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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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dales and swamps slept in undisturbed quiet, the capacities of the soil undeveloped. and the wealth and grandeur of the section lingered in "blissful repose."

The resources and requisites for the establishment and upbuilding of a great and powerful section of this Union were known and dwelt upon with unspeakable admiration, but they would have slept on in quiet and undisturbed reality,

Through the still lapse of countless ages,

had there nor been a race of people possessing the constitution, physical strength and ability to draw out the resources and develop the fertility. What race of people was this? Need I say? The answer comes back to me from the old hills and swamps of the South, now worn out, "the Negro." He alone had the physical composition to draw out of the soil the wealth which the section boasts of. Had it not been for the labor of this people the richness of this great section would have remained in the ground, where God placed it. What race could supply the demand? What race could take their places in this section now, should they leave? Without elimination I assert, none. The powerful rays of a Southern summer' s sun would make even the much-talked of "heathen Chinese" seek the umbrageous splendor and comfort of some tall gum or oak. It is asserted by many that the Chinese will supply the demand. The New Orleans Picayune the official journal of the State of Louisiana. I think, expressed the sentiments of the South when it said:

"They would suffocate European civilization and all those elements of the progressive evolution of science and art and industry. * * * If the Negro laborers leave us, let us see to it that Louisiana becomes not a State composed of Asiatic heathen, although they may work for ten cents a day."

It is well known that the place and labor of the Negro in the South cannot be supplied. Without them and their labor the fields of the great" king of the South, "Cotton," would be replaced by the less productive thistle, grass and weeds, and the disparaged planter could only survey, in pensive quietness, what once was the pride of his being, the establishment of his comfort, and the source of his wealth. The South would fall far short of what it now is without this much abused and despised people.


Agriculture is an agency of acknowledged importance in every division of the civilized world. The cultivation of the soil is coeval with the existence of the human family. When man came pure and immortal from the hands of his Creator, he was placed in a beautiful and well furnished garden, and the injunction of the Creator to him was, "Dress, adorn and keep it." After the infringement of God's command by man, the obligation to till the soil was renewed. The decree and mandate of Heaven ordained that by the "sweat of his brow" " he should cultivate the soil. No race of people are better adapted, titled and qualified for this all important and necessary calling than ours. Their relations to it are natural; they are naturally fond of it; hence their great success.

In every country and in every situation agriculture is essential to the increase, subsistence and happiness of man." In all stages of society it is alike needful to its well-being and prosperity, and has accordingly been held in the highest repute from the most remote ages. It is a commendable and honorable art, as well as it is useful and beneficial. Gideon, the renowned judge and warrior of Israel, was called from the plow to preside over the fortunes of that nation. Cinncinatus immortalized by the conquest of the Volsci abandoned his plow to lead the Roman armies to battle and to victory. Washington, whose name will be hallowed by the

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