Page images


cy. The first three attempts to colonize Virginia, entirely failed, and the Colonists perished almost to a man. The first permanent settlement was made at Jamestown in May, 1607, and consiste ed of about 100 persons; in the course of the year, they were reduced to 38; they were reinforced by the arrival of 120 persons, with provisions and instruments of husbandry. Great exertions were made by the proprietors to sustain this Colony, and in 1609, 500 emigrants arrived, yet in May, 1610, it consisted of but 60 persons. Fresh supplies of men and provisions were sent from England, and large sums of money expended in furtherance of the object, and yet in 1624, seventeen years after the foundation of the Colony, when the charter was vacated, the Colony consisted of but 1800 souls; although more than 9000 persons had been sent hither from England; and a sum exceeding 150,000l. (666,000 dollars) had been expended in the pursuit. Your committee will not consume the time of the House in detailing the disasters of New England, but will compare with this history of our own Commonwealth, a view of the African Colony. There have been expended by the Society about 870,000. There have been transported from the United States in their vessels about 1000 Colonists. To these must be added about 160 re-captured Africans, sent back by the Government of the United States, who settled in the Colony, 175 natives rescued from slavers by the Colonists, and about 50 native children going to school in the Colony, making about 1385 souls. From the latest information your committee can receive, when those who are now on their way, and who are included in the number stated above, to have been sent out by the Society, shall have arrived, in eleven years from the formation of the Society, and six from the permanent location of the Colony, their popu lation will consist of 1343* souls. Your committee are therefore by no means dissatisfied with the prospects of health to the Colonists.

This important point ascertained, your committee next turned their inquiries towards the security of the Colonists from hostile attacks. They find that in its infancy, when the military means

* The number stated in Mr. Gurley's letter, and published in the Report, was 1443. We have ventured to correct the error. [Editor,

of the Colony were at their lowest, and their defences incomplete, two combined attacks were made upon it, by the native tribes, which were repelled with great spirit. Since then, their numbers have increased ten fold, their fortifications have been completed, their militia organized and disciplined, and provided as they are with the means, have on several occasions shown themselves not wanting in the will, nor the power to defend themselves.' There is, too, ample evidence that the natives are pacific, that the moral influence of the Colony is rapidly increasing over them, and that the ties of mutual benefits, and commercial intercourse, have left among them but little inclination to disturb those relations of peace which have been established with their now powerful neighbour, even should they forget the lesson taught them, by its stern resistance in infancy. The power of the Colony itself; the presence of ships of war continually hovering in those seas to suppress the slave trade; and of commercial vessels trading to that coast, afford ample security in the opinion of your committee against piratical attacks.

With regard to territory, a large extent, embracing several navigable creeks and rivers, has been obtained, which is capable of producing corn, guinea corn, millet, rice, cotton, sugar, coffee, with other valuable products, and of sustaining horses, cattle, hogs, goats, sheep, and other useful animals, equal to the demands of a large population; and no doubt this may be extended as their wants may require it. The commerce of the Colony has increased to an importance which will surprise those who have never inquired into the subject; only two circumstances evincing which will be mentioned. From the reports of the Agent, Mr. Ashmun, who your committee take pleasure in saying, appears to be a highly intelligent, dispassionate, zealous, and pious man, it appears, the exports of the Colony for six months, from the 1st of January, to the 15th of June, 1826, amounted, in value, to 843,980, upon which a profit was realized to the Colonists, of 821,990. In the month of July of the same year, a cargo of goods, worth $11,000, arrived at Liberia . from Portland, which was sold and wholly paid for in ten days, the regulations of the Colony prohibiting, under pain of forfeiture, any imported goods being sold on credit. The result of this state of prosperity is, that every description of labour is

well paid, and a poor Colonist arriving without money or any trade, can, for his ordinary daily labour, command from 75 to 125 cents per day, whilst those who have good trades, receive 82. As a further evidence of this prosperity, the Agent mentions the fact, that of the 142 re-captured Africans who arrived in August last, all had obtained, within seven days, such wages and employment in the Colony, as no longer to be a charge upon the Government. Notwithstanding these evidences of pros. perity, the Legislature will perhaps be surprised to hear, that your committee have good reason to believe, that several of the Colonists have acquired fortunes of from five to ten thousand dollars each.

Satisfied on these important points, your committee next directed its inquiries to the political and moral state of the Colo. ny, to discover if they were such as to promise a complete developement of these physical advantages, and find, from the annual reports of the Society, and the accounts received from the Agent, that a form of Government has been adopted, with which the people are perfectly content, which extends to them perfect equality of rights and security of property, and in which they have as large a participation as is compatible with their present condition. The Society will doubtless extend this participation, as the Colonists become qualified to exercise new privileges, and by a wise system of instruction, are preparing them for it. Schools are established, and by law all the children are required to be educated. The effect, as the Agent reports, is, that there is no instance of a child five years old, unless it be some late emigrant, who cannot read; and how greatly the Colonists themselves appreciate this blessing, will be felt, when it is known they contribute 81,400 yearly, to support the system.Indeed, your committee have the authority of the Colonists themselves, in a late impressive address to the free persons of colour in the United States, for saying, that such is the equity with which the Government has been administered by the Colonial officers, such the liberty and equality of rights which prevails among them, such the effect of removing them from that continually depressing sense of inferiority, to which they have heretofore been exposed; that perhaps there exists no where a happier, or more contented community. From the reports of

the Agent, your committee feel justified in reporting too, a high state of morals in the Colony. Churches have been erected; sobriety, industry and good order prevail; and the fact is developed, that even this degraded population needs only the ordinary motives and incitements to exertion, to elevate their characters far above any moral worth we have been accustomed to assign to it.

From this review of the history, present condition, and future prospects of the Colony, your committee can feel no hesitation in earnestly recommending it to the free people of colour in Virginia, as a proper asylum for them and their childern; and as holding forth to them, a fair prospect of that wealth, respectability and moral improvement, which in the United States they can never attain. They feel assured that no motives of policy could induce them to give this recommendation, did they not believe true feelings of philanthropy and benevolence towards that species of our population, supported them in it. They again most solemnly repeat to the free coloured people of Virginia their belief, that in Africa alone can they enjoy that complete emancipation from a degrading inequality, which in a greater or less degree pervades the United States, if not in the laws, in the whole frame and structure of society, and which in its effects on their moral and social state is scarcely less degrading than slavery itself. In Africa, there is a reasonable prospect of health, security for life and property, perfect equality of condition, a government, in the rights and benefits of which all participate, and ample means of acquiring by industry, independence, comfort, and even wealth.

Fully convinced of the benefits likely to accrue to our free coloured population from emigration to this Colony, your committee have next inquired into the motives of policy which should induce this Legislature to extend such pecuniary aid to this Society, as would enable them to transport those who may be disposed to go, and to hold out such motives as will be decisive with this population to remove thither. The evils resulting to us from their remaining here are but too well known, and as policy compels us to place impediments in the way of gratifying those feelings which often prompt to the emancipation of faithful slaves, humanity would require us to furnish some asylum to which

[ocr errors]


they may be sent, with benefit to themselves, and gratification to their benevolent owners. The prevalence of the free coloured population amongst us, has compelled the Legislature to engraft on its Criminal Code, provisions of peculiar harshness in relation to them, inconsistent with the general mild spirit of our laws; and the expense of these criminal prosecutions, forms no small item in our general expenditure. Your committee think also, that as part of a system of poor laws, a small sum annual

а ly applied to their transportation, would be both humane and politic. Great Britain, and perhaps other European nations, are geeking relief from the burden of their poor, by transporting at public expense, a portion of those incapable of obtaining subsistence at home, to other regions where it is more easily procured; and the same policy may be advantageous to us, with regard to unquestionably the most degraded part of our population, who can never amalgamate with the great body of the nation. The number of free negroes in Virginia, was, at the last census, about 37,000; the average increase may be set down at 21 per cent. amounting to about 820. The whole cost of subsistence and transportation to the Colony is 830, which would make the cost of transporting the whole increase of this population, about $25,000 per annum. The situation of the Colony, however, renders so large an accession to their population at present, by no means desirable, and your committee believe a well concerted combination of public munificence, with private benevolence, united with a moderate tax on this species of population, to be applied exclusively to the aid of such as are willing to emigrate, would abundantly supply all the means that could now be prudently or beneficially used by the Society. The adoption of this plan is therefore earnestly recommended, as likely to contribute not only to the general, but really to the pecuniary interests of the Commonwealth. There is one other circumstance to which

committee will advert, as connected with the policy of this measure. Any new avenue for our productions, must be greatly desirable, in the present embarrassed state of our commerce. Many of these Colonists going from the South, will carry with them many of our habits and wants. Their extended means of gratifying these will produce an increased demand for our products. Their trade



« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »