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Proceedings of the California State Convention of the Colored Citizens, Held in Sacramento on the 25th, 26th, 27th, and 28th of October, 1865.

1865CA.20.pdf

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187

CALIFORNIA, 1865

undermining the virtue and morality of the people, and drifting every noble impulse of the human heart down the vortex of corruption.

This assemblage, in behalf of the colored people throughout the State, and whose labors are indissolubly bound with all her interests, ask to become equals before the law, not from sympathy with their condition, but as they are made amenable to all her laws, simple justice demands that they should have a voice in selecting the administrators of its powers. They seek it upon the assumption that they are no longer an enslaved race, but full citizens according to the decision of Attorney-General Bates, and the recognition and acceptance of a black man in all his rights in the highest tribunals of the land. If the people of free and progressive California can jeopardize their reputations for these great qualities of discerning expediency, by withhoding so great a boon, when considering their attitude with the progress of liberal principles, they will stand disgraced and condemned before the world for preventing to be governed by that sublime emanation that declares "all men free and equal."

It is urged by Copperhead malice and stupidity, that the Negro is too ignorant to vote. May I not remind the authors of this evasive and flimsy pretext, that the Negro in America, like the Israelites among the ancient Egyptians, have watched superior character, assimiliated with the same ideas, and imitated the same virtues, until out of a servitude of two hundred and fifty years, they have not only made a name which is a power of strength among civilized mankind, but they have reared a nationality which is coextensive with the fame and future of the American people. The poor Negro has indeed been severely scourged. Meeting the contact so long denied his ancestry, but which was essential to their full development, it has made them a new born race looking through a long vista of departed years, and mourning over the past barbarism of the race. Thank God, sir, they are in America, and especially in our beloved California, no longer discordant in feeling. Every heart moves by the touch of that chord which reverberates the sacred anthem of freedom; they are no longer content with the inklings that escape the white oppressors' tongues, because they have too often heard those tongues one moment breathing devout prayers to the Majesty of Heaven, and then again, almost in the same breath, uttering curses upon the weak and despised. The false duties of superstition have ceased to encumber their understandings, and truer oracles in the persons of refined colored men are reflecting the living light of truth; black men are making and recording their own history; writing their own literature; coining their own poems; preparing their own school teachers, and disseminating useful information where it was never tasted or known before.

The press, that mighty pendulum of human liberty, is now partly wielded by Anglo-African genius. Refined by the great variety of learning that is open to all, it is effecting a mighty work and changing the tide of events; its columns are perused in the mansions of rulers, the halls of legislation, the sacred precincts of the judiciary, and the humble cabin of the miner; it is emancipating the minds of those in wisdom and power from error, while it teaches its less favored votaries the grand principles upon which governments are founded, and its salutary prerogatives over all its subjects. Our people, being accustomed to act as directed, are quietly but surely receiving the new light that is breaking in upon them, and in anticipation of a higher sphere of action, are mastering the difficulties of language, the intricacies of social and political law, and the breadth and scope of Constitutions. What class of citizens are they who would smother the infant efforts of a struggling race, just emerging from the darkness of a long night into the bright beams of a dawning day? Can it be the noble born American who will refuse us the right to drop a ballot as well as to aim a bullet? They should recollect that their hours of youth, their days of manhood, and their decline of years, have been tenderly watched by the Negro's kindness since the Republic was rocked in infancy. Can it be the warm and generous-hearted Irishman, who first received here, in his adopted country, those gems of liberty that reverted his imagination back to the heroic death and epitaph of Emmet, the gifted eloquence of Walton and the patriotic lessons of the incomparable O'Connell,--whose thrilling tones ever went to the hearts of men for liberty and equality to all races of men? Sir, do not tell me it is the honest and toiling German, whose fatherland has so long kept the undimmed fires of freedom

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