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of the

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

of the

STATE OF ALABAMA

May 21st, 1901, To September 3rd, 1901

_____________

FIFTY SIXTH DAY

_______

MONTGOMERY, ALA.,

Saturday, July 27, 1901.

O Lord, our Heavenly Father, we recognize Thee as our great Creator, and the divine ruler of the whole universe, and we realize that we are constantly dependent upon Thee for that wisdom that will qualify us for the duties that we owe to Thee, and to each other, and we come before Thee this morning to ask Thee to be unto us as Thou hast been in the past, very merciful and very gracious. Pardon all of our unworthiness, and grant unto us the influences of Thy spirit, and the help of Thy grace, to meet the responsibilities resting upon us, whether they be individual or collective; whether they are connected with material existence or with our Spiritual interests. We would ask Thee especially to let those influences rest upon this body assembled here for the purpose of regarding, considering and conserving the interests of this great commonwealth, and may they be divinely influenced and guided, and so supported and directed that their conclusions may be productive of great good to the citizens of this commonwealth, and to Thy cause, and to Thy kingdom here upon earth. O let divine favor and blessing rest upon our whole plans, and make us grateful for material blessings that come to us as the earth shall yield to our sustenance and comfort, and as we are furnished with these material blessings, may it be in our hearts to honor God with our substance, and always to sanctify His Holy Name in our hearts, and in our lives. Be present with us this morning; give assistance and direction to whatever may be done, and may it redound to the good of humanity, to the uplifting of the same to the promotion of the cause of humanity everywhere, and to the glory of Thy Holy Name. We ask these blessings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Upon the call of the roll 78 delegates responded to their names.

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

Leaves of absence were granted as follows:

To Mr. Jenkins for today and Monday : to Mr. Parker (Elmore) for today; to Mr. Oates, for today ; to Mr. Spraggins for today and Monday; to Mr. Carnathan for today and Monday; to Mr. Maxwell for today; to Mr. Reese for today; to Gen. Harrison for today and Monday; to Mr. Renfroe for today ; to Mr. Heflin (Chambers) for today.

MR. WHITE I desire to have a correction made in the stenographic proceedings of yesterday. While the gentleman from Calhoun was addressing the Convention, Mr. Graham (of Talladega) I believe, in the chair, the stenographic report says, speaking of Gen. Morgan, “Senator Morgan, in the Senate, in a much more deliberate statement of his position than he could make from Warm Springs.” The exact language from the stenographic re


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port of the report of the remarks of the gentleman from Calhoun, that is furnished to me, is: “In the Senate, in a more deliberate statement of his position than he could have made from Hot Springs, where he may have been under treatment.” I desire to have the correction made.

THE PRESIDENT The stenographer will take note of the correction.

MR. WHITE– One more correction. While the gentleman from Calhoun was on the floor speaking of the burial, he says: “The distinguished gentleman will appear not as a friend of the family merely, but as the principal in the case.” At that point the gentleman from Jefferson had this to say: “I would like to ask a question,” and the gentleman from Calhoun, in reply, said : “I would prefer not to be interrupted just at this point. When I get through you may interrupt me.” That is omitted in the report of the remarks, and I would like to have that included.

THE PRESIDENT The stenographer will be directed to make note of the correction suggested by the gentleman from Jefferson.

MR. deGRAFFENREID I desire to move a suspension of the rules for the purpose of moving to dispense with the call of the roll this morning for the introduction of ordinances, resolutions and reports, and for the purpose of dispensing with the reports of Standing Committees, in order that the House may take up the unfinished business that was before it on yesterday afternoon when it adjourned.

MR. BEDDOW Will the gentleman withdraw that until I offer a short resolution?

The Secretary read the resolutions as follows:

Resolution No. 271, by Mr. Beddow:

Whereas. this Convention has ordered printed at the expenses of the State the speeches of the gentlemen from Greene and Calhoun, and

Whereas. both of said speeches were made by delegates favoring the majority report of the Committee on Suffrage and Elections, and

Whereas, the people should be allowed to read and study both sides of this all important question.

Therefore, be it resolved, That 5,000 copies each of the speeches of the gentlemen from Montgomery. Oates and Jones, and of the gentlemen from Jefferson, Mr. White, be ordered printed in pamphlet form for distribution.


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MR. BEDDOW I desire to move a suspension of the rules, and that the resolution be put upon its passage.

MR. deGRAFFENREID I withdrew my motion to dispense with the regular order, simply for the purpose of the introducing of that resolution. I insist that the gentleman is out of order.

THE PRESIDENT– In the opinion of the chair, it is in order at any time for a gentleman who secures recognition to move for the suspension of rules, and the gentleman from Jefferson was recognized by the Chair, and in the opinion of the Chair it is in order for him to move for a suspension of the rules and it is for the Convention to decide whether they will suspend the rules. The question is upon the motion of the gentleman from Jefferson to, suspend the rules in order that the Convention play take up for immediate consideration, the resolution he has offered and read in your hearing.

Upon a vote being taken, a division was called for; there were 35 ayes and 35 noes, and the motion to suspend the rules was lost.

THE PRESIDENT The resolution will be referred to the Committee on Schedule and Printing.

MR. BAREFIELD I ask unanimous consent to offer a short resolution.

The Secretary read the resolution as follows:

Resolved That when this Convention adjourns at 1 o'clock that it adjourns until 9:30 Monday.

MR. HOWZE I move to amend that by making it 11 o’clock on Monday.

MR. BAREFIELD I accept the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT The gentleman from Monroe accepts the amendment. In the opinion of the Chair an amendment may be accepted by the mover before the proposition is submitted to the Convention. The question is upon the motion when we adjourn today we adjourn to meet at 11 o'clock on Monday.

Upon a vote being taken the motion was carried.

MR. WILLIAMS I ask unanimous consent to introduce a resolution to be referred to the proper Committee.

The Secretary read the resolution as follows:

Resolved, That 3,000 copies of the speech of Mr. Smith of Mobile be printed for distribution.

THE PRESIDENT The resolution is referred to the Committee on Schedule and Printing.


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MR. deGRAFFENREID I now move the suspension of the rules for the purpose I have heretofore stated.

THE PRESIDENT It is moved that the rules be suspended and that the Convention dispense with the call of the roll of delegates for the introduction of ordinances and the call of Standing Committees for reports, and that the special order by taken up at this time.

MR. HEFLIN (Randolph) Before that motion is put I ask unanimous consent to make a report for the Committee of Printing and Incidental Expenses.

THE PRESIDENT The question of unanimous consent can be submitted after the motion is passed upon.

Upon a vote being taken the motion of the gentleman from Hale to suspend the rules was carried.

THE PRESIDENT The gentleman from Randolph asks unanimous consent to send up a report of the Committee on Schedules and Printing.

The report read as follows:

THE PRESIDENT The Committee on Schedule, Printing and Incidental Expenses have instructed me to make the following partial report, viz. :

The committee has audited the accounts hereto attached and find that the State of Alabama is indebted to the Brown Printing Co., of Montgomery, Ala., in the sum of $68.75.

We find that said State is indebted to William H. Carrigan of Montgomery, Ala., in the sum of $3.

We find that said State is indebted to Robert Hassen, doorkeeper, in the sum of $6.23.

We find that said State is indebted to Ed. C. Fowler Co. of Montgomery, Ala., in the sum of $20.

We find that said State is indebted to J. W. Terry of Montgomery, Ala.., in the sum of $5 for rent of typewriter up to July 24th.

We find that said State is indebted to Ed. C. Fowler Co., of Montgomery, Ala., in the sum of $5.46.

All of the above amounts are for printing done, for articles furnished the State of Alabama, for use of Constitutional Convention, and all of the above amounts are itemized as shown by the


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bills hereto attached. Total, $108.38, and we recommend the payment of the same. All of which is respectfully submitted.

John T. Heflin.

Chairman of Committee on Schedule, Printing and Incidental Expenses.

MR. HEFLIN I move that the report take its usual course.

THE PRESIDENT The motion is that the report lie upon the table and be printed. Under the rules that will take that course. The report will be upon the table and be printed.

The special order for this morning will be the consideration of the report of the Committee on Suffrage and Elections. The gentleman from St. Clair has the floor.

MR. SPEARS Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention: In reply further to the question that was propounded by the gentleman from Talladega yesterday, just before I had closed my remarks, I wish to say that in my judgment, a majority of the negroes of Alabama pay their honest debts, pay their taxes, work the public roads, and abide by the laws of the State. I wish further to state, Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention, that of a population of 1,800,000 people, 800,000 of this population in Alabama are negroes, and I wish to state and have it placed upon the record, that these negroes constitute at least three fifths of the agricultural labor of this State. Now then, Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention, the question comes up, if this negro population has to bear the burdens of citizenship, if this negro population, a majority of whom are law abiding citizens, have to perform the duties of citizenship, the question is, and I put it to every honest man, should they not be allowed to enjoy the privileges of a citizen. If these people have to obey the laws of this country, if they have to be indicted by the law, and tried by the law, and convicted by the law, and executed and punished by the law, is it not right and proper and just that they should have a voice in this election of the men who make the law, and the men who administer the law and execute the law. I am no negro man, no more than any man on this floor. I am a white man. I am proud of my race, proud of my blood, proud of my ancestors, proud of my lineage, proud of my country, proud of my State, and proud of the fact that I live in a government and under a government that is willing to do justice to all people of all races. I want to call attention to the fact that the white people of this State own all of the lands, so to speak. They own all the money, they own all the houses, they do all the business, they own all the banks, they sell all the goods, they practice all the law, they hold all the offices, from the Governor down to bailiff. They have control of the militia, they have got all the guns, they have got all the telegraph


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and railroads and telephones and furnaces and factories and foundries. They have got the education, they have got a thousand years advantage of the negro race in civilization. I for one am proud that I belong to the white race, I am proud to stand here today, and state in my place, that I believe that God Almighty made the white man superior in the beginning, and with all of the advantages that we have over the negro, I am not afraid of the negro. I am not afraid and I will not stand up here and stultify myself and reflect upon my race and my blood, by saying that with all these advantages there is danger of negro rule. But gentlemen, we have 800,000 negroes in the State. Is it good policy, it is a part of statesmanship, thus to legislate and make a Constitution and make laws that are unfair and unjust to such a great proportion of our population? Is it good policy to make enemies of these people, is it good policy to make them feel that the hand of the law and the hand of the power of State is against them? Is that good policy? Where is your Democratic doctrine of State sovereignty, where is that principle you have always professed to believe in that the citizen should think more of his State than it does of the National Government? Do you want to pursue a course that will teach the negro to feel that the State of Alabama is his enemy? Do you want to pursue a course and a policy that will make the negro look to Washington and not to Montgomery for protection? Which is the best policy? Now I understand our distinguished President to say on yesterday that the National Government had no power except that which has given to it by the States. Why if I remember correctly, that statement is nothing more than a restatement of the proposition that was made by Calhoun long years ago in the American Senate. It is nothing but the reaffirmation of the doctrine laid down by Calhoun and which was so completely answered by Webster. It is nothing but a reaffirmation of the doctrine that was exploded by the war. I suppose when Hawaii is admitted as a State, the gentleman will say it helped to create the United States. That Florida that we bought from Spain helped to make this government, and Louisiana and all that scope of country that we acquired from Mexico, and those people helped to make this country. I do not understand it that way.

I now come to the soldier “grandfather clause” incorporated in the article reported by the majority of the Committee. I want to talk about that just a little. To my mind it is what some distinguished gentleman said when he referred to the Republican National platform some years ago, it is a miserable “makeshift.” It is not a fraud because it lacks the element of premeditation, but it is a miserable makeshift. It only lasts for a little over a year. If it is a good thing, why not let it continue. If the blood that courses the veins of the soldier, whether he fought in the Union or the Confederate army, if that blood is good now it ought to be


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good 100 years from now, and why stop at the first day of January, 1903? Whence the difference? It is a makeshift, but for what purpose I have not been able to understand, unless it may be that if a law suit was commenced to test the constitutionality of the article on that account it would play out of its own operation and limitation before the Supreme Court of the United States could be brought to pass upon it. Now gentlemen, I claim that this grandfather clause is clearly in conflict with the Fifteenth Amendment. Now suppose we strike out of this ordinance all that speaks of the soldiers and their descendants, and suppose we put in its place the following amendment that I will suggest. Understand me. I do not offer it, but I suggest it, and it would read this way: The following persons, and none other, shall be entitled to register and vote in this State. First, all male citizens of the United Sates 21 years old and upwards who have resided in the State of Alabama three years, in the county one year, in the precinct or ward three months, and who have been slaves or subjected to involuntary servitude; second, all the descendants of slaves and the descendants of persons that have been subjected to involuntary servitude. I imagine that the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Suffrage and Elections would be the first man to spring to his feet and denounce it as a gross violation of the Fifteenth amendment of the United States, and it would be true, he would be right, but it would be no more in violation of the Federal Constitution than this soldier grandfather clause. The descendants of white persons who have been subjected to involuntary servitude are as many as the descendants of the negroes that have been in the army, in the war with Spain or in any other war. Now what white man, if such a proposition as that were made here, would stand up and say it is not unconstitutional? It would be unconstitutional but it is no more so than the grandfather clause in this article. Some men talk very loudly about the decisions of the courts in regard to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Federal Constitution. I have a very high regard for the decisions of all courts when they have been in the proper sphere and jurisdiction of the court, but I would have no patience with and no respect for the decision of any court that would decide that the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments do not mean exactly what they say. I remember that on another occasion a high court in this country decided that a negro had no rights in the United States that a white man was bound to respect. I remember that the greatest and the best plan in the world rose up and denounced that decision, characterizing it as a covenant with the devil and a league with hell. I remember that the people of the United States soon after that decision was rendered, decided that when the liberty and inalienable right of the citizen is involved, that there is a higher power in this country than the courts. Another thing, gentlemen, that I want to call your attention to, is the fact


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that the Democratic party in Alabama, when it made the Constitution in 1875, the Constitution under which we are now living, made that Constitution and wrote in it universal manhood, suffrage. The white people, the Democratic party of Alabama, and other white men adopted it and ratified it, and it has been the law of this State for 25 years. If it was right then, it is right now. I stand on the Constitution of 1875, that the white people and the white Democrats made, and I stand on a firm foundation. I have planted my feet upon the rock of universal manhood suffrage, and I am not afraid. I stand today where the fathers stood in 1776. Standing here on this rock with the rising sun of the Twentieth century shining in my face, I am undismayed, I am not afraid that any evil will befall me when I stand up and defend liberty and universal suffrage, when I defend the doctrine that was handed down by Washington and Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln, when I am inspired by such a lofty motive and such a high degree of patriotism I fear neither man, beast nor devil. I care nothing for the traitors in the State nor the hypocrites in the church. I stand where Jefferson stood when he declared in the face of kings and tyrants that all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights, that taxation without representation is oppression, that all just governments are founded in the consent of the governed. I stand where Andrew Jackson stood when he declared that the Union must and should be preserved, when he swore by the Eternal God that South Carolina nor no other State could nullify the law of the National government. I stand where Lincoln stood when he said this is a government “of the people, for the people and by the people.” Right here, Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention, let me ask a question. Have we in this Convention a greater statesman, a greater lover of liberty, a greater publican, a greater Populist than Thomas Jefferson? If so point him out that I may go and touch the hem of his garment. Have we, gentlemen of this Convention, a greater American, a greater Democrat, than Old Hickory Jackson? If so, let him stand forth and we will stand in and shout Glory Hallelujah. Have we in our midst a greater patriot, a greater lover of justice, a greater commoner, a greater friend of humanity than the immortal Lincoln? If so, I desire to remove my shoes from my feet and bow my head in silent reverence, because if we have with us such spirits as Jefferson and Jackson and Lincoln, then, indeed, then in truth, has this cradle of the Southern Confederacy become a holy place. I thank you, gentlemen.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM The gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. Watts).

MR. O'NEAL (Lauderdale) That the argument of the gentleman from Montgomery may not be interrupted. I move that his time be extended 30 minutes.


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The motion to extend the gentleman's time was carried.

MR. WATTS Mr. President, I favor the majority report. I believe that it is within the Constitution of the United States. I believe that added to the arguments that have been advanced by the distinguished gentlemen who have preceded me on this side of the question I can produce some other arguments which will convince a reasonable man of the perfect constitutionality of this provision. I have not the happy fortune, Mr. President, to have been like some of my colleagues upon this floor, a soldier in the war between the States, for the last tocsin of war had been sounded and the stars and bars had been furled at Appomatox before I was 12 years of age, but I had a patriotic mother and I had a father whose heart was in the cause and who taught me to have such a reverence for Mr. Davis and for those who upheld that cause, that the impression will remain with me as long as life shall last. I am one of these Black Belt Democrats, one of these men who have been spoken of upon the floor of this Convention, intimating at least, as having the intention of perpetuating frauds by means of this registration. Why, gentlemen, those who talk that way do not know what the Black Belt has suffered. As a school boy 19 years of age I helped to carry a city election in this town when we had to have a riot to do it. After I had come from school, under the leadership of Gen. James H. Clanton, whose picture hangs above us yonder, and who was one of the bravest men that ever lived in Alabama, we stood at the Courthouse in this city and drove back the black cohorts who were trying to keep the white men of Montgomery from getting to the polls. We have had that sort of thing to deal with in the Black Belt. There was bloodshed; there was riot not only in Alabama, but in other Southern states. Then fraud was resorted to as being the less hurtful to the negro in a bodily sense, and upon the principal that evil might be done that good might come from it. The Democrats of the Black Belt have stood to their post, have been in the ballot box and counted out the negro in order to preserve the political welfare of the whole State of Alabama. But, Mr. President, the time has come when we are tired of it. We want the day of honest elections to dawn in this fair State. We don’t want anyone to be able to point a finger at Alabama and say that a fair election is not held there. We men of the Blackbelt want to get down to honest methods. Can you doubt it gentlemen? Would you be sitting here in this hall today but for the Blackbelt? What section of country was it that came up en masse in favor of this measure and in favor of this Convention? Was it not the Blackbelt– Dallas, Lowndes, Montgomery, Bullock, Russell and these other counties that have stood to you since 1874, when we helped you to elect the bald eagle of the mountain as the Governor of Alabama. If we wanted to perpetuate fraud why did we want this Conven-


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tion? We could have continued it, we could have continued our representation by simply going along under the law we had, but we have come here and you have increased the number of representatives to 105, and not one of the increase comes from the Blackbelt. That seems to me the greatest proof the Convention could have that the Blackbelt has no idea and no intention of perpetuating the frauds which seem to be charged against it. I am a little surprised Mr. President that the opponents of this majority report should not at least have been oil some uniform plan. We find that the gentleman from Barbour (Mr. Dent) the gentlemen from Montgomery (Mr. Oates and Mr. Jones) the gentlemen from Jefferson (Mr. White and Mr. Ferguson) find other gentlemen leave gone upon the question of constitutionality. We find Mr. Speers in wandering around through the decisions has utterly misapprehended them, but we find that he and Mr. Lowe have taken a position that the form of registration is but a new kind of fraud. These men who compose the Suffrage Committee are as good men as there are in this Convention. They are men who stand well among their fellow men. They have stood well in this State up to this good day and even the minority of that committee recommended the same registration scheme. Some of the minority have already occupied high positions in this State, others perhaps are destined to occupy high positions, yet not one single member of that Committee makes a minority report against that scheme. Is it possible gentlemen that twenty five members of this Convention could be so foreign to all of their past character, to all right and honestly, as to come into this Convention and propose for its adoption a deliberate fraud? I say that we are bound to dismiss any such thought from our minds. What is this plan which these gentlemen have submitted? In the first place you must be a citizen of the United States and of the State of Alabama, and by the amendment must have declared your intention to become a citizen. You must have resided two years in the State, one year in the county, and three months in the precinct, you must not have been convicted of any of the offenses mentioned and up to January 1st, 1903, you must have either been a soldier in one of the wars mentioned, a descendant of a soldier or must have good character and be able to understand the principles of Republican government. After 1903 any person may register who can either read or write and has been engaged for the past twelve months in some employment or who has forty acres of land upon which he lives or $300 personal or real property assessed at that value for taxation. Those who register between now and the first of January 1903 are electors for life, provided each year as it comes round they pay the poll tax which is required up to the age of 45 years and each of the others is required to pay that pall tax each year when they register under the older scheme. There are two provisions that ought to be specially noticed. One is that the Legis


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lature may, if the courts should strike down any provision of this article, supply its place. The other is that nobody who cannot vote at an election shall be allowed to vote at a primary. Now it is said in reference to the first provision by the minority that it shows a weakness on the part of the majority, that it is a confession on their part that this is not constitutional? Not so, it is simply a precaution taken by the majority in view of the fact that the Chairman of that Committee as he stated to you here the other day know that the Supreme Court of the United States is constantly changing, and on these questions which deal with the negro we cannot tell what route they may take, and it is a part of wisdom therefore to put this provision in that article so that the Legislature may supply a defect if one should occur. It is said by others, it is a useless provision because they say the Legislature would have that power anyhow. Not so, because the other provisions of this article would prohibit the Legislature from making any other qualification for suffrage, and therefore it is to our interest to keep that section. The other clause I refer to in reference to primaries will be of very great effect in ratifying this Constitution. Whenever you get the white Republicans of Alabama to understand that hereafter in party councils the negro cannot participate because by the Constitution of the State nobody can participate in primaries or conventions except a qualified elector, you will have in my judgment the united support of the white Republicans of Alabama, because by that means they will be able to control the politics of the Republican party in Alabama and be rid of the negro. I want to say this in reference to the plan, however, there is one small objection that I have to it. I do not like that word “civil” before the words “between the States.”

MR. COLEMAN (Greene) It has been stricken out.

MR. WATTS– I am glad to hear that, because it was not a civil war. That was settled when Chief Justice Chase advised President Johnston that President Davis was not amenable to treason. Now in order that we may understand this matter, let us turn for a moment to the Fifteenth Amendment. Its language is that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied nor abridged by the United States not by any State. Mark you the language, the right of citizens of the United States to vote. Not the right of citizens of the State of Alabama to vote, but the right of the citizens of the United States to vote. What right then have citizens of the United States to vote. They have only such rights, as was stated here by the learned President of this Convention, as the respective States choose to give them. Let us look back a little into the history of this government. For more than one hundred years before the articles of Confederation were signed, old England and the people of the colonies which composed this Union has been treating the negro as a slave, and as


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having no rights which any man was bound to respect. They brought those feelings with them to America and the early history of New England and the other colonies shows that laws were constantly enacted in those States in reference to the rights of the negro, and if you will examine them you will find a striking similarity between then and the laws which were enacted in Alabama just prior to the war and since in reference to the negro race, in reference to schools, travelling on trains, the inter marriage or negroes and whites, etc. Now when these thirteen colonies signed the Articles of Confederation, and when they said in there that all men are created equal they were not talking about the negro. Why? Because they spoke about the liberties of the citizens. When they wrote the Declaration of Independence they were not speaking about the negro. When the Constitution of the United States was written, it is as plainly written there as though it had been set down in so many words the negro is not a citizen and we are not talking about him. Why? Because in that very Constitution it is expressly written that the colonies until 1803 should have the right to continue the slave trade and without limitation. It is written that when the slave flies from the master into another State he must be given up. In view of that history, Mr. President, it has astonished me to see men like ex Governor Oates, Mr. White of Jefferson, Mr. Dent of Barbour and General Harrison of Lee, state their objections to this majority report because it is against the Jeffersonian doctrine of equal rights to all and special privileges to none. In the light of history Jefferson was not speaking of the negro. If you treat him as speaking of the negro in that remark you are bound to bring him down considerably in the estimation of the American people for wisdom and for truth, because with one hand he writes the Declaration of Independence and helps to frame the Constitution of the United States, and with the other, as it were, says that all men are equal equal rights to all and special privileges to none. He was not speaking of the negro, and I am surprised. I say, to hear these gentlemen advocate the Jeffersonian doctrine as a solution of this difficulty. Mr. Speers also follows their lead. Mr. Speers took Occasion to challenge a statement made by President Knox in reference to the citizenship of a State and of the United States, and said that that had been exploded by Webster long ago. If it had been exploded it is astonishing that the Supreme Court of the United States as late as 16 Wallace in the slaughter house cases still recognized the doctrine. I read from slaughter houses cases in 16 Wallace: “It is quite clear, then, that there is a citizenship of the United States and a citizenship of the State, which are distinct from each other, and which depends upon different characteristics or circumstances in the individual.” Then skipping down a little in the opinion, speaking of the fourteenth amendment: “It is a little remarkable, if this clause was intended as a protection to the citizen of a State


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against the legislative power of his own State, that the word citizen of the State should be left out when it is so carefully used, and used in contradistinction to citizens of the United States, in the very sentence which precedes it: It is too clear that the change in the phraseology was adopted understandingly and with a purpose,” and then, again, this Judge says in the same case, speaking of the fourteenth amendment: “The Constitutional provision there alluded to did not create those rights, which it called privileges and immunities of the citizens of this State. It threw around them in that clause no security for the citizen of the State in which they were claimed or exercises. Nor did it profess to control the power of the State government over the rights of its own citizens. Its sole purpose was to declare to the several States, that whatever those rights, as you grant or establish them to your own citizens, or as you limit or qualify, or impose restrictions on their exercise, the same, neither more no less, shall be the measure of the rights of citizens of other States within your jurisdiction. It would be the vainest show of learning to attempt to prove by citations of authority, that up to the adoption of the recent amendments, no claim or pretense was set up that those rights depended on the Federal government for their existence or protection, beyond the very few express limitations which the Federal Constitution imposed upon the States– such, for instances, as the prohibition against expost facto laws, bills of attainder, and laws impairing the obligation of contracts. But with the exception of these and a few other restrictions, the entire domain of the privileges and immunities of citizens of the States, as above defined, lay within the constitutional and legislative power of the States, and without that of the Federal government.” I shall try to answer the different arguments made. The gentleman from St. Clair says that every man came into this Convention and took a solemn oath to support the Constitution of the United States. So we did, and each of us, according to his own conscience will keep his oath. He speaks about the judgment day, and about the angel taking down the oath and bringing it up against us, but let us hope, Mr. President, that any of us who should perhaps violate that oath blindly and unintentionally may be treated like it is said Uncle Toby was when he gave utterance to an oath in attending the French soldier and it is said that as the Recording Angel wrote it down she wiped it ought with a tear. Now then talk about another thing, about the plan of our forefathers, and say let us go back to the plan of our forefathers. I have shown you what the plan of our forefathers was, to exclude the negro, to keep him from having even civil rights, much less political rights. We do not want to go back to the plan of our fathers in that respect because we do insist that he shall have his civil rights and they never have been denied him in Alabama. Now let me pursue this right to vote. This country grew from the thirteen colonies until it num-


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bered thirty States in 1856. At that time the country was startled by the announcement of the very principle which I have been speaking to you about, when Chief Justice Taney decided in the Dred Scott case that the negro was not then and never had been a citizen of the United States, and he gave for it the very reasons which I have given, that in the formation of the government the negro was not considered the white man's equal, that the white man was his superior, and that the negro was treated so by the Articles of Confederation, by the Declaration of Independence and by the Constitution of the United States, by the Acts of Congress, and by the decisions of the respective States. Why, even Massachusetts away back yonder in 5th Cushing decided that Massachusetts had a right to establish separate schools for the colored and the white races. After that decision Dred Scott case was rendered, came this great hue and cry about the rights of the negro. The war came on. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the emancipation of the slaves to take effect January 1, 1863. Now my friend from St. Clair says that these amendments, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were not aimed at the South. How any man familiar with history can make such an assertion I cannot understand. Why it is recognized by every writer can the subject that the Thirteenth Amendment was adopted for the purpose of carrying out the proclamation of President Lincoln, and for making effective the freedom of the negro. When they found the freedom of the negro did not give him those rights which they anticipated, when they did not find that the Southern States were stumbling over each other to accord him the same rights as they gave to white citizens, then the Republican Party in power said we will strike them one more lick, and they enacted the Fourteenth Amendment, and that was to make the negro a citizen. They thought that that completed the job, they thought that when they said the negro was a citizen, that that would give him these rights, but lo and behold it did not. They found out that citizen did not mean a man with all of the political rights that the State gave. They thought of the fact a woman being a citizen did not give her the right to vote, therefore they adopted the Fifteenth Amendment. Can it be said that that was not aimed at the South? Where else in all this broad country did the negro predominate? New England had gotten rid of him by selling him to the South. He was here, he was interfering with our body politic, he was not interfering with their. It was to force him upon us they passed the Fifteenth Amendment. Shortly after the Fifteenth Amendment was passed some woman up in Michigan read the Fourteenth Amendment and saw that all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof were citizens of the United States and of the States in which they resided. She took it for granted that as she was a person that therefore she had a right to vote. It was refused her and she went to


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the Supreme Court of the United States and that Court decided that she did not have the right to vote because she was a woman, and that the policy of this government was to give the right of suffrage to males and not to females, and that it did not make any difference if she was a person, and if the amendment did say every person was a citizen, that there were citizens who did not have the right to vote. Now pardon me for reading you something from that decision because I want to read it for the benefit of my friend from St. Clair and such other members of this Convention who believe with him that the United States has a right to control votes in the State of Alabama. I read from the case of Minor vs. Happersett in 21st Wallace: “And still again, after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, it was deemed necessary to adopt a Fifteenth as follows: “The right of citizens 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.” The Fourteenth Amendment had already provided that no State should make or enforce any law which should abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. If suffrage was one of these privileges or immunities, why amend the Constitution to prevent its being denied on account of race, etc. Nothing is more evident than that the greater must include the less, and if all were already protected, why go through with the form of amending the Constitution to protect a part.”

Again, for the benefit of my friend from St. Clair, I read from the case of Reese in 92nd U. S.: “The Fifteenth Amendment does not confer the right of suffrage upon any one. It prevents the States or the United States, however, from giving preference, in this particular, to one citizen of the United States over another, on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. Before its adoption, this could be done. It was as much within the power of a State to exclude citizens of the United States from voting on account of race, etc., as it was on account of age, property or education. Now, it is not. If citizens of one race having certain qualifications, are permitted by law to vote, those of another having the same qualifications, must be.”

Let us pause right there. There is the test: “If citizens of one race having certain qualifications are permitted to vote, those of another having the same qualifications must also be.” Very well, we say the soldiers shall have the right to vote. If these qualifications apply to whites and negroes alike, all right. If they apply to whites alone, then the negro has not the qualifications which the white men have and cannot come up to it. Previous to this amendment there was no constitutional guarantee against this discrimination. Now there is. It follows that the amendment has invested the citizens of the United States with a new constitutional right which is within the protecting power of Congress.


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That right is exemption from discrimination in the exercise of the elective franchise on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. This under the express provisions of the second section of the amendment, Congress may enforce by ‘appropriate legislation.’”

Now turn again to the Cruikshank case, 92nd U. S., by another Judge : “The government of the United States, is one of delegated powers alone. Its authority is defined and limited by the Constitution. All powers not granted to it by that instrument are reserved to the States or the people. No rights call be acquired under the Constitution or laws of the United States, except such as the Government of the United States has the authority to grant or secure. All that cannot be so granted or secured are left under the protection of the States.”

And again: “In United States vs. Reese, just decided, we hold that the Fifteenth Amendment has invested the citizens of the United States with a new constitution in the exercise of the elective franchise on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. From this it appears that the right of suffrage is not a necessary attribute of national citizenship; but that exemption from discrimination in the exercise of that right on account of race, etc., is. The right to vote in the States, comes from the States.

MR. HANDLEY That's the doctrine.

MR. WATTS (continuing to read) “but the right of exemption from the prohibited discrimination comes from the United State. The first has not been granted or secured by the Constitution of the United States, but the last has been.”

I have other authorities but I have not time to notice them, except incidentally to say that the same doctrine is held in Blacker vs. McPherson, 146 U. S., and in other cases. Now, mark you, another thing right there, the right of citizens of the United States to vote is a right which the State has given to the citizen within its borders to vote. At the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, and if I am not mistaken at the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment, no Southern State had given the negro the right to vote within its borders.

Now, gentlemen, I must hurry on. My friend from Jefferson, Mr. White, says, “Could you provide a law that the people of the Black Belt should be governed by one law as to suffrage, different from that prevailing in other portions of the State? In other words, could you put a fence around them and say that they could vote under certain conditions entirely different from the balance of the State?” That seems to be his test. I answer yes. It has been expressly decided by the Supreme Court of the United States


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in the case of Lewis against Missouri, 120 U. S., and in later cases, that every State has the right and that Alabama has the right now set up one set of qualifications in one Congressional District for suffrage, and to get an entirely different set of qualifications in each of the other Congressional Districts, the only thing insisted upon being that whatever qualifications you provide for each district shall apply to every voter in it. He asks could we say that all straight haired men should vote and that those who do not have straight hair shall not. Let me read you something which may perhaps answer that question, a little better than I can. I read from the case of Williams vs. the State of Mississippi, 170 U. S.: “Restrained by the Federal Constitution from discriminating against the negro race, the Convention discriminated against its characteristics, and the offenses to which its weaker members were prone, but nothing tangible can be deduced from this. If weakness were to be taken advantage of, it was to be done ‘within the field of permissible action tinder the limitations imposed by the Federal Constitution,’ and the means of it were alleged characteristics of the negro race not the administration of the law, by the officers of the State. Besides, the operation of the Constitution and laws is not limited by their language or effects to one race. They reach weak and vicious white men as well as weak and vicious negro men, and whatever is sinister in their intentions, if anything, can be prevented by both races, by the exertion of that duty which voluntarily pays taxes and refrains from crime.”

Now while I have that book before me, permit me to refer to my learned friend from Montgomery, Governor Jones. Governor Jones said that when you read the proceedings of this Convention in connection with what we adopt here, they will say that the evident purpose was to disfranchise the negro. Now what is the law on that subject? I am reading from a memorandum. I refer to the case of Blacker vs. McPherson, 146 U. S.: “The framers of the Constitution employed words in their natural sense, and where they are plain and clear, resort to collateral aids to interpret them is unnecessary and cannot be indulged in to narrow or enlarge the text.” That is what the Supreme Court of the U. S. decided in reference to that. Then he says: “But the purpose is clear.” Well let us see what the Supreme Court of the United States says about that in construing the Mississippi Constitution. “There is an allegation of the purpose of the Convention to disfranchise citizen of the colored race, but with this we have not concern, unless the purpose is executed by the Constitution or the laws or by those who administer them.” So much for the purpose. So much for resorting to evidence aligned to find out what our intention was. The Supreme Court say they do not care anything about the purpose. It does not make any difference about our purpose. The question is, what have we done? In that connection, I want to call your attention to two other cases in reference


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to what Governor Jones said. He told you about the queue case, and his argument in accordance with its administration. He might also have cited you the case of Yick We vs. Hopkins, 118 U. S., where the City of San Francisco enacted a law that nobody should have a laundry in any except a wooden building, and they construed that to be in its operations and in its language also, unconstitutional and void. But when you come later down the line, you will find in the case of Wood vs. Brush, 140 U. S., and Jugiro vs. Brush, 140 U. S., it was decided by that same Supreme Court “That a law so administered as to exclude negroes from the jury does not make the law otherwise constitutional, invalid.” So that, if we pass a law which is valid, its administration is another thing. Now, then, who have we permitted to vote. We have permitted the soldier of the war of 1812, who bore that first flag of thirteen stars, representing the Union of the States, and the thirteen stripes which represented the thirteen colonies that formed this Union. We give that right to the soldier in the Mexican War. We give it to the Union soldier in the war between the State. We give it to the gallant bearer of the Stars and Bars and of the Bonnie Blue Flag. We give it to white, to black, to Confederate, to the Union soldiers, who, to the tune of Dixie and under the waves of Old Glory, helped the United States to make Spain keep her place. Is it not right that we should do so? We give it to their descendants; but, mark you, the State said we will adopt a new plan here. We have had ignorance and incompetency performing their political rights. Every man, whether he knew anything about the duties of citizenship or not, we have permitted to vote. We will stop that and we will say that hereafter only men of good character shall vote. With this exception, we open the big gate. We say anybody, everybody, white or black, who has a good character, and who understands the principles of republican form of government, can walk in ; but we say to those old soldiers and to the sons of old soldiers, even if you have not these characteristics, we will let you in, too, because of the valor of yourselves and fathers, and the debt we owe you from this State. It must be remembered that these are disjunctive qualifications and not conjunctive. A man is not bound to possess all of them. He is not bound to be an old soldier, the son of a soldier, and a plan of good character all at the same time. Either will do. Why, they say we discriminate. Hasn't the United States Government made a discrimination when it awarded pensions to its old soldiers? Doesn't it recognize the alleged doctrine of inheritance, when it says the pension shall continue to the soldier's widow. Hasn't Alabama adopted the same thing in levying a tax each year for the pensioning of the Confederate soldier and for his widow? More than that, Mr. President, the Constitution of Massachusetts, as I have it before me, while it lays down a qualification for every citizen in this State, when it comes to end up, it says. But the soldier


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shall be exempted from certain of them. Read it for yourselves; it is there. Who has attempted to declare the Constitution of Massachusetts unconstitutional, and in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment because it made that exception in favor of soldiers? Shall we do it here?

Now, one other thing, before my time runs out. Something has been said about representation about our representation being reduced. Let me call your attention to one thing that will strike every thinking plan at once, and that is this: The only authority that Congress has to reduce the representation of the South is under the second section of the Fourteenth Amendment: that says that they shall reduce the representation in proportion to the number of male citizens who are excluded from voting. How are you going to arrive at the proportion? How is Congress ever going to know how many of the male citizens of Alabama are excluded from voting, and thus apportion our representation, until a new census is taken, which new census shall show how many people there are in the State who can read and write, and who are of good character, and who are old soldiers, or who are descendants of soldiers, and who are left out by this provision? You are bound to have figures before you can get a promotion? Every school boy knows that.

MR. deGRAFFENREID Will the gentleman suspend for the purpose of letting me make a motion? I want you to have plenty of time.

MR. WATTS I don't want more than fifteen minutes.

MR. deGRAFFENREID I move that the rules be suspended, and that the gentlemen be allowed twenty minutes, or as long as it is necessary for him to finish his speech.

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

MR. WATTS If you will look at the Constitution of Connecticut you have got it in these published pamphlets here– you will see that they have made a provision here for voting, based upon education, and you will find in the early history of this country, almost every Constitution was based upon some qualification of citizenship, specially set out. My friend from St. Clair says, You go to these registrars; they are clothed with judicial power; they refuse you the right to vote, and you appeal to the Circuit Court instead of a justice of the Peace; people are prejudiced against you, and it remains with the ipse dixit of the registrars as to whether or not you shall vote. Has he forgotten that by the naturalization laws of the United States, unless he shows that he is a man of good character, and that he understands the duties of citizenship, and if the United States puts that test upon foreigners


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who come here to become a part of our body politic, how can it possibly be unconstitutional for the State of Alabama to demand of her citizens intelligence and good character? My friend, Governor Jones, erroneously says, and unintentionally, no doubt, that the Fifteenth Amendment places negroes on an equality with the whites. He is too good a lawyer, if he has read the decisions, to intentionally say that. The Supreme Court of the United States in the Cruikshank case, said that the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to prevent the arbitrary, exercise by the State of the powers of government unrestricted by the established principles of private rights and public justice. The Supreme Court of the United States in Reese vs. U. S., 100 U. S., in Neal vs. Delaware, 103 U. S.; in Bush vs. Kentucky, 107 U. S., in Plessy vs. Ferguson, 163 U. S., said that its to civil rights the negro was placed by the Fourteenth Amendment on the same level with the white man, with rights and responsibilities exactly the same, but in some of those same cases, said that the right to vote was not among the rights and privileges mentioned in the Fourteenth Amendment. And if it should come to the question as to what will be allowed under the Fourteenth Amendment, you would find that in the Kentucky tax cases, 115 U. S., and in McGoun vs. Illinois. 17 U. S., it was said that the Fourteenth Amendment only requires the same means and methods to be applied impartially to all the constituents of each class, so that the law shall operate equally and uniformly upon all persons in similar circumstances. The difference between the gentleman from Jefferson (Mr. White) and myself, in that respect is, that he put it in his minority report that all citizens cannot conform to it. That is not the rule. The rule is that it must be the same under similar circumstances, and that only applies to civil rights, but if you take his form of it, then a woman or child could never get the right to vote.

MR. deGRAFFENREID May I interrupt the gentleman.

MR. WATTS Yes Sir.

MR. deGRAFFENREID – In the Constitution of Pennsylvania, when it went into the United States, there was a provision that all people who paid a certain tax within ten days before the election should be permitted to vote, but there was a provision that the children of freeholders should not be required to pay the tax, was that a standard to which all citizens could attain?

MR. WATTS Certainly not, and nobody ever questioned the constitutionality of that provision.

Now, something more about the Fourteenth Amendment. In the Kentucky and Illinois cases above cited, it is said “It may safely be said that the rule of construction of the Fourteenth Amendment – the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment– prescribes no rigid equality, and permits the discre-

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tion and wisdom of the State a wide latitude as far as interferences by this Court is concerned.’ and then again, in the case of Mobile vs. Kimball, 102 U. S., it is said: “This Court is not a harbor in which can be found refuge from ill advised, unequal and oppressive legislation.” And in Magoun vs. Illinois. 170 U. S., it is said : “It is hardly necessary to say that hardship, impolicy or injustice of State laws is not necessarily an objection to their constitutional validity.

Now, Mr. President, we ought to bear in mind how this law affects the people of this State. According to my information about 87 percent of the white people of this State can read and write. There are some old soldiers, perhaps sons of soldiers, who have not been enabled to learn to read and write. They are no doubt of good character; they may understand the duties of citizenship. It has been said that some of them are unworthy. That may be so, but whether it be so or not, do not let us exclude from voting the worthy ones of this class, or these classes, if by permitting them to vote, perchance, we may permit unworthy ones to enter also.

Now, Mr. President, I have spoken longer than I intended to speak. I will not worry this Convention by referring further to the authorities. I simply want to say to this Convention: That we of the Black Belt are in earnest when we say we want this fraud in elections stopped. Fraud in elections leads to fraud in something else. The teaching of the young men that it is right to swindle in elections is but one step from teaching them it is right to do it in other things. It has been a necessity in the least. Let it not be so in the future. I have heard men in this county men whom I know have election after election stood at the polls and carried the election for the Democrats, raise their hand to Almighty God and swear that, come what will, they will not do it again for anybody or under any circumstances, and I want to be able to go back to them and tell them that if they adopt this Constitution, which the have made here, if they adopt it with this suffrage plank in it, that necessity will forever be gone. I want to remove from the name of this fair State, the charge of fraudulent elections. I want to improve the citizenship of this section. You could not improve it as far as everything else is concerned. You could improve it only in that one particular, because we have as good citizens in the Black Belt as can be fund anywhere on God's green earth, but I beg you, gentlemen, to pass this article. Adopt this law. Send it to the people. Let them ratify our action, and by their ratification, let us of Alabama and of the Black Belt be relieved once and for all from the body of this curse. (Applause.)

MR. CUNNINGHAM (Jefferson) Recognizing the conditions as they exist in Alabama, and believing that these conditions


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are not for the best interest of this State, now and hereafter, and being sincerely desirous to bring about the best conditions for my country, I have as citizen, and as a member of the State Senate, and as President of that body, done everything in my power to bring about this Constitutional Convention. I would, therefore, be untrue to myself, and disloyal to those who have honored me by nominating me twice, and electing me once as a delegate from my Senatorial District to a Convention for the purpose of revising the Constitution of the State, if I were to refuse the present opportunity.

I must submit a few remarks to the Convention, but I am free to confess that I hardly know what to say. I might indulge in throwing a few flowers at both the majority and minority of the Committee, but inasmuch as each has promised the other a funeral procession, I thought I would wait and see which it was, and then I will furnish the flowers as a wreath for the monument of the majority report, or the tombstone of the minority report. I will wait until the people decide that question, before I make use of any flowers.

The constitutionality of this proposition has been thoroughly discussed by able jurists. They are lawyers, I believe, when they are at home, but they are jurists in this Convention. Many times I have wished in my life that I was a lawyer. This is one time I am glad that I am not. If I were a lawyer I would not only be expected to have a conscience, but I would also be expected to have an opinion, the lawyers here on the contrary only have an opinion, and leave the conscience to rest. (Laughter).

Now as I say the question as to the constitutionality of the measure has been thoroughly discussed, and I have been on both sides of it every time I have heard a speech, and I never got truly straightened out until yesterday. The gentleman from Barbour (Mr. Dent) and the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery, I mean the senior Governor in age, the junior Governor in priority (Mr. Oates) got me mixed up on the question, but the distinguished gentleman from Madison (Mr. Walker) straightened me out, and I thought I was pretty straight and content, but, after hearing the argument of my friend and colleague (Mr. White) whose patriotism is at par with any man to be found in this country, whose ability as a lawyer stands among the best, and a Democrat without alloy. I got very crooked again, and when the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery, I mean the gentleman junior in age, but senior in priority as Governor (Mr. Jones) discussed this question, I became very crooked, and when he laid down the proposition contained in that “Chinese queue” I just gave it up. (Laughter.) However, I was told by a lawyer friend of mine, very sincerely and with much fervor, that that case had no reference to the Fifteenth Amendment at all, and that it applied to the


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Fourteenth Amendment, and then I got all right, or nearly so, but there was still one point as to the unconstitutional of this plan that had not been answered, and that was that any regulation that made it impossible for any class of our citizens to attain the requirements of the law, made it unconstitutional.

Now, it is impossible for negroes to participate either as grandfathers or descendants of those who fought in the Revolutionary War. They did, to a certain extent, of course, in the other war. But when the distinguished gentleman from Calhoun, the President of this Convention, in answering that argument yesterday made the quite modest remark that women were disqualified and it was constitutional, and that inasmuch as none of them could ever get to be a man, I agreed with him as a physiologist, that that proposition was true and therefore I believe the report of the majority of this committee is constitutional.

And yet. Mr. President. I propose to discuss this question from a constitutional standpoint. Now, don’t get scared. I have no reference to the unwritten Constitution of England or to the written Constitution of the United States or of the State of Alabama. I have reference to a Constitution that existed before there was history even. I have reference to a Constitution that existed before there was a written Constitution or a recorded fact in the history of man. I refer to the Constitution of nature itself, and it is from the standpoint of natural law and a few of the facts of history that I propose to discuss this report of the Committee on Suffrage and Elections.

Mr. President, it not only provides a suffrage plan that fits the case, but in my honest, candid judgment, it has provided a suffrage plan that is in accordance with the eternal law of nature and with the facts of history. Now, our opinion on the suffrage question and on the regulation of suffrage by law necessarily depends upon the point of view that we look at it from. I believe that there are four component parts or factors in the regulation of any suffrage. The first is honesty; the second is patriotism; the third, intelligence, and the fourth property interests. An electorate made up of electors each of whom is honest, patriotic, intelligent and has an interest in the affairs of government certainly would be an ideal electorate. Such an electorate is impossible here or elsewhere, and it is particularly impossible, Mr. President, with the limitations of the Democratic platform upon the one hand and with the limitations of the Fifteenth Amendment on the other hand. Therefore, if we cannot get all the ingredients of the pudding, let us get as many as we can, and I believe that this committee in its temporary and in its permanent plan has done so to a very large extent.

Mr. President, there are only two classes of forces in this world. One is the inherited forces and the other is the acquired


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forces. The inherited forces are the laws of the Almighty, or, from the standpoint of science, are the laws of nature. The acquired forces are the forces that are developed by the efforts and energies of man. The inherent force, or the force which inheres in water that attempts to seek its level is a natural force. Its application in overcoming resistance is an acquired property, given to it by the ingenuity of man. Now, Mr. President, we find that there is a difference in the inherited and the acquired forces of mankind. There is a racial difference, there is a national difference. When we come to speak of the inherited force of mankind, it is a fact that cannot be denied that the Arian races possess in the highest degree the inherited forces of nature, and it cannot be denied, but is proven both from the sciences of Demography and maintained by all ethnologists that the white man is endowed in the highest degree and that the African the least of the inherited forces of potentiality, and, when we come to compare the acquisitions of the different races, all we have to do is to compare the development in government, in natural resources, in the acquisition of property in intelligence, in science, and in the arts and in letters, and in every other department of life, we find that the Arian race leads, and when we come to speak of nationalities it is no disparagement to the Latin and other great subdivisions of this race, to say that the Anglo-Saxon leads the world, and I believe it is no flattery to say that the home of the greatest natural inheritance that has ever been given, and certainly the greatest acquisition is within the United States of America. I believe the American citizen possess more inherent power and is capable of greater acquisition than any other citizen in the world.

Now, Mr. President, let us look at the history of our country for a little while and apply some of these inherent forces, some of these intrinsic powers that belong to the two races in this country. Let us take for instance America. It was discovered by the white man; it was subjugated and settled by the white man; its independence was declared and maintained by the white man; its government was established by the white man; its civilizations, institutions and achievements are all under the leadership, and the result of the inherent and acquired powers of the white man. Nobody questions these facts. They are simply the plain facts of history.

Now, let us take the negro. He was brought to this country against his will; he came here not as an emigrant; he came not as a pioneer to subdue and to settle; he came not to establish in this richly endowed country a great government of republican form, but he came as a slave, and from 1617 to 1807 one of the institutions of this country was stealing negroes in Africa and bringing them to this country. Let me pause here long enough to say that it was not a Southern institution; it was not a New England institution, but that it was a institution of the colonists of this country, and that, therefore, New England as well as the South is


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responsible for the introduction of slavery and for its maintenance in this country for years. He left behind a country that was dark, and it is dark today. Darkest Africa that is unillumined by the sunlight of Caucasian enterprise is as dark today as it was at the time of the Christian era and will be as dark four thousand years from now as it was four thousand years ago if unimproved by Caucasian intelligence and enterprise. Now, the negro is not to blame for being brought here as a slave. He is not to blame because he did not possess the inherent potentiality of the Caucasian race. He is not to blame if he has failed to develop and acquire as his white brother has done. I would attach the blame nowhere, but I would say that it is due to the fact that he is intrinsically and essentially and naturally inferior to the white race, and will always be. He was brought here as a slave and in that way he became an institution in this country, and he was a slave from necessity. If he had come here as an emigrant voluntarily, possessing no other power than that which nature has given him, he would have fallen before the enterprise and energy and combativeness of the white man; therefore, I say that his very existence in this country at that time depended upon the institution of slavery. He was not a citizen, he was not a voter, but he was property. Mr. President, this institution of slavery as it existed at that time was an institution of this country. We all know, who are familiar with the facts of history, that it was aided and abetted by the reigning monarch of Great Britain; that it had the support of the then civilization of the world; that only here and there a little leaven was beginning to work, which finally resulted in the stupendous, super organic revolution that resulted in the emancipation. This emancipation, Mr. President, was by a revolution, which revolution was the work of the white race. Left to himself, his own aspirations and energies, he would be a slave today, and would remain a slave forever. If the white man was responsible then for bringing him away from Africa, and if the white man is responsible for slavery, I say that the white man is also responsible for his emancipation, that this emancipation was an incident only of the revolution. It could not be done by peaceable means, because slavery was an institution recognized and authorized by the Constitution of the United States. It was an institution its accordance with the statutes enacted by Congress. It was an institution substantiated and authorized and maintained by the Supreme Court of the United States, and let it be known and let it be taught to our children that the war so far as the South was concerned, was fought for the purpose of maintaining its constitutional and inalienable right of State sovereignty, including the right of secession, and let it be taught that the waging of the war by the Union forces was not for the purpose of freeing the negro, but for the purpose of maintaining in its integrity the Union of the States of this great country. It therefore followed that the emancipation of the negro, though the result of the action of the white man, and as a part of


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a great revolution, was simply an incident and not a purpose. It is unnecessary to review here the literature of that period to prove that proposition. I need cite only one fact to demonstrate it, and that was when the celebrated emancipation proclamation was made by Mr. Lincoln, it only embraced the States that he declared were in rebellion against the government. He did not emancipate, by this proclamation, the negroes in Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. If emancipation was his purpose, and if the freedom of the negro was the object of the war, then, in the name of common sense wasn't slavery in the States that had not seceded as objectionable as those that had? Therefore, I think we can teach in history that the emancipation of the slave was an incident and not the purpose of the reduction that existed in this country at that time.

And yet, Mr. President, I dare say that, if left to a secret ballot of this Convention I am saying these words deliberately that if left to a secret or open ballot of this Convention, and if the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States were repealed, that out of the 115 delegates upon this floor, there would not be a solitary, single vote to re establish slavery in this country. That question will not come up to vote on, but I tell you frankly, I would vote against it. Now, Mr. President, why is that so? It is because that notwithstanding the fact that we had upon our side the law, the Constitution, the acts of Congress, and the decisions of the Court; notwithstanding the fact that slavery was as much the institution of the United States as any other institution that ever existed before or since; notwithstanding the fact that emancipation was an incident of the war, and was not its purpose; notwithstanding all these facts, I say to you that slavery is contrary to the law of nature, and has no place in that supreme intelligence that rules the world. Therefore, from the very beginning, slavery was doomed because it runs counter to these supreme laws of nature that rule the universe, in spite of laws, in spite of the Constitution, and in spite of court decisions. Why, Mr. President, that little unicellular Amoeba, in his limited sphere and environment, to the extent of his inherent capacity, is as much a sovereign as the majestic king of beasts possesses in the jungles of his native land. Hence it is, I say, that the institution of slavery was destroyed because of the fact that the civilization of the ages in that process of superorganic evolution which rules the economics of the world in accordance with natural law, had doomed it, and there was nothing that we could have done then, or could do today, that could set it back, and that very same principle, the very same natural law, will, in spite of the Fifteenth Amendment, in spite of prejudice, in spite of bias, in spite of hatred, in spite of prisons, in spite of bayonets, in spite of obstruction, will make the white man rule this country. And yet, Mr. President, the negro has undergone a wonderful change, and he has been converted from a savage




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into a fairly civilized people; from heathenism to Christianity; from slavery to freedom ;from property to a voter. All of these through the influences and the work of the white man. What he is today, the difference between the negro in his native home and in this country, has all been wrought by his environment, and the association with the white man. None of it is due to his intrinsic potentiality. It is wholly due to his environment. What he is as a potential factor is wholly acquired. In all these things the white race has been his benefactor. Now, Mr. President, I presume, if we were to take a theological view of this subject, we would say that the institution of slavery was ordained by the Almighty; that it was predestined part of the Divine system of economics which was to solve the world problem. Discussing it from the standpoint of evolution, it is simply in keeping with this natural law that rules and governs, that the white man was enterprising, he was aggressive and ambitious. He desired the negro to till his soil, to become the shade in the summer and the fire in the winter and hence it was that he stole him from his native land. The first ship that was ever made for that purpose was made at Marblehead, Mass., in 1630. It was the ingenuity of the white man; it was his enterprise, his ambition, his great desire for wealth: it was the spirit of conquest, of adventure and of achievement. Now that is the natural way to look at it. Consequently he brought these people whose intrinsic resistance was so weak that they could not defend themselves, whose acquired ability was so small that they had no art of defense, and hence had to come and submit for 250 years to slavery. Now that is the natural way to look at it. Then the same laws apply to his freedom. The negro as we find him in America owes every particle of civilization to contact with, to association with and to environments of the white race. Now, Mr. President, the great mistake was his sudden emancipation. I mean his enfranchisement. First his emancipation, that was a great mistake. We can look back now and see, and I doubt not that if our fathers, who were responsible for the management of that great and glorious cause, could have seen into the future that there would have been a different result of the Hampton Roads Conference, but there was not and this emancipation came suddenly. According to late writers, it is said, it was because President Lincoln promised that he would emancipate the negroes if the Union armies were successful at Gettysburg, but the great mistake was his sudden emancipation. But that was not the greatest mistake. The greatest mistake was his enfranchisement. First, because it was unnatural and contrary to organic laws of the universe and to the history of mankind. The Fifteenth Amendment is a technical inhibition, it is put up as a little small, thin wood wall to set up and defy the law of the whole history of mankind, and when I swore to observe it I observed it as a technical obstruction to nature and natural laws. It was conceived in hate and executed


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in malice and maintained by force. That is the only way you can account for it. No man if he is familiar with natural science or with the history of his country, that did not hate somebody, that was not biased, would ever commit such a crime as that. It was in keeping with the spirit of the age at that time. Vengeance was in the air. The evil genius of mankind was at the throttle. He had dethroned judgment and punctured the great sympathetic human heart, and had set in operation these engines of destruction, and that was the condition, Mr. President, that we had to deal with, a few years after the war. And have we dealt with it? I think we have. It is true we had to deal with many embarrassing situations; it is true we had to deal with Federal bayonets; it is true we had to deal with Federal marshals; it is true before us were prisons, it is true before us was the gibbet or the gallows, it is true before us was the annihilation of our property and perhaps death. But the intrinsic potentiality that inheres in the white man was equal to the occasion to fight it off and for twenty-five years he has remained supreme and in control of the county, State and Municipality. How did he do it? Potentiality that is supreme will always find a method to over come the potentiality that is weak and insignificant. The very fact that three white men in a beat can control the politics of 600 negroes is an illustration along that line. Do you suppose that three negroes could control the politics of 600 white men. Not at all and we are here today, Mr. President, to make a supreme and final effort to throw off these forces. We are here today to avail as nearly as we can, this technical inhibition that is written in the fifteenth amendment, that we may set in operation this natural force that has controlled the world and will continue to control the world by fair, just and honest methods. Now, let me say here, as I have said before. I have said it upon the stump and I have said it elsewhere, that necessity to commit these little irregularities for the purpose of maintaining the civilization of this State and the counties in it, I believe it to be right. But the purpose is to maintain the right by legal methods, technically legal if you please, but being measured by the laws of nature and by God himself the methods already in use are right. That is the purpose for which we are here. Now I believe, Mr. President, that the report of the majority of the committee has solved the problem. I have heard so much talk about the granddaddy and the grandmammy that I have been almost ashamed for the old people, and to be a legitimate descendant, why that was disgraceful compared to an unlawful spontaneity. There has been some talk about this grandfather clause and about descendants. A great deal. I am going to read you– this is the criminal code– but I am not going to say anything about crime on this occasion, except the great crime of the fifteenth amendment of which I have already spoken, but in this book I find the Constitution of 1787, and now I want to read you a very


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ancient document: “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” The two words to which I desire to call your attention are “ourselves” and “our” posterity. It was honorable to be a granddaddy in those days, and it was something to be proud of to be the posterity of one of those granddaddys. When you go on to the Constitution of Alabama of 1819 you will find practically the same preamble “ourselves” and “our’ posterity. You come on down to the Constitution of 1861 at a time that tried men’s souls, Mr. President, at a time when the very civilization and institutions of these Southern States and their very existence were at stake, even then they did not fail to recollect “our posterity”— ourselves and our posterity. Then again in 1865, when our people met here to make a Constitution, that Constitution said “ourselves” and “our” posterity. The Constitution of 1868 that was made, as I understand it, by the scalawags, even, that contained “ourselves” and “our prosperity.” The Constitution of 1875 contained “ourselves” and “our” posterity. And even the preamble of the Constitution that we now propose in this declaration of rights did not forget to put in the words “ourselves” and “our” posterity. I say that this grandfather clause is not only in keeping with the laws of nature, but is in keeping with the fundamental principles of patriotism because it recognizes the men that fought the battles. (Applause). Point to me a single civilization that was ever established except in bloodshed, and I will score the grandfather clause. Now, I cannot get in on that proposition unless you go back to the revolution and then I come in, and it will be the proudest moment of my life to stand up before that Registration Board and say in answer to the question “Are you the descendant of a soldier?” so far as the late war is concerned I would have to say my father was too old to go in, and I was too young, thank the Lord, but my great granddaddies struck it for their country, and that blood is still here and he struck it for me. Did you ever hear of soldiers going to war to fight merely for themselves? Was that the purpose for which these veterans went to the war and fought so gallantly for four years– for themselves? It was for their posterity. Therefore, I say Mr. President, it is an honor and a distinction to be a descendant from any brave man who ever struck a lick for his country, and because of this I say that he should be permitted to vote without money, without price and without education, and I say that negro Bill over in Barbour County alluded to by Governor Oates ought to vote, because it was heroic of him, and he merited that, that is if he has not lost his patriotism since. Let me read you in this connection a little clipping from The Brooklyn Eagle, you will find it in The Daily Register of July 26th:


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ACCORDING TO HUMAN NATURE

Brooklyn Eagle.

Human nature is higher constitution than a Federal compact. White control is a better preservative of government and civilization than constitutional amendments which threaten to ignore or cross it.

(That fellow is a genius that wrote that.)

“The nation, under a mixture of sentiment and of political gambling, snarled itself up in the fifteenth and fourteenth amendments. But the States that were seriously involved in that snarl have extricated themselves from it and the other States practically unaffected by the consequences of the snarl, are glad that their Southern sisters have made their escape from the complication.”

You see they are getting a little more heart up in that country. They are getting judgment back upon its throne, and they are beginning to look at the situation with their natural eyes and from a natural standpoint, and from the standpoint of philosophy and human nature.

“The next generation may or may not reconcile the technicalities of the lease with the actualities of it. This generation is satisfied with the actualities of it, and is willing to take its stand by the side of human nature, of history, and of rightful race instinct, leaving to the future the removal by whatever surgery may be devised, of a moribund vermiform appendix affecting suffrage and representation, which remains inoperatively attached to the Constitution,’ not of the body politic, but of the political fabric called the Union.”

Now, sir, we are here for the purpose of performing appendectomy, that is the technical name for removing a defunct vermiform appendix, and the distinguished lawyer, the chairman of the committee, is the presiding surgeon and the distinguished gentleman from Madison gave the anesthetic when he made the unanswerable argument as to its constitutionality. Now shall we remove the appendix or shall we give a dose of salts and trust to nature? That is the question. Shall we continue because of little personal bias and prejudice, because of a little pique, because of a little disappointment, or because our own particular kid has not been named and christened, or shall we all pull in the interest of our great State, and in the presence of the Almighty and assist in the operation? I say let us do it, and let the grand daddies and descendants and the good character fellows do the work. Now, Mr. President, what is the duty of this Convention and of the people of the South towards the negro. Mr. President, I would prefer to consider that question in accordance with the rules and teachings of the dispensation under which we live. This dispensation


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that had its promise when God decreed that the “seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head,” that began when the “Virgin Mary conceived of the Holy Ghost,” that was announced when the angels appeared in the air and sang “Peace on earth, good will towards men;” that was acknowledged when the dove descended upon His head by the River Jordan and said, “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; that was enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount; in that religion that was baptized in the tears of Golgotha and stained with the crimson blood of Calvary.

I would approach it in this light and not in accordance with natural laws. I would approach it as benefactors and as philanthropists than otherwise. The thirteenth amendment is good because it is in keeping with the laws of nature. The fourteenth amendment is good, because it is in keeping with the laws of nature and right. The fifteenth amendment is dead because it counteracts the laws of nature and runs against the facts of history and is bad. But, Mr. President, in this era of civilization in this era of benevolence and of charity and forbearance and forgiveness we owe that race something and we should do all we could do for it. The report of the committee recognizes the principle, and every one of them who in this enlightened civilization under this dispensation, in contact with the white man, has acquired good character and intelligence to understand a republican form of government, can come in, and I believe it will be the duty of the Registrars to admit such, and under the permanent plan, if they have by their energy and their thrift and their industry acquired $300 worth of property, or if they have acquired sufficient intelligence to read the Constitution of this State and pay voluntarily a patriotic contribution to the State, your committee says they can come in, and that is in keeping with the broad philanthropy of the civilization in which we live. Let us education his children, let us give him an opportunity. Let not the strong hand of the superior race crush him to earth in obedience to the law of the survival of the fittest, but in obedience to Him who said “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Let us lift them up, and in doing that we not only vindicate our action in this Convention, but we lay a predicate upon which future generations can act, and we will so entrench ourselves in the civilization of the age that no Supreme Court can find hatred and prejudice enough to set at naught the methods we have adopted for our salvation.

Mr. President, the negro inherits this right. I do not know how you feel about it, but when that old statesman over there, the Chairman of this Committee, (Mr. Coleman of Greene) the other day was giving from his own observation a description of the personal conduct of the negroes during the war, it actually brought tears to my eyes. A great race, whose freedom would probably result from the success of the Union armies, actually remaining


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at home and supplying the sinews of war to keep them in slavery, and taking care of the wives and daughters of the soldiers who were fighting to keep them in a condition of slavery, Mr. President, that shows their nature. Suppose it had been a Caucasian race in slavery, and their masters were divided, in less than forty-eight hours we would have united with the side that was fighting to give us our freedom, and you know it. This Christian civilization and this Convention should recognize, Mr. President, that loyalty of the old slave, and should say to his posterity that if you are honest, if you are patriotic, if you are intelligent, if you will acquire property, we will allow you to come in and by your vote share in the administration of the affairs of your country. Therefore, when you consider the permanent plan of the Committee, it is not only in keeping with the temporary plan, with natural law, and with history, but it is in keeping with the Christian civilization in which we live. The fact of the business is, that it is one of the finest documents ever written by the hand of man, and proclaimed in a parliamentary body.

Well now, what about the registration plan? As I understand it, here is the top sieve, that catches all the “grand-daddies,” and then here is a basement pan that catches the rest. Now under the Democratic platform, we have got to have it, you understand, because there are a few of these people that are going to slip through the meshes of both the upper and middle sieve, and we have said that we will not disfranchise any white man in the State of Alabama, and we won’t. Therefore we must have a Committee, or somebody to come along and then I do not know what rule they will adopt. If I were one of the Registrars, this would be my test: First, “Have you ever been convicted of any crime?” “No.” I could then see the balance for myself, without asking another question, and I think that is the purpose, though nobody has said so.

Mr. President, there has arisen in this connection certain questions or propositions which I am sorry have come up. It has been alluded to on this floor, and it has been charged in certain newspapers of the State, and it has been rumored in sundry ways, that there was something more in this registration clause. That there was a ‘nigger in the wood pile’ and that the purpose was to transfer that nigger in the wood pile to the permanent class where he could vote, not by one, but by the dozens and hundreds, and be held in reserve for emergencies. Now, Mr. President, is that logical What would you think of a man, I ask you, that had resting upon his breast a great weight, or a great burden, and were to cry out for relief, and have it removed with the assistance of his brethren, and after it is removed for him to go back deliberately and pull the weight on himself again?

MR. ROGERS (Sumter) And to secretly put it back?


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MR. CUNNINGHAM Yes, secretly put it on, clandestinely and thievishly. Mr. President, it is so illogical that no sensible man would do it. But that is not my answer to those insinuations and statements. I am a physician, and I try usually to find out what is the matter with a patient and to make a correct diagnosis of the case. I have heard it insinuated as to what would be done in certain sections of the State, and in that section which is known as the "Black Belt." I look into the faces of the "Black Belt" citizens here, and they are as good looking as I am; they have the complexion and the outline and the contour, face and countenance of my sort of folks, and I believe that they are my sort of folks, and therefore I do not believe they are going to do it. That is what I believe. Who are these gentlemen of the Black Belt, and who are we of the White Belt? We are of one race and country. We are one blood, whether we trace it back to the Puritan, to the Cavalier, or to the Huguenot, we are all American and are therefore of American blood. The forefathers of the people of the “Black Belt” and our forefathers wrought alike, side by side in the quarries from which were taken the stones that were erected into the magnificent temple of liberty for this great American Republic. Side by side they stood to maintain it against the world, to develop its resources, and to maintain its institutions. In 1861 when the household of the temple divided, the forefathers of the hill counties, and of the black belt, were still side by side; they went shoulder to shoulder, and from Fort Sumter to Appomattox, there was no question as to where a patriot came from, whether from Dallas, from Jefferson or from Randolph.

For a common cause they united and they fought, and when the last stroke of the hammer in the hand of the magnanimous Grant struck to pieces and there fell to earth the proud and stainless rapier at the feet of the matchless Lee, they were still side by side (applause), and when the Southern wing of that temple fell, they were buried together beneath its rubbish, and from it they arose, and like the Israelites of old, they set their faces towards the new Jerusalem of a reconstructed South, and together thank God, they have made it and will forever maintain it. (Loud applause.)

Was there any talk as to where a man came from in 1874? It is fitting to note the facts of history, and it serves to illustrate the occasion that it was under the leadership of the "bald eagle of the mountains," the immortal Houston, and the matchless Morgan from the Black Belt, that this State was redeemed, and I say to you that today this great question is not a question of the "Black Belt," it is not a question for the hill counties, it is a question for white men to solve, who want honest methods in their elections. (Applause.) I am as much interested in it from the great industrial county of Jefferson as I would be if I lived in the county of Lowndes.


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But they say there is too much representation. Our Northern brethren say we will cut down your representation if you disfranchise a certain percentage of your male population, and we think that it is wrong, and we are going to try and keep you from it. We come down to Alabama and the boys in the hill counties say we do not think you in the Black Belt should have five times the voting strength as the white men in the hill counties, and therefore they object to it. You go to the Black Belt counties, and you find that citizens in a beat where there are five or six hundred negroes and a half a dozen white men do not want to lose their political power in their county politics, because you disfranchise these negroes. So you see this is an issue among yourselves. There are others who say we will not ratify this Constitution because you put this and that into it, and goes into our back yard and takes a portion of my pie. It is said that some of the Sheriffs will fight it because they can be removed temporarily by the Governor for neglect or cowardice or connivance in lynching or bodily harm to a prisoner. I was told myself by a Tax Assessor that this poll tax which is to be a voluntary patriotic contribution, that unless we provided means for enforcing its collection would take seventy-five thousand dollars out of the pockets of the Tax Collectors of the State. Gentlemen of the Convention, let us rise above all these things; let us rise above Black Belt and hill counties, let us rise above every personal interest and every selfish motive, and in the name of God, natural law and humanity, justice to ourselves and our posterity, stand together, pull together, work together and run together. (Applause.)

Mr. President, we are going to do it. And, sir, I think I see a new light. At present it is dim, but I believe it to be a rising sun. It is obscured by the clouds and mists, but in the rifts I gather a gleam that is an omen of the brightness and glory and splendor beyond. If this sun continues to rise to its meridian of glory, it will dispel the clouds and mists, and will reveal to the civilized world a reunited, prosperous, glorious and happy people. The mailed hand of the tyrant, clad in the armor of the militant, will no longer be seen to hold by the throat a great, generous, brave, chivalrous and courageous but overpowered people. Instead of hate and prejudice, there will be love and fairness. Instead of oppression and usurpation, there will be recognition and consideration. Instead of the carpet bagger and his grip, there will be the capitalist and the laborer. Instead of the politician and his ambition, there will be the statesman and patriot. Instead of racial hatred and prejudices, there will be Christian philanthropy and charity. Instead of discouragement and despair, there will be hope and endless fruition, and may God speed the day. (Prolonged applause.)


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MR. SAMFORD (Pike) I desire to ask unanimous consent to make a report from the Committee on Engrossment, to lie upon the table and be called up in regular order on Monday morning.

The consent was given and the report was read as follows:

The Committee on Engrossment have examined and compared the following Article, and find it correctly engrossed.

Respectfully submitted,


Wm. H. Samford,

Chairman.


MR. SANDERS Mr. President, I move that the rules be suspended and that the speech of the distinguished gentleman from Jefferson, Mr. Cunningham, who has just taken his seat, be printed in pamphlet form, and that two thousand copies be furnished.

MR. BAREFIELD I would like to amend that by making it five thousand.

MR. SANDERS I accept the amendment.

Upon a vote being taken, the motion was carried.

Mr. Martin secured recognition.

MR. O'NEAL (Lauderdale) As the time for adjournment is rapidly approaching, I make a motion that the House remain in session so as to allow the gentleman thirty minutes time in which to deliver his remarks.

A vote was taken and the motion prevailed.

MR. MARTIN Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention, I know you are weary and that this is an unusual hour to rise for the purpose of addressing a Convention after you have been in session as long as you have today, but I ask the indulgence of this Convention for a few moments at least. It would be impossible for use to over estimate the grave importance of the questions that are before you for consideration and determination, their far reaching consequences cannot be over estimated by you. Every citizen of the State of Alabama is interested in them and our decision must tell for weal or for woe upon those who are to come after us. Gentlemen of the Convention, as grave as these questions are, as momentous and delicate as they are, I believe, and I thank God for the faith that is in me, that the delegates here assembled will prove equal to the occasion and from the wisdom and patriotism of this Convention there will spring a Constitution that will be to the people of the State of Alabama, a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to lead them out of the darkness and the undesirable condition of affairs that surrounds them, a condition


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that was forced upon this people by the unwise, unstatesmanlike and vicious legislation of the past. But, gentlemen, I care not how patriotic you may be, there is one thing you cannot do. You can shape and frame the fundamental law of the State, but it will take that great power that sent us here the people themselves to breathe life and vitality into it. Therefore, it is the earliest wish of my heart that we may so conduct ourselves its to be able to take the Constitution that we propose in one hand and our conscience in the other and go back to our constituents and say to their, here is the result of our labor, we have done the very best we could under the circumstances, read it in the light of the authority you gave us, and you will find that we fought a good fight and kept the faith.

Now, Mr. President, somewhere I have read that the chief purpose of convening this Convention was to take such steps within the limits of the Federal Constitution as would continue the control of the white man in the affairs of the State of Alabama, believing as we do, that it was to the best interests of the Black Belt and to the best interests of the white man and of the entire country that it should be so. It has been decreed, it has been fixed, and beyond all controversy, that the while man is going to control the affairs of the State of Alabama. Now, the great question for you and me to decide is this, shall he control it by law and order, or shall he control it by force and fraud? I say let him control it by law and order. Somewhere I have heard it said that this Convention was to disfranchise no white man. It has been the declared purpose ever since the Constitutional Convention was first agitated, as the purpose of the Democratic party in the Convention of 1898, it was proclaimed, and in the Convention of 1900, it was re iterated. I was not a member of the Convention of 1900, neither was I present, but there was a scene enacted upon this floor that will not soon be forgotten. A man who is as well known to the people of the State of Alabama as any other man in it, a man who has the confidence of the people of Alabama as much so as any other citizen of the commonwealth, a man who carries by his side an empty sleeve, itself being a passport to every patriotic heart, Judge Carmichael, rose and stood upon a table, so that he might be seen and heard of all men, and there proclaimed that no white man in the State of Alabama was to be disfranchised. Those words rang out like a clarion note all over the hall. They were echoed and re echoed from hill top to hill top and from valley to valley. Your Convention adopted that resolution as a part and parcel of its platform, and the great Democratic party published it to the world that no white man in the State of Alabama was to be disfranchised. Then when your Convention met to nominate delegates to this Constitutional Convention, after having nominated your candidates, you gave them instructions in the nature of a platform of principle, and among other things you said, we pledge our faith to the people of the State of Alabama


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that no white man is to be disfranchised. We, then, as candidates, went before the people. Your Democratic State Executive Committee adopted it and declared it to be a truth. Your Campaign Committee pledged the Democratic Party to the people of the State of Alabama and directed you and me to go before our people and say to them that we pledged ourselves the honor of the party that that platform should be strictly carried out. We did it, and the people believed it, they voted for this Constitutional Convention, and they honored us with their confidence and sent us here, Mr. President, a state of circumstances might arise to cause me to take my commission and carry it back to those who gave it to me and say to them that I could no longer conscientiously serve them, but never, no, never, so help me God, will I deliberately violate the pledge I made my people. We were elected on that platform, can we carry it out? It has pleased some learned gentlemen to say that it cannot be done, that we cannot steer clear of the Federal Constitution, and at the same time carry out the platform, for I verily believe that has already been accomplished. I believe that if we adopt this report, we can keep our pledge and at the same time not violate any provision of the Federal Constitution.

Now, gentlemen, what does this report say? It says that those who have honorably served in the land or naval forces of the United States or of the Confederate States shall be allowed the privilege of voting. What is the right of franchise? It is nothing more than a trust. He who holds it is a trustee. He who holds it, holds it for the good of his country as a trustee. What class of men, therefore, do you want to confer it upon? Those who have proved themselves worthy. Those who have proved themselves of the right character. That is the class that you want to act in the capacity of trustees in this important matter. Now a great many negroes will be allowed to vote under this clause, and a great many white men will be allowed to vote under the same provision. The old Confederate soldier will predominate, no doubt. Now, gentlemen, we are not afraid to trust those men. They have been tried in the fiery furnace and came forth pure gold. They were tried in the days that put men’s souls to the test. Are you afraid to risk the affairs of the State of Alabama in their keeping? Why, I repeat, that in the dark days that put men’s souls to the test, these men upheld the honor of your State and bore a name untarnished all through the trying period of the war. Then, when the war was over they came back home. They found a worse state of affairs than was ever before presented to their vision. They found their property was gone, their families impoverished, their country in ruins, and tyranny stalked unbridled through this land and free men breathed with bated breath. In that day, the rattle of the saber and glitter of the bayonet was heard and seen in this building. Those patriots though, could not be deterred by threats,


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CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

they could not be seduced by flattery, but they said to the tyrant and to the seducer, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” True, all is gone save honor, but that we propose to preserve and transmit as a sacred heritage to our children, and that they did.

Now there is another class, that the lawful descendants of these men may vote. Gentlemen, when the war broke out we were a poor people, an agricultural people, and the rank and file of the Confederate Army was made up of poor men. They owned no property. They never owned a negro in their lives but they fought for principle and for conscience sake. Now, when those men were called to arms from their homes, they left the plow standing in all unfinished furrow upon the hillside farm. He left there a wife and a group of little children, the oldest, perhaps, not more than 10 or 12 years of age. The father gone, that boy, under the guiding hand of a loving mother, stepped between those plow handles and year's end to year's end worked and labored in order to supply his mother and little sisters and brothers with the necessities of life. Did he go to school? No, he never went to school, for he had no time to go to school. He stood in front of that cabin door and with all the strength and energy of his young life, drove back the wolf of want and hunger from the sacred confines of that home. Then, when the war was over, his father came back, perhaps on one leg or with an empty sleeve by his side, broken in health and wounded in body, a hero without success, a disabled soldier without a pension. His country could not help him and therefore that boy continued to labor between those plow handles not only to support that mother but to enable that decrepit and broken-down Confederate soldier to live, literally growing from childhood to manhood between those plow handles. Now, I put this case to you, delegates of the Convention. I tell you, in the first place, he made those sacrifices for his country, and I put the question to you, before God and man, will Alabama today, like a cruel and unnatural mother, lay the heavy hand of oppression upon him. Almighty God forbid it. Gentlemen, I tell you, you may do it if you want to, but beware that you do not sound the death knell of your Constitution when you do it.

Now, I will not detain you much longer, gentlemen, but there is another thing, and I want it distinctly understood that I do not share in those apprehensions as to the sincerity and good faith of the Black Belt of this State, the land of fair women and brave men. I want to say right here that I believe that God never made whiter men than these Black Belt Democrats. They have suffered long, they have suffered much, but they have proven true in sunshine and in storm and when they saw the day of deliverance coming, they turned to the hill counties and raised a Macedonian cry, “Come and help us.” I stand here today and tell you, hold forth, we are coming.


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Gentlemen, I do not speak to Democrats, I do not speak to Populists or Republicans, but I appeal to patriots everywhere, strike hands, let's make one grand and determined effort to get back to original principles and preserve in its purity this sacred inheritance transmitted to us by our fathers. Preserve in purity the ancient institutions of this country. Mr. President, when I throw my eye to the left and see the honored Chairman of this distinguished Committee, a man well stricken in years and feeble in health, quitting the quiet of his own hone, and coming to this Capital City, and day after day, and week after week, in the hot summer time, laboring for the good of his people, I feel like bowing my head before him, and, in the name of a grateful people, return most sincere thanks. I believe, sir, that long after we shall have been called home to our fathers, the good work that you have done will be a blessing to the people and when it blesses the people your people will bless you.

Leaves of absence were granted to Mr. Reynolds (Henry) for today and Monday, Mr. Norman for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thereupon the Convention adjourned.