George W. Williams.

History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens online

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Church. Hence the Protestant Christian missions in Liberia
are essential to the stability and prosperity of the
republic, and the stability and prosperity of the republic
are necessary to the protection and action of the missions.
It will thus appear that the Christian education of the
people is the legitimate work of the missions."

At this time (1851) they had an annual Conference, with three
districts, with as many presiding elders, whose duty it was to visit
all the churches and schools in their circuit. The Conference had 21
members, all of whom were colored men. The churches contained 1,301
members, of whom 115 were on probation, and 116 were natives. There
were 20 week-day schools, with 839 pupils, 50 of whom were natives.
Then there Were seven schools among the natives, with 127 faithful

Bishop Scott, of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, was, by order of his Conference, sent on an official visit to
Liberia. He spent more than two months among the missions, and
returned in 1853 much gratified with the results garnered in that
distant field.

"The government of the republic of Liberia, which is formed
on the model of our own, and is wholly in the hands of
colored men, seems to be exceedingly well administered. I
never saw so orderly a people. I saw but one intoxicated
colonist while in the country, and I heard not one profane
word. The sabbath is kept with singular strictness, and the
churches crowded with attentive and orderly

The above is certainly re-assuring, and had its due influence among
Christian people at the time it appeared. At an anniversary meeting of
the Methodist Church, held in Cincinnati, O., in the same year, 1853,
Bishop Ames gave utterance to sentiments in regard to the character of
the government of Liberia that quite shocked some pro-slavery people
who held "_hired pews_" in the Methodist Church. His utterances were
as brave as they were complimentary.

"Nations reared under religious and political restraint are
not capable of self-government, while those who enjoy only
partially these advantages have set an example of such
capability. We have in illustration of this a
well-authenticated historical fact: we refer to the colored
people of this country, who, though they have grown up under
the most unfavorable circumstances, were enabled to succeed
in establishing a sound republican government in Africa.
They have given the most clear and indubitable evidence of
their capability of self-government, and in this respect
have shown a higher grade of manhood than the polished
Frenchman himself."[109]

The Presbyterian Board of Missions sent Rev. J.B. Pinny into the field
in 1833. In 1837, missions were established among the natives, and
were blessed with very good results. In 1850 there were, under the
management of this denomination, three congregations, with 116
members, two ordained ministers, and a flourishing sabbath school. A
high-school was brought into existence in 1852, with a white
gentleman, the Rev D.A. Wilson, as its principal. It was afterward
raised into a college, and was always crowded.

The American Protestant-Episcopal Church raised its missionary
standard in Liberia in 1836. The Rev John Payne was at the head of
this enterprise, assisted by six other clergymen, until 1850, when he
was consecrated missionary bishop for Africa. He was a white gentleman
of marked piety, rare scholarship, and large executive ability. The
station at Monrovia was under the care of the Rev. Alexander Crummell,
an educated and eloquent preacher of the Negro race. There was an
excellent training-school for religious and secular teachers; there
are several boarding-schools for natives, with an average attendance
of a hundred; and up to 1850 more than a thousand persons had been
brought into fellowship with this church.

The Foreign Missionary Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in
1845 turned its attention to this fruitful field. In 1855, ten years
after they began work, they had 19 religious and secular teachers, 11
day-schools, 400 pupils, and 484 members in their churches. There were
13 mission-stations, and all the teachers were colored men.

We have said, a few pages back in this chapter, that the Methodist
Church was first on the field when the colony of Liberia was founded.
We should have said _one_ of the first; because we find, in "Gammell's
History of the American Baptist Missions," that the Baptists were in
this colony as missionaries in 1822, that under the direction of the
Revs. Lot Carey and Collin Teage, two intelligent Colored Baptists, a
church was founded. Mr. Carey was a man of most exemplary character.
He had received an education in Virginia, where he had resided as a
freeman for some years, having purchased his freedom by his personal
efforts, and where also he was ordained in 1821.

"In September, 1826, he was unanimously elected vice-agent
of the colony; and on the return of Mr. Ashmun to the United
States, in 1828, he was appointed to discharge the duties of
governor in the interim, - a task which he performed during
the brief remnant of his life with wisdom, and with credit
to himself. His death took place in a manner that was
fearfully sudden and extraordinary. The natives of the
country had committed depredations upon the property of the
colony, and were threatening general hostilities. Mr. Carey,
in his capacity as acting governor, immediately called out
the military forces of the colony, and commenced vigorous
measures for repelling the assault and protecting the
settlements. He was at the magazine, engaged in
superintending the making of cartridges, when by the
oversetting of a lamp, a large mass of powder became
ignited, and produced and explosion which resulted in the
death of Mr. Carey, and seven others who were engaged with
him. In this sudden and awful manner perished and
extraordinary man, - one who in a higher sphere might have
developed many of the noblest energies of character and who,
even in the humble capacity of a missionary among his own
benighted brethren, deserves a prominent place in the list
of those who have shed lustre upon the African race.

"At the period of Mr. Carey's death, the church of which he
was the pastor contained a hundred members, and was in a
highly flourishing condition. It was committed to the charge
of Collin Teage, who now returned from Sierra Leone, and of
Mr. Waring, one of its members, who had lately been ordained
a minister. The influences which had commenced with the
indefatigable founder of the mission continued to be felt
long after he had ceased to live. The church an Monrovia was
increased to two hundred member; and the power of the gospel
was manifested in other settlements of the Colonization
Society, and even among the rude natives of the coast, of
whom nearly a hundred were converted to Christianity, and
united with the several churches of the colony."[110]

We regret that statistics on Liberia are not as full as desirable; but
we have found enough to convince us that the cause of religion,
education, and republican government are in safe hands, and on a sure
foundation. There are now more than three thousand and eighteen
hundred children, seven hundred of whom are natives;[111] and in the
day-schools are gathered about two thousand bright and promising

Many noble soldiers of the cross have fallen on this field, where a
desperate battle has been waged between darkness and light, heathenism
and religion, the wooden gods of men and the only true God who made
heaven and earth. Many have been mortally touched by the poisonous
breath of African fever, and, like the sainted Gilbert Haven, have
staggered back to home and friends to die. Few of the white teachers
have been able to remain on the field. During the first thirty years
of missionary effort in the field, the mortality among the white
missionaries was terrible. Up to 1850 the Episcopal Church had
employed twenty white teachers, but only three of them were left. The
rest died, or were driven home by the climate. Of nineteen
missionaries sent out by the Presbyterian Church up to 1850, nine
died, seven returned home, and but three remained. The Methodist
Church sent out thirteen white teachers: six died, six returned home,
and but one remained. Among the colored missionaries the mortality was
reduced to a minimum. Out of thirty-one in the employ of the Methodist
Church, only seven died natural deaths, and fourteen remained in the
service. On this subject of mortality, Bishop Payne says, -

"It is now very generally admitted, that Africa must be
evangelized chiefly by her own children. It should be our
object to prepare them, so far as we may, for their great
work. And since colonists afford the most advanced material
for raising up the needed instruments, it becomes us, in
wise co-operation with Providence, to direct our efforts in
the most judicious manner to them. To do this, the most
important points should be occupied, to become in due time
radiating centres of Christian influence to colonists and

In thirty-three years Liberia gained wonderfully in population, and,
at the breaking-out of the Rebellion in the United States, had about a
hundred thousand souls, besides the three hundred thousand natives in
the vast territory over which her government is recognized. Business
of every kind has grown up. The laws are wholesome; the law-makers
intelligent and upright; the army and navy are creditable, and the
republic is in every sense a grand success. Mr. Wilson says, -

"Trade is the chosen employment of the great mass of the
Liberians, and some of them have been decidedly successful
in this vocation. It consists in the exchange of articles of
American or European manufacture for the natural products of
the country; of which palm oil, cam-wood, and ivory are the
principal articles. Cam-wood is a rich dye-wood, and is
brought to Monrovia on the shoulders of the natives from a
great distance. It is worth in the European and American
markets from sixty to eighty dollars per ton. The ivory of
this region does not form an important item of commerce.
Palm-oil is the main article of export, and is procured
along the seacoast between Monrovia and Cape Palmas. The
Liberian merchants own a number of small vessels, built by
themselves, and varying in size from ten or fifteen to forty
or fifty tons. These are navigated by the Liberian sailors,
and are constantly engaged in bringing palm-oil to Monrovia,
from whence it is again shipped in foreign vessels for
Liverpool or New York. I made inquiry, during a short
sojourn at this place in 1852 on my way to this country,
about the amount of property owned by the wealthiest
merchants of Monrovia, and learned that there were four or
five who were worth from fifteen thousand to twenty thousand
dollars, a large number who owned property to the amount of
ten thousand dollars, and perhaps twelve or fifteen who were
worth as much as five thousand dollars. The property of some
of these may have increased materiallv since that time.

"The settlers along the banks of the St. Paul have given
more attention to the cultivation of the soil. They raise
sweet-potatoes, cassava, and plantains, for their own use,
and also supply the Monrovia market with the same.
Ground-nuts and arrow-root are also cultivated, but to a
very limited extent. A few individuals have cultivated the
sugar cane with success, and have manufactured a
considerable quantity of excellent sugar and molasses. Some
attention has been given to the cultivation of the coffee
tree. It grows luxuriantly, and bears most abundantly. The
flavor of the coffee is as fine as any in the world; and, if
the Liberians would give the attention to it they ought, it
would probably be as highly esteemed as any other in the
world. It is easily cultivated, and requires little or no
outlay of capital; and we are surprised that it has not
already become an article of export. The want of disposition
to cultivate the soil is, perhaps, the most discouraging
feature in the prospects of Liberia. Mercantile pursuits are
followed with zeal and energy, but comparatively few are
willing to till the ground for the means of subsistence."

Liberia had its first constitution in 1825. It was drawn at the
instance of the Colonization Society in the United States. It set
forth the objects of the colony, defined citizenship, and declared the
objects of the government. It remained in force until 1836. In 1839 a
"Legislative Council" was created, and the constitution amended to
meet the growing wants of the government. In 1847 Liberia declared
herself an independent republic. The first article of the constitution
of 1847 reads as follows: -

"ARTICLE I. SECTION I. All men are born equally free and
independent, and among them natural, inherent and
inalienable rights, are the rights of enjoying and defending
_life_ and LIBERTY."

This section meant a great deal to a people who had abandoned their
homes in the United States, where a chief justice of the Supreme Court
had declared that "a Negro has no rights which a white man is bound to
respect," - a country where the Federal Congress had armed every
United-States marshal in all the Northern States with the inhuman and
arbitrary power to apprehend, load with chains, and hurl back into the
hell of slavery, every poor fugitive who sought to find a home in a
professedly free section of "the _land of the free and the home of the
brave_." These brave black pilgrims, who had to leave "the freest land
in the world" in order to get their freedom, did not intend that the
solemn and formal declaration of principles contained in their
constitution should be reduced to a _reductio ad absurdum_, as those
in the American Constitution were by the infamous _Fugitive-slave
Law_. And in section 4 of their constitution they prohibit "the sum of
all villanies" - _slavery_! The article reads: -

"There shall be no slavery within this republic. Nor shall
any citizen of this republic, or any person resident
therein, deal in slaves, either within or without this

They had no measure of _compromise_ by which slavery could be carried
on beyond certain limits "for highly commercial and business interests
of a portion of their fellow-citizens." Liberians might have grown
rich by merely suffering the slave-trade to be carried on among the
natives. The constitution fixed a scale of revenue, and levied a
tariff on all imported articles. A customs-service was introduced, and
many reforms enforced which greatly angered a few avaricious white men
whose profession as _men-stealers_ was abolished by the constitution.
Moreover, there were others who for years had been trading and doing
business along the coast, without paying any duties on the articles
they exported. The new government incurred their hostility.

In April, 1850, the republic of Liberia entered into a treaty with
England, and in article nine of said treaty bound herself to the
suppression of the slave-trade in the following explicit language: -

"Slavery and the slave-trade being perpetually abolished in
the republic of Liberia, the republic engages that a law
shall be passed declaring it to be piracy for any _Liberian
citizen_ or vessel to be engaged or concerned in the

Notwithstanding the above treaty, the enemies of the republic
circulated the report in England and America that the Liberian
government was secretly engaged in the slave-trade. The friends of
colonization in both countries were greatly alarmed by the rumor, and
sought information in official quarters, - of men on the ground. The
following testimony will show that the charge was malicious: -

"Capt. Arabian, R.N., in one of his despatches says,
'Nothing had been done more to suppress the slave-trade in
this quarter than the constant intercourse of the natives
with these industrious colonists;' and again, 'Their
character is exceedingly correct and moral, their minds
strongly impressed with religious feeling, and their
domestic habits remarkably neat and comfortable.' 'wherever
the influence of Liberia extends, the slave trade has been
abandoned by the natives.'

"Lieut. Stott, R.N., in a letter to Dr. Hodgkin, dated July,
1840, says, it (Liberia) promises to be the only successful
institution on the coast of Africa, keeping in mind its
objects; viz., 'that of raising the African slave into a
free man, the extinction of the slave-trade, and the
religious and moral improvement of Africa;' and adds, 'The
surrounding Africans are aware of the nature of the colony,
taking refuge when persecuted by the few neighboring
slave-traders. The remnant of a tribe has lately fled to and
settled in the colony on land granted them. Between my two
visits, a lapse of only a few days, four or five slaves
sought refuge from their master, who was about to sell, or
had sold, them to the only slave-factory on the coast. The
native chiefs in the neighborhood have that respect for the
colonists that they have made treaties for the abolition of
the slave trade.'

"Capt. Irving, R.N., in a letter to Dr. Hodgkin, Aug 3,
1840, observes, 'You ask me if they aid in the slave-trade?
I assure you, no! and I am sure the colonists would feel
themselves much hurt should they know such a question could
possibly arise in England. In my opinion it is the best and
safest plan for the extinction of the slave-trade, and the
civilization of Africa, for it is a well-known fact, that
wherever their flag flies it is an eye-sore to the

"Capt. Herbert, R.N.: 'With regard to the present state of
slave-taking in the colony of Liberia, I have never known
one instance of a slave being owned or disposed of by a
colonist. On the contrary, I have known them to render great
facility to our cruisers in taking vessels engaged in that
nefarious traffic.'

"Capt. Dunlop, who had abundant opportunities for becoming
acquainted with Liberia during the years 1848-50, says, 'I
am perfectly satisfied no such thing as domestic slavery
exists in any shape amongst the citizens of the republic.'

"Commodore Sir Charles Hotham, commander-in-chief of her
British Majesty's squadron on the western coast of Africa,
in a letter to the Secretary of the Admiralty, dated April
7, 1847, and published in the Parliamentary Returns, says,
'On perusing the correspondence of my predecessors, I found
a great difference of opinion existing as to the views and
objects of the settlers; some even accusing the governor of
lending himself to the slave-trade. After discussing the
whole subject with officers and others best qualified to
judge on the matter, I not only satisfied my own mind that
there is no reasonable cause for such a suspicion, but
further, that this establishment merits all the support we
can give it, for it is only through their means that we can
hope to improve the African race.' Subsequently, in 1849,
the same officer gave his testimony before the House of
Lords, in the following language: 'There is no necessity for
the squadron watching the coast between Sierra Leone and
Cape Palmas, as the liberian territory intervenes, and there
the slave-trade has been extinguished.'"[113]

The government was firmly and wisely administered, and its friends
everywhere found occasion for great pleasure in its marked success.
While the government had more than a quarter of a million of natives
under its care, the greatest caution was exercised in dealing with
them legally. The system was not so complicated as our Indian system,
but the duties of the officers in dealing with the uncivilized tribes
were as delicate as those of an Indian agent in the United States.

"The history of a single case will illustrate the manner in
which Liberia exerts her influence in preventing the native
tribes from warring upon each other. The territory of Little
Cape Mount, Grand Cape Mount, and Gallinas was purchased,
three or four years since, and added to the Republic. The
chiefs, by the term of sale, transferred the rights of
sovereignty and of soil to Liberia, and bound themselves to
obey her laws. The government of Great Britain had granted
to Messrs. Hyde, Hodge, & Co., of London, a contract for the
supply of laborers from the coast of Africa to the planters
of her West India colonies. This grant was made under the
rule for the substitution of _apprentices_, to supply the
lack of labor produced by the emancipation of the slaves.
The agents of Messrs. Hyde, Hodge, & Co. visited Grand Cape
Mount, and made an offer of ten dollars per head to the
chiefs for each person they could supply as _emigrants_ for
this object. The offer excited the cupidity of some of the
chiefs; and to procure the emigrants and secure the bounty
one of them, named Boombo, of Little Cape Mount, resorted to
war upon several of the surrounding tribes. He laid waste
the country, burned the towns and villages, captured and
murdered many of the inhabitants, carried off hundreds of
others, and robbed several factories in that legion
belonging to merchants in Liberia. On the 26th of February,
1853, President Roberts issued his proclamation enjoining a
strict observance of the law regulating passports, and
forbidding the sailing of any vessel with emigrants without
first visiting the port of Monrovia, where each passenger
should be examined as to his wishes. On the 1st of March the
president, with two hundred men, sailed for Little Cape
Mount, arrested Boombo and fifty of his followers, summoned
a council of the other chiefs at Monrovia for his trial on
the 14th, and returned home with his prisoners. At the time
appointed, the trial was held, Boombo was found guilty of
'_high misdemeanor_' and sentenced 'to make restitution,
restoration, and reparation of goods stolen, people
captured, and damages committed: to pay a fine of five
hundred dollars, and be imprisoned for two years.' When the
sentence was pronounced, the convict shed tears, regarding
the ingredient of imprisonment in his sentence to be almost
intolerable. These rigorous measures, adopted to maintain
the authority of the government and majesty of the laws,
have had a salutary influence upon the chiefs. No outbreaks
have since occurred, and but little apprehension of danger
for the future is entertained."[114]

The republic did a vast amount of good before the Great Rebellion in
the United States, but since emancipation its population has been fed
by the natives who have been educated and converted to Christianity.
Professor David Christy, the great colonizationist, said in a lecture
delivered in 1855, -

"If, then, a colony of colored men, beginning with less than
a hundred, and gradually increasing to nine thousand, has in
thirty years established an independent republic amidst a
savage people, destroyed the slave-trade on six hundred
miles of the African coast, put down the heathen temples in
one of its largest counties, afforded security to all the
missions within its limits, and now casts its shield over
three hundred thousand native inhabitants, what may not be
done in the next thirty years by colonization and missions
combined, were sufficient means supplied to call forth all
their energies?"

The circumstances that led to the founding of the Negro Republic in
the wilds of Africa perished in the fires of civil war. The Negro is

Online LibraryGeorge W. WilliamsHistory of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens → online text (page 13 of 57)