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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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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. These principles declare eternal war against all political injustice. They condemn all Legislation violating the spirit of equality. They are the foundation of a true, and unproscriptive republican form of government and the correct guides in all political action.
For the maintenance of these noble republican principles, the fathers of the Revolution, pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors, and thereupon ordained and established the Constitution of these United States, which guarantees to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and explicitly declares that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States. In accordance with these glorious republican principles, have we, year after year petitioned our State for the redress of grievances, and we have received from time to time but little or no attention.
In that declaration of fundamental principles, set forth by the fathers of '76, we fail to discover anything like a system of exclusion. No! there is not an expression, nor an implied sentiment to be found making a distinction in the rights and privileges of any class of American citizens. But on the contrary, its first infant breath, boldly proclaims that all men are born free and equal, and that consequently life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are inherent in every individual, vested inalienably by natural birth-right.
Had the declaration said that all "white-men are born free and equal," then our ancestors would not have been deceived into the belief, that they were included as constituting a portion of the party, engaged in the strife against British oppression. Nor have given occasion to the observation of General La Fayette, when he visited this country, that, during the Revolution, the white and black soldiers fought and messed together without hesitation, The records of that period clearly prove that the blacks rushed forth to the conflict, and poured out their blood with as much bravery as their white fellow soldiers, in the attacks made upon what they then considered to be common enemy. The testimony of Generals Washington, Green,6 and many others, to the valor of our people in the time of our country's greatest peril, and danger, shines too conspicuous to be impeached by an enlightened individual.
Yes! fellow-citizens,--again in the War of 1812, our people were called upon to repel an invading foe from our soil. Regardless of the wrongs that had already been heaped upon them, they immediately rushed forth to the conflict; and under the command of General Jackson in the Southern Army, and especially at the battle of New Orleans, distinguished themselves as valiant soldiers, fighting in defence of their country's honor.7 The splendid naval achievements, on Lakes Erie and Champlain, were owing, mostly, to the skill and prowess of Colored men. The fame of Perry was gained at the expense of the mangled bodies and bleeding veins of our disfranchised people. The blood of our fathers is mingled with the soil of every battle field and their bones have enriched the most productive lands of our country. Yes! in those ever-memorable battles which achieved the Independence, and maintained the honor of our country, your fathers and ours, fought side by side, many of both were laid low, bleeding and wallowing in their gore, which was the dear price they paid for the Independence of this, our beloved, country, that all their posterity might enjoy the blessings of Equal Liberty.
Therefore, we feel ourselves aggrieved, that the blessings obtained by the blood and toil of our fathers, are not administered as equally to us as to yourselves. We feel that our sufferings caused by our being deprived of our Political Rights, should call forth the sympathies of the whole human race, but more especially those of yourselves, among whom we dwell & who are the authors of our calamities. For you have trampled our Liberties in the dust, and thus standing with the iron-heel of Opression upon our heads, you bid us rise to a level with yourselves; and because we do not rise, you point the finger of scorn and contempt at us, and say, that we are an inferior race by nature. Yes! when all the avenues of privileged life have been closed against us, our hands bound with stationary fetters, our minds left to grope in the prison cell of impenetrable gloom, and our whole action regulated by
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