« EdellinenJatka »
I entreat you, yield amnesty to this murderous wickedness. Ravaillac, who took the life of the French Henry, was torn in pieces on the public square before the City Hall by four powerful horses, each fastened to one of his limbs, and rending in opposite directions, until, at last, after fearful struggle, nothing of the wretched assassin remained to the executioner except his bloody shirt, which was at once handed over to be burned. Such be our vengeance; and let Slavery be the victim.
And not only Slavery, which is another name for property in man, but also that other pretension, not less irrational and hateful, that Human Rights can depend on color. This is the bloody shirt of the assassin; let it be handed over to be burned.
Such a vengeance will be a kiss of reconciliation; for it will remove every obstacle to peace and harmony. The people where Slavery once ruled will bless the blow that destroyed it. The people where the kindred tyranny of Caste once prevailed will rejoice that this fell under the same blow. They will yet confess that it was dealt in no harshness, in no unkindness, in no desire to humiliate, but simply and solemnly, in the name of the Republic and of Human Nature, for their good as well as ours, ay, for their good more than ours.
By ideas, more than by armies, we have conquered. The sword of the Archangel was less mighty than the mission he bore from the Lord. But if the ideas giving us the victory are now neglected, if the pledges of the Declaration, which the Rebellion openly assailed, are left unredeemed, then have blood and treasure been lavished for nought. Alas for the dead who
gave themselves so bravely to their country, alas for the living left to mourn the dead, if any relic of Slavery is allowed to continue !— especially if this bloody imposture, defeated in the pretension of property in man, is allowed to perpetuate an oligarchy of the skin!
How shall these ideas be saved? How shall the war waged by Abraham Lincoln be brought to an end, so as to assure peace, tranquillity, and reconciliation? All turns on the colored suffrage. This is the centre and pivot of national safety. A mistake now is worse than the loss of a battle. And yet here again we encounter the Rebellion in its odious pretensions, hardly less audacious than when it took up arms. Amidst its expiring camp-fires, the men who have trimmed them -with fresh oaths of allegiance on the lips-renew their early activity in plotting how to preserve an oligarchical power. The demon of Caste follows the demon of Slavery. In setting ourselves against this accursed succession, we follow the solemn behests of the Great Declaration, so constantly championed by the martyred President. And now, as I close this humble tribute, let me ask you to adopt that championship, which was his first title to national gratitude, and is now his best. Let each be standard-bearer of the Declaration. I cannot err, if, speaking at his funeral, I detain you to insist upon this absorbing duty, where for the moment all other duties are swallowed up.
The argument for colored suffrage is overwhelming. It springs from the necessity of the case, as well as from the Rights of Man. This suffrage is needed for the security of the colored people, for the stability of the local government, and for the strength of the
Union. Without it there is nothing but insecurity for the colored people, instability for the local government, and weakness for the Union, involving of course the national credit. Without it the Rebellion will break forth under a new alias, unarmed it may be, but with white votes to take possession of the local government and wield it at will, whether at home or in the national councils. If it be said that the colored people are unfit, then do I show that they are more fit than their recent masters, or than the "poor whites." They have been loyal always; and who is he, that, under any pretence, exalts the prejudices of the disloyal above the rights of the loyal? Their suffrage is now needed, more even than you ever needed their muskets or sabres. An English statesman, after the acknowledgment of the Spanish Colonies as Independent States, boasted that he had called a new world into existence to redress the balance of the old. In similar spirit, we, too, must call a new ballot into existence to redress the tyranny that refuses justice to the colored race.
The same national authority that destroyed Slavery must see that this other pretension is not permitted to survive; nor is there any doubt that the authority which destroyed Slavery is competent to the kindred duty. Each belongs to that great policy of justice through which alone can peace become permanent and immutable. Nor may the Republic shirk this remaining service, without leaving Emancipation unfinished and the early promises of the Fathers unfulfilled. Vain the gift of Liberty, if you surrender the rights of the freedman to be judged by recent assertors of property in man. Burke, in his day, saw the flagrant inconsistency, and denounced it, saying that whatever
such people did on this subject was "arrant trifling," and, notwithstanding its plausible form, always wanted what he aptly called "the executory principle." These words of warning were adopted and repeated by two later statesmen, George Canning and Henry Brougham; but they are so clear as not to need support of names. The infant must not be handed over to be suckled by .. the wolf; it must be carefully nursed by its parent;
and since the Republic is parent of Emancipation, the Republic must nurse the immortal infant into maturity and strength. The Republic at the beginning took up this great work: the Republic must finish what it began; and it cannot err, if, in anxious care, it holds nothing done so long as anything remains undone. The Republic, with matchless energy, hurled forward victorious armies the Republic must exact that "security for the future" without which this unparalleled war will have been waged in vain. The Republic to-day, with one consenting voice, commemorates the martyred victim the same Republic, prompt in this service, must require that his promises to an oppressed race be maintained in all their integrity and completeness, in letter and in spirit, so that the cause for which he became a sacrifice shall not fail; his martyrdom was a new pledge, beyond any even in life.
The colored suffrage is an overwhelming necessity. In making it an essential condition of restoration, we follow, first, the law of reason and of Nature, and, secondly, the Constitution, not only in its text, but in the light of the Declaration. By reason and Nature there can be no denial of rights on account of color;
1 Letter to Henry Dundas, April 9, 1792: Works (London, 1801-27), Vol. p. 281.
and we can do nothing thus irrational and unnatural. By the Constitution it is stipulated that "the United States shall guaranty to every State a republican form of government"; but the meaning of this guaranty must be found in the birthday Declaration of the Republic, which is the controlling preamble of the Constitution. Beyond all question, the United States, when called to enforce the guaranty, must insist on the equality of all before the law, and the consent of the governed. Such is the true idea of republican government according to American institutions.
The Slave-Masters, driven from their first intrenchments, occupy inner defences. Property in man is abandoned; but they now insist that the freedman shall not enjoy political rights. Liberty has been won. The battle for Equality is still pending. And now a new compromise is proposed, in the name of State Rights. Sad that it should be so. But I do not despair. The victory may be delayed, but not lost. All who set themselves against Equality will be overborne ; for it is the cause of Humanity. Not the rich and proud, but the poor and lowly, will be the favorites of an enfranchised Republic. The words of the Prophet must be fulfilled: "And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I WILL MAKE A MAN MORE PRECIOUS THAN FINE GOLD, EVEN A MAN, THAN THE GOLDEN WEDGE OF OPHIR." 1 I accept these sublime. promises, and echo them back as assurance of triumph. Then will the Republic be all that heart can 1 Isaiah, xiii. 11, 12.