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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the 24th chapter of Proverbs.

In support of the sentiments thus expressed, it becomes necessary that
our reasons should accompany them, why we object to the plan of dragging
us to Africa - a country to us unknown, except by geography. In the first
place, we are told that Africa is our native country; consequently the
climate will be more congenial to our health. We readily deny the
assertion. How can a man be born in two countries at the same time? Is
not the position superficial to suppose that American born citizens are
Africans? In regard to the climate, what better proof do we want of its
salubrity, than to know that of the numerous bodies who have embarked, a
large portion of them have immediately fallen victims, on their arrival,
to the pestilence usual to that place?

It is again said, that the establishment of a colony on the coast of
Africa will prevent the slave trade. We might as well argue, that a
watchman in the city of Boston would prevent thievery in New-York, or
any other place; or that the custom-house officers there would prevent
goods being smuggled into any other port of the United States.

We are aware, that such an unnecessary expense devoted to the
application of a remedy so far from the disease, is absolutely contrary
to common sense. We are sensible that the moral disease, _slavery_, is
in America, and not in Africa. If there was no market for the vending of
slaves, there would be no inducement for the thief to steal them. The
remedy for this evil, we humbly conceive, consists of three general
prescriptions, viz. 1st. Let him who stealeth obey the word of God, and
steal no more. 2d. Let him who hath encouraged the thief by purchase,
(and consequently is a partaker with him,) do so no more. 3rd. Let the
clerical physicians, who have encouraged, and are encouraging, both the
thief and the receiver, by urging their influence to the removal of the
means of their detection, desist therefrom, and with their mighty weight
of influence step into the scale of justice: then will be done away this
horrible traffic in blood.

From the above considerations, we sincerely recommend to our white
countrymen honor and humanity, which will render useless the
transportation of the colored population to the coast of Africa, it
being altogether gratuitous and uncalled for.

We proceed to offer several objections to the operation alluded to - one
is, the circumstance of the project originating with those who were
deeply interested in slavery, and who hold slaves as their property. We
consider the fact no evidence of the innocence of its design. We further
object, because its members admit slavery to be an evil, and use no
means to destroy it; but are exerting all their influence to urge every
free person of color to Africa, (whose right to this soil holds good
with any other citizen,) thereby rivetting the chains of slavery
stronger than ever upon their oppressed brethren.

Again we object, because the whole spring of action seems to originate
in the fear lest the free colored people may whisper liberty in the ears
of the oppressed. We would suggest, however, that they who are fond of
liberty should not be annoyed at its sound, from whatever source it may

Again we object, on the ground of there being sufficient land in the
United States, on which a colony might be established that would better
meet the wishes of the colored people, and at a much cheaper rate than
could possibly be done by sending them to a howling wilderness far away,
and to them unknown.

One of the leaders of the newly formed Society argued that in case a
colony was formed for the blacks in the United States, they would in a
short time be removed, as has been the case with the poor Indians. To
obviate this objection, we here inform him that Hayti will hold all the
slaves he will send her; and as for the free people, we expect they can
go where they please, either to Africa, Hayti or Upper Canada, or remain
at home, without asking the consent of a slaveholding party. Nor can we
conceive why free citizens, acting this liberty, should interfere with
them, if they are - as they have represented themselves to be - honest and
benevolent men. We conceive that the question in view stands in two
distinct points - the removal of the free colored population from this
country, or the acknowledgment of them as citizens. The former position
must be acknowledged, on all sides, a means of perpetuating slavery in
our land; the latter, of abolishing it; consequently it may be seen who
are for the well-being of their country.

We regret that our interest has thus drawn us before the public, on
account of the regard we entertain towards many of our warmest friends
who have been deceived by a cloak of philanthropy, smooth words, and a
sanctified appearance. We remind them, however, that the blood of Abel
is beginning to be heard by many who are willing to acknowledge that
they hear it.

We cannot close our duty without gratefully acknowledging the respect we
entertain for those who have defended our cause with more than Spartan
courage. It is the opinion of your committee, that they are to be
respected as our countrymen, our brethren, and our fellow citizens - not
to say they are to be applauded as men, whose great acts are based upon
the acclamation of their fellow men; but rather let us hold up their
hands, and let their works praise them. We shall only add an expression
of our hopes, that the Spirit of Liberty, recently awakened in the old
world, may redouble its thundering voice, until every tyrant is seized
with a Belshazzar tremble at the hand-writing upon the wall of his
corrupt palace.

In addition to the above, your committee submit the following
resolutions for your acceptance.

Resolved, That this meeting contemplate, with lively interest, the rapid
progress of the sentiments of liberty among our degraded brethren, and
that we will legally oppose every operation that may have a tendency to
perpetuate our present political condition.

Resolved, That this meeting look upon the American Colonization Society
as a clamorous, abusive and peace-disturbing combination.

Resolved, That this meeting look upon the conduct of those clergymen,
who have filled the ears of their respective congregations with the
absurd idea of the necessity of removing the free colored people from
the United States, as highly deserving the just reprehension directed to
the false prophets and priests, by Jeremiah the true prophet, as
recorded in the 23d chapter of his prophecy.

Resolved, That this meeting appeal to a generous and enlightened public
for an impartial hearing relative to the subject of our present
political condition.

Resolved, That the gratitude of this meeting, which is so sensibly felt,
be fully expressed to those editors whose independence of mind and
correct views of the rights of man have led them so fearlessly to speak
in favor of our cause; that we rejoice to behold in them such a strong
desire to extend towards us the inestimable blessing in the gift of a
wise Providence which is demanded by all nature, and for which their
veteran fathers struggled in the revolution.




BALTIMORE, March 21, 1831.

At a respectable meeting of persons of color, convened, pursuant to
public notice, for the purpose of expressing their sentiments in regard
to the pretensions of the American Colonization Society, William
Douglass was called to the chair, and William Watkins appointed
secretary. The object of the call having been explicitly stated, the
meeting immediately proceeded to the consideration of the following
resolutions, which were unanimously adopted: - On motion,

Resolved, That it is the belief of this meeting, that the American
Colonization Society is founded more in a selfish policy, than in the
true principles of benevolence; - and, therefore, so far as it regards
the life-giving spring of its operations, is not entitled to our
confidence, but should be viewed by us with all that caution and
distrust which our happiness demands.

Resolved, That we are not insensible to the means usually employed by
that Society, and its auxiliaries, to effectuate our removal - that we
sincerely deprecate their gratuitous and illiberal attacks upon, and
their too frequently exaggerated statements of our moral standing in the
community - that such means are unworthy of a magnanimous people, and of
a virtuous and noble cause.

Resolved, That we consider the land in which we were born, and in which
we have been bred, our only '_true and appropriate home_,' - and that
when _we_ desire to remove, we will apprise the public of the same, in
due season.

Resolved, That we are deeply sensible that many of our warm and sincere
friends have espoused the colonization system, from the purest
motives, - and that we sincerely regret their efforts to ameliorate our
condition are not more in accordance with our wishes.

Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be published in the daily
papers of this city, signed by the Chairman and Secretary.




WASHINGTON, May 4, 1831.

Pursuant to previous notice, a large and very respectable meeting of the
colored citizens of Washington, D. C., convened at the African Methodist
Episcopal church on Wednesday evening last, for the purpose of
expressing their views upon the subject of African colonization. Mr John
W. Prout was called to the chair, and Arthur Waring was appointed

The chairman briefly explained the object of the meeting, in a short
speech well adapted to the occasion, which was followed by several neat
and very appropriate addresses delivered by sundry gentlemen present.

The following preamble and resolutions were offered and adopted, nearly

Whereas we consider that the period has arrived for the colored citizens
of this place to express their opinion upon the subject of colonization
in Liberia; a subject of great importance to themselves, as well as to
the colored citizens of the United States generally; and whereas our
brethren at a distance are desirous of obtaining information relative to
the object and policy pursued by the American Colonization Society:
Therefore, be it

Resolved, That this meeting view with distrust the efforts made by the
Colonization Society to cause the free people of color of these United
States to emigrate to Liberia on the coast of Africa, or elsewhere.

Resolved, That it is the declared opinion of the members of this
meeting, that the soil which gave them birth is their only _true and
veritable home_, and that it would be impolitic, unwise and improper for
them to leave their home without the benefits of education.

Resolved, That this meeting conceive that among the advocates of the
colonization system, they have many true and sincere friends; and do
regret that their actions, although prompted no doubt by the purest
motives, do not meet our approbation.

Resolved, That we believe the PRESS to be the most efficient means of
disseminating light and knowledge among our brethren; and that this
meeting do acknowledge with gratitude the efforts made in our behalf, by
the editors of the Genius of Universal Emancipation, and the
Liberator; - and do most earnestly recommend their respective papers to
our brethren generally, for their approval and support.

Resolved, That the foregoing resolutions be signed by the Chairman and
Secretary, and published.

JOHN W. PROUT, Chairman.



BROOKLYN, (N. Y.) June 3, 1831.

At a numerous and respectable meeting of the colored inhabitants of the
village and township of Brooklyn, convened in the African Hall,
Nassau-street, for the purpose of taking into consideration our views in
relation to the Colonization Society -

The throne of grace was addressed by the Rev. Mr Hogarth, after which
Henry C. Thompson was called to the chair, and George Hogarth appointed

Appropriate addresses were delivered by Messrs George Hogarth, James
Pennington, and George Woods. The following resolutions were then
adopted: -

Resolved, unanimously, That the call of this meeting be approved of; and
that the colored citizens of this village have, with friendly feelings,
taken into consideration the objects of the American Colonization
Society, together with all its auxiliary movements, preparatory for our
removal to the coast of Africa; and we view them as wholly gratuitous,
not called for by us, and not essential to the real welfare of our race:
That we know of no other country in which we can justly claim or demand
our rights as citizens, whether civil or political, but in these United
States of America, our native soil: And, that we shall be active in our
endeavors to convince the members of the Colonization Society, and the
public generally, that we are _men_, that we are _brethren_, that we are
_countrymen_ and _fellow-citizens_, and demand an equal share of
protection from our federal government with any other class of citizens
in the community.

It was also Resolved, That the following persons, viz.: James
Pennington, Henry C. Thompson, and George Woods, be appointed a
committee to draft an address to the public, expressing our views more
fully in relation to the Colonization Society; and that a delegate be
appointed to proceed to the city of Philadelphia, to represent us in the
ensuing convention, (which will commence its sitting the 6th inst.) to
co-operate with the measures that may then be adopted for the general
welfare of our race.



_Address to the Colored Citizens of Brooklyn, (N. Y.) and its Vicinity._

Respected brethren, and fellow-citizens: - As men and as christians,
whose secular and eternal interests are the same, we are seriously
called upon by truth and reason, and every thing of which human action
is composed, to take into consideration the objects of the American
Colonization Society; which aims to remove us, the free people of color,
from this, our beloved and native land, to the coast of Africa; a
country unknown to us in every respect.

As they propose to remove us with our own free will and consent, we do
not contradict the assertion, that their objects, in the abstract, are
salutary and benevolent; but when we hear those influential gentlemen,
who are advocating this cause, generalize by language directly
calculated to increase that prejudice, which is already one grand reason
of our wretchedness, we are moved by a spirit of reliance upon justice
and humanity, to lift our positive and decided voice against their
proceedings; and consider them as a stigma upon our morals as a people,
as natives and citizens of this country, to whom equal rights are
guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence.

When we consider that by abridging men in their moral liberty, we touch
their responsibility to the highest authority in the universe, we should
shudder at the thought of retaining such feelings as would lead to any
irreligious or impolitic acts; nor should we be willing to yield one
particle of ours to others, unless it be on the ground of expediency,
and in some way conducive to the glory of God.

We are sorry to say that those gentlemen have injured their cause, and
perhaps caused much good to be evil spoken of, by making use of improper
language, in their discussions upon our character and condition in this
country; without using one effort to improve or prepare us for the posts
of honor and distinction which they hold forth to us, whenever we set
foot on this much talked of, and long expected promised land. We would
ask the Colonization Society, what are they doing at home to improve our
condition? It is a true proverb, that 'charity begins at home.' How can
they extend their charities with christian sympathies and feeling some
thousand miles across the Atlantic ocean, when they are not willing,
with a few exceptions, to give us even a christian instruction while
among them? To prove the assertion, we would inquire, how many of our
sable brethren have been elevated to any post of distinction in this
country? Even in states, where our numbers have almost doubled, have we
seen one statesman, one officer, or one juror? No! in our village and
its vicinity, how many of us have been educated in colleges, and
advanced into different branches of business; or taken into mercantile
houses, manufacturing establishments, &c.? Are we not even prohibited
from some of the common labor and drudgery of the streets, such as
cartmen, porters, &c.? It is a strange theory to us, how these gentlemen
can promise to honor and respect us in Africa, when they are using every
effort to exclude us from all rights and privileges at home.

They say, 'that those of our friends, who look for the day when we shall
have equal rights in this country, are mistaken.' May we not accept it
as an assurance, that they will do all they can to prevent us from
arriving to any degree of respectability at home, in our own land? Away
then with such false sympathies and friendships! they are as foreign to
us as the coast of Africa!

We truly believe, that many gentlemen who are engaged in the
Colonization Society are our sincere friends and well-wishers; they
wish to do something for us, consequently they have subscribed largely
to it, because there was no other plan on foot. Some of them have been
deluded into its schemes, with a view of thoroughly civilizing and
christianizing Africa, by our free people of color and emancipated
slaves, who may, from time to time, be colonized on its coasts, with
their consent. We conceive that such measures are fraught with
inconsistency, and in no way calculated to have such an effect. To send
a parcel of uninstructed, uncivilized, and unchristianized people, to
the western coast of Africa, with bibles in their hands to teach the
natives the truths of the gospel, social happiness, and moral virtue, is
mockery and ridicule in the extreme.

Missionary families should be well instructed in the rudiments of our
holy religion, that their example may shine forth as lights in that much
neglected and benighted land. We are much in favor of christianizing
Africa; but not according to the plans of the Colonization Society, to
purchase their lands of them, with a few paltry guns, beads, &c., and
then establish forts and garrisons, to protect traders and traffickers,
without, perhaps, once naming the religion of Jesus to them. We well
know that the examples of traders and traffickers are in no way
calculated to induce heathens to embrace our religion. For example, we
will refer to the early settlements of our American colonies, and
inquire what religious impressions did the settlers make (who were wise
and learned from Europe) upon the aborigines of our country? We believe
that a few men, well instructed and possessing a true missionary spirit,
are calculated to do more good in that country, than a thousand on the
colonization plan.

Many wish us to go to Africa, because they say that our constitutions
are better adapted to that climate than this. If so, we would ask why so
many of our hearty, hale and healthy brethren, on arriving in that
country, fall victims to the malignant fevers and disorders, prevalent
in those regions? We would observe, that none are exempt from being
touched with the contagion. It operates more severely upon those from
the higher latitudes.

Some of our brethren have come to the conclusion to leave this country,
with all its prejudices, and seek an asylum in foreign climes. We would
recommend to your serious consideration, the location in Upper Canada; a
place far better adapted to our constitutions, our habits, and our
morals; where prejudice has not such an unlimited sway; where you will
be surrounded by Christians, and have an opportunity to become civilized
and christianized.

Brethren, it is time for us to awake to our interests; for the
Colonization Society is straining every nerve for the accomplishment of
its objects. By their last publications we see, that they have invoked
all Christian assemblies and churches throughout the Union, to exert
their influence, by raising subscriptions to send us (the strangers
within their gates, as they call us) to the coast of Africa. They have
got the consent of eleven states, who have instructed their senators to
do something in the next Congress for our removal. Maryland calls
imperatively on the general government to send us away, or else they
will colonize their own free blacks. They have, by their influence,
stopped the emancipation of slaves in a measure, except for colonization

We owe a tribute of respect to the state of New-York, for her not having
entered into the confederacy. Though she is the last in proclaiming
general emancipation to the slave, yet we find her slow in adopting any
such unchristian measures. We may well say, she is deliberate in her
councils, and determinate in her resolutions.

Finally, brethren, we are not strangers; neither do we come under the
alien law. Our constitution does not call upon us to become naturalized;
we are already American citizens; our fathers were among the first that
peopled this country; their sweat and their tears have been the means,
in a measure, of raising our country to its present standing. Many of
them fought, and bled, and died for the gaining of her liberties; and
shall we forsake their tombs, and flee to an unknown land? No! let us
remain over them and weep, until the day arrive when Ethiopia shall
stretch forth her hands to God. We were born and nurtured in this
Christian land; and are surrounded by christians, whose sacred creed is,
to do unto all men as ye would they should do unto you - to love our
neighbors as ourselves; and which expressly declares, if we have respect
to persons, we commit sin. Let us, brethren, invoke the christian's God,
in our behalf, to do away the prejudices of our brethren, that they may
adopt the solemn truths of the gospel, and acknowledge that God is no
respecter of persons - that he has made of one blood all the nations that
dwell on the face of the earth - that they may no longer bring their
reasonings in contact with the omniscience of Deity; and insinuate to
the public, that our intellect and faculties are measurably inferior to
those of our fairer brethren. Because adversity has thrown a veil over
us, and we, whom God has created to worship, admire and adore his divine
attributes, shall we be held in a state of wretchedness and degradation,
with monkeys, baboons, slaves, and cattle, because we possess a darker

We feel it our duty ever to remain true to the constitution of our
country, and to protect it, as we have always done, from foreign
aggressions. Although more than three hundred thousand of us are
virtually deprived of the rights and immunities of citizens, and more
than two millions held in abject slavery, yet we know that God is just,
and ever true to his purpose. Before him the whole world stands in awe,
and at his command nations must obey. HE who has lately pleaded the
Indian's cause in our land, and who has brought about many signal
events, to the astonishment of our generation, we believe is in the
whirlwind, and will soon bring about the time when the sable sons of
America will join with their fairer brethren, and re-echo liberty and
equal rights in all parts of Columbia's soil.

We pray the Lord to hasten the day, when prejudice, inferiority,
degradation and oppression shall be done away, and the kingdoms of this
world become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ.

Signed in behalf of a public meeting in Brooklyn.

H. C. THOMPSON, Chairman.



HARTFORD, Ct., July 14, 1831.

At a large and respectable meeting of the colored inhabitants of the
city of Hartford and its vicinity, convened at the vestry room of the
African church, on the 13th inst. for the purpose of expressing their
views in relation to the American Colonization Society, Mr Henry Foster
was called to the chair, and Mr Paul Drayton appointed secretary. The
object of the meeting was then stated in a brief and pertinent manner,
after which extracts from several speeches delivered by the founders 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 23 of 29)