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Proceedings of the Colored Convention of the State of Kansas, Held at Leavenworth, October 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th, 1863
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Tennessee, in the earlier and better days of the Republic. And shall Kansas lag behind when the question is one of freedom? Kansas, child of freedom, and prize of many a well fought field!
Kansas, born in the throes of a mighty conflict for liberty and justice, will not, can not, prove recreant to the great principles that stood her sponsors at the baptismal font, and still claim the obedience of her child.
Citizens of Kansas, there is not a cowardly time-server, malignant Copperhead, or hateful Border Ruffian, still lingering in and polluting your state, who will not oppose the granting of our request. The question for your consideration is, whether you will take counsel of your enemies to the prejudice of your friends, however humble they may be. We say, "take counsel from enemies. They will exclaim, "What, will you grant to ignorant negroes, just escaped from slavery, the dearest right of the freeman--a right that requires so much intelligence for the proper exercise thereof?" The argument predicated upon the general want of intelligence among the colored population might at first sight seem weighty; but a good cause was never lost because it could not be defended by the best reasons.
The argument that black men should not vote, because ignorant, is met by the observation that many ignorant white men vote--the want of intelligence among them not working a forfeiture of a natural and inherent right. We contend that our right to vote is natural and inherent; resting it upon the fact of our being born in this country, and upon the form of government under which we live. While we mainly rest our claims on the immutable principles of right and justice, yet there are other and weighty considerations of public policy, which may be urged in favor of extending to the black population generally the elective franchise.
The political equilibrium has been destroyed, and the politics of this country corrupted to an alarming degree by an ignorant and alien mass of voters. Alien alike in birth, religion, and habits of thought. Corrupt, they have corrupted. Brutal, they have brutalized. Acting as a unit, they have disturbed the balance of parties, and elevated to the Presidency men distinguished only for cunning and subserviency to the slave power.
It is the conviction of every thoughtful mind that in the future, as in the past, this disturbing element will be the prize for which demagogues will contend, mutually corrupting each other to the ill of the nation and the reproach of Republican institutions. Should the right of suffrage be extended to the black population, a counterpoise will be found to this disturbing elements. No argument being necessary to convince all that the blacks will vote en masse on the side of liberty, union and the supremacy of the General Government.
A knowledge of the good use they will make of the right when acquired, will silence the objections of every truly loyal and patriotic man. It is a knowledge of the noble uses to which they will apply their newly acquired rights, that embitters the opposition of corrupt and disloyal men. Men now seeking the ruin of their country to the end that they may the more completely run riot in their hatred of liberty and justice. But you will not receive inspirations from the depraved and the disloyal.
You will reflect that our misery is not necessary to your happiness. That your rights can never be secure whilst ours are denied. That if you would propitiate the good genius liberty, at whose benignant smile deserts bloom, you must worship her in spirit and in truth. Remember, that as in architecture, that building is most secure whose base is broadest, so in politics, that government is most permanent, whose base rests on the broadest foundations of justice and liberty. We beg you to condemn that atheistical and brutal dogma that "might makes right." Power creates duties. The fact that we are weak, and you are strong, so far from justifying you in oppressing us, only multiplies our claims on you. With nations, as with individuals, duties are measured by capacities.
In conclusion, we ask you to remember that out of a population of 7,000, we furnished 2,000 soldiers to the Army of the Government, now seeking by the stern arbitrament of the sword to vindicate the offended majesty of laws, and preserve intact the unity of the nation. These soldiers are acknowledged, by universal acclaim, to be equal to any in the great essentials of the soldier; obedience, aptitude for discipline, and courage in the presence of danger. They, emulous of the just renown of the white soldiers
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