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Scripto | Transcribe Page
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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72 BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS
And now, has it come to this, that the descendants of those whose hearts beat true to their country, even unto death, that they, their offspring, are compelled to prove a claim to a common interest and right in those ever glorious achievements; that the man with a swarthy brow or black complexion is compelled to protest against the usurpations of his fairer brother, of most flagrant and gross wrongs; and the mother cannot successfully vindicate her maternal and unalterable interest in the infant on her breast against unchristian and inhuman laws of this degenerate land and people. It is enough to startle every christian American with a trembling apprehension that God has given the nation over to their abominations and pride, and that the hand writing of their overthrow is apparent. Mene mene tekel upharsin.24
Report of Committee on Fugitive Slave Bill.
The undersigned appointed a committee to report on the FUGITIVE LAW, beg leave to submit the following preamble and resolutions:
That we the colored citizens of the State of New-York believing that the dearest rights and liberties, belonging to us as freemen, are fearfully endangered by the Fugitive Slave Law recently enacted by our National Legislature, and having a tender sympathy with our brethren who escape from slavery--being assembled in convention to consider said law--do deliberately and seriously resolve,
1. That this law, in requiring the freemen of the fugitives from slavery to the iniquitous and oppressive bondage from which they have heroically escaped, is in direct and impious opposition to the command of the Supreme Law Giver--a command, like the moral law, obligatory in all ages from its very nature--"Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee; he shall dwell with thee, even among you in that place which he shall choose, in one of thy gates where it liketh him best; thou shalt not oppress him." That this law, in forbidding men under the penalty of heavy fines and imprisonment to harbor or assist fugitives from slavery, is in direct and impious opposition to those laws God which command deeds of humanity and mercy;--that in both these respects this law is in direct and impious opposition to the essence and sum of "the law and the prophets," declared by the divine Redeemer, "all things whatsover you would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,"--and therefore that no man can, in these respects, obey this law, without palpable and flagrant disobedience to God.
2. That this law is plainly and essentially opposed to that self-evident truth in the Declaration of Independence by these United States, "that all are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;" and that no man can app or obey this law without contradicting this united declaration of the of this Republic.
3. That this law directly and palpably violates those fundamental provisions of the Constitution of the United States which secure to "every person" the right of trial by jury, and in cases occurring under the laws of the United States, the right of trial by a Court of the United States, (which a Commissioner under this law is not) and the privilege of the habeas corpus act, and of counsel when accused, and therefore all citizens of the United States are bound by their obligations under the Constitution, not to obey, but to disobey, this law.
4. That the duties of men towards fugitives from oppression are plain--the duties dictated by humanity and mercy--the bestowment of comfort, sympathy, and needful aid; and we call, therefore, on the inhabitants of the state of New-York to imitate the noble example of the people of New Haven, Ct., who, in the days of the hunted and fugitive judges, who condemned to death an oppressive King of England, obeyed the exhortation of their pious pastor, the reverend John Davenport,25 founded on the Divine command, Hide the outcast; betray not him that wandereth; be thou a covert to them from the face of spoiler."
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