« AnteriorContinuar »
dred from Newbern and Beaufort, to Chester; they were not suffered to land, neither there, nor in Philadelphia, nor yet on the Jersey shore, opposite; but had to float on the Delaware river until the Colonization Society took them into possession; then they were landed in Jersey, ten miles be. low Philadelphia, and re-shipped for Africa. The North Carolina Yearly Meeting has contributed thousands of dollars to the Colonization Society; it has probably done more for it than any other religious community has in America; not merely because it has provided us an assylum for the people of colour under our care; but upon the ground of our belief that it is a great humane and benevolent Institution. I am not informed of a single member of the Society of Friends in this country, not even in any of the slave States, who is not in favour of colonizing them in Africa; we believe generally, that colonizing them there gradually, is the most likely way to put a peaceful end to slavery, and place them in the great scale of equality with the rest of the civilized world. Some northern philanthropists say, "do them justice and leave consequences;" that is, free them immediately and universally, and let them abide here. We believe this would not be doing justice; we conceive that if our offspring were in Africa, and bad been there the same length of time, in the same situation every way, that they have been and now are here, that we should not think that any thing short of sending them back to this, the country of their fathers, would be doing justice, if it could be done. So we feel bound by the immutable principles of justice and the commandments of our Great Saviour and Redeemer, to do unto them, as we would they would do unto us, as much as we can and as far as practicable.
I have reflected much upon this subject, in years past and of late, and the more I reflect upon it, the more I am confirmed of its being a great and good work; and that it is not only practicable, but very probable that there will be a separation generally of the two colours or casts of people, in the United States, at longest within the passing century, if not within a shorter time. And the happy and inevitable results that must attend such an event, affords a truly pleasing prospect; 1st. The extinction of slavery in the United States. 2d. The restoration of the blacks to their proper scale of being and existence in the human family. 3d. The civilization of Africa. 4th. The total abolition of the slave trade there. 5th. The regeneration of the United States to a more permanent political condition, and her exoneration as a nation from the guilt and penalty of slavery by the great Ruler of the universe; in which she may enjoy more abundantly the blessings of civil and religious liberty.
Now, any one of these five objects, independent of any of the others, is sufficient to justify the work and cost that it would require to remove all the people of colour in the United States and settle them comfortably in Af. rica-enough to induce the sympathy and pecuniary aid of every friend to the human family. But when we take all these important objects into view, and see that they must inevitably follow, or be effected in the transpiration of such an event; it ought to induce every man in the world, that is acquainted with the subject, and capable of affording any aid, not only to sympathize, but to use his best exertions to promote and encourage, and pray for the support of, this great and benevolent plan. .
The roots of the tree of slavery are too deep and too widely extended here to be torn up by the strong wind of northern satire and eloquence; and perhaps too deep and broad to be torn up at all: but support and aid the Colonization scheme, and the tree of slavery, large as it is, may be gradu. ally cut down, and every chip and sprig of it be removed from this conti. Dent. And then the stump and roots thereof will die in the ground, without any band of iron or brass in the tender grass to preserve them.
And now, my dear friend, I think it is time, high time, for me to begin to think of a conclusion, having extended my letter to an uncommon length, and yet too short in some parts to be clearly understood, and I fear much too short in the whole, to do ample justice to the subject, both in extent and capacity, or to fully relieve my own mind.
I will now conclude with some extracts from some of the writings of two members of the Colonization Society, as being in accordance with my own views and feelings. “There is not, we believe, another benevolent enterprise on earth, so well calculated to secure the favourable opinion, and enlist the hearty good will of ALL MEN, as this, when its objects and bearings are fully understood. In relation to this Society, it is eminently the fact, that opposition and indifference have their origin in prejudice or want of information. Ignorance may raise an objection which it requires knowledge to remove; and to rest one's refusal to co-operate in what he is told is a good work, on his own ignorance, is both weak and wicked. Especially in relation to a benevolent enterprise of such magnitude as this, and which has been some ten or fifteen years before the public; the plea of ignorance is made with a very ill grace." "We may boldly challenge the anpals of human nature, for the record of a human plan for the melioration of the condition or advancement of the happiness of our race, which promised more unmixed good, or more comprehensive beneficence, than that of African Colonization, if carried into full execution. Its benevolent purpose is not limited by the confines of one continent, nor to the prosperity of a solitary race; but embraces two of the largest quarters of the earth, and the peace and the happiness of both of the descriptions of their present inhabitants with the countless millions of their posterity who are to succeed. It appeals for aid and support to the friends of liberty here and elsewhere." May the Lord hasten the consummation of the plan as far as it is consistent with his will, in his own good time. Farewell, and am thy friend."
PROSPECTIVE GRADUAL EMANCIPATION.
SPEECH OF MR. BIRNEY. On Saturday evening last, Mr. James G Birney, of Mercer county, Ky. delivered an address in the Court House, explanatory of the principles, object, &c. of the “ Kentucky Society for the relief of the state from slavery."
Although the speaker was evidently laboring under considerable indisposition, he did ample justice to his deeply interesting and important subject. The following is presented as a mere outline of his remarks. It is written out from hasty noles taken during the delivery of the address.
Mr. Birney commenced by stating the origin and object of the Society. The proposition for the formation of such a Society had been before the public some considerable time. According to the original proposal, the society was to be organized whenever fifty slaveholders should signify their desire to become members by signing the pledge. That number was obtained more than a year ago, and the meeting for the formation of the society would have been called during the past summer, had it not been rendered imprac. ticable by the prevalence of the epidemic. The meeting was held at this place in December last, at which time the present society was organized.
The object of the Society was single. It was unconnected with any
other plan. Every member pledged himself to emancipate all slaves born his property, thereafter, on their reaching the age of twenty-five years; and if females their offspring witb them. That was the only pledge. It was given by the members in bonor and good feeling. There was no coercion, and any member might withdraw who felt disposed to do so. Membership was not confined to slaveholders; the society addressed itself to all classes of the community. It was connected with no religious denomination; it had no relation to any political party. It was above the range of partizan warfare.
There were great political reasons why the state of slavery could not be regarded as perpetual. There were causes in swift operation to destroy it. It was evident, that unless something effective be done in relation to this subject, almost immediately, the energies of the people would be unable to shake off the evil.
Slavery could not cxist forever. Public sentiment had pronounced its downfall. It stood in opposition to the spirit of the age--to the progress of human improvement; it could not abide the light of the nineteenth century. The South American States, which are immeasurably behind us in every thing else, are yet before us on this subject. The singular spectacle is presented to the world of Brazil, the most impotent of despotic governments, and the United States, the freest and most enlightened of republics, standing side by side supporting the fabric of slavery. Can this juxtaposition, so shocking, so inconsistent, long abide the indignant scrutiny and denunciation of mankind? It cannot. Public sentiment from the four quarters of the world will roll upon us in heavy and merited rebuke; and we must either relinquish our national character and reputation, or we must relinquish our grasp upon our fellow-men.
Public sentiment is irresistible and almost omnipotent. Look at its progress and force in England on this subject. In 1826 Mr. Canning expressed his conviction that nothing could be done to destroy West India Slavery.
“Things must remain as they are.” In a few revolving years, public sentiment in England has reversed this decision of her great statesman, and in spite of the power of “the West India interest,” has knocked off the fetters from the West India negro. It spoke, and king and ministers and parliament were obliged to obey its behest.
The force of public opinion is eminently seen in putting an end to the slave trade. That traffic in human flesh and sinew was carried on in Eng. land, not only without shame, but with government patronage. Good men were engaged in it. Large pecuniary interests were involved. "By this craft, many had their wealth.” And yet it has been but about forty-. seven years since Mr. Wilberforce introduced the subject of the slave trade into the British Parliament, and now this traffic, once esteemed innocent, if not honorable, is regarded as piracy, and punished with death, and those who pursue it, considered as little better than incarnate demons. And in this country public sentiment is fast meliorating. In Virginia, the subject of slavery has been freely discussed in her Legislature-and Maryland is determined to rid herself of the evils of a black population. Kentucky is rapidly awakening. The public penetration sees the impossibility of the perpetuity of slavery, and the only question of patriotic anxiety is, how shall we get rid of it? If slavery continue unmodified, the beautiful Ohio must, one day and that day, not so distant as we may imagine-be the boundary between the white and black races. The slave states will be depopulated of their white inhabitants.
Mr. B. then adverted to the rapid increase of the slave population. It was owing not to their peculiar nature—the natural fecundity of the blacks was not greater than that of the whites, was less in fact—but to adventitious causes. [Mr. B. then exhibited some striking statistical facts on the com
parative increase of the two races, showing that the ratio of the blacks was two or three fold over that of the whites in some of the states.]
How long, said Mr. B. can this state of things be borne? Will not the white population be swallowed up? What are the causes of this growing increase of the African over the European race? It is owing, in the first place, to the introduction of slaves. The domestic slave traffic is carried on with an enormity, only inferior to the African slave trade. High minded and chivalrous Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky, furnish the victims of this infamous traffic, and ally themselves to the African Slaver. The second cause of the rapid excess of the black over the white population is, that the tendency of slavery is to displace, and drive off the whites. In the South, the situation of a poor white man, in the vicinity of the wealthy planter, is uncomfortable and degrading. He removes to a free state, where there is scope for his industry and exertion. The poor white man cannot subsist-labor is disgraceful in the vicinity of slaves. Slavery impedes improvement in civilization and science. A system of common schools cannot Aourish in a slave state. How much soever I approve the object, I fear, said Mr. B. that the efforts of the friends of common school education in this state, are destined to disappointment. In Louisiana $380,000 had been expended; and, according to Gov. Romain, 380 indigent youth had not been educated.
There is a fact connected with this subject, which may appear chimerical to many—but it is one which time will certainly develope. Slave labor, when the population becomes dense, and the means of subsistence less abundant, will sink in value, and become finally valueless. We are surrounded on all sides by free labor; West India free negro labor will, in a few years, come into competition, in the culture of southern productions, with slave labor. Then the time will come, as John Randolph once remarked, when, instead of the slave running away from the master, "the master will run away from the slave."
Mr. B. then remarked upon the impossibility of keeping in subjection the increasing millions of slaves of this country. Standing armies would be vain. We could not look for assistance from our neighbors of the free states, whose interference or even advice, we reject now with indignation. We now tell them we can manage the matter; they will then tell us to manage it ourselves. Neither can the slave states help each other.
But has Kentucky any interest in this condition of the Southern States? She has. Compare her census with Ohio. [Here Mr. B. gave the census of the two states from 1790, showing that Ohio was now, nearly double Kentucky in free population; and that the ratio in Kentucky of the white increase, was diminishing. What is the cause of this? Where are the sons of Kentucky? Go to Ohio, to Indiana, and Illinois, and you will find them. They have left their native soil, more fertile and salubrious, to be free from the curse of slavery. Shall we, asked Mr. B. remain in stupid repose, till this cloud, not larger at first than a man's hand, increase, rise, and spread over the whole horizon, and pour down upon us furious ruin and destruction? What must be done? [He then expressed his warm approbation of the Colonization Society; but gave it as his conviction that it could not relieve us of the black population. He regarded it, however, as a valuable auxiliary to the cause of gradual emancipation.]
Mr. B. denied that this scheme favoured the idea of amalgamation, and answered the question, How shall the races live together? They live together now, said Mr. B., and why not then. This objection is predicated on the expectation that they will continue forever in degradation and vice. But the melioration of knowledge, science, and liberty must be brought to bear upon them; they must be raised in the scale of respectability and im
provement. And why can they not be? I do not deny, said be, that much inconvenience and difficulty will attend the execution of our plan. It is to be expected; and it becomes us to bear with patience all the difficulty that will attend it. If the negroes are degraded, who has made them so? We have but one alternative before us-slavery perpetuated, finally to bring down upon us certain, inevitable, resistless ruin, or gradual emancipation? Which shall we choose? We are urged to the latter choice by every mo. tive that can impel men to action; by love of country, -by our interest in the welfare of posterity,-by the dictates of prudence,--and by the sacred incentives of humanity and philanthropy.
[Western Luminary, Lešington, Ky. March 5, 1834.
DUANESBURGH, N. Y. FEB. 17, 1834. Extensive as the circulation of the African Repository is, and ardently as the subject of colonization, in certain quarters, has been discussed, still, in many places, information upon the subject is very limited. The extent and intense character of the claims of colonization upon the community at large, have yet to be felt. Editors of our daily and weekly journals do not often find it convenient to bring the matter before their readers; and, for reasons too well known, some connected with the public press, are indisposed to give the cause a favourable notice.
The formation of County Societies, where State Societies exist, is yet but partial; and were they more general than they are, they would be inadequate to the diffusion and bringing home of the information requisite to operate upon, and call out individual liberality, in the promotion of the cause. Local associations, as at present evinced in the Temperance reform, and as has been evinced in other objects, operate with an efficiency altogether surprising, when acting in concert, and in subordination to a kindred institution of more general character. This may, though it escaped my attention, have been suggested before. And if it have, is it not worthy of being repeated? Let it be exemplified by some distinguished characters in our principal cities, and be publicly noticed; and in places more remote, the laudable example will soon be followed. Let it be distinctly understood that such local societies may, at pleasure, be auxiliary to the County, State, or Parent Society.
It is cheering to find this association, notwithstanding some unaccountable forms of opposition made to it, advancing in its hallowed march. It is trusted, that, from the pursuit of its exalted aims, it will not be turned aside, either by the suspicious sensitiveness of southern patriotism, or by the reckless fanaticism of the ill-advised northern abolitionist. The idea suggested by a correspondent of the Repository, appears of great importavce:-that the Colonization Society continue to occupy its own general and appropriate ground; disavowing all responsibility for the peculiar and individual views of its friends. Surely the enlightened Southerner, when he seriously reflects upon the subject, cannot in earnest frown upon this Institution. It is but a small item in that sum of causation which is irresistibly at work for the final emancipation of every human being upon earth; and to the action of which none gives a niightier impulse than himself. The patriot of the North, on this subject, will have no conflict with him of the South. Their principle of action is one; and a temperate, while earnest, following of it out, will show them in harmony in the practical result.