Radical Meeting in Nansemond
June 18, 1867
A Radical meeting occurs in Nansemond near Norfolk, Virginia.The speakers at the meeting speak highly of former President Lincoln's emancipation of slaves and state that many white Southerners should have been convicted of treason.The speakers emphasize social, political, and economic equality for all people, including women.
Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch. Radical Meeting in Nansemond - A Speech in Favor or Negro Equality and Woman Suffrage. Suffolk, June 15, 1867. At an early hour thin morning large numbers of negroes began to congregate on our streets, owing to a report that General H. A. Pierce. of Norfolk, was to make a speech, who, however, failed to come. Your correspondent mingled with the crowd of three hundred "loyal citizens" which convened at the courthouse, and sends you here with a report of what he heard. The meeting opened with a prayer by "Rev. Trencher Tate, an old colored man, who commenced to speak with eyes open and hands gesticulating, and many around really did not know whether he was addressing them or the Almighty. Prayer over, the colored people were addressed by Charles H. Porter, of Norfolk - we believe the Commonwealth's attorney for that city. The following is a brief abstract of his speech, which consumed two hours in its delivery: He congratulated his audience on their changed condition. They went into the war slaves but emerged freemen. This freedom was secured to them by Congress. The reconstruction policy of Andrew Johnson, the traitor of the White House, would practically enslave them again. To prove this fact he referred to the legislation of Virginia shortly after the war, which sought to distinguish between the white and colored man, and placed the negro at the mercy of any ignorant justice of the peace. [He referred here, doubtless, to the vagrant act.] The southern people knew that they deserved hanging for their treason. The rebellion was not to be compared with the Revolution of 1776. That was a struggle against wrongs inflicted by an English tyrant, but the United States had never in any way wronged a single southern State. The doctrine of States rights as taught in the South was false. The chief allegiance of every citizen was due to the Federal and not to the State government. The United States did not at first seek to extirpate slavery, because a great political party of the North favored it, and to-day the Democratic party is as much pro-slavery in theory as it was before the war. After repeated disasters, the martyred and sainted Lincoln, the greatest statesman of the nineteenth century, proclaimed the emancipation of the negro. Then the war became a success. Being free, it is necessary that the negro shall have political and civil rights, and Congress had directed its legislation to the attaininent of this end. All classes ought to have equal rights. He favored female suffrage. The people will soon see it is just and to their interest to give equal rights to all classes of citizens. The teachings of the Republican party were that negroes had the right to vote, sit on juries, hold office, and to share equally in all funds for educational purposes. He favored social, political, and civil equality. The Republican party had saved the Union, and intended to govern it. He urged his hearers to support that party by their votes. He appealed to the laboring classes of the whites to unite with them. In the city of Norfolk they expected to poll 300 original Union votes, besides 400 more who had been soldiers in the Confederate army. There were 2,000 black Republicans there, to say nothing of the whites. He appealed to the colored people not to be intimidated by threats. If ten negro voters are kept from the polls by their employers by threats not to employ them if they voted with the Radicals, if will be reported at Washington, and Virginia will be kept out of the Union. The Republican party will never suffer the State to be received, even though she comply with the terms of Congress, unless satisfied the State will remain true to those terms after she gets in. The speech was intensely radical throughout, often reflecting severely on President Johnson and the leaders of the Democratic party, and eulogizing highly the negro. Ben Wade, and Thad Stevens. The negroes seemed delighted at its spirit. Several speeches were also made by colored men. Registration will commence here in about ten days. Negroes very generally will register, and they are expected to vote as a unit for the Radicals. A Conservative candidate, however, will doubtless be elected to the convention from this county. Diogenes.
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“Radical Meeting in Nansemond,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 20, 2017, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/633.