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the nineteenth century of the christian era, laws have been enacted in some of the States of this great republic, to compel an unprotected and harmless portion of our brethren to leave their homes and seek an asylum in foreign climes : and in taking a view of the unhappy situation of many of these, whom the oppressive laws alluded to, continually crowd into the Atlantic cities, dependent for their support upon their daily labor, and who often suffer for want of employment, we have had to lament that no means have yet been devised for their relief.'*
The Convention has not been unmindful of the operations of the American Colonization Society ; and it would respectfully suggest to that august body of learning, talent and worth, that, in our humble opinion, strengthened, too, by the opinions of eminent men in this country, as well as in Europe, that they are pursuing the direct road to perpetuate slavery, with all its unchristianlike concomitants, in this boasted land of freedom ; and, as citizens and men whose best blood is sapped to gain popularity for that Institution, we would, in the most feeling manner, beg of them to desist : or, if we must be sacrificed to their philanthropy, we would rather die at home. Many of our fathers, and some of us, have fought and bled for the liberty, independence and peace which you now enjoy ; and, surely, it would be ungenerous and unfeeling in you to deny us a humble and quiet grave in that country which gave us birth !' |
Sir, upon the whole, my view of the operations of the Colonization Society, in relieving the slave States of the evil which weighs them down more than a hundred tariffs, is illustrated by an old fable, in which it is stated, that a man was seen at the foot of a mountain, scraping away the dust with his foot. One passing by, asked him what he was doing? I wish to remove this mountain, said he. You fool, replied the other, you can never do it in that way. Well, said he, I can raise a dust, can't I ?
• Sir, I do not wish to censure the motives of this Society, but surely they are visionary. Its supporters are bewildered in their own dust, which is well calculated to injure the vision of good men. The Commercial Advertiser says they do indeed wish to wipe away from the national records the stain of slavery, “ but hope it may be accomplished (as the Virginia Enquirer has it) surely but quietly.” Yes, Sir, and quietly enough!
* Conventional Address of the People of Color in Philadelphia, in 1830.
† Minutes and Proceedings of the First Annual Convention of the People of Color, held by adjournment in the city of Philadelphia, in June, 1831.'
Our ambition leads not to superiority, but to our freedom and political rights. Grant this! we ask no more! If the places in which we dwell are too straight for us and the white population, place us in a state far to far the West—take us into the Union-give us our rights as freemen. Let the southern states make all born after a date not two years distant, free ! and let the Colonization Society turn its attention and energies to the removing of liberated slaves there : the free people will go without their aid. But if the Government is fearful of retaliation, it may allay its fears by a consideration of the fact of there not being one freeman engaged in the late insurrections—of freemen informing against slaves—the peaceable manner in which we live in the neighborhoods of the south, and throughout the whole Union. The meetings that have lately been held, and resolutions passed expressive of our disapprobation of such measures, may all show that such fears are groundless. I repeat again— Give us our rights—we ask no more!
Yes, Sir, if I possessed the Indies, I would pledge the whole that if such measures were taken, and such grants made, no retaliation would be made by us as a body for former evils.'*
In no age
of our existence have there been more pains taken by priests and people, in public and private, in church and state, to give them currency, than at present. The whole theme of that wicked, persecuting combination--the Colonization Society—is calulated to impress upon the mind of the public these atrocious maxims which every day strengthen a prejudice not only cherished by the whites against the blacks, but by the blacks against the whites. That foul fiend of hell, that destroying angel who hath power to take peace from the earth, and to kill with the sword, is gaining a commanding influence very fast over both parties. And who, but the advocates of the Colonization Society, receive him as a welcome guest ? Who but they have built him a temple, and cried, " Long live Prejudice against free born Americans of sable hue !" Who but they are continually crying, “ The free blacks are dangerous ! the free blacks are dangerous ! Away with them away with them to Africa !" Who but they are the apologists for murder, theft, and all the horrid concomitants of slavery? Who but they have defiled our temples of worship dedicated to God for his service, making merchandise of the souls of men by transferring them over to the keeping of prejudice ?’ |
Philadelphia Evangelist ’-vide • The Liberator' for November 26, 1831. † Correspondent of · The Liberator,' December 17, 1831.
Other extracts might be recorded, but these must suffice. I have given the sentiments of the people of color as expressed individually, in public orations, in conventions of delegates, and in popular assemblies. Their proceedings evince a keen discrimination between true and false philanthropy, and an intellectual ability successfully to defend their cause.
Their instincts are more than a match for the specious sophistry and learned sense of colonizationists: they meet them on every point, and on every point achieve a victory. Conscious of the fact that in their complexion is found the only motive for their banishment, they clearly illustrate the hypocrisy and injustice of the African crusade. Their union of purpose is such as cannot be broken. How intense is their love of country ! how remarkable their patient endurance of wrongs ! how strong their abhorrence of expatriation ! how auspicious the talents which they display !
Every humane and honorable man will assent to the proposition, that po scheme for the removal of a numerous people from one continent to another, ought to be prosecuted contrary to their desires. A scheme cannot be benevolent which thrives upon persecution. Benevolent oppression is a solecism.
Another self-evident truth is, that no such removal can be effected merely by the presentation of selfish inducements, or without resorting to coercive measures. To show that coercion is openly advocated by some of the prominent supporters of the Colonization Society, I make the following extracts from the speeches of Messrs Broadnax and Fisher, delivered during the Great Debate' in the Virginia House of Delegates a short time since. Mr Broadnax said :
• IT IS IDLE TO TALK ABOUT NOT RESORTING TO FORCE. Every body must look to the introduction of force of some kind or other—and it is in truth a question of expediency ; of moral justice ; of political good faith
- whether we shall fairly delineate our whole system on the face of the bill, or leave the acquisition of extorted consent to other processes. The real question -the only question of magnitude to be settled, is the great preliminary question -Do you intend to send the free persons of color out of Virginia, or not?'
• If the free negroes are willing to go, they will go-if not willing, they must be compelled to go. Some gentlemen think it politic not now to insert this feature in the bill, though they proclaim their readiness to resort to it wben it becomes necessary ; they think that for a year or two a sufficient number will consent to go, and then the rest can be compelled. For my part, I deem it better to approach the question and settle it at once, and avow it openly. The intelligent portion of the free negroes know very well what is going on. Will they not see your debates? Will they not see that coercion is ultimately to be
(PART II.] 10
resorted to ? They will perceive that the edict has gone forth, and that it MUST FALL, if not now, in a short time
*I have already expressed it as my opinion that few, very few, will voluntarily consent to enigrate, if no COMPULSORY MEASURE be adopted.-With it—many, in anticipation of its sure and certain arrival, will,' in the mean time, go away—they will be sensible that the time would come when they would be forced to leave the State. Without it--you will still, no doubt, have applicants for removal equal to your means. Yes, Sir, people who will not only consent, but beg you to deport them. But what sort of consent--a consent extorted by a series of oppression calculated to render their situation among us insupportable. Many of those who have already been sent off, went with their avowed consent, but under the influence of a more decided compulsion than any which this bill holds out. I will not express, in its full extent, the idea I entertain of what has been done, or what enormities will be perpetrated to induce this class of persons to leave the State. Who does not know that when a free negro, by crime or otherwise, has rendered himself obnoxious to a neighborhood, how easy it is for a party to visit him one night, take him from his bed and family, and apply to him the gentle admonition of a severe flagellation, to induce bim to consent to go away? In a few nights the dose can be repeated, perhaps increased, until, in the language of the physicians, quantum suff. has been administered to produce the desired operation ; and the fellow then becomes perfectly willing to move away. I bave certainly heard, if incorrectly, the gentleman from Southampton will put me right, that of the large cargo of emigrants lately transported from that country to Liberia, all of whom professed to be willing io go, were rendered so by some such severe ministrations as those I have described. A lynch club--a committee of vigilance--could easily exercise a kind of inquisitorial surveillance over any neighborhood, and convert any desired number, I have no doubt, at any time, into a willingness to be removed. But who really prefers such means as these to the course proposed in this bill ? And one or the other is inevitable. For no matter how you change this billsooner or later the free negroes will be forced to leave the State. Indeed, Sir, ALL OF US LOOK TOʻFORCE of some kind or other, direct or indirect, moral or physical, legal or illegal. Many who are opposed, ihey say, to any compulsory feature in the bill, desire to introduce such severe regulations into our police laws—such restrictions of their existing privileges—such inability to hold property-obtain employment-rent residences, &c., as to make it impossible for them to remain amongst us. Is not this force ?!
Mr Fisher said :
'If we wait until the free negroes consent to leave the State, we shall wait until " time is no more. They never will give their consent ; and if the House amend the bill as proposed, their consent is in a manner pointed out by the gentleman from Dinwiddie--and it is a great question whether we shall force the people to extort their consent from them in this way.-He believed if the compulsory principle were stricken out, this class of people would be forced to leave by the harsh treatment of the whites. The people in those parts of the State where they most abound, were determined,
,-as far as they could learn through the newspapers and other sources, to get rid of the blacks.'
What a revelation, what a confession, is here! The free blacks taken from their beds, and severely flagellated, to make them willing to emigrate! And legislative compulsion openly advocated to accomplish this nefarious project! Yes, the gentlemen say truly, few, very few will voluntarily consent to emigrate - they never will give their consent '—and therefore they must be expelled by force! It is true, the bill pro
posed by Mr Broadnax was rejected by a small majority ; but it serves to illustrate the spirit of the colonization leaders.
The editor of the Lynchburg Virginian, an advocate of the Society, uses the following language :
• But, if they will not consider for themselves, we must consider for them. The safety of the people is the supreme law; and to that law all minor siderations must bend. If the free negroes will not emigrate, they must be contented to endure those privations which the public interest und safety call for.-In the last Richmond Enquirer we notice an advertisement, setting forth, that “a petition will be presented to the next legislature of Virginia, from the county of Westmoreland, prayiag the passage of some law to compel the free negroes in this commonwealth to emigrate therefrom, under a penalty which will effectually promote this object.” So, too, at a meeting of the citizens of Prince George county, in Maryland, it was resolved to petition the next legislature to remove all the free negroes out of that State, and to prohibit all persons from manumitting slaves without making provision for their removal.” ?
I close this work with a specimen of the sophistry which is used to give eclat to the American Colonization Society.
In the month of June, 1830, I happened to peruse a number of the Southern Religious Telegraph, in which I found an essay, enforcing the duty of clergymen to take up collections in aid of the funds of the Colonization Society on the then approaching fourth of July. After an appropriate introductory paragraph, the writer proceeds in the following remarkable strain :
* But—we have a plea like a peace offering to man and to God. We answer poor blinded Africa in her complaint—that we have her children, and that they have served on our plantations. And we tell her, look at their returning! We took them barbarous, though measurably free,--untaught-rude—without science-without the true religion-without philosophy—and strangers to the best civil governments. And now we return them to her bosom, with the mechanical arts....with science....with philosophy.....with civilization....with republican feelings....and above all, with the true knowledge of the true God, and the way of salvation through the Redeemer.'
"The mechanical arts !!—with whom did they serve an apprenticeship? • With philosophy !'in what colleges were they taught ? It is strange that we should be so anxious to get rid of these scientific men of color-these philosophers—these republicans—these christians, and that we should shun their company as if they were afflicted with the hydrophobia, or carried a deadly pestilence in their train ! Certainly, they must have singular notions of the christian religion which tolerates—or, rather, which is so perverted as to tolerate—the oppression of God's rational creatures by its professors ! They must feel a peculiar kind of brotherly love for those good men who banded together