I reject the charge brought against the negro as a class, be¬
cause all through the late war, while the slave masters of the
South were absent from their homes in the field of rebellion,
with bullets in their pockets, treason in their hearts, broad
blades in their blood stained hands, seeking the life of the
nation, with the vile purpose of perpetuating the enslavement
of the negro, their wives, their daughters, their sisters and
their mothers were left in the absolute custody of these same
negroes, and during all those long four years of terrible con¬
flict, when the negro had every opportunity to commit the
abominable crime now alleged against him, there was never a
single instance of such crime reported or charged against him.
He was never accused of assault, insult, or an attempt to com¬
mit an assault upon anv white woman in the whole South. A
fact like this, although negative, speaks volumes and ought to
have some weight with the American people.
Then, again on general principles, 1 do not believe the
charge because it implies an*improbable, if not an impossible.
change in the mental and moral character and composition of
the negro. It implies a change wholly inconsistent with well
known facts of human nature. It is a contradiction to well
known human experience. History does not present an ex¬
ample of such a transformation in"the character of any class of
men so extreme, so unnatural and so complete as is implied in
this charge The change is too great and the period too brief.
Instances may be cited where men fall like stars from heaven,
but such is not the usual experience. Decline in the moral
character of a people is not sudden, but gradual. The down
ward steps are marked at first by degrees and by increasing
momentum from bad to worse. Time is an element in such
chances, and I contend that the negroes of the South have not
had time to experience this great change and reach this lower
depth of infamy On the contrary, in point of fact, they have
been and still are, improving and ascending to higher levels of
moral and social worth.
Again, I do not believe it and utterly deny it, because
those who bring the charge do not, and dare not, give the
negro a chance to be heard in his own defence. He is not
allowed to explain any part of his alleged offense. He is not
allowed to vindicate his own character or to criminate the