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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Hampton Negro Conference. Number III. July 1899.
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able right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the derivation of the powers of all just governments from the consent of the governed. The revolutionary ideas fell along side of the uptorn but living roots of other hostile and political principles, and the ramified and deep-growing prejudices of an old social order, and had forthwith to engage in a life and death struggle against tremendous odds, for existence. Many there are who see in the history of the reconstruction period nothing except the asserted incapacity of the Negro for self government, carpet bag rule, and its attendant corruption. But bad as those governments were, they were nevertheless, the actual vehicles which conveyed the seeds of our industrial democracy and of a new social and political order into the South. From that period dates the beginning of an absolutely new epoch for that section. The forces set free then in the old slave states have been gradually unfolding themselves amid giant difficulties ever since. They are, I believe, in the South to stay, and are destined ultimately to conquer every square inch of its mind and matter, and so to produce the perfect unification of the republic by bring about the perfect unification of its immense, heterogeneous population, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, on the broad basis of industrial and political equality and fair play.
The contest of the old industrial rivals has in consequence of this influx of democratic ideas in the South, and the resultant modification of environment there, taken on fresh and deplorable complications. The struggle between the old and the new which is in progress throughout that section, is no longer a simple conflict between the two sets of industrial principles of the Union along section lines, as formerly, but along race lines as well. The self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence invading the old slave states, have divided the house against itself. Their ally, popular application, is creating everywhere moral unrest and discontent with present injustices, and a growing desire on the part of the Negro to have what is denied him, but which others enjoy, namely, free and equal opportunities in the rivalry of life. The labors of the fathers for a more perfect union will have been in vain, unless the Negro win in this irrepressible conflict between the two industrial systems of the country. It is greatly to be lamented that a question of color and difference of race has so completely disabled the nation and the South from seeing things relating to this momentous subject clearly, and seeing them straight. Those who
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