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Report: Of The Judiciary Committee On The Amendment Of The C...

Report: Of The Judiciary Committee On The Amendment Of The C... image
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Mr. Howell, Chairmnn of the Judiciarv jommittce, to wbom was referred several pe[tions nsking such legislative action for 'an "atnendment of the first tcction of this spcond ;'artcle of tlie constilution of the 6tnte, as ''ehall abolish the lega! distinction now exis;tJg between wuitu nnd colorea cilizens, ;'and extend to all the elective franchise irres"pective of color or descent,1' submitted the following report: The committee are unnnunously oí ihe opinión that it is inexpedient and impolitic to grant the prayer of the peti'.ioners. At the same time, that yonr committee feel constrained from a sense of duty, to repori advise to the prayer of the pelitioners, they are frank, to say that they recognise among them many of the most worthy and respeclable citiznn8 of this state - charocterized by sterling integrityand moral worth;nnd feel ing as the petilioners seem,that it is stricily a nor al question [l] involving the great principies of hnmam'y and philnnthropy, the commiltce are not disposed to (jneslion either thcir pincenty or thcir motives.Diil the petitioners aek to bc themselvee elicved from iho operatinn of unjust or uneH'a! existing laws, or for the pnssnge of eticb awd as vvould 6ecnre to themselves ns citizens f the state, eqtiol riglita and privileges willi thers; it would be the duty of the legislaturc, f the evils complnined of existed, to adopt ;nch measures as woul d Feeure equality of rights without regard to ths number complnining: [2] but if, as in the present case, they nfsk tu chango a eetlled and salutary feature in our government, so as to give a separate and distincl rnce of pcople the full Lenefits ofciüzenship on an tqunlity tcith themselvet, a qnestion for grave consideraron is presentad. Oor Governn ent' is formed by, for the benefit of, and to becontrolled by the deseen - dants of European nntions, ns contradistinguished from all other persons. [3] The humane nnd liberal policy ot our government at the same time, extends ita protection to the person ind property of every human being within its limitn, irrespective of color, descent, or nalionol character. When, by the act of a distinct raco of people, entortnining mutual views and feelingE they hall order and establish a governmenl for their own proteclion and benefit, ncilher the dictatee of humonity or philonthropy requires them to admit as citizens on an equaity with thernselves,any other distinct and separate raco without the unanimous con?ent of ail interesled; cspeciully a race phyeically and men tally different, and one who, by universal con sent, could never be aotniued lo fellowship in social intercourse or domestic rclationi?. [IJ Self precervation is the firet lnw of nature,' ond is as appücable to governments ns individuals. If, therefore, Michigan should ndmit all mnlc perrons lo enjoy the electivo franchise, irrefpective of color or notionality of character, it would require no great 6trctch of the imaffination to perceive a period, when by the colonization of the African rnce, the control of government, by the operation of the bnllot box, cotild be tnken from t'hose who first ordained and establish ed it. [5] The African population of the United States being large, nnd no other stnto in the Union holding out cqual indticements, f6] their eettlemeut in tlits state,would follow as n nnturnl result from the adoption of such a policy. [7] A project has been on foot within the Jast j-car, tsnd conlributions eolicited, to purchase n trnct of land in this state cqual to one entire county with a view to ils colonization by Africana. Should this project be carried into effect Ihey would nndoubtedly be entitled to, und receive the protection of our lawp, both ns regards their persons nnd their property, but to ndmil tbeni to all the privileges of electora, would be nn experiment, leuding as the commiticc believe, to an innovation untafe lo the barmeny of the government. [8]No distinct and separate race of people have i greatcr righl to be admitted io al! tlie p JÜti i Cil privileges of our cilizene, than one , ual has to demand llie enjoyment of the individual rihts and properiy of anolher without his consent. lf it be n qncstion of mornlity and of conscienec,ae lias boen conceded, [9] ihen the moril feeliugö and conscienlious ecniples of those "pposcd to the proposilion of the petitioners-, ure equally entitled to respect and protection with those of the petitioners thcmselves - [l'jj i md the cominitlee hcre venture Io assume llie position, that a urge nmjority of the people ofthis state are opposcd to the proposed change in thcir conutitulion. [UjThecommiltee fully recoynize the doctrine that "all men are creatcd eqnnl," and that "government is institnted for tlie protection, secu.ity and benefit of the people;"' yel in these brosd nvjxims, they f uil Io discover eilher the utiü ty, or the moral or politicnl injunclion to uIIüw all 'nations, kindreds and longues' to be commingled into one indivisible and inseparable connminity - it is contrary to all experience, and tho dictateá of sound politcal poliry. [13] If we are opposed to the proposition, it is our duty ploiuly to say so to its friends, for it is hypocrisy of ihc most reprehenuible charncter, to give encnurntjement to, or triflc with tho views and feclings of those to vvhose opinión we are oppofed, and no anticipation." of politickl gain or preference can justify the putting forth views for trpeduncy take, which do not find en honest response in our o-vn bosom3. Having, as tlie comniiltee trust, given the subject a fair and candid cxaminalion and from 6uch exammation, nrrived at the conclusión that the proyer of the petitioners ought not to be grantcd, they ask respectfuüy to be discharged from the further cousideration of the subject. mREMARES. Our readers are well nwnro that our :ustom is to meet every thing in the hape of argument by a fair, candid conTideration, nnd to reply to it in tlie same spirit. But the pieccding Roport i.s so destitute of reasoning, so ridiculous in its positions, so contemptible in its spirit, and so false in its statements, that to attempt to answer it sobeily would seem to be folly in the extreme. To meet it by argument would be liko aiming a blow at nothing. Uut ns it is a grave Legislative Jocument, unanimously concurred in by the committee, (Messrs. Howell, Littleohn and Green,) we haveappendeda few notes. [1] Whcro havo tlio petitioners presented it "as striclly a moral question"? Hero is a mis-slatement of the position of the petitioners, calculated to mislead every reader. They seek to "abolish the legal distinction now existing between white and colored citizens," by legislative and conslitutional aclion. Then why misrepresent their position ? [2] Have not colored citizens of this State potitioned for this object, and their petitions been referred to this very committee? If thcy have, as webelieve, il is a second misrepiesentation of the actual state of the case: for it is indirectly afiirmed here that none of the petitioners ask any thing for "thcmsclvcs as citizens of the State." [31 VVe should really lilee to knowwnere :ne cornmutee iouna inis cardinal principie of our institutions. We never saw it, or lieard of it, in any wriiten or printed document. Henee we conclude it is one of the new lights of that 'Progressive Democracy" of which we have heard so much. This commiltee are entitled to the solé honor of its discovery. Read it again and see how it looks,or you will not perceive half its beauty. Thus: "Our Govkunment was formed by, for the benefit of, and to be controlled by the descendant of eljroPKAN NaTIONS, A8 CONTRADISTINGUISHED FROM ALL OTHER PERSON9." None but Europeans or their descendants have any richt to be partakers of the "benefits" of our institutions, or to havo any share in "controlling" them, as voters or otherwise. Thua four-fifths of tho human race, and all their posterity to the end of time, are to be cut off from all right to act politically as cilizens. The committee thereby, forever, debar the Aborigines from becoming voters, as well as the unnumbered millions that shall hereafter bc bom in our midst, descended in whole or part, of A frican ancesters. Their poslerity a thousand yeará henee, must be disfrarchised to suit the mean, contemptible, insignificant, bigoted views this commiltee ! O rare Democracy ! - O glorious discovery of the party of "Equal Righls,"and the "largest liberly" - now rovealed to us in these lntter dnys,by Messrs. Ilowell, Littlejohn and Green, hut hit! from the wisdom of the wise framers of our National Constitution ! No one can ever claim a right to vote but Europcans or their descendants! The Native AmericoJis, nfter this, will hide their diminished heads in shame that so grand nnd comprehensive a principie of proscription was discovered by their political nntagonisls OClhe Democrals! ! But further: this committee, in consistency with their new principies, would go for disfranchising every colored voter in New England and New York. They have no right to "control" our government! Why? They were not bom in Europe! Wherethen? Why in América, but of A frican ancestors ! Thcrefore they must be eternally disfranchised! O, the eniarged philanthropv,brotherly kindness, tjxpanded views nnd glorious pro-'jress of modern Democrncy, as brought 0 view inthis production of tlio Judiciary Uommitteo of Michigan ! [4] Here is anoiher mean attempt lo ;reate prejudice agninst the colored citi'.ens. The petitioners nsked for them Equal Political Rights wilhoul distinción of color, leaving their social nnd doTiestic relations to be settled by the peonle, and not by the Legislature. Yet the lommitlee are determined to have some:hing to say nbout them ! There is not 1 riation under Ilcaven that we ever lienrd of, except Republican Americn, wherc color is made a grotind of polilical disability. In the West Indies, in the South American States, in Mexico, ond tliroughout the British Empire, color makes no difference in political nnd civil rights. [5] Rentier, did you ever sec nny thing so contemptible in a legislativo dorutiienl? lf a mojoriiy of the cilizens of tlie Stnte bhould b colored people, llicy ovghl to govern the State! None but a political 6Ímpleton would be afrnid ofit. [6] Here is anotlier gross m6tatemcnt, made on purpose b this committee, or the result of the most unpardonable ignorance. - As tliecommiitee oro lawyer?, ond men of intelügence, they must have known lliat fivo of the New Englond Slotcs do now hold out "rqual indurevunla" by nllowing colored citizens to vote.(7) Colorcd persons liave been allowed to ! vote in Massacïnisett8 for 50 yeare, ond in Vermon, always. Are those States overrun ' with a colored populalion? Vermont was admiticd into the Union 54 years ago: colored citizens liave voted ever si nee: yet the whole colored population of the Stote in 1840 was but 730 ! Aro tlio white people of Vermunt likely to be driven frotij. the possession of lbo governmcnl by ihe intjjix of colored people from other States? VWat a wieo coramiltee this is ! (8) Pray, Messre. Committce, who would bp rendered "unsae' by this eetilemenl? Would tho colorcd people, or tho white? Suppoee one of our fifty countics should be filled wiih colored settlers, vrhich is not at all probable, how would the ;harniony of ihe governmen" be rendered "unsafe"? Can you teil ? (9) We do not concede tliat it is merely "a qnestion of morality and conscienco." It is a political question, wltether native born citizens shall be tnxed and governed without hoving any voice n the government. It was the same qnestion thot brought on the American Revolution. Wna Ihat only a moral qnestion? (10) This is real lawyer like sophistry. - What ''moral feelingsand conscientious tcniples" of the vofers will be oulraged by letting their colored neighbors go to the polls and vote with them? The "feeling" of negro hatred is the only one llmt can be in jured. Thai has been too long "protocted"' by Ijiw. (11) "We venture to nssume" directly the conlrary. The petitions for this object are more numerous than ever befor?. We be lieve a lnrge majority wnuld eanction the proposed amendment, and all we ask of the Legislature is to let it bb tiiikd ! This tbe committee are evidently afroid (o have done.(12) A nolher misrepresentntion. The ' litioner? aek only that all citizens may have ' the right of sufiruge. But thecommillee four limes speak of colored citizens as "a 6epnrale ' nnd distinct race" - once as "Africana" - nnd '' now as of all "natione, kindredsnnd tongues' ! Yet they speak our Innguage - are American bom- -f ree bom - bom under oh? lawe, and have no olher home or country under the wide heavens! (13) Where this diverslty does exiet in a nation, whot should be done? All the citizens must have equal politicnl rights, or tm-equa'. VVhich position best accoids with Democrncy, justice nnd good sense? ''All expenence" ought to Ijave taught these gentlemen, that there is no surer way to degrade any cla6s of people than to eet a political stigma upon them; and that a degraded claes of people will lose 6elf respect, ambition, conscience and virtue, and thcreby become a 6ource of cominual loss and misery to their privileged neighbors. Besides, in all countnes where there are mnny "nations, kindreds and tonguee," an eqnality of poütical rights haa ever been found "the díctate of sound political policy."' But e have already spent too m'ch time on this paltry production. If the committee really meant to meet the caáe, why did they not take up the posilions of Dr. Denron's report on this pubjct, made last winter? Ah, thoèe positions were unanswerable! Tho commitlee had a bad cause, that would not stand the test of reason; henee the nece3sily of appealing to the basest prejudice, and the most ridiculous bugbears.