Proposed Organization for the Benefit of the Mechanical Interest.
Pursuant to announcement published in the “Journal,” a large concourse of our citizens, white and colored, assembled at Metropolitan Hall, April 11th.
The floor of the hall and galleries were literally crowded. It was estimated by these knowing the exact capacity of the hall that there were between 1,000 and 1,200 persons present, mostly mechanics, representing the various branches of industry.
The meeting was called to order shortly after eight o’clock, by Mr. Lewis Lindsey, who announced that the first business in order was the selection of officers.
Mr. Henry Cox, member of the Legislature, arose and nominated Mr. John Oliver for president of the meeting.
The nomination was received with enthusiastic applause.
Mr. Oliver came forward and after a graceful bow, said that he esteemed it an honor to have been elected President of the first laborer’s meeting ever held in Richmond. He felt honored not only because it was a laborer’s meeting, but because he was himself a laborer, being a carpenter. If there was anything he could do, it was to build a house. He believed sincerely that this meeting would meet with fruitful results. It was proposed, as he understood the purport of the call for this reunion to exclude politics. The colored people have had political meetings since the war and nothing good had been achieved. Let us now, said he, learn how to make home comfortable by associating ourselves upon a firmer basis than politics. We should hold meetings for the purpose of exchanging our views and devising the best means practicable for the protection of labor.
Mr. Oliver then read the names of the following Vice Presidents:
Robert Johnson, Charles Thurston, John Adams, Peter Woolfolk, A. R. Brooks, James Turner, Thomas Hewlett, Robert Shelton, Landon Boyd, Wm. Johnson, James Crump, James Carter, Richard Carter, Wm. Isham, Rev. James Holand, Rev. Wm. Troy, William Bartlett, Warner Lindsey, J. A. Taylor, Jos. Cox, H. L. Wigand, J. C. Gaguall, Jas. Morrisey, Wm. Leahey, Peter Stuart, Calvin Griffin and P. O. Brogan.
Secretaries.—Wm. H. Lester, R. L. Hobson, Jas. Bowser and Thos. P. Foley.
The names having been read, Mr. Lindsey said that to do justice to all parts of the country, he would nominate Wm. Bartlett as first Vice President. The nomination was carried unanimously.
It was then moved that the nominations as above read be received. This was also carried.
On motion of Lewis Lindsey, a committee of three, Messrs. J. A. Taylor, David Robertson, and Joseph Cox, was appointed by the chair as a finance committee.
On motion of Mr. Henry Cox, a committee on resolutions, consisting of Messrs. Lewis Lindsey, Robt. L. Hobson, and Wm. H. Lester, was appointed.
The chair requested the officers elected to come forward and take their places on the platform, which was forthwith complied with.
By request of the President, Rev. John Allen then offered a fervent and appropriate appeal to the Throne of Grace for the Divine support and countenance in the efforts then about to be initiated for the benefit of the laboring men.
While a collection was being taken up by the committee on finance, the assembly sang the beautiful hymn, “Blow ye the Trumpet, Blow.”
Whereas, By the blessing of Divine Providence, through the agencies of war and the great Republican party of the country, the colored men of Virginia have been released from long and cruel oppression, and invested with full civil and political rights; and whereas, it is the solemn duty of freemen to be grateful at all times to their deliverers, as is exemplified in the devotion of the American people to the illustrious Washington and his compeers; and whereas, all history has proved that the rights of individuals can best be secured and protected by thorough organization, either political or industrial; therefore, be it—
Resolved, That the thanks of the people of Richmond are due to President Grant, his Cabinet, and the Congress of the United States for the prompt legislation tending to complete the work of reconstruction in the South, without which the war and the constitutional amendments would have been absolute failures.
Resolved, That we endorse the National Labor Union of colored men, and appeal to the colored mechanics and laboring men of Richmond to call meetings of their respective branches of industry, for the purpose of immediate organization.
Resolved, That we believe that labor can only secure its rights and the respect due it, by organization, and that all men of whatever color, who oppose the systematized organization of labor, are enemies to the best interests of the working people.
Resolved, That we denounce all agents or agencies who have for their object the inducement of colored men to leave the State; and that we regard such persons as Democratic agencies, whose object is to reduce the Republican votes of this city, and give ascendancy to the Democratic party.
Resolved, That we advise, with a proper application of its importance, the colored men of Richmond against such dangerous demagogues; that their promises are false is evident from the testimony of the large number who have returned penniless from imaginary gold fields.
Resolved, That we advise the colored men of Richmond to be industrious, sober, honest, and true, and peace and plenty will soon enter within our borders and bring joy to the barren fields of this State; when labor and good wages will be found for the whole working people, without regard to race, color, or previous condition.
Resolved, That we endorse the NEW ERA as the national organ of the colored men of the United States, and pledge it our support, and advise our people throughout the State to form clubs and subscribe for it immediately.
After the adoption of the resolutions, on motion of Mr. Cox, Messrs. Edward Fox, James Johnson, and James Massey were appointed sergeants–at–arms.
The chair next introduced to the meeting Mr. Isaac Myers, of Baltimore, President of the National Labor Union of Colored Men, who spoke as follows:
I am happy to meet with you, although I see not more than one or two familiar faces. I am proud to say that I feel myself just as much at home as if I were in my native State. But yesterday we were in chains, deprived of a shadow of the rights of a man. To–day not a cord binds our limbs, and by the authority of the Magna Charta of our liberty—the Constitution of the United States of America—we are authorized to say, each man to his neighbor, we stand equally before the law as American citizens.
What we will be in the future depends entirely upon how we train and apply our minds, in every–day life, to the industrial, moral, religious, and political duties as free men and as citizens, having an equal proportion of the responsibilities of preserving and perpetuating free institutions and a republican form of government.
Each one of these duties which we owe to ourselves, our God, and our country, is a mill through which each man, woman, and child must be ground, and our market value depends upon how fine we come out at the other end. It is said that “the mills of the gods grind slow, but they grind very fine.” So it necessarily must be with us as a class, who have been for the last two hundred years deprived of all the rights and privileges of education, and the advantages of accumulating capital. And as it must be slow, let it be extra fine, and when it comes out of the mill, let there be no necessity for its going back again.
Now to get money, man must have employment. And to possess money, if he is a mechanic or laborer, he must have sufficient pay for his labor when employed, as will afford, by temperate and economical living, to buy him a homestead, educate and comfortably clothe and feed his children, and have a few pennies laid by for old age. The value of your labor, then, is what it will cost you to do this, and not what a man or a combination of men would choose to pay you.
We wish to establish and preserve the most friendly relationship between labor and capital, because we believe their interests to be inseparable; because we believe and know in proportion as the laborer is remunerated for his labor, and encouraged in proportion is capital safe and productive. I know an establishment where the mechanics get three dollars and twenty–five cents a day, and so much per centage on all the work turned out. The result is, the shop turns out a third more work, with the same number of hands, than any other establishment of the same kind in the State, and so carefully is the interest of the employer protected, that he seldom visits the establishment.
How can labor be made respectable and productive and protect its rights? We answer, by being organized. By organization men can accomplish almost anything; but, without organization, they can accomplish comparatively nothing. Is there a necessity for the colored mechanics and laborers of the United States organizing? My answer is, there is the greatest necessity; and unless you do organize, in a few short years the trades will pass from your hands—you become the servants of servants, the sweeper of shavings, the scrapers of pitch, and the carriers of mortar.
And why do I make such a broad and positive assertion? It is because I find the white mechanics of the North and South organized for the extermination of colored labor and because I do not find the colored men organized for their protection; and because I know if you do organize you will preserve your labor, command employment, and educate your children in the trades.
Mr. Myers discussed at some length the importance of organization, and as an evidence of what men may do, he referred to the colored Ship Yard Company of Baltimore, and other similar organizations throughout the country. He spoke of the organization of a co–operative association of the carpenters, brick–masons, and plasterers of Richmond, to help the business men to build up the town. He regarded the business men of Richmond who conduct their business with so much prejudice and hate toward Northern men, and combining to prevent the flow of foreign capital useless, and every effort to arrest its progress would be as the little boy who laid under the wheel of Hercules, expecting to stop the car. He thought if the press of Richmond would stop fighting John W. Garrett, and the mine of Northern capital behind him, for building up their railroads and developing the resources of the State, and go in and buy up the stock themselves, encourage railroads all over and through the State, they would be fighting a point that they could carry; if they did not, Northern capital would build railroads all around the city in face of the Legislature, and draw off the trade from this city, as to bankrupt your merchants, and carry your city by greenbacks, as General Grant carried it by bullets.
He pressed upon the colored people the importance of habits of industry, frugality, and temperance. Spoke at length in support of the claim of the NEW ERA, a colored newspaper, edited in Washington, by Sella Martin and Frederick Douglass, and regarded as the national organ of the colored men of the United States.
He particularly enjoined upon his hearers to have confidence in each other and respect for each other, that in proportion as they had confidence in and respect for each other, in proportion would the white people of Richmond respect them.
Mr. Myers here excused himself from the labor question, and asked his hearers their indulgence. He said there were two things he could not understand, and he hoped some one in the city of Richmond would inform his clouded understanding. He could not understand how a colored man could vote the Democartic ticket, or how a Democrat could have the cheek to ask a colored man to vote the Democratic ticket. The Democrats say they have always been, and are now, the friends of the negro. He thought they had a very bad way of showing it. He generally proved his friends by their words. Now, if the Democrats, who say they are our friends, want us to have confidence in the sincerity of their friendship, let them come along with us to the polls on the third Tuesday in May and deposit a Republican ballot, and elect a Republican Mayor; unless they did that they are not our friends, and cannot be so long as they remain in the ranks of the Democratic party.
He said he did hear that Democratic negroes did live in Richmond in peace. He was very glad they were not in Baltimore. He said the legislation is class legislation, and that it was holding in check the prosperity of the State. The State should have a free railroad and a free school law. He claimed that the legislation and acts of the Democratic party looked very much like re–enslaving the negro and he believed that if they got full control of this Government, every negro in the land would be a slave in less than ten years. He advised the Republicans to stand united, and make their leaders stand united; and if they did not, why, throw them all overboard and lead yourselves. The party must forget the past and concentrate and look only to the future for success. Let by–gones be by–gones, and each and every man walk to the polls in May, and cast a solid vote for the Republican nominees.
At the conclusion of Mr. Myers’ address speeches were made by Mr. Norton Cox and other members of the Legislature, and by Messrs. Lester and Lindsey, of this city, who strongly urged unity of action in the coming campaign, and severely denounced certain agents who are persuading the colored men to leave the State.
The following resolution was adopted:
Resolved, That our thanks are due the Evening State Journal for its able advocacy of the principles of the Republican party and the equal rights of all men before the law, without regard to race or color, and that we recommend its liberal patronage by our people.
On motion of Mr. Lindsey, a vote of thanks was tendered to such papers as have indorsed the cause of labor.
The New Era, April 28, 1870.
In view of the urgan demands now pressing upon the people of all classes for a proper settlement of the conditions of labor in its various departments, and especially as relates to that portion of the people hitherto deprived of a fair apportionment of its benefits both as regards the employment of skilled labor and an opportunity to acquire a knowledge of the Mechanical branches—and in view too of the many avenues necessarily open for such acquirement and employment on the part of those who have controlled the admission of apprentices and workmen in the workshops of the State to the exclusion of the formerly disfranchised class, but now happily enfranchised; and in view too of the great demand for skilled as well as unskilled labor in the future altered and regenerated state of society in our now free State, and free country, the undersigned, impelled by motives of the highest consideration for the welfare and development of our whole country, and the enlarged privileges of every class, do invite a Convention of the colored citizens of our State, as well as others interested in the labor question, to assemble at Saratoga, New York, on Wednesday, the 17th of next August, for the purpose of adopting such views and plans, as shall not only bring out the needs of the people, but tend to enlarge the privileges and dignify the position of general labor.
We invite our brethren to assemble and bring with them statements of all persons engaged as artisans, mechanics, farmers, or any other industrial pursuits of whatever kind, in the several counties, also educational statistics, gathered from official or other sources as well as a list of workshops where workmen are admitted without distinction of color.
William F. Butler, President of N. Y. L. O.
D. K. McDonough, Vice–President, F. L. I.
P. S. Porter, Esq.
Wm. P. Powell.59
N. H. Turpin.
J. W. Bowers.
Geo. W. Francis.
James M. Mars.
E. V. C. Eato.
Geo. A. Washington, Publisher of The Enterprise.
Peter H. Downing, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Theo. Gould, ″ ″
J. N. Freeman, ″ ″
J. N. Gloucester, ″ ″
David Roselle, Brooklyn, E. D.
Peter Hawkins, Flushing, L. I.
F. Harley, Kingston, N. Y.
Wm. Rich and P. Baltimore, Troy.
Garet Deyo, Hudson,
Lloyd Tilgham, ″
Anthony Jackson, ″
Wm. Jackson, ″
Wm. Johnson, ″
J. C. Gilbert, Sarotoga,
O. C. Gilbert, ″
J. W. Loymer, ″
J. P. Thompson, Newburgh.
Jacob Thomas ″
C. E. Verning, Poughkeepsie
Abram Bolin ″
Isaac Deyo ″
R. Watson ″
The National standard, July 30, 1870.
Reports of Committees—Statistics of Colored Labor—Second Day’s Proceedings.
SARATOGA, N. Y., Aug. 25.—The morning session of the State Labor Convention commenced at 10 o’clock. The first paper read was one from New–York, prepared by CHAS. S. REASON, on education, giving statistical facts connected with the schools of New–York City, Brooklyn and Williamsburg, and arguing in favor of education as one of the chief instrumentalities for making remunerative the labors of the working classes.
The Power of Money
The Committee on Financial Questions presented a report. “The moneyed element of power should be fostered. It cannot take the place of character or education, but is next to them as a mighty power. It assists in carrying out benevolent designs, in building and furnishing institutions of learning, and in developing the mineral resources of the country. Out of the money deposited in the New–York savings banks, it is estimated that $4,000,000 belong to colored persons. Through the freedmen’s savings institutions $13,000,000 have been saved by colored persons, while the same people in the South have expended $11,000,000 for business and social improvement. It is impossible for people to stand still; they must either go forward or recede. Though the fields of labor be opened ever so wide, and we enter and gather the fruits, if wanting in the duty of economy and knowledge of applying our gains, we shall not keep pace with the rest of the community. It is a duty to ourselves to labor, economize and think.”
The Committee on Labor reported. After speaking of the labor problem as being as old as the Pyramids, and yet unsolved, the report regrets the absence of statistics relating to the industrial condition of the colored people. The nearest estimate that can be obtained is, that out of 18,000 colored males in the State in 1850, 2,000 were skilled laborers. Messrs. LEONARD JACKSON, S. J. STOKELY and W. H. DECKER were appointed a Committee on Statistics. On a call for a presentation of facts for the use of the Committee, Mr. GARNET said the Engineers’ Protective Association of New–York knew of one hundred engineers, sixty of whom were engaged in saloons and other places in the City because they were unable to obtain employment at their trade, while only forty were working at their trade.
Rev. Mr. SWEARS presented a preamble and resolutions recommending trades and labor organizations.
SINCLAIR TOUSEY, of New–York, opposed the resolutions as leading to strikes and difficulties.
JACOB STEWARD deprecated such a construction of the resolution, and said there was something in labor unions besides strikes, and that something we desire. In answer to some speakers who had advocated humility, care and attention in the performance of work, Rev. Mr. BUTLER said, humility was all very well, and had been practiced for two hundred and fifty years; but the colored people gained more in a short time by taking the musket and shooting rebels than they did by a long practice of humility. He said that out of 3,500 colored voters in New–York City, 104 were shoe–makers, one hundred were engineers, and over eighty were carpenters, with other skilled mechanics, a majority of whom were kept out of the trades’ work from class prejudices. One skilled engraver was obliged to work as a waiter, because other engravers refused to work with him. The speaker had been asked to procure colored persons to work in factories by manufacturers, who offered employment if enough colored hands could be obtained to carry on the business. Enough could not be obtained, but a labor bureau would aid such manufacturers.
The resolution offered in the morning regarding the organization of a Labor Bureau was adopted, with an amendment to confine its duty to skilled labor. A resolution recommending the formation of city and county associations under the State Labor Union was adopted. On motion of Mr. GARRETT a committee was appointed to prepare an appeal to the people of the country to give the colored people an equal chance for employment. Messrs. H. H. GARRETT, J. J. SPELLMAN and JAMES STEWART were appointed such committee. Mr. J. J. SPELLMAN, from the Committee on Organization, reported a constitution for the State Labor Union. It makes the principal office in New–York, at No. 185 Bleecker street. At the evening session Rev. Dr. CHEEVER, being discovered in the hall, was called upon and made a short speech congratulatory to the colored people on the advancement made by them, and then digressed to old anti–slavery topics.
New York Times, August 26, 1870.
The State Labor Convention of colored men met in Saratoga on the 24th ult. The following officers were elected: President, the Rev. William F. Butler, of New York; vice–presidents: The Rev. C. R. Brown, Troy; L. H. Jackson, Albany; the Rev. J. C. Gilbert, Saratoga. Secretaries: E. W. Crosby, Jr., Albany; E. O. C. Eato and S. J. Stokely, New York. Little was done on Wednesday beyond laying out work for different committees to perfect an organization for the benefit of colored laborers.
On Thursday, the 25th, the morning session of the State Labor Convention commenced at 10 o’clock. The first paper read was one from New York, prepared by Prof. Charles Reason, of the committee on education, giving statistical facts connected with the schools of New York, Brooklyn and Williamsburgh, and arguing in favor of education as one of the chief instrumentalities for making remunerative the labor of the working classes.
The committes on financial questions presented a report: “The moneyed element of power should be fostered. It cannot take the place of character or education, but is next to them as a mighty power. It assists moralists to carry out benevolent designs; in building and furnishing institutions of learning, and in developing the mineral resources of the country. Out of the money deposited in the New York savings banks, it is estimated that $4,000, 000 belong to colored persons. Through the Freedmen’s Savings institutions, $13,000,000 have been saved by colored persons; while the same people in the South have expended $11,000,000 for business and social improvement. It is impossible for people to stand still; they must either go forward or backward. Though the fields of labor be opened ever so wide, and we enter and gather the fruits, if wanting in the duty of economy and knowledge of applying our gains, we shall not keep pace with the rest of the community. It is a duty to ourselves to labor, economize and think.
The Committee on Labor reported. After speaking of the labor problem as being as old as the pyramids and yet unsolved, the report regrets the absence of statistics relating to the industrial condition of the laborers. The nearest estimate that can be obtained is that out of eighteen thousand colored males in the State in 1850 two thousand were skilled laborers.
Messrs. Leonard Jackson, S. J. Stokely and W. H. Decker were appointed a committee on statistics.
Sinclair Tonsey, of New York, opposed the resolutions, as leading to strikes and difficulties.
Mr. Steward deprecated such a construction of the resolution, and said there was something in labor unions beside strikers, and that something we desire.
On a call for a presentation of facts for the use of the committees Mr. Garnet said the Engineers’ Protective Association of New York knew of one hundred engineers, sixty of whom were engaged in saloons and other places in the city because they were unable to obtain employment at their trade, while only forty were working at their trade.
Rev. Mr. Swears presented a preamble and resolution recommending trades and labor organizations.
In answer to some speaker who had advocated humility, care and attention in the performance of work, Rev. Mr. Butler, said humility was all very well, and had been practiced for two hundred and fifty years; but the colored people gained more in a short time by taking the musket and shooting rebels, than they did by a long practice of humility. He said that out of 3,500 colored votes in New York city, one hundred and four were shoemakers, one hundred were engineers, and over eighty were carpenters, with other skilled mechanics, a majority, of whom were kept out of the trades work from class prejudices. One skilled engraver was obliged to work as a waiter because other engravers refused to work with him. The speaker had been asked by manufacturers to procure colored persons to work in factories, and who offered employment if enough colored hands could be obtained to carry on the business. Enough could not be obtained, but a labor bureau would aid such manufacturers.
J. J. Spelman presented the report, which provided for a State Labor Union, with headquarters in New York city, No. 185 Bleecker street, and the formation of unions throughout the State for the protection of the colored people in the matter of labor. It was adopted without a dissenting voice.60
Dr. George B. Cheever61
being discovered in the body of the hall by the chairman, was requested to address the Convention. Hesitatingly he complied. He said that the Convention was a remarkable illustration of the progress of the country. It could not be said that to–day there was but little difference between the colored and white races. There was a difference, but give the colored race one generation, with the same advantages and privileges as the whites have had, and would there then be so much difference? No. In that time they would be fully equal in every particular to any white race. Honesty, courage and Christianity must guide them, and with these virtues they could not fail.
J. J. Spelman offered the following resolution, which was passed unanimously. His excuse for its introduction was that as the National Labor Convention, just adjourned at Cincinnati, had endeavored to start the nucleus of a third party in the United States, called the “Labor Reform Party,” and as it was hardly possible for any body of intelligent men at this juncture to keep out of the political arena, he deemed it in order:—
Resolved, That we, citizens of the State of New York in convention assembled, do hereby pledge our earnest devotion to the republican party and its principles, and that our untiring exertions shall be to aid that party in obtaining a triumphant victory in November next.
Officers of the State Labor Union
The committee appointed to nominate officers of the State Labor Union for the ensuing year presented the following:—
President—Stephen Lawrence, of New York.
First Vice President—Edward W. Crosby, Sr., of Albany.
Second Vice President—Charles L. Reason, of New York.
Secretary—E. V. C. Eato, of New York.
Assistant Secretary—George W. Johnson, of Albany.
Treasurer—J. J. Zuill, of New York.
Executive Committee—H. H. Garnett, O. C. Gilbert, William Rich, J. J. Bowers, D. K. McDonough, M. D.; James C. Matthews, Joseph P. Thomson, D. D.; Rev. William H. Decter, N. H. Turpin.
At the conclusion of this business James C. Matthews, of Albany, and Hamilton Morris, of South Carolina; addressed the Convention. They were eloquent, forcible and pertinent.
With thanks to the Rev. William F. Butler, the presiding officer, and to the people of Saratoga for their manifested kindly sympathy, the Convention adjourned, with the entire audience, white and black, singing the Doxology.
The National Standard, September 3, 1870.
In the New York Colored Labor Convention, at Saratoga, the Rev. Mr. BUTLER, in answer to some speakers who had advocated humility, care and attention in the performance of work, said that humility was very well, and had been practiced for two hundred and fifty years; but the colored people gained more in a short time by taking muskets and shooting rebels than they did by long practice of humility. He said that out of three thousand five hundred colored voters in New York city, one hundred and four were shoemakers, one hundred were engineers, and over eighty were carpenters, with other skilled mechanics, a majority of whom were kept out of trades work from class prejudices. One skilled engraver was obliged to work as a waiter; because other engravers refused to work with them. The report of the committee on financial questions state that out of the money deposited in New York Savings Banks, it is estimated that $4,000,000 belonged to colored persons. Through the freedmen’s savings institutions $13,000,000 have been saved by colored persons, while the same people in the South have expended $11,000,000 for business and social improvement.
New National Era, September 8, 1870.
The Saratoga Labor Convention, held recently, was in the interest especially of the colored laborers of New York. A noticeable feature of that Convention was the evidence brought to light of the still powerful feeling of race–hatred with which colored laborers, on account of complexional difference, have yet to contend. While chattel slavery lasted the most forlorn of American laborers were the powerless, unpaid victims of that iniquitous system. The ill effects of the system still survive. In the Saratoga Convention its President, Rev. William F. Butler, of this city, said that “out of three thousand five hundred voters in New York city, one hundred and four were shoemakers, one hundred were engineers, and over eighty were carpenters, with other skilled mechanics, A MAJORITY OF WHOM WERE KEPT OUT OF THE TRADES WORK FROM CLASS PREJUDICES. One skilled engraver was obliged to work as a waiter because other engravers refused to work with him!” From the same cause the Rev. Mr. Garnet stated that “of one hundred engineers, known to the Engineers’ Protective Association of New York, sixty were engaged in saloons and other places in the city, because they were unable to obtain employment at their trade, while only forty were working at their trade.” One of the most pernicious results of slavery, while it was a controlling force in our national politics, religion and social life, was to degrade honest and honorable toll in the popular estimation, and to foster prejudices against the enslaved as a class. We entreat white workingmen for their own sake, as well as for those who are, for no fault of their own, the victims of an unjust race–prejudice, to rise superior to such limitations and make common cause, in the spirit of Christian brotherhood, rather than proscription, with those who are yet more oppressed.
The National Standard, September 17, 1870.
A large number of colored people assembled last night in Zion Church, Bleecker street, to hear the report of the delegates to the Colored Working Men’s Convention, at Saratoga. Rev. Wm. Butler, the pastor of the church, presided, and in a few words introduced the delegation. The report stated that the object of the Convention was to incorporate the colored workingmen’s labor organizations with those of the white men, and to establish a labor bureau in this City where skilled colored workmen could obtain places. These two objects had been attained. The white working men showed a most commendable spirit in recognizing the claims of the colored men, and were willing to receive them on terms of equality. Still there was an unfounded prejudice against colored men, and in consequence many who were masters of various mechanical arts were forced to act as waiters in hotels and restaurants. To do away with this state of things the New York Labor Bureau was organized, with Stephen Lawrence as President. From this time, colored who register their names will be provided with employment suited to their capacity and acquirements.
After the report was read, Rev. Henry Highland Garnet made a lengthy and humorous speech, in which he exhorted his hearers to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the newly established labor bureau, and to cultivate saving habits. He stated that the freedmen of the South had now, four years after their emancipation, $2,000,000 to their credit in bank, and said that the colored men in the North should not be behindhand. After some remarks in a similar strain by Stephen Lawrence, and the enrollment of several persons, the meeting adjourned.—N.Y. Times.
The National Standard, September 24, 1870.
There was a meeting of the colored men working along the wharfs, held Thursday evening, at which it was resolved to organize a Longshoremen’s Association, to be called the Longshoremen’s Association No. 2. The chairman of the meeting stated that every class of workingmen had their organizations, and they found them of great benefit, and why not the black men have theirs. The chairman concluded by recommending the election of delegates from every ward in the city to a convention to be held in Baltimore city on the 24th of February next, and the appointment of a committee to confer with the Longshoremen’s Association No. 1 (white). The recommendations of the chair were embraced in resolutions, and adopted.
The Longshoremen No. 1 (White.)
met on the following evening, and shortly after the meeting was organized, the committee of No. 2 made its appearance at the outer door, and was admitted. The chairman of the committee presented the resolutions adopted at their meeting, and was followed by addresses from the members of the committee. A Mr. Pinder said he wanted to see every man at work, white and black, but at not less than 25 cents an hour or $2 per day. This he considered was fair, and they were going to stand up to it. No. 1 passed resolutions similar to those adopted by No. 2, and appointed delegates to the convention of the 24th of next month.
Workingman’s Advocate, January 27, 1871.
MONDAY, January 2, 1871.
The Convention of the colored people of Alabama, assembled in the hall of the House of Representatives at 12 m. to–day, representing nearly every county in the State.
Mr. James T. Rapier of Montgomery, Vice President of the National Labor Union, called the Convention to order.
On motion of Mr. Williams of Montgomery, Allen Alexander of Baldwin was elected temporary secretary.
Mr. L. J. Williams moved that a committee of seven be appointed to report upon the credentials of delegates; which motion was agreed to, and the President appointed Messrs. Williams, Thompson of Montgomery, Thompson of Talladega, Greene, Speed, Gaston and Wm. B. Wood, as such committee.
The Convention then took a recess of ten minutes.
After reassembling, the Committee on Credentials reported that ninety–eight delegates were duly accredited to the Convention, representing forty–two counties in various portions of the state; that a majority of the delegates present were farmers and farm laborers, and consequently that interest was more largely represented than any other class of labor.
Mr. Whitfield, of Dallas, introduced a resolution that no member be allowed to speak more than ten minutes upon subjects before the Convention; which was withdrawn.
Mr. Thompson, of Montgomery, moved that a committee of seven members be appointed upon permanent organization; which motion was agreed to, and the following delegates were appointed: Holland Thompson, James K. Green, Ellis Lucas, James Nettles, Henry Duncan, Green Lewis and Henry St. Clair.
On motion of Mr. St. Clair, of Macon, James H. Alston was invited to a seat in the Convention as delegate from Macon.
On motion of Mr. Williams, of Montgomery, Gen. D. E. Coon, of Dallas, addressed the Convention in an able and very appropriate strain, and retired amidst the cheers and applause of the delegates.
The Committee on Permanent Organization submitted the following names for officers of the Convention:
Mr. Williams of Montgomery, offered a substitute for the report, that Mr. Rapier be made President, Holland Thompson Vice President, and Allen Alexander Secretary; which was laid on the table.
The Convention then proceeded to ballot for officers with the following result:
For President—James T. Rapier; Vice President—Washington Stevens; Secretary—Wm. V. Turner; Assistant Secretary—G. S. W. Lewis.
A motion to adopt the rules governing the House of Representatives was then adopted.
Mr. Williams of Montgomery introduced a resolution directing the President to appoint the following committees, which was adopted: On Finance; on Labor; on Homesteads; on Education; on Churches and Societies; on Condition of Colored People; on Printing; on Savings Bank; to Organize State Labor Union.
After the appointment of the committees, the Convention adjourned until 7 o’clock p.m.
At the evening session no business of much importance was brought up, and the Convention adjourned till 9 a.m. Tuesday.
TUESDAY, Jan. 3, 1871.
The Convention was called to order at 11 o’clock this morning by Mr. Rapier, President.
A very able prayer was delivered by the Rev. Mr. Fannin of Talladega.
A resolution tendering the thanks of the colored people to Senators Warner and Spencer, and Representative Buckley in the Congress of the United States, was unanimously adopted.
Mr. Harralson of Dallas, gave notice that he would move a reconsideration of the vote by which the resolution was adopted, so as to strike out the name of Hon. George E. Spencer.
Mr. Cox of Montgomery, chairman of the Committee on Homesteads, presented the following report:
The Committee on Homes and Homesteads, to which was referred the subject of emigration, beg leave to submit the following report:
Your Committee have had the subject under careful consideration, and they have examined and inquired into the prospect of securing homes for our people in this State, and they have come to the conclusion that under existing circumstances it will be impossible for us to procure homes advantageously for the following reasons:
1. The lands in Alabama, fit for cultivation, are held at such prices that the poor man, and especially the colored man will never be able to buy any portion of them.
2. The government lands that are situated in this State are in such large tracts and divisions which will always be unfit for cultivation, and even if the soil was good and remunerative, they lie in a portion of the State in which armed bands of disguised men have created such terrors and committed such depredations upon life, liberty and property, that we cannot remain in such localities in peace; and with these facts staring us steadfastly in the face, we think it would be far better for us to move to a more congenial climate.
Your Committee therefore respectfully suggest the State of Kansas, where the soil is virgin and where homes can be had by simply going to them, and where we will not be murdered and driven from our homes for exercising those inestimable rights of life and liberty which are inherent in every freeman born upon American soil.
Here follows a lengthy description of soil, climate, etc., and the report continues:
As to the point of the advantages to be derived by leaving this State for the above named States:
First, all the improvements we would put upon our place would be our own; our families would pride themselves in making everything agreeable around or about them.
Second, we would be free from paying rent—from $3 to $10 per acre, as is generally paid in Alabama.
Fourth, we would not be continually harassed by those lawsuits growing out of contracts made, but not complied with.
Fifth, we will not have a man continually riding up and down the rows after us, ready to dock us for every minute we may lose.
In short, we will be able to sit under our own vine and fig tree and none dare to molest or make us afraid. Indeed, we will have a home that we can call home in the true meaning of the word—one which at our death we can will to our children. But when we die now, we are forced to leave our dear little ones to the tender mercies of the charitable world.
These are some of the advantages to be derived by going to this State, whilst I do not know one we can lose.
Here, huddled as we are, so much of the same kind of labor in the market, wages down to starving rates, I do not hesitate to say that I see nothing but misery in store for the masses, and it surely grows out of the fact that we are without land or a house that we can call our own. It is all very well to talk about diversity of labor, what we will do as soon as our mines are opened, as soon as our factories are reared . . . easy enough to imagine the hum of a thousand spindles on our several creeks and rivers. But what hope have we that these things will be consummated in our day? If so, by what reason have we to suppose that it would benefit us? Is it not known that they would employ all white help? Is it reasonable to suppose that capital will flow to this country as long as it can find safer investment, or the same kind in the coal fields of Pennsylvania, or the iron mines of Missouri.
If we owned a considerable portion of land in this State, I would be the last man to say leave, or if I could see that we would be likely to get land, I would say stay. But it is not so; we are today where 1866 left us. Despite our energy the prospects grow less bright, and it can get no better until the laborers get more homes, and wages are better; and, in my judgment, this will not be until a portion of the labor is removed to some place where we can obtain land without money or price. This done, what remains in this country will be better paid.
If the foreigner comes across the briny deep and then travels more than a thousand miles westward, after landing on our shores, it does appear that we ought to have energy enough to go a few hundred miles, in the same latitude, you may say. If the Pilgrim Fathers would leave their shores and seek the inhospitable climate of New England in order that they might enjoy religious privileges, surely we might go a short distance to find a land where we can enjoy political privileges and religious meetings, which we have been denied in this State. If the men from the eastern part of the United States, could form themselves into colonies and cross the Mississippi years ago, (leaving comfortable homes behind them) when the red man met them on the very bank of the river, surely we might not be afraid to go where the country is all civilized; when we know too that we are leaving the Ku Klux, and their midnight hauntings far behind us, going where we can produce abundantly more with the same labor than we can here, and where a man will not be compelled to plant one kind of crop, but can plant whatever pleases him to plant, and will most advance his interest, and above all where peace reigns, where a man can enjoy his political opinions without being murdered; where political and religious meetings can be held without momentary danger of being fired into by Ku–Klux, or men who are opposed to our moral and political advancement.
The report of the committee was unanimously adopted, and a resolution was adopted appointing a committee to proceed to Washington city, to memorialize Congress and also visit Kansas and make a report as to the location for a colony, prices of lands, implements for farming, etc. and the best route of travel, and means of transportation.
The convention then proceeded to elect a Vice President for the State of Alabama of the National Labor Union, and Mr. L. J. Williams was chosen.
The following delegates were chosen to proceed to the city of Washington to attend the National Labor Union, which meets in that city on the 9th inst.: J. T. Rapier, J. K. Greene and L. J. Williams.
The Convention then passed a resolution of thanks to the reporter State Journal for publishing the proceedings, and adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow.
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4, 1871.
The Convention was called to order at 10 o’clock, by Mr. Rapier, President.
A prayer was offered by the Rev. Isaac Parker of Elmore.
Mr. Turner of Elmore, chairman of the committee on condition of the colored people, submitted the following report; which was unanimously adopted:
Your Committee on condition of the colored people of Alabama have had the same under careful consideration, and most respectfully beg leave to submit the following report:
After thoroughly canvassing the matter among the delegates from the various counties, and mature deliberation there on, we have come to the conclusion that the present condition of our people, as a mass, is infinitely worse than that of any other class of laborers in any country known to us. To prove this we have the evidence to show that as a people we are practically denied the rights conferred upon us by the laws of the nation, as well as those given us by our Divine Creator, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In portions of this State, no colored man is allowed to exercise that highest and dearest privilege of an American citizen—the right to deposit his ballot according to the dictates of his conscience—without endangering his life and jeopardizing the welfare and safety of his family; even the wives of many true and loyal men of our race have been abused and insulted because of the fidelity of their husbands to the general government.
From all over the State there rises a general cry for our oppressed people, of their grievances. The landholders have formed combinations to have their large estates cultivated to their own advantage, at the expense of those who till the soil. The poor colored laborer, on the first day of January, makes a contract, which he thinks will be a sufficient guaranty for his protection from penuary and want at the end of the year, but at the expiration of the year for which he has contracted, after twelve months’ hard service, he finds himself as poor or poorer than at the beginning. Educationally, we are making little or no progress, whilst in the cities and some of the larger towns we have some apologies for schools. In the country we are almost entirely deprived of educational advantages of any kind, and in some localities “nigger” schools are not tolerated.
Religiously, we are, if anything, retrograding. The poverty of our people is a serious obstacle in our way of supporting our ministers and keeping up our churches. It is the opinion of your committee that the panacea for the evils enumerated in the foregoing report is emigration. We do not believe it to be consistent with our interests to remain in this or any other State that has been blasted by the curse of slavery. There are millions of acres of the public domain in the broad and free West, where we, in the words of the immortal Lincoln, “a landless, homeless, and houseless people,” can find homes, peaceful, free and happy homes for ourselves, our wives and children—homes that after our departure from this world of sorrow, we can bequeath to our children with the satisfaction that it will be theirs for all time to come. We would most respectfully urge this Convention to instruct the delegates to be elected by it to the National Labor Convention, to be held in the city of Washington on the 9th of this month, to consider this subject carefully.
The following resolution was offered by Mr. Forman of Dallas, and adopted:
Resolved, That it is the sense of this Convention that the sum of $1000, expended by the land holders of this State upon each quarter section of 160 acres of tillable land, in comfortable tenements, ditches, fences and in the manufacture or purchase of improved agricultural implements would pay a better per cent. to the landlord, under free labor, than the same amount expended for a slave under the former forced labor system, and would aid much to harmonize and enhance the interests of both capitalists and laborers—whether skilled or common, and would do much to increase the mutual interests, happiness and contentment of all classes.
Hon. D. E. Coon was invited to the stand, and delivered the following address:
I thank you for the compliment you have paid me in calling me to this stand. It is a compliment of no ordinary character, for the reason that your proceedings, if wisely conducted, will prove a great blessing to the entire people of Alabama, white as well as black. If unwisely conducted, you will do great evil to all the people of this nation.
In regard to the objects of this convention, I confess myself almost wholly ignorant and unprepared to express opinion as to the details of its proceedings, but for the call published in the public prints of the State, I have supposed it to be, simply, to elevate the laboring classes of Alabama; if so, then, you have my hearty sympathy.
It has been a long conceived opinion of mine that the more we elevate the laboring men—the more educated, refined and intelligent the laborers of a nation or people—then, the more happy would be that people. And here allow me to intimate that you are to deal with a subject of vast importance. The subject of regulating labor in this country is one of far greater magnitude, not only to yourselves, but to the white man, than many of you have dreamed of.
Your action here will effect, for good or evil, every stratum of society in this State, for the reason that manual labor is the corner stone of all civilized governments and should be handled with wisdom and care.
To illustrate: who raise the cotton of this State? I answer, the laboring man. When I took over this beautiful and fertile State, and calculate the vast amount of wealth produced annually from this one staple, it proves to me that the labor which produces that cotton is of the greatest importance to the people of the State. When in market, it amounts to millions. The millions of dollars obtained for that cotton, to a very large extent, go to make up the sums paid (bread and meat) consumed by both black and white. So you see that the people of this State, black and white, are alike interested in the result of your action in this convention. If you are determined to leave this State, which no one regrets more than myself, you should take at least one year in which to prepare yourselves with the necessary funds to bear your expenses. By no means take such steps here that will disorganize and demoralize the laboring interests of our people, for in so doing the laborer and employer alike would be greatly injured.
Allow me, however, to add that in all laudable measures looking to the education and thereby the elevation of the laboring men of this State, and of the entire Union, you have my heartfelt sympathy and earnest co–operation.
In regard to your emigration, I will state that I do not think you are in a condition to remove from this State at this time. You have very little money to pay your way and no fixed point of destination.
I hope, therefore, that your deliberations will be such as shall prove a blessing alike to the laborer and employer. Deal cautiously with this subject.
I see that your Committee on Permanent Organization is now ready to report, and feeling that your time should be occupied with business rather than long speeches I shall beg to be excused from extended remarks at this time.
Mr. Williams of Montgomery, chairman of the Committee on Permanent Organization of the Labor Union in Alabama, respectfully report the following named officers of the proposed Union:
One president, three vice presidents, five executive committeemen, two secretaries, one corresponding secretary and one treasurer.
The committee also report the following constitution:
This Association shall be known as the Labor Union of Alabama, and it shall be auxiliary to the National Labor Union of the United States.
The object of the Association shall be the furtherance of the welfare and the education of the laboring classes in the State of Alabama.
Its officers shall be one president, three vice–presidents, an executive committee of five members, two secretaries, one corresponding secretary, and a treasurer, who shall be elected at each annual meeting of the association, and shall perform the duties usually appertaining to such officers in similar organizations.
Each member of the Association shall pay twenty–five cents annually to the Association.
Warrants upon the Treasurer shall be drawn by the President and countersigned by the Secretary, who shall keep a record of the warrants drawn and the purpose thereof.
Meetings shall be called by the President and Secretary, or by any three members of the Executive Committee and the Secretary, and may be either mass conventions or conventions of delegates, as the call shall state. But no meeting shall be called without three weeks’ public notice thereof, published in at least two newspapers of the State.
Mr. Walker of Dallas, introduced a resolution, tendering the thanks of the colored people to Gen. D. E. Coon, for his earnest devotion to their interests; which was withdrawn.
Mr. Greene of Hale, introduced the following resolutions:
Resolved, That it is the sense of this Convention, and we do hereby advise all laboring men in this State who have made contracts for the year 1871, to labor earnestly and faithfully for their employers until the end of the year, and not in any manner violate the obligations of their contract;
Resolved further, That we recommend all laboring men of this State not now under contracts, to engage their services to all planters or other business men who are desirous of securing their services, at reasonable wages; which was adopted.
The Committee to which was referred the subject of wages, made the following report; which was adopted:
Your Committee to whom was referred to subject of labor and wages, beg leave to say that they have not had the time for canvassing so important a subject. They have found that the following prices are generally paid to colored laborers in this State, to wit: mechanics, such as carpenters, blacksmiths, plasterers, painters, etc., from $1 50 to $2 50 per day, farmers from $5 to $12 per month, with board; in many cases they work on shares, the land owner furnishing the land, stock, and meeting all other expenses with the exception of the board of hands, the laborers getting one–third, in other cases they work for one–half and the expenses are equally divided. These are generally the agreements, but we cannot say that they are faithfully complied with on the part of the land owners.
Common laborers are paid from $1 to $1 25 per day, and from $10 to $35 per months. This includes work in cities, towns, etc.
Your committee respectfully submit the above facts without any further remarks, hoping the convention may take some steps that will make the laborer more independent of the combination of the capitalists in this State, as the prices paid are totally insufficient for the support of the colored laborers of this State.
Mr. Green of Hale, introduced the following resolutions; which were reported:
Resolved, That we hail with joy the wise and patriotic measures recently recommended by President Grant and adopted by Congress, looking to the annexation of the territory of San Domingo to that of the United States.
Resolved, That we confidently trust and pray it may prove a blessing to liberty and free labor on the American continent.
The Committee on Churches and Societies beg leave to make the following report:
That the churches and societies are in a very bad condition. Some places in the State are entirely without a place of worship, and are subject to be intefered with by Ku–Klux.
One great cause of their being destitute of places of worship is that they are unable to build. While they have striven hard to obtain means to build their homely temples of worship, they have by bad faith (too often of their employers) failed to receive the reward of their labor. In and about the larger towns they have churches, but in the country and more remote counties they are almost destitute; and in many instances where they have built churches and school houses they have been burnt down by those hostile to the elevation and culture of the colored race. So often have they been disappointed in their earnest endeavors to erect churches and school houses; that they have become discouraged and dismayed, and humbly petition through this Convention to the Federal authorities, to which they have never appealed in vain, for further protection and aid, that the colored race may be enabled to educate their children and worship the God of Israel according to the dictates of consciences, without fear or molestation.
Mr. Williams of Montgomery, made the following report, which was adopted:
The Committee on Education respectfully report:
That ever since an attempt to educate the colored children of Alabama was commenced the work has been steadily pursued in spite of the bitter hostility manifested by the aristocratic classes, the burning of school houses built from the scanty savings of the hard working poor, the persecutions of innocent and defenceless children, and the opposition to every one engaged in their instruction—extending even to the murder of teachers by Ku-Klux assassins. That any progress should have been made under such hell–born opposition may seem wonderful, and yet the progress made by the colored children of Alabama in learning the rudiments of the English language are not inconsiderable.
Thousands have learned to read and write, and all our people are believed to earnestly desire the improvement of the mental condition of their children.
. . . The public fund allowable for school purposes is about $500 annually, giving for each child in the schools about one dollar and fifteen cents a year, a sum only sufficient to keep the schools open for two or three months. Many of the Southern States pay less than a dollar a year for each child, and one State less than half a dollar. In New York the public fund allows $6.83, in Massachusetts $16.45, and in the young State of Nevada $19.17 for each child. No comment upon these figures is necessary.
The condition of the Treasury and the hostile public opinion in Alabama, forbid us to anticipate any great improvement upon the present system, if indeed it can be maintained under the attacks constantly made upon it.
The committee have thought it best to recommend this Convention to adopt the following resolution.
Resolved, That the delegates to the “National Labor Union” to be convened in Washington city, on the 9th proximo, be instructed to impress upon that body the importance of urging upon Congress the necessity of enacting a national school system, whereby every child in the Union can at least learn or be taught the rudiments of the English language; experience in this and other States in the South having taught us that without such a system as is here sought for the rising generation (in an educational point of view) will be but very little superior to that of generations gone before.
Mr. Phillips, from the Committee on Savings Bank, made the following report:
Your committee beg leave to submit the following report:
Under an act of Congress, freedmen’s savings and trust companies were established in 1865. The principal office is located in Washington, D.C. Branches are established wherever the people show a disposition to support them. Three branches, viz: one at Mobile, one at Montgomery, and one at Huntsville, are now in successful operation in this State. Savings banks are every where recognized as a successful means of educating the people to habits of industry and economy, and in States where the subject has received the most attention, have been encouraged by special legislation. We have examined the system of the bank chartered by Congress and believe it safe to the depositors, and we know of no other system, that can be adopted, preferable to it, and would recommend that our people give it their hearty support, being assured that branches will be established at different parts of the State as fast as it is apparent that they will be sustained.
Mr. Turner introduced a resolution employing the STATE JOURNAL to print 2000 copies of the proceedings of the Convention in pamphlet form.
The Convention went into an election for officers of the State Labor Union, with the following result:
President—Jere Haralson of Dallas.
First Vice President—G. S. W. Lewis of Perry.
Second Vice President—Y. B. Simms of Talladega.
Third Vice President—J. W. Williams of Dallas.
Recording Secretary—J. B. Simpson of Autauga.
Treasurer—Holland Thompson of Montgomery.
The following delegates were appointed a State Executive Committee:
J. T. Rapier, L. J. Williams, H. H. Craig, L. S. Speed, [illegible].
The Convention then adjourned sine die.
Alabama State Journal, January 6, 1871.
WASHINGTON, D. C., April 9, 1880.
JOHN HENRI BURCH, (colored) recalled.
BY MR. BLAIR:
Question. You may go on and state anything further you may have to say to the committee hearing upon the causes of the exodus.—Answer. So far as the causes of the exodus are concerned I have one more paper, that I missed at the time I gave my testimony before, that I desire to call the attention of the committee to, as the causes of the exodus; and also to sustain the point that this exodus did not commence a couple of years ago in the South, but has been in existence and thought of for the last several years.
Q. You may go on and give us what you have.—A. It is the proceedings of the labor convention of Alabama. They are marked.
THE CHAIRMAN. Mark them and give them to the reporter.
BY MR. BLAIR:
Q. What is that pamphlet?—A. It is the proceedings of the labor convention of Alabama, relative to whether they would remain in Alabama or not, and disadvantages under which they labored, so far as their educational privileges and rights were concerned, and their civil and political rights, and the possibility of their obtaining homesteads in that State. The reports of the several committees are in it.
Q. What year was that?—A. Eighteen hundred and seventy–two; also the report of the agent who was sent to Kansas to look into that country there, and report back to this convention, which he did, and that report is here.
Q. His investigation was prior to 1872?—A. It was in 1871. He was sent in 1871.
Q. What is his name?—A. Hon. George F. Marlow, chairman of that committee.
Q. And you state that the extracts are from his report also?—A. Yes, sir; his report is very short.
Q. Well, mark such portions of the proceedings of that convention as you desire to put in your testimony.—A. Yes, sir; I have done so.
The marked extracts as indicated by witness follow.
EXTRACT FROM PROCEEDINGS OF THE LABOR CONVENTION OF ALABAMA,
Assembled in the city of Montgomery, January 2, 1872.
The following report of Hon. George F. Marlow upon Kansas was read immediately after the convention was called order, as follows:
In August, 1871, being delegated by your president for the purpose, I visited the State of Kansas, and here give the results of my observations, briefly stated.
It is a new State, and as such possesses many advantages over the old.
Is much more productive than most other States.
What is raised yields more profit than elsewhere, as it is raised at less expense.
The weather and roads enable you to do more work here than elsewhere.
The climate is mild and pleasant.
Winters short and require little food for stock.
The population is enterprising, towns and villages spring up rapidly, and great profits arise from all investments.
Climate dry, and land free from swamps.
The money paid to doctors in less healthy regions can here be used to build up a house.
People quiet and orderly, schools and churches to be found in every neighborhood, and ample provision for free schools is made by the State.
Money plenty, and what you raise commands a good price.
Fruit of all kinds easily grown and sold at large profit.
Railroads are being built in every direction.
The country is well watered.
Salt and coal are plentiful.
It is within the reach of every man, no matter how poor, to have a home in Kansas. The best lands are to be had at from $2 to $10 an acre, on time. The different railroads own large tracts of land, and offer liberal inducements to emigrants. You can get good land in some places for $1.25 an acre. The country is mostly open prairie, level, with deep, rich soil, producing from forty to one hundred bushels of corn and wheat to the acre. The corn grows about eight or nine feet high, and I never saw better fruit anywhere than there.
The report was adopted.
Hon. Robert H. Knox, of Montgomery, was then invited to address the convention, and spoke as follows:
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE CONVENTION: While I am deeply sensible of the honor conferred upon me, I shall address you but few words, believing, as I do, that you have met for work rather than to hear long speeches, and that the members of this convention are anxious to finish their labors, return to the people whose representatives they are, who are waiting expectantly for tidings of what may be recommended and accomplished.
You are called together from all portions of the State for the purpose, as I understand, of advancing the interests of labor in Alabama. It is a noble cause, and your duty in connection with it a sacred one—one that will be faithfully discharged only when the subject has been conscientiously considered, and some line of action suggested and adopted which will insure protection and advancement to the labor cause, and extend the privileges and immunities of the laboring man in this State.
The three principal points to be considered by you are, I think—
First. Protection to the laboring masses of Alabama in their exercise of the rights of citizenship, and personal security from ku–klux hate and violence.
Second. Protection to the laborer to securing payment of wages earned.
Third. The protection of labor against the inroads and encroachments of capital.
Work honestly and hard for the consummation of those three great objects; do everything in your power to secure these; and after the subject has been exhausted, if your efforts fail, it is time then to desert Alabama and seek a land—a State—where these rights are accorded.
I have listened with great attention to the report of the commissioner appointed by authority of the State Labor Union to visit Kansas, and while I own that the inducements held out to laboring men in that far–off State are much greater than those enjoyed by this class in our State, yet I would say let us rest here a while longer; let us trust in God, the President, and Congress, to give us what is most needed here—personal security to the laboring masses—the suppression of violence, disorder and ku–kluxism—the protection which the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee, and to which, as citizens and men we are entitled. Failing in these, it is time then, I repeat, to desert the State and seek homes elsewhere—where there may be fruition of the hope inaugurated when by the hand of Providence the shackles were stricken from the limbs of four millions of men—where may be enjoyed in peace and happiness by your own firesides the earnings of your daily toil—where the bickerings and cavil of party and caste will not be heard, and where the truth asserted by the “Ayrshire Plowboy.”62
Is king of men for a’ that.”
may be recognized and maintained by those who surround you.
The true nobility and dignity of labor, are asserted and recognized by a great part of the intelligent world. It has remained for the spirit of the nineteenth century to appreciate and confirm the principle that—
Toiling hands alone are builders
Of a nation’s wealth and fame.
May God grant this may be the case in our own loved State!
It is a principle of the Mahomedan creed, that I believe is inculcated in the Koran, that every one should have a trade. This is certainly a doctrine worthy the adoption of all creeds and systems, since individual industry and good character form the sum of a nation’s condition and progress.
While our government, and men who have power and opportunity, can and ought to do much to elevate and ameliorate the condition of the laboring class as individuals, workingmen can do much more for themselves. Diligent self–improvement is the road to success and fame and fortune. It is your privilege to assist these who, already assured of this fact, are toiling up the rugged path; and it is your duty to incite the indolent to ambition, and the humble and timid to confidence. What if their station be lowly and their opportunities few? These are the lower rounds of the ladder that have to be ascended before the great results at the top can be reached. Call the attention of such to the names of Elihu Burritt, Ben Johnson, the poet Burns, Dr. Livingstone, the missionary traveler; to that of Abraham Lincoln and others, who, resting from their daily toil, as mechanics or laborers, spent each spare moment in mental improvement. In private and social life it should be ever your aim to assist in elevating and ennobling those whose interest you are now considering in convention. If here calm deliberation and conscientious counsels prevail, and are remembered and acted upon hereafter, much must be accomplished, thousands in our State must be benefited, and you will be faithful to the trust confided.63
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND WAGES.
MR. PRESIDENT: The Committee appointed by yourself on labor and wages have had the subject under consideration, and beg leave to submit the following
We find here, as almost everywhere, two classes of labor—skilled and unskilled. To the former class belong the mechanics; to the latter, such as work by the day or month, and all those who work in the fields for a living.
We find the wages of the mechanics differ according to skill, kinds of trade, and locality; that there are about 4,000 in the State; that the average wages are about $1.50 per diem, and that work is not plentiful.
The common daily laborers form such a small portion of the labor of the State that we do not deem it important enough to devote much space to them; they number probably about 2,000, are confined mostly to the railroads, and their wages average about $1.25 per diem, without board.
We further find that there are not less than 125,000 laborers engaged in agricultural pursuits in this State. That this class of laborers have fared badly requires no report from your committee to prove. But we have taken some time to investigate their condition, and, so far as in us lie, the causes of our deplorable state, and find, first, that it is owing to the fact that there was a very short crop this year, by reason of a very wet spring, followed by a severe drought in the summer; consequently we failed to make more than two-thirds of an average crop. Second, on account of high interest we are forced to pay for the use of sufficient capital to conduct business.
The laborers contract in different ways; a few work for wages, but the greater portion work on the system known as “shares,” the landlord, furnishing the land, stock and implement, draws two–thirds, whilst the laborer furnishes his provisions, does the work, and draws the remaining one–third of the crop. But that in order that the case may be understood, we have concluded to count all things outside of our labor as capital, plus the interest on the same. We must then charge ourselves with all the capital we borrow, as well as our time, and credit ourselves with whatever the crop brings. If at the end of the year we find that the crop does not more than pay back the actual cash borrowed, then we have lost our time; if more, then the surplus is just what we have received for our time.
Taking the crop of 1869 as a basis and calculating that this year (as is generally conceded) there was just two–thirds of a crop made, and we have the following result, viz: 1869, the aggregate value of the products on all farms, except cotton, was $38,872,260; two–thirds of this amount $25,914,840. 125,000 laborers, allows each $207.31. Amount of cotton raised, about 5,000, 000 bails, at $75.00, $225,000. This divided by 125,000 laborers, $180.00. Total amount for each laborer, $387.31.
To produce this crop the laborer has been compelled to borrow capital as follows, viz:
To this interest you must add the loss of the perishable property, which is the corn, and meat, and percentage of the mules that die, 15 per cent.
It will be seen from the above figures that the laborer is compelled to pay, in round numbers, 40 per cent, for all the capital borrowed. We submit this is usury; the capitalist charging just five times that lawful interest.
Out of this amount ($81.11) the laborer must clothe himself and family, feed the little ones, and furnish medical attendance for the same. Hence his inability to accumulate property. But if the capitalists would strike off half of the interest that they now charge, make it 20 instead of 40 per cent, we could then save $105.37-1/2 and in a few years would be the owner of considerable real estate. There is no earthly reason why capitalists should charge such high interest—upon the whole, the highest charged anywhere in the civilized world. The government to–day is borrowing money at 6 per cent, and finds plenty of it, and we believe it can be safely said that 6 per cent, is the average interest in monetary circles.
Whilst our capitalists are wondering why immigration don’t turn this way, we suggest to them that it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that labor will flock to any country where it is confronted with such ruinous interest on money, and the necessaries of life that they may be compelled to borrow.
We suggest further, that labor in one sense is like capital, sees fields where best paid. Not only does this high interest tend to prevent labor from coming to the South, but surely has a tendency to drive off a portion of that already here.
Mr. McKiel then introduced the following resolution, which was adopted.
Whereas the report of the committee on labor and wages shown, and condition of affairs amongst the colored citizens of Alabama, owing in a great part to the fact that we are landless: Therefore,
Be it resolved, That this convention memorialize the Congress of the United States to pass the bill now pending before that honorable body, known as “A bill to incorporate the Freedman’s Homestead Company,” thinking as we do that such a company would do much good by assisting many poor men to obtain homes, thereby rendering him a free and independent citizen.
The bill is as follows:
A BILL to incorporate the Freedman’s Homestead Company
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Charles W. Eldridge and Frederick G. Barbadoes, of Massachusetts; Frederick Douglass and Aaron M. Powell, of New York, E. M. Davis, of Pennsylvania; O. O. Howard, Richard J. Hinton, William D. O’Connor, Daniel R. Eaton, A. F. Boyle, J. W. LeBarnes, and William J. Wilson, of the District of Columbia; John M. Langston, of Ohio; R. W. Stokes, of Missouri; James T. Rapier of Alabama; Abram Smith, of Tennessee; James H. Harris, of North Carolina; Oscar J. Dunn, of Louisiana, and Richard Nelson, of Texas, and their associates and successors, are hereby constituted a body corporate, by the name of the Freedman’s Homestead Company, and by that name may sue and be sued in any court of the United States.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the general business and objects of the corporation hereby established shall be to aid in procuring homesteads in the States commonly known as the Southern States of the Union, and to assist in the settlement thereon of persons formerly held in slavery and their descendants, and to foster industrial pursuits, co–operative enterprises, and the acquirement of useful knowledge among them.
Sec. 3. Be it further enacted. That the corporation shall maintain its principal office in the city of Washington, and District of Columbia, but may establish its branches and agencies elsewhere, and shall have power to acquire, inherit, receive, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to do and perform all acts and things incident to the objects and purposes of the corporation, not inconsistent with the laws of the United States, which any individual or body corporate now has or shall have the right to do.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the business and affairs of the corporation shall be managed and directed by the board of trustees, who may make, establish, and prescribe all needful rules, regulations, and forms for carrying on the business and government of the corporation, and not less than nine trustees shall be a quorum of the transaction of business at any regular or adjourned meeting of the board. The persons named in the first section of this act shall be the first trustees of the corporation, and the number of trustees may be increased to fifty by the election by the board of additional members; and any trustee omitting to attend the regular meetings of the board for six consecutive months, without reasons satisfactory to the board, may be considered to have vacated the office, and a successor may be elected to fill the vacancy. The board of trustees shall annually, on the first Monday of December, make a report to Congress of the operations of the company for the preceding year; and the books and affairs of the company shall at all times be open to the inspection and examination of such persons as Congress may designate and appoint.
Sec. 5. And be it furthered enacted, That the corporation may receive any gift or bequest of lands or property as a special trust upon such conditions for such purposes, not contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and compatible with the general purposes and objects of the corporation, as may be expressed by the grantor or devisor and accepted by the corporation, which trusts shall be faithfully administered in the interests and for the benefit of those for whom the same may be intended and prescribed.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That if any person, whether under color of State authority or otherwise, shall interfere with, assault, menace, or obstruct any officer or agent of the corporation hereby established while in the proper and legal discharge of his duties, or in the proper and legal prosecution of the business of the corporation, or shall maltreat or by force or menace, and whether under color of State authority or otherwise intimidate, prevent, or obstruct any of the persons designated in the second section of this act from removing to, settling upon, or peaceably occupying the homesteads which may be obtained for them under this act, or of availing themselves of any of the advantages intended to be secured to them by the provisions of this act, or shall in any manner conspire in, counsel, encourage, aid or abet any such interference, assault, menace, maltreatment, or obstruction, such persons shall be deemed guilty of a crime, and shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars, and by imprisonment not more than five years.
Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the district courts of the United States, within their respective districts, shall have, exclusively of the courts of the several States, cognizance of all crimes and of each committed against the provisions of this act, and also, concurrently with the circuit courts of the United States, of any cause, civil or criminal, to which said corporation, its officers, agents, or beneficiaries may be a party; and if any suit or prosecution against said corporation, its officers, agents, or beneficiaries, shall be commenced in any State court, the party defendant in such suit or prosecution shall have the right to remove such cause for trial to the proper district or circuit court in the manner prescribed by the “Act relating to habeas corpus, and regulating judicial proceedings in certain cases,” approved March three, eighteen hundred and sixty–three and all acts amandatory thereof; and the provisions of the act entitled “An act to protect all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and furnish the cause of their vindication, which, became a law on the ninth day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty–six, shall, so far as the same may be applicable to any proceedings under this act, or to any cause commenced in or removed to any court of the United States under this act, be extended thereto.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON HOMESTEADS.
Mr. James Green, of Hale County, chairman of committee on homesteads, submitted the following report, which was adopted:
The committee on homesteads beg leave to say that they have endeavored to find out from the several land offices in this State the number of homesteads taken up by the colored people since we adjourned in January last; but in consequence of no record being kept respecting a man’s color, it is impossible to tell the exact number of homesteads entered by the colored people. But from the best information at hand, we estimate that no less than two hundred homesteads have been entered in this State under the ‘homestead act,’ and more than one hundred have been entered in Kansas by colored Alabamians alone, who inform those behind that they now live under their own “vine and fig tree,” and none dare to molest or make them afraid—a land in which there are no “Kuklux,” and where a man can lie down at night with a reasonable prospect of being spared until next morning.
We think this convention can do nothing better than urge upon the colored people throughout the State to secure homesteads wherever they can be had. If they are not to be found here, then go where they are to be found. Let the colored people exhibit as much earnestness and pluck as the foreigner, who travels thousands of miles from the land of his birth in order to secure a home for his family. We beg to remind this convention that at the rate the government land is now being taken up there will not be any left worth entering on this side of the Rocky Mountains in twenty years; that it will be a sad day for colored men in this country when there will not be sufficient land in the country owned by their own race or in their reach to produce as much bread as is consumed by them in each year. How easy it would be for the land–owners all over the country to unite upon one price for your labor, and close all the corn cribs until you come to terms. There is nowhere else for you to go and find such a country as this, and if there was, you never would be able to get there.
While we do not advise emigration en masse, we do recommend that steps be taken to send out a small number of families as an experiment.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION.
Mr. John B. Simpson, of Autauga County, chairman of committee on education, submitted the following report and resolutions, which were adopted:
MR. CHAIRMAN: We, the committee to whom was referred the question of the educational condition of the colored people of the State of Alabama, beg leave to report as follows:
We find that the free schools of this State are well patronized by the children of colored people, and thousands are today merrily and prosperously tramping down the school–house paths who four years ago had never seen the inside walls, or even the outside walls, of a free school building. The board of education seem to have done all in its limited power to provide for the education of the colored children of the State.
Normal schools or classes are now provided for, which will tend to supply the schools with competent teachers. Normal schools and normal classes cannot be too highly commended, as our greatest cause of complaint to–day is the want of competent teachers.
Many persons have to be employed as teachers from the fact that as better or more competent person can be procured, who should themselves be students in some private school, and who are totally unfit to teach. The question then, which presents itself is, how is this great evil to be remedied? By holding out such inducements to competent colored men and women of the North, East, and West as will tend to bring them among us as teachers. The too prevalent idea among the domineering and illiberal aristocracy of the State that “anything is good enough for a nigger” is now one of the things of the past, or at least should be.
Now, if the great work of instructing the colored children of the State is to be effectually done, it must be done by competent teachers of their own race, who have an abiding interest in them beyond the dollars and cents their quarterly statement may call for.
We hail with pleasure the wise and patriotic move of the board of education looking to a fair division of the funds arising from the sale of agricultural land scrip with the now separate universities for the use of the white and colored races.
We hope the general assembly will not sit idly by and allow this fund to be given alone to one race. We think the magnanimous conduct of the colored people toward the University of Alabama in yielding a willing support to the resolution of Mr. Finley, which declared the University of Alabama to be a university for the whites, should impress the general assembly with the fact of our race being in favor of harmony, peace, and good will to all, and should impress said honorable body with the justice and equity of giving a fair part of the agricultural land–scrip fund for the benefit of a colored university. It seems to your committee that this must done, or else let the agricultural college be a mixed college, and free to all, without respect to race. We think the bill recently passed by the board of education, providing for a university for the benefit of the colored race, a wise one, and was dictated by feelings of wisdom, justice, and deep patriotism. We think the present superintendent of public instruction and the members of the board of education deserve great praise for their earnest efforts in favor of educating the children of the laboring masses.
We think the effort now being made to blot out the provisions of our State constitution providing for a free public school system is unwise and mean, and tends, as its originators desire, sooner or later, to destroy this entire system.
We think that it is a movement that is founded in a destructive prejudice and a deep–rooted hatred for the cause of educating the poor children, both black and white.
We look with deep feelings of sorrow and gloom to the efforts being made in the general assembly to lessen the school revenue. We are pained and somewhat surprised to see the strength of the effort that is being made to repeal section 957 of the revised code of Alabama. It is a movement that would more seriously affect the whites than the colored race. It would drive out many of the schools from the “piney woods” and mountain region.
This unwise and reckless movement seemed to have been most strongly supported by many so–called wise men, and by many of both political parties, who owe their places almost entirely to the laboring men; some from the mountain region who professed great love for the poor white men, but who had within their bosom a upas–like sword, always ready to be driven to their hearts; and some from the prairie, or cotton region, who got their places by or through their pretended love of justice and equal rights, and who really despise all the poor, and love only themselves, and respect the rich. We think all such should be awakened by the sound of the bugle notes of the trumpets of Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner, Henry Wilson, Hoar, and their millions of followers.
There is undoubtedly a strong feeling in the State in opposition to the education of the poor; it has now found its way into our legislative halls, and may God in his infinite mercy have compassion upon such heathen beings and tyrannical wretches as give to it their support.
We think our present school system is gradually gathering into the free public school houses all of the poor children of the State, and soon will they arise, and say, blessed be they (without distinction of political parties) who labored for the interests of the laboring men; and cursed be they who labored only for tyrants, capitalists, and millionaires.
We close our report by referring again to the effort now being made to abolish and obliterate the free school system of the State; and we say, unless the poor men of the country, both colored and white, arise to the importance of the times, and hurl from power those unwise aristocrats, unmerciful and unfeeling men, to be found in the ranks of both of our ruling parties, who care nothing whatever for the wants and necessities of the poor and who think only with little and contemptible bigoted minds, the time is near at hand when the free public school systems will fall, but fall to rise again and flourish over the disgraceful graves of those who now propose and desire its death.
Should the State fail to provide for educating the poor children of the laboring masses, and thus allow the moneyed wolves of the land to go onward in their heartless oppression of the poor, we trust and believe that the national government will come to the rescue of the humble but ever deserving servants. But the State must not fail. “Better that all the colleges, academies, select and high schools in the State perish,” than have our common school system obliterated from the statute. Let the State “make that which can be done for the common people, better than that which can be done by the select classes in a community for themselves.” We should urge at all times that the State “make such provision for the education of the commonest common people, that the richest uncommon people will come suppliantly and ask for their children the privilege of participating in the advantages of the common schools.”
Extremists can be found in all classes. We propose to be moderate, for God knows we love the country and the country’s people; but we boldly say that poor Rosell Cremieux, or Ferre are shining patriots when compared with the blood–sucking capitalists or the moneyed corporations that now seek to trample in the dust all who are called poor!
The present school system of the State has done more for the poor man in three years than was ever done for him before in any ten years of the history of our State, the arguments of the enemies of schools and of the poor man to the contrary notwithstanding.
And now, to more thoroughly impress upon the members of this convention the grand and great importance of a continued agitation of the subject, we have deemed it expedient to append to our report the following resolutions, believing that “while there is a silver lining to every cloud,” and that “all things come round to him who will but work” and agitate and knowing, too, that governments are strong as they educate wisely; we therefore offer in support of the above the following resolutions;
Resolved, That the delegates to be sent to Washington be instructed to impress upon Congress the importance and urgent necessity of the passage of Representative Hoar’s “national school bill,” whereby every child in the Union can learn, or at least be taught, the rudiments of the English language; experience in this and other Southern States having taught us that without such a system as is here sought for the rising generation (in an educational point of view) will be but very little superior to generations gone before.
Resolved, That in event the legislature of Alabama refuse to set aside the pro rata share of the “agricultural fund” for the benefit of the colored people, then the executive committee of the State labor union are empowered, and hereby instructed, to memorialize Congress to withhold said “agricultural fund” from the State.
ADDRESS OF MR. RAPIER, SECONDING THE RESOLUTIONS OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
Mr. Chairman, in rising to second the resolution of my friend from Autauga, I wish to say that I do so because I am convinced that it is impossible for the poor children of this State to get a common school education in any other way.
First. The amount ($1.20 per head for each child) is insufficient to keep the school–houses open more than two months in the year.
Second. Under this system we have some of the most inferior teachers on record; in too many cases it appears that there are in the school–houses more to exhaust the funds than to improve the child; at all events, they succeed better in the former than in the latter.
Let me compare for a moment the amount per head set aside in several States for the education of their children. In Alabama we give $1.20 per head; New York, $6.83; Massachusetts, $16.46; Nevada, $19.17. These figures show very clearly that Alabama is fearfully behind in providing for the education of the youth within her borders; and just in proportion as these States surpass our own in making provisions for the education of their children, so will their citizens in after life excel ours in civilization and refinement, and outstrip us in the highway of life. Why is it that New England ideas control the policy of the government today? The answer is because of the superior education of the people of that section. The superior education of the New Englanders enabled them to combat the slavery question successfully; enabled them to settle the question of citizenship in this country by removing all political obstructions which hitherto confronted a certain class of American citizens. They also propose a national inquiry through one of their ablest statesmen (Mr. Hoar), into the vexed question of the relation of “capital and labor.” Where is the man from Delaware to Texas adequate to such a task? And the reason why they are able to accomplish more than the citizens of any other section of this country, particularly the South, is to be found in the fact that they are educated in a way superior to any other class, and seeing the advantages their own section has derived from such an admirable system, now propose a like plan for the nation.
There is another thing that militates against our system; that is, teaching with us is not a profession as in other States but rather a makeshift. In Alabama the school–teacher, the great civilizer of the day, has not been properly respected. In North Alabama, where I was raised, he filled but a very small space in society, consequently, most young men preferred a clerkship even in a country store to a teacher’s desk in a school–house, supposing that the former calling was more honorable than the latter.
We have never had any school system in Alabama worthy of the name; and when the new order of things overtook us, which necessitated a change from the old groove, we had not one prepared to take hold of the matter, no one understood thoroughly the free–school system; therefore a series of blunders were in store for us, and we were powerless to ward them off. I am satisfied that we have had more blunders from a want of knowledge of the common–school system than from all other sources combined.
At first we had the county superintendent appointed by the State superintendent (an elective office), many of whom were never examined by any competent board, appointed more for political reasons than merit. The system, then, to a certain extent, was turned into an electioneering machine. At the Republican convention last year I was told that at least one fifth of the entire delegation were composed of county superintendents, and I suppose it will be the same at the next Democratic convention.
Whoever saw such examinations as we have here? Who is it that cannot get a certificate to teach school in Alabama? Hundreds of teachers (so called) are to–day drawing pay for putting in their time at the school–houses who can’t work out a simple sum in “interest;” who can’t write a half–dozen lines grammatically; who are wholly ignorant of any of the rules of composition, to say nothing of etiquette. Can you tell me how we are to succeed with these dead weights hanging to us?
Why, sir, in every county there should be an examining board, composed of the best scholars, whose moral character should be beyond question, of which board the county superintendent should be a member, which board should meet twice a year for the examination of applicants for certificates to teach school. The schools should be graded third, second, and first. The pay should be graduated according to the class. The first step towards procuring a certificate should be this: The applicant should give the board notice that he or she intended to make application for a certificate to teach school (naming the class) inclosing a moral certificate from some minister or magistrate. At the appointed time the meeting should be held. The questions in the several branches should be submitted in printing, and answers to the same made in writing, with the name of each applicant subscribed thereto: examination over, which should last several days, the board then should meet, pass upon the qualification of the applicants, and issue certificates accordingly. By this opperation many worthless teachers would be cut off, and the calling would be made to partake more of a profession than it now does, and, as a consequence, be more respected. This plan is pursued elsewhere.
Now, sir, I do not think that the State will ever be able to carry out such ideas. Our only hope, then, is in a national system. We want a superintendent of education who shall be a member of the cabinet. All assistant superintendents should be appointed by the President, upon the recommendation of the superintendent of education. We want a government school–house, with letters U.S. marked thereon, in every township in the State. We want a national series of text–books which will teach the child that to respect the government is the first duty of a citizen. You may ask, where would the money come from to sustain such a system? I answer by saying, let the government, after 1872, turn over the net receipts of the Internal Revenue Bureau, which will be about $115,000,000. Amount, parceled out amongst the several Congressional districts, would give to each one about $406,360. At this rate, Alabama would receive, in round numbers, $2,438,160, a sum sufficient to keep the schools at least seven months in the year. If to this be added the “State fund,” we will be able to have our school–house doors open nine months in the year.
U.S. Congress, Senate Reports, 46th Cong., 2nd sess., Vol. VIII, Pt. III, No. 693, 1880.