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Scripto | Transcribe Page
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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But yet we feel ourselves aggrieved, that we are deprived by injustice of those inalienable rights with which we are endowed by the Creator of the Universe, and incorporated and made sacred to every native born inhabitant of these United States, by the Declaration of the American Independence.
Therefore do we solemnly appeal to you for a just reason, why we should be deprived of our free born rights, which are guaranteed to us as native born Americans.
For we find ourselves existing in this State, 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 birth-right; yet we are prevented from being participants in those free-born rights and sympathies, that are bountifully guaranteed not only to common humanity of this State, but also to foreigners of whatever clime or language. We find ourselves the subjects and not the objects of legislation, because we are prevented from giving an assenting or opposing voice in the periodic appointment of those who rule us, and are 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 which in their practical operation act upon us with destructive tendency. By subjecting us to taxation without representation, by allowing us but a scanty and inadequate participation in the privileges of education. For we are deprived of a just and equal participation in the educational privileges of the State, for which we are equally taxed to support.
By shutting us out from the exercise of the elective franchise, a right which invigorates the soul, and expands the mental powers, and is the safeguard 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 ensure. These proscriptions in the privileges of the State, we consider to be undemocratic, unjust, and not in accordance with the spirit and political institutions of our republican form of government, and contrary to the first article of our State Constitution, which in the first three clauses of said article, expressly declares that, 1st, All political power is inherent in the people. 2d, Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people, and they have the right at all times, to alter or reform the same, and to abolish one form of government and establish another, whenever the public good requires it. 3d, No man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate privileges. And as we, the oppressed form a portion of the people of the State, and are deprived of all the rights and privileges guaranteed to the people, therefore, we enter our solemn protest against the word white, embodied in the first clause of the second article of the aforesaid 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 lie to the third clause of the first article of the Constitution, which so positively declares that "no man, or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate privileges."
For the same here avowed proscriptions in the privileges of the government, did the fathers of the Revolution of 1776, declare these United States to be absolved from all allegiance to the British crown. They published as a justification, a declaration of rights, and an extensive list of grievances, and then established a republican form of government for their future protection, laying its foundation on the broad platform of those noble principles set forth in their Declaration of Independence; which so nobly 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 amongst men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that the people are the only legitimate force of lawful political power, and that they have a right to institute, alter or abolish forms of government when they fail to secure the ends for which they were established; and that this right is inherent, inalienable and supreme.
That the definition of "the people," is all men; that to enable all men to exercise their right to institute government, they should enjoy the right of suffrage. That this right is a natural right, belonging to man, because he
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