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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Convention of Colored Citizens of the State of Arkansas : held in Little Rock, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30, Dec. 1 & 2.
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STATE CONVENTIONS, 1865
that, on several Important elections, the Negro, standing firm to principle, has saved the people. For Instance, in the late election in Ohio, Gen. Cox7 was elected by just the amount of colored men's votes polled in the State--25,000. Col. B. Gratz Brown8 declared, in a letter to a friend, on the suffrage question, that the Negro vote in the State of New York saved the State to the Union party.
We must be allowed to save our State from the hands of treacherous friends and open enemies. We ask it for your benefit and our good; we ask it of you because without it you can never have any real peace; without it you cannot resume your proud position in the galaxy of States; without it you cannot definitely settle your vexed labor question; without it, in a word, you cannot have a Republican form of Government--such an one as the Constitution recognizes, and around which it throws its protection.
There is no use in arguing the abstract question of our fitness to exercise these duties of the citizen--that is simply begging the question. Establish the principle irrevocably and universally, and then reduce us to the restrictions imposed on others. Gen. Sherman9 says: "The hand that lays down the musket should pick up the ballot."
Gen. Palmer10 asks that the Negro be subject to the same laws governing other men, and then let him paddle his own canoe.
Fred. Douglass, in his inimitable style, says, "that if a drunken Irishman knows how to vote, surely a sober Negro could vote as well." There is nothing new in it; we have voted, and we desire to exercise the privilege granted us heretofore, as our inalienable right; we have won it fairly, honestly and righteously; it was the last feather that broke the camel’s back; it was the Negro thrown into the scale on the side of the nation that broke the back of the rebellion and saved the nation, and I scout the idea as unworthy the intelligence of the American people, that they fought for his freedom, unless they couple with it the fact that we fought, and saved the Government, for the love we bore it, without bounty, and scarcely any pay, and when the Government could not, or did not, protect us from the halter of the captor. Friends, we cannot retrograde. The Government of the United States is pledged to secure our rights; we wrote the contract in blood, when her own children were about to destroy her. The Government cannot recede from its pledged faith in the eyes of the world--she would be execrated. We ask, therefore, that the State do for us what the Government must do eventually. Our future is sure--God has marked it out with his own finger; here we have lived, suffered, fought, bled, and many have died. We will not leave the graves of our fathers, but here we will rear our children; here we will educate them to a higher destiny; here, where we have been degraded, will we be exalted--AMERICANS IN AMERICA, ONE AND INDIVISIBLE.
His Excellency, Gov. J. Murphy, was called upon. He arose, with all the dignity and grace of a gentleman of his position, and made a few terse remarks of encouragement, &c., and distinctly and openly avowed that he, though he trespassed, advocated the rights of the entire colored race.
On motion of Mr. W. H. Grey, that the Covnention return a vote of thanks to His Excellency for his well-timed remarks. Unanimously carried.
The House, on motion, then adjourned, to meet at one and half o'clock.
House was called to order at the appointed hour--President in the Chair.
The minutes of the previous meeting were called for, read and adopted.
On motion, the Chairman of Committee on Credentials was called upon to report. Reported the reception of five Delegates from the different counties. Received.
The House was then entertained by Mr. J. A. Jones, who made a short address.
The Chair then introduced Elder Ratcliff, who spoke at considerable length on the advancement of the race in the past few years, and the interest he has ever taken to advance those who come in proximity to him, though he did not consider at that time it would be any material benefit to them.
Rev. Hugh Brady was next called upon, and responded with animation and enthusiasm, and sternly advocated and persisted that we should contend for our rights.
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