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adapted to promote the welfare and prosperity of the colony, received the sanction of the Board of Managers on the 18th May, 1825.
The plan of government, as submitted to the Board in 1828, exhibited a few deviations from the original form, though it continued in its principles the same. These deviations, Mr. Ashmun, remarks, " have grown gradually out of the altered and improving state of the colony, and are neither the offspring of a rash spirit of experiment, nor have they been made without evident necessity. This revised constitution, or form of government, was adopted by the managers of the society, October 22d, 1828.
PLAN OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT FOR THE COLONY OF LIBERIA. The necessity of a mild, just, and efficient civil government, for the preservation of individual and political rights among any people, and the advancement of true prosperity, induces the Board of Managers of the American Colonization Society to adopt, after mature consideration, the following system of Government, for the proper regulation of public affairs in the Colony of Liberia.
ARTICLE I. The agent of the American Colonization Society, resident in the colony, possesses, within the same, sovereign power, subject only to the constitution, the chartered rights of the citizens, and the decisions of the Board
ARTICLE II. All male colored people, who have subscribed the oath to support the constitution, and drawn and not forfeited lands in the colony, shall be entitled to vote for, and be eligible to, the civil offices of the colony.
ARTICLE III. The civil officers of the colony shall be appointed annually: and the polls for the general annual election of the colony shall be opened on the last Tuesday in August, and continued open not more than three nor less than two successive days, in the different settlements. Elections shall be organized by the sheriff, by the appointment in each settlement of a president, two judges, and two cerks.
ARTICLE IV. The colonial officers eligible by the annual suffrage of the freeholders, in which the agent has the right to interpose his negative, assigning to the voters, in time to renew the choice at the same election, his reasons for such interposition, are, for the colony, a vice-agent, two counsellors, a high sherif, a register, and a treasurer: and for each ofthe settlements consisting of not less than sixty families, two commissioners of agriculture, two commissioners to form a board of health, and two censors.
ARTICLE V. The vice-agent shall be admitted to the council of the agent in all important matters; and shall express an opinion on all questions submitted to his consideration He shall aid the agent in the discharge of his various duties, and in the support and execution of the laws; and, in the event of the agent's absence, or sickness, the vice-agent shall become the general superintendent of public affairs.
ARTICLE VI. The vice-agent, with two counsellors, shall constitute a council, who shall meet, when requested by the agent, to deliberate on the interests of the colony, and the measures to be taken for their security and advancement.
The vice-agent shall also advise with the other members of the council,on any subjects connected with the general welfare, as often as he shall think it proper; and report the result to the agent, if proper, or act upon the same, în case of his absence.
ARTICLE VII. The duty of the councillors shall be, to aid the agent, or vice-agent, with their advice and counsel, on subjects relating to the general welfare of the colony, whenever thereto requested by either.
ARTICLE VIII. The high sheriff shall, either by himself or his deputies, aid in the organization of elections; act as marshal for the government of the lony; execute all processes, judgments, and commands, of the court of sesinns, and perform, generally, the
services required of the same officer by the common laws of England and the United States.
ARTICLE IX. The secretary of the colony shall take charge of, and carefully keep, all the papers, records, and archives, of the colony, generally; shall attend and exactly record the doings of the agent in council; shall publish all the ordinances and legal enactments of the government; publish government notices; issue the agent's orders, civil, military, and judicial, to the proper functionaries; deliver a fair copy of government papers, necessary to be recorded, to the register of the colony; and manage its internal correspondence on the part, and under the directions of, the agent.
ARTICLE X. The register shall record all documents and instruments relating to the security and title of public or individual property, government grants, patents, licences, contracts, and commissions; and all other papers which are properly a matter of record, and to which the government of the colony shall be a party.
Every volume of records, when completed, shall be delivered by the register to the secretary of the colony, for preservation among the archives of the colony.
ARTICLE XI. The treasurer of the colony shall receive and safely keep all the moneys and public securities required by law, or the judgment of the courts, to be deposited in the public treasury, and shall deliver up and pay over the same, only by a requisition signed by the agent or vice-agent of the colony, to whom he shall render a statement of the public finances on the Monday preceding the annual election of the colony.
ARTICLE XII. The commissioners of agriculture shall report, and serve as the organ of the government, on all subjects relating to the agriculture of the colony.
The commissioners composing the Board of Health, shall report, and serve as the organ of the government, on all subjects relating to the health of the colony, shall ascertain the proper objects of medical attention, report nuisances prejudicial to the public health, direct their removal, and make themselves generally active in diminishing the sufferings and dangers of the settlers caused by sickness.
Each of these committees shall record, for the future use of the colony, all important observations and facts relating to the subjects of their charge.
ARTICLE XIII. The two censors shall act as conservators of the public morals and promoters of the public industry; and be obliged to all the duties, and invested with all the legal powers, on whatever relates to the public morals and industry, which are lawfully required of, and possessed by, grand jurors, in such parts of the United States as recognise such ausiliaries to their magistracy.
It shall be the special duty of these officers to ascertain in what way every person, in their proper districts, acquires a livelihood; to report or present idlers; detect vicious or suspected practices; and present, for legal investigation and cure, every actual or probable evil, growing out of the immoralities, either of a portion of the community or of individuals.
ARTICLE XIV. The judiciary of the colony shall consist of the agent, and a competent number of the justices of peace created by his appointment. The justices shall have cognizance of all cases affecting the peace, and of criminal cases within the definition of petit larceny, and all actions of debt not exceeding twenty dollars. In the court of monthly sessions, whether acting as a court of law, or a court of equity, the agent or vice-agent shall preside, and the justices be his associates.
The court of monthly sessions shall have original jurisdiction in all actions of debt, in which the amount in litigation shall exceed twenty dollars; and in criminal causes above the degree of petit larceny; and shall have appellate jurisdiction in all civil causes whatsoever.
The requisite number of constables for the colony shall be appointed by the agent annually.
A clerk and a crier of the court of sessions shall also be appointed by the said court, annually.
An-auctioneer, who shall conduct all auction sales, except those of the sheriff and constables, in pursuance of the judgment of the courts of the colony, shall also be created by annual appointment of the agent.
A storekeeper, librarian, commissary of ordnance, to be appointed by the agent, shall be respected and obeyed in matters belonging to their respective functions, as officers of the colony.
Instructers in all public schools, having the sanction of a public charter, or participating in any degree in the public funds, shall be appointed and employed by the regular school committees of the colony, but with the agent's approbation and concurrence.
All custom, port, infirmary, medical, guard, and police officers, not appointed by the managers of the Colonization Society, and whose services are required and defined by the laws of the colony, together with the public measurers, inspectors, and appraisers, shall be appointed by the agent of the colony.
ARTICLE XV. The militia of the colony shall consist wholly of such uniformed volunteer corps as shall obtain charters under the government of the colony; of which charters, the following shall be fundamental ar
Ist. That the corps shall always comply with any requisitions for their services, either wholly or in part, made by the executive government of
2d. That the corps shall ever preserve, and hold themselves, and their arms and equipments, in a state of readiness for actual service, at the shortest notice.
3d. That the officers be commissioned by the agent: and
4th. That they shall muster, parade, and serve in the line of the colony, under general officers, when thereto required by the executive government.
General officers shall be appointed by the agent; and when especial reasons do not forbid, shall be taken from the officers of the several corps,
and promoted according to rank, and the seniority of their commissions.
All military officers and delinquencies shall be tried by a general court martial, to be composed, except the officers and guards of the court, of commissioned officers, and to sit quarterly. A correct copy
J. ASHMUN. A digest of the laws of the colony will be found in the appendix of the Twelfth Report of the Society, page 39.
ESTRÁCTS FROM THE REPORTS OF THE SOCIETY.
Agriculture, Trade, Public Buildings, Territory, Health, Education,
Productions, &c. &c. of the Colony.
Between the 1st of January and the 15th of July, 1826, no less than fifteen vessels touched at Monrovia, and purchased the produce of the country, to the amount, according to the best probable estimate, of $ 43,980, African value. The exporters of this produce realize, on the sale of the goods given in barter for it, a profit of $ 21,990, and on the freight, of $8,786, making a total profit of $ 30 786.
A gentleman in Portland has commenced a regular trade with the colony; and for his last cargo landed in Liberia, amounting to $ 8,000, he received payment in the course of ten days. The advantages of this trade to the colony, are manifest from the high price of labor, (that of mechanics being two dollars per day, and that of common laborers from 75 cents to $1 25 cents,) and from the easy and comfortable circumstances of the settlers. "An interesting family, twelve months in Africa, destitute of the means of furnishing an abundant lable, is not known; and an individual, of whatever age or sex, without an ample provision of decent apparel, cannot, it is believed, be found.” “Every family,” says Mr. Ashmun, “ and nearly every single adult person in the colony, has the means of employing from one to four native laborers, at an expense of from four to six dollars the month; and several of the settlers, when called upon in consequence of sudden emergencies of the public service, have made repeated advances of merchantable produce, to the amount of 300 to 600 dollars each."
The managers rejoice to state, that Liberia and the adjacent country possess resources sufficient to meet the necessities of a very numerous population. On this subject, the Board beg leave to make a short extract from anaddress of the colonists to the free people of color of the United States, dated the 27th August, 1827: “Away with all the false notions that are circulating about the barrenness of this country; they are the observations of such ignorant or designing men as would injure both it and you. A more fertile soil, and a more productive country, so far as it is cultivated, there is not, we believe, on the face of the earth. Even the natives of the country, almost without farming tools, without skill, and with very little labor, make more grain and vegetables than they can consume, and often more than they cao sell. Catile, swine, fowls, ducks, goats, and sheep, thrive without feeding, and require no other care then to keep them from straying: Cotton, coffee, indigo, and the sugar cane, are all the spontaneous growth of our forests, and may be cultivated at pleasure, to any extent, by such as are disposed. The same may be said of rice, Guinea corn, millet, and too many species of fruits and vegetables to be enumerated. Nalure is here constantly renewing herself, and constantly pouring her treasures into the laps of the industrious.”
In confirmation of this testimony, might be adduced the opinions of many disinterested individuals who have visited the colony; yet, considering the fact, that, while neglected almost entirely, as has been the agriculture of
this part of Africa, in consequence of the slave trade, African provisions can, at present, be purchased cheaper, by one half, than American--none will question its truth. Fine cattle may be bought, at a little distance from the colony, at from three to six dollars the head; rice, of the best quality, for less than a dollar the hushel; and palm oil, answering all the uses of butter and lard, for culinary purposes, at twenty cents per gallon, equal, in cookery, to six pounds of butter. “ The colony is wholly supplied with coffee from its own limits.” It grows without culture, in great profusion, and may be purchased of the natives at about five cents the pound. The settlers find their time too valuable to be employed in gathering it; yet, in the opinion of Mr. Ashmun, it may, should no new plantations be made, finally be exported, in considerable quantities, from the colony.
Agriculture, it must be confessed, has received too little attention. The reasons of this are found in the perplexed and difficult circumstances of the earliest settlers; the unfavorable nature of the lands of the cape; the habits of many who first emigrated, acquired by their long residence in our large cities, and the ignorance of all, of the modes of cultivation best adapted to the climate and productions of Africa; the necessity of employing time in the erection of houses and fortifications; and, above all, the strong temptation to engage in the very profitable trade of the country.
The inhabitants of Caldwell, and other settlements on Stockton creek, are beginning to engage in this pursuit with great decision and energy; and enough has already been accomplished to prove that we have not overrated, in the preceding remarks, the productiveness of Africa; and that time, experience, and effort, alone are requisite to realize all the advantages enjoyed by the cultivators of the soil in the most fertile and favored tropical countries.
The trade of the colony is rapidly increasing, and to this is it principally indebted for its present remarkable prosperity. “It is carried on (say the colonists, in their late address) in the productions of the country, consisting of rice, palm oil, ivory, tortoise shęli, dye-woods, gold, hides, wax, and a Small amount of coffee; and it brings us, in return, the products and manufactures of the four quarters of the world. Seldom, indeed, is our harbor clear of European and American vessels; and the bustle and thronging of our streets show something already of the activity of the smaller seaports of the United States.”
By means of this trade, the managers are informed that many of the colonists have, in the course of three or four years, acquired property to the amount of several thousand dollars each; and that there exists, throughout the settlements, an abundance, not only of the necessaries, but of the comforts, and not a few of the luxuries, of life. The great advantages of this traffic are manifest from the fact, that the colonial agent estimates the annual nett profits of a small schooner, employed by him in conveying articles for barter to several factories, established, under the authority of the colony, to the leeward of Monrovia, and bringing in return the supplies accumulated in exchange for these articles, at $ 4,700-a sum nearly adequate to defray the expense of the whole organization for the public service, both for the United States' Agency and the Colonial Government. In consequence of an injury done to the schooner, this intercourse has been, for a season, discontinued, but is probably resumed before the present time. session of larger vessels would doubtless add immensely to the trade of the country and the interests of the colony.