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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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high dignities and exalted tendencies of our common humanity are the original grounds from which they may be deduced. Wherever a being may be found endowed with the light of reason, and in the exercise of its various exalted attributes, that being is possessed of certain peculiar rights, on the ground of his nature.
We base our claim upon the possession of those common and yet exalted faculties of manhood. WE ARE MEN. 1. Those sympathies which find their natural channel, and legitimate and healthy exercise in civil and political relations, have the same being and nature in use that they have in the rest of the human family. 2. Those yearnings and longings for the exercise of political prerogatives, that are the product of the adaptedness of man's social nature to political arrangements, strive with irrepressible potency within us, from the fact of our disfranchised condition, a prevalent and unreasonable state of caste, and the operation of laws and statutes not proceeding from, yet operating upon us. 3. Those indignities and wrongs which naturally become the portion of a disfranchised class, and gather accumulated potency from an increase and intenseness of proscription, naturally and legitimately revert to us. From possessing like sympathies for civil and political operations with others, and like susceptibilities for evil, when nature is hindered in any of its legitimate exercises--on the ground of our common humanity, do we claim equal and entire rights with the rest of our fellow citizens. All that we say here, meets with full sympathy from all connected with the history of the country, the nature of its institutions, the spirit of its Constitution, and the designs and purposes of its great originators.
We have no reason to think that the framers of the Declaration of Independence, in setting forth the doctrines it contains, regarded them as dogmas or idle theories. We believe they put full faith in them, as actual truths and living verities. This they evinced, by pledging to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. This they manifested, by an unswerving opposition to injustice and oppression.
It was in accordance with the views of that great charter of American freedom, that they framed the Constitution of the country. Setting aside the stale primogenital fallacies of the blood-dyed political institutions of the old world; repudiating the unnatural assumptions of the feudal system, and exploding the aged and destructive sophism of natural inequalities in the family of man, they clung with undying tenacity to the connecting chain that runs through the whole mighty mass of humanity, recognized the common sympathies and wants of the race, and framed a political edifice of such a nature and character as was congenial with the natural and indestructible principles of man, and as was adapted to secure to all under its broad AEGIS, the purest liberty God ever conferred upon him.
That Declaration, and that Constitution, we think, may be considered as more fully developing the primary ideas of American republicanism, than any other documents. In these, individuals are regarded distinctly and respectively--each and every one as men, fully capacitated by the Creator for government and progressive advancement--which capacities, in a natural exercise, are not to be interfered with by government.
Republicanism, in these two documents, has an eye to individual freedom with lets or hindrances. In her operations, she is impartial. She regards man--all men; and is indifferent to all arbitrary and conventional considerations. This we deem to be the character of the Constitution after which it was modelled. Republicanism was to be the distinguishing feature in its operations.
The Constitution of our own State, as it sprung from the clear head and pure heart of the incomparable patriot JOHN JAY, 19 in its preamble and several sections, was, in spirit, concordant with it. By this we mean, that although the qualifications for voting, in general, were higher than those prevailing at the present, yet the ground of the suffrage enactment was not based upon national peculiarities, or complexional distinctions. It is said that any man possessed of such and such qualifications should be a political denizen of the State.
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