Imatges de pàgina

moral character of that act. The Executive of the United States believed that it might conduce to the success of the negotiation, if the British Parliament would previously declare, as the United States had done, the slave trade to be piratical. But it did not follow, from the passage of that act, that any treaty, in which the negotiation might terminate, was to be taken out of the ordinary rule by which all treaties are finally submitted to the scrutiny and sanction of the respective Governments. No peculiar advantage has accrued to the United States from the enactment of that British law. Its continued existence, moreover, now depends upon the pleasure of the British Parliament.

But there is no disposition to dwell longer on this subject. The true character of the whole negotiation cannot be misconceived. Great Britain and the United States have had in view a common end of great humanity, entitled to their highest and best exertions. With respect to the desire of attaining that end, there is no difference of opinion between the Government of His Britannic Majesty and that of the United States, in any of its branches. But the Senate has thought that the proposed convention was an instrument not adapted to the accomplishment of that end, or that it was otherwise objectionable; and, without the concurrence of the Senate, the convention cannot receive the constitutional sanctions of the United States. Without indulging, therefore, unavailing regrets, it is the anxious hope of the President that the Government of His Britannic Majesty should see, in all that has occurred, nothing towards it unfriendly on the part of that of the United States, and nothing that ought to slacken their separate or united exertions in the employment of all other practical modes to effectuate the great object, so dear to both, of an entire extirpation of a traffic which is condemned by reason, religion, and humanity. I pray you, sir, to accept the assurance of my distinguished considera


Chargé d'Affaires from Great Britain.


Mr. Addington to Mr. Clay.

WASHINGTON, April 9, 1825. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6th instant, in which you announce to me the definite decision of the President with regard to the convention for the more effe ctual suppression of the slave trade, which I had the honor to submit for the acceptance of this Government, on the 6th November last.

In expressing my regret at the failure of the benevolent efforts which have been employed in a cause so dear to humanity, I may venture to assure you that, however deeply His Majesty's Government may deplore the present disappointment of their hopes, they will consider the unfortunate . issue of this business as in no wise affecting the friendly feelings which exist between the two Governments, and will accept with pleasure the expression of the President's desire that every exertion should still be used for effecting the entire extirpation of that odious traffic, which the convention was designed to suppress. .

. I cannot dismiss this subject without a brief observation on that part of your letter in which you animadvert upon the argument employed in mine ci the 6th of November last, relative to the act passed by the British Parliament, for denouncing the slave trade as piracy. The expressions used by you would lead to a belief that I had represented the passage of that act, on the part of Great Britain, as rendering it imperative on the American Government to accede to the convention, even at the expense of a sacrifice of their constitutional prerogatives..

A reference to the expressions of my letter will, I apprehend, at once demonstrate the erroneousness of this impression, by showing that I put the case as a point of conscience, not one of right, and that I urged the argument above alluded to in the form of an appeal, not of a demand.

The denunciation of the slave trade as piracy, by British statute, was made by this Government a sine qua non to the signature of the convention. As far as Great Britain was concerned, that proceeding, although perfectly comformable to the views of Parliament, quoad morality, was one of pure supererogation, and conferred no power towards the suppression of the slave trade not possessed before. Had the Government of the United States not expressly desired the enactment of that statute, it would never have been passed; but, being passed, its revocation, although certainly within the competence of Parliament, is now, by the interposition of subsequent events, rendered tantamount to morally impracticable.

These circumstances will, I apprehend, amply justify, both the form of the argument which I built upon then, and the warmth with which I urged it.

I offer the preceding remarks, not by any means with a view to invite to further discussion, but simply in order to obviate all misconstruction of the meaning of words already employed by me.

I have the honor, sir, to renew to you the assurance of my distinguished consideration.


Secretary of State.

FEBRUARY 14, 1826.

Mr. Forsyth laid the following resolutions on the table , viz:

1. Resolved, That it is expedient to repeal so much of the act of the 3d March, 1819, entitled “An act in addition to the acts prohibiting the slave trade,” as provides for the appointment of agents on the coast of Africa.

2. Resolved, That it is expedient so to modify the said act of the 3d March, 1819, as to release the United States from all obligation to support the negroes already removed to the coast of Africa, and to provide for such a disposition of those taken in slave ships, who now are in, or who may be hereafter brought into the United States, as shall secure to them a fair oppor. tunity of obtaining a comfortable subsistence, without any aid from the public Treasury.

These resolutions were not acted on by the House.


FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 1827.

Mr. Hamilton moved the following resolution; which was read, and laid on the table, viz:

Resolved, that the President of the United States be requested, on some fit and convenient occasion, in the course of any pending correspondence with the Governments of Great Britain and France, to ascertain and report to this House, at the next session of Congress, whether those Governments will furnish facilities to the landing, and safe passage through their respective possessions on the coast of Africa, to such Africans as may have come into the possession of the United States by virtue of captures and condemnations under the slave trade laws, whom this Goverument may desire to return to the respective countries, provinces, or dominions, of the countries to which such Africans belong.

March 3, 1827. -The above resolution was taken into consideration and adopted by the House.

MARCH 3, 1827. Mr. MERCER, from the Select Committee, consisting of Mr. Mercer, Mr.

Powell, Mr. Weems, Mr. Kellog, Mr. Kreps, Mr. Bryan, and Mr.

M'Hatton, made the following report: The committee to whom were referred sundry memorials of the American Colonization Society, of citizens of various portions of the United States, together with the resolutions of the Legislatures of the States of Delaware and Kentucky, inviting the aid of the Federal Government to colonize in Africa, with their own consent, the free people of color of the United States, report:

That the memorials and resolutions present to the consideration of Congress an object which must be regarded as of the highest importance to the future peace, prosperity, and happiness of the United States.

Surrounded with difficulties, in proportion to the magnitude of the interests that it involves, has been the circumspection with which the committee have approached it. Could they hope that the evil to which the memorials and resolutions point would find a remedy in silent neglect, or could be mitigated by concealment, they would ask to be discharged from its further investigation. The peculiar delicacy of another topic, almost inseparable, in imagination at least, however distinguishable in truth, from the purpose of the several memorials and resolutions referred to them, would induce the committee to avoid its consideration, if a sense of duty, prompted by the hope that their labor may not be in vain, did not urge them to proceed in the delicate task imposed upon them by the order of the House.

Its object, the committee are well aware, is not novel, nor even now for the first time presented to the notice of Congress. *

It involves an inquiry into the expediency of promoting, by the authori. ty and resources of the General Government, the colonization of the free people of color beyond the territorial limits of the United States. * See proceedings of Colonization Society, appended to this report.

The existence of a distinct race of people in the bosom of the United States, who, both by their moral and political condition and their natural complexion, are excluded from a social equality with the great body of the community, invited the serious attention and awakened the anxious solicitude of many American statesmen, as soon as the unhappy traffic which had annually multiplied them çeased to be regarded as innocent. A part of them, once held by the same tenure which originally introduced them all into America, were, in some of the United States, liberated before, and in others by the revolution. In many States, however, their total number was, as it still continues to be, so great, that universal or general emancipation could not be hazarded, without endangering a convulsion fatal to the peace of society. No truth has been more awfully demonstrated by the experience of the present age than that, to render freedom a blessing, man must be qualified for its enjoyment; that a total revolution in his character cannot be instantaneously wrought by the agency of ordinary moral and physical causes, or by the sudden force of unprepared revolution.

Still, in many States of the American Union, all the colored population are now free; and, in others, so circumstanced as still to render universal emancipation dangerous to the public happiness: large bodies of free colored people have arisen, from the influence of humanity in the master, under a system of laws which, if they did not promote, did not, till recently, prohibit voluntary enfranchisement. The enlargement of the rights of the colored race extend, however, to very various limits in the different States. In no two, perhaps, has it precisely the same extent. In none does it efface all civil and political distinctions between the colored man and the white inhabitant or citizen. Over moral influences mere laws have every where less power than manners. No where in America, therefore, has emancipation elevated the colored race to perfect equality with the white; and, in many States, the disparity is so great that it may be questioned whether the condition of the slave, while protected by his master, however degraded in itself, is not preferable to that of the free negro. Nor is this any where so questionable as in those States which have both the greatest number of slaves and of free people of color. It is, at the same time, worthy of remark, that, among these, the principle of voluntary emancipation has operated to a much greater extent than the laws themselves, or the principle of coercion upon the master has ever done, even among those States who had no danger whatever to apprehend from the speedy and universal extension of human liberty. So little ground is there, in fact, to be found among the different sections of the Union for those uncandid reproaches which, where not reproved as alike impolitic and unjust, are calculated to sow the seeds of lasting jealousies and animosities among societies of men .whose best interests are indissolubly connected, and who have only to know each other intimately to be as cordially united by mutual esteem as they are by a common government.

All must concur, however, in regarding the present condition of the free colored race in America, as inconsistent with its future social and political advancement; and, where slavery exists at all, as, calculated to aggravate its evils without any atoning good. Among those evils, the most obvious is, the restraint imposed upon emancipation by the laws of so many of the slave holding States-laws deriving their recent origin from the obvious manifestation, which the increase of the free colored population has furnished, of the inconvenience and danger of multiplying their number 'where slavery exists at all.

Their own consciousness of their degraded condition in the United States has appeared to the North as well as the South, in their repeated efforts to find a territory beyond the limits of the Union to which they may retire, and on which, secure from external danger, they may hope for the enjoyment of political as well as civil liberty. (See memorial of free people of color to citizens of Baltimore.)

The belief that such would and should be their desire, and a conviction that the voluntary removal of this part of the population of the United States would greatly conduce to the future happiness of the residue, have turned the anxious attention of many private citizens and the Legislatures of several States to the expediency of affording to them the means of colonizing a territory in Africa.

Anterior to the year 1806, three several attempts to procure a country suited to this subject had been secretly made by the General Assembly of Virginia, through a correspondence between the Executive of that State and the President of the United States. (See letter from Mr. Jefferson to John Lynd.)

The last, but, at the same time, the earliest public effort to attain this object was made by the Legislature of the same State, in December, 1816, some time before the formation, in the City of Washington, of the American Society for colonizing the free people of color. The design of this institution, the committee are apprized, originated in the disclosure of the secret resolutions of prior Legislatures of that State, to which may also be ascribed, it is understood, the renewal of their obvious purpose in the resolution subjoined to this report-a resolution which was first adopted by the House of Delegates of Virginia, on the 14th of December, 1816, with an unanimity which denoted the deep interest which it inspired, and which openly manifested to the world a steady adherence to the humane policy which had secretly animated the same councils at a much earlier period. This brief and correct history of the origin of the American Colonization Society evinoes that it sprung from a deep solicitude for Southern interests, and among those most competent to discern and to promote them. (See paper following Mr. Jefferson's letter.)

Founded by the co-operation of several distingished statesmen, co-operating with many patriotic and pious citizens, the American Colonization Soci ty, for colonizing the free people of color, soon received the countenance of the Legislature of Maryland, and succeeding it, at shorter or longer intervals, the unequivocal approbation of the States of Georgia and Tennessee, as it has very recently done of Delaware and Kentucky. (See acts of Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Delaware, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Connecticut, Vermont, Indiana, Pennsylvania, in the preceding part of this appendix.

To these have been added, during the prosecution of its benevolent design, the favorable opinions and pious aspirations for its success of almost every religious society in the United States. (See App. No. 6.)

To these influences, and to the success of its measures, it may be ascribed, that private subscriptions to the extent of near sixty thousand dollars have cooperated with the collateral aid of the American Government in founding the present flourishing Colony of Liberia. On two several occasions, in the years 1825 and 1826, the General Assembly of Virginia have voted, at the request of the Society, a small pecuniary aid to its resources; and that of Maryland has, by a fixed annuity, very lately concurred in a similar benefaction. These acts may be regarded as an earnest of the continued adher

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