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Browse news coverage of the 1843 National Convention of Colored Citizens, August 15-19, 1843. This section features several views on the convention before and after it was held.
Sectarian politics surrounding the 1843 convention garnered attention in the press. The Liberator published a letter to the editor in which F. Johnson discusses his views on sectarian politics surrounding the approaching 1843 national convention. Johnson questions Black New Yorkers' call for a national convention of "free people of color." Johnson describes a meeting of Black men in Boston. The body met to evaluate New Yorkers' committment to Black issues and to vote in favor of or against attending the proposed national convention. Many believed Black New Yorkers had lost their spirit in promoting the anti-slavery cause. Johnson touts Boston’s faithful promotion of the abolition of slavery. He insinuates that the New Yorkers calling for a convention had previously shown a lack of engagement in political organizing meetings. He contends that their absence at such meetings is due to their prejudice against women's participation in political organizing efforts. Johnson also questions requests for endorsements of the print organ, United States Clarion. He doubts that the circular would advocate for collective organizing to advance the rights of colored people and would rather promote the interests of a particular organization. (“For the Liberator. Colored Convention.” The Liberator, July 8, 1843, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers.).
Dissent arose among some free Blacks in the north who suggest that New Yorkers calling for a national colored convention were primarily concerned about the state of free people and were not advocating enough for the abolition of slavery in the south. The Liberator published an article describing the proceedings of a meeting in Boston. At the meeting, attendees debated the necessity of a national convention of free colored people. The body ultimately voted against endorsing a call for a national colored convention, which they believed would exclusively focus on free people. Resolutions published in the article outline the body's reasoning, namely that the abolition of slavery was more important than the condition of "nominally" free colored people. Among other points, the body also argued against supporting a newspaper to represent colored people's interests, calling it an "old story revived" and another example of "a clique" seeking funding for special interests. (“The Colored Convention.” The Liberator, 25 August 1843, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers.).
The convention was viewed as an important step toward advancing equal treatment under the law for colored people in America. The Cleveland Daily Herald reported on the proceedings of the 1843 national convention. It is estimated that around 75 delegates were in attendance from various non-slave holding states. Henry Highland Garnet's speech is lauded as "bold," "geniune," and "soul stirring." Efforts to circulate anti-slavery petitions before Congress are celebrated. The Cleveland Herald staff argues that the impetus is upon the "the liberal and the philanthropic" to support the 1843 national convention and conventions similar to it. (“National Convention of Colored Men - Negro Colony in Ohio.” Cleveland Daily Herald, Issue 52. 26 August 1843. 19th Century U.S. Newspapers.).
Delegate attendance, talented speakers, addresses, and petitions were subjects of news coverage. The Emancipator and Free American published an overview of the national convention, including reprinted articles published by other newspapers. Delegate attendance is reported at 75 delegates from non-slave holding states and "several of the others." Henry Highland Garnet, Charles L. Remond, Frederick Douglass and Theodore Wright are praised as talented men. Garnet's keynote address is reported to have made "a stirring appeal" in favor of colored people's self-determination. Plans to circulate petitions among Congressional leaders for the abolition of slavery are also recorded. (“A National Convention of Colored men was in session at Buffalo, N.Y., during all last week, until Friday evening.” Emancipator and Free American, 31 August 1843, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers.).
Delegations, styles of debate, and slave insurrection were topics of interest to newspaper coorespondents reporting on the convention. The Liberator reported on the convention. It estimates 40 to 50 voting delegates, as well as numerous non-voting delegates representing New York, surrounding states, and Canada. According to Liberator on the first day delegates voted on whether or not non-voting delegates should speak. The second day delegates passed resolutions regulating the influence of Christianity over convention prooceedings. And, a plea for endorsing the Liberty Party was raised. The newspaper reports that Henry Highland Garnett's speech called slaves in the South to demand pay from their masters, and if they were denied, then they should “strike for Liberty.” Garnet quotes Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” Much debate ensued about whether the convention should support such statements. After many hours of deliberation, delegates vote against endorsing Garnet's address. (“Colored Convention.” The Liberator, 8 September 1843, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers.).