May 31, 1883 (The Banner Enterprise, an African American newspaper out of Raleigh, NC, 2nd page, 2nd column)
THE INDUSTRIAL AND EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT OF THE NEGRO, THE BEST EVIDENCES OF HIS PROGRESS.
The Negro cannot demonstrate his fitness or capacity for the exercise of his right as a citizen by means of the ballot alone. All politicians are not necessarily good citizens, nor are all good citizens politicians. There was a time, however, in the history of American politics when it was regarded as a high honor for gentlemen to be identified with the political parties of their day and time, and when they were as greatly interested in elections, State and National, as the unscrupulous, wily and designing fellows who now manipulate the wires and hold office, but those days have passed away. And now every man who can write his name and county fifty esteems it a big thing to be known as a politician and a still bigger thing to be elected constable, even if he has to purchase the votes by which he is elected with mean whisky and somebody else’s money. Corruption is the prime element in American politics to-day—a man may resort to any method to carry his point so long as he keeps within the bounds of the laws, and appears to give the color of his legitimacy and honesty to his transactions. He may bribe his fellows, if he so wills, and if there be any inclination or desire to be bribed on the part of his fellows, the law cannot reach him if he knows his business or understands the philosophy of addition, division and silence. Most politicians, indeed a large number of them are fearfully corrupt in their methods and practices, and therefore the term ‘shrewd politician’ is synonymous with shrewd rascal. The Negro cannot advance in the proper way by resorting to or adopting the methods of “shrewd politicians.” He can never be wholly honest so long as he continues to emulate the examples of the political jay birds who wink at dishonesty and esteem it honorable to take mean advantages of the masses.
The highest encomiums were heaped upon the head of the man who corruptly and dishonestly, yet legitimately, bought up the voters of Indiana in 1880, for Garfield and Arthur, and he is now paying the penalty of his loyalty by being prosecuted for defrauding the government, and by the very administration which he was largely instrumental in bringing into existence.
The best thing for the Negroes to do is to emulate the example of the Jews; acquire wealth and knowledge, buy land, and thus pre- [lost section in fold or tear] when these elements will have become the standards by which the citizen of the future will unquestionably be judged. The Negro has the right to vote; let him exercise that right, and while waiting for the opportunity so to do let him look well to his personal interests and save himself from the humiliation and disgrace which must inevitably follow a long reign of ignorance and mob rule. The spelling-book must and shall be made the scepter of national power; without its beneficent influence the Negro will fail to attain to that eminence in the family of nations which our Creator designed that we should attain to.