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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 37.pdf

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35

privileges which are now exercised in but few of the States by colored men-we have but the privilege granted of saying, in common with others, who shall, for the time being, exercise rights, which, in him, are conceded to be inherent and inviolales: Like the indented apprentice, who is summoned to give his approbation to an act which would be fully binding without his concurrence. Where there is no acknowledged sovereignty, there can be no binding power; hence, the suffrage of the black man, independently of the white, would be in this country unavailable.

Much might be adduced on this point to prove the insignificance of the black man, politically considered in this country, but we deem it wholly unnecessary at present, and consequently proceed at once to consider another feature of this important subject.

Let it then be understood, as a great principle of political economy, that no people can be free who themselves do not constitute an essential part of the ruling element of the country in which they live. Whether this element be founded upon a true or false, a just or an unjust basis; this position in community is necessary to personal safety. The liberty of no man is secure, who controls not his own political destiny. What is true of an individual, is true of a family; and that which is true of a family, is also true concerning a whole people. To suppose otherwise, is that delusion which at once induces its victim, through a period of long suffering, patiently to submit to every species of wrong; trusting against probability, and hoping against all reasonable grounds of expectation, for the granting of privileges and enjoyment of rights, which never will be attained. This delusion reveals the true secret of the power which holds in peaceable subjection, all the oppressed in every part of the world.
A people, to be free, must necessarily be their own rulers: that is, each individual must, in himself, embody the essential ingredient-so to speak-of the sovereign principle which composes the true basis of his liberty. This principle, when not exercised by himself, may, at his pleasure, be delegated to another-his true representative. 

Said a great French writer: "A free agent, in a free government, should be his own governor;" that is, he must possess within himself the acknowledged right to govern: this constitutes him a governor, though he may delegate to another the power to govern himself.

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