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 Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

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

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

Related Posts


Stay Connected

Connect with Accessible Archives on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin to stay up to date on news and blog posts or get our latest blog posts by email.

Positive SSL