Harper's Weekly 05/12/1866


THE NEGRO CELEBRATION IN
WASHINGTON.


The occasion of the celebration, which took place
April 19, was the abolition of slavery in the District
of Columbia.


Two regiments of colored troops and various col-
ored civic associations, with many other colored
citizens, assembled in front of the Executive Man-
sion, making a dense mass of colored faces, relieved
here and there by a few white ones. After the
firing of cannon and the playing of several martial
airs three cheers were given for the President of
the United States, who, having been escorted to a
prominent position, addressed the assemblage.


The President, after thanking his colored friends
for the compliment they were paying him in pre-
senting themselves before him on the day of their
celebration, reminded them that their truest friends
were not those who had selected them “as a hobby
and a pretense by which they could be successful
in obtaining and maintaining power.” He claimed
to have himself contributed more than any other
man in procuring the Constitutional ratification of
their emancipation. He had done this not to gain
power, but to establish freedom—a cause for which
he had periled his all. He concluded as follows:


“Then let me mingle with you in celebration of the day
which commenced your freedom. I do it in sincerity and
truth, and trust in God the blessings which have been
conferred may be enjoyed and appreciated by you, and
that you may give them a proper direction. There is
something for all to do. You have high and solemn Du-
ties to perform, and you ought to remember that freedom
is not a new idea. It must be reduced to practical reality.
Men in being free must deny themselves many things
which seem to be embraced in the idea of universal free-
dom. It is with you to give evidence to the world and the
people of the United States whether you are going to ap-
preciate this great boon as it should be, and that you are
worthy of being freemen. Then let me thank you with
sincerity for the compliment you have paid me by passing
through here to-day, and paying your respects to me. I
repeat again, the time will come when you will know
who have been your best friends, and who have been
your friends from mercenary considerations. Accept my
thanks.”


Very many of the audience approached and shook
hands with the President.


The procession then re-formed and took up the
line of march along Pennsylvania Avenue. In
passing the Capitol cheer after cheer rent the air in
compliment to their legislative friends. There were
probably 4000 or 5000 colored men in the procession,
while 10,000 of the same race were interested spec-
tators, manifesting their joy and gladness by wav-
ing their hats and handkerchiefs and cheering lusti-
ly the passing procession. The celebration was
closed with religious services and the delivery of
addresses in Franklin Square in the presence of a
vast multitude. The stand on the south side of the
Square was calculated to seat a large number of
persons, and was handsomely decorated, a large
national flag being displayed on either side, and one
hanging in festoons at the front corners, with one
in front on which was a message of President Lin-
coln
as follows:


“Fellow-citizens of the Senate and House of Representa-
tives: The act entitled `An act for the release of certain
persons held to service in the District of Columbia' has
this day been approved and signed. A. Lincoln.


April 16, 1869.”

Over the top of this stand was the inscription:

Lincoln, the Liberator of millions; his great work is
done, and he sleeps in peace in the great prairies of the
West. We are loyal to God and to our country. This is
the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”


Also:

“We have received our civil rights. Give us the right
of suffrage, and the work is done.”


The audience were then addressed by the Rev.
Highland Garnett (colored), Senator Trumbull,
and the Hon. Henry Wilson.






MAP Of GEORGIA




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