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Minutes of the State Convention of the Colored Citizens of Ohio, Convened at Columbus, Jan. 15th, 16th, 17th and 18, 1851.
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Minutes of the State Convention of the Colored Citizens of Ohio, Convened at Columbus, Jan. 15th, 16th, 17th and 18, 1851.
Pamphlet (23 p. ; 22 cm.)
Public Domain. No permission requested.
Foner, Philip S. and George E. Walker, eds. (1979) The Proceedings of the Black State Conventions, 1840-1865. Volume 1.
MINUTES OF THE STATE CONVENTION, OF THlE COLORED CITIZENS OF OHIO, CONVENED AT COLUMBUS, JAN. 15th, 16th, 17th AND 18th, 1851
CONVENTION OF THE COLORED CITIZENS OF OHIO
First Session--Wednesday Morning, Columbus, January 15, 1851.
The Convention of the Colored Citizens of the State of Ohio, Pursuant to the call of the State Central Committee, met in the City of Columbus, in the Second Baptist Church, at 10 o'clock A.M. The convention was called to order, by the Chairman of the State Central Committee, after which, on motion, L. D. Taylor Esq., of Franklin county, was appointed Chairman pro tem. By motion of Dr. C. H. Langston of Franklin county, W. H.Burnham, of Coshocton county, was appointed Secretary pro tem.
Prayer having been offered by the Rev. T. N. Stewart, the Convention proceeded to the enrolling of the names of the Delegates. The following gentlemen were present, to represent their respective counties.
Cuyahoga county--H. Ford Douglass.
Champaign county--H. H. Ford.
Ross county--J. Mercer Langston.
Jackson county--C. A. Yancy, Rev. T. N. Stewart.
Madison county--J. Purnell.
Clark county--Wm. Roberts, Wm. Lewis, Wm. Hope, Wm. P. Morgan.
Pickaway county--G. Stanup, Wm. Jackson.
Coshocton county--W. Hurst Burnham.
Franklin county--A. Barrett, John Booker, James Poindexter, L. D. Taylor, John
Brown, D. Jenkins, J. Freeland, J. H. Johnson, John T. Ward, C. H. Langston.
Montgomery county--James Dunlap.
Logan county--Sterling Heathcock, William Walden.
Shelby county--J. Berde.
Muskingum county--J. McCarter Simpson.
Pike county--Thomas Haines.
Licking county--Jerome Stebot.
Seneca county--Felix Whitsill, Darius Roberts.
Fayette county--Mills Melton.
Lorain county--W. Howard Day.
Hamilton county--Joseph Henry Perkins, John I. Gaines, John Jackson, Lawrence W. Miner.
On motion of D. Jenkins Esq., of Franklin county, a committee of five were appointed on organization.
Committee,--Dr. Charles H. Langston, Charles A. Yancy Esq., H. Ford Douglass Esq., H. H. Ford and John Booker.
During the absence of the committee on organization, the Rev. T. N. Stewart, of Jackson and Gallia counties, entertained the Convention with a speech, followed by some remarks by the Rev. J. McCarter Simpson of Muskingum
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county, during which time the committee on organization being ready to report, the gentlemen gave way, the report was as follows:
For President, David Jenkins of Franklin county; for Vice Presidents, J. Mercer Langston of Ross, H. F. Douglass of Cuyahoga, H. H. Ford of Champaign, Wm. Roberts of Clark; for Secretaries, W. Hurst Burnham, Charles H. Langston; for Chaplain T. N. Stewart.
The President on taking the chair, spoke as follows:
"Gentlemen of the Convention, the honor you have conferred upon me is undeserved, and never before having the privilege, of occupying a position so responsible in your deliberations, I shall look to you for support in the faithful discharge of the arduous duty devolving on me, as President of this Convention. The object of this Convention, has already been stated by gentlemen who preceeded me, and it only remains for me to thank you for this token of your approbation.
"I have been battling for the last ten years in this State, for the attainment of the elective franchise, with what success I leave you to judge. I only claim for myself sincerity of the purpose, the Emancipation of the Slave, and the Elevation of the Colored American, half free, has been the loftiest aspirations of my heart. For the attainment of this object, I have ever strove to be at my post, ready to march in any direction to meet a subtle foe. It is true that the 'Aldebarian of our hope,' is obscured and 'may not shine upon us for many days,' yet success is certain and victory sure, let us put our trust in him,
Whose cause is ours,
In conflict with unholy powers,
We'll grasp the weapons he has given,
The light, and the truth, and love of Heaven.
"Gentlemen, again thanking you for the honor you have done me, I resume my seat."
On motion of L. D. Taylor, a committee of five were appointed, to report business for the Convention. The committee consisted of J. McCarter Simpson, chairman, L. D. Taylor, H. Ford Douglass, Wm. P. Morgan, and Sterling Heathcock.
On motion, a committee of three were appointed, on finance: John Booker, Chairman, Wm. Hope, H. H. Ford.
It was on motion of Doct. C. H. Langston, agreed that the Convention meet at 9 o'clock, take a recess at 12 M., re-assembling at half past 3 P.M., and adjourning at 5 P.M.
On motion it was resolved that Hamilton Campbell be admitted to a seat in the Convention, for the purpose of taking a report of the proceedings of the Convention, for publication in the daily papers of the city. Carried.
J. McCarter Simpson offered a resolution, that a committee of five be appointed to prepare anti-slavery music, for the opening and closing of each session of the Convention.
On motion of J. Mercer Langston, on the adoption of the above resolution, it was amended as follows, that J. McC. Simpson prepare music for the Convention. Carried.
On motion of Mr. Simpson, it was resolved that persons present from counties not represented and those who have been regularly delegated and have their credentials, shall constitute this Convention.
While the above was pending, the hour of 12 o'clock, M., arrived, and the session closed.
The convention me pursuant to adjournment. The President in the Chair. Prayer by the Chaplain. The question was on the adoption of Mr. Simpson's resolution.
After a full discussion it was unanimously adopted.
The Chairman of the business committee reported a preamble and resolutions.
On motion of C. A. Yancy, they were laid on the table to be taken up resolution by resolution.
On motion of H. F. Douglass it was resolved that the Convention hold evening sessions.
On motion of Doct. C. H. Langston, it was resolved that the members of this Convention be allowed to speak only twice to any one question, nor more than ten minutes each time, unless with the consent of the Convention.
Their being no question pending before the Convention the preamble and first resolution were called up.
And on motion of J. T. Ward, of Franklin, the preamble and first resolution was referred to a select committee on one, and Rev. James Poindexter appointed said committee.
The second resolution was then taken up, and on motion of L. D. Taylor, of Franklin, was referred to a select committee of one--Dr. C. H. Langston constituting the same.
The third resolution was taken up and adopted.
The 4th resolution, on motion of J. Mercer Langston, Esq., was made the order of the day for to-morrow, Jan. 16th, 1851.
On motion the 5th resolution was taken up and adopted.
On motion the 6th resolution was taken up, and during its consideration the hour of 5 o'clock P.M., having arrived, the session closed.
The Convention met pursuant to adjournment. The first Vice President in the Chair. The 6th resolution was taken up and discussed, and was amended by motion of C. A. Yancy, as follows: That we strike out all after the word Resolved, and insert the following: That we hold it to be the imperative duty of every delegate who represents the people in our annual Conventions, to bring a full report of all the statistics in the district which he represents. Carried.
The 7th resolution was then taken up and adopted.
The 8th resolution was then taken up, and while it was pending, J. Mercer Langston offered a resolution as a substitute; and while it was pending, on motion of C. A. Yancy, the resolution and substitute were laid on the table.
The 9th resolution was then taken up, and while under consideration, Mr. Barrett, of Franklin, moved to amend as follows--That there be an agent in each Congressional district.
The 10th resolution was then taken up, and after being amended by the insertion of the word "American," was adopted unanimously.
The 11th resolution was indefinitely postponed.
The 12th resolution was taken up and carried.
The 13th resolution was then taken up and adopted.
On motion, the evening session closed by singing the song composed by J. McC. Simpson, entitled that "Liberia is not the place for me."
Morning Session, Columbus, Jan. 16th, 1851
Convention met pursuant to adjournment. President in the Chair. Antislavery song by the Rev. J. McC Simpson. Prayer by Mr. William Hope. In the absence of the Secretary's report of the last meeting, the Convention proceeded to business.
On motion of Chas. A. Yancy, it was resolved that all persons from a distance have all the privileges of the Convention except that of voting.
On motion of Doct. C. H. Langston, it was resolved that no preceding Convention has any power to say who shall or shall not be delegates in a subsequent Convention, who are not elected delegates, which was referred to a select committee of one, L. D. Tayor constituting said committee.
The chairman of the business committee reported sundry resolutions--15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th.
Resolution No. 4, being the order of the day, was then taken up. W. Howard Day was then called on, but excused himself upon the ground of being disinclined to speak under existing circumstances.
After repeated calls, J. Mercer Langston spoke as follows:
"Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention!--No enactment ever given birth to by the American Congress has created so much dissatisfaction and excitement, as the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. This is not to be wondered at when we remember that mankind are not entirely divested of their humanity, and that this enactment possesses neither the form nor the essence of true
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law, that it is a hideous deformity in the garb of law. Blackstone has justly recorded that real law commands what is right, and prohibits what is wrong. This enactment--unworthy the name of law--reverses this definition, by prohibiting what is right, and commanding what is wrong. Such is the outrage of this abomination of all abominations, upon the just and universally admitted principles of the common law. But it does not stop here. By it all the great bulwarks of Liberty are stricken down. It kills alike, the true spirit of the American Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the palladium of our liberties. It is unconstitutional for the following considerations:--It strips man of his manhood and liberty upon an ex parte trial; sets aside the constitutional guarantee of the writ of Habeas Corpus, which, under the constitution, can never be suspended, except in cases of rebellion or invasion; declares that the decision of the commissioner, the lowest judicial officer know to the law, upon the matter of personal liberty--the gravest subject that can be submitted to any tribunal, shall be final and conclusive; holds out a bribe in the shape of double fees, for a decree contrary to liberty and in favor of Human Slavery; forbids any enquiry into the facts of the case by confining it to the question of personal identity. Thus the law strikes down all the shields of liberty, by aiming to make a local crime a national sin.
On motion of Doct. C. H. Langston, the resolution was amended as follows: that a committee of three be appointed, to draft a petition to Congress, asking the unconditional repeal of said law, after which the resolution, as amended, was unanimously adopted.
The 14th resolution was taken up, considered, and adopted.
The 15th resolution was adopted.
The 16th resolution was adopted.
The 17th resolution was then taken up, and while pending, Mr. C. A. Yancy arose, and remarked as follows:
"Mr. Chairman:--I am constrained to oppose the resolution now before us, from the fact that I believe it will have a tendency to disunite the efforts of the colored people of this State. The resolution declares that we shall not countenance, support, or associate with any person, society, or church, unless we are satisfied that they are purely anti-slavery. Now, Mr. Chairman, I am not satisfied that this Convention is purely anti-slavery, notwithstanding it is composed of the literati of the colored men of the State, who should be purely anti-slavery. The majority may be, but I don't believe that it is purely so. Again: Whenever you interfere with the Church, you scatter discord, strife, and disunion among our people. So I think it inexpedient to pass such a resolution. Not because I think there is any society or church to sacred or profane for me to strike at if it restricts my liberties. Yet I think that the language of that resolution is too tenacious, and will fail to effect the object which it seems to aim at."
Thos. Harris, of Pike, was opposed.
J. H. Johnson, of Franklin was in favor of the passage of the resolution.
Mr. Douglass of Cuyahoga, offered the following amendment, "nor the Constitution of the United States."
Mr. Chas. H. Langston offered the following as a substitute for the whole:
Resolved, That we will not support any Church, unless we are convinced that it is anti-slavery.
In support of which he offered the following remarks: He did not think that the discussion of the resolution would tend to divide people--he wished it to be fully discussed. He did not think the church matters too sacred to be talked of. It does the church great injustice for gentlemen to say, that its character cannot be brought under review without creating hard feelings and divisions. If the Church possess any good, investigation will only tend to increase its brightness. I wish the Church separated from all other matters, and stand or fall upon its own merits. It has now reached its eighteen-hundredth year, and is certainly able to stand alone. I hope therefore the amendment will prevail.
The hour of 12 o'clock having arrived, the Convention took a recess.
President in the Chair. Prayer by the Rev. J. McC. Simpson. The Chairman of the business committee reported 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25, resolutions.
On motion of C. A. Yancy, the resolutions reported by the committee were laid on the table, to be taken up one by one.
J. McC. Simpson presented from the Rev. E. Davis, of the A.M.E. Church, a petition asking the Convention to dispense with the evening sessions, and come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. Petition referred to H. Ford Douglass, committee of one.
The 17th resolution was taken up being laid on the table by adjournment. H. Ford Douglass moved that the resolution be made the special order of the evening. Lost. The substitute of C. H. Langston was then discussed, and on motion of C. A. Yancy, the substitute was amended by putting before the word "church," "society." Mr. Taylor moved to amend the amendment, which was as follows: "That we do not allow any pro-slavery ministers to officiate in our churches." Mr. Yancy, on leave, withdrew his amendment, with the understanding that he would offer a separate resolution in reference to the societies.
While the motion was pending the yeas and nays being called, for, the vote stood yeas 28, nays 11.
On motion of H. Ford Douglass, That it is the opinion of this Convention, that no colored man can consistently vote under the United States Constitution, John Brown, of Franklin, moved its indefinite postponement, whereupon, Mr. H. F. Douglass arose, and made the following remarks:
Mr. Chairman--I am in favor of the adoption of the rsolutions. I hold, sir, that the Constitution of the United States is pro-slavery, considered so by those who framed it, and construed to that end ever since its adoption. It is well known that in 1787, in the Convention that framed the Constitution, there was considerable discussion on the subject of slavery. South Carolina and Georgia refused to come into the Union, without the Convention would allow the continuation of the Slave Trade for twenty years. According to the demands of these two States, the Convention submitted to that guilty contract, and declared that the Slave Trade should not be prohibited prior to 1808. Here we see them engrafting into the Constitution, a clause legalizing and protecting one of the vilest systems of wrong ever invented by the cupidity and avarice of man. And by virtue of that agreement, our citizens went to the shores of Africa, and there seized upon the rude barbarian, as he strolled unconscious of impending danger, amid his native forests, as a free as the winds that beat on his native shores. Here, we see them dragging these bleeding victims to the slave ship by virtue of that instrument, compelling them to endure all the horrors of the "middle passage," until they arrived at this asylum of western Liberty, where they were doomed to perpetual chains. Now, I hold, in view of this fact, no colored man can consistently vote under the United States Constitution. That instrument also provides for the return of fugitive slaves. And, sir, one of the greatest lights now adorning the glaxy of American Literature, declares that the "Fugitive Law" is in accordance with that stipulation;--a law unequaled in the worst days of Roman despotism, and unparalleled in the annals of heathen jurisprudence. You might search the pages of history in vain, to find a more striking exemplification of the compound of all villainies! It shrouds our country in blackness; every green spot in nature, is blighted and blasted by that withering Upas. Every monument of national greatness, erected to commemorate the virtuous and the good, whether its foundation rests upon the hallowed repositories that contain the ashes of the first martyrs in the cause of American Liberty, or lifts itself in solemn and majestic grandeur, from that sacred spot where the first great battle of the Revolution was fought, no matter how sacred the soil, whether fertilized by the blood of a Warren,1 or signalized by the brilliant and daring feats of Marion!2 We are all, according to Congressional enactments, involved in the horrible system of human bondage; compelled, sir, by virtue of that instrument, to assist in the black and disgraceful avocation of re-capturing the American Hungarian, in his hurried flight from that worse than Russian or Austrian despotism, however much he may be inspired with that love of liberty which burns eternal in every human heart. Sir every man is inspired with a love of liberty--a deep and abiding love of liberty. I care
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not where he may dwell--whether amid the snows of the polar regions, or weltering beneath an African sun, or clanking his iron fetters in this free Republic--I care not how degraded the man--that Promethean spark still lives, and burns, in secret and brilliant grandeur, upon his inmost soul, and the iron-rust of slavery and uninterrupted despotism, can never extinguish it. Did not the American Congress, professing to be a constitutional body, after nine months' arduous and patriotic legislation, as Webster would have it, strike down in our persons, the writ of Habeas Corpus, and Trial by Jury--those great bulwarks of human freedom, baptized by the blood, and sustained by the patriotic exertions of our English ancestors.
The gentleman from Franklin, (Mr. Jenkins), alluded to the Free Soil candidate for Governor. "I will here state, that I had the pleasure, during the Gubernatorial campaign, to hear Mr. Smith make a speech in opposition to the 'Fugitive Law,' in which he remarked, that it was humiliating to him to acknowledge that our forefathers did make a guilty compromise with Slavery in order to form this Union; and so far as the validity of that agreement was concerned, he felt that it was not binding upon him as a man, and that he never would obey any law which conflicts with that higher law, that has its seat in the bosom of God, and utters its voice in the harmony of the world."
Mr. Douglass having taken his seat, Mr. Day of Lorain, obtained the floor, and addressing the President, in substance said:
I cannot sit still, while this resolution is pending, and by my silence acquiesce in it. For all who have known me for years past, know that to the principle of the resolution I am, on principle opposed. The remarks of the gentleman from Cuyahoga, (Mr. Douglass), it seems to me, partake of the error of many others who discuss this question, namely, of making the construction of the Constitution of the United States, the same as the Constitution itself. There is no dispute between us in regard to the pro-slavery action of this government, nor any doubt in our minds in regard to the aid which the Supreme Court of the United States has given to Slavery, and by their unjust and, according to their own rules, illegal decisions; but that is not the Constitution--they are not that under which I vote. We, most of us, profess to believe the Bible; but men have, from the Bible, attempted to justify the worst of iniquities. Do we, in such a case, discard the Bible, believing, as we do, that iniquities find no shield there?--or do we not rather discared the false opinions of mistaken men, in regard to it? As some one else says, if a judge make a wrong decision in an important case, shall we abolish the Court? Shall we not rather remove the judge, and put in his place one who will judge righteously? We all do decide. So in regard to the Constitution. In voting, with judges' decisions we have nothing to do. Our business is with the Constitution. If it says it was framed to "establish justice," it, of course, is opposed to injustice; it it says plainly no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,"--I suppose it means it, and I shall avail myself of the benefit of it. Sir, coming up as I do, in the midst of three millions of men in chains, and five hundred thousands only half free, I consider every instrument precious which guarantees to me liberty. I consider the Constitution the foundation of American liberties, and wrapping myself in the flag of the nation, I would plant myself upon that Constitution, and using the weapons they have given me, I would appeal to the American people for the rights thus guaranteed.
Mr. Douglass replied by saying--
"The gentleman may wrap the stars and stripes of his country around him forty times, if possible, and with the Declaration of Independence in one hand, and the Constitution of our common country in the other, may seat himself under the shadow of the frowning monument of Bunker Hill, and if the slaveholder, under the Constitution, and with the 'Fugitive Bill,' don't find you, then there don't exist a constitution."
"Yes," resumed Mr. Day, "and with the Constitution I will find the 'Fugitive Bill.' You will mark this,--the gentleman has assumed the same error as before, and has not attempted to reply to my argument. This is all I need now say."
Mr. C. H. Langston obtained the floor and spoke as follows:
Mr. President:--I do not intend to make a speech, but merely to define my position on this subject, as I consider it one of no ordinary importance.
I perfectly agree with the gentleman from Cuyahoga, (Mr. Douglass,) who presented this resolution, that the United States' Constitution is pro-slavery. It was made to foster and uphold that abominable, vampirish and bloody system of American slavery. The highest judicial tribunals of the country have so decided. Members, while in the Convention and on returning to their constituents, declared that Slavery was one of the interests sought to be protected by the Constitution. It was so understood and so administered all over the country. But whether the Constitution is pro-slavery, and whether colored men "can consistently vote under that Constitution," are two very distinct questions; and while I would answer the former in the affirmative, I would not, like the gentleman from Cuyahoga, answer the latter in the negative. I would vote under the United States Constitution on the same principle, (circumstances being favorable,) that I would call on every slave, from Maryland to Texas, to arise and assert their liberties, and cut their masters' throats if they attempt again to reduce them to slavery. Whether or not this principle is correct, an impartial posterity and the Judge of the Universe shall decide.
Sir, I have long since adopted as my God, the freedom of the colored people of the United States, and my religion, to do any thing that will effect that object,--however much it may differ from the precepts taught in the Bible, such as, "Whossoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also;" or "Love you enemies; bless them that course you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." Those are the lessons taught us by the religion of our white brethren, when they are free and we are slaves; but when their enslavement is attempted, then "Resistance to Tyranny is obedience to God." This doctrine is equally true in regard to colored men as white men. I hope, therefore, Mr. President, that the resolution will not be adopted, but that colored men will vote, or do anything else under the Constitution, that will aid in effecting our liberties, and the securing our political, religious and intellectual elevation.
During the remarks of other gentlemen, the hour of adjournment, 5 o'clock, P.M., the session closed with an anti-slavery song.
President in the Chair, session opened with an Anti-slavery song, the resolution of Mr. Douglass, being under consideration at the adjournment, it was again called up, after so discussion. C. A. Yancy called the previous question, which, was carried, the main question was put, the yeas and nays being demanded, the vote stood as follows:
Yeas--H. F. Douglass, Wm. Jackson, 2. Nays--T. N. Stewart, J. Parnell, H. H. Ford, C. A. Yancy, J. Mercer Langston, Wm. Lewis, G. Stanup, W. Hurst Burnham, James Dunlap, John Booker, L. D. Taylor, John Brown, C. H. Langston, J. Freeland, J. H. Johnson, James Poindexter, John T. Ward, Sterling Heathcock, J. Bird, Thomas Harris, Jerome Stebot, Felix Whitsill, Mills Melton, Levi Day, E. Whitsill, Wm. P. Morgan and President, 28.
C. H. Langston, reported on a resolution that was referred to him, which was adopted as amended. After which, James Poindexter reported a resolution, which was adopted as amended.
On motion of C. H. Langston, that there be a committee of three to report an address to the Constitutional Convention, which is in session in the city of Cincinnati, and further, that W. H. Day be Chairman of said committee. On motion it was resolved that C. A. Yancy and C. H. Langston, constitute said committee.
The 20th resolution was taken up and adopted.
The 21st resolution was taken up, and Mr. James Poindexter, moved to amend the resolution, by striking all out after the word resolved, and insert, that it is imperative on the colored people of Ohio to immediately establish schools under the Common School Law of 1849. W. H. Day offered the following amendment or substitute to the foregoing, that they show their appreciation of
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the School Law of 1849, by establishing schools under it.
Mr. Brown of Franklin, moved to reconsider the 14th resolution.
While Mr. Brown's motion was pending, the Hamilton Delegation were announced to the Convention, and on presenting their credentials, they were permitted to taken seats. Joseph H. Perkins, John I. Gaines, John Jackson, Lawrence W. Minor.
The motion of Mr. Brown to reconsider prevailed.
On motion, the resolution was referred to a select committee of one, C. H. Langston constituting said committee.
The 17th resolution was taken up and adopted, the following gentlemen constituting said committee, H. Ford Douglass chairman, C. H. Langston, Wm. H. Day, J. Mercer Langston, D. Jenkins, James Poindexter. J. McCarter Simpson.
After which the Convention adjourned to Friday morning nine o'clock.
Morning Session, Columbus, Jan. 17th, 1851
The First Vice President in the Chair. The Convention was opened by a portion of the 133d Psalm being read by the Rev. T. N. Stewart; J. I. Gaines of Hamilton, was called upon to address the Convention.
On motion of Mr. C. A. Yancy of Jackson, the resolution relating to Superintendants of Public Schools, and that a petition to that effect be laid before the Ohio Legislature now in session, was amended by striking out the second part, agreed to. The resolution reads as amended: Resolved, that the Convention petition the Ohio Legislature, to appoint a Colored Superintendant, to oversee the interests of the Colored District Schools. Passed as agreed to.
C. H. Langston, moved that the 21st resolution relating to a National Convention, be taken up. On motion of Mr. Perkins, it was referred back to the business committee for revision.
The 27th resolution was taken up, and on motion of L. D. Taylor of Franklin, it was laid on the table.
The 24th resolution came up for consideration, and was referred to a select committee of one, J. H. Perkins being the committee.
It was moved by W. H. Day, that the committee to whom was referred the 23d resolution on the press, be instructed to bring in a plan similar to the one of last winter. A letter from W. H. Day was read, and his resignation tendered, which was as follows:
Columbus, Jan. 1st, 1851
To the State Convention of Colored Men, to be held in Columbus, Ohio, Jan. 15th, 1851.
GENTLEMEN:--The State Convention preceding this, very kindly nominated the undersigned, one of the Editors of the Newspaper entitled the "Voice of the Disfranchised," which paper it was then expected, would be started during last year. The undersigned has done what he consistently could, in connexion with others, to commence publishing said paper, and has held himself in readiness to assume the duties of the post assigned him; and Mr. C. H. Langston, the other Editor, has labored to the same end.
In view of important circumstances, effecting the interest of others as well as the interest of the undersigned, he cannot consistently remain in the position to which he was thus appointed, and hereby respectfully tenders his resignation, hoping that, if it be deemed necessary, another may be appointed in his stead, who may be better able to devote himself to the arduous duties of this position, although he claims for himself the praise that no one has been more willing.
Very Respectfully, William H. Day
On motion of C. H. Langston a select committee of one was appointed on statistics, and L. W. Miner constitute said committee, carried.
The 26th resolution was then taken up, and on motion of C. H. Langston, that it be amended by striking out, "most convenient point," and insert the words "Buffalo, New York," the amendment was agreed to, and the resolution adopted.
H. Ford Douglass, from the committee appointed to wait on the Governor, the Hon. R. Wood, reported the following answer:
Sir. --Your note came to hand this morning. It will suit my convenience, to receive your committee at three o'clock this afternoon, at my office.
H. Ford Douglass, Chairman.
The 28th resolution was taken up, and pending the motion to adopt, the hour of recess arrived and the session closed, J. Henry Perkins of Hamilton, having the floor.
President in the chair; Prayer offered by W. Roberts. After which C. A. Yancy, offered a resolution with the names of persons who shall constitute the members of the State Central Committee for 1851. On motion of C. H. Langston, the resolution was referred to a select committee of three, which was as follows: -- L. D. Taylor, C. H. Langston, and J. H. Perkins-- carried, after which J. Mercer Langston, being select committee on the press, reported as follows:
The committee appointed to devise a plan for establishing a paper in this State in behalf of the colored people, having had the same under consideration, would respectfully report, as follows:
It being admitted that the colored people of the United States are pledged before the world and in the face of Heaven to struggle manfully for advancement in civil and social life, it is clear that our own efforts must mainly, if not entirely, produce such advancements. And if we are to advance by our own efforts, (under the divine blessing,) we must use the means which will direct such efforts to a successful issue.
Of the means for the advancement of a people as we are, none are more available than a press. We struggle against opinions. Our warfare lies in the field of thought. Glorious struggle! Godlike warfare! In training our soldiers for the field--in marshaling our hosts for the fight-- in leading the onset, and throughout the conflict, we need a Printing Press, because a printing press is the vehicle of thought--is a ruler of opinions.
That in our judgement, the peculiar condition of the colored people of the State imperiously demands that we establish such an organ, that we may talk to each other, and to the world.
We are brought to this conclusion from the following considerations:
We are scattered over so large a territory, and while we have increasingly important interests, we have not a single paper of our own west of New York, and in those there, we do not consider ourselves properly represented, neither can we be fully represented in the papers edited at the west by our white friends, for we have interests peculiar to ourselves. This is our condition. But the establishment of a paper must depend upon the available means to sustain it. Among the 25,000 colored persons in the State, there certainly are sufficient to give it a handsome support, to say nothing of the thousands of our white friends in the State, who stand ready to-day to welcome such a periodical. In this connection, we would not forget the expected support of our western brethren, whose interests, like ours, need to be advocated.
Your committee would therefore respectfully recommend the adoption of the following plan for the establishment and support of a paper:
I. To find our from each person present interested, how much he or she will pledge, if it be needed, to support the paper one year.
II. The appointment of a committee of nine from those who pledge money,
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the business of which committee shall be to manage the publishing and all the financial concerns of the paper.
III. That the editors be authorized and empowered to collect monies from the public, by voluntary contributions or otherwise, to purchase a press for the publication of said paper, which shall be their individual property, as an indemnity against losses sustained in its publication. When they have purchased the Press, they shall give security to said Committee of Nine for the publication of the paper for one year.
IV. Columbus, Franklin county, as the place for issuing the paper.
V. William H. Day, and Charles H. Langston, Editors; who are recommended as responsible men, to apply the funds collected to the object above mentioned.
VI. The principles of the paper shall be the advocacy of the rights of the colored man, urging his liberty, and his moral, mental, social, and political elevation.
VII. The name, "Clarion of Freedom."
All of which is respectfully submitted.
J. Mercer Langston, Committee.
Morning Session, Columbus, May 18th, 1851.
President in the Chair. Chaplain opened the Convention by reading a portion of the Scriptures.
It was moved by Mr. C. H. Langston, that each of the Delegates pledge himself to give whatever he can afford to establish a newspaper upon the plan stated in the foregoing report, which was agreed to. Mr. Roberts, of Seneca wished, to know to whom the Press would belong, when paid for. Pending this question, on motion of C. A. Yancy, said report was reconsidered, and on motion of D. Jenkins, after much deliberation it was indefinitely postponed.
At this stage of the proceedings, a communication was received from the following ladies of Columbus: Miss L. A. Stanton, Miss M. J. Hopkins, Mrs. L. M. Jenkins, Mrs. C. Hacley, Mrs. S. Mason, Mrs. S. P. Scurry, Miss L. Harper; pledging themselves to furnish means to publish the proceedings of this Convention.
On motion, the following gentlemen, J. McCarter Simpson, W. H. Day, C. H. Langston, were appointed to correspond with the leading colored citizens of the United States, touching the propriety of holding a National Convention, to be held at Buffalo, sometime in the year 1851.
The following gentlemen were appointed as State Central Committee for the ensuing year: J. I. Gaines, J. H. Perkins, J. Jackson of Hamilton county, W. H. Day of Lorain, D. Jenkins of Franklin.
On motion, the Convention adjourned sine die.
Preamble and Resolutions
1. Whereas, The first Section of the 4th Article of the constitution of Ohio deprives every colored citizen of a free exercise of their inestimable right of the "Elective Franchise;" and whereas we are unprotected in person and property, in a so-called "Free and Independent" form of government; and whereas our social, political and religious rights are at the mercy of the law-makers of our land; therefore,
Resolved, That we call upon, and earnestly pray the Constitutional Convention now assembled in Cincinnati to so alter said article as to give every citizen, irrespective of color, a right to say at the ballot box who shall make and execute the law by which he is governed.
2. Whereas, There still remains on the statute book of Ohio certain important restrictions and disabilities, founded only on the unjust and inhuman distinction of color, which laws tend greatly to degrade the Free Colored Citizens of the State, in attempting to annihilate the great principle of "Equal Rights" to all men as asserted in the Declaration of our American Independence; and whereas there are hard and unjust practices not lawful, tolerated in our State,--such as being prohibited the privilege of an inside seat in
the public Stage Coaches; also of the benefits of Colleges, Academies, and Seminaries; also of the Deaf and Dumb, Blind, and Lunatic Asylums, and Poor Houses,--therefore,
Resolved, That we look upon all those prohibitions as being unjust, and detrimental to the moral, intellectual and political elevation of the Colored people.
3. Whereas, congress has recently passed a bill termed the "Fugitive Slave Law," evincing on its part a determination to degrade us by robbing us of the last vestige of human rights, to wit: Trial by jury, and Writ of Habeas Corpus--those great bulwarks of human freedom, defended by the hero's blood, and patriotic exertions of the wise and good of every age; therefore,
Resolved, That we look upon this bill as being more unjust than any law ever passed before, and look upon those who voted in favor of this fiendish enactment as being more despotic than the pagan edicts of Nero3 or Caligula4--more cruel and Heaven-daring than any law makers that ever legislated, or practiced under heathen jurisprudence, even in the dark night of despotism that enshrouded France during her reign of terror.
4. Resolved, That we look upon the recent Fugitive Slave enactment as a hideous deformity in the garb of law--unconstitutional--opposed to the Institutions of the Free States--an outrage upon humanity--at war with the teachings of Christianity, and its place is first upon the catalogue of disgraceful, and abominable legislations that characterized the tyranny of Charles I., and we would urge upon the people of necessity of its immediate and unconditional repeal.
5. Resolved, That this convention shall instruct each County in the State to send up to each State Convention held in the State hereafter, as correct a statistical list of the population, wealth, moral and literary attainments, agricultural and mechanical pursuits, &c., as can possibly be obtained.
6. Whereas, A combination of efforts is the only efficient way of elevating any people,
Resolved, That this convention recommend to each County to appoint an Agent, whose duty it shall be to have the supervision of the County; to organize as many moral reform, and literary societies as he can, and to call county and other public meetings when circumstances demand it.
7. Resolved, That if the convention would insert a clause providing that every colored man who owned three hundred dollars worth of taxable property shall be entitled to his citizenship, it would be the means of quickly making us an industrious people.
8. Resolved, That the delegates composing this Convention shall be requested to write out a report in as short a form as is expedient, giving the population, wealth and condition of their respective counties.
9. Resolved, That these Reports be published in the Minutes.
10. Resolved, We, as a people, occupy a peculiar position in society, which position subjects us to all manner of menial services,
Resolved, That we recommend our people to give their sons and daughters useful trades, so that they may leave the blacking rooms, horse stables, steamboats, washtubs and other menial employments; and we also recommend our people to put their children under colored mechanics whenever they can find any who are capable of giving such instructions.
11. Whereas, The people from time immemorial assembled in Conventions to make declarations of right, and to consult the best means of improvement, both social and political; and whereas our present condition loudly calls on us for such an assemblage, and such declarations; and whereas we believe that it is in our power to do much towards pulling down the strongholds of prejudice, and toward destroying its accursed and more powerful ally, American Slavery, we do therefore adopt the following Resolutions as our unflinching sentiments:
12. Resolved, That we are deeply interested in the elevation of our people, and will sacrifice our money, give our influence, and lay aside all sectarian and party principles for the accomplishment of our greatest good.
13. Resolved, That we will persevere in our efforts for self elevation. "Elevation!" shall be our motto, and if we perish, we will perish in the conflict.
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14. Resolved, That we will neither support, countenance or associate with any person, society or church, unless we are convinced that they are purely Anti-Slavery.
15. Resolved, That we earnestly recommend the reconstruction of Temperance Societies among our people, in order that the morality of our youth may be secured, the overwhelming tide of intemperance may be stayed and the demoralizing holds of drunkenness and crime be broken up.
16. Resolved, That we are grateful for the school privileges we enjoy, and we do hope that our white fellow citizens will not so much degrade us as to take from us this great means of elevation, for we believe that we never can be good citizens without being educated; for immorality and crime are but the children of ignorance.
17. Resolved, That this Convention appoint a deputation to wait upon the Hon. Reuben Wood, Governor of this State, and respectfully request him to use his official influence in favor of the elective franchise being extended to the colored people of Ohio.
18. Resolved, That this Convention petition the Ohio Legislature to appoint an Agent to oversee the colored District Schools in this State.
19. Resolved, That this convention recommend to the colored people to hold annual Fairs, at which time and place men and women of all employments may exhibit specimens of the best product of their labors, best stock, &c.
20. Resolved, That each delegate present be requested to report their statistical list on Friday the 17th, at 2 o'clock.
21. Resolved, That this convention take into consideration the importance of calling a National Convention, to be held at the most convenient point in the U. S., sometime in 1851.
22. Resolved, That this convention recommend to the colored people in each free state to send up a petition to the National Convention, which petitions shall be sent to Queen Victoria, praying her Majesty never to consent to any proposal that may be made to have Canada annexed to the United States which may be hereafter designated.
23. Resolved, That a Corresponding Committee of three be appointed to correspond with the leading colored men in the U.S., for the purpose of determining the time of holding the National Convention.
24. Resolved, That our next State convention be held in the city of Cincinnati, sometime in 1852, and that we appoint a State Central Committee, a majority of whom shall be located in said city.
25. Resolved, That this Convention recommend to the different colored Churches in the State, who do not hold monthly concerts of prayer in behalf of the slave, to immediately establish such concerts of prayer to be observed once a month, and not to forget in their private and public devotions to remember the slaves as bound with them.
Whereas, There still remains on the Statute Books of Ohio, important legal restrictions, and disabilities, founded on the unjust and inhuman distinctions of cast or complexion, which laws not only oppress and degrade the free colored citizens of the state of Ohio, but subvert and annihilate the great principles of "equal rights to all men," as laid down in our organic law, as the foundation of our political institutions.
Therefore, Resolved, That the laws which prohibit colored men from seats in the jury box, and the poor houses of the state, is tyrannical, infamous, unjust and oppressive, and ought therefore to be unconditionally repealed,
And Whereas, there are usages and practices, founded on wicked and malicious prejudice, against an unoffending and loyal class of citizens, common in the state of Ohio, which operate greatly to our discomfort, annoyance and real injury, such as being prohibited comfortable seats in public stages, and other public conveyances, and being excluded from Colleges, Academies and Seminaries of learning, as well as from the benefits of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum of the state, and yet many of these Institutions are supported in part, by the taxes paid into the Treasury by colored men.
26. Whereas, the people have from time to time immemorial assembled in convention, to make declarations of rights and to consult the best means of improvement, both socially and politically, and whereas our present condition, loudly calls for such an assemblage, and believing that it is in our power to do a great work towards the pulling down of the strongholds of prejudice, and in destroying its accursed and more powerful ally, American
Slavery, we do therefore adopt the following resolutions, as our firm and unflinching sentiment.
1. Resolved, That past experience has proven that conventions, have done much towards our improvement and elevation.
2. Resolved, That we are opposed to the American Colonization Society, because its object is the expatriation of 600,000 defenceless free colored persons, which is cruel and unjust, and our opposition is deepened, when we consider that the greater part of the Churches and professed Christians in this country, are with that society, and are like that unprincipled and wicked minister of Ahashueras,5 for neither their wealth, their literature, their successful experiment of self government, their world wide fame, nor even the atonement that was made on Calvary, avails them anything, so long as the Black Man has a place on the soil of America, to lay his head.
3. Resolved, That we look upon the recent fugitive slave enactment, as a hideous deformity in the garb of law; unconstitutional, opposed to the institutions of the free states, an outrage upon humanity, at war with the teachings of Christianity, and its place is first on the catalogue of disgraceful and abominable legislation, such as characterized the tyranny of Charles the 1st of England; and we would therefore urge upon the people, the necessity of its immediate and unconditional repeal.
Mr. C. A. Yancy offered the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That the Convention return its thanks to the President for his faithful and impartial conduct while presiding over its deliberations.
Resolved, That the Convention return its thanks to the Trustees of this Chapel for the use of it during the sitting of the Convention.
To the Constitutional Convention of the State of Ohio, now assembled
In behalf of the Colored Men of Ohio, the General Convention assembled, the undersigned have been appointed to present to you, a few things relating to the interest of the Colored Men of this State, and particularly in regard to amending the present Constitution, by striking out the word "white" in the fourth article, first section, thereby permitting colored men to exercise the Elective Franchise, with the same restrictions only, which are imposed upon you.
"HEAR US FOR OUR CAUSE."
Under an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, you are assembled to frame for the State of Ohio, her organic law. The United States Constitution, so says its preamble, was framed to support justice--therefore opposed to injustice, to promote domestic tranquility--therefore opposed to domestic turmoil; to promote the general welfare; and we need not tell you that the general welfare is not secured by "the greatest good to the greatest number, merely, but, in the language of the Hon. John Quincy Adams, by the greatest good to the whole." This is the professed end of all legislation; this is the real end of all righteous legislation; so much so, that is begins to be generally believed, that every law is, or ought to be, to use Mr. Webster's words, "a re-enactment of the law of God," or else, according to Mr. Seward,6 to say nothing of Fortesque,7 Coke,8 Blackstone, Noyes,9 Jenks and others, it is "null and void." "The reasonableness of law is the soul of law." "Statutes against fundamental morality are void." And a certain well known citizen of the United States, says-- "law finds its home and its definition nowhere but in the bonds of an universal brotherhood, the claims of equality or equity. the demands of inherent and inalienable rights, identical with the principles of democracy and the genius of the Christian religion."
We ask, gentlemen, is not this the principle of all just government? As far as we admire the framework of any government, is not our admiration pro-
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portioned to the equality of its laws? When we see the Bey of Tunis abolishing slavery in his dominions, why is it that the universal conscience approves the deed? When Americans are rescued from the Algerines, why is it that the nation unites in the praise of those rescuing them? When the Autocrat of Russia lifts up with his own hand, the thousand serfs in his dominions, on to a half constructed platform of equality, why is that there is an acclaim in favor of the act, so far, around the world?10 And why is it thrown in the scale of justice, to weigh against the oft-repeated terrors of his vindictiveness? Is it not because the universal conscience affirms this principle to be just, and the only principle to be exercised between man and man?
Our fathers of the revolution recognized this principle on the birth day of this nation, and proclaimed--"all men:"--not a part of men--but 'ALL men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." To secure these rights said they, "governments were instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." They here announced two important principles: First, That governments are instituted for the protection of the rights of--not of a set of men--but of the ALL men spoken of: And, Second, That the government which does not protect the rights of all men, is not just. And even now, North Carolina and Virginia vie with Connecticut and Rhode Island in claiming the honor of first making such a declaration. In accordance with it colored men in N. Carolina, up till 1831, used the elective franchise in common with others. This, it seems to us, and this only, is in accordance with the spirit of free institutions, just like the democracy so eloquently described by Hon. Wm. Allen of our own State, "which asks nothing but what it concedes. And concedes nothing but what it demands. Destructive only to despotism, it is the sole conservator of liberty, labor, and property. It is the law of nature pervading the law of the land. "Yes,"--he glowingly continues, "that is a noble, magnanimous, sublime sentiment, which expands our affections, enlarges the circle of our sympathies, and elevates the soul of man, until claiming an equality with the best, he rejects as unworthy of his dignity, any political immunities over the humblest of his fellows." We respectfully represent to you, that the continuance of the word "white" in the Ohio State Constitution, by which we are deprived of the privilege of voting for men to make laws by which we are to be governed, is a violation of every principle thus announced.
It is also contrary to the governmental principles adopted practically in the law of nations, namely, that those born in a country are members of the body politic, on arriving at the requisite age, and on fulfilling the equal conditions imposed upon all. So that no accidental circumstance, like the color of the hair or the shape of the nose, has any power in reference to their rights.
Gentlemen: We have been taught by you to believe, that the United States' Constitution is the Supreme law of the land. The fifth clause 1st section, Article second, recognizes the principle that natural birth gives citizenship, otherwise, there seems to us to be no sense in the naturalization laws. Those of us, therefore, who were born in the United States, and reside in Ohio, are citizens of Ohio. If citizens of this State, entitled, by the United States' Constitution, to all the rights and immunities of citizens of the several States. The elective franchise being among these rights and immunities, we respectfully urge upon you our claim.
Says chancellor Kent [Vol. II, p. 258, sec.32,] "Citizens, under our constitution and laws, mean free inhabitants born within the United States, or naturalized under the laws of Congress. If a slave, born in the United States, be manumitted, or otherwise lawfully discharged from bondage, or if a black man be born within the United States, and born free, he becomes thenceforward, a citizen." If Chancellor Kent be correct, we respectfully ask, where is the right to disfranchise us?
Said the Hon. Mr. Baldwin,11 before the United States' Senate, "When the Constitution of the United States was framed, colored men voted in a majority of these States; they voted in the States of New York, in Pennsylvania, in Massachusetts, in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and North Carolina; and long after the adoption of the Constitution, they continued to vote in North Carolina, and Tennessee also. The Constitution of the United States makes no distinction of color. There is no word 'white' to be found
in that instrument. All free people then stood upon the same platform in regard to their political rights, and were so recognized in most of the States of the Union. The free colored citizens of these States are as much entitled to the rights of citizenship, as are men of any other color or complexion whatever. To this day, in the State of Virginia, free colored persons, born in that State, are citizens."
The property of colored men, as in Ohio, had always been taxed to support government, and it was thought no more than right that they should enjoy that blessing of government, the twin brother of taxation, namely, representation. Accordingly, in New York, from 1777 to 1821, colored men were represented equally with others.
That colored men are citizens, is attested by the fact that in 1812-'15 colored men were drafted, in common with others for the war. In September 1814, General Andrew Jackson issued his proclamation to the free colored inhabitants of Louisiana, and told them, that "through a mistaken policy they had heretofore been deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights, in which our country was engaged, "and told them that this should no longer exist. He appealed to them as "Sons of Freedom;"--as "Americans,"--"as fathers, husbands, and brothers," to enlist in behalf of all they held dear. Speaking to them of this land, he says,--"Your country;" and of the whites,--"Your white fellow citizens," and "countrymen." And when in December following, he addressed the free people of color, congratulating them upon the success of their arms, he said--"our brave citizens [no distinctions as to color,] are united, and all contention has ceased among them. Their only dispute is, who shall win the prize of valor, or who the most glory, its noblest reward," showing an attachment to this government, such only as free citizens can give. We ask you, whether it is right to disfranchise a citizen, and if so, where is the power specified? Is it in the Declaration of American Independence? Is [it] in the Articles of Confederation? Is it in the Supreme Law of the land--the U. States' Constitution? Is it not contrary to justice--to law--to abstract and concrete right--to every principle of a free government?
It is also contrary to true political economy. In the State of Ohio, by the report of the Secretary of State made to you , there appears to be over twenty three thousand colored persons in Ohio, making about one eighty seventh of the whole population. We are here, and here lawfully, and we ask if it be true policy to exclude persons thus in you midst, from any participancy in these privileges, the enjoyment of which imposes upon those enjoying them, "correlative duties." Of course, if we have no protection, we owe no allegiance, the amount of allegiance, according to the arrangement of nations, being graduated by the rights guaranteed, and the protection afforded.
But, we repeat, colored men have participated in the struggles of, this country, and have thereby helped to uphold it. Do you ask where? Let the waters of Lake Champlain, as they came crimsoned to the shore, answer. Let our old fathers' bones, mouldering in secluded grave-yards tell the tale. Ask the Black Rhode Island Regiment, of the gallant defence of Red Bank, where four hundred colored soldiers met and repulsed fifteen hundred Hessian mercenaries. Go with us to the attack on the American lines, near Croton river, 13th May, 1781. See Col. Green cut down and mortally wounded; but the sabres of the enemy reached him only through the bodies of his faithful guard of blacks. Every one of them was slain.12 Go to the records of Congress, and you will find an act, recommending to South Carolina and Louisiana, the raising of three thousand troops who were to be rewarded by their freedom. Bring up the starving remembrance of Valley Forge, and the horrors of the Jersey prison ship. Colored men know of these, for they were there. In Champaign county, is a colored man who served with General Washington. In Ohio, are colored descendants of Revolutionary sires. In this Convention, pleading for right, were sons of men, who in 1812-'15, were drafted for the war, and faced with your fathers the storm of battle. And if history be correct, the first blood of the Revolution was that of a colored man.13 We respectfully ask, have we not a just claim to the same rights with you?
Again, colored men are helping, through their taxes, to bear the burdens of the State, and we ask, shall they not be permitted to be represented? The property of the colored people of Ohio is now a matter of consequence. We take the liberty here to introduce some statistics in regard to the colored
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people of this State, most of which has been gathered by delegates to this Convention, a portion being attested by the County Auditors.
In returns from nineteen counties represented, we find the value of real estate and personal property belonging to colored persons in those counties, amounting to more than three millions of dollars. In thirteen of these counties we find a colored population of 13,213. In ten of these counties, we find twenty four schools reported as separate colored schools. In two counties of the nineteen, colored children attend schools with the whites.
Few statistics have been obtained, but we think the amount above specified, certainly demands at your hands some attention, so that while colored men bear cheerfully their part of the burdens of the State, they may have their part of the blessings.
What we have already presented, may perhaps, be deemed sufficient, but we beg leave to introduce here, an extract from a letter of the Secretary of State, Hon. Saml. Galloway, whose opportunity to know of what he affirmed, no one will question.14 He is speaking of the progress of the colored people of Ohio, during ten years past, he says, "Now, (1849,) they have many and well conducted schools--they have teachers of respectable intellectual and moral qualifications--there are many who command general respect and confidence for integrity and intelligence;--they call and conduct conventions and associations of various kinds, with order and intelligence;--questions of general and proper interest have become with them topics of discussion and conversation--in a few words, the intellectual and moral tone of their being is ameliorated." We ask what more could be said?
The only objection which we deem it necessary now to notice, and one often urged against us, is--"the colored man would not profitably use the elective franchise, if it were granted him." We reply by offering a letter upon this point, from an observing and distinguished man:
"Washington, May 16, 1850.
"Dear Sir:--Your letter of the 6th inst. has been received. I reply to it cheerfully and with pleasure.
"It is my deliberate opinion, founded upon careful observation, that the Right of Suffrage is exercised by no citizen of the State of New York, more conscienciously, or more sincerely, or with more beneficial results to society, then it is by the Electors of African descent. I sincerely hope that the franchise will before long be extended as it justly ought, to this race who of all others need it most.
"I am very respectfully, your obedient servant, William H. Seward."
We ask, Gentlemen, in conclusion, that you will place yourselves in our stead,--that you will candidly consider our claim, and as justice shall direct you, so to decide. In your hands, our destiny is placed. To you, therefore, we appeal. We look to you to
"TO GIVE US OUR RIGHTS--FOR WE ASK NOTHING MORE."
In Behalf of the State Convention,
We are Gentlemen,
Yours Very Respectfully,
William H. Day, Charles H. Langston, Charles A. Yancy.
Copy in the Harvard University Library.
1. Up till the eve of the war, Joseph Warren (1741-1775), American Revolutionary patriot and physician, played a prominent role in shaping public opinion in Massachusetts in support of the cause. While rallying the local
militia in the vicinity of Bunker Hill, he was shot dead by a British soldier on June 17, 1775.
2. Francis Marion (1732-1795) was an American Revolutionary War hero whose brilliant military exploits, particularly in the South, helped to turn the tide in favor of the patriot forces.
3. Nero (Nero Claudius Caesar) A.D. 37-A.D. 68. Roman emperor (A.D.54-A.D. 68). This sadistic and infamous ruler murdered his mother and later his wife. In A.D. 64, he burned Rome and blamed the Christians, a growing and persecuted sect, for being responsible. According to Christian tradition his victims included St. Peter and St. Paul.
4. Caligula (Caius Caesar Germanicus) A.D. 12-A.D. 41. Roman emperor (A.D. 37-A.D. 41). When he was a small child with his parents on the Rhine he wore military boots, whence his nickname [caligula=little boots]. His name has become virtually synonymous for ruthless and cruel autocracy, and during his reign torture and execution became the order of the day.
5. Ahasuerus (519?-465 B.C.) is the Hebrew form of the name Xerxes, as used in the Bible. The Ahasuerus of Esther is probably Xerxes I, King of Persia (486-465 B.C.). His name in old Persian is Khshayarsha. In Esther (chapters 3-7), it is recorded that Haman, favored minister of Ahasuerus, commanded that all Jews be put to death. Esther the queen, interceded for her people, and Haman was hanged on the gallows he had set up for Mordecai.
6. William H. Seward, as mentioned above, was a noted American political leader and antislavery senator from New York. Seward opposed the Compromise of 1850, including the Fugitive Slave Bill. He upheld the principle of "Higher Law"--the law of God--under which slavery could never be justified.
7. The reference is to Sir John Fortescue (1394-1476), English jurist and chief justice of the Court of King's Bench from 1442 to 1460.
8. The reference to Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), eminent English jurist who served for a time in Parliament as solicitor general, speaker of the House of Commons and, finally, as chief justice of the King's Bench after 1613. While sitting on this tribunal, Coke gained fame as an ardent champion of common law against the encroachments of the royal prerogative and declared royal proclamations contrary to law null and void.
9. William Curtis Noyes (1805-1864) was an influential New York lawyer. Originally a Whig, he became a Republican upon the former's demise in 1856. As a staunch Republican, he publicly attacked the Kansas-Nebraska Bill and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
10. Serfdom was finally abolished in Russia by the act of emancipation of February 19, 1861.
11. The reference is to Roger Sherman Baldwin (1793-1863), American lawyer, senator, governor of Connecticut and an organizer of the Republican Party. Baldwin was active in the movement for the abolition of slavery, making speeches on the subject at various times. On one occasion, he obtained a writ of habeas corpus for the release of a black man seized as a fugitive slave, who had escaped from the service of Henry Clay.
12. Christopher Greene (1737-1781), American Revolutionary soldier, headed a Rhode Island regiment of black troops recruited from slaves freed for patriotic service. In 1781, while commanding his lines at Points Bridge in Westchester County, New York, he was surprised by the enemy on May 14 and killed. His brave black soldiers heroically defended him until they were cut to pieces, the enemy reaching him over their dead bodies.
13. The reference is to Crispus Attucks (c. 1723-1770), a runaway slave, who was the first American to die in the American Revolution. He was one of five men killed in the Boston Massacre (March 5, 1770) and the first to die. He was canonized by black Americans of later generations.
14. Samuel Galloway (1811-1872), Ohio lawyer, educator and congressman, served as secretary of state of Ohio from 1843 to 1850 and was also in this capacity ex-officio superintendent of schools.
As a result of his Calvinistic educational tradition and his association with Horace Mann, he became an enthusiastic supporter of popular education. His reports to the legislature pointed up the deplorable conditions of the common schools of Ohio which brought about many substantial reforms. While antislavery in sentiments, he nevertheless allied himself with the Whig Party and served in Congress from 1854 to 1856.
Convention Minutes Item Type Metadata
State Convention of the Colored Citizens of Ohio (1851 : Columbus, OH), “Minutes of the State Convention of the Colored Citizens of Ohio, Convened at Columbus, Jan. 15th, 16th, 17th and 18, 1851.,” ColoredConventions.org, accessed September 20, 2017, http://coloredconventions.org/items/show/249.