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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Convention of the Colored Citizens of Massachusetts, August 1, 1858.
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from this meeting. He said that he came to the convention for the purpose of seeing if some measures could not be adopted for improving the condition of the colored man. We are glad to hear of the excellent success of the emancipation movement in the West Indies, but we want to see if we cannot do something here. He referred to Mr. Remond's remark that he meant to fight against the Dred Scott decision; also to his remark, implying that Canadian freedom did not amount to much. For his part, he (Father Henson) held up both hands for Canada. It was the only place he had found where there was any freedom. He thought a good run was better than a bad stand! He was glad the colored people of New England were so much better off than those of Canada, if they were.
He seemed, however, to entertain some doubt on that point. Father Henson said he should not have spoken now, but some people had requested him to come forward, so that the people might see him. And now, said he, how do you like the looks? Don't you think I am a very clever fellow? He closed by saying that he would give way, and would speak again by and by.
Lewis Hayden made some objection to the phraseology of the resolutions.
C.L. Remond said that not a few minds are bewildered by the discussions on the subject. He wanted no long resolutions, but a short one, saying that we defy the Dred Scott decision. It makes no difference what Mr. Hayden and Mr. Morris think of the decision; we know that the Court has trampled upon all our dearest rights and aspirations. In reply to Mr. Henson, he repeated that what he said was not in joke, but in earnest. He had been well treated in Canada, but he preferred to live here in the United States, and to fight the battles of freedom here. He threw back the taunt of Father Henson, that he had been 'gassing.' There are colored schools and colored churches in Canada, and he had known colored men to be denied admission to the hotels there.
He objected to drawing the attention of the colored men away from the United States to Canada, or Liberia, or Jamaica. We must resolve to remain here, in defiance of Judge Taney. Mr. Henson says we must make 'the best of things.' It is this making the best of things which keeps our brethren in servitude, and keeps us under the yoke of prejudice. We must resist. When Lucy Stone Blackwell refused to pay her taxes in New Jersey, she did more for the enfranchisement of woman than she could have done by all her speeches.10 When our rights are conceded to us, a more manly set of men than we are cannot be found. If there is a man who is not willing to do his duty, let him go to Canada. He supposed there would be cowards, and time-servers, and apologists among colored men as among whites, and he felt contempt for them as for whites. As for Judge Taney, he would admit that he was a richer, more accomplished, perhaps a taller man than himself, but he had no more right to freedom.
Robert Morris, Esq., of Boston, was the next speaker. He complimented Mr. Remond very highly, and then proceeded to discuss the Dred Scott decision. He thought the decision powerless in Massachusetts, for the courts would not respect it. There was no necessity for our going away. It was a serious mistake to go away. No young man has any right to go off, and leave us to fight the battle alone. There is a work enough here, and by and by the contest will come. Slavery is not to be abolished by peaceable means. It is not to be prayed away, nor will the slaves run away. It will be abolished by the strong arm.
Mr. Morris next alluded to the military company which had come here to-day. It did not represent the colored young men of Boston. This company was dressed up in uniform but it was training against the law. The colored men of Boston would not recognize any such military organization until they had it by right. He then spoke of a favorable change which had taken place in the treatment of colored men in New York city. He had lately been there, and he had found himself able to enter the railroad cars and the saloons from which colored me had before been excluded.11
Mr. Morris said he hoped that we should not only trample on the Dred Scott decision, but also upon the Fugitive Slave Bill. In this connection, he gave a graphic description of the noble conduct of a colored woman who assisted in the rescue of Shadrach.
Mr. Morris then came out with great strength on the school question. 'When we wanted our children to go to the Public Schools in Boston,' said he,
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