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people of color to exchange political slavery and moral degradation for independence and honor, these assurances are calculated to remove all doubt of the facility with which they will make this exchange, when they can effect it, not only with the permission, but the assistance also of their former masters.
“The humane forbearance of the Managers and friends of the American Society to excile in the breast of the free people of color hopes which might hereafter be disappointed, has deprived them, in some instances, of the means of correcting misconceptions of the origin and views of the Society. It has been suggested to be an invention of the Southern proprietor to rivet the chains of servitude upon his slaves, as if the circumstances which accompanied the origin of the society, the character of its members, and their solemn and reiterated declarations, did not forbid so unfounded an imputation It would not be more uncandid to ascribe to them a design to invade the rights of private property, secured by the Constitution and the laws of the several slave-holding States, and to proclaim universal emancipation!
• If, as is most confidently believed, the colonization of the free people of color will render the slave who remains in America more obedient, more faithful, more honest, and, consequently, more useful to his master, is it proper to regard this happy consequence to both as the sole object which the society hope to attain? Is it a substantial objection to this that, like every other effort to enlarge the stock of human happiness, it enlists in its favor the selfish as well as the disinterested affections of the heart? The inference deducible from all such suspicions serves only to demonstrate that the success of the wise and charitable purpose of the society is assured by the irresistible appeal which it makes to all the powerful sentiments of the heart, the most sordid and degrading, as well as the most benevolent and exalted.”
Letter from the Petersburg African Missionary Society.
PETERSBURGH, VA. April 30th, 1819. DEAR Sır: Having been authorized by the Petersburg African Missionary Society of persons of color to address you in their behalf on the subject of the intended colony in Sherbro, permit me, honored Sir, to tell you, that this society has been in existence only seven months, and their object is to send forth missionaries to the benighted land of Africa; numbers would be willing to go if they could get correct information from you respecting the country, and the means of conveyance from this place. It is the general opinion among us, that, if we could only obtain information from the Board of your Society, that would give us proper ideas of the site and mode of government, and how we should be protected, that we would embrace the opportunity, and prepare to leave our adopted for our beloved asylum.
Please answer this as soon as you conveniently can, as the people are ansious to hear from you. With considerations of the highest esteem and respect,
I remain, dear Sir,
JOHN T. RAYMOND, Corresponding Secretary African Missionary Society. T. ELIAS B. CALDWELL, Esq.
Washington City, D. C.
PHILADELPHIA, June 30, 1919. · DEAR Sır: The enclosed has just been left with me to obtain information on the subject to which it refers. At your leisure a communication may be made, which I can hand to the parties.
Very sincerely, I am, dear Sir,
PHILADELPHIA, May 29, 1819. We, the undersigned, do hereby request the Colonization Society to give us an exact information of their progress in obtaining a ship and men to go on the coast of Africa, on wages for one year, and to return if they choose, and bring the report back to America.
Daniel George, Ephraim Sanders,
Henry B. Kean,
John Walters, Richard Parker. The above persons are willing to offer their services, (most of them having families) if satisfactory information is given to the inquiries now made.
FIFTEENTH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1817. On motion of Mr. Mercer, Resolved, That the committee to whom was referred the memorial of the American Colonization Society be instructed to inquire into the expediency of making such further alterations in the laws prohibiting the citizens of the United States from engaging in the African slave trade, as may more effectually cause [secure) their intended operation; and that the said committee have leave to report by bill or otherwise.
Note.--The subject of this resolution was not further acted on during this session.
Report of the Committee of the House of Representatives, consisting of
Mr. Mercer, Mr. Comstock, Mr. Darlington, Mr. T'errell, Mr. Edwards-April 18, 1818.
The committee to whoni was referred the memorial of the “ President and Board of Managers of the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color of the United States” have, according to order, had the same under their attentive consideration.
Referring to the memorial itself, and to the report of the conmittee on the slave trade to the 14th Congress, your committee beg leave to add, that a new interest has been recently imparted to the benevolent enterprise of the memorialists, by the prospect of a speedy termination of that odious traffic, which has been so long the crime of Europe, the scourge of Africa, and the affliction and disgrace of America Spain and Portugal have at length concurred in that just and humane policy of the United States, which Great Britain was the first to imitate, and which, by her liberal and unremitting zeal, she has successfully extended throughout the civilized world.
So far as the civilization of Africa, the victim of this inhuman traffic, is embraced among the views of the memorialists, the removal of this formidable impediment to their success is calculated to elevate the hopes of the philanthropist, and to secure to their enterprise a larger share of public confidence.
America cannot but sympathize in the wish to redeem from ignorance, barbarism, and superstition, a continent of vast extent, spread out beneath every climate, embracing every variety of soil, and inhabited by a much injured and degraded portion of the buman race.
But your committee have no hesitation in acknowledging that they dc. rive a yet stronger incentive to recommend this enterprise to the countenance and favor of the House, from considerations peculiar to the United
These were presented to the last Congress by the report to which your committee have referred, and they deem it unnecessary, therefore, to press them upon the attention of the House. They cannot, however, forbear to remark, that time is unceasingly aggravating all those domestic evils, for which the memorialists propose the only competent remedy, and that the most auspicious circumstances conspire at present to promote its successful application.
Europe, after passing through a war of unprecedented extent and calamity, enjoys a repose which she has rarely known, and which, for the honor of humanity, it may be hoped she will be disposed to signalize by some act of distinguished generosity. She will not, surely, be content with a mere forbearance of further injustice, but seck to repair the wrongs which she has inflicted upon an unhappy race of men.
The people of the United States have retired from the same conflict, to enjoy a prosperity which has never been surpassed in the history of the world. Respected abroad, they possess abundance, tranquillity, and happiness, at home.
A survey of such blessings naturally inspires a sentiment, the existence of which is illustrated not only by the formation of the society from which this memorial proceeds-a society embracing individuals of every religious and political denomination, and inhabitants of every State in this widespread Union—but by the almost unanimous proceedings of the Legislatures of Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, and Georgia, either recommending or countenancing the same benevolent object.
It cannot be supposed that the liberal and enlightened policy which dictated the resolutions and acts of those particular States, is confined to themselves alone. Their neighbors, alike circumstanced, actuated by the same interests and feelings, will be conducted to the same conclusion, in relation to questions not only of vital importance to them, but, in their remote bearing, of scarcely less moment to the stability and prosperity of the Union.
The A:uxiliary Colonization Societies, which are daily springing up in other quarters of the United States, evince that, if the feelings which animate them were local in their origin, they required only to be manifested, in order to awaken the sympathy and to secure the co-operation of the rest of America in the attainment of their common object.
Your committee would not thus favorably regard the prayer of the memorialists, if it sought to impair, in the slightest degree, the rights of private property, or the yet more sacred rights of personal liberty, secured to every description of freemen in the United States.
The resolution of the Legislature of Virginia, the subsequent acts and declarations, as well as the high character of the memorialists themselves, added to the most obvious interest of the States who have recently sanctioned the purpose, or recognised the existence of the American Colonization Society, exclude the remotest apprehension of such injustice or inhumanity.
The memorialists propose to attain the noblest end which benevolence ean conceive, by temperate and practicable means.
As preliminary to their success, and in anticipation of the acts of the Government, they have, at considerable expense, sent out agents to explore the coast of Africa, and to select a seat for their contemplated colony. Those agents were instructed first to visit Europe. Their reception in England, and the intelligence which had been received from them down to the pea riod of their late embarkation for Africa, were as favorable as could have been anticipated to the success of their mission.
This success, however, cannot be complete, until the object of the memos rialists shall have received the sanction, and their efforts the aid of the Fe. depal Government.
If their memorial does not furnish sufficient ground for the interposition of the National Legislature in their behalf, it appears to your committee that the resolution of Virginia,* subsequently sustained by a similar resolution of Maryland and 'Tennessee, unquestionably does so.
Whether a treaty for the territory of the proposed colony is to be opened with the native tribes of Africa, or with the European Governments which claim certain portions of the shores of that continent, it is by the authority of the United States alone, that such negotiations can be effected.
The several States having, by their adoption of the Federal Constitution, surrendered the power of negotiation to the General Government, have an undoubted right to claim the exercise of that sovereign authority for their benefit, whenever it can be exerted consistently with the welfare of the United States.
Your committee cannot forbear to add another, to them a very solemn consideration, as an inducement for the exercise of this authority in the manner proposed by the General Assembly of Virginia. The act of Congress which interdicts the African slave trade, and subjects the citizens of the United States, who engage in its prosecution, to merited punishment, has left the unfortunate beings, whom the violations of this law are daily casting upon the American shore, to the separate provisions of the respective States within whose jurisdiction they may chance to be found.
To say nothing of the abstract propriety of transferring such an authority over the persons and liberty of these foreigners from the national to the State Legislatures, entertaining no apprehension that Congress will be rendered thereby accessary to any act of cruelty or inhumanity; it must be yet apparent, that the individual States have a right to require the aid now sought to be obtained from the General Government, in order to enable themselves to discharge the trust reposed in them, without a violation of their local policy, or injustice to those unfortunate Africans placed at their disposal by the laws of the United States.
* See preceding part of this Appendix.
Your committce were instructed, by two other resolutions of the House, to inquire into the expediency of making more effectual provision by law for preventing the participation of the citizens of the United States in the African slave trade, and of correcting certain abuses which are practised in the internal commerce of the United States. Both these objects have been accomplished by bills which subsequently originated in the other branch of the National Legislature, and which came down to the House of Representatives under circumstances which ensured to them an earlier decision than would have followed a report from your committee. They beg leave, however, to remark, that the beneficial effect to be expected from any improve. ment of the pre-existing laws, in relation to the former species of traffic, which commences its enterprises against humanity upon a foreign and remote coast, and matures it upon that of America, in such a manner as to elude detection by ordinary vigilance, must depend on the efforts of another branch of the Government.
It does not become your committee to do more, in relation to this branch of the inquiry charged upon them, than to intimate their opinion that no act of legislation whatever would be so likely to put down this iniquitous traffic as the multiplication of the revenue cutlers upon the American shores most frequented by the vessels engaged in it, and the employment of such part of the navy as wo:ild he best adapted to such service, in occasional visits to the African coast, at the season when it is frequented by the same description of vessels.
Your commitiee, therefore, ask to be discharged from the further con. sideration of the second and third resolutions, to which they have referred, and beg leave to recommend to the House, in relation to the first, the adoption of the following resolution:
Resolved, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, requested to take such measures as he may deem proper, to ascertain whether a suitable territory can be procured on the coast of Africa, for colonizing such of the free people of color of the United States as may be willing to ayail themselves of such an asylum, and to enter into such negotiation with the native tribes of Africa, or with one or more of the Governments of Europe, as may be necessary to obtain such territory, and to secure to the contemplated colony every advantage which he may deem cssential to its future independence and prosperity.