The poem elicited a characteristic letter from a patriot of rugged integrity, who wastes no compliments. Patrick Ford, editor of the Irish World, wrote him on December, 1888:
The poem is worthy of a noble mind and a pen of fire. As an Irishman and an American, I am proud of you.
Rev. J.R. Slattery, superior of negro missions in the South, wrote:
"Crispus Attucks" got me up to white heat: it will tell. "By the tea that is brewing still," is unrivaled. For years it has been my conviction that the South will eventually be ruled by the negroes, and for the reasons given by Mr. O'Reilly.
"There is never a legal sin but grows to the law's disaster;
The master shall drop the whip, and the slave shall enslave the master."
We all feel very grateful to the poet who thus in soul-stirring song seconds our efforts, or rather gives us an ideal to direct our poor people toward.
At the special request of the colored citizens of Boston, O'Reilly read the poem for them on Tuesday, December 18, at the colored church in Charles Street, prefacing it with a short speech, in which he said:
There is no man in the world who would not be proud of such a patriotic introduction and reception. I thought to-night, that, instead of listening to the reading of a poem, you would unite with your white fellow-citizens in sending word to Mississippi to prevent murder. You have heard the white man's story. To-morrow we may hear the other side. We shall see who it is that is shot down in the swamp. The colored men have their future in their own hands; but they have a harder task before them than they had in 1860. It is easier to break political bonds than the bonds of ignorance and prejudice. The next twenty-five years can bring many reforms, and by proper training our colored fellow-citizens may easily be their own protectors. They must, above all things, establish a brotherhood of race. Make it so strong that its members will be proud of it—proud of living as colored Americans, and desirous of devoting their energy to the advancement of their people.
He had delivered a course of lectures in the Southwest in the preceding month, and saw with burning indignation