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Proceedings of a Convention of Colored Citizens: Held in the City of Lawrence, October 17, 1866


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Proceedings of a Convention of Colored Citizens: Held in the City of Lawrence, October 17, 1866


Pamphlet (8 p. ; 21 cm.)







Lawrence, KS









OCTOBER 17, 1866.





Pursuant to public notice, a mass State Convention of the Colored People of Kansas assembled in Frazer's Hall, in the city of Lawrence, on the 17th of October, 1866, at 11 o'clock A. M.

The Convention was called to order by H. H. Thomas, and on his motion, William L. Smith was chosen temporary President, and E. L. Bradley temporary Secretary. The following gentlemen then enrolled their names as members of the Convention:





































On motion, the following committees were then appointed:

ON PERMANENT ORGANIZATION--C.H. Langston, Samuel Clark, Rev. Henry Jenerals.


ON FINANCE—H. C. Hayden, Rev. G. B. Gray, John Berry, Richard Page, Rev. Nathan Duffin.

ON RESOLUTIONS AND ADDRESS—C. H. Langston, William D. Matthews, John Butler, Daniel Stone, T. J. Baskerville.

The Committee on Permanent Organization made the following report, which was unanimously adopted :

President-EDWARD HILL.

Vice Presidents—T. J. Baskerville, Henry Jennerals, W. L. Smith, Nathan Duffin, Fuller Carter, and H. Robinson.

Secretaries—E. L, Bradley, H. H. Thomas, Samuel Clark.

Chaplain—G. B. Gray.

The Committee on Resolutions and Address, presented the following Report, which was adopted:

1. RESOLVED, That the right of suffrage is inherent and natural and is an essential part of self-government; that it is not merely a conventional privilege, as some contend, which may be given to or withheld from any class at the will of a majority, but it is a right as sacred and inviolable as the right to property, liberty or life; therefore, the government which takes from any class this right is not a democracy, but a despotism.

2. RESOLVED, That it is the duty of the citizens of this State to so alter the Constitution by striking out the word "white," whenever It occurs, that the elective franchise be extended to every class of the people, without distinction of race or color.

3. RESOLVED, That in asking the voters or this State to extend to us the right of suffrage, the right to constitute a part of the State militia, and the right of trial by a jury of our political equals, we do not ask or desire social intercourse or equality with our white fellow citizens, for social equality is a matter of taste, and not of legislation.

4. RESOLVED, That we hold as enemies of humanity, all persons and parties, whether religious or political, that are not in favor of the personal and political freedom and equality of all men without regard to race or color; for we believe that aristocracy and despotism is the same all over the world, and that the man or the party that would enslave or disfranchise a negro, would, if in his power, as willingly enslave or disfranchise an Italian, a German, an Irishman, or any other race.

5. RESOLVED, That the political party in this State known as the National Union Party, has declared its "unalterable determination to oppose negro suffrage in the State of Kansas," therefore we have no confidence in the wisdom, the patriotism, the justice, or the democracy of that party, and believe that it is laboring in the interest of negro-hating rebels.

6. RESOLVED, That it is anti-democratic, inhuman and unjust for the proprietors of stages, railroad cars, barber shops, hotels and saloons, to exclude us on account of color from an equal enjoyment of the conveniences of these public institutions; and that we respectfully ask such proprietors to abolish this unfair, proscriptive and illegal custom; and further, we recommend to our people to seek redress in the courts of justice.

7. RESOLVED, That what we need as an oppressed race just emerging from slavery, is sound moral character, a good education, and money; and therefore we recommend to our people temperance, virtue, industry and economy.

8. RESOLVED, That the Convention appoint a State Executive Committee of nine, whose duty it shall be to superintend the movement now making among us in this State to gain political equality. It shall employ agents to present our claims to the people, raise money to pay the expenses of the same, and to pay other expenses which in its judgment may be necessary. Said Committee shall hold meetings as often as may be deemed advisable, and shall, as far as possible, organize auxiliary Committees in each colored community. The Executive Committee shall continue in office one year, and shall report its doings quarterly through the columns of some public journal.

9. RESOLVED, That we hereby tender our thanks to Andy Johnson, accidental President of the United States, for voluntarily offering to become the Moses of the oppressed colored men of America.

10. RESOLVED, That our heartfelt thanks are due, and hereby tendered to Hon. S.C. Pomeroy and Hon. Sidney Clark, for their earnest devotion to the cause of human rights and human equality while members of the Congress of the United States, and that we hope the people of Kansas will reward them for the fidelity by again placing them at their posts of honor and usefulness.





We address you on the sacred subject of Human Liberty and the Equal Rights of Man. "Hear us for our cause." Assembled as we are in State Convention, to adopt measures for our moral and intellectual improvement, which depends mainly upon ourselves, we would call your attention most earnestly to our constitutional and legal disabilities, the removal of which depends mainly upon you.

We are among you, constituting a portion of the permanent inhabitants of this young and growing Commonwealth. We have been identified with its past troubles. We are identified in its present prosperity. We are laboring, like yourselves, to make for it a future greatness. God, by the chances of war, placed us in your midst. No schemes of expatriation or colonization will ever induce us to leave our adopted home. Since then we are to remain among you, bearing our share of the burden of the Government of the State and the nation, we believe it is unjust, unwise, inhuman and impolitic, to continue in force a constitution and laws which take from us, a a class, many of our dearest, natural and justly inalienable rights. It may be proper for us to state, definitely, in what particulars the constitution and laws make unjust discriminations between us and other citizens.

1st. By putting the word "white" in the first section of the fifth article of the constitution, colored men are denied the use of the ballot, so our personal liberty, our civil rights, our property and legal protection, are all placed at the disposal of others. This is a sort of despotic class legislation of which we most bitterly complain.

2d. The constitution makes the militia of your State consist only OF or white men. This article denies us the poor boon of uniting with you in repelling invasion or suppressing domestic violence.

3d. Being denied the elective franchise, we are excluded from the jury box; and hence, when we are accused of crime, we are not tried by a jury of our political or legal equals.

In asking you to remove these disabilities, by which we are sorely and grievously oppressed, we approach you in the name of God, who has created of one blood all the nations of men. In the name of that impartial justice which, ignoring all distinctions


of race or color, seeks only to establish among men, liberty, equality and fraternity. We appeal to you in the name of that immortal Declaration, which announces that all men are created equal, and that Constitution which was ordained to secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. We ask at your hands no special privileges. We seek no favors. We do not desire social equality. But we do demand equality before the law. We seek complete emancipation—full and perfect enfranchisement—absolute legal equality. These are only the natural, inherent, and inalienable rights of man.

There are many reasons, plain and self-evident, why these rights should not be withheld from us, a few of which we propose to present for your consideration.

First. We are men, constituting one of the nations of men, which are made of one blood, and were created equal and endowed with natural and inalienable rights.

That we are men, no sane man will question. Being men, then we have justly the right of self government. Every man is properly the judge of his own actions; he and he only has the right to say by what rule or law these actions are to be performed. Hence Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. All political power is inherent in the people,—not in any particular or privileged class, but in the people—the whole people. Self-government is not one of the incidents of humanity, but one of its necessities. It is not a something for which men may be prepared. It is not an attainment. It is not a reward of conduct. It is not an honor conferred by society. It is not a prerogative given by the Government. With less than the right of self-government, man is less than man. To rob a man of this right takes from him one of the essential elements of his manhood. The right to exercise the elective franchise is an inseparable part of self-government, and is one of the inherent rights of man. No man, white or black, can justly be deprived of this right. The right of suffrage is not a conventional privilege merely, which may be extended to or withheld from any class of citizens at the will of the majority, but a right as sacred and inviolable as the right of life, liberty, or property. We claim, therefore, that the word "white" ought not to remain in the Constitution, for by it one class of men is disfranchised.

Second. Sound political philosophy demands that all legislation, for or against any class of citizens, be abolished. Class legislation is one of the relics of barbarism, native of the old world. It is not only anti-democratic and anti-American, but monarchical and despotic. Our republican institutions are to conserve the interests of the people and guard their rights. European legislation looks to the sustenance and protection of certain privileged classes. European class legislation sustains an aristocracy of birth, wealth, or education; ours, an aristocracy of tints of the skin and curls of the hair. If the soul of law is its


reasonableness, then that law has no soul which makes a man's right to use the ballot—his right of trial by a jury of his peers, and his right to bear arms in defence of his Country, depend on his complexion. Classes founded on property or intelligence may be tolerated even in a republic; but those based on the color of the skin are utterly intolerable even in a despotism. Yet your constitution and laws make these complexional distinctions among Kansas citizens. The great American democracy has the ridiculous honor of being the only nation in Christendom which makes legal discriminations among its free inhabitants on the ground of color. The enlightened world looks in vain for the reason, wisdom, and philosophy of these unjust and unnatural distinctions. Class legislation is always dangerous, because always oppressive and unjust. It is the prolific and never failing source of discussion, dissension, discord, irritation, insurrection, rebellion and revolution. The history of the world attests the truth of this assertion. America has been, and will be, no exception to this rule. Our own late fratricidal war, with all its sacrifices of blood and treasure, had its origin in class legislation. Oppression, whether it be personal slavery or political disfranchisement, is a continual state of war between the government and the people, and must sooner or later culminate in anarchy and blood.

The rulers may cry peace, peace, yet there is no peace but in exact justice, universal freedom, and absolute and entire civil and political equality. Wisdom, then, should admonish you to take warning from the bloody lessons of the past, and remove all legislation in favor of any class, and place the political power of the State, where it justly belongs, in the hands of the people.

But this class legislation is justified on the ground that black men are too ignorant to enjoy equality of rights before the law—that his ignorance would endanger the stability and safety of your institutions. This pretension is not American, nor is it a modern invention. All the despots and tyrants, from the Pharaohs of Egypt to the present monarchs of Europe, have justified all their despotism on the plea that the people were too ignorant to govern themselves, and therefore all power and authority should be in the hands of a favored few. Hence the doctrine of the divine right of kings. We enter our solemn protest against free and enlightened Americans using the defunct pretensions of ancient or modern tyrants to justify themselves in keeping in force laws not only unjust and oppressive, but unreasonable, unwise, and clannish. But if it is ignorance you so much fear, why put the word "white" in the constitution? In legal or constitutional parlance, does that word signify learning or intelligence, or does it imply that all white men are intelligent, and that all black men are ignorant?

Our learning is, of necessity, extremely limited. We have had but few advantages for gaining a knowledge of books, yet we are not the only ignorant people in Kansas. If by some fell stroke


of Omnipotent power every negro in this State was blotted out of existence, still there would be some ignorance remaining. Although we are unlearned and illiterate, yet when the nation's life was imperiled, in solid phalanx we came to the rescue. We fought on the right side. We will vote on the right side, when given the ballot. But does ignorance necessarily imply a corrupt, fraudulent, or unwise voter? If so, then Jefferson Davis, J. C. Breckenridge, and others of that rebel class, are the most ignorant men in America. Or is learning necessary to make a man a sincere, conscientious, or beneficial voter? If so, then the ignorant negroes of New York must be, in the opinion of William H. Seward, as learned and intelligent as any class of citizens in the Empire State. For as long ago as 1850 he said, "It is my deliberate opinion, founded upon careful observation, that the right of suffrage is exercised by no citizen of the State of New York more conscientiously, or more sincerely, or with more beneficial results to society, than it is by the electors of African descent."

Third. We claim that these disabilities should be removed, because we are tax-payers. It is an American axiom that taxation and representation are inseparable. For the realization of this principle, the Fathers fought the war of the revolution. We ask that in this State this just and holy principle be crystalized into law.

Fourth. You ought to remove these disabilities, because the colored people have done their full share in fighting the battles of the country. In the war for liberty and independence in 1776, and in repelling invasion in 1812, our ancestors bore well their part. Many a well fought battle attests their valor and patriotism. Bunker Hill, Red Bank, New Orleans, and many other spots, are rendered immortal in history by the heroic deeds or our fathers, both black and white. It is fit and proper that we plead their deeds of valor when we demand equality before American law. We are proud of the history of these deeds as we find them garnered up in the records of the past. We are more proud to know that we are not degenerate sons of noble sires. When your Government was endangered by the late rebellion, we hastened to its rescue with the same readiness and devotion as did our fathers. The record of our deeds are still fresh in the minds of every citizen. At the call of the country colored men came from the hills of New England, from the prairies of the West, from the plantations of the South, from all parts of the land, offering their brave hearts and strong arms in its defence. The rebels of the South can bear testimony as to how bravely they fought, how heroically they died.

Shall we ask in vain for equal rights for these men?

Having presented these considerations, we must leave our cause in your hands. It is for you to say whether we shall be freemen or slaves. Whether degraded by legal and constitutional disabilities, or elevated to equal citizenship. The power


to redress our wrongs, and to grant us our just rights, is vested in you. You, for the present, must determine our destiny. We are among you. Here we must remain. Shall our presence conduce to the welfare, peace, and prosperity of the State, or be the cause of dissension, discord, and irritation. We must be a constant trouble in the State until it extends to us equal and exact justice.

Then place justice and equality in your Constitution and laws—in your halls of legislation, in your schools and colleges. Let equality of rights be the foundation of your institutions. Let the rich and the poor, the black and the white, the learned and the ignorant, stand on the broad platform of legal equality. "Then strife and discord will cease, peace will be placed upon an enduring foundation; and our people, now divided and hostile, will dwell together in unity and power."

C. H. LANGSTON, Chairman.





The Financial Committee reported, that the proceeds of the Festival would be sufficient to defray the expenses of the Convention, which the Committee on Festival agreed to do.

The State Executive Committee were appointed as follows:

C. H . LANGSTON, Leavenworth Co.; WILLIAM D. MATTHEWS, Leavenworth Co.; H. H. THOMAS, Leavenworth Co.; EDWARD HILL, Douglas Co.; H. C HAYDEN, Douglas Co.; FULLER CARTER, Franklin Co.; WILLIAM JOHNSON, Miami Co.; Rev. HENRY JENERALS, Wyandotte Co.; Rev. NATHAN DUFFIN, Anderson Co.

RESOLVED, That the Convention adjourn to meet in Topeka on the third Wednesday of January, 1867.

Three hearty cheers were then given for Universal Suffrage.


The State Executive Committee met at the close of the Convention, and organized by appointing—

C. H. LANGSTON, Chairman.

WM. D. MATTHEWS, Secretary.

H. C. HAYDEN, Treasurer.

After adopting the annexed appeal to the colored citizens of the State, the Committee adjourned to meet at Lawrence on Thursday, November 22d, 1866.


To the Colored Citizens:

In a State Convention which assembled in the city of Lawrence on the 17th of October, 1866, a plan of organization was adopted, by which we hope to unite our people in working to get the right to vote.

You will see from the Resolutions published herewith, that a State Executive Committee of nine men, from different counties, was appointed. The duty of this Committee is to raise money to employ men to canvass for the State, and to urge upon our white fellow citizens the propriety and importance of extending the right of suffrage to colored men. The Committee can do nothing without your assistance and co-operation. They must have your help. The work is important. If we would get our rights, we must work for them. We do therefore urge upon you to take hold of the work in earnest. Organize committees in every city, village and settlement, and raise money to aid the State Committee in carrying our cause before the people and the Legislature. Union is strength. Be united in this great work. We would urge our Ministers to take hold of this work with us. Lay the matter before your congregations. Any money raised for this cause may be forwarded to the Treasurer of the State Committee, H. C. Hayden, at Lawrence.

Brethren, lay aside your local differences ad party prejudices, and unite in this good work. Get the right to vote, and then our lives, our property and our religion, will be protected by law.


C.H. LANGSTON, Box 282 P. O Leavenworth

W.D. MATTHEWS, Leavenworth

H.H. THOMAS, Leavenworth


H.C. HAYDEN, Siegel.



Rev. H. JENERALS, Wyandotte

Rev. N. DUFFIN, Garnett.

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Convention of Colored Citizens (1866 : Lawrence, KS), “Proceedings of a Convention of Colored Citizens: Held in the City of Lawrence, October 17, 1866,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed July 7, 2020,