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Proceedings of the National Convention of the Colored Men of America: held in Washington, D.C., on January 13, 14, 15, and 16, 1869.

1869 National Convention in Washington DC 22.pdf

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Colonel McClure said he had called simply to see the body of representative men of the freedmen of the United States, but need hardly say that there was no measure of justice, no right he claimed for himself that he would not as earnestly maintain for all God's creatures. He thought justice demanded, in view of the past, that all the citizens in the land should participate in the question of suffrage. It would stand while freedom stands. The nation must advance, and the suffrage of the South must be stricken down before the triumph of despotism. It calls upon every man to proclaim here and elsewhere that this great revolution made everywhere in the interest of mankind, must advance until there shall be no citizen of this Republic disfranchised.

The speaker resumed his seat amid hearty applause.

Hon. James Moresy, J. M. Humphreys, Hon. Thomas L. Tullock, and Joseph Warren, Esq., of Troy, New York, being present, were elected Honorary Members.

On motion, of Mr. Clark, Hon. Samuel Merrill, Governor of Iowa, was declared an Honorary Member.

Mr. Downing, Chairman of the Business Committee, submitted the following report:

Resolved, That while to a large and powerful party in the United States the effective efforts now being made through the instrumentality of the Freedman's Bureau, and also through the various voluntary organizations of the country, local and national, to educate, improve, protect and elevate our recently emancipated people, seem only the expression of a morbid sensibility worthy of ridicule, contempt and denunciation,—we recognize in these beneficent efforts a feeble but honest acknowledgment of a great debt, justly due and of long standing, contracted by centuries of measureless wrongs and of enforced ignorance, for which, unhappily, no adequate atonement would have been made, were the whole South now covered with school-houses and supplied with teachers by a tax levied upon the property of the whole nation.

Resolved, That in the same spirit in which we have received our freedom we accept all these educational efforts in our behalf, not as a boon, to be received with special humility, but as a sacred right which we may earnestly claim, and which cannot be innocently withheld, and yet with sincere gratitude that the moral sense of the nation has been so largely awakened to this high duty and has prompted them to much effective exertion in this important direction during the last four years.

Resolved, That whether by Congressional enactment or by amendment of the Constitution of the United States, the form and manner may be safely left to the judgment of Congress, the one great object to be accomplished in the present national juncture is to secure some final measure of equal and universal suffrage, without any discrimination on the ground of race, color, previous condition or of religious belief.

Resolved, That the concession of rights in a legal form is comparatively valueless and often a mockery unless supported by the whole judicial and military power of the country.

Resolved, That every voter of whatever color, should step to the ballot-box with confidence of having his way cleared thereto, if need be, by the broad sword of the nation.

Resolved, That while acknowledging the justice and the wisdom of our fellow-countrymen in this respect, we would express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to our trans- Atlantic friends, and especially to those in England, who have largely contributed to the funds of various associations in this country for the education of freedmen.

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