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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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PENNSYLVANIA, 1865 161
6th. While nearly every State in the Union is moving in the direction, not only of arming its colored population, but also of securing them their rights of citizenship, it is the duty of the people of Pennsylvania, she having sent more colored men than any two States to the field, to take such action as shall do justice to these soldiers and their friends, and at the same time do honor and credit to the State they represent.
7th. Our duty to the brave men who have represented us and you upon many a well contested field of mortal strife, our duty to the dear ones they have left behind, and to the glorious cause they serve, demand our earnest and uniting efforts towards procuring for ourselves and for them, full indemnity for the past, compensation for the present, and security for the future; and we believe that in so doing we cannot but have the approbation of all good men, and the support and direction of that arm and wisdom which are mightier than the power of man.
8th. With these views then we come to you, and we ask of you a calm and patient hearing, that when our cause is properly before you, we may rest assured that you will do your part earnestly and faithfully as christian men and women, who believe in the practice and exercise of virtue and piety, and in the common brotherhood of the human race.
ADDRESS OF THE COLORED STATE CONVENTION
TO THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA
We, the colored people of Pennsylvania in Convention assembled at Harrisburg on the 8th, 9th and 10th of February, 1865, viewing the complex state and condition of affairs, and of public sentiment in our State, deem it our duty to present to you our grievances, our sufferings, and the outrages heaped upon us because of our helpless and disqualified position for self-defence, resulting, as we think we can prove, from no greater cause than our long and unjust political disfranchisement.
We do not come to you in the spirit of reproachfulness and denunciation; neither do we feel in pleading for equal rights without regard to complexional differences, that we are in the least degree selfish. Nor do we in any respect seek to lower the standard of refinement, intelligence or honor among the great and loyal people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by urging at this time these questions upon your consideration. On the contrary, we would view if possible, the brightest side of the picture we have to present, and give to our beloved State all honor and credit possible, in this hour of universal rejoicing over the rapid strides our great nation is taking in the direction of universal emancipation and equality before the law.
We would plead for an equality that would recognize all men as created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," believing that to secure these blessings governments were instituted among men, and that when they fail to secure, or seek to subvert these principles, they should no longer exist, but should become extinct or, be so revolutionized as to promise these blessings, and not despotism as the recompense to their subjects for loyalty and devotion to the interests and prosperity of the State.
We believe that, in this country, to elevate the standard of political equality in favor of the one and only disfranchised portion of the inhabitants of the republic, is indeed but another word for securing to all the present and future population of the entire continent, those blessings of refinement, intelligence, and honor which having hung tremblingly in the balance of God's eternal truth, weighed and found wanting, are now passing through the fiery furnace of a fierce and bloody revolution.
We recognize, and most gratefully acknowledge the Old Keystone State as among the first to strike off the fetters of slavery from the shackled limbs of her colored people.33 We turn with the most pleasant emotions to that day in the history of Pennsylvania, upon which the inscription upon the bell (still enshrined within the sacred temple of our liberty--Independence Hall) "proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof," was the universal sentiment of the people of our State. We give full faith
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