Saint Peter's College Michaelmas Convocation
Some 110 years ago on August 24, 1855 Abraham Lincoln wrote
these prophetic words to Joshua F. Speed:
Hypocrisy towards the foreigner has had a long life, hypocrisy
towards the Catholic had a long life too, but hypocrisy towards the
Negro has had the longest life of all. Every young American child is
made to memorize these words of the Declaration of Independence
Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to
be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring
that "all men are created equal." When the know-
nothings get control, it will read "all men are created
equal except Negroes, foreigners and Catholics."
When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating
to some country where they make no pretence of
loving liberty, - to Russia, for instance, where
despotism can be taken pure and without the base
alloy of hypocrisy.
Every young American child, made to memorize these words before
1954, lived with the hypocrisy and the contradiction between these
words and the practices that were observed in so many places in
America. The Negro child who lived in the deep south had to sit
in the back of the bus, the back of the street car, the back of the movie
theatre, the back of the church, yes, the back of the Catholic Church.
We hold these truths to be self-evident : that
all men are created equal; that they are endowed by
their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that
among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are
instituted among men, deriving their just powers
from the consent of the governed.
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