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New-York State Convention of Colored Citizens, Troy, August 25-27, 1841


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At the New-York State Convention of Colored Citizens, held in Troy, August 25th, 26th and 27th, 1841, the following address was prepared and adopted:

To the Electors of the State of New-York

Fellow Citizens--Deeply sensible of the dignified and responsible position which you occupy, as the source of all political power in the greatest State of the American Union, we would respectfully but earnestly solicit your attention to a subject which greatly concerns our common weal. Great, as unquestionably is our Empire State, it is evident that her hitherto rapid improvement, her present preeminence and her future welfare, are all dependent on the energy, the intelligence and patriotism of the people--the whole people.

True, New-York has not been wanting in Clintons, Jays, Fultons, and Livingstons, and other bright stars in every department of human greatness--but these eminent men might have fretted away their lofty abilities, and "died without a sign," had they not fallen upon the congenital and fostering soil of a people of whose genius they respectively became the impersonation.

It is not only true that to whatever of greatness our State may have claim, she is entirely indebted to her people; but it is also true, that, considered in relation to their common welfare and common rights, nothing can affect a part of the people which does not equally affect the whole people. If crime, great or small, be perpetrated, the whole people being injured, the forms, as well as the practice of our laws, seek out the offender, and inflict condign punishment upon him in the name and in behalf of the whole people. If an injury be suffered by any one of the people, the cause of that one is taken up, and redress is afforded by the whole people, who are injured through that one, and who maintain the administration of justice in each and every case. And if laws be passed, whether affecting the whole, or a small portion, or even one of the people, these laws are alike passed in the name and with the consent of the people.

The people of our State, then, are a whole, made up of individuals, whose relations to each other and to the whole people are indestructibly equal. And herein lies the very essence of the republican form of government; that it is impossible to separate an individual from the mass, and inflict on him personal wrong or degradation for no fault on his part, without virtually and in fact destroying the peculiar nature of this form of government; for that moment such wrong or degradation is done, the government is changes from a republic into an oligarchy, or tyranny of many masters. And furthermore, any circumstance, whether a law of the land, or a local abuse, or time-honored grievance, which affects disastrously the rights of any, however small a portion, of the people, is of necessity a grievance and an evil to the whole

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