Fred. Douglass's Advice to the Colored Voter.

May 12, 1870


Frederick Douglas informs "colored" voters to vote with their beliefs and not just popular party opinions. He also speaks about the effects that voting for either party would have on "colored" rights.


At the ratification celebration in Philadelphia Frederick Douglass delivered a very lengthy speech, replete with advice to the new voters. From the concluding portion of his address we clip the following, which is very opposite to the state of things how existing in Richmond : " I hope that the old men here who hear me will remember that anything more than moral suasion to a difference of opinion, a difference of political action among colored ' people (but, my friends, I am not going to give advice, for we are in the position just now to revive perhaps more than we can dispose of in that line), but let me say that one of the first things that we colored voters have to learn is this : to respect to the fullest extent, to respect in each other, the right to a difference of opinion. " I hear some men say that if the black man, in this enlightened age, should vote the Democratic ticket let him be denounced. [Cheers.] Gentlemen I do not share that opinion at all. 1 am a Republican - a Black Republican [cheers] dyed in the wool- and I never intend to belong to any other than the party of freedom and progress [Cheers.] Hut if one of my colored fellow-citizens chooses to think that his interests and rights and the interests of the country can be better sub-served by giving his vote against the Republican party, I, as an American citizen, and as one desirous to learn the first principles of free government, affirm his right-his undoubted right-to vote as ho chooses. "What we have to learn is respect for the law everywhere ; it is not to lead and control the opinions of our fellow-citizens. I run a lover of freedom. I am a Protestant. [Cheer.] I believe in a free conscience, both religiously and politically. I go in for the first, second, and last, and I want you to do so too. " I am down upon any one who begins to question a man who is going to vote a ticket different from his own. That talk was commenced in the District of Columbia. Nothing! nothing ! nothing will tarnish our liberty in tri- country so much as doing that. We are to respect each other's rights."
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Bryce Smith


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“Fred. Douglass's Advice to the Colored Voter.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 20, 2020,