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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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BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS
law of Nature and of Nature's God, at any moment to enforce, by self-emancipation,--that is, escape. If the last census is to be relied on, about a thousand slaves escaped during the year that preceded its being taken. I have no doubt this is a great exaggeration; for many slaves who are charged with escaping to the north, are stolen and sent to the south. But suppose a thousand escaped into the bleak, and, to them, unnatural climate of Canada. Would not many times this number have exercised this unquestionable right, if there had been an asylum on the south side of the Union as accessible as that on the North? Suppose a free and independent Republic to exist in Jamaica or Cuba, with language, or even with laws and civil institutions like our own in which the hellish atrocities of our Fugitive Slave Law were unknown, and in which, therefore, the fugitive slave would be protected from his pretended owner, as we would now protect Kossuth and his glorious Hungarian compatriots from the clutch of Austria, what a glorious opportunity this would afford, from all southern ports and from the mouths of all the great southern rivers, to exercise this inextinguishable and indestructible right of self-emancipation.
I would not, however, be understood by this to commend or countenance the recently proposed plan of the authorities of Jamaica to import the colored people of the United States into that island, as indented apprentices, or laborers bound to service for a term of years. But, I would encourage and urge the migration of such of our more intelligent colored population, as have the means to buy land and become independent freeholders or proprietors. Real Estate, in Jamaica, is now at an immense discount. Making allowance for the difference in fertility, land can be bought there almost as cheap as in any of the new States; and the purchaser can at once enter society on an equality with most of his neighbors. He can have all that many man ought to demand--a station according to his character, talents and attainments.
Another method of emancipation is by act of the Legislatures of the slave-holding States. Without fixing the time when this shall be done, it is not an improbable, nor, as I trust, a very future event, in regard to the northern tier of slave States. Few things would tend to hasten such a consummation more than the existence, in the law of all the world, of self-administered, successful governments by people of African lineage. Whether these governments should exist on the western coast of Africa, in the West Indian Archipelago, or elsewhere, the demonstration and influence would be the same. It would silence; it would annihilate that impious argument that slavery is a benefit to the slave. It would give full scope and encouragement to that bitter nature of the slave-holder, which, in spite of all his sophistries and his selfishness, is forever counselling him that it is a sin for man to claim property in man. It would bring the public opinion of nations to bear with irresistible force upon the institutions of slavery, and would put its voluntary upholders out of the pale of civilized men.
I would then adjure the free people of color to do whatever in them lies, to build up free colored communities, in whatever parts of the world may be most favorable to the communities themselves, and for re-acting upon their colored brethren in this country, I would invoke a missionary spirit among them. Nay, it is a higher than a missionary spirit. The missionary carries christianity among the heathen; but this enterprise would re-act upon heathenism in a land professed by christians. What a glorious change it would be in the condition and in the hopes of the world, so far as this question of slavery is concerned, if instead of our present debatings in Congress, whether we should establish a government line of steamers to the western coast of Africa, free and prosperous republics on that coast were debating whether they should not establish a government line of steamships to us. Would it not seem as though slavery in any place, could hardly co-exist with such a condition of the nations of the earth.
Let me here guard myself against mis-construction on one point. The idea of forcibly expelling the American born negro from the place of his birth and residence, and driving him out of the country against his will, is as abhorrent to my notions of justice and equality, as it can be to those of any one. The next most cruel thing to kidnapping a race of men, forcing them away from their home and dooming them to slavery in a foreign land, would be the seizure of the descendants of that race, and driving them from the new home they had acquired. So great a crime as this second expatriation would be,
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