liability to imprisonment as runaways while travelling in the South
and to be sold as slaves for jail fees, disability as witnesses against white criminals at the South
, restrictions upon their right of residence and removal and of instruction.
‘There is, my countrymen and friends, a remedy for such2 injustice.
The Constitution of the United States knows nothing of white or black men; it makes no invidious distinction with regard to the color or condition of free inhabitants; it is broad enough to cover your persons; it has power enough to vindicate your rights.
Thanks be to God that we have such a Constitution!
Without it, the liberty of every man,—white as well as colored,—would be in jeopardy.
There it stands, firm as the rock of Gibraltar, a high refuge from oppression.’
The State Laws which disfranchise are unconstitutional:
‘I say that if they fall upon the Constitution they will be3 dashed in pieces.
I say that it is your duty to carry this question up to the Supreme Court of the United States and have it settled forever.
You have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by the trial. . . . Once get yourselves acknowledged by that august tribunal as citizens of the United States, and you may walk abroad in majesty and strength, free as the air of heaven, sacred as the persons of kings.’
He exhorted them, further, wherever they were allowed to vote, to have their names put on the poll-list and to go to the polls, voting for those friendly to their cause, and, if possible, for intelligent and respectable men of their own color.
They should, besides, exercise constantly their right of petition—‘if your prayer is refused seven times, send it seventy times seven.’
All thought of colonizing themselves as a people, whether in Africa
, Hayti, Upper Canada
, or elsewhere, should be abandoned, and every intelligent man won over by the