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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.


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71 NEW YORK, 1851

Missouri into the Union to be complete. Here then is incontestable proof of a common proprietary interest in the government and liberties of the country, colored with the white citizens. We need not be told after the above statement and proof, that the Convention of 1821, of the State of New-York, which altered or introduced into the Constitution the word "White," making the clause read "every white male citizen of the age of twenty-one years" should, on certain conditions specified, be entitled to vote, was an infraction of the rights of colored citizens. The elective basis of the State was not property, that being supplanted by the alteration, therefore all the male inhabitants of the State, by virtue of their locality and the alteration of the State Constitution, became citizens presumptive, and when in conformity with the amended conditions, were citizens in fact, no state being invested with the power to advance the interest and exalt one portion of the people over that of the other. Congress not being empowered to pass a bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, it is not reasonable to suppose or logical to admit that any one State could assume such authority. The resolution produced a change in all the free inhabitants of the United States; all the citizens of the several states became citizens of the United States. They were subjects of Great Britain; they became citizens of the United States from the very nature of our government. In the case of McIlvain v. Cox's lessees, Cranch 293, it is asserted without contradiction, "It was therefore, a political revolution, involving in the change all the inhabitants of America, rendering them all members of the new society, standing on one common basis as citizens of the new states." Chan. Kent.22

The elective or representative basis of the general government is then the free people; each State an independent sovereignty as long as its laws and regulations do not conflict with the general government. Therefore in view of the foundation principles of the State and United States governments, we have sufficient reason to declare our united and uncompromising hostility to a mal-administration of the laws, whether it is of the State in which we are residents or of the several States of the Union, for every innovation upon the rights of the American people is fraught with destruction to the harmony which binds the several States. The objects of the confederation, whereby and wherein the rights of the people might be more securely protected, and those rights are promised in the language of the Declaration of Independence, "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness." These are the ground principles of the country's stability; undermine or remove these and the light of her glory is quenched and all are merged into the condition of dupes and slaves. Caste or titles were no moving motives to the uprising and attainment of American liberties, but are at variance with the genius of the government.

The elective franchise is the birthright and blessing of every American, of which he can never be legally deprived, unless he involves his right to the enjoyment of it by the commission of some penal offence against the laws of his country; and nearly 600 years have elapsed since the barons of England compelled their king to subscribe to the magna charta, which embraced and guaranteed to every Englishman an unqualified protection in the possession of his life, liberty and property; therefore, inasmuch as the advantages and true principles of the common laws of England were introduced into the United States when in their Colonial condition; received and adopted as standard principles and laws, they became the bularks of the American people's liberties. Property in man being denied and rejected by Lord Mansfield, 1772, from the bench,23 the highest authority in England, a monarchial government and the one from whence this emerged, set forth boldly and sustained two great principles, a trial by jury, and the right of every man to himself. The establishment of these principles by the mother country, and their re-adoption by this, made them the organic law of the nation, the natural right of every American. It was for these principles and that three million people started up as voluntary offerings to be sacrificed on the alter of liberty, to be ever venerated and loved for their successful triumph in the maintenance of right over wrong; the whole land is consecrated to freedom with a deep libation of freemen's blood; each and all were patriots and Americans in that day, who opposed their breasts to the foe, and secured successfully the triumph of these principles.

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