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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Men, Held in the City of Columbus, Ohio, Jan. 16th, 17th, and 18th, 1856.
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The following address was presented by Wm. Harris, in behalf of the Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society of Delaware:
Delaware, Ohio, 1855.
To the Convention of Disfranchised Citizens of Ohio:
Gentlemen:--Convened as you are in the Capital City of our State--a State great in wealth, power, and political influence, an avowed devotee of Freedom, and a constituent part of a Christian Democratic Confederacy--to concoct measures for obtaining those rights and immunities of which unjust legislation has deprived you, we offer this testimonial of our sympathy and interest in the cause in which you are engaged--a cause fraught with infinite importance--and also express our earnest hope that such determination and invincible courage may be evinced by you in assembly as are requisite to meet the exigencies of the times.
Truth, Justice and Mercy, marshaling their forces, sound the tocsin which summons the warrior in his burnished armor to the conflict against Error and Oppression. On earth's broad arena--through Time's revolving cycles--this warfare has been continuous; and now here, in this most brilliant star in the galaxy of nations, where Christianity and civilization, with their inestimable accompaniments and proclivities, have taken their abode and add their benign light to her stellate brightness--bands of her offspring, in very truth her own, despised, persecuted and crushed, assemble in scattered fragments to take the oath of fealty to Freedom, and swear eternal enmity to Oppression; to enter into a bond sacred and inviolable, ever to wage interminable intellectual and moral war against the demon, and to demand the restoration of their birthright, Liberty--kindred of Deity. Nor is the path to victory strewn with flowers; obstacles formidable, and apparently insurmountable, arise ominously before even the most hopeful and ardent.
As the Alpine avalanche sweeps tumultuously adown the mountain, overwhelming the peasant and his habitation, so the conglomeration of hatred and prejudice against our race, brought together by perceptible accumulation, augmented and fostered by religion and science united, sweeps with seeming irresistible power toward us, menacing complete annihilation. But, should these things exercise a retarding influence upon our progressive efforts? Let American religion teach adoration to the demon Slavery, whom it denominates God; at the end, the book of record will show its falsity or truth. Let scientific research produce elaborate expositions of the inferiority and mental idiosyncrasy of the colored race; one truth, the only essential truth, is uncontrovertible:--The Omnipotent, Omniscient God's glorious autograph--the seal of angels--is written on our brows, that immortal characteristic Divinity--the rational, mysterious and inexplicable. soul, animates our frames.
Then press on! Manhood's prerogatives are yours by Almighty fiat. These prerogatives American Republicanism, disregarding equity; humanity, and the fundamental principles of her national superstructure, has rendered a nonenity, while on her flag's transparencies and triumphal arches, stood beautifully those great, noble words: Liberty and Independence--Free Government--Church and State! And still they stand exponents of American character --her escutcheon wafts them on its star-spangled surface, to every clime--each ship load of emigrants from monarchical Europe, shout the words synonyma [sic] with Americans, their first paean in "the land of the free." Briery mountain, sparkling river, glassy lake, give back the echoes, soft and clear as if the melody was borrowed from the harps of angels. But strange incongruity! As the song of Freedom verberates and reverberates through the northern hills, and the lingering symphony quivers on the still air and then sinks away into silence, a low deep wail, heavy with anguish and despair, rises from the southern plains, and the clank of chains on human limbs mingles with the mournful cadence.
What to the toiling millions there, is this boasted liberty? What to us is this organic body--this ideal reduced to reality--this institution of the land?--a phantom, a shadowy and indistinct--a disembodied form, impalpable to our sense or touch. In the broad area of this Republic there is no spot, however small or isolated, where the colored man can exercise his
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