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History of Negro Citizenship
			
706                CHURCH PREVIEW

said in the thunder tones of war that slavery should no
longer exist: it now said, in an equally decisive manner,
that serfdom or peonage should not be established in its
place.  Having first said all its inhabitants should be
free, it now said that all its freemen should be citizens.
  Hence the members of the 39th Congress, which met
in its second session December 1866, had practically re-
ceived fresh instructions from the people.  So clear and
strong was the indication of the popular will that in-
stead of waiting for the new representatives just elected,
Congress addressed itself at once to the problems of re-
construction, and, on the second day of March, 1867,
passed the bill over the President's veto by which the
South was finally restored to the Union and the status
of the freedmen fixed. The act was completed by sup-
plementary issues passed March 23rd and July 19th
respectively.
  The details of this measure are too long for quotation
here; only the salient points can be given. The thing
of chief interest is the fact that it established Negro suffrage.
Sumner had always claimed a competency in Congress
to settle the whole subject of reconstruction without
constitutional amendments.
   It was expressly provided that no State should be
admitted to representation in Congress till it had adopted
a constitution conferring the elective franchise on all its
male citizens twenty-one years old without distinction
of race, color or previous condition, and also had rati-
fied the 14th Amendment.
   Those who are interested to know the secret history
of this provision for Negro suffrage, should read Pierce's
 "Life of Sumner, vol. iv., page 319.
   It will not escape the attention of the careful student
that the Reconstruction Bill, in its provision touching
the suffrage question went distinctly beyond the 14th
Amendment. The latter only suggested it, leaving it to
the discretion of the individual States; the former prac-
tically enacted it into law. It will be seen that the 15th




			
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African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Vol. 15, Num. 3

History of Negro Citizenship

W.

Volume:  15
Issue Number:  03
Page Number:  689
Date:  01/1899


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