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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 44.pdf

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38

Resolved, That justice and expediency require that the colored children and youth of our land should have equal opportunities for education in those States where public schools are supported by taxation, and should attend the same schools.

Also the following address, which had been prepared and presented to the Business Committee, by Prof. G. B. Vashon, of Rhode Island:

Address to the Colored Citizens of the United States.

Fellow-Citizens: We, your representatives assembled in national convention, having attended to the business which you, in fraternal trust, confided to us, respectfully beg leave, at the conclusion of our labors, to address you briefly yet earnestly in reference to the condition which we now occupy here in the land of our nativity, and to the duties and responsibilities which are in consequence devolved upon us, in order that we may attain to that equal status in the eye of the law, with other fellow-citizens, which we of right aspire to, and which we of right ought to enjoy.

At the outset of our address we would devoutly call upon you to join with us in thanks to Him in whose hands are the destinies of all His creatures, that through the orderings of His providence, we speak to you under far different circumstances from those in which you have been addressed by your assembled representatives at other periods of our history. Once you were called upon to labor for the overthrow of a gigantic system of oppression, which held in its enslaving grasp more than three millions of our own kindred, and for the recognition of our own claims to citizenship in these United States of America. Now we can interchange congratulations with you, that throughout the broad domain of out beloved country, from the St. John's river upon the North, to the Rio Grande, and from the Atlantic border to the Pacific Coast, the grand anthem of liberty is intoned with a harmony unbroken by the discord which would be caused by the wailing of even one unhappy slave. We can do so, too, with a consciousness that we are not looked upon now, as we were then, in the light of quasi aliens; for the American people have spoken through their representatives in Congress, and enacted "that all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States." Thus, fellow-citizens, we have reason to rejoice in the fact that the past has had its triumphs for us; but our condition in the present, together with the duties and responsibilities which it enforces upon us, demands our attention, and of that condition, and of those duties and responsibilities we would now speak.

As to our condition, we need not dwell long upon that, for you understand fully the necessity which prompted you to send us to meet together in convention. You know that our citizenship, recognized as it has been by statutory provisions, has not secured for us throughout the different States of this Union, those franchises and immunities which are the pride and boast of our white fellow-citizens. Each one of you, in his own individual locality, is painfully alive to the grievances (as various in their character as the localities themselves) which he is called upon to endure. But, let us not be disheartened. In view of those grievances, let us remember that

"Mute,

The camel labors 'neath the heavy load;

And the wolf died in silence. Not bestowed

In vain, let such examples be. If they,

Things of ignoble, or of savage mood,

Endure and shrink nor, we of nobler clay

Should temper it to bear. It is but for a day."

Let us gird ourselves up manfully, and contend for the removal of those grievances, in the firm and confident trust that the same God who has conferred blessings upon us in the past, will be equally propitious to us in the future; and that, as He raised up for us then, hosts of sympathizing friends, to follow the leadership of a Garrison, a Gerrit Smith, and Abraham Lincoln, so He still accords to us such friends, largely increased in number, and bearing so many

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