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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Southern States Convention of Colored Men, held in Columbia, S.C., commencing October 18, ending October 25, 1871.
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successful demonstration of ability is the necessity of a higher degree of education among the masses. The farmer needs education to properly plant and make successful this operation. Wherever an enlightened peasantry is, there are the greatest evidences of success. Looking to the nations which are most prosperous and happy, we observe that their masses possess the cheering prospects of the homestead, the sacred joys of a free and secure fireside.
The great work of an advancing people should be to advance the means of education, which is the foundation of all the higher attainments of all prosperous nations. We call the attention of the Convention and of the nation to the following important facts in relation to the products of the great Southern States. We present the item of cotton, which is one of the greatest staples of Southern production, one which gives wings to a hundred millions of spindles, which employs over two hundred thousand hands, clothing the whole civilized world, and employing every means of commercial development. Taking the statistical report made to the general government, the following table presents a condensed view of the exports of American cotton, during the past forty-three years. It makes an aggregate of 26,464,000,000 pounds, and the exports prior to 1825 would bring the total contribution of America to the factories of Europe up to above 28,500,000,000 pounds.
The total of sea island cotton was 360,683,707 pounds. Upland cotton, 26,464,338,057 pounds. Value of cotton exports for the same period, $3,144,270,562. Value of cotton maufactures exported, $182,545,134.
It is conceded that this vast wealth forced from the Southern soil must have employed hands and muscle to accomplish such results—that muscle must have been found encased in the forms of the hardy sons of Africa or of African descent.
We say nothing of the vast sugar crop of Louisiana, the great rice crop of the South, the latter being 3,079,043 pounds, valued at $170,357, for the year 1868 alone. If such be the values connected with the Southern soil, what are the conclusions to which we must come as to the value of the great labor system of the South. If such have been the production, under a system of oppression, with the old and undeveloped modes of agriculture, what may not be done now under a free and enlightened cultivation, which is moving forward with lightning speed, diving the ploughshare of new ideas through every department of human activity, and transforming the world.
We call special attention to the subject of combining the various handicraftsmen into practical organizations, for the promotion of mechanic arts among our people, and a proper direction of the labor of the land. Among all enlightened peoples the laborers are so combined as to give directions and effectiveness to their trades. In the South the larger number of laborers and mechanics are colored, but they have no combination among them to give effective and proper direction to their labor. We recommend the formation of Mechanics' Unions throughout the length and breadth of the country; that every class of tradesmen form a Union of their craft, and fix their demands for proper compensation for their work; that these Unions be formed on the basis of savings institutions, for the purpose of accumulating a great moneyed power, by which they can control capital, manufactories, and compete with great
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