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sir-public sentiment forbids it. This they know; and hence they are prepared to sell their votes to the highest bidder. In this manner you introduce corruption into the very vitals of the government.

A few years ago a law was made requiring the clerks of the respective counties to make out a list of jurymen. Was a negro ever returned upon that list? If he were, no jury would sit with him. Was a constable ever known to summon a negro as a juror, even before a justice of the peace in a matter of five dollars amount? Never,-but gentlemen who would shrink from such an association, would now propose to associate with him in the important act of electing a governor of the state.

This distinction of colour is well understood. It is unnecessary to disguise it, and we ought to shape our constitution so as to meet the public sentiment. If that sentiment should alter-if the time should ever arrive when the African shall be raised to the level of the white man-when the distinctions that now prevail shall be done away-when the colours shall intermarry-when negroes shall be invited to your tables-to sit in your pew, or ride in your coach, it may then be proper to institute a new Convention, and remodel the constitution so as to conform to that state of society.

It has been urged, however, that it is not their fault that they do not serve in the militia. Granted-but state authority cannot compel them to serve. That subject is left to the general government, which directs the enrolment of white citizens only. Expressio unius, est exclusio alterius.

An argument has been raised that the proposition in the report of the committee would deprive them of vested rights.

It has been correctly remarked in reply, by the gentleman from Delaware, (Mr. Root,) that you cannot vary or extend the rights of one class, without infringing upon those of another. Formerly, no residence was required for a voter. Now it is proposed to require the residence of a year; and perhaps by that provision the rights of four or five hundred emigrants may be affected, and by this, we may possibly exclude four or five hundred black freeholders. The argument in the one case will apply to the other.

If we look back to the time when our constitution was formed, we find that there were then few or no free blacks in the state. The present state of things was not contemplated, and hence no provision was made against it. The same was the case in Connecticut. In their recent constitution they have provided for the exclusion of the blacks.

If you admit the negroes, why exclude the aborigines? They have never been enslaved. They were born, free as the air they breathe. That want of self-respect which characterises the negroes, cannot be imputed to them.

It is said that the negroes fought our battles. So did aliens-the French. But were the French on that account entitled to vote at our elections? No, sir. It is a question of expediency; and believing as I do, that the blacks would abuse the privilege if grauted, I am disposed to withhold it.

MR. RADCLIFF also opposed the amendinent. He considered the principle of exclusion to be derived, not from the distinction of colour-but resorted to as a rule of designation between those who understand the worth of that privilege, and those who are degraded, dependant, and unfit to exercise it.

MR. DODGE proposed to divide the question into three distinct parts.

MR. KING deemed that course out of order, until the amendment was acted on.

MR. SHELDON was of the same opinion; and upon a suggestion that the priuciple of the amendment might be more correctly decided in a different shape, Mr. S. Van Rensselaer consented to withdraw it.

The question then arising upon the first section as originally reported by the committee,

MR. JAY moved that the word white be stricken out.

MR. KENT supported the motion of Mr. Jay. He was disposed, however, to annex such qualifications and conditions as should prevent them from coming in bodies from other states to vote at elections.

We did not come to this Convention to disfranchise any portion of the community, or to take away their rights. Suppose a negro owning a freehold and

entitled to vote in Vermont, removes to this state. Can we constitutionally exclude him from enjoying that privilege? The constitution of the United States provides that "the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states ;" and it deserved consideration whether such exclusion would not be opposed to the constitution of the United States.

There was much difficulty in the practical operation of such a principle. What shall be the criterion in deciding upon the different shades of colour? The Hindoo and Chinese are called yellow-the Indian red? Shall these be excluded should they come to reside among us? Great efforts were now making in the Christian world to enlighten and improve their condition, and he thought it inexpedient to erect a barrier that should exclude them forever from the enjoyment of this important right.

COL. YOUNG replied, and enforced the reasons which he had previously urged against the amendment that had been withdrawn.

It had been objected that this measure would be a hardship upon the blacks. But it had been recently and soberly done in the land of "steady habits." And are we more wise, more sober, more correct, than they? We ought to make a constitution adapted to our habits, manners, and state of society. Metaphysical refinements and abstract speculations are of little use in framing a constitution. No white man will stand shoulder to shoulder with a negro in the train band or jury-room. He will not invite him to a seat at his table, nor in his pew in the church. And yet he must be placed on a footing of equality in the right of voting, and on no other occasion whatever, either civil or social. It had been said that there was no criterion to determine questions of fact in relation to the various shades of colour. That will be left for the legislature to define and settle. And although there may be some difficulty in individual cases, yet that circumstance furnishes no argument against the establishment of the principle.

The minds of the blacks are not competent to vote. They are too much degraded to estimate the value, or exercise with fidelity and discretion that important right. It would be unsafe in their hands. Their vote would be at the call of the richest purchaser. If this class of people should hereafter arrive at such a degree of intelligence and virtue, as to inspire confidence, then it will be proper to confer this privilege upon them. At present emancipate and protect them; but withhold that privilege which they will inevitably abuse. Look to your jails and penitentiaries. By whom are they filled? By the very race, whom it is now proposed to cloth with the power of deciding upon your political rights.

If there is that natural, inherent right to vote, which some gentlemen have urged, it ought to be further extended. In New-Jersey, females were formerly allowed to vote; and on that principle, you must admit negresses as well as negroes to participate in the right of suffrage. Minors, too, and aliens must no longer be excluded, but the "era of good feelings" be commenced in earnest. MR. RADCLIFF observed in reply to the argument of the gentleman from Albany, (Mr. Kent,) that if the negro freeholder, removing to this state from Vermont, had a constitutional right to vote here, it follows that it would be equally unconstitutional to annex such qualification to their coming from other states, as that gentleman had proposed. He remarked that a learned and pious profession were excluded from office. But were it otherwise in Vermont, and a clergyman should come hither from that state, he would, upon the principle assumed by that gentleman, be eligible to office, in defiance of the constitution. The constitution of the United States applied only to civil, not to political rights. The latter are necessarily reserved to the several states.

MR. KING said he was fully aware of the delicacy of this question, and of the difficulties with which every step of it must be accompanied; and he did not now mean to enter into the consideration of it. It is in relation to one idea only that I wish to confine my remarks.

The constitution of the United States is beyond the control of any act of any of the states. It is a compact, to which the people of this state, in common with those of other states, are parties, and cannot recede from it without the

consent of all. With this understanding, what, let me ask, is the meaning o the provision quoted by the gentleman from Albany, (Mr. Kent.) Take the fact that a citizen of colour, entitled to all the privileges of a citizen, comes here. He purchases a freehold; can you deny him the rights of an elector, incident to his freehold? He is entitled to vote, because, like any other citizen, he is a freeholder; and every freeholder your laws entitle to vote. He comes here, he purchases property, he pays you taxes, conforms to your laws; how can you then, under the article of the constitution of the United States which has been read, exclude him. The gentleman from New-York(Mr. Radcliff) thinks, that the meaning of this provision in the United States' constitution extends only to civil rights: such is not the text, it is to all rights. This seems to me to lay an insuperable barrier in our way. But I am, at the same time free to confess, that I am fully alive to the difficulties of this question, though I do not feel that they do now press upon us. I am not sure how a black, unless born free, may become a citizen; a man born a slave cannot be a citizen: a red man cannot be a citizen; they cannot even be naturalized, for naturalization can only be effected under the laws of the United States, which limit to the whites. The subject is evidently full of difficulties, though, as I before said, they are not now pressing. But the period is not distant when they must be. As certainly as the children of any white man are citizens, so certainly the children of the black men are citizens; and they, may in time, raise up a progeny, which will be disastrous to the other races of this country. I will not trouble the Convention further; but I thought it due to the occasion to express my opinion of the constitutional barriers which interpose, to prevent our retaining the word "white" in the clause.

MR. YOUNG understood the language of the constitution to mean that a black man or a white man, coming into this state, should be entitled to all the privileges and immunities to which black men or white men are in this state entitled. A clergymen coming into this from another state, would be entitled to all the privileges and immunities to which a clergyman is here entitled. Of course if this construction be correct, the constitution of the United States does not bear upon this question.

MR. ROOT expressed a similar opinion. He remarked, that if it were otherwise, a man going from one state where a freehold was not required as a qualification for a voter, into another state where a freehold was required, might still claim the right of voting. This Convention may provide that no man shall vote who has not a frechold of 10,000l.-and no man coming from another state where it was not required, could be authorized to vote without such freehold.

Mr. R. thought the amendment which he had previously offered, but which had been thought to be out of order, and therefore waived, might avoid some of the difficulties that were feared, and he therefore renewed his motion to strike out the word white for the purpose of inserting it.

On motion of MR. CRAMER, the committee then rose, reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again.

MR. Ross moved that the Convention hereafter meet at 9 o'clock, A. M. Lost.

MR. YOUNG then moved that the Convention hereafter hold two sessions a day, to meet at 9 o'clock in the morning, and at some convenient hour in the af ternoon.

Before the motion was put, the Convention, on motion of Mr. Van Vechten, adjourned.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1821.

Prayer by the Rev. Mr. DE WITT. The minutes of yesterday were read and approved. The President excused himself, and requested Chief Justice Spencer to take the chair in his absence.

THE ELECTIVE FRANCHISE.

On motion of MR. N. SANFORD the Convention then resolved itself into a committee of the whole on the report of the committee on the right of suffrage. Mr. N. Williams in the chair.

MR. VAN VECHTEN observed, that the question before the committee was of importance, and one on which he should be happy to see a unanimous vote. It had been said that the people looked for an extension of the right of suffrage, but he had not heard it suggested that they desired the disfranchisement of any class of electors.--The amendment reported by the select committee contemplated to deprive electors of colour of a right which they have enjoyed since the adoption of the constitution. He asked why this should be done? Those electors are freemen, and have been recognized as citizens of the state nearly half a century; have under the sanction of our constitution and laws duly acquired the legal qualifications of electors. Have they done any thing to forfeit their right of suffrage? This has not been shewn. It was indeed urged that they are a degraded people, wanting intelligence, integrity, and independence, who sell their votes to the highest bidder, and that many commit perjury to make themselves voters. But what evidence have the committee to fix those imputations on that class of electors, which does not fix the same imputation, on as numerous a elass of white electors? Is perjury, moral degradation, ignorance, and want of independence confined to the electors of colour? Have they the capacity to acquire and take care of the property which is necessary to constitute them electors, and are they incapable of enjoying the privileges which the acquisition of property entitles them to? Is it competent for us to prescribe what moral and intellectual qualifications will constitute an honest and independent elector? I presume not, (said Mr. Van Vechten,) nor has the select committee attempted to do so, except by excluding persons duly convicted of infamous crimes.--It seems that some gentlemen entertain doubts whether any of our people of colour are in a legal sense citizens, but those doubts were in his opinion unfounded. We are precluded from denying their citizenship, by our uniform recognition for more than forty years-nay some of them were citizens when this state came into political existence-partook in our struggle for freedom and independence, and were incorporated into the body politic at its creation. As to their degradation, that had been produced by the injustice of white men, and it does not become those who have acted so unjustly towards them, to urge the result of that injustice as a reason for perpetuating their degradation.-The period has elapsed when they were considered and treated as the lawful property of their masters. Our legislature has duly recognized their unalienable right to freedom as rational and accountable beings. This recognition, and the provision made by law for the gradual amelioration of their condition, by necessary implication, admit their title to the native and acquired rights of citizenship. Indeed the report of the select committee considers them to be citizens-why else are the words white citizens used in the report? If there are no citizens of colour the term white by way of distinction is unmeaning. Again, the law under which the members of this Convention were elected, expressly gives the right of voting not only for calling the Convention, and at the election of its members, but on the amendments which the Convention may propose to the constitution. Are not these unequivocal and conclusive concessions of their citizenship? But it is said that they are by law exempted from sharing the public burthens of militia service, and serving as jurors, because public sentiment is against an intermixture with them in those services. Mr. Van Vechten remarked that their exemption from militia duty, was the gratuitous act of the government of the United States, in which the free people of colour were not consulted. With respect to serving on juries there is no legal exemption in favour of the people of colour who have the qualifications prescribed by law for jurors, It is true that in compliance with the prejudices of the community they are practically excluded from jury service, and probably their exemption from militia duty was induced by the same motive. But is this a just ground for defranchising them? Are they not

liable, whenever the government shall see fit to require them, to render the same services that white citizens are enjoined to perform? Are they not taxable, and do not many of them pay their proportion of taxes in common with white citizens? This cannot be denied. How then can we in framing a permanent form of government, justly deny them the rights of free citizens, on account of their present exemption by law from militia duty, and their practical exemption from serving as jurors? Do our prejudices against their colour destroy their rights as citizens? Whence do those prejudices proceed? Are they founded in impartial reason, or in the benevolent principles of our holy religion? Nay, are they indulged in cases where the services of men of colour are desirable? Do we not daily see them working side by side with white citizens on our farms, and on our public highways? Is it more derogatory to a white citizen to stand by the side of a citizen of colour in the ranks of the militia, than in repairing a highway, or in labouring on a farm? Again, are not people of colour permitted to participate in our most solemn religious exercises to set down with us at the same table to commemorate the dying love of the Saviour of sinners? This will not be denied by any one who has been in the habit of attending those exercises, and those religious solemnities-And what is the conclusion to which this fact directs us? Is it not that people of colour are our fellow candidates for immortality, and that the same path to future hap pir ess is appointed for them and us-and that in the final judgment the artificial distinction of colour will not be regarded.-How then can that distinction justify us in taking from them any of the common rights which every other free citizen enjoys?

There is another, and to my mind, an insuperable objection, said Mr. V. V., to the exclusion of free citizens of color from the right of suffrage, arising from the provision in the constitution of the United States, "that the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states." The effect of this provision is, to secure to the citizens of the other states, when they come to reside here, equal privileges and immunities with our native citizens. Suppose, then, that a free citizen of colour should remove from the state of Connecticut into this state, could we deny him the right of suffrage when he obtained the legal qualification of an elector? Is not the constitution of the United States paramount to ours on the subject? and if it is, will it be wise or fit to incorporate an amendment in our constitution, by which we deny to our own citizens of colour, a privilege which we cannot withhold from the same description of citizens of other states, when they migrate into this state.

It has been stated by the gentleman from Saratoga, (Mr. Young) that by the constitution of Connecticut, which has been recently adopted, the right of suffrage is confined to white male citizens. But on looking into the constitution it will be seen that the first section relative to the qualifications of electors, expressly saves and confirms the right of suffrage to all who had been or should be made freemen of that state before the ratification of the constitution. It will not be denied that citizenship was necessary to enable any person to become a freeman in Connecticut, nor can it be disputed that there are and have long been freemen of colour in that state. We have therefore the authority of the framers of the constitution of Connecticut against the principle of disfranchising our present electors of colour.

The gentleman from Saratoga, as well as the gentleman from New-York, (Mr. Radclif) contend that the provision in the constitution of the United States which has been quoted, relates to civil rights, and not to political privileges. On what is the distinction founded? Is not the language of the constitution "all privileges and immunitics” broad enough to comprehend both civil rights, and political privileges? Are there any qualifying words to support the distinction? Is not the right of suffrage admitted on all sides to be an important privilege? Surely the gentleman's distinction is not only unfounded, but inconsistent with the clear and unequivocal language of the constitution, as well as with the obvious policy which induced to the provision in question in its broad

est sense.

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