2834

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

FIFTY-FOURTH DAY

_______

MONTGOMERY, ALA.,

Thursday, July 25, 1901.

The Convention met pursuant to adjournment, was called to order by the President and opened with prayer by Rev. Dr. A. L. Andrews, as follows:


2835

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

O Lord, our Heavenly Father, we pray that Thy Blessings may rest upon us, and that Thou will prepare and fit us for the duties of this day. We beseech Thee, O Lord, to forgive our sons, cleanse us in the blood of Christ, our Lord, and grant that each of us may feel in our hearts the presence of Thy Holy Spirit, and that we may have that divine help without which we can do nothing. O Lord, help Thy servant here, we pray, the presiding officer of this Convention; help each one of these delegates. May the Lord take all that is done today, and may the work that is done redound to his glory, and to the good of the people. We pray Thy blessings upon them, Our Father, and wilt Thou bless all for whom we should pray. Bless the people of our land and country; bless those especially of our commonwealth, and may the Lord smile in favor upon our beloved State, and may peace and plenty be showered upon us abundantly. Bless the people in the humble walks of life, that they may honor and serve God in all their ways. Bless us, O Lord; forgive our sins; help us in our work today, and when it is ended may none of us have any cause to regret anything we have said or done. Bless, O Lord, these delegates; help them, we pray Thee, in the responsible work upon which they are now engaged. May they do that work faithfully, and well, and, O may they as upright men be not only the representatives of the people, but may be pure and holy in their lives, and may the Lord be with them; may He bless them; may He bless their loved ones at home and keep them under the shadow of His wing. Lead and guide and preserve us through life, and when it is Thy will that we live no longer, in Heaven save and crown us, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Upon the call of the roll 108 delegates responded to their names.

The report of the Committee on Journal was read, stating that the Journal for the fifty-third day had been examined and found correct, and the same was adopted.

The roll of delegates was called for the introduction of ordinances, resolutions, etc.

Leaves of absence were granted as follows: To Mr. Palmer of Washington, account of sickness in family.

Mr. McDonald for today. To Mr. Stewart for today.

THE PRESIDENT– The question is upon the adoption of the minority report to Section 4, pending amendment by Mr. Sanford. Is the convention ready for the question?

MR. WILLIAMS (Marengo)– Mr. President and delegates, if I am not out of order I would like to submit a few remarks on this question and possibly the only question on which there has been leaders, and in deference to this leadership if I am out of


2836

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

order, if some one else has not a set speech for this particular time, I will submit my remarks now. Of those who have spoken on this question heretofore. I do not think any one of them can trace their birth back to a time since what is called that direful and sorrowful time of the South, “the surrender.” I think it is time, Mr. President, that one of the younger generation, that one of those who has nursed the breast, not of a slave, but of one who had been a slave, since the war, that we should make known to this country the position of the younger men of the South on the question of suffrage, and of the negro. With all due deference, and with the greatest regard and utmost respect to those of the older delegates who have spoken on this serious question, I desire to say that we of the younger generation have more at stake than these older men have–more to learn and live for, than these older men who will soon pass over the river. The older ones have not the fear of the future generation before them, except that they would plant the seed which may germinate and grow into a living lasting fruit, that they do for us and our and their future generations, something for the good or for bad. I concede that these men are now attempting, wisely contending among themselves, for the future good or bad, not only of the individual members, but of the collective members of this, a sovereign State, and the concern of the great hereafter for the young citizenship that these older men cannot help, but come here and do us honor. It is not without grave and serious doubts that I am persuaded that some short message should be delivered to this Convention by one of these younger men and one who has never known slavery. I mean slavery as it existed prior to the war, because so far as I am concerned, and we of the younger generation, we have known but one slavery, and that– slaves to the negro vote, and when I say this I mean it in its fullest and deepest sense, for if there ever was a set of people who have been slaves, it has been our Southern people– slaves to the votes of an unprogressive race; slaves to the slaves of our own fathers, the hardest task-masters that ever drew the blood of life from a quivering nation. Not slaves in a physical sense indeed, but even worse, for while we of the Caucasian race are held responsible for the policy and politics of this country, yet those of the North, not understanding that they have thrown upon us a vote– a vote that is harder to bear than the lash of the cruel task-master, they hold us to account for the progress and the rectitude of this, our Southern country. When you, Mr. President and delegates, know that you nor none of us are responsible for this direful state of affairs, nor have we been for a generation. We now come to say to our people that we favor to its fullest extent the granddaddy clause of the majority report, we do it because we believe earnestly and truly that which future generations will see, that it is to the very best interest and the best policy of this country. What has built up the solid South till it stands like a stone


2837

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

wall? What has made us here of the South but of one mind and one idea, why is it that we are not allowed to go to the ballot box and there deposit our ballots, as we believe in justice and in truth is for the best interest of the broadest policy of this country? It is simply because of the fact that we have over us taskmasters to control the votes of this country, had he but the brains to control it with. It is to get rid of this particular class of people that we are now contending for and are met here in this Convention. I say to the older men now who are opposing the majority report–stop and think what you would thrust upon the future of the South. I say to the younger men who possibly are not of the generation of myself, but still young, to stop, pause and think what you would fasten upon us, until another Constitutional Convention can meet and undo what you would do here today. Imagine a race subservient for hundreds of years to a superior race, turned loose upon us by force and by virtue of the bayonet, and give into the hands of that race the right to ballot upon the future destinies of this country, and which has become so strong that in thirty-six years thereafter, we cannot stand up and take away that right without being abused, by not only those of the North, but by men of the South. This is a serious matter with us, I tell you, and with honestly and truthfulness I believe we do no wrong when we take back our birth right and when we say to the negro as a race, you shall not cast your ballot against the policies of your country. The majority of the people at home and for whom I speak, believe in the absolute disfranchisement of the negro as a negro. We do not believe in disfranchising a single white vote. We do not say as some of the distinguished gentlemen on this floor have said that a negro at times and certain negroes are as good at times or as good as certain white people. This discussion must necessarily be in public because the Democratic party refused to have it behind closed doors. I say here without fear of contradiction that if there is any good in the negro race– such as elevates a nation, or elevates his race– I say that good comes from the Caucasian blood that runs in his veins. If, per chance, there is one– even ten– negroes who have attained eminence and superiority in this country, and over his race, who has not one drop of Caucasian or Anglo Saxon blood in his veins, then I say to you the fact that that African has attained eminence, but goes to prove the rule. I have above laid down, that it is the learning and blood of the white man that flows in the veins of negroes, except, possibly an exception, that enables them to become renowned among their own people, or among nations or other races. I do not believe with some learned gentleman who have discussed this matter, that because the negro bore the gun during the Civil War and was subservient to the will of his master, that he, in any sense of the word is as good as the worst– I don’t mean as a criminal– but I mean as the least, poorest, lowest-down white man I ever knew. I do not be-


2838

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

lieve that the negro can attain that eminence that will entitle him in any sense to mingle politically or socially on an equality with any white man who was ever born into this great nation. Neither the majority of my people nor myself, believe it, and I come from the black belt, I come from that country which was singled out on the floor of this Convention yesterday by one of the delegates to this Convention who was placed in the high position that he now holds by virtue of the black belt. I came from a country that has ever been true to the white men of Alabama and so help them, God, they will ever be true in the hereafter to the white men. There have been insinuations passed on the floor of this house against certain distinguished men of this Convention, and more particularly against the chairman of this Suffrage Committee, that great thoughts were had far reaching and deep seated, that the mind of the mighty Ceasar was at work, while the balance of this Convention slept, that he conceived, forged the thought contained in that suffrage report, forsooth to carry out the intimated low down meanness of our black belt community. I defy that, and I defy the man that says such words upon this floor. I say that the purest motives that have ever been given to men have actuated the chairman of this committee and the men of the black belt who helped to frame, and who did frame this majority of this suffrage report. How can men get up on the floor of this Convention and say that there is any hidden meanness in this report, how can they get on this floor and say that the white men would, by some act of his, or that this Convention lead on by this committee by some act of theirs, defy the white men of the State of Alabama. I say to you today that if that suffrage report cuts down one negro vote, that the white men of Alabama has just that one negro less to contend with than he has at the present time. The absurdity of the argument presented itself to me when offered, that could it be thought there was any hidden reason why certain negroes should be allowed to vote if the black belt registered and voted them to the best interest of the State even if it be put that way. White men have nothing to fear from the black belt. When one single vote is cut off from that black masse of voters, they who have arrayed themselves against the white man every year that there has been an election, can you argue that this majority report has a hidden meaning and was framed in viciousness, that it will hurt the ignorant white man in this State. Take it up and go through its provisions one after another and you will see that there is nothing there but that which the white men of Alabama pledged themselves to do and only that which the white Democrats of Alabama pledged themselves to do, when they were making this race for the Constitutional Convention. We said then, that we would not disfranchise a single white man. We should not go back upon the pledged of the party to the people. I am reminded of the blind man in the Bible who was made to see and when asked how he


2839

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

saw, how it was done, said, I know not how it was done, but one fact I do know is that whereas I was blind now I see. If this thing is bad, gentlemen of the Convention, I know not whether it be good or whether it be bad, but the Democratic party pledged itself to this plank in the platform and whereas, they did that, I am for it. I believe we should put ourselves in the position, so that when we go out to secure ratification of this Constitution, all we will have to do is set up on the stump and kindly and pleasantly begin every speech by saying, men of Alabama, white men of Alabama, we have carried out every pledge that we made you. Can you disfranchise a single white man and carry out that pledge? Can you disfranchise the mining vote of Jefferson County, that has not yet registered its citizenship, and say that you have carried out the pledges to your party. Let us be able to go forth before our people in the purity of our actions, and do as we said we would do, disfranchise every negro vote that we could under the Constitution of the United States, and leave the franchise to every white man so he be of good moral character. I submit that this plank as laid down in this majority report contains the pledges absolutely and unconditionally that we made to the men of our race. How does it establish a permanent, hereditary, governing class? Would to God that it did if it puts white men in permanent supremacy in Alabama, that they may vote as they please, then I am not ready to go back on what has been called on the floor of this Convention that hereditary clause, or war of 1812 clause. I am ready to say, let us have the inheritance, and let us send it down to our children unspotted and as pure as the Caucasia blood that we would have alone to cast our ballots and govern our people. If this is the heritage that we are after and we are getting it by adapting this particular section, I say then let us have it. Is it in keeping with the dignity of a progressive, just and enlightened State? I do not see how it is not in keeping. How can you have a progressive and enlightened State unless the white men rule it? I submit that question, and proceed further. It does not insult the white men of Alabama, nor do you put the slave of your father above him, when you require the slave to have a qualification that the white man does not. Gentlemen of the Convention, we do not place that difference or that distinction on the white man, God Almighty Himself put the seal on the white man, and He put it upon the negro. He has made the distinction and we only ask you to stand by your own people. I was more fortunate when I was born in that my father had a competency after the direful and dreadful Civil War. I know young men, who at home were the play fellows of my elder brothers and of myself whose fathers, before the war were wealthy men, these young men today can scarcely write their names, and after it is written for them can scarcely read it though printed in the boldest of letters. Would you disfranchise those men or the children of those men who were denied


2840

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

opportunities, because of the scourges of war, to get an education? Does not this section guarantee the right to vote to these men, grown to manhood, and now having children of their own, and who have been so unfortunate as not to have been able to attend school, and are you not willing to guarantee the ballot to those who will not be able to give to their children's children as, much education as will be necessary to compete with the negro child whose blood has possibly mingled with the Caucasian? It is an absurdity to me that any man who has seriously watched the current of events through their boyhood and young manhood and seen the changed conditions sweep over this country, that they cannot realize and see that our country demands the enfranchisement of every man with pure white blood in his veins in the State. They say that this device is invalid. I shall not discus, that proposition now, because it is appropriation which has been tried and has not been found wanting, and I think delegates to this Convention when you get through that you will see when this matter is tested that you is not found wanting in the State of Alabama. It has been said that a race war is possibly imminent in Alabama. I don't believe it, but for the sake of argument I will admit it, and should a race war come, will not delegates to this Convention want the lowliest white man that plows the cotton row in South Alabama or the corn row in North Alabama, who works and delves in the mines, whether they are able to read or write, will you not want him to shoulder the musket and go out against the black? I say, put the test; I say if the test is white man against negro, who would you want to plow against the black man? And we ask you in this majority report to place the white man, be he ever so lowly, against the negro, be he ever to high and exalted among his own people. We are tired

THE PRESIDENT The time of the gentleman has expired.

MR. WILLIAMS– And I am tired also.

MR. HEFLIN (Chambers)– Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention– I have enjoyed the earnestness of the gentlemen who favor the minority report and I have the utmost respect for the ability and convictions of those gentlemen who have followed in the lead of the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery. This is a serious question that confronts us. This is a great battle that we are fighting and a great problem that we are to solve. The historians tell us that when Spain had pressed her conquest to the limits of the then unknown world, she stamped the pillow of Hercules upon her coin with a scroll around it, bearing the legend. “Ne plus ultra” no more beyond, but one day a bold and adventurous spirit sailed out far beyond and discovered a new world of transcendent beauty and riches, and the proud nation convinced of her mistake, cut the negative from her coin and left the words


2841

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

“plus ultra,” more beyond. Since man tasted the supernatural joys of Paradise and lost that high estate, he has been wandering in search of an ideal country. It was this love of an ideal country that painted the Arcadia in the brain of the French philosopher; it was this same love of an ideal country, Mr. President, that inspired the pen of Sir Thomas Moore to write his far-famed Utopia; it was this same love that thundered in the eloquence of Cicero and thrilled the heart of Plato. It was this same love that inspired the men of the imperial Ceasar to follow him beyond the Rubicon. It was this same love that fought the decisive battle of Hastings. It was this same love that carried the torch of revolution through the iron storms of war, seeking liberty; it was this same love, Mr. President, that glowed on the canvass before the eye of Columbus and impelled him to brave dangers until he touched the shores of an ideal country to be, and uttered pean of praise and song, the hymn of hope fulfilled. It was the same love that burned in the temple of the Pilgrim Fathers and kindled the fires of revolution, which no power on earth could extinguish until the Goddess of Liberty waived her sceptre over the land of the free and the home of the brave. It was here, Mr. President, that the Caucasian hewed out a Republic, below whose temples and institutions will break harmless and billows of time and it was here that the representatives of the proudest race that ever lived established a government that will never fall. It was here that the white man drove the red man from his home in the forest, and took possession of this land as we find in the Bible that God gave His servants command, to go up and possess the land. I verily believe he reserved America, this section of the Western world, for the permanent settlement of the Caucasian race, and here by mutual consent, they came together and by mutual consent established a Government for the good of all the people. In the course of time, gentlemen of the Convention, the slaves were hunted out in Africa. The negro wandering through the woods like a beast of the field, and brought here to do what. Put upon the block and sold to the highest bidder, to be the servant of his superior, the white man in this country I believe as truly as I believe that I am standing here, that God Almighty intended the negro to be the servant of the white man. I believe that the Scripture will sustain my position on that question. I know he is inferior to the white man and I believe that delegates of this Convention believe him to be. He knows it himself. After remaining here the servant of the white man for years and years, finally upon a question of State rights, and not on the question of slavery, the greatest civil conflict in human history was enacted in our country. Great men were arrayed upon opposing sides, and for four years the undaunted sons of the South illustrated to the world the bravest spirit that has ever throbbed beneath God Almighty’s sun. Fighting for home rule, and fighting for self-government and what occurred. They issued a proclamation, -


2842

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

the President of the United States, freeing the slaves of the South, taking from them that which they had bought and paid for with their own money, snatching from them this property that they had bought in the market, and which belonged to them, and that they of right, could not take from them by the stroke of a pen as they did. What else, Mr. President? This was a military blow at the labor system of the South. Later on they said to this mass of ignorant slaves, untutored and uncultured, you may walk side by side with your master of yesterday and cast your vote and kill his, will. Unfit for the responsibilities of Government they were turned loose upon the people of the South and marched side by side with the chivalric sons of our country, up to the ark of the covenant, the ballot box in our land, and voted like the high spirited, freeborn Americans of our land, like the men who fought the battles of the country, the men who bought it with their blood, and who with their arms bravely and undauntedly secured American independence.

I take the position, Mr. President, against the gentlemen of the minority of the Committee, that the negro never had the right to vote. I take the position that the exercise of the suffrage was an inherent right with the white man and a privilege with the negro, granted by the white man. There is a distinction. We have it in our power to give him the privilege to vote if he see fit to do so, but as to the white man, it is his birthright in this country, The gentlemen of the minority make the mistake in reasoning from the standpoint of equality. It is true under the law of this State the negro must be equal with you in the exercise of the ballot, but we know as a matter of fact that he is not equal to us. God Almighty did not make him so, and the work of the artist of the minority report cannot improve on His handiwork. (Applause.) Why, Mr. President, the striking from him of the title slave, and placing in his hand the ballot was the most diabolical piece of tyranny ever visited upon a proud though broken people. I believe, sir, that the tour of the President of the United States through the South has opened the eyes of the Northern country on his proposition, and that they see today that they made a mistake when they gave the negro the right to vote. Mr. Lincoln said upon one occasion, “I do not favor now and I never have favored giving the negro the franchise.” Mr. President, it is a fact that the majority of the Northern States, outside of the New England States, voted against giving the negro the right to vote. Francis Preston Blair, in the United States Senate in 1871, said: “Missouri gave 31,000 majority against it. Kansas 15,000, Ohio 50,000, Michigan 34,000, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, and all the Northern States went against it excepting the New England States.” He goes on further to say, Mr. President, that the Representatives in the Legislature and Senators and the Congressmen violated the


2843

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

will of the people and carried through the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. We see how it was brought about, was it their desire to elevate the negro? Not at all. As I said before, the striking off the shackles from his feet was a blow at the labor system of the South, and giving him the right to vote was a blow at the proud spirit of the men had by the very force of their heroism killed more of the men in their army than we had men in all the armies of the Confederacy. Humiliated, stricken down, the men who wore the gray were the bravest that ever drew a battle blade. The bravest that ever crossed the field of carnage, or shed blood in the cause of right, and when time is over, when history shall be finally made up, I believe the historian will record the fact that the Confederate soldier was the bravest that ever lived in the annals of time, and yet, Mr. President, the gentlemen who favor the majority report tell us that it will humiliate a descendant of illustrious men to walk up to the ballot box and say I am a son of a Confederate soldier. Humiliate him? If it humiliates him he is not worthy to vote. He is not worthy to have any voice in any government, on any question. The proudest title of the Romans was to smite himself upon the breast and say, I am a Roman soldier. The proudest title that the young men of this day can wear is to walk out and say I am the son of a Confederate soldier. Humiliate him, poor timid fellow, who has got to walk up to the ballot box and say I am a Confederate soldier’s son. But they advance the argument that you want to give him an advantage over the negro in the race. No, that is not it, gentlemen. The proposition that I am fighting is the one by which they undertake to put him upon the same level and for him to march up side by side in the same column with the white man. If you want to make a foot race, let us make it with the descendants of our own tribe.

Mr. President, the only instance in history where a race which you might say was physically prohibited from amalgamating or assimilating with another race, was given equal rights and privileges by the law with that other race in the same community. You can’t trace history back to a single recorded instance where two such opposite races were ever brought together under the same laws affecting both alike. There is nowhere a single recorded instance where Africans and Caucasian races impossible of mutual absorption or amalgamation were recorded the same political, legal and social rights under the same government.

The gentlemen urge here that we say where two races are thrown together the stronger will dominate. That is true. It is true, and the white man is going to dominate here.

Mr. President, we have told the people of Alabama for years that we wanted to disfranchise the negro. He has been about the ballot box like sheep in the market for sale and traffic to the highest


2844

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

bidder. The white people who love the ballot, who love the sanctity of their fireside, who love the government of their homes and of their States, want to exercise that great weapon in the defense of things that are right and sacred. We want to take it out of the hands of men whom you can purchase for twenty five cents and a drink of whisky. We want the white men who once voted in this State and controlled it, to vote again. We want to see that old condition restored. Upon that theory we took the stump in Alabama, having pledged ourselves to the white people of Alabama, upon the platform that we would not disfranchise a single white man, if you trust us to frame an organic law for Alabama, but it is our purpose, it is our intention, and here is our registered vow to disfranchise every negro to the State and not a single white man. Why didn't gentlemen speak their views on this question before the sovereign authority of the State that sent them here? Why did they wait until they had gone beyond the border line. Why did they wait until after they had secretly enthroned themselves in the confidence of the voting masses of Alabama. But we are here confronted with this minority report. There is a division amongst us. All representatives of the same party, men who were elected upon that same platform, and some gentlemen tell us that we ought not to violate our oath to support the Constitution of the United States, but I say gentlemen, let us not violate our pledges to the people who sent us here.

Mr. President, it required more than a thousand years of education to prepare the thoughtful Saxon and quickwitted Celt for the duties and responsibilities of American sovereignty, and yet the negro by a scratch of a pen and a partisan vote was prepared for it in the twinkling of an eye, turned loose as an enraged mob upon the proud people of Alabama, who had made its name the glorious thing it is. Before the white man saw that his right was infringed upon, when he saw the ballot appear in the hands of his own blood, he loved and respected it above any power in the civic laws under God Almighty's sun. Then it was kept pure. The negro did not vote. Nobody voted but the white man, and it reminds me of that story of the Vestal Virgins, and the temple there in Rome, where the Vestal Virgins kept the sacred fires burning forever, and the Roman consuls would gather there and offer up their sacrifices and their prayers before entering upon the discharge of their duties to their country, but when the sacred fires went out and profane fires burned upon the hearth stone, they felt that virtue had gone out of the temple, and they no longer worshipped there, and made their offerings. They lost respect largely for the sacred temple, and Mr. President, when the white people of Alabama marched out on the occasions fixed by law to settle the great questions at the ballot box, and walked up elbow to elbow with their own brethren, it may be they were arrayed on opposing


2845

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

sides, they deposited their ballots, the result was counted out and they shook hands and all was well. Nobody but the proud Caucasian cast his vote. Nobody but him dared to walk upon the sacred soil about the ballot box in that day and time, but when slavery was no more, when the slave was given the ballot, when these great hordes marched to the ballot box, the proud spirit of the white man felt to a large extent that the virtue of the ballot had been removed, had flown and he did not respect it as he did in the glad days that were gone. We want to see that glad time restored in Alabama, and it is going to be restored. The people hope that this Convention will carry out the pledges that were made to the people, and unless they do, the people will pass final judgment upon our work here, and will not endorse our action. They tell us what the Supreme Court may say and do. I want to remind gentlemen what the supreme authority in Alabama will say and do if you do not obey its mandate. I do not believe that we are violating the Constitution of the United States. If so, I am willing to trust my destiny along that line with the distinguished President of this Convention and the chairman of the Suffrage Committee who made the able argument on yesterday, Mr. Walker from Madison, and the other gentlemen who have spoken on this question, and the able lawyers in this body. I am willing to take their decision in respect to its constitutionality for my part. I belong to that class of young men that General Harrison referred to. I hope to God that I will always stick along the line that I have started on of living up to the pledges that I make to my people. I have not grown beyond that yet. I want to live up to the pledges that I have made to them. We all must do that. They spoke of the young man back yonder who said that he could drink all the blood that would be spilled in the war, and whip the North with pop guns. We have all heard that old story. We know those were bloody times, but I would remind them for a moment of these of whom I speak, when I speak of the Confederate soldier and his descendants. I would remind the gentleman that it was a Southern man who wrote the Declaration of Independence, that it was Washington who led the triumphant cause of the American Independence; that it was Madison who wrote the Constitution; that it was Marshall and Taney who construed the law ; that it was Winfield Scott and Jefferson Davis that carried our flag into the heritage of the Montezumas. I would say to them that it was these Southern men that for four long years fought the battle of their country, and they could never have fought as they did at Crampton's Gap unless they had fought for the loved principle, and the descendants of these men you say will be humiliated and cast down when they approach the ballot box to register their will upon the public questions, must be required to state themselves descendants of Confederate soldiers. Far be it from him. There will never be a single instance in this State of that sort. Not one.


2846

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

MR. PETTUS (Limestone)– Mr. President, I move that the time of the gentleman from Chambers be extended twenty minutes.

The motion prevailed and the time was extended.

MR. HEFLIN (Chambers) I thank the Convention. I do not think I will take up the time. Mr. President, we have here a peculiar state of affairs. Here we have a widowed woman, who owns possible a hundred thousand dollars worth of property. She is disfranchised. She cannot under our law vote in any election. You say that is taxation without representation. You argue that in defense of the negro, and you say that you are not going to tax him without allowing him to vote, or to shut off his voice in public affairs, and yet here is this property that you are taxing today, the property of all the women in the State who have not husbands or sons old enough to vote, without representation.

Under our law, Mr. President, the Chinaman and the Indian cannot vote. Why discriminate against the children of the forest, the Red Man, who, by some means in the plan of God Almighty, owned this country before we found it? Why say to them that we will shut them away from the ballot box, and say to the negro whom we found in Africa, roaming the woods like a beast, brought here and sold a slave, we will elevate you to the high plane of a citizens in Alabama, and arm you with the ballot, but say to the Indian, you cannot vote; and, as was said by the gentleman from Wilcox (Mr. Jenkins), some of the proudest blood in Alabama today is Indian blood. Some men in Alabama are proud of that blood, but we have said to the Red Man, you cannot vote, but to the negro, you may.

Mr. President, I love to think of how faithful they were during the war. The gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. Oates) spoke about how they protected our homes, and how they looked after our affairs. That, Mr. President, was the old time slave of over thirty years ago. That, Mr. President, was the negro that had been brought up in the kitchen, in the back yard, and brought up to reverence and respect his master. There was a spirit of fear that went about him; reverence for his superior, and a feeling of humility and obedience on occasions like that was inate, and we are glad that they did so well. I am not an enemy to the negro. I am a friend to him in his place. My father owned more slaves than any man in Randolph County. I love the old time Southern negro. He was in his place as a slave, and happy and contented as such; and, Mr. President, I love to think of the old black mammy, as Governor Taylor says; I believe the day will come when the South will erect a monument to the old black mammy for the lullabies she has sung. We like to think of all these things. We like to think of old Ephriam, sitting around the fire place picking his banjo and eating roasted potatoes, and "sich." We love to


2847

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

go back and bring them back to memory; but you take the young negro of today, and put them in the same position that their fathers were in, and, gentlemen, a quarter of a century from now you would not be on a floor like this singing their praises. I tell you that the old negroes are passing out and the young bucks that are coming on have got to be attended to. I like to think of the negro from the old fashioned Southern standpoint. I like to tell him you do this, or you do that John, and here is a quarter; you black my shoes, or catch my horse, and you go do this and that, and all is well; but when I have to walk up to him and say, John, come down off of that telegraph pole that Governor Oates spoke of on yesterday, where he is setting telegraph wires through the city ; come down, I want to talk to you about the tariff question, and sit down with him at my side, just light up our cigars and talk. We are equal in the light of the law, and I have got to sit down by you and ask you to vote my way, not because you are my equal, for God Almighty never made you so, but because under the operation of a law that was born in hate and malice, makes it so; and under it you are entitled to hear me and be persuaded by me to vote for me, or to vote against me. Is not that a sad state of affairs? Why, Mr. President, I saw this morning a little fellow, coming down the street, met by my friend, Mr. Weatherly from Jefferson and the negro was as happy as could be, with a piece of watermelon in one hand and a set of cane quills from the swamp tied together with a string, in the other, blowing "Boogoo Eyes." You see them now and then in a blacksmith shop, with a squeaking bellows, and with the hammer and anvil making music sweet. That is his home; that is where he ought to be, and that is where he must be. For five thousand years, Mr. President, they have remained the same. Go back to the carvings of Egypt, and see their images there, look at the negro of today; he is a negro still, having made but little progress. All things that we see standing accomplished in the world today are properly the outer material results, the practical realization and embodiment of thought that dwelt in the white men sent into the world.

A man goes out and buys a section of land, or inherits it from his father, and in the midst of the place he builds a magnificent home, and there he rears his family, and a negro comes along through the country and builds himself a little house out in the woods, and becomes the servant of the white man and looks after his horses, and stands at the door with his hat off, and asks, “Boss, you want your shoes shined?” and all is well. He stays in the kitchen where he belongs. Finally however, we see that man telling this negro, you are too good a man to be out there; come in by the fireside and let us counsel together as to how I shall run my property. Mr. President, it is the same case. The white man bought this country with his blood, and the blood of his descendants inherited it, and the negro has no right to help make the laws


2848

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

that govern this country. He is inferior to the white man, and the white man should make the laws to govern the land. They say we do not hold out any encouragement to him. He doesn't need encouragement. Let him go on, and it won't be two years until he would be content with his condition and happier by far than he is today. Why, as soon as you elevate him, you ruin him. Mr. President, I take the position that it is best for the negro race. Take the lives of the hundreds that are killed every year at the ballot box. They will be saved when then cross the path of the proud Caucasian. It will be better for them. They will prosper more.

Now, sir, I have not the time to say what I would like to say, neither has this Convention the patience to hear me. One other word, and I am through. Why, gentlemen tell us that the son of the Confederate soldier should not be allowed to vote, but he should work out his own salvation as his father did. Do not let him by reason of his father's valor and sacrifices for his country cast his vote. I cite the gentlemen to the Scripture. It is found in Deuteronomy. “And it shall be when the Lord Thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he swore unto thy fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities which thou buildest not, and houses full of good things which thou fillest not, and wells to dig which thou diggest not, and vineyards and olive trees which thou plantest not."

It is the inheritance, Mr. President, that we are asking for the sons of the Confederate soldiers, those who supported their widowed mothers and schooled their sisters, and brought them up, and were themselves denied an education. We throw around them the strong arm of the law, and take them with us as we march up the mountain side, to a higher and better time, a higher and better civilization.

Mr. President, so far as I am concerned, I am opposed to the disfranchisement of any white man, I care not whether he is learned or unlearned, whether he wears the purple robes of good fortune, or the tattered garments of poverty and want. I care not whether he is in a little hut on the hillside or dwells in a mansion on the mountain top; he is a descendant of those who fought for our freedom, and men who have gained their priceless heritage that we love so well, and will die to maintain.

In conclusion, I want to say to the gentlemen who compose the minority of the Committee: You will live to see that we are right, and that you are wrong, and the people of Alabama, whom we represent here, today in this supreme body, will endorse our action and repudiate yours. I thank the Convention for their attention.


2849

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

MR. HARRISON Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention, it is with some diffidence that I rise to discharge what I conceive to be my duty. It is with regret that I felt forced to differ with the majority of the Committee on Suffrage and Elections. Four of us at least, who, after six weeks' labor, and after yielding point after point, have felt it our duty to differ at least in one particular with the majority of that Committee. I am pleased to note that of that quartette all four of us tried to discharge our duty as Confederate soldiers. We feel that we are at least entitled in part to represent that element who have been singled out, and have been sought to be made the special recipients of special privileges, and as one of that element, I come before you, fellow delegates not to throw any firebrands, but simply in my humble way to discharge what I conceive to be my duty, to tell you what I believe and to warn you of what I conceive to be the dangers ahead. We are all white men in this Convention, we are very largely all Democrats. The pleasing speeches that have been made, especially by my eloquent young friend from Marengo, might well have been delivered in a Democratic Convention or on the hustings before the white men of Alabama, but I feel that here, where we are under solemn oaths as representatives of the people we owe a solemn duty to our common country, duty not only to the State of Alabama, but to the Federal Union, as well as duty to our party. We have said, some of us in our minority report, that we believe this grandfather clause to be unconstitutional. So believing, however much I may love my party, or love my race, I cannot support it until I am satisfied that I am wrong in this opinion. I hesitated long and well because of my high regard for lawyers on that Committee, led as it was by two of the most distinguished jurists that ever sat upon the Supreme Bench of Alabama, but I am so constituted that I form my own conclusions and I must be the keeper of my own conscience, no other man can keep it for me. While I have deference for their opinions, I find that not only my colleagues in the minority report, but I find many prominent lawyers in the State, and among them two of the distinguished lawyers and greatest statesmen in Alabama, our two honored United States Senators, who agree with us in this matter. Now, briefly, fellow delegates, for I have no set speech to make, nor do I propose to quote any particular authorities, but refer only to a new elementary principles of law, which has induced me to join in the minority report in opposition to this section. The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States made the colored man a citizen of the United State. Up to that time, he was not a citizen. The fifteenth amendment says that, “The right of a citizen of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.” When I first took the oath to support that clause, I would rather have swallowed a mustard plaster, but I have sworn it repeatedly and I swore it here in


2850

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

this hall when I took my seat, and whether I like it or not, before God, I will die before I will violate my own convictions, and however much I may love my race and my people, however much I may believe in their superiority to rule (and thank God, they are ruling and will rule, whether you adopt a new Constitution or not.) But this article is an inhibition upon us. I am not only willing, but I desire to carry out every pledge in the Democratic platform as far as it can be done. And I believe it can be done without violating this article, but I do believe that by the adoption of this grandfather clause, you lay the straw that will break the camel's back, and that the plan laid out by this Committee will be a failure. My distinguished friends say that all power is vested in the State, to regulate the privilege of suffrage. That is so without this inhibition. I admit that Alabama as a sovereign State could regulate it as it pleased until this inhibition by the Congress of the United States had been placed upon it. This says plainly that neither the United States nor any State shall abrogate or deny on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude any privilege as regards the suffrage. Does this do it? Why, I have but to refer to the speeches that have been made, to the one that has just preceded me, that we are white men, and that we intend not to disfranchise one white man and to disfranchise every negro. Gentlemen of the Convention, you cannot do it.

MR. SANFORD (Montgomery) I say to you that there is nothing here against the negro voting, and his children voting. There were 186,000 negroes in the Union army and 20,000 negroes from Alabama, and therefore it does not violate the Constitution of the United States.

MR. HARRISON I don't know where my friend gets his figures, but I think they are very much exaggerated so far as the number of negro soldiers are concerned. I feel complimented that my friend from Montgomery has come near me to interrupt me, because I believe that what I say is making him think some. I say, Mr. President, that an inhibition has been placed upon us as representatives of the State of Alabama not to make any abridgement upon the right of suffrage to any citizen of the United States, and that negroes are now citizens of the United States. Take the grandfather clause. My friend here says that there were so many, but I appeal to your own general knowledge to say is he correct? Pray, tell me to what extent did the negroes ever participate in any of these wars set out in the grandfather clause? A few of them may have gone into the Union army in the latter part of it, but they were so few that it would amount to nothing. I ask you, my friends, what is the object in placing that clause there? Why do you want to put it there? Ask yourselves the question and let your own conscience answer it. If I believed with the majority of the Committee I would gladly go with you. I never gave the


2851

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

right of suffrage to the negro, but as has been well said by my distinguished friend from Montgomery on yesterday, I propose to deal with the situation as I find it, I propose to carry out in good faith what I conceive my duty to the Federal government, I devoted four of the best years of my life to the Confederate cause and after corning home and after going through the dark days of reconstruction, I in common with the people of Alabama accepted the situation and for one I propose to carry it out in good faith, however unpleasant it may be to me. It is an established principle of law that needs no authority to sustain it, that we cannot do indirectly that which we are directly prohibited from doing. This clause of the Constitution says that we shall not abridge the right of suffrage on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. I ask you to apply that principle to the clause. When we single out wars from the Revolution down, when the negro was not even a citizen and could not possibly participate, in them, we simply say that these soldiers or their descendants, who were white men, they participate. Is not this true? My distinguished friend from Madison said it was simply to allow them, the descendants of soldiers, to retain the privilege which they already had. Suppose this is so. Does not the negro have his right today? And if you allow the white man to retain it, and not the negro, pray tell me is not this a discrimination. Isn't it doing indirectly what the Constitution says directly that we shall not do?

Tell me, is there any difference because to a class who has had that right you say retain it, and you then take it front another class who has also had that right, that it makes the discrimination any less apparent than if neither class had enjoyed the privilege and it was given to one and not the other. All, isn't it a subterfuge? The Supreme Court of Alabama, in a case in one of the '70s says that the law abhors subterfuges and dodges. Isn't this a mere dodge? And if it be a dodge, can we afford to do it? Ought we to do it? Ah, but my distinguished friend says in his argument that this is not hereditary. Perhaps strictly speaking this is so. It does not say any future generation is to inherit it, but when we take the sons of certain sires and confer a privilege, isn't it practically the same thing; is it not hereditary? The article says because you are the son of a soldier you shall have the right to vote. Isn't that hereditary? Does he not acquire it from his parent and not from any merit or fitness of his own? Ah, fellow delegates, I don't believe that the son of a Confederate or the son of a Union soldier (and we have a good many of these in Alabama), would really ask or accept it, upon such a ground, or that these soldiers themselves would ask that these privileges be accorded their sons merely because he was a son. All, but, says the gentleman from Madison, if this is unconstitutional, then the soldier clause is also unconstitutional. I have some doubts upon that proposition myself, but because of the merits of the soldier


2852

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

and his own shown patriotism, I am willing to take that clause standing alone. But you weaken the clause and you weaken the entire system by adding the descendant clause, because you make plain the intended effect. The addition of this clause to the other weakens your whole argument, especially after the action of this Convention on yesterday in changing the first section. You are making apparent upon the face of the instrument what has been so often said here to allow every white man to vote and not allow any negroes to vote. Now, I believe, fellow delegates, that we can comply with the Democratic platform and yet support the Federal Constitution. I believe that this committee has presented you a plan, if you will strike out the clause under consideration that will practically allow every white man to vote and will permit every negro to vote who ought to vote, those who are competent and capable of voting, and it seems to be that that is as far as we should go. The delegate from Lauderdale has shown us a plan that will accomplish this. I say to my friend from Lauderdale, strike out your grandfather clause, and you have a plan that will accomplish it. I do not believe that there is a lawyer on that committee who has studied it but will say without this clause it will be practically just what it is without it. But it is said for the purpose of gaining popularity, to gain certain votes, we will put it in. I appeal to you, gentlemen, not to do it. If we are to make a Constitution let us make one that will stand the test of the courts, and not only of the courts, but will stand the test of legislation on the part of Congress. Give heed if you will, to the sentiment expressed by Senator Morgan who will have to stand with his colleague in the United States Senate and undertake to defend our action doubtless within a very few years, before the American Congress. Let us give them a Constitution which they can stand by and sustain. When I came here as a delegate to this Convention, I came thinking that the best we could do would be to adopt some simple plan, some plan like that suggested in Virginia, the plan of a poll tax and excluding certain classes of criminals, and I believe, so far as my section of the State is concerned, that it is all that is necessary or desired by it. After a long conference and association with gentlemen from different sections of the State on this committee, I was induced to believe that it would not be sufficient for the needs of every section of the State. I feel the necessity of an elastic plan as the conditions are different, in various parts of the State. To carry out the desires and wishes of the people in purifying the ballot and striking from the list of voters the criminals and those who are unfit by character or otherwise from engaging in the suffrage. I am willing to concede even my own better judgment and take anything that the majority of my associates see proper, provided I do not regard it as unconstitutional, or subversive of the very principle; or our government. That this clause is subversive of these principles I


2853

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

do believe. I think my friend and colleague, the gentleman from Barbour, has shown to you this in his remarks on yesterday that by references to our own Bill of Rights which has been in the Alabama Constitution since 1819, and which this Convention itself has adopted without any dissenting voice. I will never, so far as my vote and my voice is concerned, consent to change that principle of Americanism for which our forefathers fought when they established this country, when they left the British government and fought for our independence, because opposed to anything hereditary in the shale of honor, emolument or privileges. You have selected a patriotic and popular clay upon which to engraft this dangerous principle. It appeals to the soldiers, it appeals to country. But you lay down in the organic law principles of an hereditary privilege, where will you stop? You engraft it into the fundamental law of the land. Is it right that a than shall have a certain privilege because he is the son of a certain father? Is it right? Do these sons want it? Especially the sons of Confederates. When you take them to register under this plan, let us see how it will work. He is asked by the Board of Registrars three questions, three qualifications are prescribed. First though it appears here last all persons of good character and who understand the duties and obligation of citizenship under republican form of government. Second, all soldiers and there is a reason against the clause under consideration, which does not apply to the soldier clause. This includes the war with Spain and that includes some of the other race, a large number of them, but not their descendants. Now take the son of a soldier before the Registrars, and propound the question “Were you a soldier?” No. Are you a man of good character and do you understand the duties and obligations of citizenship under a republican form of government? No. If he answers, yes, he can come in without the other. If he answers no, he doesn't come up to that qualification. Are you going to allow a man to vote who is not of good character, who does not understand the duties of citizenship nor the principles of a republican form of government, simply because he is the son of a soldier? Do you think the registrars would allow any negro who did not have that qualification to vote? Then is it not violating the Federal Constitution? Is the son of a soldier, though a white man but not a good character, and who does not understand the duties and obligations of citizenship, under our form of government, but simply because he happens to be the son of a soldier to be permitted a vote? Would not that be violating the fifteenth amendment? And would it not be apparent on its face? Is it right? I do not believe that you will find the worthy sons of any Confederate soldiers who would accept it that way. I do not believe there is an old Confederate living who would ask his son, not being of good character, or not understanding the form of our government, should be admitted to a privilege simply because he


2854

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

was the son of a soldier. I am warned by some one that I have only five minutes left. I don’t care fellow delegates to consume your time.

MR. deGRAFFENREID Will the gentleman allow me to interrupt him for the purpose of making a motion to extend the time.

MR. HARRISON I will try to get through within the five minutes if you will allow me. I never wish to consume more than my time. And it is always unpleasant to me to speak when it is apparent that my views are against those of the majority of my associates.

MR. deGRAFFENREID I move that the rules of this Convention be suspended and that the gentleman from Lee be allowed to address the Convention upon this subject for twenty minutes longer.

A vote being taken the gentleman's time was extended twenty minutes.

MR. HARRISON I thank you. Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention, though if I had not be interrupted I believe I would have finished in my allotted time. To justify myself in signing the report that I have publicly made and from a deep sense of duty, I propose in addition to what I have said to ask you if those of us in the minority, if the lawyers in the State of Alabama who agree with us, are right in our views what will be the consequences of the adoption of this section? And I appeal to the distinguished Chairman of the Committee and the lawyers who are sustaining him in the belief that this is not unconstitutional, if they do not honestly believe so far as the practical operation of this plan is concerned that it will work as effectively without it as it will with it, and if so why endanger the whole plan? We have two sources through which to apprehend danger on this line. If our lawyers in this State who are all our friends and of and among us are divided in opinion, what will a partisan court do? I beg to remind you that if this matter is tested, it will most likely be tested by the Supreme Court of the United States, the majority of whom are Republicans. If men whose whole hearts and sympathies are with the people of this State differ so widely, remember in the tribunal before which you are to have it passed upon the majority of them Republicans, and those who are Democrats occupy a very different position from what the Democrats of Alabama occupy. Already this very clause in substance has been made a subject of test in Louisiana and an appeal will likely be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States. Suppose that decision is adverse to the plan. Then where are you? We are told by some members of the Committee that these various provisions are in the disjunctive. And the Committee have put in an-other


2855

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

provision that is declared unconstitutional. I will ask you if this law is held unconstitutional would it not break down the whole plan? Who will constitute your permanent list of voters? Although in the disjunctive there are three sources from which you make the permanent list the character clause, next soldiers, then sons of soldiers or grandsons. Suppose the grandfather clause is held unconstitutional, what court on earth could tell who went in under one clause or the other? There is nothing in here providing that it shall be kept separate. They are so intermingled that no court could tell under which clause the voter registered. Therefore if he is unconstitutional the whole would be void. You could not tell one from the other. If held void who is to fix it? The legislature. I appeal to my friends who want this grandfather clause for the purpose of popularizing it in certain parts of the State, what will be the effect of it? You have gotten up a plan that your committee proposes to leave to the legislature can the courts destroy any part of it? The legislature will not submit it back to the people. Go into that section of the country where you think it is popular to insert this clause and I believe you will find that the sons of soldiers there and the soldiers themselves will not thank you for it. They will tell you their character is as good as that of anybody else, that they understand this government and they are able to stand the test at least with a negro. I submit that you will insult them when you put it in there, and in the second place, when they look at it, and are told that perhaps it will not stand the test of the courts, and in that event you propose to leave it to the legislature which will not submit it back to the people, I believe it will prove to be one of the most unpopular things that you could do. It is not only the courts that we are to apprehend. I appeal to the older men of this Convention who not only were Confederate soldiers but who were through the still darker and harder period of reconstruction when the Federal Congress had declared that Alabama did not have a Republican form of government, when our beautiful State was impoverished, overrun with carpet baggers and scalawags and when we went through what was worse than four years of war. Through this period of reconstruction which was worse than war itself even soldiers had to pass. I desire to warn you against any step that is likely to produce another reconstruction. If you adopt this clause and we of the minority should be right that it is unconstitutional, and the Court declares it so, what is likely to be the result?

What do you believe that a United States Congress composed of Republicans would do in a closely contested Presidential election, when the vote of Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina, with these contested clauses in the Constitution, or any one of them, would settle the contest? The Hays and Tilden contest would not be a circumstance. Do you believe that the Republican majority, as partisan as we are partisan, would permit it to


2856

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

stand? Methinks I see, fellow delegates, a Republican Congress declaring that Alabama has not a republican form of government, and refusing to count our votes, and we are again in the throes of reconstruction. You may tell us this will not be, but I tell you it is more than probable. Because we have had an easy time for the last decade or two, let us not fail to judge the future by the past. I simply desire, in the discharge of my duty to warn you of these apprehensions, which have come to my mind. With no desire to fight the majority in anything, but willing to concede all that I can conscientiously do, I desire to call your attention not only to what the courts may do, but what a Republican Congress may do, and appeal to you delegates who went through the dark days of reconstruction, not to bring on us another like period. It was awful. We would like to blot it out. The beautiful and eloquent speeches that have been made here, particularly by the young men, who do not remember those days are perhaps all right, were their strong point. They remind me of the beautiful speeches that were made in the early days of the secession, when some of our orators offered to drink all of the blood that would be spilled, and to whip the North with pop guns, but admitted afterwards that they had made a mistake, for these people would not fight that way. My fellow delegates, a Republican Congress is what I wish to warn you of. I have been with them. There is a feeling of acquiescence now, and they talk that way, especially so to cover up certain things that are being done in our new possessions, but you bring this matter into a heated political contest, and what may we expect? They are as partisan as we are and they will never submit to it on earth. I for one cannot by my vote run any risk on proposition that I feel will place Alabama again in the throes of reconstruction, and deprive her of her representation in the Congress of the United States. I may be wrong. If you adopt this clause, I hope I am wrong, but I do not believe that I am. Go on if you will, adopt it if you please. But if I am right and the worse comes upon us, I desire you to remember that one of you, one who loves you and loves his people, warned you of the consequences. And, if it must come, then I at least shall have discharged my duty, and you “cannot shake your hoary locks at me and say I did it.”

MR. WHITE, Mr. President and Fellow Delegates: I regret having to differ with the majority in its report on this the chief measure before the Convention. I had hoped that our recommendations on suffrage would be unanimous. I am glad to say, however, Mr. President, that we differ not upon the end to be reached, but upon the method or means to be employed. We understand our commission from the people exactly alike, and that was that the ballot and its exalted privileges should be taken from the unworthy, incapable and vicious, and that its free, fair and full exercise should be secured to those who appreciate its responsibili-


2857

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

ties, and who will be trustworthy in discharging the sacred obligations which it imposes. It is not remarkable, either, Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention, that we should differ upon the method or mean, to be used, when we recall the fact that in the very outset we were confronted with two barriers directly opposed to each other. One was the Fifteenth Article of the Federal Constitution, which declares that the right of a citizen of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or any State, on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. The Fourteenth Amendment having declared before that time that the negro was a citizen and a citizen of the State wherein he resided, this provision shielded him as such from discrimination and attack. The Democratic platform, by which we were pledged to abide, on the other hand, declared that no white man shall be deprived of the right to vote except on conviction of infamous crime. Were men ever placed in a more narrow or more tortuous channel through which to guide the ship of State than was your Committee on Suffrage and Elections? Besides, the platform declared that we should reform the suffrage within the limits of the Constitution of the United States. Then, without the privilege of discriminating against the negro, because of his race, by the provisions of an instrument, which we had taken a solemn obligation, in the face of men and in the presence of God, to observe, and, on the other hand, a pledge by the party with whose fortunes we had been united from our childhood until this hour, not to disfranchise any white man, was it strange that we should differ about the method or the means to be employed in reforming the suffrage? Mr. President and Delegates, I have faced responsibilities from my childhood until now. I saw the storm clouds gathering when I was a boy in the political horizon of my country. I stood in the battle-swept section of this Union. I shared its fortunes and performed my humble part, and when, with Bedford Forest, at 16 years of age not larger than one of your messengers, I met the advancing column of the enemy, formed in double line, when we were deplored at ten paces apart and were armed with pot metal guns, while the enemy were armed with Spencer rifles in the last battle of the war on Alabama soil, when I saw seventeen men of my company, composed of thirty, left dead or mortally wounded upon the field in five minutes. I never felt more serious then than I feel today. My flag, my country, my hopes were at stake. My country, my State and our people are at stake today. In my young manhood, I saw reconstruction with all of its horrors. I saw the white men of my State placed under the domination and the heel of the black race. I saw the time when white men had no rights respected by them. It was then, sir, in my town, in another State, the white league was formed of three men. I had the fortune to be one of the three. All swore then that the white men of Mississippi should rule that


2858

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

State, of every white man within it would die. I felt serious then, but I did not feel any more serious about the situation then than I feel today. We have been called together by our constituents to reform the suffrage in Alabama. Whether that be to maintain white supremacy or to secure honesty and fairness at the ballot box, we need not stop to inquire; but we were commissioned to reform the suffrage in Alabama. That developed upon us the task of doing that work right, of doing it in such a way that it will stand the test that may be applied to it in the courts and in the Congress of the United States.

This is a time when the sober thought and the highest reason and the deepest patriotism should move us in our work. I have no criticism to pass upon the majority of the Committee with whom I differ. They are struggling to reach the same end that I am struggling to reach. We only differ about the route we should travel. They have selected a plan represented by the majority, and my distinguished friend from Madison is right when he says we must judge of it as a whole. It is a complete plan within itself, and every section in it contributes to it as a whole. I differ with the majority as to the constitutionality of this plan; that is, I mean to say that I believe the subdivision giving the descendants of soldiers and sailors the right to register without any other qualification, is violative of the Fifteenth Article of the Federal Constitution. Let us see whether that be true or not. Most of you are lawyers, and therefore, your responsibility is that much greater to your people. That instrument says you must not discriminate against the negro because of his color, race or previous condition of servitude; that is, you shall not make a “difference” (because that is what “discrimination” means), between his race and the other people of the country. You shall not do that either directly or indirectly. It is not what we want; it is not what we like, but, Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates, it is what can we do to reform the suffrage in the face of that provision in the Constitution? What is the provision in the suffrage plan? The first provision, though last in order in the plan, is that to entitled a citizen to register, he must be of good character and understand the duties and obligations of citizenship. That is the general proposition. That covers all men alike and upon its face, it is perfectly valid. Then the next provision is that all soldiers of the war of 1812, the war with Mexico, the war with the Indians, the war with Spain, in the civil war, and the soldiers of the Confederate army in the war between the States, shall be entitled to register whether they have the character and intelligence to understand the duties and responsibilities of citizenship or not. The next provision is the one that shows the purpose of, and, in my judgment, vitiates the whole. It is the clause which gives to the descendants of those who served in the army of the United States in the war of the


2859

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

Revolution, in the war of 1812 in the war with Mexico and the Indians, and the civil war, and those who served in the Confederate army, or in the army of the State of Alabama, in the war between the States, the right to register whether they have good characters and understand the duties and responsibilities of citizenship or not. By the clause just mentioned you have formed a group or class who cannot register or vote unless they are of good character and understand the duties and responsibilities of citizenship. By the other clauses you have made a group or class in which you say they shall have the right to register whether they meet that standard or not. Now those are the only three provisions in the temporary plan, remember that. They have no connection whatever with the permanent plan of registration. They all unite to make up what is known as the life electorate. By this scheme we have one class that must conform to one rule; that is, they, must possess good character and understand the duties and responsibilities of citizenship; and we have another class which is formed of those who need not possess those qualifications at all. I ask you if, in the formation of these groups if in the formation of these classes you have not discriminated in favor of one class against another. (That alone will not render the scheme vicious. I ask you as thoughtful men, to answer the question whether you have not made a plan upon which one class shall stand, and another plan upon which another class shall stand. If you do not think over that now and think over it well before you act, you will have the balance of your lives to devote to it. I demand of you as honest men, to answer the question if there is not a distinction, if there is not a difference, if there is not a discrimination, between the group we have formed on one side and the group we have formed on the other? Deep down in your hearts as delegates to this Convention, I want this question to have its habitation. If I am right, in declaring that there is one condition prescribed for one group and another condition for the other thus formed then the next question which presents itself is: Has race, color or previous condition anything to do with the formation of the groups if it has in such sort as to discriminate against the negro as such then it is invalid under the fifteenth amendment. The group, composed of persons having good character and understanding the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, will be composed of both races. The other group is formed of soldiers who served or the descendants of soldiers who served in certain wars. Now I understand perfectly well and see the force of the criticism made by some of the gentlemen on the other side when they ask the question, "If the descendant clause is wrong, how can you sustain and uphold the soldier clause? There is great force in that query, but I think that can be answered. Who constituted the group in the soldier clause? The soldiers of 1812 have, passed away and joined the ranks on the other side. The


2860

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

soldiers in the Indian wars have gone. The soldiers of the war with Mexico constitute an insignificant class. There are probably not one hundred of them in Alabama. The soldiers who served in the Confederate army have mainly crossed over the river. The average age of the soldier in the Confederate army when he enlisted was 35 or 36 years. They entered from 16 to 60. Add to his there age the thirty six years that have passed since the war closed and you have 71. So the man of average age who entered in the Confederate army has passed beyond his three score years and ten. There are only a very few of them left. The number of them alive is so small compared with the whole number of voters that it could have but little effect and their admission to the electorate could hardly be called a discrimination as against those not so admitted. Moreover these men made sacrifices for their country; they showed their patriotism on the field of battle, they acquired that knowledge and discipline that follow army life and are better equipped for the duties of suffrage, or the duties which suffrage impose, than men who never engaged in it. That classification or grouping is not an arbitrary one. There is reason, there is justice in it. We will take the other class, the descendants of soldiers who compose it. First, the descendants of those who fought in the revolutionary war; every one of whom are white men; the next are the descendants of those who fought in the war of 1812. Every one of those are white men; the next are descendants of soldiers who fought in the Indian wars, they are all white men.

MR. JACKSON (Calhoun)– I move that the time of the gentleman be extended thirty minutes.

THE PRESIDENT The time of the gentleman has not expired.

MR. JACKSON I thought it had about expired.

MR. WHITE If the motion is to be put, I would rather it be put now, that I may not be interrupted again.

Upon a vote being taken, the motion was carried, and the time of the gentleman was extended.

MR. ROBINSON I desire to know if you favor all the balance except the grandfather clause?

MR. WHITE I will answer that directly. The descendants of those who fought in the war with Mexico are all white men the descendants of those who fought in the Indian wars are all white men; the descendants of Confederate soldiers and of Alabama soldiers are all white men. Ninety per cent of the descendants of soldiers of the Union army in the war between the States, who live in Alabama, are white men. There are only the descendants of a few negroes who enlisted in the Union army in Alabama, just after the close of the civil war, who are black men. The ne-


2861

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

groes who enlisted in the Union army from Alabama did not have an organization in the Federal army. These are the only ones of that race, except such others as may have drifted to Alabama since the war that would be included in this group. The records of the War Department at Washington disclose the fact that Alabama furnished to the Union army only 2,570 men in the war between the States and we know that there were at least two regiments of those who were white men. I say to you and the statement is conservative, that 95 per cent of this group which you have formed of the descendants of soldiers are white men and only 5 per cent are black men. It is useless to ask whether we want it, because it embraces many more white men than black men. It is not a question of what we want. It is a question of what we can do under the Federal Constitution. Can we discriminate? We know we cannot. Have we not discriminated by this arrangement when 95 per cent of the class we constitute are composed of one race, and 5 per cent composed of the other? And that was done by drawing an arbitrary line without reference to the qualifications for suffrage by those embraced within it. Yes, a line in conflict with the spirit and genius of our government. I maintain that while you do not disfranchise the negro in terms, you do it in effect. Gentlemen, I ask if you have not done so in effect? Remember that this provision must pass under the scrutiny of a gaze not so friendly, as ours. I can draw a line no more arbitrary than this that every man in this Convention who is a lawyer will admit is a discrimination against the negro. Suppose by a provision we should carve out the counties of Greene, Sumter, Marengo, Dallas, Hale, Perry and Lowndes and draw a line around them and say that those encompassed therein should not have the right to vote. There are white men in those counties, but there are five to ten black men where there is one white man. Would any man pretend to say that would not be a discrimination on account of race? Suppose, on the other hand, we should adopt a provision that none except those with straight hair like most of us have, should vote. That does not discriminate in terms, but does it not discriminate in effect? There are some black men who have straight hair, and there are some white men who have curly hair, therefore some of both classes would be on either side, but I ask you as thoughtful then, if you would not say that was a discrimination on account of race or color. Suppose you adopt a provision in your organic law that none having flat noses should vote, that is not a discrimination in terms, because there are colored men who have sharp noses, and there are white men who have flat noses, but would any man with reason assert for one moment, that that would not be a discrimination on account of race. When we thus draw an arbitrary line that accomplishes the object and does it effectually, how can we say in our consciences, and how can we maintain before the courts of the country that it is not a discrimination? Under


2862

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

the law we may adopt a rule, prescribing conditions applicable alike to both races. Am I wrong in that? If I am, I ask some gentleman on the majority side to correct me. I believe that is what was announced by the distinguished gentleman from Madison yesterday. It has been said by the Supreme Court of the United States that a rule prescribing conditions alike applicable to all, is permissible. If that is true, have you complied with it in prescribing a rule here that is alike applicable to all? With a homely illustration, I can make it even plainer. When you put a sow and pigs in the pen, and build it fence around them, and then leave a crack through which the pigs can pass, you have discriminated in favor of the pigs and against the sow. Then, gentlemen of the Convention, when you erect here a plan that covers 95 per cent of one race, and have adopted a provision covering the whole of the other race, save 5 per cent, I ask you if you have not discriminated? Am I wrong in this? Your distinguished Senator, General Pettus, one of the best lawyers in the South, after having investigated it for the purpose of determining whether or not it was in violation of the Constitution, declared that it was. He investigated it for the Louisiana Senators at their request. The provision in the Louisiana suffrage plan is not different in effect from ours, and he gave it as his written opinion, that it violated the 15th Amendment. He is now opposed to this clause, and that other distinguished Senator from this State is also opposed to it. I will send this letter to the Clerk's desk, ask him to read it and I ask you if you will not listen to me to listen to him.

Warm Springs, Va. July 6, 1901.

Dear Captain White:

The American Revolution was not so much a redress of grievances, as it was a struggle to abolish heredity in Government. That was the real line of division between Democratic and regal government and between free religion and the church established by law. Heredity disappeared, with its associated rights of perpetuity in the ownership of lands, and ninny minor hereditaments of feudalism, such as titles and tenures and servitudes, when our new democratic scheme of government was instituted.

Political heredity, and all its appurtenances, such as prerogative and titular nobility and primogeniture, and all its protecting laws, such as corruption of blood, premunire and excommunication, perished and were placed under the heel of prohibition by our Constitution. Whoever would restore any of these, to that extent, discredits the cause of the Revolution.

Without suffrage, the new system had no possible means of expressing the sovereign will of the people in laws, and their enforcement by executive and judicial authority.


2863

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

These necessary agents of the government by and for the people can only be chosen by voters; and voters could only be created by law, not by inheritance. These voters are chosen representatives to perform the single function of electing the lawful officers of government.

The trust confided to them is personal, and can neither be sold, or delegated, or transmitted by inheritance, or by will to any other person. It is this quality of non transmissibility that distinguishes it from the regal form of inheritance power, and marks the line of the impassable gulf between regal government and democratic government. The voters, as a class, or body, have certain physical conditions, such as age and sex, that are necessary qualifications and certain moral and political qualifications that are personal and independent of heritable blood.

To make blood the medium of transmitting the electoral power from father to son, is to uproot from its foundations, the whole system of democratic government, and to reinstate the system and the form of regal government.

The Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments have no more to do with this subject than any other part of the organic law.

The transmission of the electoral power by the blood of inheritance from father to son, would destroy all distinction between regal government and democracy, and would throw the door wide open for a return to the system that the American Revolution abolished. The steps would be few, and would be rapidly taken, to the complete restoration of monarchy, so soon as we give to any class of voters the power to qualify their sons as voters by inheritance. In this case, it is the first step that tells, with fatal and irrevocable effect. The argument is irresistible, that officers should follow the blood, if the power that creates them is the blood of inheritance; and this is all that is meant in the British system of titled nobility which alone legislates in the House of Lords, and of regal blood and prerogative which upholds the throne, and the power of appointment to office, which is an appendage of the throne, and the pardoning power over which the people have no control.

We are making too near an approach to this system of the perpetual transmission of power, by inheritance, succession and appointment in the wide latitude of power, and the wider exemption from responsibility, that our courts are giving to corporations. The process is not identical, and is not beyond control, in the case of corporate powers and the almost immortality of their alleged rights of succession. But their triumphant and alarming license reaching above the powers of government, serve as an indication of the wild demand for office, patronage and power that


2864

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

will follow when the States have established a right of heredity as to the electoral franchise.

“When such a titled class of voters is created by the organic law, it will soon occur to them that no other class should he allowed to vote, and they will usurp all power. It is far from being a comfort to me that some negroes are included, and many white men are left out, by the ordinance reported by the majority of the Committee on Suffrage in this ordinance of inheritable blood.

With great respect,

(Signed) John T. Morgan.

To Hon. Frank S. White, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention of Alabama.

Again, on July 17, he says: “Your stand against suffrage by inheritance is so obviously right, that the statement of it is conclusive.” Now, Mr. President, my friend, the distinguished gentleman from Madison, says this clause is but another means of designating a class who have the capacity to exercise the elective franchise. In other words, that you could select the men by name, that this is but the means of designating a class which already possess the qualification. I believe I state it correctly. The error in this statement is that he assumes that they possess the qualification. You let a man assume the major part of his proposition, and he can build the balance, so that it will appear sound. You say they are capable because they have had the right, because they exercised the right.

MR. WALKER Because they exercised it rightly.

MR. WHITE– Yes, because they exercised it rightly, you assume that, and yet we are told– we are here assembled together to prevent fraud from being committed by the white race.

MR. WALKER– Do you deny that they have exercised it rightly?

MR. WHITE– I deny they have all done it rightly. I deny the fact that the sons of soldiers, because they are sons of soldiers possess qualifications for suffrage to a higher degree than other men. I know men who are the descendants of soldiers who are wearing the stripes in the penitentiary today.

MR. WALKER They are excluded. (Applause.)

MR. WHITE Do you deny it? Yes, they are excluded, but they are those who yet may wear the stripes who are not.

MR. WALKER And they will be excluded. (Applause.)

MR. WHITE– But they were not excluded by your argument, nor by your plan of suffrage. I could answer you, with your


2865

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

logic, that if because these men had the right, and have exercised it, they are therefore qualified to vote, leaving out the assumption that they have rightly exercised it, that is, every one of them. I can reply that the negro has had the right and has exercised it. You assume, on this floor, that one race does it well; when it reaches the Supreme Court of the United States they may deny that assumption and say they have the right to assume that such is not the fact. They have already declared in the case of Neal vs. Delaware the reverse of that, when they say that the presumption that there were no negroes in Delaware capable of jury service, indulged by the courts of the State, was a violent presumption, even though made by the Supreme Court. In deciding this matter the Court will look at the history of the times. They will look at the conditions as they exist. They will take judicial knowledge, or that common knowledge known of us all, and then declare what the effect of this instrument is. My friends, the majority of this Committee, in adopting Section 19, have expressed their fears. This child of theirs is a creature of the thirteenth century, born out of time, whose great grandfather lives in the State of Louisiana, and whose grandfather lives in the State of North Carolina, its immediate parents and the majority of this Committee, and they do not seem to have that confidence in its robustness and longevity that parents usually have. By this Section they prophesy its early death. They have made a shroud of its swaddling clothes, have made the song of its birth its funeral dirge. Methinks I see over the hill standing by a new made grave a sturdy judicial officer with spade in his hand. I see the procession passing over the hill. I see this infant being borne to its last resting place, and at a turn in the road I see the majority of this Committee with the index finder of the right gland pointing in the direction of the tomb, saying ‘We will show you the way.” Mr. President, they are not mounted; they are on foot, and I want to say that I may be in that procession, but if I am it will be simply as a friend of the family. I am in no way connected with the deceased. Now, Mr. President, what is the necessity of this? Why is it proposed to incorporate into the Constitution of Alabama this clause? It was put into the Constitution of Louisiana because they had erected an educational qualification of a high standard, and in default of possessing the education required by the Constitution, then a property qualification which would have debarred many white men from voting in that State. Remember we have neither an educational nor property qualification. We have nothing except that a man be of good character and understands the duties and responsibilities of citizenship. In Louisiana they only took one horn of the dilemma, they took what is called the descendants of grandfathers clause, but they laid aside the understanding clause. We propose to adopt not only the grandfather clause but the understanding clause as well. Mississippi took the understanding clause, but North Carolina also had an educational qualifica


2866

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

tion that shut out many of her white men. We have no educational qualification to shut out white men under the temporary plan. Then why the necessity of burdening this scheme with a thing that is wholly unnecessary. Why should be take the chances in the face of the conditions which threaten us. We are told on the floor of this Convention this morning that the North has become more friendly than it was in the past, and that the President of the United States is looking now with favor upon us. I think the gentleman who gave utterance to that speech did not see the platform made by the Republican party in Ohio, under the dictation of Mark Hanna and Mr. Foraker, the President's own State, in which they declared that the disfranchisement of the black man in the South must stop. It is not the first time we have seen the cloud rising on that horizon. We hear today the muttering thunder and we know, if we know anything, that the Republican party will not lose the great States of Indiana, Illinois, New York and Ohio by keeping their hands off of us when the negroes in those States demand that their race in the South shall be protected, and the negroes in every one of those States control the balance of power politically. The time is coming, and rapidly coming, when in the Congress of the United States it will be declared that Alabama's representation in Congress and in the electoral college shall be reduced in proportion to the vote that has been taken away from this race. Can we afford to spare that now? Do we not need every vote in Congress and every vote in the electoral college to save Alabama from discrimination that may be made against her there? I believe that the Republican party of the North is waiting until the trap is full. They have seen Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina fall into line and they are looking for Alabama and Virginia and possibly Florida and Arkansas to follow. When the trap is full they will make a blow at the South and her people will feel it. Moreover if this suffrage plan is declared to be unconstitutional by the courts of the United States the entire life electorate must fall. You lawyers are familiar with the principle that when fraud enters into a transaction, though a part of the consideration may be genuine, and a part of it simulated, you cannot separate the one from the other, but the whole transaction must fall. You no doubt remember the line of cases beginning with Ivy vs. Stringfellow. I believe it is in the 73rd Ala., which declares that in the sale of personal property and real estate made in the same transaction for gross sum you cannot enforce the vendor's lien because you cannot separate the consideration agreed to be paid from the personal property. The life electorate formed under these three provisions, one under good character and a knowledge of citizenship. I am sure if this clause declared invalid by the courts the life electorate established by our suffrage plan will all fall as it will be impossible to determine under which of the three provisions the voter registered.


2867

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

THE PRESIDENT– The time of the gentleman has expired.

MR. WEATHERLY Mr. President and Delegates of the Convention: As a member of the Committee on Suffrage and Elections, and as one who supports the majority report of that Committee, I feel that it is my duty to myself and to this Convention to address it briefly, and state my reasons for having concurred with the majority. The object of the plan proposed by the majority of the Committee was to create a reform in the electorate of Alabama, far reaching in its character, going to the foundation of our social order, and based upon the hope that eventually, under the operation of that plan, our beloved State and its people might become completely restored to ideally harmonious relations with the nation of which we are a part. Gentlemen of the Convention, it is public history that for twenty six years we have not been in touch with the nation of which we form a part of one subject, and that subject is the one concerning the exercise of the suffrage by the negro.

The people of Alabama, exercising a revolutionary right, have decreed that the Fifteenth Amendment in so far as it may include all of the negro race of voting age, shall not be enforced in the State of Alabama. Can any man deny that? Can any man deny the fact that almost since the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment, the very immunity which it sought to secure has been annulled by the unanimous voice of the white people of Alabama? Now that has been done by revolutionary methods; by force and by fraud, and, as always happens when those methods are resorted to other evils have been created. Fraud having become necessary it has debauched the consciences of our people. It threatens the degeneracy of our descendants, and the feel that we cannot perpetuate our decree of annulment by those methods. That is not because of any antagonism to the national government. That is not because the Southern people, or the people of Alabama are not in accord with the other Constitutional amendments which followed upon the war, and which were intended to adjust our relations with the national government. There is no dissent amongst our people as to the Fourteenth Amendment, which declared that the negro should be a citizen. Although by force and fraud, by revolutionary method, the negro has been disfranchised for twenty six years in the State of Alabama, and although the negro who was given the right to vote, theoretically, for the purpose of maintaining the civil rights accorded to him under the Fourteenth Amendment; although side by side these two amendments stand in the Constitution, the one has been discarded by the people, and the other has been maintained in its integrity. The white people of Alabama have showed their allegiance and their loyalty to their Government by according in substance to the negro all of his civil rights. There may be some few scattered communi-


2868

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

ties here and there in the State where that is not true, but I say it without the fear of successful contradiction, that the people of Alabama are irrevocably in favor of according to the negro his civil rights. In evidence of our loyalty, we have sent our sons to fight the battle, of the nation, to the West Indies, and out to the Philippines, and the National Government has honored our people by making generals of those who are already distinguished amongst us, one of whom sits here in this Convention. We are in accord with the National Government except upon the one single proposition. We are not in accord upon that proposition, and we can never be in accord upon that proposition, if it shall be maintained that it is our duty under the Fifteenth Amendment to accord the full and unrestricted right of suffrage to the negro race; that because he is a negro he must vote, whether he is qualified or not; we can never assent to that proposition.

Now, what are we here for I think, delegates of this Convention, that we are here for a higher and a broader purpose than has been stated by the gentleman who has preceded me in the opposition. One of them has said that we are here to purify the ballot. Another has said that we are here to eliminate the vicious and ignorant negro from the right of suffrage. Both of those propositions are true, but we are here for a still higher purpose. We are here to put upon a permanent basis the elements which will hold our civilization together, and we are here for a still higher purpose, namely, to restore the State of Alabama to its absolutely normal relation to the National Government by providing a plan of suffrage which will give to the negro all equitable right of suffrage, and give him also the hope of increasing in proportion and in numbers that right of suffrage, a fair and equitable plan, upon which, and by which, he may as the year go by, if he has that in him which will capacitate him for self government, stand in last upon the same footing as the white man, so far as the right to vote is concerned; but insofar as he shows that he is incapacitated, we want it fixed in our law, in our social structure, that he shall be disqualified from voting. Now, that is a great hope to hold out to the people of the State of Alabama, that all these fears and anxieties of the past, growing out of the disturbance of the relations between us and the National Government, shall be dissipated; that, at last, as the final step in that long drama of our tragic history, beginning with the importation into this country of the negro race– as the final scene in that terrific drama, we can say to the world we have at last been restored completely and fully as an integral part of the most majestic government that ever lived upon the fact of the earth. (Applause.) Now, in accomplishing these objects, we have got to look at the facts as they are. We are not idealists; we are not theorists; we are trained in the art of self government. We know that there is no such thing as fitting an ideal theory to an actual condition of society a condi


2869

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

tion, by the way, which has been brought about by controversy and bloodshed. We have got to deal with the situation practically. Now, what does the majority of the Committee propose to do, and it is concerned in by the other four members except in one respect? Here is an actual condition of things. The bulk of the negro race not voting at all, and never having freely exercised the right of suffrage since he became a citizen of the United States. The white element of the population, all voters, manhood suffrage established in all its fullness and integrity, and we must adopt a plan which must be sent back to those electors and be ratified by them. Otherwise our efforts fall fruitless to the ground. Won’t the people of the civilized earth, the civilized people of the world, won’t they recognize that as a practical difficulty? Cannot anybody with intelligence and sensibility, viewing this situation, viewing our hope, and our great ambition to be restored fully to our relations with the National Government, viewing the difficulty of getting a Constitution ratified by the people, which is simply theoretical in its provisions – won’t any person of sensibility and spirit, whether he belong to the Republican Party of this Government, or whether he be a member of the Supreme Court, or the President of the United States, be able to see that there must be some compromise? So that, what the Committee has done is this: It has attempted to provide a simple formula of a temporary character whereby the white voters of the State shall still enjoy substantially the privileges, voting privileges, which they have had, and also whereby those of the negro race such as are qualified, may get in as voters, and then at the end of that temporary period, which is short, begins a new era which marks the most perfect equality of conditions, as between the two races. In theory even, the most hypocritical could not make an objection to it. Now, the simple formula provided for in the temporary plan contains substantially two propositions. One is that those who were soldiers in certain wars, and their descendants, shall be entitled to vote, or if they are not soldiers, or the descendants of soldiers, they shall be entitled to vote, if they have good character and understand the duties and obligations of citizenship under a Republican form of government. It has been objected, and it is the sole objection of the minority, that the second subdivision of this arrangement is unconstitutional, is violative of the Fifteenth Amendment, and furthermore, that it is the violative of our own Constitution, in that it transmits the right of suffrage, by inheritance; or, to state it as perhaps Senator Morgan has intended to state it, that it is simply contrary to the spirit of our Constitution, and laws– not condemned by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments, but simply contrary to the spirit of our law. Well, now, a great deal of stress has been laid upon the opinions of our two noble Senators. No one on this floor, or in the State of Alabama, has a higher regard and respect for these distinguished gentlemen than I have, but as a delegate


2870

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

upon this floor, and in part representing the sovereignty of the people of the State of Alabama, my conscience is not bound to any degree by any expression of a Senator of the United States, who after all is the mere servant of the people whom we here represent. Now, what does Senator Morgan say? Does he say that it violates the Fifteenth Amendment? He carefully refrains from saying so. But upon what ground does he put it? Upon the ground that it transmits the right to vote by inheritance, and he puts it upon the broad ground not only that the right to vote cannot be transmitted by inheritance, but no privilege or office of any kind can be transmitted by inheritance. By the permission of the Convention I will simply read Senator Morgan himself, upon that proposition. Whenever any man, no matter how distinguished he is, comes upon the floor of this Convention, either in spirit, or in his bodily presence, or by letter, he subjects himself to comment and criticism as much so as if he were here as a member. I have in my hand the plan of suffrage conceived by Senator Morgan, and which was considered in the Committee. It provides who shall be officeholders under the near regime, and Section 2 thereof says: "Persons who are not citizens of the United States, or who are not descended from a father and mother belonging to the white race shall not be eligible to any office under the Constitution and laws of Alabama." Would any one believe that our reverend and noble Senator, after having dictated those majestic and rhythmic sentences about giving any office as a privilege by transmission, would have proposed it as a perpetual thing in Alabama not as a temporary, but as a perpetual plan, that only the descendants of white persons should enjoy an office in Alabama? Now, what do you think of conferring thirteenth century rights at the opening of the twentieth century? That does not sound very much as though praemunire privileges and feudatory inheritances would be abolished if Senator Morgan was in charge of things in the State of Alabama.

MR. COLEMAN May I interrupt you a moment?

MR. WEATHERLY Yes sir.

MR. COLEMAN Do you prefer to close your remarks before or after dinner?

MR. WEATHERLY I believe I prefer to conclude afterwards.

MR. DAVIS I move the gentleman's time be extended for half an hour.

A vote being taken the rules were suspended, and a further vote being taken the motion was carried.

Thereupon the Convention adjourned.


2871

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

AFTERNOON SESSION.

The Convention met pursuant to adjournment, there being 131 delegates present upon the call of the roll.

THE PRESIDENT The gentleman from Jefferson, Mr. Weatherly, has the floor.

MR. DENT– I would like to ask the gentleman from Jefferson a question.

THE PRESIDENT – Will the gentleman yield.

MR. WEATHERLY Certainly.

MR. DENT I will ask the gentleman if he is not in favor of the while man holding the offices in the State of Alabama?

MR. WEATHERLY I am not in favor of putting such a provision in the Constitution. I would not vote for a negro for office. I will tell you that.

MR. DENT Was the declaration which you read from Senator Morgan anything more than a declaration that the white men of Alabama should hold the offices?

MR. WEATHERLY That is his personal preference, that is my preference, and the personal preference of all of us. That does not alter the principle the Section proposes to give them office on account of their being descendants gives them the privilege of holding office by descent, by inheritance. I don't object to it, Senator Morgan does– now.

The whole idea of this being the conferring of a right to vote by inheritance well, I like to speak respectfully, but it seems to me “tommy rot.” The State of Alabama, by way of illustration, assembles the grandfather, father and son together in one group, and in recognition of the grandfather's services, and the losses, privations and sacrifices of his son and grandson on account of the war in which he was engaged, the State confers upon you by one and the same act the right to vote, or rather continues there in the exercise of the right refrains from taking it away from you. The opposition say that is obtaining the right of suffrage by inheritance. I do not think it is necessary to take up any further time on that part of the case. Now, as to the constitutionality of this provision, the Fifteenth Amendment confers no right of suffrage, that is conceded by the lawyers on both sides of this controversy. It has left the sovereign right of the State where it was before the adoption of the amendment, with one condition only, and that is simply a guide post, a warning to the State, that whatever it may do in the act of conferring the suffrage upon the citizens of the State, must not so confer it as to discriminate against any part of your citizens on account of race, color or previous condition. That


2872

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

is the only objection. It is a warning. Now the discrimination must be on account of race. The homely illustration used by the gentleman from Jefferson, Mr. White, of the sows and pigs deserves some sort of an answer. He speaks of building a pen around the sow and the pigs, but leaving a crack big enough for the pigs to get out, and that is a discrimination against the sow, but it is not a discrimination because she is a hog. It is a discrimination for other prudential reasons best known to the owner, who is the sovereign. What is the test of discrimination? It is not that a certain proportion of numbers are excluded or included; that is not the test, else the State of Alabama, Mr. President, would be deprived of the power to put any qualification, to hesitate at least before establishing any qualification for voters for fear that more negroes might be disfranchised than whites. She might hesitate before saying to her citizens, before you vote you must be engaged in some gainful occupation. Now, that is the lowest test, some labor by which daily bread is earned. The State might desire to make the test rest on the primal cure that man should eat his bread in the sweat of his brow. We all know that there are more whites who earn their living by their labor than negroes, and yet if the argument of the gentleman is followed to its logical conclusion you could not adopt that simple test. Neither could you adopt the property test nor the educational test, nor the character test, but we all know that we can adopt each and all of them. Then why can't you adopt the soldier test, based on service in the war? You can adopt any test which is not purely and simply and merely capricious, arbitrarily selected out of fancy and for the purpose of discrimination. Is there anything capricious or arbitrary in the soldier test? Suppose the State of Alabama had at some time been saved from destruction by a number of her citizens, by arms. Suppose those citizens had given up their property for the salvation of their State. Suppose other great service, had been rendered to the State involving sacrifice to them and to their descendants, could not the State of Alabama say to them: “In recognition to your services, and in recognition of the sacrifices and losses which you and your descendants have sustained, your State confers this political privilege upon you?” Are we stopped forever and forever more from conferring a political privilege upon any one who renders service to the State simply because in the Province of God, the entire negro race were so situated that they could not render the same service? Why, of course there is no such purpose of meaning as that in the Fifteenth Amendment. The State of Alabama can select a group of her citizens who have entitled themselves, and their descendants who have suffered losses and sacrifices of property and educational advantages on account of those sacrifices can select the grandfather clause and the father and the son, and that is about as far as we go in this temporary plan, and on account of these circumstances surrounding this class


2873

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

or group confer upon them this privilege. Now, if that group embraced the entire white population to a man and no others, and it were evident on the face of the matter that the purpose of selecting the group was not to confer the honor, but, simply to exclude all others, there might be something in the argument, but the facts do not justify it. I am informed-- the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery (Colonel Sanford) stated this morning that 25,000 negro troops went out from this State to serve in the Union army, and I have heard that other distinguished gentleman from Montgomery (Governor Jones) state that there are probably 5,000 negro pensioners on the lists today in Alabama, and their descendants are in Alabama today and they probably number from 15,000 to 20,000 persons of voting age who are included in the descendants’ clause. The gentleman, Mr. Byars, asked yesterday if in honoring the whites who fought in the war, we did not also honor those negroes who took up arms for the Union, and my reply to that question is that we do, and that fact confirms the constitutionality and the validity of this classification; but it is further confirmed the fact that the Committee has deliberately put in another paragraph here a good character provision, which is a simple test by which every negro can vote who ought to vote. If he should not happen to have been a soldier or the descendant of a soldier, then he comes in under the character clause; if he has a good character and has an understanding of the duties of citizenship, he can vote.

MR. BANKS Cannot the whites also vote under the character clause?

MR. WEATHERLY– Yes, sir; that is true.

MR. BANKS– Then what is the use of the descendants’ clause?

MR. WEATHERLY– Well, I think myself that the two overlap each other to some extent, but the primary group here–that is, the soldiers and their descendants– is a group which is selected by the State, as I have said, for the purpose of conferring a voting privilege upon her soldiers and their descendants. Now there are many many thousands– I myself could not qualify under the soldier clause, because my father, and none of my ancestors, so far as I know, served in any of the wars, and I am bound to come in under the character clause, if I get in at all.

MR .BANKS– Will the gentleman permit a question?

MR. WEATHERLY– Not right at this time.

MR. BANKS I was right nice to the gentleman.

MR. WEATHERLY– I believe I did interrupt the gentleman twice or three times, but I would prefer to continue the thread of


2874

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

my argument. There are thousands and thousands of white citizens in Alabama who did not serve themselves and who ancestors did not serve in any of these wars, so far as can be proved: and on the contrary, there are thousands of negroes who could not qualify under the character clause, who are entitled to vote under the soldier clause. I say, Mr. President that by the good character clause, which is a simple test, and which is intended to apply to all, all the citizens of the State who happen not to have served in any war or who are not descendants of those who served in any war. That vote taken in connection with the other clause which of itself lets in many negroes, both taken together shows that there was no purpose or intention to discriminate against the negro as a negro. It may show an intent to exclude many of those who were not entitled by reason of character or other qualification to vote; it may show all intention to select those who are best able to serve the State, and in the process may eliminate many negroes; it may select those who, by moral qualifications are entitled to the exercise of the government but the facts in this case; the facts whereby it is demonstrated that those negroes must necessarily be let in here, and let in by the equal force and pressure of the principle of classification, itself shows that there was no purpose or intent to discriminate against the negro because he is a negro. Now, Mr. President, my time is rapidly expiring. It has been said that the Committee itself showed an apprehension that its child the grandfather clause would be short lived, because they provided a means of supply its place when dead. Well, all I can say to that is it is not an unusual precaution for parents to have the means at hand for supplying the places of their children. It is a wise law of nature. Now, the gentleman from Lee, General Harrison, has said that you could strike out the grandfather clause and, leaving only the character clause in the temporary plan, and the whole thing would be satisfactory. Well, isn't that an absolute demonstration that the plan with the grandfather clause in it is satisfactory, because if the character clause in its natural operation operates fairly and equally upon the citizens if the negroes can get in under that and get it fairly, how, in the name of common sense and reason, does the grandfather clause operate against them, or abrogate or deny their rights? The gentleman's position is an unanswerable argument in favor of the constitutionality of the clause. Really, it adds because it may bring in 15,000 or 20,000 voters who, otherwise, would not vote under the character clause. Now, Mr. President, as I said, we have got to adopt a practical plan, something that the people will ratify and something that will produce the result that we wish to attain. The opponents of this measure offer its nothing practicable. The plan suggested here by Senator Morgan is a plan very simple indeed, but one which the people of Alabama could never be induced to accept. It constitutes a Board of Registrars, chosen in the precinct, which Board of Registrars is to be perpetual


2875

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

and of absolute and unbounded discrimination. They can let in anybody they please; anybody who is fit to vote in the opinion of the Board, and there is no end to it. The scheme as proposed by the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery. Governor Jones, as I understand it, puts it in the power of the Grand Jury, a secret body, a star chamber, to elect those persons whom they think should be electors, and only those who are thus selected in secret call be voted for for electors, and that is to be perpetual, as I understand it. Can any one doubt that in the course of time the worst abuse of political partisanship would fester upon that system. The poll tax provision that has been offered here, I believe by two gentlemen from Jefferson, requiring a contribution of three dollars is simple enough, it is true. The object of it is, and the object of every one of these policies, the gentleman and I say it with all due respect to them are a little bit pharisaical. They are bound to admit that one of the objects of their plan is to let in the bulk of the whites and to exclude the bulk of the negroes. Now the plan is no different in purpose and practice than the other, but the trouble about it is that if put into operation it would leave the majority of the counties in the Black Belt just about where they stand today, and besides it would disfranchise a lot of white people in the northern and middle parts of the State. It is not practicable. You cannot get such a plan as that adopted. I have stated all that I care to state upon this question. I believe that we ought to consider this question, not from the standpoint of what we or each of us may want or prefer, but from the standpoint of what can be reasonably expected to be adopted, or with the view of restoring the good State of Alabama to its proper position in this Union, or with a view of putting us upon a permanent basis of political equality with our sister States or with a view of enabling the free people of Alabama to once more consider the material and spiritual things that are good for them independent of party and unshackled by the past, and I believe the plan that has been suggested here by this committee in the main– of course I know that some amendments are liable to be adopted– perhaps many of them – but in the main, I believe the principles will secure the thing that we want.

MR. HANDLEY (Randolph) Mr. President, I regret that it has been necessary for some of our Democratic friends to criticise the Democrats of the Black Belt. In this I take no interest whatever. My understanding is that the white people of the Black Belt are a unit. It is union and harmony with them, and they have succeeded in establishing white supremacy in their counties, and they have perhaps frequently saved our State elections, hence I congratulate them upon the good service they have done in the last twenty odd years. I feel that they have been of great value to the people of the State of Alabama. Now, sir, the negro vote in


2876

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

the Black Belt seems to be one thing and in the white counties it seems to be another thing. Let me tell you how it is in some of the white counties of Alabama and especially in my own county. We have in that county about 1,400 Democrats and we have in that county about 1,200 native born white Republicans and we have there about 800 negroes. These Republicans are men that stand high in church and State. They help build the churches and they help build the schools, and they are good citizens. There are ministers and lawyers and doctors and merchants and farmers among them, and a great many of them are very substantial citizens and stand high in the financial world. Well, now sir, when our elections come on in Randolph, and I know, of many hill counties in the State of Alabama that are in the same fix, they know their rights and they demand them. They have to have half the managers and half the clerks and the election has always been fair. There has never been a charge made in Randolph county of ballot box stuffing or unfair elections. They have been absolutely fair. A man of either party who would undertake to tamper with the ballot box would not live to see his wife and children again. We do not want or need ballot box reform, there has never been any ballot box stuffing or irregularities in that regard, all the elections have been fair, except one thing, and that is that the negro vote in our county is for sale, and it is bought by Republicans and Democrats, all parties buy it. We have had three parties in our county, but the Populist party and the Democrats are about united now and we are together. The truth is this, that when an election comes it is a question who will get the negro vote. In that county away back yonder just after war for three or four elections we could not do anything with the negro at all and it went Republican all the while and the reason of it was that there were a few leading negroes, that thought they could hold the offices in the county, but when they found out that the Republicans would not allow them to hold the offices, why then sir, we first bought all the leading negroes and the teachers and the preachers and when we got them, why they voted all the rest, but in the course of two or three elections, every negro in the county caught on to the trick. So every negro has to be bought, and it makes it quite expensive. Now, sir, I want to disclaim for myself the idea of buying anybody's vote. I never bought a negro's vote, but I will tell you what I did do. I contributed liberally to the campaign fund. Now, that is the condition of things up there. Many of these negroes in the first elections could be bought for a dollar a piece, after a while they got up to two dollars a piece, and they were in fine condition for a week or two before the election would come on. They did not care whether they voted Republican or Democratic. But we had a three cornered race over there for Judge of Probate. We had an organized Democrat and a white Republican and a Populist, and, my dear sir, some of the negroes charged from five


2877

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

to ten dollars apiece, so it makes it hard on our people. Now we are not begging for “ballot reform” or anything of that sort, but we want to be relieved of purchasing the negroes to carry elections. I want cheaper votes.

MR. HEFLIN (Chambers) I know you don't know anything about it of your opinion that some of the leaders cost as high as one hundred dollars?

MR. HANDLEY I do not remember, I never inquired closely myself, but some of the Big Ikes sold pretty well. The ballot is perfectly fair and the only impediment in our way is the purchase of these negro votes and the Republicans have a heap of money as well as the Democrats up there and they buy them. I tell you, gentlemen, that is what is the matter with our election affairs up there. It is that point alone. The negro simply holds the balance of power, and they have to buy them.

MR. BURNETT May I ask the gentleman a question?

MR. HANDLEY Certainly. As many as you want to.

MR. BURNETT Don't the negro sell out twice over some times?

MR. HANDLEY Yes.

MR. BURNETT– And you don’t always get what you pay for either, do you?

MR. HANDLEY– No, sir, some time, you buy one and start him to the polls and another fellow doubles your bid and he has got us both. I tell you another thing, the white Republicans in my county are just as anxious to get rid of the negro voters as the Democrats. That is my information and I have consulted with some of the leaders, and found that much out although I did not consult the masses. They don't want it because it is in the way, and it is very expensive. Now, Mr. President, when I speak of my county, I will also say that there are a great many counties between the Georgia line and the Mississippi lines among the hill counties that are in the same fix that our county is. I know that Clay County is in that fix, and possible Cleburne and Etowah, and in fact a great many of the counties are in that fix in Alabama. My information is that if we will adopt the Constitution here and don't weight it down with outside matter that nearly all the white people in these hill counties are going to vote to ratify that Constitution. That is my information.

MR. O'NEAL Tell us about the grandfather clause.

MR. HANDLEY Well, I have been home two or three times since this Convention met and I have been across the State to Birmingham and from Birmingham here and I have met a


2878

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

heap of people, and what is called the grandfather clause in the majority report is the most popular thing that there is at all. It is going to let in thousands of young men who were in the corn fields during the war, that had to work while their father was in the army and could not go to school. The fact is the schools in the rural districts were all suspended during the war and for some time after the war, and they had no opportunity. They are as good men as ever lived. I know thousands of them myself personally that cannot read and write, but they are splendid workers and pay their honest debts and they can come in under this old soldier clause. It meets the approbation of all the white people in that country so far as I know. I have never heard but one dissenting voice against it, and I trust that we will curtail our speeches here and go forward and vote upon this question.

A VOICE We are all ready.

MR. HANDLEY Nearly everybody is reach to vote and we ought to vote. The country is criticising us. They think we are talking too much on other matters that belongs properly to the legislative department and that we ought to get through and go back home. I think they are sensible about it. I am tired of it myself, lugging in all kinds of matters, Shelby County and everything else. Now, gentlemen, I did not intend to take up your time. I just wanted to tell you the condition of our county politically, and I think I have done that and I have told you the truth. We have got high minded, honest gentlemen in our county, that are native born Republicans and good citizens, and they know their rights and eye have fair elections. The only thing we want is to get rid of the negro vote, get our Constitution passed through this Convention, and submit it to the people. I believe it will be carried by fifty thousand to sixty thousand majority in the State of Alabama, and I know the pulse of the white people, and I am glad that they will ratify. They are the crowd that I want to ratify it. I want the white people in the hill counties as well as in the Black Belt and in the Wire Grass to have a say so in it. Now, some people object to a soldier's son or grandson voting. I don't. He votes now, he is registered and he votes now, and this article doesn't promote him at all, and I see no reason why he should not be entitled to all the privileges that any man in Alabama is entitled to. Why, sir, some men say we are afraid if you pass this thing that a few deserters would come in. Why, sir, I would rather five deserters would be wrongfully registered than one of these young men should be cut out and not allowed to vote at all. I tell you our people would now stand anything of that sort, they could not afford to stand it, and the Constitution would be defeated. I hope that all this opposition would be defeated. I hope that all this opposition will stop and let us get back. I came down here and I was put upon this Suffrage and Elections Committee. I


2879

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

went in there and we worked for twenty or thirty days and nights, and we finally came to a conclusion and made up our minds what it was best to do and I lined up with the majority of the Committee for the lest interests of Alabama. I lined up with Judge Coleman, an ex Supreme Judge, who is one of the best lawyers in Alabama; I lined up with Judge Walker, an ex-Supreme Judge, who is one of the best lawyers in Alabama; I lined up with O'Neal, and with my friend from Birmingham that just addressed you, and with twelve or fifteen others who are among the best lawyers in the State of Alabama and they all say that it is constitutional, and I am no lawyer, and I fell into line and I feel that this Committee has done its duty. I never saw a more faithful committee, a harder working committee in my life than that was. I like to have killed myself. I remained in Convention four or five hours a day and then had to work four or five hours on that committee, and I became exhausted and had to go home, but I tell you at the rate we are going on we will be here at cotton-picking time, and I trust that everybody will decide to curtail their speeches, and let us get through and go home. I thank you, gentlemen of the Convention.

MR. JONES (Wilcox) Mr. President, I have been requested by some of the delegates from the Black Belt, to address the Convention on the Section of the Article on Suffrage that is now under consideration. I am a member of the Suffrage Committee, and I favor the report of the majority of that Committee.

Mr. President, it will be but a short time before men of my age will have passed away. It makes but little difference to me personally whether there be a Convention or not. But, Mr. President, the voting men of Alabama, the sons of the soldiers of Alabama, are to come after me, and Mr. President, I want to see them have a government of which they are proud. I want to see them continue in control. I want to see the descendants of the men who followed the banner of General Lee, and of the men who went with Bragg and Johnston and Hood into Tennessee and made the Tennessee and the Cumberland as classic as the Potomac and the Rappahannock– I want to see them enjoy good government in Alabama. Now, Mr. President, we are discussing the second subdivision of the fourth Section whether or not the descendants of soldiers should be permitted to vote. We differed on that in the Committee. There were gentlemen, prominent lawyers, who took a different stand from the majority of the Committee, but with all their diligence, with all their perseverance, they have never been able to offer a single authority here to show that this Section is unconstitutional. Have they done it? They have come here and said what? They have said that General Morgan, our distinguished senior Senator, is opposed to it. I deny it. Not one line in his letter says that the Fifteenth Amendment would be infringed on in any law by the adoption of that sub division. The descendant


2880

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

clause, if it had been put into the permanent plan, might have been obnoxious in some way to the bill of rights. So far as the bill of rights is concerned, if the subdivision was in the permanent plan you might say it was giving a title or rather a privilege to soldiers. It does not give it in the temporary plan. It gives than only what they have. Every soldier in Alabama is entitled to vote. His descendants are entitled to vote now, and we are not giving then anything they do not already possess.

Now, Mr. President, I claim that right to address these delegates, as a representative of the old Confederate soldiers, as well as my friends of the minority. I went with the State troops to Fort Morgan. I came back and went with the Confederate troops as soon as they were organized, to the front, and I stayed there until our banner was furled. I was with the distinguished gentleman, General Oates, for two or three years in Virginia. He wears a badge of honor an empty sleeve. It is not my fault that I have not both of my sleeves empty. I was under fire as often as anybody in my command, and side by side, the Governor and I were in the hospital, he with his arm off and I with my shoulder broken by Yankee bullets, and I have as many broken bones in my body now to show my fidelity to the Confederate cause, as any man of the floor. General Oates stated that we were not treating the negro people as fairly as we ought. Haven't we treated them fairly? Didn't we feel kindly to them in the position in which they are? Are we to elevate them to equality with ourselves to show that we feel kindly towards them? To show how the colored people felt towards us and we towards them I will sell an incident that I spoke of in the Committee. At the battle of Sharpsburg, I had a boy about my own age who was given to me by my father when we were about 10 years of age. When we crossed the Potomac and were going into battle to reinforce some of our troops that were driven back, I told this boy to fill his canteen with water and to stay by an oak tree that had been left by some planter as a shade tree in his plantation, and not to leave, because if my brother, who was with me should be wounded, we were coming back to him. Mr. President, he stayed there. The line in front was driven back and one of our batteries of artillery came up near the tree and the captain ordered him to leave, thinking he was trying to desert. He would not go. He said: “My young master left me here, and I intend to stay if I lose my life.” Horses and men were killed within fifty steps of where he stood. Could I forget him? I never think of this occurrence without a thrill of emotion, and yet, Mr. President, I declare to you now if he were living in Alabama, I would say deprive him of the right of suffrage. He would not know what to do with it if he had it. I would just as soon give a toddling child a razor in his hand expecting him not to hurt himself, as to expect the negro to use the ballot and not use it to his injury and to ours.


2881

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

Now, Mr. President, we might give them all the rights which we please, make no discrimination, have a poll tax of 50 cents– put them all in. You could not make them good citizens by that. God Almighty has made them different from the white man. You had just as well try to legislate a donkey into an Arabian courser, as to legislate a negro into a white man. You cannot do it. It is impossible to do it. The distinguished gentleman who spoke yesterday afternoon, the Chairman of the State Executive Committee, stated that we were sent here to have fair elections. That we were sent here for that purpose, and not to discriminate against anybody. In the name of God how can you have fair elections and put the negroes of Alabama in control of the ballot box. I ask that question. You cannot do it. Are we discriminating against them, and are we violating the Fifteenth Amendment? Not at all. Is it against the negro as a class? My friend, Captain White, spoke about the per centage, the large per centage of them who would be disfranchised, and said that it would be unjust, that it would be discriminating against them in that way. Mr. President, it is not the per centage. It is where you discriminate against the negroes as a class, as a race, and not as a per centage of any kind. That is not the meaning of the Fifteenth Amendment, and in adopting this subdivision we do not violate the Constitution. Some of the gentlemen say General Pettus is opposed to the Louisiana plan, that they asked him to give his opinion, and that it was against it. Does that make him opposed to this sub division? Does it make him say that this subdivision is unconstitutional? Not at all. Read that suffrage plank of the Louisiana Constitution and you will see that it says that any man who could vote in 1867 and the descendants of any man who could vote in 1867 should be permitted to vote continuously in that State, and at that date– 1867– no negro in Louisiana was entitled to vote. It was a discrimination, perhaps, against the class, although some of the ablest lawyers in the South differ with our distinguished friend, General Pettus on that, notably Mr. Semmes of New Orleans, who framed the suffrage Article of the Louisiana Convention, an honored kinsman of Judge Semmes of this State. John W. Daniel, one of the foremost orators statesmen and lawyers in the South, and Chairman of the Suffrage Committee of the Virginia Convention, has incorporated yin exact copy of our majority report in the report on suffrage in Virginia. I bring his name to your attention to show you how the action of the majority is regarded by the Chairman who has charge of that Article in the Virginia Convention.

Now, Mr. President, on one occasion, when I was quite a young man in Virginia General Buckner's Inspector General was called home. I was appointed temporarily to fill his place. I inspected amongst others some of the soldiers from Alabama in his command. I was astonished to see how many of those soldiers could not read and could not write, or at least could not sign their


2882

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

names, and yet I declare to you there were no better soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia than those Alabamians who had patriotically gone out to defend the principles of the South on the battlefields of Virginia. And, Mr. President, they came home after the war. They had the same ambition that others of us have who were more fortunate and had more of this world's goods. They wanted to educate their children. They could not do it. I have heard some of them say, “If I had just had the means to send my children to school and give them the advantages of an education, it would have been the very joy of my life, but I didn't have the means to do it, and I had to put then to work.” These children are of the same stock of the soldiers of whom I have spoken, and my right arm should be palsied before I would do anything to prevent there taking part in the government of Alabama.

Captain White went on to draw a picture of what will become of us when this matter shall go before the Supreme Court of the United States. He had one of the Judges burying it, and he was thanking God that he had nothing to do with it. He was making a prediction then; I make the prediction now that there will never be a case from Alabama before the Supreme Court of the United States before this temporary plan goes out, and should a case be carried to the Supreme Court of the United States the court will say that there is not a word of it that is against the Fifteenth Amendment in any way, and Captain White will say, “I had the distinguished honor of being a member of the Suffrage Committee of the Alabama Constitutional Convention.” He says another thing. He says that they are just waiting for us. That they want to get the net full and then they will draw us all ashore. Gentlemen, those of you who have read these suffrage planks of these different States will see that no two of them are alike. They may decide that one plank is wrong in one State. It would not affect Alabama. It will not affect us in any way. A. case has to come up from Alabama before we are affected by it. So far as Section 19 is concerned, that there has been so much harping on in reference to our being afraid of our plan what was it done? It was suggested because in North Carolina they put in a clause that if one part of the Constitution went under all of it would go under. We do not want it that ay. This Constitution is framed so that if the Supreme Court of the United States should possibly declare any section or sub division of a section unconstitutional, the balance of it will be left intact. It will stand just as if there had never been a decision of the United States Supreme Court. I do not know how to illustrate it better than by speaking of it as one of those Wernecke book cases you have all seen. They have so many units. It is a bookcase made up of sections or units, and you have just as many units as you want, and if you take out a unit it will be a book case still and one that will stand and serve all the purposes you need.


2883

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

Another thing, Mr. President, we in our section of the State are not circumstanced at all like the people in Randolph County. We have overwhelming numbers of negroes to contend with. When the white people there first thought of controlling the elections by what is called fraud, it was a thought they did not like to entertain for a moment, because it is against the theory of our government, but what could they do? Gentlemen, I have stood up before the Commissioners' Court that passed on accounts against the county where the Probate Judge was a Commissioner. The radical sheriff was a Commissioner, the radical clerk was a Commissioner, the clerk in the Probate office was a Commissioner, and a black negro who could neither read nor write, was a Commissioner, and made legal arguments before such court as that. Then we had, gentlemen, hordes of negroes to come down in reconstruction times, sometimes as many as 1,500 or 2,000, to the town in which I lived, and the lives of the women and children were endangered whenever they did, because if there had been a riot of any sort, they had twenty or thirty and some times 100 to one, and they were armed and the carpet baggers had inspired them with the belief that we had wronged them; that we had kept them in slavery; that they were entitled to their rights, and that they ought to have them at any sacrifice. And there have been times more than once where we had threatened riots in my town, when I was in as much danger going out to assist in quelling them as I ever was in the front in the war between the States. And yet, gentlemen want to see us again in that condition. They talk about giving the colored man all the rights of the white people. Why, they would not be in power twenty four hours before they would have their night meetings. They would not be in power a year before they would act just as they did in reconstruction times, and we would have it all to go through with again, and you know it and I know it.

Mr. President, some allusions were made by one of the speakers in reference to the black belt wanting these darkies kept on the registration list. I would ask the distinguished gentleman who has heard that statement made to come down when the Convention adjourns and let me entertain him and introduce him to our people. I do not know any people in Alabama who are more refined and cultured, who stand higher morally, who are better people than the people I represent, and they have been clamoring for this Convention for twenty years, and they have done it because they wanted to save the young men of the country from the necessity of participating in frauds. That is why they have done it, and when this Convention adjourns and you have made it so that we will have fair elections, I tell you there is no place in Alabama where they will have fairer elections than we will have in the black belt. Whenever some of my friends in North Alabama quit buying negro votes (I do not blame them for it. I haven't got a word to say about that) then they can say I am better than thou art, but


2884

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

not until then. If I had been up there, I would, like my friend from Randolph, have run my hand in my pocket and given the campaign committee just as much as I could and said go on and get our people in control of the offices. And gentlemen of the Convention, the young then are not to blame for the conditions that are upon us. They were advised by older heads. I never was an inspector of an election. Nobody ever expected me to be one, but I thought it was right for the white people of the black belt to elect white people to office and I think now it was right, and I will think it was right the longest day the Lord may spare my life. Fraud, if you will call it so, was the only way left its to prevent the negroes and carpet baggers from filling our offices. There was an old gentleman who illustrated it to me in this way. He said: “We have got to carry these elections. There is nothing else or we will have to move out of the country. We will have to kill them or control them. It is a case of taking the smallpox or taking the measles, and I believe I will take the measles.” That is the way he regarded it, and that is way it is regarded with us. We do not like the necessity for it but we had to resort to it or else give up white civilization in South Alabama. We had to do it or leave the country and we did not intend to do that. It was our country, and we intended to stay there as long as we pleased, and to evade if we could the fifteenth amendment in order to accomplish it, we have done it, but we are tired of it, and we beg the Convention not to do anything that will throw any impediment in the way of giving us such a suffrage plank as will insure white civilization in Alabama after we have gone and our children have come after us. That is what we want.

A good deal has been said about General Morgan's views, a great deal has been said. I am the last man on this floor who would say anything about the senior Senator from Alabama. He is my friend, Mr. President, and I honor him. I honor him not only as a friend, but I regard him as one of the most learned men in the whole country. He is the peer of any man in the United States Senate. He is the superior in information to any man with whom I am acquainted, but when you analyze what he has said you will find that he has never claimed that this section is in conflict with the fifteenth amendment. He has never said that we did not have the authority to do it not once and none of these gentlemen here have given us any authority to show us it would be against the fifteenth amendment. Theirs whole course has been to indulge in mere matters of opinion. Why they try to scare us with Mark Hanna. Captain White said something about Mark Hanna. I do not think any of you are afraid of Mark Hanna, but they talk about what Mark Hanna is going to do. What is he going to do? Let him go to the Congress of the United States and say that the State of Alabama has taken away the right of voting from some of these people, and say we are go-


2885

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

ing to cut down her representation. Suppose he succeeded in doing it, what would be the result? We might, perhaps, lose two members of Congress. Now, gentlemen of the Convention, Alabama could afford to do that rather than have our own State under the control of the negroes. (Applause). Yes, I believe I would rather lose them all, as my friend from Dallas says, but we would not have to do that. If the worst should come to the worst, that is all that would be required. My friend, General Harrison, got on a big scare and thought they were going to reconstruct us. They will never reconstruct Alabama while there is a man living who is in this Convention. I make that prediction. They attempted it once in 1876 or ‘77, I believe it was. I know I was subpoenaed to Washington before the Senate Committee as a witness. We were detained there in Washington for a month. They had two of their ablest men who were representing the Republican Senate. We had one of our weakest men– a man from an adjoining State who represented the Democrats. The Republicans had carpet baggers as witnesses and our Democratic Senator had Democrats to go up there to Washington, and we were examined and if there had even been a time in the history of our State, with all the falsehoods told by the Republicans and carpetbaggers, they would have reconstructed us then. They didn't do it then and they never will do it. The Northern people at that time did not understand conditions here. There was an old man named Stroback. I do not know what ever became of him, but he was examined as a witness for the Republicans, and he spoke in broken English and told some of the most outrageous tales on the white people down here and after the meeting adjourned three or four of us were walking along the streets with Senator Cameron, one of the Senators who represented the Republicans, and he said to us, ‘You are too intolerant in the South. You do not allow these men any social privileges, and you do not invite them to your homes. You do not treat them like men.”

MR. REESE– Will the gentleman yield to me for the purpose of making a motion?

MR. JONES Yes sir.

MR. REESE I move that the time of the gentleman be extended thirty minutes.

The motion was put and carried.

MR. JONES I thank the gentlemen of the Convention, but I will be through in a minute. I told Senator Cameron “That Strobach was a fair sample of the carpet bagger in Alabama. If he were to go to your town how often would he be at your table dining? How often would he be a guest at your home? We think we are as good as you are. We are not Senators, but we are honest, straightforward Southern people. We have our own views


2886

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

and we are honorable in our dealing; with our fellowmen just as much so as you could be. We have as good a lineage as you have and have as good associations as you have and with the best people on earth, the people of Alabama. We do not invite them to our homes and we do not expect that you would do it." And he would not have done it. Now there is altogether a different sentiment. The Spanish war has brought about a change. The Republican party recognize it. They have had a great deal of trouble in deal-with the Cubans and Filipinos. They know what character of men they have to deal with when they go outside of the Caucasian race. Thousands and thousands of them who were our enemies are in full sympathy with us now. And I make the prediction in answer to my friend, the distinguished gentleman from Lee that there will never be reconstruction of the State of Alabama.

MR. JONES (Montgomery) I never spoke with a profounder sense of the responsibility which rests upon me than now. What we see in this hall illustrates what is being thought by the people all over the State, and how the people of Alabama, all moved with one patriotic purpose, differ widely as to means to that end and as to what is the wisest and best for the happiness and glory of this State. I am proud that the same blood flows in my veins that flows in the veins of the distinguished gentleman (Mr. Jones of Wilcox), who has just taken his seat. He is honest, he is patriotic, he is learned, and he is thoroughly satisfied in his mind that the plan proposed by this Committee is wise and constitutional. I hope I am as devoted to the interests of my people, as patriotic, and as loyal in my desire to serve the people of the whole State, and the people of the section from which I come, as my distinguished kinsman,– and yet we differ widely.

One significant lesson of such difference is that we should be tolerant with opposing views upon this question. We are speaking here of questions, and deciding questions, which m ay return to vex our children, and our children’s children for an hundred years to come. We are speaking here, not merely to those in sound of our voices, but to others, “who throng in become partakers of the counsels of State”– to 75,000,000 American citizens; for we are creating today an electorate which is to take part in their elections, an electorate which in a degree wields and controls in some measure the destinies of this country. These millions have an interest in it, a right decision; they take an interest in it. I believe it was Solon who said that in framing a government for the Athenians, he thought, when he looked back at its progress and downfall, that he had taken more account of the prejudices of his people than he did for framing a government to inure their happiness. Let us avoid his experience.


2887

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

This is a solemn juncture in the history, not only of Alabama, but of this country, Mississippi has acted, Louisiana has acted, South Carolina has acted, North Carolina has acted. Virginia is acting Alabama is acting. The eyes of the world are upon us. It should warn us then, Mr. President, to go slowly and deliberately, to discuss conscientiously every objection which may be urged to any plan that we may propose, and to be sure that the plan which we adopt is wisest and best. There is not a man within the sound of my voice who will not answer in his own mind, if not to the world, if you ask him the question, what is your purpose in this plan of suffrage– that it is my purpose, as far as I can constitutionally, to strike down the suffrage of the black race, and uphold the suffrage of the white race. They have this purpose because they believe it the wisest and best, not only for the country, but for both races. There comes another division. Some gentlemen have said upon this floor that the Constitution of the United States so far as they were concerned, should not shackle or bind their action; that they wished to put the defiant declaration in the Constitution that no negro should vote; that they wanted to lock horns with the 15th Amendment and trample it down forever. Now I take it that no serious minded delegate, no delegate devoted to the welfare of his country, no delegate who wishes to be guided, if he knows it, solely by the dictates of his conscience, wants to adopt any plan which deliberately wars on the supreme law and support on which he believes is in violation of the Constitution of the United States. My words and arguments are not for those who would intentionally violate the Constitution. There is a wide difference of opinion among conservative members of this Convention whether or not the plan proposed is constitutional, whether it infringes the Constitution of the United States or not. Making the best use I can of the faculties God has given me, I have come to the opinion, from my own researches, and from the application of what I believe to be the principles of the law, that if we leave in this plan the descendant clause, we make our whole plan void, and it may embark our people in untold trouble.

Now, suppose, it is unconstitutional. If it is, let us see upon what voyage we embark the people of Alabama. First you are challenged through the courts of your own State; for the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land, anything in the Constitution of any State to the contrary notwithstanding and he judges of your State courts are bound by it. Next, you bring into play the judicial power of the United States which is invoked by appealing from the highest court of the State to the Supreme Court of the United States. Next, you bring into play the power of the House of Representatives, its the judge of the qualifications and election of its own members. Next, you may bring into play the political power of the United States, embodied in the two Houses of Congress, who by the Constitution, have the


2888

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

power to enforce the 15th amendment by “appropriate legislation” if it has been violated and they are the judges of that, and as of the political remedies to be applied.

Ought delegates to be blamed, then, if we ask this Convention to carefully consider the Fifteenth Amendment, and to hear us. I will not take up the time of the Convention in reading law books. I wish to state some principles which I think none of the distinguished lawyers on the other side will gainsay. One of them is this, you cannot do indirectly, unlawfully, what you cannot do lawfully, directly. Another is that in whatever phrases you may couch the language of a statute, its ordinary and practical results as applied to the subject matter with which it deals, determines whether it is constitutional or not. There is no necromancy in the law by which you can put up a curtain between your words and your purposes, because your words may deny your purposes. When this section goes before the courts, it will be taken up in view of its known history, in view of facts known to all men in Alabama known of all men in the South, all men in the United States, and the purpose underlying it, and by these tests, not by our language, and the results which must flow from its execution, will be determined whether the plan will be upheld, or whether it will go down. If the courts or Congress should be of the opinion that the purpose was unlawful and would be the practical operation, that purpose, however veiled, whether in one section or two sections, whether the conjunctive or is used or not, would be arrested and held for naught. If the practical operation is to subject black citizens to one test and white citizens to another– to put on whites, or the great bulk of them by classification– to which, being rested on white ancestry, the negro could never attain– and to “abridge” or hinder the negro by other qualifications to which the great bulk of the whites are not subjected, then these sections, they standing alone might be valid, would be treated as part and parcel of one Constitutional utterance designed to evade the Constitution of the United States, and as mere adjuncts of one unlawful purpose, and the whole fabric would fall.

I wish to call attention, as illustrating the principle to which I have adverted, to what is known as the Chinese Queue case. The people of the Pacific slope were greatly troubled with the Chinaman. It was hard to collect fines from him, even when put in prison. They passed, or rather the supervisors of San Francisco passed, an ordinance that any prisoner confined in jail who did not pay his fine, should have his hair cropped, I think within an inch and a half of his skull. On its face, the ordinance applied to the white man and the Mongolian alike. There was no distinction whatever in the words of the ordinance, but the Chinaman has a queue, while the white man has not. The Chinaman is superstitious about it. He believes if his queue is cut off, it affects the


2889

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

repose of his soul in the hereafter. A Chinaman was put in jail and failed to pay his fine. His hair was cut to within an inch and a half of his skull, and , of course that took off his queue. He sued the supervisors in the Circuit Court of the United States, presided over by eminent Justice Field of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Sawyer and some other Judge. They delivered an opinion which has often been quoted with approval since in the courts of the country. I ask particular attention to one paragraph.

I read from Kow vs. Nunam, 5th Sawyer, p.560. Here is what Judge Field says:

"The class character of this legislation is none the less manifest because of the general terms in which it is expressed. The statements of supervisors in debate on the passage of the ordinance cannot, it is true, be resorted to for the purpose of ascertaining the general object of the legislation proposed, and the mischiefs sought to be remedied. Besides we cannot shut our eyes to matters of public notoriety and general cognizance. When we take our seats on the bench we are not struck with blindness, and forbidden to know as judges what we see as men; and where an ordinance, though general in its terms, only operates upon a special race, sect or class, it being universally understood that it is to be enforced only against that race, sect or class, we may justly conclude that it was the intention of the body adopting it that it should only have such operation, and treat it accordingly. We may take notice of the limitation, given to the general terms of an ordinance by its practical construction given to the general terms of an ordinance by its practical construction as a fact in its history, as we do in some case that a law has practically become obsolete. If this were not so the most important provisions of the Constitution, intended for the security of personal rights, would, by the general terms of an enactment, often be evaded and practically annulled.”

Judge Fields lays down in that case the doctrine which the Supreme Court of the United States has often laid down, that it will go behind the general language, take up the operation of the statute, step to step, with its known purpose, and then, no matter how general the language is, whether it is the act of a State, in its sovereign capacity, or the acts of the officers of the State, it will test the constitutionality of that law by its practical operation. If that effects a forbidden purpose, the law is void. Here, then, is the principle we have to apply. What is it to which it is to be applied? The “right of citizens of the United States”– not the right of the white citizens, or black citizens, but the right of any citizen of the United States– to vote, shall not be denied. Does the language stop there? No. “Or abridged by the United States, or any State, on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.” You shall not only not deny it, but you shall not lessen it; shall not cut it shorter, you shall not put difficulties in the way


2890

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

of it. You must not deny it, or abridge the right on account of "race, color or precious condition of servitude." When we scan this language, what do we find is its inevitable scope, as applied to the power of the State in dealing with suffrage ? Its first in- evitable consequence is a command to the State. You must not deal with a citizen according to the race that he belongs to, but you must deal with him man for man as an individual. Now what are "qualifications?" The Supreme Court of the United States in 5th Wallace, 319, has defined what is meant by the term. This was done in the celebrated Cummings case, where a Catholic Priest was indicted because he would not take the oath that he had not been in sympathy with the people of the South during the late war. Here is the definition of qualification: “Any natural endowment or acquirement which fits a person for a place or employment, or enables him to sustain any character with success.” Now, the State, when it goes to deal with suffrage, and frames its qualifications– not classifications, but qualifications– must shut its eyes, according to the Constitution, and put forth these qualifications blindly, and they must he such that every citizen of the United States may be able to attain to them at least so far as the law stands. You cannot pick out particular classes to which other men can never belong and say that that is a “qualification” for suffrage. You cannot group men by name, or by race, and say that is a “qualification” for suffrage, and that every man who has not that “qualification” is disfranchised. You are compelled to lay down conditions which it is possible for every man with whom you are dealing to attain, and if he attains them, then to admit him to citizenship.

I am not here to say that the law demands absolute equality in the number of citizens of the different races who are admitted to citizenship on account of the “qualifications” which the State imposes as conditions for the privilege of suffrage. For instance, if you had a property qualification, it would be no legal objection that it let in more of one race than another, because the qualification applies alike to each and every man, no matter what is his race and all can attain to it, but when you go to make “qualifications that can be attained by men of each race, not classifications to which one race only can attain. Now I take it, Mr. President. that those propositions will not be seriously disputed. Then what have we in this temporary plan? We must take the conditions that exist here.

MR. SMITH (Mobile)– May I ask the gentleman a question?

MR. JONES If it is not to be taken out of my time.

MR. SMITH Do I understand those propositions are applicable only to the fifteenth amendment, or are they general propositions of law?


2891

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

MR. JONES I was speaking more particularly with reference to the fifteenth amendment. Without the fifteenth amendment the State could do what it pleased in the way of classifications called "qualifications." Let us see the problem we have in mind. We start out in Section 1 : "Every male citizen of this State, who is a citizen of the United States, (and every man born under the jurisdiction, even a woman, so far as that is concerned, is a citizen) “every male citizen 21 years old or upwards, not laboring under any of the disabilities named in this article and possessing the qualifications required by it.”

MR. FITTS I move that the rules of this Convention be suspended and that the time of the gentleman from Montgomery be extended for thirty minutes, beyond the time allowed by the rules.

MR. HEFLIN (Chambers) I would like to amend that motion so as to extend the time until 6 o'clock.

MR. FITTS- I accept the amendment.

The motion was carried and the rules were suspended.

MR. JONES I thank the Convention. Now, we start out with every male citizen, and say he shall vote if he possesses one of three qualifications: first, he shall have been himself a soldier in the enumerated wars. Second, the lawful descendant of some soldier in the enumerated wars; and third, a person of good character who understands the duties and obligations of citizenship under a republican form of government. These are the qualifications, and the qualifications trust approximately as as a whole, bear alike upon all the citizens of this State. I do not wish to be misunderstood in this proposition. I do not say it is an objection to qualifications that they do not produce a given ratio of votes from each race, according to the number of the whole as for example, one hundred and fifty thousand white voters and only one hundred thousand black voters. I do say there must be substantially approximations, and that the results of these “qualifications” which are different and operate differently upon the voters of each race must be such that the court can discover from them a fair intent not to discriminate against any citizen, on account of race, color or previous condition.

MR. deGRAFFENREID– Can I ask the gentleman a question?

MR. JONES Yes, sir.

MR. deGRAFFENREID Suppose, for instance, the States of North Dakota has no negroes in it, and no one but white people live there; would it be lawful for the State of North Dakota to


2892

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

adopt in its Constitution the provision contained in the temporary plan that you have just reached?

MR. JONES– I think it would be a practical abstraction, as the Court would say no negroes were there to be operated upon. It would be perfectly apparent from the natural operation of the statute that they had no intention or design by such laws to exclude people from suffrage who were not there to be affected by it on account of race, etc. I think it depends largely upon the character of the population.

MR. deGRAFFENREID– The State of North Dakota then, can do things , if it has no negroes, that Alabama cannot do?

MR. JONES– Exactly, because it depends upon the state of facts existing, whether laws are designed to unlawfully strike down a race and whether your laws will operate fairly to disfranchise people of one race and enfranchise people of another. I am very glad my friend asked me the question, because it illustrates the point the Supreme Court of the United States has made repeatedly, that it is not the language of the statute, but it is the ordinary and natural operation, which is the test. Of course it would be an abstract question where there were no negroes. There would be nobody to be affected, and the Supreme Court would say it is manifest that it is not directed at any race, because there is only one race there, and upon that one it bears fairly on all– on each citizen of the United States.

MR. WALKER I would like to ask the gentleman a question? I will ask if he would regard a provision in the Constitution of California prohibiting natives of China from voting as unconstitutional ?

MR. JONES They are not citizens of the United States.

MR. WALKER They may be naturalized though.

MR. JONES If they were naturalized, I would say they fell under the fifteenth amendment.

MR. OATES– But the laws now do not allow them to be naturalized.

MR. JONES I understand that.

MR. WALKER It is not a Chinaman, not a Mongolian, but a native of China, white, black, or any other color?

MR. JONES If he is a citizen of the United States, if he is naturalized, he cannot be disfranchised on account of his race. A Mongolian cannot become a citizen of the United States under our laws.


2893

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

MR. WALKER That is on account of his race, something over which he has no control.

MR. JONES– It makes no difference, if he is a citizen of the United States. This provision is against the abridging of rights of citizens of the United States, and until a man gets in that status the fifteenth amendment cannot apply to him.

Now, let us see what we have, I think we have fifty-five percent of white and forty-five per cent of black voters. Owing to a great evil, the sovereign people say that we want to change that suffrage ; we want to disfranchise some of our voters, and the Constitution of the United States steps in and says you may do that just as much as you want to provided you do not do it on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. Now bear that in mind. Then we have in Alabama about 55 per cent. of white voters and forty five per cent of black voters. What do we do, when we translate it into English ? Not in the learned tongue of the committee, but when we translate it into cold facts. We take from eighty five to ninety five per cent of the whites, and by means, not of fixing any qualifications, fixing conditions to which if any citizen attain they can enjoy the right of suffrage, but by arbitrary classification we say owing to accidental circumstances, all of whom were of the white race, we will not subject you, this ninety five per cent. of whites, to the test that is required of other people, and all of the other races, except the few who have been soldiers. Don't we do that? Is not that the practical effect of what we are doing, are not we running square in the teeth of the prohibition in a practical way? The Supreme Court of the United States has often said, and in its later cases, too, that the 15th amendment intended, so far as political rights were secured on an absolute equality with the white than in the assertion of those political rights. Now one of those political rights of a man who is a citizen by law of the State and of the United States, is not to be discriminated against in the test by which it will be determined whether he is to remain longer a citizen of the State. That cannot be denied. Then, what else do you do? We say here are some soldiers, nearly all of whom come from white parentage, because the negro at that time was not a soldier. He never got to be a soldier until 1863 or 4. when the Federals armed him.

MR. SANFORD (Montgomery) I desire to correct an error in your history.

MR. JONES (Montgomery) Mr. President, my history is correct. There were a few soldiers in the Revolutionary War who were negroes, just like the negroes mention by the gentleman from Wilcox, and the gentleman from Montgomery, and others of us, but the negro as a race was not a soldier in this country until 1862 or 3, when he was enlisted in the Federal army. Now, we


2894

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

have a few descendants of these soldiers. That is all we have done with that race up to that time as soldiers.

MR. OATES (Montgomery) I do not want to interrupt my colleague, but it was after the emancipation went into effect. January 1st, 1863, that they were enlisted.

MR. JONES (Montgomery) Yes, sir, and after that time the Confederate States passed an act enlisting them too, but the negro up to that time had never been a soldier in the Civil War. Now you take the few negroes and their descendants, and let them go under the descendant clause, and take the bulk of the white people and put them into the suffrage without subjecting them to the other qualification, while you subject the bulk of the negroes to a different test. Now is not that subjecting the bulk of the white people to one test, that is easy, or rather is not a test at all, and subjecting the bulk of black people to another and different and it may be a harder test, and that, too, for the purpose of enfranchising one race and disfranchising the either: If I did not believe that was the purpose, and did not believe that was the result, and that thereby this plan of suffrage becomes unconstitutional, I would not stand here and raise my voice against this part of the report of this committee, although I differ so strongly with them about this and other features. I submit, Mr. President, that this plan as now framed, is unconstitutional, because the natural, ordinary result from its operation is that one test is applied to a majority of the white people, and another test is applied to the majority of the black people, and that too in view of our known history, our platform and our intention to enfranchise the one and disfranchise the other! But it is said that these are distinctive clauses, that it is soldiers, or descendants, or persons of good character, and that if you wipe out one, that the other will remain and be upheld. Well, there are cases where they may be done; but whenever the court comes to the conclusion that the unconstitutional provision is put in there is an addition or to compensate for some other and that they are all designed and intended as part of one harmonious whole to effect an unlawful purpose, then when you strike down one, you strike down all. Under this plan the descendants of soldiers become permanently vested with the right of suffrage, and pass from the temporary registration into the permanent registration. They are not required to register any more except when they change their residence. They are made citizens irrevocable, and that, too, by a test which the other race, in the nature of things, can never come up to because they cannot be white men or the descendants of white men. How is yet possible for this act to be constitutional, in view of these inevitable results?

It is a pleasing thing, and it does a man's heart good to let it pulsate fully with the passions and pride of his race, but a man who is trusted by his people, owes no higher duty, if his conscience


2895

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

gives him an opinion different from them, to stand up and maintain those opinions, when deliberating upon laws for them, though he be trampled down in the dust.

I remember coming into this hall, in 1861, when a mere lad, William M. Brooks was where the chairman now is, and William L. Yancey had thrilled this hall, as no other living man had ever thrilled it by his eloquence. The pulses of the people were hot; revolution was in the air. Yet, there were gentlemen, grave men. “wise in their day and generation,” who, when the people begged them to pause and wait, when they were told that Virginia was trying to call a convention of the States and asked to delay that other States might lose, answered triumpantly and confidently that they would drink all the blood that was shed in the war.” It was not ninety days after that when the gun boomed out at Sumter, and two nations rose on this continent, and the most terrible war known to modern times devasted our dear land, and we were prostate in the dust. To this day we have not fully recovered from some of its effects, because we are here discussing the aftermath of that great war, in the conditions which confront us today, which constitute the chief motive and reason which called this Convention. Gentlemen on the other side are as confident now as they were that no harm would come to the Republic then.

There is not a man. I think, in this Convention who loves the Confederate soldier more than I. When I was a lad I became one, and when they stacked arms at Appomatox I took my parole there; but with all my love for them, I do not believe we should, even if it were not unconstitutional, introduce into the jurisprudence of our country the doctrine that a man's son ought to vote because his father made a good soldier. I have many reasons for that opinion. I fear, Mr. President, when we do that, we put it in the power of Congress to say that we do not have a republican form of government; and they are the judges, and the sole judges, of the evil and the remedy. What it may bring forth in the future, I will not prophecy.

MR. ROBINSON Would not the same rule apply to the soldiers as it does to the descendants, and would not that be unconstitutional also?

MR. JONES (Montgomery) If the intent and purpose of the plan, taken as a whole, as shown by inevitable results, had that effect, then it would be. You can put in some descendants, you might put in some soldiers; but if the natural and proximate result of the plan, in its actual operation, was such that it was only a device to test one class of citizens by one rule, and another class by another and let in the favored, and obstruct the disfavored, then it is my opinion that the Fifteenth Amendment would make it unconstitutional. I believe, Mr. President, that the courts and


2896

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

Congress in reference to the opinions of civilized mankind, would uphold a provision in this Constitution that the soldiers themselves, when we include all soldiers, Federal, Confederate and negroes, might be created electors without submitting them to the same tests as other citizens, and that although there might be a disparity in the numbers of each race thus admitted, it would not violate the whole statute if the other provisions were so framed as to operate justly on the great majority of citizens of the different races not subjecting them to difficult tests, because of race, etc. I am unwell, and can not well stand any longer, I will not detain the Convention. I thank you very much for your attention.

MR. CUNNINGHAM- I move that this Convention do now adjourn.

There were expressions of dissent.

MR. JONES (Montgomery) If I may be permitted to make a suggestion to the Convention. I understand that the gentleman from Calhoun will speak next, and it will chop up his speech very much to have him start and speak for fifteen minutes, and then adjourn, and I think it will save time and be more agreeable to him to speak in the morning.

MR. PILLANS Before the gentleman from Montgomery finally takes his seat, I desire, in the interest of historical accuracy, to ask him a question in regard to the matter of negro troops in the Federal army. Did I understand the gentleman as assuming, or admitting on the suggestion of the other gentleman from Montgomery. that there were no negro soldiers enlisted in the Federal army until after January, 1865?

MR. JONES ( Montgomery) I think I said 1863.

MR. PILLANS– I thought you did, but I also thought you assumed the correctness of the suggestion of the other gentleman from Montgomery, and only desired to call your attention to the fact that the exchange of prisoners ceased as the result of a conflict between the Confederate and Federal authorities growing out of the refusal of the Confederate authorities to recognize the negro as a soldier during the war, and that was at a much earlier period than 1865.

MR. JONES (Montgomery) I think I said 1863. I know I fought against negro soldiers in 1864.

Thereupon the Convention adjourned.

_________

CORRECTION.

In proceedings of fifty third day, in sixth column first page, change “invalid” to “valid” in following sentence: “I know it can be said that while we lay down these general rules, that a particular conception would be invalid.”