IV. OUR ELEVATION IN THE UNITED STATES
That very little comparatively as ye has been done, to attain a respectable position as a class in this country, will not be denied, and that the successful accomplishment of this end is also possible, must also be admitted; but in what manner, and by what means, has long been, and is even now, by the best thinking minds among the colored people themselves, a matter of difference of opinion.
We believe in the universal equality of man, and believe in that declaration of God’s word, in which it is there positively said, that “God has made of blood all the nations that dwell on the face of the earth.” Now of “the nations that dwell on the face of the earth,” that is, all the people–there are one thousand millions of souls, and of this vast number of human beings, two-thirds are colored, from black, tending in complexion to the olive or that of the Chinese, with all the intermediate and admixtures of black and white, the various “crosses” as they are physiologically, but erroneously termed, to white. We are thus explicit in stating these points, because we are determined to be understood by all. We have then two colored to one white person throughout the earth, and yet, singular as it may appear, according to the present geographical and political history of the world, the white race predominates over the colored; or in other words, wherever there is one white person, that one rules and governs two colored persons. This is a living undeniable truth, to which we call the especial attention of the colored reader in particular. Now there is a cause for this, as there is no effect without a cause, a comprehensive remediable cause. We all believe in the justice of God, that he is impartial, “looking upon his children with an eye of care,” dealing out to them all, the measure of his goodness; yet, how can we reconcile ourselves to the difference that exists between the colored and the white races, as they truthfully present themselves before our eyes? To solve this problem, is to know the remedy; and to know it, is but necessary, in order successfully to apply it. And we shall but take the colored people of the United States as a fair sample of colored races everywhere of the present age, as the arguments that apply to the one, will apply to the other, whether Christians, Mahommedans, or pagans.
The colored races are highly susceptible of religion; it is a constituent principle of their nature, and an excellent trait in their character. But unfortunately for them, they carry it too far. Their hope is largely developed, and consequently, they usually stand still–hope in God, and really expect Him to do that for them, which it is necessary they should do themselves. This is their great mistake, and arises from a misconception of the character and ways of Deity. We must know God, that is understand His nature and purposes, in order to serve Him; and to serve Him well, is but to know him rightly. To depend for assistance upon God, is a duty and right; but to know when, how and in what manner to obtain it, is the key to this great Bulwark of Strength, and Depository of Aid.
God himself is perfect; perfect in all his works and ways. He has means for every end; and every means used must be adequate to the end to be gained. God’s means are laws–fixed laws of nature, a part of His own being, and is immutable, as unchangeable as Himself. Nothing can be accomplished but through the medium of, and comformable to these laws.
They are three–and like God himself, represented in the three persons in the God-head–the Spiritual, Moral and Physical Laws.
That which is Spiritual, can only be accomplished through the medium of the Spiritual law; that which is Moral, through the medium of the Moral law; and that which is Physical, through the medium of the Physical law. Otherwise than this, it is useless to expect any thing. Does a person want a spiritual law–pray for it in order to obtain it. If they desire to do a moral good, they must apply through the medium of the moral law –exercise their sense and feeling of right and justice, in order to effect it. Do they want to attain a physical end, they can only do so through the medium of the physical law–go to work with muscles, hands, limbs, might and strength, and this, and nothing else will attain it.
The argument that man must pray for what he receives, is a mistake, and one that there is doing the colored people especially, incalculable injury. That man must pray in order to get to Heaven, every Christian will admit–but a great truth we have yet got to learn, that he can live on earth whether he is religious or not, so that he conforms to the great law of God, regulating the things of earth; the great physical laws. It is only necessary, in order to convince our people of their error and palpable mistake in this matter, to call their attention to the fact, that there are no people more religious in this Country, than the colored people, and none so poor and miserable as they. That prosperity and wealth, smiles upon the efforts of wicked white men, whom we know to utter the name of God with curses, instead of praises. That among the slaves, there are thousands of them religious, continually raising their voices, sending up their prayers to God, invoking His aid in their behalf, asking for a speedy deliverance; but they are still in chains, although they have thrice suffered out their three score years and ten. That “God sendeth rain upon the just and unjust,” should be sufficient to convince us that our success in life, does not depend upon our religious character, but that the physical laws governing all earthly and temporary affairs, benefit equally the just and the unjust. Any other doctrine than this, is downright delusion, unworthy of a free people, and only intended for slaves. That all men and women, should be moral, upright, good and religious–we mean Christians–we would not utter a word against, and could only wish that it were so; but, what we here desire to do is, to correct the long standing error among a large body of the colored people in this country, that the cause of our oppression and degradation, is the displeasure of God towards us, because of our unfaithfulness to Him. This is not true; because if God is just–and he is–there could be no justice in prospering white men with his fostering care, for more than two thousand years, in all their wickedness, while dealing out to the colored people, the measure of his displeasure, for not half the wickedness as that of the whites. Here then is our mistake, and let it forever henceforth be corrected. We are no longer slaves, believing any interpretation that our oppressors may give the word of God, for the purpose of deluding us to the more easy subjugation; but freemen, comprising some of the first minds of intelligence and rudimental qualifications, in the country. What then is the remedy, for our degradation and oppression? This appears now to be the only remaining question–the means of successful elevation in this our own native land? This depends entirely upon the application of the means of Elevation.
V. MEANS OF ELEVATION
Moral theories have long been resorted to by us, as a means of effecting the redemption of our brethren in bonds, and the elevation of the free colored people in this country. Experience has taught us, that speculations are not enough; that the practical application of principles adduced, the thing carried out, is the only true and proper course to pursue.
We have speculated and moralised much about equality–claiming to be as good as our neighbors, and every body else–but not in politics. We live in society among men, conducted by men, governed by rules and regulations. However arbitrary, there are certain policies that regulate all well organized institutions and corporate bodies. We do not intend here to speak of the legal political relations of society, for those are treated on elsewhere. The business and social, or voluntary and mutual policies, are those that now claim our attention. Society regulates itself–being governed by mind, which like water, finds its own level. “Like seeks like,” is a principle in the laws of matter, as well as of mind. There is such a thing as inferiority of things and positions; at least society has made them so; and while we continue to live among men, we must agree to all just measures–all those we mean, that do not necessarily infringe on the rights of others. By the regulations of society, there is no equality of persons, where there is not an equality of attainments. By this, we do not wish to be understood as advocating the actual equal attainments be necessary for the elevation of the white man, they are necessary for the elevation of the colored man. That some colored men and women, in a like proportion to the whites, should be qualified in all the attainments possessed by them. It is one of the regulations of society the world over, and we shall have to conform to it, or be discarded as unworthy of the associations of our fellows.
Cast our eyes about us and reflect for a moment, and what do we behold! every thing that presents to view gives evidence of the skill of the white man. Should we purchase a pound of groceries, a yard of linen, a vessel of crockeryware, a piece of furniture, the very provisions that we eat,–all, all are the products of the white man, purchased by us from the white man, consequently, our earnings and means, are all given to the white man.
Pass along the avenues of any city or town, in which you live–behold the trading shops–the manufactories–see the operations of the various machinery–see the stage-coaches coming in, bringing the mails of intelligence–look at the railroads interlining every section, bearing upon them their mighty trains, flying with the velocity of the swallow, ushering in the hundreds of industrious, enterprising travelers. Cast again your eyes widespread over the ocean–see the vessels in every direction with their white sheets spread to the winds of heaven, freighted with the commerce, merchandise and wealth of many nations. Look as you pass along through the cities, at the great and massive buildings–the beautiful and extensive structures of architecture–behold the ten thousand cupolas, with their spires all reared up towards heaven, intersecting the territory of the clouds–all standing as mighty living monuments, of the industry, enterprise, and intelligence of the white man. And yet, with all these living truths rebuking us with scorn, we strut about, place our hands akimbo, straighten up ourselves to our greatest height, and talk loudly about being “as good as any body.” How do we compare with them? Our fathers are their coachmen, our brothers their cookmen, and ourselves their waiting men. Our mothers their nurse-women, our sisters their scrub-women, our daughters maid-women, and our wives their washer-women. Until colored men, attain to a position above permitting their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, to do the drudgery and menial offices of other men’s wives and daughters; it is useless, it is nonsense, it is pitiable mockery, to talk about equality and elevation in society. The world is looking upon us, with feelings of commiseration, sorrow, and contempt. We scarcely deserve sympathy, if we peremptorily refuse advice, bearing upon our elevation.
We will suppose a case for argument: In this city reside, two colored families, of three sons and three daughters each. At the head of each family, there is an old father and mother. The opportunities of these families, may or may not be the same for educational advantages–be that as it may, the children of the one go to school, and become qualified for the duties of life. One daughter becomes a school-teacher, another a mantua-maker, and a third a fancy shop-keeper; while one son becomes a farmer, another a merchant, and a third a mechanic. All enter into business with fine prospects, marry respectably, and settle down in domestic comfort–while the six sons and daughters of the other family, grow up without educational and business qualifications, and the highest aim they have, is to apply to the sons and daughters of the first named family, to hire for domestics! Would there be an equality here between the children of these two families? Certainly not. This, then, is precisely the position of the colored people generally in the United States, compared with the whites. What is necessary to be done, in order to attain an equality, is to change the condition, and the person is at once changed. If, as before stated, a knowledge of all the various business enterprises, trades, professions, and sciences, is necessary for the elevation of the white, a knowledge of them is also necessary for the elevation of the colored man; and he cannot be elevated without them.
White men are producers–we are consumers. They build houses, and we rent them. They raise produce, and we consume it. They manufacture clothes and wares, and we garnish ourselves with them. They build coaches, vessels, cars, hotels, saloons, and other vehicles and places of accommodation, and we deliberately wait until they have got them in readiness, then walk in, and contend with as much assurance for a “right,” as though the whole thing was bought by, paid for, and belonged to us. By their literary attainments, they are the contributors to, authors and teachers of, literature, science, religion, law, medicine, and all other useful attainments that the world now makes use of. We have no reference to ancient times–we speak of modern things.
There are the means by which God intended man to succeed: and this discloses the secret of the white man’s success with all of his wickedness, over the head of the colored man, with all of his religion. We have been pointed and plain, on this part of the subject, because we desire our readers to see persons and things in their true position. Until we are determined to change the condition of things, and raise ourselves above position in which we are now prostrated, we must hang our heads in sorrow, and hide our faces in shame. It is enough to know that these things are so; the causes we care little about. Those we have been examining, complaining about, and moralizing over, all our life time. This we are weary of. What we desire to learn now is, how to effect a remedy; this we endeavored to point out. Our elevation must be the result of self-efforts, and work of our own hands. No other human power can accomplish it. If we but determine it shall be so, it will be so. Let each one make the case his own, and endeavor to rival his neighbor, in honorable competition.
These are the proper and only means of elevating ourselves and attaining equality in this country or any other, and it is useless, utterly futile, to think about going any where, except we are determined to use these as the necessary means of developing our manhood. The means are at hand, within our reach. Are we willing to try them? Are we willing to raise ourselves superior to the condition of slaves, or continue the meanest underlings, subject to the beck and call of every creature bearing a pale complexion? If we are, we had as well remained in the South, as to have come to the North in search of more freedom. What was the object of our parents in leaving the South, if it were not for the purpose of attaining equality in common with others of their fellow citizens, by giving their children access to all the advantages enjoyed by others? Surely this was their object. They heard of liberty and equality here, and they hastened on to enjoy it, and no people are more astonished and disappointed than they, who for the first time, on beholding the position we occupy here in the free North–what is called, and what they expect to find, the free States. They at once tell us, that they have as much liberty in the South as we have in the North–that there as free people, they are protected in their rights–that we have nothing more–that in other respects they have the same opportunity, indeed the preferred opportunity, of being their maids, servants, cooks, waiters, and menials in general, there, as we have here–that had they known for a moment, before leaving, that such was to be the only position they occupied here, they would have remained where they were, and never left. Indeed, such is the disappointment in many cases, that they immediately return back again, completely insulted at the idea, of having us here at the north, assume ourselves to be their superiors. Indeed, if our superior advantages of the free States, do not induce and stimulate us to the higher attainments in life, what in the name of degraded humanity will do it? Nothing, surely nothing. If, in fine, the advantages of free schools Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and wherever else we may have them, do not give us advantages and pursuits superior to our slave brethren, then are the unjust assertions of Messrs. Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Theordore Frelinghuysen, late Governor Poindexter of Mississippi, George McDuffy, Governor Hammond of South Caroline, Extra Billy (present Governor) Smith, of Virginia, and the host of our oppressors, slave-holders and others true, that we are insusceptible and incapable of elevation to the more respectable, honorable, and higher attainments among white men. But this we do not believe–neither do you, although our whole life and course of policy in this country are such, that it would seem to prove otherwise. The degradation of the slave parent has been entailed upon the child, induced by the subtle policy of the oppressor, in regular succession handed down from father to son–a system of regular submission and servitude, menialism and dependence, until it has become almost a physiological function of our system, an actual condition of our nature. Let this no longer be so, but let us determine to equal the whites among whom we live, not by declarations and unexpressed self-opinion, for we have always had enough of that, but by actual proof in acting, doing, and carrying out practically, the measures of equality. Here is our nativity, and here have we the natural right to abide and be elevated through the measures of our own efforts.
XVI. NATIONAL DISFRANCHISEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
We give below the Act of Congress, known as the “Fugitive Slave Law,” for the benefit of the reader, as there are thousands of the American people of all classes, who have never read the provisions of this enactment, and consequently, have no conception of its enormity. We had originally intended, also, to have inserted here, the Act of Congress of 1793, but since this Bill includes all the provisions of that Act, in fact, although called a “supplement,” is a substitute, de facto, it would be superfluous therefore, we insert the Bill alone, with explanations following:–
TO AMEND, AND SUPPLEMENTARY TO THE ACT, ENTITLED,” AN ACT RESPECTING FUGITIVES FROM JUSTICE, AND PERSONS ESCAPING FROM THE SERVICE OF THEIR MASTERS,” APPROVED
February 12, 1793
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the persons who have been, or may hereafter be, appointed commissioners, in virtue of any act of Congress, by the circuit courts of the United States, and who, in consequence of such appointment, are authorized to exercise the powers that any justice of the peace or other magistrate of any of the United States may exercise in respect to offenders for any crime or offence against the United States, by arresting, imprisoning, or bailing the same under and by virtue of the thirty-third section of the act of the twenty-fourth of September, seventeen hundred and eighty-nine, entitled “An act to establish the judicial courts of the United States,” shall be, and are hereby authorized and required to exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.
SEC. 2 And be it further enacted, That the superior court of each organized territory of the United States shall have the same power to appoint commissioners to take acknowledgements of bail and affidavit, and to take depositions of witnesses in civil causes, which is now possessed by the circuit courts of the United States; and all commissioners who shall hereafter be appointed for such purposes by the superior court of any organized territory of the United States shall possess all the powers and exercise all the duties conferred by law upon the commissioners appointed by the circuit courts of the United States for similar purposes, and shall moreover exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.
SEC. 3 And be it further enacted, That the circuit courts of the United States, and the superior courts of each organized territory of the United States, shall from time to time enlarge the number of commissioners, with a view to afford reasonable facilities to reclaim fugitives from labor, and to prompt discharge of the duties imposed by this act.
SEC. 4 And be it further enacted, That the commissioners above named shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the judges of the circuit and district courts of the United States, in their respective circuits and districts within the several States, and the judges of the superior courts of the Territories, severally and collectively, in term time and vacation; and shall grant certificates to such claimants, upon satisfactory proof being made, with authority to make and remove such fugitives from service or labor, under the restrictions herein contained to the State or territory from which such persons may have escaped or fled.
SEC. 5 And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of all marshals and deputy marshals to obey and execute all warrants and precepts issued under the provisions of this act, when to them directed; and should any marshal or deputy refuse to receive such warrant or other process, when tendered, or to use all proper means diligently to execute the same, he shall, on conviction thereof, be fined in the sum of one thousand dollars to the use of such claimant, on the motion of such claimant, by the circuit or district court for the district of such marshal; and after arrest of such fugitive by such marshal or his deputy, or whilst at any time in his custody, under the provisions of this act, should such fugitive escape whether with or without the assent of such marshal or his deputy, such marshal shall be liable, on his official bond, to be prosecuted, for the benefit of such claimant for the full value of the service of labor of said fugitive in the State, Territory, or district whence he escaped; and the better to enable the said commissioners, when thus appointed, to execute their duties faithfully and efficiently, in conformity with the requirements of the constitution of the United States and of this act, they are hereby authorized and empowered, within their counties respectively, to appoint in writing under their hands, any one or more suitable persons, from time to time, to execute all such warrants and other process as may be issued by them in the lawful performance of their respective duties; with an authority to such commissioners, or the persons to be appointed by them, to execute process as aforesaid, to summon and call to their aid the bystanders or posse comitatus of the proper county, when necessary to insure a faithful observance of the clause of the constitution referred to, in conformity with the provisions of this act: and all good citizens are hereby commanded to aid and assist in the prompt and efficient execution of the law, whenever their services may be required, as aforesaid, for that person; and said warrants shall run and be executed by said officers anywhere in the State within which they are issued.
Sec 6. And be it further enacted, That when a person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the United States has heretofore or shall hereafter escape into another State or Territory of the United State, the person or persons to whom such service or labor may be due, or his, her, or their agent or attorney, duly authorized, by power of attorney, in writing acknowledged and certified under the seal of some legal office or court of the State or Territory in which the same may be executed, may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person, either by procuring a warrant from some one of the courts, judges, or commissioners aforesaid, of the proper circuit, district, or county, for the apprehension of such fugitive from service or labor, or by seizing and arresting such fugitive, where the same can be done without process, and by taking and causing such a person to be taken forthwith before such a court, judge or commissioner, whose duty it shall be to hear and determine the case of such claimant in a summary manner; and upon satisfactory proof being made, by deposition or affidavit, in writing, to be taken and certified by such court, judge, or commissioner, or by other satisfactory testimony, duly taken, and certified by some court, magistrate, justice of the peace, or other legal officer authorized to administer an oath, and take depositions under the laws of the State or Territory from which such person owing service or labor may have escaped, with certificate of such magistracy or other authority, aforesaid, with the seal of the proper court or officer thereto attached, which seal shall be sufficient to establish the competency of the proof, and with proof, also by affidavit, of the identity of the person whose service or labor is claimed to be due as aforesaid, that the person so arrested does in fact owe service or labor to the person or persons claiming him or her, in the State or Territory from which such fugitive may have escaped as aforesaid, and that said person escaped, to make out and deliver to such claimant, his or her agent or attorney, a certificate setting forth the substantial facts as to the service or labor due from such fugitive to the claimant, and his or her escape from the State or Territory in which he or she was arrested, with authority to such claimant, or his or her agent or attorney to use such reasonable force and restraint as may be necessary under the circumstances of the case, to take and remove such fugitive person back to the State or Territory from whence he or she may have escaped as aforesaid. In no trial or hearing under this act shall the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evidence; and the certificates in this and the first section mentioned shall be conclusive of the right of the person or persons in whose favor granted to remove such fugitive to the State or Territory from which he escaped, and shall prevent all molestation of said person or persons by any process issued by any court, judge, magistrate, or other person whomsoever.
SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That any person who shall knowingly and willingly obstruct, hinder, or prevent such claimant, his agent or attorney, or any person or persons, lawfully assisting him, her, or them, from arresting such a fugitive from service or labor, either with or without process as aforesaid; or shall rescue, or attempt to rescue such fugitive from service or labor, from the custody of such claimant, his or her agent or attorney or other person or persons lawfully assisting as aforesaid, when so arrested, pursuant to the authority herein given and declared: or shall aid, abet, or assist such person, so owing service or labor as aforesaid, directly or indirectly, to escape from such claimant, his agent or attorney, or other person or persons, legally authorized as aforesaid; shall harbor or conceal such fugitive, so as to prevent the discovery and arrest of such person, after notice or knowledge of the fact that such person was a fugitive from service or labor as aforesaid, shall for either of said offences, be subject to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding six months, by indictment and conviction before the district court of the United States for the district in which such offence may have been committed, or before the proper court of criminal jurisdiction, if committed within any one of the organized territories of the United States, and shall moreover forfeit and pay, by way of civil damages to the party injured by such illegal conduct, the sum of one thousand dollars for each fugitive so lost as aforesaid, to be recovered by action of debt in any of the district or territorial courts aforesaid, within whose jurisdiction the said offence may have been committed.
SEC 8. And be it further enacted, That the marshals, their deputies, and the clerks of the said district and territorial courts, shall be paid for their services the like fees as may be allowed to them for similar services in other cases; and where such services are rendered exclusively in the arrest, custody, and delivery of the fugitive to the claimant, his, or her agent or attorney, or where such supposed fugitive may be discharged out of custody for the want of sufficient proof as aforesaid, then such fees are to be paid in the whole by such claimant, his agency or attorney; and in all cases where the proceedings are before a commissioner, he shall be entitled to a fee of ten dollars in full for his services in each case, upon delivery of the said certificate to the claimant, his or her agent or attorney; or a fee of five dollars in cases where the proof shall not, in the opinion of such commissioner, warrant such certificate and delivery, inclusive of all services incident to such arrest and examination, to be paid in either case, by the claimant, his or her agent or attorney. The person or persons authorized to execute the process to be issued by such commissioners for the arrest and detention of fugitives from service or labor as aforesaid, shall also be entitled to a fee of five dollars each for each person he or they may arrest and take before any such commissioner as aforesaid at the instance and request of such claimant, with such other fees as may be deemed reasonable by such commissioner for such other additional services as may be necessarily performed by him or them: such as attending to the examination, keeping the fugitive in custody, and providing him with food and lodging during his detention, and until the final determination of such commissioner; and in general for performing such other duties as may be required by such claimant, his or her attorney or agent, or commissioner in the premises; such fees to be made up in conformity with the fees usually charged by the officers of the courts of justice within the proper district or county, as near as may be practicable, and paid by such claimants, their agents or attorneys, whether such supposed fugitive from service or labor be ordered to be delivered to such claimants by final determination such commissioners or not.
SEC. 9 And be it further enacted, That upon affidavit made by the claimant of such fugitive, his agent or attorney, after such certificate has been issued, that he has reason to apprehend that such fugitive will be rescued by force from his or their possession before he can be taken beyond the limits of the State in which the arrest is made, it shall be the duty of the officer making the arrest to retain such fugitive in his custody, and to remove him to the State whence he fled, and there to deliver him to said claimant, his agent or attorney. And to this end the officer aforesaid is hereby authorized and required to employ so many persons as he may deem necessary, to overcome such force, and to retain them in his service so long as circumstances may require; the said officer and his assistants, while so employed, to receive the same compensation, and to be allowed the same expenses as are now allowed by law for the transportation of criminals, to be certified by the judge of the district within which the arrest is made, and paid out of the treasury of the United Sates.
SEC. 10 And be it further enacted, That when any person held to service or labor in any State or Territory, or in the District of Columbia, shall escape therefrom, the party to whom such service or labor shall be due, his, her, or their agent or attorney may apply to any court of record therein, or judge thereof, in vacation, and make satisfactory proof to such escaping owed service or labor to such party. Whereupon the court shall cause a record to be made of the matters so proved, and also a general description of the person so escaping, with such convenient certainty as may be; and a transcript of such record authenticated by the attestation of the clerk, and of the seal of the said court, being produced in any other State, Territory, or District in which the person so escaping may be found, and being exhibited to any judge, commissioner, or other officer, authorized by the law of the United States to cause persons escaping from service or labor to be delivered up, shall be held and taken to be full and conclusive evidence of the fact of escape, and that the service or labor of the person escaping is due to the party in such record mentioned. And upon the production by the said party of other and further evidence, if necessary, either oral or by affidavit, in addition to what is contained in the said record of the identity of the person escaping, he or she shall be delivered up to the claimant. And the said court, commissioner, judge or other person authorized by this act to grant certificates to claimants of fugitives, shall, upon the production of the record and other evidences aforesaid, grant to such claimant a certificate of his right to take any such person identified an proved to be owing service or labor as aforesaid, which certificate shall authorize such claimant to seize or arrest and transport such person to the State or Territory from which he escaped: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed as requiring the production of a transcript of such record as evidence as aforesaid; but in its absence, the claim shall be heard and determined upon other satisfactory proofs competent in law.
Speaker of the House of Representatives
William R. King
President of the Senate, pro tempore.Approved September 18, 1850
The most prominent provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and those which form the fundamental basis of personal security, are they which provide, that every person may be deprived of liberty without due process of law, and that for crime or misdemeanor; that there may be no process of law that shall work corruption of blood. By corruption of blood is meant, that process, by which a person is degraded and deprived of rights common to the enfranchised citizen–of the rights of an elector, and of eligibility to the office of a representative of the people; in a word, that no person nor their posterity, may ever be debased beneath the level of the recognized basis of American citizenship. This debasement and degradation is “corruption of blood” politically understood– a legal acknowledgement of inferiority of birth.
Heretofore, it ever has been denied, that the United States recognized or knew any difference between the people– that the Constitution makes no distinction, but includes in its provisions, all the people alike. This is not true, and certainly is blind absurdity in us at least, who have suffered the dread consequences of this delusion, not now to see it.
By the provisions of this bill, the colored people of the United States are positively degraded beneath the level of the whites– are made liable at any time, in any place, and under all circumstances, to be areested– and upon the claim of any white person, without the privilege, even of making a defence, sent into endless bondage. Let no visionary nonsense about habeas corpus, or a fair trial deceive us; there are no such rights granted in this bill, and except where the commissioner is too ignorant to understand when reading it, or too stupid to enforce it when he does understand, there is no earthly chance — no hope under heaven for the colored person who is brought before one of these officers of the law. Any leniency that may be expected, must proceed from the whims or caprice of the magistrate — in fact, it is optional with them; and our rights and liberty entirely at their disposal.
We are slaves in the midst of freedom, waiting patiently, and unconcernedly– indifferently, and stupidly, for masters to come and lay claim to us, trusting to their generosity whether or not they will own us and carry us into endless bondage.
The slave is more secure than we; he knows who holds the heel upon his bosom– we know not the wretch who may grasp us by the throat. His master may be a man of some conscientious scruples; ours may be unmerciful. Good or bad, mild or harsh, easy or hard, lenient or sever, saint or satan– whenever that master demands any one of us — even our affectionate wives and darling little children, we must go into slavery — there is no alternative. The will of the man who sits in judgment on our liberty, is the law. To him is given all power to say, whether or not we have a right to enjoy freedom. This is the power over the slave in the South– this is now extended to the North. The sill of the man who sits in judgment over us is the law; because it is explicitly provided that the decision of the commissioner shall be final, from which there can be no appeal.
The freed man of the South is even more secure than the freeborn of the North; because such persons usually have their records in the slave states, brining their “papers” with them; and the slaveholders will be faithful to their own acts. The Northern freeman knows no records; he despises the “papers.”
Depend upon no promised protection of citizens in any quarter. Their own property and liberty are jeopardised, and they will not sacrifice them for us. This we may not expect them to do.
Besides, there are no people who ever lived, love their country and obey their laws as the Americans.
Their country is their Heaven — their Laws their Scriptures– and the decrees of their Magistrates obeyed as the fiat of God. It is the most consummate delusion and misdirected confidence to depend upon them for protection; and for a moment suppose even our children safe while walking in the streets among them.
A people capable of originating and sustaining such a law a as this, are not the people to whom we are willing to entrust our liberty at discretion.
What can we do? — What shall we do? This is the great and important question: — Shall we submit to be dragged like brutes before heartless men, and sent into degradation and bondage? — Shall we fly, or shall we resist? Ponder well and reflect.
A learned jurist in the United States, (Chief Justice John Gibson of Pennsylvania,) lays down this as a fundamental right in the United States: that –Every man’s house is his castle, and he has the right to defend in unto the taking of life, against any attempt to enter it against his will, except for crime,– by well authenticated process.
But we have no such right. It was not intended for us, any more than any other provision of the law, intended for the protection of Americans. The policy is against us — it is useless to contend against it.
This is the law of the land and must be obeyed; and we candidly advise that it is useless for us to contend against it. To suppose its repeal, is to anticipate an overthrow of the Confederative Union; and we must be allowed an expression of opinion, when we say, that candidly we believe, the existence of the Fugitive Slave Law necessary to the continuance of the National Compact. This Law is the foundation of the Compromise — remove it, and the consequences are easily determined. We say necessary to the continuance of the National Compact: certainly we will not be understood as meaning that the enactment of such a Law was really necessary, or as favoring in the least this political monstrosity of the Thirty-First Congress of the United States of America — surely not at all; but we speak logically and politically, leaving morality and right out of the question — taking our position on the acknowledged popular basis of American Policy; arguing from premise to conclusion. We must abandon all vague theory, and look at facts as they really are, viewing ourselves in our true political position in the body politic. To imagine ourselves to be included in the body politic, except by express legislation, is at war with common sense, and contrary to fact. Legislation, the administration of the laws of the country, and the exercise of rights by the people, all prove to the contrary. We are politically, not of them, but aliens to the laws and political privileges of the country. These are truths — fixed facts, that quaint theory and exhausted moralising, are impregnable to, and fall harmlessly before.
It is useless to talk about our rights in individual States: we can have no rights there as citizens, not recognized in our common country; as the citizens of one State, are entitled to all the rights and privileges of an American citizen in all the States–the nullity of the one necessarily implying the nullity of the other. These provisions then do not include the colored people of the United States; since there is no power left in them, whereby they may protect us as their own citizens. Our descent, by the laws of the country, stamps us with inferiority — upon us has this law worked corruption of blood. We are in they hands of the General Government, and no State can rescue us. The Army and Navy stand at the service of our enslavers, the whole force of which, may at any moment–even in the dead of night, as has been done–when sunk in the depth of slumber, be called out for the purpose of forcing our mothers, sisters, wives, and children, or ourselves, into hopeless servitude, there to weary out a miserable life, a relief from which, death would be hailed with joy. Heaven and earth–God and Humanity!– are not these sufficient to arouse the most position? These laws apply to us–shall we not be aroused?
What then shall we do? –what is the remedy–is the important question to be answered?
This important inquiry we shall answer, and find a remedy in when treating of the emigration of the colored people.
XVII Emigration of the Colored People of the United States
That there have been people in all ages under certain circumstances, that may be benefited by emigration, will be admitted; and that there are circumstances under which emigration is absolutely necessary to their political elevation, cannot be disputed.
This we see in the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt to the land of Judea; in the expedition of Dido and her followers from Tyre to Mauritania; and not to dwell upon hundreds of modern European examples –also in the ever memorable emigration of the Puritans in 1620, from Great Britain, the land of their birth, to the wilderness of the New World, at which may be fixed the beginning of emigration to his continent as a permanent residence.
This may be acknowledged; but to advocate the emigration of the colored people of the United States from their native homes, is a new feature in our history, and at first view may be considered objectionable, as pernicious to our interests. This objection is at once removed, when reflecting on our condition as incontrovertibly shown in a foregoing part of this work. And we shall proceed at once to give the advantages to be derived from emigration, to us as a people, in preference to any other policy that we may adopt. This granted, the question will then be, Where shall we go? This we conceive to be all-important–of paramount consideration, and shall endeavor to show the most advantageous locality; and premise the recommendation, with the strictest advice against any countenance whatever, to the emigration scheme of the so called Republic of Liberia.
XVIII. “Republic of Liberia”
That we desire the civilization and enlightenment of Africa– the high and elevated position of Liberia among the nations of the earth, may not be doubts, as the writer was among the first, seven or eight years ago, to make the suggestion and call upon the Liberians to hold up their heads like men; take courage, having confidence in their own capacity to govern themselves, and come out from their disparaging position, by formally declaring their Independence.
As our desire is to impart information, and enlighten the minds of our readers on the various subjects herein contained, we present below a large extract from the “First Annual Report of the Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia.” This Extract will make a convenient statistic reference for matters concerning Liberia. We could only wish that many of our readers possessed more historical and geographical information of the world, and there could be little fears of their going anywhere that might be incongenial and unfavorable to their success. We certainly do intend to deal fairly with Liberia, and give the reader every information that may tend to enlighten them. What the colored people most need, is intelligence; give them this, and there is no danger of them being duped into anything they do not desire. This Board was incorporated by the Legislature of Massachusetts, March 19th, 1850–Ensign H. Kellogg, Speaker of the House, Marshall P. Wilder, President of the Senate. Trustees of the Board–Hon. George N. Briggs, LL.D., Hon. Simon Greenleaf, LL.D., Hon. Stephen Fairbanks, Hon. William J. Hubbard, Hon. Joel Giles, Hon. Albert Fearing, Amos A. Lawrence, Esq. Officers of the Board– Hon. G.N. Briggs, President; Hon. S. Fairbanks, Treasurer; Rev. J. Tracy, Secretary. The conclusion of the Report says: “In view of such considerations, the Trustees cannot doubt the patrons of learning will sustain them in their attempt to plan the First College on the only continent which yet remains without one..” In this, the learned Trustees have fallen into a statistical and geographical error, which we design to correc. The continent is not without a College. There are now in Egypt, erected under the patronage of that singularly wonderful man, Mehemet Ali, four colleges conducted on the European principle — Scientific, Medical, Legal, and Military. These are in successful operation; the Military College having an average of eleven hundred students annually. The continent of Africa then, is not without a college, but though benighted enough, even to an apparent hopeless degeneration , she is still the seat of learning, and must some day rise, in the majesty of ancient grandeur, and vindicate the rights and claims of her own children, against the incalculable wrong perpetrated through the period of sixty ages by professedly enlightened Christians, against them
A glance at the map will show a sharp bend in this coast at Cape Palmas, from which it extends, on the one side, about 1,100 miles northwest and north, and on the other, about 1,200 or 1,300 almost directly east. In this bend is the Maryland Colony of Cape Palmas, with a jurisdiction extending nearly 100 miles eastward. This Colony is bounded on the north-west by the Republic of Liberia, which extends along the coast about 400 miles to Sherbro. These two governments will ultimately be united in one Republic, and may be considered as one, for all the purposes of this inquiry. The extent of their united seacoast is about 520 miles. The jurisdiction of the Republic over the four hundred miles or more which it claims, has been formally acknowledged by several of the leading powers of Europe, and is questioned by none. To almost the whole of it, the native title has been extinguished; the natives, however, still occupying, as citizens, such portions of it as they need.
The civilized population of these governments, judging from the census of 1843, and other information, is some 7,000 or 8,000. Of the heathen population, no census has ever been taken; but it probably exceeds 300,000.
The grade of Liberian civilization may be estimated from the fact, that the people have formed a republican government, and so administer it, as to secure the confidence of European governments in its stability. The native tribes who have merged themselves in the Republic, have all bound themselves to receive and encourage teachers; and some of them have insisted on the insertion, in their treaties of annexation, of pledges that teachers and other means of civilization shall be furnished.
Our accounts of churches, clergy and schools are defective, but show the following significant facts:
The clergy of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Liberia are nearly all Liberian citizens, serving as missionaries of the Methodist Missionary Society in the United States. The last Report of that Society gives the names of fifteen missionaries, having in charge nine circuits, in which are 882 members in full communion, and 235 probationers; total 1,117. They have 20 Sabbath Schools, with 114 officers and teachers, 810 scholars, and 507 volumes in their libraries. They have a Manual Labor School and Female Academy. The number of Day Schools is not reported; but seven of the missionaries are reported as superintendents of schools, and the same number have under their charge several “native towns,” in some of which there are schools. The late superintendent of the missions writes: —
“: It appears plain to my mind, that nothing can now retard the progress of our missions in this land, unless it be the want of a good high school, in which to rear up an abundant supply of well qualified teachers, to supply, as they shall rapidly increase in number, all your schools.”
The Baptists are next in number to the Methodists. The Northern Baptist Board, having its seat in Boston, has in Liberia one mission, two out-stations, one boarding school, and two day schools, with about twenty scholars each one native preacher, and four native assistants. The whole mission is in the hands of converted natives. The Southern Board operates more extensively. More than a year since, the Rev. John Day, its principal agent there, reported to the Rev. R.R. Gurley, United States Commissioner to Liberia, as follows:
“: In our schools are taught, say, 330 children, 92 of whom are natives. To more than 10,000 natives, the Word of Life is statedly preached; and in every settlement in these colonies, we have a church to whom the means of grace are administered; and in every village we have an interesting Sunday school, where natives as well as colonists are taught the truths of God’s word. Say, in our Sunday schools, are taught 400 colonists, and 200 natives. * * * We have this year baptized 18 natives and 7 colonists, besides what have been baptized by Messrs. Murray and Drayton, from whom I have had no report.”
The missionaries are all, or nearly all, Liberian citizens.
The Board of Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States has five missionaries at four stations in Liberia. The first is at Monrovia, under the care of the Rev. Harrison W. Ellis, well known as “the Learned Black Blacksmith.” While a slave in Alabama, and working at his trade as a blacksmith, he acquired all the education, in English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Theology, which is required for ordination as a Presbyterian minister. The Presbyterians of that region then bought him, and sent him out as a missionary. His assistant, Mr.B.V.R. James, a colored man, was for some years a printer in the service of the American Board at their mission at Cape Palmas and the Gaboon River. He first went to Liberia as a teacher, supported by a society of ladies in New York. In the Presbyterian church under the care of Mr.Ellis are 39 communicants. During the year, 24 had been added, and 8 had been dismissed to form a new church in another place. Mr. Ellis also has charge of the “Alexander High School,” which is intended mainly for teaching the rudiments of classical education. This institution has an excellent iron school-house, given by a wealthy citizen of New York, at cost of the one thousand dollars, and a library and philosophical apparatus, which cost six hundred dollars, given by a gentleman in one of the southern States. The library contains a supply of classical works, probably equal to the wants of the school for some years. The land needed for the accommodation of the school was given by the ;a part of whom support themselves by their daily labor. The English High School under the care of Mr. James, had according to the last Annual Report, 52 scholars. At a later date, the number in both schools was 78. Mr. James has also a large Sabbath school; but the number of pupils is not given.
The school station is at the new settlement of Kentucky, on the right or north bank of the St. Paul’s, about fifteen miles from Monrovia, and six miles below Millsburgh. The missionary is a Liberian, Mr. H. W. Erksine. On a lot of ten acres, given by the government, buildings on an economical scale have been erected, in which is a school of twenty scholars. A church was organized in November, 1849, with eight members from the church in Monrovia. They have since increased to fourteen. Here, too, is a flourishing Sabbath school. The citizens, and especially the poor natives in the neighbourhood, are extremely anxious that a boarding school should be established. To this the Committee having charge of this mission objects, as the expense for buildings and for the support of pupils would be great, and would absorb funds that can be more profitably expended on day schools.
The third station is on the Sinou river, 150 miles down the coast from Monrovia, where, at the mouth of the river, is the town of Greenville, and a few miles higher up, the newer settlements of Readville and Rossville. It is under the care of the Rev. James M. Priest. The number of communicants, at the latest date, was thirty, and the field of labor was rapidly enlarging by immigration. The station is new, and it does not appear that any mission school had yet been organized.
The fourth station is at Settra Kroo, where there are five or six miles of coast, to which the native title has not yet been extinguished. This station has been maintained for some years, at a lamentable expense of the lives and health of white missionaries. About 200 boys and a few girls have been taught to read. The station is now under the care of Mr. Washington McDonogh, formerly a slave of the late John McDonogh, of Louisiana, so well known for the immense estate which he has bequeathed to benevolent purposes. He was well educated, and with more than eighty others, sent out some years since at his master’s expense. He has a school of fifteen scholars, with the prospect of large increase.
The mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church is located in the Maryland Colony at Cape Palmas. Its last Report specifies seven schools, and alludes to several others, in actual operation; all containing from 200 to 300 scholars, of whom about 100 are in one Sabbath school. Five other schools had been projected, and have probably gone into operation since that time. The greater part of the pupils are from native families. The Report states the number of communicants at sixty–seven, of whom forty are natives. A High school was opened January 1, 1850.
The laws of the Republic of Liberia provide for a common school in every town. It is supposed, however, that where there is a mission school, accessible to all children of suitable age, no other school exists; so that, in fact, nearly all the common schools in Liberia are connected with the different missions, the missionaries have the superintendence of their studies, and the Missionary Societies defray a large portion of the expense. Yet is must be remembered that a large majority of the missionaries were citizens of the Republic, and some of them native Africans; so that the immediate control of the schools is not generally in foreign hands. A portion, also, of the missionary funds, is contributed in Liberia; and something is paid by parents for the tuition of their children. Yet the Republic evidently needs an educational system more independent of missionary aid and control; and for that purpose, needs a supply of teachers who are not raised up in mission schools. And we have it in testimony, that the missions themselves might be more efficient for good, if well supplied with teachers of higher qualifications.
Here, then, we have a Republic of some 300,000 inhabitants, of whom 7,000 or 8,000 may be regarded as civilized, and the remainder as having a right to expect, and a large part of them actually expecting and demanding the means of civilization and Christianity. We have–supplying as well as we can by estimate, the numbers not definitely given–more than 2,000 communicants in Christian churches, and more than 1,500 children in Sabbath Schools; some 40 day schools containing, exclusive of the Methodists, who are the most numerous, and of whose numbers in school we have no report, about 635 scholars. The whole number in day schools, therefore, is probably not less than 1,200. We have the Alexander High School at Monrovia, where instruction is given to some extent in the classics; the English High School, at the Academy at Millsburg; the Baptist Boarding School at Bexley; and the Protestant Episcopal High School at Cape Palmas. These institutions must furnish some students for a higher seminary, such as we propose to establish; and such a population must need their labors when educated.
However foreign to the designs of the writer of ever making that country or any other out of America, his home; had this been done, and honorably maintained, the Republic of Liberia would have met with words of encouragement, not only from himself, an humble individual, but we dare assert, from the leading spirits among, if not from the whole colored population of the United States. Because they would have been willing to overlook the circumstances under which they went there, so that in the end they were willing to take their stand as men, and thereby throw off the degradation of slaves, still under the control of American slaveholder, and American slave– ships. But in this, we were disappointed– grievously disappointed, and proceed to show in short, our objections to Liberia.
Its geographical position, in the first place, is objectionable, being located in the sixth degree of latitude in North of the equator, in a district signally unhealthy, rendering it objectionable as a place of destination for the colored people of the United States. We shall say nothing about other parts of the African coast, and the reasons for its location where it is: it is enough for us to know the facts as they are, to justify an unqualified objection to Liberia.
In the second place, it originated in a deep laid scheme of the slaveholders of the country, to exterminated the free colored of the American continent; the origin being sufficient to justify us in impugning the motives.
Thirdly and lastly– Liberia is not an Independent Republic: in fact, it is not an independent nation at all; but a poor miserable mockery— a burlesque on a government– a pitiful dependency on the American Colonizationists, the Colonization Board at Washington city, in the District of Columbia, being the Executive and Government, and the principal man called President, in Liberia, being the echo– a mere parrot of Rev. Robert R. Gurney, Elliot Cresson, Esq., Governor Pinney, and other leaders of the Colonization scheme– to do as they bid, and say what they tell him. This we see in all of his doings.
Does he go to France and England, and enter into solemn treaties of an honorable recognition of the independence of his country; before his own nation has any knowledge of the result, this man called President, dispatches an official report to the Colonizationists of the United States, asking their gracious approval? Does king Grando, or a party of fishermen besiege a village and murder some of the inhabitants, this same “President,” dispatches an official report to the American Colonization Board, asking for instructions– who call an Executive Session of the Board, and immediately decide that war must be waged against the enemy placing ten thousand dollars at his disposal– and war actually declared in Liberia, by virtue of the instructions of the American Colonization Society. A mockery of a government– a disgrace to the office pretended to be held– a parody of a position assumed. Liberia in Africa, is a mere dependency of Southern slaveholders, and American Colonizationists, and unworthy of the respectful consideration of us.
What would be thought of the people of Hayti, and their heads of government, if their instructions emanated from the American Anti-Slavery Society, or the British Foreign Missionary Board? Should they be respected at all as a nation? Would they be worthy of it? Certainly not. We do not expect Liberia to be all that Hayti is; but we ask and expect of her, to have a decent respect for herself– to endeavor to be freemen instead of voluntary slaves. Liberia is no place for the colored freemen of the United States; and we dismiss the subject with a single remark of caution against any advice contained in a pamphlet, which we have not seen, written by Hon. James. G. Birney, in favor of Liberian emigration. Mr. Birney is like the generality of white Americans, who suppose that we are too ignorant to understand what we want; whenever they wish to get rid of us, would drive us any where, so that we left them. Don’t adhere to a word therein contained; we will think for ourselves. Let Mr. Birney go his way and we will go ours. This is one of those confounded gratuities that is forced in our faces at every turn we make. We dismiss it without further comment– and with it Colonization in toto— and Mr. Birney de facto.
But to return to emigration: Where shall we go? We must not leave this continent; America is our destination and our home.
That the continent of America seems to have been designed by Providence as an asylum for all the various nations of the earth, is very apparent. From the earliest discovery, various nations sent a representation here, either as adventurers and speculators, or employed seamen and soldiers, hired to do the work of their employers. And among the earliest and most numerous class who found their way to the New World, were those of the African race. And it is now ascertained to our mind, beyond a peradventure, that when the continent was discovered, there were found in Central America, a tribe of the black race, of fine looking people, having characteristics of color and hair, identifying them originally of the African race– no doubt being a remnant of the Africans who, with the Carthaginian expedition, were adventitiously cast upon this continent, in their memorable excursion to the “Great Island,” after sailing man miles distant to the West of the Pillar of Hercules.
We are not inclined to be superstitious, but say, that we can see the “finger of God” in all this; and if the European race may with propriety, boast and claim, that this continent is better adapted to their development, than their own father-land; surely, it does not necessarily detract from our father-land, to claim the superior advantages to the African race, to be derived from this continent. But be that as it may, the world belongs to mankind–his common Father created it for his common good–his temporal destiny is here; and our present warfare, is not upon European right, nor for European countries; but for the common rights of man, based upon the great principles of common humanity–taking our chance in the world of right, and claiming to have originally more right to this continent, than the European race. And had we no other claims than those set forth in a former part of this work, they are sufficient to cause every colored man on the continent, to stand upon the soil unshaken and unmoved. The aborigine of the continent, is more closely allied to us by consanguinity, than to the European–being descended from the Asiatic, whose alliance in matrimony with the African is very common–therefore, we have even greater claims to this continent on that account, and should unite and make common cause in elevation, with our similarly oppressed brother, the Indian.
The advantages of this continent are superior, because it presents every variety of climate, soil, and production of the earth, with every variety of mineral production, with all kinds of water privileges, and ocean coast on all sides, presenting every commercial advantage. Upon the American continent we are determined to stay, in spite of every odds against us. What part of the great continent shall be–shall we emigrate to the North or South?
XXIII. THINGS AS THEY ARE
TRUTH to utter SPEAK, and
leave the rest to God”
In presenting this work, we have but a single object in view, and that is, to inform the minds of the colored people at large, upon many things pertaining to their elevation, that but few among us are acquainted with. Unfortunately for us, as a body, we have been taught to believe, that we must have some person to think for us, instead of thinking for ourselves. So accustomed are we to submission and this kind of training, that it is with difficulty, even among the most intelligent of the colored people, an audience may be elicited for any purpose whatever, if the expounder is to be a colored person; and the introduction of any subject is treated with indifference, if not contempt, when the originator is a colored person. Indeed, the most ordinary white person, is almost revered, while the most qualified colored person is totally neglected. Nothing from them is appreciated.
We have been standing comparatively still for years, following in the footsteps of our friends, believing that what they promise us can be accomplished, just because they say so although our own knowledge should long since, have satisfied us to the contrary. Because even were it possible, with the present hate and jealousy that the whites have towards us in this country, for us to gain equality of rights with them; we never could have an equality of the of rights with them; we never could have an equality of the exercise and enjoyment of those rights — because, the great odds of numbers are against us. We might indeed, as some at present, have the right of the elective franchise– nay, it is not the elective franchise, because the elective franchise makes the enfranchised, eligible to any position attainable; but we may exercise the right of voting only, which to us, is but poor satisfaction; and we by no means care to cherish the privilege of voting somebody into office, to help to make laws to degrade us.
In religion — because they are both translators and commentators, we must believe nothing, however absurd, but what our oppressors tell us. In Politics, nothing but such as they promulge; in Anti-Slavery, nothing but what our white brethren and friends say we must; in the mode and manner of our elevation, we must do nothing, but that which may be laid down to be done by our white brethren from some quarter or other; and now, even in the subject of emigration, there are some colored people to be found, so lost to their own interest and self-respect, as to be gulled by slave owners and colonizationists, who are led to believe there is no other place in which they can become elevated, but Liberia, a government of American slave-holders, as we have shown–simply, because white men have told them so.
Upon the possibility, means, mode and manner, of our Elevation in the United State–Our Original Rights and Claims as Citizens– Our Determination not to be Driven from our Native Country–the Difficulties in the Way of our Elevation&151;Our Position in Relation to our Anti-Slavery Brethren–the Wicked Design and Injurious Tendency of the American Colonization Society–Objections to Liberia–Objections to Canada–Preferences to South America &c.,&c., all of which we have treated without reserve; expressing our mind freely, and with candor, as we are determined that as far as we can at present do so, the minds of our readers shall be enlightened. The custom of concealing information upon vital and important subjects, in which the interest of the people is involved, we do mot treatise before our readers, with the hope that it may prove instrumental in directing the attention of our people in the right way, that leads to their Elevation. Go or stay–of course each is free to do as he pleases–one thing is certain; our Elevation is the work of our own hands. And Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and South America, all present now, opportunities for the individual enterprise of our young men, who prefer to remain in the United States, in the preference to going where thy can enjoy real freedom, and equality of rights. Freedom of Religion, as well as of politics, being tolerated in all these places.
Let our young men and women, prepare themselves for usefulness and business; that the men way enter into merchandise, trading, and other things of importance; they young women may become teachers of various kinds, and otherwise fill places of usefulness. Parents must turn their attention more to the education of their children. We mean, to educate them for useful practical business purposes. Educate them for the Store and the Counting House–to do every-day practical business. Consult the children’s propensities, and direct their education according to their inclinations. It may be that there is too great a desire on the part of parents, to give their children a professional education, before the body of the people. Depend upon than mere help in people’s houses and Hotels, before they are either able to support, or capable of properly appreciating the services of professional men among them. This has been one of our great mistakes –we have gone in advance of ourselves. We have commenced at the superstructure of the building, instead of the foundation –at the top instead of bottom. We should first be mechanics and common tradesmen, and professions as a matter of course would grow out of the wealth made thereby. Young men and women, must now prepare for usefulness–the day of our Elevation is at hand–all the world now gazes at us–and Central and South America, and the West Indies, bid us come and be men and women, protected, secure, beloved and Free.
The branches of Education most desirable for the preparation of youth, for practical useful every-day life, are Arithmetic and good Penmanship, in order to be Accountants; and a good rudimental knowledge of Geography–which has ever been neglected, and underestimated–and of Political Economy; which without the knowledge of the first, no people can ever become adventurous–nor of the second, never will be an enterprising people. Geography, teaches a knowledge of the world, and Political Economy, a knowledge of the wealth of nations; or how to make money. These are not abstruse sciences, or learning not easily acquired or understood; but simply, common School Primer learning, that every body may get. And, although it is the very Key to prosperity and success in common life, but few know anything about it. Unfortunately for our people, so soon as their children learn to read a Chapter in the New Testament, and scribble a miserable hand, they are pronounced to have “Learning enough;” and taken away from School, no use to themselves, nor community. This is apparent in our Public Meetings, and Official Church Meetings; of the great number of men present, there are but few capable of filling a Secretaryship. Some of the large cities may be an exception to this. Of the multitudes of Merchants, and Business men throughout this country, Europe, and the world, few are qualified, beyond the branches here laid down by us as necessary for business. What did John Jacob Astor, Stephen Girard, or do the millionaires and the greater part of the merchant princes, and mariners, know about Latin and Greek, and the Classics? Precious few of them know any thing. In proof of this, in 1841, during the Administration of President Tyler, when the mutiny was detected on board of the American Man of War Brig Somers, the names of Mutineers, were recorded by young S– a Midshipman in Greek. Captain Alexander Sidell McKenzie, Commanding, was unable to read them; and in his despatches to the Government, in justification of his policy in executing the criminals, said that he “discovered some curious characters which he was unable to read,” &c.; showing thereby that that high functionary, did not understand even the Greek Alphabet, which was only necessary, to have been able to read proper names written in Greek.
What we most need then, is a good business practical Education; because, the Classical and Professional education of so many of our young men, before their parents are able to support them, and community ready to patronize them, only serves to lull their energy, and cripple the otherwise, praiseworthy efforts they would make in life. A Classical education is only suited to the wealthy, or those who have a prospect of gaining a livelihood by it. The writer does not wish to be understood, as underrating a Classical and Professional education; this is not his intention; he fully appreciates them, having had some such advantages himself; but he desires to give a proper guide and put a check to the extravagant idea that is fast obtaining, among our people especially, that a Classical, or as it is termed, a “finished education,” is necessary to prepare one for usefulness in life. Let us have an education, that shall practically develop our thinking faculties and manhood; and then, and not until then, shall we be able to vie with our oppressors, go where we may. We as heretofore, have been on the extreme; either no qualification at all, or a Collegiate education. We jumped too far; taking a leap from the deepest abyss to the highest summit; rising from the ridiculous to the sublime; without medium or intermission.
Let our young women have an education; let their minds be well informed; well stored with useful information and practical proficiency rather than the light superficial acquirements, popularly and fashionably called accomplishments. We desire accomplishments, but they must be useful.
Our females must be qualified, because they are to be the mothers of our children. As mothers are the first nurses and instructors of children; from them children consequently, get their first impressions, which being above the level of degradation, and the offspring is elevated with them. In a word, instead of our young men, transcribing in their bank books, recipes fro Cooking; we desire to see them making the transfer of Invoices of Merchandise. Come to our aid then; the morning of our Redemption from degradation, adorns the horizon
In our selection of individuals, it will be observed, that we have confined ourself entirely to those who occupy or have occupied positions among the whites, consequently having a more general bearing as useful contributors to society at large. While we do not pretend to give all such worthy cases, we gave such as we possessed information of, and desire it to be understood, that a large number of our most intelligent and worthy men and women, have not been named, because from their more private work. If we have said aught to offend, “take the will for the deed,” and be assured, that it was given with the purest of motives, and best intention, from a true hearted man and brother; deeply lamenting the sad fate of his race in this country and sincerely desiring the elevation of man, and submitted to the serious consideration of all, who favor the promotion of the cause of God and humanity.
XXIV. A Glance at Ourselves–Conclusion
A race resigned to DEGRADATION!
We have said much to our young men and women, about their vocation and calling; we have dwelt much upon the menial position of our people in this country. Upon this point we cannot say too much, because there is a seeming satisfaction and seeking after such positions manifested on their part unknown to any other people. There appears to be, a want of a sense of propriety or self-respect, although inexplicable; because young men an women among us, many of whom have good trades and homes, adequate to their support, voluntarily leave them, and seek positions, such as servants, waiting maids, coachmen, nurses, cooks in gentlemen’s kitchen or such like occupations, when they can gain a livelihood at something more respectable, or elevation in character. And the worse part of the whole matter is, that it seems to have become second nature, and they so “fashionable,” that it seems to have become second nature, and they really become offended, when it is spoken against.
Among the German, Irish and other European peasantry who come to this country, it matters not what they were employed at before and after they come; just so soon as they can better their condition by keeping shops, cultivating the soil, the young men and women going to night schools, qualifying themselves for usefulness, and learning trades– they do so. Their first and last care, object and aim is, to better their condition by raising themselves above the condition that necessity places them in. We do not say too much, when we say, as an evidence of the deep degradation of our race, in the United States, that there are those among us, the wives and daughters, some of the first ladies, (and who dare say they are not the “first” because they belong to the “first class” and associate where any body among us can?) whose husbands are industrious, able and willing to support them, who voluntarily leave home, and become chambermaids, and stewardesses, upon vessels and steamboats, in all probability to enable them to obtain some more fine or costly article of dress or furniture.
We have nothing to say against those whom necessity compels to do these things, those who can do no better; we have only to do with those who can, and will not, or do not do better. The whites are always in the advance, and we either standing still or retrograding; as that which does not go forward, must either standing one place or go back. The father in all probability is a farmer, mechanic, or man of some independent business; and the wife, sons and daughters, are chamber-maids, on vessels, nurses and waiting-maids, or coachmen and cooks in families. This is retrogradation. The wife, sons and daughters should be elevated above this condition as a necessary consequence.
If we did not love our race superior to others, we would not concern ourself about their degradation; for the greatest desire of our heart is, to see them stand on a level with the most elevated of mankind. No people are ever elevated above the condition of the females; hence, the condition of the mother determines the condition of the child. To know the position of a people, it is only necessary to know the condition of their females; and despite themselves, they cannot rise above their level. Then what is our condition? Our best ladies being washerwomen, chambermaids, children’s traveling nurses, and common house servants, and menials, we are all a degraded, miserable people, inferior to any other people as a whole, on the face of the glove.
These great truths, however unpleasant, must be brought before the minds of our people in its true and proper light, as we have been too delicate about them, and too long concealed them for fear of giving offence. It would have been infinitely better for our race, if these facts had been presented before us half a century ago– we would have been now proportionably benefited by it.
As an evidence of the degradation to which we have been reduced, we dare premise, that this chapter will give offence to many, very many, and why? Because they may say, “He dared to say that the occupation of a servant is a degradation.” It is not necessarily degrading; it would not be, to one or a few people of a kind; but a whole race of servants are a degradation to that people.
Efforts made by men of qualifications for the toiling and degraded millions among the whites, neither gives offence to that class, nor is it taken unkindly by them; but received with manifestations of gratitude; to know that they are thought to be, equally worthy of, and entitled to stand on a level with the elevated classes; and they have only got to be informed of the way to raise themselves, to make the effort and do so as far as they can. But how different with us. Speak of our position in society, and it at once gives insult. Though we are servants’ among ourselves we claim to be ladies and gentlemen, equal in standing, and as the popular expression goes, “Just as good as any body” –an so believing, we make no efforts to raise above the common level of menials; because the best being in that capacity, all are content with the position. We cannot at the same time, be domestic and lady; servant and gentle man. We must be the one or the other. Sad, sad indeed, is the thought, that hangs drooping in our mind, when contemplating the picture drawn before us. Young men and women, “we write these things unto you, because ye are strong,” because the writer, a few years ago, gave unpardonable offence to many of the young people of Philadelphia and other places, because he dared tell them, that he thought too much of them, to be content with seeing them the servants of other people. Surely, she that could be the mistress, would not be the maid; neither would he that could be the master, be content with being the servant; then why be offenced, when we point out to you, the way that leads from the menial to the mistress or the master. All this effort on the part of our intelligent men and women to elevate us, with true Israelitish degradation, in reply to any suggestion or proposition that may be offered, “Who made thee a ruler and a judge?”
The writer is not “Public Man,” in the sense in which this is understood among our people, but simply an humble individual, endeavoring to seek a livelihood by a profession obtained entirely by his own efforts, without relatives and friends able to assist him; except such friends as he gained by the merit of his course and conduct, which he here gratefully acknowledges; and whatever he has accomplished, other young men may, by making corresponding efforts, also accomplish.
We have advised an emigration to Central and South America, and even to Mexico and the West Indies, to those who prefer either of the last name places, all of which are free countries, Brazil being the only real slave-holding State in South America–there being nominal slavery in Dutch Guiana, Peru, Buenos Ayres, Paraguay, and Uraguay, in all of which places colored people have equality in social, civil, political, and religious privileges; Brazil making it punishable with death to import slaves into the empire.
Our oppressors, when urging us to go to Africa, tell us that we are better adapted to the climate than they– that they physical condition of the constitution of colored people better endures the heat of warm climates than that of the whites this we are willing to admit, without argument, without adducing the physiological reason why, that colored people can and do stand warm climates better than whites; and find an answer fully to the point in the fact, that they also stand all other climates, cold, temperate, and modified, that white people can stand; therefore, according to our oppressors’ won showing, we are a superior race, being endowed with properties fitting us for all parts of the earth, while they are only adapted to certain parts. Of course, this proves our right and duty to live wherever we may choose ; while the white race may only live where they can We are content with the fact, and have ever claimed it. Upon this rock, they and we shall ever agree.
Of the West India Island, Santa Cruz, belonging to Denmark; Porto Rico, and Cuba with its little adjuncts, belonging to Spain, are the only slave-holding Islands among them– three-fifths of the whole population of Cuba being colored people, who cannot and will not much longer endure the burden and the yoke. They only want intelligent leaders of their own color, when they are ready at any moment to charge to the conflict– to liberty or death. The remembrance of the noble mulatto, Placido, the gentleman, scholar, poet, and intended Chief Engineer of the Army of Liberty and Freedom in Cuba; and the equally noble black, Charles Blair, who was to have been Commander-in-Chief, who were shamefully put to death in 1844 by that living monster, Captain General O’Donnell, is still fresh and indelible to the mind of every bondman of Cuba.
In our own country, the United States, there are three million five hundred thousand slaves; and we, the nominally free colored people are six hundred thousand in number; estimating one-sixth to be men, we have one hundred thousand able bodied freemen, which will make a powerful auxiliary in any country to which we may become adopted– an ally not to be despised by any power on earth. We love our country, dearly love her, but she doesn’t love us– she despises us, and bids us begone, driving us from her embraces; but we shall not go where she desires us; but when we do go, whatever love we have for her, we shall love the country none the less that receives us as her adopted children.
For the want of business habits and training, our energies have become paralyzed; our young men never thing of business, any more than if they were so many bondmen, without the right to pursue any calling they may think most advisable. With our people in this country, dress and good appearances have been made the only test of gentleman and ladyship, and has generally been preferred, however menial and degrading, by our young people, without even, in the majority of cases, an effort to do better; indeed, in many instance, refusing situations equally lucrative, and superior in position; but which would not allow was much display of dress and personal appearance. This, if we ever expect to rise, must be discarded from among us, and a high respectable position assumed.
One of our great temporal curses is our consummate poverty. We are the poorest people, as a class, in the world of civilized mankind– abjectly, miserably poor, no one scarcely being able to assist the other. To this, of course, there are noble exceptions; but that which is common to, and the very process by which white men exist, and succeed in life, is unknown to colored men in general. In any and every considerable community may be found, some one of our white fellow-citizens, who is worth more than all the colored people in that community put together. We consequently have the undertakings of life; and to obtain them, it is necessary that we should be engaged in lucrative pursuits, trades, and general business transactions. In order to be thus engaged, it is necessary that we should occupy that afford the facilities for such pursuits. To compete now with the mighty odds of wealth, social and religious preferences, and political influences of this country, at this advanced stage of its national existence, we never may expect. A new country, and new beginning, is the only true, rational, politic remedy for our disadvantageous position; and that country we have already pointed out, with triple golden advantages, all things considered, to that of any country to which it has been the province of man to embark.
Every other than we, have at various periods of necessity, been a migratory people and all when oppressed shown a greater abhorrence of oppression, if not a greater love of liberty, than we. We cling to our oppressors as the objects of our love. It is true that our enslaved brethren are here, and we have been led to believe that it is necessary for us to remain, on that account. Is it true, that all should remain in degradation, because a part are degraded? We believe no such thing. We believe it to be the duty of the Free, to elevate themselves in the most speedy and effective manner possible; as the redemption of the bondman depends on entirely upon the elevation of the freeman; therefore, to elevate the free colored people of the slaves. We shall hope to hear no more of so fallacious a doctrine –the necessity of the free remaining in degradation, for the sake of the oppressed. Let up apply, first the lever to ourselves; and the fore that elevates us to the position of manhood’s considerations and honors, will cleft the manacle of every slave in the land.
When such great worth and talents –for want of a better sphere– of men like Rev. Jonathan Robinson, Robert Douglass, Frederick A. Hinton, and a hundred others that might be named, were permitted to expire in a barber-shop; and such living men as may be found in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, Washington City, Charleston (S.C.) NEW Orleans, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Pittsburg, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Utica, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Columbus, Zanesville, Wheeling and a hundred other places, confining themselves to barber-shops and waiterships in Hotels; certainly the necessity of such a course as we have pointed out must be cordially acknowledged; appreciated by every brother and sister of oppression; and not rejected as heretofore, as though they preferred inferiority to equality. These minds must become “unfettered,” and have “space to rise.” This cannot be in their present positions. A continuance in any position, becomes what is termed “Second Nature”’ it begets an adaptation, and reconciliation of mind to such condition. It changes the whole physiological condition of the system, and adapts man and woman to a higher or lower sphere in the pursuits of life. The offsprings of slaves and peasantry, have the general characteristics of their parents and nothing but a different course of training and education, will change the character.
The slave may become a lover of his master, and learn to forgive him for continual deeds of maltreatment and abuse; just as the Spaniel would couch and fondle at the feet that kick him; because he has been taught to reverence them, and consequently, becomes adapted in body and mind to his condition. Even the shrubbery-loving Canary, and lofty-soaring Eagle, may be tamed to the cage, and learn to love it from habit of confinement. It has been so with us in our position among our oppressors; we have been so prone to such positions, that we have learned to love them. When reflecting upon this all important, and to us, all absorbing subject; we feel the agony and anxiety of the moment, as though we could cry out in the language of a Prophet of old; ” Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the:” degradation “of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them!”
The Irishman and German in the United States, are very different persons to what they were when in Ireland and Germany, the countries of their nativity. There their spirits were depressed and downcast; but the instant they set their foot upon the unrestricted soil; free to act and untrammeled to move; their physical condition undergoes a change, which in time becomes physiological, which is transmitted to the offspring, who when born under such circumstances, is a decidedly different being to what it would have been, had it been born under different circumstances.
A child born under oppression, has all the elements of servility in its contrary, all the elements of freedom and independence of feeling. Our children then, may not be expected, to maintain that position and manly surrounded in this country; that we so much desire. To use the language of the talented Mr. Whipper, “they cannot be raised in this country, without being stoop shouldered.” Heaven’s pathway stands unobstructed, which will lead us into a Paradise of bliss. Let us go on and possess the land, and the God of Israel will be our God.
The lessons of every school book, the pages of every history, and the columns of every newspaper, are so replete with stimuli to nerve us on to many aspirations, that those of our young people, who will now refuse to enter upon this great theatre of Polynesian adventure, and take their position on the stage of Central and South America, where a brilliant engagement, of certain and most triumphant success, in the drama of human equality awaits them; then, with the blood of slaves, write upon the lintel of every door in sterling Capitals, to be galvzed and hissed at by every passer by–
Doomed buy the Creator
To servility and degradation;
The SERVANT of the white man
And despised of every nation!