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Proceedings of Consultation Convention of 350 leading Colored Men of Georgia. Held in Macon, Georgia, January 25th and 26th, 1888

1888GA-proceedings-20.pdf

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18

MINUTES OF CONSULTATION CONVENTION.

all parts of the world. A vote of thanks was unanimously tendered the reader.

Col. W. A. Pledger made report for the Committee on the

PENITENTIARY SYSTEM

WHEREAS, In civilized forms of government that mode of punishment for crimes committed is selected which is most in consonance with the dictates of humanity, and less shocking to the impulses, which actuate a true course in the furtherance of the causes of such civilization; and

WHEREAS, In the state of Georgia, a system known as the chain-gang system has been criticised, and pronounced inhuman and unchristian, tending to shock the very foundation upon which the structure of equity, and the plan of right is erected; a system that puts unprincipled men in charge of culprits who use the most barbarous means of chastisement and thrusts women and children in chains with the most hardened male criminals; that puts libertines as guards in charge of females, and causes the woman, in order to secure kind treatment, to become the kept mistress of the guard or boss, leading her to giving birth in many instances, to illegitimate children, as in the case of Carrie Williams, of Bibb county, and divers other instances as reported by the Principal Keeper of the penitentiary; that causes men to be striped and beaten with clubs and trace-chains, till disabled, or death produced; that permits the half-cladding of the convict, and often permitting the convict to go as long as months without change of clothes, and with food that produces emaciation and scurvy; and

WHEREAS, These hardships are chiefly confined to the colored convicts-there being but few white convicts, and they, in most cases, being trustees, without chains and with good food.

WHEREAS, Such distinguished white statesmen as Hons. W. A. Huff, W, H. Felton, J. S. Schofield, and others, have examined, by the power delegated them by the people, into this iniquitous system, and pronounced it a blot upon this age of progress and Christian civilization; therefore be it

Resolved. 1, That we, the colored representatives of the Afro-American race of Georgia, demand of the next Legislature, a change in the system, and urge upon the one hundred and forty thousand Negro voters of this state, the necessity of paying their taxes, and voting for no man, save he is pledged to the modification or change of such system. We demand a change in the jury system, so as to enable the people who form more than four-tenths of the population of the state, to be represented upon the jury, as intended by law, that unrest may be dispelled, and fair trials in court assured; for in this republican form of government, a fair and impartial trial is intended-a trail by a jury of the peers of the accused-that contentment may be, for where there is discontentment, there is no complete security for the peace, happiness and prosperity of the people.

2. That to secure the end desired in the foregoing resolutions, we invoke the aid of Almighty God, and the conservative element of the white race, whose interest in good government-and impartial administration of affairs-should be exalted as ours.

3. That we recommend that the state take charge of the convicts, and work them to the best advantage of the state, and for the prevention of the commission of crime.

SIGNED, A. Wilson, Chairman.

Ishmael Lonon,

L. Crawford,

J. F. Long,

W. A. Pledger,

E. P. Holmes,

N. J. McCombs,

Kitt Williams,

L. Solomon,

A. F. Hawkins,

A. W. Burnett,

C. J. Beason,

W. R. Gray,

G. W. Byrum,

Whitman Chapman.

Committee.

After a few remarks by Col. Pledger, the report was adopted. A. A. Gordon, Esq., submitted report of committee on

COUNTY CHAIN GANG

as follows, which was adopted, after remarks by Revs. E. K. Love, C. H. Brightharp and Col. Pledger:

WHEREAS, We find on our chain-gangs, many abuses of power, both cruel and illegal: Some males and females are chained together on the public highways, convicts are often poorly clad, whipped inhumanlly by white bosses who are ostracized by their own race, which destroys in the convict all moral respect, and hardens the criminal; and

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