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pose there was some cause of alarm-when a few hundred free negroes of the city of New-York, following the train of those who ride in their coaches, and whose shoes and boots they had so often blacked, shall go to the polls of the election, and change the political condition of the whole state. A change in the representation of that city may cause a change in your assembly, by giving a majority to a particular party, which would vary your council of appointment who make the highest officers of your government-Thus would the whole state be controlled by a few hundred of this species of population in the city of New-York.

This is not all, in time of war these people who are not called on to fight. your battles, may make the majority of your legislature, which will defeat every measure for the prosecution of that war; so that instead of being an “organized corps" to fight your battles, they may be an “organized corps" to defeat the energies of the state with all its patriotic exertions.

But although he was in favour of retaining some of the principles of the propositions submitted by the honourable gentleman from Albany, yet there were others which he disapproved. He, therefore, proposed to amend it (Mr. Young having withdrawn his motion to insert) in the following manner :

"But no person shall be allowed to vote for any elective officer in this state, who would not if an able bodied man, and within the proper age prescribed by the laws of the United States, be liable to the performance of militia duty, unless exempted by act of congress, or the laws of this state, on account of some public office, or being empi yed in some public trust, or particular business, deemed by the legislative authority to be specially beneficial to the United States or this state, or unless he shall have paid within the year next preceding his offering his vote, a fair equivalent in money for his personal services and equipments, to be determined by the legislature, according to the estimated expense in time and equipments, of an ordinary, able bodied and efficient militiaman;. Provided that any such person, above the age required by law for the performance of militia duty, and who shall have, before arriving at that age, paid such equivalent, or been h able therefor, if an able bodied man, and then resident in this state, may be per.. mitted to vote at any such elections."

Mr. R. thought this provision would meet the views of gentlemen who entertained the same sentiments in relation to the black voters that he did, and at: the same time preserve the delicacy of language which is observable in the constitution of the United States, which no where uses the word slave.

MR. EASTWOOD made'a few remarks against the amendment.

MR. R. CLARKE said he rose with considerable embarrassment, knowing the weight of experience, talent, and elocution opposed to him. I am, said Mr. C. oppposed to my honourable colleague (Mr. Root) on this question, to whose judginent and experience I have generally been willing to pay due deference. I am unwilling to retain the word “ white,” because its detention is repugnant to all the principles and notions of liberty, to which we have heretofore professed to adhere, and to our declaration of independence, which is a concise and just expose of those principles. In that sacred instrument we have recorded the following incontrovertible truths" We hold these truths to be self-evident -that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

The people of colour are capable of giving their consent, and ever since the formation of your government they have constituted a portion of the people. from whence your legislators have derived" their just powers ;" and by retaining that word, you deprive a large and respectable number of the people of this state of privileges and rights which they have enjoyed in common with us, ever since the existence of our government, and to which they are justly entitled. Sir, to this declaration we all profess to be willing to subscribe, yet by retaining this word you violate one of the most important maxims it con


It has been appropriately observed by the honourable gentleman from Westchester, (Mr. Jay,) that, by retaining this word, you violate the consti

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bation of the United States. Besides the clause quoted by that honourable gentleman, I think there is another upon which it crowds very hard. Free people of colour are included in the number which regulates your representation in congress, and I wish to know how freemen can be represented when they are deprived of the privilege of voting for representatives. The constitution says, representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the different states, according to the inhabitants thereof, including all free persons," &c. All colours and complexions are here included. It is not free "white" persons. No, sir, our venerable fathers entertained too strong a sense of justice to countenance such an odious distinction.-Now, sir, taking this in connection with the declaration of independence, I think you cannot exclude them without being guilty of a palpable violation of every principle of justice. We are usurping to ourselves a power which we do not possess, and by so doing, deprive them of a privilege to which they are, and always have been, justly entitledan invaluable right-a right in which we have prided ourselves as constituting our superiority over every other people on earth-a right which they have enjoyed ever since the formation of our government--the right of suffrage. And why do we do this? Instead of visiting the iniquities of these people upon them and their children, we are visiting their misfortunes upon them and their posterity unto the latest generation. It was not expected of us, that in forming a constitution to govern this state, we should so soon have shewn a disposition to adopt plans fraught with usurpation and injustice. Because we have done this people injustice, by enslaving them, and rendering them degraded and miserable, is it right that we should go on and continue to deprive them of their most invaluable rights, and visit upon their children to the latest posterity this deprivation? Is this just? Is it honest ? Was it expected by our constituents ? Will it not fix a foul stain upon the proceedings of this Convention which time will not efface.

My honourable colleague has told us "that these people are not liable to do military duty, and that as they are not required to contribute to the protection or defence of the state, they are not entitled to an equal participation in the privileges of its citizens." But, sir, whose fault is this? Have they ever refused to do military duty when called upon? It is haughtily asked, who will stand in the ranks, shoulder to shoulder, with a negro? I answer, no one in time of peace; no one when your musters and trainings are looked upon as mere pastimes; no one when your militia will shoulder their muskets and march to their trainings with as much unconcern as they would go to a sumptuous entertainment, or a splendid ball. But, sir, when the hour of danger approaches, your "white" militia are just as willing that the man of colour should be set up as a mark to be shot at by the enemy, as to be set up themselves. In the war of the revolution, these people helped to fight your battles by land and by sea. Some of your states were glad to turn out corps of coloured men, and to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with them. In your late war they contributed largely towards some of your most splendid victories. On Lakes Erie and Champlain, where your fleets triumphed over a foe superior in numbers, and engines of death, they were manned in a large proportion with men of colour. And in this very house, in the fall of 1814, a bill passed receiving the approbation of all the branches of your government, authorizing the governor to accept the services of a corps of 2000 free people of colour. Sir, these were times which tried men's souls. In these times it was no sporting matter to bear arms. These were times when a man who shouldered his musket, did not know but he bared his bosom to receive a death wound from the enemy ere he laid it aside; and in these times these people were found as ready and as willing to volunteer in your service as any other. They were not compelled to go, they were not drafted. No, your pride had placed them beyond your compulsory power. But there was no necessity for its exercise; they were volunteers; yes, sir, volunteers to defend that very country from the inroads and ravages of a ruthless and vindictive foe, which had treated them with insult, degradation, and slavery. Volunteers are the best of soldiers; give me the men, whatever be their complexion, that willingly volunteer, and not those who are compelled to turn out; such men do not fight from necessity, nor from mercenary motives, but from principle. Such men formed the most efficient corps for your country's defence

in the late war; and of such consisted the crews of your squadrons on Erie and Champlain, who largely contributed to the safety and peace of your country, and the renown of her arms. Yet, strange to tell, such are the men whom you seek to degrade and oppress.

There is another consideration which I think important. Our government is a government of the people, supported and upheld by public sentiment; and to support and perpetuate our free institutions, it is our duty and our interest to attach to it all the different classes of the community. Indeed there should be but one class. Then, sir, is it wise, is it prudent, is it consistent with sound po licy, to compel a large portion of your people and their posterity, forever to become your enemies, and to view you and your political institutions with distrust, jealousy, and hatred, to the latest posterity; to alienate one portion of the community from the rest, and from their own political institutions? I grant you, sir, that in times of profound peace, their numbers are so small that their resentment could make no serious impression. But, sir, are we sure; can we calculate that we are always to remain in a state of peace? that our tranquillity is never again to be disturbed by invasion or insurrection? And, sir, when that unhappy period arrives, if they, justly incensed by the accumulated wrongs which you heap upon them, should throw their weight in the scale of your enemies, it might, and most assuredly would, be severely felt. Then your gayest and proudest militiamen that now stand in your ranks, would rather be seen "shoulder to shoulder" with a negro, than have him added to the number of his enemies, and meet him in the field of battle.

By retaining the word "white," you impose a distinction impracticable in its operation. Among those who are by way of distinction called whites, and whose legitimate ancestors, as far as we can trace them, have never been slaves, there are many shades of difference in complexion. Then how will you discriminate? and at what point will you limit your distinction? Will you here descend to particulars, or leave that to the legislature? If you leave it to them, you will impose upon them a burden which neither you nor they can bear. You ought not to require of them impossibilities. Men descended from African ancestors, but who have been pretty well white-washed by their commingling with your white population, may escape your scrutiny; while others, whose blood is as pure from any African taint as any member of this Convers tion, may be called upon to prove his pedigree, or forfeit his right of suffrage, because he happens to have a swarthy complexion. Are you willing, by any act of this Convention, to expose any, even the meanest, of your white citizens, to such an insult? I hope not.

But it is said these people are incapable of exercising the right of suffrage judiciously; that they will become the tools and engines of aristocracy, and set themselves up in market, and give their votes to the highest bidder; that they have no will or judgment of their own, but will follow implicitly the dictates of the purse-proud aristocrats of the day, on whom they depend for bread. This may be true to a certain extent; but, sir, they are not the only ones who abuse this privilege; and if this be a sufficient reason for depriving any of your citizens of their just rights, go on and exclude also the many thousands of white fawning, cringing sycophants, who look up to their more wealthy and more ambitious neighbours for direction at the polls, as they look to them for bread. But although most of this unfortunate class of men may at present be in this dependent state, both in body and mind, yet we ought to remember, that we are making our constitution, not for a day, nor a year, but I hope for many generations; and there is a redeeming spirit in liberty, which I have no doubt will eventually raise these poor, abused, unfortunate people, from their present degraded state, to equal intelligence with their more fortunate and enlightened neighbours.

Sir, there is a day now fixed by law, when slavery must forever cease in this state. Have gentlemen seriously reflected upon the consequences which may result from this event, when they are about to deprive them of every induce'ment to become respectable members of society, turning them out from the protection, and beyond the control of their masters, and in the mean time ordining them to be fugitives, vagabonds, and outcasts from society.

Sir, no longer ago than last winter, the legislature of this state almost unaninously resolved, that their senators be instructed, and their representatives requested, to prevent any state from being admitted into this union, which should have incorporated in her constitution any provision denying to the citizens of "each state all the rights, privileges, and immunities of citizens of the several states." These instructions and requests, it is well known, particularly referred to Missouri; and were founded upon a clause in her constitution, interdicting this very class of people" from coming to, or settling in, that state, under any pretext whatsoever." Whether these instructions and requests were proper and expedient at that time or not, is not necessary for me to inquire; and I only refer to them to shew, how tenacious the representatives of the people were, at that time, of even the smallest rights of this portion of their citizens-rights of infinitely less importance to the free people of colour of this state, than those of which you now propose to deprive them. About the same time, my honourable colleague, then a member of the assembly of this state, introduced a bill, declaring that, according to our declaration of independence and form of government, "slavery cannot exist in this state." I shall give no opinion upon the propriety of passing such a law at this day; but I will say, that even the advocating such a humane proposition, gave honourable testimony of the benevolence of his heart. And is it possible, that the representatives of the same people should be found, in a few short months afterwards, entertaining a proposition, which virtually and practically declares, that freedom, that liberty cannot exist in this state; and this proposition receiving support from the same individual who last winter was the champion of African emancipation.

Sir, I well know that this subject is attended with embarrassment and difficulty, in whatever way it may be presented. I lament as much as any gentleman, that we have this species of population among us. But we have them here without any fault of theirs. They were brought here and enslaved by the arm of violence and oppression. We have heaped upon them every indignity, every injustice; and in restoring them at this late day, (as far as is practicable) to their natural rights and privileges, we make but a very partial atonement for the many wrongs which we have heaped upon them; and in the solemn work before us, as far as it related to these people, I would do them justice, and leave the consequences to the righteous disposal of an all-wise and merciful Providence. The honourable gentleman from Genesee (Mr. Ross) has said that they were a peculiar people. We were told the other day that the people of Connecticut were a peculiar people. Indeed this is a peculiarly happy mode of evading the force of an argument. I admit that the blacks are a peculiarly unfortunate people, and I wish that such inducements may be held out, as shall induce them to become a sober and industrious class of the community, and raise them to the high standard of independent electors.

COL. YOUNG expressed his intention to vote against the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Albany (Mr. Van Rensselaer) on the express ground that it did not contain the limitation of white. He should use no circumlocution nor disguise. He was willing to express his opinion openly and fully, and to record his name in the journals of the Convention, and thereby transmit it to posterity. He was disposed to discharge the duty which he owed to the people without fear or favour.

The gentleman who had just sat down had adverted to the declaration of independence to prove that the blacks are possessed of "certain unalienable rights." But is the right of voting a natural right? If so, our laws are oppressive and unjust. A natural right is one that is born with us. No man is born twenty-one years old, and of course all restraint upon the natural right of voting, during the period of nonage, is usurpation and tyranny. This confusion arises from mixing natural with acquired rights. The right of voting is adventitious. It is resorted to only as a means of securing our natural rights. In forming a constitution, we should have reference to the feelings, habits, and modes of thinking of the people. The gentleman last up has alluded to the importance of regarding public sentiment. And what is the public sentiment in relation to this subject? Are the negroes permitted to a participation in social intercourse with the whites! Are they elevated to public office! No,

sir-public sentiment forbids it. This they know; and hence they are prepared to sell their votes to the highest bidder. In this manner you introduce corruption into the very vitals of the government.

A few years ago a law was made requiring the clerks of the respective counties to make out a list of jurymen. Was a negro ever returned upon that list? If he were, no jury would sit with him. Was a constable ever known to summon a negro as a juror, even before a justice of the peace in a matter of five dollars amount? Never,-but gentlemen who would shrink from such an association, would now propose to associate with him in the important act of electing a governor of the state.

This distinction of colour is well understood. It is unnecessary to disguise it, and we ought to shape our constitution so as to meet the public sentiment. If that sentiment should alter-if the time should ever arrive when the African shall be raised to the level of the white man-when the distinctions that now prevail shall be done away-when the colours shall intermarry-when negroes shall be invited to your tables-to sit in your pew, or ride in your coach, it may then be proper to institute a new Convention, and remodel the constitution so as to conform to that state of society.

It has been urged, however, that it is not their fault that they do not serve in the militia. Granted-but state authority cannot compel them to serve. That subject is left to the general government, which directs the enrolment of white citizens only. Expressio unius, est exclusio alterius.

An argument has been raised that the proposition in the report of the committee would deprive them of vested rights.

It has been correctly remarked in reply, by the gentleman from Delaware, (Mr. Root,) that you cannot vary or extend the rights of one class, without infringing upon those of another. Formerly, no residence was required for a voter. Now it is proposed to require the residence of a year; and perhaps by that provision the rights of four or five hundred emigrants may be affected, and by this, we may possibly exclude four or five hundred black freeholders. The argument in the one case will apply to the other.

If we look back to the time when our constitution was formed, we find that there were then few or no free blacks in the state. The present state of things was not contemplated, and hence no provision was made against it. The same was the case in Connecticut. In their recent constitution they have provided for the exclusion of the blacks.

If you admit the negroes, why exclude the aborigines? They have never 'been enslaved. They were born, free as the air they breathe. That want of self-respect which characterises the negroes, cannot be imputed to them.

It is said that the negroes fought our battles. So did aliens-the French. But were the French on that account entitled to vote at our elections? No, It is a question of expediency; and believing as I do, that the blacks would abuse the privilege if granted, I am disposed to withhold it.

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MR. RADCLIFF also opposed the amendment. He considered the principle of exclusion to be derived, not from the distinction of colour-but resorted to as a rule of designation between those who understand the worth of that privilege, and those who are degraded, dependant, and unfit to exercise it.

MR. DODGE proposed to divide the question into three distinct parts.

MR. KING deemed that course out of order, until the amendment was acted on.

MR. SHELDON was of the same opinion; and upon a suggestion that the principle of the amendment might be more correctly decided in a different shape, Mr. S. Van Rensselaer consented to withdraw it.

The question then arising upon the first section as originally reported by the committee,

MR. JAY moved that the word white be stricken out.

MR. KENT Supported the motion of Mr. Jay. He was disposed, however, to annex such qualifications and conditions as should prevent them from coning in bodies from other states to vote at elections.

We did not come to this Convention to disfranchise any portion of the com munity, or to take away their rights. Suppose a negro owning a freehold and

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