Appendix to Memorial to Pennsylvania Legislature

In connexion with the foregoing memorial, we beg leave to offer the following statement of facts for the information of all who desire to be correctly informed on the subjects to which they relate.

1. By a statement published by order of the guardians of the poor in 1832, it appears that out of 549 outdoor poor relieved during the year, only 22 were persons of color, being about 4 per cent of the whole number, while their ratio of the population of the city and suburbs exceeds 8 1/4 per cent. By a note appended to the printed report of the guardians of the poor, above referred to, it appears that the colored paupers admitted into the almshouse for the same period, did not exceed 4 per cent of the whole number.

2. In consequence of the neglect of the assessors, to distinguish, in their assessment, the property of people of color from that of others, it is not easy to ascertain the exact amount of taxes paid by us. But an attempt has been made to remedy this defect by a reference to receipts kept by tax-payers. The result thus obtained must necessarily be deficient, and fall short of the amount really paid by people of color; because it is fair to presume that we could not find receipts for all the money paid in taxes, and because no returns have been made except where receipts were found. From these imperfect returns, however, it is ascertained that we pay not less than 2500 dollars annually, while the sum expended for the relief of our poor, out of the public funds has rarely, if ever, exceeded $2000 a year. The amount of rents paid by our people, is found to exceed $100,000 annually.

3. Many of us, by our labor and industry have acquired a little property; and have become freeholders. Besides which, we have no less than six Methodist meeting houses, two Presbyterian, two Baptist, one Episcopalean, and one public hall, owned exclusively by our people, the value of which, in the aggregate, is estimated to exceed $100,000. To these may be added, two Sunday schools, two tract societies, two Bible societies, two temperance societies, and one female literary institution.

4. We have among ourselves, more than fifty beneficent societies, some of which are incorporated, for mutual aid in time of sickness and distress. The members of these societies are bound by rules and regulations, which tend to promote industry and morality among them. For any disregard or violation of these rules,--for intemperance or immorality of any kind, the members are liable to be suspended or expelled. These societies expend annually for the relief of their members when sick or disabled, or in distress, upwards of $7000, out of funds raised among themselves for mutual aid. It is also worthy of remark, that we cannot find a single instance of one of the members of either of these societies being convicted in any of our courts. One instance only has occurred of a member being brought up and accused before a court; but this individual was acquitted.

5. Notwithstanding the difficulty of getting places for our sons as apprentices, to learn mechanical trades, owing to the prejudices with which we have to contend, there are between four and five hundred people of color in the city and suburbs who follow mechanical employments.

6. While we thankfully embrace the opportunity for schooling our children, which has been opened to us by public munificence and private benevolence, we are still desirous to do our part in the accomplishment of so desirable an object. Such of us as are of ability to do so, send our children to school at our own expense. Knowing by experience the disadvantages many of us labor under for want of early instruction; we are anxious to give our children a suitable education to fit them for the duties and enjoyments of life. In making the above statement of facts, our only object is, to prevent a misconception of our real condition; and to counteract those unjust prejudices against us, which the prevalence of erroneous opinions in regard to us, is calculated to produce.

We know that the most effectual method of refuting, and rendering harmless, false and exaggerated accounts of our degraded condition, is by our conduct; by living consistent, orderly and moral lives. Yet we are convinced that many good and humane citizens of this commonwealth, have been imposed upon, and induced to give credit to statements injurious to our general character and standing. At this important crisis, pregnant with great events, we deem it a duty we owe to ourselves and to our white friends, and to the public in general, to present to their candid and impartial consideration, the above statements. We ask only to be judged fairly and impartially. We claim no exemption from the frailties and imperfections of our common nature. We feel that we are men of like passions and feelings with others of a different color, liable to be drawn aside by temptation, from the paths of rectitude. But we think that in the aggregate we will not suffer by a comparison with our white neighbors whose opportunities of improvement have been no greater than ours. By such a comparison, fairly and impartially made, we are willing to be judged.

We have been careful in our exhibit of facts, to produce nothing but what may be sustained by legal evidence; by which we mean such facts as are susceptible of proof in a court of law. We have submitted our statements, with the sources whence they are drawn, to some of the intelligent citizens of Philadelphia who can testify to their substantial accuracy.

All of which is respectfully submitted to a candid public.

Credit: Hazard's Register, June, 1832


Part 3: Narrative | Resource Bank Contents | Teacher's Guide

Africans in America: Home | Resource Bank Index | Search | Shop

WGBH | PBS Online | ©