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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Connecticut State Convention of Coloured Men, Held at New Haven, On the September 12th and 13th, 1849.
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No 15. Resolved, That the Central State Committee be, and are hereby instructed to perfect this plan of effort, ad employ a sufficient number of men properly qualified, and apportion the expense among the Districts represented in the Convention.
AN ADDRESS TO THE COLORED MEN OF CONNECTICUT
From the State Convention, held at New Haven, September 12th and 13th, 1849
Brethren:-- It is unnecessary to set forth before your minds the particulars of our political condition in the State of Connecticut. We are wronged; and our wrongs are matter of daily and humiliating experience. We are disfranchised. Our manhood and Citizenship, this are assailed at a vital point. And this was done by the authority of the State. When freemen, irrespective of color, had enjoyed on equal terms, the elective franchise for one hundred and fifty years, under the Charter of a Kind, a line was drawn prescriptive, unnatural and unjust, under a republican State Constitution. But no authority can sanctify injustice and oppression. The drapery of the Law, cannot conceal their monstrous form, nor shield them from the darts of truth. Thirty years have we been disfranchised. But our disfranchisement, odious enough in itself is the prolific source of other forms of proscription. It is a monster that multiplies itself upon us in each new form increasedly repulsive, obtruding in our very path of enterprise, knowledge, Virtue and Religion, until many have turned backward in despair from all the highways of progress. Two years ago, when Justice uttered her voice throughout Connecticut, and Liberty held her rendezvous in every town, but five thousand heeded the cry, and rallied to the standard.
What then? Shall we despair? Shall we cease all efforts? Shall we heed who discouragingly say "you can accomplish nothing. it will do no good?" A moments consideration, and everyone must be convinced, that hopelessly to yield the struggle is an unwise and ruinous course. "It is an law of God that whosoever abandoneth himself, will the Lord forsake." They are false to nature, blind to duty, treacherous to the interests of the present, and unmindful of coming generations, who advise us to bear unresistingly the burthen of oppression.
It is no doubtful right for which we contend. It lies at the foundation of our republican government. The doctrine prominently set forth in our country's Constitution that "all just governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed." The People are the recognized source of power. This is the distinctive feature both of our National and State Governments. But the foundation is overthrown, if the expression of choice or consent is trammelled, or suppressed, by, prohibitory enactments. There are exceptions to the general law as in the case of women, minors, aliens, criminals, the insane, and idiots. These classes do not participate directly by vote in the affairs of the government. To mention their names is to suggest a reason. But why are native born colored men, innocent of disaffection toward, or crime against, the commonwealth debarred the rights of citizenship?
In casting about to ascertain a reason for our disfranchisement we discover wherein we may justly lay at the doors of the people of Connecticut, the charge of ingratitude in addition to that of injustice. Let us review the history of the State. Let us consider the position and numbers of its colored population at critical periods, from the time of the Dutch and Indian troubles in 1653 to the fight at and true Stonington Borough, in 1814. Have we not always been eminently loyal and true citizens, and that too in the face of the strongest incentives to disaffection.
In the to war of the Revolution there were seven thousand of our people in Connecticut, chiefly held in degrading servitude. When the war note was every where heard, when the roar of the British Lion filled many hearts with trembling and dismay, many whites turned over to the enemy, following their fears, or dazzled by the seductive glitter of British gold. But is the page of history sullied with the names of any black traitor, tory or coward? Yet were times that tried men's souls. Once only were the subjects of
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