Black and White
January 17, 1871
Senator Lewis, a Radical Republican, along with his fellow party members, is pushing for racial equality and to have African-Americans serve in office. According to the Dispatch, Lewis is overstepping his bounds and Grant is annoyed with the Radicals and wants them to go home, for he does not like African-Americans and is tired of them.
The ultra Radicals, who protest against distinctions on account of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude," do not fail daily to force those distinctions upon the public attention to the disgust of all decent people. Our restless Senator Lewis amongst the most active with his importunities about the blacks having a bit of everything. He is guide, guardian, and friend of the black delegations, and leads them like a forlorn hope to the White House and to the attack upon the President, who, from all accounts, is heartily wearied of all sorts of delegations, and especially black. But Senator Lewis is impervious to any impressions of the President's impatience and nausea. His tall and wiry form approaches at the head of the column to the President's room steadily and formally as a wooden statue. He sees not tho curling lip and the changing hues of the President's cheek; but he introduces his friends Sambo, Casaer, William Johnson, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, with perverse persistence, and they, feeling their consequence with imperturbable self-possession, bow their self complacency in "condecoprehaden style." Gen. Grant never fails to express himself with all allowable energy. He is tired of these delegations, these wearisome committees. He begs them to go home-to quit quarreling about the offices-to be quiet and harmonious-and, in substance, to let him alone. If he were possessed of some of old Hickory's impetuous will he would swear in a way that would end these terrible visitations led by the indomitable Senator. We are sorry for Gen. Grant. He doesn't love the colored people-he is tired of them-and yet he has to put on the appearance of courtesy in receiving them. The grave Senator has just as little affection for the African. The Richmond black mob had both him and Mr. Botts in a most uncomfortable, and not altogether safe, position on the famous 17th of April, 1867; and the scenes of that day in no way helped to elevate the colored man in the regards of either of them. Had the negroes not been so numerous, and voters at that, we doubt whether either Mr. Botts or the Senator would ever again have said a word in eulogy of them. But Senator Lewis is simply overstepping the bounds of prudence. He misunderstands his Radical brethren just as Sumner does. They do not expect that negroes are to hold office, and they regard any member of the party who presses the claims of a negro for an office that "pays" as a great goose. The white Radicals here have no idea of such a thing; and when they hear that Senator Lewis has declared to President Grant that the offices should be divided with "loyal colored men," they say, "What a fool Lewis is." Well, Senator Lewis don't understand fully the dark and vain ways of Radicalism. He may be green, but we suspect he is sincere; and that Is a very bad thing to suspect a politician of! But this pressing of the negro for office is simply calling attention to him as black, and making a distinction which radical laws Sumner and Porter want to divide the juries equally into black and white men, thus by law declaring the distinction of color, and making color, and not capacity, the ground of selection of jurors. In Republics it is to be presumed that men are elected to office for their fitness (a presumption not well sustained by facts in these days, but one that must go along with the right of election), and it is a gross outrage upon republican principles if a man is to be thrust into place merely because he Is black, according to Senator Lewis's policy. The plain and just Inference (now that negroes are declared eligible to office), from the fact that negroes are not in office, is that they arc not fit for responsible positions, requiring education, experience, and integrity. There is, indeed, not one in twenty who are forced upon the public councils that has the slightest capability for the position he occupies, no doubt painfully to himself. The hypocrites who are ever talking about putting negroes into office, and know their incompetency, deserve as little the faith and trust of the negroes as they do the public respect. The true friend of the negro is the man who will tell him the truth and advise him to turn his attention to the occupations for which he is fitted, and give up the vain delusion-so recently descended from the savage as he is, and altogether ignorant and inexperienced as he is-that he is capable to fill those public offices whose duties require alike ability, information, and experience for their faithful performance. The man who advises them differently is a knave. The Radical who presses them as black upon the public attention is forcing that distinction on account of color which he declares should not be made. He is doing worse than that-he is forcing negroes into a prominence which is alike painful to them and disgusting to society, the effect of which is to further alienate the races and engender hostilities which are seriously injurious to those communities where the population consists of both races in anything like equal numbers. The blacks will in time find out their true friends, and all the delusion so heartlessly created by the ultra Radicals will be dispelled. When that day comes the blacks will be wiser and happier, and consider their white neighbors as their true friends, and the white adventurers and hypocrites as their enemies.
About this article
“Black and White,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 7, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1940.