Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

population, exercising a confessedly injurious influence on every portion of our country, but especially so on those parts of it in which slavery still exists. And if, in relation to the latter, the effects of such a measure should be, to afford to individual humanity a wider field for action, and to the State authorities an opportunity and an inducement to encourage rather than to forbid emancipation within their respective limits, your memoralists have hoped that this consideration alone, instead of prejudicing their present application, would operate as one of its most powerful recommendations. And that such would be the case with the nation, they have every reason to believe.

Pecuniary aid is now afforded to the operations of the society, by an annuity from the State of Maryland; and the Legislature of Virginia, besides its early, explicit, and repeated requests to the United States, to open a channel for the removal of her free people of color, has, on two several occasions, granted similar aid to this society.

The District of Columbia, the territory of which is situated between these commonwealths, and placed, by their consent and by the Constitution of the United States, under the exclusive legislation of Congress, has no other tribunal to which it can appeal for like assistance, in removing from its bosom the same description of persons.

There can be no State of the Union, where these persons constitute, as it is believed they do in all, a distinct caste from the rest of the community, that must not perceive the expediency of pursuing the same policy.

The reception which the Colonization Society has met, in almost every instance, from the people, bespeaks a deep and general interest in its success. And the resolutions (see document B) which have been adopted by a very large proportion of the Legislatures of the States, in favor of the plan of colonizing the free people of color, indicate it as an object entitled, in every respect, to the aid and patronage of a Government, whose peculiar province it is, in the exercise of its legitimate powers, as the exclusive Legislature of the District of Columbia, to promote the welfare of the people subject to its sole authority, by legislation as unrestricted and discretionary as can be exercised by any State government over its citizens; and, in its capacity of a General Government, under the limitations of the Constitution, to suppress the African slave trade, by all the means, direct or auxiliary, conducive to that great end of general policy and public morality-a power claimed and practically exercised by the Government, in a spirit manifesting a sense of duty as high and imperative as the power is unquestionable. To that Government the question is now fairly submitted, in the fullest confidence that it will receive the consideration due to its importance, and a decision worthy of the Legislature of a free, a great, and an enlightened

nation.

Your memorialists trust, that, in the connexion between their leading purpose, and the utter extinction of the African slave trade, there will be found a sufficient apology for calling your earnest attention to the present extent of that traffic, and the hopelessness of success to the very limited efforts now directed towards its abolition.

The United States are bound, not only by the general claims of humanity on every enlightened nation, but by positive treaty stipulations with Great Britain, to neglect no adequate and legitimate means of attaining this object. It is for the wisdom of Congress to determine whether any such means can

be provided, and to weigh the obligations, both moral and political, whi urge their energetic application.

F. S. KEY,
W. JONES,
JAMES LAURIE,
S. B. BALCH,
O. B. BROWN,

WM. HAWLEY,
THOMAS HENDERSON,

J. N. CAMPBELL,
W. W. SEATON,
S. SMITH,
WM. RYLAND,
R. R. GURLEY,
JOHN UNDERWOOD.

A.

POPULATION OF THE COLONY.

About 1,200, exclusive of near four hundred re-captured Africans, whe have been transferred to the Colony by the Government of the United States

FORM OF GOVERNMENT.

At the time of the departure of the first expedition to Africa, in 1820, : concise Constitution of ten articles was adopted by the managers for the government of the settlement, and all emigrants took an oath to support it By this Constitution, the society is authorized, either directly or through its agents, to make all needful rules and regulations for the govern ment of the settlement, and to appoint all officers in the colony. Slavery, within its limits, is absolutely prohibited. Every settler, when arriving at the age of 21, is bound to take an oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; and the common law, as in force and modified in the United States, and applicable to the situation of the new colony, was to be enforced.

Before and during the year 1824, a spirit of insubordination had been evinced in the colony, and, in some instances, leading individuals had manifested an utter disregard of the authority of the agent.

For this and other reasons, the present secretary of the society was commissioned to visit the colony, and make such arrangements as might be necessary to restore order, and secure the permanent peace and harmony of the settlement. He was joined by the late excellent Mr. Ashmun at the Cape de Verds, (to which islands he had retired for a short season, for the recovery of his strength, which had been greatly impaired,) and, with his most valuable counsel and assistance, the present plan of civil government for the colony of Liberia was adopted in the presence and with the unanimous consent of the colonists, August 19, 1824, and the officers appointed under it, August 20th, 1824. The great object aimed at in that form of Government, was, to confirm and augment the power of the agency; and yet, to admit the existence of officers from among the colonists, and to allow, on political questions, a full expression of the popular opinion. This plan having, after the experience of several months, proved itself well

adapted to promote the welfare and prosperity of the colony, received the sanction of the Board of Managers on the 18th May, 1825.

The plan of government, as submitted to the Board in 1828, exhibited a few deviations from the original form, though it continued in its principles the same. These deviations, Mr. Ashmun, remarks, "have grown gradually out of the altered and improving state of the colony, and are neither the offspring of a rash spirit of experiment, nor have they been made without evident necessity. This revised constitution, or form of government, was adopted by the managers of the society, October 22d, 1828.

PLAN OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT FOR THE COLONY OF LIBERIA.

The necessity of a mild, just, and efficient civil government, for the preservation of individual and political rights among any people, and the advancement of true prosperity, induces the Board of Managers of the American Colonization Society to adopt, after mature consideration, the following system of Government, for the proper regulation of public affairs in the Colony of Liberia.

ARTICLE I. The agent of the American Colonization Society, resident in the colony, possesses, within the same, sovereign power, subject only to the constitution, the chartered rights of the citizens, and the decisions of the Board.

ARTICLE II. All male colored people, who have subscribed the oath to support the constitution, and drawn and not forfeited lands in the colony, shall be entitled to vote for, and be eligible to, the civil offices of the colony.

ARTICLE III. The civil officers of the colony shall be appointed annually: and the polls for the general annual election of the colony shall be opened on the last Tuesday in August, and continued open not more than three nor less than two successive days, in the different settlements. Elections shall be organized by the sheriff, by the appointment in each settlement of a president, two judges, and two c erks.

ARTICLE IV. The colonial officers eligible by the annual suffrage of the freeholders, in which the agent has the right to interpose his negative, assigning to the voters, in time to renew the choice at the same election, his reasons for such interposition, are, for the colony, a vice-agent, two counsellors, a high sheriff, a register, and a treasurer: and for each ofthe settlements consisting of not less than sixty families, two commissioners of agriculture, two commissioners to form a board of health, and two censors.

ARTICLE V. The vice-agent shall be admitted to the council of the agent in all important matters; and shall express an opinion on all questions submitted to his consideration He shall aid the agent in the discharge of his various duties, and in the support and execution of the laws; and, in the event of the agent's absence, or sickness, the vice-agent shall become the general superintendent of public affairs.

ARTICLE VI. The vice-agent, with two counsellors, shall constitute a council, who shall meet, when requested by the agent, to deliberate on the interests of the colony, and the measures to be taken for their security and advancement.

The vice-agent shall also advise with the other members of the council, on any subjects connected with the general welfare, as often as he shall think it proper; and report the result to the agent, if proper, or act upon the same, in case of his absence.

ARTICLE VII. The duty of the councillors shall be, to aid the agent, or vice-agent, with their advice and counsel, on subjects relating to the general welfare of the colony, whenever thereto requested by either.

ARTICLE VIII. The high sheriff shall, either by himself or his deputies, aid in the organization of elections; act as marshal for the government of the lony; execute all processes, judgments, and commands, of the court of sesions, and perform, generally, the services required of the same officer by the common laws of England and the United States.

ARTICLE IX. The secretary of the colony shall take charge of, and carefully keep, all the papers, records, and archives, of the colony, generally; shall attend and exactly record the doings of the agent in council; shall publish all the ordinances and legal enactments of the government; publish government notices; issue the agent's orders, civil, military, and judicial, to the proper functionaries; deliver a fair copy of government papers, necessary to be recorded, to the register of the colony; and manage its internal correspondence on the part, and under the directions of, the agent.

ARTICLE X. The register shall record all documents and instruments relating to the security and title of public or individual property, government grants, patents, licences, contracts, and commissions; and all other papers which are properly a matter of record, and to which the government of the colony shall be a party.

Every volume of records, when completed, shall be delivered by the register to the secretary of the colony, for preservation among the archives of the colony.

ARTICLE XI. The treasurer of the colony shall receive and safely keep all the moneys and public securities required by law, or the judgment of the courts, to be deposited in the public treasury, and shall deliver up and pay over the same, only by a requisition signed by the agent or vice-agent of the colony, to whom he shall render a statement of the public finances on the Monday preceding the annual election of the colony.

ARTICLE XII. The commissioners of agriculture shall report, and serve as the organ of the government, on all subjects relating to the agriculture of the colony.

The commissioners composing the Board of Health, shall report, and serve as the organ of the government, on all subjects relating to the health of the colony, shall ascertain the proper objects of medical attention, report nuisances prejudicial to the public health, direct their removal, and make themselves generally active in diminishing the sufferings and dangers of the settlers caused by sickness.

Each of these committees shall record, for the future use of the colony, all important observations and facts relating to the subjects of their charge.

ARTICLE XIII. The two censors shall act as conservators of the public morals and promoters of the public industry; and be obliged to all the duties, and invested with all the legal powers, on whatever relates to the public morals and industry, which are lawfully required of, and possessed by, grand jurors, in such parts of the United States as recognise such auxiliaries to their magistracy.

It shall be the special duty of these officers to ascertain in what way every person, in their proper districts, acquires a livelihood; to report or present idlers; detect vicious or suspected practices; and present, for legal investigation and cure, every actual or probable evil, growing out of the immoralities, either of a portion of the community or of individuals.

ARTICLE XIV. The judiciary of the colony shall consist of the agent, and a competent number of the justices of peace created by his appointment. The justices shall have cognizance of all cases affecting the peace, and of criminal cases within the definition of pelit larceny, and all actions of debt not exceeding twenty dollars. In the court of monthly sessions, whether acting as a court of law, or a court of equity, the agent or vice-agent shall preside, and the justices be his associates.

The court of monthly sessions shall have original jurisdiction in all actions of debt, in which the amount in litigation shall exceed twenty dollars; and in criminal causes above the degree of petit larceny; and shall have appellate jurisdiction in all civil causes whatsoever.

The requisite number of constables for the colony shall be appointed by the agent annually.

A clerk and a crier of the court of sessions shall also be appointed by the said court, annually.

An auctioneer, who shall conduct all auction sales, except those of the sheriff and constables, in pursuance of the judgment of the courts of the colony, shall also be created by annual appointment of the agent.

A storekeeper, librarian, commissary of ordnance, to be appointed by the agent, shall be respected and obeyed in matters belonging to their respective functions, as officers of the colony.

Instructers in all public schools, having the sanction of a public charter, or participating in any degree in the public funds, shall be appointed and employed by the regular school committees of the colony, but with the agent's approbation and concurrence.

All custom, port, infirmary, medical, guard, and police officers, not appointed by the managers of the Colonization Society, and whose services are required and defined by the laws of the colony, together with the public measurers, inspectors, and appraisers, shall be appointed by the agent of the colony.

ARTICLE XV. The militia of the colony shall consist wholly of such uniformed volunteer corps as shall obtain charters under the government of the colony; of which charters, the following shall be fundamental articles:

1st. That the corps shall always comply with any requisitions for their services, either wholly or in part, made by the executive government of the colony.

2d. That the corps shall ever preserve, and hold themselves, and their arms and equipments, in a state of readiness for actual service, at the shortest

notice.

3d. That the officers be commissioned by the agent: and

4th. That they shall muster, parade, and serve in the line of the colony, under general officers, when thereto required by the executive government. General officers shall be appointed by the agent; and when especial reasons do not forbid, shall be taken from the officers of the several corps, and promoted according to rank, and the seniority of their commissions.

All military officers and delinquencies shall be tried by a general court martial, to be composed, except the officers and guards of the court, of commissioned officers, and to sit quarterly.

A correct copy.

J. ASHMUN.

A digest of the laws of the colony will be found in the appendix of the Twelfth Report of the Society, page 39.

« AnteriorContinua »