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[13] Fletcher Secretary. In opening, Mr. Johnson stated the object of the gathering. He thought that another year would show the importance of having the black man in arms, and pleaded with his hearers, by the love they bore their country, not to deter by word or deed any person from entering the service. Judge Russell said in his remarks, ‘You want to be line-officers yourselves.’ He thought they had a right to be, and said,—
‘If you want commissions, go, earn, and get them. [Cheers.] Never let it be said that when the country called, this reason kept back a single man, but go cheerfully.’

Edward L. Pierce was the next speaker; and he reminded them of the many equalities they had in common with the whites. He called on them to stand by those who for half a century had maintained that they would prove brave and noble and patriotic when the opportunity came. Amid great applause Wendell Phillips was introduced. The last time he had met such an audience was when he was driven from Tremont Temple by a mob. Since then the feeling toward them had much changed. Some of the men who had pursued and hunted him and them even to that very spot had given up their lives on the battlefields of Virginia. He said:—

‘Now they offer you a musket and say, “Come and help us.” The question is, will you of Massachusetts take hold? I hear there is some reluctance because you are not to have officers of your own color. This may be wrong, for I think you have as much right to the first commission in a brigade as a white man. No regiment should be without a mixture of the races. But if you cannot have a whole loaf, will you not take a slice?’

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