Address of the Colored Conservative Republican Club of Richmond to the Colored Voters of Virginia
August 11, 1869
The Colored Conservative Republican Club of Richmond wrote to the Colored Voters of Virginia. In this address, they ask blacks to support Governor Walker even if they did not in the election. They ask them to be good citizens and remember how far they have come from slavery. They think supporting Walker now is the best path to prosperity and successful Reconstruction.
Address of the Colored Conservative Republican Club of Richmond. To the Colored Voters of Virginia: Fellow-Citizens,--We have just passed through an important crisis in Virginia--one in which our very political life, as a race, was involved--and now, we find our cause has been crowned with triumph. Not only have we been declared free American citizens, with all the rights to enjoy "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," which the revolution of '76 secured to our white brethren, by the voice of the nation, but we have those inalienable rights voluntarily guarantied by the unanimous voice of the native whites, whom we had been taught to believe desired our disfranchisement and sought our reenslavement. Have we not reason, then, to rejoice and be exceeding glad that the God of Israel has been our God of deliverance, and that he has given us as allies that more powerful race, (the native whites), whose lands we occupy, and through whose instrumentality we are being afforded the means of providing for our families, of educating our children, of acquiring intelligence and respectability, and of worshipping that God whose hand of deliverance is so clearly discernable in our giant strides to prosperity and happiness ? It would be a work of supererogation to review the events-of the past ten years, and recount the hopes and fears that alternately filled the hearts of the thoughtful and prayerful of our race. Nor need we do more than briefly allude to the history of the late exciting political campaign, in which our future destiny was so deeply involved. It is enough that truth and justice triumphed over selfishness and wrong; that whilst our own liberties were forever secured, the shackles of political slavery were knocked from the hands of our white friends and brethren ; and that now Virginia stands "redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled," from political despotism, her proud banner bearing upon its ample folds the glorious motto, " Equality to all men, regardless of race or color or previous condition," with her helm of State in the hands of an executive officer whose stout heart, strong arms, and clear head, are ample guarantees of an honest observance and enforcement of our constitution and laws. What, then, is our duty at this time? Should we continue morose, and ill-natured, and suspicious, and jealous, because the majority of our race failed in the late campaign to elect as Governor the man of their choice ? Were men or principles the great prize for which they contended ? If men merely, we see no room for further complaint, the victors being thorough Republicans, and comparing favorably with the vanquished in all the essentials-of philanthropy, statesmanship, and patriotism. If principles, then we are assured by the chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, in a letter dated July 27, 1869, to the chairman of the True Republican Executive Committee that the difference between the two committees was only as to men. A Republican State ticket having been elected on a thorough Republican platform, thus fully endorsing Republican principles, it becomes our duty as good citizens to give it our cordial support. Let us prepare at once to do so in good faith by organizing neighborhood Clubs for the support of Governor Walker, thus strengthening his hands in carrying out in letter and spirit the reconstruction acts of Congress and the policy of the President so far as they relate to Virginia. Let us banish suspicion and doubt from our minds, and cordially grasping the friendly hand of our white brethren, so magnanimously extended, emulate their charity, and endeavor to rival them in industry, in enterprise, and in thrift, Let us, by Christian virtue, prove to the world that we are worthy the blessings which God, in his wisdom and goodness, has showered upon us. Let us, by industry, economy, and sobriety, acquire homesteads for our families. Let us educate our children in honest industry. Let us cultivate brotherly love among all classes. Let us strive to deserve the confidence of our fellow-men. And when we have done these we shall be respected and appreciated, and God will bless us as a nice. Virginia is our home. With vast stores of mineral and manufacturing wealth yet undeveloped, she lias the natural elements for becoming foremost in the sisterhood of States. By industry and labor this dormant greatness must be aroused to active life. Let us perform our part, and the day is not distant when we shall see the colored man vieing with the white one in State enterprises, in schemes of education, in respectability, and in moral worth. Then, indeed, will old Virginia become new Virginia. Then will her voice be heard as a power in the nation. Then will her waste places " bloom and blossom as the rose." Then will her vast water power become vocal with the perpetual hum of machinery. Then will her rivers and bay become white with the sails of every nation. Then will her steam-horses make musical the hills and valleys that lie between the James and Ohio rivers, as they speed along their iron tracks, dragging after them the immense treasures of East and West. And then will our people be united, contented, prosperous, and happy. We invite our colored friends, then, to let the dead past be buried and forgotten, and to look forward with hopeful eyes to the bright future that awaits Virginia if all her children do their duty. " United, we stand ; divided, we fall." One destiny awaits her people--one interest impels them onward. Her capital and her labor are handmaidens more closely allied than the Siamese twins. To separate them is to destroy both. To benefit one is to benefit both. Let us, then, in all sections of the State, organize True Republican Clubs as auxiliary to the Central Club at Richmond. Let us resolve to cultivate good feelings with all classes, and thus to heal over the wounds of the past. Let us give our undivided efforts to the improvement of our State and our people, and thus secure that lasting peace for which our noble President, and Governor, and every True Republican, most sincerely pray. All papers in the city and State are requested to copy this. Isaac H. Hatcher, R. C. Hobson Joseph Louis Wilson Winfree John Cooley Committee on Address. Test: R. C. Hobson, President. Frederick C. H. Coles, Secretary.
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“Address of the Colored Conservative Republican Club of Richmond to the Colored Voters of Virginia,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed March 29, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1442.