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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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suspicion, and then a thorough scrutiny proved the suspicion base and groundless. More than this, our virtues were not negative ones only. Colored men free and bound, sprang into the front ranks of freedom's hosts yielding with "noble enthusiasm," their hardy frames to the toils, exposures and dangers of war, giving the first practical and glorious exhibition of the now popular motto, "Our Country, right or wrong!" Could a grateful people forget such services? Or having them fresh in their memories, would they inflict so deep a wrong upon the sons of these departed patriots, as to deprive them of all participancy in a government whose foundation stone was hewn out by their toils, securely laid amid their prayers, and consecrated by the outpouring claim in the language of the noble Ellsworth;2 "we owe a debt to the colored population of this country, which we can never pay--no never, never, unless we can call back oceans of tears, and all the groans and agonies of the middle passage, and the thousands and millions whom we have sent and are sending, ignorant, debased and undone to eternity!"
The question recurs brethren, what shall we do? We are convinced it will not do to yield to despair. There is no course of "masterly inactivity," profitable or practicable to us in this our extremity. Something must be done more effective than bewailing our lot in each other ears. The conviction of these truths led to the issuing of the call, and finally to the holding of the Convention from which this address emanates a convention characterized in an eminent degree by a spirit of harmony, unanimity, and enthusiasm. Among the measures advocated there, that of training our youths in the practice of the mechanic arts, met with much favor. This measure strongly commends itself to us as looking to the abandonment of those menial, and servile employments, which were unavoidable lot of the past generations.
The acquisition of property in the soil, homesteads, farms and the pursuit of agriculture, are measures deserving of serious considerations, as inducing habits of industry and economy. It is easily perceived that their adoption to any considerable extent, must secure comfort, open the way to competence, and result in stability and independence of character.
The deep injuries we have inflicted on ourselves by partaking of the deadly intoxicating draught were not there forgotten. Our clergymen are called upon to bring the hallowed influences of religion to bear upon this subject, so thoroughly connected with all our hopes and aspirations. Every man should be careful to maintain a proper degree of self-respect, as the infallible method of commanding the respect of others. But let no man think to exalt himself by standing aloof from his people; but on the contrary, everywhere identifying himself with them, and laboring earnestly and patiently for the elevation and welfare of all. In the sport of resolution, No. 11, let each recognize, honor, and defend his proscribed and oppressed brother, and in all lawful ways seek his advancement.
The of education received as it justly deserved, particular attention, and assumed a prominent place in the discussions of the convention. True our highly prized, and no opportunity to improve them lost. We find the doors of the high schools, academies and seminaries generally closed against our children. But there is now no statutory prohibition. No teacher need now fear arrest, fine, and imprisonment, for his labor of love in teaching a colored child.3 No colored young lady need tremble at a town's threatening of "ten stripes on the naked back" for presuming to enter Connecticut in the pursuit of knowledge.
Let it be remembered brethren, that these and other measures are proposed in answer to the general question, "What shall be done?" and not as a means necessary to entitle us to enfranchisement. Our title to that is perfect, already; for did we, as a mass, possess every qualification requisite to the good citizen in the highest perfection, nothing material would be added to the strength of our claim to the franchise. Our only argument for that is, and must ever be, the broad and conclusive one, that is OUR RIGHT, as native born MEN, Citizens of this great Republic, and members of the Commonwealth of Connecticut. The value and wisdom of the measures recommended to you, are seen in their tendency to increase our strength, to multiply the number of our friends, and as a means of enabling us to wield more intelligently and effectively the
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