It was a new experience for the committee, because the terror aroused by the investigation had enabled them to get much information, and no witness had, up to that time, thus defied their authority, but they recognized that they had now encountered a man
, who knew how to guard his rights and protect his honor; and, after some delay, he was discharged, with his secrets (if he had any) locked in his own bosom, and carrying with him the respect and admiration of all who witnessed the ordeal through which he had passed.
In these days of a restored Union and a return to normal conditions, such conduct may not appear to have in it any element of heroism, but under the circumstances which then surrounded the Southern
people it required both moral and physical courage of the highest order.
Those circumstances constitute the one indelible and appalling disgrace of the American
people — the one chapter of their history which contains no redeeming feature to relieve it from the endless execration of the civilized world.
A distinguished orator from a Northern State declared in Congress in 1872 that one-third of the boundaries of this Republic had been filled ‘with all the curses and calamities ever recorded in the annals of the worst governments known on the pages of history,’ and, attacking the authors of these calamities, he exclaimed: ‘From turret to foundation you tore down the governments of eleven States.
You left not one stone upon another.
You rent all their local laws and machinery into fragments, and trampled upon their ruins.
Not a vestige of their former construction remained.’
And again he said: ‘A more sweeping and universal exclusion from all the benefits, rights, trusts, honors, enjoyments, liberties, and control of a government was never enacted against a whole people, without respect to age or sex, in the annals of the human race.
The disgraceful disabilities imposed upon the Jews for nearly eighteen hundred years by the blind and bigoted nations of the earth were never movie complete or appalling.’
Those who are old enough to remember that most shameful period of our history will readily recall the degradation, the crimes against civilization, and the terrorism which then prevailed, and how, amidst the general dismay, the faint-hearted stood helpless and silent before the arbitrary and reckless power exercised over them; and they will also remember with still more vividness how, as to a trumpet-call, the strong hearts and brave thrilled responsive to every word and act