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Scripto | Transcribe Page
New York State Free Suffrage Convention, September 8, 1845.
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"formidable to the enemy, but would lessen the danger of revolts and desertions" among the slaves themselves.--See secret Journal of the old Congress, volume 1, pages 105-107.
During the last war the free colored people were called to the defence of the country by General Jackson, and received the following testimony to the value of their services:
Soldiers! when on the banks of the Mobile, I called you to take up arms, inviting you to partake the perils and glory of your white fellow-citizens, I expected much from you, for I was not ignorant that you possessed qualities most formidable to an invading enemy; I knew with what fortitude you could endure hunger, and thirst, and all the fatigues of a campaign; I knew well how you loved your native country, and that you had, as well as ourselves, to defend what man holds most dear, his parents, wife, children, and property; you have done more than I expected. In addition to the qualities which I previously knew you to possess; I found moreover, among you a noble enthusiasm, which leads you to the performance of great things.
Soldiers! the President of the United States shall hear how praiseworthy was your conduct in the hour of danger, and the representatives of the American people will, I doubt not, give you the praise which your deeds deserve. Your General anticipates them in applauding your noble ardor, &c. By order, (signed)
Thomas Butler, Aid-de-Camp.
Are we to be thus looked to, for assistance in the "hour of danger," but trampled under foot in the time of peace? Did our fathers fight for American liberty that their children might be disfranchised and loaded with insults? Can the people of New-York justify themselves in wrenching from us the birth-right, civil liberty. We would respectfully ask you to look at the fact, that, while you deprive the colored American citizens, of the benefit of the elective franchise, you at the same time extend it to the foreigner, who may land upon our shores ignorant of our constitution and laws.
We lay hold of the principles which New-York asserted in the hour which tried men's souls, and which they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to sustain. We take our stand upon that solemn declaration, that to protect inalienable rights, "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," and proclaim that a government which tears away from us and our posterity the very power of consent, is a tyrannical usurpation which we will never cease to oppose.
National Anti-Slavery Standard, October 30, 1845.
1. Born a slave in Kentucky, William Wells Brown (1815-1884) escaped to the North and became an effective antislavery speaker, playwright, historian and novelist (author of Clotel, or the President's Daughter, the first novel published by an American Negro). In 1854, years after he had escaped from slavery, his English friends, worried for his safety under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, purchased Brown's freedom for three hundred dollars. Besides being one of the most active abolitionist lecturers, Brown was deeply involved in the temperance, woman-suffrage, prison-reform and peace movements.
2. William H. Seward (1801-1872), a leader in the Whig Party and one-time governor of New York, was a strong supporter of black rights. The views of the Negro people in western New York were paralleled by their brethren in New York City three years earlier. For on December 19, 1842, the
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