Basic Writings of Nathaniel Peabody Rogers, American Radical Abolitionist
The following selections set of essays sets out Peabody's basic liberatory anti-politics: anarchism, antislavery, non-resistance, anti-sect Christianity, Indian rights, even animal rights.
An essay from the Herald of Freedom urging abolitionists to refrain from all participation in politics, on anarchist grounds.
[P]olitical action is of one spirit and intent with military. The weapons of both are violence, and the instrumentalities of both, bloodshed and murder.
What is government, after which all political action is aiming, but an armed battery? What is its voice, but the report of cannon - its sanctions, but the bayonet and the halter? . . . It is immoral to strike a man a man, or threaten him, or to ask the sherriff to do it for you - or the militia officer, or the governor as such - or the penal law-maker - or the voter. Moral action is addressed to the moral qualities of a moral being - and does not act physically on the body and animal senses. There is nothing reformatory in animal action. The very beasts are injured by this political sort of corrective and reform.
Good farmers are learning that there is a better way to treat their cattle than by blows. The hostler of intelligence and kindness, is ceasing to maul his noble horse. They are leaving off the practice of breaking steers and colts - for the reason that it is cruel - undeserved by the horse and, and unworthy of the employer, and because a whole horse or ox is better than a broken one. Political action is unfit even for brute animals. Is it fitter for man? Is humanity less susceptible of moral influences than what we call brutality? A politician is but a man driver, a human teamseter. His business is to control men by the whip and the goad. His occupation would be unlawf\ul and inexpedient toward even the cattle. [Writings, pp. 265-66]
"The Great Question of the Age"
[May 16, 1845]
It seems to me, to be, the question between Authority, on the one hand, and the coinvictions of the Understanding, on the other. Can mankind ascertain what is right, or must they be authoritatively told it - and implicitly obey what is told them - or pretend to obey, which is, I suppose, all they can do. That is the great question. I hope it will be agitated, and kept agitated, till the truth is so far established, and men get familiarized to it, that some improvement can be made in their character and condition. Popery and Freedom, which of them is right, and which shall be the guiding genius of Christendom.
Anti-Slavery goes, I think, for the overthrow of Popery in all its forms, and under all its disguises. It demands liberty for the slave, on the ground that humanity is entitles to be free - that freedom naturally and absolutely belongs to it. It refuses to rest the slave's claim to freedom, on any external authority, whatever. But from the slave's nature, and the nature of liberty, it demands liberty for the slave, as fitting for him, and essential to his happiness. Whether Constitutions of government - or any laws of states allow it him or not, or whether Scriptures sanction his enslavement or not. It demands liberty for him, because it regards liberty as good for him and slavery evil and hurtful. And when the opponents of this demand present sacred warrant for slavery, or scripture examples of slaveholding, Anti-Slavery refuses to consider the fact of the warranty or of the examples, and denies at once that they are any authority in the case. It refuses to inquire whether any text is in favor of slavery or not - or whether "holy men of old' held slaves or not, "as they were moved by the spirit." It denies to "holy men of old" the prerogative of settling this thing, for any body but themselves. It claims to the men of the present time to prerogative of settling it for themselves and attaches it to them as a duty. It is answered with charges of "Infidelity." To this charge it demurs, as Lawyers say, and says, "what of that?" What if it is Infidelity - what of that? Truth and Righteousness say, that charge of "Infidelity" is no answer at all, - and that Slaveholding must answer further.
But "Infidelity," says Authority, is an answer. If scripture warrants slaveholding, it is justifiable. Well, another question arises, who shall decide what Scripture does warrant. There is a good deal of Scripture - and there has been a good deal of compiling - a good deal of adopting and a good deal of excluding - to say nothing of very considerable translating from one language into another. All raising an infinitude of questions, as to the meaning of Scripture and as to what is Scripture. Who shall settle these questions. Mr. Brownson says, the Pope of Rome must settle them. Every Protestant sect says, the Priesthood must settle them, in their corporate capacity - after a "season of prayer." Here is Authority. It is all Popery, every item of it, the Protestant as well as Catholic. They differ, as Monarchy and Republicanism do. These differ in form - but they are both - government. The Republic hangs a man as sovereignly as a King does. And the individual has no voice in it. He is hanged, without his concurrence. The Protestants denounce Brownson as the advocate of arbitrary power. But are they not so, equally with himself? The Protestants refer to Scripture - and so do the Catholics. The Catholic makes the Church tantamount to Scripture, in Authority, and the Protestants receive Scripture interpretation, and compilation and selection, implicitly, through the hands of their corporation of Priesthood. They both equally deny to individuals the right and the competency of private judgment in any thing. And the answer of both to every unadopted truth, is Infidelity.
And what is this "Infidelity"? Why it is thinking for yourself. In other words - thinking at all. To think, is to be Infidel. To be implicit - and led ("by the blind") is religious. To think, or inquire - or look, is Infidel. To be anything savoring of moral intelligence, is Infidelity. To have the use of any moral faculty, is Infidel. Any thing, but gaping and swallowing. And indeed those involve an activity that is in derogation of thorough-going implicitness. A true believer should not exert his muscles "in and of himself." He should merely, not oppose the Pope's opening his mouth and putting down into his trustful stomach any thing His Holiness sees fit. I don't know but this is ther true way - or that we have any positive or intelligent act to do in this world, any more than the vegetables have. I should like to know, if it is allowable.
[From the Herald of Freedom of May 22, 1846]
At last the Country is involved in this favorite pastime of Kings. They are at War. The Government has involved the People in it. It has proclaimed War, and, so far as I can judge, has provoked it and brought it on. I don't mean any particular party has done it. All have done it - especially the party in power. I don't believe there was any cause for it. I don't believe the miserable occasion existed, that commonly exists. There was probably no more occasion for this strong country going to war with feeble Mexico, than for a six-foot Bully to have a fight with any feeble school boy. The great strong brute might exasperate the boy and put upon him, till he would have to show quarrel, if he had any resentment and spirit in him. And after the brute had got the boy to strike, he'd feel justified in falling upon him and smashing him up.
The nation ought to have more sense than to go to War, with any people - strong or weak. But a nation never has any sense. It is never anything but a great "Board." A great, wooden corporation. It has no sense, of course, any more than a smaller "board" has. If the nation had half wit, it would never get in such a scrape as War. It will do the country more than it can recover in a hundred years of successful industry after it is over.It would be as ruinous to the People, as a seven years' Lawsuit would be to a middling farmer. Look at some of the lesser results. The killings. Thousands of people get shot to death. Thousands get crippled for life with the hideous hardships and exposures of "the service." Multitudeds come home with an eye less than they went - or an arm or a leg, and go hobbling without, to the grave - compensated with a chance of telling what battles they were in, and with drink to make 'em forget their misery. Some of 'em will get a pension, along towards the grave, to buy the drink with. Then there is lots of widows - to say nothing of orphans. They say Marblehead is full of widows - wives of fishermen lost at sea. Last war, it is said, they were mightily multiplied by the fishermen going into the navy and army. The whole country will be one Marblehead. It will be marble-hearted, at least. War will indurate the general heart to petrifaction The press will harden it like the petrifying waters, in certain regions, turn every thing within their flow - things and animals, into adamant. And the widows will be nearly all poor folks's widows. The people killed will be generally working people, that will be missed by the country. The great folks wouldn't be. If they perished, they could easily be supplied - or if they wa'n't, the loss wouldn't be severe.
A breath can make them, as a breath has made
But a brave peasantry - the country's pride,
When once destroyed - can never be supplied.
I don't call them Peasantry, but the destruction of the working people is so much taken right out of a country. War's widows are generally theirs. Now and then an officer gets shot. His widow is looked after by the government. Congress will grant her a pension. The soldier's widows get their pensions in the Poor House. There doesn't occur any widows of Congress-men - or Secretaries or Presidents. War doesn't bereave their ladies. It is fighting makes the widows, not declaring the war. Congressmen declare the war and leave the people to fight it. It is the blood of the people that gets shed. It is their women that are made the widows and not the ladies of the Congress-men. A Statesman's Lady gets bereaved once in a while - but it is by her Lod's drink - or his duel. He hardly ever falls in battle. All he has to do with War is to declare it, and vote the lives and the money of the people to carry it on. Orphans, the war will make, acres of orphans. Motherless, as well as fatherless - for your war-widowhood is of the decaying sort. It thins off the widows, "worst kind." They don't "stay" widows long. That makes out the orphanage complete, on both sides. And a whole orphan - fatherless and motherless - is a pretty sight. War multiplies them. It breeds them.
There will be glory got, too. And it is time the country got a little glory. It is some time - getting to be - since we got any glory. Glory is amazing wholesome for these Republics! It made the old ones we read of, last. It will probably make this one immortal. And territory too. There wants a little territory. It is some time since there was any territory annexed. It might be well to have a little. This Mexico lays dreadful handy to the United States - all of it. And they are rather scant for land. Rather narrow contracted. If they could get the rest of the strip, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific, it would be handy. And they tell of Jewelry and Gold in the Meeting-houses off there in Mexico. It would be a pretty thing enough - if our people could get hold of some of them. May be they might be put into some of our meetin' houses. Oh there is no telling the profits of these wars!! England may be coaxed into the scrape. And that would help the matter. The more the merrier. We can afford to lick all creation - only get us mad enough. And we can be got so, after a while * * * *
Are the People aware that we are in that dreadful predicament, called War? That infernal, barbarous predicament - that relic habitude of barbarous ages and savage people! Do the New Hampshire people know the fact, and that slaughter is now mutually dealing out, on our South-western border, and the war fever beginning to inflame the whole country? The mad Government has applied a torch that may conflagrate the civilized globe. All our Christendom is combusitible, ready for explosion. They have touched match to the border of it. It wouldn't be strange, if in six months the world was in a blaze. The fire may not spread. It depends something on the wind. Lesser "matters" have "kindled" the greatest "fires." The fire has been set, as regardlessly as woodmenever put brand to a piece of clearing in a dry time. But it is vain for Truth to lift up its cry. Let them fight - as many as will.
[From the Herald of Freedom of Sept. 30, 1842]
"Sermons in stones, and books in running brooks," &c., weather-cocks in straws - every thing shows how the whole concern is going on. Only notice every thing, and you will see it. I have been struck, within the last four and twenty hours, with this ding-dong-belling, going on in the village. It means and shows a good deal. The bell is the tongue of the times. It not only tells that time is gone, and how much of it - but it tells the times, and how they go. "One man in his time," says Shake', "plays many parts." I thought this morning it was true of some bells. There is a poor dinging slave hung up in the belfry of parson Cummings' house of Rimmon in this village. (I speak as I do, because I want to bring familiarity and irreverence over the pretensions of such folks.) It has to play many parts. It plays one good patrt - when the hammer of the town clock strikes it. The tower, where it hangs, does one good service - showing the face of the clock to the villagers, and giving them the time of day. All else, that I now think of, is mischievous. The solemn, doleful monkish knells, wailed out on the people's ear, to tell them when parson Cummings is to commence his magnificent performances, to keep his Baptists from straying into the paths of of truth and righteousness. Not but what the Baptists are as good as any of the solemn sects. They have been the best of any, in their humble day, when they were persecuted. That is the only time any of the sects are ever good for any thing, and it is then comparatively only. That dismal go-to-meetin' summons too - that priestly, canting tone, rung out to the bewildered multitude to hear Knapp [?] play upon their fears. It sounds priestly and ghostly. Those who obey it follow a Jack-a-lantern. God bids them not follow such leads. They trifle with all the guidance He has kindly furnished them, who muster at such summonses. A dismal, funeral sound - as from the tombs. The human ear never ought to hear such sounds, any more than human eyes ought to be blasted with the sight of ghosts and apparaitions. It is not right, and every body, in their right mind, knows it! If you want to use a bell for honest purposes - ring it out, honestly, as you do when there is a fire. (that is another good use for the Baptist bell, I had forgotten.) Don't let it whine out, like a canting divine. It only dismalizes the people. They ought not to be dismalized. They can't repent truly, when they are. They are only scared. There is no saving repentence in fright, or in dismality.
The Baptist bell, - I heard it ringing another of its clerical cries this morning, summoning the solemn converts of Sunday to the sister Court House. A more rapid and secular ding-dong, this call to court, - as well as more honest. There is no monkery in ity. It is a devilish sound, to be sure, - full of quarrel and litigation, but it does not profess to be a sound from Heaven. How full of hurry it is! It calls to ruin - headlong ruin. Not the deep and everlasting destruction of the cathedral-going call, but ruin of estate and of temper, - which they in vain seek to to retrieve, by afterwards running to the meeting-house. The remedy is worse than the disease. When will mankind hearken to God, rather bthan to a human priesthood and its allies! The same bell can call to meetin' and to court, as handily as the same parson can perform at a Revival, and at opening the squabble of a Court Session. The tongue of the Reverend Bell and the Reverend Divine are alike versatile.
Another benefit I had forgotten in that belfry and steeple - a weather-cock on it tells the way of the wind. A minister's steeple is the very place for a weather-cock. There is one up in his pulpit, and the vain and steeple rod is not truer to the current. You can tell the way of the popular current to a certainty, by the heading of the pulpit weather-cock.
I like the cow-bell on the common, and the sheep-bell on the hill - and the dinner bell - and the railroad bell. That is a capital sound telling the starting of mighty cars - and the bell on the Steam Boat prow, ringing for a trip over the great Atlantic. I don't love the Factory Bell, or the State's Prison Bell, or the Court Bell, or the Sectarian meetin' bell. They all strike dismally on the heart of humanity.
[From the Liberty Chimes, September, 1845]
How can we ask freedom for the plantation slave, if the abolitionist himself may not be trusted with liberty of speech! If the advocates of humanity are not competent to meet together, and talk about freedom, without first being fettered, how can wild-impassioned men hope to live free amid the stern excitements of conflicting life!
It seems to me, abolitionists had better first ascertain, whether any degree of freedom is possible to themselves. Whether any liberty - the liberty of thought - is practicable to any of the race. Whether unfortunate humanity be not in fact, here on earth, incapable of self-regulation, and only to be kept in a state of endurable servitude, by fear of the aggregated brute force of Community. We have gone manacled from our birth, and have got to thinking chains are natural to us - and that they were born with us. They were born with us - or we with them, - but we better not have any more born so. We inherited fetters from our "fathers" - but we better not transmit them.
The right of speech - it is the right of rights - the paramount and paragon attribute of our kind. It is glorious among brutes, when it is free. The roar of the lion - it is majestic and sublime in his native desert. Not so, when he grunts under the stir of the poker, in the menagerie. The scream of the eagle, in the sky - or on the crag, where he lives and has his home - how unlike his most base croak, when they withold his allowance in the cage that you may hear him make a noise. The one is free speech, in "free meeting." The other, speech-making, under chairs, boards and business-committees. How different the wild note of the fife-bird, in the top of the high pine, when the setting sun awakens her throat after the shower, - how different, from the chitter of the poor caged canary, in the pent-up street of the city. But illustration fails. The glory and beauty of freedom cannot be illustrated. It must be witnessed - experienced, and felt.
Speech is the only terror of tyrants. It is the thing they cannot control or encounter. Brute force has no tendency to match it. "Four hostile presses," said Bonaparte - the most formidable brute the modern world has seen - "are more to be dreaded, than a hundred thousand bayonets." So, he might have said, is one hostile press - if it is free. And if it is free, it will be hostile to tyranny. It is as hostile to "boards," as it is to bayonets, and as formidable. It is the "king of terrors" to both. The Board has nothing to oppose to it, but the bayonet. The bayonet is the Board's argument, - and only argument. A Board without a bayonet, is a hornet without a sting - or a toothless hound. But it will try to worry and bark down free speech, if it cannot bite. And as the bayonet is the Board's only argument, so only Boards wield that ugly and hateful implement. Individuality never can hold or maintain it. The individual can resort only to the truth.
"Stop his mouth!" cries alarmed and exasperated tyranny, Stifle his outcry! Mankind will hear him! Shut him up, where he cannot be heard! Let his dungeon be deep and his walls thick, - not so much to keep him, as to keep him from being heard! I must not hear him, myself. "It disturbs my tranquility." Keep him alone!
It is the uttered word, that awakens the dead and that moves mankind. Words are the storm that "awakens its deep." Words revolutionize society and nations, and change human condition. They bring those "changes," the "fear" of which "perplexes monarchs." Monarchy builds its bastiles to imprison them. It erects them amid the silence of the people, and it is only Speech that can throw them down. The bastile of France, the fell out the outbreak of her dread revolution, - it was not artillery that prostrated its walls, but they were shaken down by the thunder and the earthquake of the voice of the people, and had France known the power of that voice, she would have shaken down with it every throne in Europe. But she took the bayonet, and it failed. It failed even in the hand of Bonaparte, the strongest had that ever grasped it to conquer the world. It failed, and France is again in chains. Kings build their bastiles again in their borders, for the imprisonment of the people, but they have to build them in a different style of architecture than the old Gothic, for fear the sight of that would awaken again the people's voice.
And Bonaparte himself, with a wall around him of half a million of bayonets, trembled at the slightest breath of free speech. The creature who sued men for libel in the English Courts. At a time he was at war with her - when the proud island stood dismayed at his threatened descent upon her, - when he hovered with his dreadful Marshals on the edge of the British Channel, the English Common Pleas was resounding with the call of the Crier, to "John Smith, to come into the Court and answer the complaint of Napoleon Bonaparte, or his default would be recorded." The Emperor had no confidence at all in his terrible Marshals, - or the armies of Italy and of Egypt, so long as free speech could libel him with impunity in the coffee-houses of London. And did it strike any body as ludicrous, that Bonaparte should be so scared at a libel? Not at all. His folly was, that he sought to defeat it by a lawsuit. Had he been a man, he would have sent an article against the libeler, to the British press. He did not dare to. He was a tyrant - thetruth was against him, - free speech was uttering it. It seared him, and he stupidly went to law. I forget whether he got the case!
To come nearer home, and to the fields of moral strife. Corporation is the same coward and tyrant-foe of free speech, in the chair - the board - the business committee, as in the camps and courts of kings: and free speech, the bane aqnd terror of corporation in all its forms. Its motto and banner-words, - No Commiteees - nor commitment. No Boards, on which to lay humanity out, for a living burial. Association - but of associate individuals - whole individuals - unabated and undiluted. Concert of action - but of individual, personal action - where no combination can bring upon individual freedom, the wizard spell of the majority - where that monstrosity is not known - where unfelt and unacknowledged, is the influence of members and the authority of names - where are no great men - no leaders; that sends out its great truths, backed up by no external or extrinsic farce, to make their own way to the free and unawed heart of the people. This is the "anti-slavery society." The New Hampshire Anti-Slavery Society is such. The humblest and poorest of anti-slavery bodies. Poor in every thing but its principles, its love of liberty and its fidelity to the cause of Humanity. In these it is rich. It proffers its right hand of working fellowship to the anti-slavery of the land, and especially to the field-tried and service-worn handful in little Rhode Island. It is "auxiliary" to all anti-slavery society, - subsidiary to none, as indeed no real anti-slavery body would claim of it subordination or homage.
Ichabod Bartlett - Osceola
A truly radical statement on the nature of the white man and the genocide of the American Indian.
[From the Herald of Freedom of January 1839; Miscellaneous Writings, p.p 56-59]
Anti-Slaavery engagements prevented our earlier noticing to our readers the opening lecture before the Concord Lyceum, by Ichabod Bartlett.[i] It was on the very important subject of our country's treatment of the aboriginal inhabitants of this land. A subject, on which we would think it very difficult for any American to be eloquent - but an American Indian. Our white men have acted a part towards their red countrymen, which we should think would embarrass their flights of fancy.
From the landing of our fathers, up tot he last Indian ouster civilization and christianity (such as they were) have been crowding upon the Indian, and hunting him as a beast of. Every advantage has been taken of his unacquaintance with the roguery of refined life. He has been circumvented, overreached, cheated,, and called meantime a savage, all the way from the pilgrim-landing to the "father of waters," across which his mournful canoe now bears the remants of his the mighty forest nations. He has been all the way and all the time hunched by our republicanism, while that has been blustering about our justice and magnanimity, and his perfidy - because his tomahawk did not always outbear the patience of Job. We have thrust him over the Mississippi. Civilization and christianity are buildings steamboats to follow on, and root him from his wilderness there. And although he is promised a permanent home and hunting ground, and smoke will scarce have curled above his new-built wig-wam, before our enterprise will hunch him farther, till he disappears, or is driven to turn his despairing canoe out on the shoreless Pacific. The church will see that he has a scattered missionary after him, meanwhile, and the monthly concert will be entertained with the geography of his wanderimngs . But not an effort will be made (none has been) to reform the white man of that character which makes it impossible for the Indian to live with him. The cheapest mode of repentence for the American church with regard to the Indian and the Negro seems to be to 'remove' one "by treaty" toward the illitable susnset, and to "colonize' the other, (as fast as they become free) "with their own consent." on the oblivious shores of Western Africa![ii]
But to the lecture. The orator spoke of "Osceola, or rather of his countrymen." He depicted, with great power, and we presume historical accuracy, the wrongs of the Indians - which is the history of the Indians, with the excepton of those, who chanced to fall into the hands of the "fanatical" Quakers, Penn. With the keen sarcasm and eloquent denuciation, which distinguish the lecturer in his pleadings for his more fortunate clients than the "Indian chief," he exposed the treachery, the baseness, the duplicity, the tyranny, the savage cruelty, the more than savage - the republican and civilized - barbarity of this country. He paid some merited compliments to the learned law-officers of this great republic, for their official opinions, as counsel, advising this mighty nation on the legal effect of some of their processes to "extinguish Indian titles" to country and to home and hearthstone. We wish these cabinet officers had been present. But their clients were, and it may not well become parties to abuse their ingenious counsel.
We do not attempt a complimentary notice to this lecture. We felt mortified and humbled through the whole of its delivery, eloquent, powerful, graceful and forcible as it wass. We felt that a few such finely drawn laments was all the relief the country promised the wretched Indian. The generous and indignant orator would say, we presume, i asked what could be done for the Indian, that nothing could be done; that he must retire; that he could not be civilized; that he was irrecoverably a savage, and that he must retire before, or be trodden beneath, the inevitable westward movement of civilization. He would not say the white man must recognize the brotherhood of the savage, and respect his human rights and endure his aboriginal customs and habits of life here on the land. He would treat him honorably, to be sure, and keep faith with him, and he respects and admires the heroism, the unbowing independence, the savage and forest poetry of his character. he spoke with enthusiasm of the bravery of the chiefs, and the wild native eloquence of their orators. He quoted largely from their half-civilized writers, even. But would he say that the policy of William Penn should be observed towards them - the principles of non-resisting, unarmed peace, of primitive christianity, which would immediately abolish our Indian-phobia, and give them place in the American human family? We think not.He does not hold to the immediate abolition of negro slavery - that might national iniquity and shame, before which the wrongs of the Indian dwell into insignificancy. We have trespassed on the Indian. We have enslaved the Negro. We have defrauded the Indian. We have extinguished the Negro. But we cannot pursue the theme here.
The lecture was "denunciatory. The lecturer used "harsh language." he called the white people "miscreants and caitiffs," and othe names of homely, old-fashioned severity. He did not style them southern brethren, or northern brethren. He did not call the Indians savages and Indian dogs, inferior race, that could not live or rise among white men, that must be sent to their own appropriate country, the woods." He did not palliate our conduct in the least, but denounced it worse than ever Garrison did the conduct of slaveholders. We refer the denouncers of abolitionists to this authority for calling things by their right names. And we call upon the learned and eloquent lecturer, to demand of his white countrymen justice and humanity for the remaining Indians - that they invite and help and help them back in their native soil and their homes, and that the national treasures be expended in reforming, in this behalf, the wicked scorn and haughtiness of the white man, amid which the Indian can't live in safety or peace - instead of spending it in miserable politics, or more miserable preparations for civilized quarrelling with other nations by land or sea. We call on him to advocate a national love of the Indian as a man, to gather associations in his behalf, like ours for the more deeply-wronged and insulted negro, and we call on him further to enlist in the cause of his colored countrymen and brethren, sprung with himself from one stock, of one kindred, of one brotherhood, of one destiny. We ask him in the name of humanity, why he, an eloquent advocate, stands coldly and more than silently by, while those of feebler powers are breasting the storm of a most savage and brute public sentiment, which is crushing to the dust and mire the colored man and his uncolored friends.
Church and State
[From the Herald of Freedom of July 15, 1842; Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 221-222]
It was the curse and ruin of the Church, when she consented to the friendship and protection of the armed State. Christianity left her at that moment, and has never since darkened her doors, except to bear testimony against her. Our modern Church is a mere creature of the State. She is as much a State institution, as Banks, Insurance Companies, or Cotton Factories. And the State is her preserver, as well as creator. This is what we have been all along saying, while the impudent harlot has denied it, unblushingly, as harlots always deny, I suppose. She has claimed to be the bride of Christ - while all along she has been the mistress of the military State. She is, like all other harlots enamored of the cockade and the scarlet coat of the soldier; yet when put to the profession, she disfigures her face, and claims to be "the bride, the lamb's wife." Mark below, in the legislative act protecting her, the reliance she puts on God, - mark her faith. A few conscientious individuals have tried to speak for the slave, a few times, in her heathenish synagiogues, and it has filled all her borders with moral alarm. It scares her more than the Roman Eagles did the old High Priesthood at Jerusalem, - or rather Christ's speaking, which they feared would bring the Romans upon them, to take away both their place and their nation. Frightened out of her heathenish wits, she runs for protection to the State House. She fled this town to Justice Badger in the first place, and he tried to relieve her by imposing a fine, without any law.[iii] For when the church prosecutes, she must prevail, law or no law. The Church did not dare risk, however, a continuance of prosecutions without law, lest, by and by, she might get hold of a magistrate who would ask her for her law. She thought she would make sure she would make sure, and have a law made that she could produce, if called for. Mr. Tuck, (not Friar Tuck, but Squire Tuck - the Tucks, by the way have been famous as champions of the Church, ever since the days of the self-denying clerk of Copmanhurst, celebrated in Ivanhoe,) - Mr. Tuck of Exeter, a lawyer, introduced the protective bill, and another evangelical member of the bar, Squire Wells of Lancaster, advocated it. And General Court passed it. And now, if a prosecution should be commenced, they have got a statute to base it upon, whose only defect is, it is flagrantly unconstitutional. But that is no consequence. The constitutionality won't be looked up. Foster is a non-resistant.
Here follows the act. It will do to go, by and by, among the blue laws of liberal old Connecticut, and the red laws of enlightened old Massachusetts, under which they strung up women by the neck, on Gallows Hill, in the charitable and brotrherly twon of Salem - for the unscriptural vocation of witchcraft. They hung them under "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" - adopted into the law book.
"The Rights of Animals"
[From the Herald of Freedom of Oct. 31, 1845; Miscellaneous Writings, 339-40]
A book review, but one of the earliest and clearest manifestos for animal rights in North America.
An author in Dublin, gave me, in 1840, a good-sized volume of the above title, which alone has merit enought, I thought - if the book had no other, to entitle it and its author to consideration and gratitude.[iv] We hear of the "rights of Man." I wish we heard more of them than we do - and could see them observed as well as talked of. But who ever though of an animal's rights - the rights of a brute. We hear it spoken of as man's duty to be kind to the brutes - but never of a brute's right to just treatment. But why has not a brute rights. as well as man? What is the foundation of human rights, that is not foundation, for animals rights also? A man has rights - and they are important to him becuase their observance is necessary to his happiness, and their violation hurts him. He has right to personal liberty. It is pleasant to him - permanently pleasant and good. It is therefore his right. And every creature - or I will call it, rather, every existence, (for whether created or not, they certainly exist, they are) every existence, that is capable of enjoying or suffering, has its rights, and just mankind will regard them. And regard them as rights. The horse has rights. The dog. The cat, and the rat even. Real rights. And these rights are sacred. They are not to be invaded. Mankind are to study the happiness of all beings, so far as they are connected with them. How far it is to be carried, depends upon how the most perfect good will can carry it. Farther than it can go -it is under no obligation to go. Does any body seriously think it right, to trifle with animal happiness and animal suffering? they do trifle with them, and talk about dominion over them being given to man. If this dominion involve ill treatment - it was a bad gift, whoever gave it, in my opinion. They talk of dominion - and found upon it the right of capricious treatment. But that any body thinks it right to injure the brute, I doubt. Whoever will do it - is liable to extend the like injury to mankind. "Dominion" is claimed over portion of mankind as well as brute-kind, and by "divine right" too. More of this hereafter.
Quoted by Throreau:
When, on a certain occasion, one said to him, 'Why do you go about as you do, agitating the community on the subject of abolition? Jesus Christ never preached abolitionism:' he replied, 'Sir, I have two answers to your appeal to Jesus Christ. First, I deny your proposition, that he never preached abolition. That single precept of his 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them' reduced to practice, would abolish slavery over the whole earth in twenty-four hours. That is my first answer. I deny your proposition. Secondly, granting your proposition to be true, and admitting what I deny, that Jesus Christ did not preach the abolition of slavery, then I say, 'he didn't do his duty.'
[From the Herald of Freedom of Oct. 31, 1845; Miscellaneous Writings, 340-41.]
A good friend writes me, that apprehensions are entertained and surmised uttered, of my "infidelity," among some who are readers of our paper - and he wishes to know explicitly of me whether I am "infidel" or not - with a view, it seems, of continuing or not, to take the Herald of Freedom. Before saying anything on that question, I will just reprove the dear friend, gently, of the bigotry which prompted him to write the request. I call it bigotry - for I have myself been a bigot, and know what it is. It is bigotry, I think to make any one's religious belief or disbelief a criterion of character, or a condition of fellowship. If my friend doesn't like the Herald of Freedom - for what is in it,, let him discontinue it. If my principles, as declared in it, do not please him, and he, desires of the paper any thing more than a free and full opportunity to combat them in it, he wants a paper I cannot furnish. He is well disposed, I am sure, but the requisition he makes on me, is, I think, a wrong one, and unfriendly to freedom.
Whether I am "infidel" or not, the technical sense of the word, I don't know as I could tell. I certainly should decline to tell, if asked, as I am here. I will say this - I am free, and mean to think of them as I may, and to speak of them as I think. Any thing I disbelieve or believe in regard to them, and have occasion to speak in the Herald of Freedom, I will speak it - and so explicitly, as not to be mistaken. If my friend is not thus free, I think him bigoted. He will on second thought, perhaps, agree with me. And here I will say, that I think nothing is worthier of severe condemnation, than the priestly fashion of intimidating honest, truthful inquiry by the bug-bear of "infidelity." It is death to human freedom and happiness.
[July 4, 1845]
While I am writing, it is raining most magnificently and gloriously, out doors. It absolutely roars, it comes down in such multitude and big drops. And how refreshing! It waters the earth. There has been but little rain, and our sandy region had got to looking dry and distressed. Every thing looks encouraged now, as the great strainer over head is letting down the shower bath. The grass darkens, as it drinks it in, with a kind of delicate satisfaction. And the trees stand and take it, as a cow does a carding. They hold still as a mouse, while they "abide by its peltings," not moving a twig, or stirring as leaf. The dust of the wide naked street is transmuted into mud. And the stages sound over the road, as if they rattled on naked pavement. Puddles stand in all the hollows. You can hardly see the people for umbrellas - and the clouds look as if they had not done with us. The prospect for the Canterbury meeting looks lowery. Let it rain. All for the best. It is extraineous, but I could hardly help noticing the great Rain and saying this word about it. I think the more mankind regard these beautiful doings in Nature, the more they will regard each other, and love each other, and the less inclined to - enslave each other. The readier abolitionists they will become. And the better. The Rain is a great Anti-Slavery discourse. And I like to have it pour. No eloquence is richer to my spirit, or music. A thunder shower, what can match it for eloquence and poetry! That rush from heaven of the big drops - in what multitude and succession, and how they sound as they strike! How they play on the old home roof and on the thick tree tops! What music to go to sleep by, to a tired boy as he lays under the naked roof! And the great low bass thunder as it rolls off over the hills and settles down behind them - to the very centre, and you can feel the old Earth jar under your feet - that is music and poetry and life. And the lightning strikes you - what of that! It won't hurt you. "Favored man," truly, as uncle Pope says, "by touch ethereal slain." A light touch, compared to Disease's, the Doctor's - or Poverty's. I am no trifler with human destiny - but nothing that naturally happens to a man can hurt him.
But the primary reason the movement did not succeed was quite simply that it blithely ignored one cardinal point: the vast majority of those who were meant to colonize did not wish to leave the United States. Most free blacks simply did not want to go "home" to a place from which they were generations removed. America, not Africa, was their home and they had little desire to migrate to a strange and forbidding land to achieve someone else's dream.
[i] [Wickipedia, 4.20.2008] Ichabod Bartlett (July 24, 1786 - October 19, 1853) was a United States Representative from New Hampshire. He was born in Salisbury, New Hampshire. He received a classical education and was graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover in 1808. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1811, commencing practice in Durham. He later moved to Portsmouth in 1816 and continued the practice of law.
Bartlett was the clerk of the New Hampshire Senate in 1817 and 1818. He served as the state solicitor for Rockingham County 1819-1821. In addition, he was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives 1819-1821 and served as speaker in 1821. He was elected as an Adams-Clay Republican to the Eighteenth Congress and as an Adams to the Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses (March 4, 1823-March 3, 1829). He declined the appointment as chief justice of the court of common pleas in 1825 and then was again a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives 1830, 1838, 1851, and 1852. Failing in a bid for governorship of New Hampshire in 1832, he later served as a member of the state constitutional convention in 1850. He died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1853 and was buried in Harmony Grove Cemetery.
[ii] [ii] [Wikipedia entry for American Colonization Society, 4.20.08] Following the American Revolutionary War, the "peculiar Institution" of slavery and those bound within it grew. At the same time, due in part to manumission efforts sparked by the war and the abolition of slavery in Northern states, there was an expansion of the ranks of free blacks.
The domestic forces which significantly influenced the concept of colonization included the abortive slave rebellion which was headed by Gabriel in 1800, during President James Monroe's tenure as governor of the state of Virginia, and the alarming increase in the number of free African-Americans in the United States. Although the ratio of whites to blacks was 8:2 from 1790 to 1800, it was the massive increase in the number of free African-Americans that disturbed the colonizationists. From 1790 to 1800, the number of free African-Americans increased from 59,467 to 108,378, a percentage increase of 82 percent; and from 1800 to 1810, the number increased from 108,378 to 186,446, an increase of 72 percent.
This dramatic increase did not go unnoticed by a wary white community that kept a wary eye out for the free blacks in their midst. The arguments propounded against free blacks, especially in free states, may be divided into four main categories. One argument pointed toward the perceived moral laxity of blacks. Blacks, some said, were licentious beings who would draw whites into their savage, unrestrained ways. These fears of an intermingling of the races were strong and underlay much of the outcry for removal.
Along these same lines, blacks were accused of a tendency toward criminality and were thought inclined to deviate from the straight and narrow path. Still others claimed that the mental inferiority of African-Americans made them unfit for the duties of citizenship and incapable of real improvement. Economic considerations were also put forth. Free blacks, it was thought, would only take jobs away from whites. This feeling was especially strong among the "working class" in the North. Southerners had their special reservations about free blacks. It was feared that freedmen located in slave areas would act as an enticing reminder of what freedom might mean and encourage runaways and slave revolts.
While the colonizationists in the South were motivated by racism and fear of slave uprising; the white colonizationists in the North refused to accept the notion of white-black co-existence. The proposed solution was to have this class of people deported from United States to Africa by a process euphemistically called "colonization".
As early as the Revolutionary period, Thomas Jefferson proposed relocating African Americans beyond the boundaries of the new nation. Colonization, as this idea became known, rested upon the contention that blacks and whites‹due to innate racial differences, polarized societal statuses, and pervasive racism‹could not live together in social harmony and political equality within the same country. To many of its advocates, colonization was an ideological middle ground between the immediate, nationwide abolition of slavery, which seemed an ever remote possibility, and perpetual black bondage, a proposition that even some southern slaveholders found discomforting.
Paul Cuffe (1759-1817), a successful Quaker ship owner of African-American and Native American ancestry, advocated settling freed American slaves in Africa. He gained support from the British government, free black leaders in the United States, and members of Congress for a plan to take emigrants to the British colony of Sierra Leone. Cuffe intended to make one voyage per year, taking settlers and bringing back valuable cargoes. In 1816, Captain Cuffe took thirty-eight American blacks at his own expense to Freetown, Sierra Leone and planned subsequent voyages but these were precluded by his death in 1817. However, Cuffe had reached a large audience with his pro-colonization arguments and thus laid the groundwork for later organizations such as the American Colonization Society.
The ACS had its origins in 1816, when Charles Fenton Mercer, a Federalist member of the Virginia state assembly, discovered accounts of earlier legislative debates on black colonization helped in the wake of Gabriel's conspiracy. Mercer pushed the state of Virginia to support the idea, and one of his political contacts in Washington City, John Caldwell, in turn contacted his brother-in-law, a Presbyterian minister, the Reverend Robert Finley, who endorsed the scheme.
The American Colonization Society was established in Washington at the Davis Hotel on December 21, 1816. Among the delegates attending were Henry Clay, John Randolph of Roanoke, Richard Bland Lee, and the Rev. Robert Finley; colonization mastermind Charles Fenton Mercer was a member of the Virginia legislature and was unable to be in Washington for the meeting.
At this inaugural meeting, Finley proposed a colony be established in Africa to take free people of color, most of whom had been born free, away from the United States. Finley meant to colonize "(with their consent) the free people of color residing in our country, in Africa, or such other place as Congress may deem most expedient."
Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John Randolph and Fernando Fairfax were among the best known members. Ex-president Thomas Jefferson publicly supported the organization's goals, and President James Madison arranged public funding for the Society. Other notable supporters included Francis Scott Key, Bushrod Washington, and the architect of the U.S. Capitol, William Thornton‹all slave owners.
These "moderates" thought slavery was unsustainable and should eventually end but did not consider integrating slaves into society a viable option. So, the ACS encouraged slaveholders to offer freedom on the condition that those accepting it would move to Liberia at the society's expense. A small number of slave owners chose to follow this course of action.
Bushrod Washington, a Supreme Court justice and nephew of George Washington, served as the first president of the organization. The great American statesman Henry Clay of Kentucky provided its main intellectual and political leadership. The presidents of the ACS tended to be southerners. The first president of the ACS was the nephew of former U.S. President George Washington, Bushrod Washington, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Clay was ACS president from 1836 to 1849.
[On October 16th, 1859, abolitionist John Brown led the now famous attack on Harper¹s Ferry. As soon as the arsenal there was captured, Brown dispatched six armed men to capture Colonel Washington, specifically to obtain the George Washington sword that he had inherited. In Brown¹s mind that sword was the ³sword of state² and in his possession would enhance his political position. He was wearing the sword when he was captured. http://www.revolutionarywararchives.org/washsword.html]
The prestige of the ACS benefited tremendously from the high-profile association of leaders like Clay and Washington, and over the years, some of America¹s greatest men were not merely members but officers of the society: James Madison, Daniel Webster, James Monroe, Stephen Douglas, John Randolph, William Seward, Francis Scott Key, General Winfield Scott, John Marshall and Roger Taney. Other great men such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, while never members of the society, strongly supported colonization and the removal of blacks from the United States., though Lincoln later supported black suffrage.
Supporters of the ACS may be divided into three main groups. The first consisted of those who genuinely felt that it was the best solution to a difficult problem and might lead to a gradual emancipation. Another smaller group was a pro-slavery group who saw removal as an answer to the problems associated with "dangerous" free blacks. Perhaps the largest group of supporters was made up of those who opposed slavery, but did not believe in anything remotely resembling equality of the races.
The colonization effort resulted from a mixture of motives. Free blacks, freedmen and their descendants, encountered widespread discrimination in the United States of the early 19th century. They were generally perceived as a burden on society, and a threat to white workers because they undercut wages. Some abolitionists believed that blacks could not achieve equality in the United States and would be better off in Africa. Many slaveholders were worried that the presence of free blacks would encourage slaves to rebel. Other supporters of removal to Africa wanted to prevent racial mixing, to promote the spread of Christianity in Africa, or to develop trade with Africa.
The ACS encouraged slaveholders to offer freedom on the condition that those accepting it would move to Liberia at the society's expense. A number of slave owners did just that. Despite being anti-slavery, Society members were openly racist and frequently argued that free blacks would be unable to assimilate into the white society of this country. John Randolph, a slave owner, called free blacks "promoters of mischief." At this time, about 2 million African Americans lived in America of which 200,000 were free persons of color. Henry Clay, a congressman from Kentucky who was critical of the negative impact slavery had on the southern economy, believed that because of "unconquerable prejudice resulting from their color, they never could amalgamate with the free whites of this country."
Although the eccentric Randolph believed that the removal of free blacks would "materially tend to secure" slave property, the vast majority of early members were philanthropists, clergy and abolitionists who wanted to free African slaves and their descendants and provide them with the opportunity to return to Africa. Very few members were slave owners who feared free people of color and wanted to expel them from America, and in fact the Society never enjoyed much support among planters in the Lower South.
Three of the reasons the movement never became very successful were the objections raised by blacks and abolitionists, the enormous scale of the task of moving so many people (there were 4 million free blacks in the USA after the Civil War), and the difficulty in finding locations willing to accept large numbers of black newcomers.
Black Americans stood divided on the issue of emigration. A few black church leaders signaled their support for the ACS. In January 1817, free blacks in Richmond, Virginia, made a public pronouncement favoring emigration. However, most free blacks in northern communities such as Philadelphia, New York, and Boston united against emigration, seeing it as a ploy to expel free blacks from the United States. Many denounced the membership of the society as racist deportationists whose aim was not to help black people, but rather to strengthen slavery by ridding society of a free black population. They felt that it would be better to stay in America and fight against slavery and for full rights as United States citizens. Lemuel Haynes, a free black Presbyterian minister at the time of the Society's formation, argued passionately that God's providential plan would eventually defeat slavery and lead to the harmonious integration of the races as equals. In 1817, over 3,000 blacks gathered in Philadelphia in a protest against the plans for colonization.
At the same time, many slave owners in the South vigorously denounced the plan as an assault on their slave economy.
Despite the support of the federal government, contributions from state governments and several leading citizens, the society had trouble raising the money it would need for its venture.
For many years the ACS tried to persuade the United States Congress to appropriate funds to send colonists to Liberia. Although Henry Clay led the campaign, it failed. The society did, however, succeed in its appeals to some state legislatures.
One of the chief methods of fundraising that they developed was selling lifetime membership certificates to private citizens.
The Society's members relentlessly pressured Congress and the President for support. The American Colonization Society had an ally in the new President of the United States, James Monroe. Monroe had endorsed the removal of free blacks to Africa since the turn of the century when he had been Governor of Virginia, and was now willing to use his authority to help the new society. He was able to convince Congress to appropriate $100,000 for the cause in 1819, and also helped the society to secure federal help in acquiring territory. In fact, Monroe's efforts to help the American Colonization Society were seen as so monumental, the capital of Liberia was named Monrovia in his honor.
Despite the opposition of many blacks, hundreds had volunteered to go as colonists back to the land of their origin.
In January 1820 the first ship, the Elizabeth, sailed from New York headed for West Africa with three white ACS agents and 88 emigrants. The ACS purchased the freedom of American slaves and paid their passage to Liberia. Emigration was offered to already-free black people.
Under the leadership of Samuel Bacon, an Episcopal clergyman, the first expedition took place on the ship Elizabeth, a small merchantman. Among the items brought were wagons, wheelbarrows, plows, ironworks for a saw mill and grist mill, two cannons, 100 muskets, 12 kegs of powder, fishing equipment, and a small barge. President James Monroe had the Secretary of the Navy order an American sloop of war, the USS Cyane, to convoy the Elizabeth to Africa. Of the 86 black emigrants sailing on the Elizabeth, only about one-third were men, the rest were wives and children.
The ship arrived first at Freetown, Sierra Leone then sailed south to what is now the northern coast of Liberia and made an effort to establish a settlement. All three whites and 22 of the emigrants died within three weeks from yellow fever. The remainders returned to Sierra Leone and waited for another ship. The Nautilus sailed twice in 1821 and established a settlement at Cape Mesurado on an island they named Perseverance. It was difficult for the early settlers, made of mostly free-born blacks, who were not born into slavery, but were denied the full rights of American citizenship.
The native Africans resisted the expansion of the settlers resulting in many armed conflicts. Nevertheless, in the next decade 2,638 African-Americans migrated to the area. Also, the colony entered an agreement with the U.S. government to accept freed slaves captured from slave ships.
The society had experienced little success in convincing local tribal leaders to sell land for the new colony, and the first 88 free black settlers from America were dropped off on Scherbo Island.
When President Monroe heard of the disaster, he was disturbed but still believed that the colonization movement could succeed. He appointed the Reverend Ephraim Bacon, Samuel's brother, to lead a new expedition that would gather up the survivors from the first and attempt once again to forge a permanent settlement. Bacon set sail, along with a few other white agents and 33 black colonists, on the ship Nautilus from Hampton Roads, Virginia on January 23, 1821, just a little over a year after the Elizabeth had left New York. Like the Elizabeth, the Nautilus had a smooth voyage across the ocean. After landing at Freetown, the new party hurried to Fourah Bay to unite with the survivors of the original settlement and take stock of the situation.
Bacon and others proceeded to sail down the coast to look for a better place to found their colony. Encountering the same difficulties as Crozer had, they found that most local chiefs were unwilling to sell their land. In April they did manage to sign a treaty to buy 40 square miles (100 km²) of land in Bassa, but the Colonization Society refused to ratify it because it was too expensive and would require an annual tribute to be paid to the king. Frustrated by the failure to obtain land, President Monroe replaced Bacon with Dr. Eli Ayers, who arrived in Africa to meet the party in November aboard to USS Shark. Not wanting the effort to fail again, Monroe also decided to involve the military in the quest for a suitable territory, and sent the USS Alligator commanded by Navy Lieutenant Robert F. Stockton to assist Ayres.
Ayres and Stockton sailed down the coast looking for an appropriate location for their settlement, eventually deciding on Cape Mesurado, about 225 miles (362 km) south of Sierra Leone. Agents of the American Colonization Society had previously tried to buy the land, but King Peter, who ruled the region, had flatly refused to sell it. This time, Ayres and Stockton would not take no as an answer. They arrived on the cape on December 12 and requested a meeting with the king. Although denied at first, they were persistent and eventually succeeded in gaining an audience. King Peter refused to sell them the land they wanted, but agreed to return the next day for further negotiation. When the next day arrived, the king sent messengers in his place to inform the Americans that he would neither sell them any land nor meet with them again. Infuriated at this treatment, Stockton and Ayres decided to take matters into their own hands. They paid native guides to lead them to the king's town, where they once again insisted on a meeting. On December 14, King Peter did meet with them and once again told them that he would not sell them Cape Messurado under any circumstances. Stockton and Ayres then proceeded to prove him wrong when they and their company pulled out pistols and aimed them at the king and others. At gunpoint, King Peter "agreed" to sell Cape Montserado (or Cape Mesurado) to the Americans. On the next day a formal agreement was drawn up, in which Ayres and Stockton acquired the cape for their colony in exchange for a quantity guns, powder, beds, clothes, mirrors, food, rum, and tobacco worth about $300.
Ayres and Stockton returned to Sierra Leone, where they loaded up the colonists on two ships and headed for their newly acquired home. The first settlement was on Providence Island near where the present capital city, Monrovia, is located. Providence Island had not possessed an adequate supply of fresh water, and the rainy season had begun. Many of the new settlers began to fall ill, just as the colonists of the Elizabeth had done a year earlier. The colony survived, however, and was strengthened on August 8, when the brig Strong, which had been chartered by the U.S. government and left Hampton Roads, Virginia on May 26, arrived at Cape Mesurado. The Strong carried food and other supplies for the colony, along with 55 black colonists.
In 1824 the Cape Mesurado Colony expanded and became the Liberia Colony, and the United States government settled New Georgia with "Congo" recaptives (slaves rescued by Americans in mid-ocean). Other colonies soon followed.
Jehudi Ashmun, an early leader of the American Colonization Society colony, envisioned an American empire in Africa. During 1825 and 1826, Ashmun took steps to lease, annex, or buy tribal lands along the coast and along major rivers leading inland. Like his predecessor Lt. Robert Stockton, Ashmun was prepared to use force to extend the colony's territory. His aggressive actions quickly increased Liberia's power over its neighbors.
In a treaty of May 1825 deposited by the ACS in the U.S. Library of Congress, King Peter and other native kings agreed to sell land in return for 500 bars of tobacco, three barrels of rum, five casks of powder, five umbrellas, ten iron posts, and ten pairs of shoes, among other items.
The Maryland State Colonization Society withdrew her support from the American Colonization Society and resolved to establish a colony in Liberia to send free people of color, of that state, that wished to emigrate. Soon afterwards, the Young Men's Colonization Society of Pennsylvania was induced to establish a separate colony at Port Cresson. The New York City Colonization Society united with the Young Men's Colonization Society of Pennsylvania. Under the active agency of Dr. Proudfit, the funds of the State were brought to their aid.
In 1832 the Edina and Port Cresson colonies were formed by the New York and Pennsylvania Colonization Societies. In 1834 the Maryland in Liberia colony was created by the Maryland State Colonization Society.
In 1834, the Mississippi State Colonization Society established a colony independent of the American Colonization Society. The Mississippi-in-Africa colony was created by the Mississippi and Louisiana State Colonization Societies in 1835. In 1835, the Port Cresson Colony was destroyed by natives of the area. The Bassa Cove Colony was founded on the ruins of the Port Cresson Colony a month later.
A period of consolidation followed. The Bassa Cove Colony absorbed the Edina Colony in 1837. Bassa Cove in turn was incorporated into Liberia in 1839, as was New Georgia. Maryland in Africa became the State of Maryland in Liberia in 1841. Mississippi-in-Africa was incorporated into Liberia as Sinoe County in 1842. Maryland in Liberia declared independence from Liberia in 1854 and had a brief life as the independent state of Maryland in Liberia. It was annexed into Liberia as Maryland County in 1857.
Abolitionist resistance to colonization grew steadily. Beginning in the 1830s, the society was harshly attacked by some abolitionists, who tried to discredit colonization as a slaveholders' scheme and the American Colonization Society as merely palliative propaganda for the continuation of slavery in the United States.
In 1832, as the ACS began to send agents to England to raise funds for what they touted as a benevolent plan, William Lloyd Garrison helped instigate opposition to the plan with a 236-page book on the evils of colonization and sent abolitionists to England to track down and counter ACS supporters.
In 1855, William Nesbit published the pamphlet "Four Months in Liberia, Or, African Colonization Exposed", a highly critical essay against the feasibility of colonization. Nesbit had sailed to Liberia under the auspices of the American Colonization Society in 1853, and his booklet was a recounting of his experiences and observations in the colony.
Despite the strong opposition, the scheme did have some supporters. Slave states like Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland were already home to a significant number of free blacks, and whites there‹still reeling from Nat Turner's 1831 rebellion, which emancipated slaves had a hand in‹formed local colonization societies.
The colonization effort received a major boost after the Nat Turner slave uprising in 1831. Virginia, Kentucky, and Maryland all appropriated funds for the shipment of free blacks to Africa. Also, many more blacks were now more willing to emigrate since the Turner rebellion had produced significant white backlash against free blacks.
Thus encouraged, Maryland legislators passed a law in 1832 that required any slave freed after that date to leave the state and specifically offered passage to a part of Liberia administered by the Maryland State Colonization Society. However, enforcement provisions lacked teeth, and many Marylanders forgot their antipathy to free blacks when they needed extra hands at harvest time. There is no evidence that any freed African-American was forcibly sent to Liberia from Maryland or anywhere else..
The society in Liberia developed into three segments: The settlers with European-African lineage; freed slaves from slave ships and the West Indies; and indigenous native people. These groups would have a profound affect on the history of Liberia. The new colonies adopted other American styles of life, including Southern plantation-style houses with deep verandas, and established thriving trade links with other West Africans. The Americo-Liberians distinguished themselves from the local people, characterized as "natives," by the universal appellation of "Mr."
The settlers recreated American society, building churches and homes that resembled Southern plantations. And they continued to speak English. They also entered into a complex relationship with the indigenous people ‹ marrying them in some cases, discriminating against them in others, but all the time attempting to "civilize" them and impose Western values on the traditional communities.
The formation of the colony did not occur altogether without difficulty. The land occupied by the American Colonization Society in Liberia was not void of native inhabitants when the emigrants arrived. Much of the area was under the control of the Malinké tribes who resented the expansion of these settlers. In addition to disease, poor housing conditions and lack of food and medicine, these new emigrants found themselves engaged in sporadic armed combat with the natives.
Almost from the beginning, the settlers periodically encountered stiff opposition from local tribesmen, usually resulting in bloody battles. On the other hand, colonial expansionists encroached on the newly-independent Liberia and took over much of the original territory of independent Liberia by force.
Since the 1840s Abraham Lincoln, an admirer of Clay, had been an advocate of the ACS program of colonizing blacks in Liberia. In an 1854 speech in Illinois, he points out the immense difficulties of such a task are an obstacle to finding an easy way to quickly end slavery.
Early in his presidency, Abraham Lincoln tried repeatedly to arrange resettlements of the kind the ACS supported, but each arrangement failed (See Abraham Lincoln on slavery). By 1863, most scholars believe that Lincoln abandoned the idea following the use of black troops. Biographer Stephen B. Oates has observed, Lincoln thought it immoral to ask black soldiers to fight for the United States and then remove them to Africa after their military service. Others, like Michael Lind, believe that as late 1864 or 1865 Lincoln continued to hold out hope for colonization, noting that he allegedly asked Attorney General Edward Bates if the Reverend James Mitchell could stay on as "your assistant or aid in the matter of executing the several acts of Congress relating to the emigration or colonizing of the freed Blacks." General Benjamin F. Butler claimed that only two weeks before he died Lincoln had asked him to investigate the possibility of colonizing colored troops to Panama in order to build a canal because Lincoln feared that they might initiate a "race war" after the Civil War ended.. In his second term as president, on April 11, 1865, Lincoln gave a speech supporting suffrage for blacks.
The American Colonization Society closely controlled the development of Liberia until 1847. However, by the 1840s, Liberia had become a financial burden on the American Colonization Society which was effectively bankrupt.
Liberia faced external threats, chiefly from Britain, because it was neither a sovereign power nor a bona fide colony of any sovereign nation. The Society controlled the colony of Liberia until 1846 when, under the perception that the British might annex the settlement, the ACS directed the Liberians to proclaim their independence. In 1847, the colony became the independent nation of Liberia. The new Liberian constitution was said to be fashioned after the American model.
In 1850, Virginia set aside $30,000 annually for five years to aid and support emigration. In its Thirty-Fourth Annual Report, the society acclaimed the news as "a great Moral demonstration of the propriety and necessity of state action!" During the 1850s, the society also received several thousand dollars from the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Maryland legislatures.
By 1867 the Society had sent more than 13,000 emigrants to Liberia. After the Civil War, when many blacks wanted to go to Liberia, financial support for colonization had waned. During its later years the society focused on educational and missionary efforts in Liberia rather than further emigration.
In 1913 and again at its formal dissolution in 1964, the Society donated its records to the U.S. Library of Congress. The material contains a wealth of information about the foundation of the society, its role in establishing Liberia, efforts to manage and defend the colony, fund-raising, recruitment of settlers, conditions for black citizens of the American South, and the way in which black settlers built and led the new nation.
Ultimately, the ACS failed to effect any significant change in the "problem" of free blacks in the United States. Although the Society succeeded in establishing a successful colony in Africa, it failed to achieve the vision of its proponents which was the removal of free blacks from the United States. From the group's founding in 1816 until the Civil War, the organization managed to send fewer than eleven thousand black Americans to Liberia. In 1810, there were nearly 1.4 million African Americans living in the United States. By 1860, that number had grown to 4.25 million. Thus, the ACS managed to colonize less than one percent of the black population in the United States and, due to the growth rate of that population, was essentially embarked on an impossible mission.
The reasons for the failure of the ACS were many. A major cause of the Society's failure was financial. There were seldom enough funds to pay for the costs of transportation, land grants, and subsistence expenses. However, the Society's financial difficulties were a symptom rather than the root cause of its failure.
Another major cause of the Society's failure was internal dissension. The many different supporters could rarely agree upon a uniform policy to achieve their goals. Such agreement was difficult at best with adherents who often held diametrically opposed views from one another. As cries for abolition grew stronger in the country, the basis of the colonization movement was called into question. Ardent abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison, who once supported the Society, began to see it as a racist organization that could only hinder the cause of emancipation. This criticism points to the principal reasons Colonization in general and the American Colonization Society, specifically, failed. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that colonization was an essentially white experiment. It was begun by white Americans, promoted by whites, and in the end was meant to benefit white America the most. Some blacks were hired to act as agents and proselytize for the movement, but it was an essentially white movement. The view that blacks were inferior was at the basis of the movement. Once this central tenet was understood, the movement lost many potential supporters.
But the primary reason the movement did not succeed was quite simply that it blithely ignored one cardinal point: the vast majority of those who were meant to colonize did not wish to leave the United States. Most free blacks simply did not want to go "home" to a place from which they were generations removed. America, not Africa, was their home and they had little desire to migrate to a strange and forbidding land to achieve someone else's dream.
[iii] BADGER, Joseph, clergyman, born in Gilman-ton, New Hampshire, 16 August 1792; died 12 May 1852. His father, revolting against the Calvinism in which he had been educated, had become a deist, and Joseph was given no religious training. When he was ten years old his family removed to Crompton, Canada, then almost a wilderness. He was converted in 1811 while visiting his native place, and in 1812 was baptized and began preaching without connecting himself with any regular Church. He traveled for a time with a young man named Adams, who shortly afterward united with the Methodists; but Badger determined to "go forth and preach a free salvation to all who would hear." After laboring for two years in Lower Canada with great success, Badger received ordination at the hands of the Free-will Baptists, but maintained his independent position. In 1814 he returned to New Hampshire and preached with remarkable success, though his methods made him unpopular with the Calvinists. In 1817 he preached as an itinerant in the state of New York, and the Churches that he founded joined the denomination known as Christians. After a preaching tour through the west in 1825 and a visit to Boston, Mr. Badger returned to New York, where he edited the "Palia-dium," at that time the organ of the Christian denomination. A stroke of paralysis forced him to give up work, but he preached again for some time before the final shock. See " Life of Joseph Badger," by E. G. Holland (New York, 1854).
Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM