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Robert Brown Elliott
            ROBERT BROWN ELLIOTT.                     369

and factional feeling ran very high. An acrimonious fight was
waged upon the stump and in the convention.  His most bitter
enemies in this contest were members of his own race; but it is
to the glory of the race that he won, for without him the
brightest page in the Negro's Congressional career would never
have been written.
  Greater than the Civil Rights speech, or any other effort ever
made by Mr. Elliott, was the eulogy upon Charles Sumner, at
Faneuil Hall, Boston, April 14, 1874.  It was a distinguished
occasion. The wealth and culture of that city, representatives of
the National, State and municipal governments were all there
assembled within this hallowed place, whose walls had echoed
the most brilliant of American oratory, to hear a Negro's tribute
to Charles Sumner. In consonance with the dearest sentiments
of every Negro the world over, whether in the rice swamps of
Carolina or on the levees of the Mississippi, in the cold and
austere Canadas or on the sunny shores of Africa, or in the
semi-tropical Indies, Mr. Elliott's love for Charles Sumner was
almost akin to veneration. For his personal character he had the
highest respect, and for his ability as a scholar and statesman the
most profound admiration. His eulogy, eloquent and beautiful in
diction, breathed such a spirit of regard and esteem. The press
of Boston placed it in the highest rank of American oratory,
classing it with the best efforts of Adams, Warren, Hancock,
Sumner and Phillips.
   Mr. Beck, of Kentucky, and other Democratic members of the
 House, who had felt the force of Mr. Elliott's rhetoric to their
discomfiture, could not deny the merit of his speeches, so they
denied his authorship of them, although they were not able to
place it upon anyone else. Upon this point the Chicago Inter-
 Ocean said: "The Hon. R. B. Elliott, the colored Congressman,
has again persuaded that intellectual friend of his to write a
 speech for him. It would be well for more of our public men to
engage the services of the same powerful writer.  Mr. Elliott's
oration on the life and character of Charles Sumner, at the great
 mass-meeting at Faneuil Hall, on Tuesday, deserves a place be-
side similar efforts of Webster, Adams and Mr. Sumner himself,
which is the highest praise which could be passed upon it."
  The charge of non-authorship was made by Democrats upon
the general principle that the Negro, of himself, could accomplish
nothing of literary excellence. It was never entertained by those
who knew Mr. Elliott. No Democrat of South Carolina would
question his ability. The greater portion of his Civil Rights
speech was written at his home in Columbia, in the presence of
friends and visitors, who were coming and going continually at
his house; for he frequently wrote his speeches in his library,
while surrounded by his friends in loud conversation, without at
all being interrupted by them; a portion was written while trav-
eling between Columbia and Washington, and the remaining
portion in Washington, the night before its delivery.   


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African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, [Vol.08, Num. 4]

Robert Brown Elliott


Volume:  08
Issue Number:  04
Page Number:  363
Date:  04/1892


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