Incendiary Meeting

May 11, 1867


A ratification meeting was held at the African church with a majority of black people.This is very controversial and included inflammatory speeches.Equality of people in Virginia was addressed during this meeting.


Incendiary Meeting. INFLAMATORY SPEECHES, WHAT WE ARE TO PREPARE FOR. Confiscation and Negro Equality. High Carnival after Underwood Leaves. A grand ratification meeting of the colored people was held at the African church last evening. The church was filled to overflowing, the crowd being with but few exceptions colored. The meeting was called to order by Johu Oliver, and H. Osborne was called to the chair and J. W. Hunnicutt was chosen secretary. After which, prayer was offered by Nelson Hamilton. Colonel Marsh, of Wythe, was the first speaker. After ranting and rambling for some time about the Radical party, its principles and purposes, he spoke of an attempt which was about to be made to get up a new Republican convention. Martin Lipscomb, who was in the crowd, here asked who the man was who was trying to get up this convention. The speaker replied "Botts!" The reply of the speaker met with hisses, murmurs of disapproval, and cries of "We aint got no use for him!" The speaker then spoke of the committee of the Republican party, and asked them if they would remove any member of it. [Cries of " No ! "] "Will you remove Mr. Hawxhurst?" [Mixture of ayes and nays.] "Will you remove Mr. Hunnicutt?" ["No! no! no!"] "Will you remove Mr. Wardwell?" ["No!" "Will you put Mr. Botts on this committee ?" [" No! and hisses."] He then advocated confiscation, and was loudly cheered during this portion of his harangue. He wound up in the usual style. He was followed by Hayward, of Massachusetts, the man who spoke at the last meeting. He said that the reporters of the city papers had made conspicuous his remark that a negro was better than a white man, as if he had made an outrageous expression. "Why," said he, "I had no idea that any one was so stupid as to doubt it." He argued that the negroes were better because they had displayed more of the cardinal tenets of Christianity, after a condition of slavery for over 250 years, than any of the white nations who had ever endured the same state. He then said: When I go back to Massachusetts shall I tell the people there that you are determined to ride in the same street cars in which any white man or woman rides? ["Yes!"] Shall I tell them that you intend to occupy any boxes or any seats in the Theatre for which you pay your money? ["Yea, yes!"] Shall I tell them that you will go to any public school where people are taught? ["Yes!"] Shall I tell them that you intend to go to any church where the Gospel is -- not as Mrs. Partington says -- dispensed with? ["Yes, yes!"] Shall I tell them that you intend, in whatever manner you may see fit, to have every right that any white citizen of the State of Massachusetts enjoys? ["Yes!"] If you want these things and cannot get them of yourselves, the young men of the Old Bay State will help you to get them. They came once and laid for months for you in the Chickatihominy Swamps, and they will come again. [Cheers.] We have paid taxes to make you free, and we will pay more to get you what you want. [Cheers.] He then went on, as he said, to caution this vast audience. During his visit to Richmond he had discovered bravery among them that was astonishing. But those who might be disposed to be reckless, he would warn that they owed a duty to the brave men who had risked so much for them. [Cheers.] You would not en- danger the life of the illustrious Underwood, would you ? ["No! No! That we wouldn't"!] Well, then, as soon as he leaves you may have a high carnival for what you please. It is useless for me to advise you as to what to do; for great masses generally do what they have a mind to. [Long and continued cheering.] Here John A. Fitchett arose and said: "Mr. Speaker, you may tell the people of Massachusetts that the colored people of Richmond are determined to enter any bar-room, hotel, theatre, or street car they may wish." ["Yes, we will"; cheers.] The speaker said that a law would have to be passed for Virginia as had been passed for Massachusetts, compelling hotel proprietors, etc., to allow the colored men equal privileges with the whites. [Loud cheers, and cries of "That's what we want here," and "We are going to have it here, too."] The speaker, after this, retired and gave away for Hunnicutt, who commenced with a request that the reporters would, for once, report him correctly. But we preferred not to report him at all, for it was too hot and crowded where we were to report anybody else. So we left, hoping never again to attend a meeting so calculated to inspire evil forebodings as this.
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“Incendiary Meeting,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 21, 2017,