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[632] be successful now; and therefore, as a radical believer in the suffrage for all men of competent capacity, irrespective of color or national origin, I the less regret that colored men are not now permitted to vote in the South. I do not believe their voting would prevent the failure which seems most likely to result from these experiments, and we may be glad not to have them involved in the catastrophe. They will vote by and by. Their votes will be wanted, just as their arms were wanted. All people will yet see, that, poor and ignorant as they are, they are on the right side, and that they can neither be cheated nor bullied into its betrayal or desertion. Meanwhile they will be gaining in knowledge, and in admitted capacity to exercise the political functions of citizenship. All the North will, by and by, agree that the theoretical superiority of the white masters, which did not prevent them from committing the most monstrous of all the blunders and crimes of history, renders them, in the eyes of practical statesmanship, inferior material for good citizens to their humble and unlearned freedmen.

I deeply deplore the necessity of raising the general question of suffrage for colored men in the South thus early. I had hoped that the last vestige of heresy on that question might be first eradicated from New England, where it even now retains a foothold. I had hoped that the poor freedman might have the opportunity of a brief future, unprejudiced by becoming immediately the subject of political controversy. For one, however, I still hope and believe that there need be no strife nor angry debate. We have reached a point where temperate, philosophical, and statesmanlike treatment of grave questions has become easy, because it is of controlling and absolute necessity. We are to have an era of calm, wise, and yet brave and hopeful counsels. The people cannot afford other. They must and will resume control of public affairs sometimes too much intrusted to accident. And then the prejudices of tradition and the caprices of politics will be alike disregarded.

Allow me to add, that in the end, although for the present it may seem otherwise to casual observation, I do not expect to find the deliberate judgment of the President, who is an able statesman and an honest patriot, with that of Massachusetts herself. In his reply to my own remarks, introducing to him a large delegation of gentlemen from Massachusetts, the President emphatically declared his purpose to do his utmost to make the country “permanently free.” The logic of events is irresistible. Thus far, freedom has been constantly gaining, and it has held whatever it gained. With patient, hopeful, and manly courage on our part, the future is secure.

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