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Chapter 54: public addresses concerning the freedmen in 1866, advocating education

In order to secure adequate means for aid societies to prosecute their good work it was necessary to plead the cause of knowledge, of industry, and of humanity in the North as well as in the South. We looked to the North and West for contributions of money, and even more for moral sympathy and support. To this end when I could get away from my office I accepted invitations to speak publicly concerning the freedmen. Incident to a trip to Maine in February, 1866, I delivered some dozen addresses. From the following extracts it is now clear enough to see the subjects on which the public then demanded information.

Our emancipation occurred at the close of a long and exasperating conflict for and against emancipation, so that we have given the new birth to freedom under the worst possible conditions.

Lee's army surrenders, then Johnston's, then Kirby Smith's. The war is over and suddenly the chains of slavery are broken and the captives go free. Between three and four millions of slaves are emancipated in the very midst of a people who heartily disbelieve in freedom, who naturally are filled with peculiar prejudices and resentments, and who sometimes, [310] even now, glory in the apparent chaos that follows the death of slavery.

Hostile to liberty, they raised large armies; they fought with desperation; they are conquered, but they will not be brought in a day to love the thing they hated. No, the contrary is true; the Southern man lets go of slavery inch by inch, piece by piece; he says, ‘We will give it up’ but he really does not do so, and I do not think, as a general rule, he will till he is constrained to it by the power and the needs of freedom itself.

You should read the systems proposed from so many different quarters. Every plan has in it the very gist of slavery; ‘ compulsory labor ’ is stamped upon it. The whole thought seems to be, How can we white men maintain our authority over these black men? How can we keep them from renting and owning land; how hinder them from suits and testimony against us? How can we restrain them from rising in the social scale; how prevent their individuality from cropping out; their holding meetings; their bearing arms; how prevent them from having a voice in making or executing the laws?

I do not say that there is unanimity on all these points; but that the great body of the Southern white people are to-day with regard to some one or more of them, avowedly as I have described. I do not say it to injure them, or to alienate you from them, but because I believe it is a truth that must underlie every measure adopted to secure to us and to the freedmen the fruits of our recent struggle.

On the other hand, let me say that there is a large class of our fellow-citizens in the North brought up under influences diametrically opposite to those under [311] which the Southern mind has been molded, who reason in this way: ‘Slavery is a great crime, therefore all slaveholders are conscious criminals.’ No kindness is shown them, no sympathy felt for them. They are denominated oppressors, heathen, or condemned by other opprobious epithets. One who uses the dirk and pistol against negroes who chance to cross his path is represented as an exponent of all Southern feeling and principles. Those who believe and reason in this way are themselves either partially informed or are incrusted with prejudice quite as real as that exhibited by Southern extremists.

Southern men are generally outspoken. What is the truth T It is that a large body of them are sincere. Strange as it may seem, they heartily disbelieve in freedom for the negro. They even now reason upon emancipation as a curse of God cast upon them. The warmest — hearted Christian regards his Northern brother as carried away by a delusion which is founded altogether on ignorance of the negro character.

The great body of the emancipated no doubt will be purified and strengthened by the experiences they are passing through, just as the children of Israel were by the experiences they encountered in passing from Egypt to the promised land. Those beyond middle age have been dependent so long that freedom gives them a hard trial. Work they can, and the most will, but what they lack is the ability to provide for themselves in such way (to use their method of expressing it) as ‘ to enjoy the fruits of their own labor.’

Again, thousands and thousands are poor women with families of children, without husbands to care for them. In Virginia, where large numbers of children [312] were reared to be sold and work further South, there is naturally a large surplus. Without visiting them, you could hardly realize how very much they need aid, not simply food and clothing, but instruction of every description, kindness, sympathy, and guidance.

The Southern society is twofold; the whites, with their peculiar prejudices and beliefs, and the blacks, with their present disabilities created by antecedent slavery. The Government stands forth between the two classes with its gigantic resources as an intermediary power. The spectacle is singular, and the heart is often balanced between hope and fear in contemplating the struggle actually going on.

My first decision was that labor must be settled, and if we would not relapse into some species of slavery it must be done without compulsory means; and if we would avoid anarchy and starvation what we do must be done immediately.

It was very tempting to put the hand on the new freedman and compel him; it was so easy, by military power, to regulate all matters for him in that way. How the letters did pour in upon me urging that course! ‘Give us a system’ ; ‘ Fix the wages;’ ‘You don't understand the negro-he won't work,’ and similar expressions. Gradually these letters diminished and the cry ‘Compel him! compel him!’ is more distant and less distinctly heard.

If we can hold a steady hand for a time-prevent extreme and widespread suffering by timely aidafford encouragement to every laudable enterprise — multiply examples of success in every species of free labor and do so in every county in every State, my decided impression is that, before five years, there will be no more use of an agency of the general [313] Government in the Southern States than there is now in Ohio.

Harmony between the laborers and the holders of property, which is essential to meet immediate wants and settle society that has been so much disturbed at the South, may, however, be brought about in process of time without much real progress. There is a fundamental prejudice, a false theory as really existing as that in feudal times of the nobles against the masses of the common people; it is that the negroes were never intended by nature for education. ‘If you educate them,’ they say, ‘it will upset them, unfit them for the duties imposed upon them, rob us of our position and consideration among them. Educate them, and you will not only render them discontented laborers, but they will get into all sorts of political jars and excitements, they will become a prey to all the sophistries and isms of New England, and bad politicians will guide them to our detriment. In brief, all the beautiful natural order that God has imposed, making us superior, wise, and provident, and them confiding, childlike, and dependent, will be destroyed as much as the peace of Eden was by allowing Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge. Fix it so that we can be the mind and they the obedient muscle, and all will be well, whether you call it free labor or not.’

If the simple truth could at once break into the minds of all classes at the South, that the elevation of their common people to a higher plane of knowledge and skill would be a positive advantage to the whole, so that in each State there would be established such a system of schools as would bring the privileges of learning to the children of the humblest, then, indeed, could we count upon substantial growth. [314]

Looking at the great numbers of indigent freedmen, old men and women and helpless children, in every Southern State, I have not wondered that the old slaveholder should pour into my ear the glowing accounts of the blessedness of slavery in its prosperous and patriarchal days, and that he should heap curses on that freedom which he believes to be the occasion of so much restlessness and suffering.

But you and I know that the real cause of the desolation and suffering is war, brought on and continued in the interest of and from the love of slavery. I present you this picture to urge upon you kindness, sympathy, and liberality; yes, magnanimity toward the whole South, without distinction of race or color.

Not a day passes but that there is some affecting reminder of the fault of those who aimed their blows at the heart of the Republic; but I say slavery, that gigantic evil which during the past gave us no rest---slavery has done all this — and, thank God, slavery has received its death blow, and the fact has been proclaimed, not only in America but throughout the world. In view of this we must seek courage and strength from on high so as to lay aside all malice, all purposes of revenge, and put on a broad, living charity, no less than love to God and love to his children.

Already, my friends, I have been severely censured for such sentiments as I am putting forth, such entreaties for wholesale charity, and I am pointed again and again to the wrongs of the freedmen. I know them.

I might multiply the statements of wrongs that they daily suffer. I hope that these wrongs will all be righted and full justice secured to the freedmen by our Government. Should we dwell upon the follies, the [315] blind prejudices, or the positive faults, even crimes of certain people in the Southern States, the tendency would only be to widen and deepen the gulf already existing; but if, on the other hand, we will watch for every sign of favorable change, cherish every enlightened sentiment expressed, extend the hand of kindness and genuine sympathy to those who are in need, while we adhere to true principles of liberty with firmness, it will not be long before the revolution will be completed and we shall realize the blessings so often anticipated by the words: ‘No North, no South, no East, no West I ’

The rights of the freedman, which are not yet secured to him, are the direct reverse of the wrongs committed against him. I never could conceive how a man could become a better laborer by being made to carry an overheavy and wearisome burden which in no way facilitates his work. I never could detect the shadow of a reason why the color of the skin should impair the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Differences of form and feature, variety of mind and capacity, perhaps infinite in gradation, indicate to us somewhat of the divine arrangement and prepare us for the multiplicity of social relations that do exist, so that we never expect or seek for what is called ‘ social equality.’ Yet the epitome of Christian principles as set forth by the Lord when He said ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself,’ demands between man and man the plain recognition of brotherhood.

I hope I may be permitted to live to a good old age, that I may have an earnest of what I so heartily believe; that I may tell my children's children of these times when the American people put forth their [316] strength, saved a Republic, broke the chains of four millions of slaves, and inaugurated genuine, universal, unqualified liberty.

Extracts from address delivered at Springfield, Mass., February 19, 1866.

On February 21st, at a meeting in the interest of my work held at the Cooper Institute, New York, the venerable Dr. Ferris, president of the New York University, Horace Greeley, and many other men of social and political prominence were present. The meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Dr. Hiscock, and then I was introduced to the large audience. After brief comparisons and contrasts drawn between Russian serfdom and American slavery, I went on to discuss the attitude of the Southern white people toward negroes now free. There was, I claimed, on their part a positive aversion to giving freedom and rights of citizenship to the negro. A large proportion of the former slaveholders looked upon the reasonings of Northern men as vagaries and did not hesitate to express the conviction that the emancipation was a judgment of God. It was not strange that the greater part were overwhelmed and chagrined by the loss they had met in the abolition of slavery. But there were notable exceptions-men who took a comprehensive view of things, and believed that the South would ultimately thrive better than ever before through the genius of free labor. Education was urged as the true relief. Its thorough practicability was shown by the liveliest examples of daily occurrence among the colored youth. Industrial education above all was urged.

I had hardly ceased speaking when Mr. Greeley, wearing his usual light gray coat, was loudly demanded. He responded, and among other things, said: “Should the Government cease, through its agents, to make efforts for the education and upholding of the [317] freedmen, private individuals would take up and still carry on the work, and finish the noble task which has gone so far in disenthralling the black race.” Mr. Greeley sat down amid a tempest of applause.

I had hardly resumed my desk in Washington after this trip when some delegates from the colored people, Frederick Douglass, Henry H. Garnett, Sella Martin, John M. Langston, and others who had come from various sections of the country to Washington to have a conference with each other and watch the interests of their race in legislation, desired an interview with me. The gentlemen sought the highest and best privileges and securities for their people, and laid stress upon their right to vote; but, judging by newspaper reports, they feared that I was opposed to them and that I was not in favor of securing to the blacks the right of suffrage. They came to my office and told me frankly what reports they had seen. I expressed to the delegation my sincere desire to have the cooiperation and support, in my efforts to benefit the freedmen, of leaders of the colored people like themselves. My conviction was, first, that all citizens should be equal before the law, and then, as in military generalship, one position should be carried at a time and then the next tenable position, each of which I would fortify and defend for the right, and advance from that. I was all along in favor of eventual suffrage for the negroes, but hoped that it might be limited at least by an educational qualification. Opposition to education was, I feared, forcing us to adopt at once universal suffrage.

On April 20th, there was a gathering of the Methodist church people in Baltimore at the new Assembly Rooms. The object of the meeting was stated to be to [318] discover and adopt measures for the intellectual and religious improvement of the colored race. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, Judge Hugh L. Bond, of Baltimore, and Senator Evans, of Colorado, and myself, as commissioner of freedmen, were present. Judge Bond, Senator Evans, and I were to make the addresses. The chief justice, it was hoped, would add at the end a word of encouragement.

Rev. J. A. McCauley gave out a hymn and led in prayer. Judge Bond followed in his effective style, half humorous and half earnest. The judge hoped that it would be the result of that meeting that suppression of certain subjects in church conferences would cease; that it would not be unlawful hereafter to say negro as well as African — that is, refer to this race in America as well as in Africa-and that the Methodists would now see and meet their duty to the colored race. Judge Bond was one of those Southern heroes deeply attached to the Union who underwent persecution and ostracism for consciencea sake.

I spoke of my early career and experiences in the army when stationed in Florida, how Christians there believed that negroes had souls, that we were all children of a common Heavenly Father, that our Lord made sacrifices for all, that He taught the doctrine of universal brotherhood, and that we could not escape the injunction to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Then I made a plea for education in the South for blacks and needy whites. That pleading has always held my mind and heart.

After that I urged a more practical extension of marriage rites. I stated that it was ridiculous to demand for church offices only proper marriages among the negroes. As to the constant statement that negroes [319] had proclivities to certain sins — as lying and stealingand that it was of little use to expect any self-restraint except from fear of the lash or other punishment, I declared all that to be a prejudice, a slander. If among us whites a system of selfishness, lying, and cheating is to prevail, and not the principles of the Christian religion, then may we consistently push the negroes to the wall. As Christians our first duty toward them is to recognize their manhood, that which all through the country we have hitherto neglected. Then I endeavored to demonstrate how the Almighty had been leading us step by step through the war and since, and to show how great souls were already seizing upon the facts. Every statesman, every individual-preacher, lawyer, or other professional man — who attempts to stop the wheels of progress will be sooner or later crushed to atoms. Shall we sacrifice the Republic that we have saved? The church must stand up and tell the truth. Whenever you Christians have the opportunity to say what you think, say it I Stand firm for your own convictions of truth and duty. Mr. Lincoln gave us the principle-“With malice toward none, with charity for all, but with firmness in the right as God gave us to see the right.”

George Washington was our beginning. We have been brought on substantially and securely by his glorious successor, Abraham Lincoln. As his countrymen let us not hide our light, but speak the truth, yet speak it kindly in the fear of the Lord.

Resolutions strong and good were unanimously adopted. Then Senator Evans gave a ringing speech, asking: “Is it possible that anyone should ever conceive that the religion of Christ could be modified to suit one class of people differently from another; that [320] it was not intended for the whole human family” His answer was a conclusive demonstration of the universality of Christ's teaching and that negroes in Africa, in this country, or elsewhere were included.

Salmon P. Chase stood up at last to his full height of six feet and two inches, and calmly closed the meeting in a few words that sounded like a benediction, promising equal justice to blacks and whites, particularly in the Supreme Court.

Friday, April 27th, the negroes celebrated the fourth anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. A strange procession made up of military battalions, freemasons, Odd Fellows, schools, civil organizations-all negroes — was of the best. They marched past the White House and called out the President. They passed the Army and Navy Departments, General Grant's and my headquarters, and Charles Sumner's house, cheering heartily at every point of interest as they went. The long column of glad souls had a dozen bands of music preceding their well-regulated divisions. There was no point from which one could see the entire length of the parade. At last it was massed at Franklin Square. Beautiful banners were tastefully grouped around the ample speakers' stand. Bishop Payne, of the African Methodist Church from South Carolina, opened this public occasion in a brief and appropriate prayer. He was a negro very dark, slight in stature, with handsome, regular features and was wearing large spectacles; he spoke the choicest of English. His people were greatly delighted with his ministrations and held him in high esteem.

Then arose the tall Henry Highland Garnett, the colored man who stood in point of oratory and influence [321] next to Frederick Douglass in the old days of abolition warfare. He gave this day a rousing speech: “I suppose it will no longer be presumption to call you fellow-citizens, since the Constitution has been so amended as forever to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except in punishment for crime, and since the ‘Civil Rights bill’ has become a law of the land. To-day the principles of liberty are triumphant; the principles for which patriots and philanthropists have labored from the foundation of our Government, and for which the immortal Lincoln became a martyr, and which John Quincy Adams and Giddings and the Lovejoys and Henry Winter Davis and Solomon Foot proclaimed with their dying breath.” He eulogized dead heroes and praised the living, taking up name after name. He praised the Lord for their work.

“ Thank God,” he went on,

that my noble, suffering and rising race live and flourish like the goodly cedars. The history of 250 years has demonstrated the fact that the black race in America, or wherever dispersed, can neither be forever enslaved or blotted out. God is with us and we must be free.

One year ago Abraham Lincoln was lying in his coffin. You and I, fellow-citizens, were among the mourners. Although his remains sleep in a tomb in the far West, yet he is buried in the hearts of this sorrowing people. Rest, rest in peace, glorious martyr, statesman, ruler, benefactor, and friend!

Garnett concluded by reading some well-worded and touching resolutions. The last one was:

Resolved: That we are sensible of the fact that we are engaged in a stubborn war with numerous and unrelenting foes, which, by the help of God, we mean to fight out to the end on our native soil, aiming [322] to complete the establishment of our rights and liberties; and that our weapons are the spelling book, the Bible, the press, and the implements of industry; and our impregnable fortifications are schoolhouses and the Church of Christ; and our watchwords are unconditional loyalty to God and our country.

As soon as the great cheering died away Senator Lyman Trumbull spoke: “I am here to-day to rejoice with you in this anniversary of your freedomfreedom from the most abject bondage ever visited upon any portion of the human race-freedom that makes you masters of yourselves, protects you in the enjoyment of the family relation, secures to you your children, prevents the father from being torn from his child, and the mother from being torn from her infant. (Amen and applause.) Secured not without a struggle, not without time, and not, I may say, by human instrumentality alone. Whatever credit any of us or any man may claim for the freedom enjoyed to-day by four millions of American citizens, that credit belongs to Omnipotence, who has so molded events that some of us have been instruments merely in bringing about this greatest and grandest result in the history of the human race.”

Mr. Trumbull closed with these words: “Henceforth, no matter who makes the law, it must be equal, and if it is a law that deprives you of a right, it must deprive us white men of the same right. Equality before the law belongs to you from this time henceforth, and, by the blessing of God, I trust forever.”

Henry Wilson followed Mr. Trumbull with a strong voice and effective utterance: “As I have gazed to-day upon this mighty throng in the capital of my country, as I have looked upon these banners, listened [323] to the music, heard the voices to which you have listened, I have turned back one third of a century to that little assemblage of God-fearing and libertyloving men that laid the foundation in America for the triumph which we enjoy to-day. I remember that national convention of humble men from ten States to whom we owe everything sanctioned by law, humanity, and religion, for the abolition of slavery, and for the elevation of every person of color. The work began one-third century ago. (That's so.) Humble, devoted men have since gone on from struggle to struggle, until, to-day, there is not a slave that treads the soil of the country from the Delaware to the Rio Grande. Not a cradle of yours can be robbed in America to-day; not a wife of yours can be torn from your bosom; not a bloodhound can bay on your track. Thanks be to God for the labors of these faithful men. Every fetter of yours is broken, and every man born in America can stand up and say: I am a man, a brother, a citizen of the American Republic!”

About this time the platform gave way and sank enough to frighten the people on and near it; but fortunately nobody was seriously hurt. As soon as it was again properly propped up Senator Wilson resumed:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have come back again. We sometimes during the last thirty years have had falls, but we always rose again. The friends of human freedom, sometimes baffled for a time, sometimes checked, sometimes even temporarily defeated, always rose stronger and marched forward with a bolder front.

My own speech came after Mr. Wilson finished. It showed pretty clearly my feeling at that time toward the emancipated.

Fellow-citizens and fellow-soldiers: It gives me [324] more than ordinary pleasure to be able to be present on an occasion like this; to be able to look forth upon these masses of men; to be able to see in their faces the gleamings of intelligence; to see senators from Congress standing up before you; to listen to the declarations of truths so solemn, so momentous, so deep, and stirring the very foundations of the heart. I notice on one of your banners the inscription “ Friendship, Love, Truth.” I take as my motto the central-“ Love.”

The closing sentiment of your resolution to-day was loyalty to God, and loyalty to your country. I thank the soldiers yonder and all they represent, for the manifestation of true loyalty during our past struggle for liberty; and I unite with you and with them in ascribing gratitude to Almighty God that He has put it into our hearts to be loyal to Him who sits on the throne of the heavens, because it is He who has brought our public mind into the channels of truth; and whether I as a soldier proclaim it or the minister or the bishop proclaims it, we hear the solemn truth that “God is love.” The fundamental truth of the whole Gospel is love. We are required by that fundamental law to love God, to love humanity, to love one another, to love the child of God. It is not like, it is love. With all the depth of the human heart to love, and to take that and carry it into yonder cottage. There you will find it will make the different parts of the same family agree; it will make the children kind to their parents and kind to each other. It will create a scene beautiful in itself; a picture lovely to look upon. Carry it into your neighborhood, and it will produce agreement between one family and another. Carry it into yonder capital and it will produce right feeling and doing. It makes senator grasp senator by [325] the hand and say, “ God bless you 1” It makes the dying senator grasp his brother senator and point him to God and heaven. It takes hold not only of time, but of eternity. It is the real true bond of this country. I tell you it is the fundamental law; it is the very bottom of a true reconstruction. I asserted it in another form once and was abused for it. I said that there was required in this country a little more of the spirit of Christ. I proclaim it again before this vast audience, that it requires the genuine, practical spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ to make our people agree, to reconstruct our Government, to make us what we ought to be — a united, homogeneous people, with homogeneous institutions. Carry it to the Presidential mansion and there it inspires the head and front of our Republic. It was what there animated the bosom of Abraham Lincoln. It warmed the heart of the poor negress who knelt in one of our streets in Washington after his death and weeping said that in Abraham Lincoln she had lost more than her God, because God had made her a slave and he had made her a free woman. She, it is true, did not understand that God was leading him, was inspiring him, was guiding his heart and his mind into the channels of truth, leading him to walk in the light as God gave him to see the light. Thus the great governing principle of his heart was love to his Maker, and, through that, love to mankind.

Now, my friends, bring the same principle to bear upon the condition of things in our Southern States. What do we need? We need true men; we need that principle which shall lead the rough man, the untrue man, to bow before the same Maker and to show a broken and a contrite heart. He, then, will not persecute a man because he is red, because he is green, because [326] he is yellow-oh no l not even if he should happen to be black. He hears the command: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” I do not learn in any of the Commandments or in the Gospel of Christ, that black men are excepted; and I have always taken it for granted from my childhood till the present time that the Commandments and Gospel apply alike to black and white. . . . One of our generals in this city told me the other day that many years ago in Florida he had been outside of many of the cabins of the negroes and heard them night after night sending up petitions to God for their freedom. He said he believed then that those prayers were registered in heaven, and that sooner or later these people would be free. Now, certainly, taking into consideration what I have seen and what I have heard, I believe there will be a great body of negroes in heaven; and in spite of it, I want to go there, and if we can carry out the principle of love to one another, we may all go there. If we cannot carry it out, those men whose bosoms are not big enough, or broad enough, to take in that principle will never be likely to go there I

We can rest on fundamental truths; they apply alike to statesmen and President; they apply to me; they apply to you. You have a great work to do-an immense work. I am not one of those who cry, “ The negro will not work.” I know you will, but I want you to work with unusual zeal. I want the brightest and smartest among you to put forth every energy. (We will.) We have fought and fought together; and whenever I feel a returning throb from an old wound, I thank God I lost what I did lose in the procurement of practical liberty. I thank God it was done in opening up a chance for the colored people to go ahead in [327] the inauguration of the principle that every man have a chance to develop, to grow, to increase, to multiply, not merely bodily, but mentally and morally. I now begin-we begin to-day — to realize and celebrate the truths that have been so long in the Bible, truths that were in our Declaration of Independence, but which were falsely or partially proclaimed from many forums. We do realize that Declaration to-day; and on the next Fourth of July if I should participate in the celebration of the Independence of the United States I will do it as to-day with a free, undivided heart and mind. I can say: Liberty now, union now, liberty and ,union, one and inseparable.

Prof. H. Howard Day made the closing address. A single sentiment exhibits its tenor. “This emancipation I look upon as a part of God's work, and very properly first of all to Him you give the glory. A man who forgets the agency of God in such a work makes a vital stab at the very cause which he seeks to benefit. This emancipation was the legitimate triumph and a first result of the true idea of the American Government.”

At the annual meeting of the American Missionary Association at Cooper Union, New York City, May 8, 1866, which I attended, a brief letter from the assistant commissioner for Tennessee, General Clinton B. Fisk, read by the secretary, showed that the General was detained from participating in the meeting by the Memphis riot. He wrote from Nashville, May 4th: “The sad state of affairs at Memphis requires my personal presence there. The tale of blood, murder, and arson in the chief city of this State will sadden the hearts of all who are earnestly striving to establish peace on an enduring basis. The ashes of our schoolhouses [328] in Memphis but indicate the imperative necessity of education and Christianity (more pronounced) for the Southern States.”

This riot beginning Tuesday, May 1st, and continuing over two days, was brought on by the armed city police attempting to check the disorder of some discharged colored soldiers who had been drinking. This beginning resulted in killing that day from fifteen to twenty negroes, in burning eight negro schoolhouses and the churches where schools were taught, and also thirty-five of their private houses. The resulting excitement was so great that General Stoneman, the military district commander, put the city under strict martial law. The Memphis riot naturally excited the members of the American Missionary Association, for it had teachers and agents in every part of the South, and it greatly influenced the anniversary exercises. This riot, coupled with the others a short time before at New Orleans, where many black men perished and much property was destroyed, everyone feared would be extended to other cities.

Mr. Lewis Tappan, the senior vice-president of the association, and one of New York's most honored merchants and philanthropists, presided. After the preliminary exercises, including a grand missionary hymn, Mr. Tappan introduced me in very flattering terms. I closed a description of our work with an appeal for moral support, saying:

After we shall have exerted ourselves to the utmost there will be tasks which no Government agency will be able to accomplish. There will be poverty it cannot reach. There is already a strong feeling abroad against taxing the people to support the Southern poor; and there are also objections, alleged by good men, against [329] efforts in behalf of education carried on by the general Government. My Bureau, though engaged specifically in a work of relief; though it is the means of feeding the hungry, caring for the orphans and widows, protecting and promoting education, and working to secure justice to the weak and oppressed, nevertheless, partakes of the hatred everywhere meted out to all who are caring for the negro. Its friends are sometimes doubtful about its expediency; many think the universal franchise will dispense with it; so that it is not safe to count upon it or its measures as of long continuance. Work then, my friends, while the sun shines. Do what the Government cannot do, send Christian men and women who are not afraid of outrage, even such as that noble girl suffered at Warrenton, Va.; who are not afraid to die; send such as teachers and almoners of your contributions and as Christian missionaries.

The only way to lift the ponderous load of poverty from the houses of the poor whites and blacks, and keep it lifted, is by instruction. I do not mean simply what is learned from books, but what is gained from example. But I must detain you no longer. The suffering of the poor is a heavy load upon us; the villainies of those who can rob and murder the poor, burn the churches and schoolhouses, try us severely. The twistings and turnings of our great men, who are wedded to politics as a trade, who are too great to own the manhood of the slave, too great to consider important the interests of the lowly, perplex us; but the past cannot be blotted out; our country

A band of white men opposed to all attempts to benefit the blacks had brutally assaulted a teacher, from the North, at Warrenton,Va. Amer-ican Missionary Magazine, June, 1866. [330] is being purged, is being redeemed, and shall be blessed.

Henry Ward Beecher followed me and urged help, real help to the freedmen's societies. He spoke with great force and earnestness.

Two days later I entreated the American Bible Society at their anniversary exercises, held also in New York, to extend their Bible distribution to the freedmen in the South, and hastened back to my work in Washington, which I only left once again that year to address the people of Brooklyn and Newark, N. J., on “Our Christian duty to the South,” and to attend the meeting of the American Freedmen's Mission at the Cooper Institute in New York. The burden of my efforts in these assemblies may be condensed into the words: Educate the children. That was the relief needed. Is it not always the relief which in time becomes a permanency!

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