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The Civil Rights' Bell


Representative from South Carolina

[Note 6: Extracts from a speech delivered in the House of
Representatives, January 6, 1874.]

Mr. Speaker:

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."

At the battle of New Orleans under the immortal Jackson, a colored
regiment held the extreme right of the American line unflinchingly, and
drove back the British column that pressed upon them at the point of the
bayonet. So marked was their valor on that occasion that it evoked from
their great commander the warmest encomiums, as will be seen from his
dispatch announcing the brilliant victory.

As the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Beck), who seems to be the leading
exponent on this floor of the party that is arrayed against the
principle of this bill, has been pleased, in season and out of season,
to cast odium upon the Negro and to vaunt the chivalry of his State, I
may be pardoned for calling attention to another portion of the same
dispatch. Referring to the various regiments under his command, and
their conduct on that field which terminated the second war of American
Independence, General Jackson says. "At the very moment when the entire
discomfiture of the enemy was looked for with a confidence amounting to
certainty, the Kentucky reinforcements, in whom so much reliance had
been placed, ingloriously fled."

In quoting this indisputable piece of history, I do so only by way of
admonition and not to question the well-attested gallantly of the true
Kentuckian, and to the gentleman that it would be well that he should
not flaunt his heraldry so proudly while he bears this bar-sinister on
the military escutcheon of his State--a State which answered the call of
the Republic in 1861, when treason thundered at the very gates of the
Capital, by coldly declaring her neutrality in the impending struggle.
The Negro, true to that patriotism and love of country that have ever
marked and characterized his history on this continent, came to the aid
of the Government in its efforts to maintain the Constitution. To that
Government he now appeals; that Constitution he now invokes for
protection against outrage and unjust prejudices founded upon caste.

But, sir, we are told by the distinguished gentleman from Georgia (Mr.
Stephens) that Congress has no power under the Constitution to pass such
a law, and that the passage of such an act is in direct contravention
of the rights of the States. I cannot assent to any such proposition.
The Constitution of a free government ought always to be construed in
favor of human rights. Indeed, the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth
amendments, in positive words, invest Congress with the power to protect
the citizen in his civil and political rights. Now, sir, what are civil
rights? Rights natural, modified by civil society. Mr. Lieber says: "By
civil liberty is meant, not only the absence of individual restraint,
but liberty within the social system and political organism--a
combination of principles, and laws which acknowledge, protect, and
favor the dignity of man * * * civil liberty is the result of man's two
fold character as an individual and social being, so soon as both are
equally respected."

Alexander Hamilton, the right-hand man of Washington in the perilous
days of the then infant Republic; the great interpreter and expounder of
the Constitution, says: "Natural liberty is the gift of a beneficent
Creator to the whole human race; civil liberty is founded on it, civil
liberty is only natural liberty modified and secured by civil

* * * * *

Are we then, sir, with the amendments to our constitution staring us in
the face; with these grand truths of history before our eyes; with
innumerable wrongs daily inflicted upon five million citizens demanding
redress, to commit this question to the diversity of legislation? In the
words of Hamilton--"Is it the interest of the Government to sacrifice
individual rights to the preservation of the rights of an artificial
being called the States? There can be no truer principle than this, that
every individual of the community at large has an equal right to the
protection of Government. Can this be a free Government if partial
distinctions are tolerated or maintained?"

The rights contended for in this bill are among "the sacred rights of
mankind, which are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty
records; they are written as with a sunbeam in the whole volume of human
nature, by the hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be erased or
obscured by mortal power."

But the Slaughter-house cases!--The Slaughter-house cases!

The honorable gentleman from Kentucky, always swift to sustain the
failing and dishonored cause of proscription, rushes forward and flaunts
in our faces the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in
the Slaughter-house cases, and in that act he has been willingly aided
by the gentleman from Georgia. Hitherto, in the contests which have
marked the progress of the cause of equal civil rights, our opponents
have appealed sometimes to custom, sometimes to prejudice, more often to
pride of race, but they have never sought to shield themselves behind
the Supreme Court. But now for the first time, we are told that we are
barred by a decision of that court, from which there is no appeal. If
this be true we must stay our hands. The cause of equal civil rights
must pause at the command of a power whose edicts must be obeyed till
the fundamental law of our country is changed.

Has the honorable gentleman from Kentucky considered well the claim he
now advances? If it were not disrespectful I would ask, has he ever read
the decision which he now tells us is an insuperable barrier to the
adoption of this great measure of justice?

In the consideration of this subject, has not the judgment of the
gentleman from Georgia been warped by the ghost of the dead doctrines of
States-rights? Has he been altogether free from prejudices engendered by
long training in that school of politics that well-nigh destroyed this

Mr. Speaker, I venture to say here in the presence of the gentleman from
Kentucky, and the gentleman from Georgia, and in the presence of the
whole country, that there is not a line or word, not a thought or dictum
even, in the decision of the Supreme Court in the great Slaughter-house
cases, which casts a shadow of doubt on the right of Congress to pass
the pending bill, or to adopt such other legislation as it may judge
proper and necessary to secure perfect equality before the law to every
citizen of the Republic. Sir, I protest against the dishonor now cast
upon our Supreme Court by both the gentleman from Kentucky and the
gentleman from Georgia. In other days, when the whole country was bowing
beneath the yoke of slavery, when press, pulpit, platform, Congress and
courts felt the fatal power of the slave oligarchy, I remember a
decision of that court which no American now reads without shame and
humiliation. But those days are past; the Supreme Court of to-day is a
tribunal as true to freedom as any department of this Government, and I
am honored with the opportunity of repelling a deep disgrace which the
gentleman from Kentucky, backed and sustained as he is by the gentleman
from Georgia, seeks to put upon it.

* * * * *

The amendments in the Slaughter-house cases one and all, are thus
declared to have as their all-pervading design and ends the security of
the recently enslaved race, not only their nominal freedom, but their
complete protection from those who had formerly exercised unlimited
dominion over them. It is in this broad light that all these amendments
must be read, the purpose to secure the perfect equality before the law
of all citizens of the United States. What you give to one class you
must give to all, what you deny to one class you shall deny to all,
unless in the exercise of the common and universal police power of the
State, you find it needful to confer exclusive privileges on certain
citizens, to be held and exercised still for the common good of all.

Such are the doctrines of the Slaughter-house cases--doctrines worthy of
the Republic, worthy of the age, worthy of the great tribunal which thus
loftily and impressively enunciates them. Do they--I put it to any man,
be he lawyer or not; I put it to the gentleman from Georgia--do they
give color even to the claim that this Congress may not now legislate
against a plain discrimination made by State laws or State customs
against that very race for whose complete freedom and protection these
great amendments were elaborated and adopted? Is it pretended, I ask the
honorable gentleman from Kentucky or the honorable gentleman from
Georgia--is it pretended anywhere that the evils of which we complain,
our exclusion from the public inn, from the saloon and table of the
steamboat, from the sleeping-coach on the railway, from the right of
sepulture in the public burial-ground, are an exercise of the police
power of the State? Is such oppression and injustice nothing but the
exercise by the State of the right to make regulations for the health,
comfort, and security of all her citizens? Is it merely enacting that
one man shall so use his own as not to injure anothers? Is the colored
race to be assimilated to an unwholesome trade or to combustible
materials, to be interdicted, to be shut up within prescribed limits?
Let the gentleman from Kentucky or the gentleman from Georgia answer.
Let the country know to what extent even the audacious prejudice of the
gentleman from Kentucky will drive him, and how far even the gentleman
from Georgia will permit himself to be led captive by the unrighteous
teachings of a false political faith.

If we are to be likened in legal view to "unwholesome trades," to "large
and offensive collections of animals" to "noxious slaughter-houses," to
"the offal and stench which attend on certain manufactures" let it be
avowed. If that is still the doctrine of the political party, to which
the gentlemen belong, let it be put upon record. If State laws which
deny us the common rights and privileges of other citizens, upon no
possible or conceivable ground save one of prejudice, or of "taste" as
the gentleman from Texas termed it, and as I suppose the gentlemen will
prefer to call it, are to be placed under the protection of a decision
which affirms the right of a State to regulate the police power of her
great cities, then the decision is in conflict with the bill before us.
No man will dare maintain such a doctrine. It is as shocking to the
legal mind as it is offensive to the heart and conscience of all who
love justice or respect manhood. I am astonished that the gentleman from
Kentucky or the gentleman from Georgia should have been so grossly
misled as to rise here and assert that the decision of the Supreme Court
in these cases was a denial to Congress of the power to legislate
against discriminations on account of race, color, or previous
conditions of servitude because that Court has decided that exclusive
privileges conferred for the common protection of the lives and health
of the whole community are not in violation of the recent amendments.
The only ground upon which the grant of exclusive privileges to a
portion of the community is ever defended is that the substantial good
of all is promoted; that in truth it is for the welfare of the whole
community that certain persons should alone pursue certain occupations.
It is not the special benefit conferred on the few that moves the
legislature, but the ultimate and real benefit of all, even of those who
are denied the right to pursue those specified occupations. Does the
gentleman from Kentucky say that my good is promoted when I am excluded
from the public inn? Is the health or safety of the community promoted?
Doubtless his prejudice is gratified. Doubtless his democratic instincts
are pleased; but will he or his able coadjutor say that such exclusion
is a lawful exercise of the police power of the State, or that it is not
a denial to me of the equal protection of the laws? They will not so

But each of these gentlemen quote at some length from the decision of
the court to show that the court recognizes a difference between
citizenship of the United States and citizenship of the States. That is
true and no man here who supports this bill questions or overlooks the
difference. There are privileges and immunities which belong to me as a
citizen of the United States, and there are other privileges and
immunities which belong to me as a citizen of my State. The former are
under the protection of the Constitution and laws of the United States,
and the latter are under the protection of the Constitution and laws of
my State. But what of that? Are the rights which I now claim--the right
to enjoy the common public conveniences of travel on public highways, of
rest and refreshment at public inns, of education in public schools, of
burial in public cemeteries--rights which I hold as a citizen of the
United States or of my State? Or, to state the question more exactly, is
not the denial of such privileges to me a denial to me of the equal
protection of the laws? For it is under this clause of the fourteenth
amendment that we place the present bill, no State shall "deny to any
person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." No
matter, therefore, whether his rights are held under the United States
or under his particular State he is equally protected by this amendment.
He is always and everywhere entitled to the equal protection of the
laws. All discrimination is forbidden; and while the rights of citizens
of a State as such are not defined or conferred by the Constitution of
the United States, yet all discrimination, all denial of equality before
the law, all denial of equal protection of the laws whether State or
national laws, is forbidden.

The distinction between the two kinds of citizenship is clear, and the
Supreme Court has clearly pointed out this distinction, but it has
nowhere written a word or line which denies to Congress the power to
prevent a denial of equality of rights whether those rights exist by
virtue of citizenship of the United States or of a State. Let honorable
members mark well this distinction. There are rights which are conferred
on us by the United States. There are other rights conferred on us by
the states of which we are individually the citizens. The fourteenth
amendment does not forbid a state to deny to all its citizens any of
those rights which the state itself has conferred with certain
exceptions which are pointed out in the decision which we are examining.
What it does forbid is inequality, is discrimination or, to use the
words of the amendment itself, is the denial "to any person within its
jurisdiction, the equal protection of the laws." If a State denies to me
rights which are common to all her other citizens, she violates this
amendment, unless she can show, as was shown in the Slaughter-house
cases, that she does it in the legitimate exercise of her police power.
If she abridges the rights of all her citizens equally, unless those
rights are specifically guarded by the Constitution of the United
States, she does not violate this amendment. This is not to put the
rights which I hold by virtue of my citizenship of South Carolina under
the protection of the national Government; it is not to blot out or
overlook in the slightest particular the distinction between rights held
under the United States and rights held under the States; but it seeks
to secure equality to prevent discrimination, to confer as complete and
ample protection on the humblest as on the highest.

The gentleman from Kentucky, in the course of the speech to which I am
now replying, made a reference to the State of Massachusetts which
betrays again the confusion which exists in his mind on this precise
point. He tells us that Massachusetts excludes from the ballot-box all
who cannot read and write, and points to that fact as the exercise of a
right which this bill would abridge or impair. The honorable gentleman
from Massachusetts (Mr. Dawes) answered him truly and well, but I submit
that he did not make the best reply, why did he not ask the gentleman
from Kentucky if Massachusetts had ever discriminated against any of her
citizens on account of color, or race, or previous condition of
servitude? When did Massachusetts sully her proud record by placing on
her statute-book any law which admitted to the ballot the white man and
shut out the black man. She has never done it; she will not do it; she
cannot do it so long as we have a Supreme Court which reads the
Constitution of our country with the eyes of Justice; nor can
Massachusetts or Kentucky deny to any man on account of his race,
color, or previous condition of servitude, that perfect equality of
protection under the laws so long as Congress shall exercise the power
to enforce by appropriate legislation the great and unquestionable
securities embodied in the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution.

* * * * *

Now, sir, having spoken of the prohibition imposed by Massachusetts, I
may be pardoned for a slight inquiry as to the effect of this
prohibition. First, it did not in any way abridge or curtail the
exercise of the suffrage by any person who enjoyed such right. Nor did
it discriminate against the illiterate native and the illiterate
foreigner. Being enacted for the good of the entire commonwealth, like
all just laws, its obligations fell equally and impartially on all its
citizens. And as a justification for such a measure, it is a fact too
well known almost for mention here that Massachusetts had, from the
beginning of her history, recognized the inestimable value of an
educated ballot, by not only maintaining a system of free schools, but
also enforcing an attendance thereupon, as one of the safeguards for the
preservation of a real republican form of government. Recurring then,
sir, to the possible contingency alluded to by the gentleman from
Kentucky, should the State of Kentucky, having first established a
system of common schools whose doors shall swing open freely to all, as
contemplated by the provisions of this bill, adopt a provision similar
to that of Massachusetts, no one would have cause justly to complain.
And if in the coming years the result of such legislation should produce
a constituency rivaling that of the Old Bay State, no one would be more
highly gratified than I. Mr. Speaker, I have neither the time nor the
inclination to notice the many illogical and forced conclusions, the
numerous transfers of terms, or the vulgar insinuations which further
encumber the argument of the gentleman from Kentucky. Reason and
argument are worse than wasted upon those who meet every demand for
political and civil liberty by such ribaldry as this--extracted from the
speech of the gentleman from Kentucky: "I suppose there are gentlemen on
this floor who would arrest, imprison, and fine a young woman in any
State of the South if she were to refuse to marry a Negro man on account
of color, race, or previous condition of servitude, in the event of his
making her a proposal of marriage, and her refusing on that ground. That
would be depriving him of a right he had under the amendment, and
Congress would be asked to take it up and say, 'This insolent white
woman must be taught to know that it is a misdemeanor to deny a man
marriage because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,'
and Congress will be urged to say after a while that that sort of thing
must be put a stop to, and your conventions of colored men will come
here asking you to enforce that right."

Now, sir, recurring to the venerable and distinguished gentleman from
Georgia (Mr. Stephens) who has added his remonstrance against the
passage of this bill, permit me to say that I share in the feeling of
high personal regard for that gentleman which pervades this House. His
years, his ability, and his long experience in public affairs entitle
him to the measure of consideration which has been accorded to him on
this floor. But in this discussion I cannot and will not forget that the
welfare and rights of my whole race in this country are involved. When,
therefore, the honorable gentleman from Georgia lends his voice and
influence to defeat this measure, I do not shrink from saying that it is
not from him that the American House of Representatives should take
lessons in matters touching human rights or the joint relations of the
State and national governments. While the honorable gentleman contented
himself with harmless speculations in his study, or in the columns of a
newspaper, we might well smile at the impotence of his efforts to turn
back the advancing tide of opinion and progress; but, when he comes
again upon this national arena, and throws himself with all his power
and influence across the path which leads to the full enfranchisement of
my race, I meet him only as an adversary; nor shall age or any other
consideration restrain me from saying that he now offers this Government
which he has done his utmost to destroy, a very poor return for its
magnanimous treatment, to come here and seek to continue, by the
assertion of doctrines obnoxious to the true principles of our
Government, the burdens and oppressions which rest upon five millions of
his countrymen who never failed to lift their earnest prayers for the
success of this Government when the gentleman was seeking to break up
the union of these States and to blot the American Republic from the
galaxy of nations.

Sir, it is scarcely twelve years since that gentleman shocked the
civilized world by announcing the birth of a government which rested on
human slavery as its corner-stone. The progress of events has swept away
that pseudo-government which rested on greed, pride, and tyranny; and
the race whom he then ruthlessly spurned and trampled on is here to meet
him in debate, and to demand that the rights which are enjoyed by its
former oppressors--who vainly sought to overthrow a Government which
they could not prostitute to the base uses of slavery--shall be accorded
to those who even in the darkness of slavery kept their allegiance true
to freedom and the Union. Sir, the gentleman from Georgia has learned
much since 1861; but he is still a laggard. Let him put away entirely
the false and fatal theories which have so greatly marred an otherwise
enviable record. Let him accept, in its fullness and beneficence, the
great doctrine that American citizenship carries with it every civil and
political right which manhood can confer. Let him lend his influence
with all his masterly ability, to complete the proud structure of
legislation which makes this nation worthy of the great declaration
which heralded its birth and he will have done that which will most
nearly redeem his reputation in the eyes of the world, and best
vindicate the wisdom of that policy which has permitted him to regain
his seat upon this floor.

To the diatribe of the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Harris) who spoke
yesterday, and who so far transcended the limits of decency and
propriety as to announce upon this floor that his remarks were addressed
to white men alone, I shall have no word of reply. Let him feel that a
Negro was not only too magnanimous to smite him in his weakness, but was
even charitable enough to grant him the mercy of his silence. I shall,
sir, leave to others less charitable the unenviable and fatiguing task
of sifting out of that mass of chaff the few grains of sense that may,
perchance deserve notice. Assuring the gentleman that the Negro in this
country aims at a higher degree of intellect than that exhibited by him
in this debate, I cheerfully commend him to the commiseration of all
intelligent men the world over--black men as well as white men.

Sir, equality before the law is now the broad, universal, glorious rule
and mandate of the Republic. No State can violate that. Kentucky and
Georgia may crowd their statute-books with retrograde and barbarous
legislation; they may rejoice in the odious eminence of their consistent
hostility to all the great steps of human progress which have marked our
national history since slavery tore down the stars and stripes on Fort
Sumter; but, if Congress shall do its duty, if Congress shall enforce
the great guarantees which the Supreme Court has declared to be the one
pervading purpose of all the recent amendments, then their unwise and
unenlightened conduct will fall with the same weight upon the gentlemen
from those States who now lend their influence to defeat this bill, as
upon the poorest slave who once had no rights which the honorable
gentlemen were bound to respect.

But, sir, not only does the decision in the Slaughter-house cases
contain nothing which suggests a doubt of the power of Congress to pass
the pending bill, but it contains an express recognition and affirmance
of such power. I quote from page 81 of the volume: "Nor shall any State
deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the

In the light of the history of these amendments, and the pervading
purpose of them which we have already discussed, it is not difficult to
give a meaning to this clause. The existence of laws in the States where
the newly emancipated Negroes resided, which discriminated with gross
injustice and hardship against them as a class, was the evil to be
remedied by this clause, and by it such laws are forbidden.

If, however, the States did not conform their views to its requirements,
then, by the fifth section of the article of amendment, Congress was
authorized to enforce it by suitable legislation. We doubt very much
whether any action of a State not directed by way of discrimination
against the Negroes as a class, or on account of their race, will ever
be held to come within the purview of this provision. It is so clearly a
provision for that race and that emergency, that a strong case would be
necessary for its application to any other. But as it is a State that is
to be dealt with, and not alone the validity of its laws, we may safely
leave that matter until Congress shall have exercised its power, or some
case of State oppression, by denial of equal justice in its courts,
shall have claimed a decision at our hands.

No language could convey a more complete assertion of the power of
Congress over the subject embraced in the present bill than is here
expressed. If the States do not conform to the requirements of this
clause, if they continue to deny to any person within their jurisdiction
the equal protection of the laws, or as the Supreme Court had said "deny
equal justice in its Courts" then Congress is here said to have power to
enforce the Constitutional guarantee by appropriate legislation. That is
the power which this bill now seeks to put in exercise.

It proposes to enforce the Constitutional guarantee against inequality
and discrimination by appropriate legislation. It does not seek to
confer new rights, nor to place rights conferred by State citizenship
under the protection of the United States, but simply to prevent and
forbid inequality and discrimination on account of race, color, or
previous condition of servitude. Never was there a bill which appealed
for support more strongly to that sense of justice and fair play which
has been said, and in the main with justice, to be a characteristic of
the Anglo-Saxon race. The Constitution warrants it; the Supreme Court
sanctions it; justice demands it.

Sir, I have replied to the extent of my ability to the arguments which
have been presented by the opponents of this measure. I have replied
also to some of the legal propositions advanced by gentlemen on the
other side; and now that I am about to conclude, I am deeply sensible of
the imperfect manner in which I have performed the task. Technically,
this bill is to decide upon the civil status of the colored American
citizen; a point disputed at the very formation of our present form of
government, when by a short-sighted policy, a policy repugnant to true
republican government, one Negro counted as three-fifth of a man. The
logical result of this mistake of the framers of the Constitution
strengthened the cancer of slavery, which finally spread its poisonous
tentacles over the southern portion of the body politic. To arrest its
growth and save the nation we have passed through the harrowing
operation of intestine war, dreaded at all times, resorted to at the
last extremity, like the surgeon's knife, but absolutely necessary to
extirpate the disease which threatened with the life of the nation the
overthrow of civil and political liberty on this continent. In that dire
extremity the members of the race which I have the honor in part to
represent--the race which pleads for justice at your hands
to-day,--forgetful of their inhuman and brutalizing servitude at the
South, their degradation and ostracism at the North, flew willingly and
gallantly to the support of the national Government.

Their sufferings, assistance, privations, and trials in the swamps and
in the rice-fields, their valor on the land and on the sea, form a part
of the ever-glorious record which makes up the history of a nation
preserved, and might, should I urge the claim, incline you to respect
and guarantee their rights and privileges as citizens of our common
Republic. But I remember that valor, devotion, and loyalty are not
always rewarded according to their just deserts, and that after the
battle some who have borne the brunt of the fray may, through neglect
or contempt, be assigned to a subordinate place, while the enemies in
war may be preferred to the sufferers.

The results of the war, as seen in reconstruction, have settled forever
the political status of my race. The passage of this bill will determine
the civil status, not only of the Negro, but of any other class of
citizens who may feel themselves discriminated against. It will form the
cap-stone of that temple of liberty, begun on this continent under
discouraging circumstances, carried on in spite of the sneers of
monarchists and the cavils of pretended friends of freedom, until at
last it stands, in all its beautiful symmetry and proportions, a
building the grandest which the world has ever seen, realizing the most
sanguine expectations and the highest hopes of those who, in the name of
equal, impartial, and universal liberty, laid the foundation-stone.

The Holy Scriptures tell us of an humble handmaiden who long,
faithfully, and patiently gleaned in the rich fields of her wealthy
kinsman, and we are told further that at last, in spite of her humble
antecedents she found favor in his sight. For over two centuries our
race has "reaped down your fields," the cries and woes which we have
uttered have "entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth" and we are
at last politically free. The last vestiture only is needed--civil
rights. Having gained this, we may, with hearts overflowing with
gratitude and thankful that our prayer has been answered, repeat the
prayer of Ruth: "Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from
following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou
lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my
God; where thou diest I will die, and there will I be buried; the Lord
do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me."

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