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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Suffrage Convention of the Colored Citizens of New York, Troy, September 14, 1858.
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selfish tyrants, tearing off the shackles by which they were themselves enslaved, and forging fetters more galling for the comparatively defenceless inhabitants among them--fetters which were to be riveted upon them while the Republic should endure. This venal Court was also obliged to set aside as a worthless parchment the Ordinance of '87, to trample upon former judicial decisions made in favor of liberty, and decide against 'State Sovereignty,' the pet lamb of the tyrant's flock. By this blast of the judiciary, compacts, constitutions, decisions and ordinances were not only driven out of Court, but struck utterly dumb--annihilated!
3. Resolved, That this deadly thrust is aimed not simply at the rights of the colored citizens of the Republic, but as slavery is the common enemy of man, and as its political supremacy has been authoritatively proclaimed by the majority of the Supreme Court, the natural rights of all who form a part of the nation are impudently invaded. We, therefore, call upon all who subscribe to the theory of human rights set forth in the Declaration of American Independence, to trample, in self-defence, the dicta of Judge Taney beneath their feet, as of no binding authority.
4. Resolved, That we are citizens of the State of New York, and, consequently, of the United States, and should enjoy all the rights and immunities of other citizens, the edict of Judge Taney to the contrary notwithstanding.
5. Resolved, That we will never cease our efforts to procure the repeal of the property qualification clause in our State Constitution, until success shall crown our labors.
6. Resolved, That in the even of the assembling of a Convention to revise the Constitution, in accordance with the act passed at the last session of the Legislature, we urge upon the members the justice and necessity of redeeming said Constitution from the disgrace now attached to it, in consequence of the unjust, anti-republican and odious restriction upon the exercise of the elective franchise.
7. Resolved, That in the ensuing gubernatorial election, it becomes us to act with special reference to securing the elective franchise. We can accomplish noting in this direction save over the defeat and ruin of the so-called Democratic party, our most inveterate enemy. In order to secure this defeat, it is absolutely necessary to consolidate the strength of the opposition to said party.3 And we regard the Republican party, all things considered, as more likely than any other to effect this desirable end, and advise the eleven thousand colored voters of this State to concentrate their strength upon the Republican ticket for Governor, &c., now before the people.
8. Resolved, That in so doing, we do not for a moment endorse all the political tenets of that party; we are Radical Abolitionists, and shall ever remain so; but we regard the nomination made by them at Syracuse as calculated to give aid and comfort to the enemy, by electing the Democratic candidate.
These resolutions were taken up seriatim, and formed the basis of a most exciting debate for three sessions of the Convention.
Messrs. Watkins, Symonds, Deyo, Hodges, Myers, Thompson, Townsend, Rich, Williams, Wright, Smith, Duffin, Garnet and others, took part in the debate.
The equal right of suffrage--the disfranchisement of the colored people--the property qualification--the oppression of the negro race--the best mode of obtaining a redress of their grievances--their determination to assert, maintain and secure their rights--the propriety of voting for the party which promised them the most present good--the comparative merits and demerits, the pro-slavery and anti-slavery character of the different parties--were subjects of discussion.
The seventh resolution, recommending the eleven thousand colored voters of this State to go for the Republican party, was the great bone of contention.
A majority of the members, coming from two or three of the large cities in the eastern part of the State--where they live under the influence of Republican profession and promises--had been made to believe the Republicans would give them their rights, and were, therefore, in favor of the resolutions; while the more intelligent portion of the Convention--such men as Garnet, Duffin, Smith, Williams, and others--opposed it. These gentlemen spoke with great ability and earnestness against the inconsistent and unwise course of the majority, but to no effect. Under the previous question, they shut off discussion, and passed the resolution.
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