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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Liberty, and equality before the law. :Proceedings of the Convention of the Colored People of Va., held in the city of Alexandria, Aug. 2, 3, 4, 5, 1865.
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We have been forced to silence and inaction; to look on the infernal spectacle of our sons groaning under the lash; our daughters ravisehed; our wives violated, and our firesides desolated, while we ourselves have been led to the shambles, and sold like beasts of the field.
When the nation in her hour of trial called her sable sons to arms, we gladly went and fought her battles, but were denied the pay accorded to others until public opinion demanded it, and even then it was tardily granted.
We have fought and conquered, but have been denied the benefits victory.
We have fought where victory gave us no glory, and where captivity meant cold blooded murder on the field, and no black man flinched. We are taxed, but denied the right of representation; we are practically debarred the right of trial by jury, and institutions of learning which we help to support are closed against us.
Such being our wrongs, we submit to the American people and to the world the following declaration of rights, asking a calm consideration thereof:
"All men being born free and equal, no man or Government has a right to annul, repeal, or render inoperative, this fundamental principle, except it be for crime; therefore, we ask the immediate repeal of·all laws operating against us as a separate class of people.
"That as natives of American soil we claim the right to remain upon it, and that any attempt to remove, expatriate, or colonize us in any other land against our will is unjust, for here we were born, and for this country our fathers and brothers have fought, and we hope to remain here in the full enjoyment of enfranchised manhood and its dignities. As citizens of the republic we claim the rights of citizens; we claim that we are by right entitled to respect; that all due attention should be given to our needs; that proper rewards should be given for our services; that the immunities and privileges of all other citizens and defenders of the nation's honor should be conceded to us. We claim the right to be heard in the State Legislature, in all the of courts of the country, and the halls of Congress. That emerging as we are from the long night of gloom and sorrow, we are entitled to, and claim the sympathy and aid of the entire Christian world. We invoke the considerate aid of mankind in this crisis of our history, and in this hour of our trial."
These are a portion of our rights as men, as patriots, as citizens, and as children of a common Father; and that we may realize and retain them, this is our purpose. We confide our cause to the just God, whose benign aid we most solemnly invoke.
Three cheers were then given for the President of the Convention and the authors of the addresses adopted, for Fields Cook, Rev. Dr. Garnet and others.
[The above Appeal was from the pen of Fields Cook, of Richmond, Va., and the recitation of "Rights and Wrongs" from the pen of the President of the Convention, R. D. Beckley, of Alexandria, Va.]
On motion, the report was received.
On motion, the resolution was adopted by sections.
Rev. Mr. Garnet regarded the report as able and wise, and hoped it would be adopted as a whole.
Rev. Wm. E. Walker suggested that the term resolutions, heading the document, be stricken out, and the word appeal substituted therefor.
On motion, the Convention adjourned until 3 o'clock, P.M.
R. D. Beckley, President.
Wm, E. Walker, Secretary.
The President called the meeting to order at 3 1/2 o'clock, P.M.
Prayer by the Chaplain.
The roll was called and the minutes of the previous meeting read and approved.
A letter from Rev. Clement Robinson, of this city, addressed to the President, was read by the Secretary. The letter was ordered to be received and printed as a part of. the proceedings of the Convention. It is as follows:
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