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Minutes of the First Colored Convention, held in the City of Portland, October 6, 1841.
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In the 2d place, I would encourage you to avail yourselves of all the means of education within your reach. The geneneral dissemination of knowledge among any people, is among the indispensable and most powerful means of their elevation in the world. This should be viewed as something without which the rank of any people in society, whatever else they may attain, can never be high.— Much thought should be given, and no pains spared to gain a good education. Great personal efforts will be required to secure this.— Friends may assist in furnishing the means, but you and your children must diligently and faithfully apply yourselves to the work. Nor must this exertion be made by a few individuals only. Enemies will say these are exceptions; the mass of the colored people cannot be educated. You must prove that they can be, by actual experiment. Your standard must be high, a little higher than that of the whites. For unless your attainments are above theirs, they will be slow to admit they are equal.
In the third place, your moral character must be elevated. In regard to temperance, every colored person, men, women and children should practice on the Washingtonian principles of entire abstinence from all that can intoxicate. In regard to licentiousness, they should be pure in general integrity, strict and unbending; in promptness, fidelity, punctuality, not only examplary, but worthy of all confidence. In a word, they should be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, who went about doing good. Enlightened, virtuous minds, will make themselves felt in any community. By acquiring such minds, and discreetly using them, they will sunder the cords of cast, and remove the barriers, numerous and strong as they are, to an eligible standing in society.
Fourthly, they must cease to confine themselves so generally to low, menial employments. No man ought to despise any occupation which contributes to the welfare of the community. They should not content themselves with being waiters, shoeblacks and barbers. Would it not be more for their interest, instead of congregating in our cities and villages, where the spirit of cast is most prevalent and oppressive, for them to go into the country. They might find employment with the farmers and mechanics, acquire sufficient knowledge of those branches of business to conduct them to advantage, and earn something with which to purchase land, or tools to establish themselves. Among the farming population, they would be treated with greater kindness and attention, the people stand nearer upon a level, and are more free and social. I would press this with no small degree of earnestness.
Then they should, as far as practicable, forget the distinction between them and others. They should not assume airs of importance on the one hand, nor on the other, should they be low or mean, neither impudent nor crouching. An unassuming, modest, upright deportment, will secure the confidence and esteem of all the intelligent and virtuous part of community. That the Father of mercies may guide your deliberations, that all the measures adopted by the Convention may be such as He will approve and render conducive to your highest welfare, is the prayer of your truly sympathysing friend and brother, DAVID THURSTON.
On motion of H. Chandler. Resolved, That we most deeply sympathize with our colored Brethren in Cincinnati, in consequence of the reign of mob law and slavery, by which that City is efficiently disgraced; that we consequently hope that our friends, there, will stand firmly to their post, and breast the attacks of slavery's wrath, never forsaking the more miserable slave, until liberty shall become
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