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Proceedings of the State Equal Rights' Convention, of the Colored People of Pennsylvania, held in the city of Harrisburg February 8th, 9th, and 10th, 1865 : together with a few of the arguments presented suggesting the necessity for holding the convention, and an address of the Colored State Convention to the people of Pennsylvania.
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BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS
The President introduced the gentleman in a few appropriate remarks and Mr. Lowry said, that he had been "advised of the object which has called this highly creditable and large Convention of the most intelligent Colored men of the State,"--he had learned that the most important subject now agitating our minds, was the elective franchise;--and proceeded to point out the difficulty in the way of our immediate possession of this right, so justly due us.
"There is a provision in the Constitution of our State which allows its amendment, only once in five years, and you will remember that one year ago our Constitution was amended so that our soldiers in the field might vote as if at home, and hence we are at present prevented from making any other amendments for five years from the passage of the last." He thought, however, that the general government might propose amendments and in that case the Legislature could take immediate action thereon. Mr. Lowry claimed to be one of the first who argued for the arming of the negro, and his entering this struggle as a soldier.
He had said in the beginning of the war that "he would arm the blacks, put them in front and let the rebels shoot at their stolen property with stolen guns at the rate of a thousand dollars a shot."
For this expression he had been almost mobbed, and was waited upon by a committee and asked to define his position:--this he did not fail to do; in the course of which he went much further in the same direction, and much too to the discomfiture of said committee.
He would remind us that the Government would do nothing for us that it could possibly help; it never had, and never would.
"The Government needed your aid, and on this account you have received the little which to-night you enjoy."
He believed that the white loyalists would be forced to give the colored man his rights;--"if we get those devilish rebels back, they and the foreign copperheads would put the loyalists in a minority, and to avoid this the negro would have to be enfranchised."
In conclusion he would urge the colored people "to educate themselves and their children, take care, by all means, of your children; educate and rear them properly, ask for what is right, and submit to nothing wrong."
The speech was received with great applause, and after its eloquent delivery, three hearty cheers were given for Senator Morrow B. Lowry, of Erie county.
Mr. O. L. C. Hughes, offered the following Resolution, and it was adopted with acclamation.
"Resolved, That we have listened with commingled feelings of pride and admiration to the very able and eloquent address of the Honorable Senator Lowry, and that we regard him as an unfaltering, indefatigable and fearless vindicator of the rights of the colored man."
The audience, accompanied by Mr. D. D. Turner at the Melodeon, then sang John Brown song.
The Rev. William J. Alston was next called upon to address the meeting, but after a few well chosen words, asked to be excused for this evening.
Mr. John Q. Allen then took the stand and delivered a short and very acceptable speech. He believed that the white man had contempt for the condition of a slave, and hence his opinion of the colored man, who either is a slave, or descended from slaves.
Prof. George B. Vashon, made the closing speech; and by his eloquence, argument and truths, kept the closest attention of the vast assembly throughout the entire delivery.
The benediction was pronounced by the President, and the Convention adjourned to meet to-morrow morning at 9 1/2 o'clock.
Thursday Morning, February 9th.
Pursuant to adjournment, the Convention met at 9 1/2 o'clock.
In the absence of the President, Vice-President E. Weaver called the Convention to order, and prayer was offered by the Chaplain.
The Roll was called and the minutes of the last session read and approved.
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