The colored folks held a meeting this week to select delegates to attend a Labor Convention. We understand the question of future wages was discussed, and that the conclusions reached was, that field hands should demand one dollar per day.
We want to see labor fairly compensated, and we have no objection to field hands receiving the wages they ask; provided, they can find employment at such rates and earn them. But it strikes us that just at this time our colored friends might be more profitably employed considering where they are to find employment next year? It is a poor time to strike for higher wages, when the demand for labor is decreasing, and tens of thousands of laborers North and South, are being discharged from employment. A man has a right to fix the price of his services; and another has a right to employ him or not, as he pleases.—Livingston Journal.
The Convention met at the Capital yesterday and its proceedings will be given to the public, as far as we are able to get them. The remarks of the Livingston Journal are exceedingly pertinent and are worthy of the serious consideration of the members of the Convention.
Montgomery Advertiser and Mail, November 11, 1873.
The negro Labor Convention met yesterday pursuant to adjournment.
The Committee on the Condition of the Colored People reported that the Colored people of the State were deprived of the free enjoyment of all their rights as citizens, and recommended the passage of Mr. Sumner’s Civil Rights Bill by Congress and a similar bill by the Alabama Legislature.
A resolution inviting Jas. T. Rapier and B. S. Turner to address the Convention was adopted.
The Committee on Local Organizations, in obedience to a resolution of instructions, reported a plan of organization for Labor Councils for each county. The plan provided for the election of an agent for the State at large, and one for each Congressional District, and for the appointment of an agent for each county by the President of the Convention, to organize Councils in each county.
The report of the Committee was adopted. There was considerable excitement in the contest for Agent for the State at Large, the candidates being William V. Turner and Laddie Williams. After a great deal of electioneering and changing of votes during the call of the roll, the Secretary finally announced the result as thirty–four votes for Turner and thirty for Williams.
Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser and Mail, November 14, 1873.
The attention of the people has already been called to the following mysterious dispatch sent by Mr. Geo. E. Spencer, claiming to be a United States Senator from Alabama to the Negro Labor Convention which has been in a sort of Bedlam Session at the Capital for several days past. It reads as follows:64
I regret my inability to attend and participate in your Convention to–day. My feelings and sympathies are with you and your cause. I am opposed to all monopolies, and particularly to the Land Monopoly that to–day curses the South. GEO. E. SPENCER.
The jargon of the writer of this furious communication must have some intended meaning. Until Mr. SPENCER “rises to explain,” we have a right to put upon its language what appears to us to be its obvious construction. It is simply an incendiary document. It denounces the titles and possession of the lands of the State, in the hands of those holding lawful deeds and patents for the same, as an unjustifiable and outrageous monopoly! His sentiments indicate an effort to cast odium on the deeds of possession of the planters and all others holding lands in Alabama, and are designed to encourage the negroes not to labor contentedly for fair wages upon the lands, but to envy their possessors, and even to regard them, in some sense, as a set of Monopolistic Tyrants depriving the negroes of something they themselves should enjoy. He can have no reference, of course, to the large body of Public lands in the State still opened to the settlement of white and black men indiscriminately. His allusion is distinctly to the private lawful possessions of the planters, and he regards their tenures consecrated by the law itself as an odious Land Monopoly. Had such a dispatch been addressed to a Convention of Planters and Landowners in either South, Middle or North Alabama, it would have been arrogant and insulting, but it would, in that case, have been addressed to a body of men having the right to consider the subject. But he well knows the sentiments entertained by the negroes toward the white land owners of the State, and he deliberately attempts to stimulate that hostile sentiment for his own base political purpose. He has already greatly injured the landowners of Alabama, and aided in a large degree to bring the poor, stupid negroes to the door of starvation. The sentiment of distrust and hatred of the great body of the white people of the Commonwealth, such wicked politicians as SPENCER have bred and fixed in their ignorant minds, may be distinctly seen in the spirit of the verbiage employed by WILLIAMS, the Chairman to President GRANT, begging for “rations” during this winter. We give an extract from that Report.
Therefore your committee do urge upon the delegates to this Convention the adoption of the memorial herewith presented. Your committee would respectfully inform the Convention that without the adoption of the memorial, that many of us, in all portions of the State, will be left in a starving condition, which will necessarily compel many of us to emigrate to other States, which would leave many of our friends in the hands and control of their political enemies, for the reason of their inability to emigrate from county to county, more less from State to State. Knowing the members of this Convention to be the people’s representatives from all parts of the State, knowing the wishes of the people, your committee hope the following memorial will be unanimously adopted by this Convention, and properly signed and forwarded to the executive department at Washington.
A. E. WILLIAMS, Ch’n.
It will be observed that the Negro Labor Convention, this WILLIAMS, the Chairman of the Committee on Memorial, regard themselves as “the people” of the State, and Mr. SPENCER’S “Land Monopolists,” as their “political enemies.” It is to a strictly Negro Convention in its officers, organization and delegates, that the so–called Senator sends his Land Monopoly denunciations. No one can reasonably entertain a doubt that any Land owner in Alabama who has lands for sale would sell to an African and be glad to do it for a proper price. No one has ever refused to do so to our knowledge. Mr. SPENCER must also know this. If he means that the land owners should give the negro laborers their lands, his appeal should have been made to those who are expected to do such a profitless and disinterested thing. In this sense is it not, when addressed to the Capitol Labor gathering, the baldest kind of demagoguism? The negroes at the Capitol all taken together do not own two hundred acres of land. They have no land to give away. Mr. SPENCER knows that they can settle under the provisions of the laws of the United States on the Government lands, and that they can purchase lands from private individuals provided they will present the price. He makes no suggestion to the land-owners to give for either charitable or economical reasons, a portion of their property to the blacks. But he denounces the landowners by plain and designed inference, as Monopolists, to the landless negro laborers! There can be but one construction put upon this impudent and ill–timed despatch. For especial reasons of his own Mr. GEO. E. SPENCER revives the old ridiculous idea of “Forty acres and a mule.”
It is for this poor creature—to make him Senator from Alabama in the Congress of the United States—that a number of the Landholders of Alabama helped the negroes last year to bring the present State Administration into power. It was SPENCER who ruled the Nominating Convention and fashioned the ticket, and all to elect himself Senator. It was SPENCER who brought troops into the State during the election. It was SPENCER who brought money into the State and bribed “loyal claimants” and instigated Kuklux prosecutions, and caused citizens of Alabama to be immured in a Northern penitentiary. It was SPENCER that an Insurrection against the rightful Legislature of the State was aided and abetted by LEWIS, the Governor of Alabama, at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars! It was for GEORGE E. SPENCER several “land Monopolists,” native Alabamians, or men identified with the State by long residence, voted in a Court House room in this city, in the face of all propriety and in contempt of the laws and dignity of the State, for Senator of the United States from Alabama! They are now well repaid for their criminal folly.
Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser and Mail, November 15, 1873.