After the performance of Hail Columbia by the East Liberty Cornet Band, the President introduced Hon. John A.J. Creswell Postmaster General, who was welcomed with tremendous applause. Mr. Creswell said,
Fellow Citizens--This imposing demonstration commemorates the emancipation and enfranchisement of four millions of the human race. [Applause.] We here announce that Justice has reclaimed her own and that all men stand equal before the law, as they ever have done in the sight of God. We here proclaim that freedom has clothed her children with all the rights and priveleges of citizenship, and armed them for their defence with the irresistible weapon of the ballot. In the name of all good men of all races, we rejoice this day over our restored and glorified Union over our amended Constitution [applause] and over our expurgated code of laws. We rejoice that we can now maintain in the face of all the world that our Government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed and that the starry symbol of our nationality is indeed the emblem of universal freedom. [Cheers.] A few years ago the poet Campbell addressed our Country in these bitter words,
"United States! your banner wears
Two emblems -- one of fame
Alas! The other that it bears
Reminds us of your shame
Your standard's constellation types
White freedom by its stars
But what's the meaning of the stripes?
They mean your negroes' scars!"
The achievements of the last ten years have extracted the sting from the poet's verses. Our stripes no longer typify our negroes' scars. Henceforth our stars will mean freedom for all of every color and race and our stripes will wave as a perpetual warning against every attempt to deprive a freeman of his rights. [Applause.]
It is meet that the men of all races should unite today in celebrating the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution. It has raised the black race from the depths of slavery and prejudice to full citizenship in the foremost nation of the age. On this occasion we expect to see Afric's sable sons radiant with joy, full of gratitude to the noble men who have labored so faithfully for their advancement and giving evidence by every means at their command that they appreciate the new position to which they have been elevate. It is no surprise to us that we hear today acclamations of gladness bursting from the lips of the colored men of Maryland, and that as they march in the full enjoyment of their long sought liberty, we see their persons decked with the insignia of victory, and their
"Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreathed."
The white men of Maryland should also join in these rejoicings. Recent events have extricated us from the errors into which we had fallen. We had abandoned the inspired doctrines of our fathers. The principles of the Revolution, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, had ceased to be guiding lights for our rulers. In the administration of our affairs the equality of men was pronounced a heresy, and the right of the governed to participate in the Government an to adjust their own burdens was ignored. Whatever others may say it will not do for Maryland men standing on Maryland soil to assert that the Declaration of Independence was compounded only of theories -- [applause] -- which were never intended to be reduced to pratice.
Maryland was one of the Old Thirteen, and her first Bill of Rights and Constitution were made in the very heat and fervor of the Revolution, aye upon the very heel of the Declaration of Independence itself. The men who heard that glorious instrument read at the old State House in Philadelphia posted home to assemble their State Convention and to organize their State Government. Influenced by the same feelings and purposes that venture all in the effort to assert their liberties they proclaimed to the world what they believed to be the genuine principles of republican Government. The Convention met at Annapolis on the 14th of August 1776; many of the best men in the State were there. Dent Mackall Bowie, Hammond, Worthington, Ridgely, Stevenson, Archer Tilghman Chase, Paca and Charles Carroll of Carrollton held seats in that body. A Convention so constituted and animated might well be expected to organize a State Government upon a correct basis. What said they in regard to the right of suffrage? The Bill of Rights adopted November 3d, 1776, declared in its fifth section:
"That right of the people to participate in teh Legistlature is the best security of liberty and the foundation of all free government. For this purpose elections ought to be free and frequent and every man having property in, a common interest with and an attachment to the community ought to have a right of suffrage." [Repeated cheers.]
Mark you, "every man," not white men only but "every man," [applause] and that God made men of diverse colors they well knew because at that time th African had been held in bondage in Maryland for more than a century.
The same Convention in the body of the Constitution, adopted on the 8th November, 1776, inserted the provision following.
"All freemen above twenty one years of age having a freehold of fifty acres of land in the county in which they offer to vote and residing therein and all freemen having property in this State above the value of thirty pounds current money and having resided in the county in which they offer to vote one whole year next preceding the election shall have a right of suffrage in the election, of delegates for such county."
Men still live who have heard their fathers say that they have seen negro men under these provisions vote side by side with white men without a question being raised or a doubt expressed.