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(title page) Minutes of the Freedmen's Convention, Held in the City of Raleigh, on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of October, 1866
Raleigh, North Carolina
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RALEIGH, N. C., OCT. 2ND, 1866. Convention met pursuant to the call made by the officers of the State Equal Rights League. J. H. Harris, of Wake, President of the State Equal Rights League, called the house to order. John R. Good, of Craven, Vice President. Wm. Cawthorn, of Warren, was called upon to act as Secretary, pro. tem. Rev. G. A. Rue was appointed to conduct the religious exercises. He opened the Convention by singing the hymn "Peace, troubled soul." J. R. Page, of Edenton, asked whether this was a State League or a State Convention? Which question the Chairman answered after the Convention had been thoroughly opened, refering the gentleman to articles 3rd and 7th of the Constitution of the State Equal Rights League. On motion Marcillus Orford, of Wake, and Samuel Wilson, Of New Hanover, were appointed as Sargeants at Arms. A motion to receive the Rev. Jos. W. Wood, of Craven, as an honorary member of the Convention created a lively discussion. Motion lost. On motion a committee of five was appointed on Credentials, consisting of Messrs. J. T. Schenck of Charlotte, Jas. Bowman
of Fayetteville, J. R. Caswell of Raleigh, J. D. Ballad of Rowan, C. D. Pierson of Newbern. After appointment the Committee retired. On motion Jos. R. Tucker, of Craven, was elected Vice President. On motion Jas. E. O'Hara was appointed Secretary. On motion the Chairman was empowered to appoint a Committee on Rules. The following gentlemen were, therefore, appointed to draw up rules for the government of the Convention: Rev. G. A. Rue of Craven, H. Locket of Wake, and J. R. Page of Chowan. On motion a special Committee of three, consisting of Rev. A. Bass of Orange, John Hyman of Warren, and S. Highsmith of Duplin. On motion Dr. Brown, of Hertford, was invited to address the audience, which he did in an eloquent manner, confining himself to the subject of Education and Equality before the law. On motion Mr. Williamson of Franklin, Mr. Tucker of Craven, and Mr. Sykes of Pasquotank, were invited to address the Convention, which they did, each in his turn, making good and earnest appeals to the people to consider the object for which they were assembled and further urging the members of the Convention faithfully to discharge their duty towards God, towards their fellowman, and towards themselves. On motion Mr. Leary was appointed as Secretary, but he declined on the ground of inexperience. The Convention not taking his excuse, Mr. Leary was oblige to serve in the capacity of Secretary. On motion Jas. E. O'Hara, of Wayne, was appointed to act as reporter of the Convention for the press. The Commitree on Rules then made their report through their Chairman, Rev. G. A. Rue: We, your Committee on Rules, beg leave to offer to this honorable body the following rules for the government of this Convention during its hours of sitting:
AFRICAN M. E. CHURCH, 10 O'CLOCK, A. M.
RALEIGH, N. C., OCT. 2ND, 1866.
Convention met pursuant to the call made by the officers of the State Equal Rights League.
J. H. Harris, of Wake, President of the State Equal Rights League, called the house to order.
John R. Good, of Craven, Vice President.
Wm. Cawthorn, of Warren, was called upon to act as Secretary, pro. tem.
Rev. G. A. Rue was appointed to conduct the religious exercises. He opened the Convention by singing the hymn "Peace, troubled soul."
J. R. Page, of Edenton, asked whether this was a State League or a State Convention? Which question the Chairman answered after the Convention had been thoroughly opened, refering the gentleman to articles 3rd and 7th of the Constitution of the State Equal Rights League.
On motion Marcillus Orford, of Wake, and Samuel Wilson, Of New Hanover, were appointed as Sargeants at Arms.
A motion to receive the Rev. Jos. W. Wood, of Craven, as an honorary member of the Convention created a lively discussion. Motion lost.
On motion a committee of five was appointed on Credentials, consisting of Messrs. J. T. Schenck of Charlotte, Jas. Bowman
of Fayetteville, J. R. Caswell of Raleigh, J. D. Ballad of Rowan, C. D. Pierson of Newbern.
After appointment the Committee retired.
On motion Jos. R. Tucker, of Craven, was elected Vice President.
On motion Jas. E. O'Hara was appointed Secretary.
On motion the Chairman was empowered to appoint a Committee on Rules.
The following gentlemen were, therefore, appointed to draw up rules for the government of the Convention: Rev. G. A. Rue of Craven, H. Locket of Wake, and J. R. Page of Chowan.
On motion a special Committee of three, consisting of Rev. A. Bass of Orange, John Hyman of Warren, and S. Highsmith of Duplin.
On motion Dr. Brown, of Hertford, was invited to address the audience, which he did in an eloquent manner, confining himself to the subject of Education and Equality before the law.
On motion Mr. Williamson of Franklin, Mr. Tucker of Craven, and Mr. Sykes of Pasquotank, were invited to address the Convention, which they did, each in his turn, making good and earnest appeals to the people to consider the object for which they were assembled and further urging the members of the Convention faithfully to discharge their duty towards God, towards their fellowman, and towards themselves.
On motion Mr. Leary was appointed as Secretary, but he declined on the ground of inexperience. The Convention not taking his excuse, Mr. Leary was oblige to serve in the capacity of Secretary.
On motion Jas. E. O'Hara, of Wayne, was appointed to act as reporter of the Convention for the press.
The Commitree on Rules then made their report through their Chairman, Rev. G. A. Rue:
We, your Committee on Rules, beg leave to offer to this honorable body the following rules for the government of this Convention during its hours of sitting:
Mr. Ellison, of Wake, enquired if the rule concerning intoxicated members meant that they should be entirely excluded from the Convention.
Jas. E. O'Hara, of Wayne, arose and defended the rule, stating that there was but one fault which he saw, and that was the rule was not stringent enough.
On motion Messrs. J. R. Good of Craven, Green of Gates, and Carson Johnson of Warren, were appointed to address the Convention, which they did in a noble and patriotic manner.
On motion Rev. G. A. Rue was appointed Chaplain of the Convention.
On motion the Convention adjourned, according to rule.
Convention met pursuant to adjournment.
Jas. H. Harris in the Chair.
The minutes of the previous meeting was read and approved, with slight corrections.
The Committee on Credentials then reported through their Chairman, Mr. J. T. Schenck:
We, your Committee on Credentials, having carefully examined the credentials of the delegates from the various counties, recommend that the persons representing the following counties be admitted as delegates duly elected and sent by their constituents:
RALEIGH, N. C., OCTOBER, 1866
On motion the law of the Convention was decided on by the Chairman, instructing the Sergeant at arms to allow no person excepting delegates to sit within the bar.
Mr. Bowman, of Fayetteville, suggested to the house the importance of inviting various distinguished citizens of North Carolina, and the heads of the Military department.
Some objections being made, Mr. Cawthorn, of Warren, endeavored to show to the members of the Convention the necessity of endeavoring to form a test of sincere friendship between the two races.
Mr. Cawthorn was ably sustained by Messrs. J. R. Good, J. T. Leary and H. Morrison.
The Committee on verbal Credentials then made their report, through their Chairman, Rev. A. Bass:
We, your Committee on verbal Credentials, after examining persons having no written credentials, has found that the omission of said credentials were an oversight, and in few cases caused by ignorance; nevertheless, we firmly believe that these persons here present are the persons chosen by the colored people in various parts of the State. We, therefore, recommend these persons to your consideration, and would, also, suggest that they be admitted as full members of the Convention, with all rights and privileges accorded to them.
On motion the President were authorized to appoint a business Committee of five.
Dr. Brown offered an amendment that the number should
be seven instead of five. Amendment received and motion carried.
The following gentlemen were, therefore, appointed on a business Committee: Dr. H. J. Brown, H. Locket, J. T. Schenck, John Smith, Jno. Sykes, Vinson Mickeral and Geo. A. Rue.
On motion a Committee on invitation were appointed, consisting of J. R. Caswell, J. E. O'Hara, Harry Pope, John Hyman and John Porter, with the instruction that they invite Gov. Worth and other distinguished citizens of North Carolina, and the heads of the Military department.
On motion a financial Committee was appointed, consisting of H. Unthank, J. B. Ballard, S. Ellison and Jas. Bowman.
On motion Mr. Newsom of Hertford, was appointed to take the name, and post office addresses of the delegates.
On motion Wm. Cawthorn was confirmed as Secretary of the Convention.
The business Committee then reported through their Chairman, Dr. H. J. Brown.
The resolutions were received but not adopted, and laid over to the next session.
On motion Jas. H. Harris was solicited to address the Convention.
On motion a collection was taken up to defray the expense of the Convention, amounting to $4.50.
Convention assembled at 7 ½ o'clock, when the meeting was opened with religious exercises by Rev. George A. Rue, Chaplain of the Convention.
The President, Jas. H. Harris, was then introduced by J. R. Good, Vice President.
Mr. Harris' discourse was lengthy and instructive, and founded principally on the objects of the Leauge. He was often applauded.
Mr. Leary, of Fayetteville, was next introduced, but declined on the grounds of incapability.
Dr. H. J. Brown was next introduced, but he declined, as he intends to give a lecture on Phrenology and Physiology on Wednesday evening
Rev. G A. Rue was then called upon, who made a few pointed and humorous remarks. After which a collection was taken up to the amount of $3.18.
After singing "Sound the loud Timbrel," the Convention adjourned.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 3, 1866--9.30 O'CLOCK.
Convention assembled pursuant to adjournment.
J. H. Harris in the Chair. House called to order.
Rev. George A. Rue, Chaplain of the Convention, opened by reading the 137th Psalm, and singing the hymn "God the spring of all my joys;" he next offered a prayer.
The minutes of the previous meeting were then called for, read and approved.
After calling the roll of delegates, the rules governing the Convention were then read.
The greater part of the morning was spent in receiving the assessment made on each delegate of $1.50 to defray the expenses of the Convention.
The Committee on invitation then reported that they had received answers from Gov. Worth and other gentlemen, to whom invitations had been extended.
On motion the letters were then read to the Convention with great applause:
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA,
RALEIGH, N. C. Oct. 3d, 1866.
To the President and members of the colored Convention, now sitting in Raleigh.
I have received, through your Secretary, James E. O'Hara, an invitation to attend your sittings. Having learned on all hands, that your actions are patriotic, and, in every way, praiseworthy, I thank you for your invitation and will gladly attend.
You shall always find me ready, personally or officially, to do anything in my power to aid your people in their efforts to elevate and improve their condition.
RALEIGH, Oct. 4th 1866,
To the Committee of Invitation of the Colored People's Convention, Raleigh:--
In reply to your invitation of yesterday, I beg leave to say, that my engagements will not permit me to visit your Convention; but I have been pleased to be informed of your efforts to educate your people in the State of North Carolina, and hope they may be attended with success. Of course you do not expect, at once, to establish seminaries for the higher branches of learning, but will direct your attention to primary schools, in which are taught those rudiments of knowledge which are most useful and necessary in carrying on the ordinary business of life. With the difficulties now existing of a short crop in the greater portion of the State, the unsettled condition of affairs arising out of the late war, and the sudden emancipation of the colored race, with but little property except that which shall be acquired by daily labor, it will not be an easy matter to maintain schools even of this description; but whenever it is practicable, I hope to see them established.
But there is much of education, and of the most necessary part of it, that is not obtained in schools. How to do work well, and with the greatest advantage, either in a mechanical trade, or on a farm, or in any other business, is the most useful kind of knowledge to people who must live by labor. To have habits of industry in applying one's self to his work, to be faithful to contracts and promises--to be sober, honest and truthful, are lessons which every parent can teach to his children at home, and which will cost nothing except the care and attention that every one will readily bestow. In the present situation of the colored people, the first object of every one should be to obtain an honest livelihood for himself and his family, by labor. The idle will be sure to become vicious, lose the confidence and respect of the community--probably fall into crime, and subject themselves to the punishment of the law. Next to being industrious, they should be frugal--save and lay up what they earn, and when they become able, buy land or other property, and thus advance in the scale of life. Both parents and children who are able to do useful work, should apply themselves to it, until something shall in this way be accumulated. Then they will have the means and time to attend the schools and improve their time. If both objects can be effected at the same time, it will be so much the better. You will perceive that, in my opinion, instruction in morals and virtue, and the religious training derived from hearing the Gospel preached, and in Sunday schools, are more necessary to your people, at present than the knowledge of letters and books, and it can be more easily and cheaply obtained. While, therefore, disposed to encourage every well-meant effort to give them schools, I would keep constantly present to their minds, that to elevate their condition nothing is so necessary as to become independent in their circumstances, and that this can only be effected by persevering and honest labor.
W. A. GRAHAM.
RALEIGH, Oct. 4th 1866
Mr. James E. O'Hara:
Sir: I have received yours of this date, inviting me to address the Convention of colored persons of which you are Secretary, now assembled at the African Church in this City for the purpose of promoting the cause of education amongst their race. You assume very truly, that I am a friend to your race.
I could not be otherwise so long as I may be regarded as a fellow creature of the race of man; and I am a warm friend to education everywhere.
Owing to my pressing engagements in highly important cases on trial or about to be tried in the Superior Court of Wake County, now in session, it will be not only inconvenient, but really impossible for me to be present at your Convention.
Allow me, however, to express my pleasure, that your race are striving by peaceful means to elevate themselves in the grade of humanity.
The best means of doing this you can as readily appreciate as any one. They are universally acknowledged to be industry, and education both moral and religious. That idleness is the parent of all vice is an adge as old as time; and it requires but the observation of a day to verify this truth, whether among the one race or the other.
B. F. MOORE.
BUREAU REF., FREEDMEN AND ABANDONED LANDS,
OFFICE SUPERINTENDENT CENTRAL DIS. RALEIGH, N. C.
Oct. 3d, 1866.
Mr. J. E. O'Hara, Secretary, &c.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of invitation requesting me to honor you with my presence and to address you during the hours of your Convention.
I regret exceedingly that I cannot accept your kind and flattering invitation to address you, on account of serving on a General Court Martial in addition to my duties as Superintendent of the Bureau of R. F. and A. L. Even had I the time, I do not think I could address you on account of not knowing the object or purpose of your Convention. I hope to be able to visit your Convention some time during the session, and will if possible.
With my best wishes for your success and prosperity,
I Remain Very Respectfully Your Obedient Servant,
A. G. BRADY,
Brv't. Col. and Supt.
On motion, that delegates not present at the call of the roll or fifteen minutes afterwards, should be fined unless a good and satisfactory excuse be rendered, created a very lively discussion, which lasted about half an hour. The motion, however, was carried.
The motion that no person should be recognised as a member of the convention unless they pay their assessments, brought about a very warm debate, several gentlemen participating. Motion lost.
Jas. H. Harris offered a Constitution, governing an Educational Association, which was referred to the Committee on business. Reported upon and adopted, as follows:
On motion the meeting adjourned to meet at 2 o'clock, p. m.
Convention assembled pursuant to adjournment.
J. H. Harris in the Chair.
The unfinished business of the Convention was then taken up, which was the receiving of assessments from the delegates.
A letter from ex-Gov. Thomas Bragg was then read to the Convention, as follows:
RALEIGH, Oct. 3d, 1866.
To the members of the Convention of Colored People now in Session.
I have received your polite invitation to attend the session of your Convention. I have only time to say that my engagements are such in the Superior Court now in session, and likely to be in session for the rest of the week, that I cannot possibly avail myself of your invitation. Otherwise I should be glad to accept of it. I approve of its object and hope it may result in effecting something for the benefit and improvement of your people. Every good citizen should desire this, and I assure you it will always give me pleasure to contribute in any way that I can to such a purpose.
I am very Respectfully, Your Friend, &c.,
Shortly after reading ex-Gov. Bragg's letter, Gov. Worth was announced. Upon which the Sergeant at Arms escorted him into the house. He was then introduced to the President of the Convention by J. E. O'Hara, and by J. H. Harris to the Convention.
The Governor then proceeded to address the Convention. His discourse was on morality education and religion. He urges the people to acquire habits of industry, sobriety and honesty. He also spoke touchingly on the late war; of the present position and feelings of the most intelligent classes of both races, and in conclusion strongly urges upon them the importance of acquiring knowledge and wealth.
He was then cordially greeted by J. R. Good as a personal friend, and one who voted for his emancipation in the Legislature of 18--.
A vote of thanks was then tendered to the Governor by the Convention, upon which the President expressed the feeling and gratitude of the Convention.
The Convention then sung "Sound the loud Timbrel," after which the Governor retired amidst loud and hearty cheers.
A motion to receive certain gentlemen as honorary members of the Convention created quite a debate by various persons, which lasted some considerable length of time, but was finally carried.
By order of the President, the business Committee reported through their Chairman, Dr. H. J. Brown, the following resolutions, which were received, but not adopted, at a previous meeting:
WHEREAS, In the Counties of Jones, Duplin, Wayne, Craven, Hyde, Halifax, and others in this State, outrages are being committed, such as killing, shooting, and robbing the unprotected people, for the most trivial offence, and, in many instances, for no offence at all; and, whereas, those criminals who permit these fiendish outrages are allowed to roam freely at large without being arrested for their crimes; therefore,
3. Whereas, The unreconstructed States regard taxation without representation unjust, and not in conformity with a Republican form of government; therefore,
Be it resolved, That we native born colored citizens of North-Carolina regard the same principle as applicable to us in every relation, unjust and directly in violation to our sacred rights as American citizens; and,
4. Whereas, In and through the counties of this State our children, the dearest ties of which binds us to domestic life, and which makes the ties of home endearing, are ruthlessly taken from us and bound out without our consent; therefore,
Be it resolved, That we earnestly protest against such violations, and will do all in our power to prevent its further continuation.
On motion the above resolutions were adopted.
It was then announced that Dr. H. J. Brown would deliver a lecture on Phrenology and Ethnology in the evening, doors to be opened at 7 o'clock, and lecture to commence at 8 o'clock.
According to appointment the lower part of the house was crowded with an audience of both races.
The Doctor's lecture was one that would have done credit to the most learned person. He did not claim to belong either to the white or black race, but his sympathies were with the negro race, because of their circumstances and their being held as inferior to the Caucassian. He furthermore showed that according to science that no two races on the face of the globe were so much alike as the Caucassian and the negro. He plainly showed that the same imitative, moral and intellectual faculties were found in the brain of the negro as were found in the brain of the Caucasian. He further showed the difference between the American Indian and the Caucasians, stating the fact that the American will not accept nor can be made to appreciate arts, science, literature and religion, again showing that we find men of the negro race who has brought these various branches to perfection, and can compete with white men, showing the negro race superior to the American Indian, and in every respect equal to Caucasian or Anglo-Saxon. For an illustration he mentioned Isaiah Weir, of Philadelphia, with whom statesmen and gentlemen are glad to meet in counsel with, and also feel proud to be counted as one of his acquaintances. He next mentioned Henry Highland Garnet, a pure representative of the negro race, by whom statesmen are led, and whenever he speaks they listen with awe and astonishment, and are glad to be permitted to associate with him. Thus did the Doctor show that inferiority
of which the negro is charged, if it is in any instances true, it is owing to the state of slavery under which they have been kept, not allowing the faculties of the mind to be developed; therefore it is the white man's shame.
After making a few Phrenological examinations, the songs "Washington, our Capital, is free," and John Brown's song was sung, the audience was dismissed, with the thanks of Dr. Brown.
THURSDAY, OCT. 4TH, 1866.
Convention met pursuant to adjournment.
J. R. Good in the Chair.
Religious exercises conducted by the Chaplain, G. A. Rue, assisted by Rev. A. Bass.
The Convention then proceeded to its regular business calling the roll of delegates, reading and approving the minutes of the previous meeting, reading the rules, &c.
Mr. Richard Tucker then stated the necessity of paying strict attention to business.
J. R. Page introduced several resolutions which was referred to the business committee.
The remainder of the morning was spent in allowing delegates of the various counties to express their views, and make a true statement of their treatment in the counties in which they reside.
J. H. Harris, of Wake, made a few opening remarks, and retired amidst great applause.
Messrs. Jas. Bowman and J. R. Good concurred with the remarks of the President.
On motion the Convention pledged itself to raise $2,000 to build a house for School and State purposes.
Rev. Mr. Pitt, of Edgecomb, opposed the motion.
Question called for and motion carried.
On motion a Committee of three was appointed to estimate the cost of building a suitable house, consisting of Messrs. J. T. Schenck, Stewart Ellison and Caesar Johnson.
Mr. Bell, of Lenoir, in his address stated that his people had been outraged, and that the officers of the Freedmen's Bureau had done but very little in behalf of the Freedmen in that sub-district.
Mr. H. Pool, of Camden, stated that in the section of the country in which he resided, that there is a feeling of perfect love and harmony between the two races, and that everything is prospering with great advantages to both parties.
On motion the Convention adjourned to meet at 2 o'clock, p.m.
Convention met pursuant to adjournment.
J. R. Good in the Chair.
Ninety-two members present.
The afternoon session was spent in a similar manner to that of the morning, allowing delegates to make their statements.
After reading the minutes of the morning session, Mr. S Ellison moved its approval. Mr. J. T. Schenck opposed.
In the discussion the Chairman sustained the minutes.
Dr. Brown arose, stating that it was unnecessary to publish every trivial matter that occurred in the Convention.
On motion the minutes were approved, that they be corrected by the publishing committee.
Calvin MacCray, of Richmond, states in his address that the (colored) people residing in Richmond county are most shamefully treated by the whites. Their money and fire arms are taken from them under the pretext that it is an order issued for them to take these things away, and colored laborers are most cruelly whipped on plantations.
Mr. Edmund Bird, of Alamance, in his address showed that the only prejudice existing against the negro is only entertained by the lower and ignorant class of whites, whilst the intelligent and better classes are disposed to help the negro.
The discourses of Messrs. Powell and Leak, of Anson,
showed that there was a spirit of harmony and kindly feeling existing between the whites and blacks.
Mr. J. A. Green, of Gates, in his address spoke in the highest terms of the whites in his county.
Mr. Hubbard Little, of Montgomery, in his address spoke well of the whites in general, but we were pained to hear from him that a colored man was shot and instantly killed for trespassing on the premises of a white person, and he further states that his people are in a most deplorable condition, they having no colored church nor school house.
Mr. Thos. Hawking, of Burke, in his address states that two colored persons have recently been shot down, and the whites entertain a feeling of prejudice and animosity against the blacks.
Mr. Thos. Farmer of Wilson, stated that the people has suffered greatly from injustice, but things begin to wear a bright future.
Mr. Louis Heagie, of Forsyth, stated that the mass of the colored people in that county were in an abject state of poverty.
Mr. J. R. Caswell announced that the Rev. Mr. Pell would address the Convention this (Thursday) evening.
Mr. Caswell also stated that Mr. Harrison would be present also.
After an address from Mr. H. Langford, of Northampton, Secretary J. E. O'Hara read answers to invitations from Ex-Gov. W. W. Holden, Col. Bumford, Brevet Major-General A. Carr of the U. S. A., and D. M. Barringer, Esq., as follows:
RALEIGH, Oct. 3d, 1866.
To Mr. James E. O'Hara, Secretary,
Your letter of yesterday, inviting me to visit the Convention of colored people now in session in this City, has been received.
The object of your Convention, as I am informed, is to promote education among your race, and thus elevate and improve it mentally and morally. This is a noble work, and one in which every patriot and philanthropist is pleased to see you engaged. I trust the results of your labors may be for good to the colored people; and I feel sure that the country and all its material and moral interests will be benefited in proportion as your race shall be enlightened and elevated in the scale of being.
Be pleased to convey to the Convention my acknowledgments for the invitation
thus tendered, and say to them that it will afford me pleasure to visit the Convention before it adjourns.
W. W. HOLDEN.
RALEIGH, N. C. Oct. 4th, 1866.
I have the honor to express my grateful sense of the compliment paid me in your invitation of yesterday to be present at your Convention in this City, as well as for the flattering manner in which that invitation was conveyed.
In reply thereto, I beg leave to assure you that it will afford me much pleasure to be present this afternoon: say about half past 3 o'clock, if I may be allowed to attend simply as a listener, and as a silent friend, much interested in whatever interests you or your cause. If not, then I must ask the indulgence to postpone my visit to a future occasion.
I am Gentlemen,
Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant
J. V. BOMFORD.
Col. 8th U. S. Inf'y. Comanding.
Messrs. J R. Caswell, of Wake county, Chairman, Henry Pope, of Randolph county, John Hyman, of Warren county, J. E. O'Hara, of Wayne county, John Porter, of Davidson county.
HEADQUARTERS POST OF RALEIGH, N. C., Oct. 3d, 1866.
Messrs. J. R. Caswell, Harry Pope, John Hyman, J. E. O'Hara, John Porter.
I herewith acknowledge the invitation this day received at your hands to be. present at the meeting of the Convention of the colored people of North-Carolina now in session.
I shall be glad to see something of the workings of your Convention, and will be present at such times as my duties will permit.
Very Respectfully &c.,
E. H. CARR.
Brv't. Maj. Gen. Comanding.
RALEIGH, Oct. 4th, 1866.
Mr. J. E. O'Hara, Secretary of the Convention of Colored People now is Session.
I have just received your note on behalf of the Convention to visit and address your body before its adjournment.
It will not be in my power to make an address before the Convention. But understanding that you have assembled for the purpose of suggesting and adopting the best means for the moral and educational improvement of your people, in a new and critical condition, I desire to express my approval of the objects of your Convention.
It is all-important to the colored as well as the white population, that every thing possible be done to elevate and enlighten the colored race in a true knowledge of their duties and responsibilities in their new condition.
I am sure you will eventually find the most efficient and cheerful encouragement
from those among whom you have always lived--who know your real wants, and who will be your best and truest friends.
With acknowledgements to the Convention for their invitation,
I am Yours, &c.,
D. M. BARRINGER.
On motion said letters were received and adopted, and the Secretary ordered to have them in readiness for the publishing Committee.
Immediately after the passage of the motion, Maj. Gen. E. H. Carr and Col. Bomford was announced to the Convention, and received in its behalf by J. R. Caswell.
A letter was received and read as follows from John Randolph, jr.:
NEWBERN, N. C., Sept. 30th, 1866.
To the Colored Citizens of North-Carolina to Assemble in Convention, at Raleigh, in October:
In 1865, when I sat in Convention with you, I esteemed it the proudest moment of my life to be thus associated with such men, and engaged in such a work. In the formation of the State Equal Rights League, you did me the hanor of making me Secretary. This enjoins it upon me to be present at the first Annual meeting of the League, or at the Convention.
I regret very much that circumstances above my control prevent my attendance. But, gentlemen, you may be well assured that if absent in person, I am not in spirit. My heart longs to be with you--not because of the high estimate I place upon my services, but because I am interested, soul and body, in the good work you meet to perform.
The Convention of last year did a noble work, notwithstanding all of us, on our return home to our constitutents, did not receive the welcome plaudit of "well done, good and faithful servants." But all was not completed. There still remains a vast deal to do.
It is claimed by some that we now have equal rights in law. How far this is true, you must decide. If you should find it true, then you must consider the extent of our political rights[,] The education of our people should form an important item in your deliberations; and the laboring interests of our people must not be forgotten. Our people must be taught to confide in each other, and assist each other; the lack of this is doing a destructive work among us. And they must learn, also, men and women, that "the richest treasure modern times afford, is spotless reputation."
It must be remembered that these are peculiar times in which we live, and in all your counsel and deliberations, show yourselves "as harmless as doves, but as wise as serpents." to the end that we all may be benefitted, and peace and good-will prevail.
May the Presence of God be with you, and His wisdom direct you, that your duties may be performed with honor to yourselves, and profit to the State and country.
JOHN RANDOLPH, JR.
Mr. C. Harrel's, of Bertie, discourse was one series of complaint, stating that colored men were cheated out of their labor, children were taken and bound without the consent or consultation of their parents, no schools for colored persons, in the vicinity.
Mr. Charles Carter also made the same statement in regard to injustice towards the (colored) laborer, and the binding out of children without the consent of their parents. He also states that these matters are known to agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, but they take no steps to arrest the evil in its onward march.
The delegates gave way to listen to the address of Rev. Mr. Pell.
He was introduced to the Convention by Jas. H. Harris.
Mr. Pell, in his address, stated that he had always cherished a warm feeling towards the colored people, and if the people of both races would go to work as they ought, and they will shortly have to do, North-Carolina will become a giant State. He was loudly applauded.
A vote of thanks was tendered to Rev. Mr. Pell for his address.
The Rev. F. A. Fiske, State Superintendent of Schools in North-Carolina was next introduced. He made a few remarks touching on the point of education. He then made a distribution of some papers for the use of the freedmen.
Dr. Brown then presented the Convention with $22, the proceeds of the lecture given the previous night.
A vote of thanks was then given to Dr. Brown, who responded in a very feeling and touching manner.
Great enthusiasm prevailed during his remarks.
Mr. H. Unthanks, of Guilford, in his address, informed the Convention that the greatest feeling of love and unity existed between both races in his county. He said that the daughters of Gov. Morehead was earnestly engaged in teaching colored "ideas how to shoot."
Mr. T. A. Sykes, of Pasquotank, in his address spoke in the highest terms of the whites in the county wherein he resides, and he firmly believes that it is their intention to assist
the colored people in their onward march to education and intelligence.
It was then announced that Rev. F. A. Fiske and J. W Hood would speak at the next meeting.
On motion Convention adjourned to meet according to rule.
Convention assembled pursuant to adjournment.
J. R. Good in the Chair.
Religious exercises conducted by the Chaplain, G. A. Rue.
Mr. A. Stokes, of Wilkes, addressed the audience. His address was lengthy, humorous and witty.
Rev. F. A. Fiske was introduced to the Convention.
His address was solely on education. Among other facts mentioned by the Rev. F. A. Fiske, we will notice the following: "North-Carolina, in regard to free schools for colored people, has a good reputation to sustain. According to a recent report of the Bureau inspector of Freedmen's schools, (whose office is located in Washington, D. C.,) she stands second in the number of such schools, and third in the number of scholars under instructions in them."
Rev. Jas. W. Hood was next introduced to the Convention. He delivered a lengthy and instructive address on the subject of education.
We greatly regret to learn that John D. Whitford, Esq., was kept in waiting and not able to get to the Convention through the negligence of persons on the invitation Committee, who should have, according to promise, conducted him to the Convention. We, therefore, tender our apology to the honorable gentleman.
The following resolution was read and adopted:
Resolved, That we, the representatives of the colored people of North-Carolina, in Convention now assembled, have adopted a Constitution for an Educational Association, and we would recommend to the people of our State to recognize no other.
[For the Constitution adopted see 12th page.]
FRIDAY, OCT. 5TH, 1866.
Convention met pursuant to adjournment.
James H. Harris of Wake, in the chair.
Devotional exercise by the Chaplain, Rev. Geo. A. Rue.
Roll called and rules read by Secretary, J. S. Leary.
Reading of Minutes of previous session by Secretary Cawthorn.
On motion, the Minutes of the previous session were approved.
Dr. Brown, Chairman of the Business Committee, having been called away, on account of his family being sick, the duty of Chairman devolved on Rev. George A. Rue.
On motion, Mr. Ballard was appointed on the Business Committee.
Ex-Gov. W. W. Holden was announced.
J.R. Caswell then invited him to address the Convention.
He was introduced to the audience by James H. Harris.
Gov. Holden spoke with much plainness and feeling. He told them that if two years ago any one had predicted that the colored people would be free, holding a Convention like this, and would be visited and addressed by the Governor of the State on their duties and responsibilities as a new people, that person would have been regarded as wanting in sanity. He said this to impress upon them a due sense of their situation and responsibilies. If their liberty had been assured them in so short a time, with protection by law to their persons and property, they might well look forward with hope to the future. He was glad the Governor of the State had visited them and made them a speech. It would do good here, and do good among the Northern people.
Gov. H. said the father of his country GEORGE WASHINGTON, by his last will and testament emancipated his slaves; and that ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the saviour of his country, by the force of circumstances which must have been shaped by Divine Providence, had put his hand to a document which had liberated four millions of slaves. It would be useless for those
who formerly owned this race to repine. He believed but few did repine. It was submitted to as an event which no human foresight could have averted. He thought the general good feeling between the two races in this State should be cultivated and strengthened. This was the home of the black man as well as of the white. The two races should mutually sustain each other. The black man needed the knowledge the white man had of the arts and sciences, and of history and government. He was also dependent on the white man for lands and houses. The white race needed the black as aids in cultivating and improving the country. They might also be needed to defend the country against foreign foes. They would be the main reliance in some portions of the State in producing the great staples. The first care of the black people should be to procure homes, no matter how cheap or small. To do this they must be industrious, temperate and economical. Labor was the first great consideration. They had no time to waste at public gatherings--they should not congregate in the towns in greater numbers than might be necessary for business; and they should avoid all temptations to idleness and disspation. The first thing was to get homes, and the next was, while they still labored to improve and add to their possessions, to educate their children. Education was good for all races and colors. "Knowledge was power." As a general rule, people were virtuous and useful in proportion as they were educated, and vicious and useless in the world when sunk deep in ignorance. Knowledge, like the sun, was for all. He believed the colored race was capable of much greater mental improvement than they had thus far reached. Their memories were certainly very good. This might be the result, to some extent, of their condition of slavery, in which the memory had been developed by their habit, as they could not write, of charging their minds with facts and events. He had observed that the colored child was apt to learn. But memory was merely the common laborer who brought and piled up the materials; judgment was the builder.
Gov H. in conclusion, said the true interest of the colored race was to cultivate the friendship of the whites; and the
whites would also find their true interest in doing justice to the blacks and in cultivating their friendship. The colored people were entitled to all their civil rights, and would have them. The common government would see to that, if necessary but he did not believe that such necessity would arise. He hoped it would not. South-Carolina had just passed a law doing full justice to the colored people in this respect. No one thought of or proposed social equality between the two races. Society would always take care of itself. He urged the colored people for the present to keep out of politics. It was a "weariness to the flesh " among the white people. They had not yet demonstrated their capacity for self-government, and would not, until the Union was restored and our liberties consolidated on the everlasting rock of Truth and Justice. Gov. H. was not ashamed nor afraid to say, while he was true to his own race, and looked forward with confidence to the mighty destiny they would accomplish for themselves on this continent, that he was at the same time the friend of the colored race. He wished them well. He trusted they would continue to improve in knowledge and virtue; that they would abide in peace among the whites, contributing their full share to the stock of advancement, prosperity, and happiness; and that they would yet be a people in the earth. The colored people would always find him a friend and well wisher, without the slightest regard to what might be said of him by office-seekers or demagogues. He had lived long enough, and seen enough of the world to know, that the only true rule was to try to do right in all things and under all circumstances, without regard to consequences.
Mr. J. B. Good of Craven, responded, warmly approving of what Gov. H. had said.
Mr. Bowman of Cumberland, next addressed the Convention, stating that he entertained no party feeling.
Also, the Rev. A. Bass, Messrs. J. S. Leary, A. Patcher and others spoke in approbation of what ex-Gov. Holden had said.
On motion, a vote of thanks was tendered to the ex-Governor, who arose and thanked the Convention for the manner in which he was received.
On motion a Committee were appointed consisting of Messrs. J. R. Caswell of Wake, J. R. Good of Craven, W. D. Newsom of Hertford, James Bowman of Cumberland and J. S. Porter of Davidson.
The Business Committee, through their Chairman, Rev. George A. Rue, reported an address to the citizens of North Carolina, as follows:
FELLOW-CITIZENS:--We, the colored People of North-Carolina, in Convention assembled at Raleigh, on the 2nd, 3d, 4th and 5th days of Oct. 1866, viewing the complex condition of affairs and of public sentiment in our State, deem it our duty to present to you our grievances, our sufferings and the outrages heaped upon us, because of our helpless and disqualified position for self-defence, resulting, as we think we can prove, from no greater cause than our long and unjust political disfranchisement.
We ask you, in the spirit of meekness, is taxation without representation just? History and conscience answer no!
We do not come to you in a spirt of reproach or denunciation, neither do we feel in pleading for equal rights without regard to complexional differences, that we are in the least degree selfish. Nor do we in any respect seek to lower the standard of refinement, intelligence or honor among the great and loyal people of the commonwealth of North-Carolina, by urging these questions upon your consideration at this time. We would view if possible the brightest side of the picture, which we have to present, and give to our beloved State all the honor and credit deserved for the rapid strides which this great Nation has been taking in the direction of universal emancipation and equality before the law.
You will acquiesce when we say that we can boast a little of our loyalty to the general government, in the bloody struggle through which we have just passed. Our fathers fought shoulder to shoulder with the white man in the Revolutionary war, and in the war of 1812. They did their duty and did it well. In the one just ended, our fathers, brothers and sons bared their breasts to the fiery storm to save the Union.
FELLOW-CITIZENS: You have taught us one good thing, which we cannot forget. It is this: "That all men are born free and equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," &c.
FELLOW-CITIZENS: Can we look to you for protection or not, to shield us from the murderous hand? Oh, humanity, where is thy blush? Our defenceless wives and children, fathers, sons and brothers are beaten with clubs, robbed, shot and killed, in various localities, and the authorities regard it not. We beg you as white men in authority to shield our defenceless heads, and guard our little homes. We appeal to your religion and humanity. We claim by merit the right of suffrage, and ask it at your hands. We believe the day has come, when black men have rights which white men are bound to respect. We intend to live and die on the soil which gave us birth. Oh, North-Carolina, the land of our birth,
with all thy faults we love thee still. Will you, oh! will you treat us as human beings, with all our rights? It is all we ask.
Your humble servants, in behalf of the State's Equal Rights League,
GEO. A. RUE, Chairman.
J. T. SCHENCK, H. LOCKET, J. A. SYKES.
On motion, it was adopted.
Mr. Jas. H. Harris of Wake, offered an amendment by inserting no taxation without representation, which was accepted and adopted.
James E. O'Hara then made a lengthy address on the importance of education.
The following Constitution of the Equal Rights League was then read:
Feeling the stern necessity of encouraging a well ordered and dignified life, and emulating the efforts of the friends of Equal Rights in Newberne, looking to the same end, therefore we are met in concert with the determination to organize more permanently, consolidating all efforts looking to our general elevation, operating in harmony with the National League or any other national organization looking forward to the same end.
keep all the books and papers belonging to the League at the office in Raleigh. And it shall further be the duty of the Recording Secretary to take charge of and keep in good order the offices and business rooms of the League; for the performance of these duties the Recording Secretary shall receive such compensation as the Executive Board may determine. The duties of the Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer shall be such as usually attach to such offices. The Treasurer shall give bonds in the sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000) as security for the proper disbursement of all funds that may come into his hands, and shall make a report to the Executive Board of all moneys received by him and expended under its order at its quarterly meetings. It shall be the duty of the Executive Board to take charge of the particular and general interests of the League, and make such needful rules and regulations for the accomplishment of the object of the League as sound discretion and necessity shall dictate. It shall be the further duty of the Executive Board to make an annual report of its doings to the League at its annual meetings.
Mr. Page moved that they be adopted in the whole. Objected to by James O'Hara on the grounds that the members of the convention would be better prepared to vote upon them by sections.
J. E. O'Hara's motion was carried into effect, and the constitution adopted by sections.
The following officers were elected for the Educational Association:
James E. O'Hara of Wayne, President, J. T. Schenck of Mecklenburg, George A. Rue of Craven and H. Locket of Wake, Vice Presidents. Wm. Cawthorn of Warren, Secretary. Moses Patterson of Wake, Treasurer.
Richard Tucker of Craven, E. A. Richardson of Craven, C. D. Pierson of Craven, W. H. Anderson of Wake, Ceasar Johnson of Warren, J. R. Caswell of Wake, H. Unthanks of Greensboro', J. H. Harris of Wake, T. A. Sykes of Pasquotank, J. S. Leary of Fayetteville, J. H. Williamson of Franklin, J. R. Page of Chowan, W. D. Newsom of Hertford.
On motion, the Convention adjourne to meet according to rule.
The Convention met pursuant to adjournment.
Mr. Richard Tucker, of Craven, in the chair.
The Business Committee then continued their report through their chairman Rev. George A. Rue.
The following resolutions were received and adopted:
Resolved, That it shall be the duty of every member of this body on his return home, to form, or cause to be formed, an Equal Rights League, in or near the place wherein such delegates resides, and to do all in his power to promote their increase through other portions of his county.
Resolved, That the members of this Convention advise the colored people in their respective localities to form themselves into joint stock companies wherever practicable; also, to patronize and respect each other in their various branches of business.
Resolved, That a vote of thanks be rendered to the State Legislature, for the respectful manner in which they received and acted upon our petition at their last sitting.
Resolved, That the members of the State Legislature have the entire confidence of this Convention, and of all good colored citizens everywhere in this State, and we shall ever pray for their welfare and for the reconstruction and prosperity of our beloved State.
Committee on building reported through their chairman, J. T. Schenck:
We, your Committee on building, after a careful and deliberate examination, find that to build a house that would be benefical for a school house, and also to serve for all public or State purposes, would require at least two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.)
After a considerable discussion on the part of Messrs. Ellison of Wake, Page of Chowan, Leary of Cumberland, the report
was called for and carried. The members of the Convention then pledged themselves to raise the sum of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) for the above mentioned purpose.
Rev. G. A. Rue, chairman of the Business Committee, asked leave to report a resolution:
Resolved, That this Convention after this evening session shall adjourn sine die.
On motion, said resolution was adopted.
On motion, a nominating committee was appointed to nominate officers of the State Equal Rights League, to serve the ensuing year, consisting of Messrs. J. R. Caswell, J. R. Good, James Bowman, W. D. Newsom and Stewart Ellison. After an absence of about twenty minutes, the nominating committee returned and made the following report, which on motion, was received and adopted:
J. H. Harris of Wake, President; J. R. Good of Craven, J. R. Caswell of Wake and Stewart Ellison of Wake, Vice Presidents; W. H. Anderson of Wake, Recording Secretary; J. Randolph, Jr., of Craven, Corresponding Secretary; Jas. Bowman of Cumberland, Treasurer.
The Executive board consisted of Jas. T. Schenck of Mecklenberg, J. S. Porter of Davidson, V. Mikeral of Rutherford, Wyatt Outlaw of Alamance, and J. A. Green of Gates.
On motion, a Committee on printing was appointed to assertain the expenses of printing the proceedings of the press, consisting of James E. O'Hara, James H. Harris and J. R. Caswell.
On motion, the Convention adjourned to meet at 7½ o'clock, P. M.
James H. Harris of Wake was then introduced to the Convention, who made an eloquent and patriotic address, pleasing to both races.
Rev. G. A. Rue was next introduced to the audience, who made one of those soul-stirring speeches for which he is so famous.
Rev. James Bowman was next introduced to the audience, who also made an eloquent address filled with good advice to the people both white and colored.
By request, Rev. G. A, Rue sung the Loud Timbrel, whilst the audience assisted in the chorus.
A collection was then taken up. J. R. Caswell made a few remarks on the decrepid state of financial matters. Col. Brady then presented to the Convention $50.00 to assist in defraying expenses.
A motion was made to express sincere thanks to Col. Brady for his magnanimous and liberal gift. After which the vote of thanks was tendered and three hearty cheers given for Col. Brady and the American flag.
After singing of the doxologies and receiving the benediction, the Convention adjourned sine die.
We are pleased to know through the statements made by the delegates of the various Counties, that notwithstanding various outrages are being committed on our people, that the mass of the whites are favorable to our elevation.
Whole number of delegates present 111. Number of counties represented 82.
J. E. O'HARA,
To the Legislature of North-Carolina, and the Congress of the U. S., hereafter to assemble
The Convention of colored men, which met in the City of Raleigh N. C., on the 2nd day of Oct. 1866, take this method to return their grateful and heartfelt thanks for the cordial acceptation and kind treatment of the petition presented to your honorable body at your last assembly.
We also feel it to be our bounden duty to return our thanks for what you have done in removing the disabilities under which we labored, and which were contrary to the genius of a republican government, to liberty and humanity. The Convention continues to pray your honorable body to give us protection in the future, as we have shown ourselves loyal and peaceable citizens in the past.
We further pray your honorable body to give us the right of suffrage, in common with other citizens of the United States, in consideration of our loyalty, citizenship and merit.
Believe us Gentlemen, Your Obedient Servants,
J. H. HARRIS, President.
GEO. A. RUE,
Chairman Business Committee.