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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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75 NEW YORK, 1851
ples, entitles it to the full confidence and zealous support of every friend of impartial freedom.
Wm. H. Topp,
E. N. Hall,
To the Legislature of the State of New-York:
Honorable Sirs,--A State Convention of the colored citizens of this state assembled at the Capitol in the city of Albany, on the 22d, 23d and 24th of July,1851; respectfully represent to your honorable body, that the Constitution of this State, in article 2d, sec. 1, burdens us with political inequalities, and deprives us of rights which the declared principles of our government hold to be natural and inalienable.
These invidious distinctions are unjust, and oppressive on the few that edure them,--ungenerous and anti-democratic in the masses that enforce them; as exhibited by the popular vote on the suffrage question in 1846.26
We would further represent, that the colored citizens have ever been loyal to the government, and in the perilous times of 1812, when to shoulder a musket was to bare the breast to the weapon of an enemy; thought placed by partial legislation beyond the compulsory power of the State, did with becoming promptness volunteer their services to defend our common country from invasions and depredations of a ruthless and vindictive foe, and while by a mistaken stroke of political economy, the children of these volunteers are spurned and degraded, the successors of the very men who met them in mortal combat by sea and by land, you receive with open arms.
We submit gentlemen, that our proscription is unjust, and we appeal to your generosity as Americans--and your honor as men to do us justice in this matter.
By the reform convention of 1821, virtue and intelligence was made the elective basis to all white men, while the colored citizens in addition to being trammeled with the requirements of the old system, are doubly injured by the proscriptive character of the new, which impliedly places us beneath the elective basis,-- encourages the baser feelings of the more favored class to be arrayed in opposition to us and closes against us most of the avenues to emolument and honor.
The Constitution, in Article 13, sec, 1, provides for its amendment or alteration by the Legislature; we therefore respectfully, but earnestly pray your honorable body to repeal these anti-republican and proscriptive clauses of our State constitution, and all others subjecting us to unequal restrictions and as in duty we will ever pray.
W. P. McIntyre,
J. N. Still,
H. Hicks, } Committee.
Copy in the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University Library, Washington, D. C.
1. John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), sixth president of the United States, Secretary of state during the administration of James Monroe, and later a member of the House of Representatives (1831-48), where he vigorously supported the right of petition, especially with respect to the passage in Congress of the famous "gag-rule" in 1836, which barred the reception of abolition. His eloquent and persistent opposition secured the repeal of that rule in 1844.
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, approved by Congress on September 18, 1850, provided for the appointment of special federal commissioners to facilitate the reclaiming of runaways. These commissioners could appoint marshals to arrest fugitives, and these marshals could, in turn, "call to aid" any bystanders at the scene of an arrest, who were "commanded" to
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