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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the First Convention of the Colored Citizens of the State of Illinois, Convened at the City of Chicago, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 6th, 7th and 8th, 1853.
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is the sacred cause of truth and righteousness,--and that it particularly appeals to those professing to be governed by that religion which teacheth to "do unto all men as you would that all men should do unto you." These principles we conceive to embody the great duty of man to his fellow man; and, as men, we ask only to be included in a practical application of this principle.
We feel that it would be hypocritical in us to apologize for thus addressing you, because we believe that a little serious reflection on your part, would at once discover to your intelligent Anglo-Saxon minds, that the justness of our cause is a sufficient apology for our course at this time. We feel, however, inclined to confess that we have too long remained supinely inactive, and apparently indifferent to our oppressed and degrading condition; and that we have leaned too much upon others, and thus we have done little or nothing ourselves in the great work of our redemption. But we have now resolved to come forward; and, like men, speak, and act for ourselves. And we fully recognize the truth of the maxim, that "God helps those who help themselves." And in making this appeal, we here adopt the language of the late "National Convention of Colored Freemen," held at Rochester, N.Y., as our platform of principles:
"That all men are created equal; that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the rights of all; that taxation and representation should go together; that Governments are to protect, not to destroy the rights of mankind; that the Constitution of the United States was formed to establish justice, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to all the people of this country; that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God,--are American principles and maxims; and together they form the constructive elements of the American Government."
We think we fully comprehend and duly appreciate the principles and measures which compose this platform; and all we desire or ask for is, to be placed in a position that we could conscientiously and legitimately defend with you, those principles, against the surges of despotism to the last drop of our blood.
We have not come together in battle array to "assume a boastful attitude," and to talk loudly of high sounding principles or of unmeaning platforms; nor do "we pretend to any great boldness for we know your wealth and greatness, and our poverty and weakness"--and though we feel keenly our wrongs, still we come together, we trust, in a spirit of meekness, and of patriotic good will to all the people of the State. But yet it is some consolation to know, and it inspires us with hope, when we reflect that our cause is not alone the cause of four millions of oppressed people in this country, we are fully alive to the fact that it is also the cause of oppressed man in other parts of "God's beautiful earth," who are now struggling to be free, and "God and nature are pledged to its triumph."
We are Americans by birth, and we assure you that we are Americans in feeling; and in spite of all the wrongs which we have long and silently endured in this country, we would yet exclaim, "with a full heart, Oh, America! with all thy faults, we love thee still."
Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
Thus, we would address you, not as rebels, or as enemies, but as friends and fellow-countrymen, who desire to dwell among you in peace, and whose destinies are interwoven and linked with those of the American people, and hence must be fulfilled in this country.
As descendants of a race feeble and long oppressed, we might with propriety appeal to a great and magnanimous people, like the Americans, for special favors and encouragements, on the principle that the strong should aid the weak, the learned should teach the unlearned. But it is for no such purpose that we raise our voices to the people of Illinois, on this occasion. We ask for no special privileges or peculiar favors--we ask only for even
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