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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Minutes of the State Convention of Colored Citizens of Pennsylvania, Convened at Harrisburg, December 13-14, 1848.
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Resolved, That the unfinished business be referred to the Conventional Board, after which the Convention adjourned sine die.
John B. Vashon, President.
F. A. Duterte,} John Wolf, Edward M. Davis,} Secretaries
APPEAL TO THE VOTERS OF THE COMMONWEALTH
Sirs:-- We recognize you as arbiters of our political destiny, and your sovereignty as the source of power from which the fundamental Laws of the commonwealth must derive their origin, power and sustenance,--and while we admit the justice and force of your national maxims, as penned by the illustrious Jefferson, "that governments long established should not be changed for slight and transient causes," and all experience has proved, that as a people, we are disposed to suffer present evils "rather than fly to others we know not of," yet we are constrained to believe that the object for which we claim your attention is founded on established precedents, coeval with civil government, and rendered necessary as a safeguard to individual liberty and security to the privileges of the citizen.
We, therefore, address you, as the representatives of the Colored Citizens of this Commonwealth, assembled in Convention from various Counties, for the purpose of petitioning the Legislature for a repeal of the word "white" from the 1st section of the 3d Article of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, which reads as follows:--
"In elections by the citizens every white freeman of the age of twenty-one years, having resided in this State one year, and in the election district where he offers to vote, ten days immediately preceding such election, and within two years paid a State or County tax, which shall have been assessed at least ten days before the election, shall enjoy the rights of an elector," &c.
We rejoice that we are relieved from the task of depicting our grievances before you, for the causes which impel us to the present undertaking, are so legibly written on your Constitutional code, and embodied in your political faith, that neither revelation can enlighten nor argument embellish.
We therefore claim the exalted privilege of appealing to you from the seat of the law making power, on a subject that cannot, but be deeply interesting to you, as it is of vital importance to us. Because whatever has a tendency to develop the natural, intellectual and physical resources of a state or nation, augments her strength and perpetuates her power.
The constitutional provision you have made for the annual assemblage of your representatives from the various districts throughout the State for the purpose of legislating for the protection of your present and future interests affords us an illustrious example that we should not be unmindful of ours. If you, who have received and enjoyed, not only the blessings of science and civilization, but a representative form of government for three quarters of a century, still need its fostering care to lead you to a higher destiny, surely we who have occupied the humblest positions, and from whom these blessings and privileges have been measurable withheld, may reasonable claim the possession of their invigorating strength to inspire us in the pursuit of a laudable ambition.
We need not search among the antiquated records of the past for a successful vindication of our claims to impartial laws. These emblems, of our State's humanity are imperishably recorded in the sublime appeals of her distinguished statesmen.
We do not appear before you as the supplicants for any new form of government which is opposed to the foundation principles of republicanism; we only ask the favor of the application of your own principles to your civil code.
We can conceive of no just reason why our present action should not only enlist your sympathies, but merit your warmest approbation. You have hailed, with deafening shouts, the victorious march of republicanism from the battle fields of your own Washington to the heights of Buena Vista, the plains of Cerro Gordo, and the Halls of the Montezumas, though to attain it, armies
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