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most indefinite extent, and in planting within its limits, a thriving Colony of more than twelve hundred people, taken indiscriminately from the different States of the Union. The doors of this settlement are now opened to the coloured population of Virginia, and it rests with the Legislature to determine, whether a wise policy, and the best interests of the State, do not require that suitable stimulants to emigration, should be offered to those, for whose especial benefit, this valuable asylum has been prepared.
It is deemed unnecessary to repeat what has already been said, of the character of the population in question, of its hopeless degradation, and its baneful influence, in the situation in which it is now placed.
The advantages that would result from its removal, not only to itself, but to the country it would leave, and to the country of its adoption, may very safely be assumed as a matter no longer admitting of a doubt. But, there is one consideration connected with the subject, so interesting, and sustained by so many of the most imposing sanctions, ever drawn to the support of legislative enactments, that your committee would feel itself guilty of the grossest neglect, were its present labours terminated, without claiming for it the attention it so justly merits.
Under the influence of a policy, already referred to, and justified by the necessity from which it sprung, the laws of Virginia have prohibited emancipation within the limits of the State, but on condition of the early removal of the individual emancipated. Do not justice and humanity require, that the rigours of this condition should be softened, as far as possible, by legislative interposition? And how can this be so effectually accomplished, as by providing a safe and suitable asylum, together with the means of emigration to it, for those whose removal from the State is positively enjoined? There can be no doubt of the wisdom and propriety of controling, and even entirely repressing the opera, tions of benevolence and philanthropy, when inconsistent with the public safety, or the public welfare. But, that Government would be justly chargeable with the extreme of despotism, that should attempt, without necessity, to interfere with the kind and generous feelings of the human heart; or, where the necessity exists, without tempering the rigour of its decrees with such
emollients as charity may suggest, and the means at its disposal may supply.
On the present occasion, however, policy fortunately points to the very course which humanity would require. In providing for those whose removal from the State, is made a condition of their emancipation, the means of emigration to Africa, the General Assembly will be applying, in the opinion of your Committee, the only safe and efficient remedy to an evil, whose presence and magnitude is acknowledged, and whose future increase is dreaded by all. If the effect of this operation should not be, as some have sanguinely hoped, the entire extinction of slavery, in the end, there can be very little doubt, that it will at least open a drain for our coloured population, of which individual humanity and legislative wisdom may avail themselves, to an extent amply sufficient for all the purposes of public security. But should it realise in its results, the anticipations that have sometimes been formed in relation to it, and draw from us, without a single interference with individual rights, or a single violation of individual wishes, the great mass of our coloured population, then indeed may Virginia look to it, as the surest means of restoring her to that ascendency among her sister States, of which it may be safely affirmed, that slavery only has deprived her.
Entertaining these sentiments, your committee cannot hesitate to recommend, in compliance with the suggestions of the memorials referred to them, the provision of a permanent fund for defraying, with proper limitations, the expenses of such free coloured people, as may choose to emigrate from the State of Virginia, to the settlement at Liberia. They are the more earn. est in this recommendation, from having learned that there are at this moment, nearly six hundred applicants for emigration, a large proportion of whom are natives of Virginia. On two for er occasions, the Legislature did not hesitate to contribute from the public funds, towards the encouragement of this patriotic undertaking, and it is not among the least pleasing of the recollections connected with the event, that while they were thus directly promoting so important an object, the effect of their example was to excite in some of their sister States, a spirit which has resulted, in one of them at least, in an annual appropriation for relieving itself from its free coloured population.
Your Committee are aware, that this whole business is, as yet, in some degree, a matter of experiment; and they would of course deem it inexpedient for the State of Virginia, at once, to engage in it to the full extent, that may ultimately be required of her. But enough has been demonstrated to justify a beginning by a small annual appropriation, at all times subject to the control of the Legislature; and this appropriation may hereafter be either withdrawn or increased, as its results shall be found injurious or beneficial.
In looking around for some special fund that may most properly be set apart for this object, the attention of your Committee, has been particularly drawn to that portion of the public revenue derived from the annual sales of coloured convicts. Though small in amount, it is nevertheless sufficiently large for the experiment proposed; and its peculiar origin, springing as it does, from the crimes and the misfortunes of our coloured population, would seem to recommend it as particularly appropriate for improving the condition of that population, and for gradually relieving the State from the present evils, and the future dangers, inseparable from its existence and probable increase within her limits. Your Committee accordingly recommend the adoption of the following resolutions:
1. Resolved, That it is expedient to provide for the removal of the free coloured people of Virginia to the Coast of Africa.
2. Resolved, That the Committee of Finance be directed to prepare a bill appropriating to this purpose, so much of the annual revenue as arises from the sales of convicts.
We have long desired to see State Colonization Societies, auxiliary to the Parent Institution, established throughout the Union, and organized on such a plan, as to secure the greatest possible results. We have regarded the object of our Society as truly NATIONAL, and demanding for its full accomplishment, the energies and resources of the nation Eleven State Societies have been already established. The following plan for a GENERAL ORGANIZED SYSTEM, Was recently submitted to the Board of Managers, by the Rev. Isaac Orr, General Agent of the Society, and after due
consideration, was unanimously adopted; and is now earnestly recommended to the attention of all the friends of our cause. Why may not this system be put into actual and vigorous operation in the course of the present year? Is there any thing which more imperiously claims the thoughts and efforts of every humane, patriotic, or religious mind?
Plan for the establishment of State Colonization Societies, with Subordinate Associations throughout the Union.
1. That the State Societies be direct Auxiliaries to the General Society, and that it be recommended that each State Society should, by its constitution, determine to see that a Society, auxiliary to itself shall be formed, and kept in efficient activity, in each county in the state, from each of which a delegate shall be a manager of the State Society. The reasons for this latter provision, are, that the members of the State Society, being on the ground, and coming indeed from all parts of the State, can best discern, and seize upon the various facilities, which will enable them to form County Societies most readily; that they can, on the same account, do much without incurring the expense of employing an agent; and that if an agent must be employed, they have the best means of selecting one that is suitable, who being on the ground can perform the duties of his office without incurring the travelling expenses necessary to be incurred by an agent of the General Society.
2. That it be recommended to each County Society, to see that Societies auxiliary to itself be formed and kept active in every town or district in the County, from each of which a delegate shall be a manager of the County Society. The reasons for this are the same as in the preceding article.
3. That the annual meetings of the Town and District Societies, be in regular order, with regard to places, and in immediate succession; that as far as practicable, the same order and succession be observed with regard to the meetings of the various State Societies, to the end, that an agent of the General Society may attend them all in succession, as far as practicable; and that the meetings of the State Societies immediately precede. the annual meeting of the General Society.
4. That the monies of the Town and District Societies, be generally collected directly before their annual meetings; that
they be transferred to the County Societies, by their Delegates to the meeting of that Society; that the monies of the County Societies, be collected and transferred in the same manner, to the State Society; and that the monies of the various State Societies, be collected and transferred in the same manner, as far as practicable, to the General Society.
The object of this article, is to save expense and embarrassment, in the collection of monies for the General Society.
5. That the various Societies make it the object of their most strenuous efforts, to collect funds sufficient to convey immediately to the Colony of Liberia, every coloured person of suitable age, and suitable qualifications, that is willing to go; that, with the attainment of this object, they will be satisfied; and that they combine and increase their efforts, until this object is fully accomplished.
6. That inasmuch as it must be deemed a leading object of this Society, to diffuse information, and exert an influence, by means of the press, it be earnestly recommended to the various Societies, to circulate as much as possible, the different publications of the Society, to obtain subscriptions for the Repository; to collect and transmit the payments for that work, with the contributions to the funds of the Society; and for compensation and encouragement in this undertaking, which may be performed almost without trouble by the collectors of the Town and District Societies, they are authorized by the Agent and Publisher (Mr. James C. Dunn, Georgetown, D. C.) of the Repository, to retain twelve and a half per cent. on all payments for that work collected.
The reasons, in brief, in favour of the whole system now recommended, are, that it contains in itself, the principles of its own life, and its own activity; that on this account, it avoids the expense and trouble of an extraneous influence; that it will be relieved of the various irregularities and embarrassments unavoidable by any other system less general in its character; and that as a ground of safe dependence for the Society, it will procure an income of much greater amount, and greater uniformity.