Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

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

I'se got religion to give away. The Lord has filled my hands with the Gospel, and I stand here to offer free salvation to any that will come. If in this big crowd there is one lost sinner that has not felt the cleansing touch of my Saviour's blood, I ask him to come today and he shall never die.


111 REASONS FOR A NEW POLITICAL PARTY

Reverend Henry McNeal Turner

The abandonment of Radical Reconstruction by the Republican Party caused a number of black Americans to question the wisdom of supporting the party of Abraham Lincoln, but it was not until the Supreme Court decision of 1883 nullifying the Civil Rights Act of 1875 that disenchantment with the Republican Party made considerable headway among African Americans. Henry McNeal Turner broke with the Republican Party soon after the decision, and publicly advised others to do likewise. In a speech in Atlanta, Georgia, February 12, 1886, Turner argued that there was no significant difference between the parties so far as African Americans were concerned and that black voters should withhold their support from both.

Turner spoke out in favor of a new political party to fulfill the promise of the Civil War and Reconstruction. As a strict temperance man, he favored unity of all nondrinking Americans regardless of color to achieve this goal. The dramatic resurgence of the temperance movement in the 1870s (including the 1874 establishment of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, which was the nation's largest women's group by the time Turner spoke) led Turner to believe it could be the basis for a moral reform coalition. Here is a major extract from this speech, taken from the text published in the Christian Recorder, April 1, 1886.

I HAVE NOT DESERTED the Republican party, the Republican party has deserted me and seven millions of my race--under circumstances, too, of the most dastardly character known in human events. . . . We know what the Republican party has done. But, unfortunately, we know too much. We know that after it freed the Negro and pretended to clothe him with the aegis of citizenship, by making him a voter, officeholder, juror, et cetera, that it was a hard task to get an enactment through Congress that contemplated any-

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