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Equality Before the Law: Oration Delivered by Prof. J.M. Langston at the Fifteenth Amendment Celebration
sphere of their influence  no person  advancing in her freedom, across the
can be created, no person can be born,  way of National greatness and renown.
with  civil  or  political  privileges,  Or it her million and a half inhabi-
not enjoyed equally by all his fellow-  tants, with their thousands of rich and
citizens; nor can any institution be es-  fertile fields, are unable to support
tablished, recognizing distinction  of  national independence and unity, let
birth.  Here  is the great charter of  her not look for protection from, or
every  human  being, drawing vital  annexation to, a country and govern-
breath upon this soil, whatever may be  ment despotic  and  oppressive  in
his condition and whoever may be his  its  policy.    By  its proximity to
parents.  He may be poor, weak, hum-  our shores,  by  the  ties of  blood
ble or black, he may  be of Caucasian,  which  connect  its population  and
Jewish, Indian or Ethiopian race; he  ours;  by  the  examples  presented
may be of French, German, English or  in our revolutionary  conflict,  when
Irish extraction; but, before the Con-  France furnished succor and aid to our
stitution, all these distinctions disap-  struggling but heroic fathers; by the
pear.  He is not poor, weak, humble or  lessons and examples of international
black; nor is he Caucasian, Jew, In-  law and history;  by all the pledges
dian or Ethiopian; nor is he French,  made by our nation in favor of freedom
German, English or Irish--he is a man,  and equal rights, the oppressed and
the equal of all his fellow men.  He is  suffering people of Cuba, may justly
one of the children of the State, which  expect, demand  our sympathies and
like an impartial parent, regards all its  support in their struggle for freedom
offspring with an equal care.  To some  and independence.  Especially let the
it may justly allot higher duties ac-  colored American realize that where
cording to higher capacities; but it  battle is made against despotism and
welcomes all to its equal hospita-  oppression, wherever humanity strug-
ble board.  The State, imitating the di-  gles for national existence and recogni-
vine justice, is no respector of persons."  tion, there his sympathies should be
                                        felt, his word and succor inspirating,
      OUR FREEDOM CONTINENTAL.          encouraging and supporting.  To-day
  With freedom established in our   let us send our word of sympathy to
own country, and equality before the       the struggling thousands of Cuba, in
law promised in early Federal, if not  whose midst, as well as among the
State legislation, we may well consider  people of Porto Rico, we hope soon to
our duty with regard to the abolition of  see slavery, indeed, abolished, free in-
slavery, the establishment of freedom,   stitutions firmly established; and good
and free institutions upon the Ameri-    order, prosperity and happiness se-
can Continent, especially in the islands cured.  This accomplished,
of the sea, where slavery is maintained  OUR CONTINENT IS DEDICATED TO FREE-
by despotic Spanish rule, and where the      DOM AND FREE INSTITUTIONS;
people, declaring slavery abolished, and
appealing to the civilized world for  and the nations which  compose its
sympathy,  and justification of their  population will enrjoy sure promise of
course, have staked all upon "the dread  national greatness and glory.   Free-
arbitrament of war."  There can be no  dom, and free institutions should be
peace on our continent, there can be no  as broad as our continent.    Among no
harmony among its people, till slavery  nation here should there be found any
is everywhere abolished and freedom  enslaved or oppressed  "Compromises
established and protected by law; the  between right and wrong, under pre-
people themselves, making for them-  tence of expediency," should disappear
selves, and supporting their own gov-  forever; our house should be no longer
ernment.   Every nation, whether its  divided against itself; a new corner-
home be an island or upon continent,  stone should be built into the edifice of
if oppressed, ought to have, like our  our national, continental liberty, and
own, a "new birth of freedom," and its  those  who "guard and support the
"government of the people, by  the  structure,"  should accept, in all its
people and for the people," shall prove  comprehensiveness, the sentiment that
at once its strength and support.        all men are created equal, and that
                                        governments are established among
OUR SYMPATHIES ESPECIALLY GO OUT  men to defend and protect their inal-
  TOWARDS THE STRUGGLING PATRIOTS     ienable rights to life, liberty, and the
of Cuba.  We would see the "Queen        pursuit of happiness.
of the Antilles" free from Spanish
rule; her slaves all freemen, and she


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Equality Before the Law: Oration Delivered by Prof. J.M. Langston at the Fifteenth Amendment Celebration



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