Proceedings of the National Conference of Colored Men of the United States (Selections)

Citation Information:   “Proceedings of the National Conference of Colored Men of the United States (Selections).” From Herbert Aptheker, editor, A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States (New York, 1951), p. 723.

Resolution introduced by W. H. Councill of Alabama:

Resolved, That whereas the principal business men and farmers have entered into contracts for the present year, we deem this an untimely season to agitate the question of migration; believing that it would prove detrimental to the interests of all concerned.

2. That we are opposed to a general and sudden exodus of our people for any part of the country, but recommend a careful consideration of the matter for all who desire to migrate, and after such mature consideration and calm reflection, if they are satisfied that their condition can be improved by emigration we advise gradual migration.

3. That the emigration question should be considered apart from politics, and should be based upon business calculation.

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Letter from Charleston, S.C. Colored Western Emigration Society:

What is mere freedom to man without civil and political rights? … The boast is proudly made that this is a white man’s government. Let us appeal to the good people of the country to aid us in changing the place of our abode to the free States and Territories. We have willing hands as ever; we have strong arms still. We are sneeringly told that we are poor and have not the means of defraying our expenses in removing from here to the free States … We have no apology to make for our poverty. It comes illy from those who have enjoyed our unrequited labor for hundreds of years the taunt that we are poor …

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Report of the Committee on Address:

The disposition to leave the communities in which they feel insecure, is an evidence of a healthy growth in manly independence, and should receive the commendation and support of all philanthropists … In the light of these facts [the Negro’s contributions to the nation] we demand, in the name of the citizenship conferred by the organic law of the land, in the name of humanity and Christian brotherhood, the same treatment accorded the other nationalities of our common country—nothing more, nothing less.

Proceedings of the National Conference of Colored Men of the United States, held in the State Capitol at Nashville, Tenn., May 6-9, 1879 (Washington, 1879), pp. 12, 16-17, 95.