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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Colored national convention, held in Rochester, July 6th, 7th, and 8th, 1853.
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want of self-reliance. Slavery, more than all things else, robs its victims of self-reliance. To go into the western wilderness, and there to lay the foundation of future society, requires more of that important quality than a life of slavery has left us. This may sound strange to you, coming, as it does, from a colored man; but I am dealing with facts; and these never accommodate themselves to the feelings or wishes of any. They don't ask, but take leave to be. It is a fact then, and not less so because I wish it were otherwise, that the colored people are wanting in self-reliance—too fond of society—too eager for immediate results—and too little skilled in mechanics or husbandry to attempt to overcome the wilderness; at least, until they have overcome obstacles less formidable. Therefore, I look to other means than agricultural pursuits for the elevation and improvement of colored people. Of course, I allege this of the many. There are exceptions. Individuals among us, with commendable zeal, industry, perseverance and self-reliance, have found, and are finding, in agricultural pursuits, the means of supporting, improving and educating their families.
The plan which I contemplate will, (if carried into effect,) greatly increase the number of this class—since it will prepare others to meet the rugged duties which a pioneer agricultural condition must impose upon all who take it upon them. What I propose is intended simply to prepare men for the work of getting an honest living—not out of dishonest men—but out of an honest earth.
Again, there is little reason to hope that any considerable number of the free colored people will ever be induced to leave this country, even if such a thing were desirable. The black man, (un-like the Indian,) loves civilization. He does not make very great progress in civilization himself, but he likes to be in the midst of it, and prefers to share its most galling evils, to encountering barbarism. Then the love of country—the dread of isolation—the lack of adventurous spirit—and the thought of seeming to desert their "brethren in bonds," are a powerful and perpetual check upon all schemes of colonization, which look to the removal of the colored people, without the slaves. The truth is, dear Madam, we are here, and here we are likely to remain. Individuals emigrate -- nations never. We have grown up with this Republic; and I see nothing in our character, or even in the character of the American people, as yet, which compels the belief that we must leave the United States. If, then, we are to remain here, the question for the wise and good is precisely that you have submitted to me—and that which I fear I have been, perhaps, too slow in answering—namely, What can be done to improve the condition of the free colored people in the United States? The plan which I humbly submit in answer to this inquiry, (and in the hope that it may find favor with you, dear Madam, and with the many friends of humanity who honor, love, and co-operate with you,) is the establishment in Rochester, N Y.—or in some other part of the United States, equally favorable to such an enterprise—of an INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE, in which shall be taught several important branches of the mechanic arts. This college to be open to colored youth. I will pass over, for the present, the details of such an institution as
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