Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Citizens of the State of Illinois, held in the city of Alton, Nov. 13th, 14th and 15th, 1856.
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PROCEEDINGS OF THE STATE CONVENTION OF COLORED CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
HELD IN THE CITY OF ALTON, .NOV. 13th, 14th AND 15th,
PROCEEDINGS OF CONVENTION
Morning Session, Alton, November 13th, 1856.
Pursuant to the following call issued by the Cook County "Central Committee," the Convention of colored men of the State of Illinois, met in Colored Baptist Church, at 10 o'clock A.M. On motion of John Jones, of Cook, W. L. Barnes, of Peoria, was called to the Chair, pro tem., and H. Ford Douglass, of Cook, appointed Secretary, pro tem.
CALL FOR A STATE CONVENTION, TO BE HELD AT ALTON, THURSDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, 13th, 14th & 15th OF NOVEMBER NEXT
To the Colored Citizens of the State of Illinois:
You are hereby requested to meet in Convention at the above named time and place, to exercise a Constitutional Right, that is guaranteed to all the people: Peaceably to Assemble and to Petition the Government for a Redress Grievances.
This right you are called upon to exercise as Men; for it is well known to us that there are Laws on the Statutes of this State which are disgraceful to the State, and to the age in which we live, and should be erased and blotted out from its history's memory.
The Laws referred to are as follows against the Colored People of the State:
First.--We complain of being taxed without the right to vote.
Second.--We are denied the right to testify against a white man before Court of Justice, thereby denying us all means of access to law to protect ourselves against designing men to impose upon colored men at their will, because we are deprived of the key by which we gain access to the law in the absence of all white men.
Third.--We pay School Taxes without the privilege of sending our children to public Schools.
It is not necessary for us to comment upon what ought to be done in premises, for it is a subject that should commend itself to every colored man and woman in the State, and their duty in regard to it is plain. So then let us hold a Convention and devise ways and means by which this subject may be brought before the people and kept before them until something shall be done. Let us have a representative from every locality in the State--East, West, North and South--come up unitedly, to work for the right against the wrong and give our Legislature no rest until our cause shall have a hearing.
The following Committee was appointed by a Mass Meeting of Colored Citizens of Chicago, held in the A.M.E. Church, August 28th, 1856, to publish
this call and urge upon our brethren the importance of taking action in the
William Johnson, C. W. Ellis, H. Bradford, J. H. Barguett, Joseph Patrick, Dr. Cary, L. Isbell.
Chicago, September 13th, 1856.
After the reading of the call by the President, on motion of H. D. King the delegates present were requested to come forward and hand over their credentials to the Secretary and have their names recorded as members of the Convention; whereupon the following gentlemen presented their credentials and took their seats as members of the Convention.
Cook County.--John Jones, William Johnson, H. Ford Douglass, Lewis Isbell.
Peoria County.--W. L. Barnes, Thomas Mason.
Madison County.--C. C. Richardson, J. Kelley, Louis Overton, E. White, E. Wilkerson, H. Douglass King, J. H. Johnson.
Morgan County.--A. W. Jackson.
Macoupin County.--L. Magee, J. Samuels.
On motion of John Jones the Rev. R. J. Robinson was admitted as a member of the Convention from Madison County.
On motion of R. J. Robinson, a Committee consisting of one from each county was appointed on permanent organization. The following gentlemen constituting said Committee:
William Johnson, of Cook; H. D. King, of Madison; Thomas Mason, of Peoria; L. Magee, of Macoupin; A. W. Jackson, of Morgan.
On motion of Lewis Overton, the Convention took a recess until 2 1/2 o'clock P.M.
The Minutes of the Morning Session read, corrected, and adopted.
The Committee on Permanent Organization reported, through their Chairman, as follows:
For President.--William Johnson, of Cook.
Vice Presidents.--Thomas Mason, of Peoria; Lewis Isbell, of Cook; C. C. Richardson, of Madison
Secretaries.--James H. Johnson, of Madison; William L. Barnes, of Peoria
On motion of R. J. Robinson the Report was unanimously adopted.
The President taking the Chair, said:
Gentlemen of the Convention: I thank you for this honorable position. It is the first time in my life that I have had the pleasure to preside over a Convention of this character. You are assembled for the purpose of devising means for the repeal of those odious enactments that now disgrace the "Statute Books" of Illinois. I trust you will conduct your deliberations with harmony and order as this is Heaven's First Law.
I can only again thank you, gentlemen, for this token of your confidence.
On motion of John Jones, a Business Committee of five was appointed,consisting of John Jones, of Cook, Chairman; H. D. King, of Madison; Thomas of Mason of Peoria, R. J. Robinson, of Madison; L. Magee, of Macoupin.
The Chairman of the Business Committee then reported as follows:
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention: Your Committee, in looking over the Rules and Regulations recorded in the Minutes of the first State Convention, held in the City of Chicago, October, 1853, believe that we can present no better for the government of this Convention, and would recommend their adoption. Which was agreed to.
On motion of H. F. Douglass, a Committee of seven was appointed on "Declaration of Sentiment," consisting of the following gentlemen:
H. Ford Douglass, Chairman; John Jones, R. J. Robinson, H. D. King, C. C. Richardson, Edward White, Thomas Mason.
The hour of adjournment having arrived, the Convention adjourned till 9 o'clock Friday morning.
BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS
SECOND DAY'S PROCEEDINGS
Friday Morning, November 14th.
President Johnson in the Chair. Prayer by Rev. A. W. Jackson. Minutes of the previous Session read and approved.
The Committee on Declaration of Sentiment not being quite ready to report, Mr. L. Overton was called out, and made a capital speech. He was followed by A. W. Jackson, who gave the Convention a very able and interesting ADDRESS. Among other things said, "That it was now time for the colored peopIe themselves to make a united and earnest effort to repeal those laws that now linger among us, like the barbarous relics of other times, only to remind us that man is progressive in his nature." The Committee on the Declaration of Sentiment being ready, reported, through the Chairman, as follows:
DECLARATION OF SENTIMENT AND PLAN OF ACTION
Whereas, We the colored citizens of Illinois, in Convention assembled, feel ourselves deeply aggrieved by reasons of the cruel prejudice we are compelled to suffer in this our "native land," as dear to us as it is to white men--as the blood bought inheritance of our ancestors; but still more, by reason of those odious enactments that now disgrace the statute books of this State, resting upon the moral, political and intellectual growth of the colored people like an incubus, paralyzing our energies, and destroying whatever of manhood there remains within us; do here in a most solemn manner, pledging each one to the other, put forth this as our plan of action and declaration of sentiments, embodying the principles and purposes upon which we intend to act in the future; neither asking nor giving quarter, spurning all compromises, appealing directly to the wisdom, justice and magnanimity of the good and true of Illinois for the justness of our cause.
1st. Resolved, That all men are born free and equal, possessing certain inalienable rights, that can neither be conferred nor taken away; they were man's from the beginning, before he could comprehend them, eternal, indestructible, and locked up forever in the bosom of the great God from man's rapacious grasp.
2d. Resolved, That Governments should be subordinate to the wants and necessities of men in their civilized state; that they are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that when they transcend these bounds, so as to become destructive of these ends, it is the right and duty of the people to alter and abolish that government, instituting a new one upon such principles as will best secure to man the enjoyment of their just rights.
3d. Resolved, That the Constitution of the "United States," declares in its preamble that it was intended to establish justice, therefore oppose to injustice; to promote domestic tranquility, therefore opposed to domestic turmoil; to promote the general welfare, therefore opposed to the general misery, to secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and posterity, and not eternal Slavery.
4th. Resolved, That we claim to be citizens of Illinois to all intents and purposes, and are of right entitled to all the immunities of other citizens of the commonwealth; that we believe with the fathers of "Seventy Six," that taxation and representation should go together; that to tax us while we are not allowed to be represented, is but to enact, upon a grander scale, outrages that forced our Revolutionary Fathers to treat King George to a continental tea party in Boston Harbor.
5th. Resolved, That we intend to avail ourselves of that only constitutional guarantee now inviolate from the ruffianism of American Slavery, "right of petition;" besieging from year to year the Legislature of Illinois with the recital of our grievances, until we shall enjoy our full share in all those civil and political immunities resulting from the nature and character of all just civil government, or be ourselves removed from our warfare here to another, and, we trust, a happier existence.
6th. Resolved, That the thorough organization and united effort of the colored people is absolutely essential to the successful termination of the
great struggle in which we are now engaged for the attainment of our rights.
7th. Resolved, That this Convention organize a “Repeal Association” for the State of Illinois, the main object of which shall be the raising of a contingent fund of one thousand dollars, to aid in employing an agent, or agents, to traverse this State from Cairo to the Lakes, holding county Conventions and township Meetings among the colored people, establishing auxiliary Associations, lecturing, circulating petitions and memorials among the white people of the State, praying for relief from the oppressive laws under which we suffer; to collect in each county the statistics of wealth and education, and ascertain as near as possible the mental and moral condition of the colored people of the State, and report the same annually to the Convention, unless otherwise ordered.
8th. Resolved, That a tax of twenty-five cents be imposed upon each colored person in the State; that Committees be appointed in each county and township in the State, by auxiliary associations whose special duty shall be to collect the tax, urging upon the people the propriety of paying it. These committees to be allowed a moderate salary for their time and trouble. That the parent Society be located in Chicago, Cook County. 9th. Resolved, That this Convention appoint a State Central Committee of nine, whose duty shall be to call annual Conventions, five of whose members shall constitute a quorum to do business.
H. Ford Douglass,
R. J. Robinson,
H. Douglass King,
W. L. Barnes,
C. C. Richardson,
Mr. C. C. Richardson moved that the Report be received and the Committee discharged, which motion, after some discussion, was carried. H. D. King moved that the Report be adopted by sections. Carried. After the reading of the Preamble, Mr. R. J. Robinson moved to strike out the following sentence from the Preamble: “Neither asking nor giving quarter, spurning all compromises,” and advocated it in a speech of great power and force. “He thought we should be mere mild in our language when asking for our rights, as we were not yet in a condition to demand them. He thought the Preamble savored of braggadocio and should vote against it.” He was replied to by H. D. King in a speech of unsurpassed eloquence. He wanted down here in Egypt, on the very confines of Slavery, to assert his manhood for once. He had once been opposed to strong language. The gentleman from Madison (Mr. Robinson) was then on the other side of the question. He had changed since. He wanted white men to know that we had rights, and to convince them, let us use the mildest means adequate to the end, which was Free Speech. Messrs. H. Ford Douglass and John Jones followed on the same side. Mr. Louis Overton was in favor of striking out the obnoxious clause, and especially “spurning all compromises.” He thought compromises a good thing for us, and instanced the “Missouri Compromise.” Mr. C. C. Richardson argued on the same side. Mr. H. F. Douglass moved that the Preamble be laid on the table, and made the special order of the evening, which was carried, and the Convention adjourned.
Convention met at 2 o’clock P.M. President in the Chair. The proceedings of the Morning Session read, corrected and approved.
The Declaration of Sentiment and Plan of Action being under consideration at the hour of adjournment, its consideration was resumed. Its 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th sections were taken up, and after being severally discussed were adopted.
The Chairman of the Business Committee reported resolutions from one to twenty, inclusive, all of which, after a thorough discussion by members of the Convention were adopted.
On motion of H. F. Douglass a Committee of three was appointed to draft Constitution and By-Laws for the “State Repeal, and [8-9] Auxiliary Associations.” H. F. Douglass, Thomas Mason, and Louis Isbell, constituting said Committee.
On motion of E. White a Committee of three was appointed to procure a Hall and see to printing of hand-bills. E. White, Louis Isbell, H. D. King, Committee.
Mr. John Jones then moved that the President now appoint the “State Central Committee,” which motion prevailed. The President announced the Committee as follows:
A. W. Jackson, Morgan County; A. H. Richardson, Jo Daviess County; R. J. Robinson, Madison County; Augustus Hill, Will County; R. H. Rollins, Cook County; John Jones, Cook County; B. L. Ford, Cook County; J. F. Platt, Cook County; Thos. Mason, Peoria County.
H. D. King, moved that the Convention request the Treasurer, Secretary, and Traveling Agent of the School Fund Association to report to the Convention as early as Saturday morning. Carried.
The President announced that the hour of adjournment had arrived, and that the Convention would stand adjourned until 7 o’clock P.M.
Convention met at 7 o’clock. Quite a full attendance of the citizens of Alton. President Johnson in the Chair. Minutes of the afternoon Session read and approved.
The special order of the evening was announced to be the Preamble laid over at the morning Session.
John Jones moved that the rules restricting members to ten minutes be suspended for the evening, that each be allowed twenty-five minutes, and that each member also be allowed the largest latitude in the discussion of this subject. We, the Committee on Revision, think that members did greatly improve upon the suggestion of friend Jones, for the disputants seemed to acknowledge no geographical bounds. Our friend Overton’s fruitful imagination was not long in wandering back to creation’s dawn, in order to prove the beneficency of compromises. Our good friend Robinson, also took a short journey to Egypt, in order to review the administration of one Pharaoh, the oppressor of the Israelites, in order to show that if Moses had spurned all compromises, as we propose to do, the Israelites would have been in bondage yet. Friends Jones, Johnson, King, Douglass, and Jackson, understanding how fragile their little barks were, did not dare venture far out upon the open sea of discussion, but prudently [9-10] kept near the shore. The debate continued to rage with great fury until a late hour, when it was agreed to take the vote on striking out “Neither asking nor giving quarter, spurning all compromises.” John Jones demanded the yeas and nays. The vote stood as follows:
Yeas.--Messrs. Mason, Kelly, Overton, J. H. Johnson, Magee, Robinson, Jackson. 7.
Nays.–Messrs. Jones, William Johnson, Douglass, Isbell, Barnes, White, King. 7.
Absent, or not voting.--Messrs. Wilkerson, Richardson and Samuels.
So the motion to strike out failing to have a majority was defeated.
The Preamble was then adopted.
Mr. H. Ford Douglass then read the following interesting and eloquent letter from Mr. H.O. Wagoner, of Chicago, which was received, and ordered to be printed with the proceedings of the Convention.
To the Convention of Colored Citizens of Illinois, to be holden at Alton on the 13th, 14th, and 15th November, 1856.
Brethren.--Being one of you, and feeling a deep and abiding interest in the cause for which you have assembled, I therefore trust you will pardon me for thus addressing you.
You meet together for mutual and friendly consultation, and for devising ways and means, which may, through the blessing of God, tend to our mutual improvement and elevation, by adopting a united and well directed organized effort for the Repeal of the “Black Laws” of the State.
Though absent in the material body, yet, I trust I shall be, though silently, with you in mind and spirit. And in the spirit of meekness, I admonish you, first to guard well against all jealousies, sectional feelings and prejudices, strife and disorder,–and remember that “Heaven’s first law is order”--harmony. If order, harmony and brotherly feeling prevail throughout your deliberations, I shall, as one of your constituents, have a well-grounded hope of your success. I deem these cautions expedient at any time,
and especially at the present, for the signs of the times are portentous of evil to the cause of Liberty in this country, and it therefore behooves us to act wisely and well.
I doubt not, gentlemen, that my ideas of the principles and measures to be adopted for the accomplishment of the object aimed at, will fully coincide with those of your own. Of course we all agree that union of sentiment and concert of action are first necessary. But how shall these be brought about? I answer, just as I suppose you would, without my suggestion, do, and that is, institute a thorough and efficient system of organization, as the first step in this great work. By well organized associations, we assign to each and every man a place to work; and surely every individual can do something, however small, in this great movement.
The next requisite, or means necessary to sustain and carry on the organization to a successful termination, is money. It is the lever on which everything turns in this country, and especially in Yankee land. This is a power in the land, and all are, in duty bound to contribute their mite to augment it.
But let us not forget, that in all our gettings “get knowledge, get understanding;” for,
“Ignorance is the curse of God,
Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to Heaven.
The means to be used in getting Knowledge is Education. Then do not omit to attend well to this subject. We have but little to expect from the old and ignorant; but our great hopes are centered in the Education of the rising generation. Aye, it is the saving hope of mankind. And every parent, and especially every mother, should feel impressed with its importance, and should awake to their duty, and act, in right good earnest, in reference thereto.
Though we all agree that money is power, and knowledge is power, let us not forget, that more powerful than both these combined is Truth. Money and Power, in the vicissitudes of human life, may both be lost, or wrested from us; but Truth, absolute truth, is eternal, like its great author, the Infinitely wise and Gracious God. Man may disregard it for a time, until the period arrives when its rays, according to the determination of Heaven, irresistibly break through the mists of prejudice, and, like the opening of day, shed a clear and unextinguishable light over the generation of men. Then let us be true to ourselves and to our God. Finally, brethren, let us labor and wait; for as sure as God lives and rules the destinies of men, so surely will justice come. But it will not come until we do our whole duty; for God has promised to help only those who help themselves. I have said justice will surely come. I may well say justice; for, if ours is not a just cause, then there is not a just cause on Earth; and well may justice mourningly fly the Earth, and leave it in possession of the proud Coins, to walk up and down in it, with undisputed power.
I cannot dismiss this letter without adding a few thoughts in reference to the late great National Decision, claimed to have been given by a majority of the people of the United States. This decision is a staggering blow, not only to the liberties of the black man, but to the white man as well. But let us not despair, but take courage in the reflection that truth though crushed to earth will rise again. And still more, even a small “radical” minority, with principles planted on the whole truth, with God upon their side, is a majority against the universe; for God alone is a majority, and he is pledged to the ultimate triumph of his own truth.
In my zeal, and writing in the midst of the noise of five little children around me, I omitted in the proper place, to mention the plan of organization, which, in the absence of no better, my mind is strongly inclined to favor. I refer to the “Repeal Association” of Cook County.
Your Brother and Co-Laborer,
H. O. WAGONER.
CHICAGO, November 12, 1856.
Mr. R. J. Robinson also read the following letter from Augustus Hill of Joliet.
Brethren in Convention assembled at Alton:
It is with sorrow that I have to inform you that I cannot be with you at the Convention. But let me assure you that there is nothing that would give me more pleasure than that of meeting your Convention; which has for its purpose the raising of us as God’s creatures to the level of men politically. May God’s all-wise spirit direct you in your deliberations. My opinion is that the best means to be employed for securing the objects for which we are now laboring is to appoint a State canvasser; and one in every county and school district if necessary. I for one will do my utmost to accomplish the desired end. I would say that we in Will County are all right as regards the subject. Let us, brethren, have a union of action, and victory will crown our efforts.
Yours truly in the cause of Freedom,
JOLIET, November 13, 1856.
At the conclusion of the reading of Mr. Hill’s letter, the convention adjourned until Saturday morning at 9 o’clock. MORNING SESSION.
SATURDAY--Vice President Mason in the Chair. Prayer by the Rev. R. J. Robinson. The proceedings of the previous session read and adopted. Wm. Johnson, Secretary of the “School Fund Association,” made his report as follows:
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention:
Your Secretary begs leave to report that his location being so far North, and the Agent and Treasurer being at the extreme South part of the State, it has been impossible for them to conduct the business of the Association, as it should have been done, and as directed by the Convention of 1853. But having examined the Books and papers of the Treasurer and Agent, find them, in my opinion, correct, and would recommend their adoption.
On examining their report I find the amount received in cash to be $852.00, the amount paid out $819.50, leaving a balance on hand of $32.50.
Your Secretary would beg leave to report further. That in his judgment the present plan has proved a fallacy, and would recommend to the Convention a suspension of operations until founded on a more perminent [sic], and at the same time practicable basis. We do not believe that schools can be sustained if they are to depend upon donations and subscriptions only, without a sinking fund from which we can derive an interest.
According to the present arrangement, we have used all the money collected, and find ourselves deficient in means to carry on the enterprise. We know that schools are very much needed but we cannot have them without means to sustain them. We cannot get Agents without pay, nor can we get men who are engaged in other occupations, to devote their whole time to the enterprise. Hence a liberal salary will have to be paid to some one who will attend to it. But for such there has been no definite arrangement yet made, all of which we deem necessary to the success of the enterprise; all of which we most respectfully submit to your consideration.
WILLIAM JOHNSON, Secretary.
The Report of the Secretary was received, and the whole referred to a committee of three, consisting of Messrs. Jones, King and Richardson. They reported that after a careful examination of the books and papers of the Treasurer and Traveling Agent of the “School Fund Association,” found them correct, and would recommend the adoption of the Secretary’s Report, which was agreed to.
Mr. H. Ford Douglass then reported the following Constitution and By-Laws for the State Repeal Association, which was received and adopted.
CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE REPEAL ASSOCIATION
WHEREAS, We, the people of the State of Illinois, are cursed by the blighting influence of oppression, as displayed in the inequality of its laws, in depriving us of the rights of oath and franchise. And whereas, we believe these laws to be morally wrong and impolitic. Therefore, we deem it our duty to organize associations to employ all lawful and honorable means for the repeal of the Black Laws of the State, and for the final accession of our political rights. In view of these facts, we do adopt the following.
The name of this Association shall be the “Illinois State Repeal Association.” The officers shall be a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Corresponding Secretary and an Executive Committee of nine.
The object of this Association shall be to obtain for the colored people of Illinois all the rights and immunities of citizenship. It will endeavor to obtain the rights and immunities by holding public meetings, delivering lectures [13-14] and circulating petitions, thereby producing such a change in public opinion as shall induce the voters of the commonwealth, when presented therewith, and Legislature, when petitioned, to grant them.
Any person may become a member of this Association by paying an initiation fee of twenty-five cents, or the tax imposed by the Convention, and twenty-five cents per month thereafter.
The stated meetings of this Association shall be held on the second Thursday of each month, at which time all monthly dues, will be received, together with the report of the Treasurer and Secretary and the several Committees. The respective officers of this Society shall discharge the duties usually incumbent upon such officers, and shall continue in office until their successors are elected and installed.
The annual meeting for the election of officers shall be held on the second Thursday in January, by ballot or otherwise, at which time there shall be a full report of the condition of the affairs of the Association by all officers and the several committees.
The duties of the Executive Committee shall be to superintend the public affairs of the Association, appoint canvassers and lecturers, with the consent of the Association, and see to the getting up and circulating of all handbills, circulars, memorials and petitions, and attend to such other duties as ay be imposed upon them by a majority of the members of the Association.
All Lectures and Agents in the service of this Society shall be directed in their labors by the Executive Committee, and shall be accountable to it for the faithful discharge of their duties. All orders from the Executive Committee bearing the signature of the President shall be honored by the treasurer when presented for the payment of lecturers, agents and all continent expenses of the Society.
It shall be the duty of all officers of this Association, on leaving office, to deliver to their successors all books, papers, money and property of the Society. Any officer, for the non-performance of constitution duties, may be fined or expelled, at the option of two-thirds of the present.
Any members who shall fail to pay their monthly dues for two successive monthly meetings, unless in case of absence from the city or sickness, shall be expelled. In case of vacancies, by resignation or otherwise, the Society shall proceed by election to fill such vacancies at the next stated meeting. Seven members shall constitute a quorum of this Society. This may be altered or amended by a vote of two-thirds of the members present at the annu meetings, but may not be disorganized until we have obtained all of political rights.
All auxiliary Associations shall pay into the Treasury of the State Association the sum of Ten Dollars per annum, subject to such other addi-tional tax, not to exceed five dollars, as may in the judgment of the Repeal Association be deemed proper, to aid in carrying out the principles and measures set forth in the preamble to this Constitution.
Any officer who shall fail to be at any of the regular meetings of thr Association at the hour of eight o'clock, shall be fined not less than ten nor more than fifty cents; and if they refuse to pay such fine, on trial and conviction thereof, they shall be expelled.
At the close of the regular meeting, the roll shall be called, and those who shall fail to answer to their names, shall be fined not more than twenty cents.
RULES FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THIS ASSOCIATION
I. Upon the appearance of a quorum the President shall call the Association to order.
II. The meetings of this Association shall be opened with prayer;
III. The minutes of the preceding meeting shall be read at the opening of each meeting, at which time, mistakes, if there be any, shall be corrected before entering them on the Journal.
IV. The President shall decide all questions of order, subject to an appeal to the Association.
V. All motions and addresses shall be made to the President, the member rising from his seat.
VI. All Committees shall be appointed by the Chair, unless otherwise ordered by the Association.
VII. The previous question shall always be in order, and, shall preclude all amendments and debates to the main question, put in this form: "Shall the main question now be put?"
H. Ford Douglass
Louis Isbell, H. D. King.
The following gentlemen were elected as officers of the Repeal Association.
President.–John Jones of Cook.
Vice President.–Dr. M. Cary of Cook.
Secretary.–B. L. Ford, of Cook.
Corresponding Secretary.--John A. Crisup, of Cook.
Executive Committee.–R. H. Rollins, Chicago, Chairman; H. D. King, Alton; Thomas Mason, Peoria; Louis Isbell, Chicago; Henry Bradford, Chicago; J. H. Barquet, Chicago; Wm. Johnson, Chicago; Wm. Barton, Macoupin; B. Henderson, Jacksonville.
The following Standing Committees were appointed to report at the next Annual Convention.
Education.–H. O. Wagoner, Frederick K. Waldren, R. J. Robinson.
Addresses.--H. Ford Douglass, William Johnson, A. W. Jackson.
Colonization.–John Jones, L. Isbell, Thomas Mason.
Agriculture.--J. H. Johnson, B. Henderson, P. H. Ward.
Mechanics.--A. H. Richardson, C. C. Richardson, B. Allen.
The Chairman of the Business Committee then reported resolutions twenty-one to twenty-eight, inclusive, all of which, after some discussion were adopted.
In accordance with resolution twelfth, the Convention proceeded to appoint two Commissioners, one for the southern and one for the northern portion of the State; Springfield constituting the dividing line. Mr. John Jones, of Cook, nominated Rev. J. H. Johnson, of Madison County, as one of the Commissioners; which was carried. Mr. Louis Isbell nominated H. Ford Douglass, of Cook, as the Commissioner for the northern district. Carried.
Mr. William Johnson of Cook, then offered the following resolution, which was unanimously adopted.
Resolved, That the “State Repeal Association” pay the Commissioners fifty dollars each, and their expenses; and that they be employed for one month; to commence operations on the 15th of December, concentrating at Springfield on the 15th of January, 1857. That the State Central and State Executive Committees be requested to meet their Commissioners at the above time and place; forming a grand official meeting for the transaction of such business as they may deem proper for the accomplishment of the objects set forth in the “Declaration of Sentiment and Plan of Action.”
On motion of W. L. Barnes, the Convention adjourned, to meet that evening at 7½ o’clock, at Liberty Hall, to listen to addresses from H. Ford Douglass, William Johnson and John Jones.
MEETING AT LIBERTY HALL
SATURDAY EVENING, NOV. 15, 1856.
A very large assemblage of both colored and whites convened at Liberty Hall to hear speeches from Messrs. Jones, Douglass and Johnson. The meeting was organized by calling John Jones to the Chair and appointing A. W. Jackson, Secretary.
Mr. Jones, in taking the Chair, addressed the meeting for about twenty-five minutes, in a very able and appropriate manner. He said:
“I am no public speaker; I am unsuited to the platform. If there is a place for so humble an individual as myself in this anti-Slavery movement it is the executive department. But I have had no choice in the present arrangement; if so, I had not been here to-night; at least in this position. The scene before me calls up old and familiar reminiscences. I am no stranger era in Alton. I love it, because it was here I first breathed free air and stood up a man, beyond the reach of the inhuman code of Slavery.”
Mr. Jones, after some complimentary remarks to Frederick Douglass, concluded his speech by offering the following resolution, which was unanimously adopted.
Resolved, That we recognize in the “FREDERICK DOUGLASS PAPER,” published At Rochester, New York, by Frederick Douglass, an able and efficient advocate of our cause; and that we most heartily recommend it to the favorable consideration of the anti-Slavery friends in this State.
Mr. William Johnson was the next speaker. He addressed the audience at considerable length, in his usual happy manner. We are very sorry that we cannot give a portion of Mr. Johnson’s very eloquent address.
Mr. H. Ford Douglass was then introduced to the meeting. His speech was not only eloquent but elegant; acknowledged by all to be a moat brilliant effort. His conclusion was:
“SIR,--The extreme ultraism of John C. Calhoun that had been crushed by the iron hand of Jackson, only to spring up again, ere his grave was green with the verdure of four summers, has been permitted to blossom and bring forth fruit under the administration of Franklin Pierce.
“Judge Kane decided that a slaveholder had the same right to carry his slave with him into a Free State that he had to take his carpet-bag. The doctrine that Slavery goes wherever the Constitution goes is now openly maintained by Toombs and others in the South, and dough-faces innumerable in the North. This is the only consistent course for the man who admits the constitutional right of the slaveholder to make merchandise of men. If it permit slavery to exist in Missouri--the right of one man to enslave another; it sanctions that infernal doctrine that had its birth amidst the darkest conceptions of atheism--that one man can own the blood, bones and muscles of his fellow-man; traffic in the blood-bought image of Christ; shut out from their immortal souls the light of God’s glorious sun, then indeed is it a national institution, having rights in common with any other institution in the country, that the Constitution recognizes, to go wherever it goes.
“But, sir, I do not assent to the doctrine. This is not a great slave empire--a barbarian people--third-rate civilization. To borrow the undying inspirations of another, like the Roman who looked back upon the glory of his ancestors, in great woe exclaiming,
“Great Scipio’s ghost complains that we are slow,
And Pompey’s shade walks unrevenged among us.”
“The great dead of this Republic--the founders of our government--have left their testimony on record, in opposition to the doctrine of slavery’s constitutional legality. Mr. Sherman would not have the word slave in the Constitution. Mr. Madison thought it wrong to admit that man could hold property in man. It was the glowing effulgency of this heavenly light, that touched the lips of Brougham, who in after years, upon the floor of the House of Lords, gave utterance to that strain of mighty eloquence that still rings through the world like the trumpet voice of God; that so long as man shall hate fraud, loathe rapine, and abhor blood, he will reject with indignation the wild and guilty phantasy that man can hold property in man.
“The doctrine now advanced by anti-Slavery men, that Freedom is national while Slavery is sectional, is in itself destructive and fatal to American liberty. There is an axiom, progressively grand, of deeper political wisdom and of a more enlarged democracy, that teaches that Freedom should prevail everywhere and Slavery nowhere. This, and this only, is true anti-Slavery. It is the saving hope of the Republic. Any other principle is political suicide. To advocate the sectional right of Slavery would be to break up the throne of God and spit in the face of the Deity.
“The Republican movement was one of the wildest delusions that ever entered into the conceptions of men professing anti-Slavery. And I now address this solemn invocation to my Heavenly Father, that he will, in much mercy, forgive this erring son for the greatest sin of his life, that of making three speeches in favor of the Republican party. Men who had gloried in the name of abolition all their lives were swallowed up in the Republican maelstrom, and after its terrible baptism how changed. That great man, Frederick Douglass, while stumping for Mr. Fremont and the success of the Republican movement, could find it in his soul to defend that party from the charge of abolition. Why has the term become disagreeable to men who are themselves the strongest argument in favor of the correctness of the principle? Is a man to be despised because he hates Slavery? What is Slavery? What is Freedom? Gaze in upon the unclouded glory of God’s moral universe, and up to the eternal stars ‘amid whose field of azure my raised spirit now walks in glory;’ and then descend--down, down, and still down to the dark
sulphurous caverns of Hell’s mid-night–described by Milton’s immortal genius; then again let me press the interrogation: What is Freedom? What is Slavery?
“Oh! if I should go to Boston in search of an abolitionist, I would not look for Wendell Phillips, that inflexible champion of the right. Oh! no, friends, I would look for another object; I would look over to that shaft pointing up from Bunker’s classic ground, whose granite brow mid-way leaves the storm chanting forever in the music of the winds the glorious anthems of Revolutionary Freedom.
“Why, sir, this grand old temple of the universe is nothing more nor less than an abolition meeting-house, vocal with the anti-Slavery eloquence of nature, pouring its resistless tide through every avenue of human activity.
One word to my colored friends and I have done. We want education and we want money. With these two potent instruments we have the ‘Archimedean lever’ with which we may turn the wicked institution of this country up side down, and pour Slavery into the pit below, its only congenial abiding place. This is what we can do if we will only assert our manhood in the right way. One of old England’s philosophers said that “Knowledge was Power.” He had learned this from her history; he had read Britain’s story from the days when the beak-headed eagles of Rome, borne by the rapacious legions of Julius Caesar, first landed on her shores, till bursting off that bubble of proud Spain’s invasion, the ‘Spanish Armada,’ are the Castilian conqueror’s foot could press her ‘chalky shore.’ He had seen the little green isle of Briton, a mere speck on the ocean, important only as a watering place upon the commercial highway of nations, spring up--through the silent and mysterious operations of the brain--to the first power in the world; her white-winged commerce cleaving every wave, her strains of martial music encircling the globe.
Let us profit from the teachings of history, until each one of us shall fully realize the truth of which Lord Bacon taught that “Knowledge is Power.”
1. Resolved, That this Convention appoint a Committee of three to draft a Constitution, By-Laws and Rules, for the Government of the different Township and County Repeal Associations.
2. Resolved, That all those who pay the tax of twenty-five cents imposed by this Convention, be members of the State Repeal Association.
3. Resolved, That in all our efforts to improve our condition we should invite the co-operation of woman; regarding her in all the relations of life--whether wife, mother, or sister--the guardian of education, virtue, and good manners.
4. Resolved, That this Convention hold Evening Sessions, at which time addresses will be given by members of the Convention.
5. Resolved, That we recommend the formation of Female Repeal Associations, to be auxiliary to the Parent Society. [19-20]
6. Resolved, That this Convention appoint two Commissioners--one in the North and one in the South part of the State;--Springfield to form the dividing line.
7. Resolved, That the Convention tender to A. W. Jackson, a vote of thanks for the able services he has rendered the colored people of this State while acting as Agent for the “School Fund Association.”
8. Resolved, That this Convention appoint the following Standing Committees, to report at the next Annual Convention: Mechanics, Agriculture, Colonization, Addresses, and Education; to consist of three members each.
9. Resolved, That we, the colored people of Illinois, will never cease petitioning the Legislature for the repeal of the Black Laws until our petitions are granted.
10. Resolved, That each member of the Convention be taxed One Dollar, to defray the expenses of publishing the Proceedings of this Convention; and that each delegate be entitled to fifteen copies when published.
11. Resolved, That H. D. King and C. C. Richardson be associated with g. J. Robinson to take charge of all the property belonging to this Convention, and report at our next annual meeting.
12. Resolved, That this Convention request the Chicago Repeal Association to merge themselves into the State Repeal Association, to be
located there in the future.
13. Resolved, That we recommend the formation of Lyceums in every town, village and settlement in the State.
14. Resolved, That we suspend our school operations for one year, but would recommend to the people the necessity of sustaining and keeping up schools in some other way.
15. Resolved, That the members of the Convention guarantee to their Commissioners, by way of subscription, the amount proposed to be paid them for their services.
16. Resolved, That we most heartily return thanks to the kind people of Alton for the hospitable manner in which we have been received and entertained among them.
17. Resolved, That we have three hundred copies of the minutes printed.
18. Resolved, That the Convention return its thanks to the President, for the able and impartial manner he has presided over its deliberations; and to the other officers for the faithful manner in which they have severally discharged their duties.*
- NOTE—In revising the proceedings, many of the resolutions, as numbered in the minutes, are left out, for the reason that they are embodied in motions recorded elsewhere in the proceedings.
CONSTITUTION, BY-LAWS AND RULES FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPEAL ASSOCIATION AUXILIARY TO THE STATE REPEAL ASSOCIATION, LOCATED AT CHICAGO, COOK COUNTY
WHEREAS, We, the people of color of the State of Illinois, are cursed by the blighting influence of oppression, as displayed in the inequality of its laws, in depriving us of the rights of oath and franchise. And whereas, we believe these laws to be morally wrong and impolitic. Therefore, we deem it our duty to organize associations to employ all lawful honorable means for the repeal of the Black Laws of the State, and for the final accession of our political rights. In view of these facts, we do adopt the following:
The name of this Association shall be the “___________________ Association.” The officers shall be a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Corresponding Secretary and an Executive Committee of five.
The object of this Association shall be to obtain for the colored people of Illinois all the rights and immunities of citizenship. It will endeavor to obtain the rights and immunities by holding meetings, delivering lectures and circulating petitions, thereby producing such a change in public opinion as shall induce the voters of the commonwealth, when presented therewith, and Legislature, when petitioned, to grant them.
Any person may become a member of this Association by paying an initiation fee of twenty-five cents, or the tax imposed by the Convention.
The stated meetings of this Association shall be held on the second Tuesday of each month, at which time all monthly dues, will be received, together with the report of the Treasurer and Secretary and the different Committees that may be appointed from time to time. The officers of the Association shall discharge the duties usually attaching themselves to their
respective stations, and shall continue In office until their successors are elected and installed.
The annual meeting for the election of officers shall be held on the second Tuesday in January, by ballot, unless otherwise ordered, at which time there shall be a full report of the condition of the affairs of the Association by all officers and the several committees.
The duties of the Executive Committee shall be to superintend the public affairs of the Association, make necessary provision for all meetings of the Society, and the getting up of all hand-bills, the proper circulation of petitions and memorials.
All Lecturers and Agents in the service of this Society shall be directed in their labors by the Executive Committee.
The money for the prosecution of the designs of this Association shall be received by initiation fees, monthly dues, proceeds of lectures, donations and bequest. The Treasurer shall give bonds to the Executive Committee, at any time, for double the amount of moneys or property delivered into his possession. The official capacity of any member shall not render him ineligible to any appointment that the Executive Committee may deem proper to confer upon him.
It shall be the duty of all officers of this Association, on leaving office, to deliver to their successors all books, papers, money and property of the Society. Any officer, for the non-performance of constitutional duties, may be fined or expelled, at the option of two-thirds of the members present.
Any members who shall fail to pay their monthly dues for two successive monthly meetings, unless in case of absence from the city or sickness, shall be expelled. In case of vacancies, by resignation or otherwise, the Society shall proceed by election to fill such vacancies at the next stated meeting. Seven members shall constitute a quorum of this Society. This may be altered or amended by a vote of two-thirds of the members present at the annual meetings, but may not be disorganized until we have obtained all of our political rights.
Any officer who shall fail to be at any regular meeting of the Association at the hour of eight o’ clock, shall be fined not less than ten nor more than fifty cents; and if they refuse to pay such fine, on trial and conviction thereof, they shall be expelled.
At the close of the regular meetings, the roll shall be called, and those who shall fail to answer to their names, shall be fined not less than ten nor more than fifty cents.
RULES FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THIS ASSOCIATION.
I. Upon the appearance of a quorum the President shall call the Association to order.
II. The meetings of this Association shall be opened with prayer.
III. The minutes of the preceding meeting shall be read at the opening of each meeting, at which time, mistakes, if there be any, shall be corrected before entering them on the Journal.
IV. The President shall decide all questions of order, subject to an appeal to the Association.
V. All motions and addresses shall he made to the President, the member rising from his seat.
VI. All Committees shall be appointed by the Chair, unless otherwise ordered by the Association.
VII. The previous question shall always be in order, and, until desired, shall preclude all amendments and debates to the main question, and shall be put in this form:
“Shall the main question now be put?”
VIII. No member shall be interrupted while speaking, except when out of order, and then he shall be called to order by or through the Chair.
IX. No member shall speak more than twice on the same subject without the consent of the Association, nor more than ten minutes at each time.
X. It shall be the duty of the members, when the roll is called, to come forward and pay their dues, after which, the books shall be opened for the reception of members.
XI. Any of these rules may be suspended on motion, by a majority of the members present.
XII. Any member seconding a motion, must rise to his feet.
they will become when they have lived for a time in the element of Anti-Slavery discussion." (Frederick Douglass' Paper, Aug. 15, 1856, quoted in Philip S. Foner, ed., The Life and writings of Frederick Douglass [New York, 1950], II 399.)