Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

By Philip S. Foner; Robert James Branham | Go to book overview

dren, his hopes and his happiness, for this world and the world to come. That is a question which, according to this bill, may be decided by any backwoods postmaster in this state or any other. Oh, this is a monstrous proposition; and I do thank God that if the Slave Power has such demands to make on us, that the proposition has come now--now, that the people know what is being done; now that the public mind is turned toward this subject; now that they are trying to find what is the truth on this subject.

Sir, what must be the moral influence of this speech of Mr. Webster on the minds of young men, lawyers and others, here in the North? They turn their eyes toward Daniel Webster as toward a superior mind, and a legal and constitutional oracle. If they shall catch the spirit of this speech, its influence upon them and upon following generations will be so deeply corrupting that it never can be wiped out or purged.

I am thankful that this, my first entrance into Boston and my first introduction to Fanueil Hall, gives me the pleasure and privilege of uniting with you in uttering my humble voice against the two Daniels, and of declaring, in behalf of our people, that if the fugitive slave is traced to our part of New York State, he shall have the law of Almighty God to protect him, the law which says, "Thou shalt not return to the master the servant that is escaped unto thee, but he shall dwell with thee in thy gates, where it liketh him best." And if our postmasters cannot maintain their Constitutional oaths and cannot live without playing the pander to the slave hunter, they need not live at all. Such crises as these leave us the right of Revolution, and if need be, that right we will, at whatever cost, most sacredly maintain.■


42 A PLEA FOR THE OPPRESSED

Lucy Stanton

Lucy Stanton was probably the first African American woman to complete a four-year collegiate course of study. Stanton's stepfather, John Brown, was a Cleveland barber active in the Underground Railroad who founded a school for the city's black children. Lucy graduated from her father's school and enrolled at the nearby Oberlin Collegiate Institute, noted for its abolitionist politics and admission of both male and female African American students in significant numbers. In 1850, she completed the "ladies' course," which, unlike the B.A. program, required no Greek, Latin, or higher mathematics.

As president of the Oberlin Ladies Literary Society, Stanton was invited to offer a graduation address at the commencement exercises on Au

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