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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Convention of the Colored Citizens of Massachusetts, August 1, 1858.
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MASSACHUSETTS, 1858 97
H. Brooks, were appointed a Committee to report a permanent organization.
A freedom rallying song, entitled 'Come join the Friends of Liberty,' was then sung in a very creditable manner by a choir.
During the absence of the committee, a stirring address was made by Charles L. Remond. He suggested that some good old substantial settler of New Bedford--the scene of so many varied events connected with the happiness and misery of the colored race--should say something appropriate to the occasion. He wanted, on this occasion, something more than display, something more than music, something more than prayers, if any of those should be offered. What he wanted was, to see a position taken--a defiant position towards every living man that stood against them; towards legislatures, and congresses, and supreme courts--never forgetting Judge Taney. Mr. Remond expressed his fervent conviction that the colored people would gain nothing by twaddling and temporizing. They were strong enough to defy American slavery. For his part, he was very sorry that so many colored people had suffered themselves to be led by white men--considerate white men, indeed, but white men after all. He wanted to see black men stand up for and by themselves. He had heard of a white Young America--he wanted to see a black Young America, also; and he wanted to see the two Young Americans marching together, boldly and bravely. Mr. Remond then announced that he was prepared to spit upon the decision of Judge Taney, and said that though Judge Taney was an old story, he never could say all he wanted to upon the subject. On this occasion, however, he would vary his declaration of contempt for that individual, by including every other man, and every institution that joined in the work of making him no free man. He had heard Father Henson's name called.1 He didn't believe Father Henson could understand our position. He believed Massachusetts black men were ahead of Canadian black men. He wouldn't hear of such a thing as liberty in Canada; he must have liberty in America, for he would be satisfied with nothing qualified.
The following were reported for officers:--
President-- William Wells Brown.
Vice Presidents:--Solomon Peneton, Wm.Berry, Lewis Hayden, Ebenezer Hemmenway, Chas. L. Remond, Rev. L.A. Grimes, H.O. Remington, Robert Morris, Anthony T. Jordain, E.F.B. Mundrucu.
Secretaries:--B.C. Perry, A.T. Jordain, Jr., George Allen.
A fervent prayer was then offered by Rev. Josiah Henson, of Canada, 'Uncle Tom,' as he is generally known, being said to be the 'original' in Mrs. Stowe's novel.
Business Committee--J.B. Smith, Wm. C. Nell, John J. Smith, L.H. Brooks. Jeremiah Harvey.
Mr. Brown, the President of one day, addressed the Convention. He congratulated the assemblage upon being called together on this great anniversary. It is a good day to come together. We can not only celebrate the anniversary of West India emancipation, but we can announce to the world our own rights, our natural rights, which are recognized in the Declaration of Independence. 'We meet,' said Mr. Brown, 'to proclaim to the world that we have rights, not granted by the American Government, but by the Creator; they cannot be taken from us by any Congress or Legislature. We are here to lay out some plan to influence the action of the Legislature of Massachusetts, and to bring it before them this winter. We shall lay down as broad a platform as is possible on the principle that 'man cannot hold property in man.' We shall recommend to the State to assume a defiant attitude towards the Dred Scott decision, and shall ask the Legislature to pass a law that, if any man comes into Massachusetts claiming any of our citizens as slaves, he shall be tried, convicted, and send to the State Prison, where he belongs. We mean that the slaveholder shall find here no rest for the soles of his feet. We have no rights to-day in Massachusetts--not even in New Bedford, in this convention, where a slave hunter might enter and seize any of us. But we have made progress in the last twenty years, and we shall make more in the next twenty. Mr. Brown then proceeded to illustrate the virtues of liberty and martyrdom by alluding to William Tell 2 and William Wilberforce, and closed by suggesting that the pretended unimportance of the colored race was all a sham--that the law makers in Congress and in Legislatures could never meet together without talking about colored folks--the first thing spoken of in revivals, in churches, everywhere else, was the colored folks;--so they might
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