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Minutes of the National Convention of Colored Citizens; Held at Buffalo; on the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th of August, 1843; for the purpose of considering their moral and political condition as American citizens.
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In accordance with the preceding call, issued to the colored people of the several States, through the United States Clarion, a paper published at Troy, N. Y., inviting them to assemble in convention at Buffalo, on the third Tuesday in August, being the 15th of the month. At an early hour on said morning, about forty persons assembled, at a large public hall on the corner of Washington and Seneca streets in said city; and the hour for opening the Convention, agreeably to the call, having arrived, Henry Highland Garnit, Chairman of the Committee of Correspondence, called the meeting to order by reading the call of the Convention, and subsequently moving the appointment of Mr. Samuel H. Davis, of Buffalo, as Chairman pro tem. The Rev. James Fountain, of Utica, N. Y., was called upon to address the throne of grace, who offered fervent prayer to God. Mr, Davis then arose and delivered. to the friends assembled an excellent Address, from which the following extracts are copied :*
I consider this a most happy period in our history, -- when we, as a people, are in some degree awake to a sense of our condition; and are determined no longer to submit tamely and silently to wear the galling yoke of oppression, under which we have so long suffered; oppression riveted upon us as well by an unholy and cruel prejudice, as by unjust and unequal legislation. More particularly do I consider it ominous if good, when I see here collected, so much of wisdom and talent, from different parts of this great nation, collected here to deliberate upon the wisest and best method by which we may seek a redress of those grievances which most sorely oppress us as a people.
Gentlemen, in behalf of my fellow, citizens of Buffalo, I bid you welcome, from the East and West, the North and South, to our city. Among you are the men who are lately from that part of our country, where they see our brethren, hound and manacled, suffering and bleeding, under the hand of the tyrant, who holds in one hand the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees freedom and equal rights to every citizen, and in the other "the scourge dripping with human gore," drawn from the veins of his fellow-man. Here also are those who live in my native, New England, among the "descendants of the pilgrims," whose laws are more in accordance with the principles of freedom and equal rights; so that but few laws are found recorded on their statute books, of which we need complain. But though their laws are not marked with such palpable and flagrant injustice towards the colored man as those of the South; yet there we are proscribed, by a fixed and cruel prejudice, little less oppressive. Our grievances are many and great; but It is not my Intention to enumerate or to enlarge upon them. I will simply say, however, that we wish to secure for ourselves, in common with other citizens, the privilege of seeking our own happiness in any part of the country we may choose, which right is now unjustly, and, we believe, unconstitutionally denied us in a part of this Union. We wish also to secure the elective franchise in those
• The Address, though excellent, is in the judgement of the publishing committee, of too great length to be admitted entire.
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