The President then introduced as the orator of the day Mr. John M. Langston, Dean and Professor of Law in the Howard University of Washington.
Mr. Langston was greeted with great applause, and in a loud clear voice that reached even to the outskirts of the assemblage, spoke as follows:
Fellow Citizens -- In the presence of this occasion and the fact it honors, eloquence itself stands abashed. We celebrate today the triumph of the genuine democracy, that democracy which asks nothing but what it demands destructive of despotism it is the sole conservator of liberty, labor and property. It is the law of nature pervading the law of the land. [Applause.]
We celebrate the triumph of that democracy which was affirmed by the founders of our Government in the words "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these ends Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
We celebrate the triumph of that democracy which was subsequently defined and declared in the language of the preamble and body of the United States Constitution. "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justic, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." "No person shall be deprived of life liberty or property without the due process of law." And "the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the several States." [Applause.]
We celebrate the triumph of that democracy which, forgetful of nationality, unmindful of birth place, oblivious of complectional peculiarities or fomer condition of servitude sees in every son of humanity a child of God, and imposes by a stern decree, with solemn sanctions tthe obligation and the duty of recognizing and respecting this sonship and fatherhood. [Applause.]
We celebrate the triumph of that democracy whose surest protection and support are found in free thought, free speech, and a free press whose truest and sublimest expression and definition are found in the workings and results of self-government. [Applause.] In a single word we celebrate in the demonstrations of this magnificent occasion the triumph of that democracy the comprehensive and far reaching definition of which is given in the terse and matchless words of the New Testament, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you do ye even so to them.' [Applause.]
Standing in the presence of this triumph and regaling ourselves upon the future glories promised in the yet grander triumphs of our untrammeled and vigorous democracy we are able to answer negatively in the full assurance of an intelligent faith the questions propounded by the silver tongued orator of New England when he asked, "Is liberty to die in this country? Has God Almightly scooped out the Mississippi Velley for its grave? Has He lifted up the Rocky Mountains for its monument? And has He set Niagara to hymn is requiem?' Nay, verily, The Mississippi Valley is to be the theatre of the highest achievements of our freedom and democracy -- the Rocky Mountains the monuments upon which are engraved the records of these achievements, and Niagara is set to hymn not the death dirge but to swell the chorus of their song of victory [Applause.] Moses, the great Jewish leader, and Miriam, the prophetess, sang a song unto the Lord upon the deliverance of the children of Israel. If they could sing a song saying "Sing ye to the Lord for he hath triumphsed gloriously," when three millions of their countrymen were delivered, how shall we shout for joy and gladness making utterance of the liveliest and most profound sentiments of gratitude and thanksgivings when we remember that forty millions of our countrymen have been emancipated and our whole country disenthralled! The word so the Psalmist befit our lips, "O sing unto the Lord a new song, for He hath done marvellous things, His right hand and His holy arm hath gotten Him the victory." [Applause.]
First. We meet to celebrate at once the abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of the colored men of our country. [Applause.]
Second. In order to appreciate suitably these two great facts, so full of significance and interest, so pregnant of national moment and far reaching consequences, we must, at least, briefly consider what slavery was, the interests destroyed by it, the utter shipwreck it made of American liberty itself. [Applause.]
Third. It is necessary, too, would we rejoice intelligently, in view of our better dispensation of freedom that we consider well the promise made in the good Proviodence which has wrought so grandly and gloriously in our behalf. [Applause.]
Fourth. And because slavery, while it chattelized the negro, stripped the white American of freedom of though, freedom of speech, freedom of locomotion, this showing itself the enemy of all, it is well for us, forgetting now our complexion, our former condition, and our nationality, to join in the celebration of a triumph upon the field of battle as well as in the field of politics and morals, which presages and promises us all a free home and a Government which is, indeed, a democracy, and rejoice together as citizens of a common country, to whose welfare and destiny we make a cordial pledge of "our lives, our property, and our sacred honor." [Applause.]
Fifth. As showing the condition of American liberty in the days of slavery and fugitive slave laws, there are facts connected with our history and to be written yet in the biographies of three Americans who justly claim a pure Anglo American lineage. [Applause.]