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(A reply to the Speech of Hon. W. J. Calhoun)


COULD not help feeling as I listened to the burning words of eloquence as they fell from the lips of Judge Calhoun, that if all the negroes in the Civil War had been as the one, described by the Judge, who made his way to his wounded master and brought him back to home and slavery, we would have been unworthy a part in the celebration of this splendid week. But when I looked on my right, as I sat here to-night, and saw those old veterans, who were a part and parcel of that two hundred thousand black men who answered to the call of Father Abraham, I felt in my heart of hearts we have just right to be here. Ah, my friends, I want our good Judge to see the other side of the question. When thirteen stars from yonder flag were falling into the dust of secession two hundred thousand negro soldiers caught them on the points of bristling bayonets, pinned them back in the folds of Old Glory, sealed them with their blood, singing meanwhile,

"John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

But his soul goes marching on."

And when the good Judge speaks of the ballot-Ah, Judge, had you lived where I lived, had you lived in that Southland yonder where I was born and reared, had you seen a helpless people treated as my people were, thrown into the conflict with no weapon of defence, you would have said, "Though the Fifteenth Amendment seem a mistake, give it a trial and let the negro have the ballot. It is his only weapon of defence, his only means of protection against injustice and oppression."

It may be that some of us have proven unworthy. It may

be that some have bartered their ballot for money or beer. But, sir, more contemptible, more blamable in the sight of honest men and in the sight of God, than the black man who sells his ballot, is the white man who purchases or causes him to sell it.

One word, and I am done. When the good Judge speaks of black men owning property and being able to give their negotiable notes to the bank, I rejoice that in the State in which I was born, the old State of Georgia, negroes pay taxes, to-day on twenty-five million dollars' worth of real estate and personal property. And in that self-same State, some of the very homes in which their former masters lived are now owned by those black ex-slaves, many of whom have given their former masters bread, since the Emancipation Proclamation set them free.

What is true in Georgia, is true in Alabama, true in Tennessee, true in Texas, proportionately true in every State of the South, and under God we are beginning to make it true even in grand old Illinois, for here our people have begun the purchasing of many homes. Yes, Judge, in all that makes for righteousness, in all that makes for that which is best for the American people, these black men and these black women have consecrated themselves heart and soul to God and his truth, and to their task. We will help you make this nation the mightiest nation on the globe, or we will report to God the reason why.

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N the twentieth of March, 1811, two years after the birth of Abraham Lincoln, an enormous crowd gathered beof the fore the Palace of the Tuileries in Paris at the booming of wned the cannon that announced the birth of an expected prince. their As volley succeeded volley the suspense became unbearable, ation until the twenty-second report shook earth and sky, when this








assurance that the child born to Napoleon was the wished-for son, evoked from the impatient multitude shouts and screams e of of wild delight. The imperial babe was proclaimed immeditrue ately the King of Rome, decorated with the grand Eagle of gun the Legion of Honor, with the great Cross of the Iron Crown, and with the Golden Fleece. The guns that told of his birth were repeated northward to the Russian frontier and southward to the straits of Gibraltar. Poets broke into obsequious songs; churches resounded with chants of praise; Paris brought to the child a magnificent silvered vessel, the emblem of the city; the Senate and Council of State hailed in ecstatic strains "this new star which," they exclaimed, "had risen on the horizon of France, and whose first gleams dispersed the smallest shadows remaining of the darkness of the future." One year later a portrait of this baby King of Rome, playing in his cradle with the sceptre of the Empire and the globe of the world, was shown by Napoleon to his staff as his army was approaching Moscow. "But the hitherto unvanquished conqueror could not pluck to-morrow from the hands of the Eternal." Few and evil were the days appointed to the lad. When four years old a fugitive with his frightened mother and his treacherous uncle; afterward a prisoner in the palace of his imperial grandfather; an uneducated or miseducated

youth dying at twenty-one, his last entreaty, the bitter exclamation, "Let me die in peace!"-finally a splendid funeral in Vienna, a tomb in the great cathedral, and a twilight song chanted by Victor Hugo to his memory. This completes the melancholy annals of the King of Rome, descendant of the Hapsburgs and Napoleon Bonaparte.

How strange but how instructive the story of this imperial eaglet when contrasted with the childhood and the career of Abraham Lincoln! No sound save the moaning of his mother greeted his coming to a rude Kentucky cabin. No poet sang his praises; no legislators prophesied his future splendor; no artist cared to limn his homely features; no famous father showed him to his comrades as the coming ruler of millions and the idol of posterity. But while the foredoomed offspring of Napoleon was watching the fountains in the gardens of his palace prison, the son of Nancy Lincoln was following his mother to her lonely grave in a wild region, among bears and untamed creatures. No private tutors shaped or spoiled his mind. No college made or marred his character. "Somehow he learned to read and cipher"-that was all, "save what he picked up in after life under," as he termed it modestly, "the pressure of necessity." For this ungainly, dark-skinned, melancholy lad felt quite early the urging of a mightier force, a force compounded of intelligence and ambition, of the ability to think and the longing to achieve.

America is opportunity indeed, but not for everybody. Many children were born in Kentucky in 1809, but only one Abraham Lincoln. Many settlers found their way to Indiana when the Territory became a State, but not many future statesmen; many clerks handled the goods and chatted with the customers in the country stores of Illinois, but very few among them rose to eminence.

Lincoln, the farm boy, the store clerk, the surveyor, became Lincoln the lawyer and Lincoln the statesman, not because of his environment and its difficulties, but because he saw and seized his opportunities. Defects he had indeed; defects of character and defects contracted from vulgar and mean surroundings; but he had great powers, together with a capacity

for self-development and self-conquest, which is the secret of all enduring greatness.

Abraham Lincoln was always nobler than his surroundings and wiser than his companions; but there has been in many places, and not seldom here in this great state to which his name and that of Grant have given imperishable lustre, a somewhat grudging recognition of his nobility and wisdom. His image has been obscured by the breath of men who thought that he was altogether such an one as themselves, and who fastened upon the defects of his massive nature as though they were the substance of his being; men who were fain to magnify their own pettiness by creeping into some crevice of his character.

You will permit me, therefore, to recall a paragraph from one of his early speeches, a paragraph that lives in my mind as the cathedral utterance of Abraham Lincoln, because I can never recall it without the vision of some mighty structure soaring upwards like the dome of St. Peter's or the spires of Cologne's beautiful temple into that ampler ether where a sublime human achievement is made glorious by the greeting of the radiant skies.

Speaking of the slave power, he exclaimed:

"Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it, I never will. The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause which we deem to be just. It shall not deter me. If I ever feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy its Almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country deserted by all the world besides, and I, standing up boldly and alone and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. Here, without contemplating consequence, before high heaven, and in the face of the world, I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty, and my love."

Here is the key to the peculiar character of Abraham Lincoln. His soul was capable of infinite expansion; and under the inspiration of great opportunity and tremendous responsibility his soul did expand to dimensions not wholly unworthy of its Almighty Architect; but it was a soul whose final majesty, whose ultimate harmonious proportions were never quite

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