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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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in the spirit of conquest should rush through rivers of blood and hecatombs of human victims.
You claim that your own Independence Hall is the sacred spot where your republicanism was born, cradled and received a national baptism, and from whence the same vestal fire of freedom is encompassing the globe. You have hailed with joyful acclamation the accession of liberal France to the great family of republics, because it thrust the keystone from the arch of monarchical governments throughout Europe.
We have been witnesses to those soul stirring appeals in behalf of republicanism, in foreign lands; and the conviction forces itself upon our minds that however much you may admire and extol the progress of free principles in other states, that of your own dearest Pennsylvania must occupy the highest seat in your affections.
We do not make our appeal to you as christian sects, or political parties, but as men--christians and republicans--beseeching you to apply the same principles and practice to us as your religion and republicanism dictates should belong to others who have not forfeited their rights by crime.
The barrier that deprives us of the rights which you enjoy finds no palliative in merit--no consolation in piety--no hope in intellectual and moral pursuits--no reward in industry and enterprise. Our ships may fill every port--our commerce float on every sea, and our canvass be wafted by every breeze;--we may exhaust our midnight lamps in the prosecution of study, and be denied the privileges of the forum--we may be embellishing the nation's literature by our pursuits in science--the preceptors of a Newton in astronomy--the dictators of Philosophy to a Locke or a Bacon--the masters of a Montesquieu or a Blackstone on civil and international law--or could we equal the founder of christianity in the purity of our lives, and the power and truth of our precepts and the extent of our morals, yet with all these exalted virtues we could not possess the privileges you enjoy in Pennsylvania, because we are not "white." Is this light of the 19th century! Gracious God! is it possible, that in the absence of crime thy Providence is made a party to our disfranchisement. Humiliating as it may be to contemplate the fact, it is written in the fundamental laws of your government, and must there remain until you, by the exercise of your prerogative, choose to remove it, the principles of your religion and republicanism to the contrary notwithstanding. We appeal to you as a body in whom are deposited the power of state sovereignty for weal or for woe--and to each of you individually desiring that if you feel that the obstruction of which we complain ought not to exist, that you will use your influence to obtain its repeal.
Our object in assembling is not only to petition the Legislature ourselves, but also to solicit you to petition. We hope that petitions on this subject will be sent to the Legislature from every City, Town, County, and Township in this Commonwealth.
We feel encouraged to petition from a prevalent belief that the position we are forced to occupy is contrary to the spirit and genius of the people of this State,--our petitions can only reach the humanity of the Legislator, while yours will instruct him in a course of action.
We can conceive of no just reason why Pennsylvania should not occupy the highest position among her sister republics. Her early history and position in the confederacy, the principles and measures of her early fathers and lawgivers, as well as the circumstances of the American Revolution, have placed her on an eminence to give laws to the world. Her soil has been the theatre of as illustrious events as ever moved the historic pen, or fired the imagination of the orator. Beneath her soil lies the ashes of the immortal dead whose fame is as imperishable as the mineral mountains. She has been the favoured child of fortune cradled in success. Providence became her nursing mother, by throwing into her lap, with boundless profusion, not only peace and plenty, but a host of intellectual giants, to guide her during her infant pilgrimage through the rocks and quicksands of despotism. Her time-honoured sons have occupied that proud pinnacle of fame upon which the nations of the earth have gazed with awe and admiration; and now when the revolutions of time light the pathway of posterity. When the last scroll of time shall be wound up on the great windlass of eternity it will present the indestructible names of your Penns, Franklins, Rushes, Wistars, Benezets, Woolmans, Morrises,
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