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Newspaper Reports on the Convention of the Colored Inhabitants of the State of New York, August 18-20, 1840


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no better public inheritance than to be among the disfranchised--the politically oppressed? O no! And let the mechanic at his toil, answer no! and those who ply the broad rivers and noble lake, answer no! and the farmer, amid the rich fields and abundant harvests of the West, let him answer no! and those who live in the inland towns, on the rivers, and our farming brethren of Long Island, and the thousands who throng the crowded city; from all these let the universal, unanimous reply come, no! Let the opinion of people of all ages, in all circumstances, in all relations be fixed upon this matter. Aye, and when the pure incense of prayer goes up, let it bear the gentle burden--No!

My brethren, the possession of the franchise right is the life blood of political existence. It runs through all the convolutions of our civil state. It connects itself with our literary immunities, enters into our ecclesiastical associations, and blends with our social and domestic relations. If it have pure, uninterrupted, and general exercise, it is found instinct with life and vitality. It is strengthening in its effects, and revivifying in its influences, To be deprived of it, is like extracting the living principle from the blood of the system. Is it any wonder, then, that our energies have been relapsed, that our powers have been crippled, our purposes nerveless, our determinations dead and lifeless? Is it any wonder that we have been the poor and persecuted ones, outraged and degraded, unable to obtain commisseration from the church, or even humanity from the world?

Brethren, from this has proceeded our degradation. This has been the source of our suffering and oppression. And in all this, is there not enough to rouse the soul, and awaken the latent energies of every man of us? But a redeeming spirit is abroad, and new purposes have been decided upon among ourselves.

Brethren, by united, vigorous, and judicious and manly effort, we can redeem ourselves. But we must put forth our own exertions. We must exert our own powers. Our political enfranchisement cometh not from afar.

The history of the world is replete with instruction upon this point. Where rights have been wrested from a people, the restoration of them by those in power, as a matter of favor can never be expected. They are to be otained only by continual presentation of the great truths pertaining to their specific wrongs, accompanied by corresponding energy and activity on the part of the aggrieved.

We call upon you, then, for effort; nor for effort alone. We call upon you for sacrifice. Examine the annals of the human race, look over the face of the universe, and you will find, that whenever anything was of great worth to be achieved for man, men have been needed, and men have been willing to sacrifice their every thing--their all--yea, to give up life, for the good of their oppressed people. How full of such glorious reminiscences is the history of our own country! But we--we are not called upon to make sacrifice of such character. But, we ask, if in all ages of the world, men, in view of posterity, have been willing to sacrifice everything of dear and sacred nature for the good of man; is there not enough of public spirit, of patriotic feeling, among us, peeled, stricken and smitten, fleeced and flayed, as we have been, as we now are, to induce, impel us to some sacrifice of time, and money, and labor, in our own behalf? We hope, we trust we do not say to much for the character of Colored Americans, New Yorkers, when we confidently say, "There is!"

Let every man in the state arouse himself. Let every city, and town, and village, bestir itself to action. Let associations be immediately formed and where families are few, let there be an organization in every hamlet. Let the chief objects of these associations be, to obtain the name of every man to a petition, to be presented by the State Central Committee to to the Legislature, until all traces of proscription are stricken from the statute book. Let petitions be scattered in every quarter. Let every man send in his remonstrance.

Brethren, we call upon you to make this great effort. We call for the exertion of the entire people. We call upon age, with its wisdom and sage experience; upon youth, with its freshness, and zeal, and eloquence. We call

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