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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husbandry, mechanics' tools, &c. &c. without which they would all
perish, even without the help of a pestiferous climate. But yet the
table shows at one view the utter futility of the whole scheme of
African Colonization. Slavery can no more be removed by these means than
the waters of the Mississippi can be exhausted by steam engines. And the
removal of slavery is the great consummation to which all benevolent
efforts for benefitting the African race in this country, should
ultimately tend. All schemes that do not promote this end will prove
futile, and will end in disappointment. The axe must be laid to the root
of the corrupt tree. It is a system that admits of no palliation, no
compromise.' - ['Herald of Truth,' Philadelphia.]

[Z] 'Every emigrant to Africa is a _missionary_ carrying with him
credentials in the holy cause of civilization, religion, and free
institutions'!! - [Speech of H. Clay - Tenth Annual Report.] - Why does not
Mr Clay increase this band of _missionaries_, by sending out some of his
own slaves? Is he consistent?

[AA] 'As to the morals of the colonists, I consider them _much better
than those of the people of the United States_. That is, you may take an
equal number of inhabitants from any section of the Union, and you will
find more drunkards, more profane swearers and Sabbath breakers, &c.,
than in Liberia. Indeed I know of no country where things are conducted
more quietly and orderly than in this colony; you rarely hear an oath,
and as to riots or breaches of the peace, I recollect of but one
instance, and that of a trifling nature, that has come under my notice
since I assumed the government of the colony. The Sabbath is more
strictly observed than I ever saw it in the United States.' - [Letter
from J. Mechlin, Jr. Governor of the Colony of Liberia.]

'I saw no intemperance, nor did I hear a profane word uttered by any
one.' [Letter of Capt. William Abels.]

If these statements be a true representation of the moral condition of
the colonists; if 'their morals are much better than those of the people
of the United States;' let us immediately bring back these expatriated
_missionaries_ to civilize and reform ourselves; for, according to our
own confession, we need their instruction and example as much as any
heathen nation. If these 'missionaries,' who, in this country, could
'scarcely be reached in their debasement by the heavenly light;' if
these 'most degraded, most abandoned beings on the earth,' have actually
risen up to this exalted height of intelligence and purity, in so brief
a period after a separation from ourselves, how desperately wicked and
corrupt does the fact make our own conduct appear!

[AB] Of this number, nearly three-fourths were free persons of color. If
the Society is anxious to emancipate the slaves, why does it not confine
its efforts exclusively to their transportation, seeing so many are
offered for that purpose? Doubtless the reply will be - 'O, it is
important, in the incipient state of the colony, to send free persons of
color, because they are more intelligent and virtuous.' Ah! is it so?
What! give the preference to those whom it elsewhere brands as 'more
corrupt, depraved and abandoned than the slaves can be,' and who
'contribute greatly to the _corruption of the slaves_?' 'O!' it may
reply, 'a careful selection is made between the virtuous and
vicious - none are sent whose character is not reputable.' But what is to
become of this choice selection, when it is able (as it hopes to be) to
send off even as many as seventy thousand annually?

[AC] 'The expense of transporting such persons from the United States to
the coast of Africa, has been variously estimated. By those who compute
it at the lowest rate, the mere expense of this transportation has been
estimated at $20 per head. In this estimate, however, is not
comprehended the expense of transporting the persons destined for
Africa, to the port of their departure from the United States, or the
necessary expense of sustaining them, either there or in Africa, for a
reasonable time after their first arrival. All these expenses combined,
the Committee think they estimate very low, when they compute the amount
at $100 per head. It has been estimated by some at double this amount;
and if past experience may be relied upon as proving any thing, the
official documents formerly furnished to the Senate by the Department of
the Navy, show that the expenses attending the transportation of the few
captured slaves who have been returned to Africa by the United States,
at the expense of this government, _far exceeds even the largest
estimate_. But taking the expense to be only what the Committee have
estimated it: Then the sum requisite to transport the whole number of
the free colored population of the United States, would exceed
twenty-eight millions of dollars; and the expense of transporting a
number, equal only to the mere annual increase of this population, would
exceed seven hundred thousand dollars per annum. Sums which would impose
upon the people of this country, an additional burthen of taxation,
greater than this Committee believe they could easily bear; and much
greater than ought to be imposed upon them for any such purpose.' * *
'The annual increase of the slave population, at present, is at least
57,000. Now allow the same sum per head for the transportation of these
persons, that has been estimated for the transportation in the other
similar case; and the sum requisite to defray the expense of the
transportation of all the slaves in the United States, would be one
hundred and ninety millions of dollars; and that requisite to defray the
expense of the transportation of a number only equal to their mere
annual increase, would be five millions seven hundred thousand dollars
per annum. But to either of these sums must be added the reasonable
equivalent, or necessary aid, to be paid by the United States to humane
individuals, in order to induce them voluntarily to part with their
property. The Committee have no 'data' by which they can measure what
this might be. But any sum, however small, will make so great an
augmentation of the amount, as almost to baffle calculation, and to
exhibit this project at once, as one exceeding, very far, indeed, any
revenue which the United States could ever draw from their citizens,
even if the object was to increase and multiply, instead of reducing the
numbers of the class of productive labor.' - [Mr Tazewell's Report - U. S.
Senate, 1828.]

[AD] The following amusing anecdote is a capital illustration of the
folly of those colonizationists, who are endeavoring to suppress the
rising tide of our colored population by extracting a few drops annually
with their 'mop and pattens.' Dame Partington is clearly outdone by
them, in regard to pertinacity of purpose and feebleness of execution.
Rev. Sidney Smith, in his speech at the Taunton meeting, (England,)

'The attempt of the House of Lords to stop the progress of Reform,
reminded him of the conduct of the excellent Mrs. Partington, during the
great storm at Sidmouth, in 1824. The tide rose to an incredible height;
the waves rushed in upon the houses, and every thing was threatened with
destruction. In the midst of the fearful commotion of the elements, Dame
Partington, who lived upon the sea beach, was seen at the door of her
house, with mop and pattens, trundling her mop and sweeping out the sea
water, and vigorously pushing back the Atlantic. The Atlantic was
roused, and so was Mrs. Partington; but the contest was unequal. The
Atlantic beat Mrs. Partington. She was excellent at a slop or a puddle,
but she could do nothing with a tempest.'





If the American Colonization Society were indeed actuated by the purest
motives and the best feelings toward the objects of its supervision; if
it were not based upon injustice, fraud, persecution and incorrigible
prejudice; still if its purposes be contrary to the wishes and injurious
to the interests of the free people of color, it ought not to receive
the countenance of the public. Even the trees of the forest are keenly
susceptible to every touch of violence, and seem to deprecate
transplantation to a foreign soil. Even birds and animals pine in exile
from their native haunts; their local attachments are wonderful; they
migrate only to return again at the earliest opportunity. Perhaps there
is not a living thing, from the hugest animal down to the minutest
animalcule, whose pleasant associations are not circumscribed, or that
has not some favorite retreats. This universal preference, this love of
_home_, seems to be the element of being, - a constitutional attribute
given by the all-wise Creator to bind each separate tribe or community
within intelligent and well-defined limits: for, in its absence, order
would be banished from the world, collision between the countless
orders of creation would be perpetual, and violence would depopulate the
world with more than pestilential rapidity.

Shall it be said that beings endowed with high intellectual powers,
sustaining the most important relations, created for social enjoyments,
and made but a little lower than the angels - shall it be said that their
local attachments are less tenacious than those of trees, and birds, and
beasts, and insects? I know that the blacks are classed, by some, who
scarcely give any evidence of their own humanity but their shape, among
the brute creation: but are they _below_ the brutes? or are they more
insensible to rude assaults than forest-trees?

'Men,' says an erratic but powerful writer[AE] - 'men are like trees:
they delight in a rude [and native] soil - they strike their roots
downward with a perpetual effort, and heave their proud branches upward
in perpetual strife. Are they to be removed? - you must tear up the very
earth with their roots, rock and ore and impurity, or they perish. They
cannot be translated with safety. Something of their home - a little of
their native soil, must cling to them forever, or they die.'

This love of home, of neighborhood, of country, is inherent in the human
breast. It accompanies the child from its earliest reminiscence up to
old age: it is written upon every tangible and permanent object within
the habitual cognizance of the eye - upon stone, and tree, and
rivulet - upon the green hill, and the verdant plain, and the opulent
valley - upon house, and garden, and steeple-spire - upon the soil,
whether it be rough or smooth, sandy or hard, barren or luxuriant.

'Like ivy, where it grows, 'tis seen
To wear an everlasting green.'

The man who does not cherish it is regarded as destitute of sensibility;
and to him is applied by common consent the burning rebuke of Sir Walter

'Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.'

Whose bosom does not thrill with pleasurable emotion whenever he listens
to that truest, sweetest, tenderest effusion, - 'Home, sweet home?'

''Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek thro' the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
Home - home!
Sweet, sweet home!
_There's no place like home!_

'An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain -
O give me my lowly thatched cottage again;
The birds singing gaily that came at my call -
Give me them, with the peace of mind dearer than all!
Home - home!
Sweet, sweet home!
_There's no place like home!_'

No one will understand me to maintain that population should never be
thinned by foreign emigration; but only that such an emigration is
unnatural. The great mass of a neighborhood or country must necessarily
be stable: only fractions are cast off and float away on the tide of
adventure. Individual enterprise or estrangement is one thing: the
translation of an entire people to an unknown clime, another. The former
may be moved by a single impulse - by a love of novelty, or a desire of
gain, or a hope of preferment: he leaves no perceptible void in
society. The latter can never be expatriated but by some extraordinary
calamity, or by the application of intolerable restraints. They must
first be rendered broken-hearted or loaded with chains - hope must not
merely sicken but die - cord after cord must be sundered - ere they will
seek another home. Our pilgrim-fathers were driven out from the mother
country by ecclesiastical domination: to worship God according to the
dictates of their own consciences, was the only cause of their exile.
Had they been permitted to enjoy this sacred right, - no matter how great
were their temporal privations, or their hopes of physical
enjoyments, - they would not have perilled their lives on the stormy
deep, to obtain an asylum in this western hemisphere.

It may be said, in reply to the foregoing remarks upon the love of home
and of country, that the people of color cannot cherish this abhorrence
of migration, because here they have no 'continuing city,' and are not
recognised as fellow-countrymen. In PART I., I have shown, by copious
extracts, that colonizationists artfully represent them as aliens and
foreigners, wanderers from Africa - destitute of that _amor patriæ_,
which is the bond of union - seditious - without
alliances - irresponsible - unambitious - cherishing no attachment to the
soil - feeling no interest in our national prosperity - ready for any
adventure - eager to absent themselves from the land - malignant in their
feelings towards society - incapable of local preference - content to
remain in ignorance and degradation - &c. &c. &c.

Every such representation is a libel, as I shall show in subsequent
pages. The language of the people of color is, - 'This is our country:
here were we born - here will we live and die - we know of no other place
that we can call our true and appropriate home - here are our earliest
and most pleasant associations - we are freemen, we are brethren, we are
countrymen and fellow-citizens - we are not for insurrection, but for
peace and equality.' This is not the language of sedition or alienated
affection. Their _amor patriæ_ is robust and deathless: like the oak,
tempests do but strengthen its roots and confer victory upon it. Even
the soil on which the unhappy slave toils and bleeds, is to him
consecrated earth.

African colonization is directly and irreconcileably opposed to the
wishes of our colored population as a body. Their desires ought to be
tenderly regarded. In all my intercourse with them in various towns and
cities, I have never seen one of their number who was friendly to this
scheme - and I have not been backward in canvassing their opinions on
this subject. They are as unanimously opposed to a removal to Africa, as
the Cherokees from the council-fires and graves of their fathers. It is
remarkable, too, that they are as united in their respect and esteem for
the republic of Hayti. But _this is their country_ - they are resolute
against every migratory plot, and willing to rely on the justice of the
nation for an ultimate restoration to all their lost rights and
privileges. What is the fact? Through the instrumentality of BENJAMIN
LUNDY,[AF] the distinguished and veteran champion of emancipation, a
great highway has been opened to the Haytien republic, over which our
colored population may travel _toll free_, and at the end of their brief
journey be the free occupants of the soil, and meet such a reception as
was never yet given to any sojourners in any country, since the
departure of Israel into Egypt. One would think, that, with such
inducements and under such circumstances, this broad thoroughfare would
present a most animating spectacle; that the bustle and roar of a
journeying multitude would fall upon the ear like the strife of the
ocean, or the distant thunder of the retiring storm; and that the song
of the oppressor and the oppressed, a song of deliverance to each, would
go up to heaven, till its echoes were seemingly the responses of angels
and justified spirits. But it is not so. Only here and there a traveller
is seen to enter upon the road - there is no noise of preparation or
departure; but a silence, deeper than the breathlessness of midnight,
rests upon our land - not a shout of joy is heard throughout our

How shall we account for this amazing apathy but on the ground that our
colored population are unwilling to leave their native homes, no matter
how strong soever are the inducements held out to them abroad?

If it be said that they are not compelled to emigrate against their
wishes - I answer, it is true that direct _physical force_ is not
applied; but why are they induced to remove? Is it because they
instinctively prefer Africa to their native country? Do they actually
_court_ the perils of the sea, - the hostilities of a savage tribe, - the
sickening influences of an African climate? Or are they not peremptorily
assured that they never can, _and never shall_, enjoy their rights and
privileges at home - and thus absolutely compelled to leave all that is
dear behind, and to seek a shelter in a strange land - a land of darkness
and cruelty, of barbarism and wo?

The free people of color, and even the slaves, have on numerous
occasions given ocular demonstration of their attachment to this
country. Large numbers of them were distinguished for their patient
endurance, their ardent devotion, and their valorous conduct during our
revolutionary struggle. In the last war, they signalized themselves in a
manner which extorted the applause even of their calumniators - of many
who are doubtless at the present day representing them as seditious and
inimical to the prosperity of the country. I have before me a
Proclamation in the French language, issued by General Andrew Jackson,
of which the following is a translation:


'Soldiers! - When on the banks of the Mobile, I called you to
take up arms, inviting you to partake the perils and glory of
your white fellow citizens, _I expected much from you_; for I
was not ignorant that you possessed qualities most formidable to
an invading enemy. I knew with what fortitude you could endure
hunger and thirst, and all the fatigues of a campaign. _I knew
well how you loved your_ NATIVE _country_, and that you had, as
well as ourselves, to defend what man holds most dear - his
parents, relations, wife, children and property. YOU HAVE DONE
MORE THAN I EXPECTED. In addition to the previous qualities I
before knew you to possess, I found, moreover, among you _a
noble enthusiasm_ which leads to the performance of great

'Soldiers! - The President of the United States shall hear how
praiseworthy was your conduct in the hour of danger, and the
Representatives of the American people will, I doubt not, give
you the praise your exploits entitle you to. _Your General
anticipates them in applauding your noble ardor._

'The enemy approaches; his vessels cover our lakes; our brave
citizens are united, and all contention has ceased among them.
Their only dispute is, who shall win the prize of valor, or who
the most glory, its noblest reward.

'By order.

'THOMAS BUTLER, _Aid de Camp_.'

In commenting upon the above Proclamation, an intelligent writer in the
New-Orleans 'LIBERALIST' of March 15, 1830, very expressively
remarks: - 'Those who served in the memorable campaign of 1814 will know
if the hero of the west was guilty of exaggeration. Just as fatal as was
every glance of his keen eye to the English lines, so is every word of
this Proclamation a killing thunderbolt to the detractors of this
portion of our fellow beings, now so inhumanly persecuted.' Yes - when
peril rears its crest, and invasion threatens our shores, then prejudice
is forgotten and the tongue of detraction is still - then the people of
color are no longer brutes or a race between men and monkeys, no longer
turbulent or useless, no longer aliens and wanderers from Africa - but
they are complimented as intelligent, patriotic citizens from whom much
is expected, and who have property, home and country at stake! Ay, and
richly do they merit this compliment.

A respectable colored gentleman in the city of New-York, referring to
this famous Proclamation, makes the following brief comment: 'When we
could be of any use to the army, we possessed all the cardinal virtues;
but now that time has passed, we forsooth are the most miserable,
worthless beings the Lord in his wise judgment ever sent to curse the
rulers of this troublesome world! I feel an anathema rising from my
heart, but I have suppressed it.'

How black is the ingratitude, how pitiful the hypocrisy, manifested in
our conduct as a people, toward our colored population! Every cheek
should wear the blush of shame - every head be bowed in self-abasement!

From the organization of the American Colonization Society, down to the
present time, the free people of color have publicly and repeatedly
expressed their opposition to it. They indignantly reject every overture
for their expatriation. It has been industriously circulated by the
advocates of colonization, that I have caused this hostility to the
African scheme in the bosoms of the blacks; and that, until the
Liberator was established, they were friendly to it. This story is
founded upon sheer ignorance. It is my solemn conviction that I have not
proselyted a dozen individuals; for the very conclusive reason that no
conversions were necessary. Their sentiments were familiar to me long
before they knew my own. My opponents abundantly overrate my influence,
in acknowledging that I have overthrown, in a single year, the
concentrated energies of the mightiest men in the land, and the
perpetual labors of fifteen years. They shall not make me vain. Such a
concession affords substantial evidence of perverted strength and
misapplied exertion.

If the people of color were instantly to signify their willingness to
emigrate, my hostility to the American Colonization Society would
scarcely abate one jot: for their assent could never justify the
principles and doctrines propagated by the Society. Those principles and
doctrines have been shown, I trust, to be corrupt, selfish,
proscriptive, opposed to the genius of republicanism and to the spirit
of christianity.

The first public demonstration of hostility to the colonization scheme
was made in 1817, by the free colored inhabitants of Richmond, Virginia.
The proceedings of their meeting, copies of which were printed for
distribution, I have accidentally mislaid. To the sentiments of the
people of color, as expressed in the following pages, I cannot too
earnestly solicit the serious attention of every good man and true
philanthropist. After such an exhibition, persistance in expelling this
portion of our population from our shores must be productive of
aggravated guilt and the most dreadful collisions.


PHILADELPHIA, January, 1817.

At a numerous meeting of the people of color, convened at Bethel church,
to take into consideration the propriety of remonstrating against the
contemplated measure, that is to exile us from the land of our nativity;
James Forten was called to the chair, and Russell Parrott appointed
secretary. The intent of the meeting having been stated by the chairman,
the following resolutions were adopted, without one dissenting voice.

Whereas our ancestors (not of choice) were the first successful
cultivators of the wilds of America, we their descendants feel ourselves
entitled to participate in the blessings of her luxuriant soil, which
their blood and sweat manured; and that any measure or system of
measures, having a tendency to banish us from her bosom, would not only

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 21 of 29)