Letters to Catherine Beecher
Angelina E. Grimke
Boston: Isaac Knapp, 1838



AMESBURY, 7th mo. 20th, 1837.

  DEAR FRIEND: The aggressive spirit of Anti-Slavery papers and pamphlets, of which thou dost complain, so far from being a repulsive one to me, is very attractive. I see in it that uncompromising integrity and fearless rebuke of sin, which will bear the enterprize of emancipation through to its consummation. And I most heartily desire to see these publications scattered over our land as abundantly as the leaves of Autumn, believing as I do that the principles they promulgate will be as leaves for the healing of this nation.

  I proceed to examine thy objections to 'one of the first measures of Abolitionists:' their attack on a benevolent society.

  That the Colonization Society is a benevolent institution, we deny: therefore our attack upon it was not a sacrilegious one; it was absolutely necessary, in order to disabuse the public mind of the false views they entertained of its character. And it is a perfect mys-


tery to me how men and women can conscientiously persevere in upholding a society, which the very objects of its professed benevolence have repeatedly, solemnly, constantly and universally condemned. To say the least, this is a very suspicious kind of benevolence, and seems too nearly allied to that, which induces some southern professors to keep their brethren in bonds for their benefit. Yes, the free colored people are to be exiled, because public opinion is crushing them into the dust; instead of their friends protesting against that corrupt and unreasonable prejudice, and living it down by a practical acknowledgement of their right to every privilege, social, civil and religious, which is enjoyed by the white man. I have never yet been able to learn, how our hatred to our colored brother is to be destroyed by driving him away from us. I am told that when a colored republic is built up on the coast of Africa, then we shall respect that republic, and acknowledge that the character of the colored man can be elevated; we will become connected with it in a commercial point of view, and welcome it to the sympathies of our hearts. Miserable sophistry! deceitful apology for present indulgence in sin! What man or woman of common sense now doubts the intellectual capacity of the colored people? Who does not know, that with all our efforts as a nation to crush and 'annihilate the mind of this portion of our race,' we have never yet been able to do it? Henry Berry of Virginia, in his speech in the Legislature of that State, in 1832, expressly acknowledged, that although slaveholders had 'as far as possible closed every avenue by which light might enter their


minds,' yet that they never had found out the process by which they 'could extinguish the capacity to see the light.' No! that capacity remains—it is indestructible—an integral part of their nature, as moral and immortal beings.

  If it is true that white Americans only need a demonstration of the colored man's capacity for elevation, in order to make them willing to receive him on the same platform of human rights upon which they stand, why has not the intelligence of the Haytians convinced them? Their free republic has grown up under the very eye of the slaveholder, and as a nation we have for many years been carrying on a lucrative trade with her merchants; and yet we have never recognized her independence, never sent a minister there, though we have sent ambassadors to European countries whose commerce is far less important to us us than that of St. Domingo.*

  These professions of a wish to plant the tree of Liberty on the shores of Africa, in order to convince our Republican Despotism of the high moral and intellectual worth of the colored man, are perfectly ab-


surd. Hayti has done that long ago. A friend of mine (not an Abolitionist) whose business called him to that island for several months, told me that in the society of its citizens, he often felt his own inferiority. He was astonished at the elegance of their manners, and the intelligence of their conversation. Instead of going into an examination of Colonization principles, I refer thee to the Appeal to the Women of the nominally free States, issued by the Convention of American Women, in which we set forth our reasons for repudiating them.

  Thou hast given a specimen of the manner in which Abolitionists deal with their Colonization opponents. Thy friend remarked, after an interview with an abolitionist, 'I love truth and sound argument; but when a man comes at me with a sledge hammer, I cannot help dodging.' I presume thy friend only felt the truth of the prophet's declaration, 'Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?' I wonder not that he did dodge, when the sledge hammer of truth was wielded by an abolition army. Many a Colonizationist has been compelled to dodge, in order to escape the blows of this hammer of the Lord's word, for there is no other way to get clear. We must either dodge the arguments of abolitionists, or like J. G. Birney, Edward C. Delevan, and many others, be willing to be broken to pieces by them. I greatly like this specimen of private dealing, and hope it is not the only instance which has come under thy notice, of Colonizationists acknowledging the absolute necessity of dodging Anti-Slavery arguments, when they were unwilling that the rock of prejudice should be broken to pieces by them.


  Thy next complaint is against the manner in which this benevolent EXPATRIATION Society was attacked. 'The style in which the thing was done was at once offensive, inflammatory and exasperating,'—'the feelings of many sincere, upright, and conscientious men were harrowed by a sense of the injustice, the indecorum and the unchristian treatment they received.' But why, if they were entirely innocent of the charges brought against Colonizationists? I have been in the habit, for several years past, of watching the workings of my own mind under true and false charges against myself; and my experience is, that the more clear I am of the charge, the less I care about it. If I really feel a sweet assurance that 'my witness is in heaven—my record is on high,' I then realize to its fullest extent that 'it is a small thing to be judged of man's judgment,' and I can bear false charges unmoved; but true ones always nettle me, if I am unwilling to confess that 'I have sinned;' if I am, and yield to conviction, O then! how sweet the reward! Now I am very much afraid that these sincere, upright and conscientious Colonizationists are something like the pious professors of the South, who are very angry because abolitionists say that all slaveholders are menstealers. Both find it 'hard to kick against the pricks' of conviction, and both are unwilling to repent. A northern man remarked to a Virginia slaveholder last winter, 'that as the South denied the charges brought against her by abolitionists, he could not understand why she was so enraged; for,' continued he, 'if you were to accuse us at the North of being sheep-stealers, we should not care about the charge—we should ridi-


cule it.' 'O!' said the Virginian with an oath, 'what the abolitionists say about slaveholders is too true, and that's the reason we are vexed.' Is not this the reason why our Colonization brethren and sisters are so angry? Is not what we say of them also too true? Let them examine these things with the bible and prayer, and settle this question between God and their own souls.

  Every true friend of the oppressed American has great cause to rejoice, that the cloak of benevolence has been torn off from the monster Prejudice, which could love the colored man after he got to Africa, but seemed to delight to pour contumely upon him whilst be remained in the land of his birth. I confess it would be very hard for me to believe that any association of men and women loved me or my family, if, because we had become obnoxious to them, they were to meet together, and concentrate their energies and pour out their money for the purpose of transporting us back to France, whence our Hugenot fathers fled to this country to escape the storm of persecutions. Why not let us live in America, if you really love us? Surely you never want to 'get rid' of people whom you love. I like to have such near me; and it is because I love the colored Americans, that I want them to stay in this country; and in order to make it a happy home to them, I am trying to talk down, and write down, and live down this horrible prejudice. Sending a few to Africa cannot destroy it. No—we must dig up the weed by the roots out of each of our hearts. It is a sin, and we must repent of it and forsake it—and then


we shall no longer be so anxious to 'be clear of them,' 'to get rid of them.'

  Hoping, though against hope, that thou mayest one day know how precious is the reward of those who can love our oppressed brethren and sisters in this day of their calamity, and who, despising the shame of being identified with these peeled and scattered ones, rejoice to stand side by side with them, in the glorious conflict between Slavery and Freedom, Prejudice and Love unfeigned, I remain thine in the bonds of universal love,