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Proceedings of a Convention of Colored Citizens: Held in the City of Lawrence, October 17, 1866

1866 Lawrence KS State Convention.8.pdf

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[4]

of race or color, seeks only to establish among men, liberty, equality and fraternity. We appeal to you in the name of that immortal Declaration, which announces that all men are created equal, and that Constitution which was ordained to secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. We ask at your hands no special privileges. We seek no favors. We do not desire social equality. But we do demand equality before the law. We seek complete emancipation—full and perfect enfranchisement—absolute legal equality. These are only the natural, inherent, and inalienable rights of man.

There are many reasons, plain and self-evident, why these rights should not be withheld from us, a few of which we propose to present for your consideration.

First. We are men, constituting one of the nations of men, which are made of one blood, and were created equal and endowed with natural and inalienable rights.

That we are men, no sane man will question. Being men, then we have justly the right of self government. Every man is properly the judge of his own actions; he and he only has the right to say by what rule or law these actions are to be performed. Hence Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. All political power is inherent in the people,—not in any particular or privileged class, but in the people—the whole people. Self-government is not one of the incidents of humanity, but one of its necessities. It is not a something for which men may be prepared. It is not an attainment. It is not a reward of conduct. It is not an honor conferred by society. It is not a prerogative given by the Government. With less than the right of self-government, man is less than man. To rob a man of this right takes from him one of the essential elements of his manhood. The right to exercise the elective franchise is an inseparable part of self-government, and is one of the inherent rights of man. No man, white or black, can justly be deprived of this right. The right of suffrage is not a conventional privilege merely, which may be extended to or withheld from any class of citizens at the will of the majority, but a right as sacred and inviolable as the right of life, liberty, or property. We claim, therefore, that the word "white" ought not to remain in the Constitution, for by it one class of men is disfranchised.

Second. Sound political philosophy demands that all legislation, for or against any class of citizens, be abolished. Class legislation is one of the relics of barbarism, native of the old world. It is not only anti-democratic and anti-American, but monarchical and despotic. Our republican institutions are to conserve the interests of the people and guard their rights. European legislation looks to the sustenance and protection of certain privileged classes. European class legislation sustains an aristocracy of birth, wealth, or education; ours, an aristocracy of tints of the skin and curls of the hair. If the soul of law is its

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