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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 26.pdf

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The Convention was called to order this morning by Sella Martin, Vice President.

On motion of Mr. Harris, the name of J.B. Hutchins was stricken from the Executive Committee, and that of Mr. G.M. Mabson inserted in its stead.

Sella Martin offered the following resolutions, which were adopted:

Resolved, That, as a labor Convention, it is our bounden duty, and at the same time a great pleasure, to recognize the statesmanlike sentiments contained in the paragraph of the President's message relative to the reconstruction of Georgia. Labor, to be successful, needs protection, opportunity, and just laws. This success can be achieved only through laws made by those who understand the wants and disabilities of the for whom they legislate.

Resolved, That the Convention tender to President Grant its high appreciation of his fairness of mind, fairness of purpose, and fearlessness of utterance in seeking to secure to us, by appropriate legislation, those legal safeguards to our right to labor and to the fruits of our industry, without which the name of freedom is a mockery.

Mr. F.G. Barbadoes offered the following:

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this Convention, the law making eight hours a legal days work in all labor performed for the Government is wise, just, humane and economical in character, and should be interpretated fairly and equitably.

Resolved, That this Convention is unalterably opposed to any repeal or modification of the said law, but that on the contrary they hope the Executive will compel Government contractors, as well as its own officers, to carry out its provisions fully.

After discussion the resolution was adopted.

Mr. J.H. Harris, of N.C., offered the following; which was adopted:

Resolved, That the executive officers and the Bureau of Labor provided by the Convention of the National Labor Union, now being formed, are hereby authorized to appoint one or more suitable persons to represent this organization in the International Labor Congress called to meet in Paris next September, being the fifth annual reunion of the representatives of the industry of the civilized world.

Professor George B. Vashon offered the following report of the Committee on Education:

Mr. President and Members of the Convention:

Your Committee on Education, duly appreciating the extent of the subject consigned to them, and the important relations which it sustains to the question of labor, regret that want of time has prevented them from giving to it as thorough a consideration as it deserves, and they therefore trust that their earnest desire to discharge properly the duty assigned to them, will plead in their behalf for any short-coming in its performance.

The relations which education sustains to labor are, indeed, second in importance only to those which are sustained to it by attributes of life and freedom. The laborer must be a living man, free in all his acts, thoughts, and volitions; otherwise his efforts, however wearisome to body and mind, or however productive of pecuniary results, cannot, in the estimation of the true political economist, be regarded as a portion of the country's labor; but must be classified as a part of its capital, and with as much propriety, too, as are the workings of a steam-engine or a cotton-gin. Under this view, it follows that the emancipation of slaves was in effect a conversion of capital into labor, to such an extent as to increase the latter by nearly one-tenth its entire amount. But if labor, in order to be really labor, must be free, it can be demonstrated very readily that, in order to be productive of its highest and most desirable results, it must be educated. Who would pretend to affirm that the savage of the earlier days of Greece, toilfully bringing together and piling up log after log in the construction of his rude and comfortless hut, had in so doing accomplished as much as his far off descendant, who had


To hew the shaft and lay the architrave

And spread the roof above them?"

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