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self and command the respect of others ; yet more, that, with his powers thus drawn out, he could give to the world the example of a moral, well ordered, and free comnunity, with wise laws, administered by efficient members, and not indebted to the white man for counsel or guidance ; and, reasoning on common principles of human nature, it was believed that such a colony would send an inviting light across the deep, that slaves would hear of it and be earnest to go, that masters would feel that there they might safely send them, and thousands would find their way to it unaided and of themselves, as men always succeed in arriving at any destination which they strongly desire to reach. In all this there is nothing visionary. The slender resources of the colony, though a discouragement, have proved a blessing ; the cornerstone has been slowly and surely laid ; and the time is not distant, when it shall be a matter of attraction, and interest, and rejoicing to the colored race in this country and the world.
These objections, which met the plan in the outset, being answered, it was prosperous and successful for a time. But the subject of slavery was kept before the public mind, and inquiry began to be made concerning the foundation of the master's right to the slave. If the possession came by inheritance, the father could not transmit to the son a stronger claim than he had himself ; if he bought from the slave-dealer, the trader could transfer only his own title ; and this came originally from the African chief, who destroyed and plundered some village, that he might sell his wretched captives for gunpowder and rum. His only claim was that of the robber to the goods he had stolen ; so that, on looking into the validity of deeds, it became tolerably clear, that, if the slave was a man and not an animal, he had the best right to himself, — a right of which he could not be dispossessed by any act of power. By such processes of reasoning, the idea of the right to emancipation became familiar to the public mind; and any thing which appeared to deny that right, or to assume that the slave was not in a condition to claim it or be the better for it, was looked on as an excuse for injustice and oppression. All at once, an attempt was made to persuade those who took a humane interest in the subject, that the colonization scheme maintained the unfitness of the slave to be free, and discouraged the hope that, under any circumstances, he could rise to the dignity and station of a man.
It was not easy to understand how this suggestion could gain credit, when the whole object of the society was to make him free, and to place him in circumstances propitious to the full development of his powers. To be sure, it went on the supposition that, as things are now, there is no place in this country where he can be situated thus. Go where he may, he encounters a cruel prejudice, which weighs him down like a millstone, excluding him from the honors and comforts of life, and reminding him, with perpetual insult, that he belongs to an inferior race ; a prejudice so deeply ingrained in the public mind, that many, who are kind and generous in other relations, are hard as the rock in this. Now, the question is, what shall be done for his relief ? Shall he submit to these heart-breaking sorrows in silence, waiting till the time shall come for a general change in the public feeling, which may not come till long after he is in the dust? or shall be take advantage of a way of escape that
he opens, and relieve himself, by passing to a more favored region, where none can stand above him or trample him down ? His master is desirous to send him to such a country, and he is desirous to go. Why should they not be gratified? What possible advantage can result to any one from keeping him in bondage, when he may as well be free ? If it be said, that these cases of occasional release exert an influence adverse to the more extensive deliverance which might give the same blessing to greater numbers, it might be well to show how the manumission of one can, by any imaginable effect, be unpropitious to the manumission of all. It should be remembered, that sending the slave to Africa is in itself an act of emancipation ; and, so far from being predicated on the idea that he never can be a self-sustained and energetic man, the whole theory of colonization is founded on the idea, that it is only his present condition which debases him, and if that can be changed, he will be intelligent, energetic, and happy as any of the sons of men. affords almost the only mode of immediate emancipation, recommending it as wisdom in the master and justice to the slave ; and yet there are many, who, for no reason except that some one has told them so, will maintain to the death, that colonization and emancipation are inconsistent with and hostile to each other.
We are well aware, that the free people of color in this
country have now a great prejudice against expatriation. This, they say, is their native land, and why should they leave it ? Ay, why should they leave it, if they can find an inducement to stay? Egypt was the native land of Moses and the Israelites; but their native air was not particularly good for their constitutions, and though they sometimes sighed for it in their discontent, they would doubtless have been sorry enough to have been taken at their word, and sent back again to the flesh-pots, cucumbers, and melons, not to speak of the brick-yards. We cannot see the especial fascination in any part of this country, which should make a separation from it so heart-rending. We apprehend, that, if our portion in it was like theirs, we should sound a retreat at the first opportunity, and without incurring the penalty of Lot's wife by looking back on the forsaken home. It passes our comprehension to discover what they can find here, in the way either of enjoyment or hope, that should be so difficult to resign. It is true, that better days may come in process of time ; but meanwhile, it would seem as well to go to better days wherever they can find them, even if beyond the sea. But this is matter of taste ; and if the colored citizens of America prefer their present condition, such as it is, no one asks them to leave it ; they are at perfect liberty to remain to the end of time, if such is their pleasure.
But there may be those who see better prospects opening before them in other regions, who, even if the chance of improving their condition were less than it is, would gladly embrace it, being strongly convinced that any change must be for the better. There is no more reason why they should be forced to stay than why others should be compelled to go ; and yet this constraint is imposed upon them, if they are deprived of this place of refuge. Should the colony be put down, they would be obliged to content themselves with what they have in this country, where, so far as we can understand, their portion and hope are as small and uninviting as ever fell to the lot of man. Now, while we should abominate the compulsion that forced any one to go, we cannot see that there is any less hardship in being required to stay unwillingly, as they must, if the wishes and predictions of many with respect to the colonies were made good. It is as a kind of emancipation that we are most interested in it; it has the advantage of being consistent with the law, acceptable to the masters, and,
as these considerations are not wholly disregarded by reasonable men, is more likely than any other form to be generally adopted.
There is a common impression, however, that these plans of colonization increase the prejudice against the colored race. Whether this impression is held by any in good faith, or simply given to others, it is not easy to say ; for bow any one in his senses can trace such an effect to such a cause is more than we can tell. Undoubtedly, the scheme of
. colonization admits that there is such a prejudice ; none lament it or suffer from it more than the colored race themselves ; but to say that colonization excuses, defends, or has any tendency to maintain it, is very much like the popular faith of childhood, which ascribes the origin of the wind to the agitation of the tree. It allows and deplores its existence, we mean so far as our observation and sympathy extend ; there may be those who think the prejudice natural, and not to be overcome ; but this view of the matter is not ours. We look on colonization as the only means at present existing to place the colored man where he shall not be crushed down with its weight, and it is chiefly for this very reason that we wish it success, and aid it with our best endeavours. If the inquiry be made, why we do not give battle to this prejudice, we answer, it is not because we do not condemn and deplore it, but because we have never seen prevailing ideas and feelings suddenly changed by direct assault ; and we think it better in general to help out those who are struggling with the waters, than to dam the current, or wait for it to run by.
Besides these objections, which are made to any plan of colonization, and which one would think would have as much force in reference to the British provinces as in their African application, much has been said in opposition to the colonial settlements now existing. We are told that they are unhealthy, and that great sacrifice of life has attended the efforts to plant them. It is true, that, in former days, many have perished in consequence of being suddenly transferred to a climate the peculiarities and demands of which they did not know. But it would not be easy to find a region on this earth where people will not sometimes die ; had there been such, it would by this time have been tolerably well peopled by emigration, as well as by its own supply. But while it is true, that the common doom of mortality extends to the African settlements, it is not easy to show that the waste of life is greater than, under similar circumstances, it would be in any other land. We find, when the facts are known with respect to the death of many enterprising travellers, that they became sick in consequence of thoughtless exposure to the nightly chill. So, in the colonies, while insufficient preparation was made to receive the emigrants, and physicians had not learned the proper treatment of local diseases, there was as much sickness and loss, perhaps, as at Plymouth in the earlier days. But as the settlements extend their accommodations, and medical men make themselves acquainted with the complaints which at first were new to them, the danger disappears, and the prudent are in as little danger as in their American home.
Another objection to Liberia is, that the inhabitants have not devoted themselves as much to the cultivation of the soil as might be desired. It is undoubtedly true, that this employment is more favorable to a healthy moral state than any other, though less attractive to indolence and ambition. As was intimated in the foundation of the Hebrew commonwealth, men engaged in agriculture are more likely to have that social equality, and that independence of feeling, which exert propitious influences to make and keep them free. But while any friend to a young republic would desire and recommend this employment for the great body of the people, it is obviously impossible to force it upon them ; they will, according to the common experience of human nature, turn their attention to the pursuit which promises immediate gain. If traffic and commercial advantages are within reach, these will at first prove most attractive; they will bring with them tastes not the most favorable to content, industry, or moral improvement and elevation. It is not till the sorrowful experience
many shows that every one cannot succeed in these pursuits, and that many blanks will be drawn to a single prize, that the quiet culture of the soil will be estimated as it deserves. But there is a stage of social progress in which the common illusion on this subject passes away. We may now see in New England how many are withdrawing themselves from the dusty and crowded paths of common life, from unprofitable trade and thronged professions, where the chances are many to one against them, to seek a subsistence in those agricultural pursuits, which, if less gainful in