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Civil Rights. Address of the Colored Citizens of Chicago to The Congress of the United States.

1866IL-Chicago_Address (3).pdf

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CIVIL RIGHTS.

3

measure of the public safety, which has been made the subject of the latest exercise of the presidential negative—a bill framed for the impartial purpose of protecting all persons dwelling beneath the shelter of the American flag in their "civil rights"—the power to leave defenceless in the presence of their selectest foes, and the enemies of the government of their country as well, millions of American citizens, has been wrested from his excellency President Andrew Johnson!

By this act, per se, a new evangel of human liberty, the presidential veto lies prostrate at the feet of a loyal Congrees, a shattered column of inextenuable iniquity; and by it, in the year of grace 1866, a new epoch stands revealed in the history of humanity universal!

We deem it greatly in the interest of American nationality and American republican liberty that however high the authority and extensive the power and patronage of the Chief Executive of our glorious country, the Congress of the United States, representing the loyal sentiments of the people thereof, in their opposing action to presidential prerogative, have declared, under the solemn responsibility of their legislative office, that in the presence of eternal principles all men are as nothing.

The President's last preceding exercise of the veto power, constitutionally assigned to the Executive, has greatly prepared us to expect a similar fulmination against the "civil rights bill." The occurrence, however, of that expected calamity gave us the assurance that the President had either revoked his Mosaic pronunciamento of the 24th of October, 1864, and several kindred utterances made by him, or "changed his Israelites," and we became the subjects of an anxiety incident to the position in which his action placed us.

But as we could not believe that "judgment had flown to brutish beasts" and that "men had lost their reason," that good faith and honor had no longer a dwelling place among men, that the pledges of the war would not be redeemed in the peace which the war had purchased, we looked with abiding confidence to the statesmanship, patriotism, and personal honor of the loyal majority in Congress, supported, as we knew them to be, by the war-taught sense of justice of the loyal American people, to present a formidable barrier to the onslaughts of the disembodied, but still vigorous, and necessarily implacably vicious, spirit of slavery!

We have not trusted for naught; we did not look in vain.

In this great triumph of freedom, which your labors, as the authorized exponents of the popular will, have wrought out for the nation, we recognize ourselves as greatly benefited members of the same; and the outlook of the hour warrants us in thus presenting a record of our selectest thanks to a loyal representative body of the American people—the grand inquest of the nation—to chant, with concurring millions of men all over this wide land, the glad paean,

The gods, that live forever, Are on our side to-day.

Loving our whole country with a devotion second to that of no other similar number of the American people—always her loyal children—it is yet but now that we are enabled to realize the brightness of the coming dawn of liberty's matin hour. Starting with and descending from the records of revolutionary battle-fields to the ensanguined contests of the late civil war, it is made manifest that in these blood stained periods of our country's history colored Americans have ever been found faithful to the flag, even while it but gave them the ignominy of its "stripes," and withheld from them the glory of its "stars."

If, then, as is abundantly proven, they have thus under every adversity of fortune, been true to the republic when she was not their alma mater, what shall they not be to her when, as now, she extends to them the right hand of her sacred fellowship?

But giving to her the whole heart, we ask from her the whole hand!

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