"Pritchard Spouts on His Resolution," Raleigh News and Observer, January 23, 1900.
PRITCHARD SPOUTS ON HIS RESOLUTION
Declares the “Negro Has Never Been Offensive”
MEEK AS A LITTLE LAMB
THE VICIOUS DEMOCRATS HAVE PREYED UPON HIM
DEMOCRATIC NOT WHITE MAN’S PARTY
To a Crowded Senate For Two and a Half House Pritchard Abused the White Men of the State, Declaring They Wish to Destroy Popular Government
Washington D.C., Jan. 22 – (Special.) Senator Pritchard today delivered his speech in the Senate in advocacy of his resolution declaring the proposed amendment to the Constitution of North Carolina is in conflict with the 15th amendment of the United States Constitution. The entire House delegation remained on the floor of the Senate throughout the speech. Senator Pritchard began his speech at 12:30 and concluded at 3 p.m. The Senators were nearly all present and the galleries were crowded. About fifty visiting North Carolinians, many Republican leaders among them, occupied front seats in the Senate galleries.
The speech of Senator Pritchard was throughout rather a reply to the speech of Senator Morgan than an independent discussion of the amendment and he also quoted copiously from newspapers and speakers of North Carolina just previous to the election of 1898. He addressed himself mainly to showing that the proposed amendment would conflict with the United States Constitution, suggested that part might be held constitutional and part unconstitutional, and expressly declared that it is the intention of the proposed amendment to disfranchise the uneducated whites as well as the blacks. He made frequent and caustic references to Chairman Simmons and other prominent Democrats.
Mr. Pritchard agreed that the question involved the peace and welfare of the nation and the stability of our institutions. The Constitution, in plain, mandatory, and unequivocal language, guaranteed to each State a republican from of Government. But according to Mr. Morgan’s contentions said Mr. Pritchard, the Constitution could be violated if it became necessary to violate it in order to maintain Democratic rule in the South. That was nullification, pure and simple.
“If the Senator from Alabama is right,” said Mr. Pritchard, “in his contention that the negro is not entitled to exercise the elective franchise, the Democratic party should have the manhood to propose the abrogation of the fifteenth amendment. This would afford the people of the United States an opportunity to pass upon the question – the only lawful method by which the colored people can be deprived of the rights which are now guaranteed them by said amendment.”
Mr. Pritchard then declared that the result of the adoption of the amendment would be the curtailments of North Carolina’s representation in Congress. He denied that the Republican party had forced negro suffrage upon the South and said he could show that the Democratic party was mainly responsible for it. He said that there is a manifest disposition in North Carolina to ignore the liberty of the individual and to invade the right of property, and that it has been the intent of the Democratic party ever since 1898 to disfranchise “the poor and illiterate white people of the State.” In order at last to accomplish this he declared that the amendment has been framed and an election law passed “with the sole view of manipulating the election and thwarting the will of the people.”
Mr. Pritchard then passed to a discussion of the constitutionality of the proposed amendment. He said it is as clearly unconstitutional as though it “declared that no one of African descent should be entitled to vote.” He cited a long list of decisions as [illegible] to show how the Supreme Court of the United States will regard the question and denied that there is any similarity between the proposed amendment and the amendment of the constitution of Massachusetts. The former he characterized as a “well devised scheme to forever prevent the common people from participating in the government of the State.”
To the provision requiring the voter to pay his poll tax the Senator devoted particular attention, saying it was his information “that the framers of the amendment after they had inserted the educational qualification became alarmed lest our poor white people should all learn to read and write,” and so put in the poll tax clause.
The speaker stoutly denied that there has ever been any “danger of negro domination in North Carolina.” The negroes he declared, “have never acted offensively nor have they shown a disposition to interfere with the white people in the management of State affairs. It is true that there are exceptions, but in no instance has the conduct of the negro been of such as nature as to challenge the serious consideration of the white people.” He disputed the contention of the Democrats that there are only 30,000 white Republicans in the State, placing the number at 60,000. There were but 100,000 negro voters and of these but 80,000 voted. There are 50,000 educated negroes who will be able to vote if they can pay their poll tax. Mr. Pritchard ridiculed the idea that the Democratic party in the South is the white man’s party.
The most remarkable part of Mr. Pritchard’s speech was the reason he gave for the agitation of the amendment question. He said, “The wave of prosperity and the general revival of business that is now pervading every nook and corner of the United States, and which is as much in evidence in our beautiful Southland as in any other section of the county, together with the fact that the Spanish was has once again re-united our country and tired the Southern heart with RENEWED PATRIOTISM and ardor and prompted them with a desire to sustain President McKinley in his efforts to end the war in the Philippines has alarmed the Democratic leaders and cause them to resort to the agitation of the race question in order, as they think, to blind the Southern people to the splendid results of Republican legislation. I make this assertion after mature deliberation and I am prepared to demonstrate that such is the case.”
The Senator said that there has been a “gradual encroachment upon the rights of Southern Republicans since the decision of 1876,” and that the real object was to “restore the rule of the classes and to ignore the masses.” He then quote election returns from Louisiana claiming that its amendment had destroyed popular interest in government.
In conclusion Mr. Pritchard declared that “the Republican party of the nation can not [sic] afford to fold its hands and permit the Democratic party to again secure political ascendency by resorting to such unrepublican and unconstitutional methods.” He declared that every such sad move in the future “will be promptly met.”
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