The one issue of the last two Presidential elections was, whether the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments should be considered the irrevocable will of the people; and the decision was, they shall be—and that it is not only the right, but the duty of the National Government to protect all United States citizens in the full enjoyment and free exercise of all their privileges and immunities against any attempt of any State to deny or abridge.
And in this conclusion Republicans and Democrats alike agree.
Senator Frelinghuysen said:
“The heresy of State rights has been completely buried in these amendments, that as amended, the Constitution confers not only national but State citizenship upon all persons born or naturalized within our limits.”
The Call for the national Republican convention said:
has been engrafted on the national Constitution;
the privileges and immunities of American citizenship have become a
part of the organic law.”
The national Republican platform said:
“Complete liberty and exact equality in the enjoyment of all civil, political and public rights, should be established and maintained throughout the Union by efficient and appropriate State and federal legislation.”
If that means anything, it is that Congress should pass a law to require the States to protect women in their equal political rights, and that the States should enact laws making it the duty of inspectors of elections to receive women’s votes on precisely the same conditions they do those of men.
Judge Stanley Mathews—a substantial Ohio democrat—in his preliminary speech at the Cincinnati convention, said most emphatically:
amendments have established the political
equality of all citizens before the law.”
President Grant, in his message to Congress March 30th, 1870, on the adoption of the fifteenth amendment, said:
“A measure which
makes at once four millions of people voters, is
indeed a measure of greater importance than any act of the kind
from the foundation of the Government to the present time.”
How could four millions negroes be made voters if two millions were not included?
The California State Republican convention said:
“Among the many practical and substantial triumphs of the principles achieved by the Republican party during the past twelve years, it enumerated with pride and pleasure, the prohibiting of any State from abridging the privileges of any citizen of the Republic, the declaring the civil and political equality of every citizen, and the establishing all these principles in the federal constitution by amendments thereto, as the permanent law.”
Benjamin F. Butler, in a recent letter to me, said: