The first Black man to speak in the Capitol was Henry Garnet, a former slave. Following the passage by Congress of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, Rev. Garnet was invited to preach: “… I shall speak this morning of the Scribes and Pharisees of our times who rule the state… They claim for themselves the broadest freedom… But others… they doom to lifelong servitude and chains… [Slavery] is the highly concentrated essence of all conceivable wickedness. Theft, robbery… and defiance of the laws of God. It teaches children to disregard parental authority. It tears down the marriage altar… no wonder [Jesus] broke forth in language of vehement denunciation. Ye Scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites! Ye blind guides! Ye… appear beautiful without, but within are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness!
Let us here take up the golden rule… Let us have the testimony of the wise… Thomas Jefferson said… "There is preparing, I hope, under the auspices of heaven, a way for a total emancipation." The sainted Washington said… "It is among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery in this country shall be abolished…"
The other day, when the light of Liberty streamed through this marble pile [Capitol]… methinks the spirits of Washington, Jefferson, the Jays, the Adamses, and Franklin… because they were faithful to truth, justice, and liberty, were hovering over the august assembly. Though unseen by mortal eyes, doubtless they joined the angelic choir, and said, Amen.”
James Still, JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com
“It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished… To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused." -John Jay