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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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estimation in their native country which is due to them.

But the American Colonization Society deliberately rejects both
of these first great duties, and confines itself to the
colonization in Africa of the free colored people. They say, in
page 5, of their Thirteenth Report, "To abolition she could not
look - and need not look." It "could do nothing in the slave
States for the cause of humanity;" and in page 8, "Emancipation,
with the liberty to remain on this side of the Atlantic, is but
an act of dreamy madness."

Now in thus deliberately letting the great crime of negro
slavery alone; and in thus substituting a little restricted act
of very dubious benevolence to a few, for the great and sacred
duty of right which they owe to all, - they hurt the great cause
of everlasting truth and love, in the following particulars:

1. By offering to the nation a hope, at which many of their best
men seem eagerly grasping, of getting rid of the colored people
abroad - they conduce more and more, as this hope prevails, to
keep out of mind the superior, unalterable, and immediate duty
of righting them at home.

2. By removing whatever number it be, from their native 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 longer will they be trampled upon.

3. The more the people of the United States (and this is equally
true of Great Britain) substitute a _half-way_ duty, difficult,
expensive, and partial as it must be, and criminal as it
unquestionably is - for the _whole_ duty which they owe their
negro fellow-subjects, of putting them, before the law, upon a
par with themselves - the less will they be likely to feel their
sin in continuing to wrong them; and the less they feel their
sin, the less likely will they be to repent of it, and to do
their duty.

4. 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.

5. The American Colonization Society directly supports the false
and cruel idea that the native country of the colored people of
the United States, is not their native country, and that they
never can be happy until they either exile themselves, or are
exiled; and thus powerfully conduces to extinguish in them all
those delightful hopes, and to prevent all that glorious
exertion, which would make them a blessing to their country. In
this particular, the American Colonization Society takes up a
falsehood, as cruel to the colored people, as it is disgraceful
to themselves; dwells upon it, as if it were an irrefragable
truth; urges it, as such, upon others; and thus endeavors with
all its force, to make _that practically true_, which is one of
the greatest stains in the American character; which is one of
the greatest scourges that could possibly afflict the free
colored people; and which, in itself, is essentially and
unalterably false. For be the pertinacity of prejudice what it
may, in asserting that the blacks of America never can be
amalgamated in all respects, in equal brotherhood with the
whites, it will not the less remain an everlasting truth, that
the wickedness which produced and perpetuates the assertion, is
the only ground of the difficulty, and that all that is
requisite to remove the whole evil, is the relenting in love of
the proud and cruel spirit which produced it. Could the American
Colonization Society succeed in establishing their views on this
subject, as being really true of the people of the United
States, it would only prove that the people of the United States
were past repentance; that they were given over, through their
obstinacy in sin, finally to believe a lie; to harden
themselves, and to perish in their iniquity. But they have not
succeeded in establishing this fearful fact against themselves;
and as long as they continue capable of repentance, it _never_
can be true, that the proud and baneful prejudices which now so
cruelly alienate them from their colored brethren, may not, will
not, must not, yield to the sword of the Spirit, to the Word of
God, to the blessed weapons of truth and love.

The American Colonization Society is beautiful and beneficial as
far as it supports the cause commenced at Sierra Leone, by
introducing into Africa, civilization, commerce, and genuine
Christianity - by checking the African slave trade - and by
serving in love the emigrants who choose to pass to Liberia.

But it powerfully tends to veil the existing and outrageous
atrocity of negro slavery; and it corroborates against the
people of color, whether enslaved or free, one of the most base,
groundless, and cruel prejudices, that has ever disgraced the
powerful, or afflicted the weak.

The following calculations may throw further light upon the
subject.

The United States have about 2,000,000 slaves, and about 500,000
free colored people.

The American Colonization Society has existed for thirteen
years, and has exported yearly, upon an average, about 150
persons.

Meanwhile the natural yearly increase has been 56,000 souls; and
nearly a million have died in slavery!!

But it may be said, this is only the beginning - more may be
expected hereafter. - Let us see.

The average price of transporting each individual is calculated
at 30 dollars: suppose it to be reduced to 20, and then, as
56,000 must be exported yearly, in order merely to prevent
increase, 1,120,000 dollars would be yearly requisite simply for
transportation. Where is this vast sum to come from? Or suppose
it supplied, still, in the mass of crime and wretchedness, as it
now exists, there would be _no decrease_! Two millions of human
beings every 30 years would still be _born_ and _die_ in
slavery!!

But perhaps you wish to extinguish the crime in thirty years.

Then you must begin by transporting at least 100,000 yearly. In
order to do this, you must have an annual income of upwards of
2,000,000 dollars; and if you have not only to transport, but
also to purchase, you would probably want yearly, _twenty
millions_ more!!

Where are you to get this? -

Or suppose it got, and still one generation would perish in
their wretchedness; 2,000,000 of immortal souls - plundered by
you of the most sacred rights of human nature; of rights _always
the same_, and everlastingly _inalienable_, however
plundered - would have perished _unredressed_, and gone to
confront you at the bar of God.

And will He not make inquisition for blood? And what will it
avail you to say, "Oh, we satisfied ourselves, and traversed
land and sea, and spent thousands to satisfy others, that if we
transported a few hundreds or thousands of our oppressed
fellow-subjects to a distant country, yearly, with care, we
might guiltlessly leave the remaining hundreds of thousands, or
the millions, in slavery, and harmlessly indulge the invincible
repugnance which we felt to a colored skin. We really thought it
better, to exile our colored brethren from their native country,
or to render their lives in it, intolerable by scorn, should
they obstinately persist in remaining in it; - we really thought
this better, than humbling ourselves before our brother and our
God, and returning to both with repenting and undissembling
love."

Is not such language similar to the swearer's prayer!!

Great Britain and the United States, the two most favored, and
the two most guilty nations upon earth, both need rebuke. They
ought to be brethren, mutually dear and honorable to each other,
in all that is true and kind. But never, never, let them support
one another in guilt.

People of Great Britain, it is your business - it is _your
duty_, - to give to negro slavery no rest, but to put it
down - not by letting the trunk alone, while you idly busy
yourselves in lopping off, or in aiding others to lop off, a few
of the straggling branches - but by laying the axe at once to
its roots, and by putting your united nerve into the steel, till
this great poison-tree of lust and blood, and of all abominable
and heartless iniquity, fall before you; and law, and love, and
God and man, shout victory over its ruin.

Hearken - thus saith the Lord, "Rob not the poor, because he is
poor; neither oppress the afflicted in the gate. For the Lord
will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled
them." Prov. xxii. 22, 23.

LONDON, July 15, 1831. C. STUART.'[Y]

Sometimes the Society professes to be able to remove the whole colored
population in less than thirty years! and the belief is prevalent that
the project is feasible. Again it tells us -

'Admitting that the colonization scheme contemplates the
ultimate abolition of slavery, yet that result could only be
produced _by the gradual and slow operation of_ CENTURIES.' * *
'How came we by this population? By the prevalence for a century
of a guilty commerce. And will not the prevalence _for a
century_ of a restoring commerce, place them on their own
shores? Yes, surely!' * * 'There are those, Sir, who ask - and
could not a quarter century cease and determine the two great
evils? You and I, my dear Sir, on whom the frost of time has
fallen rather perceptibly, would say a century. And now, let me
ask, could ever a century, in the whole course of human affairs,
be better employed?' - [African Repository, vol. i. pp. 217, 347;
vol. v. p. 366.]


'It is not the work of a day nor a year, it is not a work of one
time, nor of two, nor of three, but it is one which will now
commence, _and may continue for ages_.' - [A new and interesting
View of Slavery. By Humanitas, a colonization advocate.
Baltimore, 1820.]

Wild enthusiasts in the cause may respond - 'The Society never expected
to accomplish much single-handed: it is about to enlist the energies of
the General Government - and doubtless Congress will appropriate several
millions of dollars annually for the purchase and colonization of the
slaves.'

But are they sure, or is it probable, that Congress will make this
appropriation? And if it should, what can they do without the consent of
the people of color to remove? That consent can never be obtained. Is
it, then, proposed to buy the slaves of their masters, as if the claim
of property were valid? It were better that the money should rust at the
bottom of the deep! - better to buy bank-notes, and convert them to
ashes! To purchase slaves would only serve to make brisk the
slave-market. Their value would immediately rise in all the slave
States; especially in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and North
Carolina, where they are now comparatively worthless - _and there would
be an end to voluntary emancipation_: for who would sacrifice his
'property,' when he might obtain an equivalent for it? Slave traders and
slave owners would be zealous to prevent any lack of miserable objects
for the bounty offered by government: if the natural increase were not
sufficient, they would be careful to make the importation from Africa
exceed the exportation to that ill-fated continent. Such a purchase
would be directly patronising the slave trade, at home and abroad, and
bribing masters to keep their slaves for the highest bidder. Besides, it
would be a gross violation of the great fundamental principle, that 'man
cannot hold property in man.'

I know it is easy to make calculations. I know it is an old maxim, that
'figures cannot lie:' and I very well know, too, that our philanthropic
arithmeticians are prodigiously fond of FIGURING, but of doing nothing
else. Give them a slate and pencil, and in fifteen minutes they will
clear the continent of every black skin; and, if desired, throw in the
Indians to boot. While they depopulate America, they find not the least
difficulty in providing for the wants of the emigrating myriads to the
coast of Africa: we have ships enough, and, notwithstanding the hardness
of the times, money enough. O, the surpassing utility of the arithmetic!
it is more potent than the stone of the philosopher, which, _when
discovered_, is to transmute, at a touch, base metal into pure gold!

In one breath, colonization orators tell us that the free blacks are
pests in the community; that they are an intemperate, ignorant, lazy,
thievish class; that their condition is worse than that of the slaves;
and that no efforts to improve them in this country can be successful,
owing to the prejudices of society. In the next breath we are told what
mighty works these miserable outcasts are to achieve - that they are the
missionaries of salvation,[Z] who are to illumine all Africa - that they
will build up a second American republic - and that our conceptions
cannot grasp the result of their labors. Now I, for one, have no faith
in this instantaneous metamorphosis.[AA] I believe that neither a sea
voyage nor an African climate has any miraculous influence upon the
brain. I believe that ignorant and depraved black men, who are
transported across the ocean, will be ignorant and depraved black men on
reaching the coast of Africa. I believe, also, that they who are capable
of doing well, surrounded by barbarians, may do better among a civilized
and christian people.

It is stated in a Circular put forth by the Society last year, that
'from the _actual experience_ of the Society, it has been found that
$20, _or less_, will defray the whole expense of transporting an
individual to the Colony.' This is a very deceptive statement. The
receipts of the Society from 1820 to 1830, amounted to $112,841 89; the
expenses during the same period were $106,457 72; balance on hand,
$6,384 17. Nineteen expeditions had been fitted out, and 1,857
emigrants,[AB] _including re-captured Africans_, landing on the shores
of Africa - averaging annually, for the ten years, about 186 persons, or
since the organization of the Society, about 124 persons. 'The
emigrants,' the Board of Managers inform us, in a recent address to
Auxiliary Societies, 'for the last three years, average about 227, while
the expenses, _exclusive of transportation, and temporary subsistence of
the new colonists_, exceed TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS'!! In the very last
number of the African Repository, (for April, 1832,) the Vice-Agent at
Liberia, A. D. Williams, writes to the Rev. R. R. Gurley as follows: - 'I
think the price, say $35, fixed by the Board for the transportation of
each emigrant, _is entirely too low_: it should be at least $40, if not
$45.' Why, then, does the Society attempt to impose upon public
credulity, by stating that only $20 are requisite for every individual
transportation, when the actual cost has been more than thrice, and is
likely to be more than double that amount?[AC]

The Society has succeeded in making the people believe that the
establishment of a colony or colonies on the coast of Africa is the only
way to abolish the foreign slave trade: on this account it has secured
an extensive patronage. Here is another fatal delusion. I shall show not
only that it has not injured this trade in the least, but that the trade
_continues to increase in activity and cruelty_. Let us look at its own
admissions.

'We regret to say, that the slave trade appears to be carried on
to a great extent, and with circumstances of the most revolting
cruelty.' * * * 'The French slave trade, notwithstanding the
efforts of the government, appears to be undiminished. The
number of Spanish vessels employed in the trade is immense, and
as the treaty between England and Spain only permits the seizure
of vessels having slaves actually on board, many of these watch
their opportunity on the coast, run in, and receive all their
slaves on board in a single day.' * * 'By an official document
from Rio de Janeiro, it appears that the following importations
of slaves were made into that port in 1826 and 1827.

'1826, landed alive, 35,966 ... died on the passage 1,905
'1827, landed alive, 41,384 ... died on the passage 1,643

'Thus it would seem, (says the Boston Gazette,) that to only one
port in the Brazils, and in the course of two years,
_seventy-seven thousand three hundred and fifty_ human beings
were transported from their own country, and placed in a state
of slavery.' - [African Repository, vol. i. v. pp. 179, 181.]


'It is not by legal arguments, or penal statutes, or armed
ships, that the slave trade can be prevented. Almost every power
in Christendom has denounced it. It has been declared felony - it
has been declared piracy; and the fleets of Britain and America
have been commissioned to drive it from the ocean. Still, in
defiance of all this array of legislation and of armament, slave
ships ride triumphant on the ocean; and in these floating
caverns, less terrible only than the caverns which demons
occupy, from sixty to eighty thousand wretches, received
pinioned from the coast of Africa, are borne annually away to
slavery or death. Of these wretches a frightful number are, with
an audacity that amazes, landed and disposed of within the
jurisdiction of this republic.' - [Idem, vol. v. 274.]


'Notwithstanding all the efforts that have been made to suppress
the slave trade, by means of solemn treaties and laws declaring
it to be piracy; and notwithstanding the attempts to
exterminate it by the naval forces of the United States and
Great Britain, the inhuman traffic is still pursued to as great
an extent as at any former period, and with greater cruelty than
ever.' - [African Repository, vol. vi. p. 345.]


'The slave trade, which many suppose has been every where
abolished for years, there is reason to believe is still carried
on to almost as great an extent as ever. It has been recently
stated in the papers, that an association of merchants at Nantz,
in France, had undertaken to supply the island of Cuba with
thirty thousand fresh negro slaves annually! And in Brazil, it
is well known, that for several years past, the importations
have even exceeded this number.' - [Idem, vol. vii. p. 248.]


'Africa, for three long centuries, has been ravaged by the slave
trade. Notwithstanding all that has been done to suppress that
traffic, notwithstanding its formal abolition by all civilized
nations, it is carried on at the present hour, _with all its
atrocities unmitigated_. The flags of France, Portugal, Brazil,
and Spain, with the connivance of those governments, afford to
the slave trader, in spite of laws and treaties and armed
cruisers, a partial protection, of which he avails himself to
the utmost. And with what cruelty he carries on his war against
human nature, every year affords us illustrations sufficiently
horrible.' - [Christian Spectator for September, 1830.]


'This horrible traffic, notwithstanding its abolition by every
civilized nation in the world, except Portugal and Brazil, and
notwithstanding the decided measures of the British and American
governments, is still carried on to almost as great an extent as
ever. Not less than 60,000 slaves, according to the most
moderate computation, are carried from Africa annually. This
trade is carried on by Americans to the American states. And the
cruelties of this trade, which always surpassed the powers of
the human mind to conceive, _are greater now than they ever were
before_. We might, but we will not, refer to stories, recent
stories, of which the very recital would be torment.' - [Seventh
Annual Report.]


'Notwithstanding the vigilance of the powers now engaged to
suppress the slave trade, I have received information, that in a
single year, in the single island of Cuba, slaves equal in
amount to one half of the above number of fifty-two thousand
have been illicitly introduced.' * * 'Mr Mercer submitted the
following preamble and resolutions: - Whereas, to the affliction
of the Christian world, the African slave trade, notwithstanding
all the efforts, past and present, for its suppression, still
exists and is conducted _with aggravated cruelty_, by the
resources of one continent, to the dishonor of another, and to
an extent little short of the desolation of a third,'
&c. - [Tenth Annual Report.]


'It is painful to state, that the Managers have reason to
believe that the slave trade is still prosecuted, to a great
extent, and with circumstances of undiminished atrocity. The
fact, that much was done by Mr Ashmun to banish it from the
territory, under the colonial jurisdiction, is unquestionable;
but, _it now exists, even on this territory_; and a little to
the north and south of Liberia, it is seen in its true
characters - of fraud, rapine, and blood! In the opinion of the
late Agent, the present efforts to suppress this trade must
prove abortive.' - [Thirteenth Annual Report.]


'Some appalling facts in regard to the slave trade have come to
the knowledge of the Board of Managers during the last year.
_With undiminished atrocity and activity_ is this odious traffic
now carried on _all along the African coast_. Slave factories
are established _in the immediate vicinity of the Colony_, and
at the Gallinas (between Liberia and Sierra Leone) not less than
nine hundred slaves were shipped during the last summer, in the
space of three weeks.' - [Fourteenth Annual Report, 1831.]


'In defiance of all laws enacted, it is estimated that no less
than _fifty thousand_ Africans were, during the last year,
(1831,) carried into foreign slavery. During the months of
February and March of the same year, two thousand were landed
on the island of Cuba.' - [Circular published by the
Massachusetts Colonization Society for 1832.]

Here, then, is the acknowledgment of the Society, that it has
accomplished _nothing_ toward the suppression of the slave trade in
fifteen years! Nor has the settlement at Sierra Leone effected aught in
thirty years! Nor have the untiring labors of Wilberforce and Clarkson,
for a longer period, produced any visible effect! The accursed traffic
still continues to increase - and why? Simply _because the market for
slaves is not destroyed_. Break up this market, and you annihilate the
slave trade. Keep it open, and you may line the shores of Africa and
America with naval ships and armed troops, and the trade will continue.
No proposition in Euclid is plainer. So long as there is a brisk market
for goods, that market will be supplied. The assertion has been made in
Congress by Mr Mercer of Virginia, (one of the Vice-Presidents of the
Society,) that these horrible cargoes are smuggled into our southern
states to a deplorable extent. In 1819, Mr Middleton, of South Carolina,
declared it to be his belief 'that 13,000 Africans were annually
smuggled into our southern states.' Mr Wright of Virginia estimated the
number at 15,000!!! - [_Vide_ Seventh Annual Report - app.] - This number
is seven times as great as that which the Colonization Society has
transported in fifteen years![AD] By letting the system of slavery
alone, then, and striving to protect it, the Society is encouraging and
perpetuating the foreign slave trade!

FOOTNOTES:

[Y] 'We think the annual increase, as computed by Capt. Stuart, too low
by 10 or 15,000. The estimate also of the expense of transportation is
much below the actual cost. Besides, there is no provision made for the
support of these helpless beings after their arrival in Africa, until
they could provide for their own wants. Double the cost of
transportation would be required for their subsistence till they could
maintain themselves, without making any provision for implements of



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 20 of 29)