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Proceedings of the New York State Council of Colored People, January 2, 1854.


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Proceedings of the New York State Council of Colored People, January 2, 1854.











In obedience to the order, creating State Councils, the New York State Council met in the city of Albany on the 2d day of Jan. 1854, and assembled at the City Hall, in the County Court Room, at 3 o'clock P.M., when the Rev. J. W. Loguen of Syracuse was appointed Chairman pro tem., and William H. Topp of Albany, Secretary.

The Constitution of the National Council being called for, was read.

Suggestions were made in reference to the word Free States in the preamble, to amend word Free States in the preamble, to amend so as to include all the States and Canada.

The question as to how many members in the National Council this State is entitled to, whether we are to take the U. S. census as our guide, being a fraction less than 500,000, or claim ten members as being nearer the present number of inhabitants, was discussed.

On motion, Messrs. Topp, Rich and Duffins were appointed a Committee to prepare Rules for the government of the Council.

On motion, adjourned until 9 o'clock tomorrow morning, (Tuesday.)

Tuesday Minutes Morning, Nine O'clock

Council met. J. W. Loguen in the Chair, Minutes of the last meeting read and adopted.

On the roll being called, the following named gentlemen answered to their names:

Wm. H. Topp, Albany

J. W. Loguen, Syracuse

J. C. Morrel, Brooklyn

Wm. Rice, Troy

D. K. McDonough, New York

J. W. B. Smith, " "

On motion, that a Committee of three be appointed to nominate officers for the permanent organization of the State Council. Messr. Rick, Smith and Duffins were so appointed. The Committee reported

Wm. H. Topp for President.

J.W. Loguen " Vice President.

J. C. Morrel " Rec. Secretary.

J. W. Duffins " Cor. Secretary.

Wm. Rich " Treasurer.

On motion, the gentlemen so nominated and reported, were declared to be duly elected officers of the Council.



The President elect, Mr. Wm. H. Topp, on taking the chair, in haste and appropriate manner returned his thanks to the members of the Council for the honor conferred on him by their unanimous decision in selecting him to preside over the New York State Council. The remarks of the President were listened to with marked attention by the members and audience present.

On the Council coming to order, considerable discussion arose on a motion by Mr. McDonough to appoint a Committee to nominate the additional members to the National Council. Mr. Morrel opposed the motion, because he hoped for, and desired a fuller attendance of the members of the Council, particularly as he considered the motion to be one of more than common importance.

On motion, Mr. McDonough's motion was laid for the present.

The Committee on Rules and Regulations, appointed yesterday, reported through their Chairman. The report being received was read and adopted as the Rules of the State Council.


1. Each session of the Council shall be opened by addressing the Throne of Grace.

2. At the time appointed for the assembling of the Council, the President shall take the Chair and call the Council to order.

3. The minutes of the preceding session shall be read at the opening of each session, at which time all errors, if any, shall be corrected.

4. The President shall decide all questions of order, subject, however, in all cases to an appeal to the Council.

5. All motions shall be made by addressing the President, the member rising from his seat.

6. Every motion, except those of reference, shall be submitted in writing.

7. The President shall appoint all Committees, unless otherwise ordered by the Council.

8. The previous question shall always be in order, and until decided, shall preclude all amendment and debate of the main question, and shall be put in this form--"Shall the main question be now put."

9. No member shall be interrupted while speaking, except he be out of order, when he shall be called to order by or through the presiding officer.

10. A motion to adjourn shall always be in order, and shall be put and taken without debate.

11. No member shall speak more than twice on the same question, nor more than fifteen minutes at each time, unless by consent of the Council.

12. All resolutions shall be presented to the Council through the Business Committee, except those of reference; but all resolutions rejected by the Committee may be presented to the Council if the make wishes to do so.

13. Sessions of the Council shall commence at half-past nine o'clock A. M., and shall close at one P.M., to commence at half-past two o'clock P. M., and close at 6 P. M., evening session to commence at half-past seven o'clock, and close at the discretion of the Council.


{Wm. H. Topp, W. Rich, J. W. Duffins,} Committee.

On motion of Mr. J. B. Smith, the President appointed Messrs. Duffin, Smith, and Wm. J. Wilson, a Committee to prepare business for the action of the Council. Adjourned.

Tuesday Afternoon, Jan. 3d.

Council met at half-past 3 o'clock. Prayer by the Rev. J. W Loguen. The President in the Chair. Minutes of the morning session read and approved, Communication by letters from Messrs. George Weir of Buffalo, and Uriah Boston of Poughkeepsie, members elect, were read and ordered on file. In the absence of the Business Committee, Rev. Mr. Lougen, made an interesting speech on "Woman's Rights," which was earnestly objected to, as being irrelevant to the business of the Council, by Mr. Rich of Troy. Mr. Morrel, the Secretary,


NEW YORK, 1854

warmly approved of the speech of Mr. Loguen, and desired, if possible, to go even farther than Mr. Loguen had advanced, as he felt and believed that Human Rights were not to be defined either by sex or complexion.

The Business Committee reported through Mr. J. B. Smith, which on being read, was accepted for consideration:


Whereas, The Census taken in 1850, states the Colored Population of the State of New York, to be a fraction less than 50,000, but we have unmistakable reasons for believing that statement erroneous, and that we exceed the number stated; therefore,

1st. Be it Resolved, That the State of New York is entitled to at least ten additional members in the National Council. Adopted.

2d. Resolved, That a Committee of three members be appointed on Statistics, whose duty shall be to obtain as [soon] as practicable, a correct Census of the Colored Population of the State of New York, with the number of farmers, quantity of Land owned, the number of Mechanics, and amount of Capital invested, and that said Committee report at our next meeting. Adopted.

Messrs. Duffins, of Geneva, Boston, of Poughkeepsie, and H. M. Wilson, of New York City, were appointed the Committee.

3d. Resolved, That a Committee of three members be appointed to divide the State into 20 Districts, and that each District be allowed two members, and that the Districts be numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, State Council Districts. Laid on the table.

4th. That a Standing Committee be appointed to be located at or near Albany, whose duties shall be to Petition the Legislature for the right of suffrage to attend to the publication of all matters relating to the people of color, to receive the nominations of the several Council Districts, and when received, to publish the same as the regular State Council Ticket. Rejected.

5th. Resolved, That an Agent, or Agents be appointed, to travel the State, and Lecture to the people, explaining the objects of the New York State Council. Adopted.

6th. Resolved, That it shall be the duty of the President of the State Council to make a Report to the Council at each General Meeting of the same, making such suggestions for further improvement, and action, as he may consider best, and proper. Adopted.

7th. Resolved, That a Committee of three on Ways and Means, and a Committee of three on School Privileges, be appointed by the President of the State Council, both of said Committee to report at our next meeting in August.

The President appointed on Ways and Means, Messrs. William J. Wilson, Brooklyn, J. W. Loguen, Syracuse, Charles B. Ray, New York. On School Privileges, Messrs. J. C. Morrel, Brooklyn, J. W. C. Pennington, New York, George Weir, Buffalo.

8th. Resolved, That the State Council have full power to fill all vacancies which may occur in the New York delegation, either in the State or National Council. Adopted.

9th. Resolved, That the establishment of an "Industrial School," on the manual labor principle, meets our hearty concurrence, and shall have our earnest, and united support, and that our desire is that it be located in the State of New York. Adopted.


{J. W. Duffins, J. W. B. Smith, Wm. J. Wilson,} Committee.

The motion of D. K. McDonough to appoint a committee of five to nominate the additional members of the National Council, was taken up for consideration.

A motion to adjourn to half-past 7 o'clock, was lost.

A motion to adjourn until Wednesday morning, at 9 o'clock, was now made and lost.



The Council then proceeded with the consideration of motion of McDonough, which after a protracted debate, was adopted.

Mr. Morrel begged to be left off from the Committee, and the President appointed Messrs. McDonough, Duffins, Loguen, Wilson and J. W. B. Smith, the Committee.

Resolution No. 3, from the Business Committee on "Districting the State," was taken up and being under consideration, when on motion, the was laid over until nine o'clock Wednesday morning.

Mr. Morrel presented the following resolution, which he prefaced a few remarks:

Resolved, That the New York State Council have learned with deep regret, of the sudden and melancholy death of John B. Vashon, Esq., of Pittsburgh, Penn., long known and endeared to his brethren, as the earnest, faithful, consistent and well-tried friend of the Slave, as well as the able, unceasing and fearless advocate of the rights of humanity, and that this Council truly sympathizes with his bereaved family in their affliction; that a copy of this Resolution signed by the President and Secretary, be transmitted to the family of our deceased brother, and to the "Frederick Douglass' Paper," for publication.

Which Resolution was unanimously adopted, each member rising from his seat. When on motion Council adjourned.

Wednesday Morning, Jan. 4th.

Council met. Prayer by the Rev. J. W. Loguen. President in the Chair. Proceeded to business by reading the minutes of the last meeting, which motion were adopted.

Resolution No. 3, on "Districting the State," and increasing the number of the New York State Council to forty members, being under consideration elicited, quite an animated discussion. The President, Mr. Wm. H. Topp, considered the resolution to be in opposition to the spirit and intention of the Constitution of the National Council, and therefore earnestly opposed its passage; he admitted the necessity of increasing the Council, but inclined to the opinion that we ought to address the National Council in the matter. On the other side, the advocates for the increase contended that we have the sole and entire control of all matters relating to our State affairs; that the National Council have no authority to interfere in any of our local arrangements, nor can the National Council operate in the State of New York, but by and through the State Council.

The resolution being put was voted down. A motion to reconsider was declared out of order by the President. An appeal from the decision of the President was demanded, but finally it was withdrawn.

The Rules were suspended, so far as to limit each speaker to five minutes, and not to speak more than twice on the same subject.

Mr. McDonough presented the following:

Resolved, That all local Treasuries holding Funds, the result of our State Elections, are hereby requested to forward the same to the Council's Treasurer, Mr. William Rich, Troy, New York, which was adopted, and the Council adjourned to dinner.

Wednesday Afternoon, Jan. 4th.

Council met. Prayer by the Rev. J. W. Loguen. Proceeded to business by reading the minutes of the morning session, which were approved and all adopted.

A motion to reconsider the resolution increasing the State Council being in order, was made and voted; and on the reconsideration the Yeas and Nays being called for, were as follows:

Yeas--Messrs. Loguen, Wilson, Morrel, Duffins, Rich and Smith, 6.

Nays--Messrs. Topp and McDonough, 2; and the resolution increasing the number of members in the State Council, was passed.

Mr. Lewis H. Nelson, a member from Williamburgh, L. I., arrived, and being introduced to the Council, took his seat.

The following resolution presented by Mr. Morrel, was adopted, to wit:

Resolved, That on the 15th day of November, 1854, an election be held throughout the State, for the election of 20 additional members to the State Council; the said election shall be held, and conducted, under the same Rules


NEW YORK, 1854

and Regulations, as were enforced at the election of the members of the present Council, and the said additional members when so elected, shall serve the full term of 2 years from the time of their election.

Mr. Lewis H. Nelson presented a paper marked (A.,) containing two resolutions, which were read and referred to the Committee on "Ways" and "Means."

Mr. Morrel presented the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved, That on the election of any member of the New York State Council to the National Council, his seat in the State Council shall be declared vacant.

Mr. Duffins presented the following:

Resolved, That this Council do recommend to the Council Districts to hold nominating conventions, and report the result of their doings to the Secretary of the Council.

A communication from the Rev. Charles B. Ray, of New York City, was received, read, and ordered on file.

The Committee on Nominations reported the following named gentlemen as their selection for members to the National Council, viz.: P. A. Bell and E. V. Clark, New York; J. E. Brown, Chemung; A. B. Platt, Ontario county; W. H. Storum, Chautauque; James Hall, Lansinburgh; Stephen Meyers, Albany; W. J. Wilson and J. N. Still, Brooklyn; and Wm. Tyson, of New York City.

Mr. Duffins presented a written objection against one of the gentlemen nominated, and submitted the name of the Rev. Amos A. Freeman instead. On motion, the reports were read and accepted. When Mr. Smith moved that the report of the majority be adopted, and that the nominees be declared elected to the of National Council, strong opposition was manifested thereto. Mr. Wilson moved that they be balloted for; objected to and motion withdrawn.

Mr. Loguen moved to take up the names individually; not agreed to.

Mr. McDonough moved that the ticket be considered elected, and called for the previous question. Some excitement and considerable debate ensuing, when Mr. Morrel moved that we go into Committee of the Whole, on the report of the Committee, which motion prevailed, although Mr. McDonough still claimed his "previous question."

The Council then went into Committee of the Whole. Mr. Morrel in the Chair, and proceeded on motion to ballot for nominees to the National Council. Messrs. Rich and Wilson were appointed tellers; and as the roll was called, each member advanced and deposited his vote. On counting the ballots the result was as follows:

P. A. Bell, 7, A. B. Slater, 9, E. V. Clark, 9, Jas. Hall, 8, W. W. Mathews, 6, J. N. Still, 9, J. E. Brown, 9, J. H. Storum, 9, Charles Pain, 8, Stephen Meyers, 5, George Morse, 5.

There being a tie between Messrs. Meyers and Morse, the Committee proceeded to ballot for the remaining nominee. When on counting the ballots, Mr. Meyers was declared to be the choice of a majority of the Committee; and the ticket nominated in Committee of the Whole was as follows:

New York City, Philip A. Bell do. do. Edward V. Clark Albany, Stephen Meyers do. Wm. W. Mathews Brooklyn, J. N. Still Newburgh, Charles Paine Lansinburgh, James Hall Chemung, J. E. Brown Chautauqua, William H. Storum Canandaigua, A. B. Slater

And the ticket, as nominated, was reported to the Council, and on motion, accepted and read. When on motion, the nominees were voted upon, and declared duly elected members of the National Council, for the term of two years.



Mr. Wilson presented the following resolution, and demanded the yeas and nays:

Resolved, That no member of the State Council shall be eligible to office in the National Council.

Yeas--Messrs. J. W. Loguen, Morrel, Nelson, Topp, 4; nays, Wilson, Smith, Rich, and McDonough, 4. Mr. Duffins refused to vote on the resolution; and there being a tie, the President gave the casting vote in favor of the resolution, and it was carried.

On motion, Resolved, That the gentlemen elected to the National Council, by this State Council, be informed of their election by the Secretary of the Council. Carried.

Mr. Morrel, offered the following resolution which was adopted:

Resolved, That when this Council adjourns, that we adjourn to meet on the second Tuesday in August next, at the city of Syracuse.

Mr. Wilson presented the following resolution:

Resolved, That this Council for themselves and in the name of their constituents, do most earnestly, and determinedly, oppose every system of Colonization of the people of color from these United States, whether by the "American Colonization Society," or the more dangerous and equally destestable scheme, the emigration Convention intended to convene at Cleveland, in July next. Carried unanimously.

A motion here prevailed, that the Council take a recess for twenty-five minutes. On coming to order the following resolution was offered:

Resolved, That the thanks of the Council are due, and the same are hereby tendered, to the Recorder of the City of Albany, for his kindness in granting to the State Council the use of comfortable rooms in the City Hall, for the purpose of holding its meetings.

Resolved, That the thanks of this Council are respectfully tendered to the City Marshal, for his gentlemanly conduct towards us, and his endeavors to make us comfortable.

A motion to appoint an Agent or Agents, by the Council, was made, and withdrawn.

On motion, Resolved, That the Secretary cause the proceedings of this Council to be published in the "Frederick Douglass' Paper," Carried.

Resolved, That this Council return thanks to the officers of this Council for the very able and impartial manner in which they have discharged their duty. Carried.

Committee appointed by the President to District the State: Messr. J. C. Holly, Rochester; J. W. B. Smith, New York, and Wm. Rich, Troy.

On motion, the Council adjourned to meet at Syracuse, on the second Tuesday in August next.

Wm. H. Topp, President.

James C. Morrel, Secretary.

Albany, Jan. 4th, 1854.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, February 3, 1854.


1. James William Charles Pennington (1809-1870), an escaped slave, received an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1849 from the University of Heidelberg and became a minister in New York City.

2. Philip A. Bell was one of the outstanding Negro leaders of New York City. No matter what the issue, if it touched upon the vital and controlling interests of his people, Bell's voice and pen became powerful tribunes in their defense.

In 1832, Bell was appointed secretary of the second National Negro Convention, held at Philadelphia. In January 1837, Bell was listed as proprietor of the Weekly Advocate (subsequently the Colored American), the third black newspaper to be published in the United States. Bell was active in the antislavery movement and played an influential role in the struggle of blacks to regain the suffrage in New York, frequently canvassing the state for support. During the 1850's, Bell migrated to California and became a leading


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figure of the Negro community there. At San Francisco, in 1862, he edited the Pacific Appeal. After the Civil War, he was publisher of a newspaper known as the Elevator.

3. Edward V. Clark was well-known black New York City businessman active in its social and political life. He conducted a prosperous jewelry establishment. His name, had, moreover, a respectable standing even among the dealers on Wall Street.

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New York State Council of Colored People (1854 : Albany, NY), “Proceedings of the New York State Council of Colored People, January 2, 1854.,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed July 13, 2024,