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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 164 pages of information about The Abolitionists.

CHAPTER X

WANTED, AN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY

The National Anti-Slavery Society—­the society organized by Garrison and his confreres, and which longest maintained its organization—­made one great mistake.  It disbanded.  It assumed that its work was done when African slavery in this country was pronounced defunct by law.  It took it for granted that the enslavement of the colored man—­not necessarily the negro—­was no longer possible under the Stars and Stripes.  Then and there it committed a grievous blunder.  Its paramount error was in assuming that a political party could for all time be depended upon as a party of freedom.  It trusted to the assurances of politicians that they would protect the colored man in all his natural and acquired rights, and in that belief voluntarily gave up the ghost and cast its mantle to the winds.

Now, the fact is that the National Anti-Slavery Society was never more needed than it is to-day.  There is a mighty work to be done that was directly in the line of its operations.  First and foremost, it will not be denied that a citizen of our Republic who is deprived of the elective franchise is robbed of one of his most valuable privileges—­one of his most essential rights.  The ballot, under a political system like ours, is both the sword and the shield of liberty.  Without it no man is really a freeman.  He does not stand on an equality with his fellows.

Nor will it be denied that the negro, although our amended Constitution promises him all the privileges of citizenship, is in many parts of our country practically divested of his vote.  By a species of legerdemain in the communities in which he is most numerous and most needs protection, he is to all intents and purposes disfranchised.  What will follow as the final outcome we do not know, but that is the beginning of his attempted re-enslavement.  It is beyond any question that his return to involuntary servitude in some condition or conditions, the disarming him of the ballot being the initial step in the proceeding, is seriously contemplated, if not deliberately planned.  Indeed, under the name of “peonage” the work of re-establishing a system of slaveholding that is barbarous in the extreme is already begun.  Men and women have been seized upon by force, and upon the most flimsy pretexts have been subjected to a bondage that in its inhumanities may easily equal even the slavery of the olden time.  The number of victims is undoubtedly much larger than the general public has any idea of.

Nor are there lacking signs of studied preparation for the extension of the system.  The present time is full of them.  Efforts to create a prejudice against the colored man are visible in all directions.  He is described as a failure in the role of freeman.  The idleness and shiftlessness of certain members of his race—­undoubtedly altogether too numerous—­are dwelt upon as characteristic

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