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Proceedings of the Colored National Labor convention : held in Washington, D.C., on December 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th, 1869.
1869-WASHGINGTON DC-Colored national Labor Convention 3.pdf
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The Convention was called to order by Isaac Myers, Esq., of Maryland, who read the call for the Convention ; after which he nominated George T. Downing, of Rhode Island, temporary Chairman, who was unanimously chosen. Mr. Downing, on taking the chair, addressed the Convention:
FELLOW DELEGATES. —Accept my acknowledgement of an appreciation of the honor you have conferred on me, in selecting me to fill the responsible and honorable position of temporary chairman of this important gathering; be assured I shall strive to merit the implied confidence, by being strictly impartial in discharging the duties of the office. I shall know no one personally, but you all as equal delegates.
This convention bears the title "National Labor Convention;" I desire that it shall not falsify its name ; that it be a "labor convention;" in a word that it shall labor, that it bring forth something. Much is expected of it; the eyes of every intelligent laborer of the land, without regard to color, are fixed on it ; its doings will be eagerly caught up and canvassed by the labor- ears of Europe, now banding together to the end of causing labor to be respected, and of enjoying its just rewards.
That the colored, as well as the white laborers of the United States, are not satisfied as to the estimate that is placed on their labor, as to their opportunities, as to the remuneration for their labor, the call for this convention, and the very general and highly intelligent response which I gaze on in you, my fellow delegates, attest. No other class of men would be satisifed under the circumstances ; why should we be?
The Republican party has been made an effective agent under God in liberating us from unrequited toil, from chattel thraldom—all of my class have been slaves by virtue of proscriptive laws and still worse, the greater portion have been slaves by positive enactment, been deemed, declared, treated and adjudged slaves to all intents and purposes. We owe that party respect and support in view of its agency in freeing us from that degradation. We think that it should have been more consistent, more positive in its dealings with our and the country's enemies; that it should not have set us free, but that it should have been with us in the wilderness; that it should have fed us during our pilgrimage ; that it should have given us quails and and manna, homes and the latter the latter a fitting office of government. We should be secured in the [sail], which we have enriched with our toil and blood, to which we have a double entitlement.
When the ratification of the proposed fifteenth amendment to the Constitution shall have been effected with that has already been accomplished in the same direction, much of the adhesive element which has made the composite Republican party a unit have disappeared ; for it to hold together, it must have attractive elements. Let the party have a wise financial policy. Let it be mindful of the fact, that the masses are becoming more and more intelligent; that the laboring man thinks, and is therefore, restive ; the mass are becoming so ; the expect and will demand some legislation in their behalf ; they realize that by being united, they can be an
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