The (New York) Sun

1884: November 18

The Colored People.

  It cannot be denied that there is much uneasiness among the colored people because of the election of CLEVELAND. Both at the North and at the South they seem to be depressed and full of forebodings.

  Nor can we wonder at their anxiety. When the last Democratic President was in the White House millions of these negroes were slaves, and were utterly hopeless of release from their bondage. At the North the prejudice against the colored people was strong almost everywhere, and they were subjected to great indignities on account of it. They could not ride in public conveyances along with white men and women, and they were regarded and treated as an outcast class. At the South the aversion to them because of their color was far less, but they were slaves and were looked on as little above brutes. It was a penal offense to teach them to read and write, and they were bought and sold like cattle.

  The memory of Democratic rule to those poor people is therefore a memory of bondage, of degradation, and terrible injustice. Under Republicanism they were made free and admitted to citizenship, and consequently both their self-respect and their importance in the eyes of the whites were much increased. Anyone who remembers New York a quarter of a century ago, and recalls the colored people as they were then, must be greatly impressed by the improvement in their condition which has taken place within that time. It is true that they are still a race apart, and that the tendency is rather toward the strengthening rather than the obliteration of the African type. In proportion to their whole number there are fewer mulattoes now than before the war, and under freedom the increased self-respect and greater pride of the negroes lead them to still more preserve their exclusiveness.

  But in social consideration they have gained vastly, and the humiliations from which they once suffered at the hands of the whites are now spared to a large extent. They are not kicked about as they were in the old days, but are treated with decent respect, though the prejudice against them remains, and is, indeed, ineradicable.

  Of course the memory of that period is a painful and a terrible one to the colored people, and their reminiscences of those dark days are associated with Democratic rule. Democracy recalls slavery to them, and the word sounds harshly in their ears. Under BUCHANAN they were chattels; under ARTHUR they are freemen and American citizens.

  But the negroes have no real occasion to indulge in gloomy forebodings. So far from CLEVELAND'S election being a disadvantage for them, we do not doubt that of all the people they will be the greatest gainers by it. Their freedom is assured, and as citizens and voters they are as important to the Democratic party as to the Republican party. At the South especially their condition is likely to be much improved, for the whites have now had their way and will be less disposed to regard them with suspicion and to treat them with political injustice. It is an era of good feeling in the South. The whites are no longer irritated against the blacks as successful political enemies; and it is manifest from the Southern newspapers that they are already anxious to give the negroes indubitable proofs of their friendly disposition toward them. We expect, therefore, to see the relations between the two races growing steadily more and more cordial, until at last there shall be no color line in politics.

  It will be a great step in advance for the colored people when they divide politically as the white people divide. They will command more respect when it is seen that they are not, as a matter of course, mortgaged to one party. The principle of Democracy, the principle which commends it to the great body of wage earners, deserves and must receive eventually the hearty support of the colored people.

  Instead of sorrowing because of the election of CLEVELAND, let them rather rejoice, for it gives promise that their political bondage will be broken.