Very valuable provisions were thereby secured, but no direct attempt was made to utilize the votes of the loyal colored men of the South. Up to this time reconstruction and manhood suffrage were treated as matters entirely distinct. All were anxious for the restoration of the Union but very few were willing to confer the ballot upon black men to have it accomplished. The people were now about to be taught another lesson. The State of Tennessee not only accepted the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, but moving in advance of them declared all loyal men of every race and complexion to be entitled to vote and upon that broad platform she was restored to her relations to the Union by act approved July 24, 1866. With this single exception the Rebel States stood out against all overtures, and Congress, at the opening of the session in December 1866, was obliged to address itself anew to its Sisyphean task. I well remember how assiduously the Joint Committee on Reconstruction canvassed the whole field of possibilities, and how at last it was completted to acknowledge its inability to meet the case by reporting a mere military government for the remaining recalcitrant States. This was pronounced an impotent conclusion to so laborious an investigation. It was insisted that some plan of permanent adjustment should accompany the Military bill and that the terms on which the Rebel States could secure civil government should also be stated therein. [Applause.] To establish civil governments it was necessary to say in advance who should vote. Ingenuity had exhausted itself in the effort to make loyal States out of a disloyal white population. Loyal States were possible in only one way, and that was by giving suffrage to the loyal blacks. [Long continued cheering.] This was conceded at once so far as the preliminary conventions were concerned, but when it was urged that the Constitutions of the States should provide that the elective franchies should be enjoyed by "the male citizens of said States twenty one years old and upward, of whatever race, color or previous condition, a spirited contest arose which was finally terminated by the adoption of the provision in the caucus of the Republican Senators by a majority of only one vote -- and I was one of that majority. [Cheers.] The bill as thus amended and passed was vetoed by Mr. Johnson, but notwithstanding the veto it became a law on March 2d, 1867 by a two thirds vote of both Houses. [Cheers.] Thus manhood suffrage became the potent agent in the reconstruction. [Cheers.] All other laws since passed on the subject have simply sustained and fortified it. Military power has availed only in so far as it has protected it. Without it we should be no farther advanced to-day in the reclamation of the Rebel States than we were after Mr. Johnson's unfortunate attempts. [Applause.] Without it, the national flag could not be kept floating in any of those States unless protected by a military force. With it seven hundred thousand votes are secured to the Union and to freedom, and all but one of the Rebel States are now enjoying their constitutional relations in the Union. [Applause.] Much remains to be done, it is true, but no man can deny that much has already been done, and mainly done by means of negro suffrage. [Applause.]

The imperfect sketch I have given of the history of emancipation and manhood suffrage shows conclusively that these great measures have not been adopted in any spirit of unkindness towards that section of the country wherein the great body of the colored vote is found. They were employed by the Republican party after years of trial cautiously -- I might almost say reluctantly -- not as the means of retaining its ascendancy but as mighty political forces for putting down the rebellion and restoring the Union. Seven hundred thousand voters, who, if need be, can become soldiers, constitute a power not to be despised. [Applause.]

To sum it all up -- the black won his freedom by his bravery, and his suffrage by his loyalty. [Cheers.] Nearly five years ago his freedom was confirmed irrevocably by constitutional guaranty. Shall he ever be deprived of his right to the ballot? [Cries of "No! No!"] The American people, speaking through two thirds of both Houses of Congress and the Legislatures of twenty nine States, have said that "The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude," and the record whereon those words are written will endure as long as men shall continue to love liberty or preserve their faith in God. [Applause.]