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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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action in the future for the settlement of al disturbing public questions which may arise between them.

Having said so much with regard to the disabilities under which we labor on account of influences over which we have no control, we are not unmindful of the all-important fact that we are to a great extent the architects of our own fortunes, and must rely mainly on our own exertions for success. We, therefore, recommend to the youth of our race the observance of strict morality, temperate habits and the practice of economy, the acquisition of land, the acquiring agricultural education, of advancing to mercantile positions and forcing their way into the various productive channels of literature, art, science and mechanism. The sooner a knowledge of our ability to achieve success in these directions is acquired, the sooner we will overcome the apparently insurmountable obstacles to our elevation.

In the struggle for independence our blood mingled with that of the white man in defense of a common cause. When our flag was insulted on the high seas and naturalized citizens outraged, we sprang promptly to our country's call in the war which followed. We did not stop to consider the fact that, although Americans, we were not citizens; that although soldiers, we were not freemen. In the war of the rebellion, after emancipation, we responded by thousands in the country' s defense; and on the high seas, in tented camp and rille parapets, the prejudice of race and caste were forgotten in the heat of conflict, and the cause of secession disappeared beneath the bodies of white and black alike. In the light of these facts we demand, in the name of the citizenship conferred by the organic law of the land, in the name of humanity and Christian brotherliood, the same treatment accorded the other nationalities of our common country nothing more, nothing less. If the government has the right to, surely it has the power to enforce the laws made for our protection. We have reached a crisis in the history of the race. With us it is a question of citizenship upheld by the moral sentiment of the country and protected by its physical power, or of citizenship in name invaded, outraged and winked at whenever party necessities and exigencies require the stifling of the will of a majority in tlie interest of party ascendency more than that, it is a question of life and existence itself. We have submitted patiently to the wrongs and injustice which have been heaped upon us, trusting that in the fullness of time a generous and humane public sentiment would bring to our relief the enforcement of all laws passed for our protection. If the nation desires to maintain the proud position it has attained, it must say and prove to the world that every man in our midst is free and equal, and that the same means will be used to protect its colored citizens in the right of citizenship as have been used to avenge tlie insults and outrages against the country' s flag; and for the accomplishment of these ends, we invoke the prayers and sympathies of all liberty-loving citizens.




Mr. President: My original intention as one of the early advocates of the Conference was to have it composed exclusively of Southern colored men. I did not believe that any considerable number of our Northern brethren, enjoying as they do, with exceptional instances, every right and privilege of citizens, would care to make the sacrifice of time and

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