The Colored Vote: October 23, 1883

The Colored Vote
Atlanta Constitution: October 23, 1883


Bishop Turner, colored, of Atlanta, who is just returning from California, in an interview, was questioned:

Whom do you think the colored people will want for president?”

“Justice Harlan, (who dissented from the majority of the Supreme Court) of course; and the whites will want him, too. This nation cannot go back on the civil rights bill; no, not after voting for it, to a man, as both parties did, in 1872. Greeley and Grant were both on a platform which guaranteed civil rights in 1872.”

But the Republican Party is not likely to nominate a supreme judge for president. How would Arthur suit the colored people as the candidate for re-election?”

“I scarcely know how to answer that question. There is a more favorable opinion, I think, however, President Arthur than prevailed some time ago. Several of us thought that he might have saved Lieutenant Flipper when prejudice was so manifest in his trial and conviction. I never shall believe, as one, that he was fairly dealt with. If President Arthur is nominated he will get our vote. The truth is, whoever is nominated will get our vote unless he has a bad record on civil rights. But let me say, just at this point, that Blaine is a powerful yet with many of us.”

What would the colored people think of Senator Edmunds for president?

“Grandly, sir. He is all right on civil rights, and that is to be the issue now. Besides, Mr. Edmunds is one of the world’s greatest statesmen. But I think a howl will go up for Harlan from the Negro voters of this country.”

Why did the colored people of Georgia vote for Colquitt instead of Norwood during their contest for the governorship?”

“Because Colquitt is a Christian man, progressive, high-toned, and just before God and man; while Senator Norwood represented the bourbon element. Then Norwood had a bad record on the civil rights bill. While in Congress, in the delivery of his speech in opposition to it, he made it convenient to traduce the Negro fearfully, magnifying his ignorance and defects. Personally, I know nothing wrong of Mr. Norwood, but politically, we all favored Colquitt.”

What do you think of Senator Joe Brown?”

“Well, Governor Brown is a friend of mine; so I will not even criticise him politically. He has grand virtues and some faults, but I have faults, too.”

Governor A. H. Stephens was much admired by the colored people, was he not?”

“Yes. Dearly beloved from one end of the state to the other.”

What do you think is to be the solution of the negro problem in this country?”

“Well, I differ with most of the prominent colored men of the country. I have long thought that slavery was a providential institution (not a divine institution, but providential) and that God intended to make us the means or instruments of redeeming Africa, the richest continent in natural resources under the canopy of heaven. But how he intends to use us to that end has not yet been made plain, for the time has not fully arrived. As in the case of the children of Israel, all these old slaves must die, but unless this Supreme Court decision hastens things up a little, which it may do, for the negro will never remain here an outlaw, and you know he is outside of law at present. If the Republican Supreme Court can decide the civil rights bill unconstitutional, let a Democratic Supreme Court get control, and they will decide the Negro’s freedom unconstitutional. Mark now, if you do not live to see it. You may laugh at it, and say fudge, but young men will live to see that this decision will be made a criterion to rip up everything that has been done. White men will yet curse decisions that will grow out of this one as bitterly as Negroes are now complaining and cursing this. Take care that this is not the entering wedge to a dissolution of the country. Oh, you say, ‘I am excited,’ but I have been reading the history of nations for 35 years, and could pile up analogies as high as heaven almost.”