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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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established to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." And, among the miscellaneous provisions, the second section reads: "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States." In spite of this clause in the United States Constitution, however, the colored sojourner who comes into our State from Massachusetts, although he is a full-grown citizen of that State, is compelled to suffer in consequence of the odious complexional discrimination found in our State Constitution. It is not only contrary to the philosophy of the declaration and the drift and meaning of the United States Constitution to make such distinctions, but it is contrary to the ancient and well-established policy of the fathers of the Republic. So that Judge Phelimon Bliss, is right when he says: "There is nothing in the principles of our government, or in its traditions, that will justify for a moment the denial of the elective franchise on account of color. The Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution of the United States make no such distinctions, but avow principles and objects entirely inconsistent with them. The original revolutionary constitutions of nearly all the States, made colored persons electors, and it was not till a race arose that knew not Joseph, a race that has changed the wale of the Government from an enfranchising to an enslavery, from a propagandism of free labor to a propagandism of slavery, that the old States began to disfranchise on account of color descent." He continues: "As I can see no sound reason, no justice or propriety in the new policy, neither can I see any benefit resulting from it. I therefore prefer the policy of the Fathers." More than this, all such legislation is contrary to the fundamental principles of morality and natural justice, and according to every tenet of legal hermeneutics, is null and void, and the courts ought to so construe them.
But in addition to the consideration which have already been advanced in favor of our enfranchisement, there are others of a little different character, to which we would call your attention. The first of these is the fact that we are native-born inhabitants, and therefore, citizens. This is no newfangled doctrine of our making, nor is it the teaching of a hair-brained fanatic. This is a well established principle of the law of Nature. It is a principle fully recognized and endorsed by all standard writers on law. Indeed, Chancellor Kent endorses this doctrine most fully when he says, "Citizens, under .our Constitution and laws, mean free inhabitants, born within United States or naturalized under laws of Congress. If a slave, born in the United States, be manumitted, or otherwise legally discharged from age, or, if a black man be born within the United States, and born free, he becomes thenceforward a citizen." And it is an element of the creed of every political party and politician in America, that nativity gives citizenship. Why then deny us, who are native-born inhabitants, the elective franchise?
In the next place, we are tax-payers. We willingly do what we can towards bearing the burthens and expenses of the Government. We aid in building Poor Houses, Lunatic Asylums, edifices for the accommodation of the deaf and dumb and the blind; and we are not without a property interest in the beautiful and magnificent State House, the simplicity of whose construction, whose durability of material, and whose massive proportions are the admiration and pride of us all. And we make very great account of this consideration of our paying taxes; for it is a principle that is held in the highest estimation by every American who respects and reverences the teachings of the Fathers of the Republic. They declared that taxation and representation are inseparable. And to the support and maintenance of this doctrine they pledged their lives, their property and their sacred honors. Though weak in numbers, in commercial and financial resources, and without the prestige of a great national representation and the strong alliances of friendly powers, they came through an eight years contest, hard and bloody, with victory, glorious victory, perched upon every banner! All honor to their names! They fought in defence of a catholic and a world-wide principle, that has application to every human being, whether born in Europe, Asia, Africa or America. The Fathers of this country were right, then, when they enunciated the doctrine that, when a man pays taxes, he is, by law, by right and by justice entitled to representation--and ought to have the privilege of saying what shall be the legislation respecting taxation. Nor must anyone suppose that our tax is of insignificant account, for be it known to everyone that the colored men of Ohio are worth to-day over seven millions of dollars worth of property! In the city
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