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Minutes of the State Convention, of the Colored Citizens of the State of Michigan, Held in the City of Detroit on the 26th and 27th of October, 1843 for the Purpose of Considering Their Moral & Political Condition, as Citizens of the State.
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The business committee reported by Wm. Lambert, their chairman, the following preamble and resolutions which, after being ably supported were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, We, the oppressed portion of this State, have been called upon by the deprivations experienced daily by our oppressed brethren and ourselves to assemble in convention to consider and deliberate upon the cause of our being deprived of our rights as citizens of the State; and whereas we find ourselves existing in this State, (many native born,) with no marks of criminality attached to our names as a class--no spots of immorality staining our characters--no charges of disloyalty dishonoring our birthright; and whereas we yet find ourselves, the subjects and not the objects of legislation, because we are prevented from giving an assenting or opposing voice in the periodic appointments of those who rule us;
And Whereas we are thus made passive instruments of all laws, just or unjust, that may be enacted, to which we are bound to subscribe, even while we have no instrumentality, either in their formation or adoption;
And Whereas said laws in their operation, act upon us with destructive tendencies, by subjecting us to taxation without representation--by allowing us but a scanty and inadequate participation in the privileges of education--by shutting us out from the elective franchise, a right which invigorates the soul, and expands the mental power, and is the safe-guard of the liberty and prosperity of a free and independent people, and by being deprived of this right, we are virtually and manifestly shut out from the attainment of those resources of pecuniary and possessional emoluments, which an unshackled citizenship does always insure.
And whereas for the same avowed proscriptions in the privileges of the government, did the fathers of the Revolution of 1776, declare these United States to be absolved from allegiance to the British crown, and established a republican form of government for their future protection, laying its foundation upon the broad platform of those noble principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence, which declares that "all men are born free and equal, and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, among which, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed; that the people have a right to institute, alter or abolish forms of government whenever they fail to secure the ends for which they were established; that to enable all men to exercise their right to institute governments, they should enjoy the right of suffrage, that this right, is a natural right belonging to man, because he is a person and not a thing, an accountable being, and not a brute; that government is a trust to be executed for the benefit of all, that its legitimate ends are the preservation of peace, the establishment of justice, the punishment of crime and the security of rights;
And Whereas the fathers of the revolution pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors, for the maintenance of those noble republican principles, and thereupon established the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees to every State in the Union, a republican form of government, and expressly declares that the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states; and whereas the first three clauses in the first article of the Constitution of this State, (Michigan) expressly declares, 1st. That all political power is inherent in the people. 2d. Government is instituted for the protection, and benefit of the people, and that they have the right at all times to alter or reform the same, and to abolish one form of government and to establish another, whenever the public good requires it. 3d. No man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate privileges;
And Whereas, we, the oppressed, form a portion of the people of this State, and are deprived of all the rights and privileges guaranteed to the people;
Therefore, be it Resolved by this Convention, That we enter our solemn protest against the word "white," embodied in the first clause of the second article of the State Constitution, which provides for all white male citizens, the exclusive and separate privilege of the exercise of the elective franchise, of which we are deprived, and which is also contrary, and gives the
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