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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
every bar to our political enfranchisement be now and forever removed? Do this, and all other evils and outrages will disappear as the dews of morning melt before the morning sun.
We have omitted many, very many acts of barbarity and inhuman aggressions made upon us by the dominant race (and which are a commonly perpetrated as though the laws of the land laid the obligation upon those who inflict them to do so) because we believe you are well aware of the facts yourselves, and because we believe that every sense of justice and honor stands out in vindication of our claims without further argument or encroachment upon your time. We have come together to consult and advise with each other upon these questions of vital interest to ourselves and our country, and having canvassed all the ground, we have concluded to present our desires, our hopes, our claims to justice, before you, and in the sincere anxiety of our hearts, we ask a calm and careful consideration of the whole subject of our disenfranchisement, and our suffering originating therefrom; and having given it this, we have no doubt but that truth, justice, honor, and the security, prosperity, and happiness of our State will aid you in arriving at such conclusions as shall vouchsafe to us those blessings so long denied us, and for which, above all other considerations, our Constitution and government were formed.
When, after continued refusals of both State and Federal authorities, it was found necessary to arm and muster the colored men of Pennsylvania as United States soldiers, we were urged to enlist, ignoring the question of pay, bounty, and every other consideration that was presented as an inducement to white men to enlist, because it was claimed that it was our duty, discarding all other consideration, more than twelve thousand (12,000) men have been enlisted and sent from our State to swell the ranks of the Federal army. Many of these men are credited to the quota of this State under the several calls of the President. Pennsylvania still calls for volunteers to fill her quota in the late call. She asks her colored men now as before to assist her in the overthrow of the rebellion. But we answer, "what is your reward for it." We tell you now, as you told us at first, that pecuniary interests are of minor importance compared with freedom and our enfranchisement. We have the admission on all sides, that the question of slavery is settled. Slavery is dead to all intents and purposes. This is the admission of the confederate authorities themselves.
We have even seen and heard the representatives of slave States demanding, not only freedom but enfranchisement for their colored people, during the past year. Witness Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, and Louisiana, and mark the recent action of the State of Illinois in the repeal of her black laws. Have we not equal claims upon the people of our State? Can you ask us now to aid you to secure your own freedom and interests against the fearful assault made upon them, without promising us an equivalent equal to what you, by a vote of great significance, guaranteed to the soldiers during the past year?
Colored men are no longer fighting for the freedom of the slaves in the south. They are fighting for the Union, the Constitution and the enforcement of your laws; and we ask you, fellow citizens, to see to it that our rights and interests be regarded in this respect: that no more fear may be entertained of the overthrow of our National Government by the toleration of the plotters of treason, to the exclusion of true loyalists, and the State interests made insecure by traitors in our midst armed with bullets and ballots to do us mischief, while our loyal colored people, as a measure of State policy are denied the use of both.
MEMORIAL PRESENTED TO THE LEGISLATURE--FEBRUARY, 1865
To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met
Your memorialists, Citizens of Pennsylvania, but disenfranchised on account of their color,--having met in Convention to consider their grievances, would,
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