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Hence from the first we conferred together as to
the manner of bringing the subject to the attention of the
Convention. We looked to the Committee on Resolutions to bring up
the subject, but waited in vain. They had nothing for us but well
rounded platitudes and glittering generalities about the Union
and the relation of the States to the National Government all
well enough in ordinary times, but totally inappropriate in
respect of the real situation of the country at the moment. When
it became known that Mr. Tilton and myself meant to bring forward
the subject, we were besought not to do a thing so impolitic. We
were implored not to load the Republican party with this new
burden. We were told of the advantage it would give the
Democratic party against us; how it would intensify and
concentrate the prejudice already felt for the negro. It was
evident that negro suffrage was the one great dread of the
Convention. The proposal to discuss it was deplored as a blunder
which would cost us dearly. This apprehension was mainly confined
to the delegates from the border States, and as they had the
control of the Convention, they managed to keep out the
disturbing question of negro suffrage till the last day.

Seeing the evident purpose to this end, Mr. Tilton, after
consulting with Miss Dickinson and myself, introduced the
suffrage question. His action was received as a very large
fire-brand, and caused a storm of tumult and confusion, in the
midst of which the President, Mr. Speed, and other officers left
their places on the platform, declaring the Convention adjourned.
At this critical juncture, with the tact and skill of a veteran,
Mr. Tilton seized the helm, declared the Convention not
adjourned, and moved that Honorable John Minor Botts take the
Chair. The Border States delegates took their hats and heels out
of the Convention without standing upon the order of their going,
while the men from the Gulf States nobly stood their ground. The
Convention was still large. The going out of the Border States
unfettered the platform. Anna E. Dickinson came on the stand with
all her wonted ability, and thrilled the audience by her
eloquent plea for negro suffrage. Hers was the speech, not of a
brilliant declaimer, but the solid logic of a statesman. When she
sat down I felt that the battle was more than half won. Next
after Miss Dickinson came Theodore Tilton. It was plain from the
moment he took the stand that the situation suited him, and that
we were to hear from him that day such words of wisdom, truth and
soberness as only genius could supply. We were not disappointed.
He was the full master of the subject and the occasion, I
followed Mr. Tilton, and resolutions favoring what has since
become the 15th Amendment were passed with very little
opposition.

You will notice on page 480 of my book, that I don't forget my
walk with you from the house of Mr. Joseph Southwick, where you
quietly brought to my notice your arguments for womanhood
suffrage. That is forty years ago. You had just returned from
your European tour. From that conversation with you I have been
convinced of the wisdom of woman suffrage, and have never denied
the faith....

Very truly yours, FRED'K. DOUGLASS.

When Anna Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, and Theodore Tilton pressed
the question of negro suffrage on the Loyalists' convention, they were
met by the same arguments and appeals against it, that were urged upon
those who pressed woman suffrage when the Fourteenth Amendment was
pending. Douglass knew that any reconstruction without political
equality for the black man was a delusion; the women saw as clearly
that any reconstruction without political equality for them was a
delusion also, and their determination to have some recognition under
government sprung from the same love of freedom and self-respect that
moved Douglass when, with equal determination, he walked in the
procession, and took his seat as a delegate, as he had a right to do,
though warned that he would stir up a mob, and be a firebrand in the
convention. The description of this scene by Mr. Douglass himself is a
suggestive study for all oppressed classes:

I was residing in Rochester at the time, and was duly elected as
a delegate from that city to attend this convention. The honor
was a surprise and a gratification to me. It was unprecedented
for a city of over 60,000 white citizens, and only about 200
colored residents, to elect a colored man to represent them in a
national political convention, and the announcement of it gave a
shock to the country of no inconsiderable violence. Many
Republicans, with every feeling of respect for me personally,
were unable to see the wisdom of such a course. They dreaded the
clamor of social equality and amalgamation which would be raised
against the party, in consequence of this startling innovation.
They, dear fellows, found it much more agreeable to talk of the
principles of liberty as glittering generalities, than to reduce
those principles to practice.

When the train on which I was going to the convention reached
Harrisburgh, it met and was attached to another from the West
crowded with Western and Southern delegates on the way to the
convention, and among them were several loyal Governors, chief
among whom was the Governor of Indiana, Oliver P. Morton, a man
of Websterian mould in all that appertained to mental power. When
my presence became known to these gentlemen, a consultation was
immediately held among them, upon the question as to what was
best to do with me. It seems strange now, in view of all the
progress which has been made, that such a question could arise.
But the circumstances of the times made me the Jonah of the
Republican ship, and responsible for the contrary winds and
misbehaving weather. Before we reached Lancaster, on our eastward
bound trip, I was duly waited upon by a committee of my brother
delegates, which had been appointed by other honorable delegates,
to represent to me the undesirableness of my attendance upon the
National Loyalists' Convention. The spokesman of these
sub-delegates was a gentleman from New Orleans with a very French
name, which has now escaped me, but which I wish I could recall,
that I might credit him with a high degree of politeness and the
gift of eloquence. He began by telling me that he knew my history
and my works, and that he entertained a very high respect for me,
that both himself and the gentlemen who sent him, as well as
those who accompanied him, regarded me with admiration; that
there was not among them the remotest objection to sitting in the
convention with me, but their personal wishes in the matter they
felt should be set aside for the sake of our common cause; that
whether I should or should not go into the convention was purely
a matter of expediency; that I must know that there was a very
strong and bitter prejudice against my race in the North as well
as at the South; and that the cry of social and political
equality would not fail to be raised against the Republican party
if I should attend this loyal national convention. He insisted
that it was a time for the sacrifice of my own personal feeling,
for the good of the Republican cause; that there were several
districts in the State of Indiana so evenly balanced that a very
slight circumstance would be likely to turn the scale against us,
and defeat our Congressional candidates and thus leave Congress
without a two-thirds vote to control the headstrong and
treacherous man then in the presidential chair. It was urged that
this was a terrible responsibility for me or any other man to
take.

I listened very attentively to this address, uttering, no word
during its delivery; but when it was finished, I said to the
speaker and the committee, with all the emphasis I could throw
into my voice and manner: "Gentlemen, with all respect, you might
as well ask me to put a loaded pistol to my head and blow my
brains out, as to ask me to keep out of this convention, to which
I have been duly elected. Then, gentlemen, what would you gain by
this exclusion? Would not the charge of cowardice, certain to be
brought against you, prove more damaging than that of
amalgamation? Would you not be branded all over the land as
dastardly hypocrites, professing principles which you have no
wish or intention of carrying out? As a mere matter of policy or
expediency, you will be wise to let me in. Everybody knows that I
have been duly elected as a delegate by the city of Rochester.
The fact has been broadly announced and commented upon all over
the country. If I am not admitted, the public will ask, 'Where is
Douglass? Why is he not seen in the convention?' and you would
find that inquiry more difficult to answer than any charge
brought against you for favoring political or social equality;
but, ignoring the question of policy altogether, and looking at
it as one of right and wrong, I am bound to go into that
convention; not to do so, would contradict the principle and
practice of my life." With this answer, the committee retired
from the car in which I was seated, and did not again approach me
on the subject; but I saw plainly enough then, as well as on the
morning when the Loyalist procession was to march through the
streets of Philadelphia, that while I was not to be formally
excluded, I was to be ignored by the Convention.

I was the ugly and deformed child of the family, and to be kept
out of sight as much as possible while there was company in the
house.



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