Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

cepts from the Book of Books, learn the great truth that God "created of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth"; so will caste, founded on prejudice against color, disappear.

Massachusetts has always been foremost in every good work. She, first of all the states, by positive law, struck the shackles from the limbs of every bondman within her limits. It was Massachusetts who first acknowledged the colored man as a citizen and gave him political equality. And today, by your enlightened legislation, no prescriptive laws remain on your statute book. In your state, color is no legal disqualification for any office of trust or power.

Mr. President, when we return to New Orleans, we shall tell our friends that in Massachusetts we could ride in every public vehicle; that the colored children not only were allowed to attend public schools with white children, but they were compelled by law to attend such schools; that we visited your courts of justice and saw colored lawyers defending their clients; and we shall tell them, too, of this most generous welcome extended to us by you. It will prove most grateful to their feeling, animate them with new hope and desires, and will prove a grand stimulus to renewed efforts for the acquisition of every right that can be guaranteed to them by law.■


76 LET THE MONSTER PERISH

Henry Highland Garnet

The Emancipation Proclamation had freed slaves only where the Federal troops were not in control to enforce the order--that is, those slaves living in areas still in rebellion against the government of the United States. It had specifically ruled out of the terms of emancipation all slave areas where Federal troops were present, in Louisiana, Virginia, and the border states. Slavery was legally ended by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In April 1864 and January 1865, the Senate and House, respectively, voted for the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution providing that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime for which the party had been convicted, should exist within the United States or any place under its jurisdiction. The amendment was then sent to the states for ratification, which occurred in December 1865.

On February 12, 1865, in the hall of the House of Representatives, the Reverend Henry Highland Garnet preached a sermon commemorat-

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