Appendix L. Speeches For Study And Practise
Henry W. Grady. The Race Problem
Delivered at the annual banquet of the Boston Merchants' Association, at Boston, Mass., December 12,' 1889.
Mr. President: - Bidden by your invitation to a discussion of the race problem - forbidden by occasion to make a political speech - I appreciate, in trying to reconcile orders with propriety, the perplexity of the little maid, who, bidden to learn to swim, was yet adjured, "Now, go, my darling; hang your clothes on a hickory limb, and don't go near the water."
The stoutest apostle of the Church, they say, is the missionary, and the missionary, wherever he unfurls his flag, will never find himself in deeper need of unction and address than I, bidden to-night to plant the standard of a Southern Democrat in Boston's banquet hall, and to discuss the problem of the races in the home of Phillips and of Sumner. But, Mr. President, if a purpose to speak in perfect frankness and sincerity; if earnest understanding of the vast interests involved; if a consecrating sense of what disaster may follow further misunderstanding and estrangement; if these may be counted upon to steady undisciplined speech and to strengthen an untried arm - then, sir, I shall find the courage to proceed.
Happy am I that this mission has brought my feet at last to press New England's historic soil and my eyes to the knowledge of her beauty and her thrift. Here within touch of Plymouth Rock and Bunker Hill - where Webster thundered and Longfellow sang, Emerson thought and Channing preached - here, in the cradle of American letters and almost of American liberty,
I hasten to make the obeisance that every American owes New England when first he stands uncovered in her mighty presence. Strange apparition! This stern and unique figure - carved from the ocean and the wilderness - its majesty kindling and growing amid the storms of winter and of wars - until at last the gloom was broken, its beauty disclosed in the sunshine, and the heroic workers rested at its base - while startled kings and emperors gazed and marveled that from the rude touch of this handful cast on a bleak and unknown shore should have come the embodied genius of human government and the perfected model of human liberty! God bless the memory of those immortal workers, and prosper the fortunes of their living sons - and perpetuate the inspiration of their handiwork.
Two years ago, sir, I spoke some words in New York that caught the attention of the North. As I stand here to reiterate, as I have done everywhere, every word I then uttered - to declare that the sentiments I then avowed were universally approved in the South - I realize that the confidence begotten by that speech is largely responsible for my presence here to-night. I should dishonor myself if I betrayed that confidence by uttering one insincere word, or by withholding one essential element of the truth. Apropos of this last, let me confess, Mr. President, before the praise of New England has died on my lips, that I believe the best product of her present life is the procession of seventeen thousand Vermont Democrats that for twenty-two years, undiminished by death, unrecruited by birth or conversion, have marched over their rugged hills, cast their Democratic ballots and gone back home to pray for their unregenerate neighbors, and awake to read the record of twenty-six thousand Republican majority. May the God of the helpless and the heroic help them, and may their sturdy tribe increase.
Far to the South, Mr. President, separated from this section by a line - once defined in irrepressible difference, once traced in fratricidal blood, and now, thank God, but a vanishing shadow - lies the fairest and richest domain of this earth. It is the home of a brave and hospitable people. There is centered all that can please or prosper humankind. A perfect climate above a fertile soil yields to the husbandman every product of the temperate zone. There, by night the cotton whitens beneath the stars, and by day the wheat locks the sunshine in its bearded sheaf. In the same field the clover steals the fragrance of the wind, and tobacco catches the quick aroma of the rains. There are mountains stored with exhaustless treasures; forests - vast and primeval; and rivers that, tumbling or loitering, run wanton to the sea. Of the three essential items of all industries - cotton, iron and wood - that region has easy control. In cotton, a fixed monopoly - in iron, proven supremacy - in timber, the reserve supply of the Republic. From this assured and permanent advantage, against which artificial conditions cannot much longer prevail, has grown an amazing system of industries. Not maintained by human contrivance of tariff or capital, afar off from the fullest and cheapest source of supply, but resting in divine assurance, within touch of field and mine and forest - not set amid costly farms from which competition has driven the farmer in despair, but amid cheap and sunny lands, rich with agriculture, to which neither season nor soil has set a limit - this system of industries is mounting to a splendor that shall dazzle and illumine the world. That, sir, is the picture and the promise of my home - a land better and fairer than I have told you, and yet but fit setting in its material excellence for the loyal and gentle quality of its citizenship. Against that, sir, we have New England, recruiting the Republic from its sturdy loins, shaking from its overcrowded hives new swarms of workers, and touching this land all over with its energy and its courage. And yet - while in the Eldorado of which I have told you but fifteen per cent of its lands are cultivated, its mines scarcely touched, and its population so scant that, were it set equidistant, the sound of the human voice could not be heard from Virginia to Texas - while on the threshold of nearly every house in New England stands a son, seeking, with troubled eyes, some new land in which to carry his modest patrimony, the strange fact remains that in 1880 the South had fewer northern-born citizens than she had in 1870 - fewer in 70 than in '60. Why is this? Why is it, sir, though the section line be now but a mist that the breath may dispel, fewer men of the North have crossed it over to the South, than when it was crimson with the best blood of the Republic, or even when the slaveholder stood guard every inch of its way?