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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of a Convention of the Colored Men of Ohio, Held in the City of Cincinnati, on the 23d, 24th, 25th and 26th days of November, 1858.
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which were received and laid on the table for the consideration of the Convention.
Whereas, The right to assemble and petition for a redress of grievances, is one of the few rights let to the colored people of the United States, therefore, we, the colored people of Ohio, deem it fit to represent to our fellow citizens the disabilities under which we labor, and for which we seek redress.
We have to complain that, in a country professing to realize in its government, the grand principles of the Declaration of 1776, millions of our brethren are publicly sold, like beasts in their shambles, that they are robbed of their earnings, denied the control of their children, forbidden to protect the chastity of their wives and daughters, debarred an education and the free exercise of their religion; and if they escape by flight from so horrible a condition, they may be hunted like beasts from city to city, and dragged back to the hell from which they had fled--the Government which should protect them, prostituting its powers to aid the villains who hunt them.
Notwithstanding the rights and immunities of the citizens of the several States, are guaranteed to citizens of all the States, we can not visit large portions of our country in pursuit of health, business or pleasure, without danger of being sold into perpetual slavery, the shores of neighboring States being more inhospitable, than the bleakest or most savage shore that excites the mariner's dread.
To crown all, the highest tribunal in the land, solemnly denies that the great principles of Liberty and Equality which are the boast of our nation, were intended to apply to us and our unfortunate brethren, the slaves.1 It decides the colored American sailor, or traveler, can receive no protection from his Government; that the National Courts are closed to us; that we have fewer rights in our own native country than aliens, for the aliens may claim and receive justice, from the tribunal before which we may not appear as suitors.
Furthermore, in our own State of Ohio, while we are permitted a partial freedom, we are subjected to iniquitous and burdensome legislation. We are refused the right to vote; we are refused a fair trial by jury; we are refused participation in the emoluments and honors of office; we are denied equal education; those of us who are reduced to pauperism, or afflicted with lunacy, are thrust into the cells of the felon's jail, all of which is unjust, tending to destroy those sentiments of self-respect, enterprise and patriotism, which it would be wisdom to foster in the people of the State. Therefore be it
Resolved (1), That if it is the province of governments to protect their subjects against unjust seizures and imprisonment, violence, robbery, murder, rape and incest; if they should encourage and sustain industry, marriage, the parental relation, education and religion; if it is their duty to honor God by respecting and protecting the rights of humanity, then should the American government immediately and unconditionally abolish that essence of infernalisms--American Slavery.
Resolved (2), That if the Dred Scott dictum be a true exposition of the law of the land, then are the founders of the American Republic convicted by their descendants of base hypocrisy, and colored men are absolved from all allegiance to a government which withdraws all protection.
Resolved (3), That we rejoice at the declension of the Democratic Party in the North, and hope that its defeat presages the downfall of Slavery, of which accursed system it has been a firm supporter.
Resolved (4), That we say to those who would induce us to emigrate to Africa or elsewhere, that the amount of labor and self-sacrifice required to establish a home in a foreign land, would if exercised here, redeem our native land from the grasp of slavery; therefore we are resolved to remain where we are, confident that "truth is mighty and will prevail."
Resolved (5), That we recommend to our people, in addition to the education they are so generally seeking to give their children, to train them in habits of useful industry.
Resolved (6), That a combination of labor and capital will in every field of enterprise, be our true policy. Combination stores of every kind, combination work-shops, and combination farms, will, if every where established, greatly increase our wealth; and with it our power.
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