Henry Beebee Carrington.

Address of Col. H. B. Carrington, U.S.A. online

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Upon motion, his Excellency, Governor Conrad Baker, wag
called to the chair as presiding officer, and Mr. AVilliam Walden,
(colored) wjis appointed Secretary.


Music— "Tramp, Tramp," by the Indianapolis (colored) Brass Band.



In accordance with the desire of those colored citizens who
are erecting a new house for Divine worship, and w^ho
believe that a few words of counsel from me will aid the
enterprise and stimulate their aspirations to grow strong, in
all the elements which give value to personal character, I
have so far departed from a settled repugnance to speak pub-
licly upon any subject, since the war, as to consent to this
familiar talk upon themes that press immediately upon your
condition and your prospects for the future.

My profession, as you know, does not occupy, nor aspire to
occupy, the field of party politics or general oratory ; and yet
no calling whatever, can entirely absolve any Christian man
from the ever present obligation to use influence and strength,
at all proper times, in giving impulse and sanction to such
moral and religious agencies as are material to the well-being
and advancement of others.

I can well see that to the colored people of the United
States the present is a transition period of great importance.
It is a period wherein they have much to learn and much to
do. Upon the spirit, courage, ambition and purity of motive
with which they labor, will largely depend the public estimate
of their fitness for enlarged franchises ; and, on the other hand,
it is certain that if they accept national blessings with passive
indifference, they will go backward, instead of forward, in all
essential elements of civilized grov>'th and culture.

There have been recent statements in the public press, that
in some parts of the South, where the restraints of the former

6 Address of

social condition have passed away, there has been a partial
revival of superstitions and usa.£;es which are essentially-
groveling, brutish and heathenish. While you cannot but
regret, with others, any such tendency, it is no less certain that
some such reaction was natural, and that there, is laid upon
you, and upon the whole American people, peculiar obligations
at times like the present. You have, at home, in the midst of
an advanced civilization, the more cause to make your whole
life conform to the highest rules of moral action, in proportion
as you enjoy privileges and mercies which those just freed do
not possess, and can only gradually attain. You know that
the arm is strengthened by exercise, and is weakened by dis-
use. The blacksmith's muscles are hard and tough as his
sinews. The student and the idler — the one from exclusive
brain-work, and the other from no work at all— lare useless for
almost all physical endeavor. So with many of your race.
They need the exercise of the best qualities of manhood, and
they need advice and encouragement from others, in order that
the large number just emerging from the pit of slavery may
find support and countenance from the conduct and good
behavior of their brethren who have enjoyed the blessing of
freedom for years. There are few fields for the missionary
and philanthropist where more good can be done than among
the colored people of the South ; and I have undertaken this
address to-night because I feel that you should not depend
alone upon your own counsels, but seek from those who have
had more learning and experience all possible help in the
improvement of your race. I know that the clergy of this
city, not of your color, are interested in your welfare, and that
you will gain strength, knowledge and wisdom by occasionally
inviting them to your pulpits, and by gradual growth into
their habits of life and thought.

I speak plainly and familiarly, hoping to quicken your desire,
youc industry, and your faith in the dawning future.

I shall not treat of education, (as has been announced,) in
the common acceptation of that term. The word is from the
Latin language, and one part means leader, and was applied
to great Generals or Commanders. The word "education"

Col. H. B. Carrington.

might almost literally be rendered in English, thus : " To lead
oat from ignorance, and establish the life of knowledge, hap-
piness and safety." When you are lead ont from temptation,
you are being educated for a better life. As you are lead out
from ignorance, so you acquire knowledge. Schools and books
are not entirely wiihin brick walls and muslin binding. The
whole world is a school-house; every fact in daily life is
designed as a lesson ; and all Nature is a book of study in
the progress of education.

The end of American slavery has brought upon your race
which so long suffered under its fearful oppression, new
responsibilities and duties. That rescue has been so recent,
that you hardly realize the fact, and do not yet understand
fully how to turn to the best advantage the freedom attained.

Many here present can remember years of struggle, during
v/hich the best of Christian ministers endangered life by
advocating emancipation, and when the only channel through
which benevolence could liberate the black man from slavery
was to secure his exportation to Africa, there to begin life
anew. I remember very well that thirty years ago the Rev.
Noah Porter, at Farmington, Connecticut, had the windows
of his lecture-room stoned, because of prayer for the slaves
captured on the Armistead, who were being cared for on a
farm near the village. And in 1849, when Frederick Douglass
attempted to speak at the Ohio State House, fire engines were
brought to the ground, to drown out the audience. And yet
times changed so rapidly, that in 1861 I had the pleasure of
delivering a flag to Mx. Langston, for the 58th Massachusetts
Regiment, (perhaps the first flag so presented,) from the terrace
of the new State House, near where Mr. Douglass had been

The cowardice of State and Church had alike protracted
the torture of the black race, multiplied the horrors of the
dungeon, the lash and the halter, and trained up a blood-hound
class of leaders as merciless as the trained dogs of the South-
ern planters.

Year by year the nation increased its debt to justice and
humanity, until God, in His mercy, instead of sending fire

8 Address of

from heaven, as he did to consume Sodom and Gomorrah,
only sent the greatest war of human history, and in the blood
of a million of men, in the wasting of half a nation, in the
tears and groans of countless widows and orphans, wiped out
that generation. of slave owners and redeemed a race to liberty.

If ever a curse came home to plague its inventors, it was
slavery. The inventor of the guillotine is said to have had
his own head cut oft" by his own ingenious machine. So,
blazing cities, burning mansions, prostrate industry, and des-
olated plantations, felt the wrath of God through the march
of the once despised Abolitionist. As if to make the justice
more signal, exquisite and complete, the " colored troops fought
bravely," and, with arms in their hands, marched side by side
with their co-deliverers to the enfranchisement of their people
and the rescue of the imperiled Republic.

The boasted liberty which had taken refuge from the tyranny
of Great Britain, and embarking on the Mayflower, had
landed in New England, thence to overrun a continent and
become the light of the world, had fattened itself upon human
blood and become the agent of the vilest outrages upon man.
It was righteous and just, that, in the sequel. Northern blood
should also be spilled; for Northern timidity, avarice, and^
forgetfulness of the God who had delivered them from their
oppression through the war of the Revolution, had hardened
their hearts, and they refused to let the people go free.

As if to assimilate to the example of the children of Israel
who, when they were hurried out of bondage, took the jewels
and treasurers of their task masters, so houses and lands, and
all the supplies of the Freedmans Bureau that were taken
from the oppressors, were converted into blessings to aid and
comfort the ransomed. The scourge of human slavery had
so long sounded in the land, that the Hand of High Heaven
turned it upon North and South alike, and the wail over the
death of the first-born, was heard in every house, as years before
it appealed in vain from the cabin and negro quarters. Serf-
dom had ceased, though Slavery lingered. England and
France had advanced in the right direction ; but America

Col. H. B. Carring-ton.

kicked against the pricks, and would not hear the voice of
Providence, or the groan of the sufferer?.

Before the fall of Fort Sumter, in April, 1861, in words to
the people of Ohio, and before blood was shed, I was im-
pelled to declare this sentiment:

" We are at war. It is our existence that is at stake. The
shedding of blood is a mere contigency in the contest, neither
commencing nor ending the struggle. We shall not lail; for
the age, which is an age of struggle, will find America rooted
to the cause of Freedom. We shall not abuse our trust.
The exalted privilege of leading the nations will not lapse
from our control. Be not deceived. The people, born to
peace, and dreading the inroad of red war more than pesti.
lence and famine, are coining with calm and deliberate minds
to that sublime but solemn conclusion, that they will offer
their lives and fortunes as a free will offering, upon the altar
of Country, Liberty and Independence. I hear the shackles
of party clang as they are dashed to the earth. 1 i^ee the
bonds part that bind the devotees of self and mammon. I
see treasure offered without stint or limit to purchase back
the rights imperiiled. I see the presage of a tempest. It
will gather volume, and roll from the East, and North, and
West, until you shall rejoice in every sacrifice of treasure,
and glory in ev>-ry drop of blood expended for the public
weal, for the whole continent shall be free, and the nations of
the world shall pay you homage."

Fort Sumter fell I The rest you know. Had I declared a
dream? The countless thousands of fresh blossoms that so
lately exhaled their grateful odors from tens of thousands of
honored graves, are fresh testimony that I did not then, as
one never can, over-estimate the grandeur, the scope, the sac-
rifices and the issues of that struggle.

The vv^ar came, was prosecuted and ended, and with it
came the end of human slavery. Slowly but surely the bad
blood that remains is being purified by the application of be-
neficent laws and the persuasion of the necessary constraint,
so that no long period will elapse before reconstructed States

10 Address of

shall involve regenerated hearts, and the whole nation shall
prosper and flower in the luxuriance of a better life.

Neither have I recalled the past and brought back bitter
memories, with the purpose of stirring your passions, or un-
worthily triumphing over misguided countrymen, enemies
in arms, but again to be brethren at heart.

The South is rescued from her worst enemy. Capital, and
manufactures, and emigration are to build up her bulwarks as
never could have been realized in that former unnatural life.
Weights are cast off, and she runs with the North an even
race of peaceful industry, in which each section shall njoice
and glory in the triumphs of the other, and find in the other
the complement of itself, together, to make the "unit," our
common country.

The colored people of the United States should look upon
the past as the rescued mariner re-lives the sufferings he expe.
rienced when floating helpless upon a sea of unknown peril,
that he may find new and more abundant cause for gratitude
to the Giver of all mercv, and be better fitted for the realities
of life.

The white man should often look back upon his career of
power and its wrongful uses, to learn how much he owes to a
race that so long suffered at his hands.

Hear what I have now to say, with at earnest purpose to
so live that you will convince the world that you are worthy
of freedom, and worthy of a country which not long hence
will know no limit to human privilege but the perpetual obli-
gation to do right and deserve God's blessing.

You have different capacities, tastes and employments. You
have many chambers in your brain, like the rooms of a house.
All should be occupied by the right tenants. Hate must be
expelled, and Loce must be admitted. All must work in har-
mony, so as to secure the best results in every phase of daily
life. '


This is fundamental and will shape all life. Not alone in
the free Northern states, but while chained to the wheels of
Southern capital and power, it has been a peculiarity of your

Col. H. B. Car ring-ton. 11

race, that respect for some religion has been ahnost instinct
and constant. If, for want of other friends, a sense of depend-
ence upon the Creator drove any to that love of religious wor-
ship which became so characteristic, it was certainly very
natural ; but behind that was another fact, accepted as true
by most African travelers, and the best writers upon the charac-
ter of the race. The African, even when heathen, is enthu-
siastic in his devotion to some Supreme Being whom he
accepts as the source of life and blessing. His thoroughly
innate capacity for music finds the highest themes for jubilant
praise and melodious chorus in worship. However restricted
in sentiment, or novel in execution, there is an overflow of
zeal and genuine gladness which indicates some melody of
soul. The Mississippi steamer, the plantation, the cabin and
the forest have resounded with his songs, when all that he
seemed to possess to give thanks for, was mere life and the
chance of its continuance. Whether trudging to the cotton
fields, grinding the cane, or driving his team, the ever jubilant
refrain told of his capacity for happiness, and how keen were
his susceptibilities to enjoy.

Few scenes were more full of wild and thrilling interest
than a visit to some colored church at the South on the Sab-
bath, when a great assembly, relieved from the pressure of
week-day duty, made the very walls tremble with the volume
of their song, and when a strange delight and deliriatn of
gladness in the worship of the Great Master, seemed almost to
separate soul from body, and take the spirit into the presence
of the Invisible. This religious feeling has not abated with
the rescue of the race, but, with the increased latitude for its
indulgence, there must be a wise direction given to its fervor,
in order that it may prove a genuine element in elevating and
purifying life. It must be refined, methodized and instructed,
through intelligence and wise counsels. Other conditions of
life, preeminently that of systematic labor, must be allied with
it, and this is to be accomplished only through your own
improvemeut and corresponding effort to improve others.

Your Sabbath schools vie with any in their outward pros-
perity, and ,the generation which is now coming to maturity,

12 Address of

untrammeled by the sneers, the contumely and abuse of other
races, can look up and around, and as you address the Creator
of all things as your God, so you can shout and sing,

My Country, "tis of thee,
Sweet land of Liberty,
Of thee 1 sing.

Well was it for your race while in bondage, that, instead of
simply grovelling like the cowed brute under the lash of
oppression, there was music in your nature that buoyed up
your soul and gave you access to the Throne. To be an
African was to be at least a natural musician, and but for that
ever present agency, the power to sing, how could the race
have been saved from blindness and degredation too deep and
utter to have been rescued for generations.

Wisely do you cultivate that faculty. It is hard to find a
spontaneous^ cheerful singer, who is either ivholly rogue or
brute. Where song flows as the stream, from a constant
fountain, there is almost always affection, fraternity and rever-
ence. It has been the outlet for the joy of worshippers
through all ages, and it is the glory of countless angels and
archangels about the great White Throne. It is the happiest
outflowing demonstration of purity of heart, and it rises like
grateful incense to the Author of all that blesses man, upward,
to that God who has given to the rustling leaves, as well as to
the birds, a share in the ceaseless song of Nature, and whose
entire universe is full of melody in sweet accord with his
matchless love.

The stoniest heart is reached by music. Cultivate it for
yourselves and your families, and when the hour shall come
in which to dedicate your new sanctuary to the service of
Almighty God, let not praise alone abound, but make it a
sacred temple, from which with a truly consecrated life, you
may go forth into the world, and as men see your good works
they shall know and testify that you walk with God.

Shouting and singing are not all of religion, but when your
music flows from the joy of a peaceful spirit and a consistent,
pure and useful life, you may rejoice that you can sing, and
may well sing as you rejoice.

Col. H. B. Carringlon. 13


Next, and handmaid to religion, and essential to an intelli-
gent view of religious obligation and duty, in the peculiar posi-
tion of your race is the acquisition of knowledge. There are
old and gray headed men and women among you, and some of
them may not live to see the completion of your new church
edifice. How painfully have the slow years dragged, as they
waited for the Year of Jubilee ! How has faith wavered, and
how has it seemed as if the right hand of Jehovah was short-
ened, that it could not save, until, when deliverance comes as
on the wings of the morning, they can almost say with Holy
Simei, of old, " Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace,
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation ! "

They were youth, when to strive to read, was to suffer.
You, their children and grandchildren, no longer a despised
race, but maturing in the work and franchise of freemen, have
great inducement to bring every child and youth into the
speediest and best cultivation of the head as well as the heart.
Lead out every good faculty you possess. Help educate
yourselves. France has repeatedly given the honors of her
National Academy to the colored man. The President of the
United States has acted in the spirit of the American people,
by introducing worthy men of your color into places of trust
and honor. The ship yards and printing offices of the United
States no longer make complexion a test of fitness. Moral
progress is ever onward and upward. There is no back-track
for a revolution against iniquity. They who do not see the
advance of Right, are the greatest sufferers, whatever their
profession, trade or calling. To be deemed worthy as any,
you must deserve as well as any. It matters not what may
be your occupation, so that it be honest and useful ; but it does
concern you that you acquire knowledge, that you read the
history of your country, that you read of its past so thor-
oughly as to understand the demands of the future, and that
every child shall be early taught the principles involved in a
fair common school education, and thus be able intelligently
and successfully to keep an even way with those who for gen-
erations have been in your advance. Thus, and thus only,

14 Address of

through this constant effort at self-improvement, will your field
of influence enlarge, so that your people will command respect,
and you will be able, in turn, to assist in the development and
improvement of those hundreds of thousands at the South,
who have not had the privileges which you enjoy.

Thus will you lay the foundation for filling your pulpits
with well-read and successful preachers of the gospel. It will
not answer that they have simply the fervor of warm hearts?
They must, with you, and more than you, cultivate the head''
as well as the heart. Thus also will lawyers and physicians
spring from your midst, who will honor noble professions.
Thus will you rise to the platform of true manhood, and the
finger of scorn will only rest upon the ignorant and unworthy,
whether black or white.


The embers that now and then flash in the extinguishment
of the rebellion will soon be as dead as the ashes about tliem^
Sooner or later you will go to the polls, and as you now pay
taxes, so will you take part in selecting the men who collect
and disburse those taxes. As there were those who denied in
1860 and in the Spring ol 1861 that a war was coming; as
there were men who had no faith in its success and the has-
tening end of slavery, so there may possibly be those who
will not see the position you are to occupy as men.

Temporary opposition and the discussion of its prudence or
safety cannot long delay the consummation, if you are faithful
to manhood, and be careful to deserve that which the nation
tenders. Prepare yourselves for the coming duty. Nearly
every institution of vice in the land retains life, only because
honest, patriotic and christian voters do not unite for the best
men and the best cause. Your votes will be wanted by
everybody. You will find before long that you are thought
a great deal of, and will be surprised how suddenly the idea
came to ligiit. Become fully Amercanized ; that is, identify
yourselves with the welfare of the entire people. Inspired by
religion, endowed by education with the discrimination you
require,- come squarely up to the standard of earnest, honest,

Col. H. B. Carring-ton. 15

and independent freemen, and your country shall have cause
to be proud of you, as you will be proud of your conntry.

.Already you have your color in the army. No American
officer need feel nshained to own himself "an officer of a
colored regiment." Colored regiments meet their duty on
the plains, or elsewhere, with credit to themselves and the
nation. Clad in the panoply of right, till up the measure of
recurring daily duty, so that when you vote for the first time,
and have a country in fact, you may feel like shouting, as I
trust you may, when you exchange an earthly home for the
heavenly, " home at last I "

I am no politician, and seek none of its notoriety or honors.
I assume a fact which I know to be assured; and, as a fellow
man, I give you counsel upon principles of life and conduct,
which being those of christian manhood, predicated upon the
laws of God, govern us all, whatever our calling or color;
and I speak under the conviction, that had I declined to meet
you in the spirit of your assurance that my work would do
you good, I would be unworthy my profession and my citi-


It is possible, my friends, for a freeman* to be an educated,
christian man, and still to lack many qualities of person, or
habitudes of life, that impart completeness to character, and
distinguish an eminently useful life.

Good manners, neatness, and the outward refinement of
the gentleman are by no means to be dispised or neglected.
As a people you have some natural aptitudes for other social
qualities besides that comprehended in taste for music. The


Online LibraryHenry Beebee CarringtonAddress of Col. H. B. Carrington, U.S.A. → online text (page 1 of 2)