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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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Hence, fellow citizens, we ask you to strike or cause to be stricken from the Constitution the word white wherever it occurs, and it occurs. We ask you to repeal the remnant of the old black laws, and in this we certainly not asking too much. Justice, equity, humanity and the highest interest of the State, demand their immediate, instant and unconditional repeal. We ask it not as a favor, but as a right; for if you have a right to tax us for the benefit of the State, and this we do not deny, we have a right to demand of you protection, and if you deny us our plea, we say to you, "fie upon your law."
We ask it, in conclusion, because we are men--children of the same common parent--heirs of the same destiny--and like yourselves, our sweat mingled with the soil and our means have been contributed freely to the development of the resources of our beloved State; and, therefore, whatever concerns her greatness, glory and expansion, concerns us.
Respectfully submitted in behalf of the Convention,
John I. Gaines.
To the Legislature of Ohio:
In addressing you, as the law-makers of the State, we do not seek to be elaborate and elegant so much as to be simple and perspicuous. We seek to state the story of our wrongs in plain unvarnished phrase.
According to the 1st Section of Article 5th of the State Constitution, "Every white male citizen of the United States, of the age of twenty-one years, who shall have been a resident of the State one year next preceding the election, and of the county, township or ward in which he resides, such time as may be provided by law, shall have the qualifications of an elector, and shall be entitled to vote at all elections."
According to the 1st Section of the 9th Article of the same instrument, "All white male citizens, residents of this State, being eighteen years of age, and under the age of forty-five years, shall be enrolled in the militia and perform military duty in such manner, not incompatible with the Constitution of the United States, as may be prescribed by law."
According to the 3rd Section of the 62nd Chapter of the Revised Statutes of the State, "The Trustees of each township shall, on the second Tuesday of October next, (passed Feb. 9th,1831,) and on the second Tuesday of October annually thereafter, select of good, judicious persons, having the qualification of electors, their apportionment of persons to be retained as jurors."
According to the 6th Section of the 86th Chapter of the Revised Statutes, it is also provided "That nothing in this act shall be so construed as to enable any black or mulatto person to gain a legal settlement in this State; provided, that nothing in this section shall be so construed as to prevent directors of any country or city infirmary, in their discretion, from admitting any black or mulatto person into said infirmary." Passed March 1st, 1853. It is further provided by our State Statutes that no person shall gain admission to our Lunatic Asylums or benevolent institutions, who is not a "resident," that is, who has not gained "legal settlement" in the State. It will be perceived from these passages of the Constitution and Statutes, which we have quoted, that black and mulatto persons are not allowed, like other inhabitants of the State to enjoy the privileges and advantages of the Poor House, the Lunatic Asylums, and the comfortable and convenient homes provided by the State for the deaf and dumb and the blind. Nor are they allowed to act as jurors--to enjoy that inestimable right which every intelligent person holds in the highest consideration, namely, the privilege of being tried by one's peers. Nor can they become a part and parcel of the military strength of the State. They may be ever so patriotic--they may be ever so desirous make an exhibition of their physical prowess in behalf of their State, when emergency demands, yet their patriotism is to be stained and their manly desires to be smothered and extinguished by legal imposition. They are also denied the right of suffrage--a right as inherent and inalienable as any other natural and indefeasible right. Such is our condition in Ohio. And it is to it that we ask your patient and candid attention, while we state the reasons upon which we demand the removal of these legal disabilities. It is in fact,
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