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are rapid in multiplication. Whether we look to the engines for war, or the arts of peace, to the means of destruction or the appliances for preservation, to the facilities for distribution or the sources of production and accumulation, we shall find nothing in the past comparable to the achievement of the present. But all these gigantic elements of physical power are but the fruits of educated minds—have leaped into being at the command of ideas, and they are under the absolute control of ideas; and whether they shall really promote or destroy civilizations must depend altogether upon the wise or unwise discretion of this omnipotent commander.
It is not my purpose now to analyze the different civilizations which are competing in the great struggle to lead humanity nor to select any one for prominent advocacy. Nor must I be understood as saying that that which changes always reforms, nor yet that every apparent triumph is just a progress. But this much I affirm as true: that community, that people, that nation,-nay, that race --or that system, which Diogenes-like, will now content itself with living in its own tub, asking nothing of the conquering powers around it, except that they stand out of its sunshine, will soon find itself in hopeless darkness, the object of derision for its helplessness, and of contempt for its folly. Whether civilization, on the whole, be going forward or going backward, the result must be the same to those who insist on standing still—they must be overwhelmed. Because all the world is, therefore, each portion of the world must be awake and thinking, up and acting. Nor can we afford to waste time and strength in defense of theories and systems, however, valued in their day, which have been swept down by the moving avalanche of actual events. No system which has fallen and been destroyed in the struggles of the past will ever be able to rise and grapple with the increasing power of its conqueror in the future. We can live neither in nor by the defeated past, and if we would live in the growing, conquering future, we must furnish our strength to shape its course and our will to discharge its duties. The pressing question therefore, with every people is, not what they have been, but what they shall determine to be: not what their fathers were, but what their children shall be.
God, in events—mysteriously, it may be to us—has made the educated men of the South, of this generation, the living leaders of thought for a great and noble people, but a people bewildered by the suddenness with which they have been brought to one of those rare junctions in human affairs when one civilization abruptly ends and another begins. I feel oppressed with a sense of fear that we shall not be equal to the unusual responsibilities which this condition imposes, unless we can deal frankly with these events, frankly with ourselves and bravely with our very habits of thought. Though unjustly, even cruelly slain, brave survivors lie not down with the dead, but rise up resolved all the more to be leaders and conquerors with and for the living.
Let, then, the other days of this literary festival suffice for the fascination of rhetoric and the cultured figures of oratory. It accords alike with the grave duties of our assembling, with the suggestions of those who have called me to this task, and with my own convictions of duty, to deal with practical thoughts, and to “speak forth the words of truth and soberness." I propose, therefore, to consider:
I. The situation of the Southern people in their relation to the other civilized people of this age.
II. The means by which that situation may be improved and advanced, and especially our educational wants and demands in this connection.
III. The application of the views presented to our State, to our own University; and thence deduce our duties as citizens of the State, and as alumni of the University.
In 1787, when the States, by the delegations, were engaged in the work of framing a government for a common Union, and the then existing and prospective relative powers of the several States and sections were being discussed there were wise men who ventured, with much confidence, to predict that in a not distant future the Southern States would surpass all others in population, wealth, and power. Nor was this prediction then unreasonable. The areas of these States were widely extended. Their soils were naturally the most fertile. Their climate was the most genial, with a temperature compatible with outdoor labor during all seasons of the year. Their productions
were the most varied and deemed of greatest commercial value, though at that time tobacco, rice, and indigo were the chief staples; and that marvelous fibrous texture which is now strong enough to tie the fortunes of all people more or less to these States, was then little known or relied on. So, also, their harbors for commerce were as many and as wide and as deep; and although geology and other physical sciences had then scarcely more vision than he who only saw men as trees walking, yet, with even that faint vision, they saw gold and silver, and iron and lead, and coal and all minerals, rich, accessible, and inexhaustible in their hills and valleys and mountains.
But the hopeful anticipations of those wise men have not been realized. Areas less extended contain more homes. Soils less fertile have produced more fruits. Climates where the snow scarcely melts have attracted more people than our sunny skies. Coal and iron, and all metals, which in other States were deeply buried, have been, with immense labor and expenditures and dangers, dragged from the bowels of the open earth; while here, where they lie at the surface, and seem to throw off the earth's covering as if to hear the zephyr and peep at the sun, they are still undisturbed. Many of our best harbors, as fine as any filled by the waters of the sea, do not know to this day but that the vessels which carry the golden fleeces of commerce are still of Argonautic pattern, and if they were to hear the fierce blowing of the flying steamers they would testify to all the gods of mythology that old Neptune had grown angry, and in thundering wrath was lashing his domains.
Why this failure? Charge not God. He has done for no people more than for us. He gave us not only the sweetest flowers, the richest fruits, and the brightest skies, but He added to these every other good gift. Nor can this failure be charged to any deficiency in the white race. This earth contains no white race superior to the Southern people. Still, the question comes back to us, why have States with inferior natural advantages advanced more rapidly in wealth, in population, and in all the elements and means of power? Our failure must be found in the manner of improving our gifts and not in the want of them. The beginning of all greatness in our future must
be based on the wisdom that shall discern, and the courage that shall correct the real cause of this, our failure in the past.
This cause, in my opinion, is to be found in one fact;but a fact which, like the Lernæan hydra, has multiplied itself. That multiplying fact is this: The Southern laborer was a slave, a negro slave, and an ignorant negro
It is not within the scope of this address to discuss the morality of slavery, nor the view of the Southern people touching the question of property in slaves, nor even to allude to any political issue of the past on the subject of slavery, nor yet to venture so much as an opinion on the effects of slavery, or of its abolition, on the fate of the negro race. I only propose to show that slavery affected -and most deleteriously affected—the Southern States and people in general, scientific, physical, and educational problems, and especially in material and commercial development, consequently, delayed their growth in population, wealth, and physical power.
In the first place, it must be conceded that the most striking manifestations of progress in modern civilization are found in the extensions of educational facilities to the masses of the people. Indeed, I am not convinced that this generation has witnessed any religious, political, moral, or professional progress. Modern progress is chiefly, if not entirely found, not in the advancements of what are called the learned professions, but in the education and elevation of the masses; in the discoveries and appliances of the physical sciences; in the establishment of schools of science, and in the promotion and enlargement of all departments of industries. To these we owe those remarkable inventions which substitute the sinews of nature for the muscles of men and animals in the work of productions; that wonderful facility of distribution which makes the most delicate fruits of each clime the fresh comforts of every people; and that ever marvelous system of communication which enables each living man to step to his door, nay, to sit in his chamber and converse with all other men in whispers, and which enables the man beneath us, with his head pointing the other way, to send us his greet
ings with each rising sun, saying, “Good morning, neighbor."
Now, let me ask, how much all this wonderful progress of modern civilization, of all these comforts, conveniences, and facilities of man, and of society, have the slaveholding States and people contributed ? Nay, how much of all these works of others have we even appropriated and reproduced except as cupidity has tempted others to furnish them? We have railroads, and telegraph lines, and a small proportion of needed manufactories. But whence came the educated engineers who build and operate them? We have a few machine shops, but whence came the machinists? Go even into our laundries, our kitchens, our chambers, and our parlors, and tell me how many of the comforts, the conveniences, the elegancies you find there were made by slave labor, indeed by labor in slaveholding States ?
In accounting for these shortcomings my predicate is, that the cause must be found, not in the absence of natural resources, and not in any inferiority of our white race, but in the fact that hitherto the laborer of the South has been a slave, and a negro slave. The first step in the argument is this: Because of the condition of slavery, the supposed nature of the slave, and the external pressure which aggravated both, it was deemed essential, for internal peace and social security, to make ignorance the primal condition of the slave, and, as a result, the primal law of labor. Thus the Southern States were driven to the fearful disadvantage, in competing with a world advanced by means of educated industries, of making it a penal offense-a punishable crime-to educate their laborers.
Whatever may have been the necessities of such a policy as touching the safety of society or the well-being and proper subjection of the slave, it must be said that no greater curse can be inflicted upon any people than that of being compelled to keep as their chief laborers persons who, for any cause, it cannot be both wise and safe to educate.
The first effect of this state of things, was the necessity of confining our principal labor to the simplest processes -processes requiring muscle and not skill." But this itself