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Centennial: The American Negro from 1776-1876; Oration Delivered at Avondale, Ohio, 1876
                          [ 29 ]
political eminence, are open and invite you to push along
their wide and pleasant way.  Virtue, intelligence, wealth
and honor are to be sought after; they will not come to you:
you must go to them. It is to be remembered we live in a
Republic; a government that bestows honors and gifts upon
all who are faithful and industrious.  A  man brings no
titles in this government; he must win them if he would
have them.  He may come of purest blood and be the
wealthiest man in the land, or, he may come from the
meanest stock, and be the poorest man in the land, and yet
sit in the Presidential chair. It is the glory of this govern-
ment that the ignorant may become intelligent, the poor
wealthy, and the obscure the most prominent and illustrious
of its officers. Before the war we were circumscribed by geo-
graphical, social, and religious limitations, to say nothing of
the political and intellectual.  These limitations are now
removed, and every sphere of action will be limited only by
the amount of intelligence and energy that a man carries
into it.  The great universal law of progress should carry
each man along the line of his own inclinations and genius.
He should be a law unto himself. He should study to
know what nature has adapted him for, and then throw all
his energy into that one calling. The man dignifies the
place, not the place the man.  Every man is to say what
he will be in life. Whether he will be saint or sinner;
good or bad; honored or despised, all is with him; he is
his own master.  I look upon our victories during war as a
signal for victory in every department of human life; in
religion, in science, and in politics.
     If those who have passed with the century could open
their eyes upon the country to-day, with negroes in our
national Congress, at the head of banks, moneyed corpora-
tions, schools of distinction, and in all the walks of life,
they would consider the blessings we enjoy commensurate


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



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