DescriptionRutherford B. Hayes Speech Twice Signed with corrections in his hand. Four pages, 5" x 8.75" (varies slightly by page), n. p., n. d. [circa 1885]. Following his single term as president, Hayes became an outspoken advocate for education, believing that vocational, as well as academic, schools were the best way to heal the divide in American society caused by the Civil War. He lobbied Congress, unsuccessfully, to pass a bill providing federal assistance for education and encouraged black students to apply for the Slater Fund, which provided education in an industrial trade, such as blacksmithing, to rural blacks in the southern U. S.
His speech begins, in part: "...duty of the General Government to complete the work of reconstruction by affording aid, wherever it is needed, for the education of the illiterate white and colored people in the late slaveholding States...The magnitude of the evil to be eradicated is not, I apprehend, generally and fully understood...In the late slaveholding States...education was denied to the colored people, and the education of the non-slaveholding white people was greatly neglected....four millions of people in the South...are unable to read and write, and more than a million of voters are too illiterate to prepare or even to read their own ballots."
With regards to the Indians, Hayes says: "In the Territories of the United States it is estimated that there are over two hundred thousand Indians, almost all of whom are uncivilized...no one who observes the rapid progress of railroads and settlements in the West can fail to see that the game and fish, on which the Indians have hitherto subsisted, are about to disappear. The solution of the Indian question will speedily be either the extinction of the Indians of their absorption into American citizenship by means of the civilizing influences of education...The time is not distant when he should be chiefly cared for by the civilizing department of the Government, the Bureau of Education."
In his quest for equal education, he invokes the names of two Founding Fathers: "Thomas Jefferson, with his almost marvelous sagacity and foresight, declared nearly a hundred years ago, that free schools were an essential part - one of the columns, as he expressed it - of the republican edifice, and that, 'without instruction free to all, the sacred flame of liberty could not be kept burning in the hearts of Americans'...James Madison said, almost sixty years ago, 'A popular government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps to both."
Hayes has signed his name twice to this fantastic speech, once on the top of page one under the title, and again at the end of page four, signing only "R. B. Hayes." The speech is printed with correction done in ink. Toned with some minor staining or smudging of ink.
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