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 “In the State where I live,” said John Sherman, on April 2, 1862 ‘we do not like negroes. We do not disguise our dislike. As my friend from Indiana (Mr. Wright) said yesterday, “The whole people of the Northwestern States, are, for reasons, whether correct or not, opposed to having many negroes among them, and that principle or prejudice has been engraved in the legislation of nearly all the Northwestern States.” ’ The Bill of Rights of Oregon (published by authority of an act approved February 25, 1901) prohibits the free negro, or mulatto, from coming within the State; from holding real estate, making contracts or maintaining suit therein; and provides for the punishment of persons who shall bring negroes and mulattoes into the State; harbor, or employ them. Lincoln was but an echo, when, in August, 1862, to a committee of negroes who sought guidance from him, he recommended Central America as the most charming home he could think of for them. For, he said; ‘on this broad continent, not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you.’ From an early period in Illinois there had existed a system of indenture and registration, whereby the services of negroes were bought and sold. At December term, 1828, it was held that ‘registered servants are goods and chattels and can be sold on execution.’ The system had a strong opponent in Edward Coles, who, in the words of Nicolay, ‘though a Virginian,’ waged relentless war against it, beginning his reform in his own slaves. Where are the paeans of praise to him? The paeans are reserved for another who begins and continues his reforms in some other man's house. On the 12th of February, 1853, an act was passed, making it a crime for a negro to come, or be brought, into the State, providing that any such negro who remained therein ten days should be fined fifty dollars, and in case of inability to pay the fine should be sold to any person who would pay the costs of the trial. The State constitution of 1848 directed the general assembly ‘to pass such laws as will effectually prohibit free persons of color from emigrating to or settling in this State, and to prevent the owners of slaves from bringing them into the State for the purpose of setting them free.’ The air north of the Ohio was too pure—for slaves? No—for free negroes—to breathe.
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