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Delaying the settlement of the status of the Negro will, under the circumstances, but lose us precious time. The Negroes will in time become voters, full and free voters, and with our absolute and ultimate approbation and consent. Delay will not affect the final result. This may seem a bold statement, but if you will indulge me I will appeal to your experience for my justification.
Every argument of memory and experience teaches us that this question is surely solving itself in the ultimate direction of broad political liberty for the Negro. It is useless to controvert it. To-day, beyond denial, it is nearer a liberal solution than ever before. Under Providence, excepting the first great shock of civil franchise granted to the Negro, the other steps towards the broader enfranchisement have proceeded step by step, and under the assimilating and soothing process of time they have been without jar to our feelings or wound to the body politic. There has been no backward movement. It has been purely forward all the time. I challenge contradiction to this statement. I mean political and civil advancement. I adhere to absolute social and racial separation as earnestly as any one to whom I speak. Social and racial separation is the salvation of both races. Loose Memory's chain and wander with me over the South, enter the courthouse and legislature and the marts of business, and you yourself will be amazed at your unconscious change of sentiment in the direction of liberality towards the Negro. When he was a slave, we gave our fathers and sons to death, and deluged with blood this fair country to retain him as a slave; and yet within the sound of my voice there is not a man who, for all the land between the swelling seas, would rivet a fetter on the arm of a Negro. Stand with me in the sacred halls of Justice. I remember when a Negro's oath was not taken. Yet to-day an intelligent Negro on the witness-stand is accepted without question; and if he has been an honest man, no difference is made between him and a white man of equal character. That which has distinguished the Anglo-Saxon in all times is the right of jury. The juryman must be a free man, and under the sun of Australia or the snows of the North, the jury has gone as the badge of the Anglo-Saxon. I remember when a Negro darkened no jury in my State; yet, to-day, Negro jurymen have been found by those experienced in the work of the court-house, to be, without question, safe and conservative. In my town, with a prescience of the future beyond the wisdom of his day, Stonewall Jackson taught a Negro Sunday-school, at times against vehement protest and under threats of prosecution. To-day we have spent a hundred millions upon the Negro school, and not for the wealth of the Indies would we close them to him. In your business life his every step has been against a protest, but he has made his place within the march of affairs, and as great as the changes have been, they meet your and my approbation, showing the sure and almost unconscious progress to a widening sentiment for a most liberal solution of this political question in the direction I plead. Then, sir, if the result of your experience points to the future as I have indicated, does not every reason of an intelligent and far-seeing statesmanship demand that we settle this status at once in the direction of an intelligent voting power? Does not the spirit of the day abroad in the land demand our wise and liberal action? Now arises an important question. If the South, far-seeing and liberal in its policy towards the Negro, should adopt a liberal franchise provision, can the Negro on his part ever become imbued with the American spirit? Will he ever become a citizen sufficiently intelligentso as to become a substantial integral portion of the American voting population? Will the progress shown on our part by the adoption of this free and equal basis of franchise meet any progress on the part of the Negro? Are his feet on the ascending steps of a good citizenship? Is he improving in character, in religion, in material prosperity, in self-respect? Sir, I appeal to that tribunal which is more powerful for enlightenment than gathered statistics. I summon here as proofs the result of your own observation. I point to the spires rising heavenward all over this land and sheltering an increasing number of dusky and intelligent worshippers. I call here in witness the homes where, under their own fig-tree and vine, live in plenty and sweet contentment increasing numbers of the Negro race. Yea, Mr. Chairman, I point to the thousands of intelligent students crowding the halls of learning in the South and filling every situation open to them with credit and character. I call to your attention a greater increase within the time in material prosperity than falls to the lot of any other race excepting the Anglo-Saxon in the wide world. I appeal to your own experience as to the vast change for the better in the horde of unlettered and ignorant Negroes within one generation. Within three generations mark his improvement from the barbarian, bound and gyved, and thrust over the side of the slave-ship and given to us. There has been disappointment and discouragement, it is true, but the progress has been substantial and on the right line. I will not take your time with the discussion of the detail of a proposition which is obvious to all. I have given somewhat of study to the question of his improvement, and a careful investigation of the only people whose shackles within our time have been broken, leads me to the conclusion, and it is the conclusion of every careful student of the emancipated serfs of Russia, that the Negro has infinitely outprogressed the freed white serf in every element of an enlightened citizenship. Surely he has improved. This has been the general consensus of opinion and the observation and experience alike of the statesman, the scholar, and the man of business of the South.
When I see the progress of the Negro and the sure improvement of the conditions surrounding him, the darkness which tinges the bright skies of the South brings me no despair. Out of the cloud should not come despair, but the sweet gladness of hope brightening our every difficulty. The evidences of His supreme care over us are too unmistakable for despair, and the cloud of witnesses that His care encompasses this nation, and that with the fingers of His wisdom he has placed these people among us, will admit of no question. When commerce languished and its utmost gates lay behind the white sails, and the rivers of India no longer gave their gold and the fields their gems, and the cunning hands of the East no longer wove the silk and garments of mankind, the treasury of plenitude of this new land yielded richer gems and gold more plentiful than ever glistened in Indian rivers or burdened with the glory of wealth the mines of Golconda. When the golden belt and the steel armor were the sole tokens of rule, when the king was the state and the people his servants, He gave to the world our country, where the only king is Freedom and where the People is the State. When under the rule of King and Cardinal and Noble the creed of the people was the voice of the Conclave, under the oaks of New England and the pines of Virginia there arose a thunderous song of a new people who cared not for the creed of Conclave, Diet, or Cardinal, and who heeded not the command of princes. When the swarthy