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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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in that instrument. All free people then stood upon the same platform in regard to their political rights, and were so recognized in most of the States of the Union. The free colored citizens of these States are as much entitled to the rights of citizenship, as are men of any other color or complexion whatever. To this day, in the State of Virginia, free colored persons, born in that State, are citizens."
The property of colored men, as in Ohio, had always been taxed to support government, and it was thought no more than right that they should enjoy that blessing of government, the twin brother of taxation, namely, representation. Accordingly, in New York, from 1777 to 1821, colored men were represented equally with others.
That colored men are citizens, is attested by the fact that in 1812-'15 colored men were drafted, in common with others for the war. In September 1814, General Andrew Jackson issued his proclamation to the free colored inhabitants of Louisiana, and told them, that "through a mistaken policy they had heretofore been deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights, in which our country was engaged, "and told them that this should no longer exist. He appealed to them as "Sons of Freedom;"--as "Americans,"--"as fathers, husbands, and brothers," to enlist in behalf of all they held dear. Speaking to them of this land, he says,--"Your country;" and of the whites,--"Your white fellow citizens," and "countrymen." And when in December following, he addressed the free people of color, congratulating them upon the success of their arms, he said--"our brave citizens [no distinctions as to color,] are united, and all contention has ceased among them. Their only dispute is, who shall win the prize of valor, or who the most glory, its noblest reward," showing an attachment to this government, such only as free citizens can give. We ask you, whether it is right to disfranchise a citizen, and if so, where is the power specified? Is it in the Declaration of American Independence? Is [it] in the Articles of Confederation? Is it in the Supreme Law of the land--the U. States' Constitution? Is it not contrary to justice--to law--to abstract and concrete right--to every principle of a free government?
It is also contrary to true political economy. In the State of Ohio, by the report of the Secretary of State made to you , there appears to be over twenty three thousand colored persons in Ohio, making about one eighty seventh of the whole population. We are here, and here lawfully, and we ask if it be true policy to exclude persons thus in you midst, from any participancy in these privileges, the enjoyment of which imposes upon those enjoying them, "correlative duties." Of course, if we have no protection, we owe no allegiance, the amount of allegiance, according to the arrangement of nations, being graduated by the rights guaranteed, and the protection afforded.
But, we repeat, colored men have participated in the struggles of, this country, and have thereby helped to uphold it. Do you ask where? Let the waters of Lake Champlain, as they came crimsoned to the shore, answer. Let our old fathers' bones, mouldering in secluded grave-yards tell the tale. Ask the Black Rhode Island Regiment, of the gallant defence of Red Bank, where four hundred colored soldiers met and repulsed fifteen hundred Hessian mercenaries. Go with us to the attack on the American lines, near Croton river, 13th May, 1781. See Col. Green cut down and mortally wounded; but the sabres of the enemy reached him only through the bodies of his faithful guard of blacks. Every one of them was slain.12 Go to the records of Congress, and you will find an act, recommending to South Carolina and Louisiana, the raising of three thousand troops who were to be rewarded by their freedom. Bring up the starving remembrance of Valley Forge, and the horrors of the Jersey prison ship. Colored men know of these, for they were there. In Champaign county, is a colored man who served with General Washington. In Ohio, are colored descendants of Revolutionary sires. In this Convention, pleading for right, were sons of men, who in 1812-'15, were drafted for the war, and faced with your fathers the storm of battle. And if history be correct, the first blood of the Revolution was that of a colored man.13 We respectfully ask, have we not a just claim to the same rights with you?
Again, colored men are helping, through their taxes, to bear the burdens of the State, and we ask, shall they not be permitted to be represented? The property of the colored people of Ohio is now a matter of consequence. We take the liberty here to introduce some statistics in regard to the colored
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