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2 JUNE 1879 503

pulpit must not keep us on the high wave of Apocalyptic vision, but on the
rock of practical righteousness. I want when I lay down my life to say that I
have seen my people, once ignorant, now intelligent; once degraded, now
elevated; once despised, now honored. I see the elements at work for us,
and in every bar of iron, every ship and locomotive, the electric wire and
the telephone, there are certain signs of the ultimate success of our race in
this mighty nation.)16


Speech on the Death of William Lloyd Garrison, at the Garrison Memorial Meeting in the
15th Street Presbyterian Church, Monday, June 2. l 8 79 (n.p. , n.d.). Other texts in Wash-
ington National Republican, 3 June 1879; Speech File, reel 15, frames 312—17, 318—22,
reel 32, frames 552—56, FD Papers.

William Lloyd Garrison died on 23 May 1879. Douglass was the principal
eulogist at a memorial meeting on the evening of 2 June 1879 at the Fifteenth
Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. A large crowd of both blacks
and whites attended despite a heavy storm. Robert Purvis chaired the event.
The Washington Post reported that applause greeted Douglass, who, “taking
out a bundle of manuscript proceeded to read a very feeling and suitable
tribute to the distinguished dead.” The reporter regretted that Douglass was
obliged to read the speech: “An off-hand speech by Douglass on such a
subject as the life and service of Garrison would have no doubt been the effort
of his life.” Other speakers included Purvis and Richard Theodore Greener.
B. D. Fleet performed Mozart’s Requiem on the organ, and the Reverend
Alexander Crummell opened and closed the service with prayer. Washington
Evening Star, 3 June 1879; Washington Post, 3 June 1879.

MR. PRESIDENT AND FRIENDS: There are times when silence is more
potent than speech; when words seem too thin, tame and poor to express
our thoughts and feelings. I am impressed with a sense of this destitution
in contemplating the event that has brought us here to—night. An hour
spent here in silent meditation upon that solemn event, would perhaps be
more impressive than any formal addresses, however eloquent, can be.
But in the presence of great affliction and sorrow, the heart ever presses
for utterance. It seems meet that we of the colored race should speak at

16. From Baltimore Sun, 5 May 1879.

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