Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Alabama
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865 - 1870
National Archives Publication M809 Roll 23
Petiton of Colored Citizens
Mobile, August 2nd, 1865
We, the colored people of Mobile laboring under a deep sense of gratitude to the Government of the United States and understanding that it is the Military Arm and not the Civil who has been the instrumentality of giving to us and to our children the blessed boon of pure freedom.
Next to our Heavenly Father we revere the good old Constitution of the United States, and now that it acknowledges our existence we are unanimous as a people to die in "its" defence.
We take this method of stating to you believing you to be a friend to our people and to freedom, believing that you do not countenance or sanction any act done in opposition or in confliction with the policy of the Government in relation to our people, and firmly believing that you will mete justice and not Southern Civil Law to us. Therefore we take this method of laying before you the following resolutions.
Resolved, that we the colored people of Mobile and "its" vicinity are determined to work hand in hand with the Government and that we will state our grievances to that power who freed us from chains and slavery.
Resolved, that the civil law, as administered to us, is in confliction with various acts and orders issued by the Military since the occupation of Mobile, as for example -
General Order No. 6
- In all Courts and judicial proceedings in this district the testimony of freed or colored people will be received and admitted according to the same principles and rules of evidence that apply to white persons.
- By Order of Brevet Major Genl.
C. C. Andrews
Resolved, that we can prove facts showing where Mayor Slough departs willfully and knowingly from above order as in the case of Ferdinand Smith, Pastor of Zions Church, who was fined on the morning of the 2nd inst. and was not permitted to appear even as a spectator in Court and was not called by his name but treated disrespectfully in said Mayor's Court. Also case of Hugh McKeever (white man) who knocked down a colored woman whose evidence was not admitted in said Court.
Resolved, that we think shutting our people out of the Civil Courts of Mobile does not shut us out from the halls of justice, for justice and white winged mercy have forever fled from the legislative halls of the South and particularly when men who hate our people are occupying high seats in said halls of Southern Civil Legislation.
Resolved, that aforesaid resolution will also apply to Senators, Congressman, delegates for conventions and all others who may make, frame, or cause to be framed laws for our people and do not or may not guide themselves according to the spirit of the Constitution and all proclamations issued by our lamented President Abraham Lincoln.
Resolved, that we the colored people of Mobile know and feel that we are free and while we bless the government that freed us we will also ?post out the dereliction's of officials who may be clothed with a little authority and who take a keen delight in yet keeping us in semi bondage for their own pecuniary advantages.
Resolved, that if our testimony is not taken in Court, that corrupt officials will yet grind the face of the poor and will also deprive widows and orphans and our people of their inheritance, as for example, the step taken by the Methodists South (in this city of Mobile) to dispossess the members of the little Zion of their Zion (unprecedented and audacious robbery) and numberless other ways too numerous here to mention.
Resolved, that a committee of three (3) colored men appointed to wait on Genl. Smith and tender the respectfully above resolutions.
F. D. Taylor
That reports come to us from all sources that our people are cruelly maltreated in the interior of this state of Alabama, that the planters will not yet let our people go but cruelly scourges them and shoots them if they remonstrate or plead for their freedom, that numerous tales of untold horror have reached us in Mobile which eye witnesses can prove, tales of terrible and heart rending atrocities which are related not to a civilized and Christian community but to the beasts of the forest, to the rocks & trees and stone, that at the recital of such wrongs those mute and inanimate things would be thrown into confusion.
Colored People of Mobile