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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 1906, 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 adherence of both States to the opinions which they have repeatedly expressed in behalf of the object of the American Colonization Society.
The success of the Society, however, so far as it has advanced, is attributable, under Heaven, mainly to the persevering zeal and prudence of its members, and to the countenance and aid which is has both merited and received from the Federal Government
The last annual report of the Society, which is hereto annexed, (see tenth annual report of the Society,) and the various reports and resolutions of former committees of the House of Representatives, charged, from time to time, with an inquiry into the most effectual means of suppressing the African slave trade, (see preceding part of this appendix,) will show the present condition of the colony which the Society have planted on the coast of Africa, its present relation to the Federal Government, and the character and extent of the aid which it has derived from the national resources. The prosperity of the Colony, your committee are assured by the report and memorial of the Society, surpasses the most sanguine hopes of its early founders, and furnishes conclusive evidence of the capacity of such communities, spread along the coast of Africa, not only to abolish, effectually, that inhuman traffic which has hitherto baffled the combined efforts of the Chris. tian world, but to afford, on this oppressed continent, the long-sought asylum to such of its free decendents in America as may choose to return to the land of their progenitors.
The aid hitherto derived by the Society from the co-operation of the Federal Government has been limited to the execution of the act of 1819, under “the just and liberal construction" given to it by the late President of the United States, in honor of whom the chief town of the Colony has received a name which it will hand down, it may be hoped, to remote posterity, as a perpetual memorial of the wisdom and benevolence of the nation over which he presided.
This construction harmonized the benevolent spirit of the act of Congress of 1807, which sought to abolish the American branch of the African slave trade, with the constitutional obligations of the General Government to the several States, and to the Union. (See Message of President Monroe of Dec. 17, 1819.
1 The memorialists found, on views yet more enlarged, an application to the General Government for more extended aid: and, sustained as they are by their own weight of character, and the approving voices of so many States by the wishes of so large a portion, indeed, of the American people--these views are entitled to the most respectful consideration.
They request the Congress of the United States to assume the government and protection of the Colony of Liberia, and to furnish to the free people of color in America the means of defraying the expense of their voluntary removal to the continent of their ancestors.
Objects of greater interest, though not now pressed for the first time on the consideration of Congress, have rarely been brought to the notice of this Government.
The first inquiry which they suggest, refers the Committee to the power of the Federal Government to grant the prayer of the memorialists: the next, to the expediency of doing so.
The Committee entertain no doubt whatever but that the Government of the United States has the constitutional power to acquire territory; and that the people of every inhabited country, so acquired, must be regarded as
standing towards the Federal Government in the relation of colonial dependence, till admitted as co-ordinate States with the common Union.
The inhabitants of every portion of the former Northwestern Territory, deriving their birth from the thirteen original States, and possessing the right of emigration, were strictly speaking, recognized colonies of their common mother country, as are at present the Territories of Arkansas, Michigan, and Florida. They had not the right of self-government, nor have these; but they were, or are, dependent, for their laws, upon the Congress of the United States. Such territories, with their inhabitants, can, in no sense, be regarded as the colonies of any particular State, being made up of emigrants from all the States to the common territory of all; and the power to govern them has been exercised, at all times, under the unquestioned and indisputable authority of the Union.
No State having the power to enter into any negotiation for the acquisition of foreign territory, the authority to make a treaty for that object must, and does, vest in the United States, or it exists no where. This reasoning is in accordance with the past history of the United States, and the tenor of the earliest report upon this subject from a Committee of this House. But, while this Committee recognize in the Federal Government the power to negotiate for the acquisition of territory, and to govern it and its inhabitants, when acquired, as a Colony, they are not prepared, at present, to admit the expediency of doing so in relation to the people and territory of Africa. Were the exercise of such a power deemed, by the Committee, indispensably necessary to the benevolent and uscful purposes of the memorialists, a decision on the expediency of the measure proposed would be involved in greater difficulty, and inspire the deepest solicitude. But the Committee entertain a different opinion. The Colonial Agent of the American Society has experienced, especially of late, very little difficulty in procuring accessions of territory: no such difficulty need hereafter be apprehended, or none that mere pecuniary aid would not promptly obviate. Nor, for the protection of the Colony against a civilized enemy, does it appear to your Committee to be required that the United States should assume over it any jurisdiction or power of political and civil government. The fatality of the climate of tropical Africa to the constitution of the white man forms one source of the security of any Colony of persons capable of withstanding its influence. Against the predatory incursions of the feeble tribes in the neighborhood of the American Colony, its own strength manifestly suffices for its defence; and from the power of the maritime States of Europe and America, and the agitations and dangers of their frequent wars, the humanity of the world would afford a better protection than the flag of any single State, however powerful.
While ihe Colony of Sierra Leone was subject, as is that of Liberia at present, to the moral control of a society of private gentlemen, it was once, during the disorders of the French revolution, attacked by a French squadron; but, such was the indignation awakened by this act of wanton barbarity, that it was promptly disavowed by the revolutionary Government of France: and, in all the subsequent wars of Great Britain, such an act has never been repeated, or even apprehended.
To render this moral protection more authoritative, your Committee beg leave to recommend to the House, in conformity with the report of a former Committee acting in relation to the same subject, the adoption of a resolution, requesting the President of the United States to “enter upon such negotiations as he may deem expedient, with all the maritime Powers of the
Christian world, for the purpose of securing to the Colony of Liberia," and such other colonies as may be planted on the African coast, for like purposes, so long as they may merit it, “ the advantages of a perpetual neutrali
Against the hazard, which must, however, shortly cease, if it has not already done so, arising from the desperate enterprises of those piratical adventurers who frequent the African coast for the purpose of carrying on a trade now prohibited, North of the equator, by all nations, and continued to the South by Brazil and Portugal alone, the growing strength of the Colony, aided by the frequent presence of the American flag in its vicinity, will furnish adequate security. To provide for its internal tranquillity, an assumption of its government by the United States would seem at first to be of greater moment. To the future peace and prosperity of the Colony, it may appear to be an indispensable guarantee. Some of the memorialists have so regarded it.
But as a responsibility, involving political considerations of no small magnitude, would, of necessity, attach to the exercise, by the United States, of a sovereign jurisdiction over a remote territory and people, the committee have been led, in conformity with the principles which they have already laid down, to consider it more prudent to trust the internal government of the Colony to the administration by which it has been hitherto so successfully conducted.
A mixture of the control of other magistrates than those of the same color with the colonists, to be drawn, for that purpose, from the white population of the United States, might possibly arouse in other States, as well as in the colonists themselves, jcalousies which do not at present exist; while no small sacrifice of human life would be the obvious consequence of attempting to sustain an authority over the Colony by the force of any other power than that moral control which repeated benefactions, a sense of gratitude, and the dictates of interest, may long preserve to its American founders, and their successors.
When its population and power shall entitle Liberia to rank, as it may, and in all human probability will, bearafter do, among the civilized States of the earth, negotiation will keep open and improve the avenue which, in its feeble, though yet flourishing condition, it now offers to the admission of the colored race from America. Thus it may continue to subserve all the benevolent and useful purposes which its early patrons and friends had in view, without subjecting it to entangling alliances with, or a degrading dependence upon, any other political community.
The power and the expedier.cy of affording pecuniary aid to the voluntary removal of the free people of color from America to Africa, are questions presenting to the committee fewer difficulties. (See extracts from third annual report of Colonization Society)
It is not easy to discern any object to which the pecuniary resources of the Union can be applied, of greater importance to the national security and welfarc, than to provide for the removal, in a manner consistent with the rights and interests of the several States, of the free colored population within their limits. And your committee would not hesitate to accompany this report with a resolution recommending, with suitable conditions, such an appropriation, did not the public business remaining to be disposed of by the present Congress preclude the hope, if not the possibility, of obtaining for such a resolution the sanction of this House.
They close their report, therefore, with an earnest recommendation of the prayer of the memorialists, and the accompaning resolutions of the States of Kentucky and Delaware, to the early attention of the next Congress.
At a meeting of the Society, held on the first day of January, 1817, the following resolution was adopted:
“ Resolved, That the President and Board of Managers be, and they are hereby, instructed and required to present a memorial to Congress, on the subject of colonizing, with their consent, the free people of color of the United States, in Africa or elsewhere."
The following resolutions have been adopted by the Society, at its annual meetings in 1819, 1820, 1826, and 1827:
“ Resolved, That a Committee of three be appointed to lay before the Congress of the United States, or any Committee or Committees which may appointed by either branch thereof, the information which has been collected through the means of this Society, showing the practicability of the object of this institution; and respectfully but earnestly to solicit the countenance, aid, and support of Congress, in the accomplishment of that object.”
"Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to prepare and present to the Congress of the United States a memorial requesting that they will take such further steps as to their wisdom may seem proper to ensure the entire abolition of the African slave trade.”
" Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to prepare and present, as soon as possible, to the two Houses, of Congress, memorials praying such aid and assistance to the Society as Congress shall think proper to afford.”
“ Resolved, that the Board of Managers be empowered and directed, at such time or times as may seem to them expedient, to make respectful application to the Congress of the United States, and to the Legislatures of the different States, for such pecuniary aid, in furtherance of the object of this Society, as they may respectively be pleased to grant.”
Memorial of the free people of color to the Citizens of Baltimore.
At a meeting of a respectable number of colored persons, convened at Bethel Church, December 7th, 1826, for the purpose of considering the propriety of promoting an emigration to the African Colony at Liberia, the Rev. Wm. Cornish was called to the chair, and Robert Cowley appointed Secretary. The meeting being organized, after due deliberation, the following resolution and memorial were read and adopted.
The proceedings were then ordered to be signed by the Chairman and Secretary, and published.
December 11, 1826. At a very numerous meeting of respectable free people of color, held at the African Church, Sharp street, on Monday, 11th December, 1826, on motion of the Rev. Lewis G. Wells, Mr. James Deaver was called to the chair, and Remus Harvey appointed Secretary.
A memorial to the white people of Baltimore was then presented to the meeting, being the same adopted at the Bethel Church on the 7th instant; and after the same had been read and discussed, it was adopted, and ordered to be part of the proceedings of the meeting, signed by the Chairman and Secretary, and published.