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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Convention, of the Colored Freemen of Ohio, Held in Cincinnati, January 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19, 1852.
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even security! After a while, if your oppressors do not knock off your chains, you will outgrow them! And may God defend the right! Your ob't serv't.
Messrs. J. I. Gaines, John Jackson, and others, Com, &c.
Washington, December 31, 1851.
Gentlemen:--Your letter of the 17th inst, informed me that the colored people of Ohio propose to hold a State Convention at Cincinnati in the month of January ensuing, "to adopt such measures as are best calculated to enhance their moral, social and political interests," and you are pleased to ask my views "as regards the present position, and future prospects of the colored race in this country."
You submit to me a great problem. Its terms include the colored population alone. But I presume you would not exclude from contemplation the welfare of the white race, so far as that can be promoted by a full regard for the rights of the blacks. Fortunately, however, I believe there is no real conflict of interests between the races. The eternal laws of justice and right would promote the welfare of both. If either resists these laws, it will deserve, and must ultimately receive, an avenging retribution.
The "colored race of this country" now numbers nearly four millions of people. More than three-fourths of this number are in the lowest political and civil condition known to the human race. They are Slaves--a word that includes all woes and wrongs. They are denied all political rights. They are cut off from all civil rights. They can hold no property, but are themselves held as property,. They have no marital or conjugal rights; no parental or filial rights; but husband and wife, parent and child, may be torn from each other, under the most agonizing of circumstances, and from the wickedest and meanest of motives--lust, cupidity, or revenge. The slave has no right of reputation or character. He may be ridiculed, traduced, villified, to any extent, and without any possibility of redress. The laws of the Slave States, so far from securing to the slave any intellectual rights, absolutely build a wall of darkness around him, so that no ray of knowledge can illumine his soul, except such as the master desires for his own profit. In a land also, of professed Christianity, and among a people who call themselves Christian, the slave is without any moral or religious rights. His capabilities of virtue are developed only so far as virtue is profitable or convenient; and when his vices are supposed to be more profitable than his virtues, they only are cultivated. There is no such thing as religious freedom for the slave; for where there is no knowledge there can be no freedom. There is no such thing as free agency for a slave; for his body and limbs are at the control of his master, and his soul, in the blindness of its ignorance, is like any blind creature, under the dominion of its leaders. Thus, all the most precious and sacred relations of a human being to his fellow-beings, to nature and to God, are obliterated by slavery. True, it is said, that the institution of slavery permits the soul of the slave to be enlightened sufficiently to be saved, so that a wretched existence this side of the grave, may be followed by a happy one beyond it. But is this any thing more than saying, that it is impossible for the wickedness of man to send forward its cruelties into eternity, and there wholly to thwart and cancel the goodness of God.
The residue of the colored population of the United States, is in a condition vastly superior to that of the slaves, though still immeasurably below the position which they are entitled, and, as I believe, destined to fill.
Now, as one of the points of your letter regards the "future prospects of the race," it involves a consideration of the means which may be brought to bear upon those prospects, and to determine what they shall be.
I shall only attempt to throw our a few hints on this great subject.
In the first place, I think it neither probable nor desirable that the African race should die out, and leave that part of the earth to which they are native or indigenous, to the Caucasian or any other of the existing races. There are vegetable and animal races which we may lawfully desire to see supplanted by other kinds of vegetable or animal growths; nay, there are tribes of the human family, whose existence we may not wish to see continued, provided always, that they dwindle and reture in a natural way, and without the exercise of violence or injustice to expel them from the earth. But writers
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