THOUGHTS ON AFRICAN COLONIZATION
This eBook is based on a 1968 reprint by Arno Press, New York, of the original edition, published in 1832 by Garrison and Knapp, Boston. The Table of Contents has been added by the transcriber.
Inconsistent use of "Mr." and "Mr"; use of variable numbers of asterisks as ellipses; irregular and archaic spelling other than noted below; inconsistent capitalization (especially Christian vs. christian) and hyphenation, are as per the original.
2 blank lines between sequential block quotes indicate a new quote; 1 blank line indicates a new paragraph in the same quote; this is similar to the typesetting of the original.
Footnotes have been re-indexed sequentially, using letters where symbols were used and numbers where numbers were used in the original, and moved to the end of each section to preserve the flow of the text.
Minor punctuation errors, in particular inconsistent use of quotation marks, have been corrected without note. The following typographical errors have been corrected:
Part I. P. 25 "... was held, at which King George, ..." (had "Kings"). P. 36 "... Lander, travellers in Africa, represent ..." (had "Afria"). P. 48 "... operations have been confined to ..." (had "confied"). P. 88 "... superintendence of any government ..." (had "goverment"). P. 89 "... such a measure, to point ..." (had "a a"). P. 97 "... rid ourselves of a large party ..." (had "lage"). Footnote [P] "... the authority which compels ..." (had "which which"). P. 126 "... country, of an anomalous race ..." (had "amomalous"). P. 127 "... transportation of the manumitted ..." (had "transportion"). P. 148 "... that a greater benefit may be ..." (had "may may").
Part II. P. 72 "... a state far to the West ..." (had "far to far"). P. 72 "... calculated to impress upon ..." (had "calulated").
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS. 1
SECTION I. 39
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY IS PLEDGED NOT TO OPPOSE THE SYSTEM OF SLAVERY.
SECTION II. 61
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY APOLOGISES FOR SLAVERY AND SLAVEHOLDERS.
SECTION III. 68
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY RECOGNISES SLAVES AS PROPERTY.
SECTION IV. 74
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY INCREASES THE VALUE OF SLAVES.
SECTION V. 78
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY IS THE ENEMY OF IMMEDIATE ABOLITION.
SECTION VI. 95
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY IS NOURISHED BY FEAR AND SELFISHNESS.
SECTION VII. 111
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY AIMS AT THE UTTER EXPULSION OF THE BLACKS.
SECTION VIII. 124
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY IS THE DISPARAGER OF THE FREE BLACKS.
SECTION IX. 134
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY DENIES THE POSSIBILITY OF ELEVATING THE BLACKS IN THIS COUNTRY.
SECTION X. 151
THE AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY DECEIVES AND MISLEADS THE NATION.
SENTIMENTS OF THE PEOPLE OF COLOR. 1
THOUGHTS ON AFRICAN COLONIZATION
I dedicate this work to my countrymen, in whose intelligence, magnanimity and humanity I place the utmost reliance. Although they have long suffered themselves to be swayed by a prejudice as unmanly as it is wicked, and have departed widely from the golden rule of the gospel, in their treatment of the people of color, to suppose that they will always be the despisers and persecutors of this unfortunate class is, in my opinion, to libel their character. A change in their feelings and sentiments is already visible—a change which promises, ere long, to redeem their character from the bloody stains which slavery has cast upon it, and to release the prisoner from his chains. May they be ashamed to persist in a mean and thievish course of conduct, and afraid to quarrel with the workmanship of God! May a righteous indignation be kindled in their breasts against a combination which is holding them up, for the scorn and contempt of other nations, as incorrigible oppressors, whom neither self-respect, nor the opinions of mankind, nor the fear of God, can bring to repentance! Their duty is plain, and it may easily be done. Slavery must be overthrown either by their own moral strength, or by the physical strength of the slaves. Let them imitate the example of the people of Great Britain, by seeking the immediate overthrow of the horrid system. Let a National Anti-Slavery Society be immediately organized, the object of which shall be, to quicken and consolidate the moral influence of the nation, so that Congress and the State Legislatures may be burdened with petitions for the removal of the evil—to scatter tracts, like rain-drops, over the land, on the subject of slavery—to employ active and eloquent agents to plead the cause incessantly, and to form auxiliary societies—to encourage planters to cultivate their lands by freemen, by offering large premiums; to promote education and the mechanical arts among the free people of color, and to recover their lost rights. Religious professors, of all denominations, must bear unqualified testimony against slavery. They must not support, they must not palliate it. No slaveholder ought to be embraced within the pale of a christian church; consequently, the churches must be purified 'as by fire.' Slavery in the District of Columbia is sustained in our national capacity: it ought, therefore, to be prostrated at a blow. The clause in the Constitution should be erased, which tolerates, greatly to the detriment and injustice of the non-slaveholding States, a slave representation in Congress. Why should property be represented at the impoverished south, and not at the opulent north?
To impair the force of this exposition, the ardent advocates of the Colonization Society will undoubtedly attempt to evade the ground of controversy, and lead uncautious minds astray in a labyrinth of sophistry. But the question is not, whether the climate of Africa is salubrious, nor whether the mortality among the emigrants has been excessive, nor whether the colony is in a prosperous condition, nor whether the transportation of our whole colored population can be effected in thirty years or three centuries, nor whether any slaves have been 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'[A]—'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'[B]—'that citizen of the United States who lifts a finger to retard this institution, nay, 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'[C]—'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'!![D]
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 one-sixth 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.
[A] African Repository.
[B] Rev. Mr Maffit's 'Plea for Africa.'
[C] Western Luminary.
[D] Christian Spectator.
 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 hold them in strict accordance with the principles of humanity and justice'!!
THOUGHTS ON AFRICAN COLONIZATION.
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 deter me. '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 every fetter.
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 Park-street 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 with perplexity, then with astonishment, and finally with indignation. I found little else than sinful palliations, fatal concessions, vain expectations, exaggerated statements, unfriendly representations, glaring contradictions, naked terrors, deceptive assurances, unrelenting prejudices, and unchristian denunciations. I collected together the publications of auxiliary societies, in order to discern some redeeming traits; but I found them marred and disfigured with the same disgusting details. I courted the acquaintance of eminent colonizationists, that I might learn how far their private sentiments agreed with those which were so offensive in print; and I found no dissimilarity between them. I listened to discourses from the pulpit in favor of the Society; and the same moral obliquities were seen in minister and people.
These discoveries affected my mind so deeply that I could not rest. I endeavored to explain away the meaning of plain and obvious language; I made liberal concessions for good motives and unsuspicious confidence; I resorted to many expedients to vindicate the disinterested benevolence of the Society; but I could not rest. The sun in its mid-day splendor was not more clear and palpable to my vision, than the anti-christian and anti-republican character of this association. It was evident to me that the great mass of its supporters at the north did not realise its dangerous tendency. They were told that it was designed to effect the ultimate emancipation of the slaves—to improve the condition of the free people of color—to abolish the foreign slave trade—to reclaim and evangelize benighted Africa—and various other marvels. Anxious to do something for the colored population—they knew not what—and having no other plan presented to their view, they eagerly embraced a scheme which was so big with promise, and which required of them nothing but a small contribution annually. Perceiving the fatality of this delusion, I was urged by an irresistible impulse to attempt its removal. I could not turn a deaf ear to the cries of the slaves, nor throw off the obligations which my Creator had fastened upon me. Yet in view of the inequalities of the contest, of the obstacles which towered like mountains in my path, and of my own littleness, I trembled, and exclaimed in the language of Jeremiah,—'Ah, Lord God! behold I cannot speak: for I am a child.' But I was immediately strengthened by these interrogations: 'Is any thing too hard for the Lord?' Is Error, though unwittingly supported by a host of good men, stronger than Truth? Are Right and Wrong convertible terms, dependant upon popular opinion? Oh no! Then I will go forward in the strength of the Lord of Hosts—in the name of Truth—and under the banner of Right. As it is not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God, that great moral changes are effected, I am encouraged to fight valiantly in this good cause, believing that I shall 'come off conqueror, and more than conqueror'—yet not I, but Truth and Justice. It is in such a contest that one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. 'The Lord disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness; and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.' 'Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.'
Little boldness is needed to assail the opinions and practices of notoriously wicked men; but to rebuke great and good men for their conduct, and to impeach their discernment, is the highest effort of moral courage. The great mass of mankind shun the labor and responsibility of forming opinions for themselves. The question is not—what is true? but—what is popular? Not—what does God say? but—what says the public? Not—what is my opinion? but—what do others believe? If people would pin their faith upon the bible, and not upon the sleeves of their neighbors, half of the heresies in the world would instantly disappear. If they would use their own eyes, their own ears, their own understandings, instead of the eyes, and ears, and understandings of others, imbecility, credulity and folly would be as rare as they are now common in community. But, unhappily, to borrow the words of Ganganelli, a large majority of mankind are 'mere abortions:' calling themselves rational and intelligent beings, they act as if they had neither brains nor conscience, and as if there were no God, no accountability, no heaven, no hell, no eternity.
'My minister,' says one, 'is a most worthy man. He supports this Society: therefore it is a good institution.' 'Christians of all denominations are enlisted in this enterprise,' says another: 'therefore it cannot be wrong.' 'Do you think,' says a third, 'that honest, godly men would countenance a scheme which is not really benevolent?' But it is unwise for beings, who are accountable only to God, to reason in this manner. All the good men upon earth cannot make persecution benevolence, nor injustice equity; and until they become infallible, implicit reliance upon their judgment is criminal. Ministers and christians, a few years since, were engaged in the use and sale of ardent spirits; but they were all wrong, and they now acknowledge their error. At the present day, a large proportion of the professed disciples of the Prince of Peace maintain the lawfulness of defensive war, and the right of the oppressed to fight and kill for liberty; but they hold this sentiment in direct opposition to the precepts of their Leader—'I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.' Surely 'the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.'
I must pause, for a moment, and count the number of those with whom I am about to conflict. If I had to encounter only men-stealers and slaveholders, victory would be easy; but it is not the south alone that is to be subdued. The whole nation is against me. Church after church is to be converted, and the powerful influence of the clergy broken. The friendship of good men is to be turned into enmity, and their support into opposition. It is my task to change their admiration into abhorrence; to convince them that their well-meant exertions have been misdirected, and productive of greater evil than good; and to induce them to abandon an institution to which they now fondly cling.
To those who neither fear God nor regard man—who have sworn eternal animosity to their colored countrymen, and whose cry is, 'Away with them, we do not want them here!'—I make no appeal. Disregarding as they do that divine command, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,' it would be idle for me to direct my arguments to them. I address myself to high-minded and honorable men, whose heads and hearts are susceptible to the force of sound logic. I appeal to those, who have been redeemed from the bondage of sin by the precious blood of Christ, and with whom I hope to unite in a better world in ascribing glory, and honor, and praise to the Great Deliverer for ever. If I can succeed in gaining their attention, I feel sure of convincing their understandings and securing their support.
Besides the overwhelming odds which are opposed to me, I labor under other very serious disadvantages. My efforts in the cause of emancipation have been received as if they were intended to bring chaos back again, and to give the land up to pillage and its inhabitants to slaughter. My calls for an alteration in the feelings and practices of the people toward the blacks have been regarded as requiring a sacrifice of all the rules of propriety, and as seeking an overthrow of the established laws of nature! I have been thrust into prison, and amerced in a heavy fine. Epithets, huge and unseemly, have been showered upon me without mercy. I have been branded as a fanatic, a madman, a disturber of the peace, an incendiary, a cutthroat, a monster, &c. &c. &c. Assassination has been threatened me in a multitude of anonymous letters. Private and public rewards to a very large amount, by combinations of individuals and by legislative bodies at the south, have been offered to any persons who shall abduct or destroy me. 'Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.' This malignity of opposition and proximity of danger, however, are like oil to the fire of my zeal. I am not deliriously enthusiastic—I do not covet to be a martyr; but I had rather die a thousand deaths, than witness the horrible oppression under which more than two millions of my countrymen groan, and be silent. No reproaches, no dangers shall deter me. At the north or the south, at the east or the west,—wherever Providence may call me,—my voice shall be heard in behalf of the perishing slave, and against the claims of his oppressor. Mine is the frank avowal of the excellent WILBERFORCE:—I can admit of no compromise when the commands of equity and philanthropy are so imperious. I wash my hands of the blood that may be spilled. I protest against the system, as the most flagrant violation of every principle of justice and humanity. I NEVER WILL DESERT THE CAUSE. In my task it is impossible to tire: it fills my mind with complacency and peace. At night I lie down with composure, and rise to it in the morning with alacrity. I NEVER WILL DESIST FROM THIS BLESSED WORK.
Now that the concentrated execration of the civilized world is poured upon those who engage in the foreign slave trade, how mild and inefficient, comparatively speaking, seem to have been the rebukes of Pitt, and Fox, and Wilberforce, and Clarkson! Yet these rebukes were once deemed fanatical and outrageous by good men—yea, like flames of fire, threatening a universal conflagration! So the denunciations which I am now hurling against slavery and its abettors,—which seem to many so violent and unmerited,—will be considered moderate, pertinent and just, when this murderous, soul-destroying system shall have been overthrown.
Fanaticism has been the crime alleged against reformers in all ages. 'These,' it was said of the apostles, 'that have turned the world upside down, come hither also.' Luther was a madman in his day: what is he now in the estimation of the friends of civil and religious liberty? One of
'Those starry lights of virtue, that diffuse Through the dark depths of time their vivid flame.'
That base and desperate men should thus stigmatize those who endure the cross as good soldiers, and walk as pilgrims and strangers here, is not wonderful; but that the professed followers of Jesus Christ should join in this hue-and-cry is lamentable. Singular enough, I have been almost as cruelly aspersed by ministers of the gospel and church members, as by any other class of men. Unacquainted with me, and ignorant of my sentiments, they have readily believed the accusations of my enemies. The introduction of my name into conversation has elicited from them contemptuous sneers or strong denunciations. I have a right to complain of this treatment, and I do strongly protest against it as unchristian, hurtful and ungenerous. To prejudge and condemn an individual, on vague and apocryphal rumors, without listening to his defence or examining evidence, is tyranny. Perhaps I am in error—perhaps I deserve unqualified condemnation; but I am at least entitled to a privilege which is granted to the vilest criminals, namely, the privilege of a fair trial. I ask nothing more. To accuse me of heresy, madness and sedition, is one thing; to substantiate the accusation, another.
Should this work chance to fall into the hands of those who have thus ignorantly reprobated my course, I appeal to their sense of rectitude whether they are not bound to give it a candid and deliberate perusal; and if they shall find in my writings nothing contrary to the immutable principles of justice, whether they ought not to be as strenuous in my defence as they have been hitherto in seeking my overthrow.
To show that I do not vacate any pledge which I have given to the public, I shall here insert all the specifications, which, from time to time, I have brought against the American Colonization Society. In 'The Liberator' of April 23, 1831, is the following serious compend:
'I am prepared to show, that those who have entered into this CONSPIRACY AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS are unanimous in abusing their victims; unanimous in their mode of attack; unanimous in proclaiming the absurdity, that our free blacks are natives of Africa; unanimous in propagating the libel, that they cannot be elevated and improved in this country; unanimous in opposing their instruction; unanimous in exciting the prejudices of the people against them; unanimous in apologising for the crime of slavery; unanimous in conceding the right of the planters to hold their slaves in a limited bondage; unanimous in their hollow pretence for colonizing, namely, to evangelize Africa; unanimous in their true motive for the measure—a terror lest the blacks should rise to avenge their accumulated wrongs. It is a conspiracy to send the free people of color to Africa under a benevolent pretence, but really that the slaves may be held more securely in bondage. It is a conspiracy based upon fear, oppression and falsehood, which draws its aliment from the prejudices of the people, which is sustained by duplicity, which really upholds the slave system, which fascinates while it destroys, which endangers the safety and happiness of the country, which no precept of the bible can justify, which is implacable in its spirit, which should be annihilated at a blow.
'These are my accusations; and if I do not substantiate them, I am willing to be covered with reproach.'
The following is copied from an editorial article of July 9, 1831:
'The superstructure of the Colonization Society rests upon the following pillars:
'1st. Persecution. It declares that the whole colored population must be removed to Africa; but as the free portion are almost unanimously opposed to a removal, it seems to be the determination of the Society to make their situations so uncomfortable and degraded here, as to compel them to migrate: consequently it discourages their education and improvement in this their native home. This is persecution.
'2d. Falsehood. It stigmatises our colored citizens as being natives of Africa, and talks of sending them to their native land; when they are no more related to Africa than we are to Great Britain.
'3d. Cowardice. It avows as a prominent reason why colored citizens ought to be removed, that their continuance among us will be dangerous to us as a people! This is a libel upon their character. Instead of demanding justice for this oppressed class, the Society calls for their removal!
'4th. Infidelity. It boldly denies that there is power enough in the gospel to melt down the prejudices of men, and insists, that, so long as the people of color remain among us, we must be their enemies!—Every honest man should abhor the doctrine.'
In 'The Liberator' of July 30, 1831, alluding to the present work, I used the following language:
'I shall be willing to stake my reputation upon it for honesty, prudence, benevolence, truth and sagacity. If I do not prove the Colonization Society to be a creature without heart, without brains, eyeless, unnatural, hypocritical, relentless, unjust, then nothing is capable of demonstration—then let me be covered with confusion of face.'
The following paragraph is extracted from 'The Liberator' of November 19, 1831:
'It is the enemy of immediate restitution to the slaves; it courts and receives the approbation of notorious slave owners; it deprecates any interference with slave property; it discourages the improvement of the colored population, except they are removed to the shores of Africa; it is lulling the country into a fatal sleep, pretending to be something when it is nothing; it is utterly chimerical, as well as intolerant, in its design; it serves to increase the value of the slaves, and to make brisk the foreign and domestic slave trade; it nourishes and justifies the most cruel prejudices against color; it sneers at those who advocate the bestowal of equal rights upon our colored countrymen; it contends for an indefinite, dilatory, far-off emancipation; it expressly declares that it is more humane to keep the slaves in chains, than to give them freedom in this country! In short, it is the most compendious and best adapted scheme to uphold the slave system that human ingenuity can invent. Moreover, it is utterly and irreconcileably opposed to the wishes and sentiments of the great body of the free people of color, repeatedly expressed in the most public manner, but cruelly disregarded by it.'
The following passages are taken from my Address to the People of Color, delivered in various places in June, 1831:
'Let me briefly examine the doctrines of colonizationists. They generally agree in publishing the misstatement, that you are strangers and foreigners. Surely they know better. They know, that, as a body, you are no more natives of Africa, than they themselves are natives of Great Britain. Yet they repeat the absurd charge; and they do so, in order to cover their anti-republican crusade. But suppose you were foreigners: would such an accident justify this persecution and removal? And, if so, then all foreigners must come under the same ban, and must prepare to depart. There would be, in that case, a most alarming deduction from our population. Suppose a philanthropic and religious crusade were got up against the Dutch, the French, the Swiss, the Irish, among us, to remove them to New Holland, to enlighten and civilize her cannibals? Who would not laugh at the scheme—who would not actively oppose it? Would any one blame the above classes for steadfastly resisting it? Just so, then, in regard to African colonization. But our colored population are not aliens; they were born on our soil; they are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; their fathers fought bravely to achieve our independence during the revolutionary war, without immediate or subsequent compensation; they spilt their blood freely during the last war; they are entitled, in fact, to every inch of our southern, and much of our western territory, having worn themselves out in its cultivation, and received nothing but wounds and bruises in return. Are these the men to stigmatize as foreigners?
'Colonizationists generally agree in asserting that the people of color cannot be elevated in this country, nor be admitted to equal privileges with the whites. Is not this a libel upon humanity and justice—a libel upon republicanism—a libel upon the Declaration of Independence—a libel upon christianity? "All men are born equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights—among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." What is the meaning of that declaration? That all men possess these rights—whether they are six feet five inches high, or three feet two and a half—whether they weigh three hundred or one hundred pounds—whether they parade in broadcloth or flutter in rags—whether their skins are jet black or lily white—whether their hair is straight or woolly, auburn or red, black or gray—does it not? We, who are present, differ from each other in our looks, in our color, in height, and in bulk; we have all shades, and aspects, and sizes. Now, would it not be anti-republican and anti-christian for us to quarrel about sitting on this seat or that, because this man's complexion is too dark, or that man's looks are too ugly? and to put others out of the house, because they happen to be ignorant, or poor, or helpless? To commit this violence would be evidently wrong: then to do it in a large assemblage—in a community, in a state, or in a nation, it is equally unjust. But is not this the colonization principle? Who are the individuals that applaud, that justify, that advocate this exclusion? Who are they that venture to tell the American people, that they have neither honesty enough, nor patriotism enough, nor morality enough, nor religion enough, to treat their colored brethren as countrymen and citizens? Some of them—I am sorry to say—are professedly ministers of the gospel; others are christian professors; others are judges and lawyers; others are our Senators and Representatives; others are editors of newspapers. These ministers and christians dishonor the gospel which they profess; these judges and lawyers are the men spoken of by the Saviour, who bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. These Senators and Representatives ought not to receive the suffrages of the people. These editors are unworthy of public patronage.
'Colonizationists too generally agree in discouraging your instruction and elevation at home. They pretend that ignorance is bliss; and therefore 'tis folly to be wise. They pretend that knowledge is a dangerous thing in the head of a colored man; they pretend that you have no ambition; they pretend that you have no brains; in fine, they pretend a thousand other absurd things—they are a combination of pretences. What tyranny is this! Shutting up the human intellect—binding with chains the inward man—and perpetuating ignorance. May we not address them in the language of Christ? "Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in! Ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith."
'Colonizationists generally agree in apologising for the crime of slavery. They get behind the contemptible subterfuge, that it was entailed upon the planters. As if the continuance of the horrid system were not criminal! as if the robberies of another generation justify the robberies of the present! as if the slaves had not an inalienable right to freedom! as if slavery were not an individual as well as a national crime! as if the tearing asunder families, limb from limb,—branding the flesh with red hot irons,—mangling the body with whips and knives,—feeding it on husks and clothing it with rags,—crushing the intellect and destroying the soul,—as if such inconceivable cruelty were not chargeable to those who inflict it!
'As to the effect of colonization upon slavery, it is rather favorable than injurious to the system. Now and then, indeed, there is a great flourish of trumpets, and glowing accounts of the willingness of planters to emancipate their slaves on condition of transportation to Africa. Now and then a slave is actually manumitted and removed, and the incident is dwelt upon for months. Why, my friends, hundreds of worn-out slaves are annually turned off to die, like old horses. No doubt their masters will thank the Colonization Society, or any one else, to send them out of the country; especially as they will gain much glorification in the newspapers, for their disinterested sacrifices. Let no man be deceived by these manoeuvres.
'My time is consumed—and yet I have scarcely entered upon the threshold of my argument. Now, what a spectacle is presented to the world!—the American people, boasting of their free and equal rights—of their abhorrence of aristocratical distinctions—of their republican equality; proclaiming on every wind, "that all men are born equal, and endowed with certain inalienable rights," and that this land is an asylum for the persecuted of all nations; and yet as loudly proclaiming that they are determined to deprive millions of their own countrymen of every political and social right, and to send them to a barbarous continent, because the Creator has given them a sable complexion. Where exists a more rigorous despotism? What conspiracy was ever more cruel? What hypocrisy and tergiversation so enormous? The story is proclaimed in our pulpits, in our state and national assemblies, in courts of law, in religious and secular periodicals,—among all parties, and in all quarters of the country,—that there is a moral incapacity in the people to do justly, love mercy, and to walk uprightly—that they must always be the enemies and oppressors of the colored people—that no love of liberty, no dictate of duty, no precept of republicanism, no dread of retribution, no claim of right, no injunction of the gospel, can possibly persuade them to do unto their colored countrymen, as they would that they should do unto them in a reversal of circumstances. Now, to these promulgators of unrighteousness, with the Declaration of Independence in one hand, and the Bible in the other, I fearlessly give battle. Rich and mighty and numerous as they are, by the help of the Lord I will put them to open shame. They shall not libel me, they shall not libel my country, with impunity. They shall not make our boasted republicanism a by-word and a hissing among all nations, nor sink the christian religion below heathen idolatry; and if they persist in publishing their scandalous proclamations, they shall be labelled as the enemies of their species and of the republic, and treated accordingly.
'The Colonization Society, therefore, instead of being a philanthropic and religious institution, is anti-republican and anti-christian in its tendency. Its pretences are false, its doctrines odious, its means contemptible. If we are to send away the colored population because they are profligate and vicious, what sort of missionaries will they make? Why not send away the vicious among the whites, for the same reason and the same purpose? If ignorance be a crime, where shall we begin to select? How much must a man know to save him from transportation? How white must he be? If we send away a mixed breed, how many will be left? If foreigners only, then the people of color must remain—for they are our countrymen. Would foreigners submit? No—not for an instant. Why should the American people make this enormous expenditure of life and money? Why not use the funds of the Society to instruct and elevate our colored population at home? This would be rational and serviceable. Instead of removing men from a land of civilization and knowledge—of schools, and seminaries, and colleges—to give them instruction in a land of darkness and desolation—would it not be wiser and better to reverse the case, and bring the ignorant here for cultivation?'
The foregoing accusations are grave, weighty, positive—involving a perilous responsibility, and requiring ample and irrefragable proof. They are expressed in vehement terms: but to measure the propriety of language, we must first examine the character of the system, or the nature of the object, against which it is directed. If we see a person wilfully abusing the goods of an individual, we may reprehend him, but with comparative mildness. If we see him maiming, or in any way maltreating another man's cattle, we may increase the severity of our rebuke. But if we see him violating all the social and sacred relations of life,—daily defrauding a number of his fellow creatures of the fruits of their toil, calling them his property, selling them for money, lacerating their bodies, and ruining their souls,—we may use the strongest terms of moral indignation. Nor is plain and vehement denunciation of crime inconsistent with the most benevolent feelings towards the perpetrators of it. We are sustained in these positions by the example of Christ, and the apostles, and the prophets, and the reformers.
So, also, if there be an institution, the direct tendency of which is to perpetuate slavery, to encourage persecution, and to invigorate prejudice,—although many of its supporters may be actuated by pure motives,—it ought to receive unqualified condemnation.
It is proper to call things by their right names. What does the law term him who steals your pocket-book, or breaks into your dwelling, or strips you on the highway? A robber! Is the charge inflammatory or unjust? or will it please the villain? The abuse of language is seen only in its misapplication. Those who object to the strength of my denunciation must prove its perversion before they accuse me of injustice.
Probably I may be interrogated by individuals,—'Why do you object to a colony in Africa? Are you not willing people should choose their own places of residence? And if the blacks are willing to remove, why throw obstacles in their path or deprecate their withdrawal? All go voluntarily: of what, then, do you complain? Is not the colony at Liberia in a flourishing condition, and expanding beyond the most sanguine expectations of its founders?'
Pertinent questions deserve pertinent answers. I say, then, in reply, that I do not object to a colony, in the abstract—to use the popular phraseology of the day. In other words, I am entirely willing men should be as free as the birds in choosing the time when, the mode how, and the place where they shall migrate. The power of locomotion was given to be used at will; as beings of intelligence and enterprise,
'The world is all before them, where to choose Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.'
The emigration from New-England to the far West is constant and large. Almost every city, town or village suffers annually by the departure of some of its adventurous inhabitants. Companies have been formed to go and possess the Oregon territory—an enterprise hazardous and unpromising in the extreme. The old States are distributing their population over the whole continent, with unexampled fruitfulness and liberality. But why this restless, roving, unsatisfied disposition? Is it because those who cherish it are treated as the offscouring of all flesh, in the place of their birth? or because they do not possess equal rights and privileges with other citizens? or because they are the victims of incorrigible hate and prejudice? or because they are told that they must choose between exilement and perpetual degradation? or because the density of population renders it impossible for them to obtain preferment and competence here? or because they are estranged by oppression and scorn? or because they cherish no attachment to their native soil, to the scenes of their childhood and youth, or to the institutions of government? or because they consider themselves as dwellers in a strange land, and feel a burning desire, a feverish longing to return home? No. They lie under no odious disabilities, whether imposed by public opinion or by legislative power; to them the path of preferment is wide open; they sustain a solid and honorable reputation; they not only can rise, but have risen, and may soar still higher, to responsible stations and affluent circumstances; no calamity afflicts, no burden depresses, no reproach excludes, no despondency enfeebles them; and they love the spot of their nativity almost to idolatry. The air of heaven is not freer or more buoyant than they. Theirs is a spirit of curiosity and adventurous enterprise, impelled by no malignant influences, but by the spontaneous promptings of the mind. Far different is the case of our colored population. Their voluntary banishment is compulsory—they are forced to turn volunteers, as will be shown in other parts of this work.
The following proposition is self-evident: The success of an enterprise furnishes no proof that it is in accordance with justice, or that it meets the approbation of God, or that it ought to be prosecuted to its consummation, or that it is the fruit of disinterested benevolence.
I do not doubt that the Colony at Liberia, by a prodigal expenditure of life and money, will ultimately flourish; but a good result would no more hallow that persecution which is seeking to drag the blacks away, than it would if we should burn every distillery, and shut up in prison every vender of ardent spirits, in order to do good and to prevent people from becoming drunkards. Because Jehovah overrules evil for good, shall we therefore continue to do evil?
If ten thousand white mechanics, farmers, merchants, &c. &c. were to emigrate to Africa, does any man doubt whether permanent good would result from the enterprise—good to that benighted continent, which would counterbalance all the sacrifices and sufferings attending it? And yet is there a single mechanic, farmer or merchant, who feels it to be his duty, or would be willing to go? Suppose the people of color should get the power into their hands to-morrow, and should argue that the whites must not be admitted to equal privileges with themselves; but that, having so long plundered Africa, and oppressed her children, justice demanded that they should be sent to that desolate land to build up colonies, and carry the light of civilization and knowledge, as a sort of reparation—and that, having superior instruction in literature and science, they were peculiarly qualified for such a mission—how would this doctrine relish? 'It is a poor rule that will not work both ways,' says the proverb. Yet this logic would be more sound than is our own with regard to the colonization of the blacks.
On this point, deception is practised to a great extent. The advocates of the Colonization Society are constantly aiming to divert public attention from the only proper subject of inquiry, namely, 'Is it based upon benevolence and justice?'—to the success of the colony. Granting all that they assert, it proves nothing; but of this success I shall have occasion, doubtless, to speak hereafter. Fine stories are trumpeted all over the country, of the happiness, intelligence, industry, virtue, enterprise and dignity of the colonists; and changes, absolutely miraculous, are gravely recorded for the admiration and credulity of community. 'The simple,' says Solomon, 'believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.'
The doctrine, that the 'end sanctifies the means,' belongs, I trust, exclusively to the creed of the Jesuits. If I were sure that the Society would accomplish the entire regeneration of Africa by its present measures, my detestation of its principles would not abate one jot, nor would I bestow upon it the smallest modicum of praise. Never shall the fruits of the mercy and overruling providence of God,—ever bringing good out of evil and light out of darkness,—be ascribed to the prejudice and sin of man.
It is certain that many a poor native African has been led to embrace the gospel, in consequence of his transportation to our shores, who else had lived and died a heathen. Is the slave trade therefore a blessing? Suppose one of those wretches who are engaged in this nefarious commerce were brought before the Supreme Court, and being convicted, should be asked by the Judge, whether he had aught to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced upon him? And suppose the culprit should espy some of his sable victims in court, whom he knew had made a profession of faith, and he should boldly reply—'May it please your Honor, I abducted these people away from their homes, it is true; but they were poor, miserable, benighted idolators, and must have inevitably remained as such unto the hour of their death, if I had not brought them to this land of christianity and bibles, where they have been taught a knowledge of the true God, and are now rejoicing in hope of a glorious immortality. I therefore offer as a conclusive reason why sentence should not be pronounced, that I have rescued souls from perdition, and thus enlarged the company of the saints in light.' Would the villain be acquitted, and, instead of a halter, receive the panegyric of the Court for his conduct?
Our pilgrim fathers, not being able to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences in the mother country, were compelled by ecclesiastical despotism to seek a refuge in this rude and barbarous continent. Wonderful have been the fruits of their expulsion! A mighty republic established—the freest, the wisest, the most religious on earth!—influencing the world by its example, and exciting the emulation of all nations! Now suppose we should occasionally find in the pages of the Edinburgh or Quarterly Review, or in the columns of the English newspapers, not only a full justification of this oppressive treatment in view of its astonishing consequences, but a claim to approbation on account of its exercise. Would not such effrontery amaze us? Would not an honest indignation burn within us? Should we look with a more complacent aspect upon the bigots who kindled those fires of persecution around the Puritans, which, but for the interposition of Heaven, had consumed them to ashes?
The death of our Lord Jesus Christ was essential to the salvation of the world. Suppose Judas, at the judgment day, should build upon this fact in extenuation of his dreadful crime. What would be the decision of the assembled universe? Yea, what was the condemnation passed upon him by the Illustrious Sufferer? 'Wo to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born!'
Let not, then, any imaginary or real prosperity of the settlement at Liberia lead any individual to applaud the Colonization Society, reckless whether it be actuated by mistaken philanthropy, or perverted generosity, or selfish policy, or unchristian prejudice.
I should oppose this Society, even were its doctrines harmless. It imperatively and effectually seals up the lips of a vast number of influential and pious men, who, for fear of giving offence to those slaveholders with whom they associate, and thereby leading to a dissolution of the compact, dare not expose the flagrant enormities of the system of slavery, nor denounce the crime of holding human beings in bondage. They dare not lead to the onset against the forces of tyranny; and if they shrink from the conflict, how shall the victory be won? I do not mean to aver, that, in their sermons, or addresses, or private conversations, they never allude to the subject of slavery; for they do so frequently, or at least every Fourth of July. But my complaint is, that they content themselves with representing slavery as an evil,—a misfortune,—a calamity which has been entailed upon us by former generations,—and not as an individual CRIME, embracing in its folds robbery, cruelty, oppression and piracy. They do not identify the criminals; they make no direct, pungent, earnest appeal to the consciences of men-stealers; by consenting to walk arm-in-arm with them, they virtually agree to abstain from all offensive remarks, and to aim entirely at the expulsion of the free people of color; their lugubrious exclamations, and solemn animadversions, and reproachful reflections, are altogether indefinite; they 'go about, and about, and all the way round to nothing;' they generalize, they shoot into the air, they do not disturb the repose nor wound the complacency of the sinner; 'they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean.' Thus has free inquiry been suppressed, and a universal fear created, and the tongue of the boldest silenced, and the sleep of death fastened upon the nation. 'Truth has fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter.' The plague is raging with unwonted fatality; but no cordon sanitaire is established—no adequate remedy sought. The tide of moral death is constantly rising and widening; but no efforts are made to stay its desolating career. The fire of God's indignation is kindling against us, and thick darkness covers the heavens, and the hour of retribution is at hand; but we are obstinate in our transgression, we refuse to repent, we impiously throw the burden of our guilt upon our predecessors, we affect resignation to our unfortunate lot, we descant upon the mysterious dispensations of Providence, we deem ourselves objects of God's compassion rather than of his displeasure. 'Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord. Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?'
Were the American Colonization Society bending its energies directly to the immediate abolition of slavery; seeking to enlighten and consolidate public opinion, on this momentous subject; faithfully exposing the awful guilt of the owners of slaves; manfully contending for the bestowal of equal rights upon our free colored population in this their native land; assiduously endeavoring to uproot the prejudices of society; and holding no fellowship with oppressors; my opposition to it would cease. It might continue to bestow its charities upon those who should desire to seek another country, and at the same time launch its thunders against the system of oppression. But, alas! it looks to the banishment of the free people of color as the only means to abolish slavery, and conciliate the feelings of the planters.
The popularity of the Society is not attributable to its merits, but exclusively to its congeniality with those unchristian prejudices which have so long been cherished against a sable complexion. It is agreeable to slaveholders, because it is striving to remove a class of persons who they fear may stir up their slaves to rebellion; all who avow undying hostility to the people of color are in favor of it; all who shrink from acknowledging them as brethren and friends, or who make them a distinct and inferior caste, or who deny the possibility of elevating them in the scale of improvement here, most heartily embrace it. Having ample funds, it has been able to circulate its specious appeals in every part of the country; and to employ active and eloquent agents, who have glowingly described to the people the immense advantages to be reaped from the accomplishment of its designs. With this entire preoccupancy of the ground, and these common though unworthy dispositions in its favor, the wonder is, that it is not more popular.
Much cleverness is not requisite to tell a fine story; and a fine story is always agreeable to a credulous listener. An agent of the Society goes into a place, and finds no difficulty in procuring a pulpit from which to address a congregation. The benevolent pastor, who, perhaps, has had neither time nor opportunity to examine the principles of the Society, readily officiates on the occasion, and, in the fulness of his heart, believing that he is not asking amiss, supplicates the benediction of Heaven upon the object of the meeting. This co-operation of the pastor with the agent makes an impression decidedly favorable to the latter upon the minds of the audience, and prepares them to receive his statements with confidence. He first dwells upon the miserable condition of Africa—desolated with civil wars—the prey of kidnappers—given up to idolatry—full of intellectual darkness and spiritual death—and bleeding at every pore. He next depicts the horrors of the slave trade, and shows how inefficient have been the laws enacted for its suppression. He finally expatiates upon the evils and dangers of slavery; and is particularly minute in describing the degradation of the free people of color, which he declares to be irreclaimable in this land of gospel light. 'Now, my christian brethren and friends,' he continues, 'the object of the American Colonization Society is to stay the effusion of blood, to give light to them who sit in darkness, and to make reparation for the wrongs which have been inflicted upon the sable sons of Africa. As the people of color must evidently be a distinct and degraded class while they reside in this country, and as they are threatened with universal proscription, the Society benevolently proposes to send them back to their native country, by their own voluntary consent, together with those slaves who may be emancipated for this purpose, where they may enjoy equal rights and privileges, nor longer retain any sense of inferiority to the whites. Every emigrant will go as a missionary to reclaim the poor natives from their barbarism, and to spread the tidings of salvation throughout the African continent. By forming a chain of colonies along the coast, a speedy check will be given to the accursed slave trade,—a trade which cannot be destroyed in any other manner. Who does not desire to see Africa civilized and evangelized? Whose heart does not leap in view of the suppression of the slave trade? Who does not pray for deliverance from the evils of slavery? Who does not wish to behold the free people of color,—cursed with ineffectual freedom here,—recalled from their banishment, and placed where no obstacles will impede their march to affluence, preferment and honor? The Colonization Society, then, powerfully commends itself to the christian, the philanthropist and the patriot—to every section of our country and to all denominations of men.'
Exquisite! The picture is crowded with attractions, delightful to the eye. The story is skilfully told, and implicitly believed; but, like every other story, it has two sides to it. So complete is the delusion, however, that many good people are ready to class those who denounce the Colonization Society, among the opposers of foreign missions, bible and tract societies, and the other benevolent operations of the age!
Far be it from me to accuse the agents of the Society of intentionally perverting the truth or deliberately imposing upon the credulity of the public. Some—perhaps all of them, are men of sincerity and probity; but, deluded themselves, they help to delude others. Their vision is imperfect; and 'if the blind lead the blind,' we may expect to find them in the same ditch together.
Great complacency has been manifested on various occasions, by the advocates of the Society, on the ground that it was at first suspected of sinister designs, both at the north and the south, but is now receiving the countenance of both. This exultation is premature. The opposition formerly manifested to the Society by the holders of slaves, grew out of their ignorance of its purpose; but a very large majority of them now perceive that it is their devoted servant, crouching down at their feet, shielding them from reproach, dragging those away whom they dread, allowing them to sin with impunity, and generously granting them and their children whole centuries in which to repent, and to surrender what they have stolen! It dissuades them from emancipating their slaves faster than they can be transported to Africa; and thus regards their persistance in robbery and oppression as evidence of wisdom, benevolence and sanity! It is natural, that, discovering their mistake, they should now rally in a body around the Society; and, consequently, we find that the legislatures of the several slaveholding States are passing encomiums upon it, and in some instances appropriating sums of money to be paid over to it by instalments.
The people of the north have been shamefully duped by this scheme; but, like the slaveholders, they begin to discover their error. Unlike them, however, they are withdrawing their support, in obedience to the injunction of the Apostle: 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.'
To Africa this country owes a debt larger than she is able to liquidate. Most intensely do I desire to see that ill-fated continent transformed into the abode of civilization, of the arts and sciences, of evangelical piety, of liberty, and of all that adds to the dignity, the renown, and the temporal and eternal happiness of man. Shame and confusion of face belong to the Church, that she has so long disregarded the claims of Africa upon her sympathies, and prayers, and liberality—claims as much superior as its wrongs to those of any other portion of the globe. It is indeed most strange that, like the Priest and the Levite, she should have 'passed by on the other side,' and left the victim of thieves to bleed and sicken and die. As the Africans were the only people doomed to perpetual servitude, and to be the prey of kidnappers, she should have long since directed almost her undivided efforts to civilize and convert them,—not by establishing colonies of ignorant and selfish foreigners among them, who will seize every opportunity to overreach or oppress, as interest or ambition shall instigate,—but by sending intelligent, pious missionaries; men fearing God and eschewing evil—living evidences of the excellence of christianity—having but one object, not the possession of wealth or the obtainment of power or the gratification of selfishness, but the salvation of the soul. Had she made this attempt, as she was bound to have made it by every principle of justice and every feeling of humanity, a century ago, Africa would have been, at the present day, 'redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled,' and the slavery of her children brought to an end. No pirates would now haunt her coast to desolate her villages with fire and sword, in order to supply a christian people with hewers of wood and drawers of water. How much has been needlessly lost to the world by this criminal neglect!
The conception of evangelizing a heathenish country by sending to it an illiterate, degraded and irreligious population, belongs exclusively to the advocates of African colonization. For absurdity and inaptitude, it stands, and must forever stand, without a parallel. Of all the offspring of prejudice and oppression, it is the most shapeless and unnatural. But more of this hereafter.
History is full of instruction on the subject of colonization. The establishment of colonies, in all ages, with scarcely an exception, has resulted either in their subversion by the vices or physical strength of the natives, or by a fatal amalgamation with them; or else in the rapid destruction of the natives by the superior knowledge and greedy avarice of the new settlers. It is presumption to suppose that the colony at Liberia, composed of the worst materials imaginable, will present an example of forbearance, stability and good faith, hitherto unwitnessed in the world.
Soon after its establishment, the colony narrowly escaped a bloody extirpation, and was the cause of a murderous warfare in which several of the colonists and a large number of the natives were slain. The steady growth of the colony excited the jealousy and alarm of some of the neighboring tribes; and, accordingly, a consultation was held, at which King George, Governor, and all the other head men, contended that 'The Americans were strangers who had forgot their attachment to the land of their fathers; for if not, why had they not renounced their connexion with white men altogether, and placed themselves under the protection of the kings of the country? King George had already been under the necessity of removing from his town, and leaving the Cape in their hands. This was but the first step of their encroachments. If left alone, they must, in a very few years, master the whole country. And as all other places were full, their own tribe must be without a home, and cease any longer to remain a nation.'[E] This appeal (which evinces an intimate acquaintance with human nature and much foresight) induced the attack to which allusion has been made. A single paragraph from the Rev. Mr Ashmun's account of the battle with the natives may suffice to give the reader an idea of its destructiveness:
'A few musketeers with E. Johnson at their head, by passing round upon the enemy's flank, served to increase the consternation which was beginning to pervade their unwieldy body. In about twenty minutes after the settlers had taken their stand, the front of the enemy began to recoil. But from the numerous obstructions in their rear, the entire absence of discipline, and the extreme difficulty of giving a reversed motion to so large a body, a small part only of which was directly exposed to danger, and the delay occasioned by the practice of carrying off all their dead and wounded, rendered a retreat for some minutes longer, impossible. The very violence employed by those in the front, in their impatience to hasten it, by increasing the confusion, produced an effect opposite to that intended. The Americans perceiving their advantage, now regained possession of the western post, and instantly brought the long nine to rake the whole line of the enemy. Imagination can scarcely figure to itself a throng of human beings in a more capital state of exposure to the destructive power of the machinery of modern warfare! Eight hundred men were here pressed shoulder to shoulder, in so compact a form, that a child might easily walk upon their heads from one end of the mass to the other, presenting in their rear a breadth of rank equal to twenty or thirty men, and all exposed to a gun of great power, raised on a platform, at only thirty to sixty yards distance! Every shot literally spent its force in a solid mass of living human flesh! Their fire suddenly terminated. A savage yell was raised, which filled the dismal forest with a momentary horror. It gradually died away; and the whole host disappeared. At 8 o'clock, the well known signal of their dispersion and return to their homes was sounded, and many small parties seen at a distance, directly afterwards, moving off in different directions. One large canoe, employed in reconveying a party across the mouth of the Montserado, venturing within the range of the long gun, was struck by a shot, and several men killed.'[F]
The above (which cannot be perused without a thrill of horror) is one of the legitimate fruits of foreign colonization. Subsequent to this bloody affair, another battle took place, which resulted in the defeat of the natives and the loss of many lives. It is true, the colony since that period has received little molestation, and has succeeded, moreover, in making some amicable treaties with the natives; but in proportion to its means of defence and numerical force will be its liability to encroach upon the rights of the Africans, and thus to provoke hostilities. If this prophecy should not be fulfilled, history will have spoken in vain, and human nature experienced a total regeneration.
No man of refined sensibility can contemplate the fate of the aborigines of this country, without shuddering at the consequences of colonization; and if they melted away at the presence of the pilgrims and their descendants, like frost before the meridian blaze of the sun,—if they fell to the earth, like the leaves of the forest before the autumnal blast, by the settlement of men reputedly humane, wise and pious, in their vicinage,—what can be our hope for the preservation of the Africans, associated with a population degraded by slavery, and, to a lamentable extent, destitute of religious and secular knowledge? The argument, that the difference of complexion between our forefathers and the aborigines (which is not a distinctive feature between the settlers at Liberia and the natives) was the real cause of this deadly enmity, is more specious than solid. Conduct, not color, secures friendship or excites antipathy, as it happens to be just or unjust. The venerated William Penn and his pacific followers furnish a case in point.
I avow it—the natural tendency of the colony at Liberia excites the most melancholy apprehensions in my mind. Its birth was conceived in blood, and its footsteps will be marked with blood down to old age—the blood of the poor natives—unless a special interposition of Divine Providence prevent such a calamity. The emigrants will be eager in the acquisition of wealth, ease and power; and, having superior skill and discernment in trade, they will outwit and defraud the natives as often as occasion permits. This knavish treatment once detected,—as it surely will be, for even an uncivilized people may soon learn that they have been cheated,—will provoke retaliation, and stir up the worst passions of the human breast. Bloody conflicts will ensue, in which the colonists will be victorious. This success will serve to increase the enmity of the natives, and to perpetuate the murderous struggle. The extirpation of one generation may put the colonists in undisputed possession of the land.
This is not a fancy sketch—it is not improbable: on the contrary, it is the obvious and hitherto certain consequence of bringing hastily together large bodies of civilized men with unlettered barbarians.
Jealousy will be another fruitful source of contention. The population of Africa is divided into a vast number of tribes, governed by petty kings,—sometimes indeed united by an amicable league, but commonly distinct and independent. Some of these tribes will form alliances with the colonists, either to obtain protection from their more formidable rivals or from motives of fear, curiosity or selfishness. In this manner, tribe will be arrayed against tribe throughout that vast continent; the tide of commotion, gathering fresh impetuosity in its headlong career, will rush from the mountains down to the ocean, devastating all that is beautiful, and swiftly defacing that which will require the labors of centuries to restore to its pristine excellence; there will be wars and rumors of wars, succeeded by deceitful and unstable treaties ratified only to be broken at a favorable moment; and these collisions will not cease until the colonists obtain an undisputed mastery over the natives.
Would to Heaven these fears might prove to be but the offspring of a distracted mind! May the colonists be so just in their intercourse with the Africans, as never to impeach their own integrity; so pacific, as to disarm retaliation and perpetuate good will; so benevolent, as to excite gratitude and diffuse joy wherever their names shall be known; and so holy, as to exalt the christian religion in the eyes of an idolatrous nation! But he must be grossly ignorant of human nature, or strangely infatuated, who believes that they will always, or commonly, exhibit this unexceptionable conduct.
It is my sober conviction, that no contrivance or enterprise could possibly be planned more fatally calculated to obstruct the progress of christianity in a heathenish country, than the establishment of a colony, or colonies, of selfish, ignorant, or even intelligent and high-minded men, on its shores. In every settlement of this kind,—no matter how choice the original materials,—vice will soon preponderate over virtue, intemperance over sobriety, knavery over honesty, oppression over liberty, and impiety over godliness. The natives will see just enough of christianity to hate and shun it; finding that its fruits are generally bad—that it has no restraining influence upon the mass of its nominal professors,—they will not easily comprehend the utility of abandoning their own idolatrous worship; looking only to the pernicious examples of the intruders, they will spurn with contempt the precepts of the gospel. Their confidence will be abused—their lands craftily trafficked for nought—their ignorance cheated—their inferiority treated oppressively; and then what must naturally follow? Why—WAR—a war of retaliation. All the vices, and few of the virtues, of the instructers, will be faithfully copied; and thus barriers will be erected against the progress of the Christian religion, not absolutely insurmountable, it is true, but sufficiently tall and strong to retard its noble career—barriers not only of superstition and ignorance, but of hatred and revenge. These reflections might be extended to the size of a volume; but they are probably sufficient to convince every unprejudiced, discerning mind, that the establishment of foreign colonies in a barbarous land is the surest way to prevent its speedy evangelism and civilization.
In reply to this reasoning, some of the advocates of African colonization may argue, that schools and houses of worship, multiplying with the growth of the settlement at Liberia, will check the evil propensities and passions of the emigrants, and qualify them to act as missionaries or instructers among the natives; and thus great good will be bestowed upon Africa. This is at least a summary, if not a sure mode of obviating these difficulties.
In the first place, it is by no means certain—nay, it is not probable, especially if the number of emigrants annually exported to Liberia swell from hundreds to thousands, (and this increase of transportation is positively promised by the Parent Society, and absolutely necessary to cause a perceptible diminution in the annual enlargement of our colored population)—I say, it is neither certain nor probable that the multiplication of literary and religious privileges will keep pace with the unnatural and enormous growth of the colony. Nine years after the first settlement of Liberia, it appears by the following extract of a letter from a highly respectable colored emigrant, (the Rev. George M. Erskine,) there was but the 'remnant of a school' left! This letter is dated 'Caldwell, Liberia, April 3, 1830.'
'Sir, the state of things, with regard to schools, is truly lamentable. The only school in the Colony at this time, is a remnant of one at the Cape. Among the present emigrants, there are seventeen out of forty-eight that can read the Holy Scriptures, leaving thirty-one that cannot. Now, Sir, suppose each company of emigrants to this place bring a like proportion of illiterate persons into the Colony, then what state, think you, it must be in? But again, Sir: I am greatly mistaken if this Colony is not, for several years yet to come, mostly to be peopled with slaves sent out by their present owners, without any education themselves, and without means and very little desire to have their children instructed; and add to the above, that this people is planted in the midst, and are daily conversant with, a people that are not only heathen, but a people extremely partial in favor of their grovelling superstition. My dear Sir, this being the case, whether is it probable that they will come over to us, or we go down to them? To me the latter is the most likely, as it is the very essence of human nature to seek the lowest depth of degradation. Permit me to say, Sir, there must be a great revolution in this Colony before it can have a salutary influence on the surrounding natives; that is, before it can have a moral influence over them.'[G]
Subsequent accounts, I am happy to state, present a better aspect in relation to the education of this outcast and persecuted people: their wants, however, are only partially supplied.
The annual increase of the free colored and slave population in the United States is variously estimated from sixty to seventy-five thousand. The American Colonization Society proposes the annual removal of this vast body,—and more, if it be possible,—provided the energies and patronage of the General Government be enlisted in this expulsive crusade. Now, suppose the entire transportation effected, let any candid man decide how extremely difficult, not to say impracticable, it would be to discipline and instruct such an overwhelming mass of ignorance, or any considerable portion of it—and how pernicious must be the consequences to the colony and the natives, if it should not receive immediate culture!
Secondly. It is neither certain nor probable that, allowing all that is assumed by colonizationists, the influence of secular and religious instruction would be sufficient to restrain the selfish desires and knavish propensities of those whose main object is, not to evangelize the natives, but to secure, by a summary process, competence and power for themselves. Indeed, their juxtaposition with the natives would be eminently calculated to induce the fever of avarice, and to generate the lust of dominion. It is well known that so eager are the colonists to acquire a rapid accumulation of wealth, by trafficking their paltry beads and poisonous rum and tobacco for ivory, camwood and gold dust, it is with the utmost difficulty any considerable portion of them are persuaded to cultivate the soil and engage in agricultural pursuits. Thus we are presented with the disgraceful, if not singular spectacle of a rivalry in cunning and trickishness between a colony of soi-disant missionaries (really avaricious and unscrupulous foreigners) and the tribes who are to come under their pious pupilage. If equal dexterity in trade is not apparent, each party is equally pleased with its successful attempts at deception, and both renew the fraudulent commerce with fresh alacrity—the one to gain a new triumph, and the other to retrieve an old defeat. And this is the mode of colonizationists to evangelize Africa! and this their mode to suppress the slave trade! and this their mode to elevate the free people of color! and this their mode to emancipate the slaves! It combines the folly and absurdity of a farce with the solemnity and murderment of a tragedy.
Far be it from me to leave the impression upon the mind of the reader, from these representations, that all the colonists are actuated by the same selfish motives, or that they have exhibited any new and extraordinary traits of character in their commerce with the Africans. Many of them, I believe, are men who fear God and desire the welfare of his creatures: all of them have behaved as honorably, perhaps, and trafficked as equitably, as any other body of men, white or yellow, would have done in the same situation and under the same circumstances. Dishonesty in trade is no prodigy, even in this country. To bring accusations of fraud, cupidity and cunning against human nature, is not libellous. I am persuaded that robbery,—well contrived, deliberately executed robbery,—is perpetrated in every community among ourselves, without any due estimate of its moral turpitude, by reputable merchants and traders upon their customers, to a larger extent than all the avowed and heinous thefts collectively, which are committed against society. It is lamentable to see how studiously conscience and fair dealing are excluded from the secular business of the world. If we see, every day, illustrations of this dishonest conduct, given by men of refinement, intelligence and good character, what should we expect from those whose fetters have hardly fallen from their limbs; who have been systematically degraded by slavery; who have not consequently that lively sense of moral obligation which accompanies intelligence; who are beyond the influence of public sentiment, and surrounded by a barbarous people?
The establishment of a colony of speculators, then, to evangelize Africa, does not discover much wisdom or promise much success; but, on the contrary, exhibits a total blindness of vision and a most unfavorable aspect.
Let it be remembered, however, that rum and tobacco (two poisons which are exactly adapted to destroy both soul and body) are the principal articles given to the natives—because pertinaciously demanded by them—in exchange for their own. Their appetite for spirituous liquor, first created by the slave traders and subsequently excited by the colonists, is insatiate. Even the justly lamented ASHMUN, if I do not mistake, for I have not his letter now before me, was so imprudent in one of his epistles to the Board of Managers as to concede the fatal necessity of selling rum freely to the natives, in order to maintain a commercial intercourse with them. Rum they would have, or nothing; and rum they obtained then, and do now obtain. Any one who will take the trouble to read the advertisements in the Liberia Herald will discover that ardent spirits form a prominent item in the list of articles offered for sale. Of the sobriety of the colonists, however, common report speaks in the most gratifying manner; but as their number is to be increased by a redundant importation, we have reason to fear a declension of morals.
Thirdly. Colonizationists strenuously contend that our colored population are destined always to remain a degraded class in this country. If educated any where, they must be educated in Africa. We must take them in their ignorance, and just released from bondage, and translate them to another continent on the wings of the wind. Delay would be injurious to ourselves, and calamitous to them. They must go in large bodies—by thousands and tens of thousands annually—till the whole be expelled from our shores. For it seems, according to the logic of colonizationists, every individual tainted with black blood must be transported, to insure the regeneration of Africa! Neither fifty thousand, nor one hundred thousand, nor half a million of these missionaries will be able to accomplish the task; but two millions of slaves and four hundred thousand free people of color, and all their descendants in time to come, here—even little babes (pretty prattling reformers!) and children—the maimed, the halt, and the blind—all must be sent off—else alas! alas! for poor benighted Africa! This is no caricature. An ugly face is sure to quarrel with its own likeness. But what is the portrait worth, if it bear no resemblance to the living original? They who place themselves in a ridiculous attitude must not claim exemption from ridicule.
Let us turn to the picture once more. It is worth our while to contemplate it a few moments longer.
What do we see? More than one-sixth portion of the American people—confessedly the most vicious, degraded and dangerous portion—crowded on the shores of Africa, by means which are hereafter to be considered, and at an expense which we shall not stop now to calculate, for the purpose of civilizing and evangelizing Africa, and of improving their own condition! Here, then, are two ignorant and depraved nations to be regenerated instead of one!—if we may call all the natives that occupy that vast continent a nation—two huge and heterogeneous masses of contagion mingled together for the preservation of each! One of these nations is so incorrigibly stupid, or unfathomably deep in pollution, (for such is the argument,) that, although surrounded by ten millions of people living under the full blaze of gospel light, and having every desirable facility to elevate and save it, it never can rise until it be removed at least three thousand miles from their vicinage!—and yet it is first to be evangelized in a barbarous land, by a feeble, inadequate process, before it can be qualified to evangelize the other nation! In other words, men who are intellectually and morally blind are violently removed from light effulgent into thick darkness, in order that they may obtain light themselves and diffuse light among others! Ignorance is sent to instruct ignorance, ungodliness to exhort ungodliness, vice to stop the progress of vice, and depravity to reform depravity! All that is abhorrent to our moral sense, or dangerous to our quietude, or villanous in human nature, we benevolently disgorge upon Africa for her temporal and eternal welfare! We propose to build upon her shores, for her glory and defence, colonies framed of materials which we discard as worthless for our own use, and which possess no fitness or durability! Admirable consistency! surprising wisdom! unexampled benevolence! As rationally might we think of exhausting the ocean by multiplying the number of its tributaries, or extinguishing a fire by piling fuel upon it.
Lastly. Any scheme to proselytize which requires for its protection the erection of forts and the use of murderous weapons, is opposed to the genius of christianity and radically wrong. If the gospel cannot be propagated but by the aid of the sword,—if its success depend upon the muscular power and military science of its apostles,—it were better to leave the pagan world in darkness. The first specimen of benevolence and piety, which the colonists gave to the natives, was the building of a fort, and supplying it with arms and ammunition! This was an earnest manifestation of that 'peace on earth, good will to man,' which these expatriated missionaries were sent to inculcate! How eminently calculated to inspire the confidence, excite the gratitude, and accelerate the conversion of the Africans! Their 'dread of the great guns of the Islanders,' (to adopt the language of Mr Ashmun,) must from the beginning have made a deep and salutary impression upon their minds; and when, not long afterward, 'every shot' from these guns 'spent its force in a solid mass of living human flesh'—their own flesh—they must have experienced a total regeneration. Bullets and cannon balls argue with resistless effect, and as easily convert a barbarous as civilized people. One sanguinary conflict was sufficient to spread the glad tidings of salvation among a thousand tribes, almost with the rapidity of light!—But even irony, though appropriate, is painful. I forbear.
But—says an objector—these reflections come too late. The colony is planted, whatever may be its influence. What do you recommend? Its immediate abandonment to want and ruin? Shall we not bestow upon it our charities, and commend it to the protection of Heaven?
I answer—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. But let it henceforth develope itself naturally. Crowd not its population. Let transportation cease. Seek no longer to exile millions of our colored countrymen. For, assuredly, if the Colonization Society succeed in its efforts to remove thousands of their number annually, it could not inflict a heavier curse upon Africa, or more speedily assist in the entire subversion of the colony.
But—the objector asks—how shall we evangelize Africa?
In the same manner as we have evangelized the Sandwich and Society Islands, and portions of Burmah, Hindostan, and other lands. By sending missionaries of the Cross indeed, who shall neither build forts nor trust in weapons of war; who shall be actuated by a holy zeal and genuine love; who shall be qualified to instruct, admonish, enlighten, and proselyte; who shall not by their examples impugn the precepts, or subject to suspicion the inspiration of the Word of Life; who shall not be covered with pollution and shame as with a garment, or add to the ignorance, sin and corruption of paganism; and who shall abhor dishonesty, violence and treachery. Such men have been found to volunteer their services for the redemption of a lost world; and such men may be found now to embark in the same glorious enterprise. A hundred evangelists like these, dispersed along the shores and in the interior of Africa, would destroy more idols, make more progress in civilizing the natives, suppress more wars, unite in amity more hostile tribes, and convert more souls to Christ, in ten years, than a colony of twenty-thousand ignorant, uncultivated, selfish emigrants in a century. Such a mission would be consonant with reason and common sense; nor could it fail to receive the approbation of God. How simple was the command of our blessed Saviour to his disciples!—'Go ye forth into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' Not—'Send out from among yourselves those whom you despise or against whom you cherish a strong antipathy; those who need to be instructed and converted themselves; those who are the dregs of society, made vicious and helpless by oppression and public opinion; those who are beyond the reach of the gospel in a Christian land; those whose complexions are not precisely like yours, or who have any personal blemishes whatever that excite your dislike;—send out all these to evangelize the nations which sit in darkness and in the regions of the shadow of death!'
Denham, Clapperton, and Lander, travellers in Africa, represent the natives in a light most favorable for the introduction of christianity; as eager to learn and become a civilized and great people like the Europeans. Excepting the followers of Mohammed, they are not tenacious of their forms of religious worship; and a considerable portion of them are totally indifferent to devotional exercises. It seems apparent, that the fruits of a mission in Africa would be thrice as numerous as those of one in India, because the obstacles to be surmounted are far less formidable.
But—says the objector—the climate of Africa is fatal to white men.
So is the climate of India. But our missionaries have not counted their lives dear unto themselves; and, as fast as one is cut down, another stands ready to supply his place.
I do not believe that the Creator has immoveably fixed the habitations of any people within a boundary narrower than the circumference of the globe. I believe that rapid transitions from intensity of heat and cold, and cold and heat, are destructive to animal life; but I also believe that the human body is easily acclimated, in any region of the world. I believe the time is swiftly approaching when empires and continents shall as freely commingle their population as do states and neighborhoods. To limit or obstruct this intercourse, is to impoverish and circumscribe human happiness. Civilization will remove those causes which now engender pestilence and death, and neutralize the effects of atmospherical contagion.
Hence it will be seen that I do not assail the Colonization Society, as many others have done, simply because the settlement at Liberia is unhealthy. It is true, the mortality among the emigrants has been excessive; and so it was among the first settlers of New-England. But the climate of New-England is no longer pestiferous; and the climate of Africa will grow sweet and salubrious as her forests disappear, and the purifying influences of Christianity penetrate into the interior. I expressly contend, however, that it is murderous, indiscriminately to colonize large bodies of men, women and children, in a foreign land, before the natives are to some extent elevated by missionary effort: and therefore I consider the Colonization Society as responsible for the lives of those who have perished prematurely at Liberia.
But the objection is fallacious. If white missionaries cannot, black ones can survive in Africa. What, then, is our duty? Obviously to educate colored young 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 their mission. If our free colored population were brought into our schools, and raised from their present low estate, I am confident that an army of christian volunteers would go out from their ranks, by a divine impulse and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to redeem their African brethren from the bondage of idolatry and the dominion of spiritual death.