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Intelligent Suffrage

West Eau Clare, Wis., Dec. 20, 1869

DEAR REVOLUTION: The doleful condition of the enfranchised negroes suggests the question, whether when we call the ballot “the one thing needful,” we can mean any more than this. “It is that right without which there is no security for any other.”

At least three other things are needful to make it effective:

  • 1st. Education. We must teach them to vote right. The school is the only hope of the South, and the only hope for the Southern schools is in our pockets.
  • 2d. Independence. “ Electors meet in vain, when want makes them the slaves of the landlord.” Now, the negroes in America, as well as Hayti, the British West Indies, etc., show a general disposition to get and use land for themselves, in a very slovenly and lazy way indeed; still the tendency is wholesome, and we must inspire them with our own ambitious spirit, and make them not only desire land, but wealth.
  • 3d. Force, and the spirit to use it. This the negroes possess. It is sometimes said that women do not, and therefore should not vote. ‘But it is daily becoming more universally true that power consists less in animal strength than in wealth, which can buy animal strength, and knowledge which can govern it. Let women have education —not the trifling, superficial education which they now receive, but education of a practical and thorough character; let them be encouraged to get and use wealth, and they will not only be able to obtain the ballot—they will get it before that—but the ballot in their hands will be a power, and so it will in the negroes’ hands when he is armed with wealth and knowledge.

–C. L. James

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Newspapers Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily, The Revolution, and the National Citizen and Ballot Box.

As a colored man, and a victim to the terrible tyranny inflicted by the injustice and prejudice of the Nation, I ask no right that I will not give to every other human being, without regard to sex or color. I cannot ask white women to give their efforts and influence in behalf of my race, and then meanly and selfishly withhold countenance of a movement tending to their enfranchisement.” —Robert Purvis, Philadelphia.

Source: The Revolution, January 6, 1870

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