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Scripto | Transcribe Page
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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Resolution be so amended as to contain this clause:--"in the appointment of teachers for these schools, colored persons, their literary qualifications being sufficient, should receive preference; not be reason of their complexion, but because they are better qualified by conventional circumstances outside of the school-house.
Mr. A. M. Green then moved the previous question. The demand "shall the previous question be taken," was declared affirmatively, and the amendment unanimously adopted. The Resolution as amended was then carried, on motion of Mr. R. M. Adger.
The time having expired, the President declared the Convention adjourned to meet this evening at 7 1/2 o'clock.
At an hour long before the opening of the Convention, the Church was crowded to its utmost capacity, and at 7 1/2 o'clock the President called the house to order. After singing a hymn, the Convention listened to an earnest and eloquent prayer from the Rev. W. J. Alston, Chaplain.
Mr. Davis D. Turner was then introduced by the President as the first speaker.
The gentlemen began by making evident the fact that we are a rising people and the times are changing in our favor. He believed that the struggle now going on in this country could not be ended unless colored men entered the war more numerously. He enumerated some of the signs of our advancement, and said these rapid and onward strides of freedom showed the development of a higher civilization: the fact that Haiti and Liberia are placed in the same category with other nations of the earth, the emancipation of several States and the District of Columbia, the amendment to the Constitution, and its being ratified by several Legislatures, are so many evidences of our progress, and urge upon us the necessity of united efforts. We should not falter by the way, but being determined, move steadily onward, allowing no dissentions, no party strifes, no chimerical schemes, nothing whatever, to swerve us for one moment from the line of duty. We would say "let the dead past bury the dead," keep pace with the age in which we live; then and only then, would we be doing our duty to God, to ourselves, and to our race. The speech was frequently interrupted by applause.
Prof. Geo. B. Vashon, now read a memorial to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, asking them to grant the colored man the elective franchise.
On motion of Mr. D. D. Turner, it was adopted, ordered to be printed, end distributed, one to each member of the Legislature, on behalf of this Convention. [See Appendix.]
The Hon. James L. Graham, of the State Senate, being in the house, was loudly called and he responded.
"We are living," said he, "in a great age; in the midst of a rebellion which has had no parallel in the world's history;--it is similar only to that which occurred in the fair fields of Eden." He had often been reminded through the phases of this rebellion, of the sentiment, that there is a "Divinity which shapes our ends;" and we ought to bow to-night, in reverence and thanks to that God above us, for His interposition in our affairs. "We have just begun the work, and you the colored people, have it in your hands to shape your own destiny. The time was, when the black man was looked upon as a chattel, bought and sold in the market place; but thank God a purer and brighter life has burst upon us, and the colored race may now elevate itself to a respectable place" among the nations of the earth." "I am," said Mr. Graham, "no new man in the Anti-Slavery belief, twenty-two years ago I entered the field, and although told that I was too young to combat these strong prejudices, I have continued to this day.
"Look at the course of this rebellion, just so long as the administration hesitated to let the oppressed go free, just so long did our armies suffer defeat; but when God taught Abraham Lincoln to let them go free, and he did it, we began to conquer, and have gone on from victory to victory. Your disabilities as colored men will be removed, you will yet enter upon the enjoyment of equal rights, and from the fullness of my heart, I hope the day will soon come." The speech was eloquently delivered and at its conclusion, three cheers were given for Senator Graham of Allegheny County.
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