The first in the delegation's list of grievances sought independence for black churches. Richmond and Manchester each had a very large black Baptist church that traced its history far back into the decades before the Civil War. Both cities also had several smaller black Methodist and Baptist churches. Since Nat Turner's Rebellion of 1831, the General Assembly had forbidden African Americans from preaching, even in their own congregations, and required the supervision of white clergymen for black worship services. "Now, in the reconstruction of our church matters," the delegation informed the president, "we wish to employ clergymen of our choice and faith, and to hold our own property. The obnoxious clergy we may gradually get rid of, but how to get possession of our church property, passeth our understanding."
The daily Richmond Times covered these events, printing several long articles about the meetings in Richmond that prepared the address to the president, as well as reporting on the delegation's visit to the White House and their return to Richmond. Widely read newspapers in Washington and New York also printed or reprinted stories about the meeting, which gave national publicity to the conditions of the freed people of Richmond. The story about the delegation's meeting with Johnson filled more than half the front page of the New-York Tribune on the next day. The paper reported that the pass system had been abolished in Richmond and that schools for the children of freed people had been opened.
June 10, 1865 - More than 3,000 African Americans meet in Richmond's First African Baptist Church. They approve a set of grievances regarding black civil rights.
June 16, 1865 - A delegation of five prominent African American men from Richmond meets with President Andrew Johnson at the White House. They present a set of grievances about their treatment and leave reassured.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Tarter, B. Conference with President Andrew Johnson (June 16, 1865). (2016, August 29). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Conference_with_President_Andrew_Johnson_June_16_1865.
- MLA Citation:
Tarter, Brent. "Conference with President Andrew Johnson (June 16, 1865)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, 29 Aug. 2016. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: January 9, 2015 | Last modified: August 29, 2016
Contributed by Brent Tarter, founding editor of the Dictionary of Virginia Biography.