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True Manliness

After the Civil War was over and slavery was abolished throughout the South, many of the abolitionist and African American newspapers switched their focus from the fight for emancipation to the education of the newly free blacks throughout the South.

Short lessons and sermons, like the one below, circulated from paper to paper where, it was hoped, the new rights and responsibilities of the former slaves could be taught quickly in a way that would spread among the newly enfranchised citizens.

True Manliness

Manliness respects two things: proper views of one’s self, and right conduct toward others. Respect yourself, as a man, the one being in the image of God, and you cannot do a mean thing. It is only in self-forgetfulness, that any person stoops to sin.

It is because man forgets himself, and so ignores his own nobility in the chain of being, that God has mercifully added the calls and claims of religion to bring us back both to ourselves and God, Philip of Macedon’s servant proclaimed this to him every morning, by the King’s command: “Philip, remember thou art a man,” no less to admonish him to do no mean and unmanly deed during the day, than to impress him with a sense of his mortality.

It is only when one puts aside for the time being his own manhood, that he succumbs to the gutter of inebriation. So of other sins. The Creator did not make man to be a sinner, but to walk erect, upright, nobly, manfully, before the universe of creatures. Religion, then, brings men back to the normal state in which Adam was created, and helps man to become manly.

Manliness, in its noble bearing, is equally developed in the other direction, of proper deportment toward others. It is manly to do just the right thing toward all our fellow men; and any other conduct than this will demean and degrade ourselves as much as it injures another, to say the least.

This idea gives force to the words of Cowper:

“Mean as slavery is,
I had much rather be myself the slave,
And war the bonds, than fasten them on others.”

Slavery degrades, on this principle, the master and his family, as well as outrages all the human feelings of the slaves. You cannot drag another down the steep hill of vice but you descend lower yourself.

On the other hand, if you lift up a fellow being you raise yourself by the noble deed. Then show yourself a man by the exhibition of manly and noble traits of conduct. Do no mean thing. You are infinitely above it, if you only conceive truly of yourself and act accordingly.

What revelations of manliness are yet to be made on the theatre of this world? What developments of an exalted and perfect manhood shall the future results of redemption disclose! Let us not forget ourselves, and act manly toward others.

via the Morning Star

Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: The Christian Recorder
Date: August 31, 1866
Title: True Manliness
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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