Chapter 5: the Jubilee.—1865.Missouri follows the example of Maryland, and Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery forever. Garrison opens the jubilee meeting held in Boston, and proclaims the Declaration of Independence Constitutionalized; is pressingly summoned to Newburyport for a like occasion, and warmly greeted; and gives notice of his intention to discontinue the Liberator at the end of the year. He is invited, together with George Thompson, by Secretary Stanton, to attend the ceremony of replacing the national flag at Sumter; sails on the Arago with Henry Ward Beecher and other invited guests; rejoins his son in Charleston; addresses the freedmen in multitudes, and receives the most touching tokens of their gratitude; visits the grave of Calhoun, and is recalled to the North by the news of Lincoln's assassination.
Swiftly following the example of Maryland, Missouri joined the ranks of the free States at the beginning of the new year, and abolished slavery within1 her borders without a day of grace or a cent of compensation to the slave-masters.2 As if shamed to decency by this signal repentance of her neighbor, Illinois tardily3 repealed her infamous ‘Black Laws’; and on the last day of January the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, forever abolishing slavery in the United States, triumphantly passed the House of Representatives at Washington by the requisite two-thirds majority. “With devout thanksgiving to God, and emotions of joy which no language can express,” Lib. 35.18. Mr. Garrison announced the event to his readers, and when the salute of one hundred guns in its honor was fired by Gov. Andrew's order, he went up to the Common to enjoy the sight and listen to the reverberations. At the Governor's suggestion and request, the church bells were rung throughout the State; and it was while sitting in the quiet Friends' Meeting at Amesbury that Mr. Whittier heard these, and, divining the cause, framed in thought his inspired lines of praise and thanksgiving (‘Laus Deo!’), which Mr. Garrison never wearied of repeating. A Jubilee Meeting was4 speedily convened in Music Hall, which was crowded with an enthusiastic audience, and when the chairman (Josiah  Quincy, Jr.) introduced Mr. Garrison as the first speaker of the evening, the latter received such an ovation that he was unable to proceed for several minutes. His speech was naturally exultant, anticipating the future greatness and prosperity of the country, and its influence upon other nations, and (by way of impressing upon his hearers the full significance of this latest triumph) rehearsing the pro-slavery clauses of the Constitution which were now abrogated by the Amendment. We quote his words of rejoicing, at the beginning:
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: In the long course5 of history, there are events of such transcendant sublimity and importance as to make all human speech utterly inadequate to portray the emotions they excite. The event we are here to celebrate is one of these—grand, inspiring, glorious, beyond all power of utterance, and far-reaching beyond all finite computation. (Applause.) . . . Sir, no such transition of feeling and sentiment as has taken place within the last four years, stands recorded on the historic page; a change that seems as absolute as it is stupendous. Allow me to confess that, in view of it, and of the mighty consequences that must result from it to unborn generations, I feel to-night in a thoroughly methodistical state of mind—disposed at the top of my voice, and to the utmost stretch of my lungs, to shout “Glory!” “Alleluia!” Amen and amen! “ (Rapturous applause—” Glory! “ ” Alleluia! “ Amen and amen!” being repeated with great unction by various persons in the audience.) Gladly and gratefully would I exclaim with one of old, “ The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” (Applause.) With the rejoicing Psalmist I would say to the old and the young, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever. To him alone that doeth great wonders; for his mercy endureth forever. To him that overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea; for his mercy endureth forever. And brought out Israel from among them, with a strong hand, and with a stretched-out arm; for his mercy endureth forever.” (Loud applause.) “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!” Mr. Chairman, friends and strangers stop me in the streets, daily, to congratulate me on having been permitted to live to  witness the almost miraculous change which has taken place in the feelings and sentiments of the people on the subject of slavery, and in favor of the long rejected but ever just and humane doctrine of immediate and universal emancipation. Ah, sir, no man living better understands or more joyfully recognizes the vastness of that change than I do. But most truly can I say that it causes within me no feeling of personal pride or exultation—God forbid! But I am unspeakably happy to believe, not only that this vast assembly, but that the great mass of my countrymen, are now heartily disposed to admit that, in disinterestedly seeking, by all righteous instrumentalities, for more than thirty years, the utter abolition of slavery, I have not acted the part of a madman, fanatic, incendiary, or traitor (immense applause), but have at all times been of sound mind (laughter and cheers), a true friend of liberty and humanity, animated by the highest patriotism, and devoted to the welfare, peace, unity, and ever increasing prosperity and glory of my native land! (Cheers.) And the same verdict you will render in vindication of the clear-sighted, untiring, intrepid, unselfish, uncompromising anti-slavery phalanx, who, through years of conflict and persecution—misrepresented, misunderstood, ridiculed, and anathematized from one end of the country to the other—have labored “in season and out of season” to bring about this glorious result. (Renewed applause.) You will, I venture to think and say, agree with me, that only radical Abolitionism is, at this trial-hour, loyalty, Justice, im-partial freedom, National salvation—the Golden Rule blended with the Declaration of Independence! (Great applause.) . . . Do we realize the grandeur of the event we are assembled6 to celebrate? It is not merely negro emancipation, but universal emancipation. (Cheers.) It is not merely disenthralling four millions, but thirty-four millions. (Renewed cheers.) It is not merely liberating bodies, but souls—outwardly and inwardly alike. It is an act, not in hostility to the South, but for the general welfare—the good of the whole country. It is not to depress or injure any class, but to promote all human interests. In fine, it is the Declaration of Independence, no longer an abstract manifesto, containing certain “glittering generalities,” simply to vindicate our Revolutionary fathers for seceding from the mother country; but it is that Declaration Consti-Tutionalized—made the Supreme Law of the land—  for the protection of the rights and liberties of all who dwell on the American soil. (Cheers.)7And now came an invitation from the citizens of Newburyport, begging their former townsman, to whom, during the entire anti-slavery struggle, they had as a community turned the cold shoulder, to return to his old home and receive their congratulations on the triumphant culmination of his life-work. ‘The town of your nativity sends you greeting on the successful passage of the act of Congress,’ concluded the letter, which bore the signatures8 of twenty-eight of the leading citizens. In compliance with this request, which was as gratifying as it was unexpected, Mr. Garrison visited his birthplace on the 22d of February, and delivered an address to an audience which9 packed the City Hall to overflowing and received him with the greatest enthusiasm. The editor of the Herald10 presided and made the welcoming address, and Whittier, too modest, as usual, to appear in person, wrote for the occasion the beautiful hymn included in his collected11 works—not less felicitous than his ‘Laus Deo,’ nor less in consonance with Mr. Garrison's spirit and devout thought. This, too, the latter constantly read and quoted as expressing better than any words of his own the song of praise in his heart:
Not unto us who did but seek“The remembrance of my recent visit to Newburyport,” Ms. Mar. 17, 1865. wrote Mr. Garrison to Jacob Horton, ‘and the generous and handsome reception which was accorded to me by the citizens, for dear Liberty's sake, will carry with it a delightful aroma while memory lasts.’ The demonstration, tardy atonement as it was on the part of the old town, was typical of the utter revolution in public sentiment towards the editor of the Liberator, and of the general respect and confidence which he now enjoyed. His opinions were sought and his influence solicited by men prominent in public or political life, and in a way at times quite amusing to him, as when one of the Republican leaders of Massachusetts begged him to urge Mr. Lincoln to summon Governor Andrew to his Cabinet. ‘The President recognizes you as one of “the Powers”—12 a Radical with a substratum of common sense and practical wisdom. He will heed your suggestions,’ wrote this gentleman. But Mr. Garrison disclaimed any such influence, and did not now attempt to dabble in political wire-pulling or Cabinet-making. His only intercourse with the President was the social hour he spent with him13 in June, 1864, and the only favors he ever asked of him were the careful consideration of charges against an officer under arrest, whom he believed to be innocent, but who must nevertheless stand or fall by the evidence that might be adduced; and the acknowledgment of a painting14 presented to Mr. Lincoln by citizens of Boston several months before, no word from its recipient having  ever reached the donors. The officer in question was released, and the following ‘ingenuous and appreciative letter’ of thanks sent for the picture:
The word that burned within to speak,
Not unto us this day belong
The triumph and exulting song.
Nor skill, nor strength, nor zeal of ours
Has mined and heaved the hostile towers;
Not by our hands is turned the key
That sets the sighing captives free.
A redder sea than Egypt's wave
Is piled and parted for the slave; 
A darker cloud moves on in light,
A fiercer fire is guide by night!
The praise, O Lord! is Thine alone,
In Thy own way Thy work is done!
Our poor gifts at Thy feet we cast,
To whom be glory, first and last!
An order of General Sherman, assigning the abandoned17 lands in the Sea Islands for settlement by the freedmen,18 having occasioned some misapprehension and adverse19 comment, the Secretary of War deemed it advisable to write to Mr. Garrison personally concerning it:
The dramatic incidents of the war had been many and striking, and each month brought its fresh example of retributive justice, of strange contrast and coincidence. There was the occupation of General Lee's estate at Arlington as a Freedmen's village (with its Garrison and22 Lovejoy Streets) and national cemetery; of John Tyler's and Henry A. Wise's residences by schools for colored23 children—the daughter of John Brown teaching in the latter, with her father's portrait hanging on the wall; and of Jefferson Davis's plantation on the Mississippi as a24 ‘contraband’ camp, and its final purchase and cultivation by his former slaves; the teaching of a freedman's school in Maryland by the son of Frederick Douglass,25 near the place whence his father had escaped; the burning of Harper's Ferry by General Hector Tyndale of26 Philadelphia, who three years before had visited the town with his fellow-citizen, J. M. McKim, to claim the body of John Brown and take it to the North;27 the appointment of  John Brown's trusted friend, George L. Stearns, as Assistant Adjutant-General of the United States for the enrolment of colored troops, with headquarters at Nashville— “appointed to do, under the stars and stripes, in broad daylight, by wholesale, what Virginia murdered Brown for trying to do in detail.” Speech of Wendell Phillips, Jan. 28, 1864. There was the case of an indignant Union General who directed a brutal slave-owner28 to be tied up and flogged by the slave women whom he29 had himself been scourging. Colored schools in South30 Carolina and Louisiana and a camp of colored soldiers in31 Kansas bore the name of William Lloyd Garrison; and one of the gunners who aimed the first great Parrott gun32 at Charleston was a Liberator subscriber. But scenes and events still more dramatic and impressive were to come, and it is not probable that the United States will ever see the parallel in this respect of the ninety days ending with the month of April, 1865. Threatened by the triumphant Northern march of Sherman's army, the rebel forces defending Fort Sumter and Charleston abandoned both, and they fell into the hands of the Union forces on the 18th of February. Three days later the 55th Massachusetts Regiment entered the city, singing exultantly the John Brown song; and when Lieut.33 George Thompson Garrison halted his company in the streets, he was greeted by James Redpath, the biographer of John Brown, and the then correspondent of the New York Tribune. Redpath it was who now went promptly34 to work to establish free schools in the deserted ‘cradle of secession,’ ignoring all complexional distinctions among the pupils. The slave-pens were broken open, and mottoes from Isaiah, Garrison, and John Brown inscribed35 therein; and the steps of the auction-block in the Mart, up which so many thousands of unhappy victims had walked to meet their fate, were sent to Boston, there to be exhibited in meetings in behalf of the freedmen, and to incite contributions for the educational societies. Their first appearance was at Music Hall, together with the sign36 (‘Mart’) which had hung in front of the auction-house,  and the lock of the room in which women had been subjected to examination before sale; and all three relics of barbarism were then presented to the local Freedmen's Aid Society by Charles Carleton Coffin, war correspondent of the Boston Journal, who had brought them from Charleston. Mr. Garrison's ascent of the steps, from which he made his speech, was the event of the evening; and when he had put the ‘accursed thing under his feet,’ the scene was “one of unusual interest and excitement, the audience raising thunders of applause and waving hundreds of white handkerchiefs.” Lib. 35.42. ‘I attended,’ he wrote to a37 friend, “a similar meeting, for a similar purpose, at Lowell on Wednesday evening last, and, on taking the block, was greeted with the strongest demonstrations of applause, prolonged and repeated, as though there were to be no end to them. What a revolution!” Mar. 15. With the rebellion rapidly approaching its ‘last ditch,’ the Confederacy in such straits that even General Lee38 advocated arming the blacks for its defence, the doom of slavery assured, and the President of the United States, in his inaugural address, reverently recognizing the39 justice of the Divine judgments meted out to North and South alike for their guilty complicity in enslaving their fellow-creatures, Mr. Garrison felt that the time had come for him to prepare the ‘Nunc dimittis’ of the Liberator. The issue of March 24th contained this formal announcement of his purpose:
We have concluded to discontinue the Liberator at the close40 of the present year, which will complete its thirty-Fifth volume. As we commenced its publication for the express purpose of effecting the extinction of slavery, and as that sublime event has been consummated by a constitutional decree of the nation, so that henceforth no slave is to be held within the domains of the American Union, it seems to us historically fitting that the Liberator should simply cover the whole period of the struggle, and terminate with it. Unless, therefore, something should occur beyond our present belief or anticipation to make it necessary to change our decision, we shall not prolong the existence of the paper beyond this year of jubilee; and have  instructed our General Agent to take no subscription for a longer period.The first days of April brought the downfall of Richmond and that memorable Monday morning when “Massa Linkum,” April 3. entering the city with only a corporal's guard of attendants, was received with the wildest demonstrations by the emancipated blacks, and almost overwhelmed by their tokens of joy and gratitude. Mr. Garrison was one of the multitude assembled in Faneuil Hall on the afternoon of the following day to exult over the event,41 and to enjoy the unwonted spectacle of Robert C. Winthrop and Frederick Douglass speaking from the same platform. There were loud calls for himself after Douglass had finished his brilliant speech, but he had already left the hall in order to speak at a Freedmen's Aid meeting in Chelsea, where the steps of the auction-block were again a feature of the occasion. Just before he was invited to mount them (over a rebel flag captured by his son's regiment), a telegram was put into his hands, and the applause with which his ascent of the steps was greeted was redoubled when he read aloud to the audience a dispatch from the Secretary of War, inviting him to be present, as a guest of the Government, at the ceremony of raising the stars and stripes on Fort Sumter, on April 14, the fourth anniversary of the surrender of the fort and inauguration of the war.42 A similar invitation was extended to George Thompson, and a state-room was assigned for their joint use on the steamer Arago, which conveyed the invited guests from New York to Charleston. On reaching New York, Mr. Garrison received the following telegram:
The announcement that Mr. Garrison was to go to Fort Sumter caused general delight and approbation. ‘Nothing more satisfies me that slavery is annihilated beyond any hope of resurrection than the deference, kindness, and congratulation extended to me by those who are the unerring representatives of public opinion,’ he wrote to his wife, on the eve of his embarking. “The American Anti-Slavery Society may reasonably conclude that its specific mission is ended.” Ms. Apr. 7.
With the exception of a brief editorial in the Liberator, on his return, the above is the only personal record left by Mr. Garrison of his experiences in South Carolina. Writing hurriedly in both instances, he failed to note several incidents which we must mention here, quoting from the narratives of others who accompanied him. First in order was a visit, on the day before the Sumter69 festivities, to Mitchelville, a village of three thousand inhabitants—“the first self-governing settlement of freedmen in the country.” Lib. 35.76.70 Here the members of the Arago's party  were received in a church densely crowded by the colored people, who thrilled their guests by the fervor with which they sang their hymns and songs, beginning with those which they had been wont to sing in their days of bondage, and ending with ‘The Day of Jubilo hab Come,’ and ‘John Brown's Body.’ The meeting was emotional throughout, and “from the most hysterical contraband to the dispassionate judge there was no reserve or restraint in the general flow of tears.” Lib. 35.76. Mr. Garrison, who was ‘rapturously welcomed,’ began his address by reading Moses's triumphal song, Exodus XV., ‘and then, for half an hour, magnetized his colored constituents, as he detailed the early history of the anti-slavery movement in America, and sang the praises of the Proclamation which had answered all their prayers.’ He was followed by Judge Kelley, Theodore Tilton, Judge Kellogg, Joseph71 Hoxie, and George Thompson, the second of whom aroused72 the audience most thoroughly. Of the Sumter celebration, Mr. Garrison wrote:
The day proved to be very fine, and was ushered in by73 salvos of artillery. All the vessels in the harbor, including the naval fleet, put on their gayest attire, and the national ensign floated from all the principal fortifications, except Fort Sumter. The services at the Fort were in the highest degree impressive. . . . The speech of General Anderson, previous to hoisting74 the identical flag which, after an honorable and gallant defence in 1861, he was compelled to lower, was very brief, but uttered with deep feeling; and the address of Mr. Beecher was as happily conceived as it was eloquently expressed, and elicited the most rapturous applause from an immense assembly, thrilled by the sublimity of the scene. To add to the joy and exultation of the occasion, the intelligence had most opportunely arrived that morning of the surrender of General Lee with his army to General Grant; thus giving assurance that the rebellion had gone down just as the stars and stripes were about to be unfurled on Sumter—henceforth the banner of universal emancipation! Previous to the raising of the flag the steamer Planter, Capt. Robert Smalls, which, it will be remembered, ran the rebel gauntlet in 1862, came to the fort loaded down with between  2000 and 3000 of the emancipated race, of all ages and sizes. Their appearance was warmly welcomed, and their joy seemed to be unbounded. Capt. Smalls was subsequently introduced to many distinguished gentlemen, to whom he narrated his interesting adventure with lively satisfaction. On the evening of that day, a handsome banquet was given75 at the Charleston Hotel, by General Gillmore, to the invited guests who came in the Arago; at the conclusion of which eloquent and stirring speeches were made by Judge Holt, Judge Kelley, Hon. Joseph Hoxie, Lieut.-Governor Anderson, George Thompson, Theodore Tilton, and others. The speech of the occasion was made by Judge Holt, which was one of the76 most forcible speeches to which we ever listened, and delivered77 with great energy.78Mr. Thompson and Mr. Garrison were also among the speakers at the banquet, the latter being heartily cheered as he rose to respond to the toast in his honor. Brief as were his remarks, we can quote only the opening and concluding paragraphs:
My friends, I am so unused to speaking—in this place79 (cheers and laughter)—that I arise with feelings natural to a first appearance. You would scarce expect one of my ageand antecedents—to speak in public on this stage, or anywhere else in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. (Cheers.) And yet, why should I not speak here? Why should I not speak anywhere in my native land? Why should I not have spoken here twenty years ago, or forty, as freely as any one? What crime had I committed against the laws of my country? I have loved liberty, for myself, for all who are dear to me, for all who dwell on the American soil, for all mankind. The head and front of my offending hath this extent, no more. . . . I am here in Charleston, South Carolina. She is smitten to the dust. She has been brought down from her pride of place. The chalice was put to her lips, and she drunk it to the dregs. I have never been her enemy, nor the enemy of the South. Nay,  I have been the friend of the South, and, in the desire to save her from this great retribution, demanded in the name of the living God that every fetter should be broken, and the oppressed set free.80 I have not come here with reference to any flag but that of freedom. If your Union does not symbolize universal emancipation, it brings no Union for me. If your Constitution does not guarantee freedom for all, it is not a Constitution I can subscribe to. If your flag is stained by the blood of a brother held in bondage, I repudiate it, in the name of God. I came here to witness the unfurling of a flag under which every human being is to be recognized as entitled to his freedom. Therefore, with a clean conscience, without any compromise of principles, I accepted the invitation of the Government of the United States to be present, and witness the ceremonies that have taken place to-day. And now let me give the sentiment which has been, and ever will be, the governing passion of my soul: “Liberty for each, for all, and for ever.” (Cheers.)Before retiring for the night to his room at the Charleston Hotel, the editor of the Liberator paid a fraternal visit to the office of the Charleston Courier,81 where, true  to his instincts, he took the composing-stick and put in type a paragraph of Mr. Beecher's oration of that82 afternoon, on which the printers were at work. The next morning83 a visit was paid to the grave of84 Calhoun, the party consisting of Messrs. Beecher, Garrison, Thompson, Tilton, and others. One of these (Rev. A. P. Putnam) shall describe the incident:
One of the most impressive scenes I have witnessed was85 Wm. Lloyd Garrison standing at the grave of John C. Calhoun. It was on the very morning when Abraham Lincoln died. The86 cemetery is a small one opposite St. Philip's church. The monument of the great advocate of slavery and nullification is built of brick, and covered with a large, plain slab of marble, inscribed with the simple name, Calhoun. He who slept beneath was the very soul of the hated institution when Garrison began his mighty warfare against it. The latter had now lived to see the power of his great antagonist pass away; and just as the illustrious Emancipator who gave to the system its final blow87 was breathing his last, the reformer laid his hand upon the monument before him, and said impressively, “Down into a deeper grave than this slavery has gone, and for it there is no resurrection.” It was a fitting hour for such words to be spoken. Garrison was the proper man to speak them. The tomb of Calhoun was the appropriate place for their utterance. It was a scene that a painter might well attempt to reproduce upon canvas. Later in the morning, I entered the vast building which is known as “Zion's church,” and which is used by the colored people as their principal place of worship. It was crowded with an immense audience of three or four thousand blacks. Gen. Saxton88 was presiding over the meeting, and around him in the pulpit were some of the most eminent public men and leading abolitionists in the country. The space in front was filled with  military officers, teachers, and missionaries from the North, and members of the excursion parties of the Arago and the Oceanus.89 Garrison was standing in the pulpit, receiving an address from a liberated slave who stood below, and whose name was Samuel Dickerson. The negro spoke in behalf of the emancipated thousands who surrounded him, and in words of thrilling eloquence extended a joyful welcome to their distinguished visitor and friend. They all recognized in him the leader of the great movement which had broken their chains. Pointing to two little girls near by, who were neatly dressed, and were holding beautiful bouquets in their hands, the freedman said, in most pathetic and impassioned tones, that, but a brief time before, he had no power to claim them as his own, although they were bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. “Now, sir,” he continued, “through your labors and those of your noble coadjutors, they are mine, and no man can take them from me. Accept these flowers as the token of our gratitude and love, and take them with you to your home, and keep them as a simple offering from those for whom you have done so much.” I do not pretend to give the language of this eloquent black orator, but only the main thought of his speech. Hardly one of the distinguished men who followed him spoke with greater accuracy, as none of them did with greater power. The little girls ascended the pulpit stairs, and presented their flowers to Mr. Garrison, who made a most fitting and touching reply. It seemed to me that it must have been the proudest moment in the reformer's life. To stand in the city of Charleston, S. C., in the presence of a vast assemblage of freed men and women, whose fetters he had done so much to break, and to receive from little emancipated children the humble memorial of the thankfulness and affection of the poor who were ready to perish, must indeed have been a sufficient reward for the laborious services he had rendered, and all the obloquy he had endured in their behalf, through more than thirty years of conflict with wrong. . . .  The enthusiasm of that assembled multitude at the first mention by one of the speakers of the name of Abraham Lincoln was such as to defy description. It was intense, wild, and almost fearful. The vast crowd cheered, and clapped their hands and waved their handkerchiefs—some screaming for joy, and others raising their hands and clasping them in gratitude to God, and hundreds weeping the tears they could not repress as they thought of their great friend and benefactor. How little did any of us dream that, on that very morning, he lay silent in death at Washington!It had been intended to hold this meeting in the open air, and stands for the speakers had been erected in Citadel Square, which was thronged at an early hour. When Mr. Garrison arrived on the scene, at ten o'clock, he was greeted with deafening shouts, and the enthusiastic freedmen, defying all attempts to restrain them, lifted him aloft and bore him in triumph on their shoulders to the speakers' stand. The adjournment to the church was made on Senator Wilson's account, as he could not speak out-of-doors, and the meeting was opened by the speech of welcome already alluded to, for which, and for Mr. Garrison's rejoinder, we must here find room. Advancing to the pulpit with his children, Samuel Dickerson thus addressed Mr. Garrison:
Sir: It is with pleasure that is inexpressible that I90 welcome you here among us, the long, the steadfast friend of the poor, down-trodden slave. Sir, I have read of you. I have read of the mighty labors you have had for the consummation of this glorious object. Here you see stand before you your handiwork. These children were robbed from me, and I stood desolate. Many a night I pressed a sleepless pillow from the time I returned to my couch until the close of the morning. I lost a dear wife, and after her death that little one, who is the counterpart of her mother's countenance, was taken from me. I appealed for her with all the love and reason of a father. The rejection came forth in these words: “Annoy me not, or I will sell them off to another State.” I thank God that, through your instrumentality, under the folds of that glorious flag which treason tried to triumph over, you have restored them to me. And I tell you it is not this heart alone, but there are mothers,  there are fathers, there are sisters, and there are brothers, the pulsations of whose hearts are unimaginable. The greeting that they would give you, sir, it is almost impossible for me to express; but simply, sir, we welcome and look upon you as our saviour. We thank you for what you have done for us. Take this wreath from these children; and when you go home, never mind how faded they may be, preserve them, encase them, and keep them as a token of affection from one who has lived and loved. (Cheers.)Mr. Garrison spoke as follows:
my dear friend: I have no language to express the91 feelings of my heart on listening to your kind and strengthening words, on receiving these beautiful tokens of your gratitude, and on looking into the faces of this vast multitude, now happily liberated from the galling fetters of slavery. Let me say at the outset, “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto God be all the glory” for what has been done in regard to your emancipation. I have been actively engaged in this work for almost forty years —for I began when I was quite young to plead the cause of the enslaved in this country. But I never expected to look you in the face, never supposed you would hear of anything I might do in your behalf. I knew only one thing—all that I wanted to know—that you were a grievously oppressed people; and that, on every consideration of justice, humanity, and right, you were entitled to immediate and unconditional freedom. I hate slavery as I hate nothing else in this world. It is not only a crime, but the sum of all criminality; not only a sin, but the sin of sins against Almighty God. I cannot be at peace with it at any time, to any extent, under any circumstances. That I have been permitted to witness its overthrow calls for expressions of devout thanksgiving to Heaven. It was not on account of your complexion or race, as a people, that I espoused your cause, but because you were the children of a common Father, created in the same divine image, having the same inalienable rights, and as much entitled to liberty as the proudest slaveholder that ever walked the earth. For many a year I have been an outlaw at the South for your sakes, and a large price was set upon my head, simply because I endeavored to remember those in bonds as bound with them. Yes—God is my witness!—I have faithfully tried, in the face of the fiercest opposition and under the most depressing circumstances, to make your cause my cause; my wife and  children your wives and children, subjected to the same outrage and degradation; myself on the same auction-block, to be sold to the highest bidder. Thank God, this day you are free! (Great cheering.) And be resolved that, once free, you will be free forever. No—not one of you ever will, ever can, consent again to be a bondman. Liberty or death, but never slavery! (Cheers.) It gives me joy to assure you, that the American Government will stand by you to establish your freedom, against whatever claims your former masters may bring. The time was when it gave you no protection, but was on the side of the oppressor, where there was power. Now all is changed! Once I could not feel any gladness at the sight of the American flag, because it was stained with your blood, and under it four millions of slaves were daily driven to unrequited labor. Now it floats purged of its gory stains; it symbolizes freedom for all, without distinction of race or color. The Government has its hold upon the throat of the monster Slavery, and is strangling the life out of it. In conclusion, I thank you, my friend, for your affecting and grateful address, and for these handsome tokens of our Heavenly Father's wisdom and goodness, and will try to preserve them in accordance with your wishes. O, be assured, I never doubted that I had the gratitude and affection of the entire colored population of the United States, even though personally unknown to so many of them; because I knew that upon me heavily rested the wrath and hatred of your cruel oppressors. I was sure, therefore, if I had them against me, I had you with me. (Applause.) But, as it is now time to organize this meeting, it will not be proper for me to go on with these remarks any further, except to say that, long as I have labored in your behalf, while God gives me reason and strength I shall demand for you everything I claim for the whitest of the white in this country. (Great cheering.)Beyond the words of panegyric with which he subsequently introduced Senator Wilson and George Thompson to the eager assemblage, Mr. Garrison made no further speech at this meeting, preferring to yield the time to others. One other experience yet awaited him when, in company with Senator Wilson and others, he visited towards evening the camp of the 55th Massachu-92  setts Regiment, about three miles from the city, to find and embrace his soldier-son. There were gathered, in all the rags and wretchedness in which they had made their exodus, the twelve hundred plantation slaves or ‘contrabands’ whom his son's company had just convoyed from the interior to the coast. They presented a picture of the misery and degradation of slavery and slave-life such as Mr. Garrison had never before witnessed, and had scarcely conceived; and most deeply was he affected by it, and by the manifestations of gratitude with which the poor creatures gathered about him when told by some of the officers that he had always been their friend. Even more touching was an incident which pointed the difference between their low estate and that of the blacks of Charleston. ‘Well, my friends,’ said Mr. Garrison to them before leaving the camp, ‘you are free at last— let us give three cheers for freedom!’ and, leading off, he gave the first cheer. To his amazement, there was no response, the poor creatures looking at him in wonder, and he had to give the second and third cheers also without them. They did not know how to cheer. On Monday morning the little group of the Arago's passengers who had remained behind, on the steamers return to New York, left Charleston for the purpose of visiting Florida. The incidents of their departure were thus described by Mr. Beecher:
The streets were full of colored people. I supposed that93 they had just come in from plantations—for they were being brought into Charleston by hundreds and thousands by our soldiers returning from raids through the adjacent country; but they said they were going to see Mr. Garrison and Mr. Thompson off. And we could have found our way to the steamer by following this crowd. When we reached the wharf, it was black; and yet it glowed like a garden. They had but little to bring as testimonials of their remembrance and gratitude; but what they had they brought. One had a little bunch of roses. Another had a bunch of jessamines and honeysuckles. Others had bunches of various kinds of flowers. I94 saw Mr. Tilton loaded down with these treasures that had been  showered upon him, and struggling beneath his burden as he came on board. And they were thrown up on the steamer to Mr. Thompson and Mr. Garrison, and whatever person showed himself by the rail. And they lay about in bowlsful, and basketsful, and heaps in the corners so abundant that we knew not how to dispose of them. They were all they had to bring by which to express their gratitude towards those that they supposed had befriended them. No, not all; one poor, decrepit old woman came with a straw basket containing about two quarts of ground-nuts, which she wished to give us. A young woman came with some dainty little cakes that had been carefully prepared in some kitchen. There were various little delicacies brought for us, that we might eat them and remember the givers. I shall not forget these scenes. I shall not forget the cheers and acclamations of that dusky throng, as speeches were made to them. And when the boat moved off, I felt that we had left behind many of the Lord's elect, and that it were better for a man that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea, than that he should lay one finger of harm on these little ones of Christ.A spirited meeting was held on the wharf, James Redpath presiding, and Samuel Dickerson made an eloquent farewell speech, to which Garrison, Thompson, and Tilton responded. Major Delaney, a colored member of General Saxton's staff, also spoke. The hundreds of school children present sang patriotic songs with great energy. As the steamer swung off, Dickerson was seen kneeling at the end of the wharf, with one arm about his little daughters, and holding above them with the other an American flag; and with this tableau ended the neverto-be-forgotten experiences of the three days in Charleston. Gathering a mass of the flowers which the grateful freedmen had showered upon their friends, George Thompson disappeared for a time, as the steamer made her way out of the harbor, and then, returning, led his companion to their state-room, where he had fairly covered the latter's berth with the fragrant offerings. ‘Garrison!’ he said, ‘you began your warfare at the North in the face of rotten eggs and brickbats. Behold, you end it at Charleston on a bed of roses!’  The intended journey to Florida was rudely interrupted by the news of President Lincoln's assassination, which95 reached the party at Beaufort. To quote Mr. Beecher:
We had returned to Beaufort, and were on the eve of going96 upon shore to enjoy a social interview, before setting out for Savannah, when a telegram came to Senator Wilson from Gen. Gillmore. As the boy that brought it passed me, I jocosely asked him some questions about it. Presently Senator Wilson came out of his cabin, much agitated, and said, “Good God! The President is killed!” and read the dispatch. It was not grief, it was sickness that I felt. In one half-hour we had wheeled upon our keel, and were plowing our way back to Hilton Head, whither we had telegraphed to have steam raised upon the Suwo Nada, that we might leave immediately for the North. We could see no more sights. We had no more heart for pleasure. The heavens seemed dark. Nothing was left, for the hour, but God, and his immutable providence, and his decrees. I leaned on them, and was strengthened. But, oh, the sadness of that company, and our nights' and our days' voyaging back! We knew nothing but this: that the President had been assassinated. All the rest was reserved for our coming into the harbor. We hoped to have returned with great cheer, and to have come up this noblest bay of the world to see it lined with tokens of joy and beauty; but, instead of that, on a dreary morning, drenched, chilled, and seasick, we came creeping up the bay under a cloudy sky, fit symbol of our nation's loss, and betook ourselves to our several homes.No stop was made at Fortress Monroe on the return voyage, which was so hastily ordered that the steamer had only one hour's supply of coal left on reaching New York. Mr. Garrison often spoke of the immense relief it was to all, on landing, to find that the assassination of the President had not affected the stability of the Government of the country in the slightest, and that the North was as united in feeling as it was after the fall of Sumter in 1861. Lieut. Garrison's furlough was voluntarily extended by Secretary Stanton to enable him to accompany his father to Boston. In September, 1865, the Secretary visited  Boston and renewed his acquaintance with Mr. Garrison, to whom he wrote on his arrival:
One of the anticipated pleasures of my visit to Boston was to see you, and it will occasion me much regret should anything prevent our meeting. The invitation to witness the ceremonies at Fort Sumter was a just tribute to your great labors and sacrifices in the cause [of] freedom and human rights, and without your presence much of the significance of the event would have been incomplete. . . . Although conscious that the terms of commendation in which my services during the war are so kindly mentioned by you, are beyond my merit, I am happy to know that they are approved by you, who from earliest youth have been an object of my respect and admiration. With sincere regard, I shall ever be faithfully your friend. Ms. Sept. 18, 1865.