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1865 Washington, D.C. Celebration by the Colored People's Educational Monument Association in Memory of Abraham Lincoln

1865DC-National-Monument-page9.pdf

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9

LETTER FROM HON. SALMON P. CHASE, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES.

WAKEFIELD, R.I., Aug. 16, 1865.

GENTLEMEN: Your letter, of the 28th ult., reached me here, after some delay. Idid not receive your invitation to the celebration on the 4th, or I should have thanked you for it earlier. I enclose a letter which expresses my sentiments.*

Tomorrow morning, I shall be in Washington, if nothing unforeseen shall prevent.

Yours truly, S.P. CHASE.

Messrs. WILLIAM SYPHAX and J.F. COOK, Committee.

LETTER FROM THE HON. CHARLES SUMNER.

BOSTON, MASS., July 16th, 1865.

Gentlemen: Owing to my absence from town, I did not receive your letter in season to answer it, for your celebration; but I am unwilling to leave it unanswered.

You are right in commemorating the memory of the late President, and I am glad that you are turning your attention to an institution of education. The idea, alone, in honorable; but I trust you will be able to reduce it to practice.

The time is at hand when your rights will be universally recognized, and nobody will venture to assert any difference in political privileges, founded on color. You must prepare yourselves for this condition.

Meanwhile, I counsel patience, and confidence in the President, who has told you that he will be "Your Moses." The people of the North

  • New Orleans, June 6, 1865.

GENTLEMEN: I should hardly feel at liberty to decline the invitation you have tendered me in behalf of the loyal colored Americans of New Orleans, to speak to them on the subject of their rights and duties as citizens, if I had not quite recently expressed my views at Charleston, in an address, reported with substantial accuracy, and already published in one of the most widely circulated journals of this city. But it seems superfluous to repeat them before another audience.

It is proper to say, however, that these views, having been formed years since, on much reflection, and confirmed, in a new and broader application, by the events of the civil war now happily ended, are not likely to undergo, hereafter, any material change.

That native freemen, of whatever complexion, are citizens of the United States; that all men held as slaves in the States which joined in rebellion against the United States have become freemen through executive and legislative acts during the war; and that these freemen are now citizens, and consequently entitled to the rights of the citizens, are propositions which, in my judgment, cannot be successfully controverted. And it is both natural and right that colored Americans, entitled to the rights of citizens, should claim their exercise. They should persist in this claim respectfully, but firmly, taking care to bring no discredit upon it by their own action. Its justice is already acknowledged by great numbers of their white fellow citizens, and these numbers constantly increase.

The peculiar conditions, however, under which these rights arise, seem to impose on those who assert them peculiar duties, or rather special obligations to the discharge of common duties. They should strive for distinction by economy, by industry, by sobriety, by patient perseverance in well-doing, by constant improvement in religious instruction, and by the constant practice of Christian virtues. In this way they will surely overcome unjust hostility, and convince even the most prejudiced that the denial to them of any right which citizens may properly exercise, is equally unwise and wrong.

Our national experience has demonstrated that public order reposes most securely on the broad basis of universal suffrage. It has proved, also, that universal suffrage is the surest guarantee and most powerful stimulus of individual, social, and political progress. May if not prove, moreover, in that work of re-organization which now engages the thoughts of all patriotic men, that universal suffrage is the best reconciler of the most comprehensive lenity with the most perfect public security and the most speedy and certain revival of general prosperity?

Very respectfully, yours, S.P. CHASE.

Messrs. J.B. ROUDANEZ, L. GOIS, and L. BANKS, Committee.

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