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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Minutes of the State Convention of the Colored Citizens of Ohio, Convened at Columbus, Jan. 15th, 16th, 17th and 18, 1851.
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President in the Chair. Prayer by the Rev. J. McC. Simpson. The Chairman of the business committee reported 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25, resolutions.
On motion of C. A. Yancy, the resolutions reported by the committee were laid on the table, to be taken up one by one.
J. McC. Simpson presented from the Rev. E. Davis, of the A.M.E. Church, a petition asking the Convention to dispense with the evening sessions, and come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. Petition referred to H. Ford Douglass, committee of one.
The 17th resolution was taken up being laid on the table by adjournment. H. Ford Douglass moved that the resolution be made the special order of the evening. Lost. The substitute of C. H. Langston was then discussed, and on motion of C. A. Yancy, the substitute was amended by putting before the word "church," "society." Mr. Taylor moved to amend the amendment, which was as follows: "That we do not allow any pro-slavery ministers to officiate in our churches." Mr. Yancy, on leave, withdrew his amendment, with the understanding that he would offer a separate resolution in reference to the societies.
While the motion was pending the yeas and nays being called, for, the vote stood yeas 28, nays 11.
On motion of H. Ford Douglass, That it is the opinion of this Convention, that no colored man can consistently vote under the United States Constitution, John Brown, of Franklin, moved its indefinite postponement, whereupon, Mr. H. F. Douglass arose, and made the following remarks:
Mr. Chairman--I am in favor of the adoption of the rsolutions. I hold, sir, that the Constitution of the United States is pro-slavery, considered so by those who framed it, and construed to that end ever since its adoption. It is well known that in 1787, in the Convention that framed the Constitution, there was considerable discussion on the subject of slavery. South Carolina and Georgia refused to come into the Union, without the Convention would allow the continuation of the Slave Trade for twenty years. According to the demands of these two States, the Convention submitted to that guilty contract, and declared that the Slave Trade should not be prohibited prior to 1808. Here we see them engrafting into the Constitution, a clause legalizing and protecting one of the vilest systems of wrong ever invented by the cupidity and avarice of man. And by virtue of that agreement, our citizens went to the shores of Africa, and there seized upon the rude barbarian, as he strolled unconscious of impending danger, amid his native forests, as a free as the winds that beat on his native shores. Here, we see them dragging these bleeding victims to the slave ship by virtue of that instrument, compelling them to endure all the horrors of the "middle passage," until they arrived at this asylum of western Liberty, where they were doomed to perpetual chains. Now, I hold, in view of this fact, no colored man can consistently vote under the United States Constitution. That instrument also provides for the return of fugitive slaves. And, sir, one of the greatest lights now adorning the glaxy of American Literature, declares that the "Fugitive Law" is in accordance with that stipulation;--a law unequaled in the worst days of Roman despotism, and unparalleled in the annals of heathen jurisprudence. You might search the pages of history in vain, to find a more striking exemplification of the compound of all villainies! It shrouds our country in blackness; every green spot in nature, is blighted and blasted by that withering Upas. Every monument of national greatness, erected to commemorate the virtuous and the good, whether its foundation rests upon the hallowed repositories that contain the ashes of the first martyrs in the cause of American Liberty, or lifts itself in solemn and majestic grandeur, from that sacred spot where the first great battle of the Revolution was fought, no matter how sacred the soil, whether fertilized by the blood of a Warren,1 or signalized by the brilliant and daring feats of Marion!2 We are all, according to Congressional enactments, involved in the horrible system of human bondage; compelled, sir, by virtue of that instrument, to assist in the black and disgraceful avocation of re-capturing the American Hungarian, in his hurried flight from that worse than Russian or Austrian despotism, however much he may be inspired with that love of liberty which burns eternal in every human heart. Sir every man is inspired with a love of liberty--a deep and abiding love of liberty. I care
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