Resolution No. 1
January Session, 2009
LCO No. 4987
Referred to Committee on Government Administration and Elections
RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE PROFOUND REGRET OF THE CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR THE HISTORY OF WRONGS INFLICTED UPON BLACK CITIZENS BY MEANS OF SLAVERY, EXPLOITATION AND LEGALIZED RACIAL SEGREGATION, AND CALLING ON ALL CITIZENS TO TAKE PART IN ACTS OF RACIAL RECONCILIATION.
Resolved by this Assembly:
WHEREAS, involuntary servitude, as practiced within the borders of Connecticut in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries violated the precept that all persons are created equal and denied thousands of people liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the ability to benefit from their own work, and, in many cases, life itself; and
WHEREAS, in 1723, the Connecticut colony passed an act to prevent the "Disorder of Negro and Indian Servants and Slaves in the Night Season" that established a nine o'clock p.m. curfew, the violation of which was punishable with a whipping for the servant and a fine for the master; and
WHEREAS, Connecticut's wealth increased as its merchants and businessmen participated in the Triangle Trade which carried slaves, cash crops and manufactured goods between West Africa, the Caribbean and America and such merchants and businessmen profited from supplying food and livestock to slaves in the West Indies who labored on sugar cane plantations; and
WHEREAS, by the mid 1770's there were approximately five thousand one hundred slaves in the Connecticut colony, comprising three per cent of the population, and slave ownership was not limited to the wealthy; and
WHEREAS, the practice of slavery was embedded in constitutional provisions and laws enacted by predecessors to this General Assembly and other civil authorities of Connecticut; and
WHEREAS, emancipation bills were rejected by the Connecticut Legislature in 1777, 1779 and 1780; and
WHEREAS, the Connecticut Legislature did enact the Nonimportation Act of 1774, the 1784 Gradual Abolition Act and the 1788 Act to Prevent the Slave Trade; and
WHEREAS, in 1818 Connecticut's new constitution specifically denied the right of the African American population to vote; and
WHEREAS, Connecticut played a significant role in abolition efforts which culminated in the outlawing of slavery in 1848; and
WHEREAS, a significant number of nations, states and corporations have come forward to offer apologies for the roles they played in promoting or supporting slavery.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Connecticut General Assembly issues its apology for the practices of slavery in Connecticut and expresses its profound contrition for the official acts that sanctioned and perpetuated the denial of basic human rights and dignity to fellow humans and vows to work for the elimination of residual structures of racism that continue to exist in our state; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the General Assembly urges schools, colleges, universities, religious and civic institutions, businesses and professional associations to do all within their respective powers to acknowledge the transgressions of Connecticut's journey from a colony to a leading state in the abolition efforts and to learn the lessons of history in order to avoid repeating mistakes of the past and to promote racial equality and reconciliation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the General Assembly calls on all Connecticut residents to recommit their state, their communities and themselves to the proclamation of their nation's Declaration of Independence that "all persons are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights" and to work daily to treat all persons with abiding respect for their humanity and to eliminate racial prejudices, injustices and discrimination from our society.