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Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Men of the State of Tennessee, :with the addresses of the convention to the white loyal citizens of Tennessee, and the colored citizens of Tennessee. : Held at Nashville, Tenn., August 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th, 1865.
1865-NASHVILLE TN-STATE CONVENTION OF THE COLORED MEN OF TENNESSEE.8.pdf
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STATE CONVENTIONS, 1865
him to pay money and give his bond for the support if his children of a white woman. [The General then read a section of the circular forbidding the removal of the aged and infirm, and said:] I put this in upon the petition of the old slave owners; many of whom are good men,--men of humanity--men who would no sooner turn away their old servants than their own children. There are many such. God bless them! Many would turn away and they would drift upon the home of some good man. Some humane men cannot take care of the old and infirm; therefore to them this rule seems arbitrary. I believe it is just. I believe the master who has had the proceeds of his labor so long should take care of him as he goes down to his grave.
Education with receive earnest attention. Benevolent and religious organizations will be formed, and superintendents of schools will introduce method and fashion into educational enterprises.
This is the outline of the work to be done. That it is a necessary work, you are all ready to testify, you have come from those counties of Tennessee where most of the colored people are going ton as just the same as before the war. We are gathering information as fast as possible. In doing this I need not only your cooperation but that the white people. and I believe they are more and more convinced of the necessity of cooperating with the bureau, because they plainly see that the colored man will walk 20, 30 and 50 miles to tell his story of oppression. This is very common in Tennessee and Alabama. But I think we have great reason to be thankful that we are getting on as well as we are, and that there is no more oppression in these border states. I find I am received with more consideration that I expected. I am from Missouri. I think I am as well posted as they are; and therefore, they are daily consulting me as to the best method of regulation this new scheme of compensated labor throughout the State; and we hope by next January or February that each colored man will be engaged inproductive industry and will find at his own county seat a man who will be his friend and protect him in his contracts.
We want your co-operation in the schools. The political cry used to be agitate, agitate, agitate. I "educate, educate, educate." [Great cheers.] I believe I shall have 300 school teachers in six weeks, and I hope before the first of January next. I propose also, a good normal school for the education of colored teachers. We want good teachers from Northern cities--men who believe that you should be taught--who believe that the same Savior who died for them died for you.
Now for the suffrage. I have not thought so much about that as about good homes, settled with your families, and you provided with good bread and butter, and with good jackets. The suffrage will come around all right. I believe in it. I was one of the first men to give the colored man a bible--the first to give him a bayonet--and I shall not be behind in giving him the ballot. With this swarm of B's I think the negro will take care of himself.
North of the Ohio many are willing to give the negro suffrage. The N.Y. Herald, the most influential paper in the country, advocates negro suffrage. It will be sufficiently stirred up if we give attention to other things , such as getting homes down here. There are great many people north of the Ohio river, among the old settlers of the country, who believe the negro should not vote until somewhat educated. I don't object if the test is to be applied to white men. Let every body be educated; and if I could make it a law to-day, I would say: after 1870 no man in America should vote who could not read his ticket and write his name upon it. All I ask is that because a man is black simply, that shall not be reason for shutting him off. No oligarchy of skin, or of red whiskers! Let the test apply to every body.9 The president is in favor of this measure. I had a long conversation with Mr. Johnson. I believe him to be your firm friend. He said some good things to the colored people in this vicinity last year. I don't think he has backslidden a bit.
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