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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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160 BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS
Press with its great influence; and upon Congress and the Administration to lend us their aid in a cause so just, so reasonable and so necessary, as the possession of equal rights without regard to color. And he believed that while our great armies moved on to victory the nation would move on to justice. The speech was frequently applauded.
Rev. Elisha Weaver addressed a few remarks to the assemblage, and urged the people to a union in their labors and the necessity of encouraging one another in business.
Mr. Joseph C. Bustill then, on behalf of the ladies of Harrisburg, reminded the delegates of the collation awaiting them in the basement of the Church. The meeting was then adjourned and dismissed with the benediction by the President. The vast assembly slowly, and with evident feelings and demonstrations of the deep interest which had been awakened in their minds, wended their way from the Church, presenting an interesting and encouraging spectacle.
A FEW OF THE ARGUMENTS PRESENTED SUGGESTING THE NECESSITY FOR HOLDING THE CONVENTION
1st. It is the duty of any people who have grievances and wrongs to be redressed, to exercise themselves in their own behalf; and we would be unworthy of the notice or consideration of those to whom we appeal, if we possessed no energy, or intelligence, and refused to exert every faculty we possess, and embrace every opportunity within our reach to emancipate ourselves from disfranchisement in the State on the soil upon which we were born.
2d. The old proverb so often applied to us,
Hereditary bondsmen, know ye not Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?
is most faithfully borne out in the more recent motto of the people of this country, that "self-reliance is the sure road to Independence;" and while we accept the application of the former, we feel in duty bound to adopt the practice of the latter, so far at least, as the means and opportunity are hand.
3. We believe that no people have greater reason to complain, or have suffered greater and more frequent cruelties and injustice, or received less consideration for long and faithful services in promoting the general interests of the State, or have been more patient, law-abiding and discreet, than have been the colored people of the State of Pennsylvania.
4th. We, as a class, are not merely adopted or naturalized citizens of this State; our residence therein and our connection with the history thereof began with us, as with our forefathers, at the time of our birth. In the pursuits of manual labor and commercial enterprise, we began with the State itself; and from the time of the revolution, the noble defence of our frontier and the defeat at Red Bank of an enemy flushed with exultation at the prospect of the speedy fall of Pennsylvania's chief commercial city, we have ever been, to the interest and honor of our State, as true as the needle to the pole, never wavering, never changing, never deserting her cause, even when many of her most highly favored children have turned their backs upon her and united their destiny with that of her wayward sisters in rebellion.
5th. We, at one time, enjoyed our suffrages in this State, and met but little of the cruel prejudice that now meets us at every step we make in the direction of human progress. A prejudice barring against us the doors of your public libraries, of your colleges of science, of your popular lecture rooms, of your military academies, of your jury boxes, of your ballot boxes, of your churches, of your theatres, and even of your common street cars; and knowing all this to be the direct result of the defunct system of barbarism --American Slavery-- we now ask that, as you have slain the cause with the rebellion, you give us security against the continuance of the effect, as manifested in the existence of these inhuman prejudices and prohibitions.
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