Cincinnati Enquirer clipping

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THE GRATEFUL COLORED MAN

MEETING OF THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL CLUB

Sixty-Second Anniversary of Lincoln's Birth - Toasts, Responses, Etc. - Deifying Abolitionists.

The members of the Lincoln Memorial Club, with a number of guests, met last evening at the house of Mr. Samuel W. Clark, No. 25 Harrison street, to celebrate the sixty-second anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, who was born February 12, 1809.

The evening was spent first in conversation and reading letters from absent members, and afterward in the discussion of an elegant repast, garnished with the customary toasts and responses.

The President of the Society read the regular toasts, which were as follows:

[...]

12. "David Jenkins - The Old Wheel-horse. Many have labored more famously than he for his race, but none more faithfully. May he live till, and beyond the day, when every American citizen shall be fully protected by law and public opinion in every social and political right."

In response, Mr. Peter H. Clark said: At a time when several of the members of this Club were yet unborn, and others were infants, David Jenkins commenced working with an earnest, unselfish zeal for his people. At first little could be done in the way of politics; but there were schools to be established and maintained, the underground railroad was in full blast, and demanded conductors who had nerve and heart. In such work Mr. Jenkins won himself an honorable fame among his people, and gained that influence among them which he has, for so many years, exercised with honor to himself, for their benefit.

His labors took a wider range than this. At every Convention of colored men, State or National, he was present, aiding, by counsel and purse, in the organization of the people. In hundreds of addresses he sought to inspire the colored people with hope and self-respect; he criticised the actions of the enemies of liberty; he circulated petitions for the abolition of slavery, and the repeal of unjust laws which had been enacted to sustain it, and in many other ways sought to improve the condition of his people.

In 1838 he established the Palladium of Liberty, the first newspaper enterprise of the colored people of Ohio, and among the first in the country. As an editor he acquitted himself with credit, going far beyond the mark of some more recent and much more praised editorial efforts of colored men.

An ill odor attaches to the members of the lobby of Legislative bodies, and, perhaps, justly; but David Jenkins, as the very oldest member of the lobby of the Ohio Legislature, can challenge investigation into every act he has performed in that capacity. He has influenced legislation much more than would be supposed. He has watched with jealous care the presentation of every petition for the repeal of laws which bore oppressively upon his people, and whenever a motion looking to that end was made, he was sure to be on hand, counseling and encouraging the champion of justice.

There may be some who are disposed to sneer at Mr. Jenkins' abilities and underrate his labors. I, for one, would not be afraid to trust the championship of the colored man's cause to his hands. He has been tried by opponents of all sorts, and whether the contest was one of wit or wisdom, he has come off victor.

Mr. Jenkins was a candidate for the position of Sergeant-at-Arms in one of the houses of the Legislature at the recent organization, and, I regret say, was rejected.

Now I am far from believing that the chief end of man is to attain office. I know also the exigencies of politics; yet I am convinced that the Legislature would have done itself credit and the party no harm, had Mr. Jenkins been elected to the office he sought. It is true that men sometimes rise among us who gain much notoriety by haunting the offices of editors and of politicians, and boasting of their influence among colored people, then upon this assumed popularity seeking to be appointed to office, who are in no sense representative men. Our community has been somewhat demoralized, and its political influence injured by the presence of one or two such men. Further, when the people refuse to sanction the demand of these interlopers for office, politicians jump to the conclusion that we are too divided to stand unitedly by any man as our representative.

They further conclude that colored applicants for office may be treated with contempt without arousing out indignation. In both of these conclusions they are mistaken. There are men and there are principles around which the mass of the colored people will rally. David Jenkins is one of those men, and that color should be no bar to office is one of those principles. Had he been elected to fill the office for which he applied, every colored man in the State would have felt complimented; in the shame of his rejection every colored man shares.

I am quite sure that no officer in either House, the Lieutenant-Governor excepted, is the representative of more votes than Mr. Jenkins. Concluding, I hope he may live till his color will be no barrier to his official promotion, and that he may yet sit as a member of that body upon whose proceedings he has so long looked.

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Cincinnati Enquirer, “Cincinnati Enquirer clipping,” Mississippi State University Libraries, accessed May 29, 2024, https://msstate-exhibits.libraryhost.com/items/show/653.

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