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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Convention of the Colored Citizens of Massachusetts, August 1, 1858.
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BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS
Resolved, That the Dred Scott decision, with its counterpart the Fugitive Slave Bill, is the greatest wrong and the most high-handed injustice ever inflicted upon any class of people; and that we regard and will treat them both as consummate villainies, and will resist their execution, at whatever cost.
Resolved, That we hold that decision no more worthy of respect or consideration than though it denied to all the citizens of this Commonwealth the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, and declared Massachusetts to be no longer a constituent member of the Union; and that is ought to be solemnly protested against, and resisted to the last extremity by all the people of the State, as an intolerable act of usurpation and tyranny.
Resolved, That this Mass Convention adopt the memorial sent from Boston to the last session of the Massachusetts Legislature, protesting against the Dred Scott decision, in behalf of which eloquent and able speeches were made by John A. Andrew8</sop> and George D. Wells, Esqs., and others, but upon which no final action was then taken; and that we appoint a committee with full power to press the subject in the next Legislature, and in connection therewith to submit the matter to Congress, if deemed necessary.
Resolved, That while we appreciate the prompting heart, the judicious head, and the executive hands of those in this Commonwealth who would aid the fugitive who may have declared his or her independence of slavery, and believe themselves to be in peril by the Fugitive Slave Law, and also of those who, from their stand-point of duty, contribute monies for the redemption of persons from slavery; yet, in view of the many dishonest appeals for such charities, we recommend to every anti-slavery friend, and especially to colored men and women, that they constitute themselves a Detective Police, for the purpose, as far as possible, of investigating these cases, seeing that they are properly vouched, or otherwise, and reporting the facts, that all parties may govern themselves accordingly.
A Committee on Rules and Orders, and one on Finance, were then appointed, and after the singing of a hymn, the Convention took a noon recess.
The Convention met in accordance with adjournment, in the afternoon at two o'clock. Prayer was offered by Rev. L.A. Grimes, of Boston. Upon the platform we noticed Messrs. William Penn Howland, Matthew Howland and his wife, and Mrs. Mary Nichols, of Whitehaven, England.
The Convention was briefly addressed by Mrs. Matthew Howland. Her leading idea was that the colored people should rely upon God for deliverance. The bondage of the children of Israel was referred to as a case in point. She spoke in an exceedingly impressive manner, and in a spirit of Christian love and interest that deeply moved every listener. Mrs. Howland is a devoted member of the Society of Friends. Her dignified appearance made a marked impression upon the audience.
Capt. Henry Johnson hoped that gentlemen from abroad would occupy the time. He wanted some new and fresh ideas.
Rev. Charles W. Dennison, of Chelsea,9 gave an account of his observations and experiences in the British West Indies, where emancipation worked well. The products of the Islands had been largely increased by free labor. At first there was such opposition to emancipation from the Church and State, and the former owners of the slaves, that there were difficulties in the way. But now that the relation of labor had come to be understood, the Islands were steadily advancing in prosperity.
On motion of Mr. B.C. Perry, the resolutions in reference to West India Emancipation were then adopted.
The resolutions referring to the Dred Scott decision were taken up.
Rev. Josiah Henson, of Canada, 'Uncle Tom,' took the platform. He considered the question of slavery as one of life and death. The colored people were all of the same condition and class. They were as one man. He was a Canadian now. Canada was the freest spot he knew in the world. He was a peace man in heart, but a fighting man in brain. But who were we going to fight? Who would pay the expenses? He thanked God he ever put foot on British soil. There were some mean men there, and some mean men here. He hoped something would be done besides talk. Usually at these Conventions men get mad, and swear they will not attend another. He expected good results
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