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Proceedings of the Convention, of the Colored Freemen of Ohio, Held in Cincinnati, January 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19, 1852.


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Proceedings of the Convention, of the Colored Freemen of Ohio, Held in Cincinnati, January 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19, 1852.


Pamphlet (28 p.)










Wm. H. Day, C. H. Langston, Geo. Vosburgh, D. Jenkins, John Brown, G. R. Williams, R. Leach, John I. Gaines.


Cincinnati, Wednesday Jan. 14th, 1852, 10 o'clock, A.M.

Pursuant to public notice by circulars and through the press, a large number of delegates convened at the Union Baptist Church. The Convention was called to order by D. Jenkins, of Franklin, and on his motion, C.H. Langston, of Franklin, was called to the Chair as President pro tem., and Henry Hurd appointed Secretary. On motion of D. Jenkins the delegates were requested to report their names to the Secretary by credentials or otherwise. The following gentlemen came forward and reported their names:

Butler County

J.E. Robbins, S.D. Fox.

Gallia County

J.L. Ward

Montgomery County

Thos. Jefferson, John Johnson.

Miami County

Robert Smith.

Warren County

Asa Pratt.

Seneca County

D. Roberts.

Mercer County

C. Hurd

Ross County

G. R. Williams, D. Williams.

Clark County

W. P. Morgan, N. Morgan, M. Roberts.

Champaign County

H.H. Ford.

Cuyahoga County

J. Brown, W.H. Day, G. Vosburgh, R. Leach.

Franklin County

David Jenkins, L.D. Taylor, J. Booker, H. Ford Douglass, Hanson Johnson, John Brown, C.H. Langston.

Lorain County

John M. Langston.

Stark, Columbiana and Portage Counties

Wm. Pinn.

Erie County

G.J. Reynolds, Lawrence G. Jackson.


Ohio, 1852

Hamilton County

John I. Gaines, H.P. Spears, Isaac Wilson, Wallace Shelton, Lovell C. Flewellen, John Liverpool, Charles A. Rodgers, W. R. Casey, Joseph Fowler, Jr., Wm. Darnes, W. M. Nelson, Peter H. Clark, George W. Brodie, W. W. Watson, John Jackson.

On motion of John I. Gaines, a committee of five, consisting of H. P. Spears, H. Hurd, John Booker, J. M. Langston and Wm. Pinn, were appointed to nominate permanent officers for the Convention. In the absence of the committee, the Convention was addressed by C.H. Langston, of Franklin, setting forth the importance of united action.

The committee on nomination reported as follows: President, John. M. Langston of Lorain; Vice Presidents, John Booker of Franklin, Wm. Darnes of Hamilton and W. M. Nelson of Hamilton. On taking the Chair the President addressed the Convention in substance as follows:

Gentlemen of the Convention:

The honor which you have conferred upon me was entirely unexpected. My inexperience and youth wholly precluded any such hope on my part. I thank you for the honor--indeed it is an honor in my humble opinion, greater than the honor done Millard Fillmore1 by the American people, in calling him to the Presidency of this country. For in his position he is trammelled by an unjust public sentiment, a sentiment adverse to him or freedom. While the object of this Convention is, to oppose this public sentiment and further the cause of Liberty and Equality.

The subjects which we are to consider are of great importance. The education of our children--the Agricultural interests of our people--the temperance movement among us--the course which we are to pursue during our stay in this country and the plan of emigration which we shall adopt if we see fit to go out of this country, are matters for our most calm and deliberate consideration.

It is my sincere hope, that harmony and kind feeling will pervade the entire action of the Convention.

With indulgence and assistance, I hope to be able to discharge the duties imposed upon me by you, with impartiality and fairness. Again, gentlemen, I return my thanks.

A committee of five were then appointed to report business for the action of the Convention, consisting of John I. Gaines, C. H. Langston, C. A. Rodgers, J. L. Ward. On motion, W .H. Brisbane and J. V. Smith, were admitted to seats as reporters for the "Ohio Times" and "Cincinnati Gazette."

The following committees were on motion, appointed:

On Rules--L. D. Taylor, L .C. Flewellen, Rev. W. Shelton, Hanson Johnson, and Rev. C. Yancy.

On Finance--W. W. Watson, W. R. Casey and G. W. Broady.

On Emigration--C. H. Langston, H. F. Douglass, P. H. Clark, L. C. Flewellen and L. D. Taylor.

On Address--D. Jenkins, C. H. Langston, H. F. Douglass, W. R. Casey and Rev. C. Yancy.

On Education--J. M. Langston, J. I. Gaines, C. H. Langston, W. W. Watson and W. H. Day.

On Agriculture--Henry Hurd, Wm. Pinn, A. Pratt, D. Roberts and Rev. C. Yancy.



On the Press--D. Jenkins, W. H. Day, H. F. Douglass, L. D. Taylor and P. H. Clark.

During the progress of the Convention letters were read from several distinguished citizens.

One from C. M. Clay, 2 Esq., which was pointed, eloquent, and manly; it was received with much applause. One from Hon. Horace Mann,3 which constituted the main feature of the correspondence, it was able, argumentative and full of advice. It was received with a round of applause. One from Hon. Charles Durkee,4 in every line of which could be seen the true philanthropist. One from Hon. B. F. Wade,5 which was able, truthful and eloquent.

One from Hon. N. S. Townshend, which was able and practical. It was received with much applause. One from Hon. L. D. Campbell, which though earnest and frank, was nevertheless gloomy; it was received in silence and sadness. The letters will be found on the last pages, and we ask for them a careful perusal.

The subjects which enlisted most the attention of the Convention, were the resolutions in relation to Kossuth,6 forming military companies, the case of Shadrach7 the slave, and Emigration to some point on the American continent, and the one on church action. But the subjects which transcended all others in interest were those of Emigration and Colonization.

The discussion on Emigration commenced on one evening and was not terminated until the afternoon of the next day.

The principal speakers were J. M. Langston, of Oberlin, C. H. Langston of Columbus, P. H. Clark, of Cincinnati, and H. F. Douglass, of Columbus, in favor of emigrating, and Wm. H. Day, of Cleveland, and John I. Gaines of Cincinnati in opposition.

The speeches were able and eloquent, pro and con, and created much interest in the community.

The final vote on African Colonization was complete, only two men in the whole body dared to record their vote in favor of the wicked system. On the subject of emigrating to some point on this continent en masse, (the colored people,) the vote stood 36 in opposition and 9 in its favor. This terminated the question which is at this hour absorbing the interest of the leading colored minds of this State. The interest taken in the Convention by the community, exceeded all anticipations. The large Baker street church was filled day and night and many had to go away for want of seats, and though the Convention lasted five days and four nights, the interest was not abated; and when the President announced that the the body had adjourned sine die, three hearty and earnest cheers were given for GOD and LIBERTY.

Preamble and Resolutions.

Whereas, the most cruel and bitter prejudice exists in the United States against the colored race--a prejudice unjust, unnatural, and opposed to the civilization of the age. And whereas, if this state of things is changed and the colored people assume their proper station, it must be by virtue of their own individual action, Therefore,

1. Resolved, That the colored people can do more to elevate themselves and break down the illiberal prejudice, which bears upon them as a millstone to blight their prospects, by an honest truthful effort, than can, or will be done, by any or all other agencies combined.

2. Resolved, That self-respect is a first and essential element, for he who does not respect himself, no one else will respect him, and what is true of one is true of a nation.

3. Resolved, That they (the colored people) should aspire to be the equal of the "Saxon," equal in intelligence, wealth, enterprise, commerce, mechanism, arts and science.

4. Resolved, That the surest mode of being intelligent is to study the best Magazines, papers, authors, and in this way every one may be well posted up in the history, philosophy and literature of the times.

5. Resolved, That wealth may be acquired by industry and economy, and believing it to be the great lever of improvement, they, the colored people, should live within, not beyond their income, in order to attain it.

6. Resolved, That enterprise may be facilitated among us by two or more persons forming themselves into a company, and creating a fund from time to


OHIO, 1852

time with this definite object in view, and we earnestly recommend the formation of such as soon as practicable.

7. Resolved, That they, the colored people, should not settle in large numbers in cities, but go to the country, cut down trees, split rails, and be farmers.

8. Resolved, That a colored man who refuses to shave a colored man because he is colored, is much worse than a white man who refuses to eat, drink, ride, walk or be educated with a colored man because he is colored, for the former is a party de facto to riveting chains around his own neck and the necks of his much injured race.

9. Resolved, That we are in favor of establishing a weekly journal in the State of Ohio, edited by a colored man, devoted to art, literature, morals, religion, and the political interest of the colored race.

10. Resolved, That we are in favor of the formation of a State Educational Society, the parent of which, to be located in Cincinnati or elsewhere, with branches for the purpose of establishing schools under the free school system of Ohio.

11. Resolved, That we are opposed soul and body to the African Colonization scheme.

12. Resolved, That the colored people of Ohio are loyal citizens and will defend the integrity and honor of the State when she shall have extended to her Sons, without respect to color, all the rights and immunities of American citizens.

13. Resolved, That we should unite ourselves in business transactions with the masses of the whites, so that the distinction of Irishmen, German, and African may be lost in the general appellation of American citizens.

14. Resolved, That this Convention recommend to all colored men in the State of Ohio, over the age of 18 years, to form themselves into independent military companies, when they cannot be admitted into white, to the end that they may acquire a finished military education, for the purpose of rendering efficient aid to this State or the United States in case of a foreign invasion.

15. Resolved That we recommend the teaching of the German Language in our schools, believing that it will prove a great auxiliary to our cause.

16. Resolved, That so far as the formation of character is concerned, much depends upon temperance, and we pledge ourselves to do all in our power to promote temperance reform.

17. Resolved, That we sympathize with the oppressed Hungarians and German Socialists in their efforts to throw off the yoke of despotism and re-establish their liberty, and that we hail Gottfried Kinkle and Louis Kossuth, and their representatives on this continent as the true apostles of European liberty.

18. Resolved, That we proffer to Kinkle and Kossuth our pecuniary means to aid them in their glorious struggle, and promise to them the same aid with our fathers gave the American revolution at the battle of New Orleans, and to Bolivar8 in the contest for Columbian independence.

19. Resolved, That tyranny in Russia, Austria and America, is the same and that tyrants throughout the world are united against the oppressed, and therefore the Russian Serf, the Hungarian Peasant, the American Slave and all other oppressed people, should unite against tyrants and despotism.

20. Resolved, That we sympathize deeply with the man Shadrach, of Boston, who fled from the American Fiery Furnace, to its contrast--the snows of Canada, with Jerry,9 who at Syracuse was transported from the American "Babylon," where like Jeremiah of old, he had been taken captive--with the men at Christiana10 who so honored a Christian name, by protecting their homes, and refusing to be made slaves; and have learned from their example that liberty is dearer than life, and eternal vigilance its only guarantee.

21. Resolved, In guarding our liberty, we will use the mildest means in our judgment, adequate to the end.

22. Resolved, That we look upon the law of God as being paramount to all human enactments and inasmuch as the fugitive slave law conflicts with that law, we believe it to be our duty to obey God rather than man, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and do all we can for the redemption of the slave.

23. Resolved, That to promote union, and render our action beneficial, we organize the State after the manner of the great political parties, with a



central committee in each county. And be it further resolved, that the President be empowered to appoint the committees for the several counties represented from the members present, and that the central committee be instructed to complete the organization as soon as possible.

24. Resolved, That the central committee for calling the next State Convention be requested to collect all the important facts in relation to the anti-slavery movements throughout the world and present the same in a tangible form at the next sitting of that body.

25. Resolved, That the next Convention be held in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, and that said city be restricted to ten delegates.

26. Resolved, That we claim our rights at the hands of this government, not only because we are native born American citizens, but because our ancestors and ourselves have contributed to the wealth, honor, liberty, prosperity and independence of this country.

Whereas, That in the person of the late Cornelius Burnet, we ever found a faithful and untiring friend of the oppressed, and in whose defence he has sacrificed his property and endangered his life, and that of his family. Therefore,

27. Resolved, That his services are held dear to every lover of liberty! And that we will assist in handing his name down to our latest posterity!

28. Resolved, That in order to perpetuate his memory in our hearts, we will contribute to the enterprise now in contemplation of erecting a monument to his memory.

29. Resolved, That this Convention return their thanks to the citizens of Cincinnati for their hospitality displayed in entertaining the delegates during their sojourn.

30. Resolved, That we hereby return our thanks to the President, Vice Presidents and Secretaries, for the faithful and impartial manner in which they discharged their duties.

31. Resolved, That we also tender our thanks to the trustees and congregation of the Union Baptist Church, for the use of their beautiful meeting house.


Committee on Education

The importance of Education is fully admitted by the intelligent of all classes and conditions of mankind. None who witness the degradation of the ignorant, upon the one hand and the intelligent and refined character of the educated upon the other, can doubt the truthfulness of this admission. Education is indeed the glory of any people. It is the sure palladium of their Liberty--the positive evidence of their permanent and growing elevation. This has been the foundation of these governmental superstructures whose greatness is seen in the beautiful and judicious structure of their politics, their wise and comprehensive diplomacy and the durability of their institutions.

Especially, indeed, are the colored people of this State under many obligations to themselves and posterity to build up a permanent and efficient system of education among them. Our present situation demands united and energetic action in this particular. In the first place there is a great and growing demand for qualified teachers among us. In the second place as the people educate and improve themselves there will be a demand for intelligent ministers. Ministers who possess literary and scientific qualifications, and who take just and enlarged views of truth.

And in the third place we must be educated to meet the duties which are pressing themselves upon us from other quarters. We are to lend our aid in promoting the abolition of American Slavery, and in devising some judicious plan for the elevation of the half free of the northern States.

This State has extended to us some aid and we should avail ourselves of the proffered advantage.

We should strive to build convenient school houses and have them filled with well qualified teachers who possess the requisite intellectual and moral


OHIO, 1852

qualifications as well as a deep interest in the welfare of the communities--certainly none other should be employed among us.

We therefore recommend the colored people of Ohio to petition the Legislature for the privilege of electing a Superintendent to oversee the public schools of this State.

We also recommend the formation of an Association of the teachers of the colored schools in the State.

We further recommend that the free schools in the State be supported and encouraged in preference to all others, for upon them depend the education of the colored youth of Ohio.

All of which is respectfully submitted,

J.M. Langston, P.H. Clark, J.I. Gaines, C.H. Langston, Wm. H. Day.

Report of Majority of the Committee on Emigration

The majority of the committee to whom was referred the subject of emigration, having given the subject all the consideration and attention which its importance demands and our limited time would allow would respectfully submit the following report:

1. Resolved, That we believe that the primary, secondary and ultimate object of the American Colonization Society, is the exportation of the free colored people from the United States, and thereby render the slave property more secure and valuable. We do, therefore, unconditionally, condemn the society and its advocates. Adopted.

2. Resolved, That in the voluntary emigration of the colored people of the United States, we see the only relief from the oppressions of the American people, and we believe that the concentration of the colored race at some point upon the continent, will react favorably upon the institution of slavery. Rejected.

3. Resolved, That we recommend a national convention of colored men to consider the subject, and appoint an agent who shall visit various portions of the western continent, with a view of determining the most suitable point for the settlement of our people, and the establishment of an independent nationality. Indefinitely postponed. Signed.

C.H. Langston, H.F. Douglass, P.H. Clark.


Minority Report on Emigration

1. Resolved, That it is not expedient for the free people of color of the United States to emigrate to any place out of these States while one slave is in chains.

2. Resolved, That we have not the means necessary to the accomplishment of the end, and had we them no nation has signified as yet a disposition to receive us as a body.

3. Resolved, That this is our native land--the land of our birth and inasmuch as birth gives citizenship according to the decision of the Supreme Court, it is our duty to contend for our rights as American citizens by all the moral and physical means which God has given us.

4. Resolved, That in consequence of these facts we recommend our people to remain in the United States. Adopted.

L.D. Taylor, L.C. Flewellen.

The Report on Agriculture

Fellow Citizens:

Your committee to consider the Agricultural interests of colored citizens of Ohio, have considered the subject in haste and beg leave to Report:



That, they consider the employment of the farmer to be the most honorable and independent that colored persons can follow at this critical period, and they would recommend to our people, to leave the menial services of towns and cities, and

1st. Learn the science of agriculture by observing the manner that the best farms are conducted.

2d. To purchase books treating on agriculture and horticulture and the proper style of managing domestic affairs.

3d. We recommend as suitable works, Mrs. Lincoln's book on Botany, Cobbert's Gardener and the Ohio Cultivator, published at Columbus. Also, the Ohio Farmer, published at Cleveland.

4th. In order to get farms, either by purchase or otherwise, we recommend them to purchase, rent or lease the thousands of uncultivated acres of this State.

5th. To settle in number sufficiently large to be able to erect schools, churches and machinery, and thus enjoy the comforts of life; live, work and be happy in the land of their birth, where their fathers fought, bled and died, to establish a home in which their descendants might thus live.

6th. To attend the County and State Agricultural fairs; exhibit their fine stock, their fruits and manufactures and if possible claim the highest premiums.

Respectfully submitted,

H. Hurd, Chairman.

Report of the Select Committee on Press

It has been and still is an admitted fact that no people can be truly elevated or get beyond the dire and inhuman grasp of the oppressor without the means to enforce and encourage education, industry and morality--this is especially true in relation to the colored people of the west. The best and most speedy means to raise our people from their present stupor and cause them to see more clearly their critical situation, is the establishment and support of an efficient paper that shall advocate and encourage the cardinal principles of our elevation. Therefore,

Resolved, That immediate steps be taken by this Convention for the permanent establishment and support of such a paper.

We submit the following plan:

1st. That a fund of $1000 be raised by the formation of a joint stock company, each share of which shall be worth $50, half of which shall be paid on or before the first day of June 1852, to such person or persons as the committee may appoint; the balance by the 1st day of September, 1852.

2d. That an Agent be appointed to sell the stock and purchase a press.

3d. That it be edited and published by a committee of three, appointed by the stockholders and subject to their order.

4th. That the name and terms of the paper be left to the stockholders.

G.R. Williams, W.H. Day, C.H. Langston.

Statistical Report

Gentlemen of the Convention:

Your committee to whom was referred the subject of Statistics, beg leave to report the following:

In the statistics furnished me by the members from thirteen counties, I find that the colored people of those countries own in Real Estate, property which, according to the tax valuation amounts to $1,264,350. Of the personal properties and monies no account has been taken. In the opinion of the committee this is a very important matter and deserves to be taken into account at the next Convention. In the counties heard from there are 15 benevolent societies reported, all of which seem to be accomplishing an important mission. Some few of the counties have reported in regard to schools and educational movements, but as this has not been generally the case your committee make no report concerning them.


OHIO, 1852

The Agricultural and mechanical interests of our people seems entirely to have been forgotten. As these two branches are those that in the opinion of the most enlightened statesmen are the most important and as in the struggle for elevation among us, we should not forget the main lever around which plays the beautiful machinery of government, therefore would your committee beg leave to submit the following:

Resolved, That the State Central Committee shall require and obtain in the couse of the year, full statistics from the county committees relating to the wealth, the educational, agricultural and mechanical interests of the colored people, and

Resolved, That the Central Committee shall report the same to the next State Convention.

All of which is respectfully submitted. Wm. R. Casey.

January 19, 1851.

Report of the Committee on Church Action

The select committee to whom was referred the resolution on church action, would respectfully report the following:

Resolved, That we believe the majority of the Churches in this land to support slave-holding, by holding their own brethren in bonds, or countenancing those who do--that the Gospel is one which brings deliverance to the captive, and that unless the Church places slave-holding on a level with man-stealing, and both on a par with theft, arson, or adultery, and discountenances them accordingly, she fails not only of her high mission, but in that essential characteristic given her when denominated by Jesus as the "Salt of the Earth."

Resolved, That any "Colored Church" which will not do all in its power to discountenance slave-holding and slave-holding apologists, shows a great want of self-respect, a want of intelligent devotion to their own cause, and deserves the disfellowship of all good men.

Resolved, That we hereby give our hearty God-speed to all those Churches and Associations, which, standing out from slavery and its influence, are striving for a pure Christianity. Adopted. Wm. H. Day, Peter H. Clark, Lovell C. Flewellen.

The act passed February 10, 1849, for the establishment of Schools for the education of colored children, bring generally misunderstood, and in many cases, notoriously perverted; to the great injury of the cause of education among us, thus defeating the object of the framers of that act, the convention deemed it important, that the points sustained by the decision of the Court in Bank, in the case of the Directors of the Colored Common Schools, vs. the City of Cincinnati, should be placed before the people of the state, that they might be guided by it, in the formation of School Districts. They are as follows:

The act "to authorize the establishment of separate Schools for the education of colored children; and for other purposes," passed February 10, 1849, "places colored youth, in Ohio, upon an equal footing with white youth, in respect to Common Schools; and if colored youth in any district, are excluded from Schools for white youth, in the manner indicated in the act, they are entitled to share pro rata with white youth in the Common School funds of such District."

The "special tax for district purposes" referred to in the third section of the act, "relates to special taxes for building and repairing School Houses, and the like assessed in particular Districts, and does not embrace general taxes levied on a City at large, and common to all Districts."

In conformity with a resolution the President appointed the following committees:

Mercer County

Post Office Address

{H. Hurd, J. Dover, Wm. P. Trust.} Chickasaw



Stark county Post Office Address

Wm. Pinn,

J. Palmer,

Wm. Holliday. } Massilon.

Cuyahoga county

Wm. H. Day,

John Brown,

George Vosburgh. } Cleveland.

Lorain county

J. M. Langston

John Watson,

John Copeland. } Oberlin.

Gallia county

J. L. Hard,

C. Yancy,

John Gee. } Gallipolis.

Warren county

Asa Pratt,

J. Wilson,

T. Benford. } Harveysburgh.

Butler county

J. E. Robbins,

S. D. Fox,

J. Lewis. } Hamilton.

Montgomery county

Thos. Jefferson,

John Johnson,

John Dunlap. } Dayton.

Clinton county

A. Gregory,

Cyrus King,

Reuben Henaday. } Wilmington.

Green county

Rev. J. Bowles,

Jesse Devine,

W. Roberts. } Xenia.

Pike county

C. Harris,

C. H. Lewis,

C. Smith. } Piketon.

Belmont county

P. Underwood,

Alex. Harper. } Barnesville.


OHIO, 1852

Lake county Post Office Address

W. H. Burnham,

Isaac Stunton } Painsville.

Jackson county

J. W. Stewart

Geo. Woods,

Noah Newkes. } Berlin X. Roads.

Logan county

Startling Heathcock,

J. Archer,

K. Artist. } Bellefontaine.

Darke county

Rev. J. Clemens,

Mr. Okay,

H. Clements. } Palestine.

Trumbull county

Wm. Jenkins. } Warren.

Highland county

Nelson Taylor,

Walker Delany,

E. Cumberland. } Hillborough.

Hamilton county

P. H. Clark,

J. I. Gaines,

W. R. Casey. } Cincinnati.

Ross county

G. R. Williams,

D. J. Williams,

R. R. Chancellor. } Chillicothe.

Franklin county

C. H. Langston,

D. Jenkins,

J. Booker. } Columbus.

Miami county

Robert Smith. } Piqua.

Clark county

W. P. Morgan,

Wm. Roberts,

Nelson Morgan. } Springfield.


Seneca county Post Office Address

D. Roberts,

W. A. Scott, } Tiffin.

F. Whetsell.

Erie county

G. J. Reynolds,

John Winfield, } Sandusky City.

John Brazier.

Champaign county

H. H. Todd,

P. Byrd, } Urbana

L. Adams.

Lawrence county

G. Jackson,

J. Critic, } Burlington.

G. W. Bryant.


                    Burnet House, Cincinnati, December 16,1851.
Gentlemen: -- Your favor of yesterday, informing me of the proposed meeting of the Colored citizens of the State, to take "such measures as are best calculated to enhance the moral, social and political interests" of your people, is received. You do me no more than justice in saying I hold the cause of human rights "sacred."  The times also, are "auspicious" for the consideration of these things. For my part, as much as I sympathize with Hungary and her noble sons, I have just as much heart for the wrongs of Africa and her sons! I care nothing for that "right" which regards caste -- nothing for that philanthropy which extends not to all men of all climes and all colors! If any nation in the Providence of God, happens to be poorer and weaker than another, so much the more does every generous heart feel their woes.

I have no faith in the permanent inferiority of nations! I think all history proves the opposite. Virtue, patience, energy, self-denial and an eternal purpose to improve, may place the African where the Saxon now is! whilst the opposite vices may degrade the Saxon below the African! I avoid no responsibility. My advice shall be given as freely as it is asked. Let it go for what it is worth. So far then, as "morals" are concerned, you will find the best guide in the Christian teachings. In that we all agree. Treating with contempt, all those false teachers of Christ, who recognize caste among nations, let us take more to our hearts those followers of our Savior, who honor God by the recognition of the Brotherhood of men! So far as "social" interests are concerned, my opinion is, that you have a long probation before you-- so long as the slavery of your race exists in a portion of the Union, I regard social equality, even in the free States, as impossible. But then, as Burns has it, "a man's a man for all that." I would advise universal education as the first desideratum -- rigid economy in dress, and all luxuries. The blacks should "get money." Let them go into the trades -- become farmers -- manufacturers -- where capital and employment are wanting -- let them combine, and thus diminish the expense of living, and increase their productive power. Action -- action -- action -- must be the panacea for your present woes, and the "Sessame" of future regeneration. With regard to "political" rights, you must abide your time! I think nothing can be done at present by public resolves, &c. The best road to political elevation lies through the road of INDUSTRY and SELF-RESPECT, which will at last wear us into a generous magnanimity.

    Above all, allow me, who am regarded (unjustly, though it be,) as a man of blood, to make obedience to the laws the first basis of all elevation, or,


OHIO, 1852

even security! After a while, if your oppressors do not knock off your chains, you will outgrow them! And may God defend the right! Your ob't serv't.

C.M. Clay.

Messrs. J. I. Gaines, John Jackson, and others, Com, &c.

Washington, December 31, 1851.

Gentlemen:--Your letter of the 17th inst, informed me that the colored people of Ohio propose to hold a State Convention at Cincinnati in the month of January ensuing, "to adopt such measures as are best calculated to enhance their moral, social and political interests," and you are pleased to ask my views "as regards the present position, and future prospects of the colored race in this country."

You submit to me a great problem. Its terms include the colored population alone. But I presume you would not exclude from contemplation the welfare of the white race, so far as that can be promoted by a full regard for the rights of the blacks. Fortunately, however, I believe there is no real conflict of interests between the races. The eternal laws of justice and right would promote the welfare of both. If either resists these laws, it will deserve, and must ultimately receive, an avenging retribution.

The "colored race of this country" now numbers nearly four millions of people. More than three-fourths of this number are in the lowest political and civil condition known to the human race. They are Slaves--a word that includes all woes and wrongs. They are denied all political rights. They are cut off from all civil rights. They can hold no property, but are themselves held as property,. They have no marital or conjugal rights; no parental or filial rights; but husband and wife, parent and child, may be torn from each other, under the most agonizing of circumstances, and from the wickedest and meanest of motives--lust, cupidity, or revenge. The slave has no right of reputation or character. He may be ridiculed, traduced, villified, to any extent, and without any possibility of redress. The laws of the Slave States, so far from securing to the slave any intellectual rights, absolutely build a wall of darkness around him, so that no ray of knowledge can illumine his soul, except such as the master desires for his own profit. In a land also, of professed Christianity, and among a people who call themselves Christian, the slave is without any moral or religious rights. His capabilities of virtue are developed only so far as virtue is profitable or convenient; and when his vices are supposed to be more profitable than his virtues, they only are cultivated. There is no such thing as religious freedom for the slave; for where there is no knowledge there can be no freedom. There is no such thing as free agency for a slave; for his body and limbs are at the control of his master, and his soul, in the blindness of its ignorance, is like any blind creature, under the dominion of its leaders. Thus, all the most precious and sacred relations of a human being to his fellow-beings, to nature and to God, are obliterated by slavery. True, it is said, that the institution of slavery permits the soul of the slave to be enlightened sufficiently to be saved, so that a wretched existence this side of the grave, may be followed by a happy one beyond it. But is this any thing more than saying, that it is impossible for the wickedness of man to send forward its cruelties into eternity, and there wholly to thwart and cancel the goodness of God.

The residue of the colored population of the United States, is in a condition vastly superior to that of the slaves, though still immeasurably below the position which they are entitled, and, as I believe, destined to fill.

Now, as one of the points of your letter regards the "future prospects of the race," it involves a consideration of the means which may be brought to bear upon those prospects, and to determine what they shall be.

I shall only attempt to throw our a few hints on this great subject.

In the first place, I think it neither probable nor desirable that the African race should die out, and leave that part of the earth to which they are native or indigenous, to the Caucasian or any other of the existing races. There are vegetable and animal races which we may lawfully desire to see supplanted by other kinds of vegetable or animal growths; nay, there are tribes of the human family, whose existence we may not wish to see continued, provided always, that they dwindle and reture in a natural way, and without the exercise of violence or injustice to expel them from the earth. But writers



on the characteristics of the different races of men, ascribe to the African many of the most desirable qualities belonging to human nature. As compared to the Caucasian race, they are indeed, supposed to be less inventive, to have less power for mathematical analysis, and less adaptation for abstruse investigations generally, are less enterprising, less vigorous, and are less defiant of obstacles. But, on the other hand, there is great unanimity in according to them a more cheerful, joyous and companionable nature, greater fondness and capacity for music, a keener relish for whatever, in their present state of development, may be regarded as beauty, and more quick, enduring and exalted religious affections. The blacks, as a race, I believe to be less aggressive and predatory than the whites, more forgiving, and, generally, not capable of the white man's tenacity and terribleness of revenge. In fine, I suppose the almost universal opinion to be, that in intellect, the blacks are inferior to the whites; while in sentiment and affection, the whites are inferior to the blacks.

Under these natural conditions, may not the black develope as high a state of civilization as the whites? Or, what is perhaps the better question, may not independent nations of each race be greatly improved by the existence of independent nations of the other? I believe so.

I believe there is a band of territory around the earth on each side of the Equator, which belongs to the African race. Their Creator adapted their organization to its climate. The commotions of the earth have jostled many of them out of their place; but they will be restored to it when reason and justice shall succeed to the terrible guilt and passions that displaced them.

Under these circumstances, what endeavors shall the free colored population of the United States put forth, in order to improve the condition of themselves, their posterity, and their race?

It is almost too obvious for remark, that no nation or people can ever rise to prosperity, dignity, or power, without intelligence and virtue. These are the only means of individual or social elevation, and the end without the means, is impossible. Every colored man, therefore, who loves his children, or his kind, should be frugal, temperate, industrious and studious. He should abjure all ignoble ease, luxury or pleasure, and concentrate his efforts on the improvement of his family and his people. He should earn money that he may send his children to school and to the best schools; supply his house with books and all available means of knowledge, cultivate the refinement of manners which will help to gain him admission into intelligent society, inform himself of all his duties and fulfill them, and of all his rights and claim them--by no means forgetting the right of suffrage. Whenever any colored child evinces talent, his whole circle of acquaintance should take an interest in him. He should be educated for business, for any such mechanical trade that requires educated labor, for the professions, or for any department of life which he can fill with honor to himself, and with advantage to his fellows.

A condition, at present, nearly, or quite as indispensable to the elevation of the colored people, is the formation of communities by themselves. Scattered, or rather sprinkled, as they now are, among the whites, mostly engaged in occupations which are considered, (however unjustly,) to be subordinate and servile, the spirit of self-reliance and of an ambition for advancement, is fribbled out. At least, it is not nourished, and, like anything else without nourishment, it will not grow. Without a chance to rise to offices and stations of honor, trust or emolument, they must be far, very far, above the average of commen men, to qualify themselves for the discharge of duties, from whose honorable or lucrative performance they are debased. But, did they constitute a community by themselves, such, for instance, as a New England or an Ohio township, they they would rise from domestic labor and mere chance-service, from being ditchers and delvers, into farmers, mechanics, artisans, shop-keepers, printers, editors or professional men. Town officers, justices of the peace and candidates for those state offices which towns are authorized to elect, would be sought and found among themselves. The supply would follow the demand. The whites themselves, with all their education and their opportunities for improvement, by associating more or less with the most intelligent men, would never be able to carry on the affairs even of a municipal corporation, without some practice and training. They must go through with a period of pupilage, by observing the manner

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in which business is conducted, with a view to conducting it themselves. How difficult, then, for the colored population, in their present isolated and weakened condition, ever to rise, as a body, above a very low level of improvement. How painfully certain it is, under existing circumstances, that, as they are debarred from the opportunity and the ambition of making great progress, they are debased, also, from its possibility; and even what progress they do make, must be, with some extraordinary exceptions, in the rear of those among whom they live, and without any chance to pass by or overtake them, in the march of improvement. We may condemn the iniquity of this revolution, as vehemently as we please; but iniquity is a fact which a wise man takes into account as much as any other fact, and, in laying his plans for future action, he recognizes until he can remove it.

On these accounts, I have looked with great interest upon the colored settlements, or colonies, in Canada, in which the whites do not obstrude, and thrust aside the blacks, and seize upon all the posts of honor, and all the eligible and lucrative branches of business. As members of such communities, the blacks will be compelled to think for themselves, to act independently, and to qualify themselves and their children for the various offices and occupations which an independent community necessitates. Their minds will be forced into practical channels, they cannot run to a master or an employer every hour, to learn the order or the forms of business or how to execute work. They must judge, they must foresee, they must adopt means to ends, They must outgrow that most unnatural of relations, (altho' it still exists throughout the greater part of the world,) -- that relation, I mean, in which one man furnishes muscles and another man brains. They must be brains unto themselves. Under such an unnatural relation, both the muscles and the brains are likely to be very poor articles. But the blacks will never be able to do these things for themselves, until they set themselves to doing them. A man might as well expect to learn to swim without going into the water.

As one of the consequences of these independent Canadian communities, I lately saw, with exceeding pleasure, that some colored people had been returned as jurors; because I recognized a germ of independence, of progress and of self-government.

Even to conduct the business of a society or a public assembly -- a Lyceum, a Debating Club, or a Temperance meeting -- is something. It tries the wings. It may only prepare to fly low; even eagles fly low at first.

It is obvious, however, that even the management of public meetings, or of the affairs of a town in not enough. The colored people must open their eyes to a grander vision. They must qualify themselves for the responsibilities of self-government -- to fill various offices, judicial, legislative and executive, of a State. For this purpose, they must, of course, have space, numbers and independence, and at least so much freedom from admixture with the whites, as will give them a fair chance in all the competitions for eligible and honorable stations.

And here, this topic indissolubly connects itself with another, namely, the conditions and prospects of the Slaves of this country, and the duty of the free colored population towards them.

That slavery is to continue always, it would be the grossest atheism to affirm, A belief in the existence of a just Governor of the Universe, includes a belief in the final and utter abolition of slavery. Not even this faith leaves the means and the period of emancipation unsettled.

Now, there are three modes of emancipation. The first is special and individual, as the emancipation of their slaves by patriotic and christian men who see both the impiety and impolicy of holding their fellow-beings in bondage, and the self-emancipation of the slave by escape from his chains.

Suppose, now, there were a prosperous and independent community of blacks in Jamaica, or in any other of the West India Islands, offering the equality and the dignity of free institutions to whomsoever of their African brethren would emigrate thither, would not numerous of the more benevolent and conscientious of the slaveholders give freedom to their slaves with the expectations and perhaps the means of their becoming citizens of such a government, and rising at once into the dignity of freemen. Not only so, but, with such a people in our neighborhood, would not thousands and thousands of the most healthy, intelligent and valuable slaves exercise that "inalienable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," which they are authorized by the



law of Nature and of Nature's God, at any moment to enforce, by self-emancipation,--that is, escape. If the last census is to be relied on, about a thousand slaves escaped during the year that preceded its being taken. I have no doubt this is a great exaggeration; for many slaves who are charged with escaping to the north, are stolen and sent to the south. But suppose a thousand escaped into the bleak, and, to them, unnatural climate of Canada. Would not many times this number have exercised this unquestionable right, if there had been an asylum on the south side of the Union as accessible as that on the North? Suppose a free and independent Republic to exist in Jamaica or Cuba, with language, or even with laws and civil institutions like our own in which the hellish atrocities of our Fugitive Slave Law were unknown, and in which, therefore, the fugitive slave would be protected from his pretended owner, as we would now protect Kossuth and his glorious Hungarian compatriots from the clutch of Austria, what a glorious opportunity this would afford, from all southern ports and from the mouths of all the great southern rivers, to exercise this inextinguishable and indestructible right of self-emancipation.

I would not, however, be understood by this to commend or countenance the recently proposed plan of the authorities of Jamaica to import the colored people of the United States into that island, as indented apprentices, or laborers bound to service for a term of years. But, I would encourage and urge the migration of such of our more intelligent colored population, as have the means to buy land and become independent freeholders or proprietors. Real Estate, in Jamaica, is now at an immense discount. Making allowance for the difference in fertility, land can be bought there almost as cheap as in any of the new States; and the purchaser can at once enter society on an equality with most of his neighbors. He can have all that many man ought to demand--a station according to his character, talents and attainments.

Another method of emancipation is by act of the Legislatures of the slave-holding States. Without fixing the time when this shall be done, it is not an improbable, nor, as I trust, a very future event, in regard to the northern tier of slave States. Few things would tend to hasten such a consummation more than the existence, in the law of all the world, of self-administered, successful governments by people of African lineage. Whether these governments should exist on the western coast of Africa, in the West Indian Archipelago, or elsewhere, the demonstration and influence would be the same. It would silence; it would annihilate that impious argument that slavery is a benefit to the slave. It would give full scope and encouragement to that bitter nature of the slave-holder, which, in spite of all his sophistries and his selfishness, is forever counselling him that it is a sin for man to claim property in man. It would bring the public opinion of nations to bear with irresistible force upon the institutions of slavery, and would put its voluntary upholders out of the pale of civilized men.

I would then adjure the free people of color to do whatever in them lies, to build up free colored communities, in whatever parts of the world may be most favorable to the communities themselves, and for re-acting upon their colored brethren in this country, I would invoke a missionary spirit among them. Nay, it is a higher than a missionary spirit. The missionary carries christianity among the heathen; but this enterprise would re-act upon heathenism in a land professed by christians. What a glorious change it would be in the condition and in the hopes of the world, so far as this question of slavery is concerned, if instead of our present debatings in Congress, whether we should establish a government line of steamers to the western coast of Africa, free and prosperous republics on that coast were debating whether they should not establish a government line of steamships to us. Would it not seem as though slavery in any place, could hardly co-exist with such a condition of the nations of the earth.

Let me here guard myself against mis-construction on one point. The idea of forcibly expelling the American born negro from the place of his birth and residence, and driving him out of the country against his will, is as abhorrent to my notions of justice and equality, as it can be to those of any one. The next most cruel thing to kidnapping a race of men, forcing them away from their home and dooming them to slavery in a foreign land, would be the seizure of the descendants of that race, and driving them from the new home they had acquired. So great a crime as this second expatriation would be,


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could hardly be conceived unless by a mind that had prepared itself for it by participating in the commission of the first. My moral nature, therefore, revolts, with an abhorrence which I cannot express, from those recommendations of the governors of some of the southern States, who have proposed to expel from their borders all free colored persons, under the terrible penalities of imprisonment and a subjugation to slavery of them and their descendants. The proposition made last year, in the Senate of the United States, by a Senator from Massachusetts, to appropriate the entire proceeds of the sales of the public lands--estimated to be worth $200,000,000--to transport the colored population from the slave States, which would instantaneously set in motion the legislative and physical power of those states to expel that population (and would have given the strongest guarantees for the security and the perpetration of slavery among them,) from their homes, I regard as one of the most wicked ideas ever conceived by the human mind. And I give it this bad eminence, in full recollection of the command of Herod to murder all the Hebrew children under two years of age, of the persecution and massacre of the Albigenses and Waldenses, and other culminating instances of human wickedness.

But while I would oppose every form of force or intimidation to expel the colored people from the land of their nativity, I should rejoice beyond measure to see great, intelligent and powerful African communities springing up, wherever by their power or their proximity, they could encourage or succor their enslaved brethren in this country. And I cannot see why the benevolent and moral energy of the free colored people amongst us should not flow into this channel.

There is one other means of emancipation--such as our revolutionary fathers adopted against Great Britain, and such as Hungary has lately adopted against Austria, not only with the justification, but with the approval of the civilized world. For this there are two conditions: a sufficient degree of oppression to authorize an appeal to force, and a chance, on the part of the oppressed, of bettering their condition. The measure of the first condition is already full--heaped up--running over. The second condition will be fulfilled, either when the slaves believe they can obtain their freedom by force, or when they are so elevated and enlarged in their moral conceptions, as to appreciate that glorious supplication of Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty or give me death!"

It is most devoutly to be implored that God will save the slaveholders from the madness of defying that vengeance that will assuredly be visited upon them, if they continue much longer to act upon, or to advocate the atheistic dogma that slavery is to be eternal. The very declaration that slavery shall be eternal will give birth to the resolve that it shall not be eternal! Hence, inevitable collision. And the ultimate result of collision is as certain as the fulfillment of any natural law;--as certain as that gun powder will explode on the application of fire, or that the generation of steam, without vent, could convert the solid earth itself into another group of asteroids. In such a collision, on one side is the power of man; on the other side is the Omnipotence of God, "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity," said the sure word of prophesy. "The Almighty hath no attribute," says Mr. Jefferson, "which can take part with us in such a contest." However disastrous may be the result of the first, or the tenth, or the hundredth struggle on the part of the slave; however many of the colored Hancock's and Adams' of that resolution may be singled out for vengeance and be placed beyond the reach of pardon; however may Blums and Batthyasnies may be massacred in cold blood, each death will be transfigured into a multitude of more glorious lives, and for every drop of heroic blood which the earth shall drink, it will send back and armed man.

Now, there are two things which, above and beyond all others, the Angel this Apocalypse will proclaim: first, a warning to the slave-Power, deep and piercing as an afflatus of the Spirit of God, to escape this retribution, by a voluntary and timely abandonment of its unholy domination, and second, if the admonition is resisted, the inexorable and awful certainty of the doom of that power.

Now this third method of emancipation, though infinitely to be deprecated, though to be accepted only in case the preceding methods fail to bring relief, yet as an alternative to endless slavery, it is to be hoped for



and provided for. And what provision can be so efficacious and toward, that of establishing independent communities--in the West Indies, on the coast of Africa, or elsewhere,--which, should the great crisis ever arise, will be able to act for the freedom of their brethren in this country, as the laws of God may require. I say, as the laws of God, but ought I not rather to say, as the example of God may require; for did not He secure the emancipation of the children of Israel, by sinking their oppressors in the water of the Red Sea? There was both justice and mercy in that dispensation. The pursuers only were destroyed, wives and children and those who did not participate in the guilt of the pursuit, were saved.

In considering this extreme aspect of the case of slavery, (never I trust to be realized, and certainly to be realized only as the last resort of outraged humanity,) we cannot refrain from seeing how vastly more efficacious for good would be the powers of the services of leading colored men, in a community of their own, than when scattered, and comparatively lost among people who have so little regard for their rights, as any existing community of whites now have. Frederick Douglass, Henry Bibb, Samuel R. Ward, William Crafts,11, William Brown, surnamed Box,12 and a score of others whom I might name, have talents that would adorn the highest stations in civilized society. Instead of making speeches they might be making laws. Instead of commanding the types of a newspaper press, they might be commanding armies and navies; and making those appreciate the weight of their power who will not regard the force of their logic and their humanity. Robert Purvis is a gentleman whose manners and education would become a court; yet now I suppose he cannot be so much as a constable or justice of the peace.

Do not these considerations, gentlemen, bear directly and strongly upon the great question, as your letter expresses it, "of the future prospects of the colored race in this country,"--that is, as I understand you, the colored race, both bond and free? I think they do. While, therefore, it is our duty to do whatever we can to ameliorate the condition of the colored people among us and especially to resist the pro-slavery action of ambitious politicians and of the general government, it is your duty to project some broad and comprehensive plan, and to devote all your energies to its execution, which shall look to the ultimate redemption and elevation, within the shortest practicable period, of your brethren in bondage, "in this country," and throughout the globe. Gird yourselves for this work. Seek for wealth as a means education, advancement and influence; build yourselves up as far as possible into a condition of independence; let your hearts be penetrated with the moral and religious fervor which belongs to a good and holy cause, and may God bless your endeavors.

Very truly, Yours, &c. Horace Mann.

Messrs. John I. Gaines, Wm. H. Day

John Jackson, and David Jenkins } Central Committee.

Washington, Dec. 25th, '51.


I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your esteemed favor of the 17th, acquainting me of a Convention to be holden at Cincinnati the 14th of January by the colored people of Ohio, and asking my opinion as to their present position and future prospects in this country. The condition of this unfortunate class of our citizens is truly distressing and alarming. Like Joseph of old, they have been sold into bondage; but the same kind Parent watched over and delivered him from Slavery, is alike mindful of them, and their long-suffering and forbearnace. May they be patient and persevere a little while longer, when deliverance shall come. The slave will not only throw off his chains, but a great nation will be redeemed from worse than Jewish pride--the slavery of party, and enter upon its sublime mission of Christian Democracy, to regenerate the people and nations--not with the sword, but by the practical illustration of a humane and just government, carrying out those wise measures begun by the Fathers of the Revolution. The kidnapping law which disgraces our Federal Statute, is founded in supreme selfishness, and meant for evil, but God in his providence is overruling it for good. Its enormities are so palpable, as to startle and arrest the attention of that portion of community hitherto indifferent to the cause of suffering humanity. When the American people become fairly aroused in regard to the


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rights of man, there will remain no doubt about the final issue of the controversy now enlisting the attention of both countries. It rejoices my heart, gentlemen, to know that the colored race are becoming more active in asserting their rights. The Convention to which you allude, will result in good I cannot doubt, and materially aid the cause of emancipation. None can plead so eloquently and efficiently against tyranny and oppression as the victims of despotism themselves. Nevertheless, all should bear in mind that blessed injunction "remember those who are in bonds as being bound with them." You justly remarked that the people of the old world and of the new have taken up the problem of human rights, and are solving it for themselves. This is the surest indication of final success. Kossuth's present mission to the United States appears to my mind strikingly analogous to St. Paul's at Corinth, where he proclaimed, "He whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you." The very happy and forcible manner in which Kossuth elucidates the great principle of Justice, and the glorious doctrine of human Progress, cannot fail to produce a lasting and most beneficial effect on the mind and heart of the American people. The principle of Law which he elaborated so eloquently and powerfully to the New York Bar, ought to be indelibly impressed on every mind throughout the world. It is a great elementary principle which should be at the very threshold of moral and political investigation. I will here quote a few lines from the commencement of that speech:

"Let me say, as a member of your profession, in respect to my opinion about the system of codification as opposite to customary law; you have the great authority of Livingston, 13 and though it may be a piece of presumption for one to state a principle contrary to his, yet I would remark I differ from him. I confess I am no friend to codification. I am no friend to it because I am a friend to free and unresisted progress. It is an iron hand that hinders the circulation of intelligence, and fetters the development which freely must go on towards boundless perfection--the destiny of humanity. In conclusion, gentlemen, allow me to express my best wishes for your welfare, and for the cause you seek to promote."

Charles Durkee.

John I. Gaines and others, Central Committee.

Washington, Dec. 26th, 1851.

Messrs. Gaines, Day, Jenkins, and Jackson:

Gentlemen:--Yours of the 17th inst., is just received, and it gives me great pleasure to see our colored friends actively moving in so just and glorious an enterprise as stated in your letter. You have to encounter a most unjust and illiberal prejudice, which everybody knows, is all wrong; but it nevertheless, exists, and you must take things as they are, and not as they should be. The first thing, then, on your part, is to overcome this prejudice, by proving in your own persons that it is untrue and unfounded. In order to this, I would advise, as far as possible, that you should withdraw from all menial employments, form yourselves into communities by yourselves, when, by cultivating the soil, and practicing the mechanical arts, you will soon attain to independence, and thus situated you will have the means of educating your children, and bestowing upon them those advantages which they cannot, at present enjoy, while scattered about among the white people. They will thus acquire habits of self-respect and independence, and this will compel your white brethren to respect you: and I doubt not, soon convince them, that with equal opportunities, you are by no means their inferiors. I rejoice to see that the colored people have taken their own destinies into their own hands. This is the right way. All just men will sympathize with them, and aid them all in their power. But, after all, their ultimate emancipation, must depend upon themselves. Be temperate, industrious, and by all means in your power, promote among yourselves the cause of education, and the result cannot be doubtful. The color of the skin is nothing,--when was it ever known that virtue, industry and intelligence were not respected? When these results of your present most patriotic enterprise shall be realized, those who defame you most, will be the first to do you reverence.

I rejoice to see you organizing among yourselves, form one great brotherhood throughout the State, so that you can all co-operate to the same great



end. And your property, power and importance will soon be felt and acknowledged--wealth and independence always command respect.

White people, while poor and ignorant, are no more respected than are you. I say again, color is nothing. When you have attained to intelligence and independence, you will soon be admitted to your social and political rights. Do not suppose, from what I have said, that I take all colored persons to be ignorant, far from it. I know many who will compare favorably with the best of the whites, but generally it is not so. Nor is this to be wondered at. You have labored under infinitely greater disadvantages. But it is to be your chief glory that you overcome these disadvantages. I feel, indeed, a deep interest in your Convention, and I have no doubt it will be of great advantage to your people. I hope you will meet together often, and take your own destiny into your own keeping. Rely on yourselves and you cannot fail. Of course, I have no definite plan of organization to recommend at present, but I should be pleased to hear from you often, and what course of operations the Central committee have in view.

Gentlemen, I have the honor to be most respectfully,

Yours, &c., B. F. Wade.

Messrs. John I. Gaines, W. H. Day,

David Jenkins, and John Jackson, } Central Committee.

Washington, January 8, 1852.

Messrs. John I. Gaines, John Jackson, and others--

Gentlemen: I received your letter of the 15th ultimo, asking my opinion of the "present position and future prospects of the colored race in this country."

It is an astonishing and lamentable fact, that in the nineteenth century and in these United States, there should be found more than three millions of human beings in the condition of slaves, and almost half a million more who, if nominally free, are excluded from the most valued privileges of citizenship. Were the colored race incapable of anything better, or had they fallen into their present condition through any fault or choice of their own, some apology for keeping them in bondage might be attempted, but as no one imputes blame to them, or believes them incapable of intellectual and moral culture, and when they can only be kept in chains by the force of inhuman enactments which, in addition to all other wrongs, purposely consign them to ignorance and consequent degradation; we are compelled to say, there is no defence or apology for this system that can avail before High Heaven or an enlightened world. The evil consequences of slavery are almost as apparent upon the white race as upon the colored, and if the South suffers most there is no part the North that does not reap some of its bitter fruits. It is an element of weakness and discord ; it endangers our national existence by exposing us to foes from without and by exciting angry contentions at home; it is fatal to enterprise, industry and economy and therefore most injurious to national prosperity; it destroys the vitality and efficiency of the church, and saps the foundation of public and private morality. No evil existing in the country compares with it in magnitude, and therefore nothing to the same extent challenges the attention of the Christian or Statesman.

There may be some consolation in the reflection that perhaps the present condition of the colored race in this country is better, all things considered, than at any previous period since its introduction upon this continent. And it may also be said that the representatives of the race here are in advance of those who remained on the other side of the Atlantic. There are among you scholars, artists, mechanics, merchants, cultivators of the soil, and men of wealth and refinement who would be an honor to any race, and whose equals cannot now be found in the nations from which you were descended. I will not say that colored men in America are happier than those in Africa but they certainly have a larger capacity for happiness and this with a hope of a better future is something gained. Cruel and bitter has been your bondage and discipline but a Benevolent Providence has so overruled all as to compel some good to grow even out of evil.

That a brighter future awaits the colored race I confidently believe. The dreary night of slavery and oppression is wearing away, the day of uni-

OHIO, 1852


universal liberty and brotherhood is already dawning upon the world, and every nation and every race will soon enjoy its glorious light. Whatever changes or revolutions add to the freedom and happiness of one portion of the human family, indirectly, perhaps, but certainly contribute to improve the condition of the rest of mankind. In all the triumphs of modern science and art, and in all the progress of the age, the colored race has a deep interest--they have suffered more than others, a greater change therefore awaits them and they may look forward with fonder hopes to the "good time coming."

As Anglo Saxons feel pleasure and pride and augur for themselves a glorious destiny from whatever is achieved by that race in any of its homes, so may the colored race draw encouragement and hope from whatever it is accomplishing in this or other countries. Every successful effort of individuals or of communities that serves to demonstrate the capabilities of your race will tend to disarm prejudice and ensure your respect. You have a deep interest in the personal success of each other, but a still deeper interest in the success of the experiments you are making as communities, whatever motives or causes have placed you in this country, in the West Indies, on the coast or in the interior of Africa, the necessity of mutual sympathy and co-operation is the same; success at one point will benefit all, failure any where will be equally widespread in its injury.

Whether your development as individuals and as a race will be best secured by being scattered over the whole country in immediate contact with other races, or by association as a separate community in some parts of it, or in the West Indies, or on the coast of Africa is a deeply interesting problem, the solution of which, if now difficult, may some day be pointed out more clearly by the finger of Providence, meanwhile I fully recognize the right of every human being to dwell in any part of God's earth where he may choose, and to enjoy there all the rights and blessings that pertain to humanity. I cannot believe that you are destined to be swallowed up and absorbed by any other race, neither can I for a moment believe that God has designed you to continue to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water" for other men. Your race has a noble destiny and its own measures of growth and happiness to fill and enjoy.

I rejoice that you meet to discuss all the questions that relate to your well being, and that some of you who have words of wisdom are ready to utter the. I rejoice that those of you who possess wealth are willing to lay it on the altar of liberty and progress. I rejoice also to know that so many of your people are striving to obtain that liberty and industrial education which will qualify the, to discharge their duties to themselves and to society. You have friends of whose sympathy you may be assured, but after all you will not forget that God helps those only who help themselves. "Who would be free themselves must strike the blow." Your friend,

Norton S. Townshend.

Hose of Representatives, Washington, Jan. 5, '52.

Messrs. John I. Gaines, and others, Cen. Com., &c--

The courteous terms of your letter, of the 17th ult., asking my opinion "as regards the present position of future prospects of the colored race in this country," requires me at least to acknowledge its receipt.

I regard the "present position" of you race in this country, as infinitely worse than it was ten years ago. The States which were then preparing for gradual emancipation, are now endeavoring to extend, perpetuate and strengthen slavery! In others where the masters then could teach a slave, he is now a criminal if he attempts to enlighten him! A vast amount of territory which was then free is now everlasting dedicated to slavery! The citizen of a free state could then speak a kind word to a fugitive for liberty without molestation; if he does so now he hazards an indictment and trial for treason! These are but a portion of the fruits (bitter as they may be to your people,) produced during the last ten years of this "age of progress and reform" through a war which cost our nation two hundred and thirty millions of dollars, 14? and an immense number of precious lives of her citizens. And I may add that all this has been accomplished in the face of the various party organizations which have professed to labor for different results.



I am "neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet," and from the lights of the past I confess I see nothing to justify a promise of much to your "future prospects." We seem to have fallen on strange times. Instead of seeking to reform the great evil in our own land, and to fortify and make strong our own liberties, our people seem determined not merely to extend our institutions over "the whole--the boundless continent" here, but to reform the governments of the old world, "peaceably if they can--forcibly if they must." Whilst there exists this disposition to cut out this immense amount of work for "young America," candor compels me to say that my dim vision enables me to see nothing that is flattering to your "future prospects."

This is, however, a coming future when oppression may be over--when the principles of the equality of men will be enforced. You may hope for the glories of that future. You may strengthen your "prospects" for them by concentrating all your feeble powers to build up and sustain institutions of learning, which will disseminate knowledge, and thus increase your power which will purify and elevate the morals of your people, and dignify their character.

Respectfully, L.D. Campbell.

The following letter was sent to various persons, the replies to which will be found in the preceding pages.

Cincinnati, December 15, 1851.

Dear Sir: The Colored people of Ohio will hold a Convention, in the City of Cincinnati, on the 14th of January 1852. The great object it has in view, is to adopt such measures, as are best calculated to enhance the moral, social, and political interest of the colored citizens of the State.

The times are auspicious for holding such a meeting. The people of the old and new world, have taken up the problem of human rights, and are solving it for themselves: and knowing the deep interest you have heretofore manifested in this SACRED CAUSE, is the only apology we have to offer, in asking you, your opinion as regards the present position and future prospects of the colored race in this country.

That we may receive an answer at an early day, is the ardent wish of

Sir, Yours very respectfully,

John I. Gaines,

William H. Day,

David Jenkins,

John Jackson. } Central Committee.

Copy in the Harvard University Library.


1. Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), thirteenth president of the United States, signed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

2. Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903), American politician and abolitionist, was born in Madison County, Kentucky. Although has father was a wealthy and influential slaveholder, Clay had early developed a bitter hatred toward that institution. Educated at Yale, he later founded in 1845, at Lexington, Kentucky, the True American, an uncompromising antislavery journal which subsequently was published at Cincinnati after hostile citizens had boxed his printing equipment and shipped it there. During the Civil War, Clay was a close friend and advisor of Abraham Lincoln.

3. Horace Mann (1796-1859), educator and antislavery Whig member of Congress, was known as the "Father of the American Public School System" because of his work in reorganizing the entire public school system of Massachusetts.

4. Charles Durkee, an influential supporter of black rights, was a Republican senator from Wisconsin during the 1850's.

5. Benjamin Franklin Wade (1800-1878), antislavery senator from Ohio, served from 1851 to 1869. Wade was a Whig at first and then joined forces with the Republican Party. A vigorous and uncompromising supporter of black rights, he was associated with the Radical Republicans in Congress during and

295 OHIO, 1852

after the Civil War and insisted that the Southern blacks be enfranchised and planter estates confiscated and distributed among blacks.

6. Louis Kossuth (1802-1894), Hungarian patriot and leader of the unsuccessful national revolt of 1849, disappointed American abolitionists because of his avoidance of the slavery issue while on tour of the United States in order to get maximum support for the, cause of Hungarian independence. For Douglass' criticism of Kossuth, see "Letter to Kossuth," Frederick Douglass' Paper, Feb. 26, 1852, reprinted in Foner, Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, II, 170-172.

7. In February 1851, Shadrach, a Negro waiter in Boston, was arrested and charged with having escaped from the South. Before the case was decided, a body of Negroes led by Lewis Hayden broke into the prison, seized Shadrach, and dispatched him to Canada.

8. Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), South American revolutionist, was called the Liberator. When the revolution against Spain broke out in 1810, he became a militant and enthusiastic patriot. With the subsequent independence of several South American states during the 1820's, Bolivar became the president of Greater Columbia and created Bolivia. In 1826 he expanded his vision of a united South America by calling the first Pan American Conference, which convened at Panama. While he failed in his attempts to bring about continental unity due to internal dissensions, petty jealousies, and fears of dictatorship which several republics thought he was trying to foster, he nevertheless is today considered the greatest of Latin American heroes.

9. The Jerry Rescue occurred at Syracuse, New York, on October 1, 1851. Gerrit Smith and other abolitionists forcibly rescued the fugitive slave Jerry McHenry, who had been seized and imprisoned by a deputy United States marshal, and helped him to escape to Canada and to freedom. A number of those involved in the rescue were arrested and tried.

10. In the early dawn of September 11, 1851, an attack was made on the home of William Parker, of Christiana, Pennsylvania, to arrest some fugitive slaves said to be hidden there. The Negroes in the neighborhood came to their defense, and a battle took place in which Gorsuch, a Maryland slaveowner, was killed by Parker and Gorsuch's son was wounded. Parker escaped to Canada, assisted from Rochester by Frederick Douglass. Thirty-eight of the men involved in the battle, thirty-six Negroes and two whites were indicted for treason against the United States and brought to trial in Lancaster County Courthouse. Castner Hanway, a Quaker who had refused to assist in capturing the fugitives, was the first to be tried. The jury found Hanway not guilty, and the others were released. An old study of the Christiana Riot is W. U. Hensel, The Christiana Riot and the Treason Trials of 1851 (Lancaster, Pa. 1911). But it has been superseded by Jonathan Katz, Resistance at Christiana: The Fugitive Slave Rebellion, Christiana, Pennsylvania, September 11, 1851: A Documentary Account (New York, 1974).

11. William and Ellen Craft were the famous black couple from Georgia who escaped from slavery by the ingenious method of her assuming the of a slaveowner and he serving as her slave. After their escape, they lectured widely in the North and England.

12. The reference is to Henry "Box" Brown, a slave, who in 1856 was put ina box and shipped from Richmond to Philadelphia by way of the Adams Express Company. On arriving at the Anti-Slavery Office in Philadelphia, his sudden "resurrection" form his confinement created a sensation among the abolitionists and their sympathizers gained new adherents to the cause.

13. The reference is to Edward Livingston (1764-1836), celebrated jurist, statesman and diplomat. In a long and brilliant career he served in Congress as a Jeffersonian Republican (1795-1801), was appointed a U.S. district attorney of New York (1801) and from 1801 to 1803 served as the elected Mayor of New York City. Financial difficulties drove him to New Orleans, where in 1803, he resumed the practice of law. Later he entered Louisiana politics, serving successively as a state legislator (1820), congressman (1822-1829), U.S. senator (1829-1831), and as President Jackson's Secretary of State (1833-1835). He gained enduring fame, however, as a codifier of laws, drafting in 1805 a code of procedure, which was adopted by the Louisiana legislature and was the first real law code in the United States. In 1825 he presented to the Louisiana legislature a comprehensive criminal code. Although not adopted by that body, it gained considerable acclaim abroad.



When finally published in 1833 it became a model for state penal codes in the United States. Elected as a member of the Academy of the Institute of France Livingston was described by Sir Henry Maine as "the first legal genius of ' modern times."

14. The reference is to the Mexican War, fought by the United States from 1846 to 1848.

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Convention of the Colored Freemen of Ohio (1852 : Cincinnati, OH), “Proceedings of the Convention, of the Colored Freemen of Ohio, Held in Cincinnati, January 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19, 1852.,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed July 23, 2021,