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Minutes of the State Convention of the Colored Citizens of Ohio, Convened at Columbus, January 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th, 1850.
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LETTER FROM H. HURD
Carthagena, Mercer County, Near New Bremen, Auglaize County, Jan. 1, 1850.
Gentlemen of the Convention: There are small hands as well as great ones to do with this subject, [the welfare of the colored people,] and among them, you are assembled to deliberate. With me it appears that we should be deliberative, mild and manly, in our decisions. The opinions of others must be respected. Our weapons should be inoffensive and our conclusions impartial, while we should vigorously prosecute them. We are a part of the citizens of Ohio, to the number of some twenty thousand, and our condition, though greatly bettered from what it was, is yet one of the worst for freeman; though the burthen has been removed to some extent; yet the yoke is not broken. The repeal of the Black Laws has not removed all our oppressions; yet we must approve of what is done, and appreciate the privileges we have, by properly enjoying them, while we petition the Authorities for equal laws in every respect. The enslavement of our colored brethren in the South, and the long oppression of the colored freemen of the North, may have (for reasons which we cannot comprehend!) induced a portion of those who now form the sovereignty, to draw such a conclusion as they allege, that we cannot rightly exercise the elective franchise or appreciate full political rights! This may answer as an excuse for them; but, let it be so or not; the great strides made, and which are still making, by the oppressed of all Europe, for Liberty, warn us not to be indolent, while the deep and goading abuses imposed on three millions of colored Americans in the South, with the prejudicial stigma it reflects upon us, imperatively demand of us to arise and plead our own cause, and prove to the oppressors that they are wrong. I believe that we have the ability, as it is our duty, and the mass must help the few who are willing to breast the storm. Guided by truth and shielded with facts, we must canvass the State and appeal to the philanthropy and calm reason of the people. Let us appeal to the sense of the Electors of Ohio, and make known our wants as citizens; and their votes will answer the question. Did not God make all the nations of the earth of one blood? Did not our Savior declare "all brethren?" Should we be then as one people? Surely if any person denies these things, he rejects the word of God and rebels against his designs. Will the Christian professors and republicans of Ohio do this? I hope not; but time will prove the truth. The Declaration of American Independence heralds to the world that "All men are born free and equal;" and the Constitution of Ohio does the same, and farther proclaims the rights of man.
When we ask for equal political rights, we know that God and Nature are with us. Then let us be honest in our advocacy, calm in our address, and unchangeable in our purpose.
Will any man of sense pretend to say that the colored freemen of Ohio cannot vote for officers as well as the German and Irish emigrants who never read the Constitution or Laws of the State? Can we not exercise our judgments as correctly as nine-tenths of the voters of Ohio? No one with ordinary sagacity can doubt it. We are not to be held in contempt because we are yellow or black, or because our condition may not be in every respect as it should be. Did not God make our colors? And did not our white brethren enslave our fathers and mothers, whom they bought and sold like the cattle of the fields? There are men, apparently in respectable standing, who have, through their blind prejudice, concocted a plan, by which they are in hopes to exile a large number of the colored citizens of this country, in the form of colonization. We should look upon such men as our worst enemies. For under a pretense of friendship for the colored people, they expect to accomplish their hellish intentions. "They are wolves in sheep's clothing." I claim that we are native Americans; and in America I intend to remain--equal laws, or no laws. Here we are, and here let us remain and plead our cause for injustice.
I am your obedient servant,
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