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Referring to the memorial itself, and to the report of the committee 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 de. rive a yet stronger incentive to recommend this enterprise to the countenance and favor of the House, from considerations peculiar to the United States. 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 seek 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 Auxiliary 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 period 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 consplete, until the object of the memox 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 committee were instructed, by two other resolutions of the House, to inquire into the experiency 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 improvement 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 would be 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 committee, therefore, ask to be discharged from the further consideration 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 essential to its future independence and prosperity.
FIFTEENTH CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION.
JANUARY 4, 1819.
On motion of Mr. Mercer, it was Ist. Resolved, That the Secretary of the Navy be directed to report to this House a copy of such instructions, if any, as may have been issued by his Department, in pursuance of the act of Congress of 1809, prohibiting the importation of slaves, to the commanders of the several armed vessels of the United States, for the purpose of intercepting, on the coast of Africa, or elsewhere, such vessels of the United States as may be engaged in the slave trade.
2d. Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to report to this House the number and names of the slave ships, if any, the ports from which they sailed, and where and by whom owned, which have been seized and condemned within the United States, for violations of the laws thereof, against the importation of slaves; and if any negroes, mulattoes, or persons of color, have been found on board such vessels, their number, and the disposition which has been made of them, by the several State Governments under whose jurisdiction they have fallen.
In obedience to the calls in these resolutions, the following communications were made to the House of Representatives by the Secretaries of the Departments of the Navy and of the Treasury:
January 9, 1819. SIR: In obedience to a resolution of the House of Representatives, passed on the 4th instant, in relation to the instructions issued by this Department to the Commanders of the several armed vessels of the United States, in pursuance of the act of Congress prohibiting the importation of slaves, passed on the 2d day of March, 1807, I have the honor to transmit to you, to be laid before the House, the accompanying papers, numbered one to eight, inclusively, being copies of letters, and extracts of letters, to commanding naval officers, which contain all the instructions that have issued from this Department, having relation to the subject of inquiry of said resolution.
I have the honor to be,
SMITH THOMPSON. The Hon. the SPEAKER
House of Representatives.
January 22, 1811. Sir: I hear, not without great concern, that the law prohibiting the importation of slaves has been violated in frequent instances, near St. Mary's, since the gun boats have been withdrawn from that station,
We are bound by law, by the obligations of humanity, and sound policy, to use our most strenuous efforts to restrain this disgraceful traffic, and to bring those who shall be found engaged in it to those forfeitures and punishments which are by law prescribed for such offences.
Hasten the equipment of the gun boats which, by my letter of the 24th ultimo, you were directed to equip, and, as soon as they shall be ready, despatch them to St. Mary's, with orders to their commanders to use all practicable diligence in enforcing the law prohibiting the importation of slaves, passed March 2, 1807, entitled “An act to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States, from and after the ist day of January, 1808.” The whole of this law, but especially the 7th section, requires your particular attention; that section declares, that any ship or vessel which shall be found in any river, port, bay, or harbor, or on the high seas, within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, or hovering on the coast thereof, having on board any negro, mulatto, or person of color, for the purpose of selling them as slaves, or with intent to land the same in any port or place, within the jurisdiction of the United States, contrary to the prohibition of the act, shall, together with her tackle, apparel, and furniture, and the goods and effects which shall be found on board the same, be forfeited, and may be seized, prosecuted, and condemned, in any Court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof.
It further authorizes the President of the United States to cause any of the armed vessels of the United States to be manned and employed to cruise on any part of the coast of the United States, or territories thereof, and to instruct and direct the commanders to seize, take, and bring into any port of the United States, all such ships or vessels; and moreover, to seize, take, and bring into any port of the United States, all ships or vessels of the United States, wherever found on the high seas, contravening the provi. sions of the act, to be proceeded against according to law.
You will therefore consider yourself hereby especially instructed and required, and you will instruct and require all officers placed under your command, to seize, take, and bring into port, any vessel, of whatever nature, found in any river, port, bay, or harbor, or on the high seas, within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, or hovering on the coast thereof, having on board any negro, mulatto, or person of color, for the purpose of selling them as slaves, or with intent to land the same, contrary to law, and moreover to seize, take, and bring into port, all ships or vessels of the United States, wheresoever found, on the high seas or elsewhere, contravening the provisions of the law. Vessels thus to be seized, may be brought into any port of the United States; and when brought into port, must, without delay, be reported to the District Attorney of the United States, residing in the district in which such port may be, who will institute such further proceedings as law and justice require.
Every person found on board of such vessels must be taken especial care of. The negroes, mulattoes, or persons of color, are to be delivered to such persons as the respective States may appoint to receive the same. The commanders and crews of such vessels will be held under the prosecutions of the District Attorneys, to answer the pains and penalties prescribed by law for their respective offences. Whenever negroes, mulattoes, or persons of color, shall be delivered to the persons appointed to receive the same, duplicate receipts must be taken therefor, and if no person shall be appointed by the respective States to receive them, they must be delivered to the over