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has been provided, to which the free people of colour may be safely removed; a Colony has been planted, and based, it is believed, on a foundation permanent and stable. Your memorialists hazard nothing in the assertion, that history has furnished no instance of a Colony, either in ancient or modern times, which has flourished to the same extent, within so short a period, as the one established by the Society on the Coast of Africa. To this Colony more than 1400 (including those liberated and the late expedition) free negroes have been with their own consent, already removed, and notwithstanding the numerous misrepresentations which have been floating through the country, with regard to its languishing condition, and the dangers and hardships and sufferings, to which emigrants are exposed on their arrival thither, there are numbers more, who are ready and anxious to depart, whenever the Society can afford them the means of transportation.
The establishment of this Colony, and the unparalleled prosperity which has thus far attended it, constitute in the opinion of your memorialists, an ample refutation of all the objections, which have at different times, and in different forms, been raised to the practicability of the scheme. They have silenced in a measure, the insinuations of lukewarm friends, and the cavils of open enemies. The Society is daily receiving a new accession of firm and able advocates. Auxiliaries for the purpose of increasing its funds, and advancing its object, are multiplying in almost every State of the Union, and in none more rapidly than in Virginia. A deep and heartfelt interest in its behalf, seems to have been awakened from one extremity of the land to the other. In its successful progress it has arrested the attention, not of individuals merely, but of the National and State Legislatures. Whithersoever indeed it has directed its course, if all opposition has not retired before it, it has at least to some good extent, gained the confidence and support of the candid, the liberal, and the reflecting.
Nor is this to be wondered at. The American Colonization Society cannot fail, when properly examined, of enlisting in its behalf, the best wishes and noblest exertions of the patriot, because its operations are directly calculated to elevate the character, and ensure the domestic peace and prosperity of the country. It may be safely assumed, that there is not an individual in the
community, who has given to the subject a moment's consideration, who does not regard the existence of the free people of colour in the bosom of the country, as an evil of immense magnitude, and of a dangerous and alarming tendency. Their abject and miserable condition is too obvious to be pointed out. All must perceive it, and perceiving it, cannot but lament it. But their deplorable condition is not more obvious to the most superficial observer, than is (what is far worse, and still more to be dreaded,) the powerful and resistless influence which they exert over the slave population. While their character remains what it now is, (and the laws and structure of the country in which they reside, prevent its permanent improvement,) this influence must of necessity be baneful and contaminating. Corrupt themselves, like the deadly Upas, they impart corruption to all around them. Their numbers too, are constantly and rapidly augmenting. Their annual increase is truly astonishing, certainly unexampled. The dangerous ascendancy which they have already acquired over the slaves, is consequently increasing with every addition to their numbers; and every addition to their numbers, is a substraction from the wealth and strength, and character, and happiness, and safety of the country. And if this be true, as it unquestionably is, the converse is also true; the danger of their undue influence, will lessen with every diminution of their numbers; and every diminution of their numbers, must add, and add greatly, to the prosperity of the country. To remove them, therefore, is truly the dictate of patriotism.
Great, however, as are the benefits which the Colonization Society promises to bestow upon this country, by removing beyond its limits, a class of the population which all acknowledge to be idle, useless and dangerous, they are by no means greater than the benefits which it will bestow upon the individuals who compose that class. The Society has been termed a benevolent institution; but this appellation it would not deserve, if it did not leave the free negro in a far more enviable condition in Africa, than that in which it finds him in America. In the removal of the free negro, his happiness ought to be consulted; and the Society has consulted his happiness. It has provided him an Asylum in a fertile country, and in a salubrious climate. It takes
him from the land in which he is an alien and an outcast, and restores him to the country from which his fathers were originally torn, by the hand of violence. It wipes from his character, the obloquy which here rests upon it, and opens before his vision a bright prospect of usefulness, and happiness, and freedom. In a word, it translates him from "darkness into light." In confirmation of the truth of the above remarks, your memorialists confidently appeal to the past and present prosperous condition of the Colony itself. They appeal to the industry and enterprising spirit of the Colonists; to their numerous works of public utility; to their flourishing schools; to their expanding commerce; to their increasing wealth; to their mild and wholesome government. They appeal too, to the fact, that the Colonists are constantly and earnestly imploring their brethren on this side the Ocean, to come over to their infant settlement, that they may share in their prosperity and happiness. These facts speak for themselves: they clearly evince, that the removal of the free people of colour is as beneficial to them, as to the country which they leave behind.
But, this is not all. Your memorialists might go on to exhibit the tendency of the Society to deliver Africa from the thraldom of barbarism, under which that unfortunate portion of the globe has for so many centuries been groaning. The whole history of the misfortunes of that country, may be comprised in one word, the SLAVE TRADE. It is this, that has paralyzed her physical and moral energies, and it is this, which has brought upon this country a deadly and a lasting curse. But, the Colony planted by the Society has already done much, and will yet do more, towards the suppression of that inhuman and nefarious traffic, not so much by the force of arms, as by the moral influence which it has exerted, and will continue to exert, over the surrounding native tribes. It has kindled in Africa the light of civilization and christianity, which sooner or later, must shine over every portion of that ill-fated and unhappy continent. In whatever aspect, therefore, the cause of colonization be considered, it does, in the opinion of your memorialists, address its claims alike to the Patriot, the Philanthropist, and the Christian; for, it is emphatically the cause of Liberty, of Humanity, of Religion. In this age of expansive and expanding benevolence.
when the streams of charity are flowing in ten thousand channels through the country, the wisdom of man has devised no scheme so comprehensive in its benevolence, so overflowing in its blessings, as the scheme of the Colonization Society. It has been justly and eloquently termed "a circle of philanthropy, every segment of which tells and testifies to the beneficence of the whole."
At the same time, however, that your memorialists are impelled by the interest which they feel in the cause of the Society, to speak of it in terms of high commendation, and to represent it as rapidly growing, as it certainly is, in the confidence of the Américan public, they are by no means unaware, that it has still to contend with opposition the most violent, and that too, from men of distinguished abilities. It is insisted in the first place, that the scheme of the Society, however plausible it may appear in the eyes of a few misguided philanthropists, is manifestly impracticable; and in the second place, that the execution of this scheme, even if it be practicable, is fraught with danger to the body politic. The reasons which have been urged to sustain the first of these objections, such as the difficulty of obtaining emigrants, the insalubrity of the climate of Africa, the hostile character of the native tribes, and so on, having been applied repeatedly to the best of all tests, the test of experience, have been demonstrated to be totally and altogether erroneous. second objection may be resolved into this; that the Society, under the specious pretext of removing a vicious and noxious. population, is secretly undermining the rights of private property.
This is the objection expressed in its full force, and if your memorialists.could for a moment believe it to be true in point of fact, they would never, slave-holders as they are, have associated themselves together for the purpose of co-operating with the Parent Society; and far less would they have appeared in the character in which they now do, before the Legislative Bodies of a slave-holding State. And, if any instance could be now adduced, in which the Society has ever manifested even an intention to depart from the avowed object, for the promotion of which it was originally instituted, none would with more willingness and readiness, withdraw from it their countenance and
support. But, from the time of its formation, down to the present period, all its operations have been directed exclusively to the promotion of its one grand object, namely, the colonization in Africa, of the FREE PEOPLE OF COLOUR of the United States. It has always protested, and through your memorialists it again protests, that it has no wish to interfere with the delicate but important subject of slavery. It has never, in a solitary instance, addressed itself to the slave. It has never sought to invade the tranquillity of the domestic circle, nor the peace and safety of society. It would view the interference of Congress on this subject, as unconstitutional; as a flagrant and unjustifiable usurpation of the rights of the slave-holding States. There is no occasion, therefore, why the people of Virginia should manifest a hostile disposition towards the Society, since it has so often and so solemnly disclaimed all intention of intermeddling, either directly or indirectly, with the private property of individuals, and since no instance in which it has deviated from its primary and original design, has ever yet occurred.
In connexion with this subject, your memorialists beg leave to mention, that by an act of the Virginia Legislature, passed in 1805, emancipated slaves forfeit their freedom by remaining for a longer period than twelve months, within the limits of the Commonwealth. This law, odious and unjust as it may at first view appear, and hard as it may seem to bear upon the liberated negro, was doubtless dictated by sound policy, and its repeal would be regarded by none with more unfeigned regret, than by the friend of African Colonization. It has restrained many masters from giving freedom to their slaves, and has thereby contributed to check the growth of an evil already too great and formidable. Some, it is true, overlooking all considerations of policy and of prudence, and yielding only to the strong impulse of their own feelings, regardless of the consequences, do not hesitate to turn their slaves loose upon society, who, in a short time become, as they almost universally do, a burden to themselves, and a nuisance to all around them. But, in denying these people a residence in Virginia, the General Assembly provided no asylum for them elsewhere, and hence it has come to pass, that petitions after petitions for permission to reside within the State, are annually presented to the Legislature. The