The Golden Hour

Source citation
“The Golden Hour,” New York Tribune, 1 February 1867, p. [no page listed].
Newspaper: Publication
New York Tribune
Newspaper: Headline
The Golden Hour
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Meghan Rafferty

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The Golden Hour
A lecture by the Rev. Mr. Conway.
On Thursday evening a large audience assembled at Dr. Cheever’s Church to listen to the Rev. M.D. Conway of Cincinnati on the subject of Slavery, with special reference to its bearings on the present war. The exact title of the lecture was, “The Golden Hour.” Mr. Conway has traveled extensively through the South, and his utterances, being the fruit of personal experiences, are entitled to special weight and attention. He took the broad ground that the emancipation of the slaves will give the victory to which side first makes that proclamation. It is the only cure for our national troubles, and the only means of rescue from our present predicament. But while the powers at Washington are frittering away their time over the question of “How not to do it,” the country itself is dissolving and crumbling beneath their feet. No one fails to see that emancipation adds a bulwark of four million hearts to the common defense, and paralyzes the only arm that threatens the general welfare. The golden moment for saving the Union is here, is now, is passing, and unless seized will soon pass forever. There is an urgent necessity for the people taking the matter in hand, and giving forth their supreme will, in a voice that shall inspirit the President and the Cabinet, and compel them to adopt the only policy that can possibly avail. The great wealth of the North is enormously over-estimated as to its power in this emergency. The South are as rich as we, for they get without paying for the things for which our money is poured out. Who would care for a fortune if he could enjoy all the luxuries of wealth at the cost of only a dollar a year spent in cowhides? The man who produces a soldier’s rations makes war upon us just as much as the soldier who points the gun at us, and in this sense all the slaves of the South are now arrayed against us, for want of one little word. War is so demoralizing in its tendencies that if we should continue this strife long enough we should indeed become the Hessians they saw we are; but the Southerners have so much the start of us that, at the same time, they would be gorillas. Our first step towards success in this war must be to commit the nation to a policy of irrevocable hatred of the rebellion, and invincible determination to put it down. There are indications that the mere military enthusiasm is cooling, and that a real, vital determination to end the war and the cause of it together is kindling day by day. And then, too, people are beginning to have some sober second thoughts not very favorable to mere military men or to army contractors. The lecture held that it is of no use to capture Charleston or Savannah, because our soldiers cannot live there. They would be of no use to us unless we should have a population that can remain there in safety from the attacks of fevers. We have always held these cities only by a Southern population, and how the South is gone from us Any such victory as our Government now proposes for us is just as great a defeat for us as for the rebels. If a man battles with a wolf, his mastery of that wolf is of no avail so long as he is resolved not to hurt him, but merely to stand and hold him—for so long as the man does that, he is just as much a prisoner as the wolf. And we, or the leaders over us, seem resolved merely to hold the wolf of Slavery, for it is a constitutional wolf. Hence, until we fully make up our minds to destroy this wolf, shall we ourselves be free. We now withhold the sword, because we do not possess a courage higher than that that is required merely to wild it—the courage to declare free every man, white or black, who will come to us and fight under our banner. We must proclaim emancipation, if we would win. The speaker propounded the question, whether it is not likely that the South will soon free all the slaves that are able to fight for them. The emancipation of so man would be a cheap price for a victory over the North which would compel them to reopen the blockade, and so perpetuate their peculiar institutions. They would free none of the women, so the children would be all slaves. He told an anecdote of the painter Brown of Philadelphia, who was employed to paint for the City of Charleston a national device for some public use. Brown symbolized the North by various agricultural and mechanical implements, and represented the South by a cotton-bale, on which reposed a sleeping negro. Jefferson Davis, who was a member of the Examining Committee, objected to this device, for, said he, “What will become of the South when that negro wakes up?” And now is the time for the negro to wake. Slavery having challenged Liberty to a deadly conflict, Liberty having choice of weapons, has selected the very weapons Slavery would have herself chosen. While Liberty meets Slavery with Slavery’s own brutal weapons, it is to be expected that Slavery will triumph; but let Liberty encounter Slavery with the bright weapons of Freedom, and she will soon lay Slavery low. The most glorious weapon of Liberty is Liberty. Until we emancipate the slaves, we shall never conquer. There are two great classes in this country—those who, having received every favor and benefit from the Government, are now trying to stab the nation to the heart; and the other class are those who have always received from the Government wrong and contumely, and who have every provocation to stab the nation, but who have yet been patient and true, and yet we now choose the black hearts, because we hate the black faces. A few more months of delay, and the negroes will lose their faith in our power, as they have already nearly lost faith in our friendship. There is but one word that will call the slaves to their feet, and paralyze this rebellion, and that word is Freedom; but at present they are just as much slaves under the Stars and Stripes as under the Stars and Bars. The speakers, from a recent interview with the President, thought that that officer has, by private secretaries or by Cabinet officers, kept isolated from the pulses of the popular heart. IN some further remarks, the speaker continued to advocate his theory that our only hope of winning this fight is in proclaiming freedom to all slaves who will come to our banners.
The lecture was well received, and the speaker was frequently interrupted by cheers and applause.
The Rev. Dr. Cheever, in a few words, said that he had just returned from Washington, where he had been informed by Senators that an expression of the sentiments of the people, in mass meeting, would be pleasing to the Government. It wanted to know whether the people were in favor of emancipation or not.
Upon motion of Dr. Robert F. Halleck, A committee of twenty-one prominent citizens were appointed to arrange for calling a mass meeting at an early day.


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