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Scripto | Transcribe Page
New York State Free Suffrage Convention, September 8, 1845.
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blacks and whites, and another between colored men; and virtually says to the freeholders--Property, not intelligence, integrity, and patriotism, is the measure of the man.
Resolved, That we demand the restoration of our rights, at the hands of the people of the State of New-York, who, without any cause, took them from us, and have persisted in the wrong for the last twenty-four years.
Resolved, That to the non-possession of the elective franchise may be traced most of the degradation to which we, as a people, have been subjected, and is the fruitful source of unnumbered and unmitigated civil, literary, and religious wrongs.
Resolved, That in proportion as we are treated with disrespect, contumely, and neglect, in our political, literary, and ecclesiastical relations, from the want of the elective franchise; so would we command respect and influence, in these different relations, by the possession of it.
Resolved, That there is great hope for the politically oppressed, in their own exertions, relying upon the favor of Heaven, and appealing to the just sentiments of those in political power.
Resolved, That we hold the elective franchise as a mighty lever for elevating, in the scale of society, any people, and feel sensible that without it, we are but nominally free, the vital means of our improvement being paralyzed: we do therefore believe it obligatory on us, and do hereby pledge ourselves to each other, to use all just means in our power, by devoting a portion of our time, talent, and substance, to agitate this question, until we obtain a restoration of this inestimable boon.
Resolved, That in case a Convention should be called, it is the duty of every friend of equal suffrage to vote for those delegates, in the Whig or Democratic parties, that are in favor of extending to the colored people of this State, equal suffrage.
The following address was adopted by the Convention, and some arrangements were made for future meetings:
Address to the People of the State of New York
Fellow-Citizens of the State of New-York, we appeal to you to restore to us the elective franchise which you have withheld from to us for the last twenty-four years; we honor New-York and her noble institutions, but we cannot honor that spirit which actuates the majority, to take away the rights of the minority. To all her citizens the right of suffrage is valuable in proportion as she is free, but surely there are none who can so ill afford to spare it as ourselves; to deprive us of "equal suffrage," is a denial of the fundamental principles of genuine democracy. By depriving us of our rights you deny "that all men are born free, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights;" when you have taken away an individual's right to vote, you have made the Government a despotism to him; to foreigners the want of the right may be tolerable, because a little time or labor will make it theirs; they look forward to the day when they can enjoy it, and hence they enjoy its benefits, but when a distinct class of the community, already sufficiently the objects of prejudice, are wholly and forever disfranchised and excluded to the remotest posterity, from the possibility of a voice in regard to the laws under which they are to live, it is the same thing as if their abode was transferred to the deserts of Arabia; they have lost their check upon oppression, their wherewith to buy friends, their panoply of manhood--in short, they are thrown upon the mercy of a despotic majority. Like every other despot, this despot, majority, will believe in the mildness of its own sway, but who will the more willingly submit to it for that?
We love our native country, much as it has wronged us, and in the peaceable exercise of our inalienable rights, we will cling to it.
We are citizens; this we believe would never have been denied, had it not been for the subserviency of the people of the free States to Slavery; but as our citizenship has been doubted by some who are not altogether unfriendly to us, we beg leave to submit some proofs which we think you will not hastily set aside.
We were regarded as citizens by those who drew up the Articles of Confederation between the States in 1778; the fourth of the said articles
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