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In order to proceed with more safety, I would like to begin by introducing, as soon as possible, into Guyane, a few healthy families, to whom I would willingly add one or two colored men, whose duty would be to acquire a personal knowledge of the character of the settlement, and return to the United States to facilitate subsequent expeditions.
The emigrants would be transported at the expense of the King; a tract of land granted to each family, and on each tract a temporary dwelling would he erected. To these would be added provisions for six, nine, and even twelve months. The fee simple of the land would vest in the grantees as soon as two-thirds of the tract should have been cleared, under the condition of their raising thereon a stated proportion of indigenous provisions, independently of the cultivation of cotton, coffee, tobacco, indigo, cocoa, vanilla, and spices. Every male child would, on marrying, obtain also a tract of land upon the same conditions.
Other advantages will be granted to these families of agriculturists. Nothing will be neglected as respects medical assistance; and, above all, to cause religion, this primary source of prosperity and happiness, to preside over their progress in industry and civilization.
All the conditions will be stipulated in a precise manner; and I will willingly engage to bring back, during the first year, at the expense of the Government, such of the first emigrants as would think that their expectations had been deceived.
This statement will enable you, Sir, to discover that the object is to form an establishment useful to humanity. I therefore take the liberty to ask your opinion, as well on the general intent of the plan, as on the surest means to promote its execution.
It would also be gratifying to me, to be enabled by you to communicate with your friends in Philadelphia, and in the other cities of the Union; but it will be time to give our attention to this, when you shall have imparted to me your views of the project, and informed me how far it may be assisted by the Federal Government, and by those societies which are now engaged, throughout the Union, in devising the means of improving the condition of the people of color.
Be pleased to accept the assurance of the sentiments of consideration and attachment with which I have the honor to be
Your most obedient, humble servant,
HYDE DE NEUVILLE.
Tenth Annual Report of the American Society for Colonizing the Free
People of Color of the United States. Ten years have now elapsed, since a few individuals assembled in this city, and deliberately formed themselves into an Institution for the purpose of establishing a Colony of Free People of Color of the United States on the coast of Africa.
An enterprize of such a nature, so vast in conception, various in its relations, and remote in its consequences and its benefits, was seen to be involved in uncertainty, because relying for its full execution upon the aid of those whose approbation could not reasonably be expected, until created by other cvide nces of its utility than those which the scheme, as merely theoretic, presented to the public mind. But should the means be contributed for demonstrating, experimentally, the utility of the plans of the Society, so far as the actual establishment of a colony on the African coast could be regarded as such demonstration, still it was manifest that, on the delicate but momentous question of the probable effects of this colony upon the condition and interests of the great mass of our colored population, two opinions would be adopted, entirely contradictory, and both, therefore, widely varying from the real purposes and hopes of the institution.
The want of satisfactory information concerning the soil, climate, and natives of Africa, and the methods most expedient to be adopted for the acquisition of territory, and the very general aversion of the free people of color to a design which all of them could feel to be hazardous, but which few could comprehend; increasing, as it necessarily must, the indifference of those of our citizens who are governed rather by sympathy than reflection; constituted obstacles truly formidable, but which it was impossible to savoid.
It may not perhaps be irrelevant to the present occasion, to consider for a moment, by what motives and arguments the founders of this society were enabled to sustain themselves in their earliest efforts for a cause, embarassed by difficulties so numerous and immense, and so destitute of attraction to the eye of an ordinary observer.
There was a moral grandeur in the design itself, which rendered the bare possibility of its accomplishment a motive sufficient to justify every possible exertion. It presented itself in relations infinitely important to those whom it would remove from our shores; was seen connected with the domestic happiness, social order, political strength, and all the higher interests of our country, and seemed to offer the only hope of rescuing Africa from the invaders of her rights, and the murderers of her children, and of imparting to her tribes, whose sable aspect is but the shadow of a darker mind, the pure and undying light of our religion.
In the operations of the society, it was obvious that the principal difficulties must be encountered at the outset. That a few enlightened citizens might be induced to furnish the means for exploring the coast of Africa, there was reason to hope; and a favorable report from those delegated for this purpose, could not fail to secure aid for the emigration of such intelligent and energetic adventurers, as have never been found wanting to enterprizes of the most arduous and dangerous character. Every practical movement of the society would draw the public attention to its plans, and, if successful, exhibit evidence of their utility, which no development of a theory, however plausible, could produce. Accounts from Africa would be perused by all; by the fanciful and inquisitive for the novelty of their statements, by the thoughtful and pious to learn the character of its inhabitants, and the best methods of instructing them in the principles of our faith. Thus reflection would be excited, and the objects of the society become better understood; a knowledge of their nature would secure belief in their importance; the spirit of charity would advance with the progress of conviction; truth and time would soften down prejudice; and, through the agency of the press, unremitted efforts, and fervent prayer, the thoughts which dwelt at first in the breast of a few, might finally enlist the sympathies and command the powers of the nation.
Animated by such considerations, the original managers of this society resolved to proceed, and the history of their operations for the last ten years, as detailed in their annual reports, will show the sobriety of their purposes, and the reasonableness of their hopes.
The facts connected with the efforts of the society during the last year, and now to be presented to this meeting, will add, the managers trust, no little weight to the accumulated evidence, heretofore adduced, of the practicableness and expediency of the scheme in which they are engaged.
It was stated by the managers in their last report, that the liberality of their friends had enabled thein to despatch for the colony the brig Vine, with thirty-four emigrants, a missionary, and printer, accompanied by the Rev. Horace Sessions, an Agent of the society, who proposed to return in the same vessel; and that the Indian Chief was about to depart from Norfolk with a much larger number of passengers. The first of these vessels sailed from Boston on the fourth of January, and arrived at Liberia on the seventh February; the last left Norfolk on the 15th of February, and completed her passage on the 22d of March.
A printing press, with all its necessary appendages, many valuable books, and other articles of equal importance, were shipped on board the Vine by the citizens of Boston, who evinced still farther their liberality by assuming the whole expense of the printing establishment for the first year. Eighteen of the einigrants by this vessel were, just before their departure, at their own request, organized into a church; and the impressive exercises of the occasion, upon
which thousands attended with heartfelt interest, deepened the concern for the prosperity of the expedition. But the councils of Heaven are too mysterious for human scrutiny, and the Almighty was pleased to visit this little company with a mortality unprecedented in the history of the colony. Scarcely had the managers seen announced, in the first sheet ever issued from the colonial press, the arrival of the Vine, before they received the mournful tidings of the decease of the Rev. Horace Sessions, Mr. Charles L. Force, the printer, and twelve of the emigrants, with whom others must now be reckoned, including the missionary, the Rev. Calvin Holton, making in all nearly half the whole number of those who embarked from New England. But the attention of the meeting is not left to dwell on this melancholy statement.
The Indian Chief conveyed to Africa one hundred and fifty-four persons, of which one hundred and thirty-nine were from the State of North Carolina. Not an individual of the latter number suffered materially from sickness, while some who left Norfolk in bad health derived, ultimately, benefit from the change of climate. All felt more or less severely the symptoms of fever, ague, and prostration of strength, which the system must necessarily experience on a transition from a temperate to a tropical climate; but they soon recovered their vigor, and proceeded to the erection of buildings, and the clearing of their lands.
As both these expeditions sailed from the United States in the Winter, the striking contrast in their subsequent condition is doubtless owing, in great measure, to the wide difference in the change experienced by the two companies of emigrants; a difference which must be estimated by comparing the less constitutional liability to tropical disease, and the lesser influence of the season affecting those from the South, with the greater liability, and the more powerful influence of the season, to which those from the North were exposed.' It has been very justly remarked by the Colonial Agent, that, as it would be rash for our friends in North Carolina to conclude that no emigrant from that State will hereafter suffer from the African climate, so it would be equally wide from saber calculation for the citizens of New Eng
'land to determine, from a single experiment, that every similar morement would be attended with a like calamity.
The health of the colonists (those who arrived in the Vine excepted) has been well nigh universal and uninterrupted, and no less animated and robust than that which they enjoyed in America. Among the passengers in the Indian Chief, the symptoms of disease were, in many instances, only sufficiently developed to show their specific character, and, in nearly every case, yielded readily to the power of medicine. Many of the children and youth exhibit as much activity and muscular strength as the natives themselves; and “the adults who have resided for some years in the colony seen to acquire for the climate a peculiar predilection.” The natives of the coast are remarkable for their vigorous and well proportioned frames, which are seldom broken or debilitated by disease. Probably no race of men enjoy health more uniformly, or in greater perfection. It is a fact also well ascertained, and peculiarly encouraging, in reference to the African climate, that the country gradually rises from the seaboard into the interior; and that between these two regions, there exists a difference, both in temperature and elevation, nearly resembling what is found in our own Southern States.
The system of government established, with the full consent of the colonists, in the autumn of 1924, and which the Managers had the happiness to represent in their last report as having thus far fulfilled all the purposes of its institution, has continued its operations during the year without the least irregularity, and with undiminished success. The republican principle is introduced as far as is consistent with the youthful and unformed character of the settlement; and in the election of their officers, the colonists have evinced such integrity and judgment as afford promise of early preparation for all the duties of self-government. “ The civil prerogatives and government of the colony, and the body of the laws by which they are sustained," says the Colonial Agent, “are the pride of all. I am happy in the persuasion I have, that I hold the balance of the laws in the midst of a people, with whom the first perceptible inclination of the sacred scale determines, authoritatively, their sentiments and their conduct. There are individual exceptions, but these remarks extend to the body of the settlers."
The moral and religious character of the colony exerts a powerful influence on its social and civil condition. That piety which had guided most of the early emigrants to Liberia, even before they left this country, to respectability and usefulness among their associates, prepared them, in laying the foundations of a colony, to act with a degree of wisdom and energy which no earthly motives could inspire.' Humble, and for the most part unlettered men; born and bred in circumstances the most unfavorable to mental culture; unsustained by the hope of renown, and unfamiliar with the history of great achievements and heroic virtues, theirs was nevertheless a spirit unmoved by dangers or by sufferings, which misfortuncs could not darken, nor death dismay. They left America, and felt that it was forever: they landed in Africa, possibly to find a home, but certainly a grave. Strange would it have been had the religion of every individual of these early settlers proved genuine; but immensely changed as have been their circumstances, and severely tried their faith, most have preserved untarnished the honors of their profession; and to the purity of their morals and the consistency of their conduct, is in a great measure to be attributed the social order and general prosperity of the colony of Liberia. Their example has proved most salutary; and while subsequent emigrants have found themselves awed and restrained by their regularity, seriousness, and devotion, the poor natives have given their confidence, and acknowledged the excellence of practical Christianity. “It deserves record,” says Mr. Ashmun, “ that religion has been the principal agent employed in laying and confirming the foundations of the settlement. To this sentiment, rul. ing, restraining, and actuating the minds of a large proportion of the colonists, must be referred the whole strength of our civil government." Ex: amples of intemperence, profaneness, or licentiousness, are extremely rare; and vice, wherever it exists, is obliged to seek concealment from the public eye. The Sabbath is universally respected; Sunday schools, both for the children of the colony and for the natives, are established; all classes attend regularly upon the worship of God; some charitable associatiớns have been formed for the benefit of the heathen; and though it must not be concealed that the deep concern on the subject of religion, which resulted, towards the conclusion of the year 1825, in the public profession of Christianity by about fifty colonists, has in a measure subsided, and some few cases of delinquency since occurred; and though there are faults, growing out of the early condition and habits of the settlers, which require amendment; yet the Managers have reason to believe that there is a vast and increasing preponderance on the side of correct principle and virtuous practice. One gratifying instance has occurred in which two Methodist societies, long separated, have been induced, by juster views, unanimously to unite in the same discipline and worship. On this subject the Managers will only add, that the moral interests of the colony have been most essentially promoted by the eminent piety and labors of its ministers.
The agriculture of the colony has received less attention than its importance demands. This is to be attributed to the fact, that the labor of the settlers has been applied to objects conducing more immediately to their subsistence and comfort. They have been too much occupied in the construction of houses and public buildings, and in conducting a profitable traffic with the natives, to leave much time to make permanent improvements on their plantations. The best methods of cultivation appear to be imperfectly understood, and the lands which were early cleared on the cape are inferior to those more recently surveyed and allotted to emigrants on the St. Paul's. Crops which exhibited the fairest promise until near the time of harvest, have been severely injured by the various and numerous animals and insects which inhabit the neighboring forests. “ The cultivation of a larger num. ber of contiguous farms will tend to preserve them all from depredations,” and these destroyers can hardly retain their “accustomed haunts” another season.
It will not, the Board trust, be concluded that, because more might have been done for the agricultural interests of the colony, what has been effected is inconsiderable. Two hundred and twenty-four plantations, of from five to ten acres each, were, in June last, occupied by the settlers, and most of them are believed to be at present under cultivation. One hundred and fourteen of these are on Cape Montserado, thirty-three on Stockton creek, (denominated the Halfway Farms, because nearly, equidistant from Monrovia and Caldwell, the St. Paul's settlement,) and seventy-seven at the conAuence of Stockton creek with the St. Paul's.
The St. Paul's territory includes the Halfway Farms, and is represented as a beautiful tract of country, comparatively open, well watered and fertile, and still further recommended as having been, for ages, selected by the na