Hon. F.A. Sawyer, United States Senator from South Carolina, was next introduced, and spoke as follows.
The State in which I live having been one of the most zealous in the cause of African slavery, her citizens and her statesmen having been for more than a generation prior to the late war the special advocates of a theory of government which made the nationality of the United States impossible, her people having been the first to commit the supendous blunder, not to say the great crime, of secession, their faith in what I regard as the strongest, wisest, best form of government -- namely a thoroughly democratic republic -- having been weaker than that of any other American people, her power and prestige, once great in the nation, having been by the fortunes of the war she invoked, brought to a point so low that there was none so poor to do her reverence, her old aristocratic minority having been made to yield up their absolute control over her domestic affairs to an overwhelming majority composed of their former slaves and what they called "poor white trash," her government given over to a party whose political faith is that of her old rival Massachusetts, and now thanks to God, of the nation, her fortunes reviving with magic rapidity under the administration of a government of the people [applause], by the people, and for the poeple, a future looming up for her whose brightness bids fair to outshine all her former glories -- it is fitting that one of her representatives, who sympathized throughout with the mighty change should join with the citizens of Maryland in congratulations over the consummation of so grand an event as the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution -- an Amendment securing to all men equality before the law, equality in possession of political power, equality in the enjoyment of human rights. [Applause.] It is fitting that one who knew her in the days of the darkness of slavery, who knew her in her struggle to rivet anew the chains which bound four sevenths of her people and who knows her in her present condition of democratic, republican freedom who believes that the providence of God has overruled the folly of her old leaders for His own glory and for the welfare of her whole people should speak for her on this occasion. [Cheers.] Would that this work had fallen to one of her native sons, from whose eyes had fallen the seals of political blindness and whose mind had been illuminated by the events of the past, rather than to one whose early manhood was spent on other soil and whose connection with her policy and her politics has been forced on him by the necessities of his position. But I feel that I truly speak the sentiments of a large majority of her people when I greet the lately enfranchised citizens of Maryland with a joyful welccome into the brotherhood of men civilly and politically free and equal. [Cheers.] A minority of her citizens still as perhaps a larger minority in your State are worshipping the fallen images of their old political religion. The rapidly succeeding and wonderful events of the last ten years have stunned, but not taught them and in many cases they will not live long enough to recover their senses and looking around them see their true situation. [Laughter.] They blindly grope in the darkness of old errors and feel about for means wherewith to regain power they do not recognize as irrecoverably lost. Only the light of another world will completely awaken them and show them the clear course which the nation is now treading. Let us be charitable to the errors which they drew in as naturally as the air they breathed in their youth and which have grown with their growth and strengthened in their strength. [Applause.] But in that charity we must not forget the tremendous importance of fighting now and fighting forever the battle of human rights. We must not forget that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and that liberty can only be saved by the watchful devotion of those who would be free. [Cheers.]
The great strides of civilization have all been taken in bloody paths, and through the blood and fire of the late war, your deliverance from one of the worst forms of barbarism has been achieved, the sacrifices by which it has come have been incalculable. No form of heroism has been wanting in the terrible ordeal through which the nation has passed to get to this day of triumph. [Applause.] And I bid my colored hearers to remember that those sacrifices, that heroism, have been mainly endured by those whose interest in the result was not by any means entirely a personal one but an interest in right and eternal justice. [Applause.] I would not underrate the noble aid given to the cause of the nation and the cause of liberty by those gallant colored soldiers who when opportunity offered rushed to the defence of the national banner. I would give to the memories of the colored heroes who gave up their lives so freely in the war the honors of the brave and patriotic. I would join in the praises so richly merited by those gallant colored men who have survived the fields of their glory. [Applause.]
But I cannot forget nor will those who by the war have become freemen forget that the blood shed, the treasure expended, the sacrifices endured for the great cause of human liberty have been shed, expended and endured, in large part, by those whose rights as men were not in peril. [Cheers.] In other times and in other lands, oppressed people have by their own efforts, their own struggles, their own agonies, won their way up to political power. It was reserved to America to witness a race already dominant waging a fierce and bloody war on a scale almost unparalleled in the history of the ages, to bring up to their own level a race of slaves. It was reserved to America to give to a subject race first personal freedom, then equal civil rights, then the ballot to protect those rights. [Applause.]