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Resolved, That for the purpose of enlightening the public mind on the subject of colonizing the blacks of this country, with their own consent, on the coast of Africa, and the advantages to result therefrom; it be recommended to those friendly to the cause, to associate in their respective neighbourhoods, for the purpose of procuring, and circulating amongst their neighbours, all publications containing authentic information on the subject, which may be within their reach; and that this Society particularly recommended to such, to procure and circulate the · African Repository and Colonial Journal," a monthly work, published by order of the American Colonization Society,” at Washington city; a work in which will be found accurate information concerning the plans and prospects of the Parent Society; minute accounts of its operations, and of the condition and progress of the Colony; essays calculated to advance the interests of the Colony and the cause of African improvement; information from Foreign Associations, on the subject of colonization and the slave trade, the abolition of slavery; and many other matters relating to the cause generally, of a highly interesting and useful nature.
An Essay for the Fourth of July,
On the American Colonization Society. By the Rev. Stephen
Foster, of Knoxville, Tennessee. We have perused this essay with sincere and heartfelt pleasure. May the sentiments here expressed, become those of every Christian Minister throughout the Union, and the next Anniversary of our National Independence, prove their efficiency in support of our Society.
I wish the advocates of the objection would adduce, from ancient or modern times, a single instance of colonization, in which greater obstacles have been surmounted with fewer losses; where success so signal has crowned efforts so feeble; where subordination to wholesome laws has been yielded with greater promptness; where privations have been borne with a fortitude more buoyant; where twenty-eight men, without experience or discipline, have encountered one thousand five hundred armed savages, with a cooler courage, a sterner resistance and a happier triumph. The friends of the enterprise must ever regard it as an incident worth noticing in the Colony's history, that in less than a year from its settlement on Cape Montserado, it resisted and defeated a greater force, than, in any human proba. bility, can again be mustered by all the petty sovereignties that surround it. The signal success, with which it has overcome the early embarrassments of its settlement, is an auspicious omen of its future character. A tissue of circumstances in its infant fortunes seems to have been woven by the finger of God, to try its virtue, to stimulate its powers, develope its resources, give stability, permanence and maturity to its operations, and present it to the benevolent and liberally-minded, as a focal point for their efforts to meet upon in behalf of degraded, forgotten Africa.
But perhaps it may be imagined, notwithstanding all this, that I am urging the claims of the Society prematurely; that the benevolence of our countrymen has not expanded wide enough to embrace it with the cordiality, and support it with the munificence, to which it is entitled; that there are yet many faithful disciples of Mammon, so jealous for the safety of their own pockets, as to raise a clamour against the Society, and say that it espouses the cause of indiscriminate emancipation, and is stirring uneasiness and disaffection among your slaves. Clamours like this have been raised against every object of a tendency beneficent to the African race. They were raised against Wilberforce, Clarkson and Pitt, through their 20 years' struggle to abolish the slave-trade. They arose ten years ago against the formation of the Society I am pleading for. They have been urged against various points of its operations since, and they continue to hover around it still. But their impetuosity is wasted; their keenness is blunted; their effect is vanishing, like the visions of the Middle Ages before the blaze of the Reformation. They are contrary to the principles of its constitution, to its uniform procedure, and the resolutions from time to time adopted as guides of its conduct. How does the Colonization Society foment disaffection among slaves? It wishes to colonize with their own consent such people of colour as are already free, and such hereafter as may become so. It "dis claims on the one hand the design of interfering with the legal rights and obligations of slavery, and on the other of perpetuating its existence within the limits of the country.” (See Mr. Fitzhugh's Resolutions, African Repository, vol. i. p. 335.) It is exactly fitted for that class of our fellow-citizens, who wish to free their slaves but not to retain them in America; who wish to place them in a community of their own, where they may taste the joys, sustain the honours, and be stimulated by the lofty aspirings of freemen; where their colour shall be the common colour, and where a darkness of skin shall neither cramp the expansive tendencies of their intellects, slacken the vigour of their efforts, nor in any way establish an insuperable barrier hętween them and the first honours of the state. Cannot this class of our countrymen be indulged with permission to free their slaves and send there to Africa, without being harassed with the odious charge, that they are sowing disaffection among the slaves of others?
It has long been a matter of just regret among the discerning and well informed, that they cannot free their slaves without adding to their wretchedness; that so many as they manumit and retain here, so many materials they turn loose on the community to be manufactured into every form of indolence, degradation, and vice. This is so far matter of undeniable fact, that the increase of a free black population among us bas been regarded as a greater evil than the increase of slaves. The manumitted slave in Ameriea finds himself insulated from the world; without a bome of his own, without a community of his own, without a country of his own, without a govern. ment of his own, without any system, intellectual or moral, in which his own individual existence forms a part of the machinery. Thus situated by himself, thus dislocated from humanity, he casts about for some plan of me. liorating his condition. This is to go to the land of his fathers. (See Me. morial of the free people of colour in Baltimore. African Repository, vol. ü. p. 295.) But those, who attempt to aid him in the enterpise, are shot at with the calumny, You are stirring disaffection among our slaves. Where now are his incentives to action, his stimulants to noble enterprise, his motives to virtue and dissuasives from vice? Where are those elastic principles of the soul which need the hand of culture, the hope of reward, the prospect of distinction, to bring them to a vigorous and energetic maturity? They have died away for want of aliment in the heart of their unfortunate possessor, and they have left his soul a withered monument of intellectual vacancy, for seven unclean spirits to enter and take up their abode. He abandons himself to idleness, dissipation and want. Theft, robbery, imprisonment, follow in their train, and some loathsome sickness caps the climax of his wretchedness. He is severed from the sympathies of earthly friends. The heart rendered hard by criminal habit, seldom yields to the grace of the gospel. Where are his prospects of a better world, dying detested for his crimes in this?
To say that such wretchedness is the invariable fate of all the free black population of our country, would be denying those numerous instances which exist to the honour of the African character, and the encouragement of those who seek its melioration. But to say that it prevails to a degree unexampled among the whites, would be a feeble expression of the convic.. tion of those states, in which the evil I am speaking of, has had time to unveil its legitimate features. In the state of Virginia the free coloured people are 37,000, of whom not 200 are proprietors of land. In Pennsylvania the free coloured people compose only 1 to 34 of the state-population, but more than 1 to 3 of the prison-population. Of the white inhabitants of that state, there is one convict to about 3,000, and of the coloured, 1 to 180; that is 16 times as many coloured convicts as white, in proportion to the re
lative numbers of both; i. e. the degraded state of the coloured people compared with the whites, is 16 to 1, in that section of country.
There are now in our country 250,000 free people of colour, increasing on a moderate estimate at the rate of 5,000 a year. Is this fact regarded by any patriot with indifference? But, what can the patriot do? reduce them back to their former slavery? Arabs might do it, but not Americans. The only feasible remedy for the evil appears to be colonization. Can any, but the misinformed or illiberal, denounce this patriotic undertaking as a plot to create disaffection among your slaves! A man, who can tamely behold the existence of such an evil, who can refrain from embracing the speediest method of removing it, or who, for the sake of an ephemeral popularity, can smooth it over with empty and Aattering declamation on national pride and national honour, is not a patriot in the highest sense; only so through the mere grace of a vitiated nomenclature. For he overlooks those principles of virtue and vice, that lie scattered in the groundwork of his country's safety, and from which her honour or degradation must spring. I trust there is hardly to be found an individual on this day, which comme morates the birth of our independence, whose heart does not throb for his country's glory. What object is nearer allied to the sympathies and prayers of such a heart, than to contribute to extend that liberty we celebrate? Is nat the 4th day of July embalmed in our memories by the blood of our fathers? consecrated to the genius of enlightened freedom? commemorative of an event on which heaven has smiled? Is there not a moral dignity presiding around it in the heart of every true American, that seeks to guard its associations from the alloy with which every thing earthly is polluted, and, that, against the huzzas vociferated on its celebration to "the god of this world,” by an intemperate and giddy rabble, utters, in its defence, with more than the vehemence of classic inspiration, a "Procul, o procul este profani!” But what object can you find so congenial to this moral dignity of feeling, as to rear on the shore of another continent a new nation of another colour; to plant the standard of civil liberty on that shore, where the horrors of despotiam have been mingled only with the horrors of the slave-trade; to overspread the sea-coast from the Zaire to the Gambia, a soil of unexampled tropical fertility, with happy communities of coloured freemen, carrying to their countrymen the arts and civilization they have learned from ours, and determined in the spirit of American missions, to spread into Africa's deepest interior, the joys of the great salvation, and to publish, to yet unknown tribes on the Niger, the growing honours of that Redeemer, to whom they are given for an everlasting inheritance?
There is another consideration in favour of this object, that seems to claim some attention here. It is the prevalence of enlightened and Christian enterprise. Seventeen years ago we had no American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; now that Society expends annually 64,000 dollars, and has near 200 laborers already in the field. Twelve years ago
the American Bible Society was not formed; now it can expend annually 65,000 dollars. Ten years ago the American Education Society was not formed; now it has a permanent fund of 60,000 dollars. Why need I pause to detail numerous facts kindred to these? They all go to show, that there is a spirit of enlightened and pious enterprise increasing simultaneously in different sections of our country and our globe. It has gained an energy, a dignity, and a moral worth, which shame the slanders of jealousy and ignorance. It was once encaged in the ark of a mysterious guardianship, when the error and superstition of the middle ages brooded over the prospects of man. But those turbid waters have subsided. It now rides abroad in its majesty; and the wilderness and the solitary place are made glad for it. It is the precursor of the reign of God over his revolted children. It announces the jubilees of that kingdom, whose beginning was announced by a choir of angels.
In all this progress of enlightened sentiment and philanthropic action, was it to be credited, that a redundant population of 250,000 should be forgotten in the midst of us, without an effort made on our part to save them from their wretchedness, and our country from conniving at or sharing in their debasement? Or is the miser-appalling fact, that it will cost an immense sum of money, enough to palsy any effort projected for their relief? The enterprise advances. The hearts of our countrymen will burn with a devotion too pure to be quenched with the miser's logick; they will expand with a liberality too wide to be shut within his coffers; and they will kindle with a patriotism too exalted to bow with a cringing servility to his maxims.
The Colonization object had long been regarded with fond desire by those, who looked forward to the permanent glory of our thriving Repubfic. But they seemed to wish it, rather than to see how it could be realized. They seemed to view it almost as one of those delightful visions, that charm but to delude us; as a beautiful edifice of fairy construction, that recedes at once from this world's grossness; as some celestial beauty, that commands the homage of a thousand admirers, but Aies, like the spirits of Elysium, from the contact of flesh and blood. They wanted it to be real, and could not rest without testing the possibility of its being so. They projected plans, adopted resolutions, and addressed petitions. As early as the administration of Mr. Jefferson, and again in the year 1816, the legislature of Virginia addressed the Executive of our nation, desiring that a territory might be purchased by the United States on the western coast of Africa, to form an asylum for free people of colour. About the same time S. J. Mills was urging the mistaken, though well meant project, of obtaining for that purpose a township of land within the limits of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.Subsequent to that the legislature of Tennessee passed a resolution, requesting their Senators and Representatives in Congress, “o give to the government of the United States, all the aid in their power; in devising and carrying into effect a plan, which may have for its object the colonizing, in