Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

President. With all these things before them, and ere they have had time for reflection, they are startled by the perpetration of some new act of high- handed infidelity, which well serves his purpose to hide some former wrong. As an evidence of some of his new acts of infidelity, they beheld him, within three days after the murder of our ever-to-be-lamented President, Abraham Lincoln, standing before God and, in the presence of an outraged nation, solemnly declaring that he would make treason a crime, and punish the traitor. Has he done either? No. Then, what has he done? you ask. My answer is that he has done much to make treason a virtue, by elevating traitors to offices of honor and trust, to be paid for their services in such offices by the taxing of the widows and orphans, whose fathers and husbands their own hands have slain. By these acts he has honored and given new license to traitors to perpetuate outrages and crimes. Humanity revolts and refuses to believe that man, made in the image of God, could so debase and belie his nature as to be guilty of such wrong against his fellow man. But did they not murder their slaves with impunity while they had a moneyed interest in them? If so, will they not slaughter the freedmen in whom they have no such interest, with such an one at the head of the nation fostering and honoring traitors? Were it not that we are forbidden to speak against those in authority, I should say, the Lord rebuke thee and deliver us from such a Moses.■


81 WE ARE ALL BOUND UP TOGETHER

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

By the time of the Civil War, Frances Ellen Watkins ( 1825-1911) had achieved recognition as a leading poet and lecturer of the period. Watkins married Fenton Harper in 1860 and lived with him on a farm in Ohio. After his death in 1864, the Harper farm was sold to pay off debts, and she was left no assets by which to support her daughter, Mary, and her husband's three children from a previous marriage. She returned to the lecture circuit and supplemented her income through teaching and book sales.

Following the war, Harper embarked upon a major lecture tour of the South, in which she spoke to both white and black audiences of the importance of national reconciliation and attention to the desperate needs of freedpeople. Her tour was fraught with danger, as Harper "braved the suspicion of southern blacks who were wary of fast-talking Yankees of

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