A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Amendment. It is in these words:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several
States according to their respective numbers, counting the
whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not
taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the
choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the
United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive
and judicial officers of a State, or the members of the
Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male
inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,
and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged,
except for participation in rebellion or other crime, the
basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the
proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear
to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age
in such State.

Thus it appears the amendments recognized the right of the State
itself to regulate the political right to vote. The XV. article
of Amendment still further confirms my view. It provides that
"the right of citizens of the United States to vote"--and that
word "vote" is material there--"the right of citizens of the
United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States or by any State." Note what follows: "On account of
race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The right of a
citizen of the United States in the first place to vote shall not
be abridged on account of three considerations, to-wit: race,
color, or previous condition of servitude. Why was it limited to
those three causes? Manifestly because the framers of this
article saw that Congress had the power to abridge the rights of
the colored race--indeed, any race--in the matter of voting and
in the matter of holding office as well. Can it be contended that
the United States would not have the power to-day to provide that
a negro or an Indian or a Chinese or a Mongolian, if naturalized,
and a citizen, should not hold office under the United States
Government? It is plain they would have such power. But they can
not act upon the ground of race, color, or previous condition as
to the matter of voting, and the restriction is to that alone.
This clause provides expressly that as to voting the right of no
human being shall be abridged because of his race, or his color,
or his previous condition of servitude, but such right may be
abridged for any other cause or consideration. This amendment did
not impose a restriction simply on the power of the United
States. In order to protect the colored race in the Southern
States, and indeed I may say throughout the whole Union, this
provision embraces the States as well as the United States, and
provides that the States shall not have power to abridge the
right to vote on any one of three accounts--race, color, or
previous condition of servitude. But that does not imply that the
States shall not have the power to abridge this right for other
causes. Each State has the power to-day to abridge the right to
vote because a man can not read, because he can not write, or for
any similar cause. The States have power to provide that a man
shall not be allowed to hold office or to vote because he can not
read or because he can not write, or for any cause whatever. That
is not only so according to the plain construction to be given to
the XV. Amendment, but some of the States exercise such power in
this country to-day.

Mr. SARGENT.--Will the Senator allow me to direct his mind to one
consideration?

Mr. MERRIMON.--I will.

Mr. SARGENT.--The XV. Amendment to the Constitution which the
Senator refers to, reads: "The right of citizens of the United
States to vote shall not be denied or abridged:" It does not
create a right, it says "the right"; it speaks of something
existing which shall not be denied. The right, then, to vote is
the right of a citizen of the United States; the right exists. In
other words, the right which exists of citizens of the United
States to vote shall not be denied or abridged.

Mr. MERRIMON.--There is no affirmative provision or principle in
the Constitution that confers such a right, and my friend arrives
at his conclusion by a simple inference; that is all. And I
apprehend that a right of so much moment, contravening the whole
policy of the Government, heretofore, can not be established by a
simple inference; and especially in the strength and in the face
of the fact, however it might be as to other matters, that the
United States shall not have the power to abridge the right for
the cause mentioned. Besides this, if I concede what the
honorable Senator says, he must acknowledge that it is within the
power of the United States to abridge the right to vote for other
causes than those stated. The constitution of Connecticut
prescribes these qualifications: Every white male citizen of the
United States; one year's residence; freehold of the yearly value
of six dollars; good moral character; able to read any article of
the Constitution or any section of the statutes of the State. But
if that State had undertaken to restrict the right to vote
because a man was black or because he belonged to a particular
race, or because heretofore he had been subject to a condition of
servitude, that would be absolutely null and void; or if they had
put in that he should not vote because he was white it would be
null and void.

Next, by the constitution of Massachusetts, the right to vote is
limited to "male citizens (excepting persons or paupers under
guardianship); residence in the State one year; in the town or
district six months; having paid all required taxes." That
constitution has existed since 1780. It was provided further in
that constitution that "no person shall have the right to vote or
to be eligible to office under this Commonwealth who shall not be
able to read the constitution in the English language and write
his name. So that the power which I insist belongs to the United
States, and I think I have shown belongs to the States, not only
exists, but is actually exercised by States, at least two States
of the Union, at this moment; and indeed in nearly or quite all
the States there are more or less restrictions of the right to
vote; and the State and the Union have absolute power to abridge
the political right to vote except for three causes only, and
those three causes are race, color, or previous condition of
servitude.

Mr. STEWART.--I hope that the Senate will not suppose that there
is any constitutional question here involved. It is simply a
question of regulating the suffrage in a Territory, exclusively
under the jurisdiction of the Congress of the United States.
There is no doubt of the power of Congress to allow women to vote
in the Territories, and I hope there will not be a great deal of
time spent on that matter.

Mr. MERRIMON.--Why do you want to go into a remote, sparsely
settled Territory to make the experiment?

Mr. STEWART.--Why not try it everywhere? Why not try it in North
Carolina? Because we can not.

Mr. MERRIMON.--Why not try it in this city?

Mr. STEWART.--Because we have not the power to do it.

Mr. MERRIMON.--You have in the District of Columbia.

Mr. SARGENT.--We tried the question of negro suffrage in Nebraska
first.

Mr. STEWART.--Negro suffrage was opened in a Territory when there
were less people in it than there are here, and see how that has
spread.

Mr. MERRIMON.--My friend did not hear my question. Why not confer
suffrage on the women of the District of Columbia.

Mr. SARGENT.--We will the first time we get a chance.

Mr. STEWART.--The Senator from North Carolina asks, "Why not try
it here?" The question has been suggested whether there is not a
constitutional reason for not trying it here, and that
constitutional question applies to males as well as females. The
Constitution says that Congress shall have exclusive power of
legislation within the District of Columbia, and it shall
exercise like power over places owned by the United States with
the consent of the States for arsenals, dock-yards, and other
needful buildings, making this District under the exclusive
control of Congress. I think that nothing but the emergencies of
the case could have justified the experiment we tried here with
negro suffrage; but we did it. We now have a fair field in the
West where the country is rich and inviting, as my friend from
Minnesota says, a country that is able to become a State; the
land fertile, the climate salubrious, and is to be occupied by
the very best people, and we can try it there under the most
favorable auspices.

Mr. CONKLING.--May I ask a question?

Mr. STEWART.--Most certainly.

Mr. CONKLING.--The Senator has assured us so often that he is in
earnest, that I know he will be able to afford those like me who
are following him, although they may be somewhat in the dark, the
requisite information. Some Senator inquired of my friend why he
did not try the experiment here, and he answered that Congress
has power to legislate here, and therefore there is no experiment
to try here. Now I know my friend does not mean to paddle out of
any thing, because he has courage enough to stand up to it; and I
submit to him that that is rather "thin." Under the organic law
of this District men vote here annually; the things upon which
they vote are prescribed; and if the Senator is in earnest, I
should like to know some better reason why he does not try it
here.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | 265 | | 266 | | 267 | | 268 | | 269 | | 270 | | 271 | | 272 | | 273 | | 274 | | 275 | | 276 | | 277 | | 278 | | 279 | | 280 | | 281 | | 282 | | 283 | | 284 | | 285 | | 286 | | 287 | | 288 | | 289 | | 290 | | 291 | | 292 | | 293 | | 294 | | 295 | | 296 | | 297 | | 298 | | 299 | | 300 | | 301 | | 302 | | 303 | | 304 | | 305 | | 306 | | 307 | | 308 | | 309 | | 310 | | 311 | | 312 | | 313 | | 314 | | 315 | | 316 | | 317 | | 318 | | 319 | | 320 | | 321 | | 322 | | 323 | | 324 | | 325 | | 326 | | 327 | | 328 | | 329 | | 330 | | 331 | | 332 | | 333 | | 334 | | 335 | | 336 | | 337 | | 338 | | 339 | | 340 | | 341 | | 342 | | 343 | | 344 | | 345 | | 346 | | 347 | | 348 | | 349 | | 350 | | 351 | | 352 | | 353 | | 354 | | 355 | | 356 | | 357 | | 358 | | 359 | | 360 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.