In the News: Convention of Colored Iowa Soldiers

Flag presented to the 60th US Colored Troops, formerly 1st Colored Regiment of Iowa
Image source: State Curator of Iowa on Twitter

The Christian Recorder, November 18, 1865


We clip the following from the Muscatine, (Iowa) Journal, of the 6th inst.

In accordance with the earnest desire of numerous members of the regiment, the enlisted men and non-commissioned officers of the 60th U.S. Infantry (colored regiment,) numbering about 700 persons, met in mass convention at Camp McClellan, Davenport, on Thursday, Oct. 31st, 1865

The convention was organized by electing Alexander Clark, of Muscatine, President, and I. N. Triplett, Secretary.

The following named gentleman were chosen Vice Presidents:
1st Sergeant Edward Henderden, Co. A.
”          ”      Samuel Meeks, Co. B.
”          ”      P. Neal, Co. D.
”          ”      D. Segrel, Co. E.
”          ”      Benj. Franklin, Co. F.
”          ”      Loudon Triplett, Co. K.
”          ”      Alfred Mason, Co. K.
Corporal G. Kelpher, Co. G.
”          ”  Wm. Edwards, Co. H.

Mr. Clark, on being conducted to the chair, spoke as follows:

Soldiers of Iowa: – I would have been pleased, had the honor you have conferred on me been bestowed on a member of the regiment, and were it not for the interest I felt and the position I occupied in the organization of the regiment, I should feel loath to occupy the position to which you have called me. But I must confess that it is with a heart inexpressibly filled with gratitude and joy that I accept the honor you have done me. It assures me that you have confidence in me, and know that whilst you were in the field fighting in defence of your flag and mine, I, though at home, was giving aid and comfort to your noble effort.

“Soldiers of Iowa! when I addressed you this morning at your request, and at that of your gallant Colonel, the noble and brave hearted soldier, John G. Hudson, I said that when, two years ago, I presented to you that beautiful flag, the ensign of our country, presented to you by the ladies of Keokuk and Muscatine, I thought it the proudest act of all my life; but I now confess I am doubly, thrice proud in presiding over your present deliberations, after the years of patient service you have given to your country   Now, my friends, we have a work to perform, and here today. A duty we owe to ourselves and to our race, in asking for those political rights of which we are now deprived. These we must ask of the white citizens of Iowa – our friends who have so nobly maintained and defended the principles of justice and liberty throughout the late election campaign. And this recalls to mind what I told you two years ago, that you had true friends in Iowa. I iterate that cheering truth now. I told you then that Governor Kirkwood, Senator Harlan and Senator Grimes were your friends. They are your friends now. I told you Chief Justice Lowe, Gen. N.B. Baker and Gov. Stone were your friends. They are our friends to-day; and I can tell you, my friends, that Gov. Stone, our reelected Governor, and ex-Gov. Kirkwood, nobly took the stump in defence of our rights. On the principles they defended, the State has been carried by a majority of 16,000! Therefore, we can now ask the Legislature to do its duty and prepare the way for our approach to the ballot box”

Mr. Emanuel Franklin, of Davenport, was called for and addressed the convention in a short and pertinent speech, urging prompt and considerate action in furthering the views presented by Mr. Clark.

Addresses were also delivered by Mr. Corbin and Sergt. Mason.

The convention then appointed a committee of ten, one from each company, to prepare resolutions; also a committee of ten, one Sergeant from each company, to prepare and publish an address to the people of Iowa. On motion, Alexander Clark was added to the committee.

The convention also appointed a committee of ten, one Sergeant from each company, to draw up a petition to be signed by each man in the regiment, and to be presented to the next Legislature of Iowa, asking for the extension of the right of suffrage, so far as the Legislature can act in the premises. Alexander Clark was appointed to convey such petition to the capital and secure its presentation to the Legislature at the next session.

The following resolutions, as reported by the committee, were unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That we, the soldiers of the 60th U.S. Infantry, formerly the Iowa African First, having returned home from the battle field, and feeling conscious that we have discharged our duty as soldiers in defence of our country, respectfully urge that it is the duty of Iowa to allow us the use of our votes at the polls; believing, as we do and must, that he who is worthy to be trusted with the musket can and ought to be trusted with the ballot

Resolved, That we recommend our colored friends all over the State to prepare and cause to be presented to our next Legislature petitions asking of that body the action necessary to initiate the amendment to the State Constitution, by the adoption of which the right we desire will be secured.

Resolved, That we recommend to our people throughout the country that patient pursuit of education, industry and thrift, which will certainly be rewarded with increasing intelligence and wealth

Resolved, That we recommend our people every where, to abstain from the use of intoxicating drink, and from frequenting saloons.

Resolved, That we still have confidence in the President and the Republican Administration; and rest in the hope that they will do all that can be done to secure us our rights, and protect our friends in the South from wrong and oppression.

Resolved, That we mourn, as we ever must, the sad fate of the martyr-President, Abraham Lincoln, the great Emancipator, and devoted friend of our race, yet rejoice that the great work which God appointed him to perform has been so nearly accomplished that the wrath of the oppressor is utterly powerless to prevent a full and glorious consummation.

The Convention then closed, and adjourned with three rousing cheers for Col John G. Hudson and the officers and men of the 60th U.S. Colored Infantry: three cheers for Gov. Stone, ex-Gov. Kirkwood, Hiram Price, Henry O’Conner, and Jacob Butler, and three cheers for A. Clark and the officers of the Convention.

Ord. Sergt. I. N. TRIPLETT, Sec.

The Address of the Convention of Colored Soldiers to the People of Iowa.

FELLOW COUNTRYMEN: – We wish we could truthfully address you as “fellow citizens.” – Having established our claim to the proud title of American soldiers, and shared in the glories won by the deeds of the true men of our own color, will you not hear and heed our appeal? We appeal to the justice of the people and of the Legislature of our State, for those rights of citizenship without which our well-earned freedom is but a shadow; we ask you to recognize our claims to manhood by giving to us that right without which we have no power to defend ourselves from unjust legislation; and no voice in the Government we have endeavored to preserve. Being men, we claim to be of that number comprehended in the Declaration of Independence, and who are entitled, not only to life, but to equal rights in the pursuit and securing of happiness – in the choice of those who are to rule over us.

We appeal to your magnanimity, to your good faith, to your sense of justice. We ask no privilege, we simply ask for our own rights, long denied by the misguided and now conquered South, and withheld from us at the North in obedience to the political teachings and demands of a slave-holding public opinion. We will not believe but that the people of Iowa will be the first to do full justice to the men of color, as they have been among the foremost in upholding the flag of our country.

We rejoice in the fact and congratulate the people of our own color in every part of the land that in the recent election for Governor the gallant Stone, who marched as bravely up to the manhood suffrage issue, as he was wont to do on the field of battle against the enemies of the country in arms, has been again chosen to the Gubernatorial chair, by the handsome majority of more than 15,000 votes. In this fact the colored citizens of Iowa take courage, and are the more incited to show our white friends, that if we do not get our rights as citizens and voters it is not because we do not deserve and have not fairly earned them, but only because prejudice and wrong still triumph over Truth and Righteousness. Seeing what our eyes have already beheld during the past four years, we know that the day of full triumph is coming as surely as the Omnipotent reigneth. We patiently wait our time, desiring ever to prove faithful to God and our country, and hoping that suffering humanity, now contending for equal Rights and Justice, will, ere long, be made to rejoice in the hearty sympathy and aid of all good and true men every where.

Trusting that this our appeal will receive a candid consideration from the people of Iowa, we subscribe ourselves in behalf of our brethren and race:
ALEXANDER CLARK, of Muscatine, Iowa.
Sergt. EDWARD HERENDEN, Co. A, 60th U.S. Inft.
”     I.N. TRIPLET, Co. C, 60th U.S. Inft.
”    SAMUEL MEELS, Co. B, 60th U.S. Inft.
”      J. NEAL, Co. D, 60th U.S. Inft.
”      DANIEL SEGEEL, Co. F, 60th U.S. Inft.
”      BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Co. F, 60th U.S. Inft.
”      LOUDON TRIPLETT, Co. I, 60th U.S. Inft.
”      ALFRED MASON, Co. K, 60th U.S. Inft.
”       GEORGE BLACK, Co. H, 60th U.S. Inft.
”       WM. WALKER, Co. G, 60th U.S. Inft.

Committee appointed by the Convention of the 60th U.S. Colored Infantry.

To learn more about the 60th USCI:

David Broadnax, Sr., “‘Will They Fight? Ask the Enemy’: Iowa’s African American Regiment in the Civil War.”
Dwain Coleman, “‘We Came Home Together’: Black Civil War Veterans and Community Building in Iowa”
Spreadsheet that lists the names of the soldiers of the 60th USCI who died in service.

Editorial methods for transcribed letters

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