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Centennial: The American Negro from 1776-1876; Oration Delivered at Avondale, Ohio, 1876
			
                          [ 27 ]

THE RELATION OF THE NEGRO TO THE FUTURE OF THE COUNTRY.
    In the late war the negro proved himself an able and
efficient soldier.  By the ponderous and incessant blows of
his battle-ax of liberty he opened the gate to social, polit-
ical, and religious relations and activities.  Slavery had
closed all these gates against him; these relations lay be-
yond the boundaries of the cruel institution in the fair land
of freedom. But the moment the negro enrolled under the
"stars and stripes" he began an existence hitherto un-
known to him. He took a part in a drama that was not
to end in a war of arms, but in a war of ideas and princi-
ples, in which war he was to take on his characteristics as
a freeman, not as a slave; as a civilian, not as a soldier.
The world has blindly ascribed qualities to the negro slave
that will not belong to him as an educated citizen; and
would as readily belong to any other class of men in the
same condition as the American slave was before the war.
But the time is come when the test is being applied.  It
remains to be seen what the negro will be.  The war "was
only an initiatory step. It was then that four and one-half
millions of human beings came up out of the Egypt of
bondage to begin their march of citizenship. Before them
lie the fields of science and learning, and the plains of cul-
ture invite their weary feet.  Some have thought the war
ended, the victories all won; but the struggle begun in the
ditches of Pillow and on the parapets of Wagner, under
the eyes of the whole civilized world, is still going on. It
has been extended into the common school, where igno-
rance is to be conquered and superstition vanquished.
    Into the temple of God, and into the halls of Con-
gress, this struggle, this conflict is pushed. The battle be-
tween conscience and passion; between selfishness and be-
nevolence; between slothfulness and duty; all these battles




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

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