The History Of The Black Vote: Part 1

Black Voters“The first premise of the argument to deny black New Yorkers the vote asserted that African-Americans were by nature incapable of responsibly exercises this precious right of self-rule. ‘The minds of the blacks are not competent to vote,’ argued one [New York State Constitutional] Convention member. ‘They are too ignorant to know whether their vote is given to elevate another to office, or to hang themselves upon the gallows,’ said another. Left to their own devices the argument went, blacks would sell their votes to the highest bidder- who, thesis Republicans feared, would probably be federalists. Suffrage restriction recapitulated and strengthened the thinking of the American Colonization Society, which asserted that freedom was one thing but political equality quite another. Republican convention delegate Peter Livingston was willing to grant blacks freedom, legal protection, and religious liberty. ‘But if they are dangerous to your political institutions,’ he warned his fellow delegates, ‘put not a weapon in their hands to destroy you.’…

To such thinking there could be no right hand response. ‘Do our prejudices against their color destroy their rights as citizens?’ Asked Federalist Abraham Van Vechten. White New Yorkers decided that they did. The convention removed all property restrictions on white men only to impose a $250 property requirement on black voters. By 1826, further limits on white voting were removed, yet by then only sixteen blacks in New York County could vote.”-From, “Slavery in New York”

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