The Radical Wedge
September 17, 1870
After weeks of conflict, Republican leaders of Missouri have been unable to find a common ground, and the party has officially divided. Each of the two tickets in the field is asking for the African-American community to give them their vote.
The illiberality of a part of th Republican leaders sis a sort of wedge of Milo. It promises to catch the ultras in the split they make. In this State pains and penalties and prolonged disfranchisements swept them before the storm of public indignation, and the question of universal "amnesty" is troubling the Republican campaigns in several Stales. The Republicans of Missouri are at this time plunged into strife on this subject. They have divided, as we have already said, and have two State tickets in the field. The Liberalists, who favor general amnesty and a non-protective tariff have up B. Gratz Brown for Governor, and the ultra Radicals, who, for sake of the offices they covet, are anxious to continue the disfranchisement of one-fourth of the people of Missouri, have nominated McClurg, the president incumbent. Senator Carl Schurz heads the Liberal party, and he and others of a committee have addressed an able and bold paper to the people of Missouri, in which they declare the time has come for general amnesty," according to the pledge of the Republican party of Missouri: that the performance of this pledge is opposed by politicians who desire to monopolize the local offices; and that these "spoilsmen, together with a class of narrow-minded persons, whose only political capital and wisdom consists in the resentments and battle-cries of the past, formed the scheme of maintaining their ascendancy at any price." The committee further expose the man- ner in which the Convention which nomi- nated McClurg was packed: mentioning, among other things, that in the apportionment of representation one delegate was given to every ninety blacks, while the whites were awarded one delegate to every 140 white constituents. Of course these blacks were all packed on the disfranchise- ment and McClurg side. After criticising the Convention effectively, the committee proceed generally to discuss the fatal conse- quences of the illiberal policy of disfran- chisement. In the course of the discussion of this point the committee say: "Look at our candidates. Is there a sin- gle one whose past conduct is not identified with the great achievements of which the Republican party is so justly proud? But, faithful to the true Republican faith, there is not one among them who, for his per- sonal advancement, would deprive any other human being of his rights. A party cannot live on the glory of its past achieve- ments alone. It cannot quarter itself like an idle and hungry pensioner upon the public crib on the ground that it has once well- deserved of the Republic. It must come up to the living exigencies and obligations of the present and the future, or it will go under." The committee address a strong appeal to the negro voters, from which we make the following extract : "A word to the colored people. You have just been admitted to the exercise of political rights. And now there are un- scrupulous men who advise you, when y are to exercise the franchise for the first time, to use that franchise for the purpose of continuing the disfranchisement of others. Do you not see that such a course cannot fail to strengthen the prejudice which are still arrayed against you? If you are wise you will repel those who thus strive to seduce and make tools of you as your most dangerous enemies, for it must be clear to every one of you that your rights can be secure only if no other class of citizens is deprived of the privileges which you enjoy. Your safety can be only in a perfect equality of rights." How different the advice here given from that offered to colored voters in this State by the Porters and Humphreys, and the tribe of northern Methodist preachers who control the Republican party in the South. The Liberal party in Missouri has gone to work nobly, and we hope will triumph. The St. Louis Democrat, a Republican paper of great ability and influence, supports the Liberalists with great zeal. In the last of its issue before us it gives to the Republicans an editorial sermon, of which the following is the first paragraph: "Religion, education, social culture, community of feeling, active benevolence, all these powers which make whatever is best and brightest in our civilization, and plants which cannot thrive in an atmosphere of Hate." And the following is the conclusion : "Is it not the duty, we ask it in all can- dor and earnestness, of every good citizen, to drive that spirit out of power in Mis- souri? Is it not the first duty of citizen- ship, of civilization, of Christianity? Do we not all owe it to the State and nation, to the poor and needy, to the working man and the capitalist, to the generation now rising, to our wives and daughters, to that religion which is the soul of all the churches - to crush out of power in Missouri this demoniac spirit of eternal hate?" The Cincinnati Commercial, another one of the most able and influential Republican papers in the West, warmly sustains the Missouri Liberalists. It thus concludes a long article on the subject: "Whether the time has come for permit- ting the people of every part of the coun- try to take the government of their local af- fairs into their own hands, and for heir re- lease from military or quasi-military rule, and whether, in order to raise one dollar for revenue, three dollars must be levied at the same time for the benefit of manufac- turing monopolists, are questions which the Missouri campaign may fetch into such prominence that even in Ohio an expres- sion on them can no longer be evaded."
About this article
“The Radical Wedge,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 1, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1838.