Type: Speech

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Bayley Wyat’s Speech (December 1866)

In a December 1866 speech Bayley Wyat, a freedman, protests the closing the contraband camps in Yorktown. The camps were established during the American Civil War (1861–1865) as places of refuge for men and women who escaped from slavery to Union territory. Wyat argues that African Americans have a rightful claim to the land based on their service to the Union Army and their contribution as enslaved laborers to building the American economy.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Cornerstone Speech by Alexander H. Stephens (March 21, 1861)

In his so-called Cornerstone Speech, delivered on March 21, 1861, in Savannah, Georgia, the Confederate vice president Alexander H. Stephens described the new Confederate constitution. Slavery, he said, and “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man,” would be its cornerstone. The speech was first reported in the Savannah Republican newspaper, with this version appearing in a collection of Stephens’s papers, edited by Henry Cleveland and published in 1866.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

"The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions" by Abraham Lincoln (January 27, 1838)

In what came to be known as the Lyceum Address, delivered at the Young Men's Lyceum in Springfield, Illinois, on January 27, 1838, Abraham Lincoln, then a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, bemoans what he calls the "mobocratic spirit" running rampant in the United States. In particular, he criticizes the lynching of gamblers in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and a free black man in Saint Louis. The date for the speech given in this edition of Lincoln’s writings is off by one year.

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