America's Past and Future (XHTML)
An 1868 sermon by abolitionist and 'amalgamationist' Bishop Gilbert Haven. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.
From: Gilbert Haven, National Sermons. Sermons, Speeches and Letters on Slavery and its War: From the Passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill to the Election of President Grant (Boston: Lee & Shepard, 1869), 603-620.
AMERICA’S PAST AND FUTURE.
“To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.”—Isaiah lvi. 12.
How many weary years contribute to the triumph of this hour. Standing on this summit, beholding the glory that is breaking forth upon all our land, feeling the joy that pervades every breast, we can hardly fail to look back upon the steps that slowly led, through indifference, hostility, storms of war, and streams of blood, to these Delectable Mountains. One who hung delighted over the peaceful Paradise, where Adam and Eve in their fresh-faced perfection walked in a garden of calm and fragrance, could not refrain from vivifying the scene by contrasting it with the previous elemental war, the darkness and confusion of chaos, creatures fierce and gross of nature, that filled the mighty carboniferous forests with their roar, the whole abhorrent, unelevating scene:—
“Wrapt in impervious mists, which ever steamed
Up from its boiling oceans, without form
And void, it rolled around the sun, which cast
Strange lurid lights on the revolving mass,
But pierced not to the solid globe beneath:
Such vast eruption of internal fires
Had mingled sea and land.
Earth to its center shook; and what were seas
Unsounded, were of half their waters drained;
And what were wilderness, ocean beds;
And mountain ranges, from beneath upheaved,
Clave with their granite peaks primeval plains,
And rose sublime above the water floods;
Floods overflowed themselves with seas of mist,
Which swathed in darkness all terrestrial things,—
A world unfurnished, empty, void, and vast.”
Out of this wreck of matter came the perfection of Eden, and the blessedness of the holy parents of our race. As the angels beheld the darkness and destruction, how could they anticipate the coming light and life? Only the consciousness of an indwelling and overruling God of infinite right, and love, and power, gave them the desired assurance. Resting calmly in that knowledge, they beheld the prevailing darkness, the baleful government of the Prince of the Power of the Air, the mighty conflict, the ever increasing signs of the progress of the kingdom of God, the subjugation of one foe over another, of fire and fog, of savagest beast, huge, amorphous, with many a scaly fold, voluminous and vast, whose presence, whether as lizard, mammoth, or winged and web-footed monsters, would have made the earth uninhabitable to man. They saw the conflict increase in fierceness as it began to consummate itself in the final victory; the death-ocean of ice from pole to pole being the last, and, to other eyes than those of faith, the complete annihilation of all life positive and possible. But in faith they still looked and labored. Conspiring with their Creator,
they aided in the resurrection of the earth from this sepulcher of being, and again beheld it glowing in more beautiful and more abundant life on the Paradisiac morn of the human creation and their Edenic home.
I. So we can note the mighty war of spiritual, and even material elements, that has attended this new creation of our land and people in the truth and love of God. We can look back over centuries, and behold the beginnings of that iniquity whose overthrow this victory completes. Nay, centuries measure not its horrid life. From the first sin, this principle has possessed the hearts of men; from the first sinner, it has found foothold in human society. “Thou shalt rule over her,” was the estate into which one half of the race was plunged by the first transgressor. “Thou shalt rule over him,” the first declaration made to Cain concerning Abel, cast a large portion of the other half into the same chains. The husband held his wife as his property, and beat, petted, or sold her, as his passions prompted. The father owned his children, the eldest son his brothers. In fact, the law of sin was a law of bondage. Slavery was the first-born of Satan and the fallen pair; slavery of mind, and heart, and body. It is the favorite term of Scripture to express the relation of the lost soul to its lost master.
This iniquity developed rapidly, and prevailed like the flood over all the earth. Whole nations were made slaves in an hour; one mighty overthrow of its protecting army by an invading host reduced every person in the realm to property. Cities were thus changed from liberty to slavery in a moment; states were transformed in a day. All Israel went into captivity after one battle. All Egypt was reduced to vassalage by one conquering hour of Persian, Grecian, or Roman arms. India’s multitudinous millions fell thus beneath the victorious stroke of a foreign general. All Northern Europe became the slaves of Caesar.
“He hath brought many captives home to Rome,”
is the praise for him that Shakespeare naturally puts in the lips of Antony.
Whatever mitigation this law might receive through the clemency of its executors, or the difficulty in its execution, it was still the law of society, and, as a whole, faithfully adhered to through vast ages of degraded humanity. Athens, in the height of its power, had twenty slaves to one freeman in its population—slaves of the same blood, speech, and nationality as their masters. Rome had an equal proportion in her own walls, and far greater in her Italian domain. The whole world was one vast plantation, where slaves toiled and suffered without recompense or hope. Only Judea, in the time of Christ, had become a free state. It stood alone among kingdoms, recognizing in its laws no property in man.
It is an answer alike to all professed religious progressives, and to all contemners of Jewish Christianity, that this State stood solitary in its doctrine of the liberty of all men. Why had not Grecian culture and philosophy, of which we so loudly prate, effected a like amelioration for that beautiful clime? Pericles had ruled, Phidias carved, Plato written, Demosthenes spoken, Socrates talked, Homer sung, and the men of Marathon and Thermopylae had fought; yet Greece was still a state of slaves. India, too, the favorite haunt of modern skepticism, where it is fancied the first rising of modern thought and faith can be clearly seen; whose Buddha and Brahma it is pretended are the sources of all religious truth—where was India in its humanitarian development when Christian Judea acknowledged every man free and equal, and was practicing that “declaration of independence” which we have yet failed to fully receive? India was the greatest slaveholding state in the world. A few of a higher caste held hundreds of millions of their kindred in chains—hold them to this day in more than adamantine fetters; for these can be broken; no power can
yet dissolve, only One can ever dissolve, these bonds of caste—and that is the power of Christ Crucified; to the formalist and unprogressive Jew a stumbling block; to the haughty-minded Greek, foolishness; but to them that believe, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.
This liberty the chosen nation lost by rejecting its sole Author, and on its captivity, the human race was plunged again into slavery. Out of this deluge that overwhelmed mankind in a worse than material destruction, society slowly emerged through the effusion and energy of Christianity. The Church broke these bonds. She abolished slavery in Italy and the Orient. She tamed down its horrors in Northern Europe, and swept it away in gradual centuries from every European Christian country. Had she been more faithful, her victories would have been earlier and greater; and long since she would have redeemed the world to Christ and Liberty.
As it is, her work has been great and her progress steady. Rome broke the chains from the body if she bound them on the soul. Athens became Christian and free. Egypt, under her bishops and other clergy, emerged from her idolatry and other serfdom. England broke the yoke from our Saxon fathers, and stopped the slave trade between Ireland and England, that flourished even after the invasion of William and the erection of Victoria’s throne. Kingsley, in his Hereward, or the “Last of the English,” described this traffic in language not unsuited to the Charleston and Richmond of our own generation.
This emancipation was not completed till our own day; and the present Emperor of the Russias has the honor of closing the list of European sovereigns who have released from bondage European peoples. None of that branch of mankind are now held in servitude, save such as Turkey binds, or as on our own continent, in Brazil and Cuba, have
their blood tinted with the hues of a fraternal race, soon to disappear from these dominions.
II. But while slavery was thus dying at the bidding of Christianity,—and at her bidding only,—it still existed in regions unvisited by her rays, and intruded its baleful presence into lands that had been settled exclusively in her interests. Driven from Europe, it took refuge in Africa. Denied sovereignty of men of white complexion, it infamously suggested to the carnal heart that abolitionism depended on color, not on humanity: that it was wrong—of course it was, now that it could no longer be sustained—to enslave white people, Caucasians, the ruling race, the divinely appointed head of creation; but that fact not only permits, it requires, the enslavement of the antipodal race. The white skin is emancipated because it is white. That logic necessitates the enslavement of the black skin. So the devil feeds our too susceptible hearts with the Satanism of caste, and sweeps the whole Christian church—at least in America—into bondage to this opinion. He makes us look on our brother with loathing. He makes us separate him from ourselves as an abhorred thing. He makes us exclude him from our table, our pulpit, our pew, our shop, our store, our homes, our hearts. He diffuses such a murky mist of prejudice over society, that we inhale its miasm as our constant atmosphere, and under its cloud work out his plans for the perpetuation of his power over us and our victims as long as her can keep us under his sinful influence. Expelled from the white class, this iniquity begs permission to invade the black and ruin it. And so a legion of evil spirits rush upon the hapless victim, and drive him headlong into the abyss of shame and agony. For three hundred and fifty years has this abomination flourished. From the first modern African slave-maker, stealer, and trader, Prince Henry of Portugal, the first navigator of Western Africa, and the seafather of Vasco de Gama and Columbus, even until now, has
the Afric shore echoed with the screams of these victims, the ocean between been incarnadined with their blood. Before America was discovered, from six to eight hundred Africans were annually imported into Portugal. The Moors were the chief traders, and their horses their chief coin. They bought ten to eighteen men for a Barbary steed.
Columbus deserved his end for his treatment of the Indians, who received him as a god, and to whom he became a demon. He stole them by the thousand, and sold them in Spanish ports. He offered to supply four thousand annually to Ferdinand and Isabella, and estimated the revenue to the crown, from their sale, at fifty thousand dollars per annum. He was the father of all the Indian barbarities that yet curse our government, and make our line of advance to the Pacific Sea a red line of the red man’s blood. But Columbus did not introduce the negro to save the Indian; nor did Las Casas, the emancipator of the Indian, as is too frequently charged. He accepted him to his subsequent regret, but he did not first import him. The African was brought over by the earliest traders as an item of commerce, when as yet Indian slavery was flourishing, and bishops, priests, kings, governors, and colonists alike flourished upon it. He was a captive here as soon as his American brother. He has outlived him as a slave, he may also as a freeman.
From that hour to this you see the strides of this giant iniquity. How it overrun all the India islands, the neighboring shores north and south, crept down to Brazil and up to Mexico, crossed over to the Pacific, and swept the coast from its southern to its northern belt of ice and so-called civilization; how it struck at the Christian colonies of France and England, and whatever their diversities and hostilities of creed, compelled them alike into bondage to this crime. The Puritans, Churchmen, Papists, and Quakers, the sons of the martyrs of Holland and France, Huguenots and Sy-
nodists of Dort, the followers of Cromwell and of Charles, all creeds, classes, tongues and tribes, plunged into this cruelty and crime. And to this day, those who bear this mixed religion and national blood in their veins are the bitterest foes in the world of the negro and of emancipation. They despise him in all the North, they hate his liberation in all the South. Of one blood are we and our rebellious brethren, in our near origin, and in our feelings toward our long-enslaved kindred, the oldest of our race from the oldest of our continents.
III. The controversy God has waged with us because of this sin we all know by heart, especially its last and bloodiest chapters. We know how our Constitution admitted seemingly, and in the intent of its founders, this iniquity, though it also enunciated principles that made it actually unconstitutional. We all know how Washington violated these fundamental principles in signing the first fugitive slave bill; how Monroe and Congress again violated them in approving of the extension of slavery into free territory beyond the Mississippi; how the Church and the State descended together to the pit of destruction, and sank so low that the Church refused to listen to the testimony of one of its sisters if she had been ravished of her virtue by of her owner, provided he was also a member of the same church; while separate States inflicted upon victims every conceivable and inconceivable barbarity, and the nation forbid any one from harboring those who might escape from this den of lions, and even prohibited his refusing to assist in their recapture under penalty of heavy fines and imprisonment.
Thus Church and State were married by and to the Devil. Thus an offspring burst forth in all the land and in every household of bitter contempt and malice toward God’s children and our own brethren; an offspring of pride, and passion, and avarice; an offspring that made the minister of
Christ the minister of Satan; that erected the auction-block for human souls under the shadow of Christian churches; that made our flag protect cargoes of chained citizens on the long ocean pathway from the Chesapeake to the Rio Grande; that filled thousands of pulpits with prayers and preachings, to which God responded, “My soul hateth;” that changed out hearts to stone before the beseeching cries of our own brothers and sisters; that wrought evil after evil by the arm of the State and the sinful blessing of the Church, until the line forbidding slavery in millions of miles of territory was blotted out; the rights of the man of color, whatever the dimness of his tint, declared invalid before any national court; the right to prevent his introduction as a slave into any free State taken away; and slavery had become, in the language of its most eminent advocate, “the corner-stone of the Constitution.”
Against this prevalence of iniquity God raised up enemies, in the Church and out of it, in the nation and abroad; in the principle with which he fired our hearts, and he scourges with which he compelled our sins to chastise us; everywhere the forces of the Almighty were aroused and organized to confront this gigantic sin. How His flag sunk and rose in the varying conflict. How the hearts of His followers failed them for fear, and inflamed them with hope, as alternate failure and success attended their efforts and their prayers. Especially did fear possess them as they saw the end of all their preliminary battles; as clear and more clear the determination of the slaveholder “to fight it out on this line” became evident, and confidence in the willingness of his foe to meet him on the bloody field failed to be developed with equal certainty. Many were the attempts made, not by the slavocrat, but by his antagonists, to avoid this issue. We offered to extend the Missouri line to the Pacific coast. We offered to introduce an amendment into the Constitution forbidding the National Government from ever emancipating a
slave. We kissed their hands and feet in fear of the threat of disunion which they constantly flourished over us. Many went yet further, and advocated the dismissal of the slaveholding section. Even some of our wisest leaders fell into this snare. Phillips and Garrison, Chase and Greeley, advised this course. They did not believe the people would endure the test to which the Union would compel them. They feared slavery would subdue the North, rather than the North abolish slavery. They dreamed that, cut off from the North, the slave would soon compel his master to emancipation. But the wisdom of God is wiser than men. He allowed His enemies to most daringly defy our national principles, organization, and even existence. He strengthened His friends to meet defiance with defiance, treason with faithfulness, hatred of the country and its principles with increasing flame of devotion to every vital national idea. They sought to extirpate its love of liberty. He excited it by innumerable harangues. They denounced the Union. He fed the sacred flame of devotion to this outward and essential body of the national soul. So, when the night of staggering weakness and seeming dissolution came, when men’s hearts were everywhere failing themselves with fear, and with a looking for the things that were about to come upon the earth; when the head of the nation threw up his imbecile hands in confessed powerlessness, and allowed his chiefs of State to rob his treasury and arsenals, to scatter his petty navy and pettier army, while he, like a sick girl, cried “No coercion,” “I shall be the last President of the United States,” as he certainly will be the least; when the President elect had to steal into his capital in disguise, and foreign observers were writing home, “The Constitution of the United States can be bought on Broadway for three cents, and that is a higher price than the people set upon it”—even then the slowly-growing opposition was solidifying itself for the coming struggle, and at the first word of
command from the authoritative source, sprang up in arms as cheerfully, as enthusiastically, as multitudinously as the angels leaped to the call of their Lord for the overthrow of the rebellious host, and the unity and liberty of the Heavenly Kingdom.
“The mighty quadrate, joined
In union irresistible, moved on
In silence, the bright legions to the sound
Of instrumental harmony, that breathed
Heroic ardor, to adventurous deeds
Under their godlike leaders, in the cause
Of God and his Messiah.”
IV. That struggle gave birth to our coming President. He was one of those who saw and felt the full force of the conflict, at least in its material form. He measured the greatness of the war before a soldier had been summoned to arms, or a blow had been struck by the enemy. In that doleful winter of our weakness he, the humble merchant of a country town, was carefully studying the forces of the rebellion. His minister spent an evening with him at that time, and saw him as he rose up in the enthusiasm of his discourse, and stood with form dilated, filled with the vastness of his theme. When he left, he said to his wife, “Did you notice how much Mr. Grant resembled Napoleon?” Little did his guests think how complete this resemblance was, and how all the world, before three years elapsed, would recognize him as the successor to this soldier in the military annals of the century.
His wife had a clearer vision. To this same gentleman, expressing on the morning of his departure hopes that her husband would return in safety, she replied, “I hope he will return major general, or something of that sort.” She was probably the only person in the country that saw this capacity or entertained these expectations. His father to this day seems to have no apprehension of him. He still says, “Ulysses accomplishes all he does through hard work,” having no perception of that genius which alone makes that hard work create victory out of defeat, and a world of renown out of a chaos of ruin.
1. Six years ago no man was more unknown. To-day his deeds are written broadest of all our soldiers’ on the pages of our history. No general before him has an equal record. He has made the fields of Trenton, Yorktown, Bunker Hill, Buena Vista, and Cherubusco sink into insignificance beside the names of Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Richmond. His military power is sure.
But greater than his prowess is the cause he served. He saved the best of nations; he slew the worst of crimes. Through his gift alone was the Republic of America preserved unbroken, preserved at all. No other general appeared that seemed equal to the necessity. Sherman's gifts were not such as could put squadrons in the field, nor conduct tedious and perplexing sieges. Sheridan could hurl his forces like storm-driven waves upon the line of his foe, scattering them like spray in the swiftness and mightiness of his blows. Thomas alone revealed powers that might have won for him the chieftainship. But even he failed to reveal the combination of organizing, steadfast, far-seeing, daring, and impetuous qualities that tower in the character of Grant.
He has kept intact our vast boundaries, and insured their vaster expansion. He has changed the contempt of all nations into respect, and implanted a dread of our prowess and our ideas that is a sure precursor of a fast-hastening change in all their states conformable to our triumphant principles. He has insured the essential extension of America over the world. Already the United States of Europe are openly advocated in congresses from all her peoples; and that more distant and dubious title, the United States of Asia, looms up mistily from the far horizon. Even the United States of Africa will be born in due time into the
family of republics; while the United States of America shall encompass the whole continent in her oceanic lines. This from this victory over the rebellion will arise a fraternity of nations, few in numbers, divided by no alienation of language, government, or faith; ultimately to become one with each other, with Christ, with God.
To this consummation the man just elected to the headship of the Republic has chiefly contributed. Joshua’s arm alone could batter down the walls of Ai, and Gath, and Askelon. Moses, the Lincoln Liberator, must give way to the conquering warrior. David’s military genius alone enabled Israel to complete its appointed boundaries, and send its banners and its laws from the Euphrates to the Nile. So the mighty foes of this nation—mightier than ever before arose from the heart of any State for its overthrow, and failed in their undertaking—could never have been suppressed by any genius save one that instinctively grasped the whole field of deadly debate, and as instinctively discerned the path to the mastery.
This ability may have included more than it had opportunity for exhibition. Had France succeeded in Mexico, and proceeded thence to assail the Union, his acquaintance with that territory might have been called into requisition to smite this new foe in the farther South. Had England followed out the instincts of all her ruling cases, and engaged in the support of the rebellion, even to the refastening the fetters on the neck of the slave, his military genius would have reenacted the victory of Scott on the field of Lundy’s Lane, and the triumph of Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham. The controversy of Nova Scotia would have been settled by its absorption into our nationality, and the ambition of Canada been more than gratified by becoming an integer in the Continental Republic.
His administration may witness this Northern and Southern extension of our boundaries by the arts of peace, which,
had France and England dared to enter our field of civil debate, might have been speedily accomplished by deeds of war.
2. But while we thus linger around the service which our General and President have rendered to our nation and to all nations, and behold the pleasant visions of coming consequences of his great victories, we should be forgetful of his chief victory and its chief duty if we failed to dwell upon the grandest results of his arms. Unlike all other great generals, his military fame is indissolubly united with the emancipation of millions of slaves. Alexander drove back to Eastern powers, and put Europe for the first time where England and Russia keep her to-day, on the neck of Asia. But he gave no people their liberty. His triumphs were military alone, or at the best political. Cæsar, undoubtedly the first of warriors in the ante-Christian ages, reduced free nations to slavery, and added vast multitude of bondmen to the already glutted man-market of Italy. To no race nor man did his powers bring liberty. He even put the dagger to the Roman Republic, and was the acknowledged founder of an imperial dynasty whose name is yet boastfully assumed as their own by a ruling house of Europe, while his spirit animates the most despotic of emperors.
Of every later captain the same sad fact is true. Napoleon reduced liberated France to bondage. Wellington tied the English and European nations to aristocratic and despotic institutions. Only Washington and Cromwell made their arms deliver their peoples; and they did not break such yokes or bestow such liberty as it was given to our General to achieve. His genius was employed not to enslave, but to emancipate; not to beat back aggressive tyrannies, but to uproot them; not to release fro civil bondage, but from human; not to save states, but men.
This puts his name as far above his rivals as the deeds of humanity surpass those of mere ability. The inventor of a
needle gun may show as great genius as the inventor of the needle in the sewing-machine. But the latter has made his talent relieve the toil and enrich the grains of millions of the poor, while the former only increase the number of the slain in the filed of battle. The mere military genius, as such, is often the least valuable gift of God to man. The poet is of more worth; the preacher a far better blessing; the inventor, and discoverer, and educator are his superior. He is but a boxer on a bigger scale. He fights with others’ fists, as John Morrissey gambles with others’ hands, as every master works through his subordinates. He masses force, and hurls it upon opposing force. If his force crushes its contrary, it is but the gift of a thunderbolt, an earthquake, a trip-hammer. For what is his genius exerted? That alone decides its value. Byron writes as good poetry as Cowper; perhaps better. But which serves God and his generation with his heaven-given gifts? Davis had as great fitness for statesmanship as Lincoln. Whose talents are put to divine using? It is the end they serve that makes their real value.
So Grant’s genius was fortunately devoted to the highest ends. His military skill, like Stephenson’s inventive talent, like Wesley’s poetic, was employed by God for the best possible service. He struck down not only an army, but an institution. He won not a victory merely, but liberty. He rescued not imperiled troops, but an imprisoned race. What God might have done through others had he not arisen cannot be told; what He did do through him can never be told. Every father then in chains who walks to-day a freeman; who meets his joyful family around his own thanksgiving table; every such mother who clasps her babe the closer to her breast, as she feels that no power can snatch it from her arms except He who gave it, and He always leaves it on her heart, whether He holds it here or in heaven; every child of these parents playing in the unconscious gladness
of childhood, not knowing what wonderful brightness lights up his path that never illuminated their childhood—these millions owe their innumerable millions of blessings under God to his military ability. Surely, never was a gift divine more divinely honored.
V. What means this election?
The past is past. The future is before us. No man, no nation can go back. We must advance. The London policeman’s word in a thronged thoroughfare is the order of the Creator to Mankind—“Move on!”. What is the path on which he orders us to march? What are the principles which this election is designed by him to settle?
1. It ordains order. The primal element of all progress is peace. Crystals can only be formed in still media. Even the fiery uprushings of the volcano make no gems until they sink in repose. Grant’s election assures that condition. He has met the enemy on its last organized field. He has put to rout the assassins as he did the soldiers. The ghosts of rebel fighters, as the Ku Klux profess to be, revisited the glimpses o the moon with revolvers in their skeleton hands, and murder in their fleshless hearts, will subside again into their unquiet graves. Rest, perturbed spirit of slavery and murder, rest. The man who subdued you living, will subdue your dead. Those that have dared to assume these grave clothes for the indulgence of their own diabolical malice, must cease their bloodthirstiness or join their dead comrades. Through all the South shal there be as complete peace and liberty as throughout the North. “Charley,” said our President elect to one of his friends, “Charley, if I am President, every man everywhere shall be protected in the liberty of uttering his opinions.”
That vow will be kept. Every rebel knows that it will. He has seen the man who says it as Fort Donelson and Shiloh, at Vicksburg and Chattanooga, in the Wilderness and at Richmond; and he knows that he always keeps his
word. In Kentucky, he made peace by driving out the rebel soldier; he will again, by driving out the rebel assassin. In Tennessee, and Mississippi, and Virginia he made peace, sending “the great river unvexed to the sea,” sweeping away all armed hostility from Nashville around to its capital, driving the enemy’s cannon from the Rapidan to Richmond, and from Richmond into our own victorious lines. They fear his arm. They will crouch, and tremble, and obey. As the devil and his angels fled and fell before the mighty Michael, Prince of God, so will this new revelation of the same evil spirit submit to this new revelation of the decree of the Almighty.
It is a glad dawn for our loyal brethren.
The fugitive loyalist, black and white, has feared the glance of a passer-by, as if it were, as it has too often been, the glare of a murderer. He has trembled when the night closed around his dwelling, lest the ghostly knock should call him from his slumbers to the sleep of death. Never were the lamentations of Jerusalem’s prophet over the afflictions of his land more painfully fitted to any people. “We got our bread,” must they say, “with the peril of our lives.” “They hunt our steps, that we cannot go into our streets.” “Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heavens; they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.” Most sadly identical, also, is the cause of all the misery of Zion and the South. “For the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, they have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments. The Lord hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured his fierce anger, and it hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.” In this awful condition of promiscuous massacre, the helpless ones have turned despairing eyes to a hostile President and a
powerless Congress. They have made every Christian heart exclaim with the Christian poet, over like horrible barbarities inflicted by the Papal fiends on their Protestant brethren of Vaudois:—
“Avenge, O, Lord! thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold.”
On this darkness peace breaks. The cabin shall be sacred as the castle, the laborer shall toil and travel unharmed. Complexion shall not imperil life, but shall be a bond of mutual affection. The impartial President shall fold all in his protecting arms , and the South shall at last accept in practice the motto of Massachusetts, as she has already adopted her principles. Under liberty shall she enjoy calm quiet through the sword.
2. But if order is heaven’s first law, it is only the first. Something must be done. “Quiet, to quick bosoms, is a hell.” Quiet is only a condition for life to work in. What is the life that is to work in this coniditon?
It has revealed its earliest stages. The universality of suffrage and the equality of legal and civil rights. These steps have been taken in the South in form; but they are not yet everywhere successful in spirit. They have not been yet taken in all the North in form, though they are largely successful here in spirit. In both regions form and spirit must unite. The South must everywhere cease to forbid the legitimate voter his suffrage; the North must everywhere cease to forbid its citizens from becoming legal voters. Georgia and Connecticut to-day are practically united. Both exclude law-abiding and patriotic citizens from the ballot. One does it with Colt’s revolvers, the other with Colt’s workmen. Ohio is as wicked as Louisiana. She has sunken from a hundred thousand majority for liberty to fifteen thousand, because she refused to do this God-demanded duty. She will go into bondage to the enemy, unless she is de-
livered from this crime. Universal suffrage must be enacted and enforced by the National Government. If we make the South allow her black voters their rights, we must also, through a constitutional amendment, or by a congressional enactment, make the North do equal justice. It can only be done by one of these causes. The intensity of prejudice would to-day make almost every State that voted for Grant, where this suffrage does not exist, vote against its bestowal. Missouri cast her ballot for Grant and Slavery. She voted down the rights of man, and voted up the representative of these rights. She struck at her citizens while she struck for the nation. All her sisters would do likewise. Iowa and Minnesota would have no followers in this right action to-day.
It must be done at Washington. The Constitution demands it. The President should urge it—Congress ordain it. Only thus can the blot which stains this jubilee-hour be wiped away. General Grant has not received all the votes that legitimately belong to him in this election. Thousands of brown hands would have gladly put his name into the ballot-box, had not this wicked prejudice forbade. They felt the insult and ignominy all the more keenly as those same hands have pulled the trigger in the hottest of the fight, under the same great General, for the salvation of the country. To-day they are refused the privilege of serving in the bloodless battle, while it is now years since they were allowed, or gladly hastened, or were in not a few cases even compelled, to stand upon the fiercest ridge of war.
How long shall this evil continue? Every one must labor and pray that the root of slavery shall be extirpated, and that our President at his reelection may receive the vote of every man who shall desire to express his gratitude for the liberty which he has secured to them from this cruel fetter of ingratitude and injustice.
3. But equality at the polls is not the only work laid upon the coming government. There must be such a disposition of its patronage, such a steadfast expression of its conviction, such an employment of its influence, as will tend to the abolition of the whole mass of prejudice that still defiles the national heart. I am aware that this evil cannot be utterly abolished by any enactments. The leprosy lies deep within. It dwells in our churches, in our souls, in our education, in society. It still makes us look on many a human face with repulsion which is of the complexion of the mother of our Lord—nay, of the Lord himself. It still leads us to erect barriers between us and our kindred, and to make us and them talk of “our race” as if they and we had a different parentage, Savior, and eternity. It must come to an end. It is coming to an end. This election is a great advance toward that end. If the Administration as faithfully adhere to its ruling idea, and put men into office everywhere without regard to color and with regard only to capacity, it will greatly prosper this great reform. Let him make Frederick Douglass a member of his cabinet, and the nation will commend and imitate his courage.
But under it, as well as through it, will the work go forward. Senators and representatives will enter Congress of the condemned hue. They have already become mayors, secretaries of trade, lieutenant governors; they hold no small influence and office in the uplifted South; they must yet more. Mississippi, with her half a million; South Carolina, with her majority of this tint; Tennessee, where they stand between the loyal whites and annihilation; Louisiana, where they have wealth, culture, and talents in their ranks—these must cast down all bars and gates, and let the tides of human, civil, social, and Christian life flow freely among all the people. To this complexion shall we come at last.
4. Yet more: our feelings of aversion will change to feelings of regard. The complexion at which we now profess
to revolt we shall look upon with pleasure. Vice is not the only thing that is at first hated and afterward embraced. Virtue is more frequently subject to his experience. It is very rare that a real gift of God is fallen in love with at first sight. How few behold in religion all the charms with which she is divinely invested. How many turn with disgust from her pleading, pleasing countenance. How few are instinctively drawn to temperance, to study, to work. The world beholds in vice everything charming, in virtue everything repulsive. But acquaintance changes this experience, and we cling to the good we at first disdained. Nay, we usually are the more fond in proportion as we were hostile. It is the law of our nature that we choose that which we say we will never have. If you hear a person declaring that he will never be a Methodist, be sure that he will yet be of the most earnest type of that religion. If he says, “I will be anything sooner than a Congregationalist,” you may mark him as fore-ordained to be a sober deacon of that orthodox church. When the young lady says, “I’ll marry anybody but Mr. Simperton,” she will soon be found casting her most languishing meshes around that just despised youth. When pompous young Jones says, “I hate the very looks and even name of Miss Marigold,” be you certain he will ere long say to her, “Your face is angelic, you name is sweeter than the lutes of paradise. I can only live in the light of your affection.” So shall we treat our brethren and sisters of color. We shall “see Helen’s beauty in the brow of Egypt.” We shall say, “What a rich complexion is that brown skin.” “It is Italian, Greek, Oriental, perfect. How far it excels our chalky hue.” We already paint our houses after their color. Our girls crinkle their hair after the natural curliness of their sisters’ locks. This is one of God’s modes of curing us of color-blindness. We shall see, as Mrs. Kemble says, that there are qualities in the human skin superior to a pink and white tint, and
that in velvety softness, in fineness of fiber, in richness of tone, this despised flesh surpasses our own. We shall be attracted to this hue because it is one of God’s creatures, and a beautiful one too; because it is a favorite hue of the human race; because, chiefly, we have most wickedly loathed and scorned it. He will have revenge, and will yet compel us to discern the loveliness of this most abhorred virtue, and to become enamored of it. The Song of Songs will have a more literal fulfillment than it has ever confessedly had in America; and the long-existing, divinely-implanted admiration of Caucasians for black but comely maidens, be the proudly acknowledged and honorably-gratified life of Northern and Southern gentlemen.
But this law rests on no mere quip of the fancy, nor is it a rebound of a vehement passion, as wrongfully right as it had been wrongfully wrong. It is the grand undertone of all marriage. It is the Creator’s mode of compelling the race to overleap the narrow boundary of families and tribes, into which blood, so called, invariably degenerates.
“Not like with like, but like with difference,”
is the law of marriage. The light complexioned turns to the dark, and the dark to the light, as day to night and night to
day. The tall seek the short, and the short the tall; the small the large, and the large the small. Opposite temperaments also thus incline to each other. Bishop Morris says that he can select husbands and their wives in a large company by this law of like and difference. Contrast whets appetite. Dr. Holmes’s ten lovers dangling in the silken noose of the fatal trap of Cupid, being asked the color of the eyes that caused their ruin,—
“Ten shadowy lips said ‘heavenly blue,’
And ten accused ‘the darker hue.’”
The last five of these victims were undoubtedly blue-eyed swains, and the first of brown complexion.
By this law only will the yellow-haired Germany and dark-skinned France become one. Only this will the medieval feud between light-eyed England and dark-eyed Ireland come to an end. Let their youths follow their instincts, and the differences that now seem barriers of eternity, will become magnets of eternity. Thus, too, will our dividings cease. The lightest and darkest of the children of Adam and Noah are divinely planted together in this land, that they may, by obeying this law of God, work out the perfect oneness of the race of man.
Already, too, our romancers and poets, the imaginative fore-flyers of the slower-footed fact, are putting this future into their fascinating tales, and all the greedy crowd of novel readers are finding their freshest morsels flavored with this celestial truth. The stage makes an octoroon a heroine, and wins thousands to the admiration of a color on the boards, which they still falsely profess to detest in the parlor. Mrs. Child, in her “Romance of the Republic,” gives a vivid portraiture of the wrongs and rights of this married life and love in conflict with the curse of caste. Anna Dickinson waxes yet bolder, and, in her “What answer?” shows how inevitable, how beautiful is this true affection,
despite, nay, including the difference of color. And the hour is not far off when the white-hued husband shall boast of the dusky beauty of his wife, and the Caucasian wife shall admire the sun-kissed countenance of her husband, as deeply, and as unconscious of the present ruling abhorrence as is his admiration of her lighter tint. Desdemona was as deeply fascinated by Othello’s visage, as was he by Desdemona’s. That hour is not coming—it already is. Not a few of these marriages which God has made, and whose legal validity man, in some instances, has reluctantly acknowledged, are already filling homes with happiness, and both prophesying and leading the way to the future unity and blessedness of America. Amalgamation is God’s word, declaring the oneness of man, and ordaining its universal recognition. Who art thou that fightest against God?
5. But General Grant’s peace opens the way for yet further victories, if any in your minds can be further. The suffrage of woman must follow that of the African. The proudest female must march behind the lowliest negro. She is a citizen already, frequently a tax-payer, always of equal intelligence, often of superior virtue to man. She is our mother; and who believes he knows more than his mother, or is better able to understand and exercise any duty? She is our wife; who that deserves a wife believes himself superior of that wedded soul? She is our sister; and who does not know that when in school together she more frequently led him in scholarship than he her? She is of the Commonwealth, having equal rights with every other member. She is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Surely, all enforced exclusion of her from her just claims is the greatest injustice. If we preeminently despise the man who strikes a woman, how should we feel toward the State who thus strikes down all its women, and robs them of all power of defense from its blows?
Above all, we need her help. Christ is seeking to estab-
lish His empire in the earth. It is an empire of peace, of unity, of righteousness, of love. It is to be established in good-willing men, in holy laws, in sacred institutions, in purified society. How can this be done except by the cooperation of the best and most numerous members of that society? Only by woman’s vote can the kingdom of God be completely established. Only thus can we save the State from debauchery and utter demoralization.
That work will go forward. It is advancing everywhere; and when the next election comes may we see our sisters sitting by us, and transforming the dirty, smoky atmosphere of the voting-rooms into sweet and quiet parlors, full of pleasure and peace.
The temperance movement must go forward. It has been held back by the imperative demands of the cause of freedom. It met with a repulse from misjudging men, under wicked leaders; but it will rally and move on. It has a grand foundation laid in the convictions of every heart, the conclusions of every understanding, the decisions of courts, the statistics of jails and alsmhouses, the annals of crime, a generation totally abstaining people, and the success of the experiment of prohibition. Every good an evil inure to its benefit. With the departure of the giant crime of Slavery to its own hell, the movement against it hardly inferior associate will be recommenced. We have exchanged the slaveholder’s ring for the whisky ring. The one elected Presidents; the other has preserved one of them in his undeserved seat. We have abolished the one; we must the other. To this reform every youth should consecrate himself. In every State it should be agitated. Congress should be implored to establish it in the Territories and the District of Columbia. The new South must adopt it to save her new citizens from utter demoralization. Great will be the happiness of the nation when no village shall be cursed with a grogshop, when every city shall be as pure from this vice
as the rivers of Eden, when our youth shall be untainted with this appetite, and our men shall nor err through strong drink. May that hour soon break upon the waiting realm, and National Prohibition of all that can intoxicate deliver our land from its last and heaviest burden.
Not a few other blessings wait on the coming hours. As clouds of angel faces surround the heads of victor saints, misty yet distant in beauty, so do clouds of reforms, the faces of the true angels, messengers of God to man, encompass the victor President.
Black were the clouds about the head of Lincoln when first he became the head of the nation. A winter storm of darkness and death beat upon his head. How dark, how dreadful that hour! The flush of morning joy at his success was instantly extinguished in the sulphurous folds, shooting lightnings, rumbling thunders, portending rain. How sadly, wearisomely, patiently did he wade through the sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them. A slightly brighter cloud encompassed the last election. Still it was a dreary mixture of light and darkness. Grant was still held at bay before Richmond. Sherman yet lay in the heart of the enemy’s country, and the march to the sea was but a crazy dream of those two generals, as it seemed to loyal and rebel minds. Thomas had scarcely relieved Nashville of its beleaguered hosts. Gold still hung high above the hundreds. Europe still believed and hoped that Jefferson Davis had created a nation. Mexico was still a principality of France. Charleston was the same haughty hold of slavedom. Mobile snarled defiance from all her forts at all our fleets. Lee was still the bepraised general, far before Grant, in English and in rebel judgments. Slaves were still held by the millions in every State, from Kentucky, by way of Virginia and the sea-line, up to Arkansas. Our poor boys were still rotting to death by the thousands at Andersonville and in the Libby Prison. Much had been done; but all would be lost were
not much more done. His reelection was but a pledge, a sign of pluck, a charge on the enemy’s lines, a determination never to submit or yield till the victory, how far soever distant, should be attained. To-day all this is past; and the new heavens open around us in abundant light. American ideas are breaking in pieces all nations. They have invaded England, and elected the first People’s Parliament that ever sat in her realm; they have overrun Germany, and unified that long disparted nation; they have entered Spain, overturned the Inquisition, driven forth a ruler whose seat had been held by her family for three hundred years, and probably in some line of her blood for a far longer time, and are even now discussing the establishment of the Republic of Iberia. The British Provinces have organized a nationality which is a precursor of their admission into the greater nationality of America. Mexico has expelled Napoleon, and sustains her own independence, preparatory to her absorption into our domain.
In enterprise the world is also careering like a ship before the wind. The girdle of the nation will belt her zone before another year, and our President enter the Pacific cities—the longest journey ever made by the head of a nation through its territory. The South will be filled with peaceful, loving, laboring populations. Emigration will set in from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the islands of the sea; and the world make gigantic strides to the glory and calm of the millennial year.
To this work, and honor, and reward may all be devoted. Let Christ abolish sin from your souls, of whatever sort, by his indwelling grace. Let your heart become His peaceful realm, with its every passion, thought, and purpose subject to His sway. Labor by every word and work to make all other hearts equally perfect. Strive to bring the laws of society into subjection to His control. Root up the gnarled tusks
of prejudice. Toil cheerfully, hopefully, faithfully, to bring in the Grand Sabbatic Year, the Jubilee of Heaven.
“The visions seen far off, and sang of old
By holy seers and prophets, grasped by faith,
And longed for, though the half could ne’er be told
In language, nor by hope itself conceived,
Will have accomplishment,—a waking bliss,—
The rest foreshadowed by the Church of God,
The golden dawn of Everlasting Day.”