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 The Negro and the South - 25 yrs Later
From a book entitled "Commencement Parts"

  England in all these years has not been able to teach Ireland the English conception of property rights; would you be willing to place your judiciaries in the hands of men a hundred times less likely to observe the traditions to which for centuries you have so fondly clung? Can the world censure the South if she refuses to accept that solution of the problem, which will endanger the safety of the race to which we belong? The South will aid the Negro in protecting every right given him by the Constitution, save the right of domination; but when the Negro majorities assert their right to control the state governments, as they will some day, the two opposing forces in the South will clash in desperate conflict. The intelligence, experience and wealth; the bitter prejudice of instinct or centuries of growth in the dominant whites, will rush, irresistibly as the incoming tide, upon the ignorance, the inexperience and the poverty of the blacks. There is a conviction in the breast of every white man that his race must rule. You may read from our Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, you may fill our statute books to overflowing, the constitution may be amended and amended again, but the whites of the South cannot be ruled by a black majority.

  A few thousand British subjects rule that vast Oriental Empire of India; in every country, in every clime and in every age where two races of distinct and unassailable characteristics have met, the stronger has ruled or exterminated the weaker. And so the white race in the South, with its traditions, its prestige, and its glorious history, must rule.

Do you understand this as a plea for slavery? The feeling of the South was voiced by Grady, when he said: "I thank God as devoutly as do you, that human slavery is gone forever from American soil." They rejoice with you that Abraham Lincoln broke forever the shackles that bound their states to the debasing institution of slavery. In the Southern heart, there is no hostility toward the Negro, no evil wish for the black man. He has already suffered enough.

I know that the strong men of the South. As Grady said, "wear this problem in their hearts and in their brains, by day and by night." And I know that they realize the debt of honor and humanity they owe the Negro and the world. But I know, too, that there are times when, almost in despair, straining their eyes for one ray of light to guide them, they see "no rifted cloud, no sunshine, no hope for better things." It is then that there appears that "awful phantom in whose crimson shadow they behold the dishonor and doom of a race conflict."  

 

This image of Lincoln, by Adelaide Hiebel, is from a mid-west pre WWII journal called Die Hausfrau. (23K)

The South alone cannot solve the problem. True she has begged that its solution be left to her, but that because the first suspicious, impatient step of the National government caused her to dread and to fear another. If, as representative men, you will give the South your tolerant sympathy, your earnest support - as earnest as Virginia gave Massachusetts when Boston's port was closed,-if you will let her know that you feel her blood coursing in your veins, and your blood in hers, she will no longer strive to make this a Southern question. Indeed, it more directly concerns the South: but we are all Americans. The problem should, and does, concern the whole nation, and concerns it deeply.

  Would you lend your efforts toward saving from ruin a great section of your country - and the fairest land of all the earth - then determine to take this question from the partisan hawking of the demagogue; determine to make it a non-partisan work-a question for the whole nation? Once it becomes a burning American problem - not to be solved by a victorious North or a defeated South, but by America it will be solved. America, and she alone, must lead us out of the labyrinth and solve the problem in the Eternal right.

 

 * Davis, Henry Cassell Commencement Parts, Valedictories, Salutatories, Orations, Essays, Class Poems, Ivy Orations, Toasts, Hinds and Noble, Publishers, 1898, pp. 57-62. 

 

This is text from a  book entitled "Commencement Parts" written in 1898 by a prestigious person. It is a book of excerpts to be used as models for public speaking.

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