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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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PENNSYLVANIA, 1865 139
We present the following preamble and resolutions as a test of your earnest determination to work in the noble cause, and the annexed Petition we have adooted as the best form to present for public circulation.
Whereas, We the accredited representatives of the colored people of Pennsylvania, fully conscious of the terrible responsibilities of the hour, accepting them as men only can who are trained to suffering by the cruel hand of oppression, are moved to the deepest and most serious solicitude as to the future welfare of our race, in this our native land. And,
Whereas, We find that after a war unparalleled in its immensity and incalculable in its direful and calamitous effects upon the nation, we who were among the first to tender our services and who have proved faithful among the many faithless, now that the grim visage of ruthless war is smoothed by the gloved hand of peace, are turned out a prey to the merciless, unrespected, unenfranchised and unprotected. And,
Whereas, We find that the government who remembered us in her hour of peril, forgets us in her seeming prosperity, though to her we rushed in obedience to her call and unflinchingly gave our strong arms, our brave hearts and even our lives in her defence, knowing the savage barbarity, the uncivilized and fiendish cruelty that would be practiced upon us by the nation's deadliest enemies, and freedom's foulest foes. Therefore,
Resolved, That though we see enfranchisement, protection, office and power proffered with profuse hand to the men who overthrew the government in their respective States, deluged the land with fratricidal blood, exhausted the treasury, piled up a mountain of debt, uprooted our time-honored institutions, destroyed our commerce, blasted and made desolate the fairest portion of our country, attempted the lives of our public men and national leaders by assassination, murdered in cold blood on the battle-field the wounded and captured representatives of our brave, patriotic and faithful race, starved, whipped, enslaved and maimed them when prisoners by the fortunes of war, put men to death after an honorable surrender, and finally drove the assassin's deadly bullet into the nation's acknowledged head. Yet, in view of all this, we will neither tremble nor cower, but with our trust in God and our faith in the final supremacy of right, we will continue to petition with the same unfaltering determination, the same unyielding pertinacity which led us to face the iron hail of death on a hundred battle-fields. We will agitate, entreat and demand, in the name of justice, humanity and truth, the fulfillment of the nation's pledges made to us in her darkest hours of trial, when bankruptcy, ruin and dissolution were rushing madly upon her. This we will do until the nation yields to our prayers, and guarantees us the full enjoyment of our liberties, protection to our persons throughout the land, complete enfranchisement, and until all are equal as American citizens before the law.
Resolved, That we regard the objects which the State Equal Rights League stands pledged to carry out, viz: equal political rights without distinction of race or color, as the same for which thousands of us fought suffered and died, and that we pledge ourselves to work for it, recommend it, and in every way labor for its success, believing it to be the best plan proposed for carrying to a successful termination the objects for which we have lived, and hope to enjoy as the birth-right of American citizens.
The undersigned, officers and members of the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights' League, call the attention of your honorable body to the 4th Article of U.S. Constitution, Section 4th, in which we find that "the United States shall guaranty to every State in the Union, a republican form of government;" and seeing that in this State and many others, such a form of government does not exist, we therefore most respectfully ask the adoption of the following amendment to the Constitution of the United States:
That there shall be no legislation within the limits of the United States and Territories, against any civilized portion of the inhabitants, native-born or naturalized, on account of race or color, and that all such legislation now existing within said limits, is anti-republican in character, and therefore void.
Resolved, That we petition the Legislature of Pennsylvania, requesting the to instruct their Senators and Representatives in the Congress of the
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