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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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the weapons of truth and justice, and became invincible. The contest was long and severe, but the great DAGON of power and oppression fell and crumbled at the feet of a revolutionary power, that has poured more blessings into the lap of nations than any event recorded in the world's history. It is the scattered fragments of that enemy to mankind, that relentless foe to civil and religious liberty which had spent its force in wars of religious despotism that is now again resuscitated and consolidated for the purpose of executing complexional intolerance. It is this power, so often foiled and beaten that has stricken down our rights, privileges, and citizenship in Pennsylvania. And the most humiliating part in the whole drama, is, the contemplation that we are obliged to contend for our rights with the sons of those conquerors who shed their blood in battling with the same enemy and in defence of the same glorious principles, and whose ashes have produced trees of liberty, under which their posterity may not only be protected from the storms of despotism, but may repose in peaceful security beneath their branches. We regret that we are forced to appeal to those sects and parties that are fresh from the fires of persecution, and whose parental history is scarred with the wounds and bruises of the conquered and slain. But, we will appeal to them; they are but men, and have hearts, feelings and sympathies as other men, therefore we will appeal to them, as men whose origin and destiny are and must be inseparable from theirs. Born heirs to the same natural rights--having a just claim to the exercise of the same conventional rights, so long as we are governed by the same laws let, us implore them by their respect for the past, and their love for the future, not to fetter our spirits or manacle our limbs with chains, "which neither they nor their fathers could bear," and which required ages of labour to dissolve.
We will appeal to them by their religion and republicanism not to make a foreign issue with us on the grounds of condition. We have marked their issue--and nailed our flag to their complexional standard, and under it we will rally, sink or swim--survive or perish we will be found fiercely combating the enemies of equal rights, and in favor of the laws of Providence.
But let us first charge home upon ourselves. We too have admitted on our platform this abominable doctrine of condition; we have been allured by false ideas, we want not only language to express our detestation of existing evils, but we need new terms for the vindication of our rights. We have been advocates of the doctrine that we must be elevated before we could expect to enjoy the privileges of citizenship; we can never approach nearer the white man than we now are while he possesses all the machinery of progress. We do now henceforth and forever discard it, and deny that in the true republican sense of the term that we need to be elevated before we are enfranchised. The Almighty having clothed us with the attributes of human nature, we are placed on an equality with the rest of mankind. The declaration of American Independence, and our own State's Bill of Rights ask no more. If we admit the fatalism that we need to be elevated before we are fitted to possess the rights and privileges of white men, we consequently acknowledge our inferiority in the scale of creation. Let us never attempt to erect the temple of freedom on such a sandy foundation. Let us reject every attempt to dethrone the dignity of our manhood so long as the spirits of freedom runs in our veins, and we feel within us the evidence of immortality.
Let us rest our cause on the republican standard of the revolutionary Fathers, while we knock at the doors of the constitution and demand an entrance. If we are asked what evidence we bring to sustain our qualifications for citizenship, we will offer them certificates of our BIRTH and NATIVITY. If we are denied admission, let the cause of our rejection be ascribed to our complexion. Then we shall have a fair view of the question at issue, then we shall be able to see (and our friends too) that it is not our impiety--our ignorance--our immorality, or our wicked customs and habits that places us without the pale of constitutional landmarks. But that it is our complexion alone which furnishes the apology. If we could by a single "feat" of nature change our complexion, every objection to our full exercise of constitutional privileges would be banished before to-morrow's sun. We therefore hope that our friends will cease to place any faith in the doctrine, that our religious, literary, and moral improvement will be the means of en- franchising us. We need all these much, for our spiritual, moral and intellectual improvement for the promotion of our present and future welfare.
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