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An Appeal from the Colored Men of Philadelphia to the President of the United States
August 1862



   If statistics prove anything, then we constitute, including our property qualifications, almost the entire wealth of the Cotton States, and make up a large proportion of that of the others. Many of us, in Pennsylvania, have our own houses and other property, amounting, in the aggregate, to millions of dollars. Shall we sacrifice this, leave our homes, forsake our birth-place, and flee to a strange land, to appease the anger and prejudice of the traitors now in arms against the Government, or their aiders and abettors in this or in foreign lands? Will the country be benefited by sending us out of it, and inviting strangers to fill our places?

   Will they make better citizens, prove as loyal, love the country better, and be as obedient to its laws as we have been? If God has so ordained it, we shall yet be free. In His providence, He may gather us together in States, by ourselves, and govern us in accordance with His laws. Will the white man leave us alone, when so gathered?

   We believe that the world would be benefited by giving the four millions of slaves their freedom, and the lands now possessed by their masters. They have been amply compensated in our labor and the blood of our kinsmen. These masters "toil not, neither do they spin." They destroy, they consume, and give to the world in return but a small equivalent. They deprive us of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

   They degrade us to the level of the brute. They amalgamate with our race, and buy and sell their own children. They deny us the right to gain knowledge or hold property; neither do they allow us to have the avails of our own industry.

   They requite our labor by stripes, manacles and torture. They have entailed upon the poor whites of the South a despotism almost equaling that inflicted upon us. By unjust and arbitary laws they have driven honest white men from their midst, or imprisoned them in their dungeons.

   By falsehood and political cunning they have corrupted the politics of the people in all States. Finally, they have rebelled against their Government.

   Having set all laws, both human and diving, at naught, what does a just Government own them in return? Would it be too great a penalty to deprive them of the labor of their slaves, and compel them to earn their own subsistance by honest means; to permit us to be free, to enjoy our natural rights, to have the avails of our own industry; to live with and have our own wives and children; to have the benefit of the school, the church, and salutary laws, that we may become better men and more valuable citizens; to give the slave an opportunity to increase the wealth of the people, while he consumes the more of the world's products? All of this is not too much to ask. We would reciprocate by increasing commerce, and proving to the world that we were worthy of being freemen.

   Beyond this, our humble appeal, we are almost powerless in our own great cause.

   God, in his providence, has enlisted in our behalf some of the most noble men of the age. May their efforts be crowned with success. In the President of the United States we feel and believe that we have a champion, most able and willing to aid us in all that is right. We ask, that by the standard of justice and humanity we may be weighed, and that men shall not longer be measured by their stature or their color.

   That the Ruler over al, in his infinite mercy and goodness, will keep and protect you, and cause your administration to triumph, in justice, over all its enemies, is the prayer of the Colored men of Philadelphia.

[signed]

 

J.C. Davis,
Rev. James Underdue,
Robert Allen,
Amos B. Sayers
John C. Bowers,
John Augusta,
William Cooper,
Joshua D. Kelley,
Rev. Jonathan C. Gibbs,
Uriah H. Kelley,
Thomas H. Davis,
David Trout,

And Others.


 

Consider These Questions

Background

 

1. What are the arguments that are raised in response to Lincoln's points about colonization?

2. What are some of the other issues that are brought out in this document?

3. How do you think Lincoln might have responded to this? Do you think anything in it would have surprised him?




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