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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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Finally, as to the causes: The colored people of the Southern States have become thoroughly alarmed at the constant attacks on their political and civil rights, not only by legislative enactments and verdicts of courts, but more especially through and by the medium of State constitutional conventions. These conventions have been called in nearly every State once ruled by Republicans, but now under the rule of the Democratic party. In every instance the openly-avowed object for the holding of these constitutional conventions by Democrats is to overturn and repeal all laws passed by Republican conventions or legislatures looking toward the protection of colored people in all of their political, civil, and educational rights. In nearly every instance whenever these conventions have been held by Democrats, restrictions upon the rights of colored people have been enacted and passed to the statute-books of the State. These Democratic enactments have made the colored people the target for so-called vagrant laws, unjust poll-taxes, and curtailed educational advantages, and all legislation has been toward enfeebling them in all that Republican legislation strengthened and protected them.
The colored people of the South have no way of judging what Democracy in that section of the country will do in the future, only by what they are now doing and have done in the past ; and, judging by that, they have come to the conclusion that it is better to fly to evils (if any there be) they know not of, rather than to continue under the present evils, to which they have fallen heir through a Democratic bequest.
SECOND. Is there any truth in the report, that it is a scheme gotten up to irate the North against the South?
Your committee think it unjust to attribute this exodus or migration of colored people from the South to any such motives. It might as well be charged that such alone were the motives of the early abolitionist who demanded liberty for the slaves, and who perished in his demands until slavery was abolished. His scheme was founded on righteousness, justice, and right ; and if at this time certain men of the North are to-day demanding civil, religious, and political rights for the freedmen of the South at home if possible, elsewhere if necessary ; they are but making a grand finale of the original human undertaking of their predecessors who labored so faithfully that slavery should be abolished from our land. There may be, in some instances, those who would exult over the depopulation of the South, of her laboring classes, but such is not the great underlying principle of this exodus. This emigration scheme is not a spurt or sudden impulse, but the culmination of events which have been in an embryo condition since the war.
You will, doubtless, remember that near the close of the late war an effort was made to remove the colored people of the Southern States to Liberia, and for that purpose money was contributed by individuals, and the scheme started. It did not, however, succeed, owing to a disinclination of any great number of colored people to avail themselves of an opportunity to leave the United States. Another Liberian emigration scheme was started last year in South Carolina, but did not accomplish much. But these two instances differ materially from the present migration; while the colored people have always exhibited a disinclination to leave the South for any foreign country, they have never exhibited a disinclination to leave any Southern State, where, under Democratic rule, their rights have been curtailed or threatened. Notably is this the case in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. A steady stream of colored people from these States has been pouring into Mississippi and Louisiana for the past four or five years, solely on account of the unjust laws enacted by Democratic constitutional conventions and legislatures, whose principal achievements were the repeal of nearly every law passed by Republicans for their protection. They came into Louisiana and Mississippi
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