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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the National Conference of Colored Men of the United States, Held in the State Capitol at Nashville Tennessee, May 6, 7, 8 and 9, 1879.
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An intelligent man would not feel bound to work under or rent under a man whom he would have every reason to believe would cheat him when the settling day arrived. On the contrary, he would not only shun such an employer himself, but he would advise his friends to do likewise.
This management, although silent, would be very potent in effecting a remedy. The better class of Southerners would have no fault to find with this course, and the high-handed and outrageous element would have but little sympathy from any source, and very hard work to manage their operations.
2. With some book knowledge, a man in finding himself badly located could readily perceive how a change might better his condition. Through the aid of his geography, maps, books and papers, and his ability to hold correspondence with other localities, the way of getting out of his present thraldom would not be far to seek.
Every citizen, white or black, is free to exercise this privilege in this respect, no one will deny. If one place does not suit him he can go to another of his own choosing.
Here I am reminded that emigration is exciting a good deal of attention at the present day.
Never were men more in need of intelligence, in order that they might judge wisely concerning the present exciting crisis. If not wide awake, they are likely to jump out of the frying-pan into the fire.
But if he can read he may study and learn what practical emigration has done for millions on this continent. The great Western States, for instance; afford an opportunity for a good illustration. Emigration certainly has been the making of all the Western States, if not of this entire country. It was never conducted, however, under any en masse system, but generally on individual account or under the auspices of voluntary small companies.
While the great majority of these emigrants at first went poor they carried with them a thorough knowledge of husbandry, mechanism, store- keeping, trading and all kinds of industrial labor; besides very many had been inured to hardships, and were quite ready and willing to rough it in the woods, in log-cabins—to begin labor by cutting down and clearing up the forest under great difficulties. Among those thus emigrating were skilled laborers—men who could make axes, plows, cultivators and implements of husbandry of every description—men who could not only do the most ordinary manual labor, but could build great bridges, railroads, steamboats; who had a knowledge of printing; could publish papers and books, could teach schools of learning from the lower rudiments up to the higher mathematics—men who could construct factories, build foundries, organize banking institutions, &c. Besides in adjacent parts of the country capitalists were ready, whenever signs indicated successful investments, to furnish all necessary means if on no other ground than simply personal interest.
Now, I am compelled to say, with deep regret, that our poor people are not prepared to emigrate under any such encouraging aspects. They have been too long shut out from the light of knowledge to be ready for any en masse emigration movement. In going, with very few exceptions, they could only hope to find employment as hewers of wood and drawers of water, in fields where laborers might be sufficiently numerous to meet all demands either in rural districts or in the towns. Thus with apparently continued hard struggles, only to combat, the road to success would still be dark and discouraging.
The Great Teacher said on one occasion :
"For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that
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