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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Report on the State Convention of the Colored Citizens of New York, Held at Schenectady, September 18-20, 1844.
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warranted by the facts in the case. Having been honored, fellow-citizens, with your appointment of us as your representatives in the State Convention, we accepted this distinguished trust with a full sense of its importance and responsibility; with a firm determination to present to the convention such matter as you in your judgment should think proper to trust to our care, to express what we firmly believed to be your sentiments, and to maintain for you that unyielding regard for your rights which has ever distinguished the people of the city of New-York.
Fellow citizens! you had entrusted us with a document, a Protest, respectfully worded, and accompanied with a respectful request that might be recorded upon the minutes of the Convention. This request was rejected by the Convention! Had it been a request to reject or adopt the sentiments of the Protest, it would have been another matter; for then, the Convention would have been urged to adopt the sentiments of a meeting of the citizens of New-York; and a refusal to adopt would have been an expression of a difference of opinion. But a refusal to accept and record the Protest, was a refusal to record the sentiments of that meeting. It was a denial of the right of the people of New-York, assembled at a public meeting, to record their sentiments upon the minutes of the Convention--sentiments which were expressed in regard to the only object which the Convention had in view. This right being denied by the Convention, your delegates felt that a primary and inalienable right of their constituents had been violated. They felt that their constituency was thereby outraged and insulted, and they could not any longer remain a part and party of the Convention which had, deliberately and wantonly, done this insult.
Your delegates had been told, openly, in Convention, before the Protest had been read, that it would be rejected--but they, incredulous that so great an insult had been already premeditated, performed their duty and presented the Protest--the result showed that the fate of the Protest from New-York had been determined by some combination of the delegates from other places before they had even heard the Protest read!
Other facts might be related to show the unfair means by which this deliberate, premeditated insult was consummated, but they are in themselves irrelevant to the issue which alone remains before the people of New-York.
Your delegates might have borne with indignity and insult in the hope that by remaining at the Convention they might yet, in their humble way, have contributed to the great object--the extension of the Elective Franchise, for the attainment of which they were sent to labor. But your delegates were now convinced that by the rejection of the Protest from New-York the Convention deprived itself of the only means by which it could continue to labor for the franchise. So long as the Resolutions adopted at Rochester, (against which the city of New-York had protested,) remains recorded as the sentiments of the colored people of the State of New-York, so long will it be utterly useless for the people of color to strive for the extension to them, on equal terms, of the Elective Franchise! Because the Rochester Convention's Resolutions identify the people of color with one political party, they promise the votes of people of color to that party, and that party only: they therefore change the ground of our effort, instead of asking for a right based upon the highest principles of general good, they ask for a means by which to help into power certain political aspirants who have made specious promises, thus confirming the charge which has been urged against the people of color, that their votes could be bought for been a price.
Believing, that, by a refusal to second your Protest, the Convention had not only poured insult upon you, but had also destroyed the only mode by which it could effect anything towards extension of the Franchise, your delegates knew that their opportunity for the successful labor had passed away, and they resigned their membership of the Convention.
Fellow-citizens! believing that you are unwilling that your sentiments in regard to the propriety of keeping aloof from political partisanship the great question of the Franchise, shall be misrepresented at one Convention, and that your right to be heard shall be denied by another Convention, believing that you are unwilling that you shall be handed over, bound hand and foot, to one political party, no matter which; believing you are unwilling that your ancient and unwavering determination to be heard in whatever concerns your welfare, shall at this late day be crushed and trampled upon--we
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