Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

name and character, or even the habiliments of the grave about him, would protect him from insult and outrage? And so far are the people of this Country lost to all sense of shame, that many would laugh at such an outrage.

American Slavery has corrupted the whole mass of American society. Its influence has pervaded every crevice and cranny of society. But, Mr. President, I am glad to know that a great change is coming on, and that the American people are beginning to feel that the question of Slavery is not one which affects the colored people alone. I am glad to know that they are beginning to feel that it is a National question, in which every man and woman is more or less interested. And when the people of the North shall rise and put on their strength, powerful though Slavery is and well nigh omnipotent, it shall die. It is only for the people to will it, and it is done. But while the Church and the political parties continue to sustain it; while the people bow down at its bloody feet to worship it, it will live and breathe. Now, the question comes home to us, and it is a practical question, in the language of MR. PHILLIPS,"Shall Liberty die in this country? Has God Almighty scooped out the Mississippi Valley for its grave? Has he lifted up the Rocky Mountains for its monument? Has he set Niagara to hymn its requiem?" Sir, I hope not. I hope that the Mississippi Valley is to be its cradle; that the Rocky Mountains are to be the strong tablets upon which are to be written its glorious triumphs; and that Niagara has been set to hymn its triumphant song. (Applause.) But, my friends, the question is with us, Shall the Declaration of American Independence stand? Shall the Constitution of the United States, if it is Anti-Slavery, stand? Shall our free institutions triumph, and our Country become the asylum of the oppressed of all climes? Shall our Government become, in the language of ex-Senator ALLEN, "a democracy which asks nothing but what it concedes, and concedes nothing but what it demands, destructive to despotism, the conservator of liberty, life, and property?" May God help the right. (Applause.)■


50 THE TRIUMPH OF EQUAL SCHOOL RIGHTS IN BOSTON

William C. Nell

During the 1820s and 1830s the public school system was established for white children, with blacks explicitly excluded. Separate schools for African Americans were often provided at private expense, if at all, and those with public funding were usually inferior to those provided for whites. African Americans and their allies began a

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Abolitionist lecturer Wendell Phillips (1811-1884).

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