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In one of the ramifications of Mr. Birney's manifesto, he undertakes to say, that "Colonization principles have in a great degree paralyzed the power of the truth, and of the ministry at the South.” Having, we suppose, before proved to his own satisfaction the first part of this imputation, lie allows the Society a breathing spell, and fastens on the ministers; who, he gives us to understand, are regarded as "blind watchmen, dumb dogs that cannot bark, sleeping, lying down to slumber," except, it may be hoped, some whom Mr. B. knows to be men of the most sterling principle." The offence, it seems, of the obnoxious clergymen, is that they have married ladies who own slaves. Is Mr. B. serious in denying the rite of matrimony as between pious men and slaveholding women? This is carrying "proscription" rather far, considering his horror at alleged proscription in other quarters. To such a text the following note is appropriate:
“I have heard it stated, and have no reason to doubt the fact—that a member of a Christian church, in the State of Mississippi, was heard to say that he would be delighted at the opportunity of acting as Executioner to a distinguished abolitionist of New Y rkif I mistake not, a member of the same church.”
It is lamentable that a gentleman of Mr. Birney's standing should admit such gossip into a grave, laboured argument. The ministers of religion may however congratulate themselves that a philosopher so fond as Mr. B. of building systems on isolated examples, had not charged them as a body with thirsting for Abolition blood.
"When I assumed,” says Mr. Birney, “an agency for the American Colonization Society, one of the grounds upon which I mainly rested my hopes of success was the co-operation of ministers of religion and laymen iju their example of immediate emancipation and transmission of their slaves to Liberia."
Without dwelling on the reflection suggested by this extract, viewed in connexion with other parts of Mr. B's. letter, that the first practical notion of emancipation was presented to his mind by the plan of the Society, we proceed to express our great surprise that the reasonable hopes to which he adverts, appear to have been totally frustrated. We had been prepared for a very different result by the abundant and constantly increasing evidence of an inclination on the part of the slaveholder to liberate his slaves, when any admissible plan for the future disposition of them should be exhibited; and indeed by Mr. Birney's own statement, before alluded to, that a large, though by him understated, number of slaves had been manumitted and sent to Liberia.
Mr. B. persists, however, in the belief that advantage has not been taken of the "just way for Christian emancipation (which] had, in the providence of God” been opened, and invokes the reader to "hear the reasons.” These are given in the form of a dialogue between an agent of the society and a Christian slavebolder; though he remarks, “I will not say that the whole of the above argument thrown for convenience into the form of a dialogue, was presented on any single occasion during my agency in the South West.” The defence of the Society by Mr. Birney, is on the whole, much stronger in this effort, than in that mentioned in a former part of his letter; and it is therefore perhaps to be regretted that he did not always prefer dialogising to public speaking. He has omitted, however, one topic, of which the proper use must, we cannot but think, have been effective with the other party to the dialogue. When the Christian slaveholder objected that Liberia was unsuited to the reception of colonists on an extensive scale of emigration, why did not Mr. Birney, instead of evading the force of the objection by an irritating resort to the argumentum ad hominem, poiut out the duty of Christian slaveholders to aid the Parent Society in increasing the capacity of the colony for new aceessions? Ap
individual who favoured manumission only as connected with colonization, might well decline to emancipate his own slaves, while he saw the ability of the Society to colonise, lagging behind the applications on their list of proposed emigrants. It has been often and in various forms proclaimed that to use, Mr. Birney's own language in this very letter,"emigrants offered themselves in greater numbers than the means of the society were competent to send out;" and that the Managers need pecuniary aid not merely for the conveyance and subsistence of the emigrant, but for raising establishments at Liberia, which they deem to be essential to his moral, social, and religious improvement. On such annunciations, an agent of less than Mr. Birney's former zeal for Colonization might surely have framed an appeal not likely to be disregarded by Christian slaveholders.
It may be noticed as one of many illustrations of Mr. Birney's incon. sistency in reasoning, that though he had shortly before complained of laws in some slaveholding State or States prohibiting the instruction of slaves, and though in this dialogue the complaint is repeated, yet in immediate connexion with the renewal of the reproach, he exclaims, "And how great is the absurdity to educate in bonds those who are intended to be free!" If he means to abandon the complaint, and to stand by the ejaculation, he must be understood to denounce, not only in general, the instruction, whether religious or moral, of slaves, but even in cases in which the owner intends their speedy manumission. If Mr. B.'s phraseology were not rather too nervous for imitation, we might say, how great is the "absurdity'' of making slaves free, without having used whatever time and opportunity could be obtained to qualify them by education for the fullest enjoyment of the blessings of liberty!
We come now to the second general head of Mr. Birney's letter:
" I now propose,” says Mr. B., “in the second place to speak of the influence of the spirit of colonization upon the free people of color. It will be admitted, I think, by every one acquainted with its history, that it originated in feelings of kindness towards the colored people as well as in prospects of future good to the whites.* So long ago as 1777, Mr. Jefferson proposed to the Legislature of Virginia, that all the offspring of slaves, born after that time, should be free at their birth—brought up at public expense-educated according to their geniuses, to the arts, sciences, or tillage—and furnished with every convenience for emigration to such a place as might be provided for them. MR. JEFFERSON WAS BUT A LITTLE DISTANCE IN THE REAR OF THE ABOLITIONISTS OF THE PRESENT DAY-HIS SCHEME EMBRACING AN IMMEDIATE ABROGATION OF SLAVERY, EXCEPT IN REFERENCE T THE SLAVES THEN IN BEING; AND LEAVING EMIGRATION, AS IT WOULD SEEM RIGHT IT SHOULD BE, ENTIRELY TO THE OPTION OF THE COLORED MAN. It did not wring from the weak their “consent" to removal, by presenting the alternative of hopeless slavery on the one hand, and banishment from their native land on the other; but LEFT THEM FREE, TO CHOOSE WHETHER THEY WOULD REMAIN HE? E AS FREEMEN, OR MIGRATE, IN THE SAME CHARACTER, TO ANOTHER HOME THAT WOULD PLEASE THEM BETTER. This plan, taken in connexion with Mr. Jefferson's sentiments expressed elsewhere, on the subject of slavery, leaves no doubt that the primordia of colonization originated in charitable feelings towards those who wer suffering before his eyes; for, whatever may have been Mr. Jefferson's sentiments on other subjects, wherever human liberty or national justice was restrained, he was the friend and advocate of all from whom it was withheld, be they white or red or black.”
The stress here laid on Mr. Jefferson's authority, has induced us to ascertain by reference to his writings the grounds of the claim that he is the parent, "pulchrioris filiæ," of modern Abolitionism, and of the assertion that his views of manumission did not involve deportation. The reader's attention is requested to the portions of the foregoing extract which we have caused to be printed in capital letters.
In the “Notes on the State of Virginia," p. 143, 144, (Boston edit.
* The reader will recollect Mr. Birney's theory of the “total incongruity.”—EDIT. Repos.
1832, 18mo. p. 280) Mr. Jefferson thus describes a part of the plan proposed in 1777 for revising the laws of that Commonwealth:
"To emancipate all slaves born after passing the Act. The bill reported by the revisors does not itself contain this proposition; but an amendment containing it was pre‘pared, to be oifered to the legislature whenever the bill should be taken up, and further directing that they should continue with their parents to a certain age, then be brought up at the public expense, to tillage, arts or sciences, according to their geniuses, till the • females should be eighteen, and the males twenty-one years of age, when they should be
COLONIZED to such place as the circumstances of the time should render most proper, send. ing them out with arms, implements of household and handicraft arts, seeds, pairs of the useful domestic animals, &c., to declare them a free and independent people, and extend to them our alliance and protection, till they have acquired strength; and to send • vessels at the same time to other parts of the world for an equal nunber of white inha* bitants; to induce whom to migrate hither, proper encouragements were to be proposed. • It will probably be asked. why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state, and thus save the expense of supplying by importation of white settlers the vacancies they will leave? Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections • by the blacks of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions ' which nature has made; and many other circumstances will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the exterm nation of one or the other
To these objections, which are political, may be added others which are physical sand moral.”
In a letter dated January 21, 1811, to Mr. John Lynd, Mr. Jefferson says:
“You have asked my opinion on the proposition of Ann Miffin, to take measures for procuring on the coast of Africa, an establishment, to which the people of color of these • United States might, from time to time, be colonized, under the auspices of different governments. Having long ago made up my mind on this subject, I have no hesitation in saying, that I have ever thought that the most desirable measure that could be adopted, for graduaily drawing off this part of our population-most advantageous for themselves as • well as for us; going from a country possessing all the useful arts, they might be the • means of transplanting them among the inhabitants of Africa; and would thus carry • back to the country of their origin, the seeds of civilization; which might render their sojournment here a blessing, in the end, to that country.”
The writer then states, that in the year 1803, he had received a letter from the Governor of Virginia, consuliing him “at the request of the legislature of that State*, on the means of procuring some such asylum to which those people might be occasionally sent;” and mentions bis unsuccessful overtures to the Sierra Leone company and to the Portuguese government. The letter concludes with the following words. “Indeed, nothing is more to 'be wished, than that the United States would, themselves, undertake to make ' such an establishment on the coast of Africa.t":
In the letter to Mr. John Holmes, before quoted, dated April 22, 1820, Mr. Jefferson says, on the subject of slavery in the United States:
“I can say with conscious truth, that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any practicable way. The • cession of that kind of property, for so it is misramed, is a bagatelle which would not * cost me a second thought if in that way a general emancipation and expatriation could « be effected: and gradually and with due sacrifices, I think it might be."-[Jefferson's Works, Vol. 4, p. 321.
In his memoir of his own life, begun in 1821, Mr. Jefferson, referring to bis plan of emancipation, says:
* For a correspondence on this subject between the Governor of Virginia and President Jefferson, beginning in the year 1801, and certain proceedings of the Legislature of that State connected with it, see African Repository, Vol. 8, p. 97-106.
† This letter will be found in the first Report of the American Colonization Society,
p. 13, 14.
“The bill on the subject of slaves, was a mere digest of the existing laws respecting • them, without any intimation of a plan for a future and general emancipation. It was
thought better that this should be kept back, and attempted only by way of amendment, • whenever the bill should be brought on. The principles of the amendment, however, 'were agreed on, that is to say, the freedom of all born after a certain day, and DEPORTAtion at a proper age. But it was found that the public mind would not yet bear the proposition, nor will it bear it even at this day. Yet the day is not distant when it must bear and adopt it, or worse will follow. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate, than that these people are to be free; nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, CANNOT LIVE IN THE SAME GOVERNMENT. Nature, havit, opinion, have drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation peaceably, and in such slow degree as that the evil will wear off insensibly, and their place be pari passu, filled up by free white labourers.” [Jefferson's Works, Vol. 1, p. 39, 40.
In a letter to Mr. Jared Sparks, dated February 4, 1834, Mr. Jefferson says, -"The article" [in the North American Review] "on the African • Colonization of the people of color, to which you invite my attention, I ' have read with great consideration. It is, indeed, a fine one, and will do ' much good. I learn from it more, too, than I had before known, of the
success and promise of that Colony." After mentioning as one rational object of establishing a colony on the coast of Africa, ihe introduction among the Aborigines of "the arts of cultivated life, and the blessings of
civilization and science;" he says, “to fulfil this object, the colony of • Sierra Leone promises well, and that of Mesurado adds to our prospect of success. ”-Ibid. Vol. 4, p.
388. He then states as the other rational object of African Colonization the removal to Africa of the whole colored population of the United States; and assigns his reasons for the opinion that it cannot be effected by a location on the coast of Africa; refers to his own plan of emancipation; and indicates St. Domingo as a suitable place for colonizing the deported individuals. But we hear nothing from Mr. Jefferson about the American Colonization Society's "wringing from the weak their 'consent to removal."
In the same letter, speaking again of his plan for getting rid of slavery, Mr. Jefferson says that it is
“By emancipating the after börn, leaving them on due compensation, with their mothers, until their services are worth their maintenance, and then putting them to industri. ous occupations, until a proper age for DEPORTATION. This was the result of my rel.ec* tions on the subject five and forty years ago, and I have never yet been able to conceive • any other practicable plan.” *'"In the plan sketched in the Notes on Virginia, no particular place of asylum was specified; because it was thought possible, that in the
revo utionary state of America, then commenced, events might open to us some one 'within practicable distance.”-[Ibid. Vol. 4, p. 389, 390,
From the foregoing citations it appears that in 1777, Mr. Jefferson proposed a plan for emancipating the slaves, of which one feature was, that at defined periods "they should be coLONIZED to such places as the circumstances
of the time should render most proper:" that he considered the emancipation of the slaves and their continued residence in the same country with the whites, as forbidden by invincible objections, and that such a project would be followed by convulsions which (would) probably never end but in the ex
termination of the one or the other race:" that twenty-eight years afterwards, while filling the office of President of the United States, he entered into negotiations to procure a Colonial asylum for manumitted slaves: that a few years subsequently he described Colonization to be "the most desirable
measure that could be adopted for gradually drawing off” our coloured population, and strongly advised that the United States would themselves under' take to make such an establishment on the coast of Africa:" that in 1820 he referred to a "general emancipation and expatriation,' in terms showing that he regarded their union in the same scheme as being the only "practicable
way" of relieving his country from the “heavy reproach" of African Slavery:* that in 1821, he characterized bis plan as combining emancipation and "deportation," and emphatically expressed the opinion that the black and white "races, equally free, cannot live in the same government:" and that three years after the last named period, referring again to the same plan, he speaks of DEPORTATION as a part of it. And yet, in the teeth of all these declarations, Mr. James G. Birney comes forward and asserts before the world that
“Mr. Jefferson was but a little distance in the rear of the abolitionists of the present day; that his scheme embraced an abrogation of slavery, except in reference to the slaves then in being; and LEAVING EMIGRATION, as it would seem right it should be, ENTIRELY TO THE OPTION OF THE COLORED MAN;" and that it left the colored People “free to choose whether THEY WOULD REMAIN HERE AS FREEMEN, or migrate, in the same character, to another home that would please them better”!
Palpable as this misrepresentation is, Mr. Birney's character forbids the conclusion that it is wilful. But it dispiays such gross inaccuracy, as to require from every reader, whose object is "the advancement of iruth,” suspicious scrutiny into all the statements and reasonings of a writer who can, in any instance, fall into such "indefensible error.”
It will not escape the reader's observation, that even had Mr. Jefferson expressed the opinion ascribed to him by Mr. B., and even, what is more important, were that opinion correct, it would not, nevertheless, sustain the objection which is raised. The offer of the Society to the Free People of Colour, is to send to Liberia such of them as are willing to go thither. Now, as their residence in the United States is, by general admission, attended with many vexatious circumstances, what harm does the Society do by proposing an alternative, even supposing such alternative to be ineligible?Their free choice between remaining as they are and accepting it, is not controlled by the fact of its being proposed. And so, too, in regard to such of the manumissions resulting from the incidental operation of the Society's scheme, as are conditioned on removal to the Colony. Is the slave injured by the option extended to him of continuing a slave or emigrating to Liberia? Surely not, though his deliberations may end in a preference of slavery. The Colonization Society, it should always be borne in mind, has neither, on the one hand, professed the doctrine that no slave ought to be manumitted except on the condition of deportation; nor has it, on the other, undertaken to condemn such laws of the State governments as prescribe that condition. By pursuing either of these courses, it would have deliberately infringed its own Constitution, and have been a volunteer impotent except for mischief.
After some compliments to the late venerable Dr. Finley's heart, and a counteracting depreciation of bis understanding; a suggestion that he held opinions "mingled with indefensible error and prejudice”(!!); an account of his colonizing plan; an allusion to that hack of poets and novelists, the Upas tree; and a contrast, equally original, between the government of Turkey and that of the United States; Mr. B. declares that in the former country,
* In the memorial of the American Colonization Society, subscribed by its President, the lamented Judge Washington, and submitted to the Congress of the United States in 1817, by Mr. John Randolph, of Virginia, the following language is held:
“The existence of distinct and separate casts or classes, forming exceptions to the gene• ral system of polity adapted to the community, is an inherent vice in the composition of • society, pregnant with baleful consequences, both moral and political, and demanding the utmost exertion of human energy and foresight to remedy or remove.”—[African R•pository, Vol. 8, p. 176.