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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.21.pdf
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ling to remain quietly and inactively, political slaves? Are you willing to leave your children no better public inheritance than to be among the disfranchised--the politically oppressed? O no! And let the mechanic at his toil, answer No! and those who ply the broad rivers and noble lakes, answer No! and the farmer, amid the rich fields and abundant harvests of the West, let him answer No! and those who live in the inland towns, on the rivers, our farming brethren of Long Island, and the thousands who throng the crowded city; from all these, let the universal, unanimous reply come, No! Let the opinion of the people, of all ages, in all circumstances, in all relations, be fixed upon this matter. Aye, and when the pure incense of prayer goes up, let it bear the gentle burden--No!
My brethren, the possession of the franchise right is the life-blood of political existence. It runs through all the convolutions of our civil state. It connects itself with our literary immunities, enters into our ecclesiastical associations, and blends with our social and domestic relations. If it have a pure, uninterrupted, and general exercise, it is found instinct with life and vitality. It is strengthening in its effects, and revivifying in its influences. To be deprived of it, is like extracting the living principle from the blood of the system. Is it any wonder, then, that our energies have been relapsed, that our powers have been crippled, our souls languid, our purposes nerveless, our determinations dead and lifeless? Is it any wonder that we have been the poor and persecuted ones, outraged and degraded, unable to obtain commiseration from the church, or even humanity from the world?
Brethren, from this has proceeded our degradation. This has been the source of our suffering and oppression. And in all this, is there not enough to rouse the soul, and awaken the latent energies of every man of us? But a redeeming spirit is abroad, and new purposes have been decided upon among ourselves.
Brethren, by united, vigorous, and judicious and manly effort, we can redeem ourselves. But we must put forth our own exertions. We must exert our own powers. Our political enfranchisement cometh not from afar.
The history of the world is replete with instruction upon this point. Where rights have been wrested from a people, the restoration of them by those in power, as a matter of favor, can never be expected. They are not to be bought nor cajoled. They are to be obtained only by the continual presentation of the great truths pertaining to their specific wrongs, accompanied by corresponding energy and activity on the part of the aggrieved.
We call upon you, then, for effort; nor for the effort alone. We call upon you for sacrifice. Examine the annals of the human race, look over the face of the universe, and you will find, that whenever any thing of great worth was to be achieved for man, men have been needed, and men have been willing to sacrifice their every thing-
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