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

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'They require that the _whole mass_ of free persons of color,
and those who may become such with the consent of their owners,
_should be progressively removed_ from among us, as fast as
their own consent can be obtained, and as the means can be found
for their removal and for their proper establishment in Africa.
Nothing short of this progressive but complete removal can
accomplish the great objects of this measure, in relation to the
security, prosperity, and happiness of the United
States.' - [Seventh Annual Report.]

'Is it either safe or prudent to retain amongst us a large
population, on whom we can place no reliance, but from the
control which the laws exercise over it? Can this class be
animated by any feelings of patriotism towards a country by
which they feel themselves oppressed?' - [Ninth Annual Report.]

'Colonization, to be correct, must be beyond seas. - Emancipation,
_with the liberty to remain on this side of the Atlantic_, IS
BUT AN ACT OF DREAMY MADNESS!' - [Thirteenth Annual Report.]

'Has our country the resources demanded for the accomplishment
of an object of such magnitude? The transportation of more than
two millions of souls to a remote country is indeed an object of
formidable aspect. It obviously cannot be accomplished at once.
But that the number can be gradually diminished, _till utterly
extinguished_, may be made to appear, it is believed, from a
little arithmetical calculation....' 'It has been said that the
entire shipping of the country, both public and private, would
hardly be competent for an object of this magnitude. But careful
calculation has proved, that one eighteenth of the mercantile
shipping alone, entirely devoted to the enterprise, is competent
to carry it into complete consummation. And why might not our
brilliant and growing _navy_ aid to some extent the humane and
patriotic cause? If necessary, why might not _the marine of
other lands_ be chartered? Strange indeed it is if shipping
enough could be found half a century ago to reduce hundreds of
thousands of this race in a single year to a wretched vassalage,
and in this age of augmented light, and wealth, and improvement
in every art, enough cannot be found for the single benevolent
object before us!' - [Rev. Baxter Dickinson's Sermon delivered in
Springfield in 1829.]

'How much soever we may regret that so little is done for the
intellectual and moral improvement of the free colored
population, as the surest preventive against crime, still we
must acknowledge it is in vain to attempt raising their
character to a level with that of the other inhabitants. They
must find an asylum beyond the influence of the white
population, or the majority of them will _ever be found unworthy
of the boon of freedom_. There must be that asylum for them, or
we despair of ever being able to improve materially their
condition, or to eradicate slavery from our soil, and thus
prevent the awful catastrophe which threatens our republic. They
must be furnished with facilities to leave this country and
establish themselves in a community of their own.' - 'I have
alluded to the difficulties which are presented to the minds of
benevolent and conscientious slaveholders, wishing to manumit
their slaves. From what has been said, it is evident that unless
some drain is opened to convey out of the country the
emancipated, the laws which relate to emancipation, must
continue in force with all their rigor. Without this drain, we
can hope for no repeal, or relaxation of those laws where the
slaves are very numerous. The mass of slaveholders can never let
go their hold on their slaves, and suffer them, ignorant,
vicious and treacherous, to roam at large. If no drain is
opened, necessity will compel them, as their slaves increase,
and consequently the danger, to add statute to statute in regard
to their slaves, until it be found necessary to arm one part of
the population to control the other. I may add, that as bitter
an enemy as I am to slavery, I cannot greatly desire that these
laws should be relaxed - that slavery should be abolished,
_unless its unfortunate and degraded subjects can be removed
from the country_. If this is not effected, whatever may be our
views and wishes on this subject, I am confident that
slaveholders will justify themselves in resorting to almost any
measures to keep their slaves in entire subjection.' - [An
advocate of the Society in the Middletown (Ct.) Gazette.]

'To talk of emancipating the slave population of these States
without providing them with an asylum, is truly idle. The free
blacks already scattered through the country, are a dangerously
burthensome order of people. They cannot amalgamate with the
population - the ordinances of nature are against it. They must,
in the main, be a degraded order, hanging loosely upon
society.' - [Idem.]

'The slaves _are_ in their possession - they are entailed upon
them by their ancestors. And can they set them free, _and still
suffer them to remain in the country_? Would this be
policy? - Would it be safe? NO. When they can be transported to
the soil from whence they were derived - by the aid of the
Colonization Society, by government, by individuals, or by any
other means - then let them be emancipated, and not
before.' - [Lowell (Mass.) Telegraph.]

'Avarice and iniquity have torn from that injured continent,
within thirty years, no less than 1,500,000 slaves; and cannot
humanity, religion, and justice, restore an equal number in the
same time? If we desire to accomplish this work, it is plain
that we can do it, and that too with a sum contemptible when
compared with the magnitude of the evil.' - [Address of Gabriel
P. Disosway.]

'We thank God that the ultimate accomplishment of the great
scheme of colonization is now placed beyond a doubt, in
Maryland; and that the day is not even distant when _the whole
of our colored population_ will have transferred themselves, by
our assistance, from slavery or degradation here, to peace, and
plenty, and power, and prosperity, and liberty, and
independence, in a land which Providence originally gave
them.' - [Baltimore Gazette.]

'It tends, and may powerfully tend, to rid us gradually and
entirely, in the United States, of slaves and slavery: a great
moral and political evil, of increasing virulence and extent,
from which much mischief is now felt, and very great calamity in
future is justly apprehended.' - [First Annual Report.]

'What can be done to mitigate or prevent the existing and
apprehended evils, resulting from our black population?
QUESTION.' * * 'As long as our present feelings and prejudices
exist, the abolition of slavery cannot be accomplished without
the removal of the blacks - THEY CANNOT BE EMANCIPATED AS A
PEOPLE, AND REMAIN AMONG US.' - [Second Annual Report of the
New-York State Col. Soc.]

'It would gladly, however, grasp at a still grander object - that
of restoring to the land of their fathers the whole colored race
within our borders. Nor probably will it be satisfied to rest
from its labors, till this object, in all its magnitude, is
accomplished.' - [Rev. Baxter Dickinson's Sermon.]

'It must appear evident to all, that every endeavor to divert
the attention of the community, or even a portion of the means,
which the present crisis to imperatively calls for, from the
Colonization Society, to measures calculated to bind the colored
population to this country and seeking to raise them (_an
impossibility_) to a level with the whites, whether by founding
colleges or in any other way, tends directly in the proportion
that it succeeds, to counteract and thwart the whole plan of
colonization. Although none would rejoice more than myself to
see this unhappy race elevated to the highest scale of human
being, it has always seemed to me that this country was not the
theatre for such a change. Far happier they, far happier we, had
they never touched our soil, or breathed our air. As it is, to
attain solid happiness and permanent respectability, they should
now remove to a more congenial clime.' - [New Haven Religious
Intelligencer for July, 1831.]

'The recent murderous movements of the people of color in some
of the southern States, evinces the dreadful consequences of
slavery, and the absolute necessity of colonizing all free
blacks immediately, and of manumitting and colonizing slaves as
fast as circumstances will justify the measure. We believe, and
have for many years, that this is the only course, which will
ensure prosperity and safety to our southern
brethren.' - [New-Hampshire Observer.]

'The removal annually of one hundred thousand, it may be safely
calculated, would sink the parent stock forty thousand in each
year, and this in thirty years would reduce the blacks of the
Union to a very small number - perhaps not one would
remain.' - [National (Ohio) Historian.]

'We will demonstrate, that the conveyance of the present annual
increase would, in less than thirty years, remove the whole to
Africa. Let all, for instance, born in any single year, say of
the age of twenty, be removed to Africa; and in each succeeding
year, let all of that age be removed in the same manner. - Then,
admitting, what is far too much to admit, that a generation
lasts fifty years, on an average, the generation on the stage
when the process commenced, would have become extinct at the end
of thirty years, and all their increase or offspring would have
been removed to Africa. Thirty years would, even in this way,
clear them entirely from this country. - But there are two
circumstances which would, in fact, make the time much shorter.

'1. It is known that a generation lasts but a little more than
thirty years. The generation, then, on the stage at the
commencement of the process, would virtually be extinct in a
little more than ten years. 2. By the removal of the most
prolific part, the annual increase would itself be diminished
more than a thirtieth part, in each successive year; that is, it
would be diminished in an arithmetical ratio, so that it would
be reduced to nothing before the arrival of the thirtieth
year.' - [American Spectator.]

'It is "a consummation devoutly to be wished," that we should
get clear of the free people of color now, and as they are
successively liberated, as well on their own account as ours;
and I trust and hope, we shall both have the pleasure to see a
moral certainty of the removal of all these poor people back to
the same country from which their ancestors were
taken.' - [African Repository, vol. iii. p. 311.]

'Neither do we consider liberty worth their acceptance, _unless
they can be sent out of the country_. There is no doubt that a
large proportion of the slaves enjoy life quite as well as those
who are free.' - [Oxford (Me.) Observer.]

'It is estimated that there are 2,350,680 blacks in the United
States, 339,360 of whom are free denizens of this republic. The
object of this Society is THE REMOVAL OF THESE TO
AFRICA.' - [New-York Standard.]

'We hope to make it for the interest of the owners, in some way,
to part with their slaves; - not to be let loose among our white
population, but to be carried back to the land of their
fathers.' - [N. Y. Journal of Commerce.]

'If they are to be placed above their present degraded
condition, they must be removed to a country where they can rise
as high as any man - be eligible to any office - then you will see
them rise with the rapidity of the tide.' - [Southern Religious

'God has put a mark upon the black man.' ... 'The God of Nature
intended they should be a _distinct_, free and independent
community.' - [New-Haven Palladium.]

'We do not ask that the provisions of our Constitution and
statute book should be so modified as to relieve and exalt the
condition of the colored people, _whilst they remain with us_.
ultimate and unbounded good of this people. Persuaded that their
condition here is not susceptible of a radical and permanent
New-York State Colonization Society.]

'Let the wise and good among us unite in removing the blacks
from the country. Would it not be expedient for the properly
constituted authorities to prevent the manumission of slaves in
every case, unless provision is made, at the same time, to
secure their removal from the country?' - [Alexandria Gazette.]

'We should be in favor of the abolition of slavery, if its
abolishment could be effected with safety, and the colored
population sent back to Africa; but merely to have them obtain
freedom and let loose upon society, would be the greatest curse
that could befal _them_ or _community_.' - [Essex Chronicle and
County Republican.]

ACCOMPANIED BY COLONIZATION. So far was he from desiring it,
unaccompanied by this condition, that HE WOULD NOT LIVE IN A
Mercer's Speech in Congress.]

In order to wipe off the reproach due to this violent expulsion, it was
necessary, on the part of the Society, to find some pretext that would
not only seem to justify but confer credit on the measure. Accordingly,
it agreed to represent the colored inhabitants of the United States as
aliens and foreigners, who, cast upon our shores by a cruel fatality,
were sighing to return to their native land. 'Poor unfortunate
exiles!' - how touching the appeal, how powerful the motive to assist,
how likely to excite the compassion of the nation! Ah! what an air of
disinterested benevolence, of generous compassion, of national
attachment, must such an enterprise wear in the eyes of the world! Who
that loved his own country, and deprecated an eternal absence from it,
could refuse to help in restoring the unfortunate Africans to their
long-estranged home? Such was, and is, and is likely to be, the artifice
resorted to, in order to cover a base conspiracy, and give popularity to
one of the wildest and most disgraceful crusades the world has ever
witnessed. Let the following evidence suffice:

'At no very distant period, we should see all the free colored
people in our land transferred to _their own country_.' * * 'Let
us send them back to _their native land_.' * * 'By returning
them to _their own ancient land_ of Africa, improved in
knowledge and in civilization, we repay the debt which has so
long been due them.' - [African Repository, vol. i. pp. 65, 146,

'And though we may not live to see the day when the sons of
Africa shall have returned to _their native soil_,' &c. * * 'To
found in Africa an empire of christians and republicans; to
reconduct the blacks to _their native land_,' &c. - [Idem, pp.
13, 375.]

'Who would not rejoice to see our country liberated from her
black population? Who would not participate in any efforts to
restore those children of misfortune to _their native shores_?'
* * 'The colored population of this country can never rise to
respectability here; in _their native soil_ they can.' * * 'The
only remedy afforded is, to colonize them in _their mother
country_.' * * 'They would go to that _home_ from which they
have been long absent.' * * 'Shall we ... retain and foster the
_alien enemies_?' - [Idem, 88, 179, 185, 237.]

'Be all these benefits enjoyed by the African race under the
shade of their native palms.' - [Idem, vol. vi. p. 372.]

'We have a numerous people, who, though they are among us, _are
not of us_.' - [Second Annual Report of the N. Y. State Col.

'Among us is a growing population of _strangers_.' * * 'It will
furnish the means of granting to _every African exile_ among us
a happy home in the land of his fathers.' - [Rev. Baxter
Dickinson's Sermon.]

'Africa is indeed inviting her long exiled children to return to
her bosom.' - [Circular of Rev. Mr Gurley.]

Nothing could be more invidious or absurd than the foregoing
representation. The great mass of our colored population were born in
this country. This is their native soil; here they first saw the light
of heaven, and inhaled the breath of life; here they have grown from
infancy to manhood and old age; from these shores they have never
wandered; they are the descendants of those who were forcibly torn from
Africa two centuries ago; their fathers assisted in breaking the yoke of
British oppression, and achieving that liberty which we prize above all
price; and they cherish the strongest attachment to the land of their
birth. Now, as they could not have been born in two countries, and as
they were certainly born here, it follows that Africa is not their
native home, and, consequently, that the Society has dealt in romance,
or something more culpable, in representing them as strangers and
aliens. It might as rationally charge them with being natives of Asia or
Europe, or with having descended from the regions of the moon. To see
ourselves gravely represented in a British periodical as natives of
Great Britain, I doubt not would create great merriment; and a scheme
for our transportation would add vastly to our sport.

'But,' we are told, 'God has put a mark upon the black man.' True; and
he has also put a mark upon every man, woman and child, in the world; so
that every one differs in appearance from another - is easily
identified - and, to make the objection valid, should occupy a _distinct_
portion of territory, be himself a nation, enact his own laws, and live
in perpetual solitude! The difference between a black and a white skin
is not greater than that between a white and a black one. In either
case, the mark is distinctive; and the blacks may as reasonably expel
the whites, as the whites the blacks. To make such a separation we have
no authority; to attempt it, would end only in disappointment; and, if
it were carried into effect, those who are clamorous for the measure
would be among the first to be cast out. The all-wise Creator, having
'made of _one blood_ all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the
earth,' it is proper for them to associate freely together; and he is a
proud worm of the dust who is ashamed to acknowledge this common

Again we are told: 'The God of Nature intended the blacks should be a
_distinct_ community.' But has he been frustrated in his intentions?
Where is the proof of such purpose? Let us have something more than the
_ipse dixit_ of the Society. Yes, we are seriously assured that Nature
has played falsely! Colored persons were born by mistake in this
country: they should have been born in Africa! We must therefore rectify
the error, with all despatch, by transporting them to their _native
soil_! Truly, a most formidable enterprise! There occur at least sixty
thousand of such _mistakes_, annually; while the Society has corrected
only about two thousand in fourteen years! But - courage! men engaged in
a laudable enterprise should never despair!

There are some difficulties, however, in the accomplishment of this
mighty task, which cannot be easily overcome. Granting the position
assumed by colonizationists, that the _blacks_ and the _whites_ should
occupy different countries, how do they intend to dispose of that
numerous and rapidly increasing class who are neither white nor black,
called mulattoes? We have not been informed to what country they belong;
but the point ought to be settled before any classification be made.
Colonizationists must define, moreover, the exact shade of color which
is to retain or banish individuals; for every candid mind will admit,
that it would be as unnatural to send _white_ blood to Africa, as to
keep _black_ blood in America. 'If the color of the skin is to give
construction to our constitution and laws, let us, at once, begin the
work of excision. Let us raise an army of pure whites, if such an army
can be found; and let us drive out and transport to foreign climes, men,
women and children, who cannot bring the most satisfactory vouchers,
that their veins are flowing with the purest English blood. Indeed, let
us shut up our ports against our own mariners, who are returning from an
India voyage, and whose cheeks and muscles could not wholly withstand
the influence of the breezes and tropics to which they were exposed. Let
us make every shade of complexion, every difference of stature, and
every contraction of a muscle, a Shibboleth, to detect and cut off a
brother Ephraimite, at the fords of Jordan. Though such a crusade would
turn every man's sword against his fellow; yet, it might establish the
right of precedence to different features, statures and colors, and
oblige some friends of colonization to test the feasibility and equity
of their own scheme.'

If I must become a colonizationist, I insist upon being consistent:
there must be no disagreement between my creed and practice. I must be
able to give a reason why all our tall citizens should not conspire to
remove their more diminutive brethren, and all the corpulent to remove
the lean and lank, and all the strong to remove the weak, and all the
educated to remove the ignorant, and all the rich to remove the poor, as
readily as for the removal of those whose skin is 'not colored like my
own;' for Nature has sinned as culpably in diversifying the size as the
complexion of her progeny, and Fortune in the distribution of her gifts
has been equally fickle. I cannot perceive that I am more excusable in
desiring the banishment of my neighbor because his skin is darker than
mine, than I should be in desiring his banishment because he is a
smaller or feebler man than myself. Surely it would be sinful for a
black man to repine and murmur, and impeach the wisdom and goodness of
God, because he was made with a sable complexion; and dare I be guilty
of such an impeachment, by persecuting him on account of his color? I
dare not: I would as soon deny the existence of my Creator, as quarrel
with the workmanship of his hands. I rejoice that he has made one star
to differ from another star in glory; that he has not given to the sun
the softness and gentleness of the moon, nor to the moon the intensity
and magnificence of the sun; that he presents to the eye every
conceivable shape, and aspect, and color, in the gorgeous and
multifarious productions of Nature; and I do not rejoice less, but
admire and exalt him more, that, notwithstanding he has made of one
blood the whole family of man, he has made the whole family of man to
differ in personal appearance, habits and pursuits.

I protest against sending any to Africa, in whose blood there is any
mixture of our own; for, I repeat it, white blood in Africa would be as
repugnant to Nature, as black blood is in this country. Now; most
unfortunately for colonizationists, the spirit of amalgamation has been
so active for a long series of years, - especially in the slave
States, - that there are comparatively few, besides those who are
annually smuggled into the south from Africa, whose blood is not tainted
with a foreign ingredient. Here, then, is a difficulty! What shall be
done? All black blood _must_ be sent to Africa; but how to collect it is
the question. What shall be done! Why, we must resort to _phlebotomy_!

'Therefore, prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
- - - - - - - - nor cut thou less nor more,
But just a pound of flesh: if thou tak'st more,
Or less, than just a pound, - be it but so much
As makes it light, or heavy, in the substance,

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 15 of 29)