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Proceedings of the National Emigration Convention of Colored People Held at Cleveland, Ohio, On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, The 24th, 25th, and 26th of August, 1854
1854 Cleveland OH State Convention 31.pdf
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29 circle, and in every relation of life, its all-pervading influence is felt. It is this facility for the rapid spread of intelligence and communication of ideas, which principally distinguishes the civilization of the nineteenth century from all that have preceded it; and any movement which fails to secure a due share of this potent influence in its favor, will be always undervalued in public estimation. This, like all other great influences in this country, has been arrayed against the negro; and while both law and public sentiment have conspired to place him in such a position as to exclude him entirely from all the usual avenues of literature and science, and render it impossible for him to make any great proficiency in intellectual culture, the very fact that in those attainments he is inferior to the privileged class, who have every incentive to exertion, and every opportunity for improvement, is brought up as evidence of natural inferiority; thereby making the legitimate fruit of oppression the strongest argument in favor of the oppressor, and of perpetuating the oppression. In accordance with this spirit, every branch of learning has been subsidized for the express and avowed purpose of keeping the Negro down, and preventing him from ever rising in the scale of humanity. For this purpose the whole power of the government must be used to prevent the abolition of negro Slavery, or the building up of black nationality anywhere. The Word of God must be corrupted, and the evidence of the Church adduced to show that Slavery is a blessing, compatible with the exercise of the highest and purest Christianity; the well established facts of history must be falsified, and science must be suborned to prove that black is white, and that white is black; and to cap the climax, some American savans have given a practical answer to the question of the Prophet, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin?" by proving as they say, that the ancient Ethiopians belonged to the white race. But one more step is needed, and that, by the skill of American ethnologists, and the pure morals and strict virtue of American patriarch, is rendered comparatively easy, that is, to prove that the modern negroes, as well as the ancient ones, belong to the white race, and bring us back to the old-fashioned doctrine of the unity of the human species.
In spite of all the obstacles thrown in their way, many colored men in this country have made attainments in literature and science which would he creditable to any class of men, under the most favorable circumstances; but for want of a proper sphere of action,
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