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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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Reported by A. R. Campbell and P. N. Rogers. Three schools and seven hundred pupils; daily attendance three hundred and fifty. Wages for men from ten to twelve dollars, and women from three to five dollars per month; mechanics' wages from $1.50 to $1.75 per day. The laws are very unjustly executed. Colored men are sent to the Penitentiary for trifles, and white men for the same crimes go free. Some men have been discharged from employment for turning out to bury the dead. The reason why so many colored people flock to towns is, that they cannot get anything for their labor in the country and have no protection.
Reported by A. R. Trotter: One school with thirty-five pupils in attendance. Wages for men from $120 to $125 a year, and women from three to four dollars a month.
No schools nor churches. Wages same as above. Polls not opened at last election until three p.m.
The Committee on Outrages presented the following report, which was adopted: Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 23, 1871.---The Committee on Crimes, after due consideration of each report of the State, found the condition of the people to be such as to call forth the greatest effort to protect them from the outrages almost daily perpetrated upon them. We find in various portions of the State, for the smallest offences, that men are often put to death, their families outraged, and there seems to be no power to bring to justice the guilty parties. Davidson county owing to its numbers are better treated and protected than any other county in the State. Shelby county, too, owing to their numbers and chances of protection. Yet, within the last nine months there have been not less than seven murders committed by unknown persons. Other outrages and murders have been committed by persons known to the authorities, and no one brought to justice, nor any attempt to bring to justice the guilty parties. If they are abused or murdered, if they are colored people, the plea is put in, not here. In Sumner county they have put out a great many threats, etc., so as to prevent or cause a great many or a majority to leave the county. Bird Swainey, at the Castile Springs, was shot and unmercifully whipped by a band of disguised persons. This and many others of the same crime have been brought to justice, and acquitted. We find the crimes and outrages in the State so numerous that we will not task the convention with further details.
We append the following extract from the Holly Springs Reporter, which the Clarksville Chronicle copied:
We hear complaints of the negro in every section of our country. In town it is almost an impossibility to get negro cooks; and when obtained they leave on the slightest pretext, and when the slightest pretext is not given, they attend "meetings” every night, and shout and scream till morning, and are unfitted for work during the day. In the country many negroes are neglecting their crops, and cotton and corn are ruining in the fields. A great many have gone in debt for clothing, supplies and gew-gaws, and owe more than their crops will realize. They argue, therefore, that it is folly to pick out cotton and gather corn for other men to enjoy. Our crops are poor enough in all conscience, and the indolence and worthlessness of the negro are making them five-fold worse. We learn that in some neighborhoods the negroes leave their work for whole days together to attend negro militia meetings and negro funerals. A friend informs us that they are preaching the funerals of negroes who died fifteen years ago. If the negro does not improve, a bitter experience tells us there is little hope, other labor will have to be introduced, or farmers will be compelled to cease their efforts to make crops. The condition of the entire Southern country illustrates forcibly the tendency and efforts of Radical reconstruction and negro legislation.
Whereas, In a large majority of the counties of Middle and West Tennessee lawlessness prevails, and desperadoes, masked and armed, are committing crimes and outrages unparalleled in the annals of civilization, spreading terror and devastation to the homes and families of the poor and loyal to this Government; and,
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