Francis J. Grimke was born a slave in Charleston, South Carolina on November 4, 1850. After the war he and his older brother, Archibald, went north to Lincoln University. Francis graduated from Lincoln in 1870. After working briefly at Lincoln, Grimke attended Princeton Theological Seminary from which he graduated in 1878. Soon after graduation he became pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., a post he held until 1928. On Christmas Eve, 1918, Rev. Grimke delivered the sermon below summarizing the aims and objectives of the recently ended World War as well as its potential impact on the darker races of the world. His oration appears below.
O Clap your hands, all ye peoples; Shout unto God with the voice of Triumph.
At this time, there are many reasons why we should rejoice:
(1) At last this bloody war, the most frightful, the most devastating and widespread that has ever occurred, involving practically all the nations of the world, has come to an end. I wonder if we fully realize what that means? It means that no longer the deadly submarine will be sinking merchant and other vessels in mid ocean; it means that no longer airships will be showering down explosive bombs on cities, killing innocent women and children; it means the end of trench life, with its almost intolerable conditions; it means that no longer great armies will be pitted against each other in deadly conflict with thousands of dead and dying men following in their train; it means that no longer there shall be hospital ships and hospital trains bringing day by day from the battlefields thousands of shattered, wounded, mutilated men to be cared for and to go down lifes way maimed; it means the end of the anxiety of the fathers and mothers as they scan the casualty lists as they are published from time to time; it means the end of all the awful things that have been happening during the last four years, as the result of this conflict.
Some time ago, I read a little volume entitled, The Challenge of the Present