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Convention of the Colored Citizens of Massachusetts, August 1, 1858.

1858MA.4.pdf

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99

MASSACHUSETTS, 1858

climate, American ailment, American government, and American manners, to sustain their American bodies and minds. A withholding of the enjoyment of any American privilege from an American man, either governmental, ecclesiastical, civil, social, or alimental, is in effect taking away his life. Every ecclesiastical body which denies an American the privileges of participating in its benefits, becomes his murderer. Every State which denies an American a citizenship, with all its benefits denies him his life. The claims are founded in an original agreement of the contracting parties, and there is nothing to show that color was a consideration in the agreement.

It is well known that when the country belonged to Great Britain, the colored people were slaves; but when America revolted fro Britain, they were held no longer by any legal power. There was not efficient law in the land, except marital law, and that regarded no one as a slave. The inhabitants were governed by no other law, except by resolutions adopted from time to time, by meetings convoked in the different colonies.

Upon the face of the warrants by which these district and town meetings were called, there is not a word said about the color of the attendants.

In convoking the Continental Congress of the 4th of September, 1774, there was not a word said about color. At a subsequent meeting, Congress met again to get in readiness twelve thousand men, to act in any emergency; at the same time, a request was forwarded to Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, to increase this army to twenty thousand men. Now, it is well known that hundreds of the men of which this army was composed, were colored men, and recognized by Congress as Americans.

Whereas, in our struggles between our own, our native land, and its enemies, colored Americans have shared the labors and braved the dangers equally with white Americans as citizens of Massachusetts and as citizens of the United States. The first blow in the American Revolution was struck by a colored person--Crispus Attucks--who fell the first martyr on the fifth of the American Revolution. At Lexington, also, and especially at Bunker Hill, where Peter Salem, a colored man, turned the tide of battle by shooting Major Pitcairn.7 Colored soldiers were participants on the various battlefields from these to Yorktown, besides signal service at New Orleans, and naval exploits on the lakes in the war of 1812, which war was undertaken because of the impressment of three seamen, two of whom were colored--satisfactory proof at least that they were American citizens--services which, when performed by white Americans, have been universally acknowledged as passports to perennial fame, while for us Chief Justice Taney, of the United States Supreme Court, rules that we colored men have no rights that white men are bound to respect.

Whereas, Stephen A. Douglas, in his campaign speeches in Illinois, is declaring that he does not believe it a great wrong to deprive a negro of the rights of citizenship. He does not believe they ever were intended to be citizens. Our government, he says, was founded on a white basis--was created by white men, True humanity requires that negroes and other inferior races should be permitted to enjoy only such rights and privileges as they are capable of exercising consistently with the good of society.

And these monstrous sentiments are articles of faith with the present dominant political party in the land; and from the judge on the bench to the lowest specimen of humanity in the shape of a foreign or native partisan, are we daily taunted, by precept and example, by word and deed, that colored men have no rights that white men are bound to respect. In the spirit if which, it is but too plainly evident their settled purpose is to render our political and social condition so unendurable as to force our emigration from the country. Therefore,

Resolved, That this reign of terror, this martyr age of colored Americans demands of them a new baptism of energy for the present, and of hope for the future. That we may bide our time--remember that there is a divinity which will shape our ends, rough hew them as the spirit of American pro-slavery will--for which we must gird ourselves, and expect accumulating and perplexing trials; and, above all, be determined to conquer--for if but faithful, our of this nettle danger, we shall yet pluck the flower safety.

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