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ple of Color of the United States,” have had the samé under their deliberate consideration. The subject is of such magnitude, and attended with so many difficulties, it is with much diffidence they present their views of it to the House.
Were it simply a question of founding a colony, numerous and well known precedents show with what facility the work might be accomplished. Every new territory established by our own Government, constitutes, indeed, a colony, formed with great ease; because it is only an extension of homogeneous settlements. But, in contemplating the colonization of the free people of color, it seemed obviously necessary to take a different course. Their distinct character and relative condition render an entire separation from our own States and Territories indispensable. And this separation must be such as to admit of an indefinite continuance. Hence, it seems manifest that these people cannot be colonized within the limits of the United States. If they were not far distant, the rapidly extending settlements of our white inhabitants would soon reach them; and the evil now felt would be renewed; probably with aggravated mischief. Were the colony to be remote, it must be planted on lands now owned and occupied by the native tribes of the country. And could a territory be purchased, the transporting of the colonists thither would be vastly expensive, their subsistence for a time difficult, and a body of troops would be required for their protection. And, after all, should these difficulties be overcome, the original evil would at length recur, by the extension of our white population. In the mean time, should the colony so increase as to become a nation, it is not difficult to foresee the quarrels and destructive wars which would ensue; especially if the slavery of people of color should continue, and accompany the whites in their migrations.
Turning our eyes from our own country, no other, adapted to the colony in contemplation, presented itself to our view, nearer than Africa, the native land of negroes; and probably that is the only country on the globe to which it would be practicable to transfer our free people of color, with safety and advantage to themselves and the civilized world. It is the country which, in the order of Providence, seems to have been appropriated to that distinct family of mankind. And while it presents the fittest asylum for the free people of color, it opens a wide field for the improvements in civilization, morals, and religion, which the humane and enlightened memorialists have conceived it possible, in process of time, to spread over that great continent.
Should the measure suggested be approved, an important question occurs In what way shall its execution be essayed?
A preliminary step-would be, to provide for the perfect neutrality of the colony, by the explicit assent and engagement of all the civilized powers, whatever dissensions may at any time arise among themselves.
The next important question is—Will it be expedient to attempt the establishment of a new colony in Africa, or to make to Great Britain a proposal to receive the emigrants from the United States into her colony of Sierra Leone?
At Sierra Leone, the first difficulties have been surmounted; and a few free people of color from the United States have been admitted. A gradual addition from the same source (and such would be the natural progress) would occasion no embarrassment, either in regard to their sustenance or government. Would the British government consent to receive such an accession of emigrants, however eventually considerable, from the United
States? Would that Government agree that, at the period when that colony shall be capable of self-government and self-protection, it shall be declared independent? In the mean time, will it desire to monopolize the commerce of the colony? This would be injurious to the colonists, as well as to the United States. Should that country, from the nature of its soil and other circumstances, hold out sufficient allurenients, and draw to it, from the United States, the great body of the free people of color, these would form its strength, and its ability to render its commerce an object of consideration. Now, as the great and permanent benefit of the colonists was the fundamental principle of the establishment-will the British Government decline a proposition calculated to give to that benefit the important extension which will arise from a freedom of commerce? to those, at least, at whose expense, and by whose means, the colony shall be essentially extended? Should an agreement with Great Britain be effected, no further negotiation, nor any extraordinary expenditure of money, will be required. The work already commenced will be continued simply that of carrying to Sierra Leone all who are willing to embark.
It would seem highly desirable to confine the migrations to a single colony. Two distinct and independent colonies, established and protected by two independent Powers, would naturally imbibe the spirit and distinctions of their patrons and protectors, and put in jeopardy the peace and prosperity of both. Even the simple fact of separate independence would eventually tend to produce collisions and wars between the two establishments, (unless, indeed, they were far removed from each other,) and perhaps defeat the further humane and exalted views of those who projected them. The spirit which animated the founders of the colony of Sierra Leone, would be exerted to effect a union of design, and the cordial co-operation of the British Government with our own; and, it might be hoped, not without success. It would be in accordance with the spirit of a stipulation in the last treaty of peace, by which the two Governments stand pledged to each other, to use their best endeavors to effect the entire abolition of the traffic in slaves, while the proposed institution would tend to diminish the quantity of slavery actually existing.
If, however, such enlarged and liberal views should be wanting, then the design of forming a separate colony might be announced, by the American ministers, to the maritime Powers; and their guaranty of the neutrality of lhe colony obtained. Your committee do not think it proper to pursue the subject any
further at this time; but that the Government should wait the result of the suggested negotiations; on which ulterior measures must depend.
In conclusion, your committee beg leave to report a joint resolution, embracing the views hereinbefore exhibited.
FEBRUARY 11, 1817. Joint resolution for abolishing the traffic in slaves, and the coloniza
tion of the free people of color of the United States. Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to consult and negotiate with all the Governments where ministers of the United States are or shall be accredited, on the means of effecting an entire and immediate abolition of the traffic in slaves. And, also, to enter into a convention with the Government of Great Britain for receiving into the colony of Sierra Leone such of the free people of color of the United States as, with their own consent, shall be carried thi. ther; stipulating such terms as shall be most beneficial to the colonists, while it promotes the peaceful interests of Great Britain and the United States. And should this proposition not be accepted, then to obtain from Great Britain and the other maritime Powers a stipulation, or a formal declaration to the same effect, guarantying a permanent neutrality for any colony of free people of color, which, at the expense and under the auspices of the United States, shall be established on the African coast.
Resolved, That adequate provision shall hereafter be made to defray any necessary expenses which may be incurred in carrying the preceding resolution into effect.
Note:--No proceeding took place in the House on these resolutions at this session.
A view of exertions lately made for the purpose of colonizing the free
people of color in the United States, in Africa, or elsewhere. The present age witnesses numerous and unexpected changes, and it is peculiarly grateful to the benevolent man to notice among these changes many which are ominous of good. As a traveller, wearied with the roughness and barrenness of the region he has passed, enjoys the scenery of a cultivated and luxuriant country; so the philanthropist, distressed with the confusion and misery which pervade many portions of the world, may still fix his attention on those favorable occurrences in Divine Providence, and contemplate with peculiar pleasure the rising glory of the kingdom of Christ, and the prevalence of that religion which proclaims“ peace on earth and good will to men.
The success which attends charitable and benevolent societies, has, in many instances, surpassed the expectations even of their friends and patrons; and whether the public are encouraged and gratified with the success of past exertions, or whether they are alarmed and excited by the miseries which thousands feel, and in which other thousands sympathize, it is but just to acknowledge that there exists an unusual sensibility and desire to aid the cause of humanity and religion. The tone of public feeling is elevated. If any sufficient object can be assigned for benevolent exertion, and can be enforced by any sufficient reasons, it will scarcely fail to receive all deserved approbation and support.
Influenced by these considerations, the following view of exertions lately made for the colonizing free people of color, is presented to the public.
It is already known that the attention of many intelligent men in the United States has been recently turned with peculiar force and a corresponding zeal and spirit of perseverance to this subject. Some very important preparatory steps to such a measure have been taken. Soon after the commencement of the present session of Congress, the expediency of colonizing free people of color became a subject of consideration with many gentlemen of respectability from the different States. The propriety of such a measure, could it be carried into effect, was generally admitted. It was thought that a design of such importance, so intimately connected with the best interests of the citizens of the United States, and promising at the same time to improve and meliorate the state of that class of the community for whom provision was to be made, should not be abandoned without a vigorous and a thorough effort to carry it into execution.
The formation of a Colonization Society was therefore proposed. Many were led the more readily to approve of an institution of this kind, from a knowledge that this subject occupies the attention of many worthy citizens in different States; but particularly from the consideration which had been bestowed upon it by the Legislature of a highly respectable sister State (Virginia.) As the following preamble and resolution were approved by the House of Delegates of that State, previous to the first meeting for the formation of the American Colonization Society, it will be proper to introduce them in this place, as they were afterwards amended by the Senate and adopted :
" Whereas the General Assembly of Virginia have repeatedly sought to obtain au asylum, beyond the limits of the United States, for such persons of color as had been, or might be, emancipated under the laws of this Commonwealth, but have hitherto found all their efforts frustrated, either by the disturbed state of other nations, or domestic causes equally unpropitious to its success:
'They now avail themselves of a period when peace has healed the wounds of humanity, and the principal nations of Europe have concurred with the Government of the United States in abolishing the African slave trade, (a traffic which this Commonwealth, both before and since the Revolution, zealously sought to terminate) to renew this effort, and do therefore resolve, that the Executive be requested to correspond with the President of the United States for the purpose of obtaining a territory on the coast of Africa, or some other place, not within any of the States or territorial governments of the United States, to serve as an asylum for such persons of color as are now free, and may desire the same, and for those who may be hereafter emancipated within this Commonwealth; and that the Senators and Representatives of this State in the Congress of the United States be requested to exert their best efforts to aid the President of the United States in the attainment of the above object: Provided, That no contract or arrangement respecting such territory shall be obligatory on this Commonwealth until ratified by the Legislature.”
Believing that the Legislature of Virginia had entered upon this subject with a spirit and a determination to prosecute the measure proposed, and desirous of producing a more general and simultaneous feeling and movement in aid of this object, by calling the attention of the General Government to the subject, a meeting for the purpose of forming a Colonization Society was appointed to be held in this city on the 21st of December, 1816. At the time proposed a very respectable number of gentlemen attended.
The following extracts relative to the proceedings of the meeting are
from the National Intelligencer of December 24. Mr. Henry Clay, of Kentucky, having been called to the chair, and Mr. Thomas Dougherty, of this District, having been appointed Secretary:
Mr. Clay, on taking the chair, said, that he had hoped to have seen called to the place, for which he had the honor of being selected, a gentleman (Judge Washington) who, from his name, his exalted station, and his distinguished virtues, would have communicated an additional importance to the present meeting.
But as that gentleman was not present, Mr. C. regretted to learn from causes beyond his control, he would, with great pleasure, endeavor to discharge the duties of the Chair, He understood the object of the present ineeting to be, to consider of the propriety and practicability of colonizing the free people of color in the United States, and of forming an association in relation to that object. That class of the mixt population of our country was peculiarly situated. They neither enjoyed the immunities of freemen, nor were they subject to the incapacities of slaves, but partook, in some degree, of the qualities of both. From their condition, and the unconquerable prejudices resulting from their color, they never could amalgamate with the free whites of this country. It was desirable, therefore, both as it respected them, and the residue of the population of the country, to drain them off. Various schemes of colonization had been thought of, and a part of our own continent, it was thought by some, might furnish a suitable establishment for them. But, for his part, Mr. Clay said he had a decided preference for some part of the coast of Africa. There ample provision might be made for the colony itself, and it might be rendered instrumental to the introduction, into that extensive quarter of the globe, of the arts, civilization, and Christianity. There was a peculiar, a moral fitness in restoring them to the land of their fathers. And if, instead of the evils and sufferings which we had been the innocent cause of inflicting upon the inhabitants of Africa, we can transmit to her the blessings of our arts, our civilization, and our religion, may we not hope that America will extinguish a great portion of that moral debt which she has contracted to that unfortunate continent? We should derive much encouragement in the prosecution of the object which had assembled us together by the success which had ate tended the colony of Sierra Leone. That establishment had commenced about 20 or 25 years ago, under the patronage of private individuals in Great Britain. The basis of the population of the colony consisted of the fugitive slaves of the Southern States, during the Revolutionary war, who had been first carried to Nova Scotia, and who, afterwards, about the year 1792, upon their own aplication, almost in mass, had been transferred to the Western coast of Africa. This colony, after struggling with the most unheardof difficulties—difficulties resulting from the ignorance, barbarity, and prejudices of the natives; from the climate; (which were, however, found to be not at all insurmountable;) from wars, African as well as European; and such as are incidental to all new settlements--had made a gradual and steady progress, until it has acquired a strength and stability which promises to crown the efforts of its founders with complete success.
We have their experience before us; and can there be a nobler cause than that which, while it proposes to rid our own country of a useless and pernicious, if not a dangerous portion of its population, contemplates the spreading of the arts of civilized life, and the possible redemption from ignorance and barbarism of a benighted quarter of the globe!
It was proper and necessary distinctly to state, that he understood it constituted no part of the object of this meeting to touch or agitate, in the slightest degree, a delicate question connected with another portion of the color. ed population of our country. It was not proposed to deliberate on, or consider at all, any question of emancipation, or that was connected with the abolition of slavery. It was upon that condition alone, he was sure, that many gentlemen from the South and the West, whom he saw present, had attended, or could be expected to co-operate. It was upon that condition,