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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 6.pdf
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Mr. Downing, of Rhode Island, favored the admission of all who presented proper credentials, without regard to the views they had previously expressed in other movements. He proposed to convert those of a different policy to his own, having no fear of the intellect that gentleman might bring to bear against what the world recognized as exact justice to colored men and the interests of the laboring masses.
Mr. Myers, of Maryland, offered a resolution that committees be appointed to take into consideration the following subjects : Business, finance, education, address, platform, constitution and organization, female labor, co-operative labor, homesteads and public lands, railroad travel, national organ, and temperance ; each committee to consist of five members.
After a protracted debate and offering of substitutes and amendments, the original resolution was opted.
His honor the Major of the city then came forward and delivered the following address:
GENTLEMENT OF THE CONVENTION: In the name of our good people, and as the chief Executive of this city, I offer you our greetings and the heartfelt welcome to this the metropolis of the nation. I have watched with great interest for a long time past the movements of the workingmen and the friends of labor throughout the country in perfecting independent organizations for the protection of the rights and the advancement of the interests of labor and the laborer.
These movements I hail as springing naturally from the mighty and beneficent achievements of the great party of freedom and progress in its terrible battle with slavery ; and I also hail with unfeigned satisfaction the assembling here in this our National Capital, so long one of the strongholds of the enemy, of a convention of free colored men--of free colored workingmen--in maintenance of the rights and interests of labor.
The old slogans of the oligarch were : "Slavery is the natural and normal condition of the laborer!" "Slavery is right and necessary, whether white or black!" Against these the great party of freedom arrayed its own noble weapons, "Free Speech, Free Labor, and Free Men ; " and, planting itself fearlessly and firmly upon these noble principles--the inherent right of all men, of every race, to a perfect equality before the law--an equal right to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' --it met, fought, and conquered the foul demon of slavery, which for so many years had ravaged all parts of our fair land in its conspiracy to debase labor and to degrade the laborer. This wicked spirit was buried forever in a felon's grave by the triumph of the Union armies, composed chiefly of laboring men from the free North.
Gentlemen, the laboring classes have a special history, noble and grander than the oligarch's! To be sure, a distinguished member of the old pro slavery chivalry some years ago, in the House of Representatives, declared that "the existence of laborers and mechanics in organized societies was the result of the partial and progressive emancipation of slavery." Slavery, he contended, was their primordial and only natural condition. But history tells us that, in all ages of the world, the laborer has been the great, the might civilizer. Seated, personally free, at the foundation of the earliest societies or civilizations of antiquity, and all the other orders, spurning as degrading all connections with the arts, it was the genius of the laborer, the mechanic, and the cunning of his hand that build up al those magnificent monuments of art which lend a glory and grandeur to the civilizations of those early periods.
Long and manfully, too, did the laborer maintain his freedom. But the lust of conquest in the breast of the oligarchy, whose chief occupation was that of war in pursuit of empire, destroyed the industrial classes, and introduced in their stead millions of miserable slaves.
Slavery and the debasement of the industrial classes destroyed in turn every nation of antiquity.
Hence, in modern eras, when the populations of Europe had been debauched by slavery and its accursed influence, they fell an easy prey to the Goth and Vandal--those free and hardy northern nations which established the present States of Europe upon the ruins of Rome. The feudal slavery, the feudal barbarism, which they established, necessarily crushed out what little of industrial art and prosperity
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