Topeka Daily Capital, August 4, 1883

Topeka Daily Capital, August 4, 1883


A convention of colored people assembled in Emporia on Wednesday, 1st inst. There were delegates reported from Lyon, Leavenworth, Osage, Shawnee and Morris counties. After perfecting an organization, the following resolutions were passed, which may be taken as the object of the convention:

WHEREAS, In the opinion of this convention political ostracism is imposed upon us by some American citizens, and

WHEREAS, It is contrary to the spirit of the constitution and laws of this country; therefore

Resolved, That we pledge ourselves, and request our friends, hereafter to support those, and those only, whom we believe: First, to be honest; second, to be competent; and third, those who are willing to give to those of our race, who are competent, an equal chance with themselves in the political arena.

In the discussion which followed Mr. G. W. Albright, of Lyon county, made the following speech in defense of the resolutions:

Mr. President: I regret exceedingly that it is necessary for us, as colored men, to convene ourselves together for the purpose of securing to us, as a race, that political recognition that is secured to others. If one should read casually the declaration of independence of the constitution of the United States, he might say at once this is enough. The rights of the colored man are secured.

Yet, in the face of these declarations, the shackles of slavery were fastened on our race for nearly 250 years. The constitution has been amended, our code of laws has been revised, until to-day we enjoy, so far as the laws are concerned, all the rights of any other citizen. It is not the law of which we complain. It is that political ostracism imposed upon us in some parts of this country which is the offspring of ignorance and prejudice.

I thank heaven that here in Kansas, the battle ground of freedom, we see inscribed on our banner as it floats upon the breeze, “political equality, regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude.” But methinks I hear some say, “what have you as a race done that you should demand such recognition?” Have we not let me ask, borne all the burdens that a race can bear for our country? You may pardon me gentlemen, if I refer to a few facts in reference to the past history of our race in this country. In the events that led to the achievements of American independence the negro was not an inactive nor inconcerned spectator. He bore his part bravely upon many a battlefield, although uncheered by that certain hope of political elevation which victory would secure to the white man. The tall granite shaft, which a grateful State has reared above its sons who fell in defending Ft. Griswold against the attack of Benedict Arnold, bears the name of Jordan Freeman and other brave sons of the African race, who there cemented with their blood the corner stone of our republic.

General Green, who has been justly styled “the Washington of the north,” in a letter written by him to Alexander Hamilton from the vicinity of Camden, South Carolina, said: “There is a great spirit of enterprise among the colored people, and those that came out as volunteers are not a little formidable to the enemy.”

At the battle of New Orleans, under the immortal Jackson, a colored regiment held the extreme right of the American line unflinchingly, and drove back the British at the point of the bayonet. In 1861, when treason thundered at the very gates of the capital, the negro, true to that patriotism and love of country that has ever characterized and marked his history on this continent, came to the aid of the government in its efforts to maintain the constitution. The service where he rendered to the government, up and down the Mississippi, in the valleys of the Potomac and Shenandoah, and around the slaughter-pens of Richmond during those dark days, are too familiar to you all to be repeated here, but they will be handed down to posterity as a memento to rising generations.

And, again, let me ask (since I think I have clearly proven our devotion to our country), have we not, since we became freemen, in spite of innumerable obstacles, striven to elevate ourselves, mentally and morally, and labored as industriously as any other race upon earth? Gentlemen, the time has come for us to think of these things, and I for one have come to the conclusion that in future in supporting men for positions of honor and of trust I will support those and those only whom I believe, first, to be honest; second, to be fully competent, and third, to be conscientiously willing to give those who are qualified of our own race an equal chance with themselves in the political arena.

In conclusion, allow me to remark that my defense may be weak, my argument untenable, but the cause for which I speak is a just cause, and it is a righteous cause, and it is a cause that ere long will sweep this vast domain from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the great lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and justice, simple and pure justice, will be done to every man, woman and child in all this broad land.