The Colored People of Vicksburg and the Valley Celebrate Emancipation Day – An Emancipation Monument to be Erected.
At the colored convention which assembled at Louisville, Ky., last summer, the proposition was made to select some day to be celebrated by their race, commemorative of the signing of the emancipation proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. The committee to whom this proposition was made decided upon the 22d of Sept. as the day for celebration by their people. The colored people of this city desiring to inaugurate the movement in Mississippi called for a celebration at King’s grove, four miles north of this city, yesterday. Excursions were run on the Mississippi Valley road and a number of excursionists arrived in the early morning, at noon and at three p.m. Excursions were run from the city to the grounds conveying large numbers to participate in the ceremonies.
AT THE GROUNDS.
At 4 o’clock the people assembled under the forest trees on this side of the hill, near Sandy Bottom Church, and there, although the crowd was not as large as was expected, a very enthusiastic, earnest and significant meeting was had. The meeting was called to order by I. T. Montgomery, and F. C. Moore was elected president and E. T. Butler, secretary. The proceedings were opened with prayer, when I. T. Montgomery was called upon to address the meeting as to its objects etc. He took the stand and by way of apology and introduction, read a number of letters from prominent gentlemen who were invited to be present and address the meeting, among whom were Gen. T. C. Catchings, Hon. B. K. Bruce, Hon. Warren Cowan, Hon. John R. Lynch, Judge H. F. Simrall, and Hon. M. W. Gibbs, of Arkansas. Our space forbids the publication of all these letters, yet we give the following from Hon. B. K. Bruce, which is pertinent and appropriate and will be highly interesting to our colored readers:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 17.
Messrs. James Hill, A. G. Pearce, I. T. Montgomery, T. A. Miller and T. M. Broadwaters:
Gentlemen – Your favor of September 5th, inviting me to address you on the approaching Emancipation anniversary, in the city of Vicksburg, has been received; other imperative engagements preclude the acceptance of the invitation that you have done me the honor to extend. The day you celebrate is the natal day of our race, and marks the advent of the remarkable facts and forces that introduced us, as a people, into the possession and enjoyment of the highest civilization known to the world.
You commemorate an event that was the forerunner and the earnest to us and our children of American citizenship, and the day you celebrate is endorsed by the benedictions it brought to an entire race.
The first duty that this memorial day suggests to the people more immediately interested in its celebration, is the rightful and adequate appreciation of the grave obligation that the possession of great prerogatives always devolves upon those who receive them. Constitutionally clothed with the right of self-government, we must currently assume the responsibility to acquire the intelligence and to exhibit the patience, discretion, and moderation involved in the wise exercise of our great right.
Contemplating the hopeful progress that we have made in civil and political life, I believe that the American people will never find any just ground to regret that we have been emancipated and enfranchised – and the best hopes and wishes, that I can entertain or express for my race, will be more than satisfied if by honest effort and brave fidelity to their trust, they prove themselves equal to the opportunities, and worthy of the privileges with which the great Republic has supplied them.
Wishing you and the people you represent God speed in every good work, I am, gentlemen,
B. K. BRUCE.
After reading these letters Mr. Montgomery delivered a feeling and appropriate address, after which the band played and Hon. Thomas Richardson, of Claiborne county, was introduced, he delivering the oration of the day, paying a merited tribute to the progress the colored race has made since their emancipation from slavery; said that inasmuch as this was the inaugural of the emancipation celebrations in the South he hoped they would establish a precedent that would be emulated in the future by rendering the celebration something more than a mere pleasure picnic, and as a step in this direction begged to offer the following preamble and resolutions, which fully explain themselves:
Whereas, Throughout our Southland no monumental shaft points heavenward commemorative of the most important event in the history of the colored race on this continent;
And, whereas, we deem it due to ourselves as well as to succeeding generations to transmit to posterity as a testimonial of a people’s gratitude to the enlightened age that broke the fetters from the limbs of four million bondmen, that a monument worthy of our race should be erected in some part of our State by and through the effort of the colored people, which shall say to future Nations “we once were bond but now are free,” to which our children and our children’s children can make annual pilgrimages, and place at its base offerings from grateful hearts for the blessings secured to them through the medium of that, the most important document ever penned by the hand of man, the Proclamation of Emancipation; therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the colored citizens of the State of Mississippi, in mass meeting assembled, that the subject matter contained in the foregoing preamble is worthy of our most serious and favorable consideration and should receive our unqualified endorsement and support.
Resolved, that in order to put into practical operation, the suggestions contained therein, the mass meeting now proceed to select twenty-seven from among the most influential and patriotic of our colored citizens in different parts of the State, to form what shall be known as the Freedman’s Emancipation Monument Commission, of Mississippi, whose duty it shall be to take immediate steps to raise a fund not exceeding $50,000 by gratuitous contributions from the colored people of this State, to conduct to a successful termination, the object embraced in the foregoing preamble and resolutions.
Resolved further, That the said Monumental Commission shall, at its first meeting, appoint from among its own number, seven competent gentlemen, who shall constitute an executive committee or board of managers, to conduct the affairs of the said commission; and said commissioners, in their organized capacity, shall have full power and authority to fill all vacancies that may occur by death, resignation or otherwise, in said executive committee.
All of which is very respectfully submitted, THOMAS RICHARDSON.
On motion the same was unanimously adopted, and the following committee of twenty-seven were selected to carry out the intent and purpose of said resolutions:
Thomas Richardson, of Claiborne county, chairman; J. T. Montgomery, of Warren county; Hon. James Hill, of Hinds county; T. M. Broadwaters, of Warren county; T. A. Miller, of Warren county; F. P. Hill, of Panola county; Joseph Simmons, of Panola; Rev. T. W. Stringer, Warren county; Samuel P. Hurst, of Holmes county; W. H. Allen, of Coahoma county; S. C. Granberry, of Holmes county; Wm. L. Lowe, of Bolivar county; B. F. Garratt, of Madison county; E. E. Perkins, of Hinds county; Stanton Baker, of Lincoln county; J. J. Spellman, of Hinds county; J. W. Longstreet, of Noxubee county; Rev. Jordan Williams, of Madison county; W. H. Mollison, of Issaquena county; L. J. Winston, of Adams county; B. G. Booth, of Yallobusha county; E. T. Butler, of Montgomery county; Rev. H. M. Foley, of Wilkinson county; Rev. R. T. Lewis, of Claiborne county; M. M. McLeod, of Hinds county; Hon. H. R. Revels, of Marshall county.
After the adoption of the committee by a unanimous vote the meeting adjourned and repaired to the train and arrived in the city at 6 o’clock. The Young Men’s colored band, of Memphis, was employed for this occasion.