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Proceedings for the North American Convention held in Toronto, Canada, 1851


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Proceedings for the North American Convention held in Toronto, Canada, 1851














Pursuant to a Call, the convention assembled in the St. Lawrence Hall at the hours of 10 o'clock.

The House was call to order by Mr. J.T. Fisher, who moved the appointment of Mr. Henry Bibb as chairman, pro tem, and on motion of Mr. J.S. Cary, seconded by Mr. Thomas Smallwood, Mr. James D. Tinsley was appointed Secretary, pro tem.

On motion of J.T. Fisher, Seconded by D. Hollins, the Chair appointed a committee to nominate permanent officers, and the same committee to examine the credentials of delegates.

Moved by Jabez P. Campbell, seconded by JD Fisher that this committee consist of three persons, and that they report at two o'clock.

Committee, —James Thomas Fisher, Hiram Wilson, and Josiah Henson.

On motion of WH Harris, credentials were received from the following delegates:

Toronto—Thomas Smallwood, James D. Tinsley, John J. Carey, William H. Harrison, David Hollins, J.T. Fisher.

Niagara—Rev. F. Lacy, B. Hoyt, William Scott, Isaac Washington, D. Goodley, G. Moragn, G. Brackston.

Dawn—Josiah Henson, G. Carey, W.P. Newman, J. Wilson.

St. Catherines—L.P. Barton, J. Anderson, E.B. Dunlop, H. Grey, H. Wilson, Dr. Lawson.

Buffalo, US.—H.R. Thomas, P. Harris, B.F. Young, Rev. Jabez P. Campbell, J. Simpson, G. Weir, jun., J. McLean.

Burlington, Vermont, US.—J.T. Fisher.

Utica—Free Will baptist Mission—R. Cheney.

Montrose, PA—A.L. Post

Sandwich, OW.—H. Bibb, A. Smith, H. Brent.

Windsor—Israel Campbell.

Chippewa—A. Anderson.

Toledo, Ohio—H.F. Stanton.

Hamilton—F. Russel, J. Burns.

Norwich—J. Wagner, F. DeGroat.

Chatham—J.C. Brown.

Syracuse—J. Lisle, James Baker.

Albany—William H. Topp.

England—John Scoble, Esq.

Port Hope—Henry Grey.

Jamaica, WI.—Mr. Anderson

Pittsburg PA.—Dr. M.R. Delaney

Dover, CW.—Isaiah Clifford.

Moved by J.T. Fisher, that the Convention now hear the report of delegates, which was carried.

Moved by the Rev. J.P. Campbell, that the chair address the convention, and also state the object of the call.

On motion of Rev. H. Wilson, a business committee of five persons was appointed: the following persons were nominated by the chair to act in that capacity, and report at two o'clock: J.T. Fisher, Hiram Wilson, J.P. Campbell, George Carey, and B.F. Young.

On motion, the convention adjourned to meet at two o'clock.


Minutes of the forenoon session were read and approved.

The President announced the first business in order would be, to hear reports from committees.

The committee on Officers reported the following persons:

President—Henry Bibb.

Vice-Presidents—J.C. Brown, Chatham, CW.; T. Smallwood, Toronto; H.F. Stanton, Toledo, Ohio.

Secretary—James D. Tinsley, Toronto.

Assistant Secretary—J.J. Carey.

On motion of Rev. H. Wilson, that the report be adopted: while this motion was pending, an amendment was offered by Mr. Scoble, seconded by Mr. Campbell, that Mr. J.C. Browns's name be stricken from the list as vice-president, and some respectable person be appointed in his stead; the subject of which was referred to a committee of seven, which made the following report:

"The committee, to whom was referred the investigation of the case of J. C. Brown, beg leave to state, that they have duly considered the case, and from the nature of the circumstances, are not justified in declaring him guilty of the charge, neither can they entirely exonerate him from acting wrong; and as the case is undergoing a legal investigation, they therefore recommends that Mr. J. C. Brown's named be withdrawn as a candidate for any office in this Convention."

The committee on "Rules," reported the following:

1. Resolved, that each session of the convention be opened by addressing the Throne of Grace.

2. At the time appointed for the assembling of each session of the Convention, the President shall take the chair and call the Convention to order.

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

4. The President shall decide all questions of order subject to an appeal of the Convention.

5. All motions and addresses shall be made to the President; the member rising from his seat.

6. All motions, except those of reference, shall be submitted in writing.

7. All committees shall be appointed by the chair unless otherwise ordered by the Convention.

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

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

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

11. No member shall speak more than twice on the same question, without the consent of the Convention, nor more than fifteen minutes at each time.

12. No resolution except of reference, shall be offered to the convention, except it come through the business committee: but all resolutions rejected by the committee, may be presented directly to the convention, if the maker of such wishes to do so.

13. Rule as amended. Sessions of the convention shall commence at half-past nine o'clock, a. m., and shall close at one o'clock, p. m.; to commence at half-past two o'clock, p. m., and close at six, p. m.; evening session shall commence at half-past seven o'clock, and close at the discretion of the convention.

The business committee then reported the following resolutions, which, after a spirited debate, were received and adopted.

1. Resolved that the infamous fugitive slave enactment of the American Government—whether constitutional or unconstitutional, is an insult to God, and an outrage upon humanity, not to be endured by any people; we therefore earnestly entreat our brethren of the northern and southern states to come out from under the jurisdiction of those wicked laws—from the power of a Government whose tender mercies, towards the colored people, are cruel.

2. Resolved, that we feel truly grateful, as a people, to her Britannic Majesty's just and powerful Government, for the protection afforded us; and are fully persuaded from the known fertility of the soil, and salubrity of climate of the milder regions of Canada West, that this is, by far, the most desirable place of resort for colored people, to be found on the American continent.

3. Resolved, That we warmly recommend to colored settlers in Canada, to use all diligence in obtaining possession of uncultivated lands, for the laudable purpose of making themselves and their offspring independent tillers of a free soil.

The following protest against the first resolution was entered by the undersigned delegates:

Whereas, the convention, in adopting the first resolution, inviting the colored people to leave the northern part of the United States, has done so contrary to the desires and wishes of those of us, from the States, who believe it to be impolitic and contrary to our professed policy in opposing the infamous fugitive slave laws, and schemes of American colonization; therefore we do hereby enter our solemn disapprobation and protest against this part of the said resolution.

M R Delaney, Penn.

Wm H Topp, New York

Henry F Stanton, Ohio

Payton Harris, New York

On the motion of Rev. J P Campbell, Resolved, that all persons present, who come from places from which no delegates have been appointed, and who concur in the spirit of the call, and are desirous of participating in the deliberations, shall by having their names enrolled, be considered delegates of this convention.

On motion, the convention adjourned until seven o'clock this evening.


The minutes of the afternoon session were read and approved.

Several eloquent and effective addresses were delivered by Messrs Bibb, Lisle, Hiram Wilson and JP Campbell.

Moved by JT Fisher, that the business community be enlarged by an addition of four.

WH Topp, J Lyles, F Russel, and H K Thomas, were added.

Moved by Mr. Baker, that a committee of three be appointed, to wait on the Trustees of the First Baptist Chapel, of this city, to ascertain whether they will grant the use of it for the holding of this convention.

D Hollins, J Lisle, and J D Tinsley were appointed.

On motion, the meeting adjourned to meet tomorrow, the 12th instant, at nine o'clock, a. m.


The convention met according to adjournment.

Prayer by Mr Lisle, after which the roll was called, and minutes of previous day were read and adopted.

On motion of Mr Harris, reports from the several delegates, setting forth the moral, civil, and pecuniary condition of our people, in their respective localities, were listened to with much attention, and, in some instances, with great satisfaction.

On motion, the following resolution reported by the business committee was called up for consideration, with Mr Scoble of England arose, and in an able and eloquent manner, recommended its adoption.

Resolved, that chattel slavery, as now existing in the United States, is repugnant to Divine Revelation—to reason, conscience, and common sense,—that it is a most flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of Christianity, and ought, at once, and for ever, to be abolished.

On motion, the convention adjourned to meet at two oclock, p.m.


The convention met as per adjournment.

Prayer by Rev. JP Campbell, minutes of the morning session were read and adopted.

The following additional resolutions were reported by the business committee:

1. Resolved, that this convention impress upon the minds of our people the great necessity of acquiring education and wealth. 2. Resolved, that we recommend to the people, abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, that they may, by so doing, save dollars for themselves and their children.

Whereas, the independence and stability of the farmers' life throw around them the elements of character essential to happiness and progress, therefore,

Resolved, that this convention recommend to the people to cultivate the soil as one of the surest means by which to attain to respectability influence, and independence.

Resolved, that this convention impress upon the minds of parents the necessity and advantage of their children learning trades; and that parents do not discharge their duty to their children, who do not make sacrifices to promote that end.

Resolved, that the convention recommend to the colored people of the U.S. of America, to emigrate to the Canadas instead of going to Africa or the West India Islands, that they, by so doing, may be better able to assist their brethren who are daily dying from American slavery.

On motion, the report was received, and the Resolutions were adopted excepting the fourth which was laid over for the time, but adopted at a subsequent period.

On motion, a committee on statistics, consisting of the following gentlemen, was appointed by the President: JP Campbell, Wm H Topp, and HR Thomas.

On motion, the convention adjourned to meet again at seven o'clock this evening.


President in the chair.

Messers WW Anderson, of Jamaica, and John Scoble Esq., of England; being solicited, came forward, and occupied the attention of the convention, with able and eloquent addresses in favor of emigration to Jamaica.

Mr. Scoble spoke, at great length, on the duty of looking upon all available locations on this continent whether Canada, West Indies, or South America, as offering especial inducements, to the colored man to promote enterprise intelligence and industry, and as furthering the great designs of the Deity in his final success.

On motion, a vote of thanks was tendered to those gentlemen for their information and able addresses.


President in the chair.

Divine blessing was invoked by the Rev. Israel Campbell, of Windsor.

The minutes of the previous session were read and approved.

The business committee then presented the following resolutions:

Resolved, that slavery being a sin against God, and an outrage upon man, we feel sacredly bound, as a convention and as individuals, to make common cause with the enslaved, and never to cease our efforts against slavery until it is swept from the face of the earth,—or our vital breath and pulsation cease.

Resolved, that in the opinion of this convention, establishment of exclusive churches and schools for colored people, contributes greatly towards the promotion of prejudice, heretofore unknown in the Canadas, and we do hereby recommend that all such organizations be abandoned as speedily as may be practicable.

Resolved that the British Government is the most favorable in the civilized world to the people of color, and is thereby entitled to our entire confidence.

Resolved, that we recommend to the friends of humanity, to support such presses only as will faithfully vindicate our cause; and that we use our best efforts to extend the circulation of the "Voice of the Fugitive."

On motion, the convention adjourned to meet at two o'clock, p. m.


President in the chair.

Prayer was offered by the Rev. J Lisle, after which, the minutes were read and approved.

Moved by John Scoble, Esq., seconded by William H. Harris, that a committee be formed to draw up an address as emanating from this convention, and embodying in its spirit the sentiments embraced in the various resolutions which have been adopted, and that the same committee be a committee of revision and publication.

Moved by Mr. Scobie, and seconded by Rev. H. Henson, that Mr. Bibb be one of that committee; J T Fisher and J D Tinsley were also appointed to complete that committee.

The following amendment, offered by Mr. Scoble to a resolution offered by Mr. Fisher, was unanimously adopted.

Resolved, that the formation of a great league of the colored people of the North and South American continents, and of the West Indies, for the general abolition of slavery for the protection of the common rights of their brethren throughout the world and for their social, political and moral elevation, be recommended to the consideration of a committee of five persons, to be appointed by this convention; and that they take the necessary steps to acquire information, and to report at such a time, and in such a manner, as they may think proper, the result of their inquiries and deliberations.

Resolved, that this convention recommend, as worthy of our support, the Government of Great Britain and her West Indian colonies and Canadian provinces, in preference to Central America, or any other country tainted with slavery; and we do recommend to all our friends in the free states, to settle under its protection.

On motion, the convention adjourned to meet at seven o'clock, p.m.


The Convention was called to order by the present.

Prayer was offered by Rev. Israel Campbell; minutes of afternoon session were read and approved.

On motion, resolved that we tender our thanks to the anti-slavery societies of the city of Toronto and the Elgin Association, for their kindness toward our friends since the passage of the fugitive slave enactments.

On motion, resolved that a committee of seven persons be appointed to correspond on the subject of calling another convention.

The following gentlemen were appointed a committee of correspondence.

Henry Bibb, Sandwich, Canada West,

Samuel R Ward, Boston, Massachusetts,

Wm H Topp, Albany, New York,

A D Shadd, West Chester, Pennsylvania,

David Jenkins, Columbus, Ohio,

A G. Beeman, Newhaven, Connecticut.

William Lambert, Michigan.

On motion, Mr Hiram Wilson was added to the business committee.

The convention was then addressed by Dr M R Delaney, in an eloquent manner.

On motion, a vote of thanks was tendered by the convention to the chairman and officers for the very able and impartial manner in which they have discharged their several duties.

On motion, the convention adjourned sine die.

The following letters were delivered in and read during the sitting of the Convention.

ALBANY, September 10.

To the President and members of the Convention now sitting in Toronto.

Gentlemen,—I deeply regret the necessity of disappointing both you and myself in be-

ing attendance at the Convention now in session in your city.

You are aware, gentlemen, that no one can be more interested in the weal of the colored people, whether in the province of Canada or the United States, than myself. And when I consider the importance and utility of the questions that must necessarily come up before you for discussion, and the giant intellects among you, to investigate those questions, I am satisfied, gentlemen, that the cause is safe in your hands, and the general welfare of the people you represent, deep at heart.

And, being aware that the representative from this city is already among you, or on his way thither, I am satisfied that our own city will be well represented.

With high regard, and a deep and abiding interest in our common cause,

I am, Gentlemen,

Your humble and obedient servant,


To the NORTH AMERICAN CONVENTION at Toronto, C. W., Sept. 1851


In consequence of the small number of colored inhabitants in the state of Vermont, and the non-existence of any concert of action amongst those few, it is impracticable for us to avail ourselves of representation in your convention by a Delegate from amongst us. But we have solicited the services of J. T. Fisher of Toronto, to represent our views and interest in said convention. And however humble we may appear in the consideration of the convention, we are confident that the reputation of the worthy individual whom we have chosen to represent us, will gain for our views the due attention of the convention. Without further preliminaries we will proceed to define our views as to the general course to be adopted.

1st. Promulgate a constitution for a North American League, of the colored people of the United States and the Canadas.

2nd. To embrace as the object of this League: first, to make a comfortable asylum for refugees from slavery; second, to encourage the removal of the free colored people from the United States to Canada; third, to have them engage in the cultivation of the soil, as the basis of all industrial operations—after agriculture becomes well developed, to erect mills and manufactories—after the erection of mills and manufactories to proceed to commercial exportation.

3rd. As a means to effect this object, let your present convention establish Toronto as the head quarters or centre of operations for the North American League; and elect a President, Vice Presidents, Secretaries, Treasurer and several Directors, who shall form a Board of Managers or Executive Committee for the League. Two-thirds of whom shall be resident in Toronto, to transact the business of the League during the interim that will elapse between the annual assemblages of the North American League, which should be held every year from now henceforth—to provide for the establishment of associations of the North American League, auxiliary to the committee at Toronto, throughout the provinces of the Canadas, and in the United States. For this purpose let your convention appoint or authorize the Executive Committee of Toronto to appoint commissioners throughout the Canadas, and the United States, to superintend the formation of these auxiliary organizations and keep up a correspondence from their various localities with the Toronto Committee—let the North American League keep up traveling agents, under direction of the Toronto Committee, in the United States, Canadas and Great Britain, to present our claims to the philanthropic, and collect donations to carry our the objects of the League, and oppose the African colonization scheme.

4th. If the laws of Canada will admit of it, to provide for the incorporation of the Toronto Executive Committee as early as practicable, in order to give stability to the organization, and afford security to all contributors for the proper outlay of their money contributed.

The above propositions we most respectfully submit, to the consideration of your honorable body. We believe they contain some of the most essential points, that can possibly effect the practical object of the convention; and we have felt most interested to present our views upon them, to the neglect of all other minor points.

We will now indulge in some collateral reflections and conclude. We regard your assembly as the sovereign representatives of the colored people of the United States and

the Canadian provinces. You have the supreme right to legislate for their interest, and adopt measures for their advancement irrespective of any other association, so far as wisdom and prudence shall suggest. The organization that you shall establish cannot be auxiliary to any other similar association, but must be sovereign in carrying out its own object. And if other associations have been formed with the same or similar objects, it is to be hope if they are sincere in the cause, that they will immediately rank under the banners that you will unfurl at Toronto. When our people assemble in the majesty of such a noble convention, all portions of them should pay respect and deference to their actions, and all cliques, sections and parties should be hushed into silence, and their animosities should at once cease. And all other persons who may be friendly to our race, should remember a people understands their own wants best themselves, and are the most proper to conduct their own affairs in accordance with that sublime sentence!

"—hereditary bondsmen,

Know ye not who would be free, themselves must strike the blow!"

Consequently since by their kind offices in our behalf, we have become sufficiently aroused and developed to assume the defense of our own cause; they should be content to exhibit the truth of their philanthropy by aiding us in carrying out the measures we shall deem proper to adopt. In conclusion we hope that wisdom may shine upon your deliberations, inspire you with harmony of action, and direct your decisions to the welfare of our race. And may the approving smile of heaven rest upon you all in thought, word and deed, and preserve you to a long and happy life, Mr. President and Delegates.





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North American Convention (1851 : Toronto, Canada), “Proceedings for the North American Convention held in Toronto, Canada, 1851,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed April 13, 2024,