Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

legs again, I think the progress of the work must be put into the hands of its friends. If a State is to be nursed until it gets strength, it must be nursed by its friends, not smothered by its enemies.'

"The great problem of reconstruction before the American people is now being solved by a Republican Congress, with which the President is in accord. There is no worthy basis for the Government of States but that basis which contains the elements of justice and equal rights. The corner stone of all republican governments must be the self-evident truths, that 'all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Shall the eleven rebellious States, which have declared these immortal declarations to be contrary to their policy of government, be allowed to send their representatives to Congress until they abandon their political heresies, as they have the field? Does not the dignity of the nation demand this? Does not Freedom itself demand that none shall be sent to our National Legislature to represent the vital interests of these States, but those who have been steadfast, devoted upholders of the Union, when the life of the nation was assailed? If this policy is not adopted and enforced we shall have treason again in our Congressional halls, and a new set of Davises, Breckenridges and Slidells will seek to seize the reins of Government and renew their war upon loyal men and upon the Union,

"Heaven grant our Republic may never again be summoned to meet rebellion, begun by Senators, Legislators and Governors—that Liberty and Civilization shall be draped in mourning by traitors; men, who, having taken a solemn oath to maintain the Government, betray it, and thrust their swords of treason into the vitals of the nation! In the name of God, let our Congressional and our Legislative halls be purified from the taint of treason! We cannot trust men to make laws for our State and for the nation, who by their traitorous acts, have disfranchised themselves—have forfeited their right to vote or to hold office under the National or State Governments. Let them remain disfranchised until the evidence of their repentance is perfect. If this policy is not pursued, the peace and unity of this country will be constantly imperilled.

"President Johnson has again and again declared that none but loyal men had a right to rule the country. "While Governor of Tennessee he said: 'But in calling a Convention to restore the State, who shall restore and establish it? Shall the man who gave his means and influence to destroy the Government? Is he to participate in the great work of reorganization? Shall he who brought this misery upon the State be permitted to control its destinies V Again he says: 'Why all this blood and carnage? It was that treason might be put down and traitors punished; therefore I say, that traitors should take a back seat in the work of restoration. If there should be but five thousand men loyal to the Constitution, loyal to justice, these true and faithful men shall control the work of reorganization and reformation absolutely.'

"These are words worthy a Democratic Republican President, and we have reason to believe that our truly Republican Congress will sustain these noble sentiments. Then will treason be made odious, and genuine loyalty and unimpeachable integrity be rewarded. Our Republic will no longer be in danger of being buried beneath the powers of despotism. Treason will no longer threaten the peace, harmony and unity of the nation. Anarchy, convulsion and conflict will be among the things of the past.

"citizens:—In this work of reconstruction, let us earnestly labor with the patriots cf our country to establish the principles of universal justice and impartial freedom. That in the reorganization, equity shall prevail. That there shall be no repudiation of just debts, and no recognition of the debts of rebels; no slavery— nothing but justice.

"Should men who made the rebellion be permitted to possess the power they seek, and succeed with the Copperheads of the North in their conspiracies, we may, indeed, fear for the precious boon of Liberty. We want no rebel party in disguise. We must not imperil our glorious heritage by a misjudged magnanimity towards even the remains of an insolent aristocracy. This class are still contumacious rebels, and, as such, are not worthy of confidence. They must suffer the ignominy due their crimes, and receive their just punishment that worketh repentance.

"Long years these traitors have plotted the destruction of our Government—of the Constitution—of Liberty. Let us hope and pray that in this great work of the reconstruction of States this Union may be based upon the National recognition of all men's inalienable rights, and that nothing may be endangered by precipitancy. As Mr. Colfax has said, i Let the work make haste slowly,' and we can then hope that the foundation of our Government, when reconstructed on the basis of indisputable loyalty and freedom, will be as 'eternal as the stars.'

"Freedom is the watchword of this age of progress. The decree has gone forth that Liberty shall rule supreme in this Republic and throughout the world. The words of our martyred Lincoln were prophetic: 'This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and government of the people by the people and for the people, and shall not perish from the earth.'

"In my opinion, before this work of restoration can be fully consummated, this Government must recognize and secure the equal political, as well as religious, civil, and moral rights of men.

"My Friends, On the question of universal suffrage I feel as did Gadsden, of South Carolina, in reference to the Stamp Act of 1765, when he exclaimed: 'We stand upon the broad, common ground of those natural rights which we feel and know as men.' The two elements now at work in our land are striving, the one to perpetuate Freedom, the other to destroy the power which justice seeks to give man. Whence arises this bitter antagonism to the free, unconditional and equal rights of the oppressed? Are these rights not denounced most fiercely by the infamous instigators of the rebellion—the aristocratic conspirators of this country, who have declared, by words and by war, that power was more potent than right—and oppression than equity? The four millions of human beings made free during the past four years are not recognized as freedmen by their former masters. Their rights are not respected by them. The terrible events of the past four years have not opened their eyes to sight in this matter. They will not look upon truths which are in accordance with the laws of God and republican principles. Who were the loyal and steadfast friends of the best of Governments in her hour of peril? Who came forward by hundreds 01 thousands at the call of Abraham Lincoln, and fought with a courage unsurpassed by the bravest soldiers, helping the nation in the darkest hour of danger to turn the tide of battle, and win the precious victory that made safe the Republic? O friends! let us be just, and labor to extend to this portion of our fellow-citizens those rights the God of Nature has bequeathed in common—the right of self-government—of representation— of the ballot—for until these rights are given we cannot become fully a nation of freemen. Refuse the just demands of a brave and loyal people, and internecine war, discord, sectional and national strife will re-appear, in some form, with their blighting effects upon the country. It is said by the enemies of negro suffrage that this people are uneducated in the science of government, and therefore unfit for the right of suffrage. Have they not already proved to the world their capacity to appreciate all the truths necessary to be understood by the loyal citizens of the United States, in order to maintain the rights of freemen? Do we not find them as anxious for the acquisition of knowledge as the white race? Contemplate some of the developments of freedom to this race. Go into the schools of the freedmen in this State, established by this munificent Government, where upwards of twenty thousand colored people are being educated. See with what avidity they apply themselves to

« AnteriorContinuar »