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Proceedings of the Convention of Colored People Held in Dover, Del., January 9, 1873.


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Proceedings of the Convention of Colored People Held in Dover, Del., January 9, 1873.


Pamphlet (7 p. ; 24 cm.)








Dover, DE




A certain gentleman in the City Council of Wilmington, a short time ago, remarked that the colored people were unwilling to pay for schooling, and that, consequently, he was unwilling to tax the white people to educate their children.

We present below the following facts, which perhaps may be worth as much as the gentleman's assertion:

Fact No. 1. John M. Clayton, of Appoquinimink Hundred, states that the colored people of his community have sustained a school for four years, one to three months each year, and that it has cost him an average of $5.00 per month during school session.

Fact No. 2. James H Duckry, of Pencader Hundred, states that they have a school to which the Association pays $5.00 per month, and for which he also pays the sum of $5.00 per month. This amount he has paid monthly for four years, during the time school was in session.

Fact No. 3. Thomas Reed, of East Dover Hundred, paid in 1871, $35.00 for three months schooling for three children.

Fact No. 4. Elias Tillman, of Appoquinimink Hundred, has contributed not less than $30.00 to the cause of education for the benefit of his own children, and others.

Who are these men? All colored men, and all poor men. Men to whom a dollar is a matter of much importance, and yet their bright examples but illustrate the spirit that prevails in great degree among a large portion of the colored people of the State. In every locality where there is a school they are paying from fifty cents to one dollar per month for each child sent. In view of all this, and much more that could be presented, it is certainly not very creditable to one's head or heart to assert that colored people are not willing to pay for schooling.

And yet, if they are unwilling, is it strange? White people of Delaware have schools provided for them by the State —school houses are built, and the teachers paid out of public money. Is it not natural that this fact alone would give to the colored people an unwillingness to pay from their own scanty earnings their own school expenses? "Put yourself in his place." The unfairness of the thing is enough to discourage any people, but we have those among us whose love of progress and education, and whose desire for the good of their children and the race, will not allow them to give up even under these many difficulties.


Dover, Del., January 9, 1873.

Pursuant to a call issued during the month of December, 1872, the colored people of Delaware met in Convention in Whatcoate's Chapel, of the M. E. Church, in Dover, Del., at 2 P. M.


Mr. Samuel Segars was called to the chair, and L. J. Coppin and A. R. Henry were appointed temporary Secretaries.

A Committee of three, consisting of Rev. T. G. Stewart, D. P. Hamilton, and Solomon Cooper were appointed on credentials.

Committee on permanent organization, Charles R. Horsey, John R. Fisher, T. G. Steward.

Convention then took a recess to allow Committees time to prepare their reports.

Convention called to order. Committee on Credentials reported the following roll of delegates :—

Appoquinimink, (North)...John M. Clayton.

Appoquinimink, (South)......Samuel Laws.

Broadkiln..........................Henry B. Tingle

Baltimore.............................John Jacobs.

Christiana, (North).............George Riggs.

Cedar Creek.....................John Shockley.

Duck Creek.....................Lewis Hamilton.

Dover, (West,)..................John R. Fisher.

Dover, (East)................Solomon Cooper.

Dagsboro'.............................John Tingle.

Kenton...............................Jacob Bryant.

Little Creek.......................Minus Delany.

Murderkill, (North)......Prince N. Caldwell.

Murderkill, (South)..............Wm. H. Gray.

Milford........................Charles R. Horsey.

Pencader......................James H. Duckry.

Red Lion.........................Shadrick Boyer.

St. Georges, (West).....Thomas H. Gould.


St. Georges, (East)..................Samuel Segars.

Wilmington........................ {Daniel P. Hamilton.

....................................................J. W. Layton.

....................................................A.R. Henry.

....................................................T.G. Steward.

....................................................J.B. Williams.

....................................................L.J. Coppin.

....................................................Caleb Milborn.

....................................................W.H. Clayton.

On motion, the report was adopted and the bounds of the Convention fixed. Reporters for the press were invited to seats within the bar, and furnished tables.

Mr. J.W. Layton, of Wilmington, was invited to address the Convention, which he did at some length, referring to all the work that had been done so far to secure educational facilities for the colored people of Delaware.

The Committee on permanent organization reported the following list of officers:

President.— Rev. Solomon Cooper.

Vice Presidents.—John Shockley, and Samuel Segars.

Secretaries.— L.J. Coppin, and A R Henry.

Which was accepted by the Convention.

The President took the chair and announced the Convention opened for business.

The several clergymen present, viz: Rev. H. Smith, Rev. R. Barney, Rev. J. Ash, Rev. J. Brinkley, and others, were invited to seats within the bar, and to participate in the deliberations of the Convention.

The following Committees were appointed:

On Civil Rights.— Samuel Segars, J.R. Fisher, Caleb Milborn.

On Address.— T.G Steward, Prince N. Caldwell, Chas. R. Horsey

On Finance.— J.H. Ducky, Jacob Bryant, George Riggs.

On Publication.—L.J. Coppin, A.R. Henry, D.P. Hamilton, Prince N. Caldwell.

Mrs. F.E.W. Harper being present was invited to address the Convention.

She spoke in eloquent terms of the efforts of the colored people, and hoped they would not cease until equal rights were in fact within the reach of all.

After which the following resolutions were presented and adopted:

WHEREAS, There is now being circulated for signatures a petition addressed to the Legislature of the State, asking that the same facilities for education as are enjoyed by others from the State, be extended to the colored people. AND WHEREAS, This is a subject of the utmost importance to us all, and one upon which we cannot afford the least division in sentiment or action. Therefore,

Resolved, That we cordially approve of said movement and recommend that our people throughout the State do sign said petition,


and by every other means in their power urge upon the Legislature the propriety of appropriate legislation upon this subject.

Resolved, That having asked more than once that something be done by the State to assist in the education of our children, and having been as repeatedly denied, we hereby renew our request, and pledge ourselves to continue to ask and agitate until the same rights are accorded to us as are enjoyed by other citizens of the State.

Moved by T. G. Steward, seconded by Prince N. Caldwell.

Hon. L. F. Riddle, Senator from New Castle County, being present, was invited to address the Convention. He spoke of the general need of reform, and said the Republicans in the Legislature were a unit on all questions relating to the rights of colored citizens. His speech was well received and frequently applauded.

Committee on Civil rights reported the following resolutions :

WHEREAS, There is now pending before Congress a bill known as the Supplemental Civil Rights Bill, securing all citizens equal rights in schools, churches, railroad cars, steamboats, hotels, and all other public places, introduced by the Hon. Charles Sumner : AND WHEREAS, This bill is of special interest to the people of Delaware, for reasons too well known to require stating. Therefore,

Resolved, That believing a glaring necessity exists for the passage of an explicit general law upon the subject, and believing the measure proposed is eminently wise and just, we unite our voice with that of the colored people throughout the country, and call upon Congress to pass said bill and thus complete the good work of national regeneration.

On motion the Convention adjourned to meet at 7 1/2 P. M.


DOVER, DEL., January 9, 1873.

Convention met at 7 1/2 P. M., pursuant to adjournment, with Rev. Solomon Cooper, the President in the chair.

Prayer was offered by Rev. Charles R. Horsey.

The roll of delegates called the members present answering to their names.

Reading of minutes of afternoon session dispensed with.

The President declared the Convention ready for business, when the following resolutions were read, discussed, amended, and finally adopted :

WHEREAS, There are now several schools for colored children in this State sustained in part by "The Delaware Association for the Moral and Mental Improvement of Colored People," and taught generally by colored teachers, some of whom were raised up in our midst ;

AND WHEREAS, The need of schools entirely free for the people is urgent and imperative, and demanding more of means than the Association is able to employ. Therefore,


Resolved, First, That our thanks are due said Association for coming to our aid in this our time of great need, and that we hold in grateful appreciation their humane and christian efforts in our behalf.

Second, That we express our high appreciation of the personal labors of the teachers employed, and gladly bear testimony to their uniformly fair character and pledge to them our hearty co-operation and support.

Third, That we recommend to our Legislature to consider the propriety of appropriating to said Association such portion of the present school fund as will enable it to carry on more successfully the work of education among the colored people until such a time as a system adopted by the State may go into operation.

Fourth, That a copy of these resolutions be forwarded to the Actuary of said Association, Miss A. C. Peckham, 607 Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, and to the presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Delaware Legislature.

When the third resolution was read, Rev. Charles R. Horsey, delegate from Milford, thought it best that it should not be adopted. He thought the Legislature might do as the Legislature of Maryland did. The Legislature of Maryland appropriated $50,000 to educate the colored people, but in such way as to be mere "hush money." He thought Delaware might make an appropriation and thus postpone the object sought, viz: "Free Schools supported by taxation for an indefinite period." Other members followed in the same strain, when finally Mr. Prince N. Caldwell, of North Murderkill, moved that the resolution lie on the table, which was unanimously agreed to. The other resolutions were then adopted with the striking out of all that relates to sending copies to the Legislature.

The following resolution, presented by D P. Hamilton, of Wilmington, was unanimously adopted after some discussion, participated in by Messrs. A. R. Henry, D. P. Hamilton, and others :

Resolved, That we suggest to the Legislature of our State the propriety of striking out the word "white" wherever it occurs in the laws and statutes of the State.

T. G. Stewart offered the following, which was adopted without discussion :

Resolved, That we hereby utter our abhorrence of the present penal code so far as it inflicts corporal punishment upon citizens convicted of crime, and regard the whipping post and pillory as blots upon our civilization, and a standing reproach to our State.

Mr. A. R. Henry offered the following on the subject of Temperance :

Resolved, That we urge upon the Legislature of Delaware the great necessity of a "Local Option" law for the better protection of the community against the curse of intoxicating liquors.


Mr. Segars thought it best not to touch that subject, but to confine the expressions of the Convention more exclusively to education. He thought it might array prejudice against our efforts.

Rev. Harrison Smith thought the Convention should not fail to speak out against whiskey and in favor of Temperance.

Rev. Sol. Cooper thought if the resolution appeared objectionable to our white fellow citizens, or if it was passed, that its passage would offend them, it could be modified so as to relate to the colored people especially.

Daniel P. Hamilton said No, that won't do We have just asked the Legislature to strike out from all laws the word "white," and we cannot now turn around and ask them to put in the word "colored." We want no special legislation, but simply legislation for the people, and whatever others can live under he thought we could too.

Rev. Joshua Brinkley desired to add his testimony in favor of the resolution and of temperance. He saw a statement sometime ago where the colored people, right in this vicinity, right around Dover, had paid $3000 for whiskey. "I wish I had that money for the church."

Finally, the resolution was adopted.

The Committee on Address to the people of the State, report the following, touching mainly upon education, and asking school privileges. The address was received with applause, and after speeches by Messrs. A. R. Henry, L. J. Coppin, and George S. Walker, was unanimously adopted:

Believing in the sovereignty of the people, and also believing that the people are in the main right upon all questions of justice and patriotism, your Committee beg leave to offer the following address to the people without regard to party or politics:

We take it that our people are loyal and patriotic; that they desire the prosperity of the State and cherish with pride the honor of the country; and that they are willing to bow to the necessities of the situation when fairly seen, and with earnest hands to unite in promoting the common weal.

On behalf of the colored people whom we represent, we feel it our duty again to speak. We know this subject is often pushed before the public, but the evils complained of are not remedied; the wrongs are not redressed, and as long as they exist we must continue "in season and out of season," and by every honorable means to enforce our rights.

We specially ask now that equal school rights be afforded us. This we do not ask merely as a matter of right, but as a crying necessity--a necessity without which the future of our race appears almost utterly hopeless. This appeal is not only addressed to the sense of justice, but to the higher sentiments of generosity and christian philanthropy. It is well known that as a people we are not able to sustain schools among ourselves sufficient to well educate our children. To impose upon us specially this burden, is as unfair as unwise.

From our population of over twenty thousand souls, or nearly one


fifth the entire population of the State, the Legislature does not provide a solitary school, nor appropriate a single dollar of State money. We hold this discrimination as against the genius of our government; insulting to the laws of Congress; detrimental to the best interests of the State, and outrageous to the colored tax payers.

We say against the spirit of the age, because non-progressive in its character and in the interests of ignorance; because tending to perpetuate poverty, multiply crime, and aid in human degradation.

Insulting to the laws of Congress, because directly against the express provisions of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments; laws of the highest authority known in the land. Detrimental to the public good, or to the best interests of the State, because entailing upon the State a burden of ignorance and discontent. For as long as a portion of citizens are thus excluded and restricted in their rights, it is folly to expect that portion to be contented, they must of necessity be a disturbing element, and will not cease to agitate the body politic. Again, it puts upon the State a class of people that must remain poor, and consequently unable to contribute but little to the support of the State and yet which must be the most expensive to govern. Intelligence, it is well known, is much cheaper to the State then ignorance. To foster education then, is the noblest work of the State; to oppose it among any class of citizens is to opposed the State's highest interest.

But this discrimination is outrageous to the colored people, because it is sullen opposition against their rights as citizens. It is founded upon no principle, backed by no argument, but sustained entirely by a prejudice founded upon a long course of false education. We therefore, in the name of all that is good to the State, and on behalf of the dearest interests of the colored people, do again urge upon our white fellow citizens to assist us in educating ourselves so that we may become a people of which the State itself may be proud.

We appeal not now alone to christian philanthropy but we appeal to the sense of fairness and right. By the laws of the State we are entirely ignored in all school privileges; we are not taxed it is true as other citizens are taxed, but the fault is not ours. We are as willing and ready to pay our school tax as any other tax. Let it be levied and collected, and we will find no fault. We will share in common with all other citizens all the burdens of civil government, and only ask an equal share in its benefits. More than this we do not desire; less than this we dare not ask.

In our efforts to secure this right from the State we invite the cooperation of all good citizens, feeling sure that the good we seek will be to the advantage of all.

After adopting the address, the convention was entertained by Mrs. F.E.W. Harper, in reading her excellent poem entitled "Sketches from Southern Life," after which all joined in singing the Doxology, "Praise God from whom all Blessings flow," and the Convention adjourned sine die.

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The Convention of Colored People (1873 : Dover, DE), “Proceedings of the Convention of Colored People Held in Dover, Del., January 9, 1873.,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed July 14, 2020,