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Scripto | Transcribe Page
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.9.pdf
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TENNESSEE, 1865 123
General Fisk then read extracts from the noble speech of Governor John-son, delivered last fall in Nashville, to an immense assembly of colored people. The General made many happy allusions as he proceeded with the report, as it appeared in the Cincinnati Gazette. IN allusion to the President's promise to be our Moses, he said:
Next time I write to the President I shall tell him he is in direct succession to Moses. In due time Moses will be revealed to you.10
This said Andrew Johnson, in the month of October last; in this city, wanted you to take care of all you had got--to be industrious. You must work out your own salvation. Those words have taken care of themselves, and masters too, ought to be able to take care of themselves alone. Be economical, provident, saving what you earn. Lay by something for a rainy day. Your masters won't take care of you any more. That is the only way I can do--to buy my clothing in winter with what I earn in the summer.
One man told me the negroes were idle, lazy, vagabonds, great thieves--stealing everything--[illegible] unmercifully, etc., and spoke of the Christian treatment he gave them. I told him his whole life had been a lie. We have been fighting four years to destroy this system of christianity which produces such results. I have frequently received letters threatening me with assassination. I have had sermons preached to me by christian women of the South who came to see me.
I was once in Mississippi recently and a lady came to my headquarters and said, "General Fisk, you have got my boy Sam." I said, " Yes and he is going to fight the battles of his country." "Don't you know, sir, he is my property, and it is just the same as stealing.?" "Now," said she, "you profess to be a good man. I've heard you pray; and now you come to steal my property." I told her the court was open and she might sue me for it. She said they had no courts. I said that was not my fault. "Then" said she, I'll appear against you at the great judgement day, and I'll ask you why you stole that boy. Then, what will you say?' That, as the President used to say reminded me of a little story.
The General then related the story of Pat who stole a pig from the widow Malone, and how the Priest blamed him for it, and how he would give the pig back at the judgement day when he should be charged with the theft. The ap-plication was quite evident and the story elicited great mirth and applause.
I have been through the mill, continued the General, from the beginning. I know what you want and what you desire, and I shall labor to do all I can to obtain it. You can depend on me: I always help the bottom dog in a tight, anyhow.
In Kentucky, there are still slaves--slave men and slave women--Kentucky still refusing to let them go. I hoped the war would not end until all slavery ended. But the boys in blue have not gone home yet.
The General then concluded with an eloquent peroration, in which he quoted some beautiful and appropriate lines, which we have not space to give. Three rousing cheers were given for Gen. Fisk, and three cheers were also given for his staff, many of whom were present.
T.J. Rapier, of Maury, offered the following resolution which was unanimously adopted: Resolved, That the Convention return its most sincere thanks to the gallant soldier and christian gentleman Brigadier General Fisk, Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, for his kindness in delivering an able, encouraging and instructive address.
After the announcement of speakers for the evening session, the Conven-tion adjourned till 9 A.M., Wednesday.
The Convention met. President in the chair. After prayer by the Rev. Mr. Ford, minutes of yesterday were read and approved. A number of delegates recently arrived, handed in their credentials, which were referred to the Committee.
Elder Merry introduced a resolution for a committee to wait upon General Thomas and solicit return transportation for delegates without means.
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