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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.

1865VA.11.pdf

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268

BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS

After the remarks of Mr. Cook the whole convention joined in singing "My Country 'tis of thee."

Mr. Brown resuming, said that the letter should receive due attention, that in the event of the untimely death of any member of this Convention, it would be well to preserve it--it should be kept as a relic.

Mr. Garnet thought the letter should receive no attention from the Convention. The author of the letter was a mean, contemptible coward. There were thousands of men who actually felt as the writer did, living in the State, and doubtless many in the city of Alexandria, and would not be suprised if the scoundrel had not been in the Convention during its session, and stepped over to Washington and dropped it in the post office; such men would not dare to accomplish what they threatened. He would treat the letter as he would the cowardly skulk who wrote it--kick it out.

Professor Johnson, of New York, spoke in opposition to the reception the letter. He thought that the importance which its reception would give to the letter would frighten the people of color throughout the State. It was written by some mean, contemptible scoundrel, and the best way of disposing of it was to unceremoniously kick it under the table.

Rev. Wm. E. Walker followed with the remark that already attached to it was far more than it deserved, and that the time had passed when we, as colored men, were to be deterred from asserting our rights. Threats and denunciation now fail to intimidate us. The only power under heaven that we respect, fear, and feel it our duty at present to obey, is Uncle Sam. As for the worthless fellow who wrote the letter,

A whip ought to be placed in every man's hand,

To lash the rascal naked through the world.

On motion, the letter was thrown under the table by a unanimous vote.

The next business in order was the unfinished business of yesterday evening--the address which was laid on the table until this morning's session.

On motion, it was taken up, and read the second time, and after some considerable debate, was, by a large vote, tendered to the author.

A series of resolutions were then presented by the chairman.

On motion, the resolutions be adopted by sections, which were read and adopted, as follows:

Whereas, The great and all important question now agitating the mind--and paramount to all others in the country-- is what are the rights the colored man, and

Whereas, We, constituting a portion of that class denominated colored, claim to be one in interest and in destiny with the people of the United States, as we and our fathers have from sixteen hundred and twenty until now, both by our sweat and our blood, helped to make the country what she is in wealth, in power, and in greatness; and

Whereas, The immutable laws of truth and justice entitle us to the same rights in the same Government with all others, all laws and proscription to the contrary notwithstanding. Therefore,

1. Resolved, That we, as men and citizens, do hereby pledge ourselves, that one's course shall be the other's course, and that we shall use all proper and lawful means to prevent and protect each other against an invasion of our civil rights, and to use our efforts to secure all other rights of which we are denied.

2. Resolved, That we claim to be a part of the United States, as represented in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. Also as a part of the people which the Declaration of Independence declares to be free and equal, and we believe that the framers of the Constitution and originator and signers of the Declaration of Independence never contemplated otherwise than a perfect equality before the law to all the inhabitants of the Government.

3. Resolved, That all opinions entertained or expressed to the contrary show an unacquaintance with the history of the country, and of the Constitution of a number of the States; because colored. men voted in all the colonies, and even women and slaves voted in New Jersey, and bore arms long after the adoption of the Federal Constitution. They also voted in North Carolina and

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