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Henry Wilson's speech

[source: Elias Nason and Thomas Russell. The life and public services of Henry Wilson, late Vice-President of the United States. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969. Reprint of 1876 edition published by BB Russell.]
[Edgar Gregory also spoke at this meeting]
[see another report of Wilson's speech in 'Freedmen's meeting in Washington', New Orleans Tribune 25 July 1865.]
[I have proofread this page.]


[page 340]

Mr. Wilson attended the colored people's celebration in the presidential grounds at Washington, July 4, 1865, and said in his address to them,--

"I am not here to find fault with the government, however; though I fear that the golden moment to secure justice, and base our peace on the eternal principle of right, was not taken. I have faith in the motives and purposes of the administration, and shall keep my faith, unless it shall be broken by future deeds. I have faith in the motives and purposes of Pres. Johnson, who told the colored men in the capital of his own Tennessee that he would be their Moses. Andrew Johnson will, I am sure, be to you what Abraham Lincoln would have been had he been spared to complete the great work of emancipation and enfranchisement.

[page 341]

"Pardoned rebels, and rebels yet unpardoned, flippantly tell us that they hold in their hands, yet red with loyal blood, the rights of loyal colored men, of the heroes scarred and maimed beneath the dear old flag. I tell these repentant and unrepentant but conquered and subdued rebels, that, while they hold the suffrage of the loyal black men in their hands, we, the loyal men of America, hold in our hands their lost privilege to hold office in the civil service, army, or navy. The Congress of the United States has placed upon the statute-book a law forever prohibiting any one who has borne arms against the country, or given aid, comfort, and countenance to the Rebellion, from holding any office or honor, profit, or emolument, in the civil, military, or naval service of the United States. . . .

"You, sir, invited Mayor Wallach to be here to-day; but I don't see him. I have a sort of dim idea, that, if you held the right of suffrage, Mayor Wallach, and perhaps the whole city government, would be here. (Cheers.) To insure the attendance of the Mayor of Washington next year, I would suggest that you early send your petitions to Congress asking for the ballot. ('We will.') I am a Yankee, and have the right to guess; and I guess you will get it." (Great applause.)


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revised 14 Jan 04
contact Harry Ide at hide1@unl.edu with comments or questions