In the only major speech of his presidential campaign, Garfield spoke to 50,000 in New York on the issue closest to his heart: the fate of ex-slaves in the South. Many Northerners felt they had sacrificed enough for African Americans but Garfield believed that every man in America, no matter his color, had a say in the government.
Narrator: Garfield's trip culminated in an address to 50,000 people gathered opposite the hotel in Madison Square Park. It was his only major speech of the campaign. Garfield chose to take a stand on the issue closest to his heart: the fate of ex-slaves in the South.
James Garfield (Shuler Hensley): Gentlemen, ideas outlive men. Ideas outlive all human things. And all that we mean today by our meeting as veterans and comrades, is to stand as a sacred guard about the truth for which we fought.
Narrator: By 1880, many Northerners felt they had sacrificed enough for African Americans. Now they wanted only to heal the scars left by the war, even if it meant abandoning former slaves to the mercy of their former masters. Garfield was determined to turn back that tide.
James Garfield (Shuler Hensley): We have seen white men betray the flag and fight to kill the Union, but in all that long and dreary war you never saw a traitor under a black skin. In all that period of terror and distress no Union soldier was ever betrayed by any black man anywhere, and as long as we live we'll stand by these black allies of ours.
Heather Cox Richardson, Historian: Garfield believed that every man -- African American as well as white American -- should have a say in his government. Every man should be able to vote to protect his property, protect his labor, and protect his destiny in America.
James Garfield (Shuler Hensley): We will stand by them until the equal sunlight of liberty shall shine upon every man, black or white, in the Union. Citizens of New York, thank you for this magnificent demonstration. Thank you, thank you.