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Calls and Announcements
The call for the 1855 National Colored Convention was put out months prior to the event. Publishing it early allowed for attendees to plan ahead as traveling in the nineteenth century required more time, money, and effort. Frederick Douglass' Paper published the call for the convention as early as May 1855 and continued to do so weekly. Other publications, Black and white, announced and referenced the convention in the months prior.
The convention garnered interest across the states, and Black activists duly met in their respective hometowns to decide which individuals would be sent as delegates. It was a highly anticipated event, as evidenced by the published correspondent letters, which inquire about places to stay in Philadelphia.
Click on the newspaper's above to read the calls, announcements, and discussion that occurred around the country before the 1855 National Colored Convention.
Below is a timeline of newspaper clippings about the 1855 National Colored Convention. To read full copies of the articles in this timeline, click on the pictures above.
Written by William J. Wilson, Stephen Smith, and John Lewis, the call for the 1855 National Colored Convention asks free people of color to make time and plan ahead to attend the Convention. Wilson, Smith, and Lewis compels freedmen to take on their roles as "guides, leaders and active operators in the Great Reform" and reminds them that they are not just "mere onlookers." The call also promises to address issues regarding education and agricultural work.
The call indeed caught the attention of Black activists across states. At the Meeting of Colored Citizens in Rochester, participants resolved to send delegates to Philadelphia.
As early as July 1855, the upcoming convention was already a point of discussion and debate in many circles. The Liberator published comments by W. C. N., most likely William C. Nell. He writes:
W. C. N.
In a small announcement, The Liberator reminds its readers that the Convention is about to take place in a matter of days.
On October 1, 1855, two weeks before the National Colored Convention was held, John S. Rock chaired a meeting at the 12th Baptist Church in Boston to decide who will be sent to Philadelphia as delegates. Robert Morris, Leonard Grimes, and John S. Rock were chosen. The letter conveying this message is addressed to Frederick Douglass, and it was published on Frederick Douglass' Paper on October 12, 1855.
A letter sent by "A.G.B." of New Haven was published on Frederick Douglass' Paper less than three weeks before the National Colored Convention was held. The correspondent recalls the meetings held in New Haven, which tackled the Missouri Compromise among many subjects of debate. The writer hopes that these issues will also occupy the delegates.