Search

Search using this query type:



Search only these record types:

Item
Exhibit
Exhibit Page
Simple Page

Advanced Search (Items only)

Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Men of the State of Tennessee, :with the addresses of the convention to the white loyal citizens of Tennessee, and the colored citizens of Tennessee. : Held at Nashville, Tenn., August 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th, 1865.

Files

Click image to view file:

Transcribe This Item

  1. 1865 State Convention in Nashville TN.pdf
  2. 1865 Nashville TN State Convention_cropped.pdf
  3. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.1.pdf
  4. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.2.pdf
  5. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.3.pdf
  6. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.4.pdf
  7. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.5.pdf
  8. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.6.pdf
  9. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.7.pdf
  10. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.8.pdf
  11. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.9.pdf
  12. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.10.pdf
  13. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.11.pdf
  14. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.12.pdf
  15. 1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.13.pdf

Dublin Core

Title

Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Men of the State of Tennessee, :with the addresses of the convention to the white loyal citizens of Tennessee, and the colored citizens of Tennessee. : Held at Nashville, Tenn., August 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th, 1865.

Description

Pamphlet (29 p. ; 22 cm.)

Date

Format

PDF

Language

English

Type

Facsimile

Identifier

1865.TN-08.07.NASH

Coverage

Nashville, TN

Scripto

Transcription

PROCEEDINGS

OF THE

STATE CONVENTION OF COLORED MEN

OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE,

WITH THE ADDRESSES OF THE CONVENTION TO THE

WHITE LOYAL CITIZENS OF TENNESSEE, AND

THE COLORED CITIZENS OF TENNESSEE.

HELD AT NASHVILLE, TENN.,

August 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th, 1865.

COMMITTEE ON PUBLICATION;

DANIEL WADKINS, SR. NELSON WALKER, RANSOM HARRIS.

NASHVILLE, TENN:

PRINTED AT THE DAILY PRESS AND TIMES JOB OFFICE

1865

STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE, NASHVILLE, AUGUST 7, 1865

PROCEEDING OF THE STATE CONVENTION

First Day--Morning Session.

Pursuant to the call of the Executive Committee, issued May 27th, 1865, the Convention of the Colored People of this State met in St. John's Chapel, A.M.E. Church, at 10 A.M., August 7th, 1865.

The house was filled to overflowing, and the Convention being called to order by A. Smith, of Davidson county, Chairman of the Executive Committee, and the objects of the assembly were explained by N. Walker, of Davidson--the call being read--when W. J. Gentle, of Knox, was elected temporary chairman and T. J. White, of Maury county, Secretary.

The Rev. N. G. Merry then addressed the Throne of Grace. After singing an appropriate hymn, Daniel Watkins, of Davidson, moved that a committee of one from each geographical division of the State be appointed on Permanent Organization.

Lieut. H. M. Rankin, of Memphis, moved to amend by making the Committee one from each county.

Considerable discussion ensued. Mr. Watkins motion was lost, as was also the amendment.

On motion of Mr. Harris, of Davidson, a committee of three from each district of the State was adopted. The following gentleman were nominated:

Middle Tennessee--Ranson Harris, of Davidson; James T. Rapier, of Maury; B. P. Frierson, of Rutherford.

East Tennessee--H. Alexander, of Knox; C. A. McKinney, of Hawkins; F. Maxwell, of Washington.

West Tennessee--H. N. Rankin, J. J. W. Jones, and Warren Madison, of Shelby.

While the committee were absent, the Rev. Mr. Shepherd, Chaplain of the 17th U.S. Colored Infantry, was called upon to address the Convention. He responded in well-timed and earnest words of sympathy, encouragement and advice to the audience for good order during the proceedings. In closing, the Chaplain expressed his gratification at the present, and said for twenty years he had labored for the good of the slave, and for the freedom of all men.

A. Griffin, of Smith county, was then called for. Mr. G. is one of the very few Southern white men who, outgrowing the prejudices of race and condition, stands for the inalienable rights of man. His remarks were earnest and sincere and warmly received.

Sergt. H. J. Maxwell, 2d Battery, U.S. Col. L.A., was then introduced. The Sergeant made an eloquent speech, in which he struck the keynote of the

116

STATE CONVENTIONS, 1865

occasion. He was there as an American, claiming the inalienable rights of man. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, were his prerogatives. Life and liberty meant to share in the Government by which they were protected and the right to live anywhere on the continent. Should not these rights be the rallying theme of the Convention. By the music we march to victory. We shall be heard before Congress and before the Legislature. We come here for principals, and there will be no dissension. We want the rights guaranteed by the Infinite Architect. For these rights we labor, for them we will die. We have gained one--the uniform is its badge. We want two more boxes, beside the cartridge box--the ballot box and the jury box. We shall gain them. The government of this nation shall not false to its plighted faith. It proclaimed freedom and we shall have that in fact. It will not forswear it-self. Let us all work faithfully unto the end.

The Rev. Mr. Merry followed Sergt. Maxwell in allusion to the former enjoyment of suffrage by free colored men of Tennessee. He named [illegible] then in Convention, who had voted for Gen. Jackson for President--the Rev. Edmund Jones and Andrew Tait. The Rev. gentleman proceeded to urge harmony in council and advise that all talk be directed to stir the heart to action and not influence the tongue to noise.

The Rev. James Lynch, of Baltimore, Missionary in South Carolina and Georgia responded to a call and in a most eloquent and stirring speech spoke of the rights which had already been achieved, and those which were yet to be gained. The speaker made telling hits, and keeps the audience thoroughly awakened. Among other things he said:

We are engaged in a serious task; we have met here to impress upon the white men of Tennessee, of the United States, and of the world, that we are part and parcel of the American Republic. For four years this [illegible]. This war, while it has decided the permanency of the nation, has not been without its influence upon us and by its operations the shackles have been broken from the limbs of out race in America. In pursuance of the great work thus begun, we are here, by our counsels and by humble petition, to secure for ourselves the full recognition of the past, but would act for the future. We cherish no hostility to the whites; we love them, as we ever did, and if they be loyal men, we love the Southern man ever better than the Northern. We simply ask for those inalienable rights which are declared inalienable. Why should we not have them? In the past struggle, when the nation stood tremb-ling upon the verge of the precipice, the black man came to the rescue, his manhood recognized in that hour of national trial, and why? From neces-sity--and I tell you, my hearers, that necessity will secure us our full re-cognition as freemen and citizens of this glorious republic. We were needed to fill up the army, we were needed to supply the place of copperhead con-scripts who had no stomach for the fight. Senator Saulsbury, of Delaware,2 a drunken scoundrel, [here don't misunderstand me, I do not which to abuse any officer of the Government, but as he was understood to belong more to the Confederacy, I will speak of him,] said the whole negro race of America could be swept from the earth, without loss; but even he found use for us, and the question of political power in this country will soon present another neces-sity which will give us the ballot box. There has been by implications un-friendly legislation in Tennessee, but Tennessee, proud and noble as she is, has a master, and that master is the United States. That master has decided, that we are entitled to our oaths. The Freedmen's Courts will hear us when we swear for the maintenance of our rights.

The Committee on Permanent Organization then reported the following nominees:

President--Daniel Watkins, Davidson.

Vice President--A. Ford, Knox; Warner Madison, Shelby; Nelson Walker, Davidson.

Secretaries--A. Smith, Davidson; Anthony Motley, Shelby; F. Maxwell, Washington.

Pending action on report, after its reception, the Convention ad-journed till 3 P.M.

117

TENNESSEE, 1865

Afternoon session.

The Convention met pursuant to adjournment, Mr. Yentle in the chair. Prayer was made by Elder Edwin James, of Sumner county. The following hymn was sung:

O God, our help in ages past;

Our help in years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast,

And out eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne,

Still may we dwell secure;

Sufficient is thine arm alone,

And our defence is sure.

The delegates handed in their credentials, and the list of nominations reported by the Committee on Permanent Organization was rejected. The following officers were then elected:

President--Nelson Walker, of Davidson.

Vice President--Warren Madison, of__, Rowley Mason, of__; Perter Lowrey, of Davidson.

Secretaries--A. Smith, of Davidson; Motley Maxwell, of Washington.

An excited and confused discussion ensued on the committee report.

A motion was adopted for the appointment of a committee of nine, three from each division of the State, on credentials, was adopted.

The following delegates were appointed as that committee:

Middle Tennessee--N. G. Merry, Richard Harris, and Ranson Harris.

East Tennessee--A. McKinney, H. Alexander and Sergt.Hardison.

West Tennessee--J. J. W. Jones; A. Motley and H. A. Rankin.

A committee of three on rules was then adopted.

The following delegates were elected:

Jas. Rapier, of Maury; D. Lapsley of Giles, and Sergt. Griffith, 14th U. S. C. I.

A committee of three was appointed to wait upon Gov. Brownlow3 and Gen. C. B. Fisk4 and invite them to address the convention on Tuesday evening.

After discussion it was determined to hold evening sessions for speaking. A number of speeches were announced. The convention then adjourned for speaking till 9 A.M., Tuesday.

SECOND DAY

Morning Session.

The Convention met pursuant to adjournment, and opened with prayer from the Rev. Mr. Garter. The President in the chair.

The minutes of the preceding sessions were read and approved.

The Committee on Credentials not having reported, on motion of Mr. Watkins, the President appointed James Chavons as Marshal of the Convention.

On motion of Mr. Watkins, the President was empowered to call out any clergyman he thought proper to open with prayer.

The Committee on Rules reported, and after some slight amendments the report was adopted. The Committee was discharged.

A number of [persons] were elected honorary members.

The Committee on Credentials then presented the following report:

To the Convention: In compliance with the instructions given us by hour honorable body, that the Committee on Credentials should impartially consider the claims of all announcing themselves as Delegates, your Committee have the honor to report that they have entered upon the discharge of their duties with the determination to set upon the best judgement, "with malice toward none, but charity toward all."5 Being thus actuated, your Committee is of the opinion that, for the sake of harmony, and to present any unnecessary discus-sion, that it will be your duty to admit all delegates who claim to have been properly elected who

118

STATE CONVENTIONS, 1865

had no credentials, but can bring proper evidence that they were elected by a constituency.

In recommending this course your Committee know that they are departing from customary rules in like cases, but at the same time that they do not believe that the departure of all things considered would prove detrimental to the cause in which we are engaged. We all have one common aim and one common object to accomplish. This being true then, we respectfully ask if it is not likely that more harm would result from the rejection of gentlemen, said to have been fairly elected, than would result from admitting all.

These are gentlemen claiming seats which are contested. But as you deal with one, you should deal with all. Therefore, for the good of all, we re-spectfully ask that you exclude none. We do not propose that the gentlemen from the Thirteenth District e entitled to vote, or eligible to hold office in this Convention.

The following name of delegates was then presented and the names called:

A discussion ensued which resulted in the rejection of the contestants from the Thirteenth District.

The Rev. Jas. Lynch, of Baltamore, spoke earnestly and ably in support of sufferage.

The Convention then adjourned till 3 P.M.

Second Day

Afternoon session.

The Convention was called to order, President in the chair, and after prayer, the Delegates names were called, and the Convention declared fully organized. The following is a full list of members.

Roll of Delegates

Maury Country.--James Rapier, Thomas J. White, Jno. Lockridge, Jackson Thompson.

Rutherford County.--Braxton James, N. B. Frierson.

Cannon County.-- Washington Fugitt.

Bradley County.--Anthony Carter.

Shelby County.--H. N. Rankin, Anthony Motley', J. W. Jones, Warner Madison, Isaac Minter, R. Alexander.

Washington County.--Ferdinand Maxwell.

Williamson County.-- Allen N. C. Williams.

Smith County.-- Richard Letchford, A. L. Gordon, J. M. Marchbanks, James Caruthers.

Davidson County.-- Daniel Watkins, Sr. Frank Parrish, Nelson Walker, Richard Harris, Nelson G. Merry, Ransom Harris, Richard Howard, James Caf-frey, Edward Woods, William Miller, Alfred Menefee, William Sumner, Robt. L. Harris.

Battery A. 2d. Light Artillery U.S.C.T.--H.J. Maxwell, J.L. Brown, Henry Quay, John Powell.

Fifteenth U.S.C.T.--G.W. Reynolds, J. Powell, Owen Grundy, Taylor Turner, C.H. Barnett, John Jackson.

Fourth Regiment U.S.C.T.--G.A. Griffith, Henry Thompson, S. Hard-ison, Thomas Elison.

Giles County.--T.A. Thornton, Neil Brown, Lewis Brown, L.J. Johnson, Danger Rhodes, Thomas Abernathy, Henry Webb, Orange Jones, Willis Bramlet.

Lincoln County.--Willis Myers, Charles Russell.

Bedford County.--J.J. McEroy, C.W. Tillman, George Eakin.

Wilson County.--Osborne Greene, Nathan Doaks, Lewis Waters, Joseph Smith, Silas Smith, Quiler Turner.

Hamilton County.--J.C. Strickland, George Caldwell, H.H. Houston, C.P. Letcher.

Sumner County.--Edmund Jones, Columbus Johnson, H.W. Kee, H. Bower.

Knox County.--M.J.R. Gentle, Abram Ford, H. Alexander, James Mason.

119

TENNESSEE, 1865

Hawkins County.--Alfred McKinney

Franklin County.--R. H. Singleton, Levi Trimble

McMinn County.--L. H. Mazeek, Charles King, Henry Hotle, Henry Rowley.

Meigs County.--Fowler Phillips.

Blount County.-- Charles C. Cobb, A. McLeer.

Honorary Delegates in the Convention

[illegible]

Shelby County.--Isaac Menter, R. Alexander.

17th Regiment U.S.C.T.--J. Houston, I. T. Johnson, W. Myers, W. H. Forrest, Dolphine Pickett.

1st Regiment U.S.C. Artillery, Heavy.--Allen Gooder, Hutsel Clark, E. G. Brown, Robert Johnson, Thomas Lillard, Charles Smith.

13th Regiment U.S.C.T.--Harden Anderson.

Elder Watkins resolutions were discussed and adopted by a vote of 99 to 40.

On motion of Elder Merry, a business Committee of nine was appointed, consisting of three delegates for each division of the state. The following delegates were announced as the committee: D. Brown, Davidson; T. J. White, Maury; T. A. Thornton, of Giles; M. J. R. Gentle, Knox; C. P. Letcher, Hamil-ton; A. McKinney, Hawkins; H. M. Rankin, A Motley; J. W. Jones, of Shelby.

The Committee appointed to wait upon Governor Brownlow and General Fisk, to request the favor of an address, reported that Governor Brownlow's feeble health prevented his from making an address on the occasion. General Fisk signified his acceptance of the invitation.

A committee on Finance was appointed. The following gentlemen were named: F. Parrish, of Davidson; A. Williams, of Williamson; L. H. Mazeck, McMinn; J. Turner, of Wilson, and Serg't S. W. Reynolds, of 15th U.S. col. inf.

Pending a discussion of the finance question, General Fisk entered the hall amid loud cheering and applause.

Mr. Watkins introduced the following resolution:

Whereas, we, in Convention assembled, in order to deliberate, as far as we are able, upon the present condition and future prospects of the colored people of Tennessee; and whereas, it is expedient, in all our deliberations will put forth to them our sentiments.

Resolved, That we will publish an address to them and cause it to be circulated throughout the State.

Whereas, the petition presented by the colored people of Tennessee to the Legislature thereof, has not been disposed of by that body; as we under-stand, because they do not know the sentiments of the constituents--there-fore, be it

Resolved, That we publish an appeal to the loyal white citizens of Tennessee upon the subject matter contained in the said petition. Isasmush as the Federal Government has called for the assistance in putting down the late iniquitous rebellion, and acknowledge not only our humanity and right to freedom, but our just claim to all other citizens under the Government; therefore be it

Resolved, That we protest against the Congressional delegates from Tennessee being received into congress of the United States, if the Legis-lature of Tennessee does not grant the petition before it prior to December 1. 1865.

They were laid over till afternoon.

A lively debate followed the reading of the resolutions and the Rev. James Lynch, of Baltimore, Maryland, spoke as follows:

I rise to a question of privilege. I read in the Nashville Dispatch the following, which I suppose will be copied in the New York herald, the World, and the News--edited ostensibly by Ben Wood, and, perhaps, by John Mitchell. Also, in the Cincinnati Enquirer, and other copperhead papers. I beg to

120

STATE CONVENTIONS, 1865

read, and call the attention of the citizens of Nashville to an extract from the Nashville Dispatch, which, by its knowledge and intellect aims to exalt and advance the instructions of the United States. "A Negro Convention!" Is your Chairman a negro? or your Secretary, or any of your officers, or your other members or those sergeants sitting over there? They are all mixed blood. We are not ashamed of the term "negro," but to call it a "negro convention" is a lie. It is a lie! I don't call the reporter a liar, but when he copied it he wrote down a lie. May be it was because he was ignorant. The editor of the Colored Tennessean is as white6 as the correspondent of the New York Herald. It is none of my business to discuss these matters, but it is very hard to tell whether there is any pure blood or not, because white men used to love colored women very much. I hope the reporters will take me down as saying "dis" "dat" "de oder," and the "deformities of de constitution." I know more of syntax than them all put together. They ridiculed me because my skin was darker than theirs. It won't pay! It won't pay!

"The African church yesterday was the scene of an immense congregation of negroes from all parts of the States, both men women of every shade."

This is going North and I want the antidote or cure to go with it. I don't care for myself. I know I will utter some things that will be the sub-ject of criticism, but I don't care.

"The church was filled to its utmost capacity and their linen coat tails floated out of the windows." They should have the United States flag and not they displayed it by showing their coat tails. The black man's coat tails is the United States flag, and they displayed it by showing their coat tails. "Delegates were in attendance from all parts of the State and the convention was strictly of the colored persuasion. So far as we could learn there were only two white men in atten-dance--a chaplain and the editor of the Press and Times."

A Captain of Gen. Fisk's staff was there and who is Gen. Fisk? A man whom President Johnson approves and has confidence in--a man who has fought the great battles-- restored our war-torn fortunes, seized the forlorn hope and carried it on to victory!

A man from Missouri. I am glad he is from Missouri, that he was educated in a slave State. He says: put the black man in the field; Give him the rights of citizenship and we are safe. Who is the greater man; the reporter and editor of the Nashville Dispatch, or Gen. Fisk? The Dispatch man if asked, would black Andy Johnson's shoes,and if Gen. Fisk asked him to dinner, he would put in his best smile and say: "why, really General! General! General!" (and the speaker made illustrative gesticulations of exquisite politeness.)

When letter-writers tried to break down Gen. Grant, at the time Buell' was in command, (I don't think I could get three cheers for Buell now) the reporters said Grant drinks whiskey. Certain of them went to the President and said "General Grant drinks." Mr. Lincoln said, "wheat kind of liquor does he drink?" "Bourbon whiskey," said they. "I want to prescribe that for the other Generals in the army," said Mr. Lincoln.

I would not have the press derided. It was by their touching letters of bellion a fatal blow, and caused their star spangled banner a wave over the whole country. But they are fond of making a joke at the expense of the darky.

The speaker had great respect for many of the white men of the south, who would no more think of turning their old infirm slaves out of doors than their own children. HE was a thief; but if a white quarter-master stole $50,000 is was smoothed over. A darky stole a pig--a white man stole $10,000. The former was a thief, the latter respectable. "We learned there were only two white men present." It was a lie, there were more.

A white man said to me this morning: "Well, Uncle, how are you getting along?" I was glad to know that I had a white nephew. Governor Brownlow I think is a patriot, but I do not indorse his policy in toto. I believe that if a dark breeze in the shape of negro suffrage blew over Tennessee, he (Gov-ernor) would not object to ride upon it into the United States Senate. That is human nature, and human nature is weak. But let us bury the past; let byegones be byegones, and shout victory over the grave of past remembrance.

121

TENNESSEE, 1865

opportunities, and all will come right in time. In coming to the stand General Fisk was granted vehement cheers. When this subsided, the General remarking, "You make a noise like white folds," proceeded:

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen: My fellow citizens I didn't come to make a speech. I can hear to hear you talk. I came to hear what the col-ored people of the State of Tennessee had to say for themselves. The race to which I belong have been talking and talking for many years and you have had no opportunity to talk very much. It gave me great joy when I learned that the colored people of the State were about convene, that delegates were coming from different views. There was a time when this could not be done; but to use a common phrase, "Times ain't what they used to was." You could not do this four years ago, could you? A great change has taken place since that day. You are no longer slaves. I come before you as your friend--as a representative of the power of this great Government--standing here with authority to say to you that I am your friend, sent by the Government to aid you: and, by the blessing of God, I will never shrink from discharging my duty. The passing away of slavery had opened a new era and it becomes necessary that the Government should do something to aid you in passing from slavery to freedom, for the good of the white race as well as yours. And, therefore, the Freedmen's Bureau. Was established by an act of Congress of the 3d of last March.

Everything pertaining to the Freedmen of the States that had been in in-surrection was committed to this Bureau. Officers were chosen for it. General Howard, he one armed soldier, was placed at the head of it. There were subordinate officers for different States. I was chosen to look to the interests of Kentucky, Tennessee, Northern Alabama, and parts of Virginia and Mississippi.

After the organization in May, officers went to their different did-tricts. I came to Nashville. I found that such an institution was necessary. I felt sad as I looked out upon, and but little justice for the negro, though slavery no longer existed.

(General Fisk here read interesting extracts from the circular before him and made comments upon it. The circular has already been published.)

I have spent an hour in discussing this circular with an old slave master of Tennessee, who, after fighting against us for four years, refused to die in the last ditch. HE said the circular was just right and that he and other old slaveholders would hold and help. It was Gideon J. Pillow.8

We intent to establish in every county in the State an agent of the Freedmen's Bureau. He will either be an officer of the army or the right kind of citizen. We want just men, in whom you all confide. I will be glad if you will think over who will be proper men to place at your country seats. You will be, as it were, staff officers of mine to aid me in carrying out' this work. You are industrious. I don't know why you are not worth as much free as slave. Alluding to the change of circumstances he said: "Work land upon shares as much as possible. This is a popular mode of doing things. You must fulfill your contract and I will see that the landlord fulfills his. They must not only have freedom, but homes of their own--thirty of forty acres, with tools, mules, cottages and school houses, etc." That is the pic-ture for the future. I shall move in it just as quickly as possible. I would like to settle 10,000 before the first of next January. I ask fair play, and will be adjudicated by officers and agents of this Bureau except in places where civil court at my headquarters, where a poor man can obtain redress. I have volunteered to be attorney, myself, for the poor women who come before that court for justice. A poor woman came to my house, with a beautiful child. She had been driven from her home, where she had another child as beautiful as the one in her arms. They were her master's children. I had the pleasure of bringing that gentleman to my headquarters, and we there compelled

122

STATE CONVENTIONS, 1865

him to pay money and give his bond for the support if his children of a white woman. [The General then read a section of the circular forbidding the removal of the aged and infirm, and said:] I put this in upon the petition of the old slave owners; many of whom are good men,--men of humanity--men who would no sooner turn away their old servants than their own children. There are many such. God bless them! Many would turn away and they would drift upon the home of some good man. Some humane men cannot take care of the old and infirm; therefore to them this rule seems arbitrary. I believe it is just. I believe the master who has had the proceeds of his labor so long should take care of him as he goes down to his grave.

Education with receive earnest attention. Benevolent and religious organizations will be formed, and superintendents of schools will introduce method and fashion into educational enterprises.

This is the outline of the work to be done. That it is a necessary work, you are all ready to testify, you have come from those counties of Tennessee where most of the colored people are going ton as just the same as before the war. We are gathering information as fast as possible. In doing this I need not only your cooperation but that the white people. and I believe they are more and more convinced of the necessity of cooperating with the bureau, because they plainly see that the colored man will walk 20, 30 and 50 miles to tell his story of oppression. This is very common in Tennessee and Alabama. But I think we have great reason to be thankful that we are getting on as well as we are, and that there is no more oppression in these border states. I find I am received with more consideration that I expected. I am from Missouri. I think I am as well posted as they are; and therefore, they are daily consulting me as to the best method of regulation this new scheme of compensated labor throughout the State; and we hope by next January or February that each colored man will be engaged inproductive industry and will find at his own county seat a man who will be his friend and protect him in his contracts.

Education

We want your co-operation in the schools. The political cry used to be agitate, agitate, agitate. I "educate, educate, educate." [Great cheers.] I believe I shall have 300 school teachers in six weeks, and I hope before the first of January next. I propose also, a good normal school for the education of colored teachers. We want good teachers from Northern cities--men who believe that you should be taught--who believe that the same Savior who died for them died for you.

Suffrage

Now for the suffrage. I have not thought so much about that as about good homes, settled with your families, and you provided with good bread and butter, and with good jackets. The suffrage will come around all right. I believe in it. I was one of the first men to give the colored man a bible--the first to give him a bayonet--and I shall not be behind in giving him the ballot. With this swarm of B's I think the negro will take care of himself.

North of the Ohio many are willing to give the negro suffrage. The N.Y. Herald, the most influential paper in the country, advocates negro suffrage. It will be sufficiently stirred up if we give attention to other things , such as getting homes down here. There are great many people north of the Ohio river, among the old settlers of the country, who believe the negro should not vote until somewhat educated. I don't object if the test is to be applied to white men. Let every body be educated; and if I could make it a law to-day, I would say: after 1870 no man in America should vote who could not read his ticket and write his name upon it. All I ask is that because a man is black simply, that shall not be reason for shutting him off. No oligarchy of skin, or of red whiskers! Let the test apply to every body.9 The president is in favor of this measure. I had a long conversation with Mr. Johnson. I believe him to be your firm friend. He said some good things to the colored people in this vicinity last year. I don't think he has backslidden a bit.

123

TENNESSEE, 1865

General Fisk then read extracts from the noble speech of Governor Johnson, delivered last fall in Nashville, to an immense assembly of colored people. The General made many happy allusions as he proceeded with the report, as it appeared in the Cincinnati Gazette. IN allusion to the President's promise to be our Moses, he said:

Next time I write to the President I shall tell him he is in direct succession to Moses. In due time Moses will be revealed to you.10

This said Andrew Johnson, in the month of October last; in this city, wanted you to take care of all you had got--to be industrious. You must work out your own salvation. Those words have taken care of themselves, and masters too, ought to be able to take care of themselves alone. Be economical, provident, saving what you earn. Lay by something for a rainy day. Your masters won't take care of you any more. That is the only way I can do--to buy my clothing in winter with what I earn in the summer.

One man told me the negroes were idle, lazy, vagabonds, great thieves--stealing everything--[illegible] unmercifully, etc., and spoke of the Christian treatment he gave them. I told him his whole life had been a lie. We have been fighting four years to destroy this system of christianity which produces such results. I have frequently received letters threatening me with assassination. I have had sermons preached to me by christian women of the South who came to see me.

I was once in Mississippi recently and a lady came to my headquarters and said, "General Fisk, you have got my boy Sam." I said, " Yes and he is going to fight the battles of his country." "Don't you know, sir, he is my property, and it is just the same as stealing.?" "Now," said she, "you profess to be a good man. I've heard you pray; and now you come to steal my property." I told her the court was open and she might sue me for it. She said they had no courts. I said that was not my fault. "Then" said she, I'll appear against you at the great judgement day, and I'll ask you why you stole that boy. Then, what will you say?' That, as the President used to say reminded me of a little story.

The General then related the story of Pat who stole a pig from the widow Malone, and how the Priest blamed him for it, and how he would give the pig back at the judgement day when he should be charged with the theft. The ap-plication was quite evident and the story elicited great mirth and applause.

I have been through the mill, continued the General, from the beginning. I know what you want and what you desire, and I shall labor to do all I can to obtain it. You can depend on me: I always help the bottom dog in a tight, anyhow.

In Kentucky, there are still slaves--slave men and slave women--Kentucky still refusing to let them go. I hoped the war would not end until all slavery ended. But the boys in blue have not gone home yet.

The General then concluded with an eloquent peroration, in which he quoted some beautiful and appropriate lines, which we have not space to give. Three rousing cheers were given for Gen. Fisk, and three cheers were also given for his staff, many of whom were present.

T.J. Rapier, of Maury, offered the following resolution which was unanimously adopted: Resolved, That the Convention return its most sincere thanks to the gallant soldier and christian gentleman Brigadier General Fisk, Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, for his kindness in delivering an able, encouraging and instructive address.

After the announcement of speakers for the evening session, the Conven-tion adjourned till 9 A.M., Wednesday.

                                    THIRD DAY

Morning Session.

The Convention met. President in the chair. After prayer by the Rev. Mr. Ford, minutes of yesterday were read and approved. A number of delegates recently arrived, handed in their credentials, which were referred to the Committee.

Elder Merry introduced a resolution for a committee to wait upon General Thomas and solicit return transportation for delegates without means.

124

STATE CONVENTIONS, 1865

Mr. Parrish was appointed as the committee.

Elder Watkins offered a resolution, which was adopted, for the appointment of a State Central Committee. The following gentlemen were elected said committee:

N. Walker, W. B. Scott,

N. G. Merry, D. Brown,

D. L. Lapsley, R. Harris,

F. Parrish, D. Watkins,

A. Smith.

Resolutions were offered by Mr. Rapier in relation to the appointment of a Central Committee, which was adopted, and to authorize the Committee on Agriculture to enquire as to the number of acres under cultivation, which were adopted.

A resolution was offered by the Rev. Mr. Merry, suggesting that an address of thanks be made to President Johnson for the work he has done, and to remind him of his promises he has made us. Referred to Business Commit-tee.

The Rev. Mr. Lynch was then introduced and made the following earnest and effective speech.

Mr. Lynch rose to a question of privilege and spoke as follows:

Mr. President and fellow-citizens: I thank you for the consideration you have shown me during this Convention, and confess my surprise that I have been made the signal object of your favor. Freedom, justice and equality (that is equality before the law,) must be the motto and involve the principles which control a government, if the government expects honor, peace and enduring prosperity.

What is history, but the indisputable witness of truth of this proposition? Has it not shown that the irresistible and irrepressible desire of man is for freedom--for the opportunities of social, intellectual and religious development? Has I the power I would call from the grave, Caesar,11 who fell by the hand of an assassin, or whom Oliver Cromwell12 made to tremble, George III13 or Napoleon Bonaparte,14 the elder, and ask them what policy a government had best pursue, and I believe they would answer that it was that which was dictated by freedom, justice, and equality before the law for all men.

The colored men of Tennessee ask, for the sake of the white man, as well as the colored, that the testimony of the latter be admitted in civil courts in all issues between parties, or them and the State, irrespective of color. Why, if this request be not granted by Tennessee she casts in the teeth of the Federal government her defiance; because that government has formed courts--Freedmen's Courts--where all cases in which a colored man is a party, shall be tried, provided that the civil court in the district where he lives, does not admit his testimony. This State, made glorious and redeemed by the great Patriots--the heroes of the afternoon of the nineteenth century, President Andrew Johnson, Governor Brownlow and Horace Maynard,15 and others, who have fought in the field, standing the storm of chot and shell, or falling maimed or wounded, or have given up their lives on the altar of devotion to their country, repudiate this Tennessean link in the chain of unionism that alone binds the gallant State to her noble loyal sisters that stretch forth their hands in sympathy, and raise their imploring voice for blessings on her head. Aye, Tennessee does this, if it does not give the black man his oath, and more than this, the result is fearful in its influence upon the white man. Look at the matter--suppose a white man lives on the commission of robbery, every one believes he is a thief, but he commits his depredations among colored men or white men, only in such a way as black testimony could be of service to secure a just punishment. Now then the law acquits that man, as an honest man, and the whole community in which he resides believes him to be a rogue. He mingles in society as a trustworthy citizen, when everybody feels that he should be in the Penitentiary. Cannot every one see that such a course lessens the security of the rights of the rights and property of the whites, which property is, and will be much in the custodianship of the colored men? Does it not lower the standard of morality, and decrease the regard for law and

125

TENNESSEE, 1865

order? Does it not make ungrateful return to the 158,270 colored men who have, according to the last official report of Secretary Stanton,16 been mustered in as soldier of the United States army, to say nothing of the sailors in the navy, and the thousands of Government employees. Secretary Stanton says that the colored troops formed one-fifth of the immense military force in the United States. I ask, can a loyal people deny the brothers, fathers, mothers, sisters, wives and daughters and sons of these men, and the men themselves, the privilege of testifying to outrages committed upon them by traitors and outlaws [illegible] they cannot. A loyal people will not. They will tear themselves from old prejudices; they will spurn the counsels of the haters of Federal Government, and rising to the exaltation of right, they still extend to the colored man that which their own interest dictates, humanity approves and God demands.

Thirty-three thousand one hundred and thirty-three colored men have fallen in this struggle for Union. From the ground their blood crieth, Who testified against the would-be assassin of W.H. Seward? Who put the pursuers on the track of Booth, the assassin? Who gave indications of the road which Jeff. Davis took to escape? Who informed Union Generals of the course, strategy, and plans of rebel Generals. Let the testimony of the Generals of the army suffice. They say colored men did it.

We ask the loyal white men of Tennessee to do what their fathers did when we ask them to give us our vote. We ask nothing more than what our ability and importance in the State demand, of that they may be judges, pro-vided they judge us by the same rules that white men are judged.

We are daily increasing in knowledge, wealth and influence. Our friends seem to rise up as if by magic--not because we are the most worthy of love, but because is justice is revered, and the United States, comprehending her mission, will not be pampered by predjudices, but strike out unfettered and in-trammelled into that great path where the eternal smiles and the world casts her longing eyes. [Here an elaborate argument was made in favor of negro suffrage, for which the speaker gives credit to prominent leaders in the Republican party.]

Some talk of the colored man being supplanted by the emigrant of Europe as a laborer. How absurd? Will the emigrant pick up the hoe and plow when the black man drops it, for a few cents a day, when he can go to the great West and get a homestead for a mere nominal sum (not more than it would cost him to come South), and there enjoy a climate like that to which he has been accustomed, besides his independence as a man? No, never, never!

I am full of faith to-day. Faith, not in Mr. Campbell's supporters and the like, but faith in the President of the United States, faith in Gov. Brownlow, faith in the loyal men of Tennessee, faith in God--faith to believe that he is with us.

A report from the Committee on Business was then received.

A resolution was then introduced that each county report on their return, one name, as a committee, to act in conjunction with the State Committee. Other business of desultory character was performed, and the Convention ad-journed till 10 A.M., on Thursday.

FOURTH DAY

Morning session.

The convention met. The President in the Chair. After Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Tremble, the minutes were read and approved.

The business was disposed of rapidly during the session.

Among the resolutions introduced and adopted were the following:

By Mr. J. R. Gentel, of Knox county.

Whereas, The colored citizens in many of the remote counties of this State, do not receive just compensation for their labor, and are otherwise badly treated by the disloyal whites. Therefore,

Resolution, That each county delegation, of this Convention, constitute a committee, to look after the interests of our people throughout the State, and

126

STATE CONVENTIONS, 1865

make known their grievances to Major General Fisk, or his agents, through the Central Committee at Nashville.

2d. Resolved, That the said Committee co-operate with and assist, all agents of the Freedman's Bureau, and benevolent societies, in the establishment of schools.

By Mr. Madison, of Shelby:

Resolved, That it shall be the duty of the State Central Committee, and its branches in the various counties, to prepare as accurately as possible, a return of the number of our people in each section; the occupation followed, property owned by them, taxes paid, the number of children and adults attending schools, the various places of worship owned by the people, and all such other information, as showing our progress, will be of advantage to the cause.

Resolved, That the State Committee cause the publication of these figures and facts in the Colored Tennessean, so that the world may know of our true condition.

The Business Committee, through its chairman, Elder Watkins, reported back addresses to the colored people, and to the loyal white citizens of Tennessee, which were read by delegates White and Rapier, amid the profound attention of the Convention. The Committee further reported that the preparation of the protest to Congress, would be remitted to the State Committee.

[The addresses are not inserted here, because they were not ready for publication at the time of going to press. We will give them next week. --Ed.]

Mr. Rapier moved that fifteen hundred copies of the Colored Tennessean, containing the proceedings of this Convention, be taken at the rate offered by the publisher, $50 per thousand.

After considerable discussion this was adopted.

Mr. Madison of Shelby, introduced the following, which was adopted:

Resolved, That this Convention return its most sincere thanks to our worthy President, Vice Presidents, Secretaries and other officers, for the able and important discharge of their duties. And to the reporter of the Press and Times, Nashville Union, New York Herald, and Cincinnati Gazette, for the promulgation of our proceedings from day to day, and to the people of Nashville, for their hospitality to the delegates of this Convention while attending the Convention.

J. R. White, of Davidson, introduced the following, which was adopted:

In as MUCH as each member of this Convention is thoroughly convinced that we, the colored citizens of the United States, have many good and true friends in the United States, in England and other foreign nations who feel a deep interest in our present and future welfare. Therefore,

Be it Resolved, By this Convention, that we tender our sincere thanks to them, and pledge ourselves never to act unworthy of their respect and friendship, and we pray a continuance of their exertion in our behalf, until we arrive at fulness of citizenship.

Resolved, That our gratitude is due to the national Congress, for the passage of the bill organizing the Freemen's Bureau, and that we most sincerely return our heartfelt thanks to the President of the United States, for the just consideration of our position, evinced in the appointment as the head of the bureau, of that christian gentlemen and soldier, Gen. O. O. Howard, and of such worthy coadjutors as assistant commissioner for this State, Brig. Gen. C. B. Fisk. By the establishment of this bureau, and in the appointment of such officers as those we name, we recognize another proof of the spirit of justness and kindness which animates the American people towards us, and in that spirit we determine to follow its advice and aid its purpose.

Resolutions of thanks were passed to the Nashville Press and Times, and Union, for their advocacy of our claims in the past.

Resolutions setting apart the birthday of President Lincoln, and the 1st

127

TENNESSEE, 1865

of January, as days of jubilee for the colored people of Tennessee, to be by them celebrated through all time.

Mr. Parrish reported that General Thomas would give return transportation to delegates. A resolution of thanks was adopted to Gen. Thomas for his kindness.

The Convention adjourned sine die.

The Colored Tennessean, August 12, 1865.

REFERENCE NOTES

1. James Lynch was born in Baltimore on January 8, 1839, and in his youth obtained a good education. In 1858 he joined the Presbyterian Church in New York, but soon thereafter was accepted by the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Conference in Indiana. He transferred to Baltimore, and in 1863 went to South Carolina as a missionary to the freedmen from the A.M.E. Church. From 1866 to June 15, 1867, he was the editor of the Christian Recorder in Philadelphia. Later he was with the Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi and in 1871 was elected secretary of state.

2. The reference is to Willard Saulsbury (1829-1892), United States senator from Delaware, 1859-1871.

3. William Gannaway Brownlow (1805-1877) was elected governor of Tennessee by acclamation in 1865. Before the Civil War, he had long identified himself with the Whig party and developed into a staunch unionist, editing for a time the Knoxville Whig, an influential paper in easter Tennessee whose circulation before the Civil War exceeded that of any other political paper in the state. His newspaper was suppressed shortly after Tennessee seceded from the Union, and in its last issue Brownlow declared that he would rather be imprisoned than "recognize the hand of God in the work of breaking up the American Government." Refusing to pledge allegiance to the Confederate government, he fled to the mountains of North Carolina on November 5, 1861 (Congressional Record, 42nd., 2 sess., pp. 1038-1040), but was arrested shortly thereafter. On order of Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate secretary of war, he was sent inside federal lines on March 3, 1862. Going at once to Ohio, he spent some time regaining his health (having contracted typhoid fever while imprisoned) and writing his Sketches of the Rise, Progress, and Decline of Secession; with a Narrative of Personal Adventure Among the Rebels (1862), after which he made an extensive lecture tour through the North, where he was shown distinguished attention by public officials and large audiences. Having earlier shown himself to be no opponent of slavery, his views now changed and he supported President Lincoln's emancipation policy.

As governor of Tennessee, he determined to disfranchise all who had fought against the United States and asked the legislature for a military force to make such a measure effective. Elected to the Senate in 1868, he took office on March 4, 1869. While his Senate career proved undistinguished, he generally acted with Republicans, and for a while spoke often and vigorously in debate. His health, however, failed rapidly, and toward the end of his term he became unable to speak. The last bill introduced by his was for the purchase of a site for Fisk University. At the end of his term, he returned to Knoxville, bough control of the Whig, which he sold in 1869, and edited it until his death. It has been said that, "while not in controversy, he was a peaceful and charming man, but his opinion made him always a storm center." See Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography (20 vols.; New York, 1928-1936), III, 177-178.

4. The reference to Clinton Brown Fisk (1828-1890), Union general. In 1865, Fisk was detailed an assistant commissioner to the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands with Authority over Kentucky and Tennessee, and for a time the northern part of Alabama. An ardent Methodist imbued with a keen sense of missionary zeal, he saw in the freedmen an opportunity for social and spiritual service. Taking over an abandoned army barrack in Nashville, where he exercised almost dictatorial power for a time, he opened in 1866 a school for blacks, which was chartered in 1867 as Fisk University. The

Convention Minutes Item Type Metadata

Convention Type

State

Region

South

Meeting Place Affiliation

A.M.E. Church

Citation

State Convention of Colored Men of the State of Tennessee (1865 : Nashville, TN), “Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Men of the State of Tennessee, :with the addresses of the convention to the white loyal citizens of Tennessee, and the colored citizens of Tennessee. : Held at Nashville, Tenn., August 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th, 1865. ,” ColoredConventions.org, accessed December 13, 2018, http://coloredconventions.org/items/show/522.