The Radical Convention- Negroes and Carpet-Baggers in Council

March 10, 1869


A large melee fight breaks out during the Radical Convention at Union Street Methodist Church.


A Rare Spectacle. Petersburg, March 9, 1869. The great event of the day is the Radical Convention, which assembled this morning at the Union street Methodist (colored) church. Such has been the violence of its proceedings that, like Aaron's rod, it has swallowed up everything else, insomuch that the excitement on the streets has been greater than I have witnessed on any occasion since war times. While the parties were contending for ascendancy in the appointment of officers with a view to organization, so bitter became the rivalry that something like a general melee ensued ; and at one time not less than twenty persons were fighting within the chancel of the church. Things at length came to such a pats that Mayor Burgess, himself a Radical and a member of the body, was obliged to interpose ; and calling the police to his assistance, ordered the house to be cleared. This proceeding, however, was attended with the less difficulty, for such was the fury of the storm that numbers of the conventioners had already fled and (on dit) the reporters both foreign and native, of whom a goodly number were in attendance on such an important occasion had made their escape through the windows. It had been well enough if the truculence exhibited in the convention had been confined to the members of the body. Judging from the personnel , composed of all colors and stripes, any reasonable number of broken heads would have been no irreparable loss to the community. But the infection was communicated to outsiders; and the number of street fights that have occurred today is almost without a parallel in our quiet city fights, too, without any apparent provocation, Petersburg has heretofore been honored by the presence of several political conventions, one of which attained an unenviable notoriety for the uproariousness of its proceedings. I refer to the Democratic convention of December, 1858, when Mr. Letcher was nominated for the office of Governor. That was at old Phoenix Hall ; but the old Theatre then was a house of prayer compared with the African church on this occasion. That body was composed of Virginia gentlemen, not contending for the spoils, but rather for party ascendancy? a perfect contrast to the pestilent brood of carpetbaggers now famishing for the emoluments of place. They have deported themselves more like a pack of hungry wolves over a carcase than anything else. I do not propose to give any detailed statement of the doings of this honorable convention, as the Dispatch has an able representative in attendance, who will do full justice to the subject. The convention is again in session this afternoon, but with what result you will learn from the source referred to. During the day extras have been issued from both of the newspaper offices of the city
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Joseph McEachon




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