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Minutes of the State Convention of Colored Citizens, Held at Albany, on the 18th, 19th, and 20th of August, 1840, for the purpose of considering their political condition.
1840 State Convention in Albany NY.compressed.20.pdf
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On motion, Resolved, That the third resolution of the Committee be adopted.
Resolved, That the Committee be discharged, with thanks.
Mr. Henry H. Garnet, as chairman of the Committee on the Address to the Colored People, submitted the following
“Hereditary bondsmen, know ye not,
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow?"
Brethren:--The Convention had been held. The sentiments and determination of our people are before the public. We have taken our position. You are now called upon for exertions of such strength and peculiarity of character as never before distinguished the colored people of this State--exertions in behalf of one of the most cherished and precious rights of freemen.
The mind of our people if fixed and determined; and the course of events and the arrangements of His providence, make manifest the will of God, that here on this continent we are to remain, citizens of this republic, inhabitants of the soil, till the latest periods of time. How--in what condition--shall we and our posterity live here? We are not satisfied with our present condition in the state. If we look into the past, we behold nothing inviting there. We see nothing but "chains and slavery." Our lot for the last two centuries, has been oppression, of a severe and unmitigated character. From this state we have been but a few years relieved. During this time, we have been working our way up, with steady perseverance, to respectability and intelligence. Improvement and elevation, then, for the future, is the universal sentiment among us. The man who is willing that we should remain in the sad and unfortunate circumstances in which we now are, is unworthy the exalted privileges of a freeman.
It is the nature of man, and his destiny, to be ever progressive. In this feature of character, we sympathize with the rest of our fellow-creatures. We cannot escape from it. Society is all alive about us. It is pressing onward toward higher excellence, laying new plans for increased social happiness, carrying out divers modes for a purer, and more elevated, and more general enjoyment of civil and political rights and prerogatives. The deep foundations of political injustice are now being broken up. Political disfranchisement is becoming more and more odius. Mankind, in the mass, are putting forth just and reasonable exertions for rights--are intent upon escaping from the slough of political wrong, injustice, and oppression, in which they have been kept from a free and healthy exercise of their best powers. And shall we remain inactive?--we, who have and are now suffering so much from political wrong, from legal proscription!
Colored men of New York! Are you willing that your people should longer constitute the proscribed class? Are you willing ever to be deprived of one of the dearest rights of freemen? Are you willing
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