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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and Knapp, for their benevolent exertions in behalf of the oppressed
descendants of Africa; and that they be requested to insert these
proceedings in the Liberator.


DANIEL R. CONDOL, Secretary.


LEWISTOWN, Pa., January 9, 1832.

At a numerous meeting held by the free people of color of the borough of
Lewistown, in the African Methodist Episcopal church, Samuel Johnston
was called to the chair, and Martin Johnston appointed secretary. The
following resolutions were then read, and unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That we will not leave these United States, the land of our
birth, for a home in Africa.

Resolved, That we will strenuously oppose the colonizing of the free
people of color in Liberia.

Resolved, That we are willing to emigrate to any part of the United
States which may be granted to us.

Resolved, That we will support the Liberator, a paper published in
Boston, edited by William Lloyd Garrison; and also the colony in Upper
Canada as an asylum for our oppressed brethren.

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to prepare an address to be
published in the Liberator.

Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the Chairman
and Secretary, and forwarded to the editor of the Liberator for




We, the undersigned, in conformity to the above appointment, beg leave
to present to the public, in a calm and unprejudiced manner, our reasons
for opposing the scheme of African colonization. This is the land of our
birth. The Declaration of Independence declares, that 'all men are born
free and equal:' it does not say that the _white_ man or the _black_ man
is free, - but all, without respect to color, tongues, or nation. We
therefore consider all laws to enslave or degrade the people of color as
contrary to the letter and spirit of this Declaration; and that
according to it we are freemen, and have as indisputable a right to
enjoy our liberty as any white man. To deny it to us, because we differ
in color, is oppression. To say that Africa is our native country is
untrue. Here we were born, and here we mean to die; for all men are born

We wish to return our grateful thanks to our friends, and to the friends
of the abolition of slavery. We consider slavery a national sin, which,
if not speedily overthrown, will cause this nation to mourn and weep;
for God has declared that Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto
him, and he will hear her cry.

We would say to colonizationists that we consider them our foes instead
of our friends. It is vain for them to say that we would do better in
Liberia; for we do not believe it. There is room enough in this country
for us; and if they be our friends, let them meliorate our condition
here. Let them join in the work of immediate abolition of slavery. Let
them wash out the stains which disfigure the national character. And
then let them tell us about Liberia.

One reason why we are opposed to leaving these United States is this:
you have so long denied us the enjoyment and protection of the laws of
God and man in this country, that you wish now to oppress us still more.
But thanks be to Him who holds all things in his hand, we believe He
will plead our cause. Your skirts are already dyed with the blood of
millions of souls. 'Vengeance is mine - I will repay,' saith the Lord.

Awake, ye wolves in sheep's clothing. Your cup is now full. You are
daily causing innocent blood to be shed. How long, ye slavites, ye
kidnappers, ye that traffic in human flesh, will you sleep? When will
you awake to your best interests? For remember that you will not always
be able to hold your victims in servile chains.

J. G. SMITH, }
M. WALKER, } Committee.


NEW-BEDFORD, January 23, 1832.

At a meeting of the people of color in New-Bedford, January 23d, for the
purpose of considering and giving their opinion of the American
Colonization Society, and the actual evil or benefit of that Society to
the objects of its supervision, the free people of color, Mr Richard
Johnson was called to the chair, and Richard G. Overing appointed
secretary. After an address from the chair, it was moved that
resolutions expressive of the views of the meeting, respecting the
Colonization Society, be drawn up, and published in some newspaper not
adverse to the rights and well being of all men, be their color what it
may. The following are the resolves of the meeting:

Resolved, That in whatever light we view the Colonization Society, we
discover nothing in it but terror, prejudice and oppression; that the
warm and beneficent hand of philanthropy is not apparent in the system,
but the influence of the Society on public opinion is more prejudicial
to the interest and welfare of the people of color in the United States,
than slavery itself.

Resolved, That the Society, to effect its purpose, the removal of the
free people of color, (not the slaves) through its agents, teaches the
public to believe that it is patriotic and benevolent to withhold from
us knowledge and the means of acquiring subsistence, and to look upon us
as unnatural and illegal residents in this country; and thus by force of
prejudice, if not by law, endeavor to compel us to embark for Africa,
and that too, apparently, by our own free will and consent.

Resolved, That as great a nuisance as we may be in the estimation of
that Society, we yet have a hope in Him who has seen fit to continue our
existence through days worse than which we do not fear, and which
emboldens us as peaceable citizens, to resolve to abide the issue of
coming days in our native land, in which we ask no more than the age in
which we live demands, and which this nation, as republicans and
christians, should not refuse to grant.

Signed in behalf of the meeting.


R. G. OVERING, Secretary.

The foregoing resolutions and addresses are given in plain, it may be
occasionally in severe language; and display an intensity of feeling, a
depth of abhorrence, and a firmness of purpose, honorable to men who
appreciate their rights and love their country. Before I proceed,
however, to comment upon these important proceedings, I shall make some
quotations from the essays and addresses of colored writers, in order to
sustain my assertion that the American Colonization Society is directly
opposed to the wishes of our free colored population.

'A COLORED BALTIMOREAN'[AH] records his sentiments in the following

'We believe, sirs, that the people of color in the United States
will never be prevailed over to abandon the land of their birth,
and every thing vernacular with them - to forego many advantages
which they now possess, and many more which they have in
prospect, for the imaginary, or if real, the fleeting and
short-lived honors held out to them by our "Americo-African
empire." Why should we exchange a temperate and salubrious
climate, adapted to our constitutions as Americans, for one, to
us, fraught with disease and death? Why should we leave a land
in which the arts and sciences are flourishing, and which is
beginning to yield to our research, for one, where the
irradiating beams of the sun of science have yet to be announced
by the bright star of hope? Why should we leave a land
illuminated with the blaze of gospel light, for one enshrouded
in pagan gloom? Why should we, who are in tolerable
circumstances in America, who enjoy many of the comforts of
life, and are evidently on the advanced march of mind, cast away
these certain, real, and growing advantages, for those which are
precarious and chimerical? Why should we abandon our firesides,
and every thing associated with the dear name of _home_ - undergo
the fatigues of a perilous voyage, and expose ourselves, our
wives, and our little ones, to the deleterious influences of an
uncongenial sun, for the enjoyment of a liberty divested of its
usual accompaniments, surrounded with circumstances which
diminish its intrinsic value, and render it indeed "a dear
earned morsel"? * * * * * *

'But "it is the hope of accomplishing the entire subversion of
the slave trade and Mahometan superstition, and all their
subsidiary concomitants, that has actuated the Christian and
stimulated the philanthropist." Noble objects indeed! And who
are those christians and philanthropists? Our friend tells us,
without distinction, that they are "those noble and heroic men
who have enlisted under the banner of colonization." But how
happens it that some of the most distinguished of these
_christians_ and _philanthropists_ are themselves slaveholders,
and so far abettors of the _slave trade_ as to be actually
guilty of selling into a cruel and interminable vassalage the
hapless victims of their tender mercies? Again, how is it that
none but the free people of color have been chosen to evangelize
Africa? Is it because they are under an exclusive moral
obligation to dispel the "gloom of Mahometan superstition?" Is
it because they are pre-eminently qualified in point of morals
and information for the missionary enterprise? None will say
this. Perhaps we shall be told, that the identity of their color
gives them a decided advantage over every other people. But how
is it that those wicked white men, who are in the habit of
resorting thither for the most nefarious purposes, have access
to these people? And we have not forgotten that during the visit
of the Rev. G. R. McGill, in Baltimore, he informed us that
colored men from the United States, being thought by the natives
to be men of information, are received and treated as white men,
and denominated by the same epithet. Since then it does not
appear that we are pre-eminently qualified for this work, why
should it be pressed upon us? * * * *

'Tell us not that the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, who is
not a respecter of persons, whose "tender mercies are over all
his works," will _never_ elevate us to the dignity of men and
christians, unless we emigrate to Africa. Tell us not that in
this _christian_ country, this "land of the free and home of the
brave," we must _for ever_ remain a degraded and proscribed
race - that we must _for ever_ be treated as the outcasts of
creation. We are aware that this doctrine has been asserted with
all the confidence of inspiration by _some_ of our gospel
ministers. We have heard them proclaim it in a tone calculated
to strengthen the prejudices existing against us. They seem to
forget that there is a superintending providence - that He, who
"sits upon the whirlwind and directs the storm," has ever
manifested himself a friend to the oppressed of every clime.
They seem to forget that the religion of Jesus, wherever it
reigns with unrestrained sway, demolishes every partition wall,
and exterminates out of the heart all those bitter prejudices
which impede the march of the Messiah's kingdom. We should like
to have these prophets give us their ideas in relation to the
millennial reign of Christ. We should like to have them inform
us whether or not the general prejudices and their inseparable
accompaniments, which now lie upon, and operate against us, on
account of our color, will be consistent with this glorious
reign of _peace_, and _love_, and _joy_. Let these ministers
consider that much of our degradation is chargeable to the
indifference (to say the least) that they manifest in regard to
our situation - that if they as patterns of piety hold us at a
distance, it is but natural for the inconsiderate to follow
their example. Let them recollect that while they are making
powerful and irresistible appeals to the humanity of the
American people in behalf of the oppressed of other climes, they
have a people among them whose claims upon their liberality are
paramount to those of any other. Let these ministers tell us how
often they make it their business to visit those portions of
their flocks whose crime is, their color. Nay, one of them said
not long since, to be familiar with the people of color would
destroy his _usefulness_ among the whites. But whether they do
their duty in relation to us or not, we indulge in no fears in
regard to our future condition. We are not distrustful of the
goodness and power of Him who has overruled the evil designs of
those men that first tore our ancestors from their native
shores, who is still overruling, and who will continue to
overrule the designs of all who would treat us as the
offscouring of the earth, because our Creator has not given us a
color as white as their own. If ever there was a people who
could look up to Heaven with unshaken confidence for protection,
it is that people whose sufferings are not the consequences of
their crimes; it is that people whose misfortunes work in them
the graces of faith, patience and hope. And why should we not
cherish these invaluable graces? We are told by high authority,
that "_all things_ shall work together _for good_ to them that
love God" - that "He will give grace and glory, and _no good
thing_ will He _withhold_ from them that walk uprightly." You
see, sirs, we have one straight forward course to pursue - one
marked out by the hand of unerring wisdom. This course we intend
to pursue, without giving ourselves any uneasiness as to the
issue; this we leave to Him who has the administration of the
universe in his hands, and who has declared for our
encouragement, "even the very hairs of your head are all
numbered." Tell us not of the wisdom, and power, and number of
our enemies; He who has given us a hope, which at least makes
our condition tolerable, will say to them, as He did to the
tempestuous billows, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;
and here shall thy proud waves be stayed."'

* * * * * * * * *

'What effect have the evils of slavery in this _happy_ land upon
the mind of the liberal, the unprejudiced, and philanthropic

'Hear him, he will speak for himself: "When I am indulging in my
views of American prospects and American liberty, it is
mortifying to be told that in that very country a large portion
of the people are slaves. It is a dark spot on the face of the
nation. _Such a state of things cannot always exist._" It was a
sight of the evils alluded to, and their inseparable
concomitants, that extorted from the pen of Mr Jefferson that
comprehensive and soul-thrilling sentence - "I tremble for my
country when I reflect that God is just, and that his justice
cannot sleep for ever." But may we not indulge the hope that
the evils spoken of will yet awaken the sympathies of the
American people - soften their cruel prejudices - arouse their
slumbering energies - and produce in them an unconquerable
determination to wash from their "stars and stripes" one of the
blackest spots that ever cursed the globe, or stained the
historic page? Shall we be told that _invincible_ prejudices
render this great desideratum impracticable? And what is this
but a libel upon the American people? What is it but to say,
there is in them a moral incapacity to do justice, love mercy,
and walk uprightly? Colonization orators, designing politicians,
ministers of Jesus, tell me, how can you thus libel your
countrymen? Surely, there is a regenerating, a redeeming spirit
in the land - a spirit transforming misanthropes into
philanthropists - bondmen into freemen - abettors of slavery into
champions of liberty - a spirit that will yet drive from America
the demon of slavery, and render it indeed "the land of the free
and the home of the brave."'[AI]

* * * * * * * *

'I have just found time to notice a few very exceptionable
features of a communication over the signature of "A
Marylander," published, a few days ago, in the American of our
city. The writer is unquestionably entitled to the credit of
being a thorough-going colonizationist. He writes in the _true
spirit_ of the cause. He seems to be under an excitement
produced by the publication of our anti-colonization
resolutions. This being the case, it is not to be expected that
he would, throughout his communication, avail himself of the
guarded, accommodating, and conciliating language usual with
colonization writers and declaimers. After being convinced that
the people of color are not to be persuaded to leave the land of
their birth, and every thing vernacular with them, for "regions"
which he tells us are "now dark as the valley of the shadow of
death," he says, "I would propose then that Maryland should
colonize her own free blacks." He does not add the usual
qualification, "_with their own consent_:" he knows this will
never be obtained. He therefore says: "I earnestly _hope_ that
the time _is now_ come when our state will wake up to all the
importance of this subject, and will instantly commence _a
system of measures_ imperatively demanded by the _sternest_
principles [colonization principles?] of _sound_ policy." We
would tell this precocious statesman that we are not to be
intimidated into colonization "_measures_" by the angry
effusions of his illiberal soul; that we had rather die in
Maryland under the pressure of unrighteous and cruel laws than
be driven, like cattle, to the pestilential clime of Liberia,
where grievous privation, inevitable disease, and premature
death, await us in all their horrors. We are emboldened thus to
speak, not from a reliance on the mere arm of flesh; no - it is
the righteousness of our cause, a knowledge of the attributes of
Deity, combined with a consciousness of innocence under
suffering, that have inspired us with a moral courage which no
oppression shall shake, no fulminations overawe. Our limits will
not permit us to expatiate, at this time, on the import of the
terms, "_a system of measures - the sternest principles_," &c. We
would barely remark that the climax of injustice and cruelty,
here suggested, nay, recommended, is the legitimate fruit of the
operations of the American colonization societies relative to
the free people of color. We have always believed that the
"_system of measures_" here recommended, would be the dernier
resort of these _christian_ associations. The unmerited abuse,
that has been so unsparingly heaped upon us by colonizationists
for expressing our opinions of their project as connected with
our happiness, their manifest determination to effectuate their
object regardless of our consent, abundantly corroborate the
opinion we have long since entertained. We turn, however, from
the contemplation of the persecution and oppression, which, it
seems, are in reserve for us, to notice, briefly, the moving
cause of this virulent and relentless attack upon our rights and
happiness. "The _census just taken_," says A Marylander,
"_admonishes_ us in the strongest manner, of the necessity of
prompt and efficient measures to drain off this description of
our population." Here then is the _patriotic_, the _benevolent_,
the _christian_ principle, by which the colonization societies,
throughout our land, are actuated. This is the selfish policy of
which we complain, and which should be execrated by all _true_
patriots, philanthropists, and christians. Our increase is
represented as an "_alarming evil - an evil_," said one of our
colonization orators in the pulpit, not long since, "which
_threatens_ our very _existence_." Now, if all this be true, how
can they, on their own principles, say we can _never_ be a
people in this country? Surely, they are taking effectual steps
to convince us, that the enjoyment of our rights in this, our
native land, is not only possible, but highly probable. This we
have always believed. And we hope and pray, that it may be
accomplished in a way sanctioned by the gospel of peace:
"without confused noise, or garments rolled in blood." But this
glorious victory over pride and prejudice, by gospel weapons,
will never be accomplished by colonization principles. Nor will
those ministers of the gospel have any part or lot in this
matter, who solemnly declare, in the face of heaven and earth,
that we can _never enjoy, in this country_, those inalienable
rights of man, whose inviolable preservation promotes the
welfare of the whole human family. Such ministers virtually
declare that they do not believe the doctrines they are bound to
preach; that He, from whom they profess to have received their
commission, is, indeed, "a hard man, reaping where he has not
sown, and gathering where he has not strawed;" that He requires
of them and their flocks, that which they are morally incapable
of performing; that they _cannot_ love their neighbor as
themselves, or do unto others what they wish done unto
themselves, because their Lord, in his wisdom, has given some of
their fellow creatures a different color from their own. These
temporising, retrograde reformers are doing a serious injury to
the people of color. They heed not the warning of Heaven: "Do my
people no harm." They are doing more to strengthen the cruel and
unchristian prejudices, already too powerful against us, than
all the slaveholders in the Union. They hesitate not to declare,
that, in America, we are out of the reach of humanity. They seem
to think that the religion of the benevolent Saviour which
enjoins, "_honor all men_," and which explicitly says, "if ye
have _respect to persons_, ye _commit sin_," is nothing more
than a dead letter, or must _for ever_ remain powerless, in the
United States of America. And have these men the face to contend
with the infidels of our land? Why, one infidel, with the bible
in his hands, would "chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand
to flight." But notwithstanding these discouraging
circumstances, our cause will yet triumph. He who is for us, is
stronger than all that are against us. "The rulers" of the land
may "take counsel together," and some of the professed ministers
of Jesus may "come into their secret," but "He that sitteth in
the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision."
Fear not then, my colored countrymen, but press forward, with a
laudable ambition, for all that heaven has intended for you and
your children, remembering that the path of duty is the path of
safety, and that "righteousness" alone "exalteth a nation."'

If excellence of style, a dignified carriage, sound logic, a high and
abiding faith, and fervent piety, confer credit upon a writer, few have
ever better illustrated these traits than 'A COLORED BALTIMOREAN,' or
deserved a nobler tribute of praise. He who would be ashamed to
acknowledge such a man as his countryman and brother, has yet to learn
his own insignificance and what constitutes the majesty of human nature.

The following is an extract of a letter from a colored gentleman of
wealth and respectability in Philadelphia, whose friendship is courted
by honorable men, and whose usefulness is scarcely exceeded by any other

'Is it not preposterous to one, like myself, whose family has
resided in the state of Pennsylvania ever since the great
lawgiver, William Penn, came last to this state from England;
and who fought for the independence of my country, whose
Declaration asserts, that all men are born with free and equal
rights - is it not preposterous to be told that this is not my
country? I was seven months on board of the old Jersey Prison
ship in the year 1780, "the times that tried men's souls;" and
am I now to be told that Africa is my country, by some of those

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 26 of 29)