Photo credits: James U. Stead, Courtesy Smithsonian Institution
In early 1865, Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, a former slave who rose through the ranks to become the pastor of Washington, D.C.’s Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, gave a stirring sermon.
He was the first African-American in the history of the United States to deliver a speech in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. On the 12th of February, 1865, he gave his sermon, which was titled “Let the Monster Perish.”
Rev. Garnett’s speech was delivered just a few days after the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibited slavery, was passed by the United States Congress. A large number of Republican politicians considered that the event called for a public church service to commemorate the occasion.
They extended an invitation to Rev. Garnet to join them.