But the grandest demonstration of all was before the house of Senator Sumner
It was the first time he had ever appeared and responded on such an occasion, and he embraced the opportunity to lift the flag of reform and progress still higher, rather than to fritter away such precious moments in public or self congratulation.
He did, in the beginning, congratulate the now silent
multitude on the great results accomplished in securing equal rights for all, which had so long been his object, and his hope; and to greet the hour when the promise of the Declaration of Independence
had become a reality.
He would not say that it was entirely accomplished, for it was not. It was his nature to think more of what remains to be done, than of what has been done—more of duties than of triumphs.
He had only just heard from Philadelphia
of a decision in a court of justice, that a colored person of foreign birth could not be naturalized in this country, because of color.
This is in accordance with an old statute—a relic of the days of slavery.
He had now a bill before the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, striking the word ‘white’ from our naturalization laws.
It remains further that equal rights shall be conceded in all the public conveyances in the United States
, that no one be excluded therefrom by reason of color.
It also remains, he said, that you here in Washington
shall complete this equality of rights in your common schools.
You all go together to vote, and any person may find a seat in the Senate of the United States; but the child is shut out of the common school on account of color.
This discrimination must be abolished.
All schools must be open to all, without distinction of color.
In accomplishing this, you will work, not only for yourselves, but will set an example for all the land, and most especially for the South
Only in this way can your school system be extended for the equal good of all. And now, as you have at heart the education of your children, that they should grow up in that knowledge of equal rights, so essential for their protection to the world, it is your bounden duty here in Washington
to see that this is accomplished.
Your school system
must be founded on equal rights, so that no one shall be excluded on account of color.