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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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 27 of 29)
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whose birth-place is unknown? Is it not a contradiction to say
that a man is an alien to the country in which he was born? To
separate the blacks from the whites is as impossible, as to bale
out the Delaware with a bucket. I have always been decidedly of
opinion, that if the Colonization Society would take but half
the pains to improve the children of color in their own country,
and expend but half the money that they are devoting to
accomplish their visionary scheme of christianizing Africa, by
offering premiums to master mechanics to take them as
apprentices, they would do more to destroy prejudice than any
thing else. When I look at this globe, containing eight or nine
hundred millions of inhabitants, and see that they differ in
color from the frozen to the temperate and torrid zones, and
that every thing is variegated, I am astonished that any man
should be so prejudiced against his fellow-man; but we pray for
the aid of the Almighty to take the scales from their eyes; and
that the Liberator may be one of the instruments in commencing
the work.'[AJ]

'I would ask some of our pretended white friends, and the
members of the American Colonization Society, why they are so
interested in our behalf as to want us to go to Africa? They
tell us that it is our home; that they desire to make a people
of us, which we can never be here; that they want Africa
civilized; and that we are the very persons to do it, as it is
almost impossible for any white person to exist there. I deny
it. Will some of those guardian angels of the people of color
tell me how it is that we, who were born in the same city or
state with themselves, can live any longer in Africa than they?
I consider it the most absurd assertion that any man of common
sense could make, unless it is supposed, as some have already
said, that we are void of understanding. If we had been born on
that continent, the transportation would be another matter; but
as the fact is the reverse, we consider the United States our
home, and not Africa as they wish to make us believe; - and if we
do emigrate, it will be to a place of our own choice.

'I would also mention to the supporters of the Colonization
Society, that if they would spend half the time and money that
they do, in educating the colored population and giving them
lands to cultivate here, and secure to them all the rights and
immunities of freemen, instead of sending them to Africa, it
would be found, in a short time, that they made as good citizens
as the whites. Their traducers would hear of fewer murders,
highway robberies, forgeries, &c. &c. being committed, than they
do at present among some of the white inhabitants of this

'Colonization principles, abstractly considered, are
unobjectionable; but the means employed for their propagation,
we think, are altogether objectionable. We are deprived of our
birthright, and pointed by the colonization partisans to another
country as a home. They speak of the prejudices which exist
against us, as an insuperable hindrance to the improvement of
our situation here. We are sickened by the constant reiteration
of "_extraneous mass_," "_African inferiority_," &c. which tends
immediately to justify the slaveholder in his crime, and
increase already existing prejudice. The Colonization Society
never will effect the removal of slavery. The God of justice
will never, in my opinion, let this nation off so easily. It is
in vain to hold back. The eyes of all will ultimately be opened
to see that nothing but universal emancipation can possibly
avert impending wrath.'[AL]

'How long, oh! ye boasters of freedom, will ye endeavor to
persuade us, your derided, degraded fellow countrymen, to the
belief that our interest and happiness are prized in high
estimation among you? Be it known, that we are not all such
misguided, deluded mortals as to be duped by your plans; that we
will not suffer ourselves to become so infatuated as to "hurl
reason from her throne," and succumb to your glittering, showy,
_dissimulating_ path to eminence. We spurn with contempt your
unrighteous schemes, and point the finger of derision at your
fruitless attempts. You have commenced them in a day, when
liberty, justice and equality are claimed by almost all, as
nature's rights; for behold! a beam of science, lucid as the
sun, has divinely fallen upon the lightless intellects of a
portion of that ignoble part of your fellow creatures, who have
been so long the victims of your fell injustice and inhumanity.
Would to God that conscience might subdue your malignant
prejudices. Tell us not that our condition can never be bettered
in the land of our birth: you know it not. Make but the attempt
in consecrating a portion of your time, talents and money upon
us here, and you would soon find the cause of Afric's injured
race vindicated by her descendants; and the day which now dawns
would be speedily ushered into blazing light, declaring in its
effulgence the joyful sound of Liberty - Justice - Equality, to
all mankind.'[AM]

'There is much to be surprised at, little to admire, and nothing
worthy of imitation, in the "bubbles" of our friends, the
colonizationists. They have enlisted the prejudices and the
support of the wealthy and influential in their favor; they have
succeeded in sending some two or three thousand to Liberia; and
they are flattered with their partial success, and no doubt look
forward to the time when they will behold the whole of the
colored inhabitants of America, in the far distant land of
Africa. But let them not anticipate too much; they have yet one
obstacle to overcome which threatens to overthrow their
"baseless fabric;" or at any rate impede their progress. Their
proceedings have not obtained the approbation of those, whose
approbation is most needed, _the colored people themselves_.
They are most strangely mistaken if they suppose that it is an
easy matter to win them, either by _sophistry_ or _force_. The
press has begun its revolutionizing work, overturning in its
progress every thing calculated to suppress inquiry or to blind
the understanding. Already have the intrigues of the designing
been exposed, and already have the colored people set their
faces against oppression.

'The Colonization Society has erred in matters of _policy_; for
instead of exerting themselves to gain the confidence of the
colored people, and thus by persuasion to have rid the country
of them, they have acted in a manner calculated to disgust every
humane mind, and have rendered it an utter _impossibility_ to
remove them; and it is most fortunate for the unfortunate, that
they have detected those intriguing spirits in their _humane_
and _charitable_ undertaking.

'How many hours of anguish, how much incalculable misery has been
prevented; in short, how many human beings have been saved from
an untimely grave, by the timely interposition of the PRESS! It
has said, let it be so, and it _was_ so; its thunders have been
heard, and the oppressor trembles like the earthquake: it has
overthrown, yea, totally demolished the sharp-edged sword of
the Colonization Society.

'Support the PRESS then, ye people of color, and the result will
be a total overthrow of all the darling schemes of the aforesaid
darling Society; it has accomplished wonders, yea, wonders
already; much more can, nay, will be done; again I say, support
the PRESS.'[AN]

'The African Colonization Society declares that we the people of
color shall have no part nor lot in the free institutions of
this country. Why? Because the Creator of all - the sovereign
Ruler of the universe, who holds in his hands the destiny of
nations, thought fit and proper, in his infinite wisdom, to
tincture us with a darker hue than the paler part of community!
or, if I may say, because the lot of our predecessors happened
to be cast in the torrid zone, beneath the scorching beams of a
vertical sun! These are the objections the African Colonization
Society offer to this community to our remaining in this
country - in the land of freemen! These are the considerations
that prompt them to tell us that we the descendants of Africa
can never be men unless we abandon the land of our birth, our
homes and people, and submit to that uncongenial clime, the
barbarous regions of Africa, amidst unyielding contagion and
mortality! O, that man would remember, that knowledge and
virtue, not complexion, are the emblems that constitute the
value of human dignity! With these, we are worthy - without them,
we are unworthy. By the acts and operations of wicked men,
shielded under a cloak of religion, we the people of color are
doomed to all the miseries that the human body is able to
sustain - deprived of light, knowledge and social intercourse, by
the colonization gentlemen. With all their pretended zeal and
love of liberty, manifested towards the African race, I count
them as enemies, not friends. I do not solicit their love, nor
regard their friendship. I speak for one: I never did, and never
will court an enemy as a friend, knowingly, let him be whom he
may - let him belong to church or state, I feel the weight of
their predominant power, and the finishing blow they are about
to strike. Thus we move by them, poor and pennyless, despised
and forsaken by all; creeping through your streets, submissively
bowed down to every foot whose skin is tinctured with a lighter
hue than ours - thus we sojourn in solitude, not for our crimes
but color.

'I came here for the purpose of showing to this community, that
the people of color of the United States disapprove of the
African Colonization plan. They do not wish to emigrate to
Africa. These six hundred or more, that the gentleman tells you
are now waiting for a passage to Liberia, are not the free
people of color of the United States; they are, if any, the
poor, old, worn-out southern slaves, freed on the condition to
go to Africa, or die in the tracks of slavery, no more fit for
their cotton and rice fields - for the laws of those states
forbid the master, let him be possessed of all the fine feelings
that the human mind is able to contain; unless he banishes them
to some distant region, across that "mighty ocean" they speak
of, they cannot be free. According to the laws of those states,
and the basis on which the Society is built, the emancipated
slaves are not free until they stand upon the shores of Liberia.
Thus the Northern and Middle States are called upon for
donations to enable the monarch of the south to bury his slaves
in the sands of Africa; thus far, northern capital is
instrumental in parting asunder parents and children - no more to
meet, until Jehovah will stand upon the four corners of the
earth, and proclaim deliverance to the captive! - when the arm of
tyrants shall cease to sway the rod of tyranny over the heads of
their helpless children - until all creation shall vanish and
crumble into nothing.

'About the time of the formation of this Society, the people of
color, in different sections of the Union, took the alarm - they
thought there was something wrong in the views of that combined
body. So, the free people of color of Richmond, convened
themselves together in the state of Virginia, where the
gentleman says the African Colonization Society first
originated. They assembled themselves together for the purpose
of ascertaining each other's feelings with regard to that
combined body, and after mature reflection, they petitioned
Congress - I will give you the words of their memorial, which are
sufficient evidence to substantiate in the mind of every
rational person, that the people of color wish to remain in this

'"At a meeting of a respectable portion of the free people of
color of the city of Richmond, on Friday, January 24, 1817,
William Bowler was appointed chairman, and Lentey Craw,
secretary. The following preamble and resolution were read,
unanimously adopted, and ordered to be printed.

'"Whereas a Society has been formed at the seat of government,
for the purpose of colonizing, with their own consent, the free
people of color of the United States; therefore we, the free
people of color of the city of Richmond, have thought it
advisable to assemble together under the sanction of authority,
for the purpose of making a public expression of our sentiments
on a question in which we are so deeply interested. We perfectly
agree with the Society, that it is not only proper, but would
ultimately tend to the benefit and advantage of a great portion
of our suffering fellow creatures, to be colonized; but while we
thus express our approbation of a measure laudable in its
purposes, and beneficial in its designs, it may not be improper
in us to say, that we prefer being colonized in the most remote
corner of the land of our nativity, to being exiled to a foreign
country - and whereas the president and board of managers of the
said Society have been pleased to leave it to the entire
discretion of Congress to provide a suitable place for carrying
these laudable intentions into effect - Be it therefore

'"Resolved, That we respectfully submit to the wisdom of
Congress whether it would not be an act of charity to grant us a
small portion of their territory, either on the Missouri river,
or any place that may seem to them most conducive to the public
good and our future welfare, subject, however, to such rules and
regulations as the government of the United States may think
proper to adopt."

'WM. BOWLER, Chairman.

'LENTEY CRAW, Secretary.'[AO]

'The _colonization craft_ is a diabolical pursuit, which a great
part of our christian community are engaged in. Now, brethren, I
need not enlarge on this point. You that have been observing,
have already seen the trap under the bait; and although some of
our population have been foolish enough to sell their birthright
for a mess of pottage, yet I doubt whether the Colonization
Society will entrap many more. It is too bare-faced, and
contrary to all reason, to suppose, that there is any good
design in this project. If they are willing to restore
four-fold for what they have taken by false accusation, they
can do it to better advantage in the bosom of our country, than
at several thousand miles off. How would you do, brethren, if
your object was really to benefit the poor? Would you send them
into a neighboring forest, and there deal out that food which
they were famishing for? Now we stand different from beggars.
Our ancestors were stolen property, and property which belonged
to God. This is well known by our religious community; and they
find that the owner is about to detect them. Now if they can
slip away the stolen goods, by smuggling all those out of the
country, which God would be likely to make an instrument of, in
bringing them to justice, and keep the rest in ignorance; by
such means, things would go on well with them, and they would
appease their consciences by telling what great things they are
doing for the colored population and God's cause. But we
understand better how it is. The deception is not so well
practised, but that we can discover the mark of the beast. They
will steal the sons of Africa, bring them to America, keep them
and their posterity in bondage for centuries, letting them have
what education they can pick up of themselves; then transport
them back to Africa; by which means America gets all her
drudgery done at little expense, and endeavors to flatter the
Deity, by making him a sacrifice of good works of this kind. But
to the awful disappointment of all such blasphemers, they will
meet the justice of God, which will be to them a devouring

'Though delivered from the fetters of slavery, we are oppressed
by an unreasonable, unrighteous, and cruel prejudice, which aims
at nothing less, than the forcing away of all the free colored
population of the United States to the distant shores of Africa.
Far be it from me to impeach the motives of every member of the
American Colonization Society. The civilizing and christianizing
of that vast continent, and the extirpation of the abominable
traffic in slaves, (which, notwithstanding all the laws passed
for its suppression, is still carried on in all its horrors,)
are no doubt the principal motives, which induce many to give it
their support.

'But there are those, and those who are most active and
influential in this cause, who hesitate not to say, that they
wish to rid the country of the free colored population; and
there is sufficient reason to believe that with many, this is
the principal motive for supporting that Society; and that
whether Africa is civilized or not, and whether the slave-trade
be suppressed or not, they would wish to see the free colored
people removed from this country to Africa.

'Africa could certainly be brought into a state of civil and
religious improvement, without sending all the free people of
color in the United States there.

'A few well-qualified missionaries, properly fitted out and
supported, would do more for the instruction and improvement of
the natives of that country, than a host of colonists, the
greater part of whom would need to be instructed themselves, and
all of whom for a long period would find enough to do to provide
for themselves, instead of instructing the natives.

'How inconsistent are those who say, that Africa will be
benefitted by the removal of the free people of color of the
United States there, while they say, they are the _most vile and
degraded_ people in the world! - If we are as vile and degraded
as they represent us, and they wish the Africans to be rendered
a virtuous, enlightened and happy people, they should not
_think_ of sending _us_ among them, lest we should make them
worse instead of better.

'The colonies planted by white men on the shores of America, so
far from benefitting the aborigines, corrupted their morals, and
caused their ruin; and yet those who say _we_ are the most vile
people in the world, would send us to Africa, to improve the
character and condition of the natives! Such arguments would not
be listened to for a moment, were not the minds of the community
strangely warped by prejudice.

'Those who wish that that vast continent should be _compensated_
for the injuries done it, by sending thither the light of the
gospel and the arts of civilized life, should aid in sending and
supporting well qualified missionaries, who should be wholly
devoted to the work of instruction, instead of sending
colonists, who would be apt to turn the ignorance of the natives
to their own advantage, and do them more harm than good.

'Much has also been said by colonizationists, about improving
the character and condition of the people of color of this
country, by sending them to Africa. This is more inconsistent
still. We are to be improved by being sent far from civilized
society. This is a novel mode of improvement. What is there in
the burning sun, the arid plains, and barbarous customs of
Africa, that is so peculiarly favorable to our improvement? What
hinders our improving here, where schools and colleges abound,
where the gospel is preached at every corner, and where all the
arts and sciences are verging fast to perfection? Nothing,
nothing but prejudice. It requires no large expenditures, no
hazardous enterprises, to raise the people of color in the
United States to as highly improved a state, as any class of the
community. All that is necessary is, that those who profess to
be anxious for it, should lay aside their prejudices, and act
towards them as they do by others.

'We are NATIVES of this country; we ask only to be treated as
well as FOREIGNERS. Not a few of our fathers suffered and bled
to purchase its independence; we ask only to be treated as well
as those who fought against it. We have toiled to cultivate it,
and to raise it to its present prosperous condition; we ask only
to share equal privileges with those who come from distant lands
to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Let these moderate requests be
granted, and we need not go to Africa nor any where else, to be
improved and happy. We cannot but doubt the purity of the
motives of those persons who deny us these requests, and would
send us to Africa, to gain what they might give us at home.

'But they say, the prejudices of the country against us are
invincible; and as they cannot be conquered, it is better that
we should be removed beyond their influence. This plea should
never proceed from the lips of any man, who professes to believe
that a just God rules in the heavens.

'The American Colonization Society is a numerous and influential
body. Would they lay aside their _own_ prejudices, much of the
burden would be at once removed; and their example (especially
if they were as anxious to have _justice done us here_, as to
send us to Africa,) would have such an influence upon the
community at large, as would soon cause prejudice to hide its
deformed head.

'But alas! the course which they have pursued, has an opposite
tendency. By the _scandalous misrepresentations_, which they are
continually giving of our character and conduct, we have
sustained much injury, and have reason to apprehend much more.

'Without any charge of crime, we have been denied all access to
places, to which we formerly had the most free intercourse; the
colored citizens of other places, on leaving their homes, have
been denied the privilege of returning; and others have been
absolutely driven out.

'Has the Colonization Society had no effect in producing these
barbarous measures?

'They profess to have no other object in view, than the
colonizing of the free people of color on the coast of Africa,
with their _own consent_; but if our homes are made so
uncomfortable that we cannot continue in them; or if, like our
brethren of Ohio and New Orleans, we are driven from them, and
no other door is open to receive us but Africa, our removal
there will be any thing but voluntary.

'It is very certain, that very few free people of color _wish_
to go to that _land_. The Colonization Society _know_ this, and
yet they do certainly calculate, that in time they will have us
all removed there.

'How can this be effected, but by making our situation worse
here, and closing every other door against us?'[AQ]

'My attention was forcibly attracted by a communication in Mr
Poulson's Daily Advertiser of the 16th inst. which states, that
Mrs Stansbury of Trenton, N. J. has presented _one thousand
dollars_ to the Colonization Society. Now I think it is greatly
to be regretted, that this highly generous and benevolent lady
has been induced to make this donation for the purpose of
conveying some of the superannuated slaves to Africa, when
objects of much greater importance could be attained by offering
a premium to master mechanics to take colored children as
apprentices, so that they would become useful to themselves and
others. It is an inquiry becoming of the utmost importance, what
is to become of those children who are arriving at the age of

'I am greatly astonished that the ministers of the gospel should

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 27 of 29)