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During the years which followed the close of the Rebellion, Senator Sumner embraced every available opportunity [513] to press his Civil Rights Bill upon the Senate. Speech after speech, resolution after resolution, the occasion of presenting petitions from Colored persons,—one and all were alike to him. But he seemed to encounter that worst of all obstacles,—indifference—which it was impossible to overcome. Upon a direct vote, as a matter of principle, none of the friends of the three grand Amendments to the Constitution would have pretended to argue; and all objections urged were either confessedly futile, or totally unworthy of the spirit of Congress that had achieved so much for humanity, and for the elevation of the Colored race.

A Colored National Convention assembled in New Orleans in 1872, on the 15th of April. There were many able delegates in that body, and their proceedings were marked with high intelligence, calm deliberation, and maturity of judgment. The following letter was read from Mr. Sumner, and received with the profoundest respect and many demonstrations of admiration and gratitude:

Washington, April 7, 1872.
my Dear Sir: In reply to your inquiry, I make haste to say that, in my judgment, the Colored Convention should think more of principles than of men, except so far as men may stand for principles. Above all, let them insist on the rights of their own much-abused and insulted people. It is absurd for anybody to say that he ‘accepts the situation,’ and then deny the equal rights of the colored man. If the ‘situation’ is accepted in good faith, it must be entirely, including not merely the abolition of slavery and the establishment of equal suffrage, but also all those other rights which are still denied and abridged. There must be complete equality before the law, so that in all institutions, agencies or conveniences, erected or regulated by law, there can be no discrimination on account of color, but a black man shall be treated as a white man.

In maintaining their rights, it will be proper for the convention to invoke the Declaration of Independence, so that its principles and [514] promises shall become a living reality, never to be questioned in any way, but recognized always as a guide of conduct, and a governing rule in the interpretation of the national Constitution, being in the nature of a bill of rights, preceding the Constitution. It is not enough to proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof. Equality must be proclaimed also, and as, since both are promised by the great declaration, which is a national act, and as from their nature they should be uniform throughout the country, both must be placed under the safeguard of national law. There can be but one liberty and one equality, the same in Boston and New Orleans, the same everywhere throughout the country. The colored people are not ungenerous, and therefore will incline to any measures of good — will and reconciliation; but I trust no excess of benevolence will make them consent to any postponement of those equal rights which are now denied. The disabilities of colored people, loyal and long-suffering, should be removed before the disabilities of former rebels, or at least the two removals should go hand-in-hand. It only remains that I should say, ‘Stand firm!’ The politicians will then know that you are in earnest, and will no longer be trifled with. Victory will follow soon, and the good cause be secure forever. Meanwhile, accept my best wishes for the convention, and believe me, dear professor, faithfully yours,

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