CHAPTER XVII.

NEGRO SUFFRAGE.

50. The Significance of the Experiment.--Theindiscriminate granting of universal suffrage to freedmen andforeigners was one of the most daring experiments of a tooventuresome nation. In the case of the Negro its onlyjustification was that the ballot might serve as a weapon ofdefence for helpless ex-slaves, and would at one strokeenfranchise those Negroes whose education and standing entitledthem to a voice in the government. There can be no doubt but thatthe wisest provision would have been an educational and propertyqualification impartially enforced against ex-slaves andimmigrants. In the absence of such a provision it was certainlymore just to admit the untrained and ignorant than to bar out allNegroes in spite of their qualifications; more just, but alsomore dangerous.

Those who from time to time have discussed the results of thisexperiment have usually looked for their facts in the wrougplace, i. e., in the South. Under the peculiar conditions stillprevailing in the South no fair trial of the Negro voter couldhave been made. The "carpet-bag" governments ofreconstruction time were in no true sense the creatures of Negrovoters, nor is there to-day a Southern State where freeuntrammeled Negro suffrage prevails. It is then to Northerncommunities that one must turn to study the Negro as a voter, andthe result of the experiment in Pennsylvania while not decisiveis certainly instructive.

51. The History of Negro Suffrage inPennsylvania.-- The laws for Pennsylvania agreed upon inEngland in 1683 declared as qualified electors "everyinhabitant in the said province, that is or shall be a purchaserof one hundred acres of land or upwards, .... and every personthat hath been a servant or bondsman, and is free by his service,that shall have taken up his fifty acres of land, and cultivatedtwenty thereof;" and also some other taxpayers.1

These provisions were in keeping with the design of partiallyfreeing Negroes after fourteen years service and contemplatedwithout doubt black electors, at least in theory. It is doubtfulif many Negroes voted under this provision although that ispossible. In the call for the Convention of 1776 no restrictionas to color was mentioned, 2 and theconstitution of that year gave the right of suffrage to"every freeman of the full age of twenty-one years, havingresided in this State for the space of one wholeyear."3 Probably some Negro electors inPennsylvania helped choose the framers of the Constitution.

In the Convention of 1790 no restriction as to color wasadopted and the suffrage article as finally decided upon readas follows:

"Article III, Section I. In elections by the citizens,every freeman of the age of twenty-one years, having resided inthe State two years next before the election, and within thattime paid a State or county tax, which shall have been assessedat least six months before the election, shall enjoy the rightsof an elector." 4

Nothing in the printed minutes of the convention indicates anyattempt in the convention to prohibit Negro suffrage, but Mr.Albert Gallatin declared in 1837: "I have a livelyrecollection that in some stages of the discussion theproposition pending before the convention limited the right ofsuffrage to 'free white citizens,' etc., and that the word whitewas struck out on my motion." 5

It was alleged afterward that in 1795 the question came beforethe High Court of Errors and Appeals and that its decision deniedthe right to Negroes. No written decision of this sort was everfound, however, and it is certain that for nearly a half centuryfree Negroes voted in parts of Pennsylvania.6

As the Negro population increased, however, and ignorant anddangerous elements entered, and as the slavery controversy grewwarmer, the feeling against Negroes increased and with itopposition to their right to vote. In July, 1837, the SupremeCourt sitting at Sunbury took up the celebrated case of Hobbs etal. against Fogg. Fogg was a free Negro and taxpayer, andhad been denied the right to vote by Hobbs and others, the judgesand inspectors of election in Luzerne County. He brought actionand was sustained in the Court of Common Pleas, but the SupremeCourt under Judge Gibson reversed this judgment. The decisionrendered was an evident straining of law and sense. The judgesought to refer to the decision of 1795, but could cite nowritten record; he explained the striking out of the word"white" in the constitutional convention as done toprevent insult to "dark colored white men," and heldthat a Negro, though free, could never be a freeman.7

All doubt was finally removed by the reform constitutionalconvention of 1837-38. The article on suffrage as reported to theconvention May 17, 1837, was practically the same as in theConstitution of 1790.8 This article was taken up June19, 1837. There was an attempt to amend the report and torestrict the suffrage to "free white male" citizens.The attempt was defended as being in consonance with theregulations of other States, and with the real facts inPennsylvania, since "In the county of Philadelphia thecolored man could not with safety appear at the polls." 9The amendment, however, met opposition and was withdrawn. Thematter arose again a few days later but was voted down by a voteof 61 to 49.10

The friends of exclusion now began systematic efforts to stirup public opinion. No less than forty-five petitions againstNegro suffrage were handed in, especially from Bucks County,where a Negro had once nearly succeeded in being electedto the legislature. Many petitions too in favor ofretaining the old provisions came in, but it was charged that theconvention would not print petitions in favor of Negro suffrage,and some members did not wish even to receive petitionsfrom Negroes.11

The discussion of the Third Article recurred January 17, 1838,and a long argument ensued. Finally the word "white"was inserted in the qualifications of voters by a vote of 77 to45. A protracted struggle took place to soften this regulation invarious ways, but all efforts failed and the final draft, whichwas eventually adopted by popular vote, had the followingprovisions: 12

"Article III, Section I. In elections by the citizens,every white freeman of the age of twenty-one years, havingresided in this State one year, and in the electoral districtwhere he offers to vote ten days immediately preceding suchelection, and within two years paid a State or county tax, whichshall have been assessed at least ten days before the election,shall enjoy the rights of an elector." 13 Thisdisfranchisement lasted thirty-two years, until the passage ofthe Fifteenth Amendment. The Constitution of 1874 formallyadopted this change.14 Since 1870 the experiment ofuntrammeled Negro suffrage has been made throughout the State.

52. City Politics.--About 5500 Negroeswere eligible to vote in the city of Philadelphia, in 1870. Thequestion first arises, Into what sort of a political atmospherewere they introduced, and what training did they receive fortheir new responsibilities ?

Few large cities have such a disreputable record formisgovernment as Philadelphia. In the period before the war thecity was ruled by the Democratic party, which retained its powerby the manipulation of a mass of ignorant and turbulent foreignvoters, chiefly Irish. Riots, disorder, and crime were the rulein the city proper and especially in the surrounding districts.About the time of the breaking out of the war, the city wasconsolidated and made coterminous with the county. The socialupheaval after the Civil War gave the political power to theRepublicans and a new era of misrule commenced. Open disorder andcrime were repressed, but in its place came the rule of the boss,with its quiet manipulation and calculating embezzlement ofpublic funds. To-day the government of both city and State isunparalleled in the history of republican government for brazendishonesty and bare-faced defiance of public opinion. Thesupporters of this government have been, by a vast majority,white men and native Americans; the Negro vote has never exceeded4 per cent of the total registration.

Manifestly such a political atmosphere was the worst possiblefor the new untutored voter. Starting himself withoutpolitical ideals, he was put under the tutelage of unscrupulousand dishonest men whose ideal of government was to prostitute itto their own private ends. As the Irishman had been the tool ofthe Democrats, so the Negro became the tool of the Republicans.It was natural that the freedman should vote for the party thatemancipated him, and perhaps, too, it was natural that a partywith so sure a following, should use it unscrupulously. Theresult to be expected from such a situation was that the Negroshould learn from his surroundings a low ideal of politicalmorality and no conception of the real end of party loyalty. Atthe same time we ought to expect individual exceptions to thisgeneral level, and some evidences of growth.

53. Some Bad Results of Negro Suffrage.--Theexperiment of Negro suffrage in Philadelphia has developed threeclasses of Negro voters: a large majority of voters who voteblindly at the dictates of the party and, while not open todirect bribery, accept the indirect emoluments of office orinfluence in return for party loyalty; a considerable group,centering in the slum districts, which casts a corruptpurchasable vote for the highest bidder; lastly, a very smallgroup of independent voters who seek to use their vote to betterpresent conditions of municipal life.

The political morality of the first group of voters, that isto say, of the great mass of Negro voters, corresponds roughly tothat of the mass of white voters, but with this difference: theignorance of the Negro in matters of government is greater andhis devotion to party blinder and more unreasoning. Add to thisthe mass of recent immigrants from the South, with the politicaltraining of reconstruction and post-bellum days, and one caneasily see how poorly trained this body of electors has been.

Under such circumstances it is but natural that politicalmorality and knowledge should be even slower in spreading amongNegroes than wealth and general intelligence. One consequentlyfinds among those of considerable intelligence and of uprightlives such curious misapprehension of political duties as isillustrated by the address of the Afro-American League to themayor of the city, February 8, 1897:

"MR. MAYOR:--We desire first and foremost, to tender you our profound thanks for the honor of this cordial reception. We regard it, sir, as proof of the recognition on your part of that just and most admirable custom of our country's government, which permits the subjects, however humble may be their condition in life, to see their ruler as well as feel the workings of his power.

"We are here to state to your excellency that the colored citizens of Philadelphia are penetrated with feelings of inexpressible grief at the manner in which they have thus far been overlooked and ignored by the Republican party in this city, in giving out work and otherwise distributing the enormous patronage in the gift of the party. We are therefore here, sir, to earnestly beseech of you as a faithful Republican and our worthy chief executive, to use your potent influence as well as the good offices of your municipal government, if not inconsistent with the public weal, to procure for the colored people of this city a share at least, of the public work and the recognition which they now ask for and feel to be justly due to them, no less as citizens and taxpayers, than on a basis of their voting strength of something over 14,000 in the Republican party here in Philadelphia.

"As the chosen organ of this body of men I am actuated by a due sense of their earnestness of purpose in this matter and I regret to be inadequate to the task of convincing you, Mr. Mayor, of the deep interest which is being universally manifested by the colored element in Philadelphia in this somewhat important question. The colored people neither ask for nor expect extremes; we only claim that our loyal fidelity to the Republican party should count, at some time, for some benefits to at least a reasonable number of the colored race when our friends are installed into place and power; and, cherishing as we do, sir, the most implicit confidence in your justice as the chief executive of this great city, we firmly believe that this most unfair treatment of which our people now complain, would not fail, when brought thus to your attention, in moving you in our humble behalf. We, therefore, have here to present for your candid consideration a paper containing the names of some worthy and reliable men of our race and they are respectfully urged for appointment as indicated on the face of that paper, and out of a desire, Mr. Mayor, to facilitate your efforts should you take favorable action upon this matter, these men, as we will state, have been selected as near as possible from every section of the city, as well as upon the proof of their fitness for the places named."

 

The organization which here speaks is not large or nearly asrepresentative as it claims to be; it is simply a small factionof "outs" who are striving to get "in." Thesignificant thing about the address is the fact that aconsiderable number of fairly respectable and ordinarilyintelligent citizens should think this a perfectly legitimate andlaudable demand. This represents the political morality of thegreat mass of ordinary Negro voters. And what more does it arguethan that they have learned their lesson well and recited itbluntly but honestly? What more do the majority of Americanpoliticians and voters to-day say in action if not in word than:"Here is my vote, now where is my pay in office or favor orinfluence?" What thousands are acting, this delegation hadthe charming simplicity to say plainly and then to print.

Moreover one circumstance makes this attitude of mind moredangerous among Negroes than among whites; Negroes as a class arepoor and as laborers are restricted to few and unremunerativeoccupations; consequently the bribe of office is to them a farlarger and alluring temptation than to the mass of whites. Inother words here are a people more ignorant than their fellows,with stronger tendencies to dishonesty and crime, who are offereda far larger bribe than ordinary men to enter politics forpersonal gain. The result is obvious: "Of course I'm inpolitics," said a Negro city watchman, "it's the onlyway a colored man can get a position where he can earn a decentliving." He was a fireman by trade, but Philadelphiaengineers object to working with "Niggers."

If this is the result in the case of an honest man, how greatis the temptation to the vicious and lazy. This brings us to thesecond class of voters--the corrupt class, which sells its votesmore or less openly.

The able-bodied, well-dressed loafers and criminals who infestthe sidewalks of parts of the Fifth, Seventh and other wards aresupported partly by crime and gambling, partly by theprostitution of their female paramours, but mainly from the vastcorruption fund gathered from officeholders and others, anddistributed according to the will of the party Boss. The PublicLedger said in 1896:

"It is estimated that the Republican City Committee realized nearly if not all of $100,000 from the 1 1/2 per cent assessment levied upon municipal officeholders for this campaign. Of this sum $40,000 has been paid for the eighty thousand tax receipts to qualify Republican voters. This leaves $60,000 at the disposal of David Martin, the Combine leader." 15

How is this corruption fund used? Without doubt a large partof it is spent in the purchase of votes. It is of coursedifficult to estimate the directly purchasable vote among thewhites or among the Negroes. Once in a while when "thievesfall out" some idea of the bribery may be obtained; forinstance in a hearing relative to a Third Ward election:

William Reed, of Catharine street, below Thirteenth, was first on the stand. He was watcher in the Fifteenth Division on election day.

"Did you make up any election papers for voters?" asked Mr. Ingham.

"I marked up about seventy or eighty ballots; I got $20 off of Roberts' brother, and used $100 altogether, paying the rest out of my own pocket."

"How did you spend the money ?"

"Oh, well, there were some few objectionable characters there to make trouble. We'd give 'em a few dollars to go away and attend to their business." Then he addressed Mr. Ingham directly, "You know how it works."

"I'd give 'em a dollar to buy a cigar. And if they didn't want to pay for a cigar, why, they could put it in the contribution box at church."

"Was this election conducted in the usual way ?" inquired Mr. Sterr.

"Oh, yes, the way they're conducted in the Third Ward--with vote buying, and all the rest of it."

"Did the other side have any money to spend?"

"Saunders had $16 to the division."

"What did your side have?"

"Oh, we had about $60; there was money to burn. But our money went to three people. The other fellows saved theirs. I spent mine--like a sucker."

James Brown, a McKinley-Citizen worker, began his testimony indignantly.

"Election? Why Reed and Morrow, the judges of the election, run the whole shootin' match," he declared. "It was all a farce. I brought voters up; and Reed would take 'em away from me. When we challenged anybody, Reed and the others would have vouchers ready."

"Did they use money?"

"There was a good deal of money through the division. We wasn't even allowed to mark ballots for our own people who asked for help. The judge would ask 'em if they could read and write. When they said 'yes,' he'd tell 'em they were able to mark their own ballot. There were even some people who wanted to mark their own ballots. Reed would simply grab 'em and mark their ballots, whether they liked it or not."

Lavinia Brown, colored, of the rear of 1306 Kater street, said that Mr. Bradford was judge on election day, of the Sixteenth Division, and that on the morning of the election she cooked his breakfast. She said that I. Newton Roberts came to the house, and in her presence gave Bradford a roll of notes, at the same time throwing her $2, but she did not know for what purpose he gave it.

George W. Green, colored, of 1224 Catharine street, said he was a watcher at the polls of the Sixteenth Division. He told of fraud and how the voters were treated.

"Were you offered any money?"

"Yes, sir. Lincoln Roberts came over to me and shoved $50 at me, but I turned him down and would not take it, because I didn't belong to that crowd." Continuing, he said: "Seven or eight men were challenged, but it did not amount to anything, because Lincoln Roberts would tell the police to eject them. He also vouched for men who did not live in the ward. This condition of affairs continued all day."

Several other witnesses followed, whose testimony was similar to Green's, and who declared that money was distributed freely by the Roberts faction to buy over voters. They said that challenges were disregarded, and that the election was a farce. Voters were kept out, and when it was known that any of Saunders' adherents were coming a rush would be made, making it impossible for that side to enter the booth.

Philip Brown, a McKinley-Citizen watcher, said that the election was a fraud. He saw Mr. Roberts with a pile of money, going around shouting, "That's the stuff that wins!" When asked what the judge was doing all this time he said:

"Why, the judge belonged to Mr. Roberts, who had full control of the polling place all day."

William Hare, of 1346 Kater street, proved an interesting witness. His story is as follows:

"Mr. Lincoln Roberts brought my tax receipt and told me to come around to the club. I went and was given a bundle of tax receipts, marked for other men, and told to deliver them. The next day being election day I made it a point to watch, and saw that every man to whom I gave a receipt came to the polls and voted for Mr. Roberts. I saw Mr. Newton Roberts mark the ballots over six times myself."

 

Many of the men mentioned here are white, and this happened ina ward where there are more white than Negro voters, but the sameopen bribery goes on at every election in the slum districts ofthe Fourth, Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Wards, where a large Negrovote is cast. In a meeting of Negroes held in 1896 one politiciancalmly announced that "through money from my white friends Icontrol the colored vote in my precinct." Another man aroseand denounced the speaker pretty plainly as a trickster althoughhis allegation was not denied. This brought on general discussionin which there were uncontradicted statements that in certainsections votes were bought for "fifty cents and a drink ofwhisky" and men "driven in droves to the polls."There was some exaggeration here and yet without doubt manyNegroes sell their votes directly for a money consideration. Thissort of thing is confined to the lowest classes, but there it iswidespread. Such bribery, however, is the least harmful kindbecause it is so direct and shameless that only men of nocharacter would accept it.

Next to this direct purchase of votes, one of the chief andmost pernicious forms of bribery among the lowest classes isthrough the establishment of political clubs, which abound in theFourth, Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Wards, and are not uncommonelsewhere. A political club is a band of eight or twelve men whorent a club house with money furnished them by the boss, andsupport themselves partially in the same way. The club is oftennamed after some politician--one of the most notorious gamblinghells of the Seventh Ward is named after a United StatesSenator--and the business of the club is to see that its precinctis carried for the proper candidate, to get "jobs" forsome of its "boys," to keep others from arrest and tosecure bail and discharge for those arrested. Such clubs becomethe centre of gambling, drunkenness, prostitution and crime.Every night there are no less than fifteen of these clubs in theSeventh Ward where open gambling goes on, to which almost any onecan gain admittance if properly introduced; nearly every day someredhanded criminal finds refuge here from the law. Prostitutesare in easy reach of these places and sometimes enterthem. Liquor is furnished to "members" at all times andthe restrictions on membership are slight. The leader of eachclub is boss of his district; he knows the people, knows the wardboss, knows the police; so long as the loafers and gamblers underhim do not arouse the public too much he sees that they are notmolested. If they are arrested it does not mean much save ingrave cases. Men openly boast on the streets that they can getbail for any amount. And certainly they appear to have powerfulfriends at the Public Buildings. There is of course a differencein the various clubs; some are of higher class than others andreceive offices as bribes; others are openly devoted togambling and receive protection as a bribe; one of the mostnotorious gambling houses of the Seventh Ward was recentlyraided, and although every school boy knows the character of theproprietor he was released for "lack ofevidence." Still other clubs are simply winter quarters forthieves, loafers and criminals well known to the police. Thereare of course one or two clubs, mainly social and onlypartially political, to which the foregoing statements do notapply --as for instance the Citizens' Club on Broad street, whichhas the best Negroes of the city in its membership, allowsno gambling and pays its own expenses. This club, however, standsalmost alone and the other twelve or fifteen political clubs ofthe Seventh Ward represent a form of political corruption whichis a disgrace to a civilized city. In the Fourth, Fifth andEighth Wards there are ten or twelve more clubs, andprobably in the whole city the Negroes have forty such placeswith a possible membership of five or six hundred. The influenceof these clubs on the young immigrants, on growing boys, on thesurrounding working people is most deplorable. At the polls theycarry the day with high-handed and often riotous proceedings,voting "repeaters" and "colonists" often withimpunity.

Among the great mass of Negro voters, whose votes cannot bedirectly purchased, a less direct but, in the long run, moredemoralizing bribery is common. It is the same sort of bribery asthat which is to-day corrupting the white voters of the land,viz:

(a) Contributions to various objects in which votersare interested.

(b) Appointment to public office or to work of anykind for the city.

Men accept from political organizations, contributions tocharitable and other objects which they would not think ofaccepting for themselves. Others less scrupulous getcontributions or favors for enterprises in which they aredirectly interested. Fairs, societies, clubs and even churcheshave profited by this sort of political corruption, and thecustom is by no means confined to Negroes.

A better known method of political bribery among the mass ofNegroes is through apportionment of the public work orappointment to public office. The work open to Negroes throughoutthe city is greatly restricted as has been pointed out. One classof well-paid positions, the city civil service, was once closedto them, and only one road was open to them to secure thesepositions and that was unquestioning obedience to the"machine." The emoluments of office are a temptation tomost men, but how much greater they are for Negroes can only berealized on reflection: Here is a well-educated young man, whodespite all efforts can get no work above that of porter at $6 or$8 a week. If he goes into "politics," blindly votesfor the candidate of the party boss, and by hard, steady andastute work persuades most of the colored voters in his precinctto do the same, he has the chance of being rewarded by a cityclerkship, the social prestige of being in a positionabove menial labor, and an income of $60 or $75 a month. Such isthe character of the grasp which the "machine" has oneven intelligent Negro voters.

How far this sort of bribery goes is illustrated by the factthat 170 city employes are from the Fifth Ward and probably fortyof these are Negroes. The three Negro members of the machine inthis ward are all office-holders. About one-fourth of thefifty-two members of the Seventh Ward machine are Negroes, andone-half of these are office-holders. The Negro's record as anoffice-seeker is, it is needless to say, far surpassed by hiswhite brother and it is only in the last two decades that Negroeshave appeared as members of councils and clerks.16

In spite of the methods employed to secure theseoffices it cannot as yet justly be charged that many of the Negrooffice-holders are unfitted for their duty. There is always thepossibility however that incompetent Negro officers may increasein number; and there can be no doubt but that corrupt anddishonest white politicians have been kept in power by theinfluence thus obtained to sway the Negro vote of the Seventh andEighth and other wards. The problem of the Negro voter then isone of the many problems that baffle all efforts at politicalreform in Philadelphia: the small corrupt vote of the slums whichdisgraces republican government; the large vote of the masseswhich mistaken political ideals, blind party loyalty and economicstress now holds imprisoned and shackled to the service ofdishonest political leaders.

54. Some Good Results of Negro Suffrage.--Itis wrong to suppose that all the results of this hazardousexperiment in widening the franchise have been evil. First theballot has without doubt been a means of protection in the handsof a people peculiarly liable to oppression. Its first bestowalgained Negroes admittance to street-cars after a struggle of aquarter century; and frequently since private and publicoppression has been lightened by the knowledge of the power ofthe black vote. This fact has greatly increased the civicpatriotism of the Negro, made him strive more eagerly to adapthimself to the spirit of the city life, and has kept him frombecoming a socially dangerous class.

At the same time the Negro has never sought to use his ballotto menace civilization or even the established principles of thisgovernment. This fact has been noticed by many students but itdeserves emphasis. Instead of being radical light-headedfollowers of every new political panacea, the freedmen ofPhiladelphia and of the nation have always formed the mostconservative element in our political life and have steadfastlyopposed the schemes of inflationists, socialists and dreamers.Part of this conservatism may to be sure be the inertia ofignorance, but even such inertia must anchor to some well-definednotions as to what the present situation is; and no element ofour political life seems better to comprehend the main lines ofour social organization than the Negro. In Philadelphia he hasusually been allied with the better elements although too oftenthat "better" was far from the best. And never has theNegro been to any extent the ally of the worst elements.

In spite of the fact that unworthy officials could easily getinto office by the political methods pursued by the Negroes, theaverage of those who have obtained office has been good. Of thethree colored councilmen one has received the endorsement of theMunicipal League, while the others seem to be up to the averageof the councilmen. One Negro has been clerk in the taxoffice for twenty years or more and has an enviablerecord. The colored policemen as a class are declared by theirsuperiors to be capable, neat and efficient. There are some casesof inefficiency--one clerk who used to be drunk most of his time,another who devotes his time to work outside his office, and manycases of inefficient watchmen and laborers. The average ofefficiency among colored officeholders however is good andmuch higher than one might naturally expect.

Finally, the training in citizenship which the exercise of theright of suffrage entails has not been lost on the PhiladelphiaNegro. Any worthy cause of municipal reform can secure arespectable Negro vote in the city, showing that there isthe germ of an intelligent independent vote which rises aboveeven the blandishments of decent remunerative employment. Thisclass is small but seems to be growing.

55. The Paradox of Reform.--The growthof a higher political morality among Negroes is to-dayhindered by their paradoxical position. Suppose the MunicipalLeague or the Woman's School-board movement, or some other reformis brought before the better class of Negroes to-day; theywill nearly all agree that city politics are notoriously corrupt,that honest women should replace ward heelers on school-boards,and the like. But can they vote for such movements? Most of themwill say No; for to do so will throw many worthy Negroes out ofemployment: these very reformers who want votes for specificreforms, will not themselves work beside Negroes, or admit themto positions in their stores or offices, or lend them friendlyaid in trouble. Moreover Negroes are proud of their councilmenand policemen. What if some of these positions of honor andrespectability have been gained by shady "politics"--shall they be nicer in these matters than the mass of the whites?Shall they surrender these tangible evidences of the rise oftheir race to forward the good-hearted but hardly imperativedemands of a crowd of women? Especially, too, of women who didnot apparently know there were any Negroes on earth until theywanted their votes? Such logic may be faulty, but it isconvincing to the mass of Negro voters. And cause after cause maygain their respectful attention and even applause, but whenelection-day comes, the "machine" gets their votes.

Thus the growth of broader political sentiment is hindered andwill be until some change comes. When industrial exclusion is sobroken down that no class will be unduly tempted by the bribe ofoffice; when the apostles of civil reform compete within the wardBoss in friendliness and kindly consideration for theunfortunate; when the league between gambling and crime and thecity authorities is less close, then we can expect the more rapiddevelopment of civic virtue in the Negro and indeed in the wholecity. As it is to-day the experiment of Negro suffrage with allits glaring shortcomings cannot justly be called a failure, butrather in view of all circumstances a partial success. Whateverit lacks can justly be charged to those Philadelphians who forthirty years have surrendered their right of political leadershipto thieves and tricksters, and allowed such teachers to instructthis untutored race in whose hand lay an unfamiliar instrument ofcivilization.

 

ENDNOTES:

1 "Minutes of the Conventions of 1776 and1790," (Ed. 1825) pp. 32-33; Cf. p. 26.

2 Ibid., pp. 38-39.

3 Ibid., p. 57.

4 Ibid., p. 300. Cf. "Purdon'sDigest," sixth edition.

5 "Proceedings and Debates of the Conventionof 1837," X, 45. Cf. Purvis in "Appeal of 40,000Citizens." The printed minutes give only the main resultswith few details.

6 6 Watts, 553-560, "PennsylvaniaReports." "Proceedings, etc., Convention 1837-8, II,476.

7 6 Watts, 553-60, " PennsylvaniaReports."

8 "Proceedings aud Debates," I, 233.

9 "Proceedings and Debates," II, 478.

10 Ibid., III, 82-92.

11 Ibid., Volumes IV-IX.

12 Ibid., IX, 320-397, X, 1-134.

13 "Purdon," sixth erlition.

14 The Constitution of 1874 gave the right ofsuffrage to "Every male citizen of the United States of theage of twenty-one years. . . . ." --Debates," etc., I,503, etc. See Index "Constitution of Pennsylvania,'' ArticleVIII; and also the Act of 6 April, 1870.

15 October 5, 1896.

16 Cf. "A Woman's Municipal Campaign."Publications of Amer. Acad of Pol. and Soc. Science.

 

 

From W.E.B. DuBois, The PhiladelphiaNegro. New York: Lippincott, 1899, Chapter XVII, pp. 368-384.


Back to the Tableof Contents

Forward toChapter XVIII

Back to ChapterXVI

Back to theDead Sociologists' Index