Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

Memorial. We have hitherto beheld in silence, but with the intensest interest, the efforts of the wise and philanthropic in our behalf. If it became us to be silent, it became us also to feel the liveliest anxiety and gratitude. The time has now arrived, as we believe, in which your good work and our happiness may be promoted by the expression of our opinions. We have therefore assembled for that purpose, from every quarter of the city, and every denomination, to offer you this respectful address, with all the weight and influence which our number, character, and cause, can lend it.

We reside among you, and yet are strangers; natives, and yet not citizens; surrounded by the freest people and most republican institutions in the world, and yet enjoying none of the immunities of freedom. This singularity in our condition has not failed to strike us, as well as you; but we know it is irremediable here. Our difference of color, the servitude of many and most of our brethren, and the prejudices which those circumstances have naturally occasioned, will not allow us to hope, even if we could desire, to mingle with you one day in the benefits of citizenship. As long as we remain among you, we must (and shall) be content to be a distinct race, exposed to the indignities and dangers, physical and moral, to which our situation makes us liable. All that we may expect, is to merit, by our peaceable and orderly behavior, your consideration and the protection of your laws.

It is not to be imputed to you that we are here. Your ancestors remonstrated against the introduction of the first of our race who were brought amongst you; and it was the mother country that insisted on their admission, that her colonies and she might profit, as she thought, by their compulsory labor. But the gist was a curse to them, without being an advantage to herself. The colonies, grown to womanhood, burst from her dominion; and if they have an angry recollection of their union and rupture, it must be at the sight of the baneful institution which she has entailed upon them.

How much you regret its existence among you, is shown by the severe laws you have enacted against the slave trade, and by your employment of a naval force for its suppression. You have gone still further. Not content with checking the increase of the already too growing evil, you have deliberated how you might best exterminate the evil itself. This delicate and important subject has produced a great variety of opinions; but we find, even in that diversity, a consolatory proof of the interest with which you regard the subject, and of your readiness to adopt that scheme which may appear to be the best.

Leaving out all considerations of generosity, humanity, and benevolence, you have the strongest reasons to favor and facilitate the withdrawal from among you of such as wish to remove. It ill consists, in the first place, with your republican principles, and with the health and moral sense of the body politic, that there should be in the midst of you an extraneous mass of men, united to you only by soil and climate, and irrevocably excluded from your institutions. Nor is it less for your advantage in another point of view. Our places might, in your opinion, be better occupied by men of your own color, who would increase the strength of your country. In the pursuit of livelihood and the exercise of industrious habits, we necessarily exclude from employment many of the whites, your fellow citizens, who would find it easier, in proportion as we depart, to provide for themselves and their fan ljes.

But if you have every reason to wish for our removal, how much greater are our inducements to remove! Though we are not slaves, we are not free. We do not, and never shall, participate in the enviable privileges which we continually witness. Beyond a mere subsistence and the im. pulse of religion, there is nothing to arouse us to the exercise of our faculties, or excite us to the attainment of eminence. Though, under the shield of your laws, we are partially protected, not totally oppressed; nevertheless, our situation will and must inevitably have the effect of crushing, not developing, the capacities that God has given us. We are, besides, of opinion that our absence will accelerate the liberation of such of our brethren as are in bondage, by the permission of Providence. When such of us as wish, and may be able, shall have gone before to open and lead the way, a channel will be left, through which may be poured such as hereafter receive their freedom from the kindness or interest of their masters, or by public opinion and legislative enactment, and are willing to join those who have preceded them. As a white population comes in to fill our void, the situa tion of our brethren will be nearer to liberty; for their value must decrease and disappear before the superior advantages of free labor, with which theirs can hold no competition.

Of the many schemes that have been proposed, we most approve of that of African Colonization. If we were able and at liberty to go whithersoever we would, the greater number, willing to leave this community, would prefer Liberia, on the coast of Africa. Others, no doubt, would turn them towards some other region: the world is wide. Already established there, in the settlement of the American Colonization Society, are many of our brethren, the pioneers of African restoration, who encourage us to join them. Several were formerly residents of this city, and highly considered by the people of their own class and color. They have been planted at Cape Mesurado, the most eligible, and one of the most elevated sites on the Western Coast of Africa, selected in 1821, and their number has augmented to 500. Able, as we are informed, to provide for their own defence and support, and capable of self increase, they are now enjoying all the necessaries and comforts, and many of the luxuries, of larger and older communities. In Africa we shall be free men indeed, and republicans after the model of this republic. We shall carry your language, your customs, your opinions, and Christianity, to that now desolate shore, and thence they will gradually spread, with our growth, far into the continent. The slave trade, both external and internal, can be abolished only by settlements on the coast. Africa, if destined to be ever civilized and converted, can be civilized and converted by that means only.

We foresee that difficulties and dangers await those who emigrate; such as every infant establishment must encounter and endure; such as your fathers suffered when first they landed on this now happy shore. They will have to contend, we know, with the want of many things which they enjoy here; and they leave a populous and polished society, for a land where they must long continue to experience the solitude and ruggedness of an early settlement. But “ Ethiopia shall lift her hands unto God.Africa is the only country to which they can go, and enjoy those privileges for which they leave their firesides among you. The work has begun, and it is continuing A foothold has been obtained, and the principal obstacles are overcome. The foundations of a nation have been laid, of which they are to .be the fathers.

The portion of comforts which they may loose, they will cheerfully abandon. Human happiness does not consist in meat and drink, nor in costly raiment, nor in stately habitations. To contribute to it even, they raust be joined with equal rights and respectability; and it often exists in a high degree without them. If the sufferings and privations to which the emigrants would be exposed were even greater than we imagine, still they would not hesitate to sacrifice their own personal and temporary ease for the permanent advantage of their race, and the future prosperity and dignified existence of their children.

That you may facilitate the withdrawal from among you of such as wish to remove, is what we now solicit. It can best be done, we think, by augmenting the means at the command of the American Colonization Society, that the colony of Liberia may be strengthened and improved for their gradual reception. The greater the number of persons sent thither, from any part of this nation whatsoever, so much more capable it becomes of receiving a still greater. Every encouragement to it, therefore, though it may not seem to have any

particular portion of emigrants directly in view, will produce a favorable effect upon all

. The emigrants may readily be enabled to remove, in considerable numbers, every Fall, by a concerted system of individual contributions; and still more efficiently by the enactment of laws to promote their emigration, under the patronage of the State. The expense would not be nearly so great as it might appear at first sight: for when once the current shall have set towards Liberia, and intercourse grown frequent, the cost will of course diminish rapidly, and many will be able to defray it for themselves. Thousands and tens of thousands, poorer than

we, annually emigrate from Europe to your country, and soon have it in their power to hasten the arrival of those they left behind. Every intelligent and industrious colored man would continually look forward to the day when he or his children might go to their veritable home, and would accumulate all his little earnings for that purpose.

We have ventured these remarks, because we know that you take a kind concern in the subject to which they relate, and because we think they may assist you in the prosecution of your designs. If we were doubtful of your good will and benevolent intentions, we would remind you of the time when you were in a situation similar to ours, and when your forefathers were driven by religious persecution, to a distant and inhospitable shore. We are not so persecuted; but we, too, leave our homes, and seek a distant and inhospitable shore. An empire may be the result of our emigration, as of theirs. The protection, kindness, and assistance, which you would have desired for yourselves, under such circumstances, now extend to us: so may you be rewarded by the riddance of the stain and evil of slavery, the extension of civilization and the Gospel, and the blessing of our common Creator!

WM. CORNISH,
Chairman of the meeting in Bethel Church.

ROBERT COWLEY,
Secretary of the meeting in Bethel Church.

JAMES DEAVER,
Chairman of the meeting in the African Church, Sharp street.

REMUS HARVEY,
Secretary of the meeting in the African Church, Sharp street.

Copy of a letter from Thomas Jefferson, late President of the United

States, lo John Lynd.

MONTICELLO, Jan. 21, 1811. SIR: You have asked my opinion on the proposition of Ann Mifflin, to take measures for procuring, on the coast of Africa, an establishment at which the people of color of these States might, from time to time, be colonized, under the auspices of different governments. Having long ago made up my mind on this subject, I have no hesitation in saying that I have ever thought that the most desirable measure which could be adopted for gradually drawing off this part of our population--most advantageous for themselves as well as for us. Going from a country possessing all the useful arts, they might be the means of transplanting them among the inhabitants of Africa; and would thus carry back to the country of their origin the seeds of civilization, which might reader their sojournment here a blessing, in the end, to that country.

I received, in the last year of my entering into the administration of the General Government, a letter from the Governor of Virginia, consulting me, at the request of the Legislature of the State, on the means of procuring some such asylum, to which these people might be occasionally sent. I proposed to him the establishment of Sierra Leone, in which a private company in England had already colonized a number of negroes, and particularly the fu. gitives from these States during the Revolutionary war; and at the same time suggested, if that could not be obtained, some of the Portuguese possessions in South America, as most desirable.

The subsequent Legislature approving these ideas, I wrote, the ensuing year, (1802) to Mr. King, our Minister in London, to endeavor to negotiate with the Sierra Leone Company, and induce them to receive such of these people as might be colonized thither. He opened a correspondence with Mr. W—and Mr. Thornton, Secretary of the Company, on the subject; and, in 1803, I received, through Mr. King, the result, which was, that the colony was going on in but a languishing condition; that the funds of the compauy were likely to 'tail

, as they received no return of profit to keep them up; that they were then in treaty with the Government to take the establishment off their hands; but tha, in no event, should they be willing to receive more of these people from the United States, as it was that portion of settlers who had gone from the United States, who, by their idleness and turbulence, had kept the settlement in constant danger of dissolution, which could not have been prevented, but for the aid of the Maroon negroes, from the West Indies, who were more industrious and orderly than the others, and supported the authority of the government and its laws.

I think I learned afterwards that the British Government had taken the colony into their own hands, and I believe it still exists.

The effort which I made with Portugal, to obtain an establishment from them within their colonies in South America, proved also abortive.

You inquired further, whether I would use my endeavors to procure such an establishment, secure against violence from other Powers, and particularly the French. Certainly, I shall be willing to do any thing I can, to give it effect and safety. But I am but a private individual, and could only use endeavors with individuals: whereas, the National Government can address themselves at once to those of Europe, to obtain the desired security, and will unquestionably be ready to exert its influence with those nations, to effect an object so benevolent in itself, and so important to a great portion of its constituents. Indeed, nothing is more to be wished than that the United States would themselves undertake to make such an establishment on the coast of Africa.

Exclusive of motives of humanity, the commercial advantages to be derived from it might defray all its expenses; but for this, the national mind is not prepared. It may, perhaps, be doubted whether many of these people would voluntarily consent to such an exchange of situation, and but few of those who are advanced to a certain age in habits of slavery would be capable of governing themselves; this should not, however, discourage the experiment, nor the early trial of it. And propositions should be made with all the prudent caution and attention requisite to reconcile it to the interest, the safety, and prejudice, of all parties. Accept the assurance of my respect and esteem.

THOMAS JEFFERSON,

The resolution of the State of Virginia, to be seen in the succeeding pages of this note, had been, as the committee are assured, for several weeks before it was submitted by its mover to the House of Delegates of that State, shown to many members of that body. Its subject had also been made by him a topic of discussion in the city of Washington, in the preceding Spring, and in the cities of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, as well as at Princeton, in New Jersey, during the following Summer and Autumn. And a concurrent movement in relation to its purpose, in both Maryland and Virginia, had been distinctly concerted in Georgetown, within the District of Columbia, with a gentleman now residing there, as early as March, 1816, without the participation or knowledge of any individual whatever residing North of Maryland.

An accidental disclosure in the city of Richmond, late in February, 1816, of the prior resolutions of the General Assembly of Virginia, was referred to, in the inception of this measure in Georgetown, and in every early stage of its subsequent prosecution. These statements of unquestionable truth, capable of being sustained by ample testimony, are designed to suppress the suggestion, that any influence exterior to the Southern States of the Union, or hostile to their interests, had the least participation in prompting the first organized public effort to colonize the free people of color of the United States. The subjoined pages, published at a press in the city of Washington, immediately after the formation of the American Colonization Society, and filed among its records, are also in accordance with this hitherto private history,

From the (Geo.) Missionary.

At a called session of the Jackson County Auxiliary Colonization Society, held on the 2d day of April, 1825, the following preamble and resolutions were offered, and unanimously adopted:

Whereas it is obvious that the present is an age of great and successful experiment and enterprise, all having the melioration of the condition of the human family in view; and whereas we do believe that the American Colonization Society may be justly ranked with the greatest means employ. ed at this time with a view to the accomplishment of those events which

« AnteriorContinua »