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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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dwell on all the face of the earth."* But how cruel to reproach those whose fathers were slaves for years, and whose descendants are still denied all their political rights--the foundation and security of all other rights in the civil compact--denied access to the advantages of Colleges and Seminaries of learning--the victims of a prejudice which knows neither reason or mercy--continually mocked and insulted with impunity by a corrupt public sentiment; and when they turn their almost despairing eyes to the ministers of Christ, instead of hearing a triumphant vindication of God's eternal truth, are greeted with the raven cry of infidelity, and stigmatized and scorned as "a people dulled in their wits, without manhood or spiritual force."
What has literature and science ever done for us in this land, with the consent and co-operation of many who now taunt and reproach us?
Would not a familiarity with the minds of the Miltons,4 the Lockes, the Blackstones and Cokes, the Newtons, and Keplers,5 the Edwards6 and Dwights,7 expand and enrich our intellectual powers? Were the gates unbarred and the obstacles removed from the path which leads to that "summit from whence fames proud temple shines afar"--are there not many among us who would rejoice to "trim the mid-night lamp, and then write their names in honor upon walls of that Temple? Give us the same rights and advantages--present us with the same motives for action which now operate upon other minds in the community, and then see if we are "a people dulled in their wits--without manhood or spiritual force;" but why chain the lion and then beat him because he does not run--why clip the wings of the Eagle and then scorn him because he does not soar?
We feel that we have a claim upon this State, and a right to be treated as other citizens are treated--and we have the opinions of some of the most eminent men in the State to sustain us. "Need I tell this honorable Court," says one of the most respectable names of Connecticut, and one whom the State has delighted to honor, "that 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 of human being whom we have sent, and are sending ignorant, debased, and undone to eternity."+
We might point to a long list of the brightest names in this and various other States, who have been our faithful friends--without distinction of sect in religion, or parties in politics.
What evils would result to the State if free suffrage was granted? What is our condition and numbers? Without undertaking to prove to a christian people that it is always safe to do right--in behalf of our people we desire to say that
1st. As a class they have been and are rapidly increasing in intelligence. We know of but few, very few, who are not able to read and write, and of no families that are not endeavoring to educate their children in the rudiments of those branches taught in our Common Schools; and some of them are bestowing upon their children a knowledge of the higher branches of an English education.
2d. There has been a great addition in the amount of property held by them within a few years. The precise amount held, we have not the means of knowing, but from investigations which have been made--(and our attention has been called to this subject at all the annual meetings of the Society,)--we know that the amount has largely increased, and as far as we can judge, is more than three hundred thousand dollars.
3d. The same improvements is manifested in our moral condition. As a people we have made steady progress in the principles and practice of temperance. In some respects we have been in advance of the white population; --we formed the first State Temperance Society upon the principle of Total Abstinence from the use of all intoxicating drinks, and have held a greater number of annual and semi-annual meetings of the Society than any other State Society in the United States, and our efforts have not been in vain, as the rapid spread of Temperance principles among us, and the flourishing condition of our auxiliary Societies abundantly prove. Having to a great extent
- Acts 17, 26. [note in the original]
+Gov. Wm. W. Ellsworth's plea for Miss Crandall. [note in the original]
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