« PreviousContinue »
perfection ? Nothing, nothing but prejudice. It requires no large expenditures, no hazardous enterprises, to raise the people of color in the United States to as highly improved a state, as any class of the community. All that is necessary is, that those who profess to be anxious for it, should lay aside their prejudices, and act towards them as they do by others.
"We are natives of this country; we ask only to be treated as well as FOREIGNERS. Not a few of our fathers suffered and bled to purchase its independence; we ask only to be treated as well as those who fought against it. We have toiled to cultivate it, and to raise it to its present prosperous condition ; we ask only to share equal privileges with those who come from distant lands to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Let these moderate requests be granted, and we need not go to Africa nor any where else, to be improved and happy. We cannot but doubt the purity of the motives of those persons who deny us these requests, and would send us to Africa, to gain what they might give us at home.
But they say, the prejudices of the country against us are invincible ; and as they cannot be conquered, it is better that we should be removed beyond their influence. This plea should never proceed from the lips of any man, who professes to believe that just God rules in the heavens.
· The American Colonization Society is a numerous and influential body. Would they lay aside their own prejudices, much of the burden would be at once removed ; and their example (especially if they were as anxious to have justice done us here, as to send us to Africa,) would have such an influence upon the community at large, as would soon cause prejudice to hide its deformed head.
· But alas ! the course which they have pursued, has an opposite tendency. By the scandalous misrepresentations, which they are continually giving of our character and conduct, we have sustained much injury, and have reason to apprehend much
· Without any charge of crime, we have been denied all access to places, to which we formerly had the most free intercourse ; the colored citizens of other places, on leaving their homes, 'have been denied the privilege of returning; and others have been absolutely driven out.
· Has the Colonization Society had no effect in producing these barbarous measures ?
• They profess to have no other object in view, than the colonizing of the free people of color on the coast of Africa, with their own consent ; but if our homes are made so uncom
fortable that we cannot continue in them; or if, like our brethren of Ohio and New Orleans, we are driven from them, and no other door is open to receive us but Africa, our removal there will be any thing but voluntary.
It is very certain, that very few free people of color wish to go to that land. The Colonization Society know this, and yet they do certainly calculate, that in time they will have us all removed there.
How can this be effected, but by making our situation worse here, and closing every other door against us?"*
My attention was forcibly attracted by a communication in Mr Poulson's Daily Advertiser of the 16th inst. which states, that Mrs Stansbury of Trenton, N. J. has presented one thousand dollars to the Colonization Society. Now I think it is greatly to be regretted, that this highly generous and benevolent lady has been induced to make this donation for the purpose of conveying some of the superannuated slaves to Africa, when objects of much greater importance could be attained by offering a premium to master mechanics to take colored children as apprentices, so that they would become useful to themselves and others. It is an inquiry becoming of the utmost importance, what is to become of those children who are arriving at the age of manhood ?
I am greatly astonished that the ministers of the gospel should take so active a part, in endeavoring to convey the freemen of color to Africa. Even in Boston and New-York, they have taken the lead in support of this object. They cannot be aware of the great injury they will be the means of inflicting on us : instead of doing this, they should endeavor to remove prejudice, to ameliorate and improve the condition of the colored people by education, and by having their children placed in a situation to learn a trade. I hope, through the assistance of Divine Providence, that the Liberator may be the means (especially in Boston, the Cradle of Liberty and Independence) of guiding the people of this country in the path, which equal justice and the public good so evidently indicate.
I have never conversed with an intelligent man of color, (not swayed by interested and sinister motives,) who was not decidedly opposed to leaving his home for the fatal clime of
* •A Discourse delivered in St. Philip's Church, for the benefit of the colored commanity of Wilberforce, in Upper Canada, on the Fourth of July, 1830. By Rev. Peter Williams, Rector of St. Philip's Church, New-York.' Mr Williams is a clergyman of superior talents and great moral worth, and beloved by an extensive circle of acquaintance.
Africa. I am well acquainted with all the masters of vessels, belonging to this port, who have been to the coast of Africa ; and they all agree in representing it as one of the most unhealthy countries in the latitude of 40. In the months of June and July, the thermometer is at from 88 to 90 degrees. What must it be, then, in the latitude of 6 or 7, under a vertical sun, and where, after the rainy season, the effluvium which arises from the putrefaction of vegetables is productive of the most fatal effects ? Sir James L. Yeo agrees with their account, in his statement laid before the Admiralty of Great Britain.
Has any one, in either of our southern States, given any thing like a thousand dollars to promote emigration to Africa ? Not one has shown so much compassion for the oppressed slave. General Mercer,—who is, I believe, the President of the Colonization Society,--promised to emancipate his slaves, and to sell his large possessions in Virginia, and to remove with them to Africa-(my friends inform me, and I believe him to be one of the most humane and best of masters.) Mr Key, the great advocate, and the late Judge Washington, promised to liberate their slaves : I believe that neither of them has performed his promise.
• According to a statement made by Mr Key, they have removed in fourteen years about as many hundred emigrants. I will venture to say, that at least a half million have been born during the same period. We ask not their compassion and aid, in assisting us to emigrate to Africa : we are contented in the land that gave us birth, and for which many of our fathers fought and died, during the war which established our independence. I well remember that when the New England regiment marched through this city on their way to attack the English army under the command of Lord Cornwallis, there were several companies of colored people, as brave men as fought ; and I saw those brave soldiers who fought at the battle of Red Bank, under Col. Green, where Count Donop the commander was killed, and the Hessians defeated. All this appears to be forgotten now; and the descendants of these men, to whom we are indebted for the part they took in the struggle for independence, are intended to be removed to a distant and inhospitable country, while the emigrants from every other country are permitted to seek an asylum here from oppression, and to enjoy the blessings of both civil and religious liberty, equally with those who are entitled to it by birthright.
' I think the ministers of the gospel might do much towards destroying the domestic slave trade, which breaks asunder the sacred ties of husband, wife and children. Not a voice is
raised by them against this most cruel injustice. In the British colonies, this is not permitted ;- yet it exists in the only true republic on earth.'*
My Friends and Countrymen :-I trust, by this time, you have known well my sentiments in relation to the American Colonization Society; and the great objects, which have been set forth, of a general union of interest, in funds and education, for the permanent establishment and furtherance of our prosperity, in this our native country.
In addition to what has been already said on the subject, I shall briefly set forth some of the leading causes of our wretchedness and misery; and the prominent motives of the Colonization Society in sending us away. Much theory has been used, in the discussions upon our civil and political situation, in this country. We have been branded, in many instances, may I not say, in the highest courts of the nation, courts of justice and equity, in public and family circles ?-as being an inferior race of beings, not possessing like intellect and faculty with the whites. We are represented as being incapable of acting for ourselves ; consequently not educated and qualified to be admitted into public places, to vindicate the integrity of our race, and the qualifications we are capable of acquiring.
Many of our noble statesmen, orators and lawyers, have made our capital ring with the empty sound of inferiority,—degradation, -the impossibility of tolerating equality with the blacks. Sacred writ has been carefully examined by these gentlemen of science, and construed to suit their narrow consciences. Prophets have arisen among them, who hold forth to the people the continuation of our political thraldom, unless there be a general removal of all the free among us to the coast of Africa. Others argue, that, although they have good feelings towards us, and would do any thing for us, if we were out of their sight and out of the hearing of their slaves, yet to admit us into their circles would be to pervert the present order of society, and the happiness of the good white citizens of the country. These are generally bible men, such as hold forth the true oracles of God; yet deny him, in their actions and words, the supreme control over all his creatures. There is hardly ever an action performed, whether good or bad, but there is generally a reason given for so doing ; and he is a wicked, daring character, who cannot find a cloak, at any time, to cover his
* From the pen of the Colored Gentleman in Philadelphia, referred to on page 38-vide • The Liberator,' March 12, 1831.
hideous crimes. The men who have been foremost, in withholding from us our dearest and most sacred rights, have always held out false colors to the community at large, (such as, inferiority, degradation, nuisance, pest, slaves, species of monkey, apes, &c.) to justify their inhuman and unchristian acts towards us, and to deaden the severe pangs of conscience that harass them. They would wish to appear innocent before the world ; as doing unto all men as they would they should do unto them. Do they base their objects, in full, upon such frivolous excuses as these ? No. The truth is, actions speak louder than words. It is my candid opinion, there would have been no Colonization Society formed for our transportation to the western coast of Africa, had there been no free colored people, and did, not our numbers increase daily. If we, as a free body of people, had remained in the same character with slaves, monkeys and baboons, there would not have been so much excitement in the community about us ; but as they see by our improvement, (a great improvement, indeed, within forty years,) that the period is hastening on, when there will be no other alternative but we must rank among them in civilization, science and politics, they have got up this colonization scheme to persuade us to leave our slave brethren, and flee to the pestilential shores of Africa, where we shall be in danger of being forced to hang our harps upon the willows, and our song of liberty and civilization will be hushed by the impelling force of barbarian despots.'*
And in pursuit of this great object [the elevation of the people of color] various ways and means have been resorted to ; among others, the American Colonization Society is the most prominent. Not doubting the sincerity of many friends who are engaged in that cause; yet we beg leave to say, that it does not meet with our approbation. However great the debt which these United States may owe to injured Africa, and however unjustly her sons have been made to bleed, and her daughters to drink of the cup of affliction, still we who have been born and nurtured on this, soil, we, whose habits, manners and customs are the same in common with other Americans, can never consent to take our lives in our hands, and be the bearers of the redress offered by that Society to that much afflicted country.
· Tell it not to barbarians, lest they refuse to be civilized, and eject our christian missionaries from among them, that in
* " Address delivered before a Colored Association in Brooklyn, N. Y., August 5, 1831,' by George Hogarth. Vide The Liberator' for August 27, 1831.