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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 36.pdf

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the case in the establishment of immunities, and the application of terms in their Civil and Legal regulations.

The term Citizen—politically considered—is derived from the Roman definition—which was never applied in any other sense—Cives Ingenui; which meant, one exempt from restraint of any kind. (Cives, a citizen; one who might enjoy the highest honors in his own free town—the town in which he lived—and in the country or commonwealth; and Ingenui, freeborn—of GOOD EXTRACTION.) All who were deprived of citizenship—that is, the right of enjoying positions of honor and trust—were termed Hostes and Peregrini; which are public and private enemies, and foreigners, or aliens to the country. (Hostis, a public—and sometimes—private enemy; and Peregrinus, an alien, stranger, or foreigner.)

The Romans, from a national pride, to distinguish their inhabitants from those of other countries, termed them all "citizens", but consequently, were under the necessity of specifying four classes of citizens: none but the Cives lngenui being unrestricted in their privileges. There was one class, called the Jus Quiritium, or the wailing or supplicating citizen—that is, one who was continually moaning, complaining, or crying for aid or succor. This class might also include within themselves, the jus suffragii, who had the privilege of voting, but no other privilege. They could vote for one of their superiors—the Cives Ingenui—but not for themselves.

Such, then, is the condition, precisely, of the black and colored inhabitants of the United States; in some of the States they answering to the latter class, having the privilege of voting, to elevate their superiors to positions to which they need never dare aspire, or even hope to attain.

There has, of late years, been a false impression obtained, that the privilege of voting constitutes, or necessarily embodies, the rights of citizenship. A more radical error never obtained favor among an oppressed people. Suffrage is an ambiguous term, which admits of several definitions. But according to strict political construction, means simply "a vote, voice, approbation." Here, then, you have the whole import of the term suffrage. To have the "right of suffrage," as we rather proudly term it, is simply to have the privilege—there is no right about it—of giving our approbation to that which our rulers may do, without the privilege, on our part, of doing the same thing. Where such privileges are granted—

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