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Civil War and Reconstruction
Reconstruction and Rights
On the Regeneration of the South

In this excerpt from a speech given before the Soldier's and Sailor's Union of New York, Daniel Ullmann argues for two rights that the federal government should ensure to all men. What are these rights? How are the two rights linked? What arguments does Ullmann make in support of the rights? To whom was Ullmann addressing his arguments - Northerners, Southerners, or all Americans? Find evidence to support your answer.

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Having extinguished these despotisms, then, the problem to solve is, What is best for the loyal men of the present and coming generations? The wicked men who made such wild use of their political power as to destroy their own inheritance, and who strove to overwhelm in irremediable ruin the fabric on which rested the welfare of millions, are worthy of consideration, only so far as humanity dictates. The only rights they possess are the rights of the conquered, which are simply the rights of humanity. While, therefore, Vengeance should be left to that Divine Ruler who has declared that it is His, they should be deprived, hereafter, of the power of doing evil. There are two modes of producing this result; first, their enforced absence from the United States for a time covering the period of reconstruction. This would be thorough and effectual, and as they forfeited their necks, they should render thanks for so easy an escape. Previous to the collapse, they expected, with good cause, a worse fate. But the course of events and of public sentiment indicates that this is now impracticable. In default of this, then, second, they should be disfranchised for a term of years. This would not be a measure of revenge, or even of punishment, but simply of protection and security. Give to them every just protection for their lives, their liberties and their property, but let them no longer have the power of endangering the lives, liberties and property of others. Of course it will always be wise and generous to relieve individuals by pardon, whenever their repentance and good conduct will justify it.

. . . the Insurrectionary States shall be placed exclusively in the hands of the genuine loyal men, white and black, of their several communities, and, until the Governments, which they shall organize, in strict conformity with the Laws and Constitution of the United States, shall have respectively obtained consistency, firmness and ability to sustain themselves, they shall be supported by the military power of the United States Less than this will be a violation of national honor and justice. . . .

. . . the colored Unionists who always stood firm . . . are, three and a half millions of human beings, American citizens, born on this soil--full of hopes and fears, their destinies inextricably interwoven with that of this nation--what is to be done with them? The answer is written, as with sun-beams, on every page of our history: Field to them all the rights of citizens, and educate them . "Horrible!" exclaim hundreds; "give to the ignorant negro the inestimable privilege of voting!" Why not? It is not a privilege to be granted, but a right to be recognized and enforced. Suffrage is a right which, on analysis, is resolved into two elements: First, it is a natural, personal right, because Governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed;" and second, because the act of voting is an act of governing others; this natural right may be qualified or limited whenever its individual exercise interferes with the general well-being. Such limitations, however, can only be justified when the reasons are of overruling necessity. Thus burglars, rebels, highwaymen, and other felons are denied, because their acts indicate hostility to the existence of all governments; lunatics, because of a deficiency of mind; minors, because of not having arrived at what is termed the age of discretion; and aliens, because a period of probation is judged to be necessary to learn the principles of the Government. The object of all Government should be to carry out for their benefit the collective will of all whom it affects. The theory of representative democracy, which is a Republic, is that it is government of the whole people: "It is a government of the people, by the people, for the people;" and, therefore, the arbitrary exclusion of any class from suffrage, except when great reasons of State demand it, as in the case of the nonrepentant Rebels, is a violation of its fundamental principle; which wrong works other wrongs, and will lead to an infinitude of evil, until theory and action become concurrent. . . .

But, not only should suffrage be extended to this class, because it is a personal, natural right, but, also, because it is a high, overruling, absolute, necessity, for our and their security. Independently of all other considerations, they must have the right of suffrage that they may defend themselves in their rights. Statistics show that if the question of freedom or slavery, Union or Disunion were now submitted to the White vote alone of the South, slavery would be re-established and the Union dissolved. Unless you resort to the colored vote, the United States cannot "guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government," except by the bayonet. This nation is compelled by a moral law, which it cannot long resist, to throw around these people the protection of the right of suffrage. Otherwise, military governments, a system abnormal in a republic, contrary to our traditions and repugnant to our sentiments, will necessarily be continued indefinitely. . . . Is any man so stolid as to suppose that the 180,000 colored men whom we have educated and disciplined as soldiers, together with the hundreds of thousands they have, as missionaries, since educated, will remain contented in the future, if this nation shall so offend against justice as to deny to them and to their race the rights to which they are entitled?. . .

While then equal suffrage is a necessity, which the American people cannot avoid, even if they so desired, there is a cognate duty of equal, if not greater binding force:--Indeed, the highest duty of a government, such as this, based on intelligence and virtue, and without which, republican institutions are a mockery, is to strive by every means, which the Supreme Intelligence has given us, to render education universal. A real regeneration of the South must begin with the education of all classes. The first obstacle to overcome, there, is the wide-spread unconsciousness of its necessity. All the world knows that the policy of the slave States has been, for not less than two generations, to discourage by every device, and generally by positive enactments, the education not only of the Blacks, but also of the "poor whites." One million of persons, all told, constituting the most selfish aristocracy that ever cursed mankind, strove to continue in hopeless ignorance 11,000,000 of laborers, thus making them all practically slaves. Their theory was that all labor should be subservient to capital, that is, that all employers should be Lords and all employees, vassals, serfs, or slaves. This whole system must be supplanted by making universal the machinery of civilization, social, civil, political and religious. Nor should the efforts of the General Government be confined to any section.

If there are two subjects, which, interesting the whole mass of the people, are, above all others, pre-eminently National , and which, in a representative democracy, should be inwrought into the whole structure of its Government, they are equal suffrage and universal education. Every child born into the world has a moral right to have its faculties educated to the highest decree, of which they are capable, and I can conceive of no higher, nobler function, devolving upon a government, than to make that right practical and universal. But, say hypocrites, "this is common-place." Is it, therefore, not true? The great agents of nature around us are "common-place,"--are they, therefore, not valuable? This beautiful earth, on which we "live and move and have our being,"--this surrounding atmosphere, whose air is our breath,--those great waters which make habitable the globe,--you genial sun, which makes all fruitful,--are they not all "common-place!" Would that education--education of all the faculties, physical, mental and moral, of all human beings, not only in this, but in all lands, were as common-place and as universal!

Unless the Constitution of a free people provides for the universal education of that people, it contains the seeds of its own destruction. No wider field exists for the beneficent powers of Government than the universal education of all who are within the sphere of its action. The interests at stake, of the whole nation are too vast and universal to be left entirely to private effort and to the undivided action of the several States:--Some of the States have not only neglected but by penal enactments have forbidden the education of portions of their inhabitants. While, therefore, it may well be, that the National Government should not enter directly into the execution of plans for educating the people, yet it should have the power to compel the State Governments to discharge their duty.

It is respectfully suggested that the following amendment is necessary, in order that all disputed points on these subjects may be set at rest forever, and that the Constitution of the United States may be brought into symmetrical accord with the Declaration of Independence:

The CONGRESS SHALL PROVIDE BY LAW THAT IN THE States, EDUCATION SHALL BE UNIVERSAL, AND SUFFRAGE EQUAL AND UNIFORM.
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