Colored Emancipation Celebration Governor Walker Addresses Them.
January 3, 1870
Governor Walker addresses the "colored people" and emphasizes his willingness to support their rights.
The colored people, celebrated Saturday in honor of their emancipation. The procession was rather smaller than usual, there being hardly over two or three hundred in it. The following societies were represented: "Young Men's Hope Association," "Factory Association," "Mechanics'," "Factory Mechanics'," "Teamsters' Society, "Star of the East," "Young Sons of Messiah," "Young Religious Association," and "United Sons of Love." The officers were in carriages. After parading the streets the societies proceeded to the Square. Lewis Lindsey made the welcome speech. Lewis was very much in his glory, and offered a series of resolutions condemning Wells, Piatt, Bland, and others, as unreliable, and, in the case of Bland, characterizing him as a disgrace to manhood. The resolutions recommended the admission of the State under Whittemore's act (test-oath), and returned thanks to Butler, Sumner, Whittemore, etc. These were unanimously adopted. Next, a series of resolutions submitted by Wardwell were read. These were condemnatory of the State Journal and Gillis its editor as worthy of the scorn and contempt of all good Republicans, Colonel J. W. Jenkins as having no right to represent the Republican party, Mayor Chahoon as not having done as much for the Republican party as his position would admit, and of Platt as being generally non compos Republicanus. These were met with approbation at first, but it was soon evident that there was some discord in the ranks. Stephen Jones got upon the steps and begged his hearers to listen to reason, and not to be carried off by any such foolish resolutions as these. He was greeted by cries of "Git down dar; git down dar, you fool; what you talkin' 'bout?" Stephen continued, however, despite interruptions, and made a remark that it was "no use throwing good bread among dogs." Voice: "Look here; does you mean to say dat dese folks is dogs?" Another voice: "No; but y'all acts like it." Finally the resolutions were returned to Wardwell, and the Societies dispersed. Lewis Lindsey again took the stand, but the Societies expressed themselves as disgusted at the political turn the proceedings had taken, and marched to the Governor's house. The Societies, having reached the Governor's mansion, formed in front of it, and Governor Walker soon appeared. He had just retired, being fatigued with the labors of the day, but hearing of the presence of the colored people, he promptly appeared, and addressed them as "fellow-citizens." He said that he was glad to see them on this day-on this day when some time past certain rights had been granted them. His prayer to God was that they might appreciate and enjoy these rights and fulfil the destiny, which had been appointed for them. Weary and exhausted from receiving his visitors, he had retired; but when it was announced that the colored people, with their Societies, had been so polite as to call upon him, he could not refuse to appear and return his thanks. They now stood before him his peers, equal before the law and in politics, endowed with the same rights and privileges; and he would appeal to them to let their future actions fulfil what had been hoped of them by those who had been instrumental in gaining for them these rights. After continuing in this strain, and with the most happy and appropriate remarks for the occasion, the Governor retired amid the cheers and loud applause of the assembly. He was followed by General Imboden, who made a capital speech, which was well received; after which, the Societies marched off.
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“Colored Emancipation Celebration Governor Walker Addresses Them.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 19, 2017, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1555.