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- The First National Convention
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- Equality Before the Law: California Black Convention Activism, 1855-65
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Scripto | Transcribe Page
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 64.pdf
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and inferiority of origin or national existence. Here, then, is another stratagem of this most determined and untiring enemy of our race—the government of the United States.
We come now to the crowning act of infamy on the part of the General Governrnent towards the colored inhabitants of the United States—an act so vile in its nature, that rebellion against its demands should be promptly made, in every attempt to enforce its infernal provisions.
In the history of national existence, there is not to be found a parallel to the tantalising insult and aggravating despotism of the provisions of Millard Filmore's Fugitive Slave Bill, passed by the thirty-third Congress of the United States, with the approbation of a majority of the American people, in the year of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, eighteen hundred and fifty.
This Bill had but one object in its provisions, which was fully accomplished in its passage; that is, the reduction of every colored person in the United States—save those who carry free papers of emancipation, or bills of sale from former claimants or owners—to a state of relative slavery; placing each and every one of us at the disposal of any and every white who might choose to claim us, and the caprice of any and every upstart knave bearing the title of "Commissioner."
Did any of you, fellow-countrymen, reside in a country the provisions of whose laws were such that any person of a certain class, who whenever he, she or they pleased, might come forward, lay a claim to, make oath before (it might be,) some stupid and heartless person, authorized to decide in such cases, and take, at their option, your horse, cow, sheep, house and lot, or any other property, bought and paid for by your own earnings—the result of your personal toil and labor—would you be willing, or could you be induced, by any reasoning, however great the source from which it came, to remain in that country? We pause, fellow-countrymen, for a reply.
If there be not one yea, of how much more importance, then, is your own personal safety, than that of property? Of how much more concern is the safety of a wife or husband, than that of a cow or horse; a child, than a sheep; the destiny of your family, to that of a house and lot?
And yet this is precisely our condition. Any one of us, at any moment, is liable to be claimed, seized and taken into custody by any white, as his or her property—to be enslaved for life—and
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