“An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage” by Frederick Douglass (1867)

“An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage” by Frederick Douglass (1867)

  • Impartial suffrage is supported by the nature of man & the needs of society
    • Inferred from nature as direct & self-evident, like his right to acquire property & education
    • It’s a crime that he can’t share in making & directing of government he lives under
    • If the right belongs to any, it belongs to all
      • Ideas otherwise should be banished like slavery was
      • It will result in war between races & destroy proper human relations & it’s well on its way in the South – black trying to vote have been squashed
  • One way or another, blacks are apart of America & won’t be going anywhere anytime soon
    • Somehow they survived slavery & have not been particularly vengeful but hopeful & forgiving
    • They don’t complain to Congress about the past, only ask for a better future. They helped fight in the Civil War & the Rebels are treated better after the fact
      • This is a betrayal of one’s allies & one’s citizens
    • The US might be able to get along prohibiting blacks from voting but it causes serious moral & mental degradation to millions of its people
    • To give blacks of the US rights to vote & thrive will causes the nation to thrive. To do the opposite will de-motivate them & cause them to despise those who’d keep them down
  • Disenfranchisement under a Republican government based on human equality & universal suffrage is different to disenfranchisement under a monarchy where the whole public is subjugated
    • To say to a black man he can’t vote is to burn into his soul a bitterness & sense of being wronged
    • Either give them the vote & enjoy positive results or mark them as inferior & lose any chance of loyalty or goodwill in the future from them
      • Don’t expect him to play any positive role in this country
  • This is seen between the Irish & British, Hungarians & Austrians, Serfs & Russian Emperor
    • Taxation without representation has been discussed & answered by the Southern States refuse to comply with this notion
    • The South is still bitter about the War & are suspicious of Northern politics & Northerners altogether
      • The Southern rich never fought. They paid the poor Southerners to fight in their place. The rich used the poor for the purposes of maintaining their slaves
    • We may have won the war but we haven’t reunited yet
      • It’ll take the extinction of the idea of Southern nationhood before we can move forward in relationships between former slaves & former owners
      • Maintaining a political inequality preserves the old relation
      • Before allowing the South back into Congress, this assurance of blacks’ rights needs to be made
    • The South resists because they feel they can rely on Northern Democratic support for their cause
      • Why should the poor Confederate soldiers support a place that treated them so badly against their own interest?
  • What should Congress do?
    • Eliminate sectional tendencies of the South & replace them with national tendencies
    • Destroy the idea that old-slave masters are only ones to guide post-war South
    • Slavery was viewed by the founding fathers as something that was going to die out soon anyway but later grew to run its economy & became its symbol
      • It took control of the Constitution & the north & the whole country
    • We must do something before free speech is banished down there & it dictates its own code of honors & manners to the rest of the nation & do more damage
      • It’s looking for a comeback & its first goal is to undo all the rights of former slaves
    • You must think not just of people today but of all the unborn affected by your decisions, actions & inactions

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