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opened to us, the contribution of the Auxiliary Society which I represent. I am instructed to assure this meeting of resolute co-operation and cause of increasing hope, from a quarter not among the least interesting to the friends of African Colonization, I mean the central part of Virginia.Equally removed as Virginia is from that hardy disregard of the opinions and prejudices of others, which from some parts of the North has alarmed the temperate every where, and from that susceptibility of nervous alarm which disquiets our more Southern neighbours, they who know her best already predict that from her borders shall come out the most useful assistance; and the most enduring encouragement to the plan, whose yet infant years we are this day watching over:-For I take it for granted that that aid which is to be most efficient, will have to arise in the slave-holding states themselves. I trust that within any compartment of this temple of American patriotism, the voice of praise to Virginia will be thought no alien sound. Let me then speak of her as she is: proud and self-balanced, yet she boasts not that independence of the moral sense of the world, which is among the examples of this age; and they who boast this independence, delude themselves much when they imagine the general feeling of Virginia to be similar to their own: she is above fear, because she is without reproach. Ambitious the world calls her, yet when in power careful only for others; irritable the world knows her to be, but hers is not the sensitiveness of selfishness. Without that enterprise and never-flagging industry, which is the every temper of New England, always ready for useful schemes and always onward; Virginia waits for sudden impulse within, or contagion from without, to induce her to profitable zeal and activity: but she is always readyarmed where patriotism and humanity call. Come but to her with proposals of philanthropic enterprise; let no disguise excite distrust- let her but be sure that the cause originates in holy honour, and moves towards ends which will “make ambition virtue”; and nothing shall make me doubt that she lends her heart to it as sincerely, as when she wore the sceptre and the laurel, and was first in all things. Meanwhile it is not matter of wonder that there have been some scruples in her mind about embarking in a scheme touching a source of contingent danger to her, until that scheme could be well understood, and its tendencies shown by experiment. Virginia and the South had a right to demand of us explicit avowals on several heads; and I am happy to believe that the votes often passed by the Society with reference to misrepresentations of its views, are the candid sentiments of every individual of the Society. The Society has reiterated the declaration that it has no ulterior views diverse from the object avowed in the constitution; and having declared that it is in nowise allied to any abolition Society in America or elsewhere, is ready whenever there is need to pass a censure upon such Societies in America. Perhaps, however, the most cogent appeal to Virginia, is to be made by showing her, that the Society was instituted in furtherance of a feeling excited by her Legislature, and
that the plan of this Association is exactly that originated by herself, in its object, in its scope, in its adjuncts, in its inevitable tendencies, and in its liability to possible collateral dangers. Nor was this plan rashly originated by herself; the projet had been shown through the state from March 'til December, and was finally adopted, with hardly a dissenting voice, in the General Assembly. But I forbear the farther use of this topic; I feel the incongruity of pressing on the sense of consistency of any body of men, by forcing on them the authorship of a noble plan, which receives the auspices of this day, and the guardian care of this august assembly. At all events, I think it is not premature for us to promise, that before many years, if the authorship of this plan imply responsibility, Virginia will be ready to bear it; if it impart honour, Virginia will claim it.
Perhaps, Mr. President, the day has passed by, when a few individuals can so tower above the world in talents, in loftiness of spirit, and in influence, as to make the age in which they live their own. Human nature has before this, won the highest places which fame can allot to individual greatness; and young ambition will seek in vain for that sphere of action and those fields of display, wherein humanity has been privileged to exhibit "the prodigality of heaven.” But all is not taken from us; and human nature as a whole, is yet to be shown in higher elevation and nobler attitude. Society begins to be no longer a mass, but a combination of distinct atoms; all society is to be become individualized. We are trusting this day in America to individual, undirected opinion: those influences which wise statesmen know are the only true "solidities of mortal power.” We are waiting the gradual, healthy growth of a literature not pensioned, not patronised; of piety not upheld by law; and of patriotism guarded by little more than public opinion. It is left to us men of the 19th century to raise the universal character, to form the common mind to high designs, to tempt the whole into a co-operation of equalized merit, and to lend the mind of the whole to the progressive good of the whole. And to do this, the age offers us many great helps. The broad principles of general truth and justice are no longer left to grammarians and sophists in the shades of the schools, nor to the theorists and the oppositions in Parliament. Senates have listened to the high-sounding demands, the natural sentiments of ameliorated humanity; and the cold, the cynical, have shrunk into minorities that need not the trouble of counting. The Dundases and the Roses have shot their pointless jest, and put forth their hardy paradox; but the paradox has fallen before the powers and principalities of Truth, and the jest has sunk down to the earth. The policy and custom of governments are thus no longer a clog on public opinion. To this is to be added the striking truth, that the spirit of commerce is not now the avaricious, selfish thirst, it might once have been said to be; privileged as the rich merchant is by Providence to diffuse happiness, his class have acquitted themselves of their responsibilities by giving impetus and momentum to the best achievements of the age; the earnestness that gives hope to others, and the self-persuaded zeal that gives success have come from the merchants. But it is yet wanting, and more in America than elsewhere, that richly talented men should take from that all-absorbing, all-disturbing theme, which tinges our thoughts and pollutes our feelings, something more than an hour of listlesness and leisure, to devote to the beneficent plans of the day. Sir, is the time never to come in America, when they into whom nature has breathed resistless eloquence and inspiring zeal, and added to these a lofty ambition, shall seeks fame in some other path than political life? Half a century has now passed since our independence: yet he who dreams of eminence and renown here, still pictures to himself the lead of some triumphant party in this Hall; the proud security, the impregnable supremacy of the majority, or what is not Jess "worth ambition,” the tenacity, the fortitude, the magnanimous constancy of the minority. Yet he who shall note a hundred years hence the good that America has done for the world, will pass by many a name now high in that career, and look with a smile that we may well envy, on the single white man, who now on the African coast, is devoting his life, his talents, and his affections, exiled from their natural objects, to rear up an enlightened commonwealth there, whose example is, one day, to tempt this nation to the greatest deed that humanity ever performed. And the deep tones of that voice which cheered the Society at its last assembling here, to my poor apprehension, Gentlemen, did then achieve a triumph of less dubious result, than when it gave pulsation to the faint heart of Southern America, to this time yet equivocal in her character, perhaps incompetent, perhaps unworthy.
When I think on the undoubted claims of this Society on the exertions of all classes, of those who are chiefly led by humanity, and alike of those with whom policy is the chief motive, on its unexceptionable harmless character to all men, and when I hear the cheering accounts from Africa, i no longer harbour a doubt of perfect success.
ess. There are two aspects of the Society: first, as it relates to the free blacks and offers them an asylum; second, as it relates to the slave, and offers an outlet to such as their masters may voluntarily manumit: to this last aspect, so harmless and so inviting to patriotism, are the chief objections laid. I shall not say a word now to vindicate it in either aspect. Let it only be said that most of those now hostile misunderstand our views:- I think they will soon receive light. Al who are indifferent to us are so from want of attention to the great end proposed, which would else leave no patriot indifferent. Of these persons I am sure that before another ten years, we shall count on our side all the candid, the humane, the patriotic. And if I might divine something of the future, I would say, that after ten years to come, it will be with two classes of foes that we shall have chiefly to contend. The first is that number of men, not large I trust, who still look on their slaves in the light in which most men regarded them when the slave trade was legitimate. There are
not many such in Virginia. Almost all masters there assent to the proposition that when the slaves can be liberated without danger to ourselves, and to their own advantage, it ought to be done. Of those, wherever they are, who hold their slaves with that same sentiment which impelled the kidnap. per when he forcibly bore them off, I know not how morality can distin, guish them from the original wrong doers, pirates by nature, and pirates by civilized law. And if there are few such in Virginia, I feel assured that there are also few such any where in the South. The second class is not large either. It consists of men of respectable age, of strong peculiarities of mind, often of considerable ability, accompanied by invincible prejudices, among which is foremost a prejudice against every plan not originating with themselves; so that when they are in retirement from active life, and the world advances a step without their co-operation, or when the world having undertaken a work with their approbation, does not flag in it just when the wind is east, why these men are hostile forever! Spleen does the business with some, nerves with others; and thus many a Howard is lost to the world. Amiable philanthropists! The fop in Henry IV. would have been a soldier could salt petre have been dispensed with; so would you be Howards did not good humour form an essential trait in the character. Another and the most striking prejudice in their minds, is a disposition to discountenance that tension of feeling in many minds at once, which without philosophical precision is commonly called PUBLIC SPIRIT; a prejudice which desires every man to stay at home, and opposes
indiscriminately all the active schemes of the day, founded chiefly on the opinion that if the state of society in America forty years ago could have been perpetuated, we should have secured the character most of all to be coveted. I think this last sentiment prevails no where so much as in the South. Sir, with all due admiration for certain individuals of the Revolutionary age, I think history does not present us such a picture of that time as to excite regret at its passing away, and particularly when I reflect what conception these persons have of the ancient character of their native states, and what they most admire therein. I neither regret as past the day when every man born in poverty felt it his duty to nature, to follow the handicraft of his father, nor when pride of blood, and wealth, were upheld by laws of descent and homage from the poor. I should be loth to believe that the character of America had reached its maximum under monarchical rule; I am sure it ought not to be so considered in Virginia.
That is true greatness of national character which is not without the free operation of all the agents of moral and intellectual excellence in constant impulse on it. Therefore a national character which cannot be preserved unless all but a few are to be dissuaded from seeking learning, or unless some bounds are put to the acquisitions of industry, or ambition made the privilege of a few; a national character which makes station depend on something else than merit, and poverty no necessary consequence of waste:
fulness, is not to be mourned over when it dies away. And nature is little sparing of such a state of things; she has been almost ruthless in the rapidity with which she has hastened its downfall in America. We live to see the overseer and the steward seated in the mansions of their former employers, and yet I believe the poor are in as good subordination every where as before: they are content, but contented not so much with what they have as with the great gain in wealth, in knowledge, and in consideration, which lies within easy reach. The busy spirit which in our time in America urges every man to try to better his condition, and so fills the land with struggling upstarts and successful novi homines, is only the same which leads them to unite their enterprise from time to time in behalf of objects not merely selfish. And in fact there is no situation in which a people, who are moral and industrious at their own firesides, each man attentive to his own concerns, are exhibited in so elevated a point of view, as when occasionally they unite in some great work of benevolence. Far from sneering at zeal when it inspires great masses at once, the wise statesman sees in it, the best guarantee for union in times of difficulty, the best school of practice for the patriotic virtues.
I hail these symptoms of life and health in the mighty heart of America! I hail the united feeling which has brought so many of us from our distant homes, and our personal concerns, to devote a day to the calls of national policy and humanity. It is not sickly sympathy which has brought us here, nor overheated enthusiasm which holds us together. Of all the achievements of this age, this will be the greatest; for it will arise out of calm conviction, a feeling of patriotism not yet pressed with fear of immediate danger, and a forecast that looks far ahead; and its object the whole world will regard of a magnitude scarcely ever exceeded. The Society has completed eleven years since its foundation: this day the Report puts to flight every remaining doubt of entire success, as regards the practicability of the plan. It is now plain that if the people of the U. States desire the thing, it can be accomplished. Already we may begin to think of Africa as regenerating herself by her sons returned to her bosom; already we may contemplate the humble commonwealth at Liberia as a fruitful stock, from which the deserts of Africa are to be made glad by the sentiments of a better nature. Sentiments not unworthy of the dying Cato when Africa received his blood, sentiments not unwortlıy of the stoic Lucan, or the christian Addison, may soon not be without some kindred bosoms there, where the barbarian and the pirate now possess sole right. But a dearer land to our hearts is too to be regenerated. A wretched class cursed with ineffectual freedom, is to be made free indeed, and an outlet is to be opened to those who will voluntarily disencumber themselves of the evil and the threatening ruin of another domestic pestilence. Public opinion must be the only agent in this: the most reluctant shall not be forced; the most timid shall not be alarmed by any thing we are to do. Hitherto and henceforward our plan has been and