American Colonization Society
Editor’s Note (1): “The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America” (ACS) was established in 1816. It was founded by groups otherwise opposed to each other on the issue of slavery. The ACS was a coalition made up mostly of evangelicals and Quakers who supported abolition. They found common ground in support of so-called “repatriation”. They believed blacks would face better chances for full lives in Africa than in the United States. Slaveholders opposed state or federally mandated abolition, but saw repatriation as a way to remove free blacks and avoid slave rebellions. The ACS intended to support the colonization of free African Americans because their presence in society served as reminder and fostered envy for enslaved blacks and threatened the slave societies of the South. The early organizers of the ACS were slaveholders; they hoped in this effort to strengthen the institution of slavery. Toward this end ACS helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1821–22 on the coast of West Africa as a place for free-born American blacks.
From 1821, thousands of free black Americans moved to Liberia from the United States. Over twenty years, the colony continued to grow and establish economic stability. In 1847, the legislature of Liberia declared the nation an independent state. The Society closely controlled the development of Liberia until its declaration of independence. By 1867, the ACS had assisted in the movement of more than 13,000 Americans to Liberia. *After 1919, the society had essentially ended, but it did not formally dissolve until 1964, when it transferred its papers to the Library of Congress.
Editor’s Note (2): This lengthy and slightly edited entry is from the Library of Congress’s American Memory: From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection. 1822-1909. It is a copy of a pamphlet prepared, published and sold as:
A FEW FACTS RESPECTING THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY, AND THE COLONY AT LIBERIA.
FOR GRATUITOUS DISTRIBUTION.
PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY
PRINTED BY WAY AND GIDEON.
This Society was formed at Washington, near the last of December, 1816. Though the objects proposed by the Society had, for a considerable time previous to its origin, occupied the thoughts of several enlightened and benevolent individuals, still the Institution owes its origin mostly to the philanthropic efforts of Rev. Dr. Finley of New Jersey, aided by Rev. Samuel J. Mills, and a few others of a kindred spirit.
Object of the Society.
The object to which the attention of the Society is exclusively directed, is to colonize, with their own consent, on the Coast of Africa, or such other place as Congress shall deem expedient, the people of colour in our country, already free–and those others, who may hereafter be liberated by the humanity of individuals, or the laws of the States.
Number of Auxiliary Societies.
In Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, New-York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, State Societies have been formed, auxiliary to the American Colonization Society. Besides these, there have been formed more than 150 County and Town Auxiliaries, which have been reported.
Income of the Society.
It has hitherto had no direct assistance from the General Government, yet its annual reports exhibit a gradual increase in the sums received, which is a pleasing indication of the growing interest felt in this cause throughout the community. The income of the Society, during the thirteen years of its existence, has been about $106,000. The contributions from the 20th of January, 1829, to the 18th of January, 1830, amounted to $20,295 60.
Patronized by Legislatures and Distinguished Men.
The Legislatures of thirteen States have passed resolutions approving the object of the Society, and recommending a system of foreign colonization. These States are New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia. Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.
Eleven of these States have instructed their Senators, and requested their Representatives in Congress, to approve and promote, in the General Government, measures for removing such free persons of color, as are desirous of emigrating to Africa.
A large number of men of distinguished eminence, in different parts of the Union, have warmly espoused the cause of the Society. “Nearly all the ecclesiastical bodies of the United States have, by resolutions, solemnly expressed their opinion, that this Society merits the consideration and favor of the whole Christian community, and earnestly recommended it to their patronage.”
Indirect good accomplished by the Society.
To say nothing of the assistance already afforded to the emigrants, in enabling them to establish themselves on the Coast of Africa, with so fair a prospect of future comfort and prosperity, the Society has accomplished great good by the diffusion of information, by provoking discussion, and by calling forth powerful sympathies in favor of the Africans generally. It has shown how manumissions may be effected without injury to any class of Society, and of the emigrants which it has removed to Africa, more than 200 have been slaves liberated by their masters, for the very purpose of Colonization.
Establishment of the Colony.
In December, 1821, Dr Eli Ayres, with Captain Stockton, of the United States Navy, purchased the whole of Montserado, and a most valuable tract of land on the river of the same name. The first settlers arrived at the Colony in June, 1822. In this year, Mr. Ashmun took charge of the Colony as Agent. To his zealous and persevering efforts, is the Colony greatly indebted for its prosperity and success. He died at New-Haven, August, 1828, exhausted with the toils and fatigues he had endured, in giving strength and stability to the infant colony. Dr. Richard Randall succeeded him. Dr. R. died soon after his arrival. Dr. Mechlin is the present agent. The population of the colony is about 1500.
Favorable Location of the Colony.
Cape Montserado lies in about the sixth degree of north latitude. The first purchased territory presents the form of a tongue of land, twelve miles in extent. In 1825, Mr. Ashmun purchased of the natives an extensive and fertile tract of country, extending nine miles on the coast, from the Montserado to the St. Paul’s, and indefinitely in the interior. The Montserado is a small river. The Saint Paul’s is a noble dyer, half a mile wide at its mouth; its waters are sweet, its banks fertile, and it is connected with the Montserado by Stockton creek. To the original territory, additions have been made, as the growing wants of the colony; actual or anticipated, required. The country thus obtained, embraces large tracts of fertile land, capable of yielding all the rich and varied products of the tropics; possessing great commercial advantages, with an extent of sea-coast from one hundred and fifty to two hundred miles, and enjoying a climate, well adapted to the negro constitution, and not more fatal to that of the whites than many thickly peopled parts of the United States.
“The location of Monrovia is the most delightful that can be imagined.”*
“The lands on both sides of Stockton creek, are of the very best quality, being a rich, light alluvion, equal in every respect to the best lands on the southern rivers of the United States.”
Agriculture of the Colony.
Animals.–“We have,” says Mr. Ashmun, in 1827, “horses, cattle in abundance, sheep, goats in abundance, fowls, ducks, geese, guinea fowls, swine in plenty. Fish no where found in greater abundance.”
“Fruits.–Plantains, bananas in great abundance, limes, lemons, tamarinds, oranges, sousop, cashew, mangoe, twenty varieties of the prune, guava, pawpaw, pine apple, grape, tropical peach, and cherry.
“Vegetables.–Sweet potatoes, cassada, yams, cocoa, ground nuts, arrow root, egg plant, ocra, every variety of beans, and most sorts of peas, cucumbers, pumpkins.
“Grains.–Rice, Indian corn, coffee of an excellent quality, pepper of three varieties, of which either is equal to the Cayenne, millet, and Guinea corn.”
“The colonists carry on an advantageous commerce with the natives, by exchanges for ivory, gums, dye-stuffs, drugs, and other articles of African origin; and with the United States, which is annually increasing, and which amounted, in 1829, to $60,000 in the produce of the colony, and in objects acquired by their traffic with the natives; receiving, in return, such supplies of American and other manufactures, as are best adapted to their wants.”* [Note : * Speech of Hon. Mr. Clay, before the Kentucky Colonization Society.]
“The nett profits on the two articles of wood and ivory, passing through the hands of the settlers at Liberia, from January 1, 1826, to June 15, 1826, was $30,786.”† [Note †: † African Repository, vol. ii. p. 271.]
“The trade of this place is now considerable, and is becoming greater every day, as its capital and number of vessels for carrying on the coasting trade increase. Besides six or eight smaller decked vessels, we now have, belonging to the colony, two large schooners, the one above thirty, the other above forty tons, employed in the coasting trade. I presume the whole amount of exports from this place, during the year 1828, may be estimated at sixty or seventy thousand dollars. In addition to this, our colony has offered facilities to American merchants, trading on the coast, to three times that amount.” [Note ‡: ‡ Letter of Mr. Randall, Dec’r. 1828.]
“I am much pleased,” says Dr. Randall, “with the climate, location, fertility, and population of Liberia. The climate is, at this season, [December 28,] most delightful. It is not very warm during the day, and at night it is cool enough to sleep with comfort under a blanket.” “I consider the town of Monrovia, quite as healthy as any of our southern cities; and the other settlements on the Stockton and the Saint Paul’s, have even a better reputation for health. I am the more convinced, from all I see and hear, that, with proper precautions, and even moderate prudence, emigrants may come out from any of the northern States, with but little risk from the effects of the climate.”
“What has proved so very destructive to the new comers, is exposure to the sun–carelessness during sickness, both as it regards diet and exposure.”* [Note : * Mr. Russwurm’s Letter, 1829.]
“After examination and reflection, I honestly think, that the climate presents all those obstacles which are the natural productions of a tropical soil, uncleansed and uncultivated–but that they will yield to proper precautions: and that nothing can prevent the consummation of your wishes, but limited means, bad counsels, or feeble efforts.”† [Note †: † Captain Stockton’s Letter to the Committee of the Colonization Society, July, 1821.]
“In the early years of the colony, want of good houses, the great fatigues and dangers of the settlers, their irregular mode of living, and the hardships and discouragements they met with, greatly helped the other causes of sickness, which prevailed to an alarming extent, and was attended with great mortality. But we look back to those times as to a season long past and forgotten. Our houses and circumstances are now comfortable–and for the last two or three years, not one person in forty, from the middle and southern States, has died from the change of climate.”‡ [Note ‡: ‡ Address of the Colonists, 1827.]
Mr. Ashmun remarks, “I will only say of the healthiness of Montserado, that no situation in Western Africa, can be more salubrious. The sea air does all that can be done for it, in this climate. One peculiarity is, that the night air is nearly as pure as any other.”
“Our laws are altogether our own; they grew out of our circumstances; are formed for our exclusive benefit; and administered, either by officers of our own appointment, or such as possess our confidence. We have a judiciary, chosen from among ourselves; we serve as jurors in the trial of others; and are liable to be tried only by juries of our fellow-citizens, ourselves. We have all that is meant by liberty of conscience; the time and mode of worshipping God, as prescribed to us in his word, and dictated by our conscience, we are not only free to follow, but are protected in following.”§ [Note §: § Address of the Colonists.]
“What my sensations were upon landing, I can hardly describe. This town (Monrovia,) contains double the number of houses I expected. The colonists appear to be thriving. You here behold colored men exercising all the duties of offices, which you can scarcely believe; many fulfilling their important trusts with much dignity. We have a republic in miniature.”* [Note : * Extract from Mr. Russwurm’s Letter, November, 1829.]
In 1827, there were six schools in successful operation. In the address of the Colonists, to their brethren in the United States, during the same year, it is stated, that “not a child or youth in the Colony, but is provided with an appropriate School.” At present, the Schools are fewer in number, and in a less flourishing state. Mr. Russwurm writes, that some great effort should be made in behalf of Education in the Colony. To secure the establishment and operation of a system to promote this great object, will receive, as it obviously claims, the early and anxious attention of the managers of the Society. Mr. Russwurm has been appointed Superintendent of the Schools; and his liberal education (being a graduate of Bowdoin College, Me.) well qualifies him for this office.
Religious State of the Colony, and its Religious Influence.
There is at this time a Baptist and a Methodist Society, each of which has a preacher. The Missionary Society of Basle, Switzerland, have five missionaries in the colony. The Society for Domestic and Foreign Missions of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, are preparing to establish a mission there–three individuals are expected to go out in the autumn of this year.
The influence which the colony, if prospered, is destined to exert, in spreading Christianity and civilization over that dark and degraded continent, must be obvious to every reflecting mind. the emigrants are perhaps founding an empire, destined to exert a mighty influence over the whole continent. Viewed in this light merely, the colony is worthy of the patronage of every benevolent and philanthropic mind. The blessings which it may be the channel of conveying to Africa, are incalculable. Many tribes in the vicinity, are earnestly desirous of receiving religious instruction. One of them numbers a population of 125,000, speaking one language.
It was the opinion of Mr. Ashmun, that the “African tribes might be civilized without expulsion from their chosen settlements, and without that fearful diminution of their population, which has, from causes that do not exist here, as in regard to the Indians of America, accompanied the march of civilization in that hemisphere.” Indeed, Christianity may be expected to make rapid progress in Africa, as the systems of African superstition are far less firm and formidable, than those which exist in most other heathen countries. One native tribe has already placed itself under the protection and laws of the Colony; and many others, it is believed, will soon be inclined to follow this example.
Expense of transporting Emigrants to the Colony.
From the actual experience of the Society, it has been found, that twenty dollars, or less, will defray the whole expense of transporting an individual to the Colony. Estimating the annual increase of the free people of colour, in the United States, at 6,000, (it may, possibly, be 7,000,) at $20 per head, the total cost of their transportation will be $120,000. The expense of removing to Africa the annual increase of the whole slave population of the Union, which is not far from 50,000, would be about $1,000,000. It should be stated, however, that at present it is necessary to appropriate from six to ten dollars per head, for the support of emigrants after their arrival. As the Colony shall advance, this expense will doubtless be much diminished.
Number of the colored Population, and rate of increase in the United States.
- According to the last census, the number of slaves in the United States, amounted to ,538,123
- Do. of free persons of color, 233,530
- Total, 1,771,653
- Reckoned at the rate of three per cent. per annum, the yearly increase of the slaves amounts to 46,000
- The yearly increase of free negroes at 21/2 per cent. 6,000
- Total, 52,000
The census of the present year will probably show a black population, considerably above 2,000,000, and a corresponding ratio of increase.
Slave Trade.–Origin, Character, Extent, &c.
Henry, King of Portugal, under authority from three Roman Pontiffs, as early as the year 1454, took possession of several Islands and Havens on the Coast of Africa, and took thence many Slaves–some by force, and some by barter. The Portuguese first imported Slaves into Hispaniola, in 1508; and into their Brazilian Colonies, in 1517. For more than three centuries, some of the Christian powers of Europe have been engaged in this traffic; and, for more than a century and a half, it was prosecuted, by all Christendom, with extraordinary zeal and energy. The French Guinea Company contracted, in 1702, to supply the Spanish West Indies with 38,000 negroes, in ten years. In 1713, there was a Treaty between England and Spain, for the importation of 144,000 negroes, in thirty years. Some have estimated the whole number of Slaves exported from Africa, since the origin of this trade, at nearly 20,000,000.
Of the nature of this traffic, Judge Story observes:– “It begins in corruption, and plunder, and kidnapping. It creates and stimulates unholy wars, for the purpose of making captives. It desolates whole villages and provinces, for the purpose of seizing the young, the feeble, the defenceless, and the innocent. It breaks down all the ties of parent, and children, and family, and country. It shuts up all sympathy for human suffering and sorrows. It manacles the inoffensive females, and the starving infants. It forces the brave to untimely death, in defence of their humble homes and firesides; or drives them to despair and self-immolation. It stirs up the worst passions of the human soul, darkening the spirit of revenge, sharpening the greediness of avarice, brutalizing the selfish, envenoming the cruel, famishing the weak, and crushing to death the brokenhearted. This is but the beginning of the evils. Before the unhappy captives arrive at the destined market, where the traffick ends, one quarter part at least, in the ordinary course of events, perish in cold blood, under the inhuman or thoughtless treatment of their oppressors.
“Strong as these expressions may seem, and dark as is the colouring of this statement, it is short of the real calamities inflicted by this traffick. All the wars that have desolated Africa for the last three centuries, have had their origin in the slave-trade. The blood of thousands of her miserable children has stained her shores, or quenched the dying embers of her desolated towns, to glut the appetite of slave dealers. The ocean has received in its deep and silent bosom thousands more, who have perished from disease and want, during their passage from their native homes to the foreign colonies. I speak not from vague rumours, or idle tales, but from authentic documents, and the known historical details of the traffick–a traffick that carries away at least fifty thousand persons annually, from their homes and their families, and breaks the hearts, and buries the hopes, and extinguishes the happiness of more than double that number. “There is,” as one of the greatest of modern statesmen has declared, “something of horror in it, that surpasses all the bounds of the human imagination.”
The cruelties attending this trade, are probably greater now than at any former period. The Slave Ships are now crowded to excess, and the mortality is dreadful. In 1816, the African Institution ascertained, that one vessel, of 180 tons, took 580 Slaves; of which, 120 died on the passage to Tortola. Another, of 272 tons, received 642 Slaves, and lost 140. Another vessel lost 200, out of 600. Another 96, out of 500. Another, of 120 tons, took on board 600 Slaves; and though, when captured, she had sailed but 80 leagues, she had lost so, and many others were in a dying state.
Dr. Philip, a distinguished missionary at the Cape of Good Hope, estimates the number annually exported, at 100,000. In 1823, Mr. Ashmun wrote from the Colony, that at least 2000 Slaves were annually exported from capes Mount and Montserado. In 1824, the African Institution reports 120,000, as the number exported from the coast, and presents a detailed list of the names of two hundred and eighteen vessels, believed to be engaged in the trade during that year. In 1827, one hundred and twenty-five vessels sailed from Cuba to Africa, for Slaves. Within the lust eleven years, 322,526 Slaves have been imported into the single port of Rio Janeiro; that is, an average of 29,320 annually.
When first introduced into the United States.
The first cargo of Slaves was brought into Virginia, in the year 1620. “The legislature of the colony, at an early period, enacted laws to counteract the evil, by imposing restrictions upon their introduction. But these measures were always discountenanced, and the laws rejected by the queen in council, as injurious to the commerce and navigation of England.”
Public opinion has been silently changing in Britain and America, in regard to this shameful traffic. In the year 1787, a motion was made in Parliament for the abolition of the trade. This motion, though rejected, was renewed for twenty years, till, at length, it was enacted that, after March, 1808, no Slaves should be imported into the British dominions. In the same year, Congress passed a law prohibiting the farther introduction of Slaves into the United States.
All Christian nations have denounced this traffic, yet the pirates of many nations still engage in it, in defiance of the mandates of the law.
Colonies will put an end to the Slave Trade.
That no more has been done towards effecting this object, in the neighborhood of Liberia, is owing to the comparative feebleness of the colony. The case is different with respect to the English colony at Sierra Leone The native chiefs of Sherbro district, through their great desire to be shielded from the ravages of the slave trade, have presented one hundred miles of coast, southward of Sierra Leone, to the colony. It is stated, that all the coast in the vicinity of that place, has been cleared of the slave-factories and slave vessels. Here, then, is an object of vast importance. Twenty or thirty colonies would put an end to the accursed trade. Several of the native chiefs in the vicinity of the Liberian colony, are ready to enter into arrangements to this effect.
The Free Coloured Population demand our sympathy and aid.
Their number is about 280,000. Though nominally free, they realize few of the blessings of freedom. Liberty degenerates into licentiousness, when the influences of knowledge, and the motives to virtue and excellence, exert not their restraints. Though there are many honourable exceptions–yet, as a class, the free people of colour exhibit few characteristics to encourage hopes of their improvement in this country. Loosed from the restraints of slavery, they utterly neglect, or miserably abuse the blessings which liberty would confer. Nor for this do they deserve our reproach, but rather our compassion. Change their circumstances, and we elevate their character, and improve their state. In Africa, they walk abroad with the feelings and spirit of freemen. They are no longer awed by superior worth and ability. Hope visits them, and their souls are animated with the noblest enthusiasm of liberty.
The Scheme of African Colonization, offers persuasive and powerful motives, and exhibits a safe and practicable method for the manumission and removal of slaves.
Nothing has contributed more to retard the operations of the Colonization Society, than the mistaken notion that it interferes directly with slavery–and nothing is farther from the fact. It infringes upon no man’s rights. Its object is noble and benevolent–to remedy an evil which is felt and acknowledged at the north and south–to give the free people of color the privileges of freemen–and to show how emancipation may be effected, with benefit to all parties, and with injury to none. That Slavery is a great moral and political evil, will admit of no question. That something, if possible, should be done to stay its increase, and prevent the evils which must attend its progress, seems to be the opinion of all the wise and good throughout the country. The Colonization Society, invites to the plan which they have adopted, the attention of individuals and States, interested on this subject; but, whether the benefits of this plan are ever to be secured, depends, of course, upon the judgment of those concerned. That this judgment will be favourable, our recent experience, as well as our belief in the power of truth, give us great confidence.
Measures to be adopted, to aid the Society.
The establishment of State Societies, in all the States of this Union, with subordinate Associations in all the counties and towns of the several States, is an object of vast importance. In FIFTEEN States, Auxiliary State Societies have been already organized. It is, perhaps, desirable, that the County Societies should generally be auxiliary to the State Societies. These Auxiliary Associations collect and diffuse information, become organs of communication with the Parent Society, and combine the wisdom of age, and the ardour of youth, in the accomplishment of the object.
But, it should not be forgotten, that for the consummation of its design, the Society has ever looked to the powers and resources of the National Government. Committees in Congress, have repeatedly considered the object, and presented Reports in its favour. Eleven State Legislatures have instructed their Senators, and requested their Representatives in Congress, to lend it their support. And what object was ever more worthy of national patronage? Was the purchase of Louisiana and Florida, more important? Was the voting $10,000 annually, for Indian civilization? Was the relief of the distressed inhabitants of Caraccas? Were the large appropriations for the Cumberland Road, and other objects of internal improvement? Memorials, then, may most properly be addressed to Congress, soliciting its consideration of this subject.
A Union of all the Churches, of every denomination in the United States, in taking up Collections for the Society annually, on the Fourth of July, or on a Sabbath near to that day, is a measure inferior in importance, probably, to none which can be mentioned. On that occasion, so joyous and impressive, the prayers and charities of American Christians, may most appropriately be mingled, in behalf of Africa’s deeply suffering and degraded children. The next Fourth of July, will occur on the Sabbath. What more appropriate than on the day of sacred rest, and on the day which commemorates our country’s freedom, to remember the stranger within our gates; and, like the primitive Christians, to lay by on the first day of the week an offering for our poor brethren. Blessings inestimable, will result to Africa, from the measure. The day of her redemption is drawing near. The day star is soon to rise on her darkness. Ethiopia, in all her borders, will stretch out her hands to worship. Who does not wish to see that day? Who will not aid in hastening it?
Liberality of the Citizens of Philadelphia.–Liberated Slaves.
It being understood, some months ago, that several noble-minded masters were disposed to emancipate their Slaves, provided the means could be obtained of transporting them to Liberia, The Colonization Society of Pennsylvania resolved to make an appeal to the citizens of Philadelphia, and to endcavour to raise the fund required for the removal of these liberated Slaves. Two vessels were, consequently, chartered; and the entire responsibility of defraying the expenses of such manumitted slaves, as might take passage in them, was assumed by the Pennsylvania Society. The result has been most cheering to the Friends of the African cause. Elliott Cresson, Esq. (a gentleman who has exerted himself with great zeal and energy for this object,) writes: “My list of subscriptions to this fund, (which embraces all but the amount of about $400, sent to the Treasurer, or collected by Dr. Mitchell,) is $3,589 50, including $170, being the first payment on $1700, subscribed in ten annual instalments–or, in other words,
- Donations, $3,419 50
- Subscription, 1,700 00
This, of course, is independent of the accounts of Mr. G. Ralston, as Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Society’s General Funds. In the two vessels, (the Liberia and Montgomery, the former of which has just returned from the Colony,) 113 liberated Slaves have sailed, and the entire expense of their removal has been defrayed, by the generous citizens of Philadelphia. But effects still more beneficial may be expected, from the influence of such an example.
Intelligence from Liberia.
Despatches of an encouraging character, have just arrived from the Colony. We here offer to the public, a letter from the Rev. George M. Erskine, a highly respectable coloured minister of the Presbyterian Church, from Tennessee–and some extracts from a letter of Mr. Joseph Shiphard, a very intelligent man of colour, late a Teacher in Richmond, Va. and an exemplary professor of religion:
Letter from the Rev. George Erskine, to a gentleman in Richmond, dated Caldwell, March 9th, 1830.
Rev. and Dear Brother:–We embarked on the 14th of January, 1830, and arrived at Monrovia, February 28, after a pleasant voyage of 42 days. It was, upon the whole, a pleasant voyage–the emigrants are in number 58. No sickness worth naming except that of the sea, on the way, nor as yet. We are all yet together in a house prepared for the reception of emigrants, where we expect to remain till we pass the fever, should we outlive it. There is a general satisfaction among the emigrants; they are pleased with their new country and present prospect; my own family have no desire to return. We were received by the agent and former emigrants with the strongest marks of friendship, and welcomed as citizens of Liberia. Our prospects of farms on which to live are inviting and flattering, being between Monrovia and Millsburg, on the bank of the St. Paul’s. I presume the situation will be a healthy one, so soon as it becomes an open country–having a pleasant sea breeze from two directions. My dear Sir, I believe this colony is a plant planted by the great husbandman of the universe–to it he hath already proved a guardian–around it he hath erected his pavilion and if the citizens only fear God and work righteousness, and continue in union under a wholesome civil government and laws, from the flourishing state of the colony, there is reason to believe it will grow into a great Empire. There is a large field for the labours of a gospel minister. If the Lord will, it will give me much pleasure, indeed, to labour in this part of his moral vineyard. But in this his will be done. My time in this country being short, it is but little I can say about it This much I can say, my expectations in coming to it are already realized. Never did I feel so much like a freeman as I have since I came here. I would heartily recommend to every freeman of colour, to leave the United States for Liberia–and any one that wishes to do well; particularly those who have a little property. Was I in Virginia, and had 500 dollars to lay out at Richmond, I could in a short time convert it into a fortune.
The thing most to be deplored in this colony, is the want of a good school, and an enlightened teacher for poor children, whose parents cannot school them; for, in this tropical country, where there is an abundance of Gold, Ivory, Camwood, Coffee, and Sugar, Indigo, and many other lucrative fruits, we could have an enlightened Christian community. There is nothing to hinder it from rising to a level in point of eminence, wealth and power, among the most refined nations of the earth. There is no way in which those in America, who feel friendly to this infant colony, can confer so great a favour on it, as to establish a free school for the benefit of the poor children in it. This, I hope, you will influence them to do. There are many to whom I wish to write. Good morning, my friend. Your servant, GEORGE M. ERSKINE.
Extract from a letter from Joseph Shiphard, late a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, now in Liberia, to the pastor of that church, dated
Monrovia, March 8th, 1830.
My dear Pastor and Brother in Christ:—
I have been absent, by order of the Governor, since the arrival of the Liberia, till midnight last, on a survey of a country to be the emporium of the American empire in Africa. Your eye, sir, surely never saw a more inviting spot–hitherto occupied by the natives, and overlooked by our people; it is now deserted by them for reasons I will write when time permit. While enjoying a short respite from great labour, in the midst of that fine forest, my mind rolled back to America, and recalled scenes never to recur with me. How many thousands of my brethren now languish in poverty, distress and thraldom at home, who might, if they really loved, and would make a trifling sacrifice for liberty, be lords of this fertile land, and masters of this majestic stream. Our comforts, sir, and conveniences, are daily multiplying and heightening, and I could dwell with pleasure on the beauty, fertility, and advantages of our country, particularly that part I have lately surveyed, until I should be disgusting to one who loved it less than you.
I am happy in the hope, that we too shall have here a house to worship in. Pray sir, join me, not you only, but I would fain desire all who love the cause of social and religious liberty, to unite with me in prayer for the preservation of brother Erskine–our church and brethren here–and the general prosperity of this the only asylum for my oppressed brethren of the U. States.
Say to Mr. Rennie, I disposed of the seed he gave me to many, having on my arrival but a small opportunity to cultivate a garden; some, however, I sowed, and nearly all came to maturity; and on a spot never before sown, though told by the old settlers it would produce nothing. I had the finest cabbage of different kinds ever seen in the Colony; several were 18 inches in diameter, and as sweet as the best I ever saw in the Richmond market: they gave me and many others great relief, for which I am now grateful.
From the first moment I resolved to come, I resolved to die here, and have never once regretted what I even now think was the direction of the Lord.
With high esteem, yours in Christian bonds.
[???] Any Clergymen who take up contributions for the Colonization Society, are entitled to receive, gratuitously, a copy of the African Repository and Colonial Journal, the monthly periodical of the Society.
[???] Richard Smith, Esq. of Washington City, is Treasurer of the American Colonization Society. To him contributions and donations may be forwarded, or to Charles Tappan, Esq. State Street, Boston; Grove Wright, Esq. N. York, or Samuel Stocking, Esq. Utica, N. York, Agents of the Society; or to the Treasurers of any of the Auxiliary State Societies. The following is believed to be a correct list of these:
Of Maryland, John Hoffman, Esq. Baltimore; Pennsylvania, James Bayard, or Elliott Cresson, Philadelphia; New Jersey, Robert Voorhees, Princeton; Maine, (vacant,) Donations to be sent to Rev. Asa Cummings, Portland; New Hampshire, Wm. A. Kent, Concord; Connecticut, Seth Terry, Hartford; Vermont, H. D. Baldwin, or Rev. Chester Wright, Montpelier; New York, Richard Yates, Albany; Virginia, B. Brand, Richmond; Ohio, Nathaniel M’Lean, Columbus; Kentucky, Col. Edmund H. Taylor, Frankfort; Indiana, Isaac Coe. Indianapolis; Tennessee, Orville Ewing, Esq. Alabama, David Johnston, Esq. Tuscaloosa; N. Carolina, Daniel Dapre, Raleigh.
Letters requesting copies of the Annual Reports of the Society, or on any subjects relating to the objects of the Society, to be addressed to R. R. Gurley, Secretary, Washington City.
Orders for the Repository, to be addressed to James C. Dunn, Georgetown, D. C.
Price of the work two dollars per year, payable in advance.
Source: This lengthy and slightly edited entry is from the Library of Congress’s American Memory: From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection. 1822-1909. (Accessed: 12/29/2015). It is a copy of a pamphlet prepared, published and sold as:
A FEW FACTS
RESPECTING THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY, AND THE COLONY AT LIBERIA.
FOR GRATUITOUS DISTRIBUTION.
PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY
PRINTED BY WAY AND GIDEON.