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Controversy between Caius Gracchus and Opimius, in reference
to the American Society for colonizing the Free People of Colour of the United States. (First published in the Richmond Enquirer.) Georgetown, D. C. 1827.
8vo. pp. 118. On a subject so various in its relations as the design of the American Colonization Society, and looking to consequences of such interest and importance to our national character and condition, unanimity of sentiment is not to be expected. The predictions of human sagacity are never infallible, and it is impossible to foresee the precise results of measures the best adapted to promote the public good. But this ought to constitute no objection to such measures.
The obscurity results from the limitation of our faculties, and from our ignorance of the purposes of Providence, and equally involves private transactions and public affairs. Surely, no reasonable man will consider the want of the gift of prophecy a valid excuse for inaction. We doubt not, however, that much of the apathy which exists in regard to the plans of the American Colonization Society may be traced to an incredulity little af
fected by evidence, because induced by feeling, and which time and experience alone can remove. The greatness of the scheme makes it appear chimerical.
The grandeur of the object gives it a visionary aspect.
There are those, however, who will not despair of the execution of a work merely because it is great, but who will consider whether the necessity for its execution is not greater-whether the powers of the country are not greater; and who, if told that it is a perilous undertaking will inquire, whether the neglect of it be not attended with far greater danger. There are those, also, who admit the authority of Christianity in the discussion of political questions, and with whom it is a maxim, that, “what is morally wrong, cannot be politically right.” Such men believe, that the laws of the Deity extend to every department of human affairs, and that obedience to their mandates, can never be inexpedient. They do not consider nations exempt from the obligations of duty, nor that the discharge of a national duty, at whatever sacrifice or expense, can possibly prove a permanent disadvantage. By them, no higher motive for public exertions can be imagined, than that of securing the approbation of Him, upon whom depends all human authority, and who has declared to the world, that Righteousness exalteth a nation, but that sin is a reproach to any people.
In a free community, the sober and candid promulgation of the truth, among those capable of appreciating its value, on any questions involving the duty or interests of the public, can never, on the whole, prove injurious: for should it awaken opposition in some minds, it will strengthen right principle in others; and both experience and the divine word assure us, that in the controversy which may ensue, truth will be victorious. Nor should those who contend for the truth, defer the contest from their apparent inadequacy to meet the hostile powers: for the certainty of their success is not ascertained by ordinary calculations; it lies in the motives by which they are animated, and in the nature of the cause which they seek to advance. Who but one skilled in the purposes of Providence, would have predicted that the almost imperceptible seed planted by Jesus, would so soon have become a tree, whose branches reached to Heaver and that the doctrines which he taught to a few humble and un