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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights' League. Held in the City of Harrisburg, August 9th and 10th, 1865.
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STATE CONVENTIONS, 1865
prejudice, wherever its hydra-head is discernible. To effect this end, we present the league and suggest:
1st. That the reason why leagues should be formed, be clearly and forcibly laid before the people, and in the plainest manner.
2d. What reasonably may be expected from this formation, if persistently adhered to, and religiously supported.
3d. The means to be used for the accomplishment of the much desired end (enfranchisement and equality before the law.)
This, we think, cannot be too frequently and explicitly held up to view: for the want of direct, simple, feasible plans, causes many to hesitate who otherwise might enlist in this movement, which we have the power to render truly great. If judiciously managed, and entered into with determination by the people, the leagues cannot but be levers of great strength, and in our opinion, able to lift us from the present degrading, death-like inertness--the natural sequence of diunion and factious opposition. We are so unreliant, so weak, antagonistical, cavilling and captious, that it is almost impossible to collect our scatttered, spiritless forces, made doubly so from want of systematic combinations, and direct them to any point in our enemies' lines, though assured of its vulnerability.
If when brutally assailed, we appeal to the courts where justice is supposed to exist, divided counsel so enervates the effort that our best friends desert the case ashamed of its imbecility. And so, when we desire to enlist the sympathies of the press in our behalf, a matter readily accomplished by others when needed, the element of discord, so fatal to every public undertaking, ensures failure, and stamps the very effort with signal contempt. So apart are our best men in feeling, so separated by hostile cliques, petty associations and personal dislikes, that the inefficiency of all our plans for political amelioration and moral improvement stands blazoned with mid-day brilliancy. These are facts painfully prominent and sorrowfully true, and your committee, after a full scrutiny of the political horizon and reasoning from cause to effect, conclude, unhesitatingly, that separation in feeling, division in interest and counsel, and a general want of confidence in each other, are the main causes of our inability to obtain redress for the many cruel wrongs of the past, and security against them in the future. These we regard as the causes. The effect needs but little delineation. It is only necessary to cast a glance at our present position, and any one capable of comprehending in all its terrible reality has measured the effect. It is to remain as we are, a stolid mass, with vigor enough to play the part of a second Cain, and insensible of the golden opportunity which presents itself to struggle for our birth-right. Shall we remain thus, ever ready to impede the upward tending efforts of the few who raise their heads above the turbid waves of oppression? Or shall we as sensible men and women adopt the leagues as a true remedy to remove the cause, and as a consequence, destroy the effect?
We offer the leagues and urge their acceptance, because they are the converse of the causes which beset us and impede our onward march to the procession of equality and perfect enfranchisement. We urge them in the name of Union, harmony and fraternity, and beg you to sustain the movement, sustain it, because it consolidates our efforts, embodies our desires, and gives force and pertinence to that resistance to tyranny, which it becomes us to make, as a people resolved to be free.
We urge it because it is unity, and therefore, strength and power, it proffers moral and social elevation, mental culture and systematic political combination. It is the advocate of temperance, frugality, and the necessity of sustaining and upholding each other in all rightful relations, and, in a word, it aims to make us upright. This is the aim and object of the League, these are its claims, offered for your support.
It asks you, who are taunted, insulted and cowardly assaulted on the highways by ruffians, on rail-roads by conductors, and driven from hotels and places of amusement by the proprietors, to sustain it with your money, your labor, and your influence. It asks you to join these ranks, leagued to javelin to the wall oppression and prejudice with all their barbarous concomitants, and to strive on, yielding to no danger and shunning no responsibility until we as Pennsylvanians are all equal as citizens before the law.
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