A Jubilee of Freedom
Pursuant to notice a public meeting was held by the colored citizens of Harrisburg in the Methodist church, (Bethel,) on Tuesday evening, the 15th inst., to take into consideration the Proclamation of Freedom made on the 1st of January, 1863.
On motion, Mr. J. H. Dickison was called to the chair. Messrs. Z. Johnson, S. M. Bennet and the Rev. Mifflin Gibbs were appointed Vice Presidents, and John Wolf and H. Jones were appointed Secretaries.
An appropriate and fervent prayer was offered by the Rev. M. Gibbs, after which the choir, together with the whole congregation, united in singing the "Year of Jubilee has come."
The Proclamation being read, on motion of Mr. Gibbs, Messrs. John Wolf, S. M. Bennet and the Rev. David Stephens were appointed to draft a preamble and resolution that would express the sentiment of the meeting.
The committee reported the following resolutions, which were discussed by the Revs. M. Gibbs, D. Stephens, S. T. Jones and by Messrs. J. H. Dickison, T. Early, C. H. Vance and T. W. Brown, after which they were unanimously adopted.
WHEREAS, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, did, on the 1st day of January, 1863, issue a Proclamation that those states or parts of states that were resisting the lawful authority of the Government of the United States, that their slaves should be freed on the 1st of January, 1863, therefore;
Resolved, That we, the colored citizens of the city of Harrisburg, hail the 1st day of January, 1863, as a new era in our country's history--a day in which injustice and oppression were forced to flee and cower before the benign principles of justice and righteousness--a day in which the Goddess of Liberty, decked with the jewels of justice, presented to the sable sons and daughters of the south the inestimable boon of
liberty--a day from which the enfranchised will be able to look forward into the future with the full assurance that they will be able to sit down under their own "vine and fig tree, with none to molest them or make them afraid."
Resolved, That if our wishes had been consulted we would have preferred that the proclamation should have been general instead of partial; but we can only say to our brethren of the "border States," be of good cheer--the day of your deliverance draweth nigh--do not act contrary to the rules of propriety and good citizenship, for the rod of your oppressors will eventually be smitten by the omnipotence of truth--the "ark" of liberty will yet dwell within your borders and rest within your gates--the fires of freedom shall light your hill tops, and your valleys shall be made vocal with the songs of liberty.
Resolved, That the American flag is now a true emblem of liberty; and if called upon we feel bound as citizens to maintain its supremacy o'er land and sea, against foreign foes or domestic traitors.
Resolved, That we are well aware that freedom and citizenship are attended with responsibilities; and that the success or failure of the proclamation depend entirely upon ourselves, as public sentiment will be influenced for or against that righteous decree by our correct deportment and moral standing in the community.
Resolved, That although
the proclamation was not made as an act of philanthropy, or as a grand
deed of justice due to those suffering in bonds, but simply as a war
measure, still in it we recognize the hand of God; and for it we are
constrained to say, roll forward the day when the American soil shall
no more be polluted with that crime against God, American slavery;
but all will be able to say "Glory to God in the highest, on earth
peace and good will to man."
See page 4 of Lincoln Centennial Postcards for two popular culture images of Lincoln's role as emancipator.
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The Year of Jubilee, Volume One: Men of God, Volume Two: Men of Muscle