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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'Views are attributed to us, that were never entertained, and
our plan is tortured _into a design to emancipate the Slaves of
the South_. We are made to disregard this description of
property, and to touch without reserve the rights of our
neighbors. We are said to tread this almost forbidden ground
with firm step, and a hardihood of effort is imputed to us,
which, if true, might well excite the indignation of our
southern citizens. - But, Sir, our Society and the friends of
colonization wish to be distinctly understood upon this point.
From the beginning they have _disavowed_, and they do yet
_disavow_, that their object is _the emancipation of the
slaves_. They have no wish, _if they could_, to interfere in the
smallest degree with what they deem the most interesting and
fearful subject which can be pressed upon the American public.'
* * * 'There is no people that treat their slaves with so much
kindness and with so little cruelty. Nor can I believe that we
shall meet with any serious opposition from that quarter, when
our object is distinctly understood - when it is known that our
operations are confined exclusively to the free black
population. That this is our _sole_ object, I appeal with entire
confidence to the constitution of our Society and to the
constitution and Annual Reports of the Parent Institution.' * * *
'We again repeat - that our operations are confined to the free
black population, and that there is no ground for fear on the
part of our southern friends. We hold their slaves as we hold
their other property, SACRED. Let not then this slander be
repeated.' - [Speech of James S. Green, Esq. on the same

'Nothing has contributed more to retard the operations of the
Colonization Society than the mistaken notion that it interferes
directly with slavery. This objection is rapidly vanishing away,
and many of the slaveholding States are becoming efficient
supporters of the national society. In the Senate of Louisiana
during its last session, resolutions were adopted expressive of
the opinion that the object of this Society was deserving the
patronage of the general government. An enlightened community
now see, that this Society infringes upon no man's rights, that
its object is noble and benevolent - to remedy an evil which is
felt and acknowledged at the north and south - to give the free
people of color the privileges of freemen.' - [From a Tract
issued by the Massachusetts Colonization Society in 1831, for
gratuitous distribution.]

'This institution proposes to do good by a single specific
course of measures. Its direct and specific purpose _is not the
abolition of slavery_, or the relief of pauperism, or the
extension of commerce and civilization, or the enlargement of
science, or the conversion of the heathen. The single object
which its constitution prescribes, and to which all its efforts
are necessarily directed, is, African colonization from America.
It proposes only to afford facilities for the voluntary
emigration of free people of color from this country to the
country of their fathers.' - [Review on African
Colonization. - Christian Spectator for September, 1830.]

'It interferes in nowise with the right of property, and hopes
and labors for the gradual abolition of slavery, by the
voluntary and gradual manumission of slaves, when the free
persons of color shall have first been transferred to their
aboriginal climate and soil.' - [G. W. P. Custis, Esq. - African
Repository, vol. i. p. 39.]

'Does this Society wish to meddle with our slaves as our
rightful property? I answer _no_, I think not.' - [African
Repository, vol. ii. p. 13.]

'They have been denounced by some as fanatical and visionary
innovators, pursuing without regard to means or consequences, an
object destructive of the rights of property, and dangerous to
the public peace.' * * * 'The sole object of the Society, as
declared at its institution, and from which it can never be
allowed to depart, is 'to remove with their own consent, to the
coast of Africa, the free colored population, now existing in
the United States, and such as hereafter may become free.'' * * *
'In pursuing their object, therefore, (although such
consequences may result from a successful prosecution of it,)
the Society cannot be justly charged with aiming to disturb the
rights of property or the peace of society. Your memorialists
refer with confidence to the course they have pursued, in the
prosecution of their object for nine years past, to shew that it
is possible, without danger or alarm, to carry on such an
operation, notwithstanding its supposed relation to the subject
of slavery, and that they have not been regardless, in any of
their measures, of what was due to the state of society in which
they live. They are, themselves, chiefly slaveholders, and live,
with all the ties of life binding them to a slaveholding
community. They know when to speak and when to forbear upon
topics connected with this painful and difficult subject. They
put forth no passionate appeals before the public, seek to
excite no feeling, and avoid, with the most sedulous care, every
measure that would endanger the public tranquillity.' * * * 'The
managers could, with no propriety, depart from their original
and avowed purpose, _and make emancipation their object_. And
they would further say, that if they were not thus restrained by
the terms of their association, they would still consider any
attempts to promote the increase of the free colored population
by manumission, _unnecessary_, _premature_, and _dangerous_.'
* * * 'It seems now to be admitted that, whatever has any bearing
upon that question, must be managed with the utmost
consideration; that the peace and order of society must not be
endangered by indiscreet and ill-timed efforts to promote
emancipation; and that a true regard should be manifested to the
feelings and the fears, and even the _prejudices_ of those,
whose co-operation is essential.' - [Memorial of the Society to
the several States. - A. R. vol. ii. pp. 57, 58, 60.]

'To found in Africa an empire of _christians and republicans_;
to reconduct the blacks to their native land, without disturbing
the order of society, the laws of property, or the rights of
individuals; rapidly, but legally, _silently_, _gradually_, to
drain them off; these are the noble ends of the colonization
scheme.' - [African Repository, vol. ii. p. 375.]

'Nor have I ever been able to see, for my part, why the
patronage of Congress to a benevolent and patriotic Society,
which, without interfering, in the smallest degree, with that
_delicate interest_, only aims to remove what we all consider as
a great evil - our free people of color - (and which evil _does_
interfere with that interest,) should excite the jealousy or
spleen of our most watchful and determined advocates of state
rights.' - [Idem, p. 383.]

'Recognising the constitutional and legitimate existence of
slavery, it seeks not to interfere, either directly or
indirectly, with the rights which it creates. _Acknowledging the
necessity by which its present continuance and the rigorous
provisions for its maintenance are justified_, it aims only at
furnishing the States, in which it exists, the means of
immediately lessening its severities, and of ultimately
relieving themselves from its acknowledged evils.' - [Opimius in
reply to Caius Gracchus. - African Repository, vol. iii. p. 16.]

'_It is no abolition Society_; it addresses as yet _arguments to
no master_, and disavows with horror the idea of offering
temptations to any slave. IT DENIES THE DESIGN OF ATTEMPTING
that the General Government have any power to emancipate; and
declares that the States have exclusively the right to regulate
the whole subject of slavery. The scope of the Society is large
enough, but it is in nowise mingled or confounded with the broad
sweeping views of _a few fanatics_ in America, who would urge us
on to the sudden and total abolition of slavery.' * * * 'The
first great material objection is that the Society does, in
fact, in spite of its denial, meditate and conspire the
emancipation of the slaves. To the candid, let me say that there
are names on the rolls of the Society too high to be rationally
accused of the duplicity and insidious falsehood which this
implies; farther, the Society and its branches are composed, in
by far the larger part, of _citizens of slaveholding States_,
who cannot gravely be charged with a design so perilous to
themselves. To the uncandid disputant, I say, let him put his
finger on one single sentiment, declaration or act of the
Society, or of any person, with its sanction, which shows such
to be their object: there is in fact no pretext for the charge.'
* * * 'Let me repeat, the _friends_ of the Colonization Society,
three-fourths of them are SLAVEHOLDERS; the legislatures of
Maryland, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, all slaveholding
States, have approved it; _every member_ of this auxiliary
Society is, _either in himself, or his nearest relatives,
interested in holding slaves_.' * * * 'Once more; this Society
is no way connected with certain Abolition Societies in the
country. To these the Colonization Society would say, "Your
object is unattainable, your zeal dangerous, and nothing can
give it the right direction or the right temperature, but your
surrendering your plan to ours: be convinced, that if the blacks
are ever to be removed from us, it will be by the free will of
the owners, and by means of the opportunity which our _innocent_
plan of an asylum for such as may be sent will afford."' - ['The
Col. Society Vindicated.' - Idem, pp. 197, 200, 202, 203.]

'They can impress upon the southern slaveholder, by the strength
of facts, and by the recorded declarations of honest men, that
the objects of the Colonization Society are altogether pure and
praiseworthy, and _that it has no intention to open the door to
universal liberty_, but only to cut out a channel, where the
merciful providence of God may cause those dark waters to flow
off.' - [Idem, vol. iv. p. 145.]

'About twelve years ago, some of the wisest men of the nation,
(_mostly slaveholders_,) formed, in the city of Washington, the
present American Colonization Society. Among them were men high
in office, who had spent many years in studying the interests of
their country, and who could not, therefore, be suspected of
short-sighted enthusiasm, or any secret design of disturbing the
rights or the safety of our southern citizens.' * * * 'You will
observe, first, that _there is to be no intermeddling with
IN THE EYES OF THE SOCIETY. The tendency of the scheme, and one
of its objects, is to _secure slaveholders, and the whole
southern country_, against certain evil consequences, growing
out of the three-fold mixture of our population.' - [Address of
the Rockbridge Col. Society. - Idem, p. 274.]

'It is true, their operations have been confined to the single
object, colonization. - They do nothing directly to effect the
manumission of slaves. - They think nothing can be advantageously
done in favor of emancipation, but by means of colonization, of
which emancipation will be a certain consequence that may be
safely and quietly awaited.' - [Mr Key's Address. - Idem, p. 303.]

'The Colonization Society, as such, have renounced wholly the
name and the characteristics of abolitionists. On this point
they have been unjustly and injuriously slandered. They need no
such barrier to restrict them, as the sentiment of Mr Harrison,
for their operations are entirely in a different department.
AT ALL.' - ['N. E.' - Idem, p. 306.]

'Being, chiefly, slaveholders ourselves, we well know how it
becomes us to approach such a subject as this in a slaveholding
state, and in every other. If there were room for a reasonable
jealousy, we among the first should feel it; being as much
interested in the welfare of the community, and having as much
at heart, as any men can have, the security of ourselves, our
property and our families.' * * * 'Our object is, not to prevail
upon the master to part with his slave, for that we leave to his
own reflection and CONVENIENCE; but to afford to those masters
who have determined, or may determine, to manumit their slaves;
provided they can be removed from this country, the means of
removing them to a place where they may be really free,
virtuous, respectable and happy. - Nothing can be more innocent
and less alarming.' - [Review of Mr Tazewell's Report. - Idem, p.

'The American Colonization Society has, at all times, solemnly
disavowed any purpose of interference with the institutions or
rights of our Southern communities.' - [Idem, vol. v. p. 307.]

'From its origin, and throughout the whole period of its
existence, it has constantly disclaimed all intention whatever
of interfering, in the smallest degree, with the rights of
property, or the object of emancipation, gradual or immediate.
_It is not only without inclination_, but it is without power,
to make any such interference. It is not even a chartered or
incorporated company; and it has no other foundation than that
of Bible Societies, or any other christian or charitable
unincorporated companies in our country. It knows that the
subject of emancipation belongs exclusively to the several
States in which slavery is tolerated, and to individual
proprietors of slaves in those States, under and according to
their laws.' * * * 'The Society presents to the American public
_no project of emancipation_.' * * * 'Its exertions have been
confined exclusively to the free colored people of the United
States, and to those of them who are willing to go. It has
neither _purpose_ nor power to extend them to the larger portion
of that race held in bondage. Throughout the whole period of its
existence, this disclaimer has been made, and incontestible
facts establish its truth and sincerity. It is now repeated, in
its behalf, that the spirit of misrepresentation may have no
pretext for abusing the public ear.' - [Mr Clay's Speech. - African
Repository, vol. vi. pp. 13, 17, 19.]

'The Society, from considerations like these, whilst it
disclaims the remotest idea of ever disturbing the right of
property in slaves, conceives it to be possible that the time
may arrive, when, with the approbation of their owners, they
shall all be at liberty; and, with those already free, be
removed, with their own consent, to the land of their
ancestors.' - [African Repository, vol. vi. p. 69.]

'_It is not the object of this Society to liberate slaves, or
touch the rights of property_. TO SET THEM LOOSE AMONG US WOULD
our situation insecure and dangerous.' - [Report of the Kentucky
Col. Soc. - Idem, p. 81.]

'It contemplates no purpose of abolition: it touches no slave
until his fetters have been voluntarily stricken off by the hand
of his own master.' - [Speech of John A. Dix, Esq. - Idem, p.

'What has awakened that spirit of suspicion and enmity which is
now manifested by these men in every form of open and active
hostility? Can it be attributed to any departure of the Society
from its avowed original design and principles? We maintain that
it cannot; we maintain that the character of the Society has
from the commencement been uniformly the same, and that its
proceedings have been consistent with its character. Were or are
the design and principles of the Society hostile to the rights
and interest of the Southern States? We maintain that they were
and are not; but on the contrary, are worthy to be cherished by
the citizens of these States, and to be sustained with all their
energies as means of their political and moral strength.' * * *
'The _free_ people of color alone are to be colonized by the
Society, and whether the benefits of its scheme are ever to be
extended to _others_, is a question referred to those to whom it
pertains as a matter of right and duty to decide.' * * * 'The
Colonization Society would be the last Institution in the world
to disturb the domestic tranquillity of the South.' - [Defence of
the Society. - Idem, pp. 197, 207, 209.]

'This Society, here in the outset, most explicitly disclaims all
intention to interfere in the smallest degree with the slave
population. It is with the free colored population alone, and
that too, with their own consent, that this Society proposes to
act.' - [Address of the Maryland State Colonization Society to
the People of Maryland.]

'To the slaveholder, who had charged upon them the wicked design
of interfering with the rights of property under the specious
pretexts of removing a vicious and dangerous free population,
they address themselves in a tone of conciliation and sympathy.
We know your rights, say they, and we respect them - we know your
difficulties, and we appreciate them. _Being mostly slaveholders
ourselves_, having a common interest with you in this subject,
an equal opportunity of understanding it, and the same motives
to prudent action, what better guarantee can be afforded for the
just discrimination, and the safe operation of our measures? And
what ground for apprehension that we, who are bound to you by
the strongest ties of interest and of sympathy, should intrude
upon the repose of the domestic circle, or invade the peace and
security of society? Have not the thirteen years' peaceful, yet
efficient, operations of our Society attested the _moderation of
our views_ and the safety of our plans? We have protested from
the commencement, and during our whole progress, and we do now
protest, that we have never entertained the purpose of
intermeddling with the private property of individuals. We know
that we have not the power, even if we had the inclination, to
do so. Your rights, as guarantied by the Constitution, are held
sacred in our eyes; and we should be among the foremost to
resist, as a flagrant usurpation, any encroachment upon those
rights. Our only object, as at all times avowed, is to provide
for the removal to the coast of Africa, with their own consent,
of such persons of color as are already free, and of such others
as the humanity of individuals, or the laws of the different
states, may hereafter liberate. Is there any thing, say they, in
this proposition at war with your interest, your safety, your
honor, or your happiness? Do we not all regard this mixed and
intermediate population of free blacks, made up of slaves or
their immediate descendants, as a mighty and a growing evil,
exerting a dangerous and baneful influence on all around
them?' - [Address of Cyrus Edwards, Esq. of Illinois. - African
Repository, vol. vii. p. 100.]

'It was never the intention of the Society to interfere with the
rights of the proprietors of slaves; nor has it at any time done
so.' - [Address of R. J. Breckenridge of Kentucky. - Idem p. 176.]

'The specific object to which the entire funds of the
Institution are devoted, is simple and plainly unexceptionable
in this respect, that it interferes with no rights of
individuals, and with no law of the land.' * * * 'It embraces in
its provisions only the free. It does not interfere - it desires
not to interfere, in any way, with the rights or the interests
of the proprietors of slaves. _It condemns no man because he is
a slaveholder_; it seeks to quiet all unkind feelings between
the sober and virtuous men of the North and of the South on the
subject of slavery; it sends abroad no influence to disturb the
peace, and endanger the security and prosperity of any portion
of the country.' - [Character and Influence of the Colonization
Society. - African Repository, vol. vii. pp. 194, 200.]

'Can it be a ruthless scheme of political speculation, which
would trample, with rude and unhallowed step, upon the rights of
property, to gratify the visionary and fanatical projects of its
authors? No: this is impossible. Yet such is the language of
intemperate opposition, with which this Society has been
assailed by its enemies.' * * * 'Equally absurd and false is the
objection, that this Society seeks indirectly to disturb the
rights of property, and to interfere with the well-established
relation subsisting between master and slave. The man who avows
such monstrous purposes as these, and seeks to shelter himself
under the sanction and authority of the American Colonization
Society, is a base traitor to the cause which it seeks to
he assumes the specious garb of a friend and coadjutor. Let him
stand, or let him fall, by the verdict of an insulted and
outraged community - but do not make liable for his acts a great
Institution, whose real friends will be the first to reject and
discountenance him, and to mark upon his forehead in indelible
characters, "This is a traitor to the cause of his country and
the cause of humanity." - It is true that the friends of the
American Colonization Society have permitted themselves to
entertain the high and exalted hope, that, by its influences,
ultimate and remote, the burdens which are incident to slavery
may be greatly mitigated, and possibly the evil itself at some
future day be entirely removed. But mark, Mr President, and mark
well, ye hearers, the grounds upon which this hope is founded.
It could not be sustained by any effort, direct or indirect, to
invade the rights of the slaveholding community, for the plain
and palpable reason, that the effort itself would furnish the
most certain means of defeating the object in view, even
supposing the friends of the Society reckless enough to
entertain it. It would denote on the part of those who made it,
an extremity of madness and folly, wholly unprecedented in the
history of the world, and if persevered in, would dissolve the
government into its original elements, even though the principle
of union which holds it together were a thousand-fold stronger
than it is.' * * * 'Surely the friends of the Colonization
Society have done nought either to alarm the honest fears of the
patriot, or excite the morbid sensibilities of the
slaveholder.' - [Address delivered before the Lynchburg Auxiliary
Colonization Society, August 18, 1831.]

'While, therefore, _they determined to avoid the question of
slavery_, they proposed the formation of a colony on the coast
of Africa, as an asylum for free people of color.' * * * 'The
emancipation of slaves or the amelioration of their condition,
with the moral, intellectual, and political improvement of
people of color within the United States, _are subjects foreign
to the powers of this Society_.' - [Address of the Board of
Managers of the American Colonization Society to its Auxiliary
Societies. - African Repository, vol. vii. pp. 290, 291.]

'The American Colonization Society was formed with special
reference to the _free_ blacks of our country. With the
_delicate subject_ of slavery it presumes not to interfere. And

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 6 of 29)