Proceedings of the Convention of Colored Citizens of the State of Minnesota in Celebration of the Anniversary of Emancipation and the Reception of the Electoral Franchise: on the First of January, 1869
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CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS
OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA,
IN CELEBRATION OF
THE ANNIVERSARY OF EMANCIPATION, AND THE RECEPTION OF THE ELECTORAL FRANCHISE, ON THE FIRST OF JANUARY, 1869.
THE PRELIMINARY PROCEEDINGS; THE CONVENTION IN ST. PAUL, WITH ALL THE SPEECHES DELIVERED AND THE LETTERS RECEIVED; ALSO THE ORGANIZATION AND CONSTITUTION OF "THE SONS OF FREEDOM."
PRESS PRINTING COMPANY.
324.15 C D281678
CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
REJOICINGS OVER IMPARTIAL SUFFRAGE—PROCESSION—SERENADES—SPEECHES AND REPLIES—MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE—THE CALL—PREPARATIONS.*
Since it has Become known that the amendment to the State Constitution, bestowing the right of suffrage upon colored men has been ratified by a good round majority, the colored people of St. Paul have been jubilant.
They have been devising some method for a public demonstration, but the weather has been of such a character as to prevent a procession.
On Friday evening, the 18th of November, 1868, a meeting was called in the room used by the Pilgrim Baptist Society, as a church; and, after remarks by Messrs. Jernigan, Edwards, Jackson, Hickman, and others, it was concluded to have a Grand Mass Convention, and the following gentlemen were appointed a committee to make necessary arrangements:
Thomas A. Jackson,
Geo. B. Williams,
John A. Jackson,
Phelan Combs, Sr.,
John H. Moffit,
Then this meeting adjourned to participate in a
They having previously employed Seibert's Band, several teams, and the band wagon, and went round to serenade some of the prominent Republicans who have been earnest laborers for this cause. The band was engaged at the Opera House to a late hour, so that it was ten o'clock before the party started.
It consisted of the musicians in Cook & Webb's mammoth band wagon, drawn by four horses. Next another large wagon drawn by four horses, and heavily loaded with colored men, and then several carriages, also loaded with colored men. The first visit was paid to
As soon as the teams halted in front of the gubernatorial residence, the
- The above, also the proceedings of the Convention, are extracted from the columns of the ST. PAUL DAILY PRESS.
4 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
Excellency to the door. After the music, Mr. T. A. Jackson stepped forward and briefly addressed the Governor. He acknowledged the debt of gratitude due from his race to the Governor, for his efforts in their behalf, in fitting and appropriate language, and said that when they should go band alighted and played an air, which brought his to the ballot box to exercise this privilege, they would not forget the party that enfranchised them.
Governor Marshall responded very briefly, saying that it was a simple act of justice, and expressing full confidence that they would use their new privilege judiciously. He closed by inviting them to come into the house and partake of some refreshments. The invitation was accepted and ample justice done to hot coffee, cake, apples and sweet cider, which was bountifully served to all. While the party was being thus handsomely entertained, one of the newly made voters, at the request of Gov. Marshall, sung "Old Shady," after which they took their leave and proceeded elsewhere upon the route marked out. Just before leaving, however, they gave three cheers for the Governor and impartial suffrage.
Coming in Jackson street they halted opposite the entrance to the International Hotel and serenaded Hon. Morton S. Wilkinson, who happened to be in the city.
After the music the spokesman introduced the party. The following are
MR. JACKSON'S REMARKS.
Hon. Morton S. Wilkinson: We, the colored citizens of St. Paul, have called on you this evening to return you our hearty thanks for the part you have always taken in our behalf. You, as one of the great Republican leaders, have ever stood up manfully and battled for the great principle of giving to the black man his rights as a citizen of this State, the franchise of the ballot box. Though quite unpopular, the issue was manfully sustained. You took the ground at the risk of defeat, and maintained it until at last your efforts have been crowned with success; and to you we return our hearty thanks. We have long watched the efforts of our friends. We know them, and shall ever remember them. And to you, as one of the leaders of this great principle, we pledge to the party our hearty and undivided support. The battle has been fought. The victory is won, and to the victor belongs the spoils. We again thank you for your efforts in our behalf.
A voice very much like that of C. D. Gilfillan (for it was in the dark) responded from the balcony. After congratulating them upon their new found privilege, he introduced
HON. MORTON S. WILKINSON,
Who addressed them as follows:
My Fellow Citizens: I thank you for this call to-night, and for your expressions of confidence and esteem. I am gratified to know that I can address you as fellow citizens of this noble young commonwealth--citizens in the fullest, broadest, grandest sense of that term. Citizens to whom is intrusted with others the safe keeping and management of the institutions of the young Republican State.
I congratulate you on the final triumph of the friends of liberty in Minnesota in their efforts to secure impartial suffrage in this State. But it is not you alone who are to reap the fruits of this moral victory. The whole people should rejoice with you over the success of this measure of impartial justice. Its blessings like the dews of Heaven will fall upon us all alike, upon me as well as you.
It was not for you alone that I labored during long and weary years to produce this grand result. It was for humanity that we labored. Not for the American, nor the foreigner, nor the white, nor the black, but it was for man that this great battle was fought. The success of this measure has elevated the people of our State to a higher plane, and a loftier platform, than they ever occupied before.
I shall be proud to represent in Congress the people of a State which forms the vanguard of the army of liberty and republican progress-a State whose people have proven that they can conquer their prejudices and perform an act of justice; notwithstanding the teachings which for a hundred years have been warping the judgment of the American people in favor of tyranny, oppression and slavery.
I have no fear of the result of this triumph. I am fully convinced, that you fully appreciate the relation which you sustain to the State. I am sure that you will exercise the right which is now conferred upon you with that intelligence which will verify the wisdom of those who have labored so long and so faithfully to confer the right of suffrage upon the black man.
Again thanking you for this honor conferred upon me, I bid you good night.
The procession gave three rousing cheers for the speaker, and then proceeded upon its journey.
The next halt was made at the residence of
MR. FRED. DRISCOLL.
After the serenade he was addressed by one of the delegation, as follows:
Mr. Driscoll: Allows us as late accessories to the Republican ranks, to return to your our grateful thanks for the interest you have taken in our behalf, and as the head of the leading paper in the State. We are under many obligations to you. I say, sir, to your efforts, in a great measure, we owe the success of the suffrage measure passed.
Mr. Driscoll announced, after expressing his thanks for the honor conferred, that of the 72,000 citizens of Minnesota, who went to the polls on the 3d inst., 40,000 of them had voted for impartial manhood suffrage. He urged upon them the importance of education, and expressed confidence that the colored man would ever be found acting with the party of progress and humanity, under whatever name it existed. Upon the conclusion of Mr. Driscoll's remarks, the party proceeded to the residence of our worthy Mayor, Dr. Stewart.
At the termination of the musical programme he was addressed as follows:
Sir: We, your colored friends, have taken this occasion to call on you this evening, not as the mayor of the city, for that would not express to you our real feelings toward you ; but as the friend of the oppressed ; as the advocate of right against might. But more especially have we come out to-night to give vent to our pent up feelings. Had we not opened our mouths to-nightand given expression in rejoicing, I think we or some of us would have bursted. I must give you, sir, the wires and mails bring us the glorious and gratifying intelligence that at last the good people of Minnesota have granted manhood suffrage to the black man, have really taken it to their hearts to be just, to grant to the intelligent black man a right to vote for the assessor that places a value on his property. As God created us all free and equal, it was grievous wrong done us in being burthened with all the venom of malicious cruelty and injustice. And why? Because our skin was a little dark. You must indeed, excuse us, sir, for taking this pilgrimage to-night to see you and shake the hand of an honest friend. We come, to be sure, with a shout and a noise, but
6 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
as I said before, we did not open our mouths and pour out our soul this evening, we should lost the opportunity of voting for you at the next Congressional election.
The Doctor was at home, as usual, to his friends, and made a neat little speech welcoming them, after which he invited them all in to accept the hospitalities of the occasion. The bounteous supply of refreshments cheered the inner man of all present, while the beaming countenances of the fair ladies present served to heighten the interest of the occasion. The party left a little after midnight, with cheers for our worthy and liberal hearted mayor.
MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE
The committee appointed on the 13th, was called together on the 18th, when Maurice Jernigan was chosen permanent chairman. Thomas A. Jackson, secretary, and Geo. B. Williams, treasurer.
The following was unanimously adopted:
That in consideration of the passage of the amendment to the State Constitution, erasing the word white from section one, article seven, thereby granting manhood suffrage or political equality to all male persons of the State, regardless of color or nationality ;
And believing a State organization of colored men to be of great necessity, to promote a more general feeling of harmony, to encourage agriculture and general industry, to look to the education and care of the young ; therefore be it
Resolved, That we hold a State Mass Convention, to assemble in Saint Paul, on January the 1st, 1869, the Anniversary Day of the Emancipation of Slavery in the United States, the secretary of this committee to issue a call for the same.
Resolved, That the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer shall be a committee to make general arrangements, and that the chairman shall appoint a Committee on Supper ; and they shall make all necessary arrangements for the same ; also a Committee on Invitations, who shall select speakers for the occasion.
The chairman appointed Messrs. David Edwards, Enase Walker, Geo. Dennis, and Clifton Monroe, as Committee on Supper and Thomas A. Jackson and Edmond James, as Committee on Invitations.
This committee meeting adjourned to meet from time to time at the call of the Chairman.
According to instructions, the Secretary issued the following call:
Grand Mass Meeting of the Colored People of Minnesota, Jan. 1, 1869.-COME ONE, COME ALL! -There will be held in the city of St. Paul, on January 1, 1869, at noon, in Ingersoll Hall, a Grand Mass Meeting of the Colored People of the whole State, to celebrate THE EMANCIPATION OF FOUR MILLION SLAVES, and to express our gratitude for the bestowal of the Elective Franchise to the Colored People of this State, and to perfect a State Organization of the Sons of Freedom.
Gov. Wm. R. Marshall, Hon. Morton S. Wilkerson, Dr. J. H. Stewart (Mayor of St. Paul,) Lt.-Gov. Thos. H. Armstrong, Hon. I. Donnelly, Gen. Levi Nutting, and others, are expected to be present and address the people.
In the evening, after the meeting, there will be served a splendid SUPPER, tickets to which will be distributed during the afternoon by the committee.
NO CHARGE FOR ANYTHING. Friends from abroad come and help us rejoice. Let there be a grand turn out!
Thos. A. Jackson,
Geo. B. Williams,
John A. Jackson,
Phelan Combs, Sr.,
John H. Moffit,
The general and sub-committees were untiring in their efforts, and great was the preparations made for the grand mass meeting. Ingersoll and Odeon Halls were engaged for the occasion, and handsomely decorated with flags, pictured, &c., among which were Lincoln, Grant, Douglass (Fred.) and Garnet, while over the stage was painted in large letters on canvass, the word Emancipation. There was hung on one side of the stage one of the spears used by John Brown and party at Harper's Ferry.
THE RESPONSE TO THE CALL.
The early morning trains of December 31st, gave token that the people were coming. Every train and every stage during the day brought in small squads from different parts of the State; but with the evening trains came special cars from over the Hastings and Minnesota Valley and Central Roads, filled to overflowing.
The morning train on the Pacific Road brought down two well filled cars.
CAUCUSSING AND PREPARATION.
The forenoon was passed in visiting by the friends and strangers from abroad. But the leaders in this movement, selecting the most influential men from the different parts of the State, assembled at the house of Mr. Jernigan, the chairman of the executive committee, and there spend the forenoon in organizing the Sons of Freedom and caucussing, going from there to Ingersoll Hall, where was in waiting a mass meeting in reality.
CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
THE GRAND MASS MEETING.
CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS — CELEBRATION OF THE ANNIVERSARY OF EMANCIPATION AND THE BESTOWAL OF THE ELECTIVE FRANCHISE — OPENING — ELECTION OF OFFICERS — ADDRESSES — GOVERNOR MARSHALL — MAYOR STEWART — GENERAL NUTTING — EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION — RESOLUTIONS — MR. WASHINGTON.
Friday, January 1st, 1869, will long be remembered by the colored citizens of Minnesota, by the advocates of human rights, and also by those who have striven to keep from them the privileges of freemen and citizens. For on this New Year's Day there met at Ingersoll Hall, in this city, in the words of the call, "the colored people of the whole State, to celebrate the emancipation of four million slaves, to express our gratitude for the bestowal of the elective franchise to the colored people of this State, and to perfect a State organization of the Sons of Freedom."
The meeting was in every respect a great success. It was characterized by great earnestness and unbounded enthusiasm, and at the same time with a degree of order, harmony and an exhibition of parliamentary knowledge (both in the presiding officers and members of the convention) and also by a universal courtesy and sobriety, from which the Democratic demagogues who have been so loud in denouncing the ignorance of the negro, may well take lessons in conducting their own meetings.
Indeed, even the anticipations of the warmest friends and advocates of the rights of our colored citizens were more than satisfied with the good order, sober earnestness, harmony, courtesy, sterling good sense, wisdom and appreciation of the demands of the hour, manifested throughout the convention.
OPENING OF THE CONVENTION.
A little before noon, the time appointed for the opening of the convention, the colored people began to assemble in Ingersoll Hall, and with them a large number of spectators, among whom were noticed several prominent Democratic politicians seated upon the back seats. The Great Western Band, the services of which were engaged for the occasion, took position at the front of the gallery and played several inspiring airs, while the crowd was assembling. The colored people generally took seats in the body of the hall, and of themselves formed a good sized and respectable audience.
The meeting was called to order at a quarter before 1 o'clock by Maurice Jernigan, chairman of the committee issuing the call, and temporary president of the convention.
The call for the meeting was then read by Thomas A. Jackson, secretary.
9 GRAND MASS MEETING
The following song, prepared for the occasion, was then sung, with inspiring effect, by the whole audience, the band playing the accompaniment:
FREEDOM AND TRUTH.
When out from oppression, and over the sea,
Whither the Pilgrims came,
They sought for a land where the soul could be free;
This was their glorious aim!
And leaning alone on the Almighty arm,
Singing alike in the storm or the calm,
"Freedom and Truth!" This was their cry,
"We all go for Freedom and Truth!"
When the clouds of oppression came over the main,
Shading the peaceful land,
In the strength of the Father in heaven again
Trusted the feeble band;
Till victory's anthems triumphantly rang,
Freedom's glad voices exultingly sang,
"Freedom and Truth!" This was their cry,
"We all go for Freedom and Truth!"
So ours is the Freedom the Forefathers sought
Over the stormy sea;
And ours is the home of the fetterless thought,
At last 'tis the "home of the free!"
Columbia is free from the chains of a slave,
Earning the fame of the "land of the brave!"
"Freedom and Truth!" This is our cry,
"We all go for Freedom and Truth!"
ELECTION OF OFFICERS.
The Convention then proceeded to the election of permanent officers. R. T. Gray nominated Robert Banks, of St. Paul, as president, who was thereupon unanimously elected.
The following remaining officers and committees were then chosen:
Vice Presidents—A. Miles, of Winona; Wm. Liggins, of Minneapolis; James Griffin, of Wright County; Maurice Jernigan, of St. Paul; and Andy Sanderline, of Faribault.
Secretary—Thomas A. Jackson, of St. Paul.
Assistant Secretary—Addison Drake, of St. Paul.
On motion, the President then appointed the following committees:
Committee on Resolutions—Jackson Overalls, of Hastings, chairman; Mark Cain, J. A. Johnson, R. T. Gray, Edmund James, J. B. Jeffrey, A. Miles, R. S. Burns, W. Liggins.
Committee on Statistics—Messrs. Miles, Stovall and Cain.
ADDRESS OF GOV. MARSHALL.
The foregoing miscellaneous business having been transacted, and the committees sent out, Gov. Wm. B? Marshall was called upon and made the following brief remarks, which were received with the closest attention and favor, and frequently interrupted with enthusiastic applause:
Colored Fellow Citizens: By the warrant of nine thousand majority of the popular vote—in the name of forty thousand of the free electors of this commonwealth, I welcome you to liberty and equality before the law.
10 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
In the name of the State of Minnesota, which have relieved itself of the reproach of unjust discrimination against a class of its people, I welcome you to your political enfranchisement.
By the voice of the people—in this case most truly the voice of God—you are endowed with the highest privileges of American citizenship. Your enfranchisement, by the voluntary act of those who before had the exclusive right to the ballot, is a great moral victory—a great triumph of Republican principles. It is the full embodiment in our laws of the great . truths of American Independence, that all men are created free and equal, and that all just governments derive their power from the consent of the governed.
This change in our State Constitution was not only demanded upon principles of abstract political right, but your race has most worthily earned its enfranchisement. In the words of the great and good Abraham Lincoln, whose imperishable fame is forever linked with the emancipation of your race, the aniversary of which you have appropriately chosen for this celebration, “your race heroically vindicated their manhood on the battle field, where, in assisting to save the life of the Republic they demonstrated in blood, their right to the ballot, which is but the humane protection of the flag they so fearlessly defended."
I shall ever esteem it the highest honor to have borne an humble part in the contest which has achieved your enfranchisement.
I am glad to-day to mingle my voice with yours in rejoicing over the event.
In remembering those who deserve honor for this triumph of liberty, do not forget the name of John W. North, who championed your cause in the Constitutional Convention of 1857, and who more than any other man sowed the seed in this State, which has at last borne this happy fruit.
It remains for you, fellow citizens, in the future to prove your capacity and fitness to enjoy and exercise the right of suffrage. I have faith that you will by industry and morality, by intelligence and virtue, by progress in all that elevates and enobles man, prove to the world that your privileges have been worthily bestowed.
Freed as you now are from all legal hindrances in the race of life, the way is open to you to win the higest rewards of good citizenship.
I bid you God speed in the race.
ADDRESS OF MAYOR STEWART
After music by the band, Dr. J. H. Stewart. Mayor of St. Paul, was called upon, and spoke as follows:
Mr. President and Gentlemen: Permited, by your generous kindness, to take part in the congratulatory festivities, fitly appointed for the opening day of this new year, I gladly avail myself of the occasion to mingle my voice with yours in the jubilant strains of a grateful and general joy.
And I do this the more heartily and sincerely because I am profoundly impressed with the fact that it is not the colored race alone, but the white as well, whose souls ought to thrill with thankful and triumphant emotion, in view of the felicitous consumation which this hour celebrates. For of the two, it is far better to be the victim than the perpetrator of an injustice. And if he be happy who has escaped, even at last, from under the grinding heel of protracted wrong, thrice happy should he be who has had grace and manliness given him to rise above the inflicting of a wrong.
Do not understand me, however, even for moment, as arrogating a credit to the dominant class in America, which does not belong to the dominant class. In the way of spontaneous equity,—so history must write it down,—it is little that this nation, in its organic capacity, has ever done for the enslaved.
Take, for instance, that one sublime event which is the ground and source of our chiefest rejoicing to-day. I mean, of course, the emancipation of four millions of bondsmen from a servitude which had increased in cruelty as it had multiplied in years. The Great Proclamation whereby
GRAND MASS MEETING. 11
that deed of righteousness was accomplished fitly echoed and supplemented the Declaration of Independence. It became, at once, a new Magna Charter to the enthralled of the land. That instrument of Liberty, Abraham Lincoln wrote and gave to the world. To the world, I say, for the beneficent influences of that mighty document are not confined to a class merely, was not confined to a nation, but they went out like waves of the sea, to make their music on the farthest shores of Humanity. God bless the memory of our martyred President. For that one high Act of Executive Authority his name shall outlive the towering shaft, which loving hands will rear over his sacred tomb at Springfield, and his memory shall be hallowed and potent forevermore.
Yet even Lincoln had to abide his time. Prompted as he was by his sympathies for the down-trodden; keen as was his appreciation, and warm as was his love of freedom; strong and constitutional as was his sense of the right, and impossible as he felt it to be to succeed, in the long run, unless the heavy hand of outrage and fraud were lifted, he did not dare to hurry in his opening of the gates of Liberty to All. He had to wait until the nation could be educated up to a point where—not with earnest and united cry it would make irresistable demand for the solemn and just word of disenthrallment to be uttered, but when such an august deliverance in behalf of the rights of man would be tolerated. Never otherwise than reluctantly did this nation at large relinquish its hold upon that institution which had been a curse from the beginning, and which had come to be more and more a blot upon our civilization until at last it was wiped out in blood. Through the discipline of much sharp sorrow, through bruisings and smitings and rendings which brought the ruby life ozzing at every pore, did the ruling powers of this broad free Republic, have to be trained into the notion that liberty is something for others as well as themselves—something for the weak as well as the strong. Providence forced justice upon us.
We were like a ship that has been put in commission to transport prisoners across the sea. We kept our captives in close confinement until the storm arose. And at the first bursting of the gale we even riveted their their bonds afresh by publishing abroad through high and accredited official organs that in no event was the status of the slave to be affected in America by the issues of civil war. Not until the tempest had increased to fearful proportions and blackness lowered in every direction and thunders reverberated all around the sky, and the waves, running mountain high, threatened every moment to engulf, and joints were loosened and every beam and timber in the old ship of state swayed and creaked and sails were flying into shreds, and many and many a precious one had gone down into the dark waters in attempting to break the awful fury that was doing its wild work. Not until the stern exigency of our own deep needs had been felt, did it occur to us to go down to these wronged and patiently waiting ones to say, “Help us, help us, and this moment your fetters shall be cast into the deep, and when we reach the port you shall be as we are, all free, all equal before the law." Necessity constrained us into equity. It is not to men, therefore, but to God to whom the credit is to be given, to God by whom all the credit is to be taken for this great, glad deliverance of four millions of our people from a tyranny that was worse than death. For it was God who forged the lightnings which shivered the might of the oppressor, and melted in twain the chains of the oppressed. It was God who uttered the thunders that shook down the stout walls of the dismal prison house in which the enforced and outraged toilers of the South groaned and languished. A Wisdom and a Power and a Love, clearer and juster and diviner than any to which this American people, or any people on the globe, have ever yet attained, wrought out emancipation. Mr. Lincoln's claim to gratitude, the claim also of those who have been illustrious pioneers of liberty in this land, and those who are co-workers with him in unloosing heavy burdens that the oppressed might go free, is that of willingness, nay, rather is that of burning desire to be a child and instrument of Providence in bringing to pass this glorious result.
12 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
But though this opportunity for self-gratulation be diminished in view of the way it has been brought about, yet the prize is not less that the burden has been lifted and the stain erased. So to-day let us all be glad with the rare and exquisite joy of those who love liberty and hail with delight every advance which liberty can make amongst any people in any quarter of the globe. The relics of the barbarism of slavery still linger—linger in the hates and proscription and prejudice and cruelties of ostracism which in many sections are still riveted upon the released bondsmen, and these relics may linger yet longer; but the system is broken, ground to powder, and can never again be established on these shores. We shall be vexed no more with the sound of clanking chains—no more with the sight of horrid auction blocks—no more with pathetic stories of Uncle Tom's Cabins—no more with the sorrowful tales of Dismal Swamps—no more with the bayings of pursuing bloodhounds—no more with the deep moans and strong cryings of unrequited toilers. Slavery is dead, dead, forever dead. For looking toward the South we see that Whittier's words, written thirty years ago, and slightly changed into adaptation to the circumstances of to-day are true:
"And from the rich and sunny land,
The song of grateful millions rise,
Like that of Israel's ransomed band
Beneath Arabia's skies.
And all who once were bound beneath
Our banner's shade—our eagle's wing,
From Slavery's night of moral death—
Have had the power to spring."
But there is one other act, the logical sequence of this larger and more comprehensive event of Emancipation, of which I have just been speaking—the bestowment of the Elective Franchise upon the Colored People of Minnesota—for which I think those who are, and who for the last number of years, have been in a majority in this Commonwealth, may fully claim a more generous meed of praise. Of its own motion, and because it thought it was right, the Republican Party submitted this question to the people. Defeated the first time the same party submitted it again. And again defeated, it once more threw down the gauntlet, and the third time it won. The same tide which bore Horatio Seymour out, to be hopelessly and everlastingly whelmned in his "sea of troubles," bore the Black Man in that evermore, so long as he remains within our borders, he might ride in the peaceful haven of his full and assured rights. The same struggle which triumphantly put Gen. Grant in possession of the White House, put the Black Man in possession of the ballot. The same voice which said to the turbulent South—"Peace be still,"—said to the Black Man who chooses to make his home in our towns and on our prairies—"Hereafter you may vote."
There are those who denounced Negro Suffrage, who have written against it, and resolved against it, and spoken against it; but the Republican party did not shrink from advocating it, even when, as the event proved, it was unpopular in its own ranks.
There are those who have sought bitterly and strenuously and have fought to the very last to withhold Negro Suffrage, but the Republican party have been just as determined to grant it, and it has done it.
And it ought to heighten the satisfaction we feel to-day to remember that same November hour which put the ballot into the hand of the negro in Minnesota, armed him with the same potent weapon of self-defense and freedom in our sister State of Iowa. By judicial decision it was already his in Wisconsin. So that henceforth the great Northwest is to stand a solid unit for human rights. Whoever, therefore, white or black, crosses their threshold and takes up his residence in these lands of wheat and health, need not in the future, even though he comes from Massachusetts or South Carolina, leave behind him any prerogative or protection of his manhood, side by side, without regard to the color of his skin, men are to walk to the ballot box because they are men and citizens of the republic.
13 GRAND MASS MEETING
And what a grand and rapid marching of events does this denote! Ten years ago commerce and trade and newspapers and pulpits and manufacturies and caste and politics, were almost all in hideous league to maintain intact an institution without warrant either in name, or justice, or policy. To-day, out of the thirty-seven States of this Union colored men vote on the same terms on which other men vote in nineteen of them. In two other, New York and New Jersey, they vote under certain property qualifications. By the terms of the Acts of Reconstruction they must vote in Texas and Mississippi and Virginia when these States are severally admitted. So there are but eleven States left in which they refuse a man the right to vote—not on the ground of his citizenship—not on the ground of his wealth—not on the ground of his moral character—not on the ground of his intelligence—for he may have all of these, citizenship, wealth, moral character, intelligence, in high degree—but on the ground that God has put kinks in his hair and given him a dark complexion. But can these States brave the current of the age, think you? Can Connecticut and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Illinois hold out against the progress and civilization of America in the nineteenth century? Nay, I tell you, NAY!
With all these grand things done, then, and with these grand things sure to be done in the near future, it is fit that we congratulate each other and take heart and gather enthusiasm for the new duties that await us.
I might say something about the responsibility of the ballot—something about the sacredness with which it should be deposited, in order that our free institutions may be preserved for all time to come. But I am not here to lecture, nor to counsel those who have recently been clothed with the highest possible prerogative and obligation of citizenship. Other men, in other places, will do both. Those who never uttered any protests when the colored man was in bonds, but insisted that that was the right place for him; others who cried out in sorrow and stern denunciation when Abraham Lincoln went down and whispered "Freedom" in his listening ear—those who, after he was liberated, tried still to make him a mere menial and serf in a land of freemen—these will never weary of advising the colored man. Very high and pure too will be the standard of citizenship which they will hold up to his gaze. Very likely they will shut him out from the schools, but they will insist, with pathetic emotion, that he is intelligent, and if, perchance, a colored man be found who couldn't read his vote, what a hue and cry would be raised. Very likely it will be but a sorry provision of straw which they will help to furnish in the way of openings and opportunities for work; but they will not fail to exact the full tale of bricks; and if, perchance, a colored man should happen to be found indulging in idleness, what holy horror would be expressed, and what lugubrious essays there would be on the sin of colored idleness! Very likely their own habits would keep them from exposing a great amount of whisky with which to tempt colored men into drunkenness; but if, perchance, a colored man should happen to be seen reeling up and down the streets, what gallons and gallons of cold water would be poured on the poor fellow's head in the way of touching temperance lectures! And when a colored man breaks the laws and commits a crime, into what agony of emphasis will the types swell that he and all the world may see how much worse it is in him to lie and steal, and rob and murder, than for others! It wouldn't be strange if these men should take such an interest in the colored man and become so solicitous for his welfare, as occasionally to set him up for office. They did it in Boston. And certainly they can't be blamed for wanting a respectable Representative now and then. All these duties will be discharged by others.
As for me I trust the colored man, I think it is safe to trust him. He is trustworthy. He was trustworthy when he had all the motives of a terrible bondage to exasperate him. I do not doubt he will be trustworthy when he as freedom to sustain him to propriety and order. He was trustworthy when he had a musket in his hand. I do not doubt he will
14 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
be trustworthy when he has a ballot in his hand. This Republic did not find herself disappointed when she leaned on the negro in war. I think the States will receive no detriment at his hands in time of peace.
In 1842, Henry W. Longfellow under the title of "The Warning," said:
"There is a poor blind Samson in this land.
Shorn of his strength and bound in bonds of steel,
Who may in some grim revel raise his hand,
And shake the pillars of the Commonwealth
Till the vast Temple of our Liberties
A shapeless mass of wreck and rubbish lies.
No! the "poor blind Samson" waited patiently while God dashed his keepers madly against each other, and to-day the Temple of Liberty stands and the negro treads its high courts as God made him — A MAN. All hail, then, to human rights. Let them broaden with the ages!
Dr. Stewart's speech was received with hearty indications of interest and approval, which at times burst forth in storms of cheers.
REMARKS OF GENERAL NUTTING.
Gen. L. Nutting, in response to the calls made upon him, made a few remarks. He said that he noticed that the Committee on Resolutions had just come in, and he should speak but a moment. He should have refused to speak at all but for the reminiscences recalled by his old friend, of the times when it cost something to be an abolitionist. He had looked on such audiences before; but when it was at the peril of life and limb. From a similar audience in Boston he had looked out on a howling mob; he at that time had taken almost his last hundred dollars to help redeem William and Ellen Crafts, who were being taken back to slavery. Theodore Parker who had stood up in his pulpit in their defense had armed his right hand to defend those who had fled to his house for refuge.
He had commenced in 1848; twenty-eight years ago to last fall he had voted for Mr. Birney [cheers]. He did not wish to prejudice his hearers against those who had conscientously in times past voted for negro suffrage.
They would find plenty of men ready to tell them how to vote; a leading paper opposed to them, had that same morning so changed its tone as to speak of them as "our colored fellow citizens." "Probably," said the speaker, "they will be claiming you as blood relations before the spring elections."
[Cries of "Pioneer."]
A good deal of advice would be given them; he would only say vote justly — vote rightly. Vote for the Republican party if they thought that was right. [Cheers.] They should not degrade themselves by forming a colored man's party. They were American citizens, (enthusiastic cheers,) and should vote as such without regard to color or position.
Gen. Nutting's remarks were listened to with eagerness, and frequently applauded.
THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION.
The Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln was then read with fine effect by R. T. Gray, of Minneapolis, the Band following it with the air "The Star Spangled Banner."
The Committee on Resolutions then reported the following:
15 GRAND MASS MEETING
WHEREAS, On the 22nd day of September, in the year of our Lord 1862, a Proclamation was issued by the lamented Abraham Lincoln, then President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit: That on the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be thenceforth and forever free. And
WHEREAS, By virtue of the power vested in him as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, among other declarations, he further declared: Upon this sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God. And
WHEREAS, The Hon. Chas Sumner did propose and submit to Congress an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, further declaring that slavery or involuntary servitude except for crime, throughout the land should be abolished—which amendment was sustained and ratified by the requisite number of States in the manner prescribed by the Constitution of the United States. And
WHEREAS, These grand political measures combined, have completed our enfranchisement, and declared Liberty the Law of the Land, thereby giving a necessary occasion for this demonstration of joy and expression of our heartfelt gratitude to the Nation for this awakening of the public conscience, and that love of Freedom and Justice inherent in the American heart. And
WHEREAS, Our own dear Commonwealth of Minnesota has given us further cause of "exceeding great joy" by expunging from the Organic Law of the State the only obstacle preventing recognition of the full and equal measure of our rights as citizens. Therefore
Resolved, That we are under lasting obligations to the Apostles of American Freedom, and the agitators of the living issues in the anti-slavery and anti-caste cause, for the educational training and moral discipline that they have given to American thought; for the sacrifices they have made, the social ostracism they have sustained, and the martyrdom they have endured; for the highly successful services rendered to the meek, and lowly, who had neither money nor price to give; — to these respectively, whether through the press, in the pulpit, or upon the forum, and throughout the other walks of life, wherein they have "cried aloud and spared not" for Equal Laws and Equal Rights, without regard to caste or color — to these, each and all, we render the most sincere praises and thank-offerings of our hearts, while we solemnly resolve to dedicate anew the best energies of our lives, and such intelligence as has been given us, to the vindication of our benefactors, and to demonstrate to them and to the civilized world, that those efforts and those sacrifices for the amelioration of the condition of their more unfortunate fellow men, shall not have been made in vain, and that these inestimable rights and priviliges have not been unworthily bestowed.
Resolved, That in consideration of the eminent services rendered by that truly great and good man, Abraham Lincoln — he being one of the earthly instrumentalities through which Heaven's great law of Universal Liberty was proclaimed to the Bondmen — it is incumbent upon every colored American to cherish with reverence and gratitude the memory of that exemplary and Christian statesman.
Resolved, That we never can forget the debt of gratitude we owe to the valor, fidelity and privations of the Union army and navy; who, had they not been successful in overthrowing the most gigantic rebellion ever inaugurated, would have found us to-day the helpless and unprotected victims of the teachings and necessarily cruel workings of that policy promulgated as the chief corner stone of the intended Slaveholders' Confederacy.
Resolved, That we enjoin upon all colored citizens, with especial solicitude, to foster and encourage those moral duties which build up
16 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
such traits of character as integrity, wealth and intellectual culture. The liberality with which the State has placed the means of acquiring an education within the reach of all, makes it our bounden duty to keep our youths in regular attendance in the public schools. A neglect of this amounts to a crime. The necessity for it must be apparent. Republican institutions lose all hopes of perpetuity where ignorance prevails among the people. It thus becomes us to give to the cause of education all the encouragement of which we are capable. We must educate-EDUCATE our youth, if we expect them to possess these fine distinctions of mind and character arising from a well cultured and firmly adjusted moral nature, and make them what an American citizen should be.
MR. E. JAMES OFFERS A SUBSTITUTE.
Mr. Edmond James, of St. Paul, offered the following as a substitute for the first resolution, which he said was too long and wordy, and not enough to the point:
Resolved, That to the Republican party is due our grateful acknowledgment for the many and diverse changes in our condition, from the hound-hunted species of property, who for nearly a century had no rights which a white man, possessing the same physical nature, the same gift of Five Senses, the same love and affection, was bound to respect ; for giving to brutalized, skin-browned man his rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ; and we pledge to that party, as a unit, as long as it shall maintain honest men and honest measures, our support.
The substitute was adopted and the resolutions passed unanimously.
[The first resolution—the one stricken out—was presented in the evening, in a more condensed from, but the same in substance, and also unanimously adopted.]
A COLORED ORATOR FROM WISCONSIN.
Mr. Washington, from Trimbelle, Wisconsin, was then called on and responded in a speech somewhat unpolished, but full of wit, common sense, and telling hits that went to the heart of the audience, but that could not be reported without losing their force in the telling. He reviewed the past history of struggles of the friends of the slave, and the conflicts to secure their rights. His remarks were pointed with capital illustrations that produced expressions of laughter and applause.
THE EVENING SESSION.
PRAYER AND PRAISE—LETTERS FROM GEN C. C. ANDREWS AND CHAS. GRISWOLD—SPEECHES OF MORTON S. WILKINSON AND IGNATIUS DONNELLY—SUPPER—CLOSING PROCEEDINGS.
The Convention re-assembled promptly at seven o'clock. The floor of the hall and gallery were both densely packed, a large number of white people being present.
EVENING SESSION. 17
On calling the Convention to order, Mr. Banks, the chairman, made a few remarks and introduced Rev. A. B. Paterson, of St. Paul's Church, (Episcopal) to make the opening prayer. Mr. Paterson stepped to the front of the stage and requested the audience to arise, and at the conclusion of his prayer, to join with him in repeating the Lord's Prayer.
The whole congregation then sang "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
LETTER FROM GEN. C. C. ANDREWS.
St. Paul, Minn., Dec. 26, 1868.
Mr. Thomas A. Jackson, Secretary of Committee, &c., St. Paul:—Dear Sir: I am honored by your letter of the 7th inst., inviting me to a meeting of the colored people commemorative of the adoption of the suffrage amendment, but fear I will not be able to attend.
I am glad the colored people of Minnesota have the disposition and spirit publicly to celebrate that important event. While it is to them a matter of special interest, the whole people of the State have likewise great cause to rejoice, that their fundamental law has been liberalized by striking from it a provision that made the mere color of a man's skin a disqualification for political rights. We can all feel that Minnesota has advanced; that she now occupies a more enlightened, humane and elevated position, from having ratified the suffrage amendment.
I beg leave to recommend that the colored people organize their political influence. The fewer they are in number, the more essential that they should do. They should make their political privileges as effective as possible.
If a people would preserve their liberties, they must be habituated to the practice of politics, from primary meetings—the sources and springs of government—up to the legislative assembly. Politics, neglected by the many, become monopolized by the few; and we would be liable to fall into that unsafe condition where everything is done for the people and nothing by them. Let me impress upon you how essential it is to the success of popular government that the people learn to act for themselves and rely on their own resources.
Very respectfully your obedient servant,
C. C. ANDREWS.
LETTER OF CHARLES GRISWOLD.
Paynesville, Dec. 15, 1868.
Mr. Thomas A. Jackson:—Dear Sir: Your favor of December 4th, in which you do me the honor of inviting me to be present at your convention, is at hand. I very much regret that my business arrangements are of such a nature as to rend it impossible for me to comply with your kind request.
Allow me, however, to rejoice with you, that at last that foul blot upon the constitution of our State, which made the accident of color a test of manhood, is wiped away, and that the people have at last accorded to your race those rights which long since were theirs under the laws of a righteous government.
How rapid has been the march of public sentiment for the past few years toward the right, on all those great moral questions which so essentially affect the well-being of your race! But a short time since slavery was in its glory, spreading its accursed influence over all the land. Now it is blotted out, I trust, forever.
A short time since, and even in the Northern States, it reckoned its advocates by the million. Now, in the same section we can hardly find the man who is willing to admit that he ever stood forth to advocate, directly or indirectly, the institution of slavery. When in the winter of 1865 I introduced a bill in the Legislature of this State having for its object manhood suffrage, I not only met with opposition from the
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called Democratic party and press, but Republicans were found in great numbers who gave me the cold shoulder, and some of them hesitated not to assail me with intense bitterness. But since that time how great the change! Denunciations of those who dare to stand up in behalf of universal suffrage are no longer heard from Republican lips, while those who gave this measure but a lukewarm support, are now found among its most earnest advocates.
Now recognized as men among men, you have before you a future bright with the promise of better things. It is now yours to vindicate yourselves from the foul aspersions of your enemies, and to prove to them, as I firmly believe you will, that a difference of color does not prove an inferiority of mind.
That the blessing of Heaven may ever rest upon the colored people of this land, and that they may long live to labor and vote for all that is right, is the earnest prayer of
Your humble servant,
SPEECH OF HON. M.S. WILKINSON
My Fellow Citizens:—While coming into town this morning in the cars, I read in one of your city newspapers a notice of this Convention, and in it there were some very good advice to those who were expected to address you. We were counselled in that notice to be brief, and not to bore those who were to assemble with long speeches.
I readily accept this advice, because I have come here rather to join in your festivity and mingle with you in your rejoicing, than to talk.
My speeches on the question, the triumph of which you have met to celebrate, have all been made. I feel that my work is done.
Fellow citizens, as I look upon the vast assemblage before me, upon this intelligent body of men and women, called together to commemorate the greatest event of the times, I can but feel that this is an occasion of great interest to me. It is one that awakens in my memory, the recollections of the stern conflicts of the past.
It calls up in my mind the good old days mentioned in one of the resolutions adopted a few minutes since. It was a noble resolution, which referred to the men who were true to liberty when it cost something to be an abolitionist.
It reminds me of the time when my revered father, who now slumbers in his grave, was laboring in Central New York to awaken the public conscience to the great sin of Human Slavery. [Cheers]
My friends, well might you say in your resolutions, that the early Abolitionists were entitled to your warmest and most heartfelt thanks. It shows that you fully appreciate the terrible ordeal through which these great reformers passed. It shows that you have appreciative and warm hearts.
This occasion also reminds me of events of thrilling interest in the lives of some of these able defenders of the right. It was less tan thirty years ago that the great and good William Lloyd Garrison was led, half naked and with a rope around his neck through the streets of Boston and even in the shadow of Old Fanuel hall—(whose hall and arches in the day of the Revolution resounded with the eloquence of Otis, of Adams, and of Hancock)—followed by an enraged, howling mob, crying as the rabble did in the streets of Jerusalem 1800 years ago, crucify him—crucify him. This man by his stern virtues, by his devotion to truth and by his lofty courage, lived to see the triumph of the principles of liberty to which he devoted all the energies of his great powers of mine. He lived to witness the great conflict of the forces of Slavery and Freedom on this continent. He lived to fee the earth tremble beneath the march of a million of armed men, advancing with the resistless tread to the rescue of the national life, and see them trample in the dust, the last remains of slavery in America; he lived to see a Republican President issue his proclamation of emancipation—a restored Union and a free Constitution—now that his work is ended and his triumph complete, he lays off his armor—and now there is a strange
EVENING SESSION 19
scene in Boston, a large procession moves through the streets headed with music and banners, amid the ringing of bells and the booming of cannon, showing that some great event is being celebrated; what is it? "The slave is free, the great struggle is ended for which the great soul of Garrison had long and anxiously looked. He went down to the steamer, and the elite of the city of Boston were there, and addressed him as the first Abolitionist of the country, and in behalf of the citizens of that city, presented him with thirty thousand dollars in gold, previous to his departure to Europe. What had this man done to meet such honor? Simply the same thing which caused him to be mobbed thirty years before:—He was the defender of human rights [cheers.] In early life he planted himself upon the sound rock of human liberty. For this and nothing else was he thus wronged and thus honored. What a great change he now saw, from that which attended his early efforts in his behalf.
It is now easy to be an abolitionist, it is easy to be an abolitionist after Lincoln had issued his emancipation proclamation which struck the shackles from four millions of human beings, but it was not so easy twenty years ago.
Thank God for this great triumph, for this ascendancy of the great principles of human liberty.
I belive, my friends, that upon the triumph of this principle depended the national ife. I know that some will sneer at this remark, but I tell you and I am willing to stake my reputation upon it, that in my humble judgment, this nation could not have permanently existed with the system of human slavery changed to its Constitution [Cheers.] Slavery and freedom were antagonistic elements in this government and are just as sure to make a commotion where they conflict as in the chemical world when alkali and acid are brought into contact. When these two forces met in hostile conflict upon the battle field there was a trembling all over this country as to the result, but I did not tremble. My father taught me that righteousness and truth were sure to triumph; and when this conflict came, when the forces of the nation were being mustered for the conflict, I felt just as certain as i know feel that we should triumph because there was the army of treason and slavery on one side, and the forces of the Almighty upon the other.
I remember some of these old abolitionists. How grand, how sublime their heroism! I remember when Gerrit Smith first undertook to address a meeting on the subject of slavery in Syracuse, New York. I remember how calm his face in the excitement of the mob. There he stood as calm and inflexible as the principles he advocated. Gerrit Smith knew that the lord was with him. [Prolonged cheers.]
I have said more already than I intended to, before this orderly respectable meeting, which in point of respectability I should be glad to have some of our Democratic friends compare with some of their State Conventions which have been held in this city [Prolonged cheers and laughter]
So far as Minnesota is concerned, we have done our part in the enfranchisement of the colored race. The solution to that question reminds with you. It has been said that the white race were the dominate race of the world, and with some degree of truth. The white race have been dominant and the solution of that is to be found in the single word WORK.
The right of franchise cannot elevate you to respectability among men. If you would be respected in the sight of the nation, you must work; if you would be respected by good men, you just hew out your own fortunes. [Cheers.] You must care your way through the solid rock, as the Caucasian has done and rise to be dominant among the nations of the earth. It is work that will do it. Do not be content to be barbers and porters in hotels, but be men, hard-handed, laborious men. it was for such men that the homestead law was passed.
When I first went to Congress in 1860, there was an administration in power which I thank God, soon went out. [cheers.] which allowed no place for you in the Homestead Law; no homestead for the black man; but through the influence of some of those heroes who ruled the hour, this
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distinction was wiped out, and now there are homes and homesteads for you and your children, as well as for me and my children.
Thanks to the administration of the good Lincoln, he declared that these colored people's rights should be respected; and when on one occasion, some allusion was made to the Dred Scott decision, he said "he did not think it worth while to be higgling about the citizenship of the black man, he thought that question was being pretty well settled down South." [Cheers.]
Now, my fellow citizens, I hope you will take these things into consideration, teach your sons that this broad domain is for you, as well as the white man; make your children mechanics, amke them blacksmiths, make them house builders, make them stone-masons—and be assured that through labor, and through labor alone, you are to be honored and respected among men.
Now, my fellow citizen, permit me to thank you for the privilege I enjoy of sharing in your festivities here to-night, and before I close, to refer to a grander celebration which I had the privilege of witnessing in the city of Washington, where there was assembled an audience of six thousand in a grand jubilee to celebrate the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. But the best of all, the grandest of all, to those who had labored for the triumph of these principles, there was not a drunken or disorderly man in that six thousand.
Now, I have no doubt,—aye I know you will appreciate these privileges conferred upon you, these great privileges of equality before the law in the State of Minnesota.
You have been very fortunate in the selection of the time and place for your grand jubilee. You have chosen St. Paul, the capitol of the State, of the free, young, noble Minnesota. You have chosen the anniversary of the great Proclamation of Emancipation, and if in this city the majority was against you, the grand agricultural people were for you. [Cheers.]
It was said at one time after the abolition of slavery int he District of Columbia, that Washington was the Eden of the black man, but I am more proud of Minnesota than ever before, for the people have conquered their prejudices and have wiped out the distinction between races; and all people, if they see fit to avail themselves of it may here enjoy the fullest liberty and equality. I know—I always knew—that you will vindicate the wisdom and prudence of the friends of impartial suffrage, by your observance of the laws of the country.
We have now in Minnesota a government that is a Republican government in truth and in fact, as it pretended to be in theory.
Our fathers made a slight mistake in the formation of the Constitution, in that they had not wiped out this disgrace upon the nation's honor, by planting that instrument upon the solid rock of equal rights to all; and it was a conviction of this fact that made the great captain of the age say in 1863, in a letter to the people of Memphis, that "human liberty is the only true foundation of human governments."
I thank you for this attention. I bid you farewell, and extend you my hearty good-will in this new relation you now sustain to your country and society. [Prolonged cheers.]
SPEECH OF HON. IGNATIUS DONNELLY.
After the execution of a fine piece of music by the band, loud calls were made for Mr. Donnelly, and upon being introduced he was greeted with long continued applause. He spoke as follows:
That great and good man Abraham Lincoln, once said when called upon to make a speech in answer to a sernade that he "found it very difficult to talk when he had nothing to say," and he said, "There is my friend Bill Seward who can talk two hours upon nothing and say nothing," (Laughter.)
My friends, I feel almost in the position represented by that remarkable man. The time of argument has passed; the emancipation and enfranchisement of the colored people so far as the State of Minnesota is con-
EVENING SESSION. 21
concerned, is beyond question—it is an accomplished fact. If I therefore followed my first impressions I should simply say I most heartily and earnestly congratulate you, upon the ratification by the people of that amendment to the Constitution, which you are met here to-night to celebrate.
WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED.
It has been the culmination of a long and terrible struggle. There is nothing beyond this for you. So far as your country is concerned the future rests in your own hands.
It has been the culmination of a terrible struggle, commencing in the dark and awful past ; commencing even so far back as the first slave ship which bore across the shuddering waters of the Altantic to the shores of the new world, its fearful burden, under circumstances of cruelty and barbarity for which the world has no parallel.
The struggle has gone on through all the past of our history; from that time, when, on the fields of the south, under the lash of slavery, the colored men toiled and suffered, through convulsion and civil war, fighting under the flag of our country, you have struggled up, aided by the benevolent sentiment of your fellow men, to this dignified position which you now occupy as equal citizens of our nation.
I once had the pleasure of listening to a speech by one of your distinguished men, Frederick Douglass. He spoke in Washington, and was listened to by an audience that could not be surpassed for cultivation and intelligence. He spoke in the aristocratic church of Dr. Sunderland, and as he stood up in the pulpit he said : "My friends, it has been a long and hard struggle from my master's corn field to Dr. Sunderland's pulpit." (Applause.) This sentence tells your own history as a people. Through just such a hard, long struggle have you gone. For you of Minnesota, the struggle is at an end. You stand equal to-day before the law with your fellow men of other races, every opportunity thrown open to you, every barrier torn down, left free to work out the highest destiny of which you are capable.
PROGRESS OF THE RACE.
The history of mankind presents no more wonderful events than are to be found in connection with the history of your race in this country. What is the reason of this, my friends? The hidden spirit which underlies it, is the spirit of Christianity. It is the spirit of that great religion which said, "As ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them." It is that great inspiration by which you are instructed to "love your neighbor as yourself." The history of the world is a history of the working out of these principles, changing the minds and hearts of men, and lifting them up to the proud level of doing justice to the humble and the helpless.
THE DOMINANT RACE.
We are a proud people, we people of the white skin. We claim to be the domimant race of the world. In some sense we are, but in the midst of our pride, let us not forget, that the first glimmerings of civilization came from the dark-skinned races of the world. The explorers of modern times, as they have penetrated to the elevated plains of interior Africa, have found there the traces of an aboriginal and peculiar civilization. They have found villages entirely excluded from all contact with outside civilization, where the metals have been mined and worked by cunning artificers from an immemorial age. The revelations of history, and the investigations of science, show that the first dawnings of civilization were found amid the Hametic or negro races. They transmitted it to the mongrel race of Egypt—a mingling of Semetic and Caucasian stocks with the Nubian ; and deep in the soil of the valley of the Nile, far below the
CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
foundations of the great works of man which decorate that region, are found the relics of this most ancient civilization. And this is the pedigree of civilizations. The Egyptian transferred it to the Phoenician, who scattered it in colonies along both shores of the Mediterranean; the torch was caught up by the Greeks; from the Greeks it passed to the Romans; from the Romans it was transmitted to the Goth, the Celt and the Sclavonians of Europe, to-day the dominant and master races of the world.
When the white Aryan races of the high plains of Central Asia, akin to our own stocks, descended upon the regions of India, they there found in the possession of the dark-skinned races of that land a civilization higher than their own. When we remember these things, we should learn to be at least charitable in our estimate of the other races of the world.
But all this civilization to which I have referred, was hard and bitter in its nature, and presented humanity in its darkest and most terrible aspects.
At last, on the plains of Judea, in a remote province of the Roman Empire, holding very much such relation to Rome and New Mexico does to-day to the United States, there rose up a being more than human, who in the very heyday and culmination of Roman greatness, sent forth a wonderful declaration of principles to the world; --not of bloodshed, not of cruelty, not of conquest, but the grand doctrine of universal charity, universal benevolence, and universal justice. Lo! what a great light has towered up to enlighten the darkened world. And the white race, the race called dominant, are but the instruments in the hands of God to carry these glorious principles to the remotest regions of the world. [Prolonged cheers.]
But these principles have had one long, dark, terrible struggle from the day when they found their birth in Judea. First, they encountered the hard, unprogressive spirit of Hebraism; then the cruel and licentious genius of the Roman people; and then the fierce barbarians, who poured in stormy hordes out of Northern Europe. But everywhere it triumphed, over art and bigotry and barbarism and cruelty, until to-day it possesses the hearts of the entire white race of the world with the principles of universal love and the brotherhood of man. [Cheers.]
Before the genius of Christianity all the hardness and cruelty of the olden times has melted and disappeared; and it stands up to-day the light of the world, the very soul and inspiration of modern civilization. And my friends we here in America have put these principles into embodied form. The Constitution of the United States is but the legal expression of the Sermon on the Mount.
The Chicago platform of 1860, is a segment of the great circle of Christianity. [Cheers.] And so we have gone forward until in this land we have broken all shackles, until in this State we have said to you: Poor oppressed, down-trodden people, come and share out benefits and blessings; this invigorating climate, this fertile soil, these free institutions, these unlimited opportunities, they are not for ourselves along, they belong in common to all the children of God; they were created for the benefit of mankind; and this mighty struggle has gone on, not for us along, but for the oppressed in all the world. [Great cheering.]
PROGRESS OF THE WORLD.
From this elevated position you now occupy you can, as from a secure rock of safety, look abroad and read the struggle through which we have passed. You can look over the stormy South, where the problem of human society is being worked out in darkness and tempest; you can hear their cries, and see them struggling up towards light, and hope, and safety.
The whole world marches together,--the nations go forward shoulder to shoulder. Look at England. While Minnesota enfranchises black men, England is extending these same privileges to white men; and new ele-
EVENING SESSION. 23
ments are entering into their government, which makes the old feudalisms, aristocracy and royalty shake and tremble to their base. [Cheers.]
In France, even the genius of that Napoleon, fit successor of the great Emperor, is impotent to suppress the sullen mutterings of liberty, and France sits to-day upon the crest of a volcano, ever ready to burst and deluge that land, not with ashes, but with liberty [Sensation.]
And in Italy the spirit of the red-shirted Garibaldi, walks abroad over the tombs of the Caesars, innovating, reforming, breaking the armor and beating down the spirit of despotism. And to-day the spirit of Garibaldi is the spirit of new Italy, and rules the land more effectually than the sword of Victor Emanuel. [Cheers.]
And see where in the remote southwest of Europe upon that Iberian peninsula, the battle field of nations from the time of Julius Caesar to the time of Bonaparte, even there the light has been breaking, the battle of freedom has been going on, and grand old Spain proclaims that hereafter no person born on Spanish soil shall be born a slave ! [Applause.]
Who shall say that the spirit of Christ does not walk upon the waters and the lands?
And it is indeed a joy to know that this wonderful moral advance is accomplished everywhered by an equally remarkable material growth and development, and by an improvement in the condition of mankind, for which the past history of the world affords no parallel.
In our own country we present a spectacle which may well challenge the astonishment and admiration of the nations. Everywhere growth, increase, industry, commerce, wealth, happiness. Across the continent stretches the Union Pacific Railroad, stretching from the Mississippi Valley to the Pacific Ocean, now nearly completed, but two days of staging intervenes between the termini of this great road-one of the marvels of modern times. Even in remote India, the work of progress extends, and we see where four thousand miles of railroads have been built at an expense of 440 millions of dollars advanced in subsidies by the British government.
Turn to Egypt, which for thousands of years—from the time of Cleopatra—has slept the sleep of death, and even there the awakening spirit of progress is present; and under the very shadows of pyramids and in sight of the tombs of the Pharaohs, we find steam plows of American manufacture turning up the sod, propelled by steam made from coal brought from Manchester and Newcastle. [Long and continued applause.]
Aye, my friends, we live in a glorious, in a wonderful age. Our portion of mankind always, since the revival of civilization in Europe, moved forward. At first it progressed slowly and almost imperceptibly. The movement of society was like the movement of the old glaciers on the Alps,—those great rivers of ice, where, to mark the advance, Agassiz had to drive stakes, one in the adjacent rock, and one in the face of the glacier, and then watch for hours, perhaps for days, to determine that any progress has been made. And even as the glacier in its slow but irresistible movement tore and wore the breast of the rocks over which it passed, so this movement tore and wore the breast of the rocks over which it passed, so this movement towards liberty, disrupted the very bosom of society. Now the glacier has melted into the mighty river of human progress, broad and rapid, gay with streamers, bright with white sails, bearing on its bosom the wealth, the hopes, the happiness of mankind. [Applause.] This is the river of modern civilization, moving under the impulse of Christianity. [Great applause.]
In this great, free, progressive, improving nation, we must have a great, free, progressive, improving party; and we have it, thank God, in the Republican party. [Cheers.]
THE DEMOCRATIC COW CATCHER.
And we must have in the constitution of human nature a conservative, an unprogressive, a hold-back party, which performs the office of the back straps in the harness. [Laughter.] This sentiment of conservatism in many respects is advantageous, and it grows out of a natural indisposition of the human heart to go forward. It grows out of the natural
24 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
disposition of the human heart to be content with what we have. It is best illustrated in the case of that Greenlander, who, when the captain of a whale ship was commiserating him upon his "miserable" condition, replied: "Miserable, miserable indeed! what do you call miserable? Have I not plenty of train oil and a fishbone through my nose?" [Great laughter.] And so there is no condition so miserable but that you will find someone to defend its evils—some one to hold fast to the train oil and the fish bones! [Applause.]
In the constitution of mankind, in the very nature of man, there must be these two parties, and all I have to complain of the Democratic party is that they have been so slow in their movements, in fact they have done nothing else but hold back. [Cheers.] They have moved so slow that they have been like the old trains upon the Hannibal & St. John Railroad during the war, where they had to put the cow catcher on the end of the back car to keep the cows from running over the train. [Great and long continued laughter and cheers.]
I say this good-naturedly, simply as an admonition for the future, to my Democratic friends.
CHARACTER OF THE PROCEEDINGS.
I have no doubt that a good many Democrats (and some, I trust are present) have been surprised, as we all have been, at the dignity, decency, moderation and propriety which have characterized every step of your proceedings this day. They have no doubt, seen in all this, inability and foresight you have to-day shown, the best justification of the wisdom of sharing with you the great right of participation in the making of the laws of the land, which are to govern you and all of us. Go forward, my friends, in this course; recollect it is for you to carve out your own destiny.
THE COLORED RACE ON TRIAL.
Remember that there are four millions of colored people in these United States, surrounded by forty millions of white people. Your race is on trial in this country. [Sensation.] On trial I say, at the bar of public judgment. The eyes of the American people are upon you. Every step you take is marked. You cannot, any of you, degrade yourselves without degrading your race! True, there is prejudice in this world, but there is, also, deep in the heart of man, a something which God has implanted there; it is the divine sense of justice. [Applause.] The white people of this country watch you with varied emotions and ask, "What will this people do? Will they work out an honorable destiny among the nations of the earth?" I feel confident you will. I recollect, my friends, that you are the only race on this earth that ever came in close and intimate contact with the white race, and did not perish before it. See how the Finnic race has disappeared from the face of Europe. Once it occupied the continent; now it is found only upon the remote capes and fastnesses of the North – in broken fragments of Lapland tribes. As they came in contact with the white race they disappeared. Look at the Indian of our own country. As the white man advances the Indian parishes. He is rapidly becoming like the deer and the bison, a thing of the past – fast disappearing from the face of the earth. Why! Because he has not the CIVILIZABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE COLORED MAN.
The eloquent gentleman who preceded me said that the basis of civilization was work, patient work, patient industry. He was right. Men have mocked you because you have been so docile, so patient, so long suffering, so long enduring under all oppression. It is not a proper subject for jeers or mockery. I am proud of it. I am proud to know that in all that awful convulsion which lately fell upon the the South, there is no one instance where the black man raised his hand to slay women or children, or even to take human life save in self-defense. [Cheers.] When the rebellion had depleted the South so that, as Gen. Grant said, it "had robbed the cradle and the grave," the black man have never raised
EVENING SESSION. 25
their hand in slaughter. It was in their power to make the South a Golgotha, a "place of skills," but to their honor be it said, they have never violated the trust reposed in them. [Cheers.] Your industry and patience are no fit subject for mockery. I trust that in all future, the goodness of heart and gentleness of spirit which had heretofore characterized you, will continue and will make you a benefit and a credit to our common country.
Those men who would mock you for your patient virtues, forget that the endurance of suffering is the highest evidence of manhood; and that this quality has been manifested by the white races of Europe, who for centuries have borne a degree of feudal oppression that would have crushed out of existence any less sturdy race. Some of them suffered great injustice and cruelty, even to this day, but the reflected light from the folds of our great national banner is stretching over the sea, and calling those oppressed nations to their feet.
ADVANTAGES OF INTELLECTS.
My friends, in the future as in the past, be patient, before bearing, be gentle, be peaceable, be industrious. The humblest citizen can reflect on or upon his race. But above all recollect this, well you are, as I have said, on trial, the greatest evidence and test which all men recognize is the test of intellect. Seek every opportunity for education. Let not a single black child grow up in ignorance.
When I heard Judge Kelly say that there was a negro barber in Philadelphia before whom he was afraid to quote a Greek or Latin sentence, lest he should detect an error in the quotation, I conceived a higher estimate of the capability of the black man.
Intellect is the great test of human society. One great intellect will redeem your race: nor shall it be said that you are incapable of producing great intellects. You are not without precedents. When France, in Revolution, by decree of the Assembly, emancipated the black slaves of Hayti, and when afterwards the planters sought to again fasten upon them the shackles which had been stricken from them, there burst forth that awful storm of passion and blood which has made the name of St. Domingo forever memorable. When the blacks to the number of thousands assembled on one of the planes of that country, there came forth a man from amidst them, without the first trace of education, who did not know the first letter of the alphabet, but who was one of nature's great geniuses. Mounting a stump he addressed the wild and turbulent assembly with a native power and oratory that swayed the vast array even as the Tempest sways the bosom of the ocean.
That man was afterwards known as Touissant L'Ouverture. He was a great man. The Cromwell of the Blacks! [Applause.]
He became their leader, their general. France, England and Spain, hurried great armies against him, and one after another they were crushed to powder. The great Napoleon plan to accomplish by craft his capture; and treachery did its work, and he became a prisoner. When he was passing on board the ship which was to bear him to France, he said, "Napoleon thinks he has captured the tree of liberty; he is only lopped off one of its smallest branches." No grander speech comes out of Plutarch! And from his prison in France he dictated a letter to Napoleon, and with an egotism which genius justified, he addressed him thus: "From the first of the black man to the first of the white man." He was a great man, and we must remember Touissant L'Ouverture before we pass a severe judgment upon the mental capacity of this long suffering and oppressed people.
Therefore I say to you, my friends, do all you can to give a thorough education to your children, and if any one of the children of your race
26 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
shows a special aptitude in any one direction pressing forward in the race of life.
If your people will produce a single Shakspeare or a Burke, it will stand redeemed in the judgment of mankind.
STAND UP FOR LIBERTY.
But above all recollect this—as you have come up from the Red Sea of bondage with the foam still upon your garments, always, everywhere stand true to the great principle of liberty which has lifted you up.
Wherever you find an oppressed people, hold out your hand to them. [Applause.]
Allow no prejudice, no argument, no sophistry, to turn you aside, but under that great blazon of "Emancipation" which you unfurl to-day, here over this platform be everywhere the missionaries, the apostles of liberty and progress in this land. Everything there is of you – your long suffering, your liberation, your entire history, point you forward in that direction. [Applause.]
We can look forward in this land of ours, over a magnificent prospect. We see the waves of rebellion settling down, and out of the dark and terrible struggle through which we have passed, we can see the genius of our country rising with new glories and "renewing her youth like the eagle!" The time is now close at hand, when our flag shall signify protection in life, liberty, property, and happiness for every man beneath its folds. [Cheers.] Under the administration of the great captain now soon to ascend to the chair estate, it will become the banner of safety to the poor and lonely and depressed of our own land; and the beacon of hope for the unfortunate of the world. [Great cheers.]
It will realize the sublime dream which Milton has placed in the mouth of Christ—
"Thus to subdue and quell o'er all the earth Brute violence and harsh tyrannie away."
I think you for the attention you have given me, and close by renewing my congratulations to you in this your period of great happiness. [Long continued applause.]
At the conclusion of Mr. Donnelly's address, the audience gave him three cheers.
Mr. Thos. A. Jackson moved a vote of thanks to the speakers of the day, and to all others who had contributed to the success of the celebration, which was adopted.
It was now half-past nine o'clock, and supper was announced. A sumptuous banquet was served in the Odeon, which was open to the colored people and their invited guests. The number was large, but the bounteous supply was more than sufficient for all demands.
The banquet over, they returned to Ingersoll Hall. Music, conversation, and songs carried them along in the full tide of enjoyment, till after midnight. The grand success and harmony of their convention—the important events they celebrated—filled every heart with joy and happiness. But the hour of parting came, and they reluctantly closed the exercises of this most memorable event.
BY THE GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA.
Whereas, By an act of the Legislature of the State of Minnesota, approved March 6, 1868, entitled "An act proposing an amendment to section one, article seven of the Constitution of the State of Minnesota," it was enacted as follows:
Section 1. The following amendment to the Constitution of the State of Minnesota is hereby proposed for publication, and approval and rejection by the people, in accordance with section one, of article fourteen, of the Constitution, that is to say, that section one of article seven of the Constitution, shall be amended so as to read as follows:
Section 1. Every male person of the age of twenty-one or upwards, belonging to either of the following classes, who shall have resided in the United States one year, and in this State four months next preceding any election, shall be entitled to vote at such election, in the election district in which he shall at the time have been for ten days a resident, for all officers that are now or hereafter may be elected by the people:
First—Citizens of the United States.
Second—Persons of foreign birth who shall have declared their intention to become citizens, conformably to the laws of the United States upon the subject of naturalization.
Third—Persons of mixed white and Indian blood who have adopted the customs and habits of civilization.
Fourth—Persons of Indian blood residing in this State who have adopted the language, customs and habits of civilization, after an examination before any district court of the State, in such a manner as may be provided by law, and shall have been pronounced by said court capable of exercising the right of citizenship within this State.
Sec. 2. This proposed amendment shall be submitted to the people of the several districts of this State for their approval or rejection, at the next general election for the year eighteen sixty-eight (1868,) and each of the legal voters of the State, in their respective districts, may at such election, vote by ballot for or against such amendment and the returns thereof shall be made and certified, and such votes canvassed and the result thereof declared in the manner provided by law for returning, certifying and canvassing votes at "General Election for State Officers," and declaring the result there of; and if it shall appear therefrom that a majority of voters present and voting at such election upon such amendment, have voted in favor of the same, then within three days after that result shall have been ascertained and declared, the Governor
28 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS.
shall make proclamation thereof, and such amendment shall thereupon take effect and be in force as a part of the Constitution.
AND WHEREAS, The said amendment was submitted to the people at the time and in the manner proposed in said act, and the returns of votes cast thereon, made and certified as required by law.
AND WHEREAS, By the official canvass of said votes made by the Legislature of the State in Joint Convention on the sixth day of January, 1869,it appeared that there were thirty-nine thousand four hundred and ninety-three (39,493) votes cast for the adoption of said amendment, and thirty thousand one hundred and twenty-one (30,121) votes cast against the adoption of said amendment.
Now, therefore, I, WM. R. MARSHALL, Governor of the State of Minnesota, by virtue of the authority vested in me and in pursuance of law, do proclaim and declare the said amendment to have been adopted and to have become valid to all intents and purposes as a part of the Constitution of the State of Minnesota.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused [L. S.] the great seal of the State to be affixed at the capitol in St. Paul, this ninth day of January, A. D. 1869.
WM. R. MARSHALL.
By the Governor:
H. C. ROGERS, Secretary of State.
Constitution of the SONS OF FREEDOM
ARTICLE 1st.—This organization shall be known as the Sons of Freedom of the state of Minnesota; its members shall be the colored men of the whole State; and no fee shall be necessary to membership.
ARTICLE 2d.—Its officers shall be a President, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, and five vice Presidents, one from each district, according to the division hereinafter named.
ARTICLE 3d.—The First District shall be composed of the counties of Chisago, Isanti, Sherburne, Wright, Meeker, Monogalia, Pierce, Toombs, Douglas, Stearns, Benton, Monroe, Kanabec, Pine, Carlton, St. Louis, Lake, Itasca, Cass, Aiken, Mille Lacs, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, Ottertail, Clay, Becker, Polk, and Pembina.
The Second District shall be composed of the counties of Anoka, Hennepin, and Carver.
The Third District shall be composed of the counties of Ramsey and Washington.
The Fourth District shall be composed of the counties of McLeod, Renville, Kandiyohi, Redwood, Sibley, Scott, Rice, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Steele, Freeborn, Waseca, Faribault, Blue Earth, Watonwan, Brown, Cottonwood, Jackson, Noble, Murray, Rock, and Pipestone.
The Fifth District shall be composed of the counties of Houston, Filmore, Mower, Dodge, Olmsted, Winona, Wabasha, Goodhue, and Dakota.
ARTICLE 4th—The officers of this organization shall be elected on the first day of January of each year, and shall serve until their successors shall be appointed.
ARTICLE 5th—It shall be the duty of the President to carefully watch the interest of the colored people of the State, and the action of the officers of this organization, and see that the instructions of the people shall be faithfully executed. He shall have power to call special meetings of the officers whenever he shall deem it necessary; preserves order at the meetings of the State Board; give the casting vote upon all questions; and fill all Committees.
The President, and a Vice President of either district, the State Secretary, his Assistant Secretary, and the State Treasurer, shall constitute
30 CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS
a quorum of the State Board, which is composed of the several Vice Presidents and officers as named in Article 2d.
ARTICLE 6th.—It shall be the duty of the Vice President of each district to organize in his district a sub-organization to the State Board, to assist him in his duties.
ARTICLE 7th.—The District Secretary shall from time to time report the number of colored people in his district; the number of colored votes; their employment; the number of colored children in and out of school; the amount of real estate; the amount of personal property; and shall keep a record of such statistics as shall illustrate the progress of the colored citizens.
ARTICLE 8th.—It shall be the duty of the Secretary, or in his absence the Assistant, or in the absence of both, the person appointed by the President to fill their place, to keep in correspondence with the officers of each district, and to keep a book in which to record, 1st. The colored populations of the State; 2d. The colored voters of the State; 3d. The number of youths from five to twenty-one years; 4th. The amount of taxable property owned by colored people, to be kept in two classes (Real and Personal.) Which information he shall collect from the several Vice Presidents; also a separate Register of Wants, which is explained in Article Nine of the Constitution. Said Register to be free for the perusal or inspection of any person, white or colored; and he shall make a full report at each annual meeting.
ARTICLE 9th.—It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to receive all moneys belonging to this organization, and to honestly keep a just and true account of the same; and to keep his cash book and money subject to the inspection of any member of the executive board. He shall not pay out or use any moneys belonging to this organization except by order of the President, which order shall be countersigned by the Secretary, and at the expiration of his term of office surrender up all books, papers and other properties peaceable to his successor in office.
ARTICLE 10th.—It shall be the duty of every member of this organization, to be alive to the interest of this body, and to continually keep the Vice Presidents informed of all and every thing of interest to this organization, of all children in want of homes, out of school, in school, of lads and girls in want of places, and what kind of places or trades would best suit their inclinations. Members shall also inform the officer of his district of persons desiring to help, or are willing to take boys or girls at trades, or of persons having land to rent or sell (improved.) And it shall further be the duty of all members and officers, as far as is practicable, to keep a slate hanging at or in his place of business, with the following printed or written over the top of said slate:
Places wanted for colored boys and girls at Trades.
Places wanted for colored men and women to Labor.
Wanted to rent for colored families, Improved Farms.
And the member shall forward all such information, as soon as obtained, to the officer of his district, who shall supply such place if in his power, or call on the President or Secretary at St. Paul to supply such place. It is incumbent upon all district officers who shall supply any place or transact any business pertaining to this organization, to give
proper notice to the office in St. Paul within one week after its transaction.
ARTICLE 11th.—The time of holding the annual meeting of this organization, shall be the first day of January of each year, excepting when that day shall come on Saturday or Sunday, and then the day shall be named by the board. It shall also be the duty of the executive board, to determine where the annual meetings shall be held, and shall make or cause to be made all necessary arrangements for said annual meeting, and shall raise by assessments or otherwise, funds sufficient to defray the expenses of said annual gathering.
ARTICLE 12th.—This Constitution may be amended at any annual meeting, provided that such amendment be first submitted to the executive board at least ninety days previous to the annual meeting or the first day of every January.