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· Truth is mighty, and will prevail.' It is able to make falsehood blush, and tear from hypocrisy its mask, and annihilate prejudice, and overthrow persecution, and break
I am constrained to declare, with the utmost sincerity, that I look upon the colonization scheme as inadequate in its design, injurious in its operation, and contrary to sound principle ; and the more scrupulously I examine its pretensions, the stronger is -my conviction of its sinfulness. Nay, were Jehovah to speak in an audible voice from his holy habitation, I am persuaded that his language would be, ? Who hath required this at your hands ?'
It consoles me to believe that no man, who knows me personally or by reputation, will suspect the honesty of my skepti
If I were politic, and intent only on my own preferment or pecuniary interest, I should swim with the strong tide of public sentiment instead of breasting its powerful influence. The hazard is too great, the labor too burdensome, the remuneration too uncertain, the contest too unequal, to induce a selfish adventurer to assail a combination so formidable. Disinterested opposition and sincere conviction, however, are not conclusive proofs of individual rectitude ; for a man may very honestly do mischief, and not be aware of his error. Indeed, it is in this light I view many of the friends of African colonization. I concede to them benevolence of purpose and expansiveness of heart ; but in my opinion, they are laboring under the same delusion as that which swayed Saul of Tarsus-persecuting the blacks even unto a strange country, and verily believing that they are doing God service. I blame them, nevertheless, for taking this mighty scheme upon trust; for not perceiving and rejecting the monstrous doctrines avowed by the master spirits in the crusade ; and for feeling so indifferent to the moral, political and social advancement of the free people of color in this their only legitimate home. In the progress
of this discussion I shall have occasion to use very plain, and sometimes very severe language. This would be an unpleasant task, did not duty imperiously demand. its application. To give offence I am loath, but more to hide or
modify the truth. I shall deal with the Society in its collective form-as one body—and not with individuals. While I shall be necessitated to marshal individual opinions in review, I protest, ab origine, against the supposition that indiscriminate censure is intended, or that every friend of the Society cherishes similar views. He to whom my reprehension does not apply, will not receive it. It is obviously impossible, in attacking a numerous and multiform combination, to exhibit private dissimilarities, or in every instance to discriminate between the various shades of opinion. It is sufficient that exceptions are made. My warfare is against the AMERICAN COLONIZATION Society. If I shall identify its general, preponderating and clearly developed traits, it must stand or fall as they shall prove benevolent or selfish.
I bring to this momentous investigation an unbiassed mind, a lively sense of accountability to God, and devout aspirations for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Unless He “in whom there is no darkness at all,' pours light upon my path, I shall go astray. I have taken Him at His word : If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and it shall be given him.' Confessing my own foolishness, I have sought that knowledge which
I would premise, that, like many others, I formerly supposed the Colonization Society was a praiseworthy association, although I always doubted its efficiency. This opinion was formed for me by others, upon whom I placed implicit confidence : it certainly was not based upon any research or knowledge of my own, as I had not at that time perused a single Report of the Society, nor a page in its organ, the African Repository. My approval was the offspring of credulity and ignorance. I am explicit on this point, because my opponents have accused me of inconsistency-though it ought not surely to disgrace a man, that, discovering himself to be in error, he promptly turns to the embrace of truth. As if opinions, once formed, must be as irrevocable as the laws of the Medes and Persians ! If this were so, accountability would lose its hold on the conscience, and the light of knowledge be blown out, and reason degenerate into brutish instinct. Much stress has been
laid upon the fact, that, in 1828, I delivered an address in Parkstreet meeting-house on the Fourth of July, on which occasion a collection was made in behalf of the American Colonization Society. It is true—but whereas I was then blind, now I see. My address, however, was far from being acceptable to the friends of colonization who were present, not only on account of my denunciation of slaveholders, but because I inserted only a single sentence in favor of the Society. In all my writings, I have never commended this combination in as many sentences as I have used in making this explanation. So much for my marvellous apostacy !
It is only about two years since I was induced to examine the claims of the Colonization Society upon the patronage and confidence of the nation. I went to this examination with a mind biassed by preconceived opinions favorable to the Society, and rather for the purpose of defending it against opposition than of bringing it into disrepute. Every thing, apart from its principles, was calculated to secure my friendship. Nothing but its revolting features could have induced me to turn loathingly away from its embrace. I had some little reputation to sustain ; many of my friends were colonizationists ; I saw that eminent statesmen and honorable men were enlisted in the enterprise ; the great body of the clergy gave their unqualified support to it ; every fourth of July the charities of the nation were secured in its behalf ; wherever I turned my eye in the free States, I saw nothing but unanimity ; wherever my ear caught a sound, I heard nothing but excessive panegyric. No individual had ventured to blow the trumpet of alarm, or exert his energies to counteract the influence of the scheme.
If an assailant had occasionally appeared, he had either fired a random shot and retreated, or found in the inefficiency of the Society the only cause for hostility. It was at this crisis, and with such an array of motives before me to bias my judgment, that I resolved to make a close and candid examination of the subject.
I went, first of all, to the fountain head—to the African Repository and the Reports of the Society. I was not long in discovering sentiments which seemed to me as abhorrent to humanity as contrary to reason. I perused page after page, first
with perplexity, then with astonishment, and finally with indignation. I found little else than sinful palliations, fatal concessions, vain expectations, exaggerated statements, unfriendly representations, glaring contradictions, naked terrors, deceptive assurances, unrelenting prejudices, and unchristian denunciations. I collected together the publications of auxiliary societies, in order to discern some redeeming traits ; but I found them marred and disfigured with the same disgusting details. I courted the acquaintance of eminent colonizationists, that I might learn how far their private sentiments agreed with those which were so offensive in print ; and I found no dissimilarity between them. I listened to discourses from the pulpit in favor of the Society; and the same moral obliquities were seen in minister and people.
These discoveries affected my mind so deeply that I could not rest. I endeavored to explain away the meaning of plain and obvious language ; I made liberal concessions for good motives and unsuspicious confidence; I resorted to many expe-, dients to vindicate the disinterested benevolence of the Society ; but I could not rest. The sun in its mid-day splendor was not more clear and palpable to my vision, than the anti-christian and anti-republican character of this association. It was evident to me that the great mass of its supporters at the north did not realise its dangerous tendency. They were told that it was designed to effect the ultimate emancipation of the slaves—to improve the condition of the free people of color—to abolish the foreign slave trade—to reclaim and evangelize benighted Africa-and various other marvels. Anxious to do something for the colored population—they knew not what—and having no other plan presented to their view, they eagerly embraced a scheme which was so big with promise, and which required of them nothing but a small contribution annually. Perceiving the fatality of this delusion, I was urged by an irresistible impulse to attempt its removal. I could not turn a deaf ear to the cries of the slaves, nor throw off the obligations which my Creator had fastened
Yet in view of the inequalities of the contest, of the obstacles which towered like mountains in my path, and of my own littleness, I trembled, and exclaimed in
the language of Jeremiah, Ah, Lord God! behold I cannot speak : for I am a child.' But I was immediately strengthened by these interrogations : Is any thing too hard for the Lord ?' Is Error, though unwittingly supported by a host of good men, stronger than Truth ? Are Right and Wrong convertible terms, dependant upon popular opinion ? Oh no! Then I will go forward in the strength of the Lord of Hosts—in the name of Truth—and under the banner of Right. As it is not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God, that great moral changes are effected, I am encouraged to fight valiantly in this good cause, believing that I shall come off conqueror, and more than conqueror?—yet not I, but Truth and Justice. It is in such a contest that one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. The Lord disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness; and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.' 'Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men ; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.'
Little boldness is needed to assail the opinions and practices of notoriously wicked men ; but to rebuke great and good men for their conduct, and to impeach their discernment, is the highest effort of moral courage. The great mass of mankind shun the labor and responsibility of forming opinions for themselves. The question is not—what is true ? but—what is popular ? Not -what does God say ? but—what says the public ? Notwhat is my opinion ? but--what do others believe ? If people would pin their faith upon the bible, and not upon the sleeves of their neighbors, half of the heresies in the world would instantly disappear. If they would use their own eyes, their own ears, their own understandings, instead of the eyes, and ears, and understandings of others, imbecility, credulity and folly would be as rare as they are now common in community. But, unhappily, to borrow the words of Ganganelli, a large majority of mankind are mere abortions :' calling themselves rational and intelligent beings, they act as if they had neither brains nor conscience, and as if there were no God, no accountability, no heaven, no hell, no eternity.