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Remarks Responding to a Speech by John M. Langston, Representing the National Convention of Colored Men

January 19, 1869

I thank the convention of which you are the representatives for the confidence they have expressed, and I hope sincerely that the colored people of the nation may receive every protection which the laws give them. They shall have my efforts to secure such protection. They should prove by their acts, their advancement, prosperity, and obedience to the laws worthy of all privileges the Government has bestowed upon them by their future conduct, and prove themselves deserving of all they now claim.

NOTE: The speech by John M. Langston, chair of a committee representing the National Convention of the Colored Men of America, to which the president-elect was responding, is provided below:

"GENERAL GRANT: In the name of four millions of American citizens—in the name of seven hundred thousand electors of African Descent—electors who braved threats who defied intimidation, whose numbers have been reduced by assassination and murder in their efforts, in the exercise of a franchise guaranteed by American law to every one clothed in the full livery of American citizenship, to secure, in the late Presidential canvass, the election of nominees of the national Republican party to the high places to which they were named-we, accredited delegates to the national convention of Colored Men, sessions of which in this city have just closed, come to present to you congratulations upon your election to the Presidency of the United States. Permit us, General, to express, in this connection, our confidence in your ability and determination to so execute the laws already enacted and to be enacted by our national Congress as to conserve and protect the life, the liberty, the rights, no less of the humblest subject of the Government than those of the most exalted and influential. Called as you are to fill the chair of State, your duties will be arduous and trying, especially since, in this reconstruction period of the Government, removing the rubbish, the accretions of the now dead slave-holding oligarchy. You will administer the Government according to the principles of morals and law announced by the fathers. ln advance, we bring to you, General, as a pledge of our devotion to our common country and Government, the liveliest sympathy of the colored people of the nation; and in their name we express the hope that all things connected with the administration of the Government, upon which you are so soon to enter as our Chief Magistrate, may be, under Providence, so ordered for the maintenance of law, and the conservation of freedom, that your name, written high on the scroll of honor and fame, may go down to posterity, glorious and immortal, associated with the names of your illustrious predecessors in the great chair of State-Washington and Lincoln. Again, General, we express our congratulations."

Ulysses S. Grant, Remarks Responding to a Speech by John M. Langston, Representing the National Convention of Colored Men Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/355767

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