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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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OHIO, 1852 287
in which business is conducted, with a view to conducting it themselves. How difficult, then, for the colored population, in their present isolated and weakened condition, ever to rise, as a body, above a very low level of improvement. How painfully certain it is, under existing circumstances, that, as they are debarred from the opportunity and the ambition of making great progress, they are debased, also, from its possibility; and even what progress they do make, must be, with some extraordinary exceptions, in the rear of those among whom they live, and without any chance to pass by or overtake them, in the march of improvement. We may condemn the iniquity of this revolution, as vehemently as we please; but iniquity is a fact which a wise man takes into account as much as any other fact, and, in laying his plans for future action, he recognizes until he can remove it.
On these accounts, I have looked with great interest upon the colored settlements, or colonies, in Canada, in which the whites do not obstrude, and thrust aside the blacks, and seize upon all the posts of honor, and all the eligible and lucrative branches of business. As members of such communities, the blacks will be compelled to think for themselves, to act independently, and to qualify themselves and their children for the various offices and occupations which an independent community necessitates. Their minds will be forced into practical channels, they cannot run to a master or an employer every hour, to learn the order or the forms of business or how to execute work. They must judge, they must foresee, they must adopt means to ends, They must outgrow that most unnatural of relations, (altho' it still exists throughout the greater part of the world,) -- that relation, I mean, in which one man furnishes muscles and another man brains. They must be brains unto themselves. Under such an unnatural relation, both the muscles and the brains are likely to be very poor articles. But the blacks will never be able to do these things for themselves, until they set themselves to doing them. A man might as well expect to learn to swim without going into the water.
As one of the consequences of these independent Canadian communities, I lately saw, with exceeding pleasure, that some colored people had been returned as jurors; because I recognized a germ of independence, of progress and of self-government.
Even to conduct the business of a society or a public assembly -- a Lyceum, a Debating Club, or a Temperance meeting -- is something. It tries the wings. It may only prepare to fly low; even eagles fly low at first.
It is obvious, however, that even the management of public meetings, or of the affairs of a town in not enough. The colored people must open their eyes to a grander vision. They must qualify themselves for the responsibilities of self-government -- to fill various offices, judicial, legislative and executive, of a State. For this purpose, they must, of course, have space, numbers and independence, and at least so much freedom from admixture with the whites, as will give them a fair chance in all the competitions for eligible and honorable stations.
And here, this topic indissolubly connects itself with another, namely, the conditions and prospects of the Slaves of this country, and the duty of the free colored population towards them.
That slavery is to continue always, it would be the grossest atheism to affirm, A belief in the existence of a just Governor of the Universe, includes a belief in the final and utter abolition of slavery. Not even this faith leaves the means and the period of emancipation unsettled.
Now, there are three modes of emancipation. The first is special and individual, as the emancipation of their slaves by patriotic and christian men who see both the impiety and impolicy of holding their fellow-beings in bondage, and the self-emancipation of the slave by escape from his chains.
Suppose, now, there were a prosperous and independent community of blacks in Jamaica, or in any other of the West India Islands, offering the equality and the dignity of free institutions to whomsoever of their African brethren would emigrate thither, would not numerous of the more benevolent and conscientious of the slaveholders give freedom to their slaves with the expectations and perhaps the means of their becoming citizens of such a government, and rising at once into the dignity of freemen. Not only so, but, with such a people in our neighborhood, would not thousands and thousands of the most healthy, intelligent and valuable slaves exercise that "inalienable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," which they are authorized by the
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