June 26, 1862: A Northern Democrat against emancipation

William Richardson

The Richmond Daily Dispatch reprinted approvingly the remarks of Rep. William Richardson of Illinois. Northern Democrats hoped to use racism for leverage against Lincoln; a war for the Union was unassailable in the North, but a war against slavery was decidedly less popular.

The Negro.
–Hon. William A. Richardson (Democrat) of Illinois, recently made a speech against the existing Government of the North, the Emancipation bills, acts and proclamations, and the efforts that are making to elevate the black man to an equality with the whites in this country. Of the negro he says:

In dealing with the negro, sir, we must remember that we are dealing with a being possessing the form and strength of man, but the intellect of a child only. To turn him loose in the manhood of his physical strength, in the maturity of his physical passions, but in the infancy of his uninstructed reason, would be to raise up a creature resembling the splendid fiction of a recent romance, the hero of which constructs a human form, with all the corporal capabilities of man, and with the thews and sinews of a giant; but being unable to impart to the work of his hands a perception of right and wrong, he finds too late that he has only created a more than mortal power of doing mischief, and himself recoils from the monster he has made.

In conclusion, he says:

British statesmen oppose immediate emancipation upon the ground of expedience alone, well knowing that sudden and unconditional emancipation would be destructive to both the negro and white man. American statesmen should oppose it not only upon that ground, but also upon the ground that the Constitution gives no power to interfere with the domestic institutions of the several States–no such power, either in peace or war.

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One Response to June 26, 1862: A Northern Democrat against emancipation

  1. Sammy Foster says:

    If these concerns were genuine, they would have been accompanied by a huge national program to educate the children and these men in “the infancy of their uninstructed reason”- and what a wonderful world it might have been.

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