A Grand Celebration

For her column in The Elevator Jennie Carter reported on a grand celebration in Nevada City.

Grass Valley Morning Union 13 April 1870

Jennie wrote:

Mr. Editor.– The celebration here on the 12th was a decided success, and has done much to give influence to the colored people. Notwithstanding snow and mud in the morning, the Grass Valley folks were in time, and were met on the edge of town by the Lincoln Club with music, and escorted to the Congregational Church, where all listened to a sermon by Rev. Alexander Packer [Parker], most appropriate to the occasion . . .

At the church a procession was formed, which was something to be proud of here in the Sierras, headed by our band, which can’t be beat.

Jennie’s husband, Dennis D. Carter, was the band leader. But what were the citizens celebrating? They were marking the ratification of the 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits denying or abridging a citizen’s right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The amendment was certified on March 30, 1870, and men of color wasted no time in getting their names on the Great Register (although the state of California had rejected the amendment, and would not ratify it until 1962).

Grass Valley Morning Union 13 April 1870

The school children, Lincoln Club, with their beautiful banner, citizens on foot and in carriages, marched through the principal streets, eliciting from many on the sidewalks a hearty “God bless you,” and “ain’t this glorious,” and even the Democrats wreathed their faces with smiles, and only one ventured to spit his spite.

Jennie was consistently critical and scornful of the Democratic Party, which had opposed rights for African Americans.

The procession entered the theater, where the children sang “America,” and several speeches were given. “I never saw an audience kept in such complete good nature, and never did the Democracy [the Democrats] receive a more direct dressing.” (By which she means a dressing-down, or scolding.)

The day proved to be pleasant, the streets soon dried, and all walked about with ease until evening, when a grand ball wound up the affair here.

Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West, pp. 90-91 (excerpts)

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
This entry was posted in Black History Month, Jennie Carter, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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