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THE NEGRO AND THE INTELLIGENCE AND
Y the overkind appreciation of the Chairman of the
Committee, I am asked to conclude the debate
on this great question, which has within it such potentialities for good or evil to this land, resting under the splendor of the May-day sunshine, a land from whose kingly plenitude of moral and material worth man can reap more abundantly and more easily than at any time since, by the Divine command, fruition was crowned with the toil of the hands.
Coming from the mountains of West Virginia, within the sound of the flow of the Beautiful River, yet I am no stranger to Alabama or to her traditions and her glory; and when, inclining her proud head to the inscrutable commands of the Great Ruler of governments and armies, she pressed to her pure lips in the day of her agony and sorrow the cup filled with the bitter waters of Marah, I and mine, from the same chalice of suffering, drank the consuming draught of humiliation and distress.
This fair city, pulsating with busy life, hallowed with memories of the past, laden to-day with the sweet lux. uriance and redolency of springtime flowers typical of that resurrection which will not wither with the passing of their fragrance, where amidst your foliage-embowered streets I seem to hear the thunderous tread of a mighty spirit, is to me the Mecca of a pilgrimage which I approach with bared head and unsandaled feet. Holding views as to this great question under discussion differing somewhat from those of the distinguished and honored sons of the South who have preceded me, yet I yield to them nothing, not a hand's breadth, in love for the South, reverence for her glorious past, and glowing hope for the sure consummation of her splendid destiny.
Seeing first the light of day and passing the springtime of life in the town where sleep, under the soft shadows of our mountains, Lee and Jackson, words untrue to the South uttered on this classic scene would blister the tongue of him who gave them birth. Every tradition of my people, their joys, their sorrows, and their loves, have their resting-place on the spotless and consecrated bosom of old Virginia, and my every hope and ambition for the future is intertwined in the welfare and good of the South. The limpid sunlight of the South and the azure of her sky hold me in a spell which appeals to my soul with a witchery far more potent than happier material conditions amidst other associations and surrounded by other peoples. For her sake, the old home, fragrant with precious and unspeakable
memories of the smile around the hearth and rich with the sunlight of the gentle voices in the wide halls in other and happier days, echoes to the footsteps of the alien master ; and our fields, under the Divine ordering of Him who, with impartial hand, distils the dew and scatters the sunshine, yield their treasures of rich grain to the hand of the stranger. For her sake, without repining, I have sat at the widow's board, where the barrel of meal wasted and the cruse of oil failed ; and whilst differing on this question with possibly a majority of the audience before me, yet in the sweet words of affection, old as the love which crowned with glory of surpassing light the tall pines on the lonely mountains of Moab and gladdened the ripening grain in the harvest-fields of Judea, “Entreat me not to leave thee or return from following after thee, for whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge."
Appreciating the importance of this great question to our country, and well recognizing my poverty of experience and ability, I approach the discussion with that diffidence born of a desire that no spirit except the love of my country shall guide my statements and direct my thoughts. On the threshold I pray to the good God of our people that we may reason with each other in a spirit of calmness which will lead us to that high plane where we can put away all feelings less holy than the love of country, and from the sublime heights of true patriotism look down on every unworthy ambition.
The settlement of the Race Question, in the present