Proceedings of the Colored People's Convention of the State of South Carolina, held in Zion Church, Charleston, November, 1865. Together with the declaration of rights and wrongs; an address to the people; a petition to the legislature, and a memorial to Congress.
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COLORED PEOPLE'S CONVENTION
STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA,
ZION CHURCH, CHARLESTON,
TOGETHER WITH THE
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS AND WRONGS; AN ADDRESS TO
THE PEOPLE; A PETITION TO THE LEGISLATURE,
AND A MEMORIAL TO CONGRESS.
SOUTH CAROLINA LEADER OFFICE,
NO. 430 KING STREET.
To the Members of the State Convention---their Constituents, the
Colored People of South Carolina, and the Friends of Liberty
throughout the World :
The Committee appointed by the State Convention of the Colored People of South Carolina," convened at Charleston on the 20th, 21st, 22d, 23d, 24th, and 25th of November, 1865, for the publication of its proceedings in pamphlet form, beg leave to report the following:
ALONZO J. RANSIER,
JOHN C. DESVERNEY,
ROBERT C. DELARGE,
PAUL MCCALL POINSETT,
PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONVENTION.
MONDAY, MORNING, November 20.
The "State Convention of the Colored People of South Carolina met this day, November 20th, at Zion Church, Calhoun Street, at 10 o'clock, A . M., pursuant to a call as published in the South Carolina Leader, viz:
"A convention of the colored people of the State of South Carolina, will assemble in the city of Charleston, on the third Monday of November, instant, being the twentieth day of the month, for the purpose of deliberating upon the plans best calculated to advance the interests of our people, to devise means for our mutual protection, and to encourage the industrial interests of the State.
"By resolution adopted at a preliminary meeting held October 26th, it is directed that each District shall be entitled to the same number of delegates to this convention that it sends to the Lower House of the State Legislature, and each District is hereby requested to elect its full number of delegates in accordance therewith.
"P. M. POINSETT,
"W. E. MARSHALL,
"W. G. CAMPLIN,
"R. H. MAGWOOD
"P. L. MILLER,
"JAS. T. CARROLL,
"J. F. RUSSELL, } Committee"
Mr. Paul McC. Poinsett called the House to order, and on motion, Mr. Thos. M. Holmes occupied the Chair as temporary President. Mr. J. C. Desverney, by request, accepted the position of temporary Secretary.
Rev. J. C. Gibbs addressed the Throne of Grace appropriately, and in touching accents.
On motion of Mr. Robert C. DeLarge, a Committee on Credentials was appointed, to wit : Messrs. DeLarge, Poinsett and Miller of Charleston, A. G. Baxter, of Georgetown, and W. B. Nash of Columbia. The Committee reported the following delegates. (The roll as here written, includes those who subsequently arrived, together with the honorary members, to wit :)
JONATHAN J. WRIGHT.
PAUL McCALL POINSETT,
THOS. M. HOLMES,
ROBERT M. DUNCAN,
JOHN C. DESVERNEY,
W. J. BRODIE,
JOSEPH F. RUSSELL,
ROBERT C. DELARGE,
ALONZO J. RANSIER,
ROBERT W. TURNER,
PETER L. MILLER,
HENRY E. BARNETT,
JAMES H. FORDHAM,
SAMUEL EADEN GAILLIARD.
PRINCE GEORGE WINYAW.
EDWARD G. RUE,
EDWARD C. RAINEY.
WILLIAM M. SIMONS.
MAJ. M. R. DELANEY,
CAPT. O. S. B. WALL,
REV. J. C. GIBBS,
REV. R. H. CAIN,
" F. L. CARDOZA,
" E. J. ADAMS.
On motion of Mr. A. J. Ransier, a Committee of five was appointed on Permanent Organization, to wit: Messrs. Ransier, Edward White, and J. B. Wright of Charleston, and Edward Rue and Edward Rainey of Georgetown.
On motion of Mr. DeLarge it was ordered that the front, left and right seats be appropriated for the clergy.
The Committee on Permanent Organization submitted their report, concluding with the following nomination :
MR. T. M. HOLMES, Charleston.
FOR VICE PRESIDENTS.
MR. JACOB MILLS, Charleston.
" J. J. WRIGHT, Beaufort.
" WM. M. SIMONS, Columbia.
MR, JOHN C. DESVERNEY, Charleston.
" ALONZO J. RANSIER, "
" EDWARD C. RAINEY, Georgetown.
On motion of Mr. DeLarge it was ordered that the said offices be filled by ballot, and that a Committee of five be appointed to conduct the same. The President, in accordance therewith, named Messrs. DeLarge, A. K. Desverney, Poinsett, Miller and Ransier. The Committee at once entered upon their duties. Each Delegate then cast his ballot, after which the polls wore closed and the Committee reported the results— precisely confirming the nominations. The report, on motion, was then unanimously adopted.
The President, on taking the Chair, made a neat little speech, thanking the Convention for the honor conferred, and making known his reliance
upon the members for that support in the preservation of order and the general conduct of business, commensurate with the purposes for which they had met.
On motion of Mr. Poinsett, a Committee, of three, on Finance, was appointed, consisting of Messrs. Poinsett, Bonum and Dart.
On motion of Mr. Nash, a Committee of five was appointed to draw up a set of Rules for the government of the Convention, consisting of Messrs. Nash, Camplin, Brodie, Edwards, and J. J. Wright.
On motion of Mr. DeLarge, a Committee, consisting of one member from each District, was appointed on the General Business of the Convention, as follows : R. C. DeLarge, Charleston; J. J. Wright, Beaufort; John Chesnut, Kershaw; James McPherson, Orangeburg ; A. G. Baxter, Georgetown; Francis Davie, Chester; F. C. Desverncy, Edisto Island; C. White, Greenville; S. E. Gailliard, John's Island; Matt Brooks, Sumter.
On motion, two Door-Keepers and a Sergeant-at-Arms, were appointed to wit: James Price and John Freeman, Door-Keepers, and John Brown, Sergeant-at-Arms.
On motion, the Convention adjourned over to 10 c' clock Tuesday morning, 21st.
TUESDAY MORNING, November 21.
The Convention met this morning pursuant to adjournment.
Rev. E. J . Adams invoked the Divine blessing.
Judge Cowley, of Massachusetts, was invited to a seat on the floor of the House. The Judge being present, acknowledged the compliment, and made a very fine speech. He counselled moderation, dignity and firmness, and advised the prosecution of our claims to citizenship. We had the right to meet in convention and to memorialize the powers that be. J. J. Wright, from the Committee on Rules, reported the following
FIRST.—There shall be two daily sessions. Morning Session from 10 A.M., to 2 o'clock P.M. Afternoon session from 5 P. M., to continue at the will of the Convention.
SECOND.—One-third of the enrolled members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
THIRD.—No member shall leave the Convention without permission from the President, and no member shall be recognized, nor any motion received, as before the House, unless the speaker or mover is at the time within the bar of the Convention.
FOURTH.—No member shall be allowed to speak more than twice upon the same question unless by special permission of the Convention, and not longer than ten minutes the first, and five minutes the last time.
The first rule, as originally reported, provided for one daily session. At the suggestion of Mr. DeLarge it was amended as here reported.
On motion of Mr. Ransier, the reporters of the city papers and the representatives of other journals who may be in the city were accorded seats upon the floor of the House.
On motion of Mr. J. J. Wright, it was ordered that all resolutions be read to the House by the introducer, before their reference to the Business Committee
The Business Committee presented a series of resolutions. Mr. DeLarge moved that they be made the special order for 12 o'clock M. The question as to whether or not the resolutions were properly before the House, provoked quite a spirited debate between Messrs. J. J. Wright, Ransier, DeLarge, Simons and Chesnut.
The previous question being called, the President declared the resolutions as the business proper before the House.
On motion of Mr. Chesnut, it was ordered that all resolutions receive two readings before being put upon its passage.
On motion of Mr. Ransier, they were then made the special business for this afternoon at 5 o'clock. It subsequently appeared, however, that in consequence of the entertainment to take the place here this evening, the Convention would be unable to transact any business. The vote was then reconsidered and by unanimous consent, the resolutions were made the special order for 10 o'clock A.M. to-morrow.
On motion of Mr. Edwards, Maj. M. R. Delaney was made an honorary member of the Convention, on motion of Mr. DeLarge, Capt, O. S. B. Wall was also accorded the same. Both of the distinguished gentlemen acknowledged the compliment and made pertinent and eloquent addresses.
The Business Committee then reported the following resolution on Education. After some debate, they were then read according to Rule, and unanimously adopted:
Whereas, "Knowledge is power," and an educated and intelligent people can neither be held in, nor reduced to slavery; Therefore
Resolved, That we will insist upon the establishment of good schools for the thorough education of our children throughout the State; that, to this
end, we will contribute free]y and liberally of our means, and will earnestly and persistently urge forward every measure calculated to elevate us to the rank of a wise, enlightened and Christian people,
Resolved, That we solemnly urge the parents and guardians of the young and rising generation, by the sad recollection of our forced ignorance and degradation in the past, and by the bright and inspiring hopes of the future, to see that schools are at once established in every neighborhood; and when so established, to see to it that every child of proper age, is kept in regular attendance upon the same.
Resolved, That we appreciate, with hearts overflowing with gratitude, the noble and self-sacrificing spirit manifested by the various philanthropic and Christian Associations of the North, in providing teachers and establishing schools among us; and that we can only best testify such gratitude by heartily co-operating with them in this their great work of love and humanity.
On motion, that portion of the first Rule, providing for Afternoon Session, was suspended in view of the Entertainment this evening.
On motion, the house then adjourned over to 10 o'clock A. M., Wednesday, 22d.
THE EVENING ENTERTAINMENT.
The regular session of the Convention, which, according to the rules adopted, should have convened at 5 o'clock this evening, kindly gave place to a very pleasant and profitable, social and intellectual entertainment. The affair was gotten up to assist in defraying the expenses of the Convention, and tickets of admission were sold at twenty-five cents. The spacious hall, including the galleries were filled to overflowing at an early hour, and "all went merry as a marriage bell. The charms of music were not forgotten, and a skillful band discoursed the moving melody of sweet sounds, to which all hearts awarded the tribute of a willing response.
The exercises of the evening were begun by calling on platform, Judge Cowley, of Lowell, Mass. He is a lawyer of considerable repute, and was Judge Advocate on Commodore Dahlgren's staff. He made a pleasing, plain and practical speech, which was fully appreciated and heartily endorsed by the audience. It was plain to perceive that in his devotion to the law, he had not neglected the passing events of the political world for the last decade.
After a stirring interlude from the band, Major Delaney was introduced to the audience. He made one of his happiest efforts, and that is saying a good deal, when they are all happy. He completely charmed and carried away the crowded and eager auditory in one of his powerful and passionate appeals. We will not venture even an attempt at a sketch of the Major's
speech. We could not do him justice. Only they who heard and felt it can properly appreciate it. He dwelt on discipline and obedience to the laws, and showed what had been accomplished by it both in the Crimean war and in the late revolution.
Mr. H. Jude Moor was then introduced, and spoke of the delicate position in which he was placed as a South Carolinian, as a speaker before a convention of colored citizens. He had no hand in freeing the slaves, but since a convention of his own fellow citizens had passed an ordinance of emancipation, and declared the slaves free, he saw no inconsistency in addressing them as freemen. Slavery, according to the constituted law of the state, is now dead and beyond resurrection, The outposts have surrendered, and the citadel might as well be given up. There can be no middle ground between slavery and freedom. There is no political purgatory, no halfway house where legal absolution is to be administered. The stern logic of events must be recognized and appreciated. The great battle has been fought and won, and it is sheer madness now to attempt to dodge the responsibility. The South fought gallantly, and commanded the admiration even of our enemies and of the world. Fate decided against us. Slavery was the stake, and we lost; and it is now the part of patriots and Christians to lay down our arms, and accept as quiet and peaceable, law-abiding citizens, the condition of things as they are. It is not our fault, but our misfortune. He that does the best his circumstances will admit does well, acts nobly, angels can do no more. Let us yield like men and cease the bitter strife, even of words. We need not delude ourselves with the idea that this war is to be fought over again. Secession is dead. It died with slavery and will never be revived. The experiment of the last four years out to satisfy even the most stubborn and obdurate. The Government is stronger to-day than it ever was. It has proved its ability to maintain, intact, its integrity in the face of one of the most gigantic and obstinate revolutions the world ever saw. The Republic is now a fixed fact; a permanent institution, a house built upon a rock, against which the storms of faction and sectionalism may bear in vain. If we of the South will learn wisdom from the past, and are true to ourselves, a career of happiness and prosperity is before us, of which we now, in that day of our gloom and despondency, may little dream.
W. B. Scott, editor and proprietor of the Colored Tennessean, responded to call for a speech, and gave his audience a touch of North Carolina oratory with Tennessee cross. He was no orator, "as Brutus is," and should not attempt anything on the sky-rocket or spread-eagle order. But in a strain of good, sound sense he gave his audience a plain, practical talk on the rise, progress, and present state of the cause and prospects of the freedmen of Tennessee. He expressed himself hopeful of the future, and thinks
that matters and things pertaining to the good of the colored race are being pressed forward to a sure if not a speedy accomplishment. He spoke in the highest terms of the efforts of Provisional Governor Brownlow and the Hon. Henry S. Foote, late of the rebel Congress, for their generous and praiseworthy efforts in behalf of the freedmen. He spoke of the assistance they had rendered in organizing and sustaining the Colored Tennesseean newspaper.
WEDNESDAY MORNING, November 22.
The Convention met this morning pursuant to adjournment.
The House was opened with prayer by Rev. Wm. Lyall.
The roll was called, and the minutes of yesterday read and approved. The Committee on Credentials reported arrivals of delegates from Greenville and John's Island.
The special order—being a series of resolutions introduced by the Business Committee on Tuesday—was then taken up. Mr. DeLarge moved to amend the first by striking out the sentence, "And thereby cause us to make distinctions amongst ourselves." A spirited discussion ensued—Messrs. DeLarge, J. J. Wright, Ransier, Nash, Edwards and Chestnut participating.
Mr. Ransier then moved to amend the amendment by striking out all after the words "be it Resolved," and ending with the words "the monster slavery." The amendment to the amendment was then put and carried. Some debate sprang up, when the previous question was called. The House sustained the same, after which the President stated that the business proper before the House was the Resolutions as amended by the amendment to the amendment. A motion was then made to recommit the series with instruction, which was adopted, and it was so ordered. This was a trying scene to the members, and if it was not strictly in conformity with the "parliamentary practice," it certainly furnished evidence of the necessity of being "posted," which the Convention subsequently made good use of.
The Business Committee submitted the following Resolutions complimentary to General Rufus Saxton of the Freedmen's Bureau. On motion of Mr. Ransier, and after an eulogistic speech by Mr. DeLarge, they were unanimously adopted:
Resoled, That the delegates, in Convention assembled, representing the colored people of the State of South Carolina, make known our gratitude, and return our thanks to Brevet Major General Rufus Saxton for the impar-
tial manner in which he has guarded and protected the freed people of this Department, manifesting, in all of his intercourse with us, the spirit of the soldier, the patriot and the philanthropist.
The question here arose as to whether the reading of Resolutions by the Committee, was considered as its first reading. Some debate was had, when it was ordered, on motion of Mr. Ransier, that the reading of such by the Committee or an introducer, would only be considered as information received; that all such must receive two readings at least from the Secretary's desk.
Mr. Poinsett read a Resolution providing for a State Central Committee, which was referred to the Business Committee.
The Committee submitted the following Resolutions which were recommitted this morning. On motion, they were adopted:
Resolved, That as the old institution of slavery has passed away, that we cherish in our hearts no hatred or malice toward those who have held our brethren as slaves, but we extend the right hand of fellowship to all, and make it our special aim to establish unity, peace, and love amongst all men.
Resolved, That we encourage amongst the freedmen, education, industry and economy.
Mr. Myers read Resolutions setting forth our desire to live peaceably with all men—referred.
Capt. Wall addressed the Convention by request. Of course it was well received. He counseled calmness and moderation, dignity, and firmness. "Prove yourselves equal to the emergencies upon you, and all will be well,"
The Committee reported Resolutions relative to absent members, when the President declared the House adjourned, the hour of 2 having arrived
Convention met at half-past 5—rather late, according to rule.
Mr. James T. Carroll invoked the blessing of God upon our deliberations
Minutes of Morning Session read and approved.
The Resolutions introduced by the Committee this morning, for the imposition of fines upon absent members, were warmly debated by Messrs. Ransier, DeLarge, Nash, Edwards, and Chesnut. It was then put upon its passage. An amendment proposed was put and lost. The Resolution was then put and also lost.
On motion, it was ordered, that any member arriving in the House five minutes after roll call, must report to the President, and upon his failure to give satisfactory explanation, he shall be reprimanded by the Chair.
Mr. Rainey moved for the appointment of additional Sergeant-at-Arms. It was so ordered, and Messrs. Benj. Williams and McAlphin consented to serve.
The Business Committee reported Resolutions relative to a Central Com-
mittee, introduced by Mr. Poinsett this morning, which was made the special order for 10 o'clock A. M., to-morrow.
The Committee on Credentials reported arrivals of delegates from Sumter.
On motion, the House then adjourned.
The regular business of the Afternoon Session was suspended, and the Convention resolved itself into a social, convivial mass meeting to hear the speakers which had been appointed to make addresses. The house was densely crowded, and the strictest order and decorum presided.
The first speaker which occupied the stand was the Rev. J. C. Gibbs. He made a telling, spirit-stirring speech, and was rapturously applauded. He took a moderate, common sense view upon the present state of the country, as bearing upon the prospects and interests of the freedmen. He advised educated thought, as knowledge is the power they now most need.
John Chestnut, of Camden, was the next speaker. He dwelt on the subject of labor, a topic of most vital interest just at this time. He handled his subject well, and thinks that the freedmen will work, and work well and willingly, if the proper opportunities are afforded them. His speech abounded in good sense and sound logic.
Rev. R. H. Cain was called out, and responded in a speech of direct power and concentrated thought. He has a military way of massing his arguments, and hurling them like an avalanche against the weaker portion of the lines of his opponent. He has a fine command of language, and seems to be at home in the higher domain of popular oratory. He uses words to express his ideas, and not to adorn them, and never sacrifices sense to sound. The fruit predominates over the flowers, and those who hear him once will find the desire increased to repeat the intellectual repast. His subjects were free Suffrage and the Labor Question, both of which he treated in an able and masterly manner.
A. J. Ransier, one of the Secretaries. was the next speaker. He confined himself mostly to the question, "What has Ham done?" He made some very good points, and was frequently applauded. He said that an eminent divine of this city, in the course of a sermon delivered some time ago, in derogation of the African race, made use of the following language: "Ham has never given to the world an orator; he has never given to the world a writer, a warrior, or man of note." He contradicted the statement in toto, adduced evidence proving that Ham has done something; Ham has
given to the world a writer in the person of the celebrated Dumas; he has given to the world a lawyer, in the person of John S. Rock, now practicing at the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States; he has given warriors in the persons of the many thousands who defended the Union in the late war with heroic valor—and by their strong arms and brave hearts the American Government stands to-day, in all of its beauty and integrity, a fixed fact; that man is capable of self-government, by education, by the exhibition of moderation and magnanimity, and by unity, much can be done.
In response to a call from the Chairman, R. C. DeLarge, of the Charleston delegation, appeared upon the stand, and entertained the large and intelligent audience for fifteen minutes in a sprightly and lively strain, which indicated a quick perception and a fluent delivery. His exordium was the graceful, poetical, and well timed, and commanded the undivided attention of the House during his address. He chose this subject, "Equality before the law," which he discussed with a force and ability which is not often attained by those who have not made public speaking the great subject of their lives. He was chaste, pointed, and comprehensive, and exhibited a knowledge of the relations of political equality not often possessed outside of the legal profession. He did the subject justice and himself much credit, being frequently interrupted by the applause of the crowded auditory.
J. J. Wright, Attorney at law, and a delegate from Beaufort, closed the delightful exercises of the evening, in a speech which occupied a wide and comprehensive range of thought. He touched, with a light and graceful hand, a variety of topics, and, like the humming-bird, extracted nectarine sweets from every opening flower. He passed with airy step and elegant case "from grave to gay, from lively to severe, and yet never got into swimming water, nor became lost in the "tangled wilderness of sweets," through which he was led by the line of thought. His analysis of the physique of the negro and his physiological, phrenological, and corporeal peculiarities, was both pleasing and instructive. It was true that the Ethiopean could not change his skin—the white man, in some instances, had changed it for him, and had given such a delicate touch to the lights and shades that it is hard to tell where Africa ends and Caucassia commences.
FOURTH DAY. THURSDAY, November 23.
Convention met this morning at 10 o'clock.
Rev. J. C. Gibbs invoked the Divine blessing.
The roll was called. The minutes of the previous Afternoon Session were read and approved.
The special order, being Resolutions on "Central Committee," was taken up. It was debated by Messrs. J. C. Desverney, J. J. Wright, Poinsett, DeLarge, Gass and others. A motion to recommit, with instruction, was adopted, and it was so ordered.
Brevet Major-General Saxton and Captain Ketchum having just come in, on motion of Mr. LeLarge, they were accorded a seat on the floor of the House, which was acknowledged by the distinguished guests in brief speeches.
General Saxton said that he did not come to make a speech; he simply came to pay his respects to the Convention; he sympathised with the object, and hoped that the time was not far distant when we would get all we may ask for.
Captain Ketchum followed a pretty much in the same strain.
Mr. M. J. Camplin read a series of Resolutions relative to education, the establishment of a banking house, etc., etc., which were referred.
The Business Committee submitted Resolutions relative to freedman and abandoned lands, which, on motion of Mr. Nash, and after some debate, and the reading of a paper by by Mr. Samuel Bennett bearing upon the subject matter of Resolutions, were indefinitely postponed.
Messrs. Bram and Moultrie begged for leave of absence, important business calling them away. Granted.
The Business Committee submitted Resolutions, recommitted this morning, with amendments. On motion, they were adopted, to wit:
Resolved, That a Committee of five from Charleston, and one from each other District, be appointed; and that when this Convention adjourns, it stand subject to the call of said Committee; and they are hereby required to give necessary publicity to said call, so that those Districts not now represented may be so whenever we may meet again, agreeably to which the following gentlemen were appointed, viz:
STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE.
Charleston. - PAUL MCCALL POINSETT, ALFONZO J. RANSIER, WILLIAM DART, JOHN BONUM, SAMUEL L. BENNETT.
Colleton.- F. C. DESVERNEY.
Chester. - FRANCIS DAVIE.
Beaufort.—JONATHAN J. WRIGHT.
John's Island.—S. E. GAILLIARD.
St. James Goose Creek .—ISAAC ANCRUM.
Richland.—W. B. NASH.
Georgetown.—A. G. BAXTER.
On motion of Mr. Nash, Mr. T. M. Holmes, President of the Convention, was made ex officio Chairman of the Central Committee.
On motion, Dr. B. H. Boseman, of Troy, New York, was accorded a seat on the floor of the House. The Doctor being present, acknowledged the compliment in a neat address, complimentary to the Convention.
The Business Committee submitted the following resolutions. On motion they were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That it is with deep regret that we perceive a willingness on part of some of the people of this State to believe that there is danger of an insurrection by the "Negroes," and we take this opportunity of making it known to the world, that our past career as law-abiding SUBJECTS, shall be strictly adhered to as law-abiding citizens.
On motion of Mr. Rainey, Mr. Coombs, of Massachusetts, was accorded a seat on the floor of the House.
Mr. Myers wanted to know if the Business Committee had the power of throwing a Resolution under the table and say nothing about it to the Convention. This question gave rise to a sprightly debate, when, on motion of Mr. Ransier, it was
Ordered, That the Business Committee report to the Convention all such matter, naming the Resolutions and laying them on Secretary's desk.
The Committee subsequently reported unfavorably upon several, reproducing them, when on motion of Mr. Duncan, the Committee was required to point out objections, and annex the same to the their report.
The hour of adjournment having arrived, the President declared the House adjourned.
Convention met at 5 o'clock—prayer by Mr. Pickenpack.
The roll was called. Minutes of Morning Session read and approved.
The Business Committee reported resolutions for printing in pamphlet form five thousand copies of the proceedings of this body. On motion they were adopted, and the Chair appoint Messrs. Ransier, DeLarge, Poinsett, J. C. Desverney, and Dart, in accordance therewith.
On motion, adjourned.
After the regular battle of the day, the evening skirmish by the sharpshooters is looked forward to with peculiar interest. This pyrotechnical display of the torpedoes of poetry and sky-rockets of oratory sped along their fiery track, and the whiz and buzz and frequent explosion made the "grand, gloomy, and peculiar" largely predominant. The speakers were greeted by the usual crowded and eager auditory. The hall and galleries, which will seat fully two thousand persons, were crowded to suffocation.
The ball was opened by Mr. Edwin Coombs, of Massachusetts. He read and criticised a leading editorial in one of the city papers, on the subject of the honesty, industry, and general capabilities for self-government as exhibited by the freedmen under the new regime. Mr. Coombs thought the article in question rather "foggy," abounding more in typographical and editorial blunders, than in sound sense and logical conclusions. The speaker handled the article without gloves, and proved the utter fallacy of the popular idea that editors either do, or should know everything.
Sergeant Thomas Long, of the first S. C. Colored Troops, was next called to the stand, and made a Davy Crocket, ad captandum speech that had considerable point and power. He proposed to take the bell off Massachusetts and put it upon South Carolina. He was pleased to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and he would not pluck a single green wreath from the glorious 54th Massachusetts Regiment. But the first South Carolina Colored Regiment had precedence in point of organization. She was "first at the cross and last at the grave;" and when the annuals of this war shall be written up, it will be found that she has made her mark not only upon the bloody field of battle, but upon the illumined scroll of freedom.
Rev. B. F. Randolph responded to a call from the President in a speech abounding in thought, and enforced by a serious earnestness which impress the minds and commanded the attention of the House. He is a pleasing speaker, calm and deliberate, and took the position that thought, like the ladies, "when unadorned is adorned the most." We regret our inability to give the prominent points of this excellent address.
Allen Coffin, Esq., editor of the Leader, was then introduced, and, though laboring under the effect of a late severe indisposition, he was, nevertheless, enabled to address the House in a pleasing and instructive strain for some fifteen minutes. He cheerfully bore testimony to the accuracy and justice of Sergeant Long's remarks in reference to the colored soldiers of Massachusetts and South Carolina; and while he would not pluck a single laurel from the garland of the Palmetto State, he would say in the language of a most distinguished Senator, in replying to one of South
Carolina's ablest statesmen—"Massachusetts! there she stands, and needs no eulogy from me!" He spoke of impartial suffrage and advocated the right of colored man to the elective franchise, because it is just, and because the Declaration of Independence sets forth that "all men are created equal," and the United States Constitution guarantees a republican form of government to all the States, "anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." A government based upon an oligarchy of the skin is not republican in form. He was equally interested in the right of universal suffrage with the colored man, as he had not exercised that right, although not denied him by the law; but he had refrained from privileges of the ballot-box because the original Constitution which guaranteed and protected the African slave trade for twenty years, was "a covenant with death and an agreement with hell." His intention was never to vote until that sacred right of a freeman was alike granted to all men, unless he should vote upon the subject of conferring the elective franchise upon all loyal Americans.
Dr. M. G. Camplin, of the Charleston Delegation, was the next speaker. He defended the freedmen against the charge of idleness and improvidence, and insisted that they were doing admirably for the chances they had. The privileges and advantages hitherto accorded them had been, like angels' visits, few and far between. But with all these outside pressures, some of them had managed to pick up a few scraps of knowledge and a little money, and with that limited stock he hoped they would now make a new start under more favorable auspices. He thought the future was more bright and promising than some anticipated, and that after a while, when time had effaced some of the bitter memories of the late conflict, the white man and the black man would consent to be friends and brothers, and live together in peace and harmony.
Mr. R. C. DeLarge, of the Charleston Delegation, was the last speaker, and closed the exercises of the evening by running commentary upon some flings of a city journal at the character and position of the freedmen in general. He made out this case well, and showed that "rank was but the guinea stamp; the man's the man for all that." The conflict of arms is past—all that that can win for us is already won. But there is a question to be solved—a moral battle to be fought. The simple act of emancipation, if it stops there, is not much. We are not freemen till we attain to all the rights and privileges of freemen. Without these, we still have to be governed by laws that we have no voice in making, and submit to taxation without representation. This is the very burden that the heroes of '76 fought through a seven years' war to rid themselves of, and this is what we are now contending for; and if we are true to ourselves and our country it will be awarded to us.
FRIDAY MORNING, November 24.
The Convention met this morning. According to rule, Mr. Robert Duncan invoked the divine blessing. The roll was called, the minutes of the previous Afternoon Session were read, corrected and approved.
Mr. William M. Simons called for the report of the Finance Committee. Mr. Poinsett, from the Committee, subsequently submitted the following:
The Committee on Finance beg leave to report the following to the convention:
INCOME FROM ENTERTAINMENT.
To 25th November......................................................$225 55
Advertising call for Convention...................................$12 50
For printing Circulars............................................ 10 00
For printing Tickets................................................ 7 00
For Music............................................................14 00
For services of Sexton............................................ 10 00
For Gas bill.......................................................... 24 00
Balance in hands.......................................$148 05
$225 55 $255 55
PAUL McC. POINSETT,
On motion, the report was adopted.
On motion of Mr. P. L. Miller, a Committee of three was appointed to furnish refreshments for the Convention at noon, which was attained to in style, and of which it may be remarked here the members partook hastily, though plentifully, as the dishes of the gentlemanly caterers, the Messrs. Fodhams' fully (or emptily) attested; we cast a lingering look backwards and sighed for the absent ones—those oysters.
The Business Committee reported unfavorably upon a Resolution on taxation. On motion, the report was adopted.
The Committee also submitted the following Resolutions, which, on motion, and after receiving two readings, were adopted:
Resolved, That we, the delegates in Convention, representing the colored people of the State of South Carolina, do earnestly request the Government to continue the Freedmen's Bureau until such time as we are fully protected in our persons and property by the laws of the State.
Resolved, That we fully approve of the course of the South Carolina Leader and pledge ourselves to its support.
Also the following, which was amended by motion of Mr. Robert Duncan:
Resolved, That we endorse that portion of the State Constitution of South Carolina that declares that "all power is vested in the people, and all free governments are founded upon their authority, and are instituted for their peace, safety and happiness," and that we reject the construction that has been placed upon it vesting the right of suffrage in only one portion of the people; and that while we accept qualifications, we reject discrimination because of color.
On motion of Mr. DeLarge, the rules applicable to hours of adjournment was suspended, and, on motion the Convention, adjourned over to 3 o'clock P. M.
Convention met, pursuant to adjournment. Prayer by Rev. J. C. Gibbs. Roll called. Minutes of Morning Session read and approved.
The Business Committee brought forward the following named documents: 1st A Bill of Rights and Wrongs. 2d An Address to the People of South Carolina. 3d. A Petition to the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of South Carolina. 4th. A Memorial to the United States Congress. (Appended in full.)
On motion of Mr. J. J. Wright, they were adopted.
On motion, Revs. J. C. Gibbs, F. L. Cardozo, E. J. Adams, and R. H. Cain, were elected to honorary members of this Convention.
On motion, the House adjourned to 10 o'clock to-morrow morning. _____
SATURDAY, November 25.
Convention met at 10 o'clock, Vice-President J. J. Wright in the Chair.
Roll called. Minutes of the previous Afternoon Session read and approved. Prayer by Rev. WIlliam Lyall.
Mr. J. C. Desverney read Resolution on Federal taxation and representation, making known our willingness to assume the former, provided we have guaranteed to us the right of the latter. It was referred, and the Committee subsequently reported unfavorably upon the same.
On motion, the Committee's report was tabled, and the Resolution warmly debated—Messrs. Ransier and J. C. Desverney for adoption, and Messrs. DeLarge and Nash against it. On a motion to adopt, it was considered lost.
A motion to reconsider, by E. C. Rainey, prevailed, and upon its being again put upon its passage, it was lost by a vote of eighteen to seventeen; the President voting in the negative.
The Committee submitted the following Resolution, which was unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That in the death of the late President of the United States, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, this nation has sustained an irreparable loss, and we as a race, deprived of a noble friend. We sympathize with his afflicted family, and will ever hold his name in grateful remembrance.
Also the following:
Resolved, That we hereby object to a "negro code," or any other class legislation by the State, considering as we do the same to be unjust and anti-republican. In our humble opinion, code of laws for the government of all, regardless of color, is all that is necessary for the advancement of the interests and prosperity of the State.
Mr. DeLarge moved that the Committee on Printing be allowed to amend the memorial to Congress by striking out the last sentence of the tenth clause, and inserting the words, "under all circumstances"—carried. The Committee was also empowered to make verbal alteration in any of the documents or proceedings that may seem proper to them; also that the mode and manner of forwarding the documents be left to the Charleston delegation.
The following Resolution was read by Mr. Ransier, referred, and subsequently adopted:
Resolved, That the Bill of Rights and Wrongs, the Memorial to the United States Congress, the Petition to the State Legislature, the Address to the People, and all other Resolutions and enactments of this Convention, be and the same are hereby ratified and finally approved in the name and on behalf of the colored people of the State of South Carolina, United States of America, this 25th day of November, A. D. 1865.
The President arrived and took his seat. The thanks of the Convention were tendered to the President and Secretaries, which were acknowledged by the incumbents in brief addresses; as also to the Congregation of this Church, (Zion, Presbyterian) the Sergeant-at-Arms, Doorkeepers and others.
Closing addresses were made by Messrs.. J. J. Wright of Beaufort, Edward White, of Charleston, F. C. Desverney, of Edisto Island, W. B. Nash, of Columbia, William Dart, of Charleston, and others. This extraordinary meeting, unknown in the history of South Carolina, when it is considered who composed it, and for what purposes it was allowed to assemble—and extraordinary because of (all things considered,) the unanimity of sentiment, the general good feeling, the order and peacefulness which characterized its deliberations—was brought to a close, (subject to be called together at any time by the Central Committee,) with a prayer by Mr. James T. Carroll, who invoked the Divine blessing upon the head of those in whose hands to some extent are the destinies of the colored people of our State.
OF THE COLORED STATE CONVENTION TO THE PEOPLE
OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA. ________
FELLOW CITIZENS:—We have assembled as delegates representing the colored people of the State of South Carolina, in the capacity of State Convention, to confer together and to deliberate upon our intellectual, moral, industrial, civil, and political condition as affected by the great changes which have taken place in this State and throughout this whole country, and to devise ways and means which may, through the blessing of God, tend to our improvement, elevation, and progress; fully believing that our cause is one which commends itself to all good men throughout the civilized world; that it is the sacred cause of truth and righteousness; that is particularly appeals to those professing to be governed by that religion which teaches to "do unto all men as you would have them do unto you."
These principles we conceive to embody the great duty of man to his fellow man; and, as men, we ask only to be included in a practical application of this principle.
We feel that the justness of our cause is a sufficient apology for our course at this time. Heretofore we have had no avenues opened to us or our children—we have had no firesides that we could call our own; none of those incentives to work for the development of our minds and the aggrandizement of our race in common with other people. The measures which have been adopted for the development of white men's children have been denied to us and ours. The laws which have made white men great, have degraded us, because we are colored, and because we were reduced to chattel, slavery. But now that we are freemen, now that we have been lifted by the providence of God to manhood, we have resolved to come forward, and like MEN, speak and act for ourselves. We fully recognize the truth of the maxim that "God helps those who help themselves." In making this appeal to you, we adopt the language of the immortal Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created equal," and that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are the right of all; that taxation and representation should go together; that governments are to protect, not to destroy
the rights of mankind; that the Constitution of the United States was formed to establish justice, to promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to all the people of this country; that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God—are American principles and maxims; and together they form the constructive elements of the American Government.
We think we fully comprehend and duly appreciate the principles and measures which compose this platform; and all that we desire or ask for is to be placed in a position that we could conscientiously and legitimately defend, with you, those principles against the surges of despotism to the last drop of our blood. We have not come together in battle array to assume a boastful attitude and to talk loudly of high-sounding principles or unmeaning platforms, nor do we pretend to any great boldness; for we know your wealth and greatness, and our poverty and weakness; and although we feel keenly our wrongs, still we come together, we trust, in a spirit of meekness and of patriotic good-will to all the people of the State. But yet it is some consolation to know (and it inspires us with hope when we reflect) that our cause is not alone the cause of five millions of colored men in this country, but we are intensely alive to the fact that it is also the cause of millions of oppressed men in other "parts of God's beautiful earth," who are now struggling to be free in the fullest sense of that word; and God and nature are pledged in its triumph. We are Americans by birth, and we assure you that we are Americans in feeling; and, in spite of all wrongs which we have long and silently endured in this country, we would still exclaim with a full heart, "O America! with all thy faults we love thee still."
Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said—
"This is my own, my native land!"
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering in a foreign strand?
Thus we would address you, not as enemies, but as friends and fellow-countrymen, who desire to dwell among you in peace, and whose destinies are interwoven, and linked with those of the American people, and hence must be fulfilled in this country. As descendants of a race feeble and long oppressed, we might with poverty appeal to a great and magnanimous people like Americans, for special favors and encouragement, on the principle that the strong should aid the weak, the learned should teach the unlearned.
But it is for no such purposes that we raise our voices to the people of South Carolina on this occasion. We ask for no special privileges or peculiar favors. We ask for even-handed Justice, or for the removal of such
positive obstructions and disabilities as past, and the recent Legislators have seen fit to throw in our way, and heap upon us.
Without any rational cause or provocation on our part, of which we are conscious, as a people, we, by the action of your Convention and Legislature, have been virtually, and with few exceptions excluded from, first, the rights of citizenship, which you cheerfully accord to strangers but deny to us who have been born and reared in your midst, who were faithful while your greatest trials were upon you, and have done nothing since to merit your disapprobation.
We are denied the right of giving our testimony in like manner with that of our white fellow-citizens, in the courts of the State, by which our persons and property are subject to every species of violence, insult and fraud without redress.
We are also by the present laws, not only denied the right of citizenship, the inestimable right of voting for those who rule over us in the land of our birth, but by the so-called Black Code we are deprived the rights of the meanest profligate in the country—the right to engage in any legitimate business free from any restraints, save those which govern all other citizens of this State.
You have by your Legislative actions placed barriers in the way of our educational improvement; you have given us little or no encouragement to pursue agricultural pursuits, by refusing to sell us lands, but organize societies to bring foreigners to your country, and thrust us out or reduce us to a serfdom, intolerable to men born amid the progress of American genius and national development.
Your public journals charge the freedmen with destroying the products of the country since they have been made free, when they known that the destruction of the products was brought about by the ravages of war of four years duration. How unjust, then, to charge upon the innocent and helpless, evils in which they had no hand, and which may be traced to where it properly belongs.
We simply desire that we shall be recognized as men; that we have no obstructions placed in our way; that we have the right of trial by a jury of our peers, that schools be opened or established for our children; that we be permitted to acquire homesteads for ourselves and children; that we be dealt with others, in equity and justice.
We claim the confidence and good-will of all clauses of men; we ask that the same chances be extended to us that freedmen should demand at the hands of their fellow citizens. We desire the prosperity and growth of this State and the well-being of all men, and shall be found ever struggling to
elevate ourselves and add to the national character; and we trust the day will not be distant when you will acknowledge that by our rapid progress in moral, social, religious and intellectual development that you will cheerfully accord to us high commendation that we are worthy, with you, to enjoy all political emoluments—when we shall realize the truth that "all men are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights," and that on the American continent this is the right of all, whether he come from east, west, north, or south; and although complexions may differ, "a man's a man for a' that."
ZION CHURCH, Charleston, S. C.
November 24, 1865 }
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS AND WRONGS.
It is said in the Declaration of American Independence, "that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
That the phrase "all men" includes the negro no one will attempt to deny. Therefore, we, the colored citizens of South Carolina and of these United States of America, justly claim such rights as are set forth in the above Declaration.
To secure the free enjoyment of these rights is the proper object of civil government.
"Right" is defined to be the just claim, ownership, or lawful title which a person has to anything.
"He has a right to own his body and mind," his money or other property, which he has honestly earned, and the right to dispose of the same as he will, provided this is not done to the injury of others and in violation of the laws founded upon the rights of men.
But, in violation of the above principles and of justice and humanity, we have been deprived of our natural rights, which are founded in the laws of our nature, which consists of personal liberty, the right to be free in our persons, and the right of personal security and protection against injuries to our bodies or good name.
These are a portion of our inalienable rights, because we cannot be justly deprived of them.
We have been deprived of the free exercise of political rights, of natural, civil, and political liberty.
The avenues of wealth and education have been closed to us.
The strong wall of prejudice, on the part of the dominant race, has obstructed our pursuit of happiness.
We have been subjected to cruel proscription, and our bodies have been outraged with impurity.
We have been, and still are, deprived of the free choice of those who should govern us, and subjected unjustly to taxation without representation, and have bled and sweat for the elevation of those who have degraded us, and still continue to oppress us.
ZION CHURCH, Charleston,
November 24,1865. }
TO THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the State of South Carolina in General Assembly Met :
GENTLEMEN: -- We, the colored people of the State of South Carolina, do hereby appeal to you for justice.
The last four years of war have made great changes in our condition and relation to each other, as well as in the laws and institutions of our State. We were previously either slaves, or, if free, still under the pressure of laws made in the interest and for the protection of slavery.
But the events of the past four years have destroyed this state of things. Our State has been called upon to remodel her Constitution from its very foundation and first principles; and, we have been, and still are, deeply affected by all these changes in interests of vital importance to us, we have resolved, in the Convention which we have called together to consider our interests, to petition your Honorable body for justice.
We ask that those laws that have been enacted, that apply to us on account of our color, be repealed. We do not presume to dictate to you, gentlemen; but we appeal to your own instincts of justice and generosity. Why should we suffer on account of the color that an all-wise Creator has given us? Is it possible that the only reason for enacting stringent and oppressive laws for us is because our color is of a darker hue?
We feel assured, gentlemen, that no valid reason can exist for the enactment and perpetuation of laws that have peculiar application us.
We are now free. We are all free. But we are still, gentlemen, to a certain extent in your power; and we need not assure you with what deep concern we are watching all you deliberations, but especially those that have peculiar reference to us.
We would ask your Honorable body for the right of suffrage and the right of testifying in courts of law. These two things we deem necessary to our welfare and elevation. They are the rights of every freeman, and are inherent and essential to every republican form of government.
Our appeal is based on injustice; but we do not rely solely upon that: we appeal to your generosity. Grant us the opportunity of elevating ourselves.
It is for you to say whether we shall become useful citizens or dissatisfied subjects; whether you will become the generous helpers of the weak, and thereby add to your strength, or whether you will weaken yourselves by oppressing those who mean well to all.
We do sincerely hope that you will grant your petitioners their desires. We are natives of this State, and we feel assured that nothing is needed to render our future relations mutually beneficial but the bestownment of the rights we ask.
ZION CHURCH, Charleston, S. C.
November 24, 1865.}
TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES, IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED.
We, the colored people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, respectfully present for your attention some prominent facts in relation to our present condition, and make a modest yet earnest appeal to your considerate judgment.
We, your memorialists, with profound gratitude to almighty God, recognize the great boon of freedom conferred upon us by the instrumentality of our late President, Abraham Lincoln, and the armies of the United States.
"The fixed decree, which not all Heaven can move,
Thou Fate, fulfill it; and, ye Powers, approve."
We also recognize with liveliest gratitude the vast service of the Freedmen's Bureau, together with the efforts of the good and wise throughout our land to raise up an oppressed and deeply injured people in the scale of civilized being, during the throbbings of a mighty revolution which must affect the future destiny of the world.
Conscious of the difficulties that surround our position, we would ask for no rights or privileges but such as rest upon the strong basis of justice and expediency, in view of the best interests of our entire country.
We ask first, that the strong arm of law and order be placed alike over the entire people of this State; that life and property be secured, and the laborer as free to sell his labor as the merchant his goods.
We ask that a fair and impartial construction be given to the pledges of government to us concerning the land question.
We ask that the three great agents of civilized society—the school, the pulpit, the press—be as secure in South Carolina as in Massachusetts or Vermont.
We ask that equal suffrage be conferred upon us, in common with the white men of this State.
This we ask, because "all free governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed;" and we are largely in the majority in this State, bearing for a long period the burden of an odious taxation, without a
just representation. We ask for equal suffrage as a protection for the hostility evoked by our known faithfulness to our country's flag under all circumstances.
We ask that colored men shall not in every instance be tried by white men; and that neither by custom or enactment shall we be excluded from the jury box.
We ask that, inasmuch as the Constitution of the United States explicitly declares that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed—and the Constitution is the Supreme law of the land—that the late efforts of the Legislature of this State to pass an act to deprive us of arms be forbidden, as a plain violation of the Constitution, and unjust to many of us in the highest degree, who have been soldiers, and purchased our muskets from the United States Government when mustered out of service.
We protest against any code of black laws the Legislature of this State may enact, and pray to be governed by the same laws that control other men. The right to assemble in peaceful convention, to discuss the political questions of the day; the right to enter upon all the avenues of agriculture, commerce, trade; to amass wealth by thrift and industry; the right to develope our whole being by all the applications that belong to civilized society, cannot be questioned by any class of intelligent legislators.
We solemnly affirm and desire to live orderly and peacefully with all the people of this State; and commending this memorial to your considerate judgment. Thus we ever pray.
CHARLESTON, S. C., November 24, 1865.
Zion Presbyterian Church }