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Centennial: The American Negro from 1776-1876; Oration Delivered at Avondale, Ohio, 1876
                          [ 26 ]
        And, marching beside the others
      Came the dusky martyrs of Pillow's fight,
      With limbs enfranchised and bearing bright;
      I thought--perhaps 't was the pale moonlight--
        They looked as white as their brothers!"

    The command from Jehovah to Pharoah was simply
"to let His people go."  If they had been taken from Egypt
to Canaan without any effort of their own, they would never
have appreciated their deliverance. Their long and weary
marches; their fierce and bloody struggles; their defeats
and victories only made them appreciate the land of free-
dom when they were permitted to reach it.  Through
Abraham Lincoln the Lord said to the South, "Let my peo-
ple go;" but the way of deliverance lay through fields of
strife and rivers of blood. There could have been no more
trying and perilous times than those through which the
country was passing when the slave was emancipated: but
the negro soldier was equal to the emergencies.
    The years intervene and stretch their busy lengths be-
tween loathsome prisons and deadly conflicts; but across
the space come the groans of the tortured, and agonies of
the dying. The sacred feelings and sanctified memories of
this hour should be cherished with all the fondness of lib-
erty-loving men.  May our ears be open to the voices of
this occasion.  May our sluggish consciences be quickened
by a sense of duty which the living owe the dead.  Let us
remember that our fallen heroes have left to us a large leg-
acy of love that is not to be bartered away.  Let us ever
cherish their memory and honor their valor.  Let us keep
inviolate the trusts committed to our keeping as American
citizens, and guard with undying devotion the great prin-
ciples of liberty and equality which they ratified with their
blood.  Thus this country will comport with the germinal
idea of its founders--"all men will be free and equal."


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



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