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colors, battling for their own honestly-cherished objects, but a war under
the same flags, between armies in the same uniforms, and professing the
same objects.

The best illustration of the political contest now proceeding is found in
our late war for the Union. You will remember that neither party to that
conflict was willing to declare its true object. The South said it was not
fighting for slavery, and the North said it was not fighting against slavery;
and yet they were fighting hard, and everybody who had any brains knew at
the time that the two were really fighting about slavery, and that one was for
it and the other was against it.

lf we were left to find the path of duty simply by the light of professions
and platforms, and by the men we find on the one side and on the other, we
might possibly be misled; but happily we are dependent upon no such
deceptive guides. There is such a thing as history, and the parties to this
canvass have their respective histories. All the present rests upon all the
past. You cannot divorce today from yesterday, nor this year from last year.
In front of us today we have the same old enemy, the same old snake in a
new skin, the same old Democratic Party, thinly veneered by a scale torn
off the Republican Party. The wolf is all the more dangerous because of his
white coat. ⁵

It is said that they have changed, that they have reformed; and yet you
learn here to-night, from the words of the leading traitor of the South, that
he is not ashamed of the lost cause. ⁶ There is great talk about reconcilia-
tion; it is said that we must forget and forgive. We have heard a great deal of
religion preached lately about our Southern brethren and the Democratic
Party. It is said to have been converted. ⁷ (Laughter.) But I am a little
incredulous—some would say sceptical—about this matter. Conversion is
a great fact, even in the individual, but when 2,900,000 men are suddenly
converted, a fact of that kind, it seems to me, requires a good deal of

5. Douglass adapts “The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" from Aesop's Fables.

6. Douglass alludes to Edwards Pierrepont‘s earlier speech in which he quoted remarks made by
the former Confederate president Jefferson Davis to rallies in Augusta and Atlanta. Georgia, on 25 and
27 May 1872, respectively. In the latter speech, Davis is quoted as declaring “I don‘t believe I did any
wrong, and, therefore, I don‘t acknowledge it." New York Times. 26 September 1872.

7. Such prominent Democrats as the Ohioan Clement L. Vallandigham had spoken since 1866 of
the Democrats‘ need to reconcile themselves to the results of the Civil War and to move ahead to the new
issues of the day. During the presidential campaign of 1872, however, the Democrats and the Liberal
Republicans employed the theme of reconciliation much more vigorously than in the past. They spoke
often of how their combined forces represented the reconciliation between North and South and black
and white. Charles Sumner. a Liberal Republican defender of the new Democrats, acknowledged this
reconciliation and couched it in biblical terms. In a letter to the black citizens of Washington, D.C.. on

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