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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Colored People's Convention of the State of South Carolina, held in Zion Church, Charleston, November, 1865. Together with the declaration of rights and wrongs; an address to the people; a petition to the legislature, and a memorial to Congress.
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Carolina's ablest statesmen—"Massachusetts! there she stands, and needs no eulogy from me!" He spoke of impartial suffrage and advocated the right of colored man to the elective franchise, because it is just, and because the Declaration of Independence sets forth that "all men are created equal," and the United States Constitution guarantees a republican form of government to all the States, "anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." A government based upon an oligarchy of the skin is not republican in form. He was equally interested in the right of universal suffrage with the colored man, as he had not exercised that right, although not denied him by the law; but he had refrained from privileges of the ballot-box because the original Constitution which guaranteed and protected the African slave trade for twenty years, was "a covenant with death and an agreement with hell." His intention was never to vote until that sacred right of a freeman was alike granted to all men, unless he should vote upon the subject of conferring the elective franchise upon all loyal Americans.
Dr. M. G. Camplin, of the Charleston Delegation, was the next speaker. He defended the freedmen against the charge of idleness and improvidence, and insisted that they were doing admirably for the chances they had. The privileges and advantages hitherto accorded them had been, like angels' visits, few and far between. But with all these outside pressures, some of them had managed to pick up a few scraps of knowledge and a little money, and with that limited stock he hoped they would now make a new start under more favorable auspices. He thought the future was more bright and promising than some anticipated, and that after a while, when time had effaced some of the bitter memories of the late conflict, the white man and the black man would consent to be friends and brothers, and live together in peace and harmony.
Mr. R. C. DeLarge, of the Charleston Delegation, was the last speaker, and closed the exercises of the evening by running commentary upon some flings of a city journal at the character and position of the freedmen in general. He made out this case well, and showed that "rank was but the guinea stamp; the man's the man for all that." The conflict of arms is past—all that that can win for us is already won. But there is a question to be solved—a moral battle to be fought. The simple act of emancipation, if it stops there, is not much. We are not freemen till we attain to all the rights and privileges of freemen. Without these, we still have to be governed by laws that we have no voice in making, and submit to taxation without representation. This is the very burden that the heroes of '76 fought through a seven years' war to rid themselves of, and this is what we are now contending for; and if we are true to ourselves and our country it will be awarded to us.
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