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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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and as being in possession of ALL the sciences."
Such qualifications endorsed by such high authority ought not disfranchise us on account of condition. If he was moved by jealousy not arising from any act of James Forten, but from the distinguished notice he received from others in "consequence of his color," then the argument against our inferiority because exploded. He says "he has no hatred for these people." If he means that his course towards us is friendship, we pity his enemies. But let us examine his sense of justice, so that we may be able to comprehend what he would require of us. Now, he says that James Forten, was a black gentleman, and the only exception among a standing population of 20,000, which of course must have doubled itself in the forty years of Mr. Martin's residence and surveillance. Does Mr. Martin make any effort, to protect James Forten, from the doon of all those who are recognized by the same complexion. No, after endorsing his character for "Prosperity, reputation, and gentlemanship," he too must be immolated, not on account of his condition, but mark ye! it is his complexion. The reason, for the omission perhaps lies in the fact that he prefaced the term gentleman with black, and as he expresses a jealousy for the fear of coloured men's popularity, and in case they shall be permitted to vote, would have the power of distributing offices in the different wards." There is great reason for the impression, that Mr. Forten was a SHINING MARK, and that Mr. Martin's object was more achieved in effecting his disfranchisement than in the very worst sample that could have been presented. Now when Mr. Martin's own endorsement of the condition and character of James Forten, would not induce him to make exception in his favour; it most clearly proves that no condition, however exalted, possesses a protecting influence. James Forten might have been the MOSES of the Israelites--the CHRIST of the Gentiles--the WASHINGTON of AMERICA, and he would have been disfranchised, so far as Mr. Martin's vote and influence was concerned.
But, let no one suppose that we undervalue any effort, for the improvement of our condition. We know that it will be capable of exerting a powerful influence on future decisions as well as it did on the past. Our object in using the names of James Forten and Mr. Martin, is to make a strong case for the purpose of disabusing your minds of the false views that have been circulated, that we were disfranchised on account of our condition. It would have been unfortunate for Mr. Martin if the forty thousand coloured people in the State could each have represented the same character and influence of James Forten, he would have been without a conditional basis on which to erect his complexional ISSUE. This would be requiring too much, for he was a model man, and no nation in the whole tide of time, from the twelve tribes of Israel down to the Liberian republic, ever presented a front where the mass possessed such unsullied purity. In taking leave of Mr. Martin we are unable to say whether his views have undergone any change, but as we understand that he is still living, we are willing the public shall have the benefit of his arguments. His whole course has impressed us with the belief that he did not make the name of James Forten an exception out of respect to the man or his virtues. The exception was necessary to characterize his own intelligence and establish his veracity. JAMES FORTEN, though dead, his example still lives in the memory and affections of those who knew him. If we imitate his virtues, our influence will dissolve mountains of prejudice. He loved to make friends, while too many of us create enemies. The examples of all such will be like millstones around our cause, and if we fail to succeed it will be their fault.
Every man should consider that from this time forward the eyes of his jurors will be upon him, and if we would avoid any unjust cause of offence, in a case involving dollars and cents, how much more careful ought we to be where the great stake is our rights and privileges as citizens. Each one should be careful to win friends to our cause.
We should be careful to present a manly bearing by the exercise of politeness and good manners, and avoid all unnecessary display and ostentation--also profane language and invidious expressions, either in favour of or agains political parties. for, if we obtain the right of citizenship it will not be through the influence of any one party; we must look to the justice of the people without distinction of party, creed, of sect. Let us ever bear in mind that "money is the sinew of war," and that to carry this question to
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