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not this amendment was ratified, I will not discuss, but under its provisions the Negro has with you and me an equal right to exercise the franchise. If we are an honest and constitution-loving people, we will give him his constitutional right. His privilege of franchise is as sacred as ours, and should be assacredly guarded. This is the only principle which should animate the life of a free republic and upon which its continued existence can be predicated. I challenge any transgression whatsoever without ultimate and grievous hurt to the Constitution, and as grave injury to the white man as to the black. It is, I repeat and urge, the most sacred and solemn principle of the Constitution. With whatever earnestness I may have, I “declare that this ark of our political covenant, this Constitutional casket of our Confederated Nation, encasing as it does more of human liberty and human security and human life than any government ever founded by man, I would not break for the whole African race.” If we have, under the trying exigencies of the days of Reconstruction and new citizenship, wandered away from the spirit of the Constitution, let us ascend the mountains where we can see the tables of the law. Here, in this sacred city, consecrated with the life and blood and treasure of our people to the Constitution of our Fathers, I call upon our people to gather again within its majestic portals and hear the law and give full heed to its commands. There can be but one response upon this question from those who have communed in the sacred temple of the Constitution with the mighty beings who builded the sacred edifice. I answer for them that this question cannot be settled until it is settled right. I base my statement upon the eternal foundation of historic precedent and universal experience. I appeal to the facts of our own history which culminated in this city in the great drama which fiercely rocked the walls of civilization. I appeal for my argument to one higher than Caesar. The deepening and broadening sense of eternal justice in the human heart decreed that slavery was wrong. The institution was surrounded by powers which never before girdled a civil institution. It was held in the letter of the law. It was hedged about by a patriotism unquestioned. It was jealously protected by the party which for sixty years had fought the battles of the Republic and which had added to it an imperial domain and which was deeply intrenched in the affections of the people. It was supported by the most supremely equipped statesmen who ever dazzled the world by the power of human intellect and statecraft. It was settled as the law of the land, by the binding decisions of the highest courts from whose decrees there was no appeal except to the supreme forum of the human heart. At the sacred birth of States, around whose bedsides sat the armed and panoplied and watchful hosts of the institution, it was settled. By solemn compromise of North and South, sealed by the House and Senate, by friend and foe, it was settled. By every human relation it was settled. Men walked in apparent security. Yet, sir, in that greatest forum under God, the eternal, immutable, unchangeable forum of human right, it was not settled. Before its bar the decrees of the highest earthly tribunal were dissipated as the morning dew. In the splendor of its court solemn enactment of Legislature and Senate and State was devoured as by consuming flames. Under its fiery ordeal compromise of statesmen shrivelled to ashes. It was not settled right; and not until decree of court and act of law and compromise of statesmen were deluged in blood, was it settled. I speak with no unkindness but with unspeakable tenderness of the memories of other days; and not for your imperial State, with its fields and flowing rivers and glowing furnaces, would I say aught unkind of the motives of the men who gave their sacred lives for what they believed was right. It illustrates, beyond the power of my tongue of weakness, that which I am striving to accentuate, that no question can be settled by a free people until it is settled in the forum of eternal justice. So I insist that until this question is settled right and in strict accord with the letter and spirit of the Constitution it will disturb our political relations, hold apart the North and South, hamper our development, degrade our civil liberty, pollute our franchise, endanger our freedom, and pillory us before the world as a people who do not do full and exact justice. Sir, I beg that you will not understand for a moment that these words are a concession that the real letter of the Constitution has been carelessly and wantonly violated by the South. I deny this charge with all my soul. I spurn with unspeakable contempt the reports of the frauds, violence, and intimidation with which the enemies of the South asperse her fair name. Her glory and her honor are to me as dear as life. Lay the book of nations wide open, and in all of the days there is none which through temptation and humiliation and sorrow has walked so steadily along the road of good government as has the South. Goaded with the bayonet, hedged about with the soldier, hounded by the alien, despoiled by the robber, her statehood decrowned and deflowered, since the morning of the world show me a country which emerged from suffering with garments as spotless and with so little of the smell of the fire about her. Yet, sir, while rejecting with disdain the calumnies against the South, still the time is upon us when we should commune with each other in a spirit of absolute fairness and most outspoken candor. It would be false to the spirit of truth pervading this Conference for me to deny that the South, appealing to a higher law than the Constitution or the statute, has never intended that the Negro should rule, or largely participate in the rule of her broad States and shape the destiny of her civilization. The time is here for plainness of speech, and he who would palter with the truth on this great question in its present portentous shape loves not his country. It is our duty to stand before the world and not swerve from the open light of discussion. If such has not been the intention of the South, then we are asked why this State Constitution provides the rule of understanding to be interpreted by the ballot commissioner as he may wish P Why this Constitution has inserted in it the ancestral clause 2 Why this Constitution provides a complicated election machinery? When you answer these insistent questions, your only reply can be that the great paramount reason for such action has been to preserve the State in the rule of the intelligent. With this reply there arises before us a broken and impaired Constitution, which has unloosed from its Pandora's box the foul vultures of coming woe, which are always ready to flap their wings about the dying body of a free people. It is from this anomalous condition of political affairs that the South must be released ; and every Southern man, without regard to his political future, should rise to that height of love for country, where, caring not for the clamor of the hour, despising present utilitarianism, he can contemplate a country unbroken in its love, rich in material glory and domestic peace, over whose happy, contented, and united people is the shadow of a Constitution which, under the mercy of God, needs not to be broken to serve the higher law. If there be any faint-hearted and who would shrink, I would remind him that the day is surely propitious for the coming change; that there is upon the South one of those great cycles where

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