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Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored People : held at Albany, New-York, on the 22d, 23d and 24th of July, 1851.

1851NY.17.pdf

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70 BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS

five years the colored citizens enjoyed the rights of franchise in common with the white inhabitants of the State. But at this advanced and progressive period of the State's history, the wise and liberal portion of the citizens of the State realized a necessity for an alteration of the State Constitution, wishing thereby to have for an elective basis, the virtue and intelligence of the people in preference to property bases or qualification which was then a constitutional requirement. A convention was called for this important object, each county sending delegates to represent its interest, and those delegates receiving their election in part at the hands of the colored electors, met in convention to extend the area of freedom. But alas, fellow citizens, what was the result; the poor who stood in the greatest need of a stimulus to emerge from the condition in which they had suffered so grievously, were still left to struggle with the superincumbent embarrassment, while their white fellow citizens open up a political highway through which all might pass without the least obstruction, save that of a small minority designated by the external complexion which God gave them. This providence of God was used to condemn and fix upon them, to the extent of the circumstance, a disgrace, thus heaping wrong upon wrong, forgetting the many years that they stood side by side as the children of paternal ancestry; at Bunker Hill, Concord and Lexington, the colored man's blood was shed, Lake Erie and Lake Champlain, poured out, for the establishment of those sentiments that are contained in the herald of the country's freedom: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created free and equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The ark of the covenant was grounded and settled on these indestructible principles, and moreover, in after years, guaranteed by the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, art. 4, sec. 2, clause 1, wherein it is declared "that the citizens of each of the states shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities as citizens of the several states." The colored man's constitutional rights as a citizen have never been questioned until recently, and that by those whose cupidity prompted them to make an effort to injure him in his strongest position, in the unquestionable and avowed protection that the United States Constitution throws around and extends to the whole free representative mass. The colored man's rights are not peculiar or extrenuous, but are in common with those of the whole people, and incontestable evidence to this effect may be found in the circumstances of the admission of Missouri into the Union in 1821.

The people of Missouri made overtures to Congress for admission into the Union as a sovereign, independent State, and at the same time submitted the Constitution they had framed. But their admission into the Union was resisted by a majority in Congress, on the ground that a clause of the 26th sec. of the 3d art. of the proposed Constitution, made it a duty of the General Assembly to pass laws such as might be necessary to prevent free Negroes or mulattoes from coming to or settling in the State under any pretext whatever; which it was maintained was a violation of the Constitution of the United States, art. 4, sec. 2, clause 1, wherein it is declared "that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the citizens in the several States." Hereupon a debate arose of great interest, which agitated the Union to the remotest extremity. The issue of this was as follows: the refusal to admit Missouri into the Union was not withdrawn until the General Assemble of that State, in conformity to a fundamental condition imposed by Congress had, by an act passed for that purpose, solemnly enacted and declared that this State, Missouri has assented and does assent that the 4th clause of 26th section of the 3d article of their Constitution should not be construed to authorize the passage of any law, and that no law shall be passed in conformity thereto, by which any citizen of either of the States shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizens are entitled to under the Constitution of the United States. (Ref. to Niles' Congressional Reg., August 18th, vol. 22, pp. 338 and 339.) And Missouri, after having manifested her assent to the fundamental condition imposed by Congress, and having officially communicated the fact to James Monroe, President of the United States, he, in pursuance and under the authority of the resolution of Congress, prescribing the condition aforesaid by his proclamation, dated August 10th, 1821, declared the admission of

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