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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.

1852OH.19.pdf

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292

BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS

end. And your property, power and importance will soon be felt and acknowledged--wealth and independence always command respect.

White people, while poor and ignorant, are no more respected than are you. I say again, color is nothing. When you have attained to intelligence and independence, you will soon be admitted to your social and political rights. Do not suppose, from what I have said, that I take all colored persons to be ignorant, far from it. I know many who will compare favorably with the best of the whites, but generally it is not so. Nor is this to be wondered at. You have labored under infinitely greater disadvantages. But it is to be your chief glory that you overcome these disadvantages. I feel, indeed, a deep interest in your Convention, and I have no doubt it will be of great advantage to your people. I hope you will meet together often, and take your own destiny into your own keeping. Rely on yourselves and you cannot fail. Of course, I have no definite plan of organization to recommend at present, but I should be pleased to hear from you often, and what course of operations the Central committee have in view.

Gentlemen, I have the honor to be most respectfully,

Yours, &c., B. F. Wade.

Messrs. John I. Gaines, W. H. Day,

David Jenkins, and John Jackson, } Central Committee.

Washington, January 8, 1852.

Messrs. John I. Gaines, John Jackson, and others--

Gentlemen: I received your letter of the 15th ultimo, asking my opinion of the "present position and future prospects of the colored race in this country."

It is an astonishing and lamentable fact, that in the nineteenth century and in these United States, there should be found more than three millions of human beings in the condition of slaves, and almost half a million more who, if nominally free, are excluded from the most valued privileges of citizenship. Were the colored race incapable of anything better, or had they fallen into their present condition through any fault or choice of their own, some apology for keeping them in bondage might be attempted, but as no one imputes blame to them, or believes them incapable of intellectual and moral culture, and when they can only be kept in chains by the force of inhuman enactments which, in addition to all other wrongs, purposely consign them to ignorance and consequent degradation; we are compelled to say, there is no defence or apology for this system that can avail before High Heaven or an enlightened world. The evil consequences of slavery are almost as apparent upon the white race as upon the colored, and if the South suffers most there is no part the North that does not reap some of its bitter fruits. It is an element of weakness and discord ; it endangers our national existence by exposing us to foes from without and by exciting angry contentions at home; it is fatal to enterprise, industry and economy and therefore most injurious to national prosperity; it destroys the vitality and efficiency of the church, and saps the foundation of public and private morality. No evil existing in the country compares with it in magnitude, and therefore nothing to the same extent challenges the attention of the Christian or Statesman.

There may be some consolation in the reflection that perhaps the present condition of the colored race in this country is better, all things considered, than at any previous period since its introduction upon this continent. And it may also be said that the representatives of the race here are in advance of those who remained on the other side of the Atlantic. There are among you scholars, artists, mechanics, merchants, cultivators of the soil, and men of wealth and refinement who would be an honor to any race, and whose equals cannot now be found in the nations from which you were descended. I will not say that colored men in America are happier than those in Africa but they certainly have a larger capacity for happiness and this with a hope of a better future is something gained. Cruel and bitter has been your bondage and discipline but a Benevolent Providence has so overruled all as to compel some good to grow even out of evil.

That a brighter future awaits the colored race I confidently believe. The dreary night of slavery and oppression is wearing away, the day of uni-

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