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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Southern States Convention of Colored Men, held in Columbia, S.C., commencing October 18, ending October 25, 1871.
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should be destroyed ; the time has come when their power ought to be broken ; the time has come when they should perish from the land. To this end, I invoke the spirit of our civilization ; to this end, I invoke the sentiments of humanity ; to this end, I invoke the spirit which inspired the Declaration of Independence; to this end, I invoke those divine sentiments that animated the great and good of every clime and every age. Let the abominable crimes against humanity be buried in the grave of oblivion, and write upon their tombstone-no resurrection ; and, finally, it is essential to the success and permanency of our new social system that we have
A GENERAL DIFFUSION OF EDUCATION AMONG THE MASSES.
And this is the crowning glory of the new social structure, for Republican institutions pre-suppose intelligence and virtue. And where there is ignorance and superstition there can be no true liberty. Without the benign influence of education and morality all other appliances will avail nothing in the solution of this question. Modern history furnishes many painful instances of the baneful effects of ignorance and vice. Mexico, though nominally free, is a constant prey to revolutions and counter revolutions, because of the ignorance of its people. Spain pants after liberty and Republican institutions, but her people are too ignorant and debased to understand the principle, or to employ the means, by which they are secured and maintained. Russia, faithless to the instincts of human liberty and human progress, consigns her millions of semi-barbarian citizens to a hopeless ignorance, and then rules them with a rod of iron. France is even seeking after liberty and equality, but, being ignorant of their true meaning, she follows Napoleon to Sedan, and there receives the baptism of blood and fire, at the hands of the Commune. These lessons of history are full of solemn admonitions to us. We will be wise if we profit by their teachings. Do not be mistaken about this question of education. It is a three-fold problem within itself. I will not stop to discuss the relative duties of the State, the community and the parent. It suffices to say that it is a problem in the solution of which we are to take a most conspicuous part, and what nobler cast could be assigned to any generation of men, after a long, long night of ignorance and servitude ; the inauguration of a new era in the life of a people, to rise above the darkness of the past, to throw off all the obsolete notions engendered by long years of slavery and oppression, to join in the great work of advancing intelligence and virtue, to assist in the raising the social body to a higher level of civilization. Can there be a nobler mission committed to the charge of any people? Let us, then, dedicate ourselves to this great work. Let us clear away the rubbish of the past, and substitute and virtue in its stead. And soon the South, relieved of the incubus of slavery, and lifted out of her distress and confusion, by the intelligent and public spirit of her own people, will be marching abreast with the advancement of the world, to the achievement of the greatest of all ends--the amelioration of mankind.
I have spoken to you upon these topics as they have been suggested to my mind. They seem to me to embrace the principal elements in this Southern question.
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