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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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a successful issue, you will not only have to act with circumspection, but you will have to tax yourselves for its support. Remember, we can make no sacrifices in this cause which will not produce an equivalent reward. Should we not obtain our enfranchisement at once, we will gain in the consolidation of our people on the great subject of our rights. The dismembered factions of sects and parties will lose their identity in the union of discordant elements. Our wasteful contributions, folly and fancy will seek a channel for investment in an exchequer from which we may draw honor, wealth, intelligence and power. Our superfluous trappings will be substituted for plain and useful apparel. Our science of music and signs will be more fully displayed in the science of letters of economy. In the dissolution of our local and affiliated societies, a base will be discovered on which to erect institutions from whose gigantic structure, national themes can be proclaimed. The seed of revolution once successfully planted, only needs the application of right instrumentalities to carry it into successful operation. With proper direction of our resources we have within us the elements that will make us a great people.
But, if we would succeed, we must erect our standard on the rock of principle--and our measures should always be guided by the highest expediency. We must not forget from whence we started, and like the children of Israel keep our eyes directed towards the promised land; ever watchfully surveying the difficulties to be surmounted, and make our attacks on the most pregnable points. We should never waste our ammunition in skirmishing and sound, nor direct our artillery in the air. We must make the history of oppressed nations our light-houses--and never relax our efforts until we have passed the Rubicon of Caste, and landed safely on Pisgah's top.
We must ever keep the fact in view that we are disfranchised because we are not "white." We must endeavor to influence the voters of this State to repeal this complexional standard. Our cause is analogous to those which have been the foundation of revolutions for upwards of two hundred years, excepting those that had their foundation in the religious intolerance, while ours is complexional.
The Protestant reformation of the 16th century had its foundation in the religious intolerance of the catholics. Look at the history of Ireland under George III 24--at a period when she was furnishing England with a generation of patriots, who were weaving laurels for the brow of the British Crown, both at home and abroad--in the field and in the camp--at the bar and in the forum--while in the Parliament the Catholic religion was stricken down by Protestant power, and its devoted worshippers made to suffer in their persons and privileges because they would not consent to abandon the idol of their faith. Look at the history of the Quakers, the Catholics and Jews of this country, have they too not been hanged, scourged, disfranchised, and persecuted on account of their religious faith! Have they not been obliged to seek their title to the privilege of citizenship through the dire fogs of persecution that became so tangible, that like Egyptian darkness they "felt it," and mark the results. Their talents have been devoted to improvement; faithful to their creed, they have rode triumphantly over the billows of the storm. They might have knelt before the Moloch of power, renounced their faith, and by bowing at the shrine of hypocrisy have purchased a pardon with the price of their conscience. With us it is otherwise, we must suffer the "altars and Gods" to sink together.
The charge upon which we are arraigned, is a debt which hypocrisy cannot liquidate. The divinity that debars us from the privileges of Citizenship, is more DURABLE than REVELATION inscribed on parchment, the intuitions of prophecy embodied in creeds, or the unwritten evidences of our faith streaming from the fountain of our consciences. It is emblazoned on our cheeks by the IMPRESS OF DEITY. Light from heaven irradiates it, and darkness alone can obscure it.
Others by becoming traitors to their principles, might have forsaken their faith, but we cannot abandon our complexion. We are forced to meet the issue, and that on complexional grounds. The same foe to liberty is in the field that persecuted Luther at the "Diet of Worms," and burned Michael Servetus at the stake--executed Emmet and his colleagues in Ireland--that hung Quakers in the land of the Pilgrims--that disfranchised the Jews, and in more modern times, mobbed the Catholics. They boldly went to battle with a foe whose Godlike power shook the whole earth. They girded themselves with
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