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Reminiscences of the Proclamation of Emancipation
             PROCLAMATION OF EMANCIPATION              213

States Congress in favor of enlisting colored men in the Union
army. On several occasions I could be found in the galleries of the
United States House of Representatives, listening attentively to such
great men as Lovejoy, Henry Winter Davis, of Maryland; Kelley, of
Philadelphia, and in the gallery of the Senate of the United States,
while such men as Charles Sumner, of Boston; Wade, of Ohio;
Wilson, of Massachusetts; Bishop Simpson, of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, and others of great distinction and eloquence, either spoke
or preached to the vast throng of listeners.
    In 1862, on the 22d day of September, Mr. Lincoln issued a
proclamation that in a hundred days, unless the rebel army dis-
banded, and the several Southern states resumed their relation to
the general government, he would declare the slaves in all the states
free with a few local exceptions. The newspapers of the country
were prolific and unsparing in their laudations of Mr. Lincoln. Every
orator after reviewing in their richest eloquence, concluded their
speeches and orations by saying, "God save Abraham Lincoln," or
"God bless our President." Mass-meetings were held in Baltimore,
Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis, San
Francisco and hundreds of minor towns, and such a time I never
expect to witness on earth in the future. I may witness such a time
again in heaven, but not in the flesh.
    In the great Union Cooper Hall in New York City, a colored
man leaped and jumped with so much agility when the proclamation
was read that he drew the attention of every man and woman, till
Mr. Lincoln's proclamation was scarcely listened to. New songs
were sung and new poems were composed, and the people shouted to
such an extent that horses became frightened, and many ran away
and smashed carriages into kindling wood. Whites and blacks real-
ized no racial discriminations. On the first day of January, 1863,
odd and unique conditions attended every mass-meeting, and the
papers of the following day were not able to give them in anything
like detail. Long before sunset Israel Church and its yard were
crowded with people. The writer was vociferously cheered in every
direction he went because in a sermon I tried to deliver I had said
that Richmond, the headquarters of the Southern Confederacy, would
never fall till black men led the army against this great slave-mart,
nor did it fall and succumb to the general government till black
men went in first. This was only a popular prediction, and delivered
under a general excitement, but strange to say, it was fully realized.
    Seeing such a multitude of people in and around my church, I
hurriedly went up to the office of the first paper in which the procla-
mation of freedom could be printed, known as the "Evening Star,"
and squeezed myself through the dense crowd that was waiting for
the paper. The first sheet run off with the proclamation in it was
grabbed for by three of us, but some active young man got posses-


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African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Vol. 29, Num. 3

Reminiscences of the Proclamation of Emancipation


Volume:  29
Issue Number:  03
Page Number:  211
Date:  01/1913


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