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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Second Annual Convention of the Colored Citizens of the State of California, Held in the City of Sacramento, Dec. 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th, 1856.
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of servility, that would make us undeserving the sympathy and respect of just men.
We freely cast in our lots in the fortunes of battle, to protect against foreign invasion; this may be patriotism--but patriotism may be a vice; in a white man-- a freeman, it may be worthily indulged; as an American, the events of his country's history, and the circumstances of her present condition, may indeed stir within him sentiments of pride and love of country; but to the colored people, what is the history of the past, in America, but the history of wrongs and cruelties such as no other people upon the face of the earth have been forced to endure? The same institutions that bless the white man, are made to curse the colored man.
Shall we say 'we will protect against foreign invasion?' God knows I speak advisedly--I would hail the advent of a foreign army upon our shores, if that army provided liberty to me and my people in bondage; this may be thought ultra, but in saying it I am influenced by the same motive and spirit which influenced [Patrick] Henry, when he said to the burgesses of Virginia, 'give me liberty, or give me death!' words that made men's blood move fast within them, and caused them instinctively to clutch the handles of their swords.
"Henry was thought at first to be bold and ultra; but history regards him as a brave and noble man. We are wronged; let us declare it openly to the world. England has done her duty towards us; she has abolished slavery in her colonies, and is doing what she can to destroy the system from the earth. In the great conflict of opinion that is stirring the nations, her example, her influence is on the side of freedom.
"Would we, could we do battle against England? There is in men an innate sense of justice--we feel it; let us not stultify ourselves. I trust the resolution will not be adopted."
Mr. Henry said:--"I love my country, with all her faults, I love her," but I cannot hail with joy her progress; if, by progress, is meant the acquition of Territory and the extension of slavery therein, as in the case of Texas, Kansas and Nebraska. If we were capable of hailing such a progress, we were fit for nothing else, and ought to be enslaved.
"It is said to be impolitic to express such sentiments; but is it right for the oppressed to tell their oppressors of their wrongs, face to face.
"As to shouldering our muskets and marching to the field of battle to fight against foreign invaders; our fathers did that, pouring out their blood, and giving their lives freely for American liberties; how were they, how have their posterity been rewarded? with chains and oppression. Look at the laws of the United States; look at the public documents which illustrate her public sentiment; how prevalent the spirit of prejudice and hatred against the colored man; they have injured, and therefore hate us; let a different course be pursued-let the whites put away their prejudice, and do a just part by us; and, when they do this, we shall feel that we have a country--that patriotism is a noble virtue, and like our fathers, we will shoulder our muskets, and expose our bodies, ever ready to defend our country against foreign invaders or domestic foes, to protect her institutions, and promote her progress."
Mr. D. Lewis said--"Mr. President, it seems to me, we are traveling out of the record; I supposed we had met for a specific purpose; this resolution is leading us away into a maize of inextricable confusion; let us come back and attend to the matters proposed in the call for the convention."
Mr. J. Hubbard said:--"The only objection I have to the resolution is, it is not clear in its language. Like Mr. Henry, I love the land of my birth, and hail its progress in the right; but the laws which sustain her slave pens and prisons, her auction blocks, and the selling of human beings, the branding of men and the scourging of women, the separation of man and wife, parents and children, I hate them. Fight for the protection of these, no! Men identified with those who have been and still are the victims of these oppressors; and, let it not be supposed that we could fight against any country that has repudiated this system. Why did the pilgrims leave England, protesting against the laws, the institutions of their country? Because they could not enjoy freedom of conscience, and religious toleration, popular history says, now, the puritans were right. Americans know they were right
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