Radical Mass Meeting

July 31, 1867


A crowd with predominantly black men gathered in a Radical meeting in Richmond.The speakers at the meeting call all Virginians to be respectful to each other, but encourage black men to vote for Radical Republicans in every way they can.Social equality is not ensured, but Republicans are the people working towards equal rights.


LOCAL MATTERS. RADICAL MASS MEETING. SPEECHES BY PARTY LEADERS ALMOST A RIOT. Yesterday morning a call, signed by "The Committee," urging all "loyal" men to attend a grand mass meeting at half-past 6 o'clock was circulated through the tobacco factories in the lower part of the city. In the neighborhood of the spot designated (corner of Main and Twentyfourth streets), at about twilight, there is always a large crowd of colored men, and it is never difficult, therefore, at that hour to draw an audience. Consequently, at the appointed time, two or three hundred darkies were on hand, but the "prominent speakers " were rather tardy in their appearance. A young man acting as chairman therefore called to the stand Dr. Sterling, who made a half-hour address to the attentive assemblage. Dr. Sterling proclaimed himself a radical Republican, and urged with much earnestness that his hearers should pin their faith to the same platform. He was a northern man, but had no ill-feeling against the whites of the South. They had always treated him well, and he therefore felt kindly disposed toward them. Colored men should treat those of the other race well, but should vote for the most radical candidates who present themselves. The first step is registration. Are there any here who have not taken that step? [No, sir; no, sir! ] He hoped not; for if any have failed, they must be worthless men. Let all avail, themselves of the second opportunity. The speaker then urged his hearers to act like gentlemen, not to "crowd white folks on the street," and to prove themselves worthy of freedom. He then counselled sobriety and every other Christian virtue, being occasionally interrupted by grunts of approval and "We will dat, sir ! " " Dat's de truf, massa ! " " Jes sol' The Doctor wound up by a eulogy upon five-cent pieces and small shinplasters, which, if saved, he thought would accomplish wonders. During the first speech a delegation of whites came upon the scene in company with a very well-dressed and decent colored man, who seemed to receive special courtesies. J. L. C. Danner, Esq., occupied a chair on the platform, and B. Wardwell and Mr. Tall were within calling distance. The chairman next introduced the Rev. John Given, of Brooklyn, N. Y., who has just returned from a canvassing tour on the line of the Danvillo railroad. Given made a neat speech, and had a pleasant delivery, but uttered very radical sentiments. Commencing with the statement that he had just arrived in town, and was unexpectedly called upon to make a speech, he thanked God that he was enabled once more to address the citizens of Richmond, after a month's absence. Some of his audience had probably heard he had been murdered, but he was glad to inform them that this was not the case. The victim had followed him on a speaking tour, but was a worthier man, and a good Republican. Providence bad for some wise purpose spared the speaker, and he was now here to declare his unalterable devotion to radicalism. If there was one drop of conservative blood about him he would open his veins and let it out. To conservatives be would quote the Saviour's (?) language: "Because thou art neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm, I will spew thee out of my mouth." The country indeed spew them out, and at no distant day. Their party - the Democratic is dead, and not even the sunbeam of Almighty God can resurrect it. The speaker then referred to confiscation, which he did not hesitate to say was just and proper. It is but justice to the wounded soldier, the widow, and the orphan The rebels should be made to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. For three hundred and fifty years the colored race had toiled for them, and now that race demands of the Government confiscation, in order that they may at least have a plat in which they can bury their dead. If the Government don't confiscate, it must remunerate us. We must have something. The life of the nation is due to the blacks. By their bone and sinew, by their bloody sweat, it has been purchased, and the supremacy of the Government established. Upon our banner are inscribed the simple words: Equality before the Law. Social equality is not a subject for legislation; bit must come of itself. He then spoke of the Convention shortly to be held in this city, and expressed fear as to its result. It is composed, said he, of both radical and conservative parts, and it is to be hoped that the latter will be converted. Nothing but the most radical radicalism should prevail. Let us hew to the line if the chips fly in our faces. Let us not tamper with the devil.
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“Radical Mass Meeting,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 3, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/677.