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For Roosevelt




Why This Is the Position of the Loyal Afro-American—Charles W. Chesnutt, Esq., States the Case, Concisely and Plainly—Read it Carefully and Thoughtfully.

New York City.–The following appeared in a recent issue of the Age and ought to, for an obvious reason, prove exceptionally interesting to The Gazette's readers in Cleveland and throughout Ohio:

Theodore Roosevelt

I am unable to conceive how any Negro voter in the United States, who has the interests of his race at heart, can support the democratic national ticket in the approaching election. No one would more readily than I concede the advantage which it would be to the Negro in the United States to have the vote of his race so divided that no partisan question could be raised in respect to it. There has been a time, perhaps, when such a division was at least possible, had the Negro voters been mere calculating machines, and not men of flesh and blood, with a lively memory of past benefits and a very natural resentment for past injuries. But, whatever may be said of the past, the present is certainly no time to go following after strange political gods.

It is a great pity that Negro men should not feel free to choose their political party in the same way as other voters do. There would doubtless be some pronounced difference of opinion among them on the questions, for instance, of Philippine independence, and the course of the administration in respect to the Panama Canal; the question of trusts; the question of a protective tariff; the relations of capital and labor. These are real, vital issues, which closely concern the national prosperity, and which every good citizen ought to consider carefully and seek in each case the right conclusion. But vital as these questions are, they fade into insignificance beside the issue of Negro rights—human rights—which the democratic party has injected into this campaign, and which it has put to the front in every recent state election.

The strength of the democratic party lies in the southern states, from which any democratic candidate for president must receive the bulk of his support. The democratic south is frankly and aggressively hostile to Negro rights. A vote for Parker and Davis is a vote to give Tillman and Vardaman and Graves and Williams and those whom they represent, a right to be heard in the councils of a democratic administration. It is not easy to believe that a president, however well intentioned or well grounded in correct political principles he may be, could remain uninfluenced by those to whom he owes his election. The Negroes, poor, disorganized, disfranchised, comparatively few in number,—are not without their influence in the republican party; is it conceivable that the powerful and aggressive southern majority of the democratic party would be without a strong, if not even a commanding influence, in a democratic administration? And is it conceivable that in view of the anti-Negro legislation of the past ten years, and of the violent utterances of the recognized spokesmen of the southern democracy, that their influence would be anything but actively and virulently hostile to the political and civil rights, the proper ambitions, and the higher aspirations of the Negro race?

The republican party has been lukewarm in regard to the rights of the Negro, but it has not antagonized them in any instance, except in the case of the curious fungus growth known as the "Lily White" republican of the southern states, which has received small encouragement under the present administration. Many Negroes still serve the government in its various departments, and the republican party, however it may have fallen behind in practice, has never abandoned the theory of equality before the law. Moreover, the republican party is the Negro's party, and by retaining his standing as a vital element of it, he can command in some small degree its influence for his protection.

So much for the parties

But the Negro finds another reason for voting the republican ticket, in the personality of its presidetnial[sic] candidate. President Roosevelt has declared in terms that he is in favor of equal citizenship and equal opportunity for all men in the United States, and he has in many instances proved his faith by his works. The most violent criticism to which he has been subjected has been because of his fair and friendly attitude toward the Negro. The man with one drop of black blood who would vote against him, and to place the destinies of this nation for four years to come in the hands, or even subject to the direct influence, of the horde of Negro-burning, Negro-hating, Negro-disfranchising and "Jim Crow"-ing democratic politicians of the south, is, not to mince words, both an ingrate and a fool.