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 7 of 29)
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yet doubtless from the first it has cherished the hope of being
in some way or other a medium of relief to the entire colored
population of the land. Such a hope is certainly both innocent
and benevolent. And so long as the Society adheres to the object
announced in its constitution, as it hitherto has done, the
master can surely find no reasonable cause of anxiety. And it is
a gratifying circumstance that the Society has from the first
_obtained its most decided and efficient support from the
slaveholding States_.' - [Sermon, delivered at Springfield,
Mass., July 4th, 1829, before the Auxiliary Colonization Society
of Hampden County, by Rev. B. Dickinson.]

'The American Colonization Society in no way directly meddles
with slavery. It disclaims all such
interference.' - [Correspondent of the Southern Religious

'This system is sanctioned by the laws of independent and
sovereign states. Congress cannot constitutionally pass laws
which shall tend directly to abolish it. If it ever be abolished
by legislative enactments, it must be done by the respective
legislatures of the States in which it exists. It never designed
to interfere with what the laws consider as the rights of
masters - it has made no appeals to them to release their slaves
for colonization, nor to their slaves to abandon their masters.
With this delicate subject, the Society has avowedly nothing to
do. Its ostensible object is necessarily the removal of our free
colored population.' - [Middletown (Connecticut) Gazette.]

'With slaves, however, the American Colonization Society has _no
concern_ whatever, except to transport to Africa such as their
owners may liberate for that purpose.' - [Oration delivered at
Newark, N. J., July 4th, 1831, by Gabriel P. Disosway, Esq.]

'It disclaims, and always has disclaimed, all intention
whatever, of interfering in the smallest degree, direct or
indirect, with the rights of slaveholders, the right of
property, _or the object of emancipation, gradual or immediate.
It knows that the owners of slaves are the owners, and no one
else - it does not, in the most remote degree, touch that
delicate subject_. Every slaveholder may, therefore, remain at
ease concerning it or its progress or objects.' - [An advocate of
the Society in the New-Orleans Argus.]

It were needless to multiply these extracts. So precisely do they
resemble each other, that they seem rather as the offspring of a single
mind, than of many minds. A large majority of them come in the most
official and authoritative shape, and their language is explicit beyond

Here, then, is a combination, embracing able and influential men in all
parts of the country, pledging itself not only to respect the system of
slavery, but to frown indignantly upon those who shall dare to assail
it. And what is this system which is to be held in so much reverence,
and avoided with so much care? It is a system which has in itself no
redeeming feature, but is full of blood - the blood of innocent men,
women and children; full of adultery and concupiscence; full of
darkness, blasphemy and wo; full of rebellion against God and treason
against the universe; full of wrath - impurity - ignorance - brutality - and
awful impiety; full of wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; full of
temporal suffering and eternal damnation. It is, says Pitt, a mass, a
system of enormities, which incontrovertibly bid defiance to every
regulation which ingenuity can devise, or power effect, but a total
extinction; a system of incurable injustice, the complication of every
species of iniquity, the greatest practical evil that ever has afflicted
the human race, and the severest and most extensive calamity recorded in
the history of the world. Fox calls it a most unjust and horrible
persecution of our fellow creatures. The Rev. Dr. Thomson declares it is
a system hostile to the original and essential rights of
humanity - contrary to the inflexible and paramount demands of moral
justice - at eternal variance with the spirit and maxims of revealed
religion - inimical to all that is merciful in the heart, and holy in the
conduct - and on these accounts, necessarily exposed and subject to the
curse of Almighty God. It is, says Rowland Hill, made up of every crime
that treachery, cruelty and murder can invent. Wilberforce says, it is
the full measure of pure, unmixed, unsophisticated wickedness; and
scorning all competition or comparison, it stands without a rival in the
secure, undisputed possession of its detestable pre-eminence. In this
country, slavery is a system which leaves the chastity of one million
females without any protection! which condemns more than two millions of
human beings to remediless bondage! which authorises their sale at
public vendue in company with horses, sheep and hogs, or in a private
manner, at the pleasure of their owners! which, under penalty of
imprisonment, and even death, forbids their being taught the lowest
rudiments of knowledge! which, by the exclusion of their testimony in
courts, subjects them to worse than brutal treatment! which recognizes
no connubial obligations, ruthlessly severs the holiest relations of
life, tears the scarcely weaned babe from the arms of its mother, wives
from their husbands, and parents from their children! But who is
adequate to the task of delineating its horrors, or recording its
atrocities, in full? Who can number the stripes which it inflicts, the
groans and tears and imprecations which it extorts, the cruel murders
which it perpetrates? or who measure the innocent blood which it
spills, or the degradation which it imposes, or the guilt which it
accumulates? or who reveal the waste of property, the perversion of
intellect, the loss of happiness, the burial of mind, to which it is
accessary? or who trace its poisonous influence and soul-destroying
tendency back for two hundred years down to the end of time? None - none
but God himself! It is corrupt as death - black as perdition - cruel and
insatiate as the grave. To adopt the nervous language of another: - The
thing I say is true. I speak the truth, though it is most lamentable. I
dare not hide it, I dare not palliate it; else the horror with which it
covereth me would make me do so. Wo unto such a system! wo unto the men
of this land who have been brought under its operation! It is not felt
to be evil, it is not acknowledged to be evil, it is not preached
against as evil; and, therefore, it is only the more inveterate and
fearful an evil.[H] _It hath become constitutional._ IT IS FED FROM THE
STREAM OF OUR LIFE, and it will grow more and more excessive, until it
can no longer be endured by God, nor borne with by man.

And this is the system, with which, as the reader has seen, the American
Colonization Society is resolved not to interfere; and with the
upholders of which, ministers of the gospel and professors of religion
of all denominations have made a treaty of peace! Tell it not
abroad - publish it not in the capitals of Europe - lest the despots of
the old world take courage, and infidelity strengthen its stakes!

If men who are reputedly wise and good - if religious teachers and
political leaders, those whose opinions are almost implicitly adopted,
and whose examples are readily followed by the mass of the people - if
such men suppress their voices on this momentous subject, and turn their
eyes from its contemplation, and give the right hand of fellowship to
the buyers and sellers of human flesh, is there not cause for
lamentation and alarm? The pulpit is false to its trust, and a moral
paralysis has seized the vitals of the church. The sanctity of religion
is thrown, like a mantle, over the horrid system. Under its auspices,
robbery and oppression have become popular and flourishing. The press,
too, by its profound silence, or selfish neutrality, or equivocal
course, or active partizanship, is enlisted in the cause of tyranny - the
mighty press, which has power, if exerted aright, to break every fetter,
and emancipate the land. If this state of things be not speedily
reversed, 'we be all dead men.' Unless the pulpit lift up the voice of
warning, supplication and wo, with a fidelity which no emolument can
bribe, and no threat intimidate; unless the church organise and plan for
the redemption of the benighted slaves, and directly assault the strong
holds of despotism; unless the press awake to its duty, or desist from
its bloody co-operation; as sure as Jehovah lives and is unchangeable,
he will pour out his indignation upon us, and consume us with the fire
of his wrath, and our own way recompense upon our heads. 'Ah, sinful
nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children
that are corrupters! When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine
eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: _your
hands are full of blood_. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of
your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well;
_seek judgment, relieve the oppressed_, judge the fatherless, plead for
the widow. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the
land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword:
_for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it_.'

I know the covert behind which colonizationists take refuge. They
profess to be - and, doubtless, in many instances are - aiming at the
ultimate emancipation of the slaves; but they are all for _gradual_
abolition - all too courteous to give offence - too sober to be
madmen - too discreet to adopt _rash_ measures. But I shall show, in the
progress of this work, that they not only shield the holders of slaves
from reproach, (and thus, by assuring them of their innocence, destroy
all motives for repentance,) but earnestly dissuade them from
emancipating their slaves without an immediate expulsion. Fine
conceptions of justice! Enemies of slavery, with a vengeance!

Suppose a similar course had been pursued by the friends of
Temperance - when would have commenced that mighty reformation which has
taken place before our eyes - unparalleled in extent, completeness and
rapidity? Suppose, instead of exposing the guilt of trafficking in
ardent spirits, and demanding instant and entire abstinence, they had
associated themselves together for the exclusive purpose of colonizing
all the drunkards in the land, as a class dangerous to our safety and
irremediably degraded, on a spot where they could not obtain the
poisonous alcohol, but could rise to respect and affluence - how would
such an enterprise have been received? Suppose they had pledged
themselves not to 'meddle' with the business of the traders in
spirituous liquors, or to injure the 'property' of distillers, and had
dwelt upon the folly and danger of 'immediate' abstinence, and had
denounced the advocates of this doctrine as madmen and fanatics, and had
endeavored, moreover, to suppress inquiry into the lawfulness of
rum-selling - how many importers, makers and venders of the liquid poison
would have abandoned their occupation, or how many of the four hundred
thousand individuals, who are now enrolled under the banner of entire
abstinence, would have been united in this great enterprise? Suppose,
further, that, in a lapse of fifteen years, this association had
transported two thousand drunkards, and the tide of intemperance had
continued to rise higher and higher, and some faithful watchmen had
given the alarm and showed the fatal delusion which rested upon the
land, and the Society should have defended itself by pointing to the two
thousand sots who had been saved by its instrumentality - would the
public attention have been successfully diverted from the _immense evil_
to the _partial good_? Suppose, once more, that this Society, composed
indiscriminately of rum-sellers and sober, pious men, on being charged
with perpetuating the evils of intemperance, with removing only some of
the fruits thereof instead of the tree itself, should have indignantly
repelled the charge, and said - 'We are as much opposed to drunkenness,
and as heartily deprecate its existence, as any of our violent,
fanatical opposers; but the holders of ardent spirit have invested their
capital in it, and to destroy its sale would invade the right of
_property_; policy at least, bids us not to assail their conduct, as
otherwise we might exasperate them, and so lose their aid in colonizing
the tipplers.' What would have been accomplished? But no such logic was
used: the duty of immediate reform was constantly pressed upon the
people, and a mighty reform took place.

Colonizationists boast inordinately of having emancipated three or four
hundred slaves by their scheme, and contemptuously inquire of
abolitionists, 'What have _you_ effected?' Many persons have been
deceived by this _show_ of success, and deem it conclusive evidence of
the usefulness of the Colonization Society. But, in the first place, it
is very certain that none of these slaves were liberated in consequence
of the faithful appeals of the Society to the consciences of the
masters; for it has never troubled their consciences by any such
appeals. Secondly, it is obvious that these manumissions are the fruits
of the uncompromising doctrines of abolitionists; for they are
calculated to bring slaveholders to repentance, and they will yet
liberate other slaves to be caught up and claimed by the Society as
trophies of its success. Thirdly, it has been shown that while this
Society (allowing it the utmost that it claims) is effecting very little
and very doubtful good, it is inflicting upon the nation great and
positive evil, by refusing to arraign the oppressors at the bar of
eternal justice, and by obstructing the formation of abolition
societies. It rivets a thousand fetters where it breaks one. It annually
removes, on an average, two hundred of our colored population, whereas
the annual increase is about seventy thousand. It releases some scores
of slaves, and says to the owners of more than two millions - 'Hold on!
don't emancipate too fast!'

What have the abolitionists _done_? They have done more, during the past
year, to overthrow the system of slavery, than has been accomplished by
the gradualists in half a century. They have succeeded in fastening the
attention of the nation upon its enormities, and in piercing the callous
consciences of the planters. They are reforming and consolidating public
opinion, dispelling the mists of error, inspiring the hearts of the
timid, enlightening the eyes of the blind, and disturbing the slumbers
of the guilty. Colonizationists gather a few leaves which the tree has
cast off, and vaunt of the deed: abolitionists 'lay the axe at once to
its roots, and put their united nerve into the steel' - nor shall their
strokes be in vain - for soon shall 'this great poison-tree of lust and
blood, and of all abominable and heartless iniquity, fall before them;
and law and love, and God and man, shout victory over its ruin.'

Has the reader duly considered the fatal admissions of the advocates of
the colonization scheme, presented in the preceding pages? Some of them
it may be serviceable to the cause of truth and justice to recapitulate.

1. _The Society does not aim directly at the instruction of the blacks:
their moral, intellectual and political improvement within the United
States, is foreign to its powers._

2. _The public safety forbids either the emancipation or the general
instruction of the slaves._

3. _The Society properly enough stands aloof from the question of

4. _It is ready to pass censure upon abolition societies._

5. _It involves no intrusion on property, nor even upon prejudice._

6. _It has no wish, if it could, to interfere in the smallest degree
with the system of slavery._

7. _It acknowledges the necessity by which the present continuance of
the system and the rigorous provisions for its maintenance are

8. _It denies the design of attempting emancipation either partial or
general: into its accounts the subject of emancipation does not enter at
all: it has no intention to open the door to universal liberty._

9. _The rights of masters are to remain sacred in the eyes of the

10. _It condemns no man because he is a slaveholder._

Each of these particulars deserves a volume of comments, but I am
compelled to dismiss them in rotation with a single remark.

1. One reason assigned by the Society for refusing to promote the
education of our colored population, is, a dread of exciting 'the
_prejudices_ and _terrors_ of the slaveholding States'! Is it credible?
As far, then, as this Society extends its influence, more than two
millions of ignorant, degraded beings in this boasted land of liberty
and light have nothing to hope: their moral, intellectual and political
improvement is foreign to its powers! Cruel neglect! barbarous
coalition! A sinful fear of rousing the prejudices of oppressors
outweighs the claims of the contemned blacks, the requirements of the
gospel, the dictates of humanity, and the convictions of duty. Will this
plea avail aught at the bar of God? Millions of our countrymen purposely
kept in darkness, although we are able to pour daylight upon their
vision, merely to gratify and protect their buyers and sellers!

2. There never was a more abominable or more absurd heresy propagated,
than the assumption that the public safety would be jeoparded by an
immediate compliance with the demands of justice: yet it has obtained
among all orders of society. Even ministers of the gospel, who are bound
to cry aloud, and spare not, - to lift up their voices like a trumpet,
and show this guilty nation its sins, - to say to the holders of slaves,
'Loose the bands of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, let the
oppressed go free, _and break every yoke_,' - even they fly to this
subterfuge, and deprecate a general emancipation. On this subject, 'they
know not what they do;' they reason like madmen or atheists; they
advance sentiments which unhinge the moral government of the universe,
and directly encourage the commission of the most heinous crimes. How
long would any one of their number retain his situation, if he were to
preach in explicit terms to his congregation as follows? - 'My dear
hearers, if any among you are daily oppressing the weak, or defrauding
the poor, do not cease from your robbery and cruelty at once, as you
value your own happiness and the welfare of society! Relax your
tyrannous grasp gradually from the throat of your neighbor, and steal
not quite so much from him this year as you did the last!' - But they
emphatically hold this language whenever they advise slaveholders not to
repent _en masse_, or too hastily. The public safety, they say, forbids
emancipation! or, in other words, the public safety depends upon your
persistance in cheating, whipping, starving, debasing your slaves! Nay,
more - many of them, horrible to tell, are traffickers in human flesh!
'For this thing which it cannot bear, the earth is disquieted. The
gospel of peace and mercy preached by him who steals, buys and sells the
purchase of Messiah's blood! - rulers of the church making merchandize of
their brethren's souls! - and Christians trading the persons of men!'[I]

3. The system of slavery is full of danger, outrage, desolation and
death - 'a volcano in full operation' - a monster that is annually
supplied with sixty thousand new victims, devoured as soon as born - and
yet the Colonization Society 'properly enough stands aloof' from it!! It
utters no lamentations - makes no supplications - gives no
rebukes - presents no motives for repentance!

4. The Society is not only ready to pass, but it is constantly bestowing
its censure upon abolition societies. It represents their members as
guided by a visionary, wild and fanatical spirit, as invaders of rights
which are sacred, incendiaries, disturbers of the peace of society, and
enemies to the safety and happiness of the planters. Determining itself
to avoid the question of emancipation - to leave millions of human beings
to pine in bondage without exposing the guilt of the oppressors - it
endeavors to prevent any other association agitating the subject. Hence
between colonization and abolition societies there is no affinity of
feeling or action; and hence arises the cause, inexplicable to many,
why they cannot pursue their objects amicably together.

5. The attempt of the Society to conciliate the holders of slaves must
result either in disappointment, or in an abandonment of the path of
duty. If they are guilty of robbery and oppression, they must be
arraigned as criminals, or they never will reform: for why should
honest, benevolent men change their conduct? If, through a false
delicacy of feeling or cringing policy, their wickedness be covered up,
alas for the slaves, and alas for the regeneration of the south! all
hope is lost.

6. The Society has no wish, _if it could_, to interfere with the system
of slavery! Monstrous indifference, or barbarous cruelty! And yet it
presumes to occupy the whole ground of the controversy, and to direct
the actions of the friends of the blacks throughout the land! By the
phrase '_interfere_,' is meant no desire to contest the claims of the
planters to their bondmen, or to kindle the indignation of the people
against their atrocious practices.

7. It appears that all those terrible enactments which have been made
for the government of the slaves - such, for example, as forbid their
learning to read under the penalty of stripes, and even death - are
acknowledged by the Society to be necessary for the maintenance of
order! What a concession!

8. Sometimes we are told that the Society is aiming at the liberation of
all the slaves, and then that it has no design of attempting either
partial or general emancipation: so contradictory are its assurances! It
is manifest that it does not mean to touch the question of slavery; and
hence the imperious necessity of forming abolition societies.

9. The rights of masters are to remain sacred in the eyes of the
Society! What rights? Those by which the intelligent creatures of God
are bought and sold and used like cattle? those which are founded upon
piracy, cruelty and outrage?[J] Yes! This, then, is an abandonment of
the ground of right and justice, and ends the controversy between truth
and error.

10. It condemns no man because he is a slaveholder! Certainly, then, it
allows that slaveholders are upright men - not guilty of fraud - not
oppressors - not extortioners! and that the slaves are truly and justly
their property - not entitled to freedom - not better than cattle - not
conscious of evil treatment - not worthy of remuneration for their
toil - not rational and accountable beings!


[H] The term evil is used here in a criminal sense. I know that
colonizationists regard slavery as an evil; but an evil which has been
_entailed_ upon this land, for the existence of which we are no more to
blame than for the prevalence of plague or famine.

[I] 'If the most guilty and daring transgressor be sought, he is a
Gospel Minister, who solemnly avows his belief of the Presbyterian
Confession of Faith, or the Methodist Discipline, and notwithstanding
himself is a Negro Pedler, who steals, buys, sells, and keeps his
brethren in slavery, or supports by his taciturnity, or his smooth
prophesying, or his direct defence, the Christian professor who unites
in the kidnapping trade. Truth forces the declaration, that every church
officer, or member, who is a slaveholder, records himself, by his own
creed, a hypocrite!' * * 'To pray and kidnap! to commune and rob men's
all! to preach justice, and steal the laborer with his recompense! to
recommend mercy to others, and exhibit cruelty in our own conduct! to
explain religious duties, and ever impede the performance of them! to
propound the example of Christ and his Apostles, and declare that a
slaveholder imitates them! to enjoin an observance of the Lord's day,
and drive the slaves from the temple of God! to inculcate every social
affection, and instantly exterminate them! to expatiate upon bliss
eternal, and preclude sinners from obtaining it! to unfold the woes of
Tophet, and not drag men from its fire! are the most preposterous
delusion, and the most consummate mockery.' * * * 'The Church of God
groans. It is the utmost Satanic delusion to talk of religion and
slavery. Be not deceived: to affirm that a slaveholder is a genuine
disciple of Jesus Christ, is most intelligible contradiction. A brother

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 7 of 29)