The Anti-Slavery Record
New York: The American Anti-Slavery Society, February 1837

Colonization [Extract]

  THE object of the following pages is to lead the reader to a calm and thorough review of the subject of colonization. Perhaps he thinks it sufficiently discussed already; but where the interests of millions are at stake, it becomes us carefully to examine, and often to reexamine, the foundations of our opinions,—the friends of Truth will never be afraid to do this.

  Let us first look at colonization in general—the idea, doctrine, theory, that it would be better for both the whites and blacks of our country, were the latter to be transplanted into a separate community.—Why better? Is there not room here enough for both? Yes. Is there not work enough for both? Yes. Is not colonization from our country reversing the order of nature? Yes. The demand for labor among us is drawing in laborers, by right or by wrong, from all parts of the old world. Strong, then, must be the reasons to justify us in sending out our own native laborers to the old world or elsewhere. If we have any surplus population, it must be of merchants, lawyers, physicians, divines—and surely not of what is called the laboring class, to which all, or nearly all, the colored people belong—of this class there cannot be a surplus for a hundred years to come. The influx of foreign laborers into our country shows, as clearly as running water flows downhill, that ours is the country of all the world, where labor gets, or is supposed to get, the best reward,—and that laboring people are better off here than elsewhere. Why send any away? Some profess to find a reason in the prejudices and oppression of which the blacks are the victims. It is because the colored man must here be always enslaved, or in a condition but little better than slavery. Because he must be an outcast from our free institutions, from our national sympathies, from our social relations. Because here he must be taught at elections,—in schools and colleges,—in stages and steam-


boats,—in the house of man, and in the house of God,—that he belongs to an inferior race, that he cannot, must not, shall not, rise to the level of the whites.—We implore the reader to stop and think. Is there any must—any necessity—in any of these things?

  When was human prejudice embalmed, eternized, and stamped with immutability? The prejudices of one man can be changed; the prejudices of thousands, on this very subject, have been—what shall hinder the change of millions? When was the overthrow of this prejudice by truth and reason fairly attempted, and where is the failure recorded? The invincibility of prejudice should have been clearly ascertained, and evinced by incontrovertible proofs, before it was proposed to expatriate millions on account of it. It ought to have been perceived by the founders of the colonization enterprise, that their remedy was one of last resort, desperate in its nature—one which could not be carried into effect without great danger of enhancing the disease. Indeed, it would seem to be hardly possible to propose the removal of a certain class beyond the reach of a prejudice, without increasing, by this very act, the prejudice which is thus deferred to and humored. Yet we find the American Colonization Society have actually taken this point for granted. In their Fifteenth Annual Report, the Managers say, "Causes beyond the control of the human will must prevent their ever rising to equality with the whites."—"The Managers consider it clear, that causes exist, and are operating, to prevent their improvement and elevation to any considerable extent, as a class, in this country, which are fixed, not only beyond the control of the friends of humanity, BUT OF ANY HUMAN POWER. Christianity cannot do for them here, what it will do for them in Africa. This is not the fault of the colored man, nor of the white man, nor of Christianity; BUT AN ORDINATION OF PROVIDENCE, and no more to be changed than the laws of nature. Yet, were it otherwise,—did no cause exist but prejudice, to prevent the elevation, in this country, of our free colored population, still, were this prejudice so strong (which is indeed the fact) as to forbid the hope of any great change in their condition, what folly for them to reject blessings in another land, because it is prejudice which debars them from such blessings in this! But in truth no legislation, no humanity, no benevolence, can make them insensible to their past condition, can unfetter their minds, can relieve them from the disadvantages resulting from inferior means and attainments, can abridge the right of freemen to regulate their social intercourse and


relations, which will leave them for ever a separate and depressed class in the community; in fine, nothing can in any way do much here to raise them from their miseries to respectability, honor, and usefulness." We think all agree that the Colonization Managers here assume the invincibility of prejudice. They present no proof, nor do we find elsewhere any attempt to present proof. The very fact that such men have assumed a position so vitally important to their cause, shows that they did not find it susceptible of proof—and yet it is very far from being self-evident. We appeal to stubborn facts to show that it is altogether false. Thousands of our fellow citizens have been cured of this prejudice, and are sincerely wishing that their colored brethren should dwell in the land on equal terms with themselves. And on the other hand, there are not a few colored men who have risen, in spite of all opposition—call it "ordination of Providence," or what you will—in all substantial enjoyments, in mind and morals, in things outward and inward, ABOVE the average level of the whites. How often have we heard it said that such and such a man (whose name it would be invidious to mention), "he would be a governor in Liberia." Hence we conclude that prejudice is no good reason for colonizing, because prejudice is vincible, and ought to be conquered.