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During the session of this Convention, the following letter from Mr. Sumner was read:

Boston, October 21, 1871.
Dear Sir: I am glad that our colored fellow-citizens are to have a convention of their own. So long as they are excluded from rights, or [511] suffer in any way, on account of color, they will naturally meet together in order to find a proper remedy, and, since you kindly invite me to communicate with the convention, I make bold to offer a few brief suggestions.

In the first place, you must at all times insist upon your rights, and here I mean not only those already accorded, but others still denied, all of which are contained in equality before the law. Wherever the law supplies a rule, there you must insist upon equal rights. How much remains to be obtained, you know too well in the experience of life. Can a respectable colored citizen travel on steamboats or railways, or public conveyances generally, without insult on account of color? Let Lieutenant-Governor Dunn, of Louisiana, describe his journey from New Orleans to Washington. Shut out from proper accommodations in the cars, the doors of the Senate Chamber opened to him, and there he found the equality which a railroad conductor had denied. Let our excellent friend, Frederick Douglass, relate his melancholy experience, when, within sight of the Executive Mansion, he was thrust back from the dinner-table where his brother commissioners were already seated. You know the outrage. I might ask the same question in regard to hotels, or even common schools. An hotel is a legal institution, and so is a common school. As such, each must be for the equal benefit of all. Now, can there be any exclusion from either on account of color? It is not enough to provide separate accommodations for colored citizens, even if in all respects as good as those of other persons. Equality is not found in an equivalent, but only in equality. In other words, there must be no discrimination on account of color. The discrimination is an insult and a hindrance, and a bar, which not only always destroys comfort and prevents equality, but weakens all other rights.

The right to vote will have new security when your equal right in public conveyances, hotels, and common schools, is at last established; but here you must insist for yourselves, by speech, by petition, and by vote. Help yourselves, and others will help you also. The Civil Rights law needs a supplement to cover such cases. This defect has been apparent from the beginning, and, for a long time, I have striven to remove it. I have a bill for this purpose now pending in the Senate. Will not my colored fellow-citizens see that those in power shall no longer postpone this essential safeguard? Surely, here is an object worthy of effort.

Nor has the Republican party done its work until this is established. [512] Is it not better to establish all our own people in the enjoyment of equal rights before we seek to bring others within the sphere of our institutions, to be treated as Frederick Douglass was on his way to the President from St. Domingo? It is easy to see that a small part of the means, the energy and the determined will spent in the expedition to St. Domingo, and in the prolonged war-dance about that island, with menace to the black Republic of Hayti, would have secured all our colored fellow-citizens in the enjoyment of equal rights. Of this there can be no doubt.

Among the cardinal objects in education which must be insisted on must be equality, side by side with the alphabet. It is vain to teach equality, if you do not practise it. It is vain to recite the great words of the Declaration of Independence, if you do not make them a living reality. What is lesson without example? As all are equal at the ballot-box, so must all be equal at the common school. Equality in the common school is the preparation for equality at the ballot-box; therefore do I put this among the essentials of education.

In asserting your own rights you will not fail to insist upon justice to all, under which is necessarily included purity in the government. Thieves and money-changers, whether Democrats or Republicans, must be driven out of our temple. Tammany Hall and the Republican self-seekers must be overthrown. There should be no place for either. Thank God, good men are now coming to the rescue! Let them, while uniting against corruption, insist upon equal rights for all, and also the suppression of lawless violence, wherever it shows itself, whether in the Ku-klux Klan outraging the South, or illicit undertakings outraging the black Republic of Hayti.

To these inestimable objects, add specie payments, and you have a platform which ought to be accepted by the American people. Will not our colored fellow-citizens begin this good work? Let them at the same time save themselves and save the country. These are the only hints which I submit to the convention, hoping that its proceedings will tend especially to the good wishes of the colored race. Accept my thanks and best wishes, and believe me faithfully yours,

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