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‘ [62] legislation has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture.’

Has the negro committed such offence? Above all, has his infant child forfeited its unalienable right

Surely it can be no act of the innocent child.

Yet you must prove the forfeiture, or no human legislation can deprive that child of its freedom.

Its black skin constitutes the forfeiture!

What! throw the responsibility upon God! Charge the common Father of the white and the black, He, who is no respecter of persons, with plundering His unoffending children of all which makes the boon of existence desirable; their personal liberty!

‘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.’1

In this general and unqualified declaration, on the 4th of July, 1776, all the people of the United States, without distinction of color, were proclaimed free, by the delegates of the people of those states assembled in their highest sovereign capacity.

For more than half a century we have openly violated that solemn declaration.

3. Because it renders nugatory the otherwise beneficial example of our free institutions, and exposes us to the scorn and reproach of the liberal and enlightened of other nations.

1 Declaration of Independence, from the pen of Thomas Jefferson.

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