OHS home

Ohio Historical Society / The African American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920
SEARCH

-or-

BROWSE


MANUSCRIPTS

NEWSPAPERS

PAMPHLETS

PHOTOGRAPHS
& PRINTS


SERIALS


HOME
5 
PreviousPrevious Item Description Next Next
Proceedings, Held in the City of Columbus, January 16-18, 1856
			
                                                5



have the declaration and actions of our fathers,   serted by a high political personage, that this
and your own declarations.  If the sentiment       is a government of white men.  This we can-
was so true in 1776, what new concatenation        not admit.  In addition to the arguments we
of circumstances has arisen to render it false     have already advanced, touching the doctrine
in 1856?  None whatever.  It is one of those       of the universality of human rights, we submit
immutable truths that change not with time or      that the assertion casts an imputation upon the
circumstances.  They are emanations from the       veracity and good faith of our fathers, who
eternal foundation of truth, which we all wor-     claimed the sympathy and aid of the world on
ship -the Deity Himself.  Yet, in nearly every     the ground that they were contending for prin-
county of our State, colored tax payers are        ciples of universal application, and desired to
found, who are unrepresented, and can only         found a government in which the doctrine
be heard in your halls as a matter of favor.--     of human equality would be reduced to prac-
We are aware that difference of race is urged      tice.
by our enemies as a reason  for our disfran-         The Bill of Rights of the State of Ohio sets
chisement; but we submit that we are not Af        forth "That all men are created equal and in-
ricans, but Americans, as much so as any of        dependent, and have inalienable rights, among
your population.  Here then is a great injus-      which are enjoying and defending life and liber-
tice done us, by refusing to acknowledge our       ty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting prop-
right to the appellation of Americans, which       erty, and seeking and obtaining happiness and
is the only title we desire, and legislating for   safety."
us as if we were aliens, and not bound to our        Now, admitted that we are men, how are we
country by the ties of affection which every       to defend and protect life, liberty, and property?
human being must feel for his native land;         The whites of the State, through the ballot-
which makes the Laplander prefer his snows         box, can do these things peacefully; but we,
and skins to the sunny skies and silken garb of    by the organic law of the State, are prevented
Italy ; which makes the colored American pre-      from defending those precious rights by any
fer the dear land of his birth, even though op     other than violent means.  For the same docu-
pressed in it, to any other spot on earth.         ment that asserts our right to defend life, lib-
  But admit, for argument, that there is an ir-    erty and property, strips us of the power to
radicable difference between us and the whites     do so otherwise than by violence.   We ask
of our land.  That very difference unfits them     you, gentlemen, in the name of justice, shall
to represent us.  Our wants and feelings are       this stand as the judgement of the State of
unknown or unappreciated by them; nor can          Ohio?
any one presume to represent us whom we have         We are aware that deference to the opinions
not aided to select.  In our government, every     and institutions of the States tolerating slave-
citizen should be represented in the legislative   ry, to whom we are bound by the federal com-
councils, and this can only be attained by per-    pact, may induce some to oppose this our ap-
mitting each one a voice in the selection of rep-  plication for equal rights.  But those States, of
resentatives.  No class of the white popula-       all others, are the most tenacious of their
tion would be willing to concede to any other      rights as sovereign States, and reprobate all
class, however honest and enlightened, the         attempts to influence their domestic policy by
custody of their rights.  To demand such a         the action of public opinion in other States.--
thing, would be deemed monstrous; and the          We pray you, therefore to do us justice; and,
injustice is not lessened when the demand is       in doing right, imitate the independence they
made upon black men instead of white men.          display in doing wrong   Our rights are as high
  Our want of intelligence is urged as a reason    and precious as theirs; and they can have no
against our admission to equal citizenship.--      right to complain of any act of the people of
The assumption that we are ignorant is untrue;     Ohio, improving the condition of any class of
but, even it it were true, it really affords an    her citizens.
argument for the removal of the disabilities         We do not ask you to countenance any change
that cramp our energies, destroy that feeling      destructive to your form of government.  The
of self respect, so essential to form the charac-  principles we ask you to indorse are recognized
ter of a good citizen.  Give us the opportunity    by the wise and good of our own and other
of elevating ourselves:--It can do you no harm,    lands.  It will be but the legitimate result of
and may do us much good; and if we fail, up-       a proper appreciation of the Declaration of In
on us be the blame.  We would bring to your        dependence and our Bill of Rights.  Already
recollection that, by a decision of your Su-       five States of the Union have admitted colored
preme Court, a large portion of our people are     men to vote; and we have yet to hear that the
already in the possession of the elective fran     action has been followed by any other than ben-
chise.  These men are not above the average of     eficial results.
colored men in intelligence or morals.  They         The arguments we have advanced are equal-
are educated under the same depressing social      ly applicable to the statutory enactments which
influences with the rest of us, and are no better  inflict such grievous disabilities upon us as a
fitted to exercise the right of voting than their  people.
brethren.  Yet, by an accident of color, they        The inestimable privilege and protection of
are enfranchised.  What good reason can be         a trial by a jury of our peers, we are deprived
adduced for permitting the father to vote and      of, and to our great damage.  Every legal gen-
not the son, or the son and not the father, as is  tleman in your body must be aware of the fa-
frequently the case?  The most obtuse intel-       cility with which convictions are obtained
lect can at once perceive the utter folly and      against colored men.
injustice of such distinctions.  But the folly       Admission to your infirmaries and other be-
and injustice is equally as great when the         nevolent institutions, is demanded by the spir-
difference is made between white and colored       it of the age.   It is a shame to your civiliza-
men.                                               tion and humanity that decrepid age, the help-
  We  are aware that it has been recently as-      lessly maimed, drivelling idiots and raving




			
Download High Resolution TIFF Image
PreviousPrevious Item Description Next Next

OHS Archives/Library Pamphlet Collection

Proceedings, Held in the City of Columbus, January 16-18, 1856


HOME || CONTACT

ABOUT || CALENDAR || PLACES || RESOURCES || OHIO HISTORY STORE || LINKS || SEARCH
http://www.ohiohistory.org || Last modified
Ohio History Center 800 E. 17th Ave. Columbus, OH 43211 © 1996-2011 All Rights Reserved.