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Address to the Constitutional Convention of Ohio from the State Convention of Colored Men Held in the City of Columbus, January 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th, 1851.

1851 Address to the Constituti the Convention of Colored Men 4.pdf

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5

It is also contrary to the governmental principles adopted practically in the law of nations, namely, that those born in a country are members of the body politic, on arriving at the requisite age, and on fulfilling the equal conditions imposed upon all. So that no accidental circumstance, like the color of the hair or the shape of the nose, has any power in reference to their rights.

Gentlemen: We have been taught by you to believe, that the United States' Constitution is the Supreme law of the land. The fifth clause 1st section, Article second, recognizes the principle that natural birth gives citizenship, otherwise, there seems to us to be no sense in the naturalization laws. Those of us, therefore, who were born in the United States, and reside in Ohio, are citizens of Ohio. If citizens of this State, entitled, by the United States' Constitution, to all the rights and immunities of citizens of the several States. The elective franchise being among these rights and immunities, we respectfully urge upon you our claim.

Says Chancellor Kent [Vol. II. p. 258, sec. 32,] "Citizens, under our Constitution and laws, mean free inhabitants born within the United States, or naturalized under the laws of Congress. If a slave, born in the United States, be manumitted, or otherwise lawfully discharged from bondage, of it a black man be born within the United States, and born free, he becomes thenceforward, a citizen." If Chancellor Kent be correct, we respectfully ask, where is the right to disfranchise us?

Said the Hon. Mr. Baldwin, before the United States' Senate, "When the Constitution of the United States was framed, colored men voted in a majority of these States; they voted in the States of New York, in Pennsylvania, in Massachusetts, in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and North Carolina; and long after the adoption of the Constitution, they continued to vote in North Carolina, and Tennessee also. The Constitution of the United States makes no distinction of color. There is no word "white" to be found in that instrument. All free people then stood upon the same platform in regard to their political rights, and were so recognized in most of the States of the Union. * * * * The free colored citizens of these States are as much entitled to the rights of citizenship, as are men of any other color or complexion whatever. * * * * To this day, in the State of Virginia, free colored persons, born in that State, are citizens."

The property of colored men, as in Ohio, had always been taxed to support government, and it was thought no more than right that

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