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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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the rights of mankind; that the Constitution of the United States was formed to establish justice, to promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to all the people of this country; that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God—are American principles and maxims; and together they form the constructive elements of the American Government.
We think we fully comprehend and duly appreciate the principles and measures which compose this platform; and all that we desire or ask for is to be placed in a position that we could conscientiously and legitimately defend, with you, those principles against the surges of despotism to the last drop of our blood. We have not come together in battle array to assume a boastful attitude and to talk loudly of high-sounding principles or unmeaning platforms, nor do we pretend to any great boldness; for we know your wealth and greatness, and our poverty and weakness; and although we feel keenly our wrongs, still we come together, we trust, in a spirit of meekness and of patriotic good-will to all the people of the State. But yet it is some consolation to know (and it inspires us with hope when we reflect) that our cause is not alone the cause of five millions of colored men in this country, but we are intensely alive to the fact that it is also the cause of millions of oppressed men in other "parts of God's beautiful earth," who are now struggling to be free in the fullest sense of that word; and God and nature are pledged in its triumph. We are Americans by birth, and we assure you that we are Americans in feeling; and, in spite of all wrongs which we have long and silently endured in this country, we would still exclaim with a full heart, "O America! with all thy faults we love thee still."
Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said—
"This is my own, my native land!"
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering in a foreign strand?
Thus we would address you, not as enemies, but as friends and fellow-countrymen, who desire to dwell among you in peace, and whose destinies are interwoven, and linked with those of the American people, and hence must be fulfilled in this country. As descendants of a race feeble and long oppressed, we might with poverty appeal to a great and magnanimous people like Americans, for special favors and encouragement, on the principle that the strong should aid the weak, the learned should teach the unlearned.
But it is for no such purposes that we raise our voices to the people of South Carolina on this occasion. We ask for no special privileges or peculiar favors. We ask for even-handed Justice, or for the removal of such
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