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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the State Convention of the Colored Men of the State of Ohio, Held in the City of Columbus, January 21st, 22d and 23d, 1857.
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State has no right to tax us and yet deny us representation, for taxation and representation go together, as man and wife, and you can no more separate them in point of fact, and according to the genius of our institutions, than you can annihilate matter, or obstruct the course of the Sun.
"My position," said Lord Chatham,3 in the British House of Parliament, "is this: I repeat it; I will maintain it to my last hour, taxation and representation are inseparable. This position is founded on the laws of nature; it is more -- it is of itself an eternal law of nature; for whatever is a man's own is absolutely his own; no man has a right to . take it from him without his consent. Whoever attempts to do it, attempts an injury; whoever does it commits a robbery."
Patrick Henry, in the House of Burgesses in Virginia, declared, in substance, that the King, in giving his assent to the Colonies being taxed, had played the part of a tyrant, and reminded him that he might meet the fate of Charles the First. Indeed, citizens, the Revolution of '76 turned upon the single point that Great Britain had no right to bind her Colonies, to tax them and then deny them a voice in Parliament. The colonists were right, the people who sympathized with them were right, and every drop of blood shed was shed in a holy cause. It is then good American doctrine, and no one has a right to gainsay it.
You have no right, therefore, to deprive us of the elective franchise; he who does it, does a wrong; he who aids in doing it, or in retaining the anti democratic feature in the Constitution, aids in retaining an abominable tyranny. But, fellow citizens, the word white works evil in other respects. No colored man (as such) can be a Governor, a Secretary of State, a Judge; a Lawyer, a Clerk, a Commissioner, Notary Public, a Magistrate, a Constable, or even a nigger catcher. He can fill no political office of trust or honor, or profit, under the Constitution. We read of a printer-boy who has risen to be an influential editor and a leader of the Democratic Party in the United States.4 We read of a shoemaker, a mere driver of pegs in a boot, who is the legitimate successor of Daniel Webster in the Senate of the United States, and the champion of Free Soil, Free Speech and Free Men.5 We the read of the wagon boy of Ohio, who won golden opinions as an orator, worked his way into the Executive Chair of State, and then into the Cabinet of Ex-President Fillmore, and is now a distinguished member of the Cincinnati bar.6 But no place of distinction is held out to the black man -- no path of glory opened to his vision; he may thrive if he can; is at liberty to die, but is nowhere encouraged, fostered or protected. Is it just, is it politic, is it wise?
Fellow citizens, the word white prevents colored men from being enrolled in the militia. Article 9th, section 1st, holds the following language:
"All white male citizens, residents of the State, being eighteen years of age, and under the age of forty-five years, shall be enrolled in the militia, and perform military duty," &c. There it is in black and white; what think you of it, fellow citizens? No government on earth, save Democratic America, has a rule so despotic. In England, colored men are among her best soldiers; in France they are in the army and navy; in Russia they in the camp and the field; in Turkey they form a part of her corps; in Brazil they are officers of the regular army, and of the corporation guards and militia.
Mr. S. S. Steward, of the United States Navy, saw in the latter country: "A squadron of dragoons, in a scarlet uniform, had just been placed in line on one side of the square; a mounted band, in huzzar dress, of the same color, was in attendance. I took a station for a moment near this. It was composed of sixteen performers; and in the number included every shade of complexion, from the blackest ebony of Africa, through demi, quarter, and demi-quarter blood, to the purely swarthy Portuguese and Brazillian, and the clear and white of the Saxon, with blue eyes and flaxen hair." The gallant Commodore thought that it was a very disgusting sight for an American, and doubtless it was, for we have no doubt he went into hysterics or had the rheumatism every hour. A time may come when the services of black soldiers will be needed, and when a general Jackson will call his black brethren to arms, as did the old hero in 1814, at the Battle of New Orleans, and we will not be found in the rear, but if there is any fighting to do, in the front of the battle. And yet men of such grit cannot comprise a part of the militia of Ohio. Shame!
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