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Home > Conventions

Conventions

Starting in 1830 until well after the Civil War, free and fugitive Blacks came together in state and national political conventions to strategize about how they might achieve educational, labor, and legal justice at a moment when Black rights were constricting nationally and locally. The convention movement took place during critical decades which witnessed devastating race riots and the growing popularity of the American Colonization Society; the Fugitive Slave Law and the proliferation of derogatory representations of Blacks; the Civil War and Reconstruction; and the rise of repeated Black disenfranchisement in legal, labor and educational spheres in the late nineteenth century. Speakers at conventions responded to these issues by calling for community-based action that gathered funds, established schools and literary societies, and urged the necessity of hard work in what would become a decades-long campaign for civil and human rights. The convention minutes collected here illustrate the immense struggles and the profound courage of those who made it a point to organize and stand for what was rightly theirs. 

Most conventions were organized either as state or national meetings, though there were some regional meetings for New England and the Southern States, for example. You may also search by region, though these are twenty-first century terms and don’t reflect the changing borders of the US in the nineteenth century itself. This collection is preserved in the University of Delaware Library Institutional Repository (UDSpace).

Select a convention to learn more information, to view minutes in a document viewer, or to download minutes in pdf format.

1830s | 1840s | 1850s | 1860s | 1870s | 1880s | 1890s

Conventions by Year

Note to Visitors: In most cases, each convention has one primary document associated with it. When multiple documents are available for a convention, they are present below the respective conventions with indentations.  

1830 National Convention of Free People of Colour held in Philadelphia PA

1831 National Convention of Free People of Colour held in Philadelphia PA

1832 National Convention of Free People of Colour held in Philadelphia PA

1833 National Convention of Free People of Colour held in Philadelphia PA

1834 National Convention of Free People of Colour held in New York NY

1835 National Convention of Free People of Colour held in Philadelphia PA

Address to the 1835 Convention by William Hamilton 

1840 New York State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Albany

Newspaper Reports on the 1840 Convention

1841 Maine State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Portland

A Call to the Colored Citizens of Maine and New Hampshire

1841 New York State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Troy

1841 Pennsylvania State Convention of Colored Freemen held in Pittsburgh 

1842 Indiana State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Indianapolis

1843 New England Regional Temperance Convention of Colored Citizens held in Salem MA

1843 Michigan State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Detroit

1843 National Convention of Colored Citizens held in Buffalo NY

1843 Ohio State Colored People's State Convention held in Columbus

1844 New York State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Schenectady

Report on the 1844 New York State Convention

1844 Ohio State Convention of Colored Citizens

1845 New York State Free Suffrage Convention held in Geneva

1847 National Convention of Colored People and Their Friends held in Troy NY

1847 Canadian Convention of the Colored Population held in Drummondville ON

1848 National Convention of Colored Freemen held in Cleveland OH

1848 Pennsylvania State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Harrisburg

1849 Connecticut State Convention of Coloured Men held in New Haven

1849 New Jersey State Convention of Coloured Citizens held in Trenton

1849 Ohio State Convention of Coloured Citizens held in Columbus 

1850 Maine State Colored Convention held in Portland

1850 Fugitive Slave Law Convention held in Cazenovia NY

1850 Ohio State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Columbus

1851 Indiana State Convention of People of Color held in Indianapolis

Report on the 1851 Indiana State Convention

1851 New York State Convention of Colored People held in Albany

1851 Ohio State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Columbus

Address to the 1851 Ohio State Convention

1851 North American Convention held in Toronto ON (Seeking Records)

1851 Pennsylvania State Convention of Colored People held in Sandy Lake (Seeking Records)

1852 Maryland State Convention of Free Colored People held in Baltimore

1852 Ohio State Convention of Colored Freemen held in Cincinnati

1853 Illinois State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Chicago

1853 National Convention of the Free People of Color held in Rochester NY

1853 Ohio State Convention of Colored Freemen held in Columbus

1853 Canadian Convention for the Improvement of Colored Inhabitants held in Amerstburg ON

1854 Connecticut State Convention held in Middletown

1854 Massachusetts State Council of Colored Citizens held in Boston

1854 New York State Council of Colored People held in Albany

1854 National Emigration Convention held in Cleveland OH

1855 California State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Sacramento

1855 New York State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Albany

1855 New York State Convention of Colored Men held in Troy

1855 National Convention of Colored People held in Philadelphia PA

1856 California State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Sacramento

1856 Illinois State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Alton

1856 Ohio State Convention of Colored Men held in Columbus

1857 California State Convention of Colored People held in San Francisco

1857 Iowa State Convention of Colored Men held in Muscatine

1857 Ohio State Convention of Colored Men held in Columbus

1858 Massachusetts State Convention of Colored Citizens held in New Bedford

1858 New York State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Troy

1858 Ohio State Convention of Colored Men held in Cincinnati

1858 Canadian Convention held in Chatham ON

1859 Indiana State Convention of Colored Men held in Indianapolis

1859 New England Regional Convention of Colored Citizens held in Boston MA 

1863 Kansas State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Leavenworth

1863 National Convention of Colored Citizens held in Poughkeepsie NY

1864 National Convention of Colored Men held in Syracuse NY

1865 Arkansas State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Little Rock

1865 California State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Sacramento

1865 Connecticut State Convention of Colored Men held in New Haven

1865 Washington, D.C. Celebration by the Colored People's Educational Monument Association in Memory of Abraham Lincoln

1865 Indiana State Convention of Colored People held in Indianapolis

1865 Louisiana State Convention of Colored People held in New Orleans

1865 New England Regional Convention of Colored People held in Boston MA

1865 Michigan State Equal Rights League Convention held in Detroit

1865 North Carolina State Convention of Colored People held in Raleigh

Report on the 1865 North Carolina State Convention (The Liberator)

Report on the 1865 North Carolina State Convention (The Christian Recorder)

Letter to the 1865 North Carolina State Convention by William W. Coleman

1865 New Jersey State Convention of Coloured Men held in Trenton

1865 Ohio State Convention of Colored Men held in Xenia

1865 National Equal Rights League Convention held in Cleveland OH

1865 Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League Convention held in Harrisburg (Feb. 8-10)

1865 Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League Convention held in Harrisburg (Sep. 9-10) (Seeking Record)

1865 South Carolina State Convention of Colored People held in Charleston

1865 Tennessee State Convention of Colored Men held in Nashville

1865 City Meeting of the Colored Citizens of Norfolk VA

1865 Virginia State Convention of Colored People held in Alexandria

1866 Georgia State Freedmen's Convention held in Augusta (Jan. 10)

1866 Georgia State Freedmen's Convention held in Augusta (Apr. 4)

1866 Georgia State Convention of the Equal Rights and Educational Association held in Macon

1866 Illinois State Convention of Colored Men held in Galesburg

1866 Indiana State Equal Rights League Convention held in Indianapolis

1866 Kansas State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Lawrence

1866 Kentucky State Convention of Colored Men held in Lexington

1866 Maryland State Convention of Colored People held in Baltimore

1866 North Carolina State Freedmen's Convention held in Raleigh

1866 New York State Convention of Colored Men held in Albany

1866 Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League Convention held in Pittsburgh

1866 Tennessee State Convention of Colored People held in Nashville

1866 Texas State Central Committee of Colored Men (Seeking Records)

1867 Alabama State Convention of Colored Men held in Mobile

1867 National Colored Convention held in Washington DC

1867 National Equal Rights Convention held in Washington DC

1867 Kentucky State Convention of Colored Men held in Lexington

1867 Ohio State Equal Rights League Convention held in Cincinnati

1867 National Convention of the Colored Soldiers and Sailors in Philadelphia PA

Report on the 1867 Colored Soldiers and Sailors Convention

1868 Iowa State Colored Convention held in Des Moines

1868 Maryland State Convention of Colored Men held in Baltimore

1868 Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League Convention held in Williamsport

1869 National Convention of Colored Men held in Washington DC

1869 National Colored Labor Convention held in Washington DC

1869 Georgia State Colored Convention held in Macon

1869 Kentucky State Colored Educational Convention held in Louisville (Seeking Records)

1869 Maryland State Colored Convention held in Baltimore (Seeking Records)

Report of 1869 Maryland Convention 

1869 Minnesota State Convention of Colored Citizens held in St. Paul

1869 Virginia State Convention held in Richmond (Seeking Records) 

1870 Louisiana State Convention held in New Orleans (Seeking Records)

1870 Missouri State Colored People's Educational Convention held in Jefferson City

1870 New York State Convention of Colored Voters held in Syracuse

1871 Kentucky State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Frankfort

1871 National Convention of Colored People held in St. Louis MO

1871 Nebraska State Convention held in Omaha

1871 Ohio State Convention of Colored Men held in Columbus (Seeking Records)

1871 Southern Regional Convention of Colored Men held in Columbia SC (Seeking Records)

1871 Tennessee State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Nashville

1872 National Convention of Colored People held in New Orleans LA (Seeking Records)

1872 New England Regional Convention held in Boston MA (Seeking Records)

1872 Nebraska State Convention of Colored People held in Omaha (Seeking Records)

1872 New York State Convention of Colored Men held in Troy (Seeking Records)

1872 Cuban Slavery Convention held in New York NY

1872 Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League Convention held in Harrisburg

1873 National Convention held in Washington DC

1873 National Civil Rights Convention held in Washington DC (Seeking Records)

1873 Delaware State Convention of Colored People held in Dover

1873 Louisiana State Convention held in New Orleans (Seeking Records)

1873 New Jersey State Convention of New Citizens held in New Brunswick

1873 Texas State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Brenham

1874 Tennessee State Convention held in Nashville

1875 National Convention of Colored Newspaper Men held in Cincinnati OH (Seeking records)

1876 Charleston City Meeting of Colored Citizens (Seeking records)

1876 South Carolina State Conference of Colored Citizens held in Columbia (Seeking records)

1877 Kentucky State Colored Educational Convention held in Frankfort (Seeking Records)

1877 North Carolina State Convention of Colored Citizens held in Raleigh

1879 National Conference of Colored Men held in Nashville TN 

1879 Texas State Convention of Colored People held in Houston

1880 Texas State Farmers Association Convention held in Dallas

1882 Kansas State Convention of Colored Men held in Parsons (Seeking Records)

1883 Arkansas State Convention held in Little Rock (Seeking records)

1883 National Civil Rights Meeting held in Washington, D.C.

1883 National Convention held in Louisville KY

1883 South Carolina State Convention of Colored Men held in Columbia

1883 Texas State Convention of Colored Men held in Austin

1884 Florida State Convention held in Gainesville

1884 Colored Men's Inter-State Conference held in Pittsburgh

1884 Texas State Convention in Houston

1885 Kentucky Colored State Convention in Lexington

1888 Georgia State Union Brotherhood Convention held in Macon (Seeking Records)

1889 Texas State Convention of Colored Men held in Waco 

1893 National Colored Convention held in Cincinnati OH (Seeking Records)

1895 Texas State Convention of Colored Men held in Houston

1899 Hampton Negro Conference