William Lloyd Garrison.

Thoughts on African colonization: or, an impartial exhibition of the doctrines, principles and purposes of the American Colonization Society. Together with the resolutions, addresses and remonstrances of the free people of color .. online

. (page 10 of 29)
Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonThoughts on African colonization: or, an impartial exhibition of the doctrines, principles and purposes of the American Colonization Society. Together with the resolutions, addresses and remonstrances of the free people of color .. → online text (page 10 of 29)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

'So far from its having a dangerous tendency, when properly
considered, it will be viewed as AN ADDITIONAL GUARD TO OUR
PECULIAR SPECIES OF PROPERTY.' - [An advocate of the Society in
the New-Orleans Argus.]

'The slaveholder, who is in danger of having his slaves
contaminated by their free friends of color, will not only be
relieved from this danger, but THE VALUE OF HIS SLAVE WILL BE
ENHANCED.' - [A new and interesting View of Slavery. By
Humanitas, a colonization advocate. Baltimore, 1820.]

It is perfectly obvious, that whatever tends to weaken and depress the
present system, must render the holding of slaves less desirable, and
the prospect of emancipation more auspicious. Cherishing this
conviction, thousands of individuals in this country, and tens of
thousands in Great Britain, are led by conscientious motives to abstain
from the use of productions raised by slave labor, and to prefer those
only which are the fruits of the toil of freemen. They believe in the
soundness of the axiom, that 'the receiver is as bad as the thief;' and
knowing that the slaves are held in bondage not on the ground of
benevolence, or because their liberation would endanger the public
safety, but _because they are profitable to their owners_, they also
believe that the consumers of slave goods contribute to a fund for
supporting slavery with all its abominations; that they are the Alpha
and the Omega of the business; that the slave-trader, the slave-owner,
and the slave-driver, are virtually the agents of the consumer, for by
holding out the temptation, he is the original cause, the first mover in
the horrid process; that we are imperiously called upon to refuse those
articles of luxury, which are obtained at an absolute and lavish waste
of the blood of our fellow men; that a merchant, who loads his vessel
with the proceeds of slavery, does nearly as much in helping forward the
slave trade, as he who loads his vessel in Africa with slaves - they are
both twisting the same rope at different ends; that our patronage is
putting an immense bribe into the hands of the slaveholders to kidnap,
rob and oppress; that, were it not for this, they would be compelled by
sheer necessity to liberate their slaves - for as soon as slave labor
becomes unprofitable, the horrid system cannot be upheld.

None of these scruples, to my knowledge, are entertained by
colonizationists: their only aim and anxiety seem to be, 'to prune and
nourish the system,' - not to overthrow it; to increase the avarice of the
planters by rendering the labor of their bondmen more productive, - not
to abridge and starve it; to remove the cause of those apprehensions
which might lead them to break the fetters of their victims, - not to
perpetuate it; 'to provide (I quote the confession of the last
distinguished proselyte to the Society, Mr Archer of Virginia) and to
keep open a drain for the _excess of increase beyond the occasions of_
PROFITABLE EMPLOYMENT,' - not to make slave labor ruinous to the

By removing whatever number of slaves it be, from this country, the
number which remains must be diminished - and the more the number which
remains is diminished, the more helpless will they become, the less will
be the hope of their ever recovering their own liberty, and the more and
the longer they will be trampled upon.

The greater the number of slaves transported, _the greater will be the
value of the labor of those who remain_; the more valuable their labor
is, _the greater will be the temptation to over-labor them, and the
more, of course, they will be oppressed_.[M]

The increase of the free colored population disturbs the security of the
planters, and forces many to manumit their slaves through sheer terror.
The expatriation of this class, therefore, manifestly tends to quiet the
apprehensions of the oppressors, to rivet more firmly the chains of the
slaves, to make their services in higher demand, and to render even
their gradual emancipation impracticable.

Thus the American Colonization Society is the _apologist_, the _friend_,
and the _patron_ of SLAVEHOLDERS and SLAVERY!


[M] Stuart's Circular.



It follows, as a necessary consequence, that a Society which is not
hostile to slavery, which apologises for the system and for
slaveholders, which recognises slaves as rightful property,[N] and which
confessedly increases their value, is _the enemy of immediate
abolition_. This, I am aware, in the present corrupt state of public
sentiment, will not generally be deemed an objectionable feature; but I
regard it with inexpressible abhorrence and dismay.

Since the deception practised upon our first parents by the old serpent,
there has not been a more fatal delusion in the minds of men than that
of the gradual abolition of slavery. _Gradual_ abolition! do its
supporters really know what they talk about? Gradually abstaining from
what? From sins the most flagrant, from conduct the most cruel, from
acts the most oppressive! Do colonizationists mean, that slave-dealers
shall purchase or sell a few victims less this year than they did the
last? that slave-owners shall liberate one, two or three out of every
hundred slaves during the same period? that slave-drivers shall apply
the lash to the scarred and bleeding backs of their victims somewhat
less frequently? Surely not - I respect their intelligence too much to
believe that they mean any such thing. But if any of the slaves should
be exempted from sale or purchase, why not all? if justice require the
liberation of the few, why not of the many? if it be right for a driver
to inflict a number of lashes, how many shall be given? Do
colonizationists mean that the practice of separating the husband from
the wife, the wife from the husband, or children from their parents,
shall come to an end by an almost imperceptible process? or that the
slaves shall be defrauded of their just remuneration, less and less
every month or every year? or that they shall be under the absolute,
irresponsible control of their masters? Oh no! I place a higher value
upon their good sense, humanity and morality than this! Well, then, they
would immediately break up the slave traffic - they would put aside the
whip - they would have the marriage relations preserved inviolate - they
would not separate families - they would not steal the wages of the
slaves, nor deprive them of personal liberty! This is
abolition - _immediate abolition_. It is simply declaring that slave
owners are bound to fulfil - now, without any reluctance or delays - the
golden rule, namely, to do as they would be done by; and that, as the
right to be free is inherent and inalienable in the slaves, there ought
now to be a disposition on the part of the people to break their
fetters. All the horrid spectres which are conjured up, on this subject,
arise from a confusion of the brain, as much as from a corruption of the

I utterly reject, as delusive and dangerous in the extreme, every plea
which justifies a procrastinated and an indefinite emancipation, or
which concedes to a slave owner the right to hold his slaves as
_property_ for any limited period, or which contends for the gradual
preparation of the slaves for freedom; believing all such pretexts to be
a fatal departure from the high road of justice into the bogs of
expediency, a surrender of the great principles of equity, an
indefensible prolongation of the curse of slavery, a concession which
places the guilt upon any but those who incur it, and directly
calculated to perpetuate the thraldom of our species.

Immediate abolition does not mean that the slaves shall immediately
exercise the right of suffrage, or be eligible to any office, or be
emancipated from law, or be free from the benevolent restraints of
guardianship. We contend for the immediate personal freedom of the
slaves, for their exemption from punishment except where law has been
violated, for their employment and reward as free laborers, for their
exclusive right to their own bodies and those of their own children, for
their instruction and subsequent admission to all the trusts, offices,
honors and emoluments of intelligent freemen. Emancipation will increase
and not destroy the value of their labor; it will also increase the
demand for it. Holding out the stimulus of good treatment and an
adequate reward, it will induce the slaves to toil with a hundred fold
more assiduity and faithfulness. Who is so blind as not to perceive the
peaceful and beneficial results of such a change? The slaves, if freed,
will come under the watchful cognizance of law; they will not be idle,
but _avariciously_ industrious; they will not rush through the country,
firing dwellings and murdering the inhabitants; for freedom is all they
ask - all they desire - the obtainment of which will transform them from
enemies into friends, from nuisances into blessings, from a corrupt,
suffering and degraded, into a comparatively virtuous, happy and
elevated population.

Nor does immediate abolition mean that any compulsory power, other than
moral, should be used in breaking the fetters of slavery. It calls for
no bloodshed, or physical interference; it jealously regards the welfare
of the planters; it simply demands an entire revolution in public
sentiment, which will lead to better conduct, to contrition for past
crimes, to a love instead of a fear of justice, to a reparation of
wrongs, to a healing of breaches, to a suppression of revengeful
feelings, to a quiet, improving, prosperous state of society!

Now see with what earnestness and inveteracy the friends of the
Colonization Society oppose immediate abolition!

'It appears, indeed, to be the only feasible mode by which we
can remove that stigma as well as _danger_ from among us. Their
sudden and entire freedom would be a fearful, and perhaps
dreadful experiment, destructive of all the ends of liberty, for
which their condition would unfit them, and which they would
doubtless greatly abuse. Even their release, at apparently
proper intervals, but uncontrolled as to their future habits and
location, would be a very hazardous charity. Their gradual
emancipation, therefore, under the advantages of a free
government, formed, in their native land, by their own hands,
offering all the rewards usual to industry and economy, and
affording the means of enjoying, in comfort, a reputable and
free existence, is the only rational scheme of relieving them
from the bondage of their present condition.' * * * 'To
eradicate or remove the evil _immediately_, is impossible; nor
can any law of conscience govern necessity.' - [Af. Rep. vol. i.
pp. 89, 258.]

'Vaunt not over us, dear brethren of the north, we inherited the
evil from our forefathers, and we really do not think you do
your brethren any good, or that you serve the interests of the
people of color, when you recommend and enforce premature
schemes of emancipation.' * * * 'The operation, we were aware,
must be - and, for the interests of our country, ought to be
gradual.' * * * 'According to one, (that rash class which,
without a due estimate of the fatal consequence, would forthwith
issue a decree of general, immediate, and indiscriminate
emancipation,) it was a scheme of the slaveholder to perpetuate
slavery.' - [Idem, vol. ii. pp. 12, 254, 336.]

'Slavery, in its mildest form, is an evil of the darkest
character. Cruel and unnatural in its origin, no plea can be
urged in justification of its continuance, but the plea of
necessity - not that necessity which arises from our habits, our
prejudices, or our wants; but the necessity which requires us to
submit to existing evils, rather than substitute, by their
removal, others of a more serious and destructive character. It
was this which produced the recognition of slavery in the
constitution of our country; it is this which has justified its
continuance to the present day; and it is in this only that we
can find a palliation for the rigors of our laws, which might
otherwise be considered as the cruel enactments of a dark and
dismal despotism. There have not, I am aware, been found wanting
individuals to deny both the existence and the obligations of
such a necessity. There are men, actuated in some instances, by
a blind and mistaken enthusiasm, and in others, by a spirit of
mischievous intent, loudly calling on us, in the names of
justice and humanity, for the immediate and unqualified
emancipation of our slaves. To men of this description, it is in
vain to point out the inevitable effects of such a course, as
well on the objects of their real or pretended solicitude, as on
the community in which they exist. It is in vain to assure them,
that while the preservation of the latter would require a policy
even more rigorous than pertains to slavery itself, the
short-lived and nominal freedom of the former must end in their
ultimate and utter extinction. All this is of no consequence.
Provided slavery be abolished in name, it matters not what
horrors may be substituted in its room.' * * * 'The scope of the
Society is large enough, but it is in no wise mingled or
confounded with the broad sweeping views of _a few fanatics_ in
America, who would urge us on to the sudden and total abolition
of slavery.' - [Af. Rep. vol. iii. pp. 15, 197.]

'What is to be done? Immediate and universal emancipation will
find few, if any advocates, among judicious and reflecting men.'
* * * 'There is a portion of our brethren, who have been
laboring for many years, with the most benevolent intentions,
but, as I conceive, with erroneous views, in the cause of
abolition.' * * * 'The Colonization Society, as such, have
renounced wholly the name and the characteristics of
EMANCIPATION DOES NOT ENTER AT ALL.' * * * 'Here, that race is
in every form a curse, and if the system, so long contended for
by the uncompromising abolitionist, could prevail, its effect
would be to spread discord and devastation from one end of the
Union to the other.' - [Idem, vol. iv. pp. 202, 303, 306, 363.]

'With a writer in the Southern Review we say, "the situation of
the people of these States was not of their own choosing. When
they came to the inheritance, it was subject to this mighty
incumbrance, and it would be criminal in them to ruin or waste
the estate, to get rid of the burden at once." With this writer
we add also, in the language of Capt. Hall, that the
"slaveholders ought not (immediately) to disentangle themselves
from the obligations which have devolved upon them, as the
masters of slaves." We believe that a master _may_ sustain his
relation to the slave, with as little criminality as the slave
sustains his relation to the master. But we feel little sympathy
for those who, in the language of Mr Harrison of Virginia,
"still look upon their slaves in the light in which most men
regarded them when the slave trade was legitimate. Of those,
wherever they are, who hold their slaves with that same
sentiment which impelled the kidnapper when he forcibly bore
them off, I know not how morality can distinguish them from the
original wrong-doers, pirates by nature, and pirates by
civilized law." That the system of slavery must exist
temporarily in this country, we as firmly believe, as that for
its existence a single moment, there can be offered justly no
plea but necessity. Were the very spirit of angelic charity to
pervade and fill the hearts of all the slaveholders in our land,
it would by no means require that all the slaves should be
instantaneously liberated.' - [Af. Rep. vol. v. p. 329.]

'The long established habits of the South, the attachments which
are frequently found subsisting between the proprietor and his
servants, together with the difficulty of substituting at once
white for slave labor, and the derangement which would ensue in
the domestic concerns of life, would not merely make general
emancipation at once inexpedient, but the attempt would denote
the extremity of madness and folly, and convulse this government
to its centre.' - [Idem, vol. vi. p. 291.]

'The Society, meeting the objections of the _abolition
enthusiast_, in a like spirit of mildness and forbearance,
assures him of their equal devotion to the pure principles of
liberty and the powerful claims of humanity. We know, say they,
and we deplore the evil of slavery as the deadliest curse to our
common country. We see, and we lament its demoralizing effects
upon the children of our affections, from the budding innocence
of infancy, to the full maturity of manhood. But, we have not,
we do not, and _we will not_ interfere with this delicate, this
important subject. There are rights to be respected, prejudices
to be conciliated, fears to be quelled, and safety to be
observed in all our operations. And we protest, _most solemnly
protest_, against the adoption of your views, as alike
destructive of the ends of justice, of policy, and of humanity.
No wild dream of the wildest enthusiast was ever more
extravagant than that of turning loose upon society two millions
of blacks, idle and therefore worthless, vicious and therefore
dangerous, ignorant and therefore incapable of appreciating and
enjoying the blessings of freedom. Could _your_ wishes be
realized, your gratulation would be quickly changed into
mourning, your joy into grief, and your labor of love into
visits of mercy to our jails and our penitentiaries, to the
abodes of vice and the haunts of poverty. Come, ye
abolitionists, away with your _wild enthusiasm_, your _misguided
philanthropy_.' - [African Repository, vol. vii. p. 101.]

'The Colonization Society is removing the greatest obstacles in
the way of emancipation; but none, we think, who is acquainted
with the circumstances and condition of our southern States,
_and who has any conscience or humanity_, would deem it
expedient or christian to dissolve instantaneously all the ties
which unite masters and slaves.' - [Idem, vol. vii. p. 186.]

'It is not right that men should be free, when their freedom
will prove injurious to themselves and others.' * * 'He has
encountered determined opposition from several individuals, who
are so reckless and fanatical as to require the instantaneous
remedying of an acknowledged evil, which may be remedied
gradually, with safety, but which cannot be remedied immediately
without jeopardizing all the interests of all parties
concerned.' - [Idem, p. 202, 280.]

'He was quite sure that in the Northern States, there was no
opinion generally prevailing, that immediate, absolute, and
universal emancipation was desirable. There might be, said Mr
Storrs, some who are actuated by pure motives and benevolent
views, who considered it practicable; but he might say with
confidence, that very few, if any, believed that it would be
truly humane or expedient to turn loose upon the community more
than a million of persons, totally destitute of the means of
subsistence, and altogether unprepared in every moral point of
view, to enjoy or estimate their new privileges. Such a
cotemporaneous emancipation of the colored population of the
Southern States could only bring a common calamity on all the
States, and the most severe misery on those who were to be thus
thrown upon society, under the most abject, helpless and
deplorable circumstances.' - [Speech of Hon. Mr Storrs. - Twelfth
Annual Report.]

'The condition of a slave suddenly emancipated, and thrown upon
his own resources, is very far from being improved; and, however
laudable the feeling which leads to such emancipation, its
policy and propriety are at least questionable.' - [Report of the
Pennsylvania Colonization Society.]

'We may, therefore, fairly conclude the object of immediate
universal emancipation wholly unattainable, or, if attainable,
at too high a price.' - [Mathew Carey's Essays.]

'Observation has fully convinced them that emancipation has
often proved injurious to both: consequently laws have been
enacted in several of the States to discourage, if not to
prevent it. The public safety and interest, as well as
individual happiness, seemed to require of legislatures the
adoption of such a measure. For, it appeared highly probable
that the manumitted would not only be poor and wretched, but
likewise a public nuisance; and perhaps at some future day, form
the nucleus of rebellion among those unhappy persons still in
slavery.' - [A colonization advocate in the Middletown
(Connecticut) Gazette.]

'To our mind, it is clearly the doctrine of the Bible, that
there may be circumstances, in which the immediate and universal
emancipation of slaves is not a duty. Demanding instantaneous
and universal emancipation, and denouncing every instance of
_holding_ slaves as a crime, is not the way to bring it to pass.
If such a course proceeds from a right spirit, it is from a
right spirit misinformed.' - [Vermont Chronicle.]

'When the writer visited England from the colonies, he was
constantly astonished to find the Wilberforceans, or saints, as
they were called, influenced by the _wildest enthusiasm_ upon
the sublime theory of liberty; urging _immediate emancipation_
of the slave, and yet totally uninformed as to its destructive
consequences to their future welfare, in their present
uneducated condition, without some provision being made to so
enlighten them that they may be enabled to estimate religions
obligations and distinguish between right and wrong; otherwise
it would be indispensable to have strong military posts and
constant martial law to preserve order, and prevent a murderous
anarchy and lawless confusion. It is not anticipated that this
state of things could ever be consummated in the United States;
but it may afford a very salutary lesson in guiding our
consideration of similar occurrences that may take place.'

- [From a colonization pamphlet, entitled 'Remarks upon a plan
for the total abolition of slavery in the United States. By a
Citizen of New-York.']

'We do not wish to be understood, as sanctioning the measures
now pursued with respect to the subject of slavery, by some
misguided enthusiasts in the northern and eastern sections of
the United States. Were the measures they advocate with so much
heat, to be adopted, a heavier curse could hardly fall upon our
country. Their operation, we feel fully satisfied, would work
the ruin of those, whom these imprudent advocates of instant and
total emancipation, wish primarily to benefit. We have always
regarded these advocates for the instantaneous abolition of
slavery, in all cases, as doing more injury to our colored
population than any other class of men in the community. The
slaves of this country cannot be at once emancipated. It is
folly, it is madness to talk of it. From the very nature of the
case, in justice to that deeply injured class, in justice to
ourselves, the work must be gradual.' * * * 'We cannot doubt the
ultimate success of the American Colonization Society. And
however much some of the clamorous advocates of instant,
immediate abolition may vent their rage against this noble
institution, it will prosper, it will flourish. Our intelligent
community are beginning to see that the American Colonization
Society presents _the only door of hope_ to the
republic.' - [Western Luminary.]

'But _what_ shall be done? Some - and their motives and
philanthropic zeal are worthy of all honor - plead for immediate
emancipation. But Mr Ladd had seen enough to know that _that_
would be a curse to all parties. He acknowledged a difficulty
here; _but it is a difficulty that often occurs in morals_. When

Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonThoughts on African colonization: or, an impartial exhibition of the doctrines, principles and purposes of the American Colonization Society. Together with the resolutions, addresses and remonstrances of the free people of color .. → online text (page 10 of 29)