Emancipation Day Celebrations, 1867
- from The Intelligencer, September 27, 1867
CELEBRATION OF THE 22D OF SEPTEMBER
Anniversary of President Lincoln's Proclamation of Freedom — Our Colored Friends at Moundsville.
We reproduce from the Moundsville National the following report of the Negro celebration of 22d of September at that place on Monday last:
Our colored friends of Wheeling and Moundsville celebrated the 22d of September on last Monday — the anniversary of President Lincoln's Proclamation of Freedom issued Sept. 22d, 1862 on the "Old Camp Ground" near this place. The larger part of the assemblage were from Wheeling and arrived on the 9 o'clock a. m. train. They formed in procession near the depot and proceeded in good order to the grounds. The following were the officers:
Chief Marshall — Mr. W. H. Wilson; Assistants, Alex. Turner, Jas. Howard, Hezekiah Looker.
Flag Bearers — Emanuel Thomas, A. Rarbottom.
Their appearance and conduct commanded the respect of all our citizens, even the Democrats. Upon arriving at the grounds their order of exercises were singing and prayer, after which Mr. W. Grant made a very neat and telling speech. He was followed by Prof. W. H. Wilson, the chief marshal of the day. Mr. Wilson is a very pleasant speaker, and was listened to with marked attention. Next followed Mr. M. W. Walker. The speech of the Doctor was one of unusual ability. He made some telling hits which were true in more respects than one. He showed up the opinions and condition of the East Virginians before the war; how the ancient Commonweath was the mother of slaves and supplied the Southern demand for them. That the East Virginians regarded the people of West Virginia as an honest, hard working community, but as ignorant and unfit for anything but to assist them into office by their votes. He stated that in his opinion unless the government was reconstructed upon the principles of justice, recognizing no distinction on account of color, it would nor could not stand. He spoke of the service that the negro had rendered this country during the Revolutionary war; how he had rendered himself conspicuous on memorable battle fields. He attributed the amelioration of the negro's condition to the direct interposition of the Almighty. He remaked that as opinions were freely expressed now a days as to constitutionality of certain issues, he would say that he regarded it unconstitutional for one of his color to vote the copperhead ticket. The speaker told an anecdote of an old negro who was accused of voting the Democratic ticket. He excused himself that he loved whisky, that the Democrats had promised him as much as he wanted, and he had concluded, as he was old and worn out, he was not fit for anything else than a Democrat.
Rev. D. A. Asbury, of Wheeling followed in an excellent speech, He alluded to the different inducement they received from the Republicans and Democrats; from the Republicans they received words of cheer, they were taken by the hand and bidden God speed in their endeavors to do something and be something in the world. He referred to the cry of Negro Equality made by the Democrats, in answer to which he for one would not associate with the best man in the United States that was not loyal to the government. He stated that the White and Colored race were so closely allied that, what was to the interest of one was to the interest of the other. He paid a glowing tribute to General H____bin, of the Freedmen's Bureau; as the true friend of the Negro race. He accused the clergy of the South of being the cause of the late war, that all crime, bloodshed and destruction was because of their pernicious and traitorous teachings. The speaker appealed to his color friends to so conduct themselves that their color, conduct and general demeanor will cause them to be honored and respected in all climes, at all places, among all men. He pledged himself that in case another war should occur, the Black Arm of the United States would be stretched out to assist her, upon which she could always rely. The speaker closed amid immense applause. He was followed by Mr. M. F. Rolls of Wheeling.
Mr. Rolls made a very good speech, but we were unable to get a connected synopsis of it. The exercises were closed by singing the doxology, and pronouncing the benediction, when they returned to the depot, where a special train was in waiting for them, when they left in high glee, cheering until they were out of hearing. Being a friend of the colored man, we wish them success wherever they go.
Note: While the Emancipation Proclamation proper was issued on Jan 1, 1863, a preliminary proclamation was issued the previous Sept. 22.