As in the postwar South, the Republican party believed the votes of Rhode Island’s colored population were for sale – the following early 1880s resolution was apparently aimed at black Republican voters: “Resolved: That we will hold in contempt, as a traitor to mankind and his race, that man who will permit his vote to be influenced by a tender of money or any other corrupting influences.” It should be remembered that Providence, Rhode Island was the highly-profitable center of the slave trade in North America in 1750.
Bernhard Thuersam, ww.circa1865.org
Free Colored People Unhappy in Rhode Island
“Colored Voters: The colored voters of Rhode Island, who have long complained of the treatment which they have steadily received at the hands of the Republican party in the State — they being unrecognized as citizens, neglected and totally ignored in regard to their political rights, excepting that of suffrage, which is eagerly sought for — assembled in convention at Newport on the 18th of October, 1882, to express and make known their sentiments.
Several public speakers of high repute among them addressed the convention, set forth in plain language, besides other causes of complaint, that the colored voters were highly insulted by the [Republican] party in power, as they were not considered worthy being voted for, for any public offices in the gift of the people; declaring also that henceforward they intended to act independently of the Republican party on all occasions, but vote for the person, whatever the party to which he might belong, who would recognize them as citizens.
The colored people of the State numbered 6271 in 1875, and 6592 in 1880.”
(Rhode Island, Appleton’s Annual Cyclopedia, 1882, Appleton & Company, pp. 791-792)