National Colored Convention Speech

Macon American Union: January 29, 1869

Gentlemen of the National Convention:

I do not regard this unexpected honor, so much as a compliment to my personal worth, as a recognition of the constant labors I have endeavored to perform for several years in the cause of equity and justice, and the acknowledgment of the intrinsic worth of my noble constituents in the State of Georgia.

No convention of colored men possessing such an army of talent and literary worth, ever met upon the American continent before. In its composition we have the inestimable pleasure of seeing the Minister, the Lawyer, the Doctor, the Statesman, the Artisan, the Farmer, indeed all the professions are represented, from College Presidents down to the commonest occupation.

To be ungrateful for such an honor would be an unpardonable crime. I shall endeavor to discharge the high duties of my office, as impartially as my abilities will enable me. You, I hope, will recognize the importance of being orderly, and exhibiting that high sense of characteristic dignity, which should always prevail in an intelligent assembly. Gentlemen will remember they are being watched by Congress, and the Nation. Your words are not merely to float off upon the wavy vibrations of the atmosphere, and thus be swallowed up, and lost in oblivion, but they are to be reiterated by the broad mouth of the public press and weighed in the scales of the public mind.

The cause for which we have met is more than noble; our object is divine, and God will crown it with success, sooner or later. Manhood rights is all we want, South, North, East and West. And it will not be long before the fossilized Democrats of this country, will see humanity recognized and clothed with all its God-given rights, kick and brawl as they may. The scepter of equity is but the sword of justice. And every man in America must acknowledge it as the mace of God, and Heaven’s thunder-bolt hurled against oppression.

Again thanking you for the honor conferred on me, in being selected to preside over your temporary deliberation, I wish to inquire the further pleasure of the Convention.


Turner, Henry McNeal. National Colored Convention Speech. The Henry McNeal Turner Project. (1869, January 29).

- Copyright © The #HMTProject -