Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

By Philip S. Foner; Robert James Branham | Go to book overview

lie," prove the inefficiency of their plans; for their application has only operated like extinguishing fire with oil; for both intemperance and slavery have flourished under their cure. The superiority of associated bodies over isolated individuals, in expressing their disapprobation of any measure, is so self-evident, that I would not insult your senses by adducing proof. Mark the revolution in public opinion produced in the Eastern States, in regard to the use and sale of ardent spirits; and then mark the consequence. In that same region have risen up our most powerful friends, who wish to elevate our moral and political condition; and wherever we see what we term a true abolitionist, he is invariably a friend of the temperance cause. It is their enlightened views of human good that lead them to advocate the exalted principles of human rights. And shall we condemn their exertions by our principles and practices? Can there be any of our people, who advocate our improvement, and view drunkenness as an evil, who will not lend their aid and influence to stay it? Can they be so blind to their dearest interests, and those of posterity? Let their acts answer! We are certainly bound to prepare the way for the rising generation. No doubt the present race of drunkards will live out their days in their own way; but let us rescue posterity from the evils that intemperance inflicts on the present race.■


25 WHY A CONVENTION IS NECESSARY

William Hamilton

In 1830, partly in response to the Cincinnati riots, a convention of free black delegates from New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia met in Philadelphia to "devise ways and means for the bettering of our condition." The convention met annually for six years and other such gatherings were held throughout the antebellum period. At these meetings, the free black population asserted its demands for full rights in American society and for the abolition of slavery.

At the fourth annual Convention of the Colored People, held in New York City from June 2 to June 13, 1834, there were fifty delegates and two visitors from Canada and Haiti. The chief address was delivered by William Hamilton of New York. The 1834 convention was less concerned than previous gatherings with opposition to colonization or with the establishment of a national black university. Instead, the convention was largely devoted to broader campaigns for social and economic advancement. Hamilton recounts in detail the chains of prejudice and discrimina-

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