This new charge has come at the call of new conditions,
and nothing could have been hit upon better calculated to ac¬
complish its purpose. It clouds the character of the negro with
a crime the most revolting, and is fitted to drive from him all
sympathy and all fair play and all mercy. It is a crime that
places him outside of the pale of the law, and settles upon his
shoulders a mantle of wrath and fire that blisters and burns
into his very soul.
It is for this purpose, as I believe, that this new charge un-
thought of in the times to which I have referred, has been
largely invited, if not entirely trumped up. It is for this purpose
that it has been constantly reiterated and adopted. It was to
blast and ruin the negro s character as a man and a citizen.
I need not tell you how thoroughly it has already done its
wonted work. Vou may feel its malign influence in the very
air You may read it in the faces of men. It has cooled our
friends. It has heated our enemies, and arrested in some
measure the efforts that good men were wont to make for the
colored man's improvement and elevation. It has deceived our
friends at the North and many good friends at the South, for
nearly all have in some measure accepted the charge as true.
Its perpetual reiteration in our newspapers and magazines has
led men and women to regard us with averted eyes, increas¬
ing hate and dark suspicion.
Some of the Southern papers have denounced me for my
unbelief, in their new departure, but I repeat I do not believe
it and firmly deny it. I reject it because 1 see in it, evidence
of an invention, called into being by a well defined motive, a
motive sufficient to stamp it as a gross expedient to justify
murderous assault upon a long enslaved and hence a hated
I do not believe it because it bears on its face, the marks
of being a makeshift for a malignant purpose. I reject it not
only because it was sprung upon the country simultaneously
with well-known efforts now being industriously made to de¬
grade the negro by legislative enactments, and by repealing all
laws for the protection of the ballot, and by drawing the color
line in all railroad cars and stations and in all other public
places in the South; but because I see in it a means of paving
the way for our entire disfranchisement.