25 SEPTEMBER 1872 337
evidence to support it. ⁸ The largest number I ever heard of being converted
in a single day was three thousand, and that was on the day of Pentecost. ⁹
(Applause and laughter.)
For my part, I have learned this in the case of individuals: they usually
remember the time when and the place where their dungeon shook; when
their feet were taken out of the mire and clay and set upon a rock; but thus
far the Democratic Party have been unable to tell me when, where, how,
and under whose preaching this great conversion has taken place. Where I
have been they were talking of the Prodigal Son, but here in New-York,
perhaps, they don’t care much about the Prodigal Son. (Laughter) Be-
tween the two—between the Democratic Party and the Prodigal Son—
there are certainly some points of resemblance. For instance: He was
hungry. (Loud laughter and applause.) He seems to have been from home
for about twelve years, and to have had little or nothing to eat all the time,
so that he would even fain have filled himself with the husks that the swine
did eat. But when he saw his father he said: “Father, I have sinned before
heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy servant.” ¹⁰
Now, this was humility, and it is there that the parallel ceases. (Applause)
He did not come home to drive out the elder son, but only wanted to be
made a servant in his father’s house.
It is here, as I said, that the analogy ceases. The Democratic Party does
not come home in that spirit, after having spent our substance, wasted our
wealth, piled up a mountain of debt. Well, I did not come here to argue or to
expound. I have doubts about the sincerity of this Democratic conversion.
For one, I don’t think it will be safe to trust to that conversionjust yet. I am
willing to receive the Prodigal Son, but I would keep him in a subordinate
29 July 1872, Sumner wrote: “Most anxiously I have looked for the time, which seems now at hand,
when there should be reconciliation, not only between the North and South, but between the two
races.“ Seven days later he wrote: “Can we not after seven years begin a new life, especially when
those once our foes repeat the saying, ‘Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God?‘ . . .
Their [the Democrats'] support is the assurance that the cause he [Horace Greeley] has so constantly
guarded, whether of Equal Rights or Reconciliation, is accepted by Democrats and this is the pledge of
a true union beyond anything in our history." Frank L. Klement, The Limits of Dissent: Clement L.
Vallandigham & the Civil War (Lexington, Ky, 1970), 304—08; Charles Sumner: His Complete
Works, 20: 192, 197.
8. The ﬁgure Douglass cites here is roughly equivalent to the total number of votes cast for
Horatio Seymour, the Democratic presidential candidate in 1868. The ﬁnal tally for Seymour was
2,706,829 votes. W. Dean Bumham, Presidential Ballots: 1836—1892 (Baltimore, 1955), 98—108.
9. Acts 2 : 41.
l0. Luke 15: 18—19.
Notes and Questions
Nobody has written a note for this page yet
Please sign in to write a note for this page