Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

no standing still. It is true the government is but little more antislavery now than it was at the commencement of the war; but while fighting for its own existence, it has been obliged to take slavery by the throat, and sooner or later must choke her to death. (Loud applause.) Jeff Davis is to the slaveholders what Pharaoh was to the Egyptians, and Abraham Lincoln and his successor, John C. Fremont, (applause,) will be to us what Moses was to the Israelites. (Continued applause.) I may be mistaken, but I think the sequel will prove that I am correct. I have faith in God and gun-powder and lead, (loud applause,) and believe we ought not to be discouraged. (Applause.) We have withstood the sixth trial, and in the seventh our courage must not falter. I thank God I have lived to see this great day, when the nation is to be weighed in the balances, and I hope not found wanting. (Applause.) This State and the National Government have treated us most shamefully, but as this is not the first time, I suppose we shall live through it. In the hour of danger, we have not been found wanting. As the Government has not had the courage to receive the help that has been standing ready and waiting to assist her, we will now stand still, and see the salvation of our people. (Applause.)■


64 WE ASK FOR OUR RIGHTS

John S. Rock

During the spring and summer of 1862, President Lincoln and the U.S. Congress began to move toward emancipation. On March 6, Lincoln recommended federal compensation to any state adopting gradual emancipation. Congress prohibited slavery in all U.S. territories and, in April, approved the abolition of slavery in Washington, D.C. On July 17, Congress declared all slaves escaped from Confederate slaveholders to be "forever free" once they crossed Union lines. On July 22, President Lincoln secretly submitted the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet. It was to be announced publicly on September 22, following the Union victory in the Battle of Antietam.

Addressing the West Indies Emancipation Day celebration, August 1, 1862, at Abington, Massachusetts, John S. Rock advanced what was probably the first demand for distribution of land to slaves emancipated during the Civil War. At the same time, he pointed out that the end of slavery was not the only issue confronting the nation, for the African American in the free states was also oppressed and racial prejudice was

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