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Civil Rights. Speech of Hon. Robert B. Elliott, of South Carolina, in the House of Representatives, January 6, 1874. [caption title]
Civil Rights. Speech of Hon. Robert B. Elliott, of South Carolina, in the House of Representatives, January 6, 1874. [caption title]

Civil Rights. Speech of Hon. Robert B. Elliott, of South Carolina, in the House of Representatives, January 6, 1874. [caption title]

“The shackle broken—by the genius of freedom”


This 1874 speech in support of the Civil Rights Act was the “defining moment” in the career of Robert Brown Elliott (1842–1884), a two-term Black Congressman from South Carolina. Elliott’ speech, “in which he asserted that the federal government’s highest duty was to protect African Americans, received attention and praise from newspapers nationwide.” (Brady and Ehlers)

Elliott has been described as a racial militant. He aligned with the Radical Republicans, gave a funeral oration for Charles Sumner at the behest of Black Bostonians, debated Alexander Stephens, the former Confederate vice president, spoke out against the Ku Klux Klan, and sought to increase the political participation of Black Americans:

“Elliott was a charismatic and effective political leader who provoked outrage among whites and enthusiasm among blacks. What most outraged his opponents was Elliott’s racial pride and his insistence on demanding, not asking, for his rights and the rights of black Americans. Persistently calling for the unprecedented expansion of national power in order to guarantee the fruits of Reconstruction while also urging blacks to be more worthy of the freedom they had won, Elliott was a precursor of many twentieth-century black leaders.” (Rabinowitz)

Gifted and passionate, Elliott’s superb skills as an orator, his classical education, and his formidable knowledge of South Carolina and national politics, all furthered his goals to pass what became the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

This January 6, 1874 speech was captured in a lithograph entitled “The shackle broken—by the genius of freedom” which shows Elliott standing, one arm raised, as he gives his oration. (Blockson, Afro-Americana 42)


Description: Civil Rights. Speech of Hon. Robert B. Elliott, of South Carolina, in the House of Representatives, January 6, 1874. [caption title]

[Washington]: [Beardsley & Snodgrass], 1874. 8pp. Sole edition. Self-wraps. Toned; near fine.

[3731675]

LCP, Afro-Americana 3456. Not in Blockson. bcjas 332892 wq10


Price: $3,500.00