Page images

future men — its boys — and its girls, too — the story of such lives as that of Kossuth.

It is not given to one man in a million to be a Dewey, but it is given to every man to do his part of that work which made a Dewey possible. The sweaty stoker in the coal hold, the grimy gunner behind the great rifles, the rapid firers in the tops, the Lieutenants studying, studying and planning for better machinery and quicker work, the Captain staying awake at night to plan better ways of managing a ship — they all have done their part in making possible the heroism of Dewey. We must not forget the unnamed, unknown hero.


ACADEMY, AT SING SING, JUNE 3, 1899 * * * * * * * * We cannot do our duty abroad, if we do not do it at home. Our country will never be safe until the time comes when it will be an insult to any man in public place to think it necessary to say that he is honest. I urge you to have the widest toleration in matters of opinion, but to have no toleration at all when it comes to matters of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. Those are fundamental, essential principles, which must live in the heart of every American citizen, and by which every man asking place or political power must be tested.

It is a fine thing to have a strong, sound body and a trained and capable intellect, but the real thing to cultivate and develop is character - courage and persistence and firmness and the willingness to do your duty at any

i cost or risk. Do not cultivate mere smartness, or strive for success at the expense of honesty. You cannot afford any success at the cost of your self-respect and the respect of your fellow-men.


MENT, AT ROCHESTER, JUNE 10, 1899 MR. PRESIDENT: I am glad to have the honor of being here today. I am proud to be able to do my part in paying respect to the memory of a man who was a worthy representative of his race because he was a worthy representative of the American nation.

Doubly proud I am to take part in a representative way in a demonstration in which so prominent a part is played by the old soldiers, who fought for four years for the freedom of that race to which Frederick Douglass belonged, and in order that there might be an undivided and indissoluble Union. Doubly proud am I, comrades of the last war, that you and I had the chance last summer to show that we were at least anxious to be not unworthy sons of those who fought in the great war.

Here today, in sight of the monument of the great colored American, let us all strive to pay the respect due his memory by living in such a manner as to determine that a man shall be judged for what a man is; without regard to his color, race or creed, or aught else but his worth as a man. That lesson has a double side and I would dwell upon the one side just as I would on the other side.

The worst enemy of the colored race is the colored man who commits some hideous wrong, especially if that be the worst of all crimes, rape; and the worst enemy of the white race is the white man who avenges that crime by another crime, equally infamous.

I would I could preach that doctrine, that it is best for each to know and realize, that all over this country, not merely in the South, but in the North as well, shameless deeds of infamous hideousness should be punished speedily; but by the law, not by another crime. I would preach to the colored man that the vicious and disorderly elements in his own race are the worst enemies of his race, and that he is in honor bound to war against them. I would preach to the white man that he who takes parts in lawless acts, in such lynchings as we have recently known, is guilty not only of a crime against the colored race, but guilty of a crime against his own race, and against the whole nation.

If it were in my power, I would feel that I could render service to my country such as I could render in no other way, by preaching that doctrine in its two sides to all who are in any degree responsible for the crimes by which our country has been disgraced in the past. It is for the interest of every man, black and white, to see that every criminal, black and white, is punished at once; but only under the law. Every scoundrel who commits rape or some similar infamy, and every body of men who usurp the province of the law, who usurp it by committing deeds which would make a red Indian blush with shame, prove that they are not only unworthy of citizenship in this country, but that they are the worst enemies this country contains.

There is a great lesson taught by the life of Frederick Douglass, a lesson we can all of us learn; not merely from the standpoint of his relations with the colored race, but his relations with the State. The lesson that was taught by the colored statesman was the lesson of truth, honesty, of strong courage, of striving for the right; the lesson of disinterested and fearless performance of civic duty.

I would appeal to every man in this great audience to take to heart the lesson taught by his life; to realize that he must strive to fulfill his duty as an individual citizen, if he wishes to see the State do its duty. The State is only the aggregate of the individual citizens.

There is another thought that I want to preach to you, a lesson to be learned from the life of the colored statesman, Frederick Douglass; strive to do justice to all men, exact it for yourselves and do it to others.

I want to draw an application of immediate consequence at this moment. The Legislature passed at its last session and placed on the statute books one of the most beneficial and righteous laws that this State has seen in recent years; a law declaring that corporations that derive the greater part of their profits from the franchises they enjoy shall bear a fair share of the burden of taxation. In putting that law on the statute books, we were animated by no vindictive spirit; we were neither for nor against corporations or private individuals. We acted not as a friend of the man of means nor his enemy; simply as a friend of all men who do their whole duty to the State.

Since that law has been put on the statute books I have seen in the public press notices in more than one form that efforts are to be made to upset that law in the courts.. In more than one instance notice has been given that the effort was to be made by trying to take technical advantage of some provisions put in the law for the express purpose of seeing that no injustice was done to the corporations.

Just think of it! Of corporations striving to work the undoing of a law, seizing on the provision inserted for the protection of the corporations themselves. I do not think it possible that the law can be declared unconstitutional on the grounds claimed, but I wish to emphasize the danger these men bring not only to the State, but to the corporations they represent.

I say this as one who deprecates class or social hostility; the franchise tax has come to stay. The corporations should make up their minds absolutely that if success attended the attempt to show the present law to be unconstitutional — a possibility I do not conceive — a more drastic law would be placed on the statute books. Let them learn that on the one side; and may you on the other side instruct your representatives, that they approach the subject in no spirit of vindictiveness, in no spirit of demagogy, but with a view to do equal justice to all men.

I am glad Frederick Douglass has left behind him men of his race who can take up his mantle; that he has left such a man as Booker T. Washington, a man who is striving to teach his people to rise by toil to be better citizens; by resolute determination to make themselves worthy of American citizenship, until the whole country is forced to recognize their good citizenship.

I am glad to have the chance to come here because I feel that all Americans should pay honor to Frederick Douglass. I am glad to be able to speak to so many men of his race and to impress on them, too, the lesson to be drawn from the life of such a man. I am more than glad to speak to an audience of Americans in the presence of a monument to the memory of Frederick Douglass, a man who possessed the eminent qualities of courage and disinterestedness in the service of his country; to appeal to you to demand those qualities in your public men that made Douglass great — qualities that resulted in the courageous performance of every duty, private and public.

« PreviousContinue »