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Words for the Hour

January 16, 1864 — Hall of the House of Representatives, Washington DC


This is a people’s war. Today we are fighting an oligarchy built upon the degradation of four million black men and eight millions of white men. 

It has sustained freedom of speech by rifling the mails, and maiming and murdering innocent men for the simple expression of opinion. It has shut out schools and churches. It has come into our pulpits and made the truth a lie. 

The Amnesty Proclamation was a piece of Northern meanness. The government had no right to get down on its knees to the people who were still in arms and who rejected it in disgust.

The men of the South must be punished! South Carolina should be cut up into 20 acre lots and as many negroes settled on them as can be got there. Other States should be treated as territories to be admitted into the Union as States when ready to do so with free institutions.

As it is now no black is sure of his liberty at the close of the war. In the Border States no provision is made for emancipation. We want the wealth of the Border States developed, and slavery must be wiped out from them and the whole land.

Let no man prate of compromise! Defeated by ballots, the South has appealed to bullets. Now let it stand by that appeal! There is not an arm of comprise in all the North long enough to stretch over the sea of blood and the mound of fallen Northern soldiers to shake hands with their murderers on the other side!

It is hard to die, but a cause worth dying for is not worth living for. 

[She closed her speech with an earnest appeal to the young men of the country to rush to the help of their brethren and fill the sad rents to be found in every brigade and every regiment.]



Source: Washington Independent, January 19, 1864.


Also: Embattled Maiden: The Life of Anna Dickinson, by Giraud Chester, (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 1951, pp. 6-7.