The following tribute to the venerable << JAMES FORTEN>> , though published several years since, may not be devoid of interest at the present time:
I shall speak of "great men," according to the common acceptation of the term. I had a letter of introduction to some "colored gentlemen" in this city, and as I have not hitherto in any city found any that have excelled them, I choose, in strict justice, to give them a prominent place in the catalogue. I am really serious, and mean what I say, although many readers who seem to believe more in skin depravity than in that of the heart, might conclude, from such an introduction, that I mean to trifle. One of those to whom I was introduced was Mr. << James Forten>> .
The personal appearance, the conversation, and the manners, of this gentleman, are of the very first order. His stature, I should think, is about six feet, and he is most symmetrically formed. As he approaches you, there seems in his appearance an evident consciousness that he wears a skin which is everywhere spoken against, yet it occasions no embarrassment. To the reverse of this, he seems also conscious that he is a man, possessed of certain inalienable rights, and exhibits a corresponding dignity in his manners. He has no appearance of ostentation or vanity, and yet he is polite in the true sense of the word, and uncommonly easy in his gestures and conversation. So far as I am capable of judging, he talks pure English, and every word weighs. A more interesting gentleman, in elegance of person, ease and agreeableness of manners, together with fluency and pertinence in conversation, I have scarcely ever seen.
Mr. Forten informed me that he could trace his ancestors back in this country about one hundred and seventy years; that he himself was born in Philadelphia; that he was in the State House yard, when the far-famed Declaration of Independence was read; and that he early engaged in the defence of his country's rights, in the revolutionary conflict. He was taken prisoner after some severe conflicts, in 1780, while serving in the Royal Louis, under the father of the celebrated Decatur, and was seven months in captivity, on board of the notorious prison-ship "Jersey;" during which time three thousand five hundred of his fellow-prisoners fell victims to pestilential disease.
Forty-five years ago, he commenced the business of sail-making in this city, (Philadelphia.) He served an apprenticeship, and at the end of it was not worth a dollar. Now, report says, that he is possessed of property to the amount of one hundred thousand dollars or more. He employs about twenty-five hands, mostly colored persons, who cost him ten thousand dollars annually; and it is said he does more business in his line, than any other house in the United States. I think he informed me that he had at one time the sails for ninety-five vessels engaged. Being once requested to rig a ship engaged in the slave trade, be indignantly refused; considering the request an insult. There appears to be the utmost order and regularity in conducting his business, and among his workmen; and the foreman, a colored gentleman, has been with him twenty-five years. All his work is done without the use of a drop of ardent spirits; and he informed me, that he never drank a single glass in his life. Mr. Forten told me he had been visited by a number of members of the Legislature, who were much interested in his history; and one or more of them visited his family, and joined their company at the tea-table. From what I could learn, Mr. Forten is abundant in liberal bequests to the poor, and is generally a person and promoter of benevolent objects; and not only do the poor of his own color receive, by his charity, an alleviation of their wants and woes, but the white man's heart is often made glad by his benevolence.
The family of Mr. Forten, I should think, would be enough to interest the black law gentry and skin depravity people. They are most prepossessing, and apparently intelligent, amiable, and genteel. His two eldest sons were engaged in the sail loft, to whom he introduced me; and more accomplished young gentlemen I have hardly ever had the pleasure of seeing. Their father showed me a map of the United States, drawn by one of them, entirely with his pen, which, I think, excelled anything of the kind which I had ever seen. It is with great difficulty it can be distinguished from the most neatly engraved map. Other productions of these young gentlemen were shown me, equally creditable to their native intellect and acquired accomplishments.
Mr. Forten died at his residence in Philadelphia, Mar. 4th, 1842. Among the last words he uttered was his love for William Lloyd Garrison. His funeral, one of the largest ever seen in Philadelphia, was attended by thousands of all classes and complexions, including many merchants, shippers, and sea captains, who had known and respected him for years.
Here is another to WILLIAM COSTEN, who died at the Bank of Washington, May 31, 1842:
He had been porter of the Bank twenty-four years, and preserved a high character for punctuality and integrity. After his death, the Bank Directors unanimously passed a resolution expressive of the highest respect for his memory, and presenting fifty dollars to his family. The National Intelligencer gave him an honorable obituary, from which the following is copied:
"Possessing the unlimited confidence of the president, directors, and officers of the Bank, millions of money were allowed to pass through the hands of the deceased; and in no one instance, as we are authorized to say, was there discovered the slightest defalcation.
"The citizens of Washington generally bear testimony to his excellent
qualities. His colored skin covered a benevolent heart. He raised respectably
a large family of his own, and, in the exercise of the purest benevolence, took
into his family and supported four orphan children. His funeral was attended
by a very large number of persons, including citizens of the highest respectability.
There were over seventy carriages, followed by a long procession of colored
men on horseback; among whom, to his credit be it spoken, rode one white gentleman,
Francis S. key, Esq., a sincere and consistent colonizationist. John Q. Adams,
while discussing the suffrage question in Congress, remarked: "The late
William Costin, though he was not white, was as much respected as any man in
the district; and the large concourse of citizens that attended his remains
to the grave, white as well as black, was an evidence of the manner in which
he was estimated by the citizens of Washington. Now, why should such a man as
that be excluded from the elective franchise, when you admit the vilest individuals
of the white race to exercise it?"
April 7, 1854
John B. Vashon is dead.
This announcement feel upon us as we are sure it will fall upon multitudes of our oppressed people, with distressing and mournful effect. A brace and true man - one of the oldest, and one of the most consistent advocates, of the slave's freedom, and of the colored man's elevation, who has yet arisen among our prescribed race, and have been overtaken by death. This event took place at a Railroad Station, at Pittsburgh, from which Mr. VASHON was about to take a passage for the East, he died of the Apoplexy - cut off, as it were, in a single moment. We do not know the age of our departed friend; but he must have been between 60 and 70. He was a contemporary of << JAMES FORTEN>> and of BISHOP ALLEN, the colored men who first stood forth in public opposition to the early doctrines and measure of the American Colonization Society, and in the manly assertion of the just rights and liberties of the free colored citizens of the republic. Although a private citizen, following an occupation which made constant demands, upon him, Mr. Vashon was ever foremost both at home and abroad, wherever duty called hi, it serve and to make sacrifices in the cause of his people.; and perhaps to an extent greater than usually falls to the lot of earnest men, he shared the respect and affectionate regard of all who cooperated with him. He was even now, perhaps, on his way to attend the State Council of colored men of Pennsylvania; and if so, he death like his life, was is the harness. Mr. Vashon was one of the most hospitable of men. For twenty years in Pittsburgh his house was thrown open to all who came to advocate the claims of bleeding humanity. There are very few distinguished abolitionists in the country who have not been under his roof. In the early days of the cause, when its friends were every where persecuted, and hated shelter was here found; yea! Joyfully, preferred. When W. L. Garrison was in prison in Boston, our departed friend made a pilgrimage to see him and he spoke if nothing with more enthusiasm and eloquence, for years afterwards, than of this visit to the champion of immediate emancipation. In hid kind hospitality he was not alone for his good wife seemed never better pleased than when her house was thronged with her husbands friends. Ever cheerful, buoyant and youthful, Mr. Vashon was the life of all social circles which surrounded him. Though and old gentleman, he was blest with that happy temper and dispositions, which deprived age of its barrenness and gives told age the freshness and vigor of youth. His death in Pittsburgh, will be deeply lamented, and his loss will be he'd almost irreparable. A more minute and a more worthy motive of the decease of Mr. Vashon, we hope will be furnished us by some persona better qualified than we, to do his memory justice. Truly, a brave and honorable friend of his people has fallen.
October 5, 1839
THE COLORED AMERICAN
New York, New York
For the Colored American.
At a respectable meeting of the Young Men's Philadelphia Library Association, held at their Hall in Haines Street, on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 18. << James Forten>> , jur., was called to the chair and James Cornish appointed Secretary. The object of the meeting was stated by the Chairman, being as follows, viz: That they were assembled together to express their unfeigned regret for the loss of their youthful and beloved fellow member William Penn Douglass, and to give some public manifestation of the high esteem they cherished towards their late friend, and brother. On motion, James Needham, James White, and << James Forten>> , junr., were appointed a committee to furnish some appropriate evidence of the feelings of the meeting in the present solemn occasion. Whereupon, the following preamble, and resolutions were offered, and unanimously adopted.
Whereas, It has pleased an allwise Providence in his divine wisdom, to take
from us our fellow member William Penn Douglas, one who shared the respect of
every member of the Library company, and whose literary acquirements, and scientific
knowledge made him one of its brightest ornaments. Therefore be it
Resolved, That we have heard with the deepest sorrow of the demise of our esteemed companion; and deeply deplore the loss of one, who from his many excellent qualities, acknowledged genius, and superior taste as an artist, promised to be one of the most useful members not only to the Library Institution, but to the Society at large.
Resolved, That while we mourn with the bereaved parents, and family, for the sudden loss of one so near, and dear to them; while we fain would, were it within the reach of human power, roll back the waves of affliction, that now beat upon their wrecked hopes; we have the heart-felt consolation to believe that he has left this sinful world, to participate in the joys of a crucified Redeemer; that his soul now lives in the mansions of never ending blessedness.
Resolved, That a copy of the proceedings of this meeting be respectfully tendered to his parents and the family, and also, that a copy of the same be presented for publication.
On motion, the meeting adjourned to attend the funeral of their departed brother.
Signed in behalf of the Library Company.
JAMES M. WHITE.
<< JAMES FORTEN>> , jr.
JAMES CORNISH, Secretary.
Philadelphia, Sept. 18, 1839.
August 25, 1838
THE COLORED AMERICAN
New York, New York
Philadelphia, August, 1838.
The MORAL REFORM CONVENTION met this morning, Tuesday, August 14th, at 10 o'clock,
at the 2d Presbyterian Church, St. Mary street. The meeting was opened with
prayer by the Rev. Chas. W. Gardner. The worthy and venerable President, Mr.
<< James Forten>> , Senr., made some very feeling and appropriate
remarks, the result of which was, a number of young men came forward, and united
with the Society. The meeting was very well attended, and much interest manifested
in the transaction of the business today. Mr. William Whipper, the great champion
of Moral Reform, appears to be bending to some point. Your reporter will watch
their movements, and send them on.
March 22, 1838
THE COLORED AMERICAN
New York, New York
GREAT AND IMPORTANT MEETING.
We had the pleasure of attending a highly important meeting of the colored citizens of the colored citizens of the State assembled at the First Presbyterian Church in Seventh street last evening, to take into consideration so much of the doings of the Reform Convention as relates to the free people of color. John P. Burr was chosen President, Thomas Butler, and S. H. Gloucester, Vice Presidents, and James Cornish, and << James Forten>> , jr., Secretaries. - Robert Purvis of Bucks County, from a committee previously appointed, read an "appeal of 40,000 disfranchised citizens of Pennsylvania to their fellow citizens against the decision of the Reform Convention." It is a masterly document, and is calculated to produce a powerful effect, when published. Remarks were made by << James Forten>> , Robert Purvis, J.C. Bowers, F.A. Hinton, Charles Gardner, and several others, and on the question of the adoption of the appeal, the entire audience rose in its favor. We rejoice that our colored friends have taken this step: and thus evinced to the world that they are sensible of their rights, and determined not to yield them without resistance.
August 19, 1837
THE COLORED AMERICAN
New York, New York
Moral Reform Convention.
Mr. BELL, -
Dear Sir, - I am now in PHILADELPHIA, the birthplace, and once the residence of many of the noble dead. Here a PENN, a FRANKLIN, and a RUSH, were successful competitors for the palm of benevolence - distinguished in carrying forward all that was good and great.
Here BENEZETT, and WOOSTER, LEWIS, SHIPLEY, and ATLEY, developed principles of heart, that alike do honor to Religion and Humanity. And here the sons of those patriotic sires possess the same holy principles of soul, and the same benevolent fire burns in their hearts, which actuates the bosoms of our TAPPANS, our COXES, our SMITHS, and our JAYS.
Pennsylvania has laid the foundation of many of those institutions, which are the glory of our land, and the boast of every American citizen. She has been the key-stone, upon which have turned many events calculated to bless our nation, and influence the world.
Her position is a prominent one - contiguous to the region of slavery, and on the outposts of benevolent operations. Her advantages and responsibilities are immeasurably GREAT. She can bring out LIGHT and TRUTH on the subject of Slavery, and she can carry back principles of benevolence and love, to the hearts of slaveholders.
The colored people, also, of Pennsylvania, have the means and intelligence for noble action in the cause of HUMAN RIGHTS. If they do not act a distinguished part in the abolition and improvement of our race, their doings will not be worthy of them. They must take the lead of their brethren of other States, in the improvements of the age, or waste and advantages of locality.
The doings of this Convention are ominous of good, on the part of our brethren
in the state. - They promise much in behalf of the poor slave, and the long
neglected free man of color.
The convention organized a 10 o'clock, yester-morning. The venerable << JAMES FORTEN>> , President: and JACOB C. WHITE, Vice President: - Robert Purvis, << James Forten>> , Jr., and William Whipper Secretaries.
We hope much good will result from this Convention. The field of operation
is vast and wide. the work to be done, abundant and important - far beyond the
apparent means for its accomplishment. But our trust is in GOD. The cause is
emphatically HIS, and HE will find laborers for the harvest. The measures and
the means of their prosecution, will be developed in HIS wise Providence.
The brethren present are from various regions of our country, all actuated by the same motives, and entertaining the same views. We deem it a privilege to be here. We shall not leave until duty at home calls us away. Kindred hearts are here, knit together: and buoyant spirits are on the wing of anticipation. Something good must, and will grow out of this Convention.
SAMUEL E. CORNISH.
The following is from the pen of that intelligent, and ever watchful Patriot, << James Forten>> , of Philadelphia. It was communicated to, and published in "Freedom's Journal," May 18, 1827, and corroborated the testimony given in the above.
For the Freedom's Journal.
Messrs. Editors: -
I beg leave to draw your attention to Mr. Clay's speech, delivered before the last Annual meeting of the Colonization Society, at Washington. It should be matter of no small concern to the free people of color, to perceive the rapid progress of the Colonization Society, its increase cannot be viewed in any other light, than a desire to get effectually rid of the free people. Mr. Clay particularly informs us, that it is to have nothing to do with the delicate question of slavery; it is, says he, intended to be exclusively applied to the free people. I am aware that many philanthropists have become converts to the colonization scheme; many I doubt not, who have at all times espoused the cause of the oppressed, and imagine that it will, ultimately, prove beneficial to them; others think that it is the only means by which Africa can become civilized, and "Ethiopia stretch forth her hands to God;" but they do not penetrate the real views of the Colonization Society, who have carefully disguised their intentions; which have, since the formation of this Society, been aimed at the liberty of the free people: for instance, they are prohibiting from returning to the State of South Carolina, on any pretext whatever. The Colonization plan, as exposed by Mr. Clay, is intended indirectly to force the free people to emigrate, particularly those in the Southern States, where they are so much oppressed by prohibitions and taxation. It cannot but be warmly patronized by slave-holders. Mr. Clay contradicts, in the most positive manner, those advocates of the colonizing system, who have so repeatedly assured us, that it is the only way by which the nation can get rid of that curse to the country, Slavery; the only means of ever atoning to Africa for the injury we have done her. Ministers of the Gospel have preached to us the same from the pulpit. Those who are favorable, have, in this manner, been deceived.
Mr. Clay's proposal is to remove, annually, six thousand of those persons, and thus, he says, keep down their alarming increase; this he avows to be the grand object of the Society. The Baltimore Memorial, to which he adverts, was not the unanimous sentiments of the colored people. For I am creditably informed, that at least two-thirds of the meeting dissented from it. At a meeting lately held in Philadelphia, of the most respectable people of color, consisting of nearly three thousand persons, to take this subject into consideration, there was not one who was in favor of leaving this country; but they were all opposed to colonization in any foreign country whatever. I have read with much attention, the remarks of a writer, under the signature of "P." I Mr. Poulson's paper of the 21st. of March, on the subject of colonizing the free people of color in Africa; he speaks the sentiments of these people in Pennsylvania.
A MAN OF COLOR.
For the Christian Recorder.
COLORED MEN IN THE REVOLUTION, AND IN
THE WAR OF 1812.
On the capture of Washington by the British forces, it was judged expedient
to fortify, without delay, the principal towns and cities exposed to similar
attacks. The vigilance Committee of Philadelphia waited upon three of the principal
colored citizens, << James Forten>> , Bishop Allen, and Absalom
Jones, soliciting the aid of the people of color in erecting suitable defences
for the city. Accordingly, twenty-five hundred colored men assembled in the
State House yard, and from thence marched to Gray's Ferry, where they labored
for two days almost without intermission. Their labors were so faithful and
efficient that a vote of thanks was tendered to them by the committee. A battalion
of colored troops was at the same time organized in the city under an officer
of the United States' Army, and they were on the point of marching to the frontier
when peace was proclaimed. General Jackson's proclamations to the free colored
inhabitants of Louisiana, in his first inviting them to take up arms, he said:
- "As sons of freedom, you are now called on to defend our most inestimable
blessings. As Americans, your country looks with confidence to her adopted children
for a valorous support. As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you are summoned
to rally around the standard of the eagle to defend all which is dear in existence."
The second proclamation is one of the highest compliments ever paid by a military
chief to his soldiers: -
"to the free people of color - Soldiers: When, on the banks of the Mobile, I called you to take up arms, inviting you to partake of the perils and glory of your white fellow citizens, I expected much from you, for I was not ignorant that you possessed qualities most formidable to an invading enemy. I knew with what fortitude you could endure hunger and thirst, and all the fatigues of a campaign. I knew well how you loved your native country, and that you, as well as ourselves, had to defend what man holds most dear - his parents, wife, children, and property. You have done more than I expected. In addition to the previous qualities I before knew you to possess, I found among you a noble enthusiasm which leads to the performance of great things.
"Soldiers: The President of the United States shall hear how praiseworthy was your conduct in the hour of danger, and the representatives of the American people will give you the praise your exploits entitle you to. Your General anticipates them in applauding your noble ardor."
It will thus be seen that whatever honor belongs to the "heroes of the Revolution and the volunteers in the second war of independence," is to volunteers in the second war of independence," is to be divided between the white and the colored man. And now they (the whites) tell us we have no rights that they are bound to respect. "What right, I demand," said an American orator, in this city, some years ago, "have the children of Africa to a homestead in the white man's country?" The answer will in part be found in the facts which we have presented to your notice. Their rights, like that of their white fellow citizens, date back to the dread arbitrament of battle; their bones whiten every stricken field of the Revolution; their feet tracked with blood the snows of Jersey; their toil built up every fortification south of the Potomac; they shared the famine and nakedness of Valley forge; and the pestilential horrors of the old Jersey prison ship. Have they, then, no claim to an equal participation in the blessings which have grown out of the National Independence for which they fought? Is it just, is it magnanimous, is it safe even, to starve the patriotism of such a people - to cast their heart out of the treasury of the Republic, and to convert them, by political disfranchisement and social oppression, into enemies?
CONSTITUTION OF THE AMERICAN MORAL REFORM SOCIETY,
Formed at the Fifth Annual Convention of the Free People of Color at Philadelphia, June 5th, 1835.
In view of the highest consideration that ever engaged the attention of man,
and resting our hopes of triumphant success on the Great Author of all good,
we, the subscribers, citizens of the United States of America, in Convention
assembled, believing that the successful resuscitation of our country from moral
degeneracy depends upon a vigilant prosecution of the holy cause of Moral Reform;
and also firmly believing that the moral elevation of this nation will accelerate
the extension of righteousness, justice, truth and evangelical principles throughout
the world— therefore, in accordance with the recommendation of the Fourth
Annual Convention, held in the city of
New-York, we do agree to form ourselves into a National Society, based on the principles set forth in its Declaration of Sentiment:
Article 1st. This Society shall be called the AMERICAN MORAL REFORM SOCIETY.
Art. 2d. Any person may become a member of this Institution, by pledging himself to practise and sustain the general principles of moral reform, as advocated in our country, especially those of education, temperance, economy, and universal liberty, and by contributing to its objects.
Art. 3d. The Annual Meeting of this Society shall be on the second Monday in June, in each year, in the city of Philadelphia.
Art. 4th. The Officers of this Society shall consist of one President, four Vice Presidents, three Secretaries, a Treasurer, and a Board of Managers of seven persons.
Art. 5th. It shall be the duty of the Board to supervise and direct the action and operations of the Society, as well as its financial concerns.
Section 1st. All candidates for membership must apply to the Board of Directors, whose duty it shall be to admit all who subscribe to the principles set forth in this Constitution.
Art. 6th. Any member violating the principles set forth in this Constitution will be disqualified for membership.
Art. 7th. The funds of this Society shall be appropriated to the diffusion of light on the subjects advocated; and its Constitution may be altered from time to time so as to keep pace with the great object of Moral Reform.
William. Whipper, Stephen Smith, Augustus Prico, Edward Crosby, Wm. Powell, Committee.
President'— << James Forten>> , Sen.
Vice Presidents— Reuben Ruby, Maine; Walter Proctor, Pennsylvania; Samuel E. Cornish, New York; Jacob C. White, New York.
Secretaries— Robert Purvis, Foreign Corresponding; William Whipper, Home Corresponding; << James Forten>> , Jr. Recording.
Board of Managers.— John. P. Barry, Chairman; Stephen H. Gloucester, Secretary; John B. Roberts, Rev. Morris Brown, Thomas Butler, F.A. Huston, Joshua Brown.
We are indebted to << James Forten>> , Esq. of Philadelphia, for a file of the Jamaica Watchman, a paper which from its commencement has been very ably conducted by a man of color. We extract the following Proclamation.
TO THE NEGRO POPULATION THROUGHOUT THE ISLAND OF JAMAICA.
MY FRIENDS!— Our good King, who was himself in Jamaica a long time ago, still thinks and talks a great deal of this Island. He has sent me out here to take care of you, and to protect your rights; but he has also ordered me to see justice done to your owners, and to punish those who do wrong. Take my advice, for I am your friend— be sober, honest, and work well when you become Apprentices, for should you behave ill and refuse to work because you are no longer slaves, you will assuredly render yourselves liable to punishment.
The People of England are your friends and fellow subjects— they have shewn themselves such by passing a Bill to make you all free. Your masters are also your friends, they have proved their kind feeling towards you all by passing in the House of Assembly the same Bill. The way to prove that you are deserving of all this goodness, is by laboring diligently during your Apprenticeship.
You will, on the first of August next, no longer be slaves, but from that day you will be apprenticed to your former owners for a few years, in order to fit you all for freedom. It will therefore depend entirely upon your own conduct whether your apprenticeship be short or long, for should you run away you will be brought back by the Maroons and Police, and have to remain in apprenticeship longer than those who behave well. You will only be required to work four days and a half in each week, the remaining day and a half in each week will be your own time, and you may employ it for your own time, and you may employ it for your own benefit. Bear in mind that every one is obliged to work— some work with their hands others with their heads, but no one can live and be considered respectable without some employment. Your lot is to work with your hands; I pray you, therefore, do your part faithfully, for if you neglect your duty you will be brought before the Magistrates whom the King has sent out to watch you, and they must act fairly and do justice to all by punishing those who are badly disposed. Do not listen to the advice of bad people, for should any of you refuse to do what the law requires of you, you will bitterly repent it, when at the end of the appointed time all your fellow laborers are released from apprenticeship, you find yourselves condemned to hard labor in the Workhouse for a lengthened period, as a punishment for your disobedience.
If you follow my advice, and conduct yourselves well, nothing can prevent your being your own masters, and to labor only for yourselves, and your wives, and your children, at the end of four or six years, according to your respective classes.
I have not time to go about to all the Properties in the Island and tell you this myself— I have therefore ordered this letter of advice to be printed, and ordered it to be read to you all, that you may not be deceived and bring yourselves into trouble by bad advice or mistaken notions.
I trust you will all be obedient and diligent subjects to our good King, so that he may never have cause to be sorry for all the good he has done for you.
Your friend and well wisher,
SLIGO, Governor of Jamaica.
Principal of the Canterbury, (Conn.) Female Boarding School,
RETURNS her most sincere thanks to those who have patronized her School, and would give information that on the first Monday of April next, her School will be opened for the reception of young Ladies and little Misses of color. The branches taught are as follows:— Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, English Grammar, Geography, History, Natural and Moral Philosophy, Chemistry, Astronomy, Drawing and Painting, Music on the Piano, together with the French language.
The terms, including board, washing, and tuition, are $25 per quarter, one half pond in advance.
Books and Stationary will be furnished on the most reasonable terms.
For information respecting the School, reference may be made to the following gentlemen, viz:— Arthur Tappan, Esq., Rev. Peter Williams, Rev. Theodore Raymond, Rev. Theodore Wright, Rev. Samuel C. Cornish, Rev. George Bourne, Rev. Mr. Hayborn, New-York city;— Mr. << James Forten>> , Mr. Joseph Cassey, Philadelphia, Pa.;— Rev. S.J. May, Brooklyn, Ct.;— Rev. Mr. Beman, Middletown, Ct.;— Rev. S.S. Jocelyn, New Haven. Ct.;— Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Arnold Buffum, Boston, Mass.;— George Benson, Providence, R.I.
Canterbury, (Ct.) Feb. 25, 1833.
TO THE FRIENDS OF EMANCIPATION.
The Board of Managers of the New-England Anti-Slavery Society hereby give notice to the public, that they have appointed WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON as their Agent, and that he will proceed to ENGLAND as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made, for the purpose of procuring funds to aid in the establishment of the proposed MANUAL LABOR SCHOOL FOR COLORED YOUTH, and of disseminating in that country the truth in relation to American Slavery, and its ally, the American Colonization Society.
The Board are confident that the friends of emancipation will require no apology for this step, and that little need be said to secure their efficient aid in the accomplishment of an object so highly important. The fact is generally known that Elliott Cresson is now in England as an agent for the Colonization Society, and that he has procured funds to a considerable amount, by representing that the object of the Society is, 'to assist in the emancipation of all the slaves now in the United States. It is important that the Philanthropists of that country should be undeceived, and that the real principles and designs of the Colonization Society should be there made known.
The Board have the most entire confidence in the success of this Agency. The people of England have long since taken the ground of IMMEDIATE ABOLITION, and their philanthropy and benevolence are too well known, to admit a doubt of their readiness to cooperate with us in the establishment of an institution which shall afford to colored youth the means of acquiring that knowledge of which they have so long been deprived.
As the Society has but a small amount of funds, the Board are compelled to
call upon the friends of emancipation throughout the country for aid in effecting
this object. And they hereby invite all those who are disposed to contribute
for this object, to do so without delay. Funds may be left in the hands of either
of the following gentlemen, who are respectfully requested to forward the same
to JAMES C. ODIORNE, Esq. Treasurer of the New-England
Anti-Slavery Society, No. 97, Milk-street, Boston. The surplus, if there should be any, will be applied to the general objects of the Society, under the direction of its Board of Managers.
Baltimore, Md.— Wm. R. Jones.
Philadelphia— << James Forten>> , No. 92, Lombard-st.— Joseph Cassey, No. 36, S. 4th st.— Evan Lewis.
Pittsburg, Pa.— John B. Vashon.
Trenton, N.J.— Abner H. Francis.
Newark, N.J.— Isaac Stat[ ].
New-York City— Rev. Peter Williams, No. 68, Crosby-st.— Arthur
Esq.— William Goodell.
Albany, N.Y.— Wm. P. Griffin.
Brooklyn, N.Y.— Geo. Hogarth.
Hartford, Ct.— Henry Foster.
New-Haven, Ct.— Rev. Simeon S. Jocelyn.
Providence, R.I.— Geo. W. Benson— George C. Wyllis.
New-Bedford, Mass.— Nathan Johnson.
Salem, Mass.— Charles L. Remond.
Portland, Mass.— Nathan Winslow.
The Board rely with confidence upon the willingness of their friends to assist in carrying this object into immediate effect. They cannot doubt that every friend of emancipation will be anxious to do something, and that the necessary funds will be promptly furnished.
I.H. APPLETON, President pro tem.
SAMUEL E. SEWALL, Corresponding Secretary.
OLIVER JOHNSON, Rec. Sec'y.
Boston, March 6, 1833.
June 2, 1832
Boston, Massachusetts, Volume 2 No. 22
From Poulson's Daily Advertiser.
PEOPLE OF COLOR.
The People of Color have long been subjected to too many charges that have been heaped upon them, not unfrequently without any inquiry or any knowledge of the real state of the case.
Some of their friends have known the injustice of these charges; the writer of this article has had ample opportunity of acquiring information on this subject, he feels himself somewhat at home as it relates to Pauperism in Philadelphia. He has been accustomed to visit the abodes of misery and wretchedness and to view poor, frail human nature in its most secret recesses, in its most undisguised forms, he has long known that the People of Color, as a body, are a very improving people, and are able to stand a fair comparison with the same number of white persons possessing the same advantages.
It is not perhaps generally known that the colored people of this city and county lately convened a large meeting, and memorialized the Legislature of Pennsylvania on the subject of a bill now pending and deeply involving the constitutional rights of this portion of our community— the memorial is signed by << James Forten>> , Chairman, a man well known to his fellow citizens for his successful industry, talents and probity. The memorial refers to facts, and adds an appendix which accompanies the present remarks, and is submitted to the candid examination of the citizens of Pennsylvania.
... carefully read this appendix, remembering the golden rule— 'Do
unto others as ye would they should do unto you,' and then put this question
himself— when I have pronounced the People of Color a public nuisance, they they are an intolerable public burden, that our Almshouse is filled with them, &c. &c., have I not as a Christian departed from the precepts of my Divine Master, and used my influence in unjustly oppressing the oppressed.
September 24, 1831
Boston, Massachusetts, Volume 1 No. 39
AN APPEAL TO THE BENEVOLENT.
The undersigned committee appointed by a general convention held in this city, to direct and assist the conventional agent, the Rev. Samuel E. Cornish, in soliciting funds for the establishing of a COLLEGIATE SCHOOL, on the Manual Labor system, beg leave to call the attention of the enlightened and benevolent citizens of Philadelphia and its vicinity to the important subject. In doing which, they deem it unnecessary in this enlightened country, and at this enterprising era, to adduce arguments or multiply words by way of appeal. The contrast between enlightened and barbarous nations— between the educated and the vulgar, is the plainest demonstration of the utility of their plan, and importance of their appeal. The colored citizens of the United States, assembled by delegation in this city, June last, alive to the interests of their brethren and community generally, resolved at whatever labor or expense to establish and maintain an institution, in which the sons of the present and future generation may obtain a classical education and the mechanic arts in general.
Believing that all who know the difficult admission of our youths into seminaries of learning, and establishments of mechanism— all who know the efficient influence of education in cultivating the heart, restraining the passions, and improving the manners— all who wish to see our colored population more prudent, virtuous, and useful, will lend us their patronage, both in money and prayers. The committee, in conclusion, would respectfully state, that the amount of money required to erect buildings, secure apparatus and mechanical instruments, is $20,000; of this sum the colored people intend to contribute as largely as God has given them ability, and for the residue they look to the christian community, who know their wants, their oppression and wrongs— and more particularly to the inhabitants of this city, celebrated for its benevolence, and in which so many preceding steps, taken for the advancement of our oppressed people, have had their origin. They would further state, that all monies collected by the principal agent, Rev. Samuel E. Cornish, who is now in this city, and whom they recommend to the confidence of all to whom he may appeal, will be deposited in the United States Bank, subject to the order of Arthur Tappan, Esq. of New-York, their generous patron and friend; and in the event of the institution not going into operation, to be faithfully returned to the several donors. The contemplated Seminary will be located at New-Haven, Conn., and established on the self-supporting system, so that the student may cultivate habits of industry, and obtain useful mechanical or agricultural profession while pursuing classical studies.
Signed in behalf of the Convention, by
<< JAMES FORTEN>> ,
FREDERICK A. HINTON,
Provisional Committee of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, September 5, 1831.
August 8, 1878
THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER
VARIOUS reasons have been assigned for the failure of the applicants who applied for admission to the white High Schools of this city at the last examination. The Equal Rights League informed the public that the lad from the << James Forten>> school failed to be admitted because one of the Directors, Mr. John Campbell, would not sign his certificate for admission to the examination, and that formidable body forthwith proceeded to fulminate political anathema's against that stubborn old Democrat. All of which fell very flat when it turned out that the lad had entered the examination notwithstanding the great Campbell's refusal to endorse him, and his
non-admission was due to the fact that he did not obtain the required average. It does not look much like prejudice when one of the Professors remarked: “Why in the thunder didn't they send someone that they knew could pass the examination!”
Four colored lads sent from a private school, were received with marked courtesy and kindness; and much regret was expressed that, as the school from which they were sent was a private one, they could not be entered for examination until an exception was made to admit pupils from that school.
Mr. H. Price Williams in his caustic arraignment of the Equal Rights League gives us to understand that the 'proscribed” schools are to blame for not properly preparing these applicants. By an authentic article which appeared in the “Record,” it seems that one of the applicants to the Girl's Normal was prepared in the Washington Grammar School of Cambridge, Mass., and had only been a short time under Mr. White's tuition. The other applicant did not remain during the whole of the examination but left before she had made a patient trial of the last day's work, because she was anxious about the reading of her essay at Mr. White's commencement. I don't see, therefore, how the “proscribed” schools can be fairly held responsible for either of these failures.
The article in the “Record” gave the impression that prejudice against color was the one and only reason of the pupils' failure to gain the required averages, while at the same time both these young girls reported that they were treated with politeness by the teachers of the school, and “hob-nobbed” with the white applicants on the most friendly terms. We have suffered enough, heaven knows, at the hands of the American people, and have little reason to expect, from some classes of them, fair play or generous treatment. But it does seem in this case while so many reasons were being assigned for these failures, that bare justice might have suggested perhaps the pupils' inability to answer the questions proposed may have had something to do with it! Dreadful! I've just sent some one out of doors to see if the heavens are failing. She reports everything going on as usual, so I proceed to say that perhaps also in the flurry and anxiety usual in all examinations they may have said in some cases the very opposite of what they meant. So there is some slight reason to suppose that they may have been treated justly. We are, in my opinion, too apt to make our color the scope-goat for our shortcomings, and the sooner we got through with it the better it will be for us. However, “one swallow doesn't make a summer,” nor will this one failure prevent the entrance of colored pupils to these schools. The next examination will tell a different story.
January 7, 1875
THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER
A DINNER WITH BISHOP ALLEN.
MR. EDITOR: - Some months since I received a card from you requesting me to
write something for the RECORDER.
The question on my mind at that time was, what can I write about that will interest the numerous readers of your paper? I am not an itinerant, cannot give a flourishing account of matters and things in my charge or station. Having however for some weeks past been confined to my room, unable to attend to ordinary business, I concluded that I would at least write a short communication to let you see how I appreciated your kindness.
You know, Bro. Tanner, that I am now an old man and with many of your readers, communications from old men [ ] of “old fogyism.” My motto is, “let us have light.” Darkness and ignorance cannot produce light; I am for an enlightened ministry; a general improvement of the aged as well as the youth among us. When I took my pen in hand however it was to speak more particularly of an interview with the founder of our connection, the Rev. Bishop Allen at his dwelling house on Spruce Street.
It was his custom some years before his decease to celebrate his birthday by inviting a number of friends on the 14th of February.
In 1825 I was residing in Carlisle, Pa., and received an invitation from the Bishop to attend one of these birthday celebrations. To use his own words, “He had often heard of me but never seen me to his knowledge.” Indeed I had never seen him before that time.
At the time appointed I was on hand with letters of introduction to Rev. Bishop Allen, Mr. << James Forten>> and others. There was quite a large company at the Bishop's on that occasion. When the company was about to retire the Rev. gentleman requested me to call next day as he wished to have some private conversation with me; I called at the time appointed and found him waiting for me. I shall never forget that afternoon's interview. He gave me the history of the connection from the time they worshipped in the Blacksmith shop up to that time, and as a matter of course his co-laborers were mentioned.
There was at that time (in 1824 and 25) two ministers on what was called Lancaster circuit, which extended from Lancaster to Chambersburg, who were deep in the plan of separation, or rebellion against Bethel Church and the Bishop, and such was my confidence in those two men that I was with them in all their plans of rebellion and purposes to split the church.
The Bishop's frequent reference to points and views that had passed review in the private interviews of our plan of operations utterly astonished me, when he stated that he had been laid under charge by other ministers of favoring those very men. He spoke unsparingly of their ingratitude and he had kept their families while they were absent. In short, he convinced me of their ungratefulness whilst I sat a silent listener to what the Bishop related.
I left the city of “Brotherly Love” a changed man, and lost no time in informing my friends of the change, without however telling them what had produced it.
Those Brethren have long since been gathered home; one continued however in the connection having also seen his error, while the other carried out his purposes as far as he could, but before his death he desired to again unite with Bethel Church, as he said he wished to die in connection with it.
It was my privilege to visit that Brother in New York, on the day before his death. He said calling me by name, I have a thousand things to say to you, but cannot say them now; he was then seized with a spell of coughing after which he said, with evident signs of dissolution, Brother Come, Lord Jesus come quickly!
September 15, 1838
THE COLORED AMERICAN
New York, New York
For the Colored American.
To the Church and Congregation at T.
BELOVED BRETHREN AND SISTERS, - In the close of my last epistle, you were informed
of my departure from the city of New York. On the same day, viz: Wednesday 15th,
I arrived at Philadelphia about 1 o'clock, P.M., very fatigued and sore in the
throat. After refreshing myself by food and rest, we hastened to the lecture
room of the 2nd Presbyterian Church in St. Mary St., where the American Moral
Reform Society was in session.
That virtuous man, the venerable << James Forten>> , Senr. was presiding over its deliberations - all of which received their tone, if not entire form, from the counsels of the public-spirited and persevering S.H. Gloucester. The proceedings of the two following days, Thursday and Friday, were marked with measures and resolutions full of thrilling interest to the human race, especially our injured kinsmen according to the flesh. Those foremost in discussions were Messrs. C.W. Gardner, S.H. Gloucester, J.C. Bowers, J. Bird, R. Purvis, Bias, Nichols, and Harris. As all, except the latter gentleman, are well known to the public, I will take this opportunity of speaking particularly of him. Mr. Andrew Harris is a graduate of the University of Vermont. His personal appearance is very modest - his mental character not of the florid, but solid kind. This seems evident from his public speeches, which evince more of the discriminating logician, than the fanciful poet. His piety seems pure and ardent. Throughout the debates of the Society he displayed great decision of moral character. In a word, his real worth, mental, moral and literary, will not fail to secure the high esteem of all who may become familiarly acquainted with him.
Sunday 20th, visited three of the churches in this city, and saw attentive congregations listening to lucid, argumentative, and orthodox preaching from Messrs. Gardner, Harris, and Douglass. Attended a mental feast at Mr. Burr's, at which I found a large number of interesting ladies and gentlemen. The exercises commenced with reading the 38th chapter of Job. The evening was spent in reading various anti-slavery periodicals, and singing anti-slavery hymns. A novel exercise was introduced into the meeting by one Mr. Smith, which deserves particular attention. The following sentences were pronounced by as many persons as there are words in them, - "Slavery is a curse to the slave, a curse to the master, a curse to the country, and nothing but a curse." - Henry Clay. "I will never marry a slaveholder." To get a clear idea of this entertaining exercise, you must count the words in the sentences, which are thirty-one in number; then imagine you hear so many voices uttering each a single word in a deliberate, elevated tone, thus: "Slavery - is - a - curse - to - the - slave - a - curse - to - the - master - a - curse - to - the - country - and - nothing - but - a curse, &c." - Henry Clay.
We also visited, through invitation, the Minerva Association. This is, of course, what its name implies - a Literary Society. The following is a concise account of its exercises: 1st, reading the 58th chapter of Isaiah; 2nd, epistolary correspondence of Hannah Moore, from her memoirs; 3rd, poetical recitations, Jephtha's vow, by Miss Maria Jones; Tyre, by Miss Scott; a Dream, by Miss Collins; Seminole's reply, by Miss H. Brown. These pieces were recited in a manner at once honorable to these young ladies, and delightful to the audience or visitors.
We saw many valuable books upon the table, among which were Watts on the mind, Rollin's Ancient History, Beauties of British poets, Cabinet of Biography, &c. &c. There are but 20 members in this Association, a very small number indeed for so large a population as Philadelphia affords. In taking leave of this subject, a sincere desire for the intellectual improvement of these engaging young ladies requires us to say, that the continued habit of committing and reciting the sentiments of others, will ultimately result in a real injury to their minds and future usefulness. We would rather hear them reading or reciting their own compositions, be they ever so poor; because the first exercise imposes a tax upon the energies of memory alone - while the exercise of composition brings all the faculties of the mind into the field of labor, and consequently gives them their due proportion of vigor. Again, the former exercise tends to make the mind too dependent and commonplace - but the latter gives it that independence and originality which becomes an immortal being. But more of this anon.
In consequence of our indisposition, we visited not the public institutions, such as the Sunday and common Schools, Orphan Asylum, &c. Before I bid adieu to Philadelphia, gratitude requires us to bear testimony to the hospitality of its inhabitants.
Citizens of Philadelphia! you have my unfeigned thanks for your christian kindness and attention to me. - The Lord of Heaven bestow all the blessings of the new and the everlasting covenant upon you. Never, never shall I forget you - farewell! farewell! And now, dear friends of T., what is your spiritual condition? Are you walking in the footsteps of Christ? in that pathway which is stained with His sacred blood, whose termination is in the bright portals of Heaven?
Columbia, Pa. Sept. 1st, 1838.
June 29, 1849
THE NORTH STAR
Rochester, New York
Colored Citizens of Ohio.
Among the many efforts now being made for our improvement, reformation, moral elevation and promotion to the just claims of humanity and manhood - amidst the various conflicts and struggles - the anxious cares, uncertainties and imminent hazards - amidst the dangers, persecutions and manly darings attempted in our own behalf and in defence of our own rights - there are none peradventure deserving of more notice and credit than those of our colored brethren in Ohio.
For years have our Ohio brethren labored under the greatest disadvantages - the severest persecution, backed and assisted by prosecutions the most despotic - tortured trials, afflictions and wrongs the most grievous, and yet, they have come up under it all with a patience and fortitude never excelled if even equaled by any people in this or any other country. Even probably before the hideous monster Colonization dared to venture his frightful head in any other state north of Mason and Dixon's Line, he emerged from his dastardly seclusion, lapping out his frightful fiendish tongue and hissing, throwing his filthy slaver and slime in every direction, dismaying and discomfitting every colored person with whom the venom chanced to come in contact. As early as the year 1829, the persecution of the colored citizens, under the influence of colonization commenced in Ohio. And it may be objected to that the colored citizens of Ohio, like the faithful band of Philadelphia, Pa., in 1817, with << James Forten>> , Richard Allen, and other noble patriots at their head, faithfully stood their ground, declaring that they would never abandon their position while there was a bondman on American soil, but sacrificing their property fled before their more cunning enemies, leaving the field to them without even the roll of the drum, much more the fire of a gun.
The Ohio colored freemen as faithfully and manfully stood their ground as those noble spirits of Pennsylvania, only choosing a different policy to our-manoeuvre the enemy. While those of our brethren in Philadelphia at once took their position casting their manifesto to the widespread breeze of Heaven; bolstering their declaration with the boldest determination never to leave the country of their birth; those of Cincinnati, Chillicothe and other parts of Ohio were no less resolute, bold and determined - at once taking their stand, declaring before the dread powers of Heaven, and the authorities of earth, that rather than remain and suffer the persecutions then being waged against them, they would leave Ohio, should it even be at the greatest sacrifice of property as well as personal rights, and go to Canada, and there defend, as well as their own rights, the rights of their brethren held in servitude in this country! This was their bold, manly and noble determination, whilst yet in Ohio, upon American soil!
And this manly and almost unique temerity on the part of Ohio colored freeman had the most signal effect upon their enemies. We have only here to regret that it proved to have the counteracting effect that it had. We would that it had been otherwise. They had not more than commenced practically carrying out their open declaration of voluntary emigration, until the papers and public journals in all parts of the nonslaveholding states were teeming with objections and censures against the Legislature and state of Ohio for the impolicy of their Black Laws, declaring that they had "over-shot the mark;" that in their hurried effort to get rid of the colored people their reckoned without calculation - calculated without "counting the cost" - that in "driving" the colored people from this country they were supplying the dominions of a powerful enemy with robust able-bodies men, who settling in the neighborhood of their kindred in chains, would one day retaliate upon this country with terrible consequences. And how exceedingly considerate did the various papers of the land all at once become. There was not an issue but more or less contained some "advice" to the colored people either original or copied concerning their locality and livelihood. They were American citizens by birth - for the most part born south in a warm climate - they were accustomed to American habits, American society and American laws. Labor was more easily obtained in this country, consequently money more plentiful. As to the Canadas, the climate was cold and uncongenial - the people selfish and inhospitable - their customs distant and unsociable - the laws illiberal and severe - work scarce and wages law; these and many more were the arguments used and urged to prevent the colored people from emigrating to the Canadas, by the very persons who in many instances were foremost, and those who were aiders and abettors and instrumental in getting up the persecution and the passage of the infamous hell-originated "Black Laws of Ohio," and leaders of the nefarious scheme of American Colonization - a scheme concocted and devised under the supervision of the arch-demon, in the deepest, darkest and lowest cell of Pandemonium. Though all that was done was intended for the better, yet we cannot suppress the thought that had the colored freeman of Ohio continued to emigrate as they commenced, as well as those of Pennsylvania who assembled in solemn Convention in 1830, with a determination to follow their example, and gone into the North American provinces of the British dominions, settled down substantially upon lands where they would have been joined by the colored people of the free states generally, that ere this, it would have produced an influence in this country and over it detestable pro-slavery lands and customs that will require ages almost to produce in our present dependent, servile, nonentical position - that had there been the same sane mature reflection and deliberation among colored men then as there are now - the same capacity to judge and decide for themselves, they would have persisted in their own convictions and not have yielded to the opinions and dictates of others however friendly the design, as we know some to have been, especially those who interfered in the movements of the great Convention of 1830, assembled in the city of Philadelphia, for the express purpose, among other things, of recommending to the free colored people generally to emigrate to the British provinces of North America.
Steadily since then the colored citizens of Ohio have been perseveringly stemming the current of the most raging floods, combating every opposition, resisting every obstacle until at length they have forced the dominant class in their own state to notice and respect their efforts. For the last six years annual Conventions of the colored freemen of Ohio have assembled at Columbus, the capital of the state, to devise ways and means for bettering their condition. These annual conventions we dare say, have been more faithfully and regularly held than those of the colored freemen of any other state in the Union. So faithful have they been in their efforts, and determined in their purpose - the combined wisdom and talent of the oppressed of the state thus annually concentrated and harmonised - that at the last session of the State Legislature, under the auspices of the present judicious administration, governor Seabury Ford, a partial repeal of the Black Laws has been accomplished, with the prospects of future progress of redress of grievances. We should not omit to award to the late administration - governor Bartley, the credit which he so highly merits of the unfailing effort in each of his messages to the legislature to do away the black laws by continual reference to them as unjust and unchristian, and derogatory to the high character of an independent sovereign free state.
Fearless, untiring, and ever trusting for final success to the justness of their cause, the spirited colored citizens of Ohio despite the storm of opposition that ever awaited them, have ever braved the consequences and manfully resisted every attack, making such resistance as was both seen and felt. The following proceedings of a meeting held during the session of the Legislature on the 29th of January last, on the eve of a vigorous effort of the Colonizationists to resuscitate, under the auspices of their agent Cristy, and the patronage of the general assembly, which proceedings we learn were published in hand bills and placarded throughout the city on the day previous to the delivery of Cristy's lecture. The resolutions were drawn up and ably and fearless by supported by our friend C.H. Langston, Esq., J. Poindexter, Rev. J.M. Brown and other talented colored gentle men, all except Mr. L. being residents of Columbus - thus showing their fearlessness - being willing to "beard the lion in his den." The example and untiring efforts of our Ohio brethren are worthy of imitation by those of other states - let these good and to our cause, glorious examples be faithfully followed, and good must result therefrom.
September 9, 1837
THE COLORED AMERICAN
New York, New York
For the Colored American.
Mr. Editor, - I have read an article from your pen in the 34th number of the "Colored American," headed "Moral Reform Convention," in which you are pleased to style the Moral Reform Society of Philadelphia, as an "institution which has taken high ground in principle, and suggested bold measures in reformation." And then after favorably depicting the local condition of "our brethren in Philadelphia, as occupying an enviable position I the great cause of abolition and reform," with such samples as the President of the Convention, << James Forten>> at their head, you, in another paragraph, state that you found the "Moral Reform Society," in place of being a mighty engine, to infuse among our people and others morals and intelligence," it was "but an existence of weakness - scattering its feeble efforts to the winds, as though unconscious of any definite objects of benevolence, growing out of its circumstances, its location, its means, and its talents."
This is, my dear Sir, a most wonderful discovery. Are not institutions, like men, weak in their infant stage? And there are those to whose perceptions and judgment, you and I might bow in grateful humiliation, that will be unable to understand what you mean by "definite objects," if the promotion of education, temperance, economy, peace and universal liberty, are not within your range of vocabulary. We believe (whether such belief be the offspring of insanity or not) that these objects, through they may seem too indefinite for your penetrating mind, have a powerful claim on the philanthropy of this nation, and that the energies of every christian and patriot in the land ought to be enlisted in their support. We further believe and assert that all unnecessary distinctions among men, ought at once and forever, to cease. That they should only be distinguished by their virtues and vices. If these views be "vague, wild, indefinite and confused," we are verily guilty. You praise and denounce so much in a single paragraph, that for fear I might misrepresent your meaning, I am obliged to quote largely from your article, that our readers may judge for themselves. You assert, that "the dignity of the chair, and the convention were alike dishonored in the confusion and excitability of the house. "That a man of delicate, sensitive feelings is disqualified to govern a society made up of such elements, as comprise the "Moral Reform Association." And then in another column you explicitly state, that your strictures are confined to the Philadelphia brethren of the "Moral Reform Society, who take the lead in public matters." And now pray tell me who are these brethren, that constitute these ungovernable "elements." Are they not, as you have been pleased to notice him and others, the venerable President, << James Forten>> , and sons, one of whom you assert "possesses more natural amiableness of character and suavity of manners, than you ever saw combined in any individual?" And then there is Joseph Cassey, Treasurer, Jacob C. White, John P. Burr, Robert Purvis, Rev. Morris Brown, Rev. Charles W. Gardner, Frederick A. Hinton, Joshua Brown, John B. Roberts, Stephen H. Gloucester, James McCrumnell, Thomas Butler, and a few others, but these are those that may be counted "leaders," to whom you strictly refer. Sir, wherever these men are known your assertion will produce astonishment. I would be glad for the honor of human nature, if these men, while they remain as they are, could be pointed to with justice, as being the most ungovernable of our race. But such a thing can never be until the WORLD BLAZES WITH CIVILIZATION.
And the President of the convention will consider it a poor compliment to his declining years, if after having been the hero of seventy winters, he shall now be considered to possess "sensibilities too keen, and feelings to excitable, to preside over the 'Moral Reform Society,' even if it should be composed of these very 'elements.'"
I have selected the names of the individuals above referred to, only because your specific charge was against them, not because they alone were worthy, and possessed all the moral worth and energy, that compose the "elements" of our institution. There are those in other cities and towns, that are their equals in all that constitutes moral greatness. And I further believe that if a list were presented containing the names of those that are constitutionally members, it would present an array of members, that for uprightness of conduct and purity of purpose is not excelled in any institution among our people, whether for the promotion of morals, religion or general benevolence. If the chairman was so very excitable, and the house constituted of such a bad 'element.' I cannot imagine how one could 'dishonor' the other.
As to friend Purvis and myself, if we created shadows, they must have assumed a tangible form, or you would not have requested the favor of delivering 'a three hour's' speech to demolish them. If we "fought the wind," it was the WIND of our opponents, and as to "baying the moon," it is something that I cannot well understand, and as you happen to reside in the region of the "moon hoax," I hope you will be kind enough to explain.
But the grief seems to be that we made some "proselytes to our faith and advocates of our notions." This is a fact, but not by "barter and bargain," their convictions were produced by discussion and reflection, against their preconceived opinions of right and duty. Nor were they from those more likely to be misled by "heresy" than ourselves, as they were those that we all feel proud of their talents, among whom we fine a Payne, a Cook, and others, distinguished for their mental abilities.
I have not the least objection to your expressing your opinion for the benefit of "our brethren throughout the land," that our society will never do any good until it is reorganized," provided you accompany this opinion with arguments addressed to their understandings, informing them the why and wherefore. But I do positively PROTEST against DENUNCIATION without explanation. I wish you to examine the principles of our society, and probe it to the very bottom, and if it will not stand the searching operation, LET IF FALL TO RISE NO MORE. For my own part I feel bound to defend those principles, because I believe the Society is so constituted, that by the blessing of kind Providence, it is capable of ushering forth delectable blessings on the human race. A large portion of the delegates to the Convention were, like yourself, from other institutions, invited by a "circular" to aid in carrying our the objects of our Society. If any of them misbehaved, the fault was not ours, and ought not to be charged to our Society. If any of them misbehaved, the fault was not ours, and ought not to be charged to our Society. In general they behaved as well as delegates to other moral and religious anniversaries, and as well as we had a right to expect from bodies alike associated.
Suppose for a single moment the A.A. Society, or any other association for moral and benevolent purposes, associated with those of opposite principles and views, some disorder and confusion may naturally be expected, and in that case, you would feel bound to defend the principles of your society. I have, like yourself, carefully refrained from entering into the merits of the subject; believing that you will not suffer the discussion to end here, but pursue it to the very outposts for the benefit of our people.
I do believe that much of the value of our future action depends on the adjustment of this question, "whether the A.M.R. Society is an institution founded on right principles, and worthy the patronage of all who love the cause of morality, or freedom and human improvement. With the hope that the period will soon arrive when we shall see eye to eye, and be able to unite heart toe heart in every enterprise for the benefit of mankind.
I subscribe myself yours, as ever,
Columbia, July 28th, 1837.
February 27, 1869
THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER
WHERE ARE WE DRIFTING?
MR. EDITOR: -We constitute a portion of American Citizens, who like the mariner
after having been shipwrecked on a boisterous sea, and the storm subsides, and
the log disperses, gathers up his compass and takes fresh soundings for the
purpose of ascertaining whether he is not nearing some rock-bound coast.
The recent attempt to galvanize the discussion on “African colonization” reminds me that we ought to inquire where we are, and to what point we are verging, and to what point is our future destination. The time was when the institution of American slavery and the American Colonization Society and its branches held such almost undisputed sway over the minds, and religion of the American people, that our future prospect of citizenship was shrouded in gloom, and a popular prejudice threatened our expulsion from our native soil. Thank God! Their charm is broken, and although they once inhaled a giant's strength, and wielded colossal power, they are now like a dead corpse, riven in twain by the august spirit of the age.
Our Christian fathers, the recent victims of the slave code being imbued with the natural spirit of freedom, and guided by the spirit of inspiration, perceived the objects and designs of the American Colonization Society, assailed it by creating a public sentiment against it which has proved invincible.
They held a public meeting in this city in the month of January 1817, immediately after the Society was organized, and passed the following among other resolutions:
“Resolved, That we NEVER will separate ourselves voluntarily from the slave population in this country; they are OUR brethren by the ties of consanguinity, of suffering and of wrong, and we feel that there is more virtue in suffering privations with them than in fancied enjoyments for a season.”
Among the members of the meeting that adopted the noble resolution, we find the distinguished and historical names of the Rev. Richard Allen, Rev. Absalom Jones, Rev. John Gloucester, Robert Douglass, Robert Gordon, James Johnson, Quomany Clarkson, John Sommersett, and Randall Shepperd, and it was signed by << James Forten>> , President, and Russell Parrott, Secretary. On the 10th day of the ensuing August, they again assembled in a school house in Green's Court, and adopted an address setting forth their principles in such an able and dignified manner, that it deserves to be recorded in letters of living light. Such was the inauguration of the noblest secular effort ever made by our people, and it was received in the broadest sense and adopted by universal acclamations.
In the year 1831 and 32, similar meetings were held in Maryland, the middle and Eastern states all protesting in the same spirit and manner against the measures of the A.C. Society, with a degree of unanimity never before equaled.
In the year 1832, Wm. Lloyd Garrison published a formidable pamphlet entitled “Thoughts on Colonization,” fully exposing its dangerous influence on the rights, interests and privileges of the “free people of color.”
He arraigned the American Colonization Society before the bar of the civilized world in ten distinct and specific charges as follows, viz.: The American Colonization Society No. 1. Is pledged not to oppose slavery; 2. Apologizes for slaveholders; 3. Recognizes slaves as property; 4. Increases the value of slaves; 5. Is the enemy of immediate emancipation; 6. Is nourished by selfishness; 7. Aims at the expulsion of the blacks; 8. Is the despiser of the free blacks; 9. Denies the possibility of elevating the free blacks in this country; 10. Misleads and deceives the nation.
It is not for me to repeat what is universally acknowledged, that he so powerfully sustained these allegations against the Society by an array of facts and arguments taken from its acknowledged organs and the public speeches of its distinguished members, that he successfully convicted it before the tribunal of the American people. Now, it is important here to remark that he did not utter a single anathema against poor pillaged, bleeding African, nor against the introduction of science, art, commerce, religion, or civilization into that benighted continent. But on the contrary he says “Let the colony continue to receive the aid, and elicit the prayers of the good and benevolent. Still let it remain within the pale of Christian sympathy. Blot it not out of existence.”
My object in arranging these facts and testimonies is to show that our fathers in 1817, their successors in 1831 and '32, and Mr. Garrison founded their objections to the A.C. Society, because of its complicity with American slavery, and not as a missionary movement for the civilization of Africa.
In contrasting that period with the present, we find that the primary objections against the Society have been removed. The declaration of our fathers that they would not “separate from their brethren in bondage,” does not now hold good, as they are all now freemen. The first five charges of Mr. Garrison relating to slavery have been swept away by the events of the war, and the Proclamation of President Lincoln. The seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth, relating to the “free people of color” have met with a similar fate by their being translated into citizenship. For be it remembered, when the Colonization Society was formed, there were three distinct classes of persons recognized by law in our national and State codes, “citizens, slaves and free blacks.”
Now all have been absorbed into the term American citizen, and all these invidious distinctions are being removed from our civil codes. The class termed “free people of color” who were the class the Society designed to remove, no longer exists, and no fears need be entertained against the exercise of the legitimate functions of the Society, when our national legislation and laws have wrested from the Society the avowed objects of its sympathy. It appears to me that any colored man who has any claim to intelligence, and been an observer of the events, that form the history of the last thirty years, and has not realized that the A.C. Society has not been shorn of its obnoxious features, must be incorrigibly blinded by prejudice, stupefied by ignorance, and incurably insane.
The Society exists today simply as a missionary and educational enterprise for the purpose of civilizing and evangelizing Africa. Whoever objects to this let him speak! A Republic has been born on the Western coast of Africa and been acknowledged by the civilized governments throughout Europe, and is lighting up the dark chasms of barbarism on its own continent. Does any lover of freedom humanity and Christian progress regret this? If so let him disgorge the inmost sentiments of his soul. Let us hear what Mr. Garrison said on this subject in 1831 while attempting to overthrow the Society: “If white missionaries cannot, black ones can, survive in Africa. What then is our duty? Obviously to educate colored men of genius, enterprise and piety expressly to carry the “glad tidings of great joy” to her shores. Enough, I venture to affirm, stand ready to be sent if they can first be qualified for the mission. If our free colored population were brought into our schools, and raised from their present low estate, I am confident an army of Christian volunteers would go out from their ranks by a divine impales, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to redeem their African brethren from the bondage of idolatry and spiritual death.”
Does any descendant of poor, pillaged, bleeding African, with the blood of consanguinity flowing in his veins, and who professes to have received the baptism of the “Holy Spirit” object to this? If so let him speak while the “demons in pandemonium” shout for joy. And is not this noble, work being actively prosecuted by men and women who are believers in African colonization, as one of the great measures in the hand of Divine Providence, for enlightening, civilizing and Christianizing that ancient abode of idolatry, heathenism and superstition? Is every man who has the moral boldness to speak out his conviction on this subject to be anathematized as a traitor to his race in this country, because there is a moral obtuseness of intellect in many persons who are so blind as not to discover the broad difference between the past and the present? In reply I will state it as my firm conviction that no man should fear any amount of odium that may be cast upon him for denouncing the intolerance and despotism that would ostracize any man or set of men for opinion's sake, who are arduously laboring for the welfare of our race in this country and Africa, and who are spending their thousands and tens of thousands of dollars endowing colleges and institutions of learning, that our children may receive the benefits of education, knowledge and Christian civilization. It is to be regretted that there are colored men distinguished for intelligence, and whose oratorical powers give bias to the popular mind, whose prejudices against Africa and everything African, would, by their denunciations, aid in obstructing the blessings of civilization in Africa. Let them beware of the decision of posterity, as the future historian may place them side by side with the original despoilers of Africa.
August 15, 1857
Chatham, Canada West
PHILADELPHIA, July 31st, 1857.
O! how we dislike to write when the thermometer is 91 in the shade. The letters
of I.D.S. render it quite unnecessary for us to say anything in addition to
what he has given the readers of the Freeman on the subject of Anti-Slavery
lecturing; of course we heartily endorse all he has said in reference to the
short-comings of the colored people themselves, on the subject of their rights
and wrongs. As this is our first visit to the East, and to Pennsylvania, we
have thought it would not be altogether uninteresting to give our impression
of the Anti-Slavery character of the whites, the general condition and prospects
of the colored people. We are disappointed in Pennsylvania, sadly disappointed
with respect to its Anti-Slavery character. Looking at its antecedents, remembering
that in Pennsylvania .... praying Congress to step to the very verge of its
constitutional power to arrest the enormities of slavery; that here in the city
of Philadelphia early in the morning of this glorious enterprise ere the sun
of Anti-Slavery had gilded with its rising splendor the hills of the west, <<
James Forten>> fresh from the Revolution, gave earnest of his hatred of
Slavery and love of liberty; that here stands the same old hall where the Declaration
of Independence was promulgated, disseminating broad cast over the world, the
political glad tidings of great joy to an oppressed and down trodden world:
remembering all this, we had hoped to have met with more sympathy from the colored
people, - a higher toned anti-slavery feeling among the whites. Pennsylvania
is not only the Keystone in the Federal arch of States, but the main pillow
in the [?] temple of American oppression, notwithstanding her oft repeated devotion
to the Constitution and Union. We know of but one county outside of David Wilmot's
district where the fullest exercise of that constitutional guarantee, Free Speech,
Some one has said that "Revolutions never go backward!" Pennsylvania commenced her career as a state with slavery; she finally abolished Slavery and gave colored men the elective franchise. Was the revolution complete? If not, revolutions seem to go backward, for in, the Constitutional Convention of 1837, colored men lost the privilege to vote, and the Purvis', the Forten's, the Gordon's and the Cassy's hung crape upon their doors, emblematical of departed liberty.
We have been in many Slave states, but never have we so keenly felt the sting of prejudice as we have since we entered the land of Penn. Who would think that in a town of five thousand inhabitants, in one of the Old Middle States, that there could be found, at this time, a Pro-Slavery sentiment go strong as to render it impossible for an Anti-Slavery speaker to procure a place to plead the cause of the down-trodden of this land? nevertheless this is true. In the town of Williamsport there is not a church, hall, Court House, or any public place sacred to free speech yet Democracy rules the hour; at the very time of our application for the Court house was refused, they were making extensive preparations for celebrating the 4th of July. Oh! how contemptible! - What a splendid mockery! Why the man who is ever boasting of his own liberty; telling the world how his fathers died to gain it - that it is blood bequethed, and now he would not part with it but with his life, and thou turns round and uses the liberty that God has given him to enslave his fellowman is a mean dastardly hypocrite, and every true Republican community should spit the monster forth to be the scorn and derision of the world.
We spoke at Norristown. Well, read this notice until we can breathe a little, for we are brimming over with indignation, and in such cases we had rather talk than write for we had never conceived of the infinitude of God's mercy until after we had learned the atrocious character of the slaveholder. - Why he is the last monument of God's forbearance on earth. but read the notice:
MR. DOUGLASS' LECTURE. - On Sunday afternoon last, a Mr. Douglass, (not Frederick,) one of the editors of the Provincial Freeman, Canada West, made an anti-slavery speech in the Baptist Church of this place. Mr. D. appears to be an educated man, and a fine speaker, with the exception that he is in style too sentimental and denunciatory. Being a British subject, we thought his remarks a little too harsh to be a good taste.
The above is from the Norristown Republican edited by a bass-wood abolitionist who knows more about hats than he does about heads; more about the quality of "Coon skins," than good or bad speaking of any kind; who is better versed in the Spring and Summer styles that belong to his legitimate calling than literature, rhetorical logic, good or bad diction, or any of the various styles that abound in English composition. Of course we don't object to his right to criticize our speech; we are willing to let all such criticisms go for what they are worth. If we were in style too sentimental, how is it we were so "harsh and denunciatory." No, this is where the "shoe pinches;" we live under England's protecting arm, and no thanks to the cradle-robbing Republic of the United States. Had we chosen to remain in the States a thing of sympathy and sufferance, to be kicked and cuffed, about by American prejudice, this miserable abolitionist would have been content. "Being a British subject, we thought his remarks a little too harsh to be in good taste." This is cool, decidedly cool after the "Dred Scott" Decision; rather chilly for the warm blooded Saxon race. Where are Lexington, and Concord, and Bunker Hill? the fanaticism of the Saxon race is enshrined in the cold granite, the monumental stone, at Bunker Hill. "In good taste to be sure. - The author of the Fugitive Slave law that converted the nation into one grand slave [ ] ground and [ ] men into blood hounds to chase down God's poor, can go to Bunker Hill and extol the virtues of Joseph Warren in the calm air of Boston huckerism and no one seems to be offended. But when a colored man peeled, and bruised, and left bleeding by the wayside by American infidelity and caste, gets up before the sons of the men who fed in the trenches at Bunker Hill, while fighting for liberty, to plead his cause with harmless words, men get mad. - Well, we like to make a man mad if it can be done by telling him that we hate slavery.
Shame on the castle mockery of piling stone on stone
To those who won our liberty -- the hero's dead and gone
While we look coldly [ ] see how shielded ruffians stay,
The men who fain would win their own, the heroes of today,
That makes us cringe and temporize and dumbly stand at rest
While pity's burning stood of words is red hot in the breast.
O, why don't some miserable toady some fawning, cringing sycophant, like S.A.
Douglass resuscitate the accursed memory of Bully Brooks and give him a niche
on Bunker Hill beside the chisseled [?] Joseph Warren whose virtues were as
pure as the marble that enshrines his memory? We are sure that no greater insult
could be offered to a Northern man! not entirely lost to all sense of decency
than that of Senator Mason, of Virginia, the author of the Fugitive Slave Law
and the applauder of the dastardly assault on Charles Sumner, making a speech
in the shade of Bunker Hill.
We also held meetings at Chester and Wilmington, the last named place, by the way is in a Slave State. At Chester we had a very good audience. The meeting is thus notice in the Delaware County Republican. We clip it from the "Anti-Slavery Standard:"
H.F. DOUGLASS, one of the editors of the Provincial Freeman (C.W.) has been lecturing, of late, in Delaware County Pa. In the Chester Republican, we had the following notice of his labours in that place:
"Notwithstanding the extreme heat of the weather, the Hall was well filled with both sexes, who gave close and attentive audience from the commencement to the close of his remarks. The speaker pointed out the evils of slavery, showed their effects upon the people of the North, whom he censured more for its continuance and support than those of the South, and denounced, in the most earnest language, that extensive class among us, called doughfaces, on whom, more than any others, the slaveholders rely for and to support the institution. We have never heard more truthful and earnest language than that which fell from the speaker's lips, when recounting the wrongs afflicted on his race. He was bold, eloquent, manly and defiant in his language, and demonstrated clearly every point of his subject. He came among us, he said, to make converts to the cause of freedom: and he spoke wermly of slavery, it was because he felt warmly upon a subject that robbed him of his manhood had sought to degrade him, and had reduced him to the condition of a chattel. He had been born in Virginia, the mother of Commonwealths and statesmen - a State which gave birth to the Father of his Country, and was the home of the Father of Democracy, the author of the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness the inalienable rights of man - yet were a citizen to go there, or to any other slave State, and exercise the liberty of speech, proclaim the truths he now did here, he would find himself dangling to the nearest tree. For more than an hour the speaker continued to deal his blows with powerful effect upon the institution of slavery and those who uphold it, illustrating with appropriate anecdotes many of the strong points of his argument, in a manner which carried conviction to his hearers."
At Wilmington our audience was mostly colored, though was some white persons present; all seemed to be interested in what was said. There is only two avowed abolitionists in the place, but they are worth a thousand of such poor miserable devils as the editor of the Norristown Republican. - The two choice spirits alluded to are Thomas Garret and Aunt Betsy Williams. SLAVERY died in Wilmington for the simple reason that all the slaves that were worth anything ran off. There is only one in Wilmington and he is very old. He was asked the reason why he did not go and give this as his reason.
"De white folks has had de marrow and dey may now take de bones." The condition and prospects of the colored people in our next. - H.F.D.
August 1, 1835
Boston, Massachusetts, Volume 5 No. 31
(From the New-England Spectator.)
IMPORTANT TESTIMONY. Did the Blacks ever desire a Society to be formed to transport them to Africa with their own consent? If not, can the Colonization Society be a Benevolent Institution?
During the late discussion in this city between George Thompson and Mr. Gurley, the former stated that the colored people were, as a body, opposed to colonization. When the colonization scheme was first promulged, Mr. T. said, three thousand colored people assembled in Philadelphia, to discuss the question, whether it was desirable to avail themselves of the offers made, and emigrate to Africa. When the question was stated,— 'As many as are in favor of going to Africa, as proposed by the Colonization Society, will signify it by saying— Aye.' A universal silence prevailed. 'As many as are of the contrary opinion, will say— No.' The house rang with one universal shout. Such a fact, added Mr. Thompson, ought forever to silence every advocate of colonization.
Mr. Gurley, in his reply, said he never had heard of such a meeting in Philadelphia. Although the fact of such a meeting has, from the first, been the subject of public notoriety, yet to get testimony on the point from one present on the occasion, whom no one acquainted with him would doubt, I immediately wrote to << James Forten>> , one of the most respectable and wealthiest business men in Philadelphia, though a gentleman of color, stating to him what Mr. Thompson had said, and Mr. Gurley's reply, and requested him to give me the facts in the case. In answer to this letter, I have received the following:—
Philadelphia, June 10th, 1835.
Rev. W.S. PORTER,— Dear Sir,— I cheerfully comply with the request contained in your note of the 3d inst., to give you a brief statement of a meeting held in 1817, by the people of color in this city, to express their opinion on the Liberia project. It was the largest meeting of colored persons ever convened in Philadelphia, I will say 3000, though I might safely add 500 more. To show you the deep interest evinced, this large assemblage remained in almost breathless and fixed attention, during the reading of the resolutions and other business of the meeting; and when the question was put in the affirmative, you night have heard a pin drop, so profound was the silence. But when in the negative, one long, loud, aye, TREMENDOUS NO, from this vast audience, seemed as if it would bring down the walls of the building. Never did there appear a more unanimous opinion. Every heart seemed to feel that it was a life and death question. Yes, even then, at the very onset, when the monster came in a guise to deceive some of our firmest friends, who [ ]ailed it as the dawning of a brighter day for our oppressed race,— even then, we penetrated through its thickly-laid covering, and beheld it prospectively as the scourge which in after years was to grind us to the earth, and by a series of unrelenting persecution, force us into involuntary exile.
I was not a little surprised to learn that Mr. Gurley professed to be ignorant of this fact; for in the African repository, be reviewed Mr. Garrison's Thoughts on African Colonization; and a whole chapter of the work, if I mistake not, is taken up with the sentiments of the people of color on colonization, commencing with the Philadelphia meeting. Perhaps Mr. Gurley did not read that chapter. But if his memory is not very treacherous, he ought to have known the circumstance, for I related it to him myself in a conversation which I had with him at my house one evening in company with the Rev. Robert Breckenridge and our beloved friend, William Lloyd Garrison. The subject of colonization was warmly discussed; and I well recollect bringing our meeting of 1817 forward as a proof of our early and decided opposition to the measure. No doubt Mr. Garrison also remembers it.
Three meetings were held by us in 1817. The two first you will find in the 'Thoughts on Colonization,' part 2d, page 9. Of the protest and remonstrance adopted at the third meeting, I send you an exact copy.* It is in answer to an address to the citizens of New York and Philadelphia, calling upon them to aid a number of persons of color, whom they said were anxious to join the projected colony in Africa. Those persons were mostly from the south, and it was to disabuse the public mind on this subject, that our meeting was held.
I remain, with great respect.
P.S. The following are the names of the committee appointed at the meeting in 1817, with power to call a general meeting whenever they thought it requisite, viz:
Rev. Absalom Jones— deceased, Rev. Richard Allen— deceased, << James Forten>> , Robert Douglass, Francis Perkins, Rev. John Gloucester— deceased, Robert Gordon, James Johnson, Quamoney Clarkson— deceased, John Sommerset— deceased, Randall Shepherd.
<< JAMES FORTEN>> , Chairman. Russell Parrott, Secretary, deceased.
* Protest and Remonstrance of the People of Color of the City and County of Philadelphia against the Plan of Colonizing the Free People of Color of the United States, on the coast of Africa, At a very numerous meeting of persons of color on the 16th instant the following resolutions were unanimously adopted.
Whereas, an address to the citizens of Philadelphia and New York having been made through the medium of the public papers, by the agent of the American society for colonizing the free people of color on the coast of Africa, which address is made, it is said, in behalf of a number of people who are desirous of joining the projected colony in Africa, and who have made application to the American Colonization Society, for permission to be amongst its first colonists: But as a full and explicit expression of our sentiments and feelings, relative to the proposed plan of colonization, has already been submitted to the public, and as the views therein taken of the subject, were the result of cool and deliberate investigation, and as no circumstance has occurred since their adoption, to alter our opinion, but on the contrary, the reiterated expressions of some of the advocates of the measure, that it was foreign to their intentions, to interfere with a species of property which they hold sacred; and by the recent attempt to introduce slavery in all its objectionable features into the new states, and which has only been prevented by a small majority in the national legislature, confirms us in the belief that any plan of colonization without the American continent or islands, will completely and permanently fix slavery in our common country. It is, therefore,
Resolved, That how clamorous soever a few obscure and dissatisfied strangers among us, may be in favor of being made presidents, governors, and principals, in Africa, there is but one sentiment among the respectable inhabitants of color in this city and county, which is, that it meets their unanimous and decided disapprobation.
Resolved, That we are determined to have neither lot nor portion in a plan which we believe to be intended to perpetuate slavery in the United States. And it is, moreover,
Resolved, That the people of color of Philadelphia, now enter and proclaim their solemn protest against the contemplated colony on the shores of Africa, and against every measure that may have a tendency to convey an idea that they give the project a single particle of countenance or encouragement.
<< JAMES FORTEN>> , Chairman.
RUSSELL. PARROTT, Secretary.
Adopted in 1819.
It should be remembered that all this was done eleven years before Garrison
took up the cause of emancipation. In 1829, Garrison delivered a 4th of July
oration in this city, before the Colonization Society. Thus we see what influence
he could thus early have had in persuading the blacks to oppose the Colonization
May 2, 1835
Boston, Massachusetts, Volume 5 No. 18
REV. MR. MAY'S TOUR.
NEW-BEDFORD, April 24, 1835.
MY DEAR GARRISON—
On Monday morning, (the 20th) several gentlemen called upon me at my lodgings,* all of whom evinced a deep interest in our righteous cause. Among them came Mr. Nathan Johnson, a black man, with whom I was much pleased. Notwithstanding the great disadvantages which are imposed by our unrighteous prejudice, upon all of his complexion, Mr. Johnson has conciliated the respect of the community in which he dwells. This he has done by filling well the station which he occupies, by his uniformly upright conduct and modest manners. He has been industrious and frugal, consequently he has accumulated a very pretty estate, and has found time to attend to the cultivation of his mind.
I dined this day with the venerable William Rotch, the President of the
New-Bedford Anti-Slavery Society. How refreshing is the presence of a wise and virtuous old man! His doctrine gently dispensed, distils upon one like the dew. Both Mr. Rotch and his excellent wife are of 'the society of Friends,' and therefore have always been opposed to Slavery, and, unlike too many of that denomination, their opposition is made manifest. The light of their countenance is not obscured. Their testimony against the sin of our nation is distinctly given.
In the evening, I went over to Fairhaven, where I had agreed to deliver an address in the house of the Christian Baptists. The aspect of the clouds had been threatening all day, and just at the hour appointed for our meeting, it rained violently. Nevertheless, there were more than a hundred persons assembled, who were heartily disposed to hear all I thought proper to say. At the earnest solicitation of several, among them the Orthodox minister (Rev. Mr. Gould) and the Christian, (Rev. Mr. Taylor,) I agreed to deliver another address in the same place the following Wednesday evening. Passed the night with our zealous fellow-laborer, Capt. Joseph Bates.
Tuesday, 21st. Received calls from several gentlemen. Among others, came the Rev. Mr. Perry, pastor of the 'African** Church,' and Mr. Richard Johnson, a colored man, with his two sons. Mr. Johnson, in his appearance, somewhat resembles our friend << James Forten>> of Philadelphia. He has been an enterprising man— and told me one anecdote of himself, which is worth repeating here, as it shows to what insults and injuries a portion of the free population of New-England are subjected by the slave system. Mr. Johnson, a few years ago, freighted a small vessel for the West Indies, and went in her as supercargo. On his return, he found occasion to put into the port of Charleston, S.C. The cook of the vessel, and one of the sailors, being colored, were immediately thrown into prison. And the 'officers of Justice' were proceeding to deal likewise with Mr. Johnson, when several gentlemen who were acquainted with him, and the merchant to whom he was consigned, interfered. They insisted, that according to the language of the law, the magistrates had no authority to commit Mr. Johnson, he being neither cook, sailor, nor stevedore. The Mayor demurred some time, because as be said, such a man might do more harm among the slaves, than if he had not risen from the menial situation, to which the free blacks are usually condemned. Nevertheless, as Mr. J. and his counsellors appealed to the law, and also gave bonds for his good behavior, the honorable Mayor was obliged to leave him at liberty; but admonished him that if be ever came to Charleston again, be should not be protected by the letter of the law.
Tuesday evening, I took tea with Mr. Jos. Ricketson, Vice President of the Anti-Slavery Society, and a most indefatigable friend of the cause, and indeed of every other project of moral reform. At half past 7, I met a large assembly in the house of the Orthodox Society, (Rev. Mr. Holmes, Pastor,) and addressed them for more than an hour. A large addition was made to the number of Abolitionists.
Wednesday, 22d. Spent the forenoon in visiting. My friend Mr. Ricketson, with his kind lady, conducted me to the house of Mrs. Coffin, who is quite an adept in conchology. She has a very extensive and beautiful cabinet of shells. But my business being not so much with the beauties and wonders of the natural world, as with the deformities of the moral world, I was under the necessity of leaving this intelligent lady much sooner than I wished. I went to the other extremity of the town to see the Rev. Mr. Holmes. He is a powerful man— zealous for moral reform; but has not yet escaped from the delusion of colonization. I left with him Judge Jay's Inquiry, which I think will dispel the confidence he may still have in that impracticable and ungenerous enterprise.
I hurried from Mr. Holmes to the house of Andrew Robinson. He is a man of large estate- a great manufacturer, but not so engrossed in his own pursuits as to be unmindful of his social duties. He is the steadfast and active friend of good order, temperance, justice, and the [ ] of man. Immediately after dinner— the [ ] which flew away imperceptibly in the midst of his interesting family— Mr. R's son took me in his chaise to the African meeting-house, where I had appointed to meet and address our colored friends. Nearly two hundred assembled. I was very much pleased with the appearance of a great portion of them. They looked intelligent and well-dressed— few of them gaudily. I discoursed to them an hour from the I Cor. 13th 4,5,6, and 7th verses. I spoke of the elevation of the African in ancient times— of the causes of their decline of the degradation of their American descendants— and then labored to show them that it can be only by their constant adherence to that peculiarly christian principle, which the apostle sets forth in the text, that they can ever raise themselves from their present low estate. They seemed to hear me gladly, and I received at parting from them many blessings.
William Rotch, Joseph Ricketson, and one or two other abolitionists were present. Mr. Rotch took me in his chaise to his house to tea— and in the evening, although it was raining heavily, he with his wife and a female friend, accompanied me in his carriage to Fairhaven. The severity of the shower I feared would again prevent a large number from assembling. But I was very agreeably disappointed. The house was nearly filled, and they listened to me with every appearance of interest in my subject. After the address, a considerable number gave their names as being favorable to the formation of an Anti-Slavery Society, and appointed a meeting to be held the next evening in the same place to organize one, and elect officers.
To-morrow I purpose to go to Sandwich, and thence to Plymouth.
* The Mansion House, kept by Mrs. Doubleday, which I would recommend as an excellent home those who may wish to visit the beautiful town of New-Bedford.
** Improperly so called. I wish our colored countrymen would discontinue the
use of this appellative. It does not belong to them. They are Americans as much
as we are, and should always claim to be.
June 29, 1839
THE COLORED AMERICAN
New York, New York
We are indebted to our friend << James Forten>> , sen., for a copy of the London Morning Chronicle, of the 18th of Third month, containing an account of the presentation of a piece of plate to the Marquis of Sligo.- Penn. Freeman.
Testimonial of the gratitude of the negroes of
Jamaica to the Marquis of Sligo.
On Saturday last, a deputation, consisting of J.F. Buxton, Esq., the Right
Honorable Dr. Lushington, M.P., Rev. John Dyer, Rev. John Burnett, Sir George
Stephen, Captain Moorsom, R.N., W.B. Gurney, Esq., Joseph Sturge, Esq., John
Sturge, Esq., accompanied by the Right Honorable Lord Brougham, Sir George Strickland,
Bart. M.P., the Honorable C.P. Villiers, M.P., William Evans Esq., Joseph Pease,
Esq., M.P., W.T. Blair, Esq., Mr. Lecesne and Mr. Russell, (two gentlemen of
color) and Mr. R. Stokes presented to the Marquis of Sligo, at his residence
No. 2 Mansfield street, a piece of plate, consisting of a magnificent candelabrum
in the form of the Arica Palm, (the tree of West India liberty,) from whose
graceful and feathery top spring light and elegant inches for seven lights.
At the foot of the palm tree is a group of West Indian negroes. The base is
triangular and richly ornamented with the sugar cane and Indian corn. On two
sides of the base are armorial bearings and crest of the Marquis of Sligo, with
the collar of St. Patrick in bold relief; and on the third side is the following
"Presented to the most noble Howe Peter, Marquis of Sligo, by the negroes of Jamaica, in testimony of the grateful remembrance they entertain for his unremitting efforts to alleviate their sufferings and to redress their wrongs, during his just and enlightened administration of the government of the island, and of the respect and gratitude they feel towards his excellent Lady and family, for the kindness and sympathy displayed towards them.- l837."
The total height of the candelabrum is 3 feet 6 inches.
The improvement in the moral condition of the negroes is shown by the occupation of the group, as well as in their countenances and dress. A male negro, with a broken whip under his feet, is explaining what he has been reading from a book, resting in his hand, to a female seated by his side, who is nursing an infant, an interest in whose welfare is now for the first time conceded to her. A young lad, in the background, unconscious of the cause of the improvement, yet fully sensible of its effects, is sporting with a goat, now allowed to be domesticated.
The appearance of the group is that of a happy and contented family.
The following was the address read by Dr. Lushington on the occasion:
To the most noble the Marquis of Sligo, &c. &c. &c.
"My Lord Marquis, - When your lordship retired from the government of Jamaica, l836, the negroes, in order to testify their gratitude for humane and enlightened administration, appointed a committee to receive their contributions, for the purpose of purchasing a testimonial to be presented to your lordship. The money thus raised was placed in the hands of Mr. Joseph Sturge, on his visit to Jamaica, with the following resolution for its disposal:
l. That the funds raised as a subscription of the negroes, amounting to 1,000 dollars, form the intrinsic value of the plate to be presented to the Marquis and Marchioness of Sligo.
2. That the subscriptions of the friends of freedom, in Jamaica and elsewhere, be received for the purpose of the device.
3. That the amount so received be put into the hands of Mr. Sturge, and that he be requested to communicate with the following gentlemen, and with such others as he may think proper, and arrange with them the best mode of presenting to his lordship this testimonial of the gratitude of the apprentices for the protection afforded them during his lordship's administration, and the loss they have sustained by his removal from the government. - J.F. Buxton, Esq., George Stephen, Esq., Rev. John Dyer, Dr. Palmer, Dr. Lashington, M.P., Captain Moorsom, R.N., Rev. J. Barnett, John Sturge, Esq."
"It will be most gratifying to your lordship to perceive by these resolutions that the negroes have associated the name of your excellent Marchioness with your own in the tribute of humble and loyal admiration."
"Before it was possible to carry into effect the wishes of our negro friends, your lordship added largely, to those claims on their gratitude which you already possessed, by declaring in your place in Parliament, that whatever might be its decision on the question of the apprenticeship, it was your lordship's determination to liberate the apprentices on your own estates on the first of August, 1838; a declaration that greatly promoted the success of those efforts which the country was then making for the abolition of a system too deeply identified with slavery to be compatible with the welfare of the negro or the honor of the British Legislature."
"This noble proof of the kind solicitude which your lordship felt for their happiness, even in your retirement, was not lost upon the grateful hearts of the apprentices, and they raised additional funds to enable us to render the candelabrum, which we have now the honor to present, more worthy of your lordship's acceptance."
"We cannot discharge the trust, which has been confided to us by the black population of Jamaica, without offering our respectful congratulation to your lordship on this gratifying acknowledgment, that your administration of the government was not less marked by tender consideration, for the helpless and the oppressed, than by dignified firmness under circumstances of peculiar and unprecedented difficulty."
"We are anxious to forget the cruel scenes of past times in the contemplation of the brighter prospect which now opens for our black fellow subjects; - but we cannot forget the men to whose exertions they are principally indebted for that brighter prospect, and we are persuaded that we truly speak their sentiments when we express the hope that this mark of negro feeling may stimulate your children's children for many generations, to emulate the examples of their noble ancestor, who had the courage to be humane in the midst of inhumanity, and who dared to be just where injustice had, for centuries, reigned with undisputed sway."
"We ardently hope that your lordship may long live to witness the happy results of that liberty which has been extended to the long injured sons of Africa in the British colonies; and to look back with heartfelt satisfaction on having contributed so largely to the success of a measure which is so eminently calculated to promote the happiness of millions of the human race."
"We regret that the state of your lordship's health has prevented us from presenting this testimonial in a manner befitting the importance of the occasion; for whilst it records the triumph of freedom without the shedding of blood, and the liberty of the slave without the destruction of their master, it transmits your lordship's name to posterity enwreathed with far nobler glory than invests the hero of a thousand fields."
Lord SLIGO replied as follows:
"Gentlemen, - It is with feelings of no little pride that I receive at your hands this testimonial of the gratitude and good opinion of the negroes of Jamaica."
"When I remember that the subscription for its purchase was made after I had left the island, when no advantage could be gamed by its promotion, and that it is the only instance which has occurred, or can occur in these dominions, of the presentation of a tribute of respect from persons still in a state of modified slavery, I value it so much that I would not exchange it for the highest distinction which the favor of my sovereign could bestow."
"With respect to the part, which I have taken on the slave question, I shall merely say, that from my very early years I was in opposition to those around me, and a decided advocate for the abolition of the trade in slaves. I admit that I felt no repugnance to the continuance of slavery itself, until I became a member of the committee of the house of Lords, appointed to receive evidence as to the condition of the slaves in our colonies. I then became a convert from the very evidence adduced by the West Indian interest itself; I entered that room a colonial advocate, I left it a decided abolitionist."
"Having been subsequently entrusted with the government of Jamaica, it was my sincere desire to administer it with the strictest impartiality; and if I ever felt a momentary impulse to deviate in the slightest degree from the straight and severe line which it was my duty to pursue, that impulse sprung from discovering that the horrors of slavery were much greater than I had previously conceived, and from finding by personal experience that the reports I had heard of them in England fell short, very short, of the sad reality."
"Circumstances, however, not within my control, having compelled me to tender the resignation of my office, I did not on that account feel less anxious to be of service to that most interesting colony, and to the suffering but obedient blacks."
"It is true that on my return to England I refused to take any prominent public part on the subject, until the moment I thought I might come forward most effectively, and I may perhaps have subjected myself, in consequence, to the imputation of lukewarmness in the cause. I trust, however, that the step which I took, when the time which I considered the most appropriate had arrived, proved that, however I may have differed from others in my views of the best mode of proceeding, we all pursued in common, and unceasingly, one and the same great object - the complete abolition of every remnant of slavery - the entire and unconditional freedom of the negro."
"I feel, notwithstanding, that our exertions ought not to terminate. Much still remains to be done, and if it please the Almighty to grant me a renewal of my health and strength, now greatly impaired, I trust I shall always be found among the most active supporters of a cause so interesting to my own feelings, and so dear to humanity."
"The plate, which you have this day done me the honor of presenting to me, will descend as an heirloom in my family, and will, I trust, to those who come after me, that the best method of securing public approbation is, by an exact and conscientious discharge of their duties."
"I hope that my kind colonial friends who have united together to present to me this mark of their affection, may be made acquainted with the extreme value which I attach to it, and that they will permit me in return to offer them in reference to their future conduct some advice, to which, coming from one whom they know to be their friend, they may perhaps be disposed to lay the readier attention. I do not wish them to imagine that I offer it, because I think that the following considerations have not had due weight with them. I know that they have been strongly urged upon them by their excellent missionaries, and have I am sure already been the guide of their conduct. I think, nevertheless, that it is also my duty, in gratitude, to impress them with what is, in my opinion, important to their welfare."
"I am anxious that they should feel that a strict obedience to the laws, on their part, is indispensable; that they must, if they occupy their old houses and grounds on the estates of their employers, pay a rent for them and not imagine that they are their own property. I wish them to understand that they must not abandon their habits of labor and become idlers, but accept a fair remuneration for their work. I wish them, in short, to learn that the foundation of their future happiness must be laid in religion, morality, and industry."
"To you, gentlemen of the deputation, I beg to return my most grateful thanks for your presence and assistance on this occasion."
No accurate account has been received of the number of our negro fellow subjects, who contributed to this beautiful tribute of their gratitude; but some estimate may be formed from the fact that in one of the country districts, 33 7s. 11d. currency, or only about $100, were subscribed by upwards of 1,500 individuals.
The candelabrum was executed by Messrs. Greene and Ward, of Cockspar Street, and does great credit to the taste and ability of the artists.
Lady Sligo and three of the Ladies Browne were present on the occasion.
April 18, 1835
Boston, Massachusetts, Volume 5 No. 16
(From the Philadelphia 'Friend.')
PEOPLE OF COLOR.
The Society of Friends has long felt a deep interest in the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. Within the last fifty years many of the members have taken an active part in pleading the cause of the afflicted sons of Africa. They remonstrated with firmness and energy against attempts which were made at different periods to fasten more securely the chains of servitude, or to violate with impunity the rights of the free, and were instrumental in liberating many from their bonds. In some of the southern states, Friends are actively engaged in this righteous work; and in all parts of the Society, much is still felt respecting the increasing magnitude and crime of this enormous evil. Many deplore the hopeless condition of their fellow-creatures, bought and sold like sheep and oxen in this land of professed liberty, lashed and goaded to labor, often beyond their physical powers to endure without great suffering; and yet has not the zeal which led our forefathers to advocate the rights of the oppressed, in some measure abated, and become in too many almost extinguished? We talk of our testimony against slavery, but with what consistency can a testimony be said to exist, unless it is openly borne against the evil? It is true, we do not keep slaves ourselves, but where do we fearlessly testify in the ear of the oppressor, that he is violating the golden rule of the Redeemer of the coloured man as well as of the white, in unjustly withholding from him his natural freedom, equally the gift of the Creator to all the workmanship of his hands? Are we not in danger of falling into apathy over this perpetual outrage upon our fellow men, concluding that it is too mighty to attack, or that there are comparatively so few who appear to benefit themselves by the freedom which they have obtained, we must therefore let the subject rest? But do we take the pains to ascertain certainly that few only do profit by the change? We hear stories of petty robberies in some parts of the country; that in the suburbs of this city, the “negroes” are lazy, idle, vagrant and debauched. The proportion of this description, however, we do not know, and perhaps too readily admit such reports to make an impression on us, unfavorable to the general character of that abused people, and the expediency of universal emancipation. Do we take care to enquire into the exertions which they have been making for years, to rise out of the mental and moral depression, in which slavery left them, and the happy results which attend those exertions? Are we equally disposed to look around to discover the number of industrious and exemplary coloured men and women residing amongst us— persons who have elevated their conditions by their persevering struggles, and who are laying the foundation for their growing families, to become useful, respectable and pious citizens— encouraging them to avail themselves of the facilities for education and improvement provided for them?
At my request, our estimable citizen << James Forten>> , a man of colour, furnished some documents collected about three years ago, of which the following abstract will go to disprove some of the vague suggestions too often made, and too readily admitted against them.
1st. In a statement published by the guardians of the poor of the city and county of Philadelphia, for 1830, it appears that out of 549 out-door poor relieved during the year, only twenty-two were persons of colour, being but five coloured to every hundred white inhabitants thus provided for, and that the coloured paupers admitted into the almshouse for the same period, did not exceed that proportion, while their ratio of the whole population of the city and suburbs exceeds 8 1-4 per cent.
2d. For want of designating in the tax books the property of the coloured people, reference was made to receipts of the tax-payers, to ascertain as accurately as practicable, the amount paid. From this source, though deficient. it appears that within the same district, the coloured people paid in taxes not less than 2500 dollars, while the sums expended to relieve them, from the public funds, rarely, if ever, exceeded 2000 dollars a year, thus not only supporting their...white poor. The amount of rents which they pay to owners of property, is found to exceed 100,000 dollars annually.
3d. Many of them by industry have acquired property, and have become freeholders. Besides their private estates, they have six places for worship owned and used by the methodist society among them, two by presbyterians, two by baptists, and one by episcopalians; they have also a public hall; the aggregate value of which they estimate to exceed 100,000 dollars.
4th. They have two first day schools, two tract societies, two Bible societies, two temperance societies, and one female literary institution. They have a large number of beneficent associations, some of them incorporated, for mutual aid in sickness and distress. The members are governed by rules which tend to promote industry and morality, and not one of them has been convicted of any crime. Seven thousand dollars are expended annually out of the stock of these associations in relieving distressed members.
5th. Owing to the prejudices with which they have to contend, they experience much difficulty in procuring places for their sons as apprentices to learn mechanical trades; notwithstanding which, in their remonstrance to the legislature of Pennsylvania, in the first month of 1832, they stated that there are between four and five hundred people of colour in the city and suburbs, who follow mechanical employments.
6th. In relation to education they say, “While we thankfully embrace the opportunities for schooling our children, which have been opened to us by public munificence and private benevolence, we are still desirous to do our part in the accomplishment of so desirable an object. Such of us as are of ability to do so, send our children to school at our own expense. Knowing by experience the disadvantages many of us labour under, for want of early instruction, we are anxious to give our children a suitable education to fit them for the duties and employments of life.”
The statements from which the above abstract is made, they say can be sustained by competent evidence, and were submitted to some intelligent citizens of Philadelphia, who can testify to their substantial accuracy.
Besides the institutions existing the first month of 1832, several others have been established since, among which are a library company, and a female literary association. A sketch of the objects and operations of the former, furnished by the same person, states that the Philadelphia Library Company of Coloured Persons, for the promotion of their moral and mental improvement, was instituted on the first day of the year 1833. It embraces three objects: the formation of an adequate library, a reading room, and a debating society. The present collection consists of nearly 400 volumes, and a number of valuable pamphlets, periodicals and maps. The members divide into companies, for reading, reciting, or conversation. Stated meetings are set apart for debating, in which subjects of a moral, scientific, or historical nature that are connected with, or likely to enlighten them on their situation, are discussed, under proper regulations to ensure decorum and promote the instruction of the company. It occupies the first story of the hall built by the Abolition Society in Haines street, consists of from eighty to ninety members, and is in a prosperous condition. They feel much encouraged to prosecute the object of improvement, having been left a handsome legacy by a benevolent coloured man, lately deceased, and from a respectable citizen they have recently received a donation of 104 volumes of valuable works. It would be well for their friends to bear them in mind, and to present them with useful books, and with other means to aid their laudable efforts.
The Dorcas Society, established in 1830, has been of great use during the winter seasons, in distributing articles of clothing, and affording groceries to the sick and aged. It has made up and distributed nearly one thousand garments since that period, 230 of which have been given away this winter; and groceries have also been given to thirty six persons. In this account shoes are not included, many pairs of which are distributed every winter.
This statistical account proves that altho' many of this people may be too
regardless of their moral standing, yet there is a large number who do appreciate
the importance of education, and have already realized many of its advantages.
It proves not only that they are no burthen upon the white population, but that
they contribute to the maintenance of others. It shows that they possess a spirit
of independency which leads to personal exertion for their own emolument and
improvement, and were they free from the obstacles which surround them, it would
be fair to conclude, that many more would vie with their white neighbors in
the refinements of civilized life. When we contrast the condition of the present
free colored inhabitants of this city, with that of the natives as brought from
Africa almost in a state of barbarism, and placed in abject slavery under those
who treat them as if they were but little removed from the brute creation, we
must admit, that however gradual the transition, a very striking change has
taken place in the moral and intellectual character of many amongst them. The
benefits derived from the possession of their civil and religious rights are
not only highly important to themselves, but, if steadily improved, must extend
to their brethren yet involved in the fetters of slavery. It will enable the
friends of emancipation to point to them, as evidence of the blessings of
liberty— their minds cultivated and expanded by the lights of science, and at the same time controlled by the benign influences of religion and the restraints of well educated society. Under the circumstances in which they stand, struggling as for an existence in the midst of an active, shrewd people, they [ ] hand of encouragement and help to be judiciously extended, in order to strengthen their efforts, by fostering the rising institutions which they are attempting to establish for the good of their people. Contributions to their libraries, assistance in diffusing school learning, and the counsel and kind notice of their friends, showing a lively interest in their welfare, would animate them to pursue the path of duty, and prepare them for use fulness amongst their own color, when it shall please the Sovereign Ruler of nations to effect the liberation of the oppressed from the galling bondage to which they are subjected in this high-professing Christian country.
April 13, 1833
Boston, Massachusetts, Volume 3 No. 15
(For the Liberator.)
A VOICE FROM PHILADELPHIA.
Pursuant to notice, a large and respectable meeting of the colored citizens of Philadelphia convened in the first colored Presbyterian Meeting-house, April 1st, 1833. << James Forten>> was appointed President, Robert Douglass and Joseph Cassey, Vice Presidents, Robert Purvis and James McCrummel, Secretaries.
The President having stated the object of the meeting, the following Preamble and Resolutions were submitted by Mr. Douglass for the consideration of the house, and unanimously adopted.
Whereas, it has long been the opinion of the members of this Meeting, that the many efforts now making in these United States for the elevation of the colored population to those rights, privileges and enjoyments which God, in his wisdom, has ordained for man, have not been commensurate with the magnitude of the cause, under which the many benevolent philanthropists of our country are laboring, and our long neglected race still bleeding.
And whereas, their want of success has arisen from having to contend with the evils of Slavery, Ignorance, and Prejudice:— They therefore rejoice, that the New-England Anti-Slavery Society was formed for the express purpose of blasting these rocks of misfortune and misery; and they most ardently desire that that Institution, founded as it is on the pillars of everlasting truth and justice, may grow and spread its moral light to the most distant shores, and gather from the four winds of heaven, the means necessary to complete its great and laudable purposes, until it shall be able, under the blessings of Providence, to present to the 'man of color,' the glorious path of civilization, untrammelled by any of those concomitant evils, which have hitherto destroyed millions of our race, by depriving us of the light of religion, the blessings of education, and the enjoyment of universal liberty.
And whereas, the Board of Managers of said Society, have officially announced the appointment of WM. LLOYD GARRISON ESQ. (that able and efficient advocate of the 'Rights of Man;') as their Agent, and that he will proceed to England, for the purpose of procuring funds, to aid in the establishment of a Manual Labor School for Colored Youth, and of disseminating in that country the truth in relation to American Slavery and its ally, the American Colonization Society:
And whereas, it becomes us, as freeman, to express our approbation, or disapprobation, of all measures, that affect our interests, we therefore publish to the world, that the appointment of Wm. Lloyd Garrison as Agent of the New-England Anti-Slavery Society, under the auspices and instructions given by that Board, receives our decided approbation, and should be a theme of rejoicing to philanthropists and lovers of freedom, no matter where situated. Mr. Garrison, wherever known, is recognized as the friend of the colored population. The objects of his mission, have long since been the pride of his heart, viz. to expand the mind, unrivet the fetter, and dissolve prejudice and his ability to execute the present undertaking can better be described by pointing to the 'Liberator,' and his excellent work entitled 'Thoughts on African Colonization,' than by any feeble eulogy of ours; it is sufficient when we assert, that in all these he has spoken our sentiments; and therefore be it
Resolved, That this meeting most respectfully solicit the good people of England, to contribute to the proposed object, with that spirit of liberality which has uniformly characterized the benevolent acts of the English Nation; and that we, as humble suppliants, do most affectionately pray, that the beneficent smiles of kind Providence, together with the good wishes of our oppressed people, may crown the donors with eternal blessings, for having contributed of their substance to aid in confering upon the colored race the inestimable privileges of civilization and liberty.
Resolved, That we consider education the only effectual mode of elevating our general character, as it is capable of removing the most powerful impediments from the path of our improvement, viz. the effects of Slavery and the influence of the American Colonization Society; therefore we desire that our brethren and friends will aid in promoting every object, that promises the dissemination of useful knowledge.
Resolved, That it is the universal opinion of the people of color, in these United States, that Slavery, though one of the worst evils that ever infested the moral government of man, would necessarily be of short duration, were it not aided by the American Colonization Society, which has been created, supported and perpetuated, for the avowed purpose of protecting it from the innovations of light and reason, by removing from that immoral vineyard every thing obnoxious to its existence.
Resolved, That the members of this meeting, being actuated by the most pure and patriotic motives, and guided by philanthropic feelings, do most heartily desire and pray for the total and immediate annihilation of Slavery, and the American Colonization Society; as they are fully satisfied, that their annihilation would prove a national blessing to the United States; for their very existence is a foul stain on the character of a christian community, brings contempt on religion, is destructive to the morals, and at enmity with the form and principles of a republican government.
Resolved, That we return our thanks to WM. L. GARRISON, ESQ. for his untiring and philanthropic exertions in our behalf; and that, while we rejoice at his departure for England, we implore the blessings of Heaven for his safe and speedy return amongst us.
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to remit to Mr. Garrison, the proceedings of this meeting, together with such other information, with regard to said Mission as they may deem proper.
Resolved, That a collection be taken up at this meeting, and that a committee of five persons be appointed to solicit subscriptions, to aid in defraying Mr. Garrison's expenses in England.
In support of the above resolutions, Mr. F.A. Hinton addressed the house in a spirited and feeling manner. The following resolutions were then offered and adopted.
Resolved, That while our hearts are filled with gratitude to the Philanthropists in this country, for the great exertions they are making in our behalf, we are not unmindful of the efforts of the advocates of human freedom in England, in behalf of the welfare of the descendants of Africa.
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to prepare an address, expressive of our sentiments of gratitude to the Philanthropists in Great Britain, and that the same be presented to JAS. GROPPER, of Liverpool; by our sterling friend and advocate, William Lloyd Garrison, Esq.
In support of the foregoing resolutions, Mr. -----, addressed the house as follows:
If there was ever a time, or an occasion, when the highest, noblest and best feelings of the human heart should be called into full life and vigor, it is at this time— it is on this occasion. We come, Mr. President, to join in one sentiment, to pour forth in one common strain, the feelings and gratitude of our people. We are about to perform an act which opens one of the brightest epochs in the history of our character. We are about to present to the noble, fearless and unwearied combattants against tyranny and oppression, the pure and unmixed tribute of gratitude, from the alter of our hearts, and may I not say in the prayers and blessings of our people, upon the heads of a Clarkson, a Wilberforce, a Stuart, Cropper, a Buxton, a Brougham, a Thompson, a Lushington, and others eminent for their good works, not forgetting, (though I mention him last, I do not mean him least,) an O'Connel. On what page, Mr. President, in the history of nations, can be found men more illustrious? Was there ever more virtue or honor embodied in more noble, more generous, more undaunted men? The eloquence of a Demosthenes, or a Cicero, never can produce that harmony and sweetness, which delights and gratifies the soul, like the eloquence of those who plead the cause of suffering humanity. The exploits of an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon, are trivial, when brought to bear against the achievements of the living philanthropists of the day. So fearless are they, Sir, in the prosecution of their work of benevolence and humanity, and so hallowed are the purposes of their hearts, that the threats of Nero cannot intimidate them; the riches of a Croesus cannot affect the honor and integrity of such men; their deeds and their names are but one, for neither can recur to the mind without associating the other;— every act of their lives proves they virtue and philanthropy;— in fine, Sir, they are destined to receive the admiration of the World, so long as they are votaries to religion and virtue; for says the Poet,
'They never fail, who die in a great cause;
The block may soak their gore;
Their heads may sodden in the sun;
Their limbs be strung to city gates, and castle walls;
But still their spirit walks abroad!—
But, Mr. President, shall we say nothing of those in our own country? Have
we Sir, no spotless flag of philanthropy, floating in the pure air of Heaven?
Have we no Stars shining thereon, as brilliant as those across the mighty Atlantic?
Can we register no names, as being synonymous with virtue and philanthropy?
We can, Sir. Ours is the joy and the satisfaction to know, and to say, that
there is amongst us a veteran, a pioneer in the glorious cause of Abolition.
We have, Sir, the Clarkson of America— we have a Lundy. We have the
fire and zeal of an O'Connell, in our worthy and beloved Garrison. We have the
cool, deliberative, logical powers of a Wilberforce, as represented in a Buffum.
And the aptness, wit and burning sarcasm of a Snelling, bear no bad resemblance
to the bitter distillations of a Thompson. But where, Sir, can be found an American
Stuart? In whom may be found those virtues which live within and nourish the
soul of that philanthropist? Why, Sir, the same virtuous light, the same holy
spirit glows within and animates a man, who, like Stuart, (in regard to his
piety,) possesses the faith of an Abraham, the meekness of a Moses, the patience
of a Job, and the zeal of a Paul. He is no other than Simeon S. Jocelyn. We
have others, who, like the rest, must forever be embedded in the warm affections
of the heart of every man of color, who is alive to his interest, a friend to
his cause, and true to himself. Turn our attention to New-England, and we behold
a picture indeed cheering. See the benevolence and the philanthropy, that have
been there awakened. See, Sir, the mighty success that has followed the efforts
of those whose sympathies are enlisted in our behalf. See, Sir, that firmament—
I mean a moral, civil and political firmament— which, but as yesterday,
presented the terrific and awful aspect of despair and
dessolation— upon which there could not be descried one Star of light, to cheer, to guide, or console the heart of the man of color— now exhibiting a thousand, all verging to one point, and which will at no distant period form one bright and glorious Sun of Righteousness and Truth, whose beams will illumine the minds of our people, and create within them a spirit and a desire which will be the sure and successful adversary of tyranny and its evil attendants. Are we not emboldened, Mr. President, from the present blessed reality of things, to tear the veil from futurity, and behold with rapturous delight that ascension, which, although we may not be permitted to enjoy it,— although our vision may not behold that glorious and blessed sight— although our bodies may then be mingled with the clod from which we sprang,— and our souls, I hope, enjoying the sweet and everlasting light of Heaven— yet, Sir, assuredly, most assuredly, those who come after us, and of us, shall have the full enjoyment.
<< JAMES FORTEN>> , President.
ROBERT DOUGLASS,Vice Presidents.
October 14, 1837
THE COLORED AMERICAN
New York, New York
of the Rev. Theodore S. Wright.
BEFORE THE CONVENTION OF THE NEW YORK STATE
ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY, ON THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE
ANNUAL REPORT, HELD AT UTICA, SEPT. 30.
Rev. THEODORE S. WRIGHT, of N. York, moved the adoption of the Annual Report, and said:
Mr. President, - All who have heard the Report which has been presented are satisfied it needs no eulogy. It supports itself. But, sir, I would deem it a privilege to throw out a few thoughts upon it - thoughts which arise on beholding this audience. My mind is involuntarily led back a few years to the period prior to the commencement of this great moral effort for the removal of the giant sin of oppression from our land. It is well known to every individual who is at all acquainted with the history of slavery in this land, that the convention of 1776, when the foundations of our government were lain, proclaimed to the world the inalienable rights of man; and they supposed that the great principles of liberty would work the distribution of slavery through this land. This remark is sustained by an examination of the document then framed, and by the fact that the term "slavery" is not even named. The opinion that slavery would be abolished - indeed, that it had already received a death-blow, was cherished by all the reformers. - This spirit actuated Woolman, Penn, Edwards, Jefferson, and Benezet, and it worked out the entire emancipation of the North. - But it is well known that about 1817, a different drift was given - a new channel was opened for the benevolence which was working so well. The principle of expatriation, like a great sponge, went around in church and state, among men of all classes, and sponged up all the benevolent feelings which were then prevalent, and which promised so much for the emancipation of the enslaved and down-trodden millions of our land. That, sir, we call the dark period. - Oh, sir! if my father who sits beside me were to rise up and tell you how he felt, and how men of his age felt, and how I felt, (though a boy at the time,) sir, it would be seen to have been a dark period. Why, sir, it would be seen to have been a dark period. Why, sir, the heavens gathered blackness, and there was nothing cheering in our prospects. A spirit was abroad, which said 'this is not your country and home,' a spirit which would take us away from our fire-sides, tear the freeman away from his oppressed brother. - This spirit was tearing the free father away from his children, separating husband and wife, sundering those cords of consanguinity which bind the free with the slave. This scheme was as popular as it possibly could be. The slaveholder and the pro-slavery man, the man of expanded views, the man who loved the poor and oppressed of every hue and of every clime, all united in this feeling and principle of expatriation. But, sir, there were hundreds of thousands of men in the land, who never could sympathize in this feeling; I mean those who were to be removed. The people of color were broken-hearted; they knew, sir, there were physical impossibilities to their removal. They knew, sir, that nature, reason, justice, and inclination forbade the idea of their removing; and hence in 1817, the people of color in Philadelphia, with << James Forten>> at their head, - (and I envy them the honor they had in the work in which they were engaged,) in an assembly of three thousand, before high heaven, in the Presence of Almighty God, and in the midst of a persecuting nation, resolved that they never would leave the land. They resolved to cling to their oppressed brethren. They felt that every ennobling spirit forbade their leaving them. They resolved to remain here, come what would, persecution or death. They determined to grapple themselves to their enslaved brethren as with hooks of steel. My father, at Schnectady, under great anxiety, took a journey to Philadelphia, to investigate the subject. - This was the spirit which prevailed among the people of color, and it extended to every considerable place in the North, and as far South as Washington and Baltimore. They lifted up their voice and said, this is my country, here I was born, here I have toiled and suffered, and here will I die. Sir, it was a dark period. Although they were unanimous, and expressed their opinions, they could not gain access to the public mind: for the press would not communicate the facts in the case - it was silent. In the city of New York, after a large meeting, where protests were drawn up against the system of colonization, there was not a single public journal in the city, secular or religious, which would publish the views of the people of color, on the subject.
Sir, despair brooded over our minds. It seemed as though every thing was against us. We sow philanthropists, for instance, such men as Rev. Dr. Cox, swept away by the waves of expatriation. Other men, such as our President before us, who were engaged in schemes of benevolence in behalf of the people here, abandoning those schemes. It was a general opinion that it would do no good to elevate the people of color here. - Our hearts broke. We saw that colonization never could be carried out; for the annual increase of the people of color was 70,000. - We used to meet together and talk and weep and what to do we knew not. We saw indications that coercive measures would be resorted to. Immediately after the insurrection in Virginia, under Nat Turner, we saw colonization spreading all over the land; and it was popular to say the people of color must be removed. The press came out against us, and we trembled. Maryland passed laws to force out the colored people. It was deemed proper to make them go, whether they would or not. Then we despaired. Ah, Mr. President, that was a dark and gloomy period. The united views and intentions of the people of color were made known, and the nation awoke as from slumber. The 'Freedom's Journal,' edited by Rev. Sam'l. E. Cornish, announced the facts in the case, our entire opposition. Sir, it came like a clap of thunder! I recollect at Princeton, where I was then studying, Dr. Miller came out with his letter, disapproving of the editor's views, and all the faculty and the students gave up the paper. Benj. Lundy of Baltimore nobly lifted up his voice. But he did not feel the vileness of colonization. A young man, for making certain expositions touching slavery, was incarcerated in a dungeon, where truth took a lodgment in his heart, where he avowed eternal hatred to slavery, and where, before high heaven, in the secrecy of his dungeon, with the chains upon him, he resolved to devote his life to the cause of emancipation. * * And when the President of the American Anti-Slavery Society stepped forward and paid the fine, we were crying for help - we were remonstrating. We had no other means but to stand up as men, and protest. We declared, this is our country and our home; here are the graves of our fathers. But none came to the rescue.
At that dark moment we heard a voice; - it was the voice of GARRISON, speaking in trumpet tones! It was like the voice of an angel of mercy! Home, hope then cheered or path. The signs of the times began to indicate brighter days. he thundered, and next we hear of a Jocelyn of New Haven, an Arthur Tappan at his side, pleading for the rights of the Colored American. He stood up in New Haven amid commotion and persecution, like a rock amid the dashing waves. Ought I not this afternoon to call upon my soul, and may I not ask you to call upon your souls to bless the LORD for HIS unspeakable goodness in bringing about the present state of things? What gratitude is called for on our part, when we contrast the state of things developed in your report with the dark period when we could number the abolitionists, when they were few and far between? Now a thousand societies exist, and there are hundreds of thousands of members. Praise God, and persevere in this great work. Should we not be encouraged? We have every thing to hope for, and nothing to fear. God is at the helm. The Bible is your platform - the Holy Spirit will aid you. We have every thing necessary pledged, because God is with us. Hath He not said - "Break every yoke, undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free?" - "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them?" Why do I see so many who minister at the sacred altar - so many who have every thing to lose and nothing to gain, personally, by identifying themselves with this cause? Nothing but the spirit of Almighty God has brought these men here.
This cause, noble though persecuted, has a lodgment in the piety of our countrymen, and never can be expatriated. How manifest has been the progress of this cause! Why, sir, three years ago, nothing was more opprobrious than to be called an 'abolitionist' or 'anti-slaveryman!'
Now, you would be considered as uncharitable towards pro-slavery men, whether editors of newspapers, presidents of colleges, or theological seminaries, if you advance the idea that they are not abolitionists, or anti-slavery men. Three years ago, when a man professed to be an abolitionist, we knew where he was. He was an individual who recognized the identity of the human family. Now a man may call himself an abolitionist and we know not where to find him. Your tests are taken away. A rush is made into the abolition ranks. Free discussion, petition Anti-Texas, and political favor converts are multiplying. Many throw themselves in, without understanding the breadth and depth of the principles of emancipation. I fear not the annexation of Texas. I fear not all the machinations, calumny and opposition of slaveholders, when contrasted with the annexation of men whose hearts have not been deeply imbued with these high and holy principles. Why, sir, unless men come out and take their stand on the principle of recognizing man as man, I tremble for the ark, and I fear our society will become like the expatriation society; every body an abolitionist. These points which have lain in the dark, must be brought out to view. The identity of the human family, the principle of recognizing all men as brethren - that is the doctrine, that is the point which touches the quick of the community. It is an easy thing to task about the vileness of slavery at the South, but to call the dark man a brother, heartily to embrace the doctrine advanced in the second article of the constitution, to treat all men according to their moral worth, to treat the man of color in all circumstances as a man and a brother - that is the test.
Every man who comes into this society ought to be catechized. It should be ascertained whether he looks upon man as man, all of one blood and one family. A healthful atmosphere must be created, in which the slave may live, when rescued from the horrors of slavery. I am sensible I am detaining you, but I feel that this is an important point. I am alarmed sometimes, when I look at the constitutions of our societies. I am afraid that brethren sometimes endeavor so to form the constitutions of societies that they will be popular. I have seen constitutions of abolition societies, where nothing was said about the improvement of the man of color! They have overlooked the giant sin of prejudice. They have passed by this foul monster, which is at once the parent and offspring of slavery. Whilst you are thinking about the annexation of Texas - whilst you are discussing the great principles involved in this noble cause, remember this prejudice must be killed, or slavery will never be abolished. Abolitionists must annihilate in their own bosoms, the cord of caste. We must be consistent - recognize the colored man in every respect as a man and brother. In doing this, we shall have to encounter scorn; we shall have to breast the storm. - This society would do well to spend a whole day in thinking about it and praying over it. Every abolitionist would do well to spend a day in fasting and prayer over it, and in looking at his own heart. Far be it from me to condemn abolitionists. I rejoice and bless God for this first institution which has combined its energies for the overthrow of this heaven-daring - this soul-crushing prejudice.
The successors of Penn, Franklin, and Woolman, have shown themselves the friends
of the colored race. They have done more in this cause than any other church,
and they are still doing great things, both in Europe and America. I was taught
in childhood to remember the man of the broad-brimmed hat and drab-colored coat,
and venerate him. No class have testified more to the truth on this subject.
They lifted up their voices against slavery and the slave-trade. But, ah! with
but here and there a noble exception, they go but half way. - When they come
to the grand doctrine, to lay the axe right down at the root oft he tree, and
destroy the very spirit of slavery - they are defective. Their doctrine is,
to set the slave free, and let him take care of himself. Hence, we hear nothing
about their being brought into the Friends' Church, or of their being viewed
and treated according to their moral worth. Our hearts have recently been gladdened
by an address of the Annual Meeting of the Friends' Society in the city of N.
York, in which they insist on the doctrine of immediate emancipation. But hat
very good man who signed that document, as the organ of that society within
the past year, received a man of color, a Presbyterian minister, into his house,
gave him his meals alone in the kitchen, and did not introduce him to his family.
That shows how men can testify against slavery at the South, and not assail
it at the North, were it is tangible. Here is something for abolitionists to
do. What can the friends of emancipation effect, while the spirit of slavery
is so fearfully prevalent? Let every man take his stand, burn out this prejudice,
live it down, talk it down, every where consider the colored man as a man, in
the church, the stage, the steamboat, the public house, in all places, and the
death-blow to slavery will be struck.
April 14, 1832
Boston, Massachusetts, Volume 2 No. 15
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
The memorial of the people of color of the city of Philadelphia and its vicinity, respectfully showeth:
That they have learned with deep regret that two resolutions have passed the House of Representatives of this commonwealth, directing the committee on the judiciary to inquire— First, into the expediency of passing a low to protect the citizens of this commonwealth against the evils arising from the emigration of free blacks from other states into Pennsylvania— and, secondly, into the expediency of repealing so much of the acts of Assembly passed on the 27th of March, 1820, and the 25th March, 1826, as relates to fugitives from labor from other states, and of giving full effect to the act of Congress of the 12th of February, 1793, relative to such fugitives.
At the same time that your memorialists entertain the most perfect respect
for any expression of sentiment emanating from so high a source as one of the
legislative bodies of Pennsylvania, they cannot but lament; that at a moment
when all mankind seen to be struggling for freedom, and endeavoring to throw
off the shackles of political oppression, the constituted authorities of this
great state should entertain a resolution which has a tendency to abridge the
liberties heretofore accorded to a race of men confessedly oppressed. Our country
asserts for itself the glory of being the freest upon the surface of the globe.
She wrested that freedom, while yet in her infancy, by force of arms, at the
expense of infinite blood and treasure, from a gigantic and most powerful adversary.
She proclaimed freedom to all mankind— and offered her soil as a refuge
to the enslaved of all nations. The brightness of her glory was radiant, but
one dark spot still dimmed its lustre. Domestic slavery existed among a people
who had themselves distained to submit to a master. Many of the states of this
union hastened to wipe out this blot: and foremost in the race was Pennsylvania.
In less than four years after the declaration of independence by the act of
1st March, 1780, she abolished slavery within her limits, and from that time
her avowed policy has been to enlarge and beautify this splendid feature in
her system— to preserve unimpaired the freedom of all men, whatever
might be the shade of complexion with which it may have pleased the Almighty
to distinguish them. 'All men,' says our declaration of right, 'are born equally
free and independent'— and 'have certain inherent and indefeisible rights,
among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring
and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.'
'All men have a natural and indefeisible right to worship Almighty God according
to the dictates of their own conscience.' 'The people shall be secure in their
persons, houses and possessions, from unreasonable searches and seizures. No
person shall be proceeded against criminally by information. No person shall
be put twice in jeopardy of life or limb. Every man shall have a remedy by due
course of law.' Where, in this forcible epitome of man's indefeisible rights,
promulgated nine years after the African race had been elevated to
freedom— where, in this declaration of the people of this commonwealth, assembled in convention, do we find a distinction drawn between the man whose skin is white, and him whose skin is dark? Where, in the legislative acts of this commonwealth, under the constitution, and subsequent to this declaration, do we find such a distinction' On what page of our statute book does it appear? It is confidently asserted that in Pennsylvania it does not exist— and has been repudiated and banished from her code. 'It is not for us to enquire,' says the beautiful preamble to the act of 1780. 'It is not for us enquire, why, in the creation of mankind, the inhabitants of the several parts of the earth were distinguished by a difference in feature or complexion— it is sufficient for us to know that all are the work of an Almighty hand.' And from that day to the present, Pennsylvania has acted upon a principle, that among those whom the same Almighty hand has formed, the hand of man should not presume to make a difference. And why, we respectfully ask, is this distinction now to be proclaimed for the first time in the code of Pennsylvania? Why are her borders to be surrounded by a wall of iron, against freemen, whose complexions fall below the wavering and uncertain shades of white? For this is the only criterion of admission or exclusion which the resolutions indicate. it is not to be asked, is he
brave— is he honest— is he just— is he free from the stain of crime— but is he black— is he brown— is he yellow— is he other than white?
This is the criterion by which Pennsylvania, who for fifty years has indignantly rejected the distinction, who daily receives into her bosom all men, from all nations, is now called upon to reject from her soil, such portions of a banished race of freemen, born within view of her own mountains, as may seek within her limits a place of rest. We respectfully ask, is not this the spirit of the first resolution? And why, we repeat, shall this abandonment of the principles of your honorable forefathers now first take place in Pennsylvania? Have the rights we now possess been abused? The domestic history of Pennsylvania answers these questions in the negative. Who can turn to the page in that history which exhibits a single instance of insurrection or violation of the peace of society, resulting from the residence of a colored population in this commonwealth. The story of their wrongs may be read in the most eloquent productions of our law givers. The story of the injuries which the people of Pennsylvania have sustained from them, cannot be found, because it does not exist. Your memorialists are aware that prejudice has been recently excited against them by unfounded reports of their concurrence in promoting servile insurrections. With the feeling of honest indignation, inspired by conscious innocence, they repel the slander. They feel themselves to be citizens of Pennsylvania. Many of them were descended from ancestors, who were raised with yours on this soil, to which they feel bound by the strongest ties. As children of the state, they look to it as a guardian and a protector, and in common with you feel the necessity of maintaining law and order, for the promotion of the common weal. Equally unfounded is the charge, that this population fills the almshouses with paupers— and increases, in an undue proportion, the public burdens. We appeal to the facts and documents which accompany this memorial, as giving abundant refutation to an error so injurious to our character.
Insupportable as your memorialists conceive the first resolution to be, the second, which proposes the repeal of so much of the laws of 1820, and 1826, as relates to fugitives from labor, is still more abhorrent to their feelings. What, let us ask, is the substance of these portions of the acts in question? Simply to take from aldermen and justices of the peace, the power of deciding upon the liberty or slavery of a man. The power is still reserved to them to issue a warrant, and cause the arrest of a suspected fugitive from labor. But the determination of his fate, a question almost as momentous as that of life or death, is referred to the intelligence and discretion of judges. And is this a defect in our law? Is it a defect, that before a man, a husband, a father, shall be torn from the bosom of his family and consigned to chains— and doomed to hopeless slavery, he shall be heard before a judge?— that before a wife and a mother shall be borne away in cords from her offspring, she shall be heard before a judge? Is this provision of our laws a stain upon our statute book? Rather let us, ask, was it not derogatory to the character of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, that she should ever have prized liberty so lightly, as to permit officers, whom to this day she does not suffer to pass upon matters of property beyond one hundred dollars, (and even then subject to the right of appeal.) whose powers were formerly limited to one fifth of that sum— to decide by their voice the permanent and irrevocable fate of a human being? Now that this enormity has ceased to overshadow the land, we can scarcely credit that it ever existed. We can with difficulty persuade ourselves to believe that in this free and powerful state, it ever could have been, that a man should be seized, without a warrant, dragged to the office of any magistrate whom the oppressor might choose to select— and from thence, at his bidding, be consigned to slavery— such was the law— such, we earnestly pray, may it never be again. Pennsylvania has revolted from the flagrant injustice. She has taken one step in advance. She has said, a justice of the peace shall not pass upon the liberty of a man; a justice of the peace shall not hear a freeholder from his house, a father from his family. No authority less than that of a judge shall inflict this blow. And is not this enough? Is it not enough that there are more than one hundred individuals in this commonwealth, the single voice of any one of whom is competent to decide the fate of a human being? Can the most hardened trafficker in human agony, desire or demand more than this? Is it not, we respectfully ask, far too great a concession to the spirit of slavery, that we should suffer even our judges to officiate as the instruments for the assertion of her claims? Compare the condition of a judge in this commonwealth, with that of a judge of the very nation from which we have wrested our own liberties. Let a man of the deepest jet be brought before him, and it is the glorious prerogative of that judge to exclaim, 'Your feet are on English soil— therefore you are free!'
While here, in this republican land, which has again and again proclaimed the equality of right of all men, the judge, the American judge, the Pennsylvania judge, himself a freedom, is bound by our laws, tied down hand and foot, obliged to stifle the beatings of his own heart, to keep down his own indignant spirit, and sentence a fellow being to chains and to the lash. Is not this a sufficient sacrifice at the alter of slavery? Would it not be just, is it not due to the honor of the state, do not the constitution of the state and the declaration of rights demand, that instead of the retrograde step now proposed, another be made in advance, and that the decision of a jury should be required upon so high a question as the liberty of a man? We respectfully submit it to your honorable bodies, that if the authorities of this state are to be employed in such unhappy matters, they should be obliged to call to their and the same means of attaining to a rightful decision, as are secured to us in all other transactions of life, a jury of twelve men— and why should this not be? Should the most elevated individual in this community demand of the humblest and lowliest black man, five hundred and thirty-four cents, that humble and lowly man may place his cause under the protection of a jury. Then shall he be denied this privilege, when that which is dearer to him than his life, is demanded by his adversary? Your memorialists do not ask you to interfere with those rights of property which are claimed under the constitution, by our fellow citizens of other states. They simply and most respectfully ask, that if the aid of the officers of this commonwealth be invoked, if the judiciary of this state be called upon to enforce what is termed the right of property in human beings, that they shall be permitted to lend their aid only under such checks and guards, as are consistent with the feelings of the people of this state, with the spirit and letter of her constitution, and with the whole tenor or our code or laws.
In conclusion, your memorialists most earnestly pray, for the sake of humanity, for the honor of the community, in the name of freedom, they most earnestly pray, that your honorable bodies will reject, if offered for your adoption, any measures such as those which appear to be contemplated by the resolations referred. And your memorialists will ever pray. &c.
Signed in behalf of a numerous meeting of the people of color, held in the city of Philadelphia, on the day of January, 1832.
<< JAMES FORTEN>> , Chairman.
October 22, 1831
Boston, Massachusetts, Volume 1 No. 43
MINUTES AND PROCEEDINGS
FIRST ANNUAL CONVENTION
PEOPLE OF COLOR,
Held by adjournment in the City of Philadelphia, from the sixth to the eleventh of June, inclusive, 1831.
The Delegates met on Monday, the 6th of June, in the brick Wesleyan Church, Lombard Street, pursuant to public notice, signed, on behalf of the Parent Society, at Philadelphia, by Dr. Belfast Burton and William Whipper.
Present, the following gentlemen, viz:—
Philadelphia. John Bowers, Dr. Belfast Burton, James Cornish, Junius C. Morel, Wm. Whipper.
New York. Rev. Wm. Miller, Henry Sipkins, Thos. L. Jennings, Wm. Hamilton, James Pennington.
Maryland. Rev. Abner Coker, Robert Cowley.
Delaware. Abraham D. Shad, Rev. Peter Gardiner.
Virginia. Wm. Duncan.
Who presented their credentials, and took their seats accordingly.
After an appropriate prayer by the Rev. Wm. Miller, on motion, the Convention proceeded to business, by electing
JOHN BOWERS, President.
ABRAHAM D. SHAD,Vice Presidents.
WILLIAM WHIPPER, Secretary.
THOS. L. JENNINGS, Assistant Secretary.
When the house was declared organized, on motion, the Rev. Charles W. Gardiner, and the Rev. Samuel Todd, were appointed Chaplains for this Convention, they not being of the delegation.
On motion, Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to institute an inquiry into the condition of the free people of colour throughout the United States, and report their views upon the subject at a subsequent meeting.
On motion, Resolved, That Messrs. Morel, Shad, Duncan, Cowley, Sipkins, and Jennings, compose that Committee.
The Committee on the Condition of the Free People of Colour of the United States, reported as follows:—
Brethren and Fellow Citizens:—
We, the Committee of Inquiry, would suggest to the Convention the propriety of adopting the following resolutions, viz:— Resolved,
That, in the opinion of this Convention, it is highly necessary that the different Societies engaged in the Canadian Settlement, be earnestly requested to persevere in their praiseworthy and philanthropic undertaking; firmly believing, that, at a future period, their labours will be crowned with success.
The Committee would also recommend this Convention to call on the free people of colour, to assemble annually by delegation, at such place as may be designated as suitable.
They would also respectfully submit to your wisdom, the necessity of your deliberate reflection on the dissolute, intemperate, and ignorant condition of a large portion of the coloured population of the United States. They would not, however, refer to their unfortunate circumstances to add degradation to objects already degraded and miserable; nor, with some others, improperly class the virtuous of our colour with the abandoned, but with the most sympathizing and heartfelt commiseration, show our sense of obligation as the true guardians of our interests, by giving wholesome advice and good counsel.
The Committee consider it as highly important, that the Convention recommend the necessity of creating a general fund, to be denominated the CONVENTIONAL FUND, for the purpose of advancing the objects of this and future conventions, as the public good may require.
They would further recommend, that the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States, be read in our Conventions; believing that the truths contained in the former are incontrovertible, and that the latter guarantees in letter and spirit to every freeman born in this country, all the rights and immunities of citizenship.
Your committee with regret have witnessed the many oppressive, unjust and unconstitutional laws, which have been enacted in different parts of the Union, against the free people of colour, and they would call upon this convention as possessing the rights of freemen, to recommend to the people through their delegation, the propriety of memorializing the proper authorities, whenever they may feel themselves aggrieved, or their rights invaded, by any cruel or oppressive laws.
And your Committee would further report, that, in their opinion, Education, Temperance, and Economy, are best calculated to promote the elevation of mankind, as they enable men to discharge all those duties enjoined on them by their Creator. We would therefore respectfully request an early attention to those virtues among our brethren, who have a desire to be useful.
And lastly, your Committee view with unfeigned regret, and respectfully submit to the wisdom of this Convention, the operations and misrepresentations of the American Colonization Society, in these United States.
We feel sorrowful to see such an immense and wanton waste of lives and property, not doubting the benevolent feelings of some individuals engaged in that cause.— But we cannot for a moment doubt, that the cause of many of our unconstitutional, unchristian, and unheard of sufferings, emanate from that unhallowed source; and we would call on Christians of every denomination firmly to resist it.
When, on motion, the report of the committee was unanimously accepted and adopted.
The convention was favoured with a visit from the Rev. S.S. Jocelyn of New-Haven, (Conn.,) Messrs. Arthur Tappan, of New-York, Benjamin Lundy, of Washington, (D.C.,) William L. Garrison, of Boston, (Mass.,) Thomas Shipley and Chas. Pierce, of Philadelphia. When, on motion, it was unanimously resolved, that the afore-mentioned gentlemen have permission to make any inquiries or communications, which they might deem proper.
In pursuance of this privilege, Messrs, Jocelyn, Tappan and Garrison, severally addressed the Convention on the subject of Education, and informed the Convention that their chief business with them was to submit to their body a plan for establishing a College for the education of Young Men of Colour, on such a basis, as cannot but elevate the general character of the coloured population—
They, therefore, solicited the favour of the Convention to appoint a committee to confer with them on the subject.
The Convention, feeling the importance of the communication, appointed a committee to consult with the above gentlemen.
The Committee, to whom was submitted the duty of conferring with Messrs. Tappan, Jocelyn and Garrison; reported as follows:—
That a plan had been submitted to them by the above-named gentlemen, for the liberal education of Young Men of Colour, on the Manual Labour System, all of which they respectfully submit to the consideration of the Convention, and are as follow:
The plan proposed is, that a College be established at New Haven, Conn., as soon as $20,000 are obtained, and to be on the Manual Labour System, by which in connexion with a scientific education, they may also obtain a useful Mechanical or Agricultural profession, and (they farther report, having received information,) that a benevolent individual has offered to subscribe one thousand dollars towards this object, provided, that a farther sum of nineteen thousand dollars can be obtained in one year.
After an interesting discussion, the above report was unanimously adopted; one of the inquiries by the Convention was, in regard to the place of location. On interrogating the gentlemen why New Haven should be the place of location, they gave the following as their reasons:—
1st. The site is healthy and beautiful.
2d. Its inhabitants are friendly, pious, generous, and humane.
3d. Its laws are salutary and protecting to all, without regard to complexion.
4th. Boarding is cheap and provisions are good.
5th. The situation is as central as any other that can be obtained with the same advantages.
6th. The town of New Haven carries on an extensive West India trade, and many of the wealthy coloured residents in the Islands would, no doubt, send their sons there to be educated, and thus a fresh tie of friendship would be formed, which might be productive of much real good in the end.
And last, though not least, the literary and scientific character of New Haven, renders it a very desirable place for the location of the College.
The Convention, having received the report of the committee, and being deeply impressed with the importance of such an institution, do hereby resolve, that it is highly expedient to make an effort to carry the same into effect, under due regulations. Therefore, resolved, that this Convention earnestly recommend to our Brethren, to contribute as God has given them the ability, to aid in carrying into operation the proposed institution, and the Convention would wish it to be distinctly understood, that the Trustees of the contemplated Institution, shall a majority of them be coloured persons; the number proposed is seven, three white, and four coloured; who shall be elected by the subscribers, contributors, or their representatives: the elections to be held in the city of New-York, unless ordered otherwise by the Convention.
The Trustees shall annually report the state and condition, with all other necessary information relating to the Institution, to the Annual Convention.
On motion, the Rev. Samuel E. Cornish, was unanimously elected General Agent, to collect funds in aid of the contemplated Institution, (his necessary compensation being guaranteed by the liberality of the benevolent individual before alluded to) with power to appoint sub-agents, at such places where the Convention may have made no appointments.
On motion, Resolved, That Arthur Tappan, Esq. at New York, be appointed to receive as Treasurer, all moneys that may be collected for the purpose of establishing the proposed Institution at New-Haven, he satisfying the Executive Committee at New-York.
And on motion, it was Resolved, That there be Provisional Committees appointed, whose duty it shall be to aid and assist the Agent or Agents that may be appointed in the discharge of their duties.
And that the Provisional Committee at New York shall be the Executive Committee until the Trustees are appointed.
Here follow the several Provisional Committees: viz.
Boston.— Rev. Hosea Easton, Robert Roberts, James G. Barbadoes, and Rev. Samuel Snowden.
New York.— Rev. Peter Williams, Boston Cromwell, Philip Bell, Thomas Downing, Peter Voglesang.
Philadelphia.— Joseph Cassey, Robert Douglass, Senr., << James Forten>> , Richard Howell, Robert Purvis.
Baltimore.— Thomas Green, James P. Walker, Samuel G. Mathews, Isaac Whipper, Samuel Hiner.
New-Haven.— Biars Stanly, John Creed, Alexander C. Luca.
Brooklyn, L.I.— Jacob Deyes, Henry Thompson, Willis Jones.
Wilmington, Del.— Rev. Peter Spencer, Jacob Morgan, William S. Thomas.
Albany.— Benjamin Latimore, Captain Schuyler, Captain Francis March.
Washington, D.C.— William Jackson, Arthur Waring, Isaac Carey.
Lancaster, Pa.— Charles Butler and Jared Grey.
Carlisle, Pa.— John Peck and Rowland G. Roberts.
Chambersburg, Pa.— Dennis Berry.
Pittsburg.— John B. Vashon, Lewis Gardiner, Abraham Lewis.
Newark, N.J.— Peter Petitt, Charles Anderson, Adam Ray.
Trenton.— Sampson Peters, Leonard Scott.
On motion, it was Resolved, That the convention appoint a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Corresponding Secretary, and Recording Secretary, to hold their office for one year or until the next Convention, all of whom shall reside in the city or county of Philadelphia, and be styled the Conventional Board, who shall act as the representatives of the Convention during its recess.
Whereupon the following persons were duly elected.
John Bowers, President.
Frederick A. Hinton, Vice-President, Joseph Cassey, Treasurer, Junius C. Morel, Corresponding Secretary, Charles H. Leveck, Recording Secretary.
On motion, Resolved, That there be a Vice-President and Corresponding Secretary in each state, to hold their offices for the term of one year, or until others are appointed, whose duties it shall be to use every exertion to obtain moneys and remit the same to the Treasurer of the Conventional Fund at Philadelphia, and that the offices have power to fill any vacancies that may occur in their body by resignation or otherwise.
Whereupon the Convention appointed the following officers—
New-York.— Thomas L. Jennings, Vice-President; Peter Voglesang, Corresponding Secretary.
Massachusetts.— James G. Barbadoes, Vice-President; Henry H. Mondy, Corresponding Secretary.
Maryland.— Rev. Abner Cocker, Vice-President; Robert Cowley, Corresponding Secretary.
Rhode-Island.— George C. Willis, Vice-President; Alfred Niger, Corresponding Secretary.
District of Columbia.— William Wormley, Vice-President; John W. Prout, Corresponding Secretary.
Delaware.— Rev. Peter Spencer, Vice-President; Abraham D. Shad, Corresponding Secretary.
Virginia.— James Wilkins, Vice-President; William Duncan, Corresponding Secretary.
New Jersey.— Leonard Scott, Vice-President; with permission to appoint his Secretary.
Connecticut.— Scipio C. Augustus.
Ohio.— Charles Hatfield, Vice-President; John Liverpool, Corresponding Secretary.
On motion of Mr. Jennings, it was Resolved, That the Vice-Presidents and Secretaries
of each state are hereby requested to use every exertion in recommending the
formation of Associations for the purpose of raising funds for the great object
in view, and that each Society appoint its own Treasurer, who shall pay over
all moneys so collected to the Treasurer of the General Fund at Philadelphia.
July 22, 1847
THE NATIONAL ERA
Washington, D.C., Vol. I No. 29 p. 1
THE BLACK MEN OF THE REVOLUTION AND WAR OF 1812.
The return of the Festival of our National Independence has called our attention to a matter which has been very carefully kept out of sight by orators and toast-drinkers. We allude to the participation of colored men in the great struggle for Freedom. It is not in accordance with our taste or our principles to eulogize the shedders of blood, even in a cause of acknowledged justice; but when we see a whole nation doing honor to the memories of one class of its defenders, to the total neglect of another class, who had the misfortune to be of darker complexion, we cannot forego the satisfaction of inviting notice to certain historical facts, which for the last half century have been quietly elbowed aside, as no more deserving of a place in patriotic recollection, than the descendants of the men to whom the facts in question relate have to a place in a Fourth of July procession.
Of the services and sufferings of the colored soldiers of the Revolution, no attempt has, to our knowledge, been made to preserve a record. They have had no historian. With here and there an exception, they have all passed away, and only some faint tradition of their campaigns under Washington, and Greene, and Lafayette, and of their cruisings under Decatur and Barry, lingers among their descendants. Yet enough is known to show that the free colored men of the United States bore their full proportion of the sacrifices and trials of the Revolutionary war.
The late Governor Eustis, of Massachusetts, the pride and boast of the Democracy of the East - himself an active participant in the war, and therefore a most competent witness - Governor Morrill, of New Hampshire, Judge Hemphill, of Pennsylvania, and other members of Congress, in the debate on the question of admitting Missouri as a slave state into the Union, bore emphatic testimony to the efficiency and heroism of the black troops. Hon. Calvin Goddard, of Connecticut, states that, in the little circle of his residence, he was instrumental in securing, under the act of 1818, the pensions of nineteen colored soldiers. "I cannot," he says, "refrain from mentioning one aged black man, Primus Babcock, who proudly presented to me an honorable discharge from service during the war, dated at the close of it, wholly in the handwriting of George Washington. Nor can I forget the expression of his feelings when informed, after his discharge had been sent to the War Department, that it could not be returned. At his request it was written for, as he seemed inclined to spurn the pension and reclaim the discharge." There is a touching anecdote related of Baron Steuben on the occasion of the disbandment of the American army. A black soldier, with his wounds unhealed, utterly destitute, stood on the wharf just as a vessel bound for his distant home was getting under weigh [sic]. The poor fellow gazed at the vessel with tears in his eyes, and gave himself up to despair. The warm-hearted foreigner witnessed his emotion, and, inquiring into the cause of it, took his last dollar from his purse, and gave it to him, with tears of sympathy trickling down his cheeks. Overwhelmed with gratitude, the poor wounded soldier hailed the sloop, and was received on board. As it moved out from the wharf, he cried back to his noble friend on shore, "God Almighty bless you, master Baron."
"In Rhode Island," says Governor Eustis, in his able speech against slavery in Missouri, 12th of 12th month, 1820, "the blacks formed an entire regiment, and they discharged their duty with zeal and fidelity. The gallant defence of Red Bank, in which the black regiment bore a part, is among the proofs of their valor." In this contest, it will be recollected that four hundred men met and repulsed, after a terrible and sanguinary struggle, fifteen hundred Hessian troops, headed by Count Donop. The glory of the defence of Red Bank, which has been pronounced one of the most heroic actions of the war, belongs in reality to black men; ye who now hears them spoken of in connection with it? Among the traits which distinguished the black regiment, was devotion to their officers. In the attack made upon the American lines near Croton river, on the 13th of 5th month, 1781, Colonel Greene, the commander of the regiment, was cut down and mortally wounded; but the sabres of the enemy only reached him through the bodies of his faithful guard of blacks, who hovered over him to protect him, every one of whom was killed. The late Rev. Dr. Harris, of Dunbarton, New Hampshire, a revolutionary veteran, stated, in a speech at Francestown, New Hampshire, some years ago, that on one occasion the regiment to which he was attached was commanded to defend an important position, which the enemy thrice assailed, and from which they were as often repulsed. "There was," said the venerable speaker, "a regiment of blacks in the same situation - a regiment of negroes fighting for our liberty and independence, not a white man among them but the officers - in the same dangerous and responsible position. Had they been unfaithful, or given way before the enemy, all would have been lost. Three times in succession were they attacked with most desperate fury by well-disciplined and veteran troops, and three times did they successfully repel the assault, and thus preserve an army. They fought thus through the war. They were brave and hardy troops."
In the debate in the New York Convention of 1821, for amending the Constitution of the State, on the question of extending the right of suffrage to the blacks, Dr. Clarke, the delegate from Delaware county, and other members, made honorable mention of the services of the colored troops in the Revolutionary army.
The late << James Forten>> , of Philadelphia, well known as a colored man of wealth, intelligence, and philanthropy, enlisted in the American navy under Captain Decatur, of the Royal Louis, was taken prisoner during this second cruise, and, with nineteen other colored men, confined on board the horrible Jersey prison ship. All the vessels in the American service at that period were partly manned by blacks. The old citizens of Philadelphia to this day remember the fact, that when the troops of the North marched through the city, one or more colored companies were attached to nearly all the regiments.
Governor Eustis, in the speech before quoted, states that the free colored soldiers entered the ranks with the whites. The time of those who were slaves was purchased of their masters, and they were induced to enter the service in consequence of a law of Congress by which, on condition of their serving in the ranks during the war, they were made freeman. This hope of Liberty inspired them with courage to oppose their breasts to the Hessian bayonet at Red Bank, and enabled them to endure with fortitude the cold and famine of Valley Forge. The anecdote of the slave of General Sullivan, of New Hampshire, is well known. When his master told him that they were on the point of starting for the army, to fight for Liberty, he shrewdly suggested that it would be a great satisfaction to know that he was indeed going to fight for his liberty. Struck with the reasonableness and justice of this suggestion, General S. at once gave him his freedom.
The Hon. Tristam Burges, of Rhode Island, in a speech in Congress, 1st month, 1828, said: "At the commencement of the Revolutionary war, Rhode Island had a number of slaves. A regiment of them were enlisted into the Continental service, and no braver men met the enemy in battle; but not one of them was permitted to be a soldier until he had first been made a freeman."
The celebrated Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina, in his speech on the Missouri question, and in defence of the slave representation of the South, made the following admissions:
"They (the colored people) were in numerous instances the pioneers, and in all, the laborers of our armies. To their hands were owing the greatest part of the fortifications raised for the protection of the country. Fort Moultrie gave, at an early period of the inexperience and untried valor of our citizens, immorality to the American arms. And in the Northern States numerous bodies of them were enrolled, and fought side by side with the whites at the battles of the Revolution."
Let us know look forward thirty or forty years, to the last war with Great Britain, and see whether the whites enjoyed a monopoly of patriotism at that time.
Said Martindale, of New York, in Congress, 22d of 1st month, 1828: "Slaves,
or negroes who had been slaves, were enlisted as soldiers in the war of the
Revolution; and I myself saw a battalion of them, as fine martial looking men
as I ever saw, attached to the Northern army in the last war, on its march from
Plattsburg to Sackett's Harbor."
Hon. Charles Miner, of Pennsylvania, in Congress, 2d month 7th, 1828, said: "The African race make excellent soldiers. Large numbers of them were with Perry, and helped to gain the brilliant victory of Lake Erie. A whole battalion of them were distinguished for their orderly appearance."
Dr. Clarke, in the Convention which revised the Constitution of New York, in 1821, speaking of the colored inhabitants of the State, said:
"In your late war, they contributed largely towards some of your most splendid victories. On Lakes Erie and Champlain, where your fleets triumphed over a foe superior in numbers and engines of death, they were manned in a large proportion with men of color. And in this very House, in the fall of 1814, a bill passed, receiving the approbation of all the branches of your Government authorizing the Governor to accept the services of a corps of 2,000 free people of color. Sir, these were times which tried men's souls. In these times it was no sporting matter to bear arms. These were times when a man who shouldered his musket did not know but he bared his bosom to receive a death wound from the enemy ere he laid it aside; and in these times, these people were found as ready and as willing to volunteer in your service as any other. They were not compelled to go; they were not drafted. No; your pride had placed them beyond your compulsory power. But there was no necessity for its exercise; they were volunteers; yes, sir, volunteers to defend that very country from the inroads and ravages of a ruthless and vindictive foe, which had treated them with insult, degradation, and slavery."
On the capture of Washington by the British forces, it was judged expedient to fortify, without delay, the principal towns and cities exposed to similar attacks. The Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia waited upon three of the principal colored citizens, viz: << James Forten>> , Bishop Allen, and Absalom Jones, soliciting the aid of the people of color in erecting suitable defences for the city. Accordingly, 2,500 colored men assembled in the Statehouse yard, and from thence marched to Gray's ferry, where they labored for two days almost with intermission. Their labors were so faithful and efficient, that a vote of thanks was tendered them by the committee. A battalion of colored troops was at the same time organized in the city, under an office of the United States army; and they were on the point of marching to the frontier, which peace was proclaimed.
General Jackson's proclamations to the free colored inhabitants of Louisiana are well known. In his first, inviting them to take up arms, he said:
"As sons of freedom, you are now called on to defend our most inestimable blessings. As AMERICANS, your country looks with confidence to her adopted children for a valorous support. As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you are summoned to rally round the standard of the Eagle, to defend all which is dear in existence."
The second proclamation is one of the highest compliments ever paid by a military chief to his soldiers"
"TO THE FREE PEOPLE OF COLOR.
"SOLDIERS! When on the banks of the Mobile I called you to take up arms, inviting you to partake the perils and glory of your white fellow-citizens, I expected much from you; for I was not ignorant that you possessed qualities most formidable to an invading enemy. I knew well how you loved your native country, and that you, as well as ourselves, had to defend what man holds most dear - his parents, wife, children, and property. You have done more than I expected. In addition to the previous qualities I before knew you to possess, I found among you a noble enthusiasm which leads to the performance of great things.
"Soldiers! The President of the United States shall hear how praiseworthy was your conduct in the hour of danger, and the Representatives of the American people will give you the praise your exploits entitle you to. Your General anticipates them in applauding your noble ardor."
It will thus be seen, that whatever honor belongs to the "heroes of the Revolution," and the volunteers in "the second war for independence," is to be divided between the white and the colored man. We have dwelt upon this subject at length, not because it accords with our principles or feelings, for it is scarcely necessary for us to say that we are one of those who hold that
"Peace hath her victories
No less renowned than war,"
and certainly far more desirable and useful, but because in popular estimation the patriotism which dares and does on the battlefield, takes a higher place than the quiet exercise of the duties of peaceful citizenship; and we are willing that colored soldiers, with their descendants, should have the benefit, if possible, of a public sentiment which has so extravagantly loaded their white companions in arms. If pulpits must be desecrated by eulogies of the patriotism of bloodshed, we see no reason why black defenders of their country in the war for Liberty should not receive honorable mention, as well as white invaders of a neighboring Republic, who have volunteered in a war for Slavery. For the latter class of "heroes," we have very little respect. The patriotism of too many of them forcibly reminds us of Dr. Johsons's definition of that much-abused term: "Patriotism, sir! 'Tis the last refuge of a scoundrel."
"What right, I demand," said an orator of the Colonization Society
some years ago, "have the children of Africa to a homestead in the white
man's country?" The answer will in part be found in the facts which we
have presented in this paper. Their right, like that of their white fellow-citizens,
dates back to the dread arbitrament of battle. Their bones whiten every stricken
field of the Revolution; their feet tracked with blood the snow of Jersey; their
toil built up every fortification sought of the Potomac; they shared the famine
and nakedness of valley Forge, and the pestilential horrors of the old Jersey
prison ship. Have they, then, no claim to an equal participation in the blessings
which have grown out of the national independence for which they fought? Is
it just, is it magnanimous, is it safe even, to starve the patriotism of such
a people - to cast their hearts out of the treasury of the Republic, and to
convert them by political disfranchisement and social oppression, into enemies?
February 21, 1798
The Pennsylvania Gazette
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met,
The Representation and Petition of the subscribers, appointed by divers religious denominations in the City and Liberties of Philadelphia, to prepare and present the same,
THAT your petitioners, and those in whose behalf they act, have been long and greatly aggrieved by the prevalence of certain evil practices, which they conceive to be equally contrary to the moral law of God, to the peace and welfare of society, and to the spirit and intention of an existing act of the legislature of this state for the prevention of vice and immorality. Under this impression, your petitioners have been using all the means in their power, for a considerable time past, to obtain the correction of the evils of which they complain; and they are not reluctant to acknowledge that they consider the sore calamity under which this city has lately and renewedly suffered as a solemn intimation to them not to relax, but to increase their efforts, for the accomplishment of so desirable an end. In the prosecution of their purpose, therefore, they do hereby state to the legislature of the commonwealth, that as all their past exertions have been ineffectual, so all that they shall make in future will be in danger of proving abortive, unless the legislature shall think fit to countenance and give energy to them. - Hoping and trusting that this countenance and aid will not be refused in so good a cause, your petitioners beg a patient attention to the following petition, which they not long since presented to the select and common council of the city, to the subjoined address to the magistrates both of the city and suburbs, which was prepared at the same time, and to the answers which have been severally returned to them; as the legislature will learn from these, at one view, what are the aim and desires of your petitioners, what the reasons by which they are justified, what the efforts which have been made to accomplish them, and what the obstacles which have hitherto stood in the way of success, and for the removal of which legislative assistance is now earnestly solicited.
The Address to the City Corporation was as follows:
"We whose names are underwritten, members of divers religious denominations in the city of Philadelphia, and representatives of the same, for the purpose herein expressed, beg leave to lay before the Corporation of the said city, the following representation and petition, viz.
We represent, that our religious assemblies are incommoded and disturbed by the noise and confusion occasioned by the passage of carriages through the streets of the city during the time of public worship, to so great a degree, as not only to interrupt our peace and quiet, but in some measure to defeat the very ends for which our worship is instituted. We therefore respectfully petition the Corporation of the city to be allowed to extend a chain or chains across the street or streets of the city, opposite to our several places of public worship, during the hours of its continuance, on the first day of the week, commonly called the Lord's Day, - so as to prevent the passage of all carriages during that time.
The granting of this petition, as it will greatly conduce to the comfort and advantage of your petitioners, so we believe it to e entirely consistent with the principles of natural right, and with the constitution and laws of the state of Pennsylvania.
The fundamental principle by which the exercise of our natural rights must be regulated and bounded is - That every man shall so use his own rights as to not interfere with those of his neighbour. But those who occasion the disturbance complained of do interfere with the natural and constitutional right of your petitioners to worship God without molestation or disturbance; - an interference which these persons can avoid or forbear without great inconvenience to themselves; while your petitioners cannot in conscience forbear public worship, nor without great inconvenience continue it, as long as this grievance is permitted to exist.
The constitution of this state declares that "The rights, privileges, immunities and estates of religious societies and corporate bodies, shall remain as if the constitution of this state had not been altered or amended." (Article 7, Sect. 3.) Here is a direct reference to the former constitution, where we find this declaration (Sect. 45.) "Laws for the encouragement of virtue and prevention of vice and immorality shall be made and constantly kept in force, and provision shall be made for their due execution: And all religious societies or bodies of men heretofore united or incorporated for the advancement of religion or learning, or for other pious and charitable purposes, shall be encouraged and protected in the enjoyment of the privileges, immunities and estates, which they were accustomed to enjoy, or could of right have enjoyed under the laws and former constitution of this state."
Here it is expressly provided that laws for the encouragement of virtue and prevention of vice and immorality shall be made, and your petitioners submit to the consideration of the Corporation, whether virtue will be more encouraged and vice and immorality more prevented, by granting the prayer of our petition, or by suffering things to remain as they are; and consequently whether the Corporation, in their legislative capacity, ought not, to establish such an ordinance as we respectfully solicit.
Your petitioners would also submit to the consideration of the Corporation, how far the engagement in this article of the constitution, that religious societies shall be encouraged and protected in the enjoyment of the privileges, immunities and estates, which they were accustomed to enjoy, ought to operate in favour of your petitioners, only remarking, that we most sensibly feel, that, so far as the cause of our complaint and petition extends, we are in no sense encouraged and not even fully protected in our religious privileges and immunities, and that this is a growing evil, entrenching on the advantages for worship, which we have heretofore enjoyed, and thus strictly within the meaning of the constitutional grant.
Your petitioners presume that no one can seriously give such a construction to that article of the bill of rights, which relates to the rights of conscience, as shall furnish an argument against the prayer of this petition.
This article is as follows, "All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place or worship or to maintain any minister against his consent; that no human authority can in any case whatever controul or interfere with the rights of conscience, and that no preference shall ever be given by law, to any religious establishment or modes or worship."
Your petitioners, manifestly, do not aim to interfere with the dictates of any man's conscience in the worship of God, they do not ask that any should be compelled to assist in the support of religious worship, they desire no preference to be given to any mode of worship, nor do they seek or wish for any religious establishment: And they hope that it never will be considered as a controul of or interference with the rights of conscience, that they petition to be preserved from disturbance in their own worship. Your petitioners cannot conceive that it ever was in the contemplation of the framers of the constitution, or that any man can seriously maintain, that one of the rights of conscience consists in being allowed to interrupt the worship of others, merely because certain individuals have a conscience which will permit them to do it. On the contrary, they consider this article itself as decidedly in their favour, because the rights of their conscience are in a measure controuled or interfered with, by the disturbance in question.
Neither can your petitioners forbear, in this place, to bring to the view of the Corporation the existing act of this State against vice and immorality, in one section of which it is ordained, "That if any person shall do or perform any worldly employment or business whatsoever on the Lord's day, commonly called Sunday, works of necessity and charity only excepted, or shall use or practise any unlawful game, hunting, shooting, sport or diversion whatsoever, on the same day, and be convicted thereof, every such person, so offending, shall, for every such offence, forfeit and pay four dollars, to be levied by distress; or in case he or they shall refuse or neglect to pay the said sum, or goods and chattels cannot be found, whereof to levy the same by distress, he or she shall suffer six days imprisonment in the house of correction of the proper county: Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit the dressing of victuals in private families, bake houses, lodging houses, inns, and other houses of entertainment, for the use of sojourners, travellers or strangers, or to hinder watermen from landing their passengers, or ferry-men from carrying over the water travellers, or persons removing with their families, on the Lord's Day, commonly called Sunday, nor to the delivery of milk, or the necessaries of life, before nine o'clock in the forenoon, nor after five of the clock in the afternoon of the same day."
Your petitioners conceive it to be a fact too stubborn to be contradicted, and too notorious to be disguised, that by far the greater part of that disturbance of which they complain, is occasioned by the passing of carriages employed in worldly business or unlawful diversion, against which this law is directly and explicitly pointed. And your petitioners do therefore hope that a regulation will not be refused, which, while it will greatly contribute to their particular convenience, will no less serve to restrain a notorious and shameful violation of the laws of the State. - On the whole, as your petitioners confidently believe that natural right and the constitution and laws of the State are not hostile, but entirely favourable to the object of their petition, so they trust, that the Corporation of the city will grant it to them without hesitation.
Philadelphia, July 26th, 1797.
The subscribers of the foregoing address were the same with those which have subscribed this representation and petition to the Legislature.
On the subject of the foregoing address the Common Council of the city have determined, "That being strongly impressed with the laudable design of the petitioners, the existence of the evil complained of, and its pernicious effects, they have given all the consideration in their power to the representations of the petitioners, and lament that while they have every inclination to afford the relief prayed for, they feel themselves wanting in the power."
The address to the Magistrate was as follows:
"To the Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen, and Magistrates of the city and liberties of Philadelphia.
The memorial and representation of a committee appointed by delegates of the churches and congregations of Christ Church, St. Peter's, St. Paul's, the German Lutheran, German Reformed, Methodist, Third Presbyterian, Catholic, St. Mary's, Baptist, Associate, Free Quakers, Scotch Presbyterian, African, Second Presbyterian, Moravian and Swedes, worshipping Almighty God in the city and liberties aforesaid,
That the different churches, and religious societies whom they represent are greatly aggrieved and distressed by the numerous and flagrant violations of an existing law of this state, made for the suppression of vice and immorality.
Your memorialists state that, in direct transgression of the said law, the public stages do constantly enter and depart from this city as freely and frequently on the Lord's day as on any other day of the week, to the general disturbance and shameful violation of the religious rest to which that day is consecrated, and even to the interruption of the worship of God in several public assemblies near which the said stages pass:
That numerous other carriages of every description, by going from and returning to the city on said day, do also interrupt many of the assemblies for religious worship, and convert the city into a scene of incessent noise, confusion and disorder:
That amendments have been publicly advertised for the Lord's day and admission to them offered at a reduced price, with a view to entice the young and unthinking to violate their duty both to God and man:
That children and youth are allowed to engage in the public streets and on the commons near the city in the most boisterous and unlawful sports and diversions, to use the most prophane and unseemly language, and by going into the river to bathe near one of the assemblies for religious worship, not only to offend against all law, but to disregard and violate all the sentiments of decency, and to bring reproach on the manners and civilization of the city.
That houses of ill-fame and places of lewd resort are permitted to exist, with a publicity that is alike injurious to the virtue and disgraceful to the character of our city:
That many taverns and other places of public entertainment, by keeping open house on the Lord's day, and at other times by permitting unlawful games, riotous practices, and drinking to intoxication, trangress the design of their license, essentially injure the morals of the community, and greatly disturb the peace of the inhabitants:
Your memorialists are at a loss to conceive how these and many other contraventions and evasions of the act for the prevention of vice and immorality, (passed by the legislature of the state, shortly after our city had been delivered from that awful visitation of heaven, by which thousands were suddenly swept into eternity) can have passed unnoticed and unpunished by those who are set to enforce the laws. Your memorialists cannot conceive that it is reasonable to expect that private individuals should incur the odium and the persecution resulting from becoming informers, in regard to actions which are so public that no eye can avoid beholding them, and so offensive that they force themselves on the notice of every sense and feeling. To refuse, in such cases as these, to execute the law, unless individuals become informers and prosecutors, will ever prove in effect an evasion of it.
Your memorialists state these facts and sentiments to the magistrates of the city and liberties, with the most unreserved freedom - not from any want of respect to their persons and offices, but because the nature and importance of the subject forbids them to present it in any equivocal language, or under any indecisive aspect. The enormities are notorious and disgraceful, and in every lawful way we are determinately set on obtaining their suppression and removal. We speak in behalf of that part of the community (it is not vanity to assert it) which best deserves encouragement and protection; and we confidently trust that the justice of our cause will induce the guardians of the city to pursue such active and vigorous measures as will speedily remove the evils of which we complain.
That a written answer to this address should be returned by the magistrates was, from the nature of the case, not to be expected. But your petitioners are assured by the committee who presented it, that the mayor of the city, after expressing it as his sincere and strong desire that he might be instrumental in suppressing the disorders which form the subject of complaint, and after consulting the recorder on the nature and extent of the law by which his agency was to be directed and sanctioned, had stated to the committee that the said law was, in several respects, greatly defective.
On the whole, then, it appears by what your petitioners have now submitted to the legislature, that the corporation of the city esteem their powers insufficient to authorize the religious assemblies to extend chains across the streets, during the hours of worship on the Lord's day; and that the magistrates find themselves circumscribed in their endeavours to prevent and punish vice and disorder, by the imperfections of the law under which they are called to act.
Your petitioners, therefore, most earnestly entreat the legislature of the State, either to pass an act immediately granting to the religious societies the right to protect themselves from disturbance, and interruption by the method already specified, or else so to enlarge the powers of the city corporation, as that this privilege may be granted by them. The justice and propriety of such a measure your petitioners believe to be fully and incontrovertibly shown in their representation to the corporation already recited; and this idea, it will be observed, is recognized and acknowledged in the answer of the common council.
Your petitioners, also, pray that the law for the suppression of vice and immorality may be revised, and its imperfections supplied - In particular that the penalties to be incurred for violating the Lord's day, for profane cursing and swearing, and for sending or accepting a challenge to a duel, may be increased. These penalties are such, at present, that those who attempt to execute the law, sometimes find themselves held in contempt by the party offending, and the sanction of the law professedly set at defiance. For the inhuman practice of duelling, which your petitioners are sorry to observe has lately become frequent and fashionable, it is proposed and requested that confinement at hard labour should, as in other cases of attempting or destroying the lives of citizens, constitute a part of the punishment; and this the rather, as a disgraceful punishment seems best adapted to suppress those sentiments of false honour, from which the detestable custom of duelling proceeds.
Your petitioners farther and earnestly pray, that, in supplying the defects of law aforesaid, the travelling of stages on the Lord's day, and all travelling for recreation, amusement, or worldly business, not included in the exception which permits acts of necessity and mercy, may be explicitly and particularly prohibited. - The importance of this will obviously occur, if the sanctifying of the Sabbath be really intended to be enjoined and secured by a legal provision.
Your petitioners are sorry to have made so large a demand on the time of the legislature as is done by the length of this petition. But they are consoled with the thought that this time has not been consumed by an unimportant subject, but in attending to the claims of virtue and piety, which constitute the radical principles of all social happiness, and without a regard to which no society can long exist. The same consideration induces your petitioners fervently to hope that the prayer of their petition will be granted, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
THOMAS CUMPSTON - Christ Church and St. Peter's.
JOSEPH DELAVARE - St. Paul's.
WILLIAM SHEAFF - German Lutheran.
JACOB LAWERSWYLER - German Reformed.
JOHN MEDER - Moravian.
JOHN DICKINS - Methodist.
GEORGE MEADE - Catholic Church St. Mary's.
THOMAS USTIC, WILLIAM ROGERS, SALLOWS SHEWELL,
MATHEW RANDALL, - Baptist Society.
JOHN MCCULLOCH - Associate.
JEHU ELDREDGE, GEORGE KEMBLE, SAMUEL WETHERILL - Free Quakers.
JOSEPH MAGOFFIN, ROBERT AITKIN - Scotch Presbyterian.
ABSALOM JONES, << JAMES FORTEN>> - African.
ASHBEL GREEN, ROBERT RALSTON - Second Presbyterian.
PAUL COX, FERG. MCELWAINE - Third Presbyterian.
JOHN LISLE, SAMUEL ERWIN - First Presbyterian.
May 3, 1834
Boston, Massachusetts, Volume 4 No. 18
(From the New-York Evangelist.)
JOURNAL OF A VISIT TO EUROPE.
BY THE REV. DR. COX.
Ethiopia (the people of CUSH) shall soon stretch out her hands unto
God.— PSALM lxviii.31.
MY DEAR SIR,— Having made a breach for the former letter in the onward order of matters as they actually fell out in my tour, I shall crave pardon of the reader to extend it also in this, for the sake of expressing, at an early date, certain views on a very important subject; for which none will censure me who think those views correct— nor even others probably who can allow them only the merit of being sincere. The subject is— SLAVERY as related to our own country and England.
Having left America a sincere friend to the cause of the American colonization Society, I continued sincerely to advocate its merits, and to defend its principles, wherever I went. For this there was no want of occasion. Beyond all my anticipations, the opportunity and the necessity of such advocacy were constantly obtruded; till at last, I almost felt unwilling to go into any mixed company, because of the frequency with which the finest spirits that I met there never failed to encounter me— and sometimes in a way that consciously overmatched me. I was chiefly impressed with the following things in all the argumentation I witnessed: first, the astonishing zeal, and sensitiveness, and avidity to speak in public and private, which they evinced; second, the novelty and extravagance of their positions in favor of universal emancipation, and the thorough-going extent to which they boldly drove them, fearless and inexorable in what they viewed as right and obligatory; third, the character of the men who were the chieftains of the argument— they were the most excellent, and exalted, and lovely persons, in the realm, so far as I had any means of judging; and fourth, the extent to which the influence of these principles had gone, in pervading and leavening the mass of the people, in England, Ireland, and Scotland, especially as evinced in kindred antipathy to the cause of the American Colonization Society. It will not be wrong to name such persons as Dr. Morison of London, Professor Edgar of Belfast, and Dr. Heugh of Glasgow. When such men opposed me in debate, with all the zeal of reformers, with much of the light of argument, and more of the love of piety, it was impossible that I should not feel their influence. Still, I replied with perfect conviction, and ordinarily with as much success as could have been rationally expected. There was one point, however, where I always showed and felt weak. It related to a question of fact— Are not the free negroes of your States, especially at the North, almost universally opposed to the project of Colonization? My answer was, no, at least I think not. That the point was a cardinal one, I always perceived: for the Society has to do with the free alone; and, by its constitution, expressly, with their own consent; as I think the words are. Besides, if it were any part of the scheme to expatriate to Africa, without their own consent, it would be plainly a national society of kidnappers, and no one could honestly advocate it for an instant. Says the Hon. Mr. Frelinghuysen, in his recent defence of the Society, as one of its earliest and ablest advocates; 'the demonstration has been made that the African is equal to the duties of a freeman. His mind expands as his condition improves.' And again; 'It should not be forgotten, that the Society treats alone with the free, and for freedom's sake. If our colored brethren prefer to remain amongst us; let them, with our hearty good will. We compel no reluctant submission to terms. Their welfare has prompted these labors of the Society. It possesses neither the power nor the disposition to constrain consent.' These sentiments of the Honorable Senator are obviously right in ethics and in facts. The Society negociates alone with the free: for the sake of freedom; will use no restraint to obtain their consent; and would abhor the thought of proceeding without it. Precisely such were my positions and replies to our trans-atlantic brethren. Then came the question of fact: Have you their consent? Here I could not answer satisfactorily to myself or them. Our opinions were directly opposed. They had evidence too, which I could not answer, that the free negroes of this country were so generally opposed to it, and that with great decision, as to constitute the rule in spite of all exceptions, and so in effect to nullify the pretensions and even the existence of the Society. I admitted that, if this were so, the Society was stopped in its career by the lawful and appropriate veto of the people themselves; and here generally my mind uneasily rested, after every concussion of sentiment. In this mentally laboring condition, I returned to my native country, purposed to take no public attitude in the matter, until that prime question was ascertained and settled. In this I have been guilty of no rashness at all. I have withstood party influences, and committed myself to no side; and in avowing now a change of sentiment in the whole affair, I am actuated mainly by a wish to apprise my brethren across the ocean of what I deem the truth, that so I may undo whatever I did improperly while among them. My investigations have issued in a complete conviction that, on this ground alone, the non-consent or unanimous opposition of the colored people of this country, especially of the northern States, and pre-eminently of the better informed of them, the Society is morally annihilated. At all events I can advocate it no longer. More— If I had known the facts as they might have been known long ago, I never should have advocated the Society: and it is quite probable that many others in this country are in exactly the same predicament. Among other means influential of this change I have had several interviews and conferences with the Rev. Messrs. Cornish, and Wright, and Williams, of this city, singly and together; whose testimony is entirely one, is perfectly firm, and has never changed, on the question. The respectability of these brethren is indisputable— but alas! their skins are nor as fair, not their hair as straight as ours; and thence, 'for such a worthy cause,' their remonstrances have been disregarded or precluded. In this wrong, I confess myself to have participated. They did remonstrate, like men, like Christians, and with a sagacity in the matter of their own interests in which our whiter philanthropy has been, I fear, far inferior to theirs. The last of the triumvirate, is a clergyman in communion with the Episcopal Church of this city: the others, are of my own denomination, and members of the Presbytery of New-York. They are all three intelligent and worthy brethren, possessing the Christian esteem and confidence of all who know them. Thousands can give a hearty testimony to their prudence, forbearance, calmness, and correctness of procedure in all things. They have no wild schemes or reckless views: and while my heart has bled at their recitals, it has secretly glorified God in them, in view of the excellent spirit they evince under privations and trials of a sort that few of their white brethren could endure for a moment. Having made special inquiries, and received answers as definite, I shall insert here a letter from the Rev. Mr. Cornish which will speak for itself.
NEW-YORK, December 4, 1834.
Rev. and dear Sir,— Esteeming you as one of the warmest friends of our injured people, and mindful of the deeds of your abolition sires, I beg to present to you an objection to the scheme of Colonization, which you may not have sufficiently weighed. It is—
THE UNANIMOUS AND UNIVERSAL OPPOSITION TO THAT SCHEME, OF ALL THE INTELLIGENT OF OUR COLORED POPULATION.
A few months after the organization of the Society in 1817, the colored citizens of Philadelphia, with << James Forten>> in the chair, protested against its principles; predicted its unhappy influence; and appealed to the community in behalf of their rights. Besides, the first public Journal ever issued by the colored citizens of this republic, (with which Journal I had the honor of being connected,) entered its equal protest against Colonization; showing what we deemed the injustice of legislating away our rights— our claims to a country we had bled to redeem and sweated to cultivate, without making us a party, or allowing us a voice in the legislation, or giving us any proper representation in the discussions. These things will appear by the accompanying documents.
Subsequent to that time, in every city and town in our country where the colored people are permitted to assemble, they have always entered their solemn protest against colonization, as a system of proscription and cruelty. This is surely an objection to the plan: and though there are many others equally tangible at my fingers' ends, it is the only one with which I will at present trouble you. O think on us!
I am, dear Sir, in bonds of tenderest affection,
SAMUEL E. CORNISH.
Rev. Dr. Cox, New-York.
The documents to which Mr. Cornish alludes are quite sufficient and conclusive in establishing the point. His letter may be considered as the voice of the colored people universally. There can be no question that it tells the truth; and if so, I see no course left for me but to abandon the Society. There are other objections to it, as my correspondent says. But at present, I will urge no other than the one in evidence. It is cardinal, conclusive, and conquerable neither by logic nor sophistry. If it be said, they may be convinced yet in its favor: I reply, that fact will prove itself whenever it occurs. To me it now appears about as likely as that they are not men, or that God has not 'made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.' If it be said, they might have been convinced, if they had not been influenced by abolitionists; I reply, there is no evidence of this; and for one, I utterly disbelieve it; supposing the other side exposed to the true and obvious retort, that few or none would ever have consented to go, if they had completely understood the matter, and if fair[ ] means only had been used by all parties to conciliate their willingness. Let us suppose ourselves in their condition, with all our boasted superiority of sense; in it very likely that we would consent— to a moral prejudice against us; to a proscription resulting from it; to expatriation as its fruit; to a denial of our nativity in the place of our birth, calling us Europeans or Africans, though actually born in America; to a banishment from the land of our present affections to a climate that kills us? Impossible! One might be made indeed, as a choice of evils, to prefer it, on the principle of a greater evil for that purpose erected against us here; but properly 'with our own consent,' never, while we belong to the species!
From one of the documents referred to, in Mr. Cornish's letter, I make the following extracts. It is a sermon preached by the Rev. Mr. Williams, Rector of St. Phillip's Church, on THE FOURTH OF JULY, 1830.
'The festivities of this day serve but to impress upon the minds of reflecting men of color, a deeper sense of the cruelty, the injustice, and oppression, of which they have been the victims. While others rejoice in their deliverance from a foreign yoke, they mourn that a yoke a thousand fold more grievous, is fastened upon them. Alas! they are slaves in the midst of freemen; they are slaves to those, who boast that freedom is the inalienable right of all; while the clanking of their fetters, and the voice of their wrongs, make a horrid discord in the songs of freedom which resound through the land.'
'No people in the world profess so high a respect for liberty and equality, as the people of the United States; and yet no people hold so many slaves or make such great distinctions between man and man.'
Speaking of himself and his auditors as freemen, Mr. Williams proceeds, as follows: 'But alas! the freedom to which we have attained is defective. Freedom and equality have been “put asunder.” The rights of men are decided by the color of their skin; and there is as much difference made between the rights of a free white man, and a free colored man, as there is between a free colored man and a slave.'
Of the Colonization Society, Mr. Williams says; 'Far be it from me to impeach the motives of its members. The civilizing and christianizing of that vast continent, and the extirpation of the abominable traffic in slaves— which, notwithstanding all the laws passed for its suppression, is still carried on in all its horrors— are no doubt the principal motives, which induce many to give it their support.
'But there are those, and those who are most active and influential in its cause, who hesitate not to say, that they wish to rid the country of the free colored population; and there is sufficient reason to believe that with many this is the principle motive for supporting that Society; and that, whether Africa is civilized or not, and whether the slave-trade be suppressed or not, they would wish to see the free colored people removed from this country to Africa.'
After arguing handsomely and well against removal, Mr. Williams observes; 'We are NATIVES of this country: we ask only to be treated as well as FOREIGNERS. Not a few of our fathers suffered and bled to purchase its independence; we ask only to be treated as well as those who fought against it. We have toiled to cultivate it, and to raise it to its present prosperous condition; we ask only to share equal privileges with those, who come from distant lands to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Let these moderate requests be granted, and we need not go to Africa, nor any where else, to be improved and happy. We cannot but doubt the purity of the motives of those persons who deny us these requests; and who would send us to Africa to gain what they might give us at home.'
'But alas! the course which they have pursued, has an opposite tendency. By the scandalous misrepresentations, which they are continually giving of our character and conduct, we have sustained much injury and have reason to apprehend much more.
'Without any charge of crime, we have been denied all access to places, to which we formerly had the most free intercourse. The colored citizens of other places, on leaving their homes, have been denied the privilege of returning; and others have been absolutely driven out.
'Has the Colonization Society had no effect in producing these barbarous measures?
'They profess to have no other object in view, than the colonizing of the free people of color on the coast of Africa, with their own consent. But if our homes are made so uncomfortable that we cannot continue in them; or if, like our brethren of Ohio or New-Orleans, we are driven from them, and no other door is open to receive us but Africa, our removal there will be any thing but voluntary.
'It is very certain, that very few people of color wish to go to that land. The Colonization Society know this; and yet they do certainly calculate, that in time they will have us all removed there.
'How can this be effected, but by making our situation worse here, and closing every other door against us?'
These are but extracts from a sermon which is an honor to the head and heart of its author. Here then I take my position, not to be moved by the common arguments that array their poverty against it. The colored people of this country, as a whole and almost to a man, are utterly opposed to the system; and this alone, if there was no other objection to colonizationism, appears to me conclusive and invincible.
There are other objections, however, to that project. As a remedy for the evil
of slavery in this country, it is incommensurate and puny, compared with the
extent and incesscant growth of the evil. Whatever may be the comprehension
of the rainbow and the beauty of its coloring, it is insubstantial and evanescent;
and whatever the elegance and the promise of the theory, the beau ideal of the
system, its practical operation, or rather its practicability, is a work of
centuries even in the calculations of its friends— and at the end of
centuries, to say the least, there is no certainty of its triumph. Meantime,
the floods are collecting behind the weak embankments, that must inevitably
break away before the gathering pressure. There is a catastrophe preparing for
this country, at which we may be unwilling to look, but which will overtake
us not on that account the more tardily or tolerably. We do not say there is
no remedy— but only that the colonization remedy is ludicrously inadequate;
in effect trifling with the community, till the time of preventing 'the overflowing
scourge' from passing through the land shall have irrevocably passed away. I
shall offer no proof to a man who cannot himself see or feel the truth of the
proposition, or demonstrate it at his leisure, that the project in question,
as a remedy for the slavery of this country, is folly or mockery unparalleled.
It is like self-righteousness, tasking its own resources for a remedy against
moral thraldom, while it rejects the mediation and atonement of Jesus Christ.
But if the system as a remedy is contemptible; and, as opposed to the deliberate
veto of the free colored people of this country, forbidden, by its own constitution
and the consciences of christians; then other objections become formidable that
were vincible and weak before. Still, it seems to me that the system tends to
blind the eyes of the nation to the actual condition of things; to prevent the
prosperous action of the only true remedy; to harden the hearts of the good
against the claims of God on behalf of our colored brethren; to inspire the
creation or imagination of motives, to induce the consent of the free to emigrate;
to withhold from the heart the resources of its own pity and kindness, towards
those who choose to remain; to take from ourselves the proper motives that would
otherwise actuate our christian philanthropy, in meliorating the condition of
the colored people of this country; to make us think that their universal expatriation
shores— little matter where— is the grand ultimate desideratum of the whole concern; to induce us to blame them for deliberately choosing to remain; and to beget a state of public sentiment and a course of public action, in which selfish expediency shall take precedence of eternal equity, and invite the interposition of wrath from heaven to clear our perceptions and recover us to wisdom.
We are horribly prejudiced, as a nation, against our colored brethren; and
are on this account the wonder and the scandal of all good society in Europe.
They are perfectly amazed at it— and every American who goes there is
ashamed to own the facts of it, as they disgracefully are. Says Mr. Williams;
But they tell us that 'the prejudices of the country against us, are invincible:
and as they cannot be conquered, it is better that we should be removed beyond
their influence. This plea should never proceed from the lips of any man, who
professes to believe that a just God rules in the heavens.' I
add— or any man, who believes in the power of religion, or the efficacy of 'the glorious gospel of the blessed God.' These prejudices are not as hard or as bad, as the prejudices of millions of sinners against God himself, from which, as streams from the fountain, all these other prejudices against his creatures— for whom Jesus Christ died, perpetually flow. I do not believe a word of such a libel on man and God combined, that prejudices of cruelty, against reason, nature, and religion, are not to be eradicated. It is plainly and preposterously false. We degrade them, and then exclaim at their degradation.
But some will say, you are leading us to amalgamation. I reply, that consequence is disallowed; and yet its objection to our argument, may be generally viewed as nothing better than a grand impertinence. Acknowledge and advocate the proper rights of the colored man; who is now ordinarily a black man, among us whites, no more; choose your own company, and allow him the same privilege; and for one I believe that AMALGAMATION WOULD BE COMPARATIVELY PREVENTED. At present, it is a process of accelerating forces. In some districts where there are many colored people, there are no blacks; the progress of mulattoizing is rapidly conforming them to the standard aspect of freemen; while the ratio of their increase, is fearfully and palpably greater, and this increasingly, than that of the whites. This is a prodigiously interesting point of the general subject; but we proceed not now to its discussion.
What is the remedy? I answer— THE GENUINE INFLUENCE OF THE GOSPEL; THE LOVE OF CHRIST; producing in us its appropriate fruits, 'without partiality and without hypocrisy:' striving to elevate them mentally, morally, and religiously; surrendering our cruel prejudices; recognizing in them the identity of the human species, and the rights of men, as 'by nature free and equal' universally; and seeking, in every possible way, to enlighten and correct public sentiment respecting them; not by ferocity or denunciation, or epithets of coarse crimination; but by wisdom, argument, kindness, firmness, Christian example, and prayer to Almighty God, who 'executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.' These are the only means that I propose to use; and what cannot be done by them, I will not do. But be it here the motto of the good— WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE CAN BE DONE. To doubt this, and despair, or do nothing, is quite unworthy of a Chrsitian, God is beginning wonderfully to act for Africa. The signs of the times are quite intelligible. They are striking and glorious. The public sentiment of Christendom is mitigating and increasing in their favor; it is becoming stimulated and enlightened; it will be soon, BY ITS GLORIOUS MORAL FORCES ALONE, melt down the icebergs of prejudice, and proclaim to the sable the inspiring language of Montgomery;
Thy chains are broken, Africa, be free!
Many of my dear friends will, I sorow to know, be surprised and grieved at
the declarations of sentiment contained in this letter;— friends whom
I justly prize, and dearly love, and deeply revere. But considerations of a
higher nature than the value of terrestrial friendships, actuate me. I do not
in any sense denounce them; and only ask them to show to me the forbearance
which they will ever find me showing towards them. I have but one life to live
on earth— and an ETERNAL retrospect of its scenes, is too important
a contemplation when it begins to come, not to be in some small measure anticipated
in my present actions. The path of duty to me seems clear in the main; and I
pray God mercifully to open the hearts of others also to see it clearly. For
one I feel certain that God will never let this subject rest, till all his people
concerned shall come to see it as it
is— and that will be an era of great grace upon them?
When will men learn that the way to make others better, is to treat them generously and kindly? How is it that God accomplishes our sanctification? 'God so loved the world— in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. BE LOVED, IF GOD SO LOVED US, WE OUGHT ALSO TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER.' Let these principles enlighten the eyes and pervade the hearts of our whole people— the whites, towards their colored brethren of the species, 'for whom Christ died;' let their proper and spontaneous fruits be seen abounding among us— and the work is done, or it begins its efficient advances immediately, in our national community. Will any man say, these principles never can predominate in the bosoms of the whites? Why— are the whites so degraded? darker in spirit, than the others in body? And is it a Christian, who has ascertained that their ascendency is impossible? Ah! cannot God give them currency and triumph? Who converted him— if indeed he is converted, whose unbelief is barbarous and blind enough to limit the resources of Omnipotence, in spreading the victories of 'grace and truth' through the earth? We wish to do nothing in the way of violence; to perpetrate no breach of the CONSTITUTION of our country against the South; to do nothing against their will, or even to denounce them: but remembering that 'THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE ARE NOT CARNAL,' BUT SPIRITUAL; and 'MIGHTY THROUGH GOD, TO THE DEMOLITION OF STRONG HOLDS;' we will respect our white brethren at the South; we will show unto them 'a more excellent way;' we will remind them of THE NECESSITY OF THEIR OWN BENEVOLENT ACTION in the case; we will compare theories, with freedom and frankness, and examine all their arguments as well as entreat them to examine ours; we will deal in facts, axioms, texts of scripture, inferences, and kindness; we will appeal to the intelligence of the South, to THE GREAT AMOUNT OF UNEASY MORAL CONSCIOUSNESS THAT IS THERE INCREASINGLY, to their piety of which they are by no means destitute, and their hopes in one for the present and the future world. We will beg leave fraternally to discuss the morality of matters with them. We will raise questions of expediency, necessity, and political economy, in the case. We will perhaps canvass their objections, and beg them to look as well at ours. We will not blame them for the legacy they have received from their ancestors, but only warn them of that they are about to bequeath to their posterity. We will admit their plea of innocence, as to the original sin that introduced slavery to our country; but question it as to 'the innumerable actual transgreesions,' in which they may be in danger of 'filling up the measure of their fathers.' We may interrogate them as to their own present agency in perpetuating a system, which, whoever started it at first, it may be impolicy and iniquity in them not to arrest, and supersede by a better. We may show them the current of the portentous river, in its flood, now comparatively young and fordable; and urge them immediately to cross it while they may, lest their tardiness may be visited with ruin inundating and inevitable. We may try to demonstrate that no man will do right and remain subordinate, but as the result of enlightened and principled consciousness as an accountable being; that in order to this, he must be brought to know himself to be what God has made him— a moral agent, and so to own and feel his personal and perfect responsibility; that responsibility without liberty cannot be felt, because proportionately it cannot exist; that if the codes of State legislation at the South are all revolutionized by their constituted authorities, so as to invest the colored people universally with the rights and the duties of freemen, with the liberties and the responsibilities of other men, they would be legally manageable, in case of any misrule, as now they are not, while the motives to honest industry, frugality, order, and correct behavior in all things, would instantly become powerful, as they never could be, in a state of abject vassalage and deep disfranchisement, such as at present defines them; and that at all events, whatever the South and the West may do or refuse to do, the Christians of the North and the East will aim at their duty in benefitting their colored brethren universally, as they 'have opportunity, especially them that are of the household of faith'— that their example may illustrate their doctrine and throw the purity of its light on distant and different sections of our national empire. If the North and the East were only connected and united in sentiment, and at the same time represented by calm and considerate and truly comprehensive persons, in a way of dignified and luminous conference with the Southrons, in this matter of their peculiar and of our related interests, might we hope for no resulting good? By the blessing of Jehovah, we might expect and achieve everything— and slavery might be extirpated forever from the nation it dishonors.
I assume it as practically certain that the blacks and the whites, or the African
and European races of men, are to exist together on this
continent— till the morning of the resurrection; and also that slavery cannot coexist with the descendants of these two races, cannot exist at all, much longer. It must certainly be destroyed— and we all know that. I am happy here to adopt, with little qualifying, the sentiments of my amiable friend, the Rev. Mr. Gurley, the distinguished Secretary of the Colonization Society. In his able letter to Henry Ibbotson, Esq., of Sheffield, England, he thus declares himself: 'I do not hesitate to acknowledge, that my hope of the peaceful abolition of slavery in this country, rests mainly upon the moral and religious sentiments of my countrymen. This I believe to be inconsistent with the permanency of the system. If in any other land slavery can be perpetual, it cannot be perpetual here. As well might the iceberg remain undissolved amid the sunny tropics, as this system long remain, amid the kind and gentle influences that are here working its destruction. The spirit and principles of our government, the precepts of our holy religion, and the general feelings of our people at the South, as well as at the North, [ ]re against it as a permanent system. But it must be abolished by, and not against, the will of the South. All, or nearly all Americans, cherish the desire and expectation that it will one day be abolished.'
Yes! and that day will be hastened, just about as fast as correct public sentiment is seen to predominate, causing the bloodless victories of righteousness, accelerating the blessed triumphs of mercy. 'Lord, what wilt THOU have me to do?' is the question, which every soul of us ought, in the premises, heartily to agitate at the throne of grace; and sincerity, uttering such a faithful prayer, would be certainly directed from on high! He is forever the same God, who, in a case really analogous, said to Moses from the burning bush; 'I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows, and I am come down to deliver them. Now, therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me; and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.' O what iniquity does HE witness in our country!
Is it worth while gravely to prove that they are human beings and that the human race is identical? No! but it may be, to refute that common blunder, found sometimes even among the learned, that the curse of servitude is pronounced upon them to all generations, by the oracles of God. Gen. ix. 25. That curse demonstrably no more applies to them than to us! 'Cursed be Canaan: a servant of servants shall he be unto us brethren.' For the sin of Ham, the youngest son of Noah, that great progenitor pronounced a curse on Canaan, the youngest son of Ham. Now Ham had four sons; 'Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.' Gen. x. 6. The curse was not on all of them, but on Canaan alone. But Canaan remained an Asiatic, and was the only one of the four who did not settle in Africa. It was his posterity whom Joshua, and Saul, and David, and others successively subdued in Asiatic Palestine; reduced to servitude; thus explaining and executing the curse. Mizraim was the planter of the Egyptians; Phut, of the tribes to the north-west of Africa, as the Lybians and Mauritanians; and Cush— is the father of the great negro world, the ancestor of our colored people, against whom no such curse is recorded; disappointed as it may make some pious worthies, whose strongest motives for persecuting the Jews and enslaving the Africans, is merely for fear the Scriptures will not otherwise be competently fulfilled! Let us honestly answer their appeal— AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER?
Before concluding this long paper, I have a word affectionately to say to the citizens of New-York, and especially to all Christians of this city. About one-thirteenth or one-fourteenth of our whole population are colored persons; say, at least, 18,000. They are degraded, as a mass, unquestionably, far below the standard respectability on an average of the others. But they may be elevated. They are themselves making honorable efforts, of every sort, to raise themselves legitimately— in a way, that, 'unimpeached or usurpation and to no man's wrong,' increases their moral and social worth, and so augments the riches of the commonwealth, as it equally reduces the qualities that impair and dishonor it. THE PHOENIX SOCIETY OF NEW-YORK, of which the object is 'to promote the improvement of the colored people in morals, literature, and the mechanic arts,' is beginning to do much for them, and under flourishing and promising auspices to intend their proper good. It is surely lawful for them to rise, in a way that depresses no others; and that contributes to the real welfare of the community— of whom God has made them integral parts and personal constituents. And what has any man to object to it? What can the worldling oppose to it?
Forgive them then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, an idler in the best,
If, authors of no mischief and some good,
They seek their proper happiness by means
That may advance, but cannot hinder thine.
Particularly would I ask Christians here to aid this Society— to make
contributions of good books to its library and of good sums to its
treasury— and to favor its interests as becometh the philanthropy of the redeemed. But more particularly still, to Christians would I say— think, my dear brethren, of the deplorable fact that these 18,000, with few exceptions, are actually heathenizing among us, by our neglect and their necessity! The church room, in all our dedicated temples of this city, appropriated for their use, is— awfully insufficient for one half of them! Is this as it should be, as it might be? One standing cause of my dissatisfaction with the edifice where my own dear congregation worship, is that there is almost no room in it for colored people! Let those churches who desire a blessing from God, open their doors and find fitting accommodations for colored people! For one, I would never again consent to go to any people, as their pastor, who had no room for colored people— though by us it was done long ago, and more from negligence than design. I am sure they can be signally benefitted by the gospel and the means of grace, even more than others, could they have equal opportunities. They are not ungrateful to their benefactors, not insensible to kindness, not unworthy of our considerate and most Christian regards. Does any Christian value as nothing the benedictions of the
poor— 'the blessing of many ready to perish?' Then is he a kind of a Christian— very much unlike Christ! Their blessings and their prayers on the head of WILBERFORCE at this moment mount to heaven with his 'works' that 'follow' him; while, on earth they are a monument and a mausoleum, which princes might be praised for envying; for they have nothing to be compared to it, and such envy would be a wonderful improvement in their character. How was Wilberforce opposed and ridiculed at first! insulted and maligned by those that now build his sepulchre and assist in consecrating even his fame! Through what formidable obstructions did he force his way, and hold the right, and carry his cause, till the throne felt the reach of his eloquence, and the cottage responded to its manly elucidation. It was, however, not the orator but the argument, not the man but the cause, that electrified the nation and convinced the world. The cause of equity is the cause of God. It is also the cause of man, of human nature universally. Its attributes are eternal. It is anchored in the nature of things. It will infallibly prevail. It can be retarded only by sophistry, prejudice, a perverse self interest, the vola of cupidity, or the veto of determined pride. But even these are vulnerable, and they bleed; they are mortal, and they die. If they are opposed to God, God is also opposed to them. And 'if God be FOR US, who can be against us?' Let us 'thank God, and take courage.'
Let us all never cease to pray for the people of color; and limit our requests
not even to the two or three millions that are our own countrymen. Ah! what
do I see? Is there such a proportion of the color among us? almost one-fifth,
or quite one-sixth, of our whole national population? Alas! that so many should
be disparaged by us, or forgotten in supplication before God. What a host of
immortal beings! Is their salvation worth nothing? And yet how large a multitude
of them are by law organized in ignorance of 'the holy scriptures that are able
to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus!' This,
this is the 'unkindest cut of all!' They are prevented from the means of mercy
and the hope of salvation! This is bad! With Thomas Jefferson I say, and he
was surely no bigot, no prude in virtue, no fanatic, no soft and sickly religionist!
and yet even he said, 'I tremble for my country, when I reflect that God is
just, and that HIS JUSTICE CANNOT SLEEP FOREVER.' Well and admirably said! Worthy
this, of the pen that wrote the Declaration of Independence! May the whole nation
also tremble, and repent in righteousness, and that universally and speedily!
'Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness,
to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break
every yoke?' Let us, my brother, do at least our duty. Yours, &c.