Jacob C. White, Jr. Address to Governor Pollock
Address read on the reception of Governor Pollock at the Institute for Cold Youth
by J.C. White Jr.
Governor of Pennsylvania:
We have not been ignorant of the fact that your Excellency has been visiting the Educational and other useful institutions of our city, and have not failed to ask ourselves, as we read the various reports in the papers – “Will the Governor visit our School”? We knew that the chance to see you, in our capacity of scholars, was not so good as might be under a different state of things in Society – for you see us, Sir, a little family by ourselves set off from the other youth of this great commonwealth, and in this fact we are constantly reminded that Pennsylvania does not yet acknowledge that common brotherhood of her children. We are glad therefore that in the midst of your numerous engagements, your excellency has given us an opportunity to present ourselves before you, that you may see that though not recognized in the political arrangements of the commonwealth we are nevertheless preparing ourselves usefully for a future day when citizenship in our country will be based on manhood and not on color.
We do not forgot the noble sentiments uttered by you previous to your election, on the subject of Common School Education, nor are we unmindful of the benevolence of those individuals through whom this Institution now exists. We believe that notwithstanding the restrictions restrictions imposed upon us in the varied avenues of life, we may yet, by means of this, and other schools, by aid of the mechanic arts and agriculture, and the strength of good characters, and a love for the right, make ourselves useful, worthy and respected citizens in this the country of our births and affection.
And in welcoming you the Chief Magistrate of this commonwealth to witness our feeble endeavours, we do it the more cheerfully because we see in you one who believes in the duty of impartial Education, because it gives gives us an opportunity to prove to you that we may advance without an alienation from the land of our nativity, and because you permit us to express in you hearing our hope that as Governor of Pennsylvania you will support and defend though approached by its humblest inhabitant its glowing motto "Virtue Liberty and Independence"
May 24th 1855
On May 24, 1855, Pennsylvania Governor James Pollock visited the Institute where Jacob C. White, Jr. delivered this speech. White challenged the inferior status of African Americans but also promised the Governor that the Institute's students were "preparing ourselves usefully for a future day when citizenship in our country will be based on manhood and not color."
Image: "American Negro Historical Society, 1855-1899," Leon Gardiner Collection [0008B], Historical Society of Pennsylvania.