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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.10.pdf

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[6]

of Omnipotent power every negro in this State was blotted out of existence, still there would be some ignorance remaining. Although we are unlearned and illiterate, yet when the nation's life was imperiled, in solid phalanx we came to the rescue. We fought on the right side. We will vote on the right side, when given the ballot. But does ignorance necessarily imply a corrupt, fraudulent, or unwise voter? If so, then Jefferson Davis, J. C. Breckenridge, and others of that rebel class, are the most ignorant men in America. Or is learning necessary to make a man a sincere, conscientious, or beneficial voter? If so, then the ignorant negroes of New York must be, in the opinion of William H. Seward, as learned and intelligent as any class of citizens in the Empire State. For as long ago as 1850 he said, "It is my deliberate opinion, founded upon careful observation, that the right of suffrage is exercised by no citizen of the State of New York more conscientiously, or more sincerely, or with more beneficial results to society, than it is by the electors of African descent."

Third. We claim that these disabilities should be removed, because we are tax-payers. It is an American axiom that taxation and representation are inseparable. For the realization of this principle, the Fathers fought the war of the revolution. We ask that in this State this just and holy principle be crystalized into law.

Fourth. You ought to remove these disabilities, because the colored people have done their full share in fighting the battles of the country. In the war for liberty and independence in 1776, and in repelling invasion in 1812, our ancestors bore well their part. Many a well fought battle attests their valor and patriotism. Bunker Hill, Red Bank, New Orleans, and many other spots, are rendered immortal in history by the heroic deeds or our fathers, both black and white. It is fit and proper that we plead their deeds of valor when we demand equality before American law. We are proud of the history of these deeds as we find them garnered up in the records of the past. We are more proud to know that we are not degenerate sons of noble sires. When your Government was endangered by the late rebellion, we hastened to its rescue with the same readiness and devotion as did our fathers. The record of our deeds are still fresh in the minds of every citizen. At the call of the country colored men came from the hills of New England, from the prairies of the West, from the plantations of the South, from all parts of the land, offering their brave hearts and strong arms in its defence. The rebels of the South can bear testimony as to how bravely they fought, how heroically they died.

Shall we ask in vain for equal rights for these men?

Having presented these considerations, we must leave our cause in your hands. It is for you to say whether we shall be freemen or slaves. Whether degraded by legal and constitutional disabilities, or elevated to equal citizenship. The power

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