Fascinating example of a sermon preached the Sabbath after Lincoln's assassination by one who apparently didn't get the memo. Perhaps he was in retreat, but there is no mention of it until the very last, almost as a bi-line. Instead, he is intent on addressing what is to be done now that the Civil War is wrapping up. The present sermon has been the subject of a fair amount of research as it is one of the earliest proposals for reconstruction and perhaps the most radical when it comes to addressing the grievances of freed slaves.
"Thus, then, I answer our two questions:
1. This is what we ought to do in the case of the freedmen; Give them the homes on the confiscated lands of the rebels; aid them in their first occupancy, as they may need; educate them to be intelligent, virtuous, and useful copartners with us in the nation; make them voting citizens in full (every disability of color removed), so soon as they shall have trained themselves for the intelligent discharge of that responsibility; and rid ourselves, at once and forever of that unchristian and inhuman notion that essential humanity has anything to do wiht the color of the skin.
2. This is what we ought to do in the case of the rebels: Welcome, honor, reward, and remunerate, out of the effects of the traitors, for their sacrifices, the few who have been faithful among the faithless. Forgive and, under suitable restrictions with regard to their conduct toward the freedmen, and with suitable probation as to their resumption of the elective franchise, restore the great mass who were deceived or dragooned into rebellion, or who, rushing hastily into it, have bitterly repented their error; and arrest, try, convict and sentence to be hanged for treason all promiment surviving rebels, who plotted against us in the old time of Union, stole their education, their arms, much of their treasure, and our secrets, and perjured themselves and turned against us, and robbed us of our forts and our navy-yards, and have since murdered, and worse than murdered, thousands and tens of thousands of our noblest sons, and at last cowardly assassinated our venerated President, their own kindest friend; hang a few - a half-dozen - of those highest in station and lowest in infamy, in vindication of outraged justice and in perpetual demonstration to the future that the powers that be ni this land are ordained of God, and that the magistrate bears not the sword in vain. Then dismiss the remaineder, fugitives and vagabonds through the world, with halters around their necks, liable to be tightened at the first sheriff's hand, if ever they dare to pollute our free future with their foul presence!
Am I right? Then act on these principles! Advocate them! Stir up your neighbors to adopt them! Tone up the public mind! Oxygenate the moral atmosphere! Make it impossible to have it otherwise!
Dexter, Henry Martyn. What Ought to be Done with the Freedmen and with the Rebels? A Sermon Preached in the Berkeley Street Church, Boston, on Sunday, April 23, 1865. Boston. Nichols & Noyes. 36pp.
Complete and textually clean. Removed from a larger sammelband and thus weakened.