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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.
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BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS
and independence so brightly burning. Why is it the charmed land that cradled renowned Luther and moulded the transcendant genius of Schiller.10 When did these people prove recreant? For their love and struggles for liberty have illumed all Europe and the world, from the dread conflicts of past ages to the memorable revolution of 1848. Do I hear that it is the chivalric son of gigantic France, whose own great Lafayette dedicated life and fortune to the maintenance of the rights of man? Have they degenerated from the electric of the Marseillaise battle hymn of liberty, or will they attempt to wipe from memory the aspirations of their sincere but dreamy Lamartine? To all these people of different races, speaking different languages, and having diverse notions of the true policy of the American government. I know that plausible argument will be produced by our antagonists against the Negro's right to equality before the law. But every righteous cause has always been assailed by subtle argument and almost convincing logic. It is little over the lifetime of temperate men when England's most astute statesmen endeavored to make America believe that George III had a divine right to impose upon the infant colonies "taxation without representation;" but Patrick Henry, in the House of Burgesses of Virginia, and black Crispus Attucks, in the streets of Boston, demurred, and the once humble dependencies are now a might and expanding nation. I need not cite the massacre of St. Bartholomew, 11 where the poor but faithful Huguenot bit the dust of persecution, the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition, and the inhuman cruelties of the monster Philip the Second 12--all of which have been justified by as potent argument as that now produced in opposition to the Negro's elevation. The Negro's right to vote is indisputable, because wherever his mind has been educated he has given the same evidences of proficiency, because he has measured steps with the highest perfection of man's courage, by three times signally rescuing the country from the most impending dangers; because the wise men who lived about the time the National Government was framed, gave black men the right to vote in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and many other slave States, without detriment to the general weal; and it is a historical fact, that there is no word, no line, nor article, interpretative or constructive, embodied in the great instrument, that invalidates the rights of freemen, white or black from its adoption, eighty odd years ago, down to the infamous dogma uttered by Roger B. Taney (oh, that execrable name, equal in infamy with the notorious Jeffreys,13 the Dred Scott decision, enunciating that black men had no rights, because God so willed the color of their skins, --has left an indelible stain upon American jurisprudence, which in a free country should be the most important and useful to all classes of men. Why, sir, the spotless fame of Storey 14 and Marshall 15 will nearly become tarnished in veneration of future generations through the very process of contact that seated such a man upon the same bench or under the same roof where they dispensed the Godlike attributes of justice. The word white, Mr. President, in the Constitution of California, is anti-republican--at variance with the good sense and magnanimity of her people, repugnant to many of her sister States, inconsistent with the present age, and unwise when considered in connection with the intercourse soon to be established with the copper-colored nations of China and Japan. We, as black men, concede the fact that a few years since, when our interest was mingled with slavery and degradation, and when the interest of this flourishing State was under the dominion of such satellites as W. M. Gwin, 16 and P. T. Herbert and J. B. Weller,17 that the black race had nothing to look for but cold indifference and contemptible hatred; but now that the country is reeling upon the brink of ruin, with a yawning abyss of destruction awaiting to receive its crumbling wreck, we ask, calmly but firmly, shall we not be allowed once more to prop its mighty superstructure, so that it may stand the ravages of time? Remember, men in power, the vast responsibilities resting upon your judgement. Other nations have passed through somewhat similar ordeals like yours before they became strong and consolidated; but none like yours have ever been seen trying to devise escapes from the strongest and most reliable element of their support. If you are inspired by that patriotism that sinks all consideration of prejudice, to the greatness and glory of America's future, then all will be well. But if expediency and narrow contracted views govern your councils, and the unmistakable purpose of Divine authority be
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