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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the State Convention of the colored citizens of Tennessee, held in Nashville, Feb. 22d, 23d, 24th & 25th, 1871.
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I see in the Tobacco Leaf of the 22nd ult., a call for a meeting of the citizens of the county, to consult and adopt some plan for the better regulation of the labor system of the county, which is paramount to all other questions at this time.
Intimately connected with this question, is the present school system of Montgomery county. Are the people willing that the County Court, at its January term, shall again levy an additional school tax of about $9,000, upon the tax-payers of the county, for the purpose of educating the negro children of the county? Do not the developments under existing regulations, show that with the present high government and State tax, the additional countv tax of $9,000 is more than the people can stand? It is well known that the negroes pay comparatively none of this school fund—while in Districts Nos. 1, 6 and 12 there are about two negro children in the free schools to one white—all the negro children go to school. But a part of the white children are kept at home to work for the support of the family. And this is not the worst feature of its working. The proceeds of the labor of these white children are stolen by the negroes to feed their children who are being raised up in idleness. It is impossible for any man, either white or black, from his labor alone, without land to cultivate, teams or implements to till rented land with. It is impossible to support a wife and family of children without the assistance of the labor of a part of the children, but the negroes keep them all at school, hence they are compelled to steal or starve.
The present mode adopted by most of the farmers of the county, to furnish the land, teams, etc., and give the negro one-half they make, is fast destroying the farming interest of this county, and nothing is having so demoralizing an effect upon the negroes: for the negro has really all that the farmer is worth in his own hands; for at the most important time of the crop, if he thinks proper to go to his club meeting, or some place of amusement, if the white man says to him, "Everything will be lost unless you quit running about.” What is the negro's reply: "We have a written contract and if you are losing, so am I; we are even on that score; you must stand it.” And it is so, for they are equals before the law. We ought to abandon this county tax for free schools and employ the negroes for a stipulated price, in money, or both white and black will go down together. CITIZEN.
We append the following extract from the Clarksville Chronicle of Dec. 3d, copied from the Holly Springs Reporter, to show the spirit of the whites.
Accompanying the report were the following communications which were indorsed by the Convention.
A public meeting in Giles county reported the following:
GENTLEMAN OF THE CONVENTION:
We deem it our duty to furnish you all the information in our power concerning the present condition of our people.
In the first place we have no Justice before the law, and it seems to us that in many instances we are worse off than when in slavery.
In the second place, a great many of us are driven away from our homes and our crops after having made them and our wives and children reduced to the point of starvation. We have no schools and no teachers, hundreds of our little children are being deprived of the chance for an education for want of schools.
We have but few churches and some of them have been burned down by desperadoes.
As to outrages, we must say that every few days we hear of their being committed in various ways upon our colored citizens.
Oh, Gentlemen of the convention, we, the colored citizens of Giles county, insist that you will use every influence you can bring to bear upon Congress to put a stop to the doings of these desperadoes. For God's sake help us ere we perish.
We believe that if the government were fully apprised of our true condition it would not see its friends trampled in the dust. We will hail all as friends who aid us, in making our sad condition known to the world.
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