- Project Runeberg -  America of the Fifties: Letters of Fredrika Bremer /
303

(1924) [MARC] Author: Fredrika Bremer
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the elevation of the lower classes of your
countrymen.” And there is good reason for this
accusation, for in Virginia, in consequence of the
restrictive fetters of slavery, which prevent the increase
of schools, there are upward of eighty thousand
white people who can neither read nor write. The
population of Virginia, whites and blacks taken
together, amounts to about a million and a half.

The young orator declared the mission of
America to be that of communicating the blessings
of liberty and civilization to all nations. “If
America fulfill her duty in this respect, she will
become great and happy; if not, then she will fall,
and the greatness of her fall will be commensurate
with the greatness of her mission, and the intended
future in which she has failed.”

I cannot tell you with what feelings of delight
I listened to these large-minded and bold words
from the pure soul of a youth. It was so unlike
anything which I had hitherto heard in the slave
states. It was what I had been longing to hear.
My tears flowed, and I did not trouble myself
about them being seen. I was very happy. But
where now was the enthusiasm which on the
former evening had animated the Sons of the
South? They listened in silence, seemingly in
amazement, and the applause which was given at
the close of the speech was cold, and, as it were,

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