MASTERPIECES OF NEGRO ELOQUENCE
THE BEST SPEECHES DELIVERED BY THE NEGRO FROM THE DAYS OF SLAVERY TO THE PRESENT TIME
ALICE MOORE DUNBAR
Copyright, 1914, by ROBERT JOHN NELSON
Printed in the United States of America
TO THE BOYS AND GIRLS OF THE NEGRO RACE, THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED, WITH THE HOPE THAT IT MAY HELP INSPIRE THEM WITH A BELIEF IN THEIR OWN POSSIBILITIES
It seems eminently fitting and proper in this year, the fiftieth anniversary of the Proclamation of Emancipation that the Negro should give pause and look around him at the things which he has done, those which he might have done, and those which he intends to do. We pause, just at the beginning of another half century, taking stock of past achievements, present conditions, future possibilities.
In considering the literary work of the Negro, his pre-eminence in the field of oratory is striking. Since the early nineteenth century until the present time, he is found giving eloquent voice to the story of his wrongs and his proscriptions. Crude though the earlier efforts may be, there is a certain grim eloquence in them that is touching, there must be, because of the intensity of feeling behind the words.
Therefore, it seems appropriate in putting forth a volume commemorating the birth of the Negro into manhood, to collect some few of the speeches he made to help win his manhood, his place in the economy of the nation, his right to stand with his face to the sun. The present volume does not aim to be a complete collection of Negro Eloquence; it does not even aim to present the best that the Negro has done on the platform, it merely aims to present to the public some few of the best speeches made within the past hundred years. Much of the best is lost; much of it is hidden away in forgotten places. We have not always appreciated our own work sufficiently to preserve it, and thus much valuable material is wasted. Sometimes it has been difficult to obtain good speeches from those who are living because of their innate modesty, either in not desiring to appear in print, or in having thought so little of their efforts as to have lost them.
The Editor is conscious that many names not in the table of contents will suggest themselves to the most casual reader, but the omissions are not intentional nor yet of ignorance always, but due to the difficulty of procuring the matter in time for the publication of the volume before the golden year shall have closed.
In collecting and arranging the matter, for the volume, I am deeply indebted first to the living contributors who were so gracious and generous in their responses to the request for their help, and to the relatives of those who have passed into silence, for the loan of valuable books and manuscripts. I cannot adequately express my gratitude to Mr. John E. Bruce and Mr. Arthur A. Schomburg, President and Secretary of the Negro Society for Historical Research, for advice, suggestion, and best of all, for help in lending priceless books and manuscripts and for aid in copying therefrom.
Again, we repeat, this volume is not a complete anthology; not the final word in Negro eloquence of to-day, nor yet a collection of all the best; it is merely a suggestion, a guide-post, pointing the way to a fuller work, a slight memorial of the birth-year of the race.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PRINCE SAUNDERS The People of Hayti and a Plan of Emigration 13
JAMES MCCUNE SMITH Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Haytian Revolution 19
HILARY TEAGUE Liberia: Its Struggles and Its Promises 33
FREDERICK DOUGLASS What to the Slave is the Fourth of July 41 On the Unveiling of the Lincoln Monument 133
CHARLES H. LANGSTON Should Colored Men be Subject to the Pains and Penalties of the Fugitive Slave Law? 49
RICHARD T. GREENER Young Men to the Front 63
ROBERT BROWNE ELLIOT The Civil Rights Bill 67
JOHN R. LYNCH Civil Rights and Social Equality 89
ALEXANDER DUMAS, FILS On the Occasion of Taking His Seat in the French Academy 95
JOHN M. LANGSTON Centennial Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society 97
FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER Centennial Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society 101
HENRY HIGHLAND GARNET A Memorial Discourse 107
GEORGE L. RUFFIN Crispus Attucks 125
P. B. S. PINCHBACK Address During Presidential Campaign of 1880 151
ALEXANDER CRUMMELL The Black Woman of the South 159
JOSEPHINE ST. PIERRE RUFFIN An Open Letter to the Educational League of Georgia 173
JAMES MADISON VANCE In the Wake of the Coming Ages 177
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON At the Opening of the Cotton States and International Exposition, Atlanta 181 Robert Gould Shaw 205
CHRISTIAN A. FLEETWOOD The Negro as a Soldier 187
CHARLES W. ANDERSON The Limitless Possibilities of the Negro Race 211
WILLIAM SANDERS SCARBOROUGH The Party of Freedom and the Freedmen 219
NATHAN F. MOSSELL The Teaching of History 227
GEORGE H. WHITE A Defense of the Negro Race 233
LEVI J. COPPIN The Negro's Part in the Redemption of Africa 243
FANNY JACKSON COPPIN A Plea for Industrial Opportunity 251
WILLIAM J. GAINES An Appeal to Our Brother in White 257
EDWARD WILMOT BLYDEN The Political Outlook for Africa 263
W. JUSTIN CARTER The Duty and Responsibility of the Anglo-Saxon 265
THEOPHILUS G. STEWARD The Army as a Trained Force 277
D. WEBSTER DAVIS The Sunday-School and Church as a Solution of the Negro Problem 291
REVERDY C. RANSOM William Lloyd Garrison 305
JAMES L. CURTIS Abraham Lincoln 321
ABRAHAM WALTERS Abraham Lincoln and Fifty Years of Freedom 337
ARCHIBALD H. GRIMKE On the Presentation of a Loving Cup to Senator Foraker 337
FRANCIS H. GRIMKE Equality of Rights for All Citizens 347
JAMES E. SHAPARD Is the Game Worth the Candle? 357
ROBERT RUSSA MOTON Some Elements Necessary to Race Development 367
GEORGE WILLIAM COOK The Two Seals 379
J. MILTON WALDRON A Solution of the Race Problem 389
J. FRANCIS GREGORY The Social Bearings of the Fifth Commandment 397
WILLIAM C. JASON Life's Morn 403
WILLIAM H. LEWIS Abraham Lincoln 409
ALICE M. DUNBAR David Livingstone 425
KELLY MILLER Education for Manhood 445
ROBERT T. JONES On Making a Life 455
ERNEST LYON Emancipation and Racial Advancement 461
JOHN C. DANCY The Future of the Negro Church 475
W. ASHBIE HAWKINS The Negro Lawyer 483
W. E. B. DUBOIS The Training of Negroes for Social Reform 491
THE PEOPLE OF HAYTI AND A PLAN OF EMIGRATION
BY PRINCE SAUNDERS
[Note 1: Extracts from an address delivered at the American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and Improving the Condition of the African Race, Philadelphia, Pa., December 11, 1818.]
Respected Gentlemen and Friends:
At a period so momentous as the present, when the friends of abolition and emancipation, as well as those whom observation and experience might teach us to beware to whom we should apply the endearing appellations, are professedly concerned for the establishment of an Asylum for those Free Persons of Color, who may be disposed to remove to it, and for such persons as shall hereafter be emancipated from slavery, a careful examination of this subject is imposed upon us.
So large a number of abolitionists, convened from different sections of the country, is at all times and under any circumstances, an interesting spectacle to the eye of the philanthropist, how doubly delightful then is it, to me, whose interests and feelings so largely partake in the object you have in view, to behold this convention engaged in solemn deliberation upon those subjects employed to promote the improvement of the condition of the African race.
* * * * *
Assembled as this convention is, for the promotion and extension of its beneficent and humane views and principles, I would respectfully beg leave to lay before it a few remarks upon the character, condition, and wants of the afflicted and divided people of Hayti, as they, and that island, may be connected with plans for the emigration of the free people of color of the United States.
God in the mysterious operation of his providence has seen fit to permit the most astonishing changes to transpire upon that naturally beautiful and (as to soil and productions) astonishingly luxuriant island.
The abominable principles, both of action and belief, which pervaded France during the long series of vicissitudes which until recently she has experienced, extended to Hayti, or Santo Domingo have undoubtedly had an extensive influence upon the character, sentiments, and feelings of all descriptions of its present inhabitants.
This magnificent and extensive island which has by travellers and historians been often denominated the "paradise of the New World," seems from its situation, extent, climate, and fertility peculiarly suited to become an object of interest and attention to the many distinguished and enlightened philanthropists whom God has been graciously pleased to inspire with a zeal for the promotion of the best interests of the descendants of Africa. The recent proceedings in several of the slave States toward the free population of color in those States seem to render it highly probable that that oppressed class of the community will soon be obliged to flee to the free States for protection. If the two rival Governments of Hayti were consolidated into one well-balanced pacific power, there are many hundred of the free people in the New England and Middle States who would be glad to repair there immediately to settle, and believing that the period has arrived, when many zealous friends to abolition and emancipation are of opinion that it is time for them to act in relation to an asylum for such persons as shall be emancipated from slavery, or for such portion of the free colored population at present existing in the United States, as shall feel disposed to emigrate, and being aware that the authorities of Hayti are themselves desirous of receiving emigrants from this country, are among the considerations which have induced me to lay this subject before the convention.
The present spirit of rivalry which exists between the two chiefs in the French part of the island, and the consequent belligerent aspect and character of the country, may at first sight appear somewhat discouraging to the beneficent views and labors of the friends of peace; but these I am inclined to think are by no means to be considered as insurmountable barriers against the benevolent exertions of those Christian philanthropists whose sincere and hearty desire it is to reunite and pacify them.
There seems to be no probability of their ever being reconciled to each other without the philanthropic interposition and mediation of those who have the welfare of the African race at heart. And where, in the whole circle of practical Christian philanthropy and active beneficence, is there so ample a field for the exertion of those heaven-born virtues as in that hitherto distracted region? In those unhappy divisions which exist in Hayti is strikingly exemplified the saying which is written in the sacred oracles, "that when men forsake the true worship and service of the only true God, and bow down to images of silver, and gold, and four-footed beasts and creeping things, and become contentious with each other," says the inspired writer, "in such a state of things trust ye not a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom; for there the son dishonoreth the father, and the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies shall be those of his own house."
Had the venerable prophet in the foregoing predictions alluded expressly and entirely to the actual moral, political, and above all, to the religious character and condition of the Haytians, he could scarcely have given a more correct description of it.
For there is scarcely a family whose members are not separated from each other, and arrayed under the banners of the rival chiefs, in virtual hostility against each other. In many instances the husband is with Henry, and the wife and children with Boyer, and there are other instances in which the heads of the family are with Boyer, and the other members with Henry.
Let it be distinctly remembered, that these divided and distressed individuals are not permitted to hold any intercourse with each other; so that it is only when some very extraordinary occurrence transpires, that persons in the different sections of the country receive any kind of information from their nearest relatives and friends.
"Blessed are the peacemakers," is the language of that celestial law-giver, who taught as never man taught; and his religion uniformly assures the obedient recipients of his spirit, that they shall be rewarded according to the extent, fidelity, and sincerity of their works of piety and beneficence.
And if, according to the magnitude of the object in all its political, benevolent, humane, and Christian relations, the quantum of recompense is to be awarded and apprised to the just, to how large a share of the benediction of our blessed Savior to the promoters of peace shall those be authorized to expect who may be made the instruments of the pacification and reunion of the Haytian people? Surely the blessings of thousands who are, as it were, ready to perish, must inevitably come upon them.
When I reflect that it was in this city that the first abolition society that was formed in the world was established, I am strongly encouraged to hope, that here also there may originate a plan, which shall be the means of restoring many of our fellow beings to the embraces of their families and friends, and place that whole country upon the basis of unanimity and perpetual peace.
If the American Convention should in their wisdom think it expedient to adopt measures for attempting to affect a pacification of the Haytians, it is most heartily believed, that their benevolent views would be hailed and concurred in with alacrity and delight by the English philanthropists.
It is moreover believed that a concern so stupendous in its relations, and bearing upon the cause of universal abolition and emancipation, and to the consequent improvement and elevation of the African race, would tend to awaken an active and a universally deep and active interest in the minds of that numerous host of abolitionists in Great Britain, whom we trust have the best interests of the descendants of Africa deeply at heart.
TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE AND THE HAYTIAN REVOLUTIONS
BY JAMES MCCUNE SMITH, M. A., M. D.
[Note 2: Extracts from a lecture delivered at the Stuyvesant Institute, New York, for the benefit of the Colored Orphan Asylum, February 26, 1841.]
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Whilst the orgies of the French revolution thrust forward a being whose path was by rivers of blood, the horrors of Santo Domingo produced one who was pre-eminently a peacemaker—TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE.
In estimating the character of Toussaint L'Ouverture, regard must be paid, not to the enlightened age in which he lived, but to the rank in society from which he sprang—a rank which must be classed with a remote and elementary age of mankind.
Born forty-seven years before the commencement of the revolt, he had reached the prime of manhood, a slave, with a soul uncontaminated by the degradation which surrounded him. Living in a state of society where worse than polygamy was actually urged, we find him at this period faithful to one wife—the wife of his youth—and the father of an interesting family. Linked with such tender ties, and enlightened with some degree of education, which his indulgent master, M. Bayou, had given him, he fulfilled, up to the moment of the revolt, the duties of a Christian man in slavery.
At the time of the insurrection—in which he took no part—he continued in the peaceable discharge of his duties as coachman; and when the insurgents approached the estate whereon he lived, he accomplished the flight of M. Bayou, whose kind treatment (part of this kindness was teaching this slave to read and write) he repaid by forwarding to him produce for his maintenance while in exile in these United States.
Having thus faithfully acquitted himself as a slave, he turned towards the higher destinies which awaited him as a freeman. With a mind stored with patient reflection upon the biographies of men, the most eminent in civil and military affairs; and deeply versed in the history of the most remarkable revolutions that had yet occurred amongst mankind, he entered the army of the insurgents under Jean Francois. This chief rapidly promoted him to the offices of physician to the forces, aid-de-camp, and colonel. Jean Francois, in alliance with the Spaniards, maintained war at this time for the cause of royalty.
Whilst serving under this chief, Toussaint beheld another civil war agitating the French colony. On one side, the French Commissioners, who had acknowledged the emancipation of the slaves, maintained war for the Republic; on the other side, the old noblesse, or planters, fought under the royal banner, having called in the aid of the British forces in order to re-establish slavery and the ancient regime.
In this conflict, unmindful of their solemn oaths against the decree of the 15th of May, 1791, the whites of both parties, including the planters, hesitated not to fight in the same ranks, shoulder to shoulder, with the blacks. Caste was forgotten in the struggle for principles!
At this juncture Jean Francois, accompanied by his principal officers, and possessed of all the honors and emoluments of a captain-general in the service of his Catholic Majesty, retired to Spain, leaving Toussaint at liberty to choose his party. Almost immediately joining that standard which acknowledged and battled for equal rights to all men, he soon rendered signal service to the Commissioners, by driving the Spaniards from the northern, and by holding the British at bay in the eastern part of the island. For these services he was raised to the rank of general by the French commander at Porte-aux-Paix, General Laveaux, a promotion which he soon repaid by saving that veteran's life under the following circumstances: Villate, a mulatto general, envious of the honors bestowed on Toussaint, treacherously imprisoned General Laveaux in Cape Francois. Immediately upon hearing this fact, Toussaint hastened to the Cape at the head of 10,000 men and liberated his benefactor. And, at the very moment of his liberation, a commission arrived from France appointing General Laveaux Governor of the Colony; his first official act was to proclaim Toussaint his lieutenant. "This is the black," said Laveaux, "predicted by Raynal, and who is destined to avenge the outrages committed against his whole race." A remark soon verified, for on his attainment of the supreme power, Toussaint avenged those injuries—by forgiveness!
As an acknowledgment for his eminent services against the British, and against the mulattoes, who, inflamed with all the bitterness of caste, had maintained a sanguinary war under their great leader Rigaud, in the southern part of the colony, the Commissioners invested Toussaint with the office and dignity of general-in-chief of Santo Domingo.
From that moment began the full development of the vast and versatile genius of this extraordinary man. Standing amid the terrible, because hostile, fragments of two revolutions, harassed by the rapacious greed of commissioners upon commissioners, who, successively dispatched from France, hid beneath a republican exterior a longing after the spoils; with an army in the field accustomed by five years' experience to all the license of civil war, Toussaint, with a giant hand, seized the reins of government, reduced these conflicting elements to harmony and order, and raised the colony to nearly its former prosperity, his lofty intellect always delighting to effect its object rather by the tangled mazes of diplomacy than by the strong arm of physical force, yet maintaining a steadfast and unimpeached adherence to truth, his word, and his honor.
General Maitland, commander of the British forces, finding the reduction of the island to be utterly hopeless, signed a treaty with Toussaint for the evacuation of all the posts which he held. "Toussaint then paid him a visit, and was received with military honors. After partaking of a grand entertainment, he was presented by General Maitland, in the name of His Majesty, with a splendid service of plate, and put in possession of the government-house which had been built and furnished by the English."
* * * * *
Buonaparte, on becoming First Consul, sent out the confirmation of Toussaint as commander-in-chief, who, with views infinitely beyond the short-sighted and selfish vision of the Commissioners, proclaimed a general amnesty to the planters who had fled during the revolutions, earnestly invited their return to the possession of their estates, and, with a delicate regard to their feelings, decreed that the epithet "emigrant" should not be applied to them. Many of the planters accepted the invitation, and returned to the peaceful possession of their estates.
In regard to the army of Toussaint, General Lacroix, one of the planters who returned, affirms "that never was a European army subjected to a more rigid discipline than that which was observed by the troops of Toussaint." Yet this army was converted by the commander-in-chief into industrious laborers, by the simple expedient of paying them for their labor. "When he restored many of the planters to their estates, there was no restoration of their former property in human beings. No human being was to be bought or sold. Severe tasks, flagellations, and scanty food were no longer to be endured. The planters were obliged to employ their laborers on the footing of hired servants." "And under this system," says Lacroix, "the colony advanced, as if by enchantment towards its ancient splendor; cultivation was extended with such rapidity that every day made its progress more perceptible. All appeared to be happy, and regarded Toussaint as their guardian angel. In making a tour of the island, he was hailed by the blacks with universal joy, nor was he less a favorite of the whites."
Toussaint, having effected a bloodless conquest of the Spanish territory, had now become commander of the entire island. Performing all the executive duties, he made laws to suit the exigency of the times. His Egeria was temperance accompanied with a constant activity of body and mind.
The best proof of the entire success of his government is contained in the comparative views of the exports of the island, before the revolutions, and during the administration of Toussaint. Bear in mind that, "before the revolution there were 450,000 slave laborers working with a capital in the shape of buildings, mills, fixtures, and implements, which had been accumulating during a century. Under Toussaint there were 290,000 free laborers, many of them just from the army or the mountains, working on plantations that had undergone the devastation of insurrection and a seven years' war."
* * * * *
In consequence of the almost entire cessation of official communication with France, and for other reasons equally good, Toussaint thought it necessary for the public welfare to frame a new constitution for the government of the island. With the aid of M. Pascal, Abbe Moliere, and Marinit, he drew up a constitution, and submitted the same to a General Assembly convened from every district, and by that assembly the constitution was adopted. It was subsequently promulgated in the name of the people. And, on the 1st of July, 1801, the island was declared to be an independent State, in which all men, without regard to complexion or creed, possessed equal rights.
This proceeding was subsequently sanctioned by Napoleon Buonaparte, whilst First Consul. In a letter to Toussaint, he says, "We have conceived for you esteem, and we wish to recognize and proclaim the great services you have rendered the French people. If their colors fly on Santo Domingo, it is to you and your brave blacks that we owe it. Called by your talents and the force of circumstances to the chief command, you have terminated the civil war, put a stop to the persecutions of some ferocious men, and restored to honor the religion and the worship of God, from whom all things come. The situation in which you were placed, surrounded on all sides by enemies, and without the mother country being able to succor or sustain you, has rendered legitimate the articles of that constitution."
Although Toussaint enforced the duties of religion, he entirely severed the connection between Church and State. He rigidly enforced all the duties of morality, and would not suffer in his presence even the approach to indecency of dress or manner. "Modesty," said he, "is the defense of woman."
The chief, nay the idol of an army of 100,000 well-trained and acclimated troops ready to march or sail where he wist, Toussaint refrained from raising the standard of liberty in any one of the neighboring island, at a time when, had he been fired with what men term ambition, he could easily have revolutionized the entire archipelago of the west. But his thoughts were bent on conquest of another kind; he was determined to overthrow an error which designing and interested men had craftily instilled into the civilized world,—a belief in the natural inferiority of the Negro race. It was the glory and the warrantable boast of Toussaint that he had been the instrument of demonstrating that, even with the worst odds against them, this race is entirely capable of achieving liberty and of self-government. He did more: by abolishing caste he proved the artificial nature of such distinctions, and further demonstrated that even slavery cannot unfit men for the full exercise of all the functions which belong to free citizens.
"Some situations of trust were filled by free Negroes and mulattoes, who had been in respectable circumstances under the old Government; but others were occupied by Negroes, and even by Africans, who had recently emerged from the lowest condition of slavery."
But the bright and happy state of things which the genius of Toussaint had almost created out of elements the most discordant was doomed to be of short duration. For the dark spirit of Napoleon, glutted, but not satiated with the glory banquet afforded at the expense of Europe and Africa, seized upon this, the most beautiful and happy of the Hesperides, as the next victim of its remorseless rapacity.
With the double intention of getting rid of the republican army, and reducing back to slavery the island of Hayti, he sent out his brother-in-law, General Leclerc, with 26 ships of war and 25,000 men.
Like Leonidas at Thermopylae, or the Bruce at Bannockburn, Toussaint determined to defend from thraldom his sea-girt isle, made sacred to liberty by the baptism of blood.
On the 28th of January, 1802, Leclerc arrived off the bay of Samana, from the promontory of which Toussaint, in anxious alarm, beheld for the first time in his life so large an armament. "We must all perish," said he, "all France has come to Santo Domingo!" But this despondency passed away in a moment, and then this man, who had been a kindly-treated slave, prepared to oppose to the last that system which he now considered worse than death.
It is impossible, after so long a tax on your patience, to enter on a detailed narration of the conflict which ensued. The hour of trial served only to develop and ennoble the character of Toussaint, who rose, with misfortune, above the allurements of rank and wealth which were offered as the price of his submission; and the very ties of parental love he yielded to the loftier sentiment of patriotism.
On the 2d of February, a division of Leclerc's army, commanded by General Rochambeau, an old planter, landed at Fort Dauphin, and ruthlessly murdered many of the inhabitants (freedmen) who, unarmed, had been led by curiosity to the beach, in order to witness the disembarkation of the troops.
Christophe, one of the generals of Toussaint, commanding at Cape Francois, having resisted the menaces and the flattery of Leclerc, reduced that ill-fated town to ashes, and retired with his troops into the mountains, carrying with him 2,000 of the white inhabitants of the Cape, who were protected from injury during the fierce war which ensued.
Having full possession of the plain of the Cape, Leclerc, with a proclamation of liberty in his hand, in March following re-established slavery with all its former cruelties.
This treacherous movement thickened the ranks of Toussaint, who thenceforward so vigorously pressed his opponent, that as a last resort, Leclerc broke the shackles of the slave, and proclaimed "Liberty and equality to all the inhabitants of Santo Domingo."
This proclamation terminated the conflict for the time. Christophe and Dessalines, general officers, and at length Toussaint himself, capitulated, and, giving up the command of the island to Leclerc, he retired, at the suggestion of that officer, to enjoy rest and the sweet endearments of his family circle, on one of his estates near Gonaives. At this place he had remained about one month, when, without any adequate cause, Leclerc caused him to be seized, and to be placed on board of a ship of war, in which he was conveyed to France, where, without trial or condemnation, he was imprisoned in a loathsome and unhealthy dungeon. Unaccustomed to the chill and damp of this prison-house, the aged frame of Toussaint gave way, and he died.
In this meagre outline of his life I have presented simply facts, gleaned, for the most part, from the unwilling testimony of his foes, and therefore resting on good authority. The highest encomium on his character is contained in the fact that Napoleon believed that by capturing him he would be able to re-enslave Hayti; and even this encomium is, if possible, rendered higher by the circumstances which afterward transpired, which showed that his principles were so thoroughly disseminated among his brethren, that, without the presence of Toussaint, they achieved that liberty which he had taught them so rightly to estimate.
The capture of Toussaint spread like wild-fire through the island, and his principal officers again took the field. A fierce and sanguinary war ensued, in which the French gratuitously inflicted the most awful cruelties on their prisoners, many of whom having been hunted with bloodhounds, were carried in ships to some distance from the shore, murdered in cold blood, and cast into the sea; their corpses were thrown by the waves back upon the beach, and filled the air with pestilence, by which the French troops perished in large numbers. Leclerc having perished by pestilence, his successor, Rochambeau, when the conquest of the island was beyond possibility, became the cruel perpetrator of these bloody deeds.
Thus it will be perceived that treachery and massacre were begun on the side of the French. I place emphasis on these facts in order to endeavor to disabuse the public mind of an attempt to attribute to emancipation the acts of retaliation resorted to by the Haytians in imitation of what the enlightened French had taught them. In two daily papers of this city there were published, a year since, a series of articles entitled the "Massacres of Santo Domingo."
The "massacres" are not attributable to emancipation, for we have proved otherwise in regard to the first of them. The other occurred in 1804, twelve years after the slaves had disenthralled themselves. Fearful as the latter may have been, it did not equal the atrocities previously committed on the Haytians by the French. And the massacre was restricted to the white French inhabitants, whom Dessalines, the Robespierre of the island, suspected of an attempt to bring back slavery, with the aid of a French force yet hovering in the neighborhood.
And if we search for the cause of this massacre, we may trace it to the following source: Nations which are pleased to term themselves civilized have one sort of faith which they hold to one another, and another sort which they entertain towards people less advanced in refinement. The faith which they entertain towards the latter is, very often, treachery, in the vocabulary of the civilized. It was treachery towards Toussaint that caused the massacre of Santo Domingo; it was treachery towards Osceola that brought bloodhounds into Florida!
General Rochambeau, with the remnant of the French army, having been reduced to the dread necessity of striving "to appease the calls of hunger by feeding on horses, mules, and the very dogs that had been employed in hunting down and devouring the Negroes," evacuated the island in the autumn of 1803, and Hayti thenceforward became an independent State.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have now laid before you a concise view of the revolutions of Hayti in the relation of cause and effect; and I trust you will now think, that, so far from being scenes of indiscriminate massacre from which we should turn our eyes in horror, these revolutions constitute an epoch worthy of the anxious study of every American citizen.
Among the many lessons that may be drawn from this portion of history is one not unconnected with the present occasion. From causes to which I need not give a name, there is gradually creeping into our otherwise prosperous state the incongruous and undermining influence of caste. One of the local manifestations of this unrepublican sentiment is, that while 800 children, chiefly of foreign parents, are educated and taught trades at the expense of all the citizens, colored children are excluded from these privileges.
With the view to obviate the evils of such an unreasonable proscription, a few ladies of this city, by their untiring exertions, have organized an "Asylum for Colored Orphans." Their zeal in this cause is infinitely beyond all praise of mine, for their deeds of mercy are smiled on by Him who has declared, that "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water, shall in no wise lose her reward." Were any further argument needed to urge them on in their blessed work, I would point out to them the revolutions of Hayti, where, in the midst of the orgies and incantations of civil war, there appeared, as a spirit of peace, the patriot, the father, the benefactor of mankind—Toussaint L'Ouverture, a freedman, who had been taught to read while in slavery!
LIBERIA: ITS STRUGGLES AND ITS PROMISES
BY HON. HILARY TEAGUE
Senator at Monrovia, Liberia
[Note 3: A speech delivered in 1846, on the anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Liberia.]
As far back towards the infancy of our race as history and tradition are able to conduct us, we have found the custom everywhere prevailing among mankind, to mark by some striking exhibition, those events which were important and interesting, either in their immediate bearing or in their remote consequences upon the destiny of those among whom they occurred. These events are epochs in the history of man; they mark the rise and fall of kingdoms and of dynasties; they record the movements of the human mind, and the influence of those movements upon the destinies of the race; and whilst they frequently disclose to us the sad and sickening spectacle of innocence bending under the yoke of injustice, and of weakness robbed and despoiled by the hand of an unscrupulous oppression, they occasionally display, as a theme for admiring contemplation, the sublime spectacle of the human mind, roused by a concurrence of circumstances, to vigorous advances in the career of improvement.
The utility of thus marking the progress of time—of recording the occurrence of events, and of holding up remarkable personages to the contemplation of mankind—is too obvious to need remark. It arises from the instincts of mankind, the irrepressible spirit of emulation, and the ardent longings after immortality; and this restless passion to perpetuate their existence which they find it impossible to suppress, impels them to secure the admiration of succeeding generations in the performance of deeds, by which, although dead, they may yet speak. In commemorating events thus powerful in forming the manners and sentiments of mankind, and in rousing them to strenuous exertion and to high and sustained emulation, it is obvious that such, and such only, should be selected as virtue and humanity would approve; and that, if any of an opposite character be held up, they should be displayed only as beacons, or as towering Pharos throwing a strong but lurid light to mark the melancholy grave of mad ambition, and to warn the inexperienced voyager of the existing danger.
Thanks to the improved and humanized spirit—or should I not rather say, the chastened and pacific civilization of the age in which we live?—that laurels gathered upon the field of mortal strife, and bedewed with the tears of the widow and the orphan, are regarded now, not with admiration, but with horror; that the armed warrior, reeking in the gore of murdered thousands, who, in the age that is just passing away, would have been hailed with noisy acclamation by the senseless crowd, is now regarded only as the savage commissioner of an unsparing oppression, or at best, as the ghostly executioner of an unpitying justice. He who would embalm his name in the grateful remembrance of coming generations; he who would secure for himself a niche in the temple of undying fame; he who would hew out for himself a monument of which his country may boast; he who would entail upon heirs a name which they may be proud to wear, must seek some other field than that of battle as the theatre of his exploits.
We have not yet numbered twenty-six years since he who is the oldest colonist amongst us was the inhabitant—not the citizen—of a country, and that, too, the country of his birth, where the prevailing sentiment is, that he and his race are incapacitated by an inherent defect in their mental constitution, to enjoy that greatest of all blessings, and to exercise that greatest of all rights, bestowed by a beneficent God upon his rational creatures, namely, the government of themselves by themselves. Acting upon this opinion, an opinion as false as it is foul—acting upon this opinion, as upon a self-evident proposition, those who held it proceeded with a fiendish consistency to deny the rights of citizens to those whom they had declared incapable of performing the duties of citizens. It is not necessary, and therefore I will not disgust you with the hideous picture of that state of things which followed upon the prevalence of this blasphemous theory. The bare mention that such an opinion prevailed would be sufficient to call up in the mind, even of those who had never witnessed its operation, images of the most sickening and revolting character. Under the iron reign of this crushing sentiment, most of us who are assembled here to-day drew our first breath, and sighed away the years of our youth. No hope cheered us; no noble object looming in the dim and distant future kindled our ambition. Oppression—cold, cheerless oppression, like the dreary region of eternal winter,—chilled every noble passion and fettered and paralyzed every arm. And if among the oppressed millions there were found here and there one in whose bosom the last glimmer of a generous passion was not yet extinguished—one, who, from the midst of inglorious slumberers in the deep degradation around him, would lift up his voice and demand those rights which the God of nature hath bestowed in equal gift upon all His rational creatures, he was met at once, by those who had at first denied and then enforced, with the stern reply that for him and for all his race, liberty and expatriation are inseparable.
Dreadful as the alternative was, fearful as was the experiment now proposed to be tried, there were hearts equal to the task; hearts which quailed not at the dangers which loomed and frowned in the distance, but calm, cool, and fixed in their purpose, prepared to meet them with the watchword, "Give me liberty or give me death."
Passing by intermediate events, which, did the time allow, it would be interesting to notice, we hasten to the grand event—the era of our separate existence, when the American flag first flung out its graceful folds to the breeze on the heights of Mesurado, and the pilgrims, relying upon the protection of Heaven and the moral grandeur of their cause, took solemn possession of the land in the name of Virtue, Humanity, and Religion.
It would discover an unpardonable apathy were we to pass on without pausing a moment to reflect upon the emotions which heaved the bosoms of the pilgrims, when they stood for the first time where we now stand. What a prospect spread out before them! They stood in the midst of an ancient wilderness, rank and compacted with the growth of a thousand years, unthinned and unreclaimed by a single stroke of the woodman's axe. Few and far between might be found inconsiderable openings, where the ignorant native erected his rude habitation, or savage as his patrimonial wilderness, celebrated his bloody rites, and presented his votive gifts to demons. The rainy season—that terrible ordeal of foreign constitutions—was about setting in; the lurid lightning shot its fiery bolts into the forest around them, the thunder muttered its angry tones over their head, and the frail tenements, the best which their circumstances could afford, to shield them from a scorching sun by day and drenching rains at night, had not yet been completed. To suppose that at this time, when all things above and around them seemed to combine their influence against them; to suppose they did not perceive the full danger and magnitude of the enterprise they had embarked in, would be to suppose, not that they were heroes, but that they had lost the sensibility of men. True courage is equally remote from blind recklessness and unmanning timidity; and true heroism does not consist in insensibility to danger. He is a hero who calmly meets, and fearlessly grapples with the dangers which duty and honor forbid him to decline. The pilgrims rose to a full perception of all the circumstances of their condition. But when they looked back to that country from which they had come, and remembered the degradations in that house of bondage out of which they had been so fortunate as to escape, they bethought themselves; and, recollecting the high satisfaction with which they knew success would gladden their hearts, the rich inheritance they would entail upon their children, and the powerful aid it would lend to the cause of universal humanity, they yielded to the noble inspiration and girded them to the battle either for doing or for suffering.
Let it not be supposed, because I have laid universal humanity under a tribute of gratitude to the founders of Liberia, that I have attached to their humble achievements too important an influence in that grand system of agencies which is now at work, renovating human society, and purifying and enlarging the sources of its enjoyment. In the system of that Almighty Being, without whose notice not a sparrow falls to the ground,
"Who sees, with equal eye as God of all, A hero perish, or a sparrow fall, Atoms or systems into ruin hurled, And now a bubble-burst, and now a world."
"Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." All attempts to correct the depravity of man, to stay the headlong propensity to vice, to abate the madness of ambition, will be found deplorably inefficient, unless we apply the restrictions and the tremendous sanctions of religion. A profound regard and deference for religion, a constant recognition of our dependence upon God, and of our obligation and accountability to Him; an ever-present, ever-pressing sense of His universal and all-controlling providence, this, and only this, can give energy to the arm of law, cool the raging fever of the passions, and abate the lofty pretensions of mad ambition. In prosperity, let us bring out our thank-offering, and present it with cheerful hearts in orderly, virtuous, and religious conduct. In adversity, let us consider, confess our sins, and abase ourselves before the throne of God. In danger, let us go to Him, whose prerogative it is to deliver; let us go to Him, with the humility and confidence which a deep conviction that the battle is not to the strong nor the race to the swift, is calculated to inspire.
Fellow citizens! we stand now on ground never occupied by a people before. However insignificant we may regard ourselves, the eyes of Europe and America are upon us, as a germ, destined to burst from its enclosure in the earth, unfold its petals to the genial air, rise to the height and swell to the dimensions of the full-grown tree, or (inglorious fate) to shrivel, to die, and to be buried in oblivion. Rise, fellow citizens, rise to a clear and full perception of your tremendous responsibilities! Upon you, rely upon it, depends in a measure you can hardly conceive the future destiny of your race. You—you are to give the answer, whether the African race is doomed to unterminable degradation, a hideous blot on the fair face of Creation, a libel upon the dignity of human nature, or whether it is capable to take an honorable rank amongst the great family of nations! The friends of the colony are trembling: The enemies of the colored man are hoping. Say, fellow citizens, will you palsy the hands of your friends and sicken their hearts, and gladden the souls of your enemies, by a base refusal to enter upon a career of glory which is now opening so propitiously before you? The genius of universal emancipation, bending from her lofty seat, invites you to accept the wreath of national independence. The voice of your friends, swelling upon the breeze, cries to you from afar—Raise your standard! Assert your independence! throw out your banners to the wind! And will the descendants of the mighty Pharaohs, that awed the world; will the sons of him who drove back the serried legions of Rome and laid siege to the "eternal city"—will they, the achievements of whose fathers are yet the wonder and admiration of the world—will they refuse the proffered boon? Never! never!! never!!! Shades of the mighty dead! spirits of departed great ones! inspire us, animate us to the task; nerve us for the battle! Pour into our bosom a portion of that ardor and patriotism which bore you on to battle, to victory, and to conquest. Shall Liberia live? Yes; in the generous emotions now swelling in your bosom; in the high and noble purpose—now fixing itself in your mind, and referring into the unyieldingness of indomitable principle, we hear the inspiring response—Liberia shall live before God and before the nations of the earth!
The night is passing away; the dusky shades are fleeing and even now
"Jocund day stands tiptoe On the misty mountain top."
WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS THE FOURTH OF JULY?
BY FREDERICK DOUGLASS
[Note 4: Extract from an oration delivered by Frederick Douglass at Rochester, N. Y., July 5, 1852.]
FREDERICK DOUGLASS, the greatest of Negro orators, though born and reared a slave, attained great eminence in the world. After a successful career as lecturer and editor and author, he held successively the positions of Secretary to the Santo Domingo Commission, 1871; Presidential Elector for the State of New York, 1872; United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, 1876-81; Recorder of Deeds for the District, 1881-86; Minister to Hayti, 1889-91.
Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?
Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions. Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the halleluiahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap like a hart."
But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you, that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin. I can to-day take up the lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people.
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yes! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us, required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."
Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are to-day rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow citizens, is "American Slavery." I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing here, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July. Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity, which is outraged, in the name of liberty, which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery—the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate; I will not excuse;" I will use the severest language I can command, and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slave-holder, shall not confess to be right and just.
But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say it is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more and denounce less, would you persuade more and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slave-holders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia, which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of these same crimes will subject a white man to like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute-books are covered with enactments, forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!
For the present it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver, and gold; that while we are reading, writing, and cyphering, acting as clerks, merchants, and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; that while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men—digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshiping the Christian God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave—we are called upon to prove that we are men?
Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day in the presence of Americans, dividing and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom, speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively? To do so would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.
What! Am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood and stained with pollution is wrong? No; I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength that such arguments would imply.
What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman cannot be divine. Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is past.
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation's ear, I would to-day pour out a fiery streak of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.
What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practises more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the every-day practises of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.
SHOULD COLORED MEN BE SUBJECT TO THE PAINS AND PENALTIES OF THE FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW?
BY CHARLES H. LANGSTON
CHARLES H. LANGSTON, a native of Ohio, was the first to counsel resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act, and lost no opportunity himself to disobey it. He was found guilty of violating the law in rescuing John Price, an alleged fugitive from service in Kentucky. This speech is his answer to the question of the judge why the sentence should not be pronounced upon him. He was sentenced to one hundred and twenty days' imprisonment, and fined $100.00 and costs, amounting to $872.72.
[Note 5: Speech of Charles H. Langston before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, May 12, 1859. Delivered when about to be sentenced for rescuing a man from slavery.]
After a trial of twenty-three days in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Hiram V. Willson presiding, and at a cost to the United States Government of more than two thousand dollars, C. H. Langston was found guilty of violating the Fugitive Slave Law, by rescuing John Price, an alleged fugitive from service in Kentucky, from the custody of one, Anderson Jennings, at Wellington, on the 13th day of September, 1858.
Mr. Langston was sentenced to twenty days' imprisonment in the jail of Cuyahoga county, and also to pay a fine of one hundred dollars and a portion of the costs of prosecution, amounting to nine hundred and seventy-two dollars and seventy cents.
BILL OF COSTS
Fine and bill of costs as copied from the Journal of the Court:
Fine $100.00 Clerk's fees 32.10 Marshal's fees 30.40 United States' witnesses 131.10 Docket fees 20.00 ———- Total $972.70
On the morning of the 12th of May, 1859, C. H. Langston was brought into court to receive his sentence.
The judge, having entered the "oyez, oyez" of the crier, announced the opening of the court, and the rattling of the gavel of the bailiff soon brought the immense crowd to silence. The business then proceeded as follows:
THE COURT.—Mr. Langston, you will stand up, sir.
Mr. Langston arose.
THE COURT.—You have been tried, Mr. Langston, by a jury, and convicted of a violation of the criminal laws of the United States. Have you or your counsel anything to say why the sentence of the law should not be pronounced upon you?
MR. LANGSTON.—I am for the first time in my life before a court of justice, charged with the violation of law, and am now about to be sentenced. But before receiving that sentence I propose to say one or two words in regard to the mitigation of that sentence, if it may be so construed. I can not, of course, and do not expect that what I may say will in any way change your predetermined line of action. I ask no such favor at your hands.
I know that the courts of this country, that the laws of this country, that the governmental machinery of this country are so constituted as to oppress and outrage colored men, men of my complexion. I cannot then, of course, expect, judging from the past history of the country, any mercy from the laws, from the Constitution, or from the courts of the country.
Some days prior to the 13th of September, 1858, happening to be in Oberlin on a visit, I found the country round about there, and the village itself, filled with alarming rumors as to the fact that slave-catchers, kidnappers, and Negro stealers were lying hidden and skulking about, awaiting some opportunity to get their bloody hands on some helpless creature, to drag him back,—or for the first time,—into helpless and lifelong bondage.
These reports becoming current all over that neighborhood, old men and innocent women and children became exceedingly alarmed for their safety. It was not uncommon to hear mothers say that they dare not send their children to school, for fear that they would be caught up and carried off by the way. Some of these people had become free by long and patient toil at night, after working the long, long day for cruel masters, and thus at length getting money enough to buy their liberty.
Others had become free by means of the good will of their masters. And there were others who had become free—to their everlasting honor, I say it—by the intensest exercise of their own God-given powers;—by escaping from the plantations of their masters, eluding the blood-thirsty patrols and sentinels so thickly scattered all along their path, outrunning blood-hounds and horses, swimming rivers and fording swamps, and reaching at last, through incredible difficulties, what they, in their delusion, supposed to be free soil. These three classes were in Oberlin, trembling alike for their safety because they well knew their fate should these men-hunters get their hands on them.
In the midst of such excitement, the 13th day of September was ushered in—a day ever memorable in the history of Oberlin, and I presume also, in the history of this court. These men-hunters had, by lying devices, decoyed into a place, where they could get their hands on him—I will not say a slave, for I do not know that—but a man, a brother, who had the right to his liberty under the laws of God, under the laws of nature, and under the Declaration of American Independence.
In the midst of all this excitement the news came to us like a flash of lightning that an actual seizure under and by means of fraudulent pretenses, had been made! Being identified with that man by color, by race, by manhood, by sympathies, such as God has implanted in us all, I felt it my duty to go and do what I could towards liberating him. I had been taught by my Revolutionary father—and I say this with all due respect to him—and by his honored associates, that the fundamental doctrine of this Government was, that all men have a right to life and liberty, and coming from the Old Dominion I had brought into Ohio these sentiments deeply impressed upon my heart. I went to Wellington, and hearing from the parties themselves by what authority the boy was held in custody, I conceived from what little knowledge I had of law that they had no right to hold him. And as your Honor has repeatedly laid down the law in this court, a man is free until he is proven to be legally restrained of his liberty. I believed that upon that principle of law those men were bound to take their prisoner before the very first magistrate they found and there establish the facts set forth in their warrant, and that until they did this every man should presume that their claim was unfounded, and to institute such proceedings for the purpose of securing an investigation as they might find warranted by the laws of this State.
Now, sir, if that is not the plain common sense and correct view of the law, then I have been misled, both by your Honor and by the prevalent received opinion. It is said that they had a warrant. Why then, should they not establish its validity before the proper officers? And I stand here to-day, sir, to say that with an exception, of which I shall soon speak, to procure such a lawful investigation of the authority under which they claimed to act, was the part I took in that day's proceedings, and the only part. I supposed it to be my duty as a citizen of Ohio—excuse me for saying that, sir,—as an outlaw of the United States, (much sensation) to do what I could to secure at least this form of justice to my brother, whose liberty was at peril.—Whatever more than that has been sworn to on this trial, as act of mine, is false, ridiculously false. When I found these men refusing to go, according to the law, as I apprehended it, and subject their claim to an official inspection, and that nothing short of a habeas corpus would oblige such an inspection, I was willing to go even thus far, supposing in that county a sheriff might, perhaps, be found with nerve enough to serve it. In this again, I failed. Nothing then was left to me, nothing to the boy in custody, but the confirmation of my first belief that the pretended authority was worthless, and the employment of those means of liberation which belong to us. With regard to the part I took in the forcible rescue, which followed, I have nothing to say, further than I have already said. The evidence is before you. It is alleged that I said "We will have him anyhow." This I NEVER said. I did say to Mr. Lowe, what I honestly believe to be the truth, that the crowd was very much excited, many of them averse to longer delay and bent upon a rescue at all hazards; and that he being an old acquaintance and friend of mine, I was anxious to extricate him from the dangerous position he occupied, and therefore advised Jennings to give the boy up. Further than this I did not say, either to him or to anyone else.
The law under which I am arraigned is an unjust one, one made to crush the colored man, and one that outrages every feeling of humanity, as well as every rule of Right.
With its constitutionality I have nothing to do; about that I know but little and care much less. But suppose it is constitutional, what then? To tell me a law is constitutional which robs me of my liberty is simply ridiculous. I would curse the constitution that authorized the enactment of such a law; I would trample the provisions of such a law under my feet and defy its pains and penalties. I would respect and obey such an inhuman law no more than OUR revolutionary fathers did the odious and absurd doctrine that kings and tyrants reign and rule by divine right. But it has often been said by learned and good men that this law is unconstitutional. I remember the excitement that prevailed throughout all the free States when it was passed; I remember, too, how often it has been said by individuals, conventions, legislatures, and even Judges that it is not only unconstitutional, but that it never could be, never should be, and never was meant to be enforced. I had always believed, until the contrary appeared in the actual institution of proceedings, that the provisions of this odious statute would never be enforced within the bounds of this State.
But I have another reason to offer why I should not be sentenced, and one that I think pertinent to the case. The common law of England—and you will excuse me for referring to that, since I am not a lawyer, but a private man—was that every man should be tried by a jury of men occupying the same political and legal status with himself. Lords should be tried before a jury of lords; peers of the realm should be tried before peers of the realm; vassals before vassals. And even "where an alien was indicted, the jury shall be demenietate, or half foreigners"; and a jury thus constituted were sworn "well and truly to try and true deliverance make between the sovereign lord, the king, and the prisoner whom they have in charge; and a true verdict to give according to the evidence and without prejudice." The Constitution of the United States guarantees—not merely to its citizens, but to all persons—a trial before an impartial jury. I have had no such trial.
The colored man is oppressed by certain universal and deeply fixed prejudices. Those jurors are well known to have shared largely in these prejudices, and I therefore consider that they were neither impartial, nor were they a jury of my peers. Politically and legally they are not my equals. They have aided to form a State constitution which denies to colored men citizenship, and under that constitution laws have been enacted withholding from us many of our most valuable rights. These unjust laws exclude colored men from the jury box and force us to be tried in every case by jurors, not only filled with prejudices against us, but far above us politically and legally, made so both by the statute laws and by the Constitution. The prejudices which white people have against colored men grow out of the fact that we have, as a people, consented for two hundred years to be slaves of the whites. We have been scourged, crushed, and cruelly oppressed, and have submitted to it all tamely, meekly, peaceably; I mean, as a people, with rare individual exceptions,—and to-day you see us thus meekly submitting to the penalties of an infamous law. Now the Americans have this feeling, and it is an honorable one, that they will respect those who rebel at oppression, but despise those who tamely submit to outrage and wrong; and while our people as a people submit, they will as a people be despised. Why, they will hardly meet on terms of equality with us in a whiskey shop, in a car, at a table, or even at the altar of God, so thorough and hearty a contempt have they for those who lie still under the heel of the oppressor. The jury came into the box with that feeling. They knew that they had that feeling, and so the Court knows now, and knew then. The gentlemen who prosecuted me, the Court itself, and even the counsel who defended me, have that feeling.
I was tried by a jury which was prejudiced; before a Court that was prejudiced; prosecuted by an officer who was prejudiced, and defended, though ably, by counsel who were prejudiced. And therefore it is, your Honor, that I urge by all that is good and great in manhood, that I should not be subjected to the pains and penalties of this oppressive law, when I have not been tried, either by a jury of my peers, according to the principles of the common law, or by an impartial jury according to the Constitution of the United States.
One more word, sir, and I have done. I went to Wellington, knowing that colored men have no rights in the United States which white men are bound to respect; that the Courts had so decided; that Congress had so enacted; that the people had so decreed.
There is not a spot in this wide country, not even by the altars of God, nor in the shadow of the shafts that tell the imperishable fame and glory of the heroes of the Revolution; no, nor in the old Philadelphia Hall, where any colored man may dare to ask mercy of a white man. Let me stand in that Hall and tell a United States marshal that my father was a Revolutionary soldier; that he served under Lafayette, and fought through the whole war, and that he fought for my freedom as much as for his own; and he would sneer at me, and clutch me with his bloody fingers, and say he has a right to make me a slave! and when I appeal to Congress, they say he has a right to make me a slave, and when I appeal to your Honor, your Honor says he has a right to make me a slave. And if any man, white or black, seeks an investigation of that claim, he makes himself amenable to the pains and penalties of the Fugitive Slave Act, for BLACK MEN HAVE NO RIGHTS WHICH WHITE MEN ARE BOUND TO RESPECT. (Great applause.) I, going to Wellington with the full knowledge of all this, knew that if that man was taken to Columbus he was hopelessly gone, no matter whether he had ever been in slavery before or not. I knew that I was in the same situation myself, and that by the decision of your Honor, if any man whatever were to claim me as his slave and seize me, and my brother, being a lawyer, should seek to get out a writ of habeas corpus to expose the falsity of the claim, he would be thrust into prison under one provision of the Fugitive Slave Law, for interfering with the man claiming to be in pursuit of a fugitive, and I, by the perjury of a solitary wretch, would by another of its provisions be helplessly doomed to lifelong bondage, without the possibility of escape.
Some may say that there is no danger of free persons being seized and carried off as slaves. No one need labor under such a delusion. Sir, four of the eight persons who were first carried back under the act of 1850 were afterwards proved to be free men. They were free persons, but wholly at the mercy of the oath of one man. And but last Sabbath afternoon a letter came to me from a gentleman in St. Louis informing me that a young lady, who was formerly under my instructions at Columbus, a free person, is now lying in jail at that place, claimed as the slave of some wretch who never saw her before, and waiting for testimony of relatives at Columbus to establish her freedom. I could stand here by the hour and relate such instances. In the very nature of the case, they must be constantly occurring. A letter was not long since found upon the person of a counterfeiter, when arrested, addressed to him by some Southern gentleman, in which the writer says:
"Go among the niggers, find out their marks and scars; make good descriptions and send to me, and I'll find masters for 'em."
That is the way men are carried back to slavery.
But in view of all the facts, I say that, if ever again a man is seized near me, and is about to be carried southward as a slave before any legal investigation has been had, I shall hold it to be my duty, as I held it that day, to secure for him, if possible, a legal inquiry into the character of the claim by which he is held. And I go farther; I say that if it is adjudged illegal to procure even such an investigation, then we are thrown back upon those last defenses of our rights which cannot be taken from us, and which God gave us that we need not be slaves. I ask your Honor, while I say this, to place yourself in my situation, and you will say with me that, if your brother, if your friend, if your wife, if your child, had been seized by men who claimed them as fugitives, and the law of the land forbade you to ask any investigation, and precluded the possibility of any legal protection or redress—then you will say with me that you would not only demand the protection of the law, but you would call in your neighbors and your friends, and would ask them to say with you, that, these, your friends, could not be taken into slavery.
And now, I thank you for this leniency, this indulgence, in giving a man unjustly condemned, by a tribunal before which he is declared to have no rights, the privilege of speaking in his own behalf. I know that it will do nothing toward mitigating your sentence, but it is a privilege to be allowed to speak, and I thank you for it. I shall submit to the penalty, be it what it may. But I stand up here to say that if for doing what I did on that day at Wellington, I am to go to jail for six months, and pay a fine of a thousand dollars, according to the Fugitive Slave Law, and if such is the protection the laws of this country afford me, I must take upon myself the responsibility of self-protection; when I come to be claimed by some perjured wretch as his slave, I shall never be taken into slavery. And in that trying hour, I would have others do to me, as I would call upon my friends to help me; as I would call upon you, your Honor, to help me, as I would call upon you (to the District Attorney) to help me, and upon you (to Judge Bliss), and you (his counsel) so help me God! I stand here to say that I will do all I can for any man thus seized and held, though the inevitable penalty of six months' imprisonment and one thousand dollars fine for each offense hang over me! We have all a common humanity, and that humanity will, if rightly exercised, compel us to aid each other when our rights are invaded. The man who can see a fellow man wronged and outraged without assisting him must have lost all the manly feelings of his nature. You would all assist any man under such circumstances; your manhood would require it; and no matter what the laws might be, you would honor yourself for doing it, while your friends and your children to all generations would honor you for doing it, and every good and honest man would say you had done right! (Great and prolonged applause, in spite of the efforts of the Court and marshal.)
Judge Willson remarked: Mr. Langston, you do the Court injustice in supposing the remarks were called out as a mere idle form, or would not get a respectful consideration from the Court.
It is not the duty of the Court to make the laws—that is left to other tribunals; but our duty, under an official oath, is to administer the laws, good or bad, as we find them.
I find many mitigating circumstances in your case, and the sentence will therefore be, that you pay a fine of one hundred dollars and the costs of suit, and be imprisoned in jail for twenty days, and it shall be the duty of the Marshal to see the imprisonment carried out in this or some other county jail in this district.
YOUNG MEN, TO THE FRONT!
BY HON. RICHARD T. GREENER, LL. D.
RICHARD T. GREENER, as far as is known, was the first Negro to be graduated from Harvard University with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He received the degree of LL.D. both from Howard University and from Liberia College, Monrovia, of which he was the dean for some time. In 1897 he was appointed United States Consul to Vladivostok, and served through the Russian-Japanese War. While in this official capacity he was decorated by the Chinese Government with the order of the "Double Dragon," the only Negro ever so honored.
The adage which was once so common, if not so thoroughly axiomatic as to gain universal credence—"Old men for council and young men for war"—assumes additional notoriety to-day, when the old men are quarreling in the council chamber and the young men are kept outside the door. While the young men are willing to allow much to the school of experience, many of them are the followers of Locke, and believe in the doctrine of innate ideas. They believe, to continue the comparison, that experience and wisdom do not always spring from length of years, nor does ignorance appertain to youth as a necessity. They dare assert that, as there are those who would never be men, lived they to be as old as Methuselah, so there are some whose minds are as well filled, whose judgments are as mature at twenty-five and eight, and their energy as decisive as though they were in their tenth lustrum. Conscious of this fact, it is the absurdity of folly for the young colored men of the country to sit idly by and see the grandest opportunities slipping away, the best cases lost by default because of the lack of energy displayed by many of our so-called leaders who have been longer on the field. With some very few exceptions, honorable as they are rare, they have done well for their day and generation; but with regard to the needs and policy of the Negroes of the present hour they are as innocent as babes. Men for the most part of excellent temper and good working capacity, they lack that which is the handmaid and often the indispensable auxiliary of knowledge and all effective work—judgment. Unconscious puppets often, they dance to unseen music, moved themselves by hidden wires.
The convention was the favorite resort of the leading Negro of ten years ago. He convened and resolved, resolved and unconvened—read his own speeches, was delighted with his own frothy rhetoric, and really imagined himself a great man. He talked eloquently then, it must be granted, because he spoke of his wrongs; but when the war overturned the edifice of slavery "Othello's occupation" was "gone," indeed. The number who have survived and held their own under the new order of things may be counted upon one hand. They survive through that grand old law so much combated but ever true—the survival of the fittest. They alone give character and reputation to the Negro. They make for him a fame which begets respect where his wrongs only excited pity. The field is comparatively clear now some of the older hacks have fallen by the way or lie spavined at the roadside. The question is, Will the young men of color throughout the country resolve to begin now to take part in public affairs, asserting their claim wherever it is denied, maintaining it wherever contested, and show that the young may be safe in counsel as well as good for war?
There are some who arrogate to themselves wisdom because of their years, just as some equally absurd people think they are wise because they never went to a high school or an academy—men, Heaven save the mark! who pride themselves on having never slaked their thirst at the fount of knowledge. It is not our purpose to disparage age. We remember what Cicero has written, so delightfully, of its pleasures; what Cephalus and Socrates thought of it in the Republic. We look "toward sunset" with reverence and respect; but it is with a reverence that makes us conscious of our own duty. The young men are now studying, working, some, alas! idling away their time who ought to be the active, earnest men in the next Presidential campaign; young men who are to control the destinies of the race. Many of them are of marked ability and decidedly energetic in character. Not so fluent, perhaps, as their fathers, they are more thoughtful. They are found throughout the country. We feel that, if like Roderick Dhu, we should put the whistle to our lips and blow a stirring blast, they would spring up in every part of the country ready with voice, pen, or muscle to do their share in any honorable work. In spirit we do this, as young men ourselves, willing to blow a blast which, would that the young men of the country would hear and heed! Young men, to the front! Young men, rouse yourselves! Take the opportunities; make them where they are denied! "Quit you like men; be strong."
Young men, to the front!
THE CIVIL RIGHTS' BELL
BY ROBERT BROWNE ELLIOT
Representative from South Carolina
[Note 6: Extracts from a speech delivered in the House of Representatives, January 6, 1874.]
While I am sincerely grateful for this high mark of courtesy that has been accorded to me by this House, it is a matter of regret to me that it is necessary at this day that I should rise in the presence of an American Congress to advocate a bill which simply asserts equal rights and equal public privileges for all classes of American citizens. I regret, sir, that the dark hue of my skin may lend a color to the imputation that I am controlled by motives personal to myself in my advocacy of this great measure of national justice. Sir, the motive that impels me is restricted by no such narrow boundary, but is as broad as your Constitution. I advocate it, sir, because it is right. The bill, however, not only appeals to your justice, but it demands a response from your gratitude.
In the events that led to the achievement of American independence the Negro was not an inactive or unconcerned spectator. He bore his part bravely upon many battlefields, although uncheered by that certain hope of political elevation which victory would secure to the white man. The tall granite shaft, which a grateful State has reared above its sons who fell in defending Fort Griswold against the attack of Benedict Arnold, bears the name of Jordan, Freeman, and other brave men of the African race, who there cemented with their blood the corner-stone of the Republic. In the State which I have the honor in part to represent (South Carolina) the rifle of the black man rang out against the troops of the British Crown in the darkest days of the American Revolution. Said General Greene, who has been justly termed the "Washington of the North," in a letter written by him to Alexander Hamilton, on the 10th of January, 1781, from the vicinity of Camden, South Carolina: "There is no such thing as national character or national sentiment. The inhabitants are numerous, but they would be rather formidable abroad than at home. There is a great spirit of enterprise among the black people, and those that come out as volunteers are not a little formidable to the enemy."