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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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The address was eloquently delivered and listened to with the utmost attention by the vast audience, except when interrupted by applause.
Sergeant-Major A. M. Green was loudly called for and addressed the Convention as follows: He had endeavored last evening to present a legal argument in favor of our demands. Thus far, this evening's speeches have tended to show, upon moral principles and natural rights, the title of the colored man to liberty and equality before the law. I will, said he, throw aside these arguments and take those which God is pleased to be showing throughout the land in events now transpiring. He then presented the part which the colored American had taken, the suffering he had endured, and the labor he had performed in saving the government and institutions of this country.
He asserted that Daniel Webster had years ago said, that this anti-slavery principle would force itself into respect, and that he knew nothing in the Union which was secure against its advance. The speaker believed that the two principles admitted in the administration of our government are in direct opposition, they must conflict, slave and free labor are irreconcilable, and freedom has for years been making concessions to the slave power:--in the purchase of Louisiana12 and 13 in waging the Mexican war,14 in forming and repealing the Missouri Compromise15 and in giving the Dred Scott decision, slavery had received what she demanded. But after a few years the conflict took another phase, and John Brown began it at Harper's Ferry, and it was now being continued in the midst of a sea of blood. He proceeded next to show the changes which had taken place in the character of the war, and said if Pennsylvania asked colored men to enlist in the United States service, let us ask Pennsylvania to grant us our rights. We have the common good in view and are willing to fight for equal rights and privileges. Colored men cannot now be asked to go south to free their brethren, Jefferson Davis16 himself admits that slavery is dead; let us then demand another plea when we are invited to the field.
We ask that when the colored man returns from the field of battle, he will not be turned from your ballot box, your railroad cars, your hotels and schools, thereby renewing in the bosom of his white fellow soldier who has fought side by side with him, all the old prejudices which existed before the war. Let us demand that our pensions and back pay may not be so generally neglected as is the case west. Let our white fellow citizens remember that God will make fruitless all efforts for peace until we acknowledge that truth embodied in the principle of the Law of the Prophets,--"thou shalt love the Lord will all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself," then shall we have a permanent and secure peace.
The speech was eloquently delivered and well received.
Mr. J. J. Wright was the next speaker. After thanking God for bringing upon the country this bloody rebellion as an exterminator of the barbarous system of American slavery, and acknowledging John Brown as the champion of freedom, and John C. Fremont as the man who cleared the way for Abraham Lincoln to walk in, he asked to be excused from making a speech as the evening was now so far spent.
Mr. Joseph C. Bustill, on behalf of the ladies of Harrisburg, invited the members of the Convention to attend a collation on to-morrow evening in the basement of this church.
The President, after the benediction, then declared the Convention adjourned till to-morrow morning at 91/2 o'clock.
Morning Session, Friday, February 10th.
The President called the Convention to order upon the arrival of the morning hour, and prayer was offered by the Chaplain. The minutes of the previous afternoon's session were read and approved.
The Business Committee reported, through their Chairman, a series of Resolutions as follows:
1. Resolved, That we urge upon our people throughout the State, the necessity of using every exertion to secure real estate, and that we would urge upon our young men and women the desirability of obtaining a good
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