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[80] essential rights. The ballot, under a political system like ours, is both the sword and the shield of liberty. Without it no man is really a freeman. He does not stand on an equality with his fellows.

Nor will it be denied that the negro, although our amended Constitution promises him all the privileges of citizenship, is in many parts of our country practically divested of his vote. By a species of legerdemain in the communities in which he is most numerous and most needs protection, he is to all intents and purposes disfranchised. What will follow as the final outcome we do not know, but that is the beginning of his attempted re-enslavement. It is beyond any question that his return to involuntary servitude in some condition or conditions, the disarming him of the ballot being the initial step in the proceeding, is seriously contemplated, if not deliberately planned. Indeed, under the name of “peonage” the work of re-establishing a system of slaveholding that is barbarous in the extreme is already begun. Men and women have been seized upon by force, and upon the most flimsy pretexts have been subjected to a bondage that in its inhumanities may easily equal even the slavery of the olden time. The number of victims is undoubtedly much larger than the general public has any idea of.

Nor are there lacking signs of studied preparation for the extension of the system. The present time is full of them. Efforts to create a prejudice against the colored man are visible in all directions. He is described as a failure in the role of freeman. The idleness and shiftlessness of certain members of his race-undoubtedly altogether too numerous-are

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