The Knights of Labor will soon hold a General Assembly in Richmond, Va. Richmond hotel proprietors are Southern to the backbone, and are sure that while it is natural for colored men to wait on tables and perform other hotel work,—thereby coming into the very closest contact with the patrons of the hotel,—that it is most unnatural for colored men to be entertained as guests in their hostelries. There are sixty delegates of District Assembly 49 of New York who will attend the Richmond convention. One of the delegates happens to be in the nature of a Jonah to a Richmond hotelkeeper, as the following from the New York Sun will explain:
Sixty delegates of District Assembly 49 will attend the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor in Richmond, Va. “Every Knight of Labor,” said one of these delegates yesterday, “when he enters the order knows that his obligation makes him disregard the color, creed, and nationality of his fellow members. District 49 has among its members a number of colored men. One of these colored men happens to be a delegate. In fact, he was one of the first chosen. When our committee was making arrangements with Col. Murphy of the Merchants Hotel of Richmond, he said he would gladly accommodate 49, but he could not defy the custom and usages of the city by allowing the colored man the equal rights and privileges with those of his fellow white delegates. The colored delegate, when he heard this, secured a place for himself, and said the other delegates could select any hotel they liked. The other delegates, however, by a unanimous vote, declared they would only go where their colored brother was admitted on the same footing.
“The Assembly then looked about to devise a way out of the trouble. It finally sent the colored delegate and a white brother to Richmond to secure board for the entire delegation among colored families in that city. No member of 49 will board anywhere except with a colored family. This action of 49 we hope will work good and be of great benefit to us and to humanity. In Richmond there is a district assembly which ignores the colored Knights. District Assembly 49’s act will bring, we hope, these white brothers to their senses and start a breakup of the color line. We are all anxious to begin the work. It may be that the greater part of the session of the General Assembly will be taken up with this question, and not on the Home Club. The Home Club is not very bad, after all. You ought to have heard some of them on the question of color, and they were men who were in Richmond when Lee surrendered.”
District Assembly 49 of New York should be placed at the head of the class for a square-toed manifestation of true manhood and most unusual courage. It is a simple matter of justice and fair play which the members of the Assembly have shown in resenting the insult offered a brother member by the narrow, prejudiced keeper of a Southern hotel, but all the race asks for or has ever asked for are justice and fair play. It is the constant denial of these against which we have to labor and protest.
We are free to say that the action of this labor assembly will have its influence on the people of Richmond. The papers of that city will ignore the matter, in all probability, as they cannot very well afford to condemn the course pursued by the New York delegation, since such condemnation might provoke the whole convention, and lead to damage to Richmond newspaper income and to loss of votes to the Democratic party. It is in this taking the bull by the horns which will convince the colored laborers that their interests and those of white laborers are identical. Let the good work go on.
New York Freeman, October 2, 1886.
Governor Lee [of Virginia] and Gentlemen of the Convention: It is with much pleasure and gratification that I introduce to you Mr. T. V. Powderly, of the State of Pennsylvania, who will reply to the address of welcome of Governor Lee, of this State, which is one of the oldest states in the avenue of political influence of our country. He is one of the thoughtful men of the nation, who recognizes the importance of this gathering of the toiling masses in this our growing Republic. As Virginia has led in the aspirations of our country in the past, I look with much confidence to the future, in the hope that she will lead in the future to the realization of the objects of noble Order. It is with extreme pleasure that we, the representatives from every section of our country, receive the welcome of congratulation for our efforts to improve the condition of humanity. One of the objects of our Order is the abolition of these distinctions which are maintained by creed or color. I believe I present to you a man above the superstitions which are involved in these distinctions. My experience with the noble Order of the Knights of Labor and my training in my district, have taught me that we have worked so far successfully toward the extinction of these regrettable distinctions. As we recognize and repose confidence in all men for their worth in society, so can we repose confidence in one of the noblest sons of labor—T. V. Powderly—whom I now take the pleasure of presenting to you.25
Proceedings, General Assembly, Knights of Labor, 1886, pp. 7–8.
It is not the negro alone who stands ostracized in the South by the remnant of the Bourbon element, which still exists to protest against the progress of the Southern States. The white man who works is held in no higher esteem than the black man, and his ignorance is taken advantage of when he is patted on the back and told that he “is better than the negro.” . . . The intellectual status of the black and white laborer must be improved if either one is to prosper. Of the two races in the South at the present time the negro is making the most energetic struggle for an education.
Terence V. Powderly, Thirty Years of Labor (Cincinnati, 1889), p. 662.
My sole object in selecting a colored man to introduce me was to encourage and help to uplift his race from a bondage worse than that which held him in chains twenty-five years ago—viz., mental slavery. I desired to impress upon the minds of white and black that the same result followed action in the field of labor, whether that action was on the part of the Caucasian or negro. . . .
While I have no wish to interfere with the social relations which exist between the races of the South, I have a strong desire to see the black men educated. Southern cheap labor, regardless of color, must learn to read and write. Southern cheap labor is more a menace to the American toiler than the Chinese, and this labor must be educated. Will my critics show me how the laws of social equality will be harmed by educating the black man so that he may know how to conduct himself as a gentlemen? Will they explain how a knowledge of the laws of his country will cause a man to violate the laws of social equality? Will they in a cool, dispassionate manner, explain to me whether an education will not advance the moral standard of the colored man, and will they tell me such a thing is not as necessary with the blacks as with the whites?
Will it be explained to me whether the black man should continue to work for starvation wages? With so many able-bodied colored men in the South who do not know enough to ask for living wages, it is not hard to guess that while this race continues to increase in numbers and ignorance prosperity will not even knock at the door, much less enter the home of the southern laborer. . . . There need be no further cause for alarm. The colored representatives to this Convention will not intrude where they are not wanted, and the time-honored laws of social equality will be allowed to slumber undisturbed. . . .
To the Convention, I say: Let no member surrender an iota of intellectual freedom because of any clamor. Hold fast to that which is true and right. The triumph of noise over reason is but transient. Our principles will be better known, if not to-day it may be tomorrow; they can bide their time, and will some day have the world for an audience. In the field of labor and American citizenship we recognize no line of race, creed, politics, or color.
Richmond Dispatch, October 12, 1886.
After Mr. Powderly finished his regular speech he said he desired to add one word more. He continued by saying that some of the members of the visiting delegations who were of darker hue than their brothers could not find place in some of the hotels. This was in accordance with what had long been the custom here, and old customs and prejudices do not readily vanish. There had been particular mention made of one instance where a delegation numbering nearly seventy members had only one colored member among them. He was refused admission to the hotel where they intended to go, and the delegation, standing by the principles of the order, which recognize no distinctions of creed, nationality, or color, went with their colored brother. That, he said, was why he made the selection of that brother to introduce him to them, so that it might go forth that they “practice what they preached.”
Richmond (Va.) Dispatch, October 5, 1886.
The Negro Ferrell Escorted Into the Academy of Music
Last night just before the performance of “Hamlet” began at the Academy of Music sixty members of District Assembly 49 of New York, the negro member (Ferrell) being one of the party and twenty other Knights of Labor, delegates to the General Assembly, went in a body to that place of amusement, and, marching up to the box-office, the foremost man bought eighty tickets, for which he paid $40. These tickets admitted the party to reserved seats on the left-hand side of the body of the house, about eight rows from the stage. Thither they wended their way, the negro sitting between two of his white confreres, near the end of one of the rows. Here he remained undisturbed during the whole performance. A good-sized audience of ladies and gentlemen was present. Only a few left the hall. In fact, it was not generally known through the audience what had occurred and who the strange visitor was.
There was last night among those citizens who knew of the affair severe criticism of the management for allowing this violation of the long-established customs of this part of the country, but Ferrell having been seated, no doubt the management thought it wiser and better for all concerned not to make any move which might possibly result in a disturbance.
It was to presume that “Forty-nine” went to the Academy in a body last night, and was ready to make a “test case.”
Later on the manager of the Academy, stated that he knew nothing of the presence of the negro until after his entrance into the hall. Mr. Castine then consulted some of the men as to the best course to take and on their advice, rather than cause any excitement, he took no action, and allowed the man to remain.
Slept in the Same Bed
Situated on Broad street between Sixth and Seventh is the Central Hotel, a colored boarding-house, of which _______ Fry is one of the proprietors. Yesterday morning a Dispatch had occasion to visit this place with other business, and while there asked guests, “are you any delegates to the General Assembly?
I have only one, a white northern man from Maine. There is a colored man from the same State stopping here but he is not a delegate.
What is the delegate’s name?
I will get you the register.
He went to a back room and brought out a black book in which the list of guests is kept; also, the colored female who does the clerical work of the house. She opened the book and pointed to the name registered “Joe Burns, Hallowell, Maine,” as the white delegate, and directly under it was “C. D. Freeman, Augusta, Me.” who, she said, was the colored visitor.
The reporter asked: Do these men room together?
And sleep in the same bed?
The conversation ended here, and the reporter left.
NUMBERS AND QUARTERS OF THE COLORED DELEGATES
Secretary Turner says there are about twenty colored delegates in the Assembly. Three are from Richmond, members of District Assembly No. 92—Richard Thompson, W. W. Fields, and Mitchel.
A young colored woman named Scott was appointed as a delegate from this city, but for some reason she will not act.
Colored members also come from Augusta, Ga., Florida, Washington, Baltimore, Pennsylvania, Norfolk, Petersburg, Danville, Charlotte county, Va., Alabama, and North Carolina. Most of them are quartered with colored families.
The colored brother from Baltimore, James H. Edwards, is stopping at the St. Charles Hotel, where he arrived with eighteen other Knights from Baltimore on Monday. He eats in the dining-room with the other guests (although the proprietors say that a screen hides him from the general view) and sleeps in as good apartments. His fare is altogether the same as that given white people, and he pays the same price for it.
Mr. Gallaghan, the proprietor of the hotel, claims that he did not know at first that a negro was to be one of the Baltimore party, and that as soon as he found it out, he told the delegates that the negro could not be given the first-class accommodations. They said they were not willing to leave their brother, and so it was arranged they should eat and sleep with their friend.
Richmond Dispatch, October 6, 1886.
THE OLD VIRGINIA “SUPERSTITION” ON THIS SUBJECT—WHAT KNIGHTS THINK
One of the best-known Knights of Labor in this city—who authorizes the use of his name if necessary—was seen yesterday and asked by a Dispatch reporter:
“What do you think of the attitude taken by Assembly 49, of New York, regarding social equality.”
“I regard,” said he, “the action of these persons who took Ferrell to the Mozart Academy as an outrage upon the people of this city, and an insult to the Knights of Labor of the United States. I feel confident that they do not represent any but themselves.”
How do the Knights of Labor of Richmond regard the action of their visiting brethren in this respect?
The Knights of this city are justly indignant, and their position of host only restrains them from an outburst of righteous contempt. Most of them earnestly hope that Master Workman Powderly will avail himself of the first opportunity to administer to 49 the rebuke they merit and justly deserve. The action of 49 will cause a great many to leave the order, and will in a large measure detract from the parade of Monday next. I have yet to meet the first man, white or colored, Knight of Labor or otherwise, who has expressed anything but the severest condemnation of the action of 49. Indeed, all have some respect for Ferrell; for the others contempt.
Does the constitution of the Knights of Labor require social equality? If it does not, upon what ground does “49” rest its claim upon this point?
I cannot find anywhere in the constitution, by-laws, and “work” of the Knights of Labor anything upon which 49 can lay any claim for social equality, unless it is the quotation from the Declaration of Independence—“All men are created equal.” People may accept as much of the doctrine as they please; as for myself, I do not in any way accept it as a fact. . . .
Richmond Dispatch, October 7, 1886.
RACE PREJUDICE AROUSED IN RICHMOND THE KNIGHTS CONDEMNED FOR ABUSING SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY—NOR ORGANIZATION EFFECTED YET
RICHMOND, Va., Oct. 6.—The Knights of Labor have committed what is considered here an unpardonable mistake since their arrival in Richmond. They are bitterly denounced on all sides, and it’s generally conceded that the order will never attain any considerable strength among the white population of the South. The hot Southern temper is at boiling point tonight, and serious trouble was only averted by the prompt action of the city authorities. The objects of the Knights’ convention, its very presence, in fact, have been forgotten in the excitement created by the action of some of its members. Although the brunt of the general clamor is borne by the delegates of District Assembly No. 49, of New York, Mr. Powderly is censured for having given that assembly an excuse for outraging public sentiment. The social line dividing the white from the colored population of Richmond is quite as distinct to-day as it was 20 years ago, and the attempt made by New York Knights to obliterate it has aroused a storm of indignation, the intensity of which cannot be appreciated except by those who are thoroughly conversant with the social conditions of the South.
There were widespread mutterings of discontent on Monday when it became known that General Master Workman Powderly was introduced to the tenth annual convention of the Knights of Labor by a colored man Frank Ferrell of New York, and that Ferrell’s introductory remarks immediately followed the address of welcome delivered by Gov. Fitzhugh Lee. The latter had no idea that such a programme had been determined upon, and Powderly had been harshly criticised for taking advantage of Gov. Lee, on the ground that he should have understood the situation. It is thoroughly understood here that in the North there would have been nothing deserving or unusual comments in the fact that white and colored men occupied the same stage at a public meeting; but it is claimed that Northern men are well aware that the social relations existing between whites and blacks in the North and South are as opposite as the poles. It is also claimed that District No. 49 was warned of the condition of affairs here by Capt. Murphy’s refusal to lodge a colored delegate at his hotel. Assembly No. 49 disregarded all warnings and its Master Workman boasted soon after his arrival that the colored delegates should fare exactly the same as his white brethren.
To make good this boast, No. 49 attended the Academy of Music last evening in a body. One man bought 80 tickets of admission, and on one of these Ferrell entered the theatre and occupied an orchestra chair. Ferrell’s presence was not known to all the patrons of the Academy, but several of those who saw him left the building and interrogated the manager. The latter at once held a consultation with several friends, who advised him to allow Ferrell to remain rather than to create a disturbance. Upon leaving the theatre the Knights boasted that the color line in Richmond had been broken, and the fact that Ferrell had occupied an orchestra chair soon became public property, and created as much excitement as if the New York colored man had committed arson. Few people blamed him, however. All the censure was leveled at his white companions, who, to make matters worse, said they would attend the Richmond Theatre tonight in a body and take Ferrell with them.
Secretary Turner was in the midst of a discussion touching this matter last night when he was tapped on the shoulder by a Richmond Knight of Labor. The Richmond Knight was accompanied by a fellow-Knight. “You are all wrong,” he said to Turner, “and the course you are pursuing will break up the Knights of Labor here. We have white and colored Knights of Labor here, and they are members of different assemblies. A colored man has all the rights of a white man here except socially. They are satisfied with things as they are, and it is not right for you to come here and tear us all to pieces.”
These utterances were indorsed by Richmond Knight No. 2 who added: “The forcing of a colored man among white people here has knocked me out of the order. When my wife heard that Northern white men had come here and lived with colored people, she said to me, ‘You must get out of the order,’ and I must.”
The hotel corridor in which the discussion was held was solidly packed with excited white citizens and Knights. Several of the former stated, in language that could not be misunderstood, that Northern Knights must not undertake to build a new social fabric during a two weeks’ visit. Early this morning it was quietly noised about that the Law and Order League had determined to show its hand, if an attempt was made to force Ferrell into the Richmond Theatre, unless he was willing to occupy the gallery devoted to the use of the colored people. The Law and Order League has a membership of over 2,000 and it was formed to protect all persons boycotted by the Knights, and is thoroughly antagonistic to the latter.
New York Times, October 7, 1886.
The workingmen of this country know no color line. They stand together shoulder to shoulder, and the black man to them is as good as any if he is a true citizen and performs his allotted task faithfully and well. The color line is fading away like the relic of the confederacy.
Harrisburg Telegraph, October 5, 1886.
Let those people who can see no good in the work of the Knights of Labor now come forward like men and allow that their action upon the color question in their Richmond convention is magnanimous, consistent, and far ahead of the age.
Lynn (Mass.) Bee, October 6, 1886.
It is well that our people should be warned in time of the new and vile use to which the Knights of Labor organization is to be put—that is to say, if the Southern Knights will consent thus to be used. Will they? We don’t believe it.
Raleigh News and Observer, October 7, 1886.
It is reported that the liberal views of the Northern delegates touching the colored members has disgusted the aristocratic workingmen of Richmond. The latter threaten to withdraw from the order. If that is their view of the cause of labor, they had better withdraw and stay out until they learn that honest labor ennobles every doer on the face of the green earth.
Philadelphia North American, October 7, 1886.
The Knights who marched to the Richmond theater with the colored delegate at their head said by their action that they had no respect for the sentiments of the people of Richmond, or of the local white Knights, so far as the social equality question is concerned. They took it upon themselves to show the Richmond Knights and the Southern delegates their contempt for Southern opposition to social recognition of colored people, and they did it in a very aggressive, not to say offensive, way. It may be well for Southern Knights to inquire whether it is the purpose of the Knights of Labor to settle social as well as labor questions.
Savannah News, October 8, 1886.
Laboring men struggling to better their condition have a common cause which binds them together in a common brotherhood. There can be no color line. They must stand or fail together, and as this becomes more generally recognized the labor question in the South will assume a new and more promising phase.
Philadelphia Press, October 8, 1886.
The decision of the assembly from New York to lodge in tents because one of their number was refused admission to the hotels was right. It would have been a curious commentary on the doctrine of brotherly love for the white men to accept accommodations from which their colored brother was debarred, and if they had chosen to stay away from the theaters because Ferrell could not be admitted with them that would have been an eminently right and proper protest, and would have had considerable weight with the managerial pocket-book. But the forcing of Ferrell into the lower part of the theater among people who did not want him was quite another matter and a move that could do no good to anybody. Race prejudices fade out slowly; they do not die of single blows in the head. These Knights do not live in Richmond; they can not follow up their effort, and when they depart they will have intensified the race prejudices of the city. The matter is, luckily, not big enough to have any lasting effect, but what influence it has works to the prejudice of the weaker race.
Springfield (Mass.) Republican, October 8, 1886, reprinted in “Knights of Labor and the Color Line,” Public Opinion, October 16, 1886.
If the Knights of Labor intend to make the social equality of the races part of their creed they will gain little strength in the South. The white working man has as little taste for that as anybody and understands very clearly that social intermixture is the first and longest step toward miscegenation, which means mongrelization.
August News (Ga.), October 9, 1886.
The moment Farrell, the colored man, made his appearance in the ranks of “District 49” the Knights were face to face with a very practical and hard-headed problem. It was certainly very loyal in the “Forty-niners” to refuse good quarters which their colored comrade could not share. Everybody appreciates that, and against this fidelity to conviction the hospitable people of Richmond has nothing to say. There was a lesson in the incident, however, which the Knights received very graciously—namely, that not even ardor in a great cause can override old prejudices or fixed customs. They must take the world as it is and not become disheartened because they can not change it in the twinkling of an eye. Therein lies the difference between a true knight and a mere anarchist. The knight, when he finds the wind dead ahead, tacks ship, going where he does not want to go, both the south and the north, but making progress eastward all the time. The anarchist, on the other hand, insists on sailing straight in the eye of the wind, and when he finds he can not do it he brings out his dynamite and wants to blow up the ship and the ocean and everything else.
New York Herald, October 12, 1886.
Yesterday afternoon Manager F. M. Castine, of the Mozart Academy, received a letter from Colonel S. B. Paul, chairman of the Finance Committee of the Mozart Association, calling attention to the violation of the contract of the lessees in permitting a colored person to occupy a seat in the body of the house last night.
The letter says the contract provides “that persons of the Caucasian race shall alone be admitted to any part of the house except the gallery, and that is clearly defined in said contract to be what your advertisements call the balcony. Under the circumstances which so unexpectedly arose last night, and in which you took the advice of the chairman of the Hall Committee, I think your action was judicious, but as they forewarn you of a systematic effort to force you to a course which would prejudice the interest you represent, in violation of contract of lease, I shall be compelled to report any recurrence of any infringement of the lease.
We exacted this condition in the lease because our membership was exclusively Caucasian; and, in providing a place where in public entertainments by our lessee persons of another race could go if they pleased, we did not exclude persons of our race who preferred their society, nor give the slightest ground of offence to any person of another race who was not ashamed of his own people.”
THE COLORED DELEGATE AT THE ST. CHARLES
Yesterday morning about 8 o’clock James Edwards, the negro Knight quartered at the St. Charles with a Baltimore delegation, came down from his room puffing a cigar, and, walking into the office, he exclaimed to some white brethren congregated there: “Have you fellows been into breakfast?” Some had and some had not, and so replied, “Well, I believe I will go and get mine,” he rejoined, and walked into the dining-room.
The table at which he sits is at the further end of the room from the door, and in front of it is a screen about as long as the table. This screen protects him from general view, but any one at the first two tables on the front side of it can see him. He is quite a black negro—about the same hue as Ferrell—and the top of his head is slightly inclined to baldness. He sits at the head of the table, and during meals he chats with his white brethren who eat with him.
MORE SOCIAL EQUALITY
Tuesday afternoon four white members of the General Assembly of the Knights, accompanied by a colored girl, got into a hack in front of the post-office and drove down Main street.
The same evening three more white Knights and two colored women—one very black and one yellow—got into a carriage on Franklin street and directed the driver to take them to town. They were last seen going up Franklin street.
Richmond (Va.,) Dispatch, October 7, 1886.
The Knights of Labor in session at Richmond, at their opening session last Monday, took Southern prejudice, arrogance and intolerance by the throat and gave it the most furious shaking it has had since the war. The occasion was the action of New York Assembly No. 49 in refusing to sanction the discrimination made against their colored fellow-member Farrell by a Richmond hotel-keeper. The honor of introducing Grand Master Workman Powderly to the Convention and the people of Richmond was assigned to Delegate Farrell, who, in doing this followed Governor Lee in a very neat speech. Mr. Powderly said the honor had been conferred upon Mr. Farrell to show that the Knights of Labor recognized neither the race nor the color of its membership, but that all were brothers possessing equal rights and privileges. The Bourbons of the South may rage to their hearts’ content, but the fact remains that there is one great organization in the land which recognizes the brotherhood of all men and has the courage to practice what it teaches, even within earshot of the infamously famous Libby Prison. It is written on the wall: Such high-handed conduct and language as are used and sanctioned by the Richmond State and the Norfolk Virginian, produced elsewhere in this issue, are doomed! And Southern prejudice and intolerance will yet be made to eat grass like an ox.
New York Freeman, October 9, 1886.
Richmond, Ind. Oct. 4, 1886.
Mr T V Powderly K of L In session
Accept my humble thanks and congratulations for the dignified stand you have taken on behalf of equal and exact justice for my race especially as shown by post 49
J. M. Townsend, Colored.
Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America.
October 6, 1886.
I cannot believe that our colored brothers will be set up by our grand order as our social equals . . . when the social problems come in, public sympathy is to be emphatically against it for our order to hold up its head this side of Mason and Dixon line.
Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America.
October 13th, 1886
Since you have changed from a Knight of Labor advocate to a nigger social equality man I hereby denounce you as a low, vulgar buffoon than whom there is none more contemptable. A decent nigger should shun you and if you have a daughter she should be taken from you else you may marry here to a nigger. The low Irish will come out. Yr’s in contempt
James Hirst—now and henceforth an ex-Knight of Labor.
Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America.
Fort Worth, October 15, 1886.
Dear Sir & Bro.
Your letter on the color line question meets the approval of the colored people in this part of the south and this part of the state as far as heard from by those who do not belong to the organization and has help our cause here a great deal. A good organizer and lectur in this part of the country would increase the membership amonge the colored in this state and adjoining states supprisingly. Of course the prejudice in the south amonge the majority of the white laborers is quite stronge against the negro, some places in this state the white assembly will not admit the negro in the pass word travelling card test or anythinge else, this has given the week kneed negro a good chance to leave the order, and those not members to fight it, thereby in my opinion standing in there own light, I am glad to see the proposed plan by which the colored knights will be benefitted by difusing amonge them a knolledge of the true situation of there surroundings. I have been a faithful member since June 28th 85 I am highly pleased with its principles.
Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America.
Montgomery, Alabama, October 16, 1886.
. . . there is only one way for you to find out what a nigger is, that is to come south and stay 3 months, and Montgomery is a good place to come, where the population is about equal. In the north, Mr. Powderly, one white girl does all the work for a family of five or six people, while you have to hire 3 to do the same work. A colored girl that cooks wont wash, and one that washes wont do the house work. There wages will come to about 25 00 if you think any thing I have written here is not so there is but one way to find out the truth, come south and see for yourself. You will also see why the Races ought to be seperated at public places. If you was sat down amonst several of them at a theatre or table you would get up and leave for I tell you as a rule 99 out of a hundred have a smell when they get heated up that is sickening it is a great deal better to keep them seperate at schools also, it is dangerous to put them together for many Reasons, The writer of this was born and lived all his life in the north except the last 10 years which I have lived here, and I believe the laboring man here gets along better than in the north they have less clothes and fuel to buy and can work the year Round and between the whites and blacks there is no trouble. The colored people have Fire and military companies, civic societies, and many other things of that kind here, and are never interfered with, and are treated just as good as any people in the north are treated.
Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America.
Little Rock Ark Oct 19 1886.
T V Powderly,
The negro press association now in session hail with joy the dispatches of the morning containing action of Knights of Labor convention now in session at Richmond in adopting resolution in regard to admission of colored apprentices in work shops and factories of the country on Equal footing with white apprentices
E. C. Morris, J. H. Garnett, M. W. Gibbs, J. T. Bailey—Committee.
Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America.
Robeson Co., N.C., October 26, 1886.
Dear Sir haven read a good deal in Regard to the Knights of labor and thinking it to be the best organasion in existance compells me to write to you for information and to see if you would grant us a lodge and with what condsion and so on please write me soon as you get this all a bought it your friend white.
A. D. Hall
P.S. can get plentey of signers both blacks and white.
Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America.
The membership of labor organizations in Virginia is steadily increasing, and it bodes no good to the political aristocracy of that State, which has no sympathy for the workingman, and which seeks to perpetuate its political control by appeals to race prejudice. The angry demonstration at Richmond was not misunderstood by the Northern Knights, and it opened their eyes to the true condition of affairs in the South as nothing else could have done. The white political leaders in the South are hostile to all labor organizations, but they will be forced to yield. They will be made to understand, too, that a colored Knight of Labor must be placed on equal terms with a Knight of Labor who is white, so far as wages and political rights are concerned, of course with the qualification that the former is as skillful and efficient as the latter.
New York Tribune, October 10, 1886.
When the Knights’ General Assembly convened at 9 o’clock yesterday morning the Committee on Credentials, which had been engaged until a late hour the night before considering the St. Louis case, submitted a report in favor of seating all six of the delegates from that city. This case involved a question of great importance to the Assembly, and the recommendation to seat all of the St. Louis delegates provoked a heated discussion, which lasted for more than an hour, when the report was adopted and all six of the delegates accorded seats.
The remainder of the morning session, Mr. Powderly said, was consumed in giving out badges to the delegates. The badges are all alike, and are very neat and attractive in appearance. Each bears a number, beginning with No. 1 and going up to the highest, which is the total number of delegates present. All of the delegates have not yet received their badges, and consequently the exact number is not yet known, the Credentials Committee not having made a final report. The number of Mr. Powderly’s badge is 555.
ALL THE ST. LOUIS DELEGATES SEATED
The Assembly adjourned for the dinner recess at 12 o’clock, but Mr. Powderly and other members of the Executive Board were detained at the hall for some time, so that it was nearly 1 o’clock when the grand master workman reached the veranda of Ford’s Hotel, where a number of representatives of the press were waiting to receive their small quota of information. When Mr. Powderly had entered the hotel he was asked what had been done, to which he replied that the report of the Committee on Credentials had been completed and adopted, and that the remainder of the session had been occupied in issuing badges to those who called and were entitled to them.
Which delegates from St. Louis were seated? was asked.
All of them were, he replied.
Who are the delegates from there?
There are six of them, but I do not remember their names.
What was the nature of the contest there?
There was no contest. The trouble was that some of the delegates were elected by a convention or meeting, properly called and held at the time for which it was called, and that there was some informality in the election of some of the others; also, that some of the delegates elected had not been, it was alleged, members of the District from whey they were elected for the length of time required by the laws of the order which entitle a member to be elected a delegate.
Yes, that’s the idea. There were only six from that city, and all of them were seated.
How about the Heep delegation?
I know nothing of any such delegation. There is one delegate in the number named Heep, but he is on both sides and there is no contest about his seat.
ANOTHER VERSION OF THE CASE
Since the above was written the following explanation of the St. Louis contest has been made to a Dispatch reporter, which is endorsed by several delegates, and which is doubtless correct; two elections of delegates were held in St. Louis, each of which was considered illegal. The third election was ordered, and it was claimed that the hour fixed for this one was 8 o’clock P.M., but that, without proper authority, and without the majority of the members being informed of the fact, the meeting was held an hour earlier, and six delegates elected. When the hour of 8 o’clock arrived the members who were on hand ready for business were informed of what had been done. They acting on the theory that the 7 o’clock election was irregular and disregarding what had been done they proceeded to the election of six more delegates. Of the six chosen at this meeting three were the same as had been selected at the one held an hour earlier—consequently, the contest was over only three delegates. The second report of the Committee on Credentials like the first one recommended seating all six of the delegates chosen at the 8 o’clock meeting. After the first report had been made the committee was increased by the addition of three members, the matter was recommitted to the committee, reconsidered, and reported as at first. The report of the committee was adopted, and the six delegates elected at the 8 o’clock meeting three of whom were also elected at the 7 o’clock meeting, were seated. So the other three elected then have to return home.
The Convention, after a recess of two hours, reassembled soon after 2 P.M., and did not adjourn for the evening until 6:30—a half hour after the usual time. Hitherto Mr. Powderly had been meeting the representatives of the press on his way into supper, and furnishing the matter which he desired to give for publication, but last night he decided not to meet them until 8:30 o’clock. Hereafter he will meet them in the reading-room of Ford’s Hotel at 7:30 o’clock, or as soon thereafter as other engagements will permit. This is done because of the fact that when Mr. Powderly gets to the hotel after the afternoon session there are many persons who wish to see him, and his supper is ready, so that altogether he has had to furnish the “news” in a very hurried manner. By the change Mr. Powderly will have much more time to give to this, and the reports will doubtless be much more satisfactory, both to the delegates and the public, than they have been.
A PRACTICAL JOKE
At 8:30 o’clock the knights of the quill were in full attendance awaiting the appearance of Mr. Powderly, anxious to learn what had been done in the secret meeting of the Assembly. He was slow putting in an appearance, so a scheme was concocted by which an audience could be had. One of the maids was dispatched to his room with the message that the reporters desired a conference with him. Before the message reached him, by the interference of some one it was made to appear that one of the clerks desired to see him at the office at once on imperative business. Mr. Powderly responded promptly, and seemed much amused when he learned what a practical joke had been perpetrated on him. He endeavored to ascertain who had intercepted the messenger and caused the message to be changed, and to this end suggested that a committee of one is appointed to ascertain and report as to who was the guilty party, but to no avail.
THE HOME CLUB
When the newspapermen had congregated around a table in the reading-room, some with seats and other unable to get them, Mr. Powderly proceeded to furnish them with those proceedings of the Assembly which he could make public without violating the obligations resting upon him. He said in the offset that there were many things which he was not at liberty to make public, and that if by inquiring around the reporters could gain information that ought not to be given out, the ones who violate their pledge of secrecy must be held responsible and not he. He said that the committee appointed at the Cleveland Convention to report upon the charges preferred against the Home Club submitted their report, which was adopted. The charges preferred against the Home Club were in effect that it was conspiring to control the principal offices of the organization. The committee appointed to investigate these charges was given the power to send for persons and papers to take testimony, &c. Mr. Powderly said that he could not give out what was in the report; that although it had been acted upon it was still the property of the committee, and could not be given out except by them. It is understood that most of the members of the committee are Home Club men, and that the report was in their favor.
CHILD-EDUCATION FEATURES OF MR. POWDERLY’S ADDRESS
Mr. Powderly’s address, which was published last Wednesday, was read. In addition to what had been printed, Mr. Powderly had a little to say, which he stated, was of no great public interest. The following, contained in that paper, which relates to the education of American children, was referred to a special committee with instructions to report to the General Assembly some plan by which the American people may be educated for good businessmen and women:
The thirteenth article in our declaration of principles reads: “The prohibition, by law, of the employment of children under fifteen years of age in workshops, mines, and factories.” The end sought for in carrying this declaration into effect is not that the child may live in idleness; it is not that more adults may be employed. It is that the child of the poor man may be enabled to acquire an education to equip him for the duties which will in future fall upon him as man and citizen. We cannot afford to pass this question by and legislate on some simple question of trade discipline. The question of child-labor and education is the most important that can come before us now or any other time. With an education, all things are easy of accomplishment; without it hope itself almost dies, and liberty is a farce.
In our organization of labor, and it has been so from the beginning, we take up the work of reform when the subject has advanced in years—the new member must be sixteen years before we admit him. We attempt to drive from his mind the false ideas gathered in from the workshops, or, possibly, the street-corner. His habits are formed, and the work that should have been begun at seven years we take up at twenty or later on in life. To attempt to settle so intricate a question as the one we are grappling with, or to successfully solve the question, is a task so difficult that I do not wonder that men drop out of the ranks of labor organizations discouraged and hopeless. To make the necessary progress we must begin with the child, and see to it that he has education. If the principles of the Knights of Labor are right, and few men question them, we should teach them to the young. It should be a part of the duty of every Assembly to ascertain the number of children who do not attend school in its vicinity, learn what the causes are, and take steps to have them attend school.
The sword may strike the shackles from the limbs of the slave, but it is education and organization that make of him a free man. He is still a slave whose limbs alone have been freed.
Of what avail is it to say that we are laboring to establish a system of cooperation when that which is most essential to the success of cooperation is lacking? A business training is necessary to successfully carry on a cooperative enterprise. If the management of the large or small concerns in operation in this country were turned over to us today, we would but run them in the ground, for we lack the business training necessary to successfully operate them. Our vanity may prevent us from acknowledging this to be true, but we cannot deny it. It is through no fault of ours that it is true, but if it continues it will be our fault.
The following committees were appointed: Laws, nine members; Appeals and Grievances, eleven members; State of the Order, nine members. There was also appointed a Committee on Distribution to look over the resolutions, &c, introduced, and to mark and refer them to the proper committees without discussion. This relieves the presiding officer of the trouble of examining all of these papers to determine to what committees they should be referred. The other committees will be appointed today.
MUST BE ALLOWED TO VOTE
A motion was adopted providing that a special committee of five be appointed to send telegrams to Providence, R.I., and to the District of Columbia in reference to the people there not being permitted to exercise the right of suffrage. In the former place a person before being allowed to vote must own $134, and in the latter they are not allowed to vote at all. Their officers are all appointed by the President. The object of this is to carry out the intent of the resolution adopted by the Cleveland Convention. The committee will be appointed today. The exact nature of the telegram which will be sent is not yet known.
KNEW NOTHING ABOUT IT
Mr. Powderly’s attention was called to the following paragraph which appeared in the telegraphic column of the papers yesterday and asked about its being correct:
MONTREAL, October 7.—The constitution of the Knights of Labor has been revised by the members of the clergy of this city, under the auspices of Archbishop Fabre, with the object of expunging provisions contrary to the rules of the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Powderly, the general master workman, when here promised the Archbishop to support the passage of the amendments before the annual Convention. Two delegates from the Knights of Labor organization have left to attend the Convention in Richmond, Va., and have taken the revised constitution with them. It is stated that the Archbishop delayed action until the present time because of the assembling of the Richmond Convention.
After reading it he said: If that is so I know nothing about it.
ONLY A SOCIAL CALL
Mr. Powderly was told that it had been stated that he called on Bishop Keane a few days ago and had an interview with him concerning Catholics joining the order and asked if such was the case. He said this statement was entirely erroneous; that he paid the Bishop a social call, as he always does when he stops where a bishop lives, whether attending a convention or not. In answer to further questions, Mr. Powderly said that nothing passed between the Bishop and himself with reference to the question of social equality, but that they spent a half hour in pleasant conversation on general topics.
The report of Mr. Frederick W. Turner, general secretary and treasurer, will be submitted this morning. It has not been customary heretofore to furnish this report for publication, and it will hardly be done this time. At the Cleveland Convention the report was gotton hold of by someone without the permission of the officers of the Convention, and was printed in the newspapers all over the country. Seven hundred and ten delegates are in attendance, and forty-five more have reported, but have not arrived yet.
POWDERLY ON SOCIAL EQUALITY
Before leaving the newspapermen last night, Mr. Powderly said that if he could get time before going to sleep he would write a letter, to be published over his own signature, on the “social-equality” question, and that if he did not get time last night he would do so this morning. He promised to have it ready and to give it out tonight to be published in the morning papers. Mr. Powderly said that many conflicting reports had been sent out concerning the social-equality question, all of which were incorrect, and that to furnish the public with the true position and sentiment of the General Assembly on this subject he would have to pursue this course and discharge what he conceived to be his duty. He said that it might be bad stuff, but that he felt it to be his duty to speak plainly on the subject, and he intended to do it.
Mr. Powderly yesterday sent the following telegrams in reply to ones which he had received:
Richmond, Va., October 8th.
J. J. McGuire, Cleveland, O.:
The General Assembly of the Knights of Labor receive with kindly spirits the fraternal greeting extended by the Brotherhood of Carpenters’ Association, and extends the right hand of fellowship in the labor movement.
T. V. POWDERLY
William Wright, Pittsburg, Pa.:
The General Assembly of the Knights of Labor received in a fraternal spirit the kindly words of cheer sent by the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel-Workers and join with them in praying for the day when labor will be massed into one solid body on the side of suffering humanity.
T. V. POWDERLY
In the Assembly yesterday a colored delegate from the South got up to deny that the social-equality question had been discussed in that body. He then took occasion to deplore and deprecate the course of No. 49 in stirring up the race issue here, saying that it could but work harm to the negro. The colored people of the South, said he, understand and appreciate the situation, and don’t want the question agitated.
One of the lady members of the Assembly is the district workman of Chicago, and she is said to be one of the best-informed labor leaders in the United States.
The Assembly have had the size of the Armory reduced by putting up cloth partitions. This was done to better the acoustics and to keep outsiders from seeing in there.
Many of the visiting delegates are debilitated, as they think, from change of water.
The Assembly will not sit Monday, and only a part of Tuesday; Monday is the day of the parade; Tuesday night there will be a concert in the Armory, and the Knights have consented to vacate the hall after 1 P.M.
Foster, of Massachusetts, is regarded as the most eloquent delegate.
The youngest delegate on the floor of the Convention is the three-months’ old child of Mrs. Elizabeth Rogers, master workman of District Assembly 24, of Chicago. When the badges were distributed it received one also, the number of which was 860, the highest one made.
Mr. Powderly said last night that the election of officers would be about the last thing done by the General Assembly.
THE AMSTERDAM SPINNERS
During his conference with the newspapermen Mr. Powderly was asked if the Assembly had not on Thursday endorsed the Amsterdam (N.Y.) strikers. He replied that the Assembly had not endorsed any strike or lockout, but had decided to support the men who are on a lockout at Augusta, Ga., and other places. He said further that strikes were only endorsed by the Executive Board, not by the Assembly. It is stated that on Thursday the salient features of the strike of the spinners at this point were presented in a report by delegates from the Amsterdam district, after which there was a discussion as to the proper steps to be taken. Some thought it only necessary to refer the matter to the Board, while others insisted on some kind of expression from the Convention as a body. It is further understood that the matter was referred to the Executive Board for formal action, and that the Convention showed itself in sympathy with the strikers, and voted to stand by and assist them.
THE FERRELL CASE
The newspapers throughout the country have generally commented on the appearance of Ferrell at the Academy of Music, and while some of the most rabid Republican journals have applauded the course of District No. 49, the predominant sentiment is against the whole thing as in exceedingly bad taste and hurtful to the order.
There is comment also on the fact that Mr. Powderly, following upon the pleasant speech of welcome of Governor Lee, permitted himself to be introduced to the Assembly by Ferrell, who at once proceeded to discuss the color-line question.
AIN’T YOU ASHAMED
A postal card was received by one of the members of District 49 at their headquarters yesterday, from a prominent brother Knight in Philadelphia, saying: “Ain’t you fellows ashamed of yourselves for insulting the people of Richmond, whose guests you are? You are doing injury to the order and heaping disgrace upon yourself.”
THE PARADE MONDAY—LINE OF MARCH, &C.
Mr. L. L. Lynch, chief marshal of the parade of the Knights next Monday, wishes all assemblies of trade organizations of this city of Manchester and visiting organizations and assemblies who expect to take part in the parade, to meet as follows:
All assemblies and organizations west of Tenth street meet at the corner of Fourth and Broad streets—colored on north side, white on south side.
All assemblies east of Tenth street meet on the corner of Eighteenth and Main streets—colored on north side, white on south side, at 8 o’clock sharp.
All local master workmen and officers will wear a white rosette.
The aids to the Chief Marshal a blue sash.
The Chief Marshals a sash of lilac, blue, and white.
Marshals and aids will assemble at Armory committee room, Seventh and Marshall streets at 7 o’clock A.M., sharp.
The column will be formed at the head of Fourth and Broad streets, and march down Broad to Nineteenth, down Nineteenth to Main, up Main to Fifth, up Fifth to Franklin, and thence to Laurel street and out to the Fair Grounds.
MARSHALS AND AIDS
The following are the marshals of the parade; Messrs. L. L. Lynch, R. E. Jones, John T. Chappell, and Isaiah Peterford.
The aids are: Messrs. G. E. Conway, S. H. Dismond, J. D. Wade, J. H. Barrett, Colonel D. E. De Clay, Lewis Stewart, Charles De Voto, and Robert Taylor.
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS NUGGETS OF NEWS TELEGRAPHED ABOUT THE KNIGHTS’ PROCEEDINGS
While most of the members of the General Assembly imagine that they are sitting “in secret session” the press reporters and special correspondents here are getting almost all the news they want. The Boston men gather up and telegraph to the Boston journals what is of most interest to the people of that vicinity; the New York men do the same for New York; the Philadelphia men the same for Philadelphia, and the Dispatch flatters itself that very little of general interest to the citizens of Richmond escapes it representatives. While Mr. Powderly is giving out scanty and attenuated reports, there are people in the hall—delegates, it is believed—who are telegraphing the proceedings from this city, and there are others supplying news to correspondents. So in one way or another it all leaks out, but sometimes in quite a tangled shape. If the United States Senate, with about seventy-five members, can’t keep their secrets, it is a hopeless undertaking for a convention of eight hundred. The Assembly is managing this part of its business miserably bad. A far better plan than they are now pursuing would be for Mr. Powderly to appoint one of his eight hundred delegates as reporter, and let that reporter furnish the press with a two-column report of proceedings every day. That would kill off speculation and be far more satisfactory, to the delegates at least, than the present “open secret” session. From a great mass of matter sent from Richmond—most of it of no earthly interest to our people—the following readable extracts from reports of special telegraphic correspondents are taken:
A conservative and influential citizen of Richmond, discussing the social equality matter tonight, said: “As long as these members of the Convention chose to sleep and eat with negroes, we did not care—that was their own affair; but when they propose to dictate to us how we shall govern our local affairs, we feel it time to call a halt. At the North there is not a lodge of Masons into which a negro will be allowed to enter. White members of that order in the South could with as much propriety carry a negro Mason into a northern lodge as can these white Knights of Labor carry a negro into the orchestra of our theatres. Why is the negro Mason denied admission into the northern lodge, if not because of his color? The negro Masons in the United States hold their charter from the English Masons, as do the white Masons in the United States. New York and Massachusetts lodges have been the most persistent in their refusal to admit colored Masons into their lodges, and yet a party of New Yorkers undertake to force a social equality upon us that they do not practice themselves.”
POWDERLY ENDORSES NO. 49
[Pittsburgh Dispatch, 7th.]
. . . But the greatest blow to the enemies of the Home Club was yet to come. In the midst of the mélée, when crimination and recrimination raged hottest, and when all the damaging lies and truths ever alleged against the Home Club had been rehashed and reembellished, the calm voice of the general master workman hushed the confusion. Deliberately, but forcibly and with feeling, Mr. Powderly put the seal of his condemnation on the abuse that had been heaped on District 49; defended it from the ridiculous slanders that had been circulated in regard to it, and expressed general approval of its course, his admiration for its energy in the cause of oppressed labor and its chanpionship of the victims of race prejudice. It is not putting it too strong to say that his speech was virtually a thorough endorsement of the leaders of District Assembly 49. It was decidely quieting to anti-Home Clubbers, and was received with general applause.
Mr. Powderly’s attitude is a subject of much gossip on the quiet, and it is, of course, asserted by the most uncompromising opponents of District 49 that he has been captured, body and breeches, by the Home Club. The truth is, the Home Club is right, and Powderly simply espouses on the side of the right. He would not see an injustice done on account of an antagonism that could give no reason for its own existence. I don’t like to talk so much about the Home Club, but the atmosphere is so full of it that I can’t get away from it.
A SHOCKING RUMOR
[New York Times.]
The color line as a matter of contention between the Knights of Labor and the white citizens of Richmond has been quietly buried. The Knights found the question a dangerous one to handle, and dropped it after receiving considerable damage. Their attitude has proved a disadvantage to them, even among the colored people, who apparently are not overwhelmed with respect for white men who are willing to consort with colored. The colored man here seemingly entertains the same views on the question of social equality as his white brother, and he does not appear at all willing that the situation should be turned upside down by Knights of Labor possessed of so little discretion and good taste as some of the members of District Assembly No. 49. The local papers are still indignant, but the people at large are satisfied that the trouble is over, and pay little attention to the rumors of further disturbance. The most shocking of these was a story that Mr. Powderly and New York’s colored delegate would attend the Theatre this evening. The story naturally made the General Master Workman angry, and he said with a good deal of emphasis tonight that he had never contemplated such a move. He also said that Ferrell had promised him that he would not attend a theatre in Richmond while the Knights are here. Mr. Powderly has been made aware that Catholics and Protestants are a unit on the social equality question.
[New York World.]
While the Committee on Credentials were out, the rules were suspended and some important business was transacted. The General Executive Board was authorized to use such amounts of money as it was deemed best to relieve certain members who were in distress in different places. The most important was the Southwest strikers. The locals wanted $12,000 to relieve the men who had been “victimized” by the railroad officials, and the money will be sent at once. A delegate from Massachusetts asked that help be immediately sent to the curriers and tanners of Peabody and Salem, Mass., and the request was complied with.
Then a young woman from Augusta, Ga., explained how a strike, followed by a lockout, occurred in a cotton mill at that place, and requested that the matter be arbitrated. A telegram was at once ordered to be sent to the proprietors of the mill, asking that the hands be put back as they were before the strike and that the trouble be settled immediately on the conclusion of the General Assembly.
[Mr. Powderly said last night that there was no truth at all as to this $12,000. He stated that $100,000 had been raised for the Southwest strike sometime ago; that since that time the membership of the order in District 101 has increased 2,000, and that they have five delegates in the General Assembly here, indicating a present membership of 5,000. He says further that they are not all in need of funds and do not ask for help.]
DISTRICT 49 AND THE COLOR-LINE
[New York Herald.]
It was learned at dinner that District 49 had kept remarkably quiet during the morning session. The “Forty-niners” are well pleased at the rejection of the Brooklyn delegates, as there is no love between them. There is quite a feeling against 49 on account of the excitement caused last night at the Richmond Theatre. T. B. McGuire says he did not intend to take the colored delegate there, but people think he changed his mind when he saw the trouble such action would create. There would have been trouble if 49 had tried to force Ferrell into the Theatre.
The citizens are very indignant over the matter, and the Richmond papers contain letters from various people denouncing 49’s action. The delegates of 49 receive daily instructions not to talk to representatives of the press, but a few of them are complaining of the accommodations they receive because they stand by the colored brother. One of them remarked today that he believed in principle, but he could not stand it much longer if principle compelled him to sleep in a room with four men on a bed as hard as a board and inhale the odor at colored receptions. It is unnecessary to say that this gentleman has not communicated his views to Master Workman McGuire, for Thomas loves the colored man.
Richmond Dispatch, October 1886.
The evenings are spent in an everlasting flow of talk, not on the great principles of the order, not on the importance of legislation looking toward bettering the condition of those who toil, but as to which of the two cliques shall control the organization—namely, the Home Club or radical element, or the trades unions of conservative element. As the expenses of the delegates are paid, and in most cases a per diem allowed equivalent to their wages by the local assemblies, there is no certainty that another week may not be frittered away before the organization is completed.
Mr. Powderly, if I may judge from what representatives of both the elements say of him, has so trimmed his sails that his election is sure whichever side comes out uppermost. He patted Assembly 49 on the back in recognizing the colored delegate Ferrell, and he has soothed the lacerated feelings of the trade unions by admitting in his address that “some of our organizers have been so zealous in their way of organizing that they have encroached upon the prerogatives of other associations.” He has won the applause of the dangerous elements by not denouncing the boycott, and appealed to the conservatives by his attitude on the eight-hour system and his denunciation of the Southwestern strike. Finally, in releasing instructed delegates from obligation to vote for him, he has dramatically announced confidence in his own election and brought to his side any doubtful members who are likely to follow the fortunes of the winning candidate.
SECRETARY TURNER’S PROSPECTS
Of Turner, the worthy secretary, there are serious doubts, and if the representatives of the New York press were doing the voting he would certainly stand no show. He is said to stand in with the Home Club, “to sympathize with Assembly 49, and to be guilty of other high crimes too numerous to mention.” And, moreover, he is charged with being a dull man and a mere mouthpiece of Powderly. I know but little of Turner personally, but he strikes me as a plodding man, good at details, not very enthusiastic, and anxious to make a comfortable living without too much exertion. He certainly has not the appearance of a man with sufficient snap in him to lead a mob to destroy factories and workshops, as some try to make him out. It is to be feared that many of the stories about Turner and the Home Club emanate from his energetic and breezy opponent, Buchanan, of Colorado. This young man has sensibly ingratiated himself into the confidence of the representtives of some of the leading journals here and in consequence is much more popular in the newspapers than Turner, who is a good deal of a slow coach anyhow, and is often gruff and even rude to reporters. It may be truly said that Buchanan is working on the outside for the secretaryship and Turner on the inside. Buchanan says to his faithful corps of reporters that Turner’s success means the Home Club and groans, while his own success means the triumph of conservative principles, the methods of trades unions, the downfall of Brother Buchanan the—the miniature Powderly”—the elevation of the or tor and strategist, McNeill, of Massachusetts, and cheers; and from Buchanan’s standpoint I suppose he is more than half right. It will thus be seen that the scare about the “Home Club” is being used, in all sorts of ways. The skillful manipulators of the order try to influence public opinion on the outside that it may indirectly have effect upon the election of officers or the admission of delegates. Hence the refusal to seat Morrison—particulars of which will be found in the detailed reports of the Convention telegraphed from here tonight—is construed into a Home Club victory, and the seating of some other delegates into a victory for Buchanan and his great conservative wing. There is nothing in all this except the jealousy of men seeking preferment in the order.
BLOTS UPON THE KNIGHTS’ ESCUTCHEON
The most scandalous charges have been made by members, such as these contained in the “little red book” mentioned in my Tuesdays’ dispatch, against the order, utterly regardless of the fact that the authors criminated themselves in their so-called confessions. That members thus willing to sink manhood for the sake of controlling the organization should not be drummed out of the order is indeed a stigma upon the Knights of Labor. For example, the man who said he was in a conspiracy to blow up an Albany stove factory and to introduce the small-pox among non-union men. Is a wretch like that (supposing he is not insane) a fit man for a Knight of Labor? Look at him in either the light of a conspirator or a liar, and he is equally contemptible. Drum him out and all others of the same class. It is about time something was done with these writers of circulars and red books, or else the public will feel justified in believing some of the infamous stories which these Knights of Labor themselves get inserted in the public prints are true, or that wholesale and wicked lying on the part of Knights against Knights is permitted and endorsed, and it is also about time the Convention began work.
The only entertainment so far afforded the visiting Knights was the eloquent and impressive speech of Governor Lee. The city of Richmond has not so much as loaned a flag to decorate the hall. The poor hotels of the place, when they did not turn their guests away, have squeezed an extra half-dollar a day out of them whenever it was possible, and the spirit of make-all-you-can-get-out-of-strangers has even extended to the newsboys, who charge visitors five cents right along for a two-cent paper. The only hospitality that has been shown to the Knights was that by their own brethren, and the money subscribed for the purpose by the colored Knights exceeded that subscribed by the whites. Really on the hospitality question honors would seem to be easy. The Knights are certainly paying their way.
A MERCENARY KNIGHT
One of the enterprising and mercenary Knights is selling a verbatim report of the secret meetings of the Convention to a prominent journal. General Master Powderly denounced this man today as a traitor to the order, and publicly informed the assembled newspaper-men that he (the Knight) had violated his obligation as such and was liable to be expelled. The whole affair is productive of merriment, for the secret sessions, like the executive sessions of the Senate (which these workingmen oppose so bitterly) are the merest farce. All the newspapers and the Associated Press substantially get what transpires, and the public are simply spared the dry details.
Richmond Dispatch, October 9, 1886.
Whereas: The same feelings and damnable traits that actuated the white southerner during the days of slavery seem to exist throughout the south in general and the city of Richmond especially, the hot bed of the late confederacy, which caused the poor slave to shudder with fear and his white sympathiser to stand trembling, and whereas their late action toward the colored delegate to the Knights of Labor Convention is characteristic of their treatment and their abhorrence of the negro.
Be it resolved: That the action of the Knights of Labor in Convention assembled, and their Grand Master Workman Mr. Powderly and of Assembly No. 49 in particular, deserve the plaudits of all mankind who believe in the fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, and most especially the unstinted praises of the colored Americans of the United States for the manly stand taken in behalf of the fellow-member Mr. Ferrell of Assembly No. 49.
Resolved: That the Equal Rights League of Columbus, Ohio, at their meeting held on the 11th of October send congratulations and best wishes to the Knights of Labor in Convention assembled in the city of Richmond, and wish them success in their labors for the uplifting of humanity.
Resolved: That a copy of these resolutions be engrossed and forwarded to Mr. Powderly at Richmond, Va. and a copy to Assembly No. 49. Also spread upon the minutes of the League.
JAMES POINDEXTER, President, Equal Rights League
Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America.
Whereas, Seeing the position taken by our G.M.W.T.V. Powderly and D.A. 49 of New York, and the whole of the G. A. assembled at Richmond, Va., in the heart of the Southern Confederacy, with reference to our race; and seeing the disposition manifested by our white brethren to elevate us and especially our downtrodden brethren in the South; therefore be it
Resolved, That we, as members of L. A. 1935, K of L, renew our obligations to the Order and pledge ourselves to do all in power to swell the number of our ranks, and declare that we will never relinquish our work until the bulk of our brethren in city, town, County and State are brought within the folds of our noble Order.
Cleveland Gazette, November 13, 1886.
NO TROUBLE ABOUT THE K. OF L. ON RICHMOND’S FESTAL DAY
RICHMOND, October 11.—This has certainly been an off day, so far as the business of the convention is concerned. Nearly every committee that is organized held a meeting, but very little work was accomplished. The feature of the parade was the spectacle of District 49 in the post of honor. Two white and two colored marshals rode in front. Maguire, of the Home Club, officered his men in fine style, and they marched with the care and precision of regulars. Ferrell, the colored delegate, was in the front rank. The citizens accepted the situation quite graciously, considering the excitement of the last few days on the social equality issue.
The colored Knights of Richmond were well represented, and as they marched along the street, constantly cheered for Mullen and District 49.
Pittsburgh Dispatch, October 12, 1886.
THE GENERAL MASTER WORKMAN WRITES AN IMPORTANT LETTER TO THE PUBLIC
RICHMOND, October 11.—In consequence of questions which have been raised by the presence of Ferrell and other colored delegates to the General Assembly Mr. Powderly has written the following letter:
Richmond, Va. October 11.
Much has been said and written concerning the events which have transpired in the city of Richmond and during the past 10 days. . . . Will my critics stop long enough to tell me why the United States Senate allowed a colored man to introduce before the Vice President of the United States measures for the benefit of the State? Were the laws of social equality outraged when the House of Representatives permitted colored men to take seats in it? Why did not other Southern Representatives leave and return to their homes when that was done? There need be no further cause for alarm; the colored representatives to this convention will not intrude where they are not wanted, and the time-honored laws of social equality will be allowed to slumber along undisturbed. We have not done anything since coming to this city that is not countenanced by the laws and constitution of our country, and, in deference to the wishes of those who regard the laws of social equalit as superior to the laws of God and man, we will not, while here, avail ourselves of all of those rights and privileges which belong to us. The equality of American citizenship is all that we insist on, and that equality must not be trampled upon.
Now, a word as to hospitality. We are here under no invitation from any one. We came of our own free will and accord, and are paying our own way; therefore, such gratuitous insults as those offered by a few mischievous meddlers are not in order, and do not admit of defense, even though given in behalf of the laws of social equality. I do not hold the people of Richmond responsible for the ill action of a few who SAW A MENACE in our every action. The treatment received at the hands of the citizens generally has been most cordial. If, during our stay, any representative shall conduct himself in an unbecoming manner, he alone will be held responsible for his action. To the convention I say, let no member surrender an iota of intellectual freedom, because of any clamor. Hold fast to that which is true and right. The triumph of poise over reason is but transient. Our principles will be better known, if not to-day, it may be to-morrow. They can bide their time, and will some day have the world for an audience. In the field of labor, and American citizenship, we recognize no line of race, creed, politics or color.
The demagogue may distort, for a purpose, the words of others, and, for a time, the noise of the vocal boss may silence reason; but that which is right and true will become known when the former has passed to rest and the ground of the latter’s voice has forever died away. Then it will be known that the intelligent educated man is better qualified to discern the difference between right and privilege, and the unwritten law of social equality will be more rigidly observed than it is to-day.
T. V. POWDERLY.
Pittsburgh Dispatch, October 12, 1886.
A BUREAU OF COLORED KNIGHTS FORMED, TO PLAN FOR THE RIGHTS OF THEIR RACE
RICHMOND, October 14.—Mr. Powderly held a conference at Ford’s Hotel last night with 15 or 16 colored delegates to the General Assembly. They represent the colored assemblies of Knights of Labor of Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and other Southern States. The object of the conference was the formation of a Bureau of Colored Knights throughout the Southern States, for the purpose of procuring accurate statistics relative to the condition of the colored people and their relation to white laborers, whenever they are employed together. These statistics are to comprise everything in connection with the hours of labor, the treatment they receive from their employer, their wages, cost of living, etc. It is purposed to learn whether they receive the full liberty and rights to which they are legally entitled.
But Mr. Powderly said, in speaking of the conference and its object, the question of social equality is not one of the objects of the bureau. Its object is to stimulate the colored people to work for their own elevation. The delegates he met were bright, intelligent men, who seemed well fitted to aid in improving the condition of their race. It was decided to elect a chairman and secretary and have assistants in each of the Southern States.
Pittsburgh Dispatch, October 15, 1886.
SUPERIOR TO SCOFFERS
Cultivated Colored People of Richmond Tender a Banquet to Home Clubbers
RICHMOND, October 14.—The colored people of Richmond gave a complimentary banquet this evening to the delegates of District 49, which was one of the most interesting episodes of the session. Two tables, stretched the length of Harris Hall, were crowded with delegates and guests. Whites and blacks were about even in numbers, and they were seated without reference to color. Among the white ladies present were three of the cleverest delegates to the assembly, Misses Henapin and Stirling of Philadelphia, and Miss Lee, of Minnesota. The master of ceremonies was Dr. Ferguson, a physician of high reputation, and nearly white. An address of welcome, excellent in compositio was read by Colonel Wilson, a mulatto; a response was made by J. C. Farley, a colored photographer, and a really eloquent speech was delivered by a young attorney named Scott, who is quite black.
All of these speakers disclaimed any desire on the part of the colored race to compel recognition as social equals. The only social equality that had ever existed was thrust on them by the whites, and this peculiar feature of the question was briefly discussed in good set terms by each one of the colored orators. To illustrate their meaning, take the passage from the address of Colonel Wilson:
It is with unspeakable regret that I cannot truly welcome you in behalf of the negro to this festive board. Gathered around you are the remnants of the offspring of the negro race, which once toiled in the rice, corn, cotton, and tobacco fields of the South. That race of patient toilers has passed away. The ruthless hand and the unchecked passions of another race have destroyed the lineage of our forefathers, supplanting it with the people in whose behalf I welcome you to-night—a people of all colors and complexions, of a varied texture of hair and skin, so various that it is with some difficulty race lines are drawn. Do not, I pray you, misinterpret our greeting. By it we seek no change in the social customs of those who call you the mudsills of society, and call us niggers. Our aim is not to establish a new social order of things for the people among whom we live. By extending to yo our hospitality, we mean to convey a recognition of the brotherhood of man, as you teach it, and have exemplified it during your sojourn in our midst.
Colonel Wilson has been a candidate for Governor, and Attorney Scott is at present a member of Councils. A leading feature of the evening was the speech of Victor Drury, who was introduced by Dr. Ferguson as one of the fathers of District 49. It was only a few minutes in duration, but was one of the most thrilling and eloquent I have ever heard. He seemed to be inspired by the occasion to a flight of oratory, unusual even in him, though he is noted as one of the greatest of living orators. Speaking of the aims of Forty-nine, he said that what Forty-eight was to the oppressed millions of Europe, it was hoped Forty-nine might be to the struggling masses of America in this day, and this play upon words and reference to a red letter period of the revolutionary spirit nearly 40 years ago abroad, were received with cheer He declared that if it were their fate to die, as three great champions of the brotherhood of men had died, Socrates by the poisoned hemlock, Christ upo the cross, and John Brown upon the scaffold, they would go their fate saying with Christ, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”26
E. W. L.
Pittsburgh Dispatch, October 15, 1886.
Some of the Features of That Noted Social Gathering
The special correspondent of the Pittsburgh Dispatch, who was present at the banquet given by some of the colored people of Richmond to District 49 on Thursday night, telegraphs, among other things, the following: The colored people of Richmond gave a complimentary banquet this evening to the delegates of District 49, which was one of the most interesting episodes of the session. Two tables stretched the length of Harris’s Hall, were crowded with delegates and guests.
In addition to what is said by the above quoted correspondent, it is learned that the banquetting party, consisted of seventy-three whites (three of them ladies) and thirty colored men. No colored ladies were present; none were invited.
Richmond Dispatch, October 17, 1886.
There was disaffection among the delegates to the Cleveland Assembly of last May 6. There is almost open revolt among the delegates to this convention. The situation is due to the arbitrary rulings of the General Master Workman, to the support given by him to a faction that, if it is asserted, represents the worst element in the order and to the blunder he made in posing as the instructor of the South on the question of social equality. He could not have relished today’s action of the convention on this very question. In behalf of the Southern white delegates to the convention, W. H. Barrett, of Philadelphia, introduced the following resolution:
Whereas, Reports have been circulated and impressions been created by the press of the country regarding the position of the Knights of Labor on the question of social equality; and
Whereas, We believe the welfare of the order in the South requires that this General Assembly will take such action as will dispel these wrong impressions; therefore be it
Resolved, That the Order of the Knights of Labor recognize the civil and political equality of all men and in the broad field of labor recognize no distinction on account of color, but it has no purpose to interfere with or disrupt the social relations which may exist between the different races in various portions of the country.
The Southern white Knights had talked openly of seceding upon the publication of Powderly’s letter on the question of social equality. They became more determined upon being supported by the press of the South, which pilloried Powderly unmercifully on the ground that his premises were out of joint, and that in a general way he didn’t know what he was talking about. The threat of the Southern Knights evidently carried weight, as the resolution introduced for them by Mr. Barrett was adopted by the convention without debate. This action has had a soothing effect upon the Southern Knights, but they are still dissatisfied with the extraordinary manner in which the convention has been manipulated, and one of them expressed himself in the following terms to-day:
New York Times, October 16, 1886.
Every colored man ought to treat the order with greater respect and consideration as it has shown itself courageous enough to face a strong popular prejudice and honest enough to stand up to one of its cardinal principles.—Wilmington (N.C.) Chronicle.
Whatever may be said in criticism or denunciation of the Knights of Labor, the fact remains that they are doing more to blot out color prejudice and recognize the equality of manhood in all the races than any organization in existence.—Salisbury (N.C.) Star of zion.
If the K. of L. will exterminate class prejudice and color-line, not in form, but in reality, we say colored men this is your chance, but if not it would be leaping from the frying-pan into the fire. We must be made to feel comfortable, as if we had friends at our backs and sides.—Staunton (Va.) Critic.
The Knights of Labor justifies the confidence placed in it by the Afro-American people, and its course in Richmond justifies the Plaindealer in exhorting the people to combine with it to secure the elevation of the masses and in proclaiming it to be the most potent factor ever yet entered into our American life to secure full justice to the Afro-American.—Detroit (Mich.) Plaindealer.
The Knights of Labor have shown themselves to be true to their colored brother, and henceforth colored men will feel that labor begets a fraternity that will in time usurp the power of political and sectional prejudice. The action of the Knights of Labor in Richmond show that they are prepared to sacrifice much for principle, and that they do not intend to build up an aristocracy of caste among those who earn their bread by honest labor.—Chicago Observer.
The last and most heartless difficulty to be dealt with and destroyed in this free land is race caste. Its citadel is in the late slave States. Thus far the poor colored man has been left to combat it almost alone. Reason and religion both show its flagrant inconsistency—in fact, it is at war with every principle of truth and right. God is surely raising allies for its effectual resistance and final overthrow. If the Knights are destined to help us in this contest, then may God bless the Knights and prosper them.—Philadelphia Christian Recorder.
This certainly is a boom for the order among the colored people, because when white men risk so much and deprive themselves of comforts, in order to break down a mean and hellborn prejudice maintained solely on the ground of color, be it assured that the thinking of the race all over the country, no matter what may have been their dispositions towards the Knights of Labor formerly, will surely be convinced of the sincerity of purpose of the order in making no distinctions and protecting the rights and privileges of all its citizens.—Petersburg (Va.) Lancet.
The convention of the Knights of Labor of Richmond, Va., afforded but another evidence of the advancement in education and morals that is growing steadily in reference to the position of the Negro of this country. There is further shown a lively appreciation of the relations that bind man to man, and of the fact that when one is affected the other will also be affected. Richmond, the former seat of the confederacy and now the home of race prejudice in its most objectionable form, is having a lesson taught it that while it may not eradicate many of the evils, will still have its influence in demonstrating the futility of withstanding the ordinary customs of civilized communities.—Philadelphia Sentinel.
Will the order of the Knights of Labor insist that its component unions accept the Negro to membership? Though the leading spirits of the organization are full of hope and activity, and though they are inspired by the most proper sense of justice, it is doubtful that the rank and file of the order are ready to preach and practice industrial equality. Mr. Powderly and District Assembly 49 have immortalized themselves, so far as the Negro is concerned. We have expressed our doubts about the rank and file of the order being ready to accept the Negro as a man. We hope our doubts are unfounded. For should the whites reach this point, the Knights of Labor will undoubtedly hold the future government of the United States in the hollow of its hand. If the Negro has one predominant characteristic it is his gratitude.—Philadelphia Tribune.
New York Freeman, October 16, 1886.
It seems to us that Mr. Powderly’s statement concerning the race issue and social equality, which was given to the press last week, is deserving of more attentive consideration as regards its bearing upon the question of social equality between the races than it has yet received at the hands of the Southern press. The proceedings and, as far as possible, the names of the Knights who are attending the General Assembly at Richmond as delegates from various portions of the country are kept secret, but it has leaked out that many of the Southern delegates were instructed by their assemblies to oppose Mr. Powderly and the Home Club on the social equality question, and under certain conditions to withdraw from the Order. One of these conditions was, it is said, that the question of social equality between the races should be left entirely untouched, or else that the decision of practical questions arising under it should be left under the control of the principal officers of the Order in each State. It was apparently in compliance with that demand that the resolution was passed on Friday declaring that while the Knights of Labor recognize the civil and political equality of all men, regardless of color, “it is not our purpose to interfere with or disrupt social relations which may exist between the different races.”
That is very well as far as it goes, but the acts and utterances of the leading Knights show plainly that the whole organized moral force of the Order is to be used in breaking down the social barriers that have heretofore existed between the races in the Southern States. Discovering that the sentiment of the white citizens of Richmond, who had given him such a cordial and distinguished reception, was against any social commingling of the races, Mr. Powderly, embracing the first opportunity to defy that sentiment, selected Francis Ferrell, the colored delegate from New York, to introduce him to the assembled Knights and spectators on the opening day when Governor Fitzhugh Lee welcomed them to Richmond. On the day of the great parade Ferrell was put in the front rank of Assembly 49 at the head of the column, and at the banquet afterwards given at the Fair Grounds, white and colored delegates and visitors, of both sexes, sat down indiscriminately to the tables. In fact everything seems to have been done that could be done to show the determination of the Knights as a body to repudiate and ignore the social distinctions which they found existing among the people they had come amonst to hold their General Assembly.
And cautiously as Mr. Powderly’s letter is worded, it leaves no doubt whatever in the mind of the careful reader that the General Master Workman is in sympathy with the sentiment that inspired that conduct. He attempts to make it appear that the so-called “prejudice” against the colored man is a prejudice against his being educated. The truth is, however, as so well-informed a man as Mr. Powderly ought to know, that the Southern States are, as a rule, doing just as much for the education of the colored youth of the country as the Northern States are doing for the education of the white youth—just as much certainly as they are doing for the education of the white children of the South. With here and there an exception, the Southern people realize that the safety of their institutions and their chance to keep pace with the progress of other civilized States is involved in their educating the colored people to a realization of their responsibility as men and citizens. The social question as between the races has no relation whatever to education, and Mr. Powderly knows it, or ought to know it.
The real animus of the letter creeps out in the paragraph where Mr. Powderly refers to the admission of colored men to the United States Senate and House of Representatives. He asks “Were the laws of social equality outraged when the House of Representatives permitted colored men to take seats in it? Why did not other Southern Representatives leave and return to their homes?”
The plain implication of that is, that if colored men can be permitted to sit in the Senate and House of Representatives, there is no reason why they should not be admitted on equal terms with the whites to cars, hotels, theatres, balls, parties, receptions and the like. He intimates plainly that “the laws of social equality are not superior to the laws of the land.”
The fact is, Mr. Powderly’s letter makes it plain that the whole influence of the Knights of Labor, as an organization, is to be directed to breaking down the social barriers between the races, and that is a very significant fact indeed. It very greatly increases the difficulties with which the Knights will have to contend in the Southern States, and in the long run it will prevent the Order from attaining the strength in the Southern States that it has attained elsewhere. For the truth is that the white laborer of the South has just as much objection to associating indiscriminately on terms of equality with the colored people as the white employers and professional men have.
The Pittsburgh Dispatch, October 21, 1886.
The following, taken from Friday of last week’s proceedings of the Convention of Knights of Labor, in Session at Richmond, Va., is of general interest to the race at large:
Before they took its noon recess Wm. H. Barrett of District Assembly 70, on behalf of the Southern delegates, offered the following, which was adopted without debate:
Whereas, Reports have been circulated and impressions have been created by the press of the country regarding of position of the Knights of Labor on the question of social equality; and
Whereas, We believe the welfare of the order South requires that this General Assembly take such action as will dispel wrong impressions; therefore
Resolved, That the organization of the Knights of Labor recognizes the civil and political equality of all men, and in the broad field of labor recognizes no distinction on account of color; but it has no purpose to interfere with or disrupt the social relations which exist between the different races in the various parts of the country.
The Labor Convention was compelled to do in this matter as the white knight of the South dictated.
Northern sentiment however just has always crawled before and fawned upon the domineering sentiment of the South, however unjust and insolent. The wild goose chase the South led the North on the slavery question is illustrative of the point.
In cold-blooded persistence in the maintenance of an infamous position,—in the subjection of all other matters to the vindication of such position,—the North has never proved itself a match for the South. When the issue is joined the Southern dog always wags his Northern tail.
We are not surprised that the Knights of Labor backed down at the command of the Southern delegates. The whole North knuckled to it in 1856 as voiced by Mr. Justice Taney; every Christian denomination has bowed to it since the war; the Republican party bowed to it in 1876.
The black man constitutes the labor element of the South.
The black man does not ask for social equality—there is no such thing; but he demands and he will have that access to places of amusement and accommodation upon which the Richmond “incident” is based, in the course of time, whatever the Southern high-flyers may say or do to the contrary.
New York Freeman, October 23, 1886.
The imprudent attempt of District Assembly 49, Knights of Labor of New York, to force public opinion at Richmond into acquiescence in its peculiar and offensive notions of social equality has met with proper rebuke. The white-livered members of that organization entered upon a vain crusade when they attempted to override recognized social distinctions at the South, by refusal to board and lodge where a colored member could not also be entertained. The State very pointedly says that while ‘the people of Richmond and of Virginia have kindly feelings for the colored race, and here the colored man has equal rights with the whites in courts of law and at the ballot-box and equality of citizenship is unhesitatingly recognized by the whites, social equality the whites refuse to tolerate in any form. Sensible and self-respecting colored men do not seek to do violence to these feelings, nor have they any desire to obtrude themselves where they are not wanted. Now and then, however, some imprudent fellow is found who is eager to have at least the appearance of enjoying a social equality that never can be and never should be his. Whites who have so little sense and so little decency as to aid and abet him in such offensive capers can hardly expect to keep the respect of the people of their own race, who are willing always to do justice to the colored people, but who demand that their own inherent and ineradicable feelings on the race question shall not be rudely insulted.’
This language, firm and moderate, reflects the sentiments of all self-respecting white and colored people in this and other Southern States. We have heard some worthy people argue that such equality was repulsive simply by reason of custom. This is a great error, we think. The distinctions between the two races are fixed, we believe, by a higher law than human statutes, and will continue for all time, with very little modification, and with decided advantage to both civilizations.
Norfolk Virginian, October 30, 1886.
Mr. Powderly of the Knights of Labor has shown on more occasions than one that he knows how to put his “foot in it” in haste only to swamp himself in trying to take it out at leisure. The following from the hide-bound knuckle-close Bourbon Richmond State but illustrated Mr. Powderly’s latest “doing it to undo it:”
“Whatever Mr. Powderly himself may think, his friends must confess that he has made a mistake on the social equality question. His letter of explanation and defence cannot alter that opinion. That he, knowing the distastefulness of the idea of social equality with the Southerners, should have departed from the usual method of procedure and had a colored man to introduce and vouch for him to Richmond people was a mistake. It was calculated to harm him and the cause he represents.”
Mr. Powderly made no mistake in endorsing the position emphasized by the action of New York District Assembly 49. It was the proper and grand thing for him to do.
The mistake was made when he subsequently endeavored to soften and gloss over the matter in craven deference to the yell of the Southern white press and the demands of white Southern Knights of Labor. And he pandered his honest convictions and his sense of consistency in vain, for no straddling he can do in the future will appease the implacable indignation of the Southern dog in the manger and its degraded ally the Southern press.
Mr. Powderly, “be sure you are right and then go ahead,” and keep going ahead.
New York Freeman, October 30, 1886.
Undoubtedly the most important subject which this meeting at Richmond has brought prominently before the attention of the nation, is the economic condition of the colored laborers of the South and the bearings of their conditions upon wages and labor throughout the country. If the Knights of Labor can lend a strong hand to lift the colored brother from his industrial degradation, they will be performing a most patriotic and valuable service.
Minneapolis Tribune reprinted in Public Opinion, October 30, 1886, p. 42.
Chief Engineer at the New York Post Office
We present to our many readers in this issue of The Freeman the portrait of Frank J. Ferrell, chief engineer at the Federal building in New York city. The very fact that an Afro-American could receive an office of so much responsibility and honor in New York is an evidence of his worth and integrity. Mr. Ferrell has been before the public for a number of years as the ablest exponent of the race in Knights of Labor circles and it is known to many of the episode at Richmond, Va., a few years ago, when T. V. Powderly took such a decided stand for Mr. Ferrell. We have no elaborate sketch of him, but hope to have at an early date. We clip the following excerpt from the New York Record and Trade Reporter.
The recent appointment of Mr. Frank J. Ferrell, of this city, as Chief Engineer at the New York Post Office is one of the more recent selections from the ranks of faithful and competent men that was at one time identified with the United Labor Party in the Eleventh District. He has already received his commission from the proper authorities and has entered upon the discharge of his responsible duties. He fills the place lately made vacant by the removal of John Kearney, the former incumbent. Mr. Ferrell has a large circle of active personal friends and acquaintances that will be rejoiced at his good fortune of which he is undoubtedly every way deserving. He has for several years been quite influential in politics and his activity and efficiency in business affairs has received the endorsement of many of our leading and best known citizens irrespective of party affiliations.
Mr. Ferrell left the employ of V. B. Matthews estate where he has been filling the place of Chief engineer and master mechanic for the last eleven years.
The Freeman (Indianapolis), February 8, 1890.