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Convention of Colored Citizens in Texas

1873TX State Brenham_Reports.3.pdf

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149

Parties in Texas

operation with our own, to effect our elevation, our progress must be slow and constrained, as has been asserted by the ultra Democratic press, and others who desire to estrange us from the kindly feelings of the white inhabitants, that we are unalterably opposed to their interests, and always disposed to support such men and such measures, as result in subjecting them to additional taxation, and the increase of their pecuniary burdens.

Now, we beg leave here to respectfully point out, that if our conduct has in any measure justified these accusations, it is no fault of our own. It must be borne in mind that the mass of the colored people are in a lamentable state of ignorance, the result of that wicked system of bondage, which shut them out from the acquisition of all knowledge of letters and made it a penal offense to teach them to read the Word of God. They must also remember that they have from the day of the acquisition of our liberty set their faces in steadfast opposition to our political, educational, and social progress, with a blind spirit of malignant opposition not calculated to inspire us with either confidence or affection. It, therefore, should not excite surprise, still less should it expose us to animadversion, if we have given our confidence and support to men who may have abused it to promote selfish ends, or unworthy purposes—particularly when these men declared them adhesive to those great principles embodied in the recent amendments to the Constitution, and which are the strongest planks in the Republican Platform.

Notwithstanding all that we, the colored people of the State, have suffered at the hands of our white fellow-citizens, we cherish towards them no animosities, and will hail with satisfaction any manifestation on their part of a disposition to abate their prejudices, and concede to us willingly all those rights and privileges that sweeten the enjoyment of civil life. It becomes our duty here to define clearly what is understood by us as civil rights in contradistinction to social privileges. There is no intelligent man in the State. who should not discern, at a glance, that the enemies of the colored men wilfully abuse the public mind when they assert that we are aspirants for social privileges, and are desirous of promoting legislation of a character that will effect it. We certainly are not so foolish as to imagine that any law could be framed that could effect such an object. We know perfectly well that a man's social relations cannot be made by legislative enactments. We have no disposition to intrude ourselves upon them, and would resent as an indignity any intrusion upon ourselves. But we do demand our Civil Rights Bill of the Hon. Charles Sumner, and shall agitate the question of their concession with unabated ardor until we can celebrate their acquisition.

We would far prefer to have received these boons as a voluntary offering from our white fellow-citizens. We would be happy if the white men of this State would emulate the example of a portion of their Southern fellow-countrymen in Louisiana, and not wait to have Con-

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