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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the First State Convention of the Colored Citizens of the State of California. Held at Sacramento Nov. 20th 21st, and 22d, in the Colored Methodist Chuch [sic].
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Mr. Townsend withdrew his Resolutions, by leave of the Convention.
A motion to adopt the Report of the Business Committee, as a whole, being opposed by Mr. Townsend and Mr. Morris, and others, was lost.
On motion of Mr. E. A. Phelps, the preamble to the Report was taken up and discussed.
Mr. Townsend was opposed to the preamble, on the ground that it was crouching in its present form. All he wanted was to present a manly, courteous and dignified appeal to the Legislature, to grant them what is simply just in their opinion. He believed by so doing they could command the respect of their white brethren.
Mr. Lewis endorsed the views of the last speaker.
Mr. Newby said it was much easier generally to find fault than commend--and the objections expressed by Mr. Townsend were to him about as clear as mud. All the preamble expressed was true, and simple to understand. He had not in drawing it up drawn largely upon Roman or Grecian history, to illustrate it by quotations that are to be found in every school book, but it merely stated what was known to every man in the State. A case in point occurred last week in the United States Court in San Francisco. A man was tried for murder on the high sea, the only witness in the case was a negro, and the Court decided that his evidence could not be received, and the man was liberated, thus inflicting a great wrong upon white men, by permitting a criminal to go at large because he killed a man in presence of a negro instead of a white man. This, he considered, was more of a wrong to the whites than to them. The gentleman is opposed to cringing. The language of the preamble is plain and honest, there is no crouching in it.
Mr. Townsend said, it is too late in the day to appeal to the prejudices of the people. The gentleman finds fault with the ancients, their learning and their graces of style in composition; or with us, because we would avail ourselves of them. I wish to rebuke this spirit. What I am anxious for is, that whatsoever paper goes from this Convention, while it tells the people of California what we desire of them--whether in Grecian or Roman quotations --shall challenge criticisms in respect to style and matter. Our business Committee should not be so sensitive about their report; their action must be pronounced upon; if we disapprove of it, we shall reject, or offer something better; if we approve, then only shall we accept. I know the Committee have worked faithfully, for which they deserve thanks; let them not, therefore, suppose all they do must be adopted.
Mr. Wilson urged concession and harmony in all their deliberations, and thought the preamble of the report was all that could be desired.
Mr. Smithea, though one of the Committee, was opposed to the adoption of the report. He was in favor of presenting their deliberations in as dignified or elegant language as possible.
Mr. M. W. Gibbs was in favor of striking out all the words of the preamble, after the words "and whereas, we believe that this section was intended to protect white persons from a class," &c., and made a motion to that effect. He said this language was undignified and untrue; that the original cause of the objection to the testimony of colored persons, was prejudice against them, and not ignorance of their general condition. The motion of Mr. Gibbs was lost.
Mr. Newby said, we are an oppressed people, the subjects of a bitter prejudice, which we are now seeking to overcome. In appealing to our oppressors, we desire to do an in a manner that will have weight.
The Legislature which passed the act depriving us of testimony, doubtless acted--or a portion of them--from an honest principle. I believe that they acted from what they believed to be a sense of duty; but they could not foresee the operations of the law in a State like California. Let us be careful, and not, by our impolicy, thwart ourselves in the action we are taking.
On motion of Mr. Gilliard, the preamble was laid upon the table.
Mr. Gilliard moved the resolutions and report of the Committee be referred to a special Committee of five.
Mr. Stokes thought a Committee of five should not be entrusted with such an important question, as it would give them the power to over-ride the whole Convention.
Said he, look to your action. Yesterday you appointed your Business Committee, from all the counties, in order, that the voices of all should be
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