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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Newspaper Reports on the Convention of the Colored Inhabitants of the State of New York, August 18-20, 1840
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fine, they would respectfully pray for the abolition of that part of the State Constitution which imposes upon them unequally a property qualification for the use of the franchise. Signed, &c.
The committee appointed on Wednesday morning to draw up certain instructions or recommendations to the people on petitioning, in behalf of the convention, submitted through the chairman, Alexander Crummell, the following:
The committee on the resolution which has reference to petitioning, would beg leave most respectfully to
Prayer is one of the earliest and most spontaneous of all human exercises. Man is a creature of wants, which are ever presented in continuous succession. From his imperfect and dependent nature, petitionary addresses are ever attendant upon him, from the dawn of existence to the last slow lingering descent and appearance of life.
In this feature of human character, man meets with sympathy and instruction in entire universal being. In proportion to the extent of want, and the intenseness of desire, so is the depth and fervor of the petition, the earnestness of its tone, and the frequency of its presentation.
The colored people of this State are, from the non-possession of the right of suffrage, the proscribed class. This proscription is the fountain Marah, from whence proceed those bitter waters that run through all the various ramifications of society, connecting themselves with all our relations, tainting and embittering the fresh streams of existence in their pure and healthy flow. The consciousness of want in this matter, is deep, strong, and universal--and so should the expression of it be.
The mode of giving an adequate and natural development of the sense of wrong and want, is for the aggrieved class, in a community where rights have been wrested from them, to appeal to the better principles, the fundamental sentiments of our common humanity, and make a continual and earnest entreaty for their restoration.
In making such appeals and entreaties, we have much to expect. Oppression, prejudice, and injustice, although they have made sad and dire work with man's better nature; although they have withered many of the best affections and noble sentiments of the human heart, and impaired much of the clearness of man's mental vision and the moral beauty of his spiritual nature; yet reason is not wholly destroyed; the image of God is not yet entirely effaced from the nature of man. There are yet remaining to him, high sentiments and gentle sympathies, and deep laid principles, which create a fellow feeling between man and man--which constitute a bond connecting and binding together the heart of universal humanity. The principle of rectitude is as universal among men as the light of the sun. Conscience, well described as
God's most intimate presence in the soul, And his most perfect image in the world,
still remains, exerting her power over the thoughts, and words, and actions of men.
To these sentiments we can yet appeal. From our own human consciousness can we make our most earnest and effectual entreaties to our fellow men in power. Such an appeal cannot be heard. It will receive deference from its very nature. It will bring forth sympathy by reason of the source from whence it proceeds. It will meet with favor, from being in accordance with the spirit of the age. It will secure its success and triumph, from the light of reason, the principles of Christianity, and the dictates of living and eternal right. The committee would therefore recommend the following resolutions:
Resolved, That it is a solemn duty of the free colored people, in city, town, village, and hamlet, continually and earnestly TO PETITION the Legislature for an equal and impartial exercise of the elective franchise, until they effect a consummation of their desires.
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