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Proceedings of the Conn. State Convention of Colored Men, Held at New Haven, June 6th and 7th, 1865.


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Proceedings of the Conn. State Convention of Colored Men, Held at New Haven, June 6th and 7th, 1865.


Pamphlet (16 p.)







New Haven, CT









New Haven, June 6th and 7th, 1865.





The Colored Men of the State of Connecticut, assembled at New Haven, in Convention, on Tuesday, June 6th, 1865, at 3 o'clock, P. M., in the A. M. E. Church, Sperry Street, in pursuance with the following call:—

"To the Colored Men of Connecticut:

You are invited to assemble, by delegates, to a Convention to be held at New Haven, on Tuesday, June 6th, in the A. M. E. Church, Sperry Street, for the purpose of forming an Auxiliary State League, and for the discussion of other matters pertaining to our interest.

It is hoped that every City and Town will send delegates.


Chairman of Committee, New Haven."

The Convention was called to order by Rev. Wm. W. Grimes. He read the call, and made a brief statement in reference to the origin and object of the call. Mr. R. J. Cowes was appointed Chairman pro tempore, and Mr. W. H. Burr, Secretary pro tempore, The meeting was opened by singing,

"Mt country 'tis of thee."

The Rev J. F. Loyd, of Middletown, then engaged in prayer.

A committee of three were then appointed to examine the credentials of the delegates, viz.: Messrs. Fuller, Black and Grimes.


Names of Delegates enrolled:—New Haven—R. J. Cowes, W. W. Grimes, F. L. Cardozo, A. L. Black, W. S. Merriman, W. Effort, J. Groves, J. Swears, B. W. Norris, W. Bouchett, S. Mitchell, R. Jackson, L. Lathrop, P. T. Rogers, T. Newton, J. Donegan, J. Turner, H. Berrian. Hartford—Joseph Smith, P. H. Nott, L. G. Seymour, R. B. Mason. Bridgeport—W. J. Fuller. Danbury—A. K. Pine. Norwich—W. H. Burr. New Milford—J. Carr. Middletown—J. F. Loyd. Stonington—A. Ross, A. Morrison. Meriden—G. S. Jeffry, E. C. Buezard. Milford—C. Monroe. Thomaston—W. H. Williams. Honorary Members,—Rev. S. V. Berry, New Haven; Mr. A. C. Luca, Zainesville, Ohio.

Moved by W. S. Fuller, of Bridgeport, that a Committee of five be appointed to nominate permanent officers for the Convention, Mr. Cardozo, of New Haven, moved an amendment, that the nomination and election of permanent officers be in open Convention.

The original motion and amendment were each sustained by their respective proposers. The Convention adopted the amendment of Mr. Cardoz0, and rejected the original motion of Mr. Fuller. The Convention then elected,

For President:

R. J. COWES, of New Haven.


REV. JOSEPH SMITH, Hartford, REV. W. W. GRIMES, New Haven.


REV. W. J. FULLER, Bridgeport, MR. W.H. BURR, Norwich.

The Chairman then took the chair, and addressed the Convention in a brief and appropriate manner,—referring to the importance of the epoch in which we meet, and the favorable circumstances for obtaining our privileges as American citizens.

He then appealed to the members of the Convention, to assist him in preserving order and decorum, and expressed the hope that


The member would act in that polite and courteous manner, which became men in their circumstances.

Mr. Cardozo, of New Haven, moved that the President appoint a business committee of five. The President appointed the following named gentlemen as a Business Committee:

P.H. NOTT, Hartford, W. H. BURR, Norwich, J. CARR, New Milford, F. L. CARDOZO, New Haven, J.T. LOYD, Middletown.

Committee on Finance: L. LATHROP, New Haven, S. MITCHELL, New Haven, J. GROVES, New Haven.

MR. Cardozo, of New Haven, then moved that the Convention adjourn till to-morrow morning, 9 o'clock, that the Business Committee might have an evening session, to prepare business for the Convention next day.

Mr. Grimes moved, as an amendment, that the Convention adjourn until eight o'clock this evening, when the various members might be called upon to express themselves on the various important subjects to come before the Convention.

The amendment was adopted; the Convention then adjourned.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1865—Evening Session.

The Convention met according to adjournment—the President in the chair.

As this evening, by the vote of the Convention, was to be devoted to speeches, a large assemblage was present.

Various members of the Convention addressed the audience in brief, felicitous and eloquent speeches, on the various topics of special interest to the colored people of this country.

The Convention then adjourned to Wednesday morning, at 9 o'clock.



Morning Session, Wednesday Morning, June 7th, 1865.

The Convention met pursuant to adjournment—the President in the chair. Prayer by Rev. F. L. Cardozo. The Minutes of the afternoon and evening session of Tuesday were read, corrected, and approved.

The business committee reported resolutions for the consideration of the Convention, which were read by the Secretary of the business committee, as follows:


Preamble and Constitution of the Connecticut Equal Rights State League.

WHEREAS, The objects of the League are to encourage sound morality, education, temperance, frugality, industry, and to promote everything that pertains to a well ordered and dignified life; to obtain, by appeals to the minds and consciences of the American people, or by legal process when possible, a recognition of our rights as American citizens,—we do ordain and establish this Constitution.

Sec. 1. This body shall be known as the "Connecticut State Equal Rights League," acting in harmony with the National Equal Rights League of the United States of America. The members of this Convention, and those of the National Equal Rights League, residing in this State, and all other persons, who shall pay into the treasury the sum of One Dollar, shall be constituted member of the Connecticut State League for a term of one year.

Sec. 2. The officers shall consist of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer; also an Executive Board, con-


sisting of the above named officers, all of whom shall be elected annually, and shall hold their offices, until their successors are elected, and take their places.

SEC. 3. It shall be the duty of the President to preside at the meetings of the League and Executive Board; see that all decrees of the League and Board are properly executed, sign all orders on the Treasury, and perform such other duties as many be imposed by the League or Board.

SEC. 4. The Treasurer shall hold in safe keeping, for the use of the League or Board, all monies and all other property not otherwise provided for; report to the League annually, and to the Board quarterly, the condition of the Treasury; pay money only when ordered by the League or Board, and when signed by the proper officers. And he shall, when required, enter into bonds for the faithful performance of his duties.

SEC. 5. The Executive Board shall establish head quarters, and hold meetings, when they deem necessary, in the City of New Haven, shall have power to appoint agents to visit, address and canvass the different parts of the State, call the people together in mass meetings or otherwise, and urge upon them the adoption of all legitimate measures, necessary to secure our rights as American citizens; draw upon the Treasurer for the payment of all expenses in carrying out the purposes of the League, and recommend such improvements to the League, as the members of the Board shall suggest. The Board shall have power to fill all vacancies occurring in office during the recess of the League.

SEC. 6. This League shall meet annually, at such place and date, as the Executive Board may determine upon, to elect officers, and one or more delegates to represent the Connecticut State League, in the annual meetings of the National Equal Rights League, if they deem proper to do so, and to transact other business.

SEC. 7. This Constitution may be altered or amended, by a two-


thirds vote of the members present, at any annual meeting of the League.

SEC. 8. Three members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business by the Executive Board.


WHEREAS, The subject of the Elective Franchise has recently engaged the attention of the Legislature of this State, and has passed that Honorable body by the required constitutional majority, and now awaits the ratification of the people at the approaching elections, therefore be it

Resolved, That this Convention, representing the feelings and opinions of the colored people of this State, declare their sentiments upon the subject.

SEC. 1. We regard the right of the Elective Franchise as one of the most valuable and sacred rights of man, and at once the glory and shield of civil government.

SEC. 2. That to deprive any class of men of this invaluable and inalienable right, and for a pretext, relieve their property from a State tax, when at the same time they must bear part of the expenses of the general government, is not to be considered as a favor, but is rather a measure calculated to fix upon them more deeply the mark of political degradation.

SEC. 3. The constitutional disability under which colored men labor in the State of Connecticut, being founded upon that color with which the Almighty Creator has endowed them, is impious before Heaven, unjust and cruel to those affected by it, abhorrent to the religion of Jesus Christ, insulting to humanity, a dishonor to the State, and an obstacle to that spirit of freedom which is abroad in the earth, straggling to redeem man the world over, and should therefore be speedily removed.

SEC. 4. We believe that the day has now come, when the people


of our beloved State of Connecticut, should remove this blot from her Constitution, and proudly and nobly take her place with her sister States of New England, in giving to all her citizens the right of suffrage.

Sec. 5. We pledge ourselves to each other, to use all honorable means to induce the good people of this State to rise in their moral strength and in the majesty of their political dignity, and remove from the State's escutcheon that blot which now identifies her with the spirit political tyranny.

Sec. 6. We recommend to this Convention that one or more of its members be appointed to draw up an appeal to the voters of this State, urging the right of the colored people to the elective franchise.

Sec. 7. We repudiate with scorn and contempt the Minority Report of the Committee of the Legislature, believing it only a base move to serve political party purposes; we therefore pledge ourselves to use all possible means to subvert their action, and prove to the contrary.

We tender to that portion of the Legislature who have maintained the rights of a down-trodden and oppressed people, our best wishes and thanks for their noble services.


WHEREAS, The marvelous events in the last five years in the history of this country, call upon us as a convention to declare our sentiments respecting them, therefore be it.

Resolved, 1. That we view with profound gratitude to Almighty God, the manifestation of his power and goodness to us as a people and a nation, in the triumphant overthrow of a the wicked rebellion, inaugurated by an oligarchy of slaveholders; the vindication of the Constitution, and the annihilation of slavery.

Resolved 2. That we view with peculiar pride and admiration



the part our fathers, brothers, and sons have borne in this war, showing forth to the world the possession of full qualities of soldiers, as displayed in their indomitable courage and endurance in the many hard fought battles of Port Hudson, Fort Wagner, Olustee, Petersburg, Fort Fisher, and others.

Resolved, 3. In the death of our late President, Abraham Lincoln, we, as a people, feel the great loss of a champion of freedom, for by and through his power, the first Proclamation of Emancipation was issued to our people in this country, and made million of down-trodden souls raise their voices and hearts in thanks to the great Giver of all good, for the great day of deliverance, whereby we are able to come forth and march forward to the platform of equality. And when the country called for our aid, in the mighty struggle of freedom, more than two hundred thousand (200,000) brave men rushed to arms, who were always faithful, not one ever proving treacherous.

Resolved, 4. That we earnestly implore our friends in Congress to secure for ourselves, and our breathers in the South, our full rights, as loyal American citizens, in the reconstruction of the rebellious States.


WHEREAS, The restrictive prejudices and invidious distinctions of the different schools and colleges of this country are being gradually removed by the more liberal and enlightened sentiment of the people, therefore be it

Resolved, That we recommend to all our people an earnest and zealous interest in the education of their children, and that they use their best efforts to give them a thorough mental and moral training, and then introduce them into the various professions and mechanical arts, and thus prepare them to develop and sustain a virtuous and honorable position in society.



I. No speaker shall be allowed to speak more than twice on one subject, or more than five minutes each time.

II. All resolutions must be submitted to the Convention, in writing.

REV. W.J. Fuller then moved that the report of the business committee be accepted, and that it be taken by subjects and sections.

The motion was adopted.

The subject of the "Auxiliary League" was taken up, whereupon a lengthened and animated discussion on the necessity and nature of the League took place, in which Messrs. Burr, Jeffrey, Fuller, Swears, Cardozo and others participated.

A reading of the Preamble and Constitution of the "National Equal Rights League" was then called for by the Convention. The Chairman requested the Secretary of the business committee to read it.


WHEREAS, The purposes entertained by the callers of this Convention, and those who have responded to that call, can be best promoted by a close union of all interested in the principles of justice and right sought to be established; therefore, be it

Resolved, That we proceed to organize an association, to be called the "National Equal Rights League," with auxiliaries and subordinate associations in the different states.

Resolved, That, in the establishment of the Colored Men's National League, we do not seek to disorganize or in any way interfere with any existing society or institution of a benevolent or other character; but believing that the interests of colored men


generally will be best subserved and advanced by a union of all our energies and the use of all our means in a given direction, we therefore invite the co-operation of such societies in the advancement of the objects of the League.

SECTION 1. The objects of this League are to encourage sound morality, education, temperance, frugality, industry, and promote everything that pertains to a well ordered and dignified life; to obtain by appeals to the minds and conscience of the American people, or by legal process when possible, a recognition of the rights of the colored people of the nation, as American citizens.

SEC. 2. The members of this Convention shall be constituted in the members of the National Equal-Rights League for the first year. Hereafter such persons as shall be duly accredited representatives of the auxiliary associations herein provided for, shall constitute its members; provided that no auxiliary society shall be entitled to more than one representative for each fifty dollars contributed by such society, with an additional member for any amount over thirty dollars thus contributed.

SEC. 3. The officers shall be a President, on Vice-President. from each State represented in this Convention, Recording and Corresponding Secretaries, a Treasurer, and an Executive Committee, consisting of the President, first Vice-President, Recording Secretaries, and four other persons, to be elected by the League at the same time with other officers.

SEC. 4. The President shall preside at all regular meetings of the League an of the Executive Committee, see that all decrees of the League are duly executed, and perform such other duties as may be imposed by the League. The Vice-President, in the other of their election, shall, in the absence of the President, perform his duties.

The Recording Secretary shall duly record the proceedings of the League and of the League and of the Executive Committee; draw all orders on the Treasurer, when directed by the proper authority; receive all money paid to the League, pay the same to the Treasurer, and take his receipt therefor.


The Corresponding Secretaries shall, under the guidance of the League and the Executive Committee, conduct the correspondence of the League; receive from the agents of the League, or other persons, all documents of historical, statistical, or general interest; and shall carefully preserve, arrange, and tabulate such documents for the use of the League

The Treasurer shall keep all money collected by the agents or contributed by the auxiliary Leagues. He shall report to the League annually, and to the Executive Committee whenever required, the condition of the Treasury. He shall pay out money only upon order of the Executive Committee, and when properly signed by the President and Recording Secretary.

SEC. 5. The Executive Committee shall establish an office in the city of Philadelphia, Penn; in which place they shall hold such sessions as may be necessary to promote the purpose of the League. They shall hire an agent or agents who shall visit the different States of the nation accessible to them, and shall call the people of those States together, in convention or otherwise, and urge them to take the steps necessary to secure the rights and improvements for the attainment of which this League is formed. They shall encourage the publication of such documents as may be of advantage to our cause; and may, at their discretion, publish brief appeals, arguments, or statements of fact, which may have a tendency to promote the ends of the Association, provided that such documents shall be furnished to the public at such rates as shall admit of their general distribution. They shall apportion among the auxiliary Leagues, according to the number of members reported, the amounts which the League shall determine to raise, and shall urge upon the officers of such auxiliary societies a prompt response to such demands. They shall cause orders to be drawn on the Treasurer for the payment of such expenses as may be incurred in the carrying out the purposes of the Association.

They shall make an annual report to the Association of their labors, and shall recommend such improvements as may be suggested by their official experience.


SEC. 6. The officers shall hold their offices for one year, or until their successors are elected. The officers of the League may receive such compensation as may be determined by the Executive Committee.

SEC. 7. Persons in different States friendly to the purposes of this League, may form State Leagues auxiliary to this, with such subordinate organizations as they may deem proper, provided that no distinction on account of color or sex shall be permitted in such auxiliary or subordinate association, Such Leagues may, at their discretion, employ agents, and issue such documents as they may deem conducive to the ends for which this League is formed. They shall collect and pay into the Treasury of the National Equal-Rights League such sums as may be assessed upon them by vote of the majority at the annual meeting, and shall co-operate with the Association in all movements which it shall inaugurate for the accomplishment of the purposes for which it was formed.

SEC. 8 The sessions of the National Equal-Rights League shall be held annually, the third Tuesday of September, at ten o'clock, A.M., for the election of officers, and the transaction of such other business as may be brought before it.

SEC. 9. At any annual meeting of the National Equal-Rights League, this constitution may be altered or amended by a vote of the majority of the members present.

On motion of Mr. Downing, of Rhode Island, the Executive Board of the League were authorized to fill vacancies occuring during the year, in the official direction of the League.

After the Secretary had read it, and explained the relation of the Auxiliary to the National, the Convention resolved to form themselves into a League.

The Preamble and Constitution submitted by the business committee was then read and adopted by sections, after a spirited discussion, in which nearly every member of the Convention joined.

The Convention then adjourned.


Afternoon Session.

The Convention met at half-past 2 o'clock, the President in the Chair. Prayer was offered by Rev. Mr. Donegan.

The roll of delegates was called. The minutes of the previous session were read, corrected, and approved.

The subject of the Elective Franchise then engaged the attention of the meeting.

Each resolution was taken up separately, ably discussed by the different members of the Convention and adopted.

The subjects of Education and the state of the Country then came before the Convention, and elicited many appropriate remarks, especially the resolutions on the latter subject, which were unanimously adopted by a standing vote.

The Finance Committee then handed in their report.

The Convention then proceeded to the election of officers of the League, when—

Mr. L. Lathrop, of New Haven, was chosen President, Mr. P. Nott, of Hartford, Vice-President, Rev. F. L. Cardozo, of New Haven, Secretary, and Rev. L. Black, of New Haven, Treasurer.

Rev. L. Black then moved that 300 copies of the proceedings of this Convention be published.

Resolved, That the thanks, of the Delegates to this Convention, be and are hereby presented to the President and other officers of this Convention, for the faithful discharge of their several duties.

Revolved, That the Delegates to this Convention present their thanks to the citizens of New Haven, for the kindness and hospitality with which they have greeted them.

Sec. 1. Mr. Loyd, of Middletown, moved that the Rev. F. L. Cardozo, Rev. L. Black and Mr. G. S. Jeffrey be appointed a Committee to draw up an appeal to the voters of Connecticut.

This motion was adopted by the Convention.

Sec. 2. It was now moved that the Convention adjourn to meet at the call or the Executive Board. The motion was adopted and the Chairman declared the Convention adjourned.


Before the adjournment, the President gave notice that the Convention would hold a large Public Meeting in one of the Halls in the City, when different members of the Convention would address the audience.

In accordance, therefore, with this arrangement, a Public Meeting was held in the Temple, Orange St, a 8 o'clock. There were about 500 persons present, a number of whom were whites.

Mr. R. J. Cowes, of New Haven, was elected Chairman. Rev. F. L. Cardozo, Secretary. The Chairman called upon Rev. F. L. Cardozo to open the meeting with prayer, after which the National Song was sung. The Chairman then made a few brief and appropriate remarks, explaining the objects of the Convention to the assembled audience, and introduced the Rev. Wm. W. Grimes, of New Haven, to the audience. The reverened gentleman entertained the audience in a most eloquent and witty speech, which was frequently interrupted by loud bursts of applause. Two handsome boquets were thrown to the speaker at the conclusion of his speech.

The Chairman then called upon Rev. F. L. Cardozo, Secretary of the Business Committee, to read his report to the audience; after he had finished, the audience testified their approval of the Convention by loud and prolonged applause.

The Chairman then called upon Mr. J. Swears to address the meeting. Mr. Swears acquitted himself with great credit and ability, and to the entire satisfaction of the audience.

A collection was then taken up, and "John Brown's" song sung by the audience with great enthusiasm.

Although there were several other speakers, the Chairman, owing to the lateness of the hour, brought the meeting to a close by singing the Doxology.

R. J. COWES, President.

Rev. W. W. Grimes, Rev. J. Smith, Vice-Presidents.

Rev. W. J. Fuller, Mr. W. H. Fuller, Mr. W. H. Burr, Secretaries.

Convention Minutes Item Type Metadata

Convention Type




Meeting Place Name

A. M. E. Church on Sperry Street

Meeting Place Affiliation

A.M.E. Church

Uniform Title

1865 New Haven, CT State Convention



“Proceedings of the Conn. State Convention of Colored Men, Held at New Haven, June 6th and 7th, 1865.,”, accessed October 23, 2019,