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<ab> NEW ENGLAND COLORED CITIZENS' CONVENTION AUGUST 1, 1859
Pursuant to Call, a Convention of the Colored Citizens of New England, into consideration the best means of promoting their moral, social and political elevation, gathered in the Meionaon, in Boston, on Monday morning, Aug. 1st. 1859. Large delegations were in attendance from New Bedford, Springfield and Worcester, Massachusetts; from Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvana, Illinois, Canada, and other sections of the Union, were also represented. The stand of the President and the tables of the reporters were graced with elegant bouquets, presented by the ladies. Before the transaction of any business, the audience sang a hymn commencing:-- 'Ho! children of the brave, Ho! freemen of the land, That hurled into the grave Oppression's bloody band! Come on, come on, and joined be we To make the fettered bondman free!' The Convention was called to order at 10 o'clock, A.M., by Wm. Wells Brown, who read the call. It was then temporarily organized by the choice of Rev. Amos G. Beman, of Maine, as Chairman, and Bela C. Perry, of New Bedford, as Secretary. The following were appointed a Committee on Permanent Organization:-- John W. Lewis, Maine: Lewis Hayden, Henry O. Remington, Mark R. De Mortie, James Jefferson. Prayer was offered by Rev. J.N. Gloucester, of New York. A resolution fixing the basis of representation, and requesting each member of the Convention to pay a dollar towards the expenses, was debated and adopted. A Committee on Rolls was then appointed, as follows:--Henry Weeden, Jeremiah Harvey, Edward M. Bannister, J.N. Goucester. Charles Lenox Remond remarked that this Convention would be regarded as something of a curiosity, even in old Boston, and many people would look in upon its deliberations from motives of curiosity, and from other motives; but he hoped that colored people would not stand in the doors, and look in upon the Convention as upon a menagerie. If they had no interest here, they had better go somewhere else, (Hear, hear, and applause.) The throngs at the door did not diminish. An original song, by Wm. Wells Brown, was then sung in a fine manner, to the tune of 'Auld Lang Syne.' The following is the first stanza;-- 'Fling out the anti-slavery flag On every swelling breeze; And let its folds wave o'er the land, And o'er the raging seas, Till all beneath the standard-sheet With new allegiance bow, And pledge themselves to onward bear The emblem of their vow.' In the absence of the Nominating Committee, Wm. Wells Brown addressed the Convention, as follows: Mr. President and Fellow-Citizens:--The propriety of holding a Convention of the colored citizens of the New England States has been questioned. Some think that the time has gone by for having such a Convention; others are of opinion that the time has not arrived. I confess that I am Unfavorable to any gathering that shall seem like taking separate action from out white fellow-citizens; but it appears to me that just at the present time, such a meeting as this is needed. The colored people in the free States are in a distracted
BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS
and unsettled condition. The Fugitive Slave Law, the Dred Scott Decision, and other inroads made upon the colored man's rights, make it necessary that they should come together that they may compare notes, talk over the cause of their sufferings, and see if any thing can be done to better their condition. Our old enemy the Colonization Society has taken advantage of the present state of feeling among us, and is doing all in its power to persuade us to go to Africa; the Emigration scheme has new life, and another enemy, under the name of the African Civilization Society,3 has sprung into existence, and beckons us to a home in a foreign land. Now, Mr. President, if this Convention shall do nothing more than to inspire our people with confidence in themselves, and cause them to resolve never to leave this their native land, it will have accomplished a good work. Our right to live here is as good as the white man's, and is incorporated in the Declaration of Independence, in the passage which declares 'that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Then let us remain here, and claim our rights upon the soil where our fathers fought side by side with the white man for freedom. Let us remain here, and labor to remove the chains from the limbs of our brethren on the banks of the Mississippi. Yes, let us stay here, and vindicate our right to citizenship, and pledge ourselves to aid in completing the Revolution for human freedom, commenced by the patriots of 1776, and see our country as free as the air we breathe. We must take a manly stand, bid defiance to the Fugitive Slave Law, Dred Scott Decision, and every thing that shall attempt to fasten fetters upon us. We will let our white fellow-citizens see that we know our rights, and, knowing, will maintain them. I hope, Mr. President, that this Convention will stimulate our people to self-elevation. 'They who would be free themselves must strike the blow,' means something more than striking at our fellow-man. We must free ourselves from ignorance and intemperance, and show that we respect ourselves, and this will wring respect from our enemies. We must educate our children, give them professions or trades, and let them have a capital within themselves, that shall gain them wealth and influence. We must recommend to our people to become possessors of the soil, to leave the large cities, take to farming, and make themselves independent. And lastly, we must try to stir within them more interest in the Anti-Slavery cause. It is a lamentable fact, that colored men take too little interest in Conventions called by our white fellow-citizens. Had they gone into those meetings and taken part, as they should, this Convention would have been somewhat out of place.