds me of the bitterness of the opposition met by us as people on the occasion of our enfranchisement.
Liberated from a bondage terrible in its exactions and strong in its age and prejudices by the great American people, who were prepared for this crowning act of their greatness by the exigencies of a great war, the ruptured political and social relations of 4,000,000 people placed for solution before the nation a problem hitherto unsolved. Four millions of former slaves, without property, without experience and in their infancy, were suddenly forced to assume the full responsibility of full manhood.
The Republican party, sustained by the nation, declared that this people, charged with the burdens of manhood, should have its prerogatives; they should not only be free, but citizens and suffragans, and the constitutional amendments and reconstruction acts were adopted to render this citizenship possible and operative.
Our progress has vindicated the wisdom of this course. But we know, nevertheless, that the proposition to enfranchise the colored people of America met with an opposition little less bitter than the act of their liberation itself. If the necessity of the constitutional amendments and the acts to enforce the same needed vindication additional to that already given, it would be found in the conduct of the anti-Republican party of this State in November last, in which those who have heretofore opposed freedom to the enslaved and then opposed suffrage to the liberated, and determined that the suffrage which had been conferred should not be exercised by us freely and without intimidation.
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