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emancipated on condition of banishment ; but whether the doctrines and principles of the Society accord with the doctrines and principles of the gospel, whether slaveholders are the just proprietors of their slaves, whether it is not the sacred duty of the nation to abolish the system of slavery now, and to recognise the people of color as brethren and countrymen who have been unjustly treated and covered with unmerited shame. This is the question—and the only question.
With such a mass of evidence before them, of the pernicious, cruel and delusive character of the American Colonization Society, I leave the patriot, the philanthropist and the christian to judge of the fitness of the following inflated and presumptuous assertions of its advocates :— * The plan is of heavenly origin, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail '—'a circle of philanthropy, every segment of which tells and testifies to the beneficence of the whole '
addressing its claims alike to the patriot, and the christian, it being emphatically the cause of liberty, of humanity, of religion '* --so full of benevolence and the hallowed impulses of Heaven's own mercy, that one might, with the propriety of truth, compare its radiant influences to a rainbow, insufferably bright, spanning the sombre clouds of human wrong, that have accumulated on the horizon of our country's prosperity, and beating back, with calm and heavenly power, the blackening storm that always threatens, in growling thunders, a heavy retribution't that citizen of the United States who lifts a finger to retard this in
that man who does not use his persevering efforts to promote its benevolent object, fails, in our opinion, to discharge his duty to his God and his country' (1)— nothing but a distinct knowledge and a calm consideration of the facts in the case, is wanting to make every man of common intelligence, common patriotism, and common humanity, the earnest friend of the Colonization Society'!!ş
There is one important consideration, which, owing to the contractedness of my limits, I have omitted to enforce in this work. It is this : the serious injury which our interests must inevitably suffer by the removal of our colored population. Their labor is indispensably necessary and extremely valuable. By whom shall the plantations at the south be cultivated but by them? It is universally conceded that they can resist the intensity of a southern sun, and endure the fatigues attendant on the cultivation of rice, cotton, tobacco and sugar-cane, better than white laborers : at least, their bodies are now inured to this employment. I do not believe that any equivalent would induce the planters to part with their services, or white laborers to occupy their places. In the great cities, and in various parts of the southern States, free persons of color constitute a laborious and useful class. In a pecuniary point of view, the banishment of onesixth of our population,—of those whom we specially need,—would be an act of suicide. The veriest smatterer in political economy cannot but perceive the ruinous tendency of such a measure.,
* African Repository.
| Rev. Mr Maffit's · Plea for Africa.' # Western Luminary.
§ Christian Spectator. (1) The clerical gentleman who presumes to utter this opinion is the same who has also the hardihood to assert that many of the best citizens of our land are holders of slaves, and bold them in strict accordance with the principles of humanity and justice'!!
In attacking the system of slavery, I clearly foresaw all that has happened to me. I knew, at the commencement, that my motives would be impeached, my, warnings ridiculed, my person persecuted, my sanity doubted, my life jeoparded : but the clank of the prisoner's chains broke upon my ear—it entered deeply into my soul—I looked up to Heaven for strength to sustain me in the perilous work of emancipation--and my resolution was taken.
In opposing the American Colonization Society, I have also counted the cost, and as clearly foreseen the formidable opposition which will be arrayed against me. Many of the clergy are enlisted in its support : their influence is powerful. Men of wealth and elevated station are among its contributors : wealth and station are almost omnipotent. The press has been seduced into its support : the press is a potent engine. Moreover, the Society is artfully based upon and defended by popular prejudice : it takes advantage of wicked and preposterous opinions, and hence its success. These things grieve, they cannot
[Part I.] 1
• Truth is mighty, and will prevail.' It is able to make falsehood blush, and tear from hypocrisy its mask, and annihilate prejudice, and overthrow persecution, and break
I am constrained to declare, with the utmost sincerity, that I look upon the colonization scheme as inadequate in its design, injurious in its operation, and contrary to sound principle ; and the’ more scrupulously I examine its pretensions, the stronger is my conviction of its sinfulness. Nay, were Jehovah to speak in an audible voice from his holy habitation, I am persuaded that his language would be, 'Who hath required this at your hands ?
It consoles me to believe that no man, who knows me personally or by reputation, will suspect the honesty of my skepticism. If I were politic, and intent only on my own preferment or pecuniary interest, I should swim with the strong tide of public sentiment instead of breasting its powerful influence. The hazard is too great, the labor too burdensome, the remuneration too uncertain, the contest too unequal, to induce a selfish adventurer to assail a combination so formidable. Disinterested opposition and sincere conviction, however, are not conclusive proofs of individual rectitude ; for a man may very honestly do mischief, and not be aware of his error. Indeed, it is in this light I view many of the friends of African colonization. I concede to them benevolence of purpose and expansiveness of heart; but in my opinion, they are laboring under the same delusion as that which swayed Saul of Tarsus—persecuting the blacks even unto a strange country, and verily believing that they are doing God service. I blame them, nevertheless, for taking this mighty scheme upon trust; for not perceiving and rejecting the monstrous doctrines avowed by the master spirits in the crusade ; and for feeling so indifferent to the moral, political and social advancement of the free people of color in this their only legitimate home.
In the progress of this discussion I shall have occasion to use very plain, and sometimes very severe language. This would be an unpleasant task, did not duty imperiously demand its application. To give offence I am loath, but more to hide or
modify the truth. I shall deal with the Society in its collective form—as one body—and not with individuals. While I shall be necessitated to marshal individual opinions in review, I protest, ab origine, against the supposition that indiscriminate censure is intended, or that every friend of the Society cherishes similar views. He to whom my reprehension does not apply, will not receive it. It is obviously impossible, in attacking a numerous and multiform combination, to exhibit private dissimilarities, or in every instance to discriminate between the various shades of opinion. It is sufficient that exceptions are made. My warfare is against the AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY. If I shall identify its general, preponderating and clearly developed traits, it must stand or fall as they shall prove benevolent or selfish.
I bring to this momentous investigation an unbiassed mind, a lively sense of accountability to God, and devout aspirations for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Unless He in whom there is no darkness at all,' pours light upon my path, I shall go astray. I have taken Him at His word : “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and it shall be given him.' Confessing my own foolishness, I have sought that knowledge which cannot err.
I would premise, that, like many others, I formerly supposed the Colonization Society was a praiseworthy association, although I always doubted its efficiency. This opinion was formed for me by others, upon whom I placed implicit confidence : it certainly was not based upon any research or knowledge of my own, as I had not at that time perused a single Report of the Society, nor a page in its organ, the African Repository. My approval was the offspring of credulity and ignorance. I am explicit on this point, because my opponents have accused me of inconsistency—though it ought not surely to disgrace a man, that, discovering himself to be in error, he promptly turns to the embrace of truth. As if opinions, once formed, must be as irrevocable as the laws of the Medes and Persians! If this were so, accountability would lose its hold on the conscience, and the light of knowledge be blown out, and reason degenerate into brutish instinct. Much stress has been laid upon the fact, that, in 1828, I delivered an address in Parkstreet meeting-house on the Fourth of July, on which occasion a collection was made in behalf of the American Colonization Society. It is true—but whereas I was then blind, now I see. My address, however, was far from being acceptable to the friends of colonization who were present, not only on account of my denunciation of slaveholders, but because I inserted only a single sentence in favor of the Society. In all my writings, I have never commended this combination in as many sentences as I have used in making this explanation. So much for my marvellous apostacy !
It is only about two years since I was induced to examine the claims of the Colonization Society upon the patronage and confidence of the nation. I went to this examination with a mind biassed by preconceived opinions favorable to the Society, and rather for the purpose of defending it against opposition than of bringing it into disrepute. Every thing, apart from its principles, was calculated to secure my friendship. Nothing but its revolting features could have induced me to turn loathingly away from its embrace. I had some little reputation to sustain ; many of my friends were colonizationists ; I saw that eminent statesmen and honorable men were enlisted in the enterprise ; the great body of the clergy gave their unqualified support to it; every fourth of July the charities of the nation were secured in its behalf ; wherever I turned my eye in the free States, I saw nothing but unanimity ; wherever my ear caught a sound, I heard nothing but excessive panegyric. No individual had ventured to blow the trumpet of alarm, or exert his energies to counteract the influence of the scheme.
If an assailant had occasionally appeared, he had either fired a random shot and retreated, or found in the inefficiency of the Society the only cause for hostility. It was at this crisis, and with such an array of motives before me to bias my judgment, that I resolved to make a close and candid examination of the subject.
I went, first of all, to the fountain head-to the African Repository and the Reports of the Society. I was not long in discovering sentiments which seemed to me as abhorrent to humanity as contrary to reason. I perused page after page, first