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Centennial: The American Negro from 1776-1876; Oration Delivered at Avondale, Ohio, 1876
                          [ 21 ]
Then the Emancipation Proclamation came, not as an edict
of humanity, but as a war measure--a means by which to
save the Union, not the slave.  The advent of the negro soldier
was in a time when the national life was in imminent
    Columbia was weak from loss of blood, and her war-
eagles wearily flapped their wings in the blood-dampened
dust of the nation. It was not that the country had come
to see the wrong of slavery; it was not that she was will-
ing to loose the yoke of bondage which had so long galled
the negro's neck, but it was that emancipation was an ab-
solute necessity.  Since it was necessary to free the negro, it
became also necessary to arm him, and solicit his aid in
overturning the institution that had, for so long, injured
him in body and in soul.  By the irresistible force of the
logic of the nation's position, she was led to enroll the ne-
gro under the "stars and stripes."  He was no longer a
chattel, but a human being; no longer a bondman, he was
a freeman, with the weapon of civil warfare in his remorse-
less hand. The Confederate army, urged on by a series of
brilliant victories, was upon northern soil--at the gate of
our national capital, and in our harbors and rivers. Their
victories had nerved them for the conflict; and the idea that
a bondman was to meet them as an equal on the field, fanned
their anger to white heat.  This was a moment of tri-
umph to the Confederacy. They were recruited, fresh,
sanguine; while, on the other hand, the Federal army was
alternating between defeat and victory, hope and fear. At
this critical period, the negro soldier advanced to the front
with firm and steady tread, keeping time to the music of a
righteous desire to purchase his own freedom at the cannon's
mouth, in the battle-front.    The nation was breathless!
Our army was awe-struck, while the whole civilized world
watched with  peculiar interest the movements of these


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Centennial: The American Negro from 1776-1876; Oration Delivered at Avondale, Ohio, 1876



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