The Project Gutenberg eBook of Report of the naval committee to the House of Representatives, August, 1850, in favor of the establishment of a line of mail steamships to the western coast of Africa, and thence via the Mediterranean to London; designed to promote the emigration of free persons of color from the United States to Liberia: also to increase the steam navy, and to extend the commerce of the United States

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Title: Report of the naval committee to the House of Representatives, August, 1850, in favor of the establishment of a line of mail steamships to the western coast of Africa, and thence via the Mediterranean to London; designed to promote the emigration of free persons of color from the United States to Liberia: also to increase the steam navy, and to extend the commerce of the United States

With an appendix added by the American Colonization Society.

Creator: United States. Congress. House. Committee on Naval Affairs

Contributor: American Colonization Society

Release date: July 18, 2023 [eBook #71220]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Gideon & Co, 1850

Credits: Adrian Mastronardi and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Report of the Naval Committee to the House of Representatives August, 1850


August, 1850,



The memorial of Judge Bryan was referred to the Committee on Naval Affairs, composed of Representatives from the following States:


The Committee on Naval Affairs, to whom was referred the memorial of Joseph Bryan, of Alabama, for himself and his associates, George Nicholas Sanders and others, praying the establishment of a line of steamers from the United States to the coast of Africa, designed to promote the colonization of free persons of color, to suppress the African slave trade, to carry the mails, and to extend the commerce of the United States, beg leave to submit the following Report:

The proposition of the memorial involves an extension of that system, recently commenced by Congress, which has for its object the creation of a powerful steam navy, to be used in time of peace in carrying the mails, and in effecting great public objects, not to be attained by private enterprise without the aid of Congress. How far it may be desirable to extend this system will depend upon the double consideration of the present condition of our naval force, and the importance and feasibility of the ends to be accomplished by the measure. As to the first of these, the committee will present a brief statement of the facts material to a correct understanding of the comparative extent of our present steam navy.


In the report of Mr. Secretary Bancroft, made to the Senate on the 2d March, 1846, the total effective steam navy of Great Britain was stated, at that time, to consist of one hundred and ninety-nine vessels, of all classes; that of France numbered fifty-four; that of Russia, without the Caspian fleet, thirty-two; while the steam navy of the United States could boast of but six small vessels, and one in process of building; and of these one was for harbor defence, and another a steam-tug.

Since that time, however, Congress has provided for the building of four war steamers, and for the establishment of several lines of steamships engaged in carrying the mails, consisting of seventeen large vessels, suitable for war purposes, and at all times liable to be taken for the public service. Of these latter, nine will run between New York and European ports; five between New York and Chagres; and three between Panama and San Francisco.

Notwithstanding this increase in our force, it has by no means kept pace with that of other great commercial nations. The American Almanac for the present year estimates the steam navy of France at sixty-four steam vessels of war, besides a reserved force of ten steam frigates now ready, and six corvettes and six small vessels nearly ready. The French Government has also resolved to follow the example of England in establishing lines of steamers, built so as to be easily converted into ships of war, to be employed in commerce and for carrying[5] mails, but being at all times subject to the requisition of the Government.

England, also, has added largely to her steam navy, and has increased her lines of mail steamers, giving evidence that she, at least, considers this the best and cheapest mode of providing in time of peace for the exigences of war. On this subject the committee refer to the following facts, for which they are indebted to the remarks of the Hon. T. Butler King, of Georgia, made in the House of Representatives, February 19, 1848.

By act of Parliament, 7 William IV, chap. 3, all previous contracts entered into for the conveyance of the mails by sea were transferred to the Admiralty. In the year 1839, the idea was conceived that the vast expenditures required in naval armaments might be made subservient to the purposes of commerce in time of peace. Accordingly, a contract was entered into with Mr. Cunard and his associates, for the conveyance of the mails from Liverpool, via Halifax, to Boston, in five steamers of the first class, for £85,000, or about $425,000 per annum. It was stipulated that they should be built under the supervision of the Admiralty, should be inspected on being received into the service, and certified to be capable in all respects of being converted into ships of war, and of carrying ordnance of the heaviest description. Various stipulations were entered into in this and other contracts of a similar character, which placed these ships under[6] the control of the Government; thus, in fact, making them, to all intents and purposes, at the same time a part of the mercantile and military marine of the country.

In 1846, the Government enlarged the contract with Mr. Cunard and his associates, by adding four ships to run from Liverpool to New York, and increased the compensation to £145,000, or about $725,000 per annum.

In the year 1840, a contract was made by the Admiralty with the Royal Mail Steamship Company, at £240,000 sterling, or $1,200,000 per annum, for fourteen steamers to carry the mails from Southampton to the West Indies, the ports of Mexico on the Gulf, and to New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, and Charleston. These ships are of the first class, and are to conform in all respects, concerning size and adaptation to the purposes of war, to the conditions prescribed in the Cunard contracts. They are to make twenty-four voyages a year, leaving and returning to Southampton semi-monthly. Another contract has lately been entered into for two ships to run between Bermuda and New York. These lines employ twenty-five steamers of the largest and most efficient description.

In addition to the above, a contract was made, 1st January, 1845, with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company for a line of similar steamers, seven in number, from England to the East Indies and China, at £160,000 sterling, or[7] $800,000 per annum. This line passes from Southampton, via Gibraltar and Malta, to Alexandria, in Egypt; thence the route continues overland to Suez, at the head of the Red Sea, from whence the steamers again start, touching at Aden, Bombay, and at Point de Galle, in the island of Ceylon, from whence they proceed to Singapore and Hong Kong. There is a branch line connecting with this, from Point de Galle to Calcutta, touching at Madras.

A contract was made, 1st July, 1846, for a Pacific line of British steamers, four in number, running from Valparaiso to Panama, touching at intermediate ports. This line connects overland, from Panama to Chagres, with the West India line.

Besides these, there were, in 1848, twelve more lines of Government steamers running between Great Britain and the continent of Europe; making a grand aggregate of one hundred and fifteen ocean steamships fitted for war purposes. Very recently the British Parliament has resolved to extend the mail steamship system to Australia.

The committee do not propose that our Government shall attempt to emulate this vast network of steam navigation, with which England has already encompassed the globe. But it is believed that the recent increase of our territory, on the Pacific and in the Gulf of Mexico, forms an additional reason for a considerable augmentation of our steam navy, whether by a direct addition to the navy proper, or[8] by the encouragement of lines of steam packets, to be established by private enterprise under the auspices of Government. If the latter system should be adopted, as already commenced, the ships will be built under the inspection of a Government officer, at the expense of private individuals; they will be commanded by officers in the navy, and will be at all times available for the public service. It will be the interest of the contractors to adopt, from time to time, all the improvements which may be made in machinery and in the means of propulsion, and the ships will be kept in good repair. Besides being commanded by a naval officer, each ship will carry a sufficient number of midshipmen for watch officers, and thus a very considerable portion of the personnel of the service will be kept actively employed, with the opportunity of acquiring the knowledge and skill requisite to the proper management of a steam navy. A corps of trained engineers and firemen will be attached to each ship, and no doubt these would generally remain with her when the ship should be called into the public service.

The committee are of opinion that it is highly desirable to have ready for the public service some very large steamships of the description proposed by the memorialist. They would have great advantages over small ships, in their capacity to carry fuel sufficient for long voyages, and to transport large bodies of troops, and place them rapidly, in a[9] fresh and vigorous condition, at any point where they might be required.

But it is chiefly for the great and beneficent objects of removing the free persons of color from this country to the coast of Africa, and of suppressing the slave trade, that the committee are disposed to recommend the adoption of the proposed measure. The latter of these has been the subject of treaties by our Government with other nations, with whom we have engaged to maintain a large naval force on the coast of Africa to assist in suppressing the inhuman traffic; while the emigration of the free blacks has long been an object of great interest in all parts of the country, and especially in the slaveholding States, where they are looked upon by the whites with aversion and distrust. The policy of all or most of these States has been to discourage manumission, except on condition of the removal of the liberated slave. In no part of the Union do the free blacks enjoy an equality of political and social privileges; and in all the States their presence is neither agreeable to the whites, nor is their condition advantageous to themselves. In some of the slave States stringent prohibitions have been adopted, and unpleasant controversies with free States have been thereby engendered. The emigration of this entire population beyond the limits of our country is the only effectual mode of curing these evils, and of removing one cause of dangerous irritation between the different sections of the Union.


The committee believe it is expedient to aid private enterprize in the colonization of the western coast of Africa, because it is the most effectual, if not the only mode, of extirpating the slave trade. The success of this measure will doubtless render the African squadron wholly unnecessary, thus reimbursing a large portion of the expense attending it, and at the same time better accomplishing the object for which that squadron is maintained. It may be expedient for some one of the great naval powers to keep a small force on the coast of Africa to protect Liberia, for a limited time, against the slave traders. But the attempt to suppress this unlawful traffic by blockading the coast has so signally failed that it will probably soon be abandoned by the great European powers. While the influence of the Republic of Liberia has been shown in the complete suppression of the trade along a coast of several hundred miles in length, the combined squadrons of Europe and America have not been so successful on other portions of that unhappy shore. In 1847 no less than 84,356 slaves were exported from Africa to Cuba and Brazil. In the opinion of the committee, it is highly important to prevent the further Africanizing of the American continents. An opposite movement, so far as the free blacks are concerned, is far more in accordance with the spirit of the age, and with the best interests of all American Governments. The people of the United States[11] have shown their strong aversion to the slave trade by the provision in their Constitution against it, and by their unremitting and vigorous efforts to suppress it. The success which has already crowned the infancy of Liberia, indicates the true mode of making those exertions effectual, while it opens up the way for restoring the free blacks to the native land of their fathers.

The committee beg leave here to present some interesting facts which satisfy them that the territory of Liberia is eminently adapted to colored emigrants from the United States; that the establishment of this line of steamships by the Government will be a powerful stimulus to the cause of colonization, and will be the means of securing the emigration of great numbers of free blacks; that the slave trade will be substituted by a peaceful, legitimate, and valuable commerce, opening new sources of enterprize and wealth to our people; and that the civilization and christianization of the whole continent of Africa may be expected eventually to follow. The facts presented are collected chiefly from the publications of the Colonization Society.

That portion of the western coast of Africa, called Liberia, embraces a tract of country included between the parallels of 4° 21´ and 7° north latitude, extending about 400 miles along the coast. The first settlement was made by free negroes from the United States, under the auspices of the American[12] Colonization Society, in the year 1820. The objects of that society were—

“1st. To rescue the free colored people of the United States from their political and social disadvantages.

“2d. To place them in a country where they may enjoy the benefits of free government, with all the blessings which it brings in its train.

“3d. To spread civilization, sound morals, and true religion throughout the continent of Africa.

“4th. To arrest and destroy the slave trade.

“5th. To afford slave owners, who wish, or are willing, to liberate their slaves, an asylum for their reception.”

The funds of this society have seldom exceeded $50,000 per year, but they have purchased territory, enabled nearly 7,000 free people of color to emigrate to Liberia, and have made provision, for such of them as required it, for 6 months after their arrival. In July, 1847, an independent Government was formed, which has been recognised by France, England, and Prussia. Upwards of 80,000 of the natives have become civilized, and enrolled themselves as citizens of the Republic. The Liberians have a flourishing commerce. They have not only succeeded in suppressing the slave trade along their own coast, but have also made treaties with several tribes, numbering over 200,000 souls, for the discontinuance of the traffic. They have purchased their[13] territory from time to time of the natives, and are gradually extending themselves up to the British settlement of Sierra Leone and down to the Gold Coast.

The interior settlements of the purchased tracts usually extend from about 10 to 30 miles from the coast, and can easily be enlarged by purchase in that direction at a moderate amount. In no instance have the natives from whom the land was purchased been required to remove their residences. The land in the immediate vicinity of the ocean in Liberia is generally low, and in some places marshy; but there are some elevated spots. The land generally becomes more elevated towards the interior; and in some places, within 50 miles of the coast, it is quite mountainous. It is desirable for the colony to become possessed of this back country as it is much healthier than the coast, and when the emigration from the United States becomes extensive, the mountain region will soon be occupied. The natives are a fine, healthy, athletic race; and even the emigrants to the lands on the coast have enjoyed better health than the emigrants to some of our western States in the first few years of settlement.

Liberia is on the “grain coast,” and is protected from the scorching winds of the north and east by ranges of mountains. The soil is fertile, and produces an abundance of Indian corn, yams, plantains, coffee, arrow-root, indigo, dyewoods, &c.


Every emigrant is welcomed to the colony, and receives a grant of 5 acres of land, besides which he can purchase as much more as he pleases at 1 dollar per acre.

The climate is not suited to the whites. The president and all the officials are colored men. There are flourishing towns, churches, schools, and printing presses. According to the statement of the Rev. R. R. Gurley, who has recently visited the colony, the people are highly moral, well conducted, and prosperous, and the value of the exports of the Republic is at present 500,000 dollars per annum, and is increasing at the rate of 50 per cent. annually.

Not only will the slave trade be abolished by the establishment of colonies of free colored people on the coast of Africa, but, as already intimated, these colonies will be the means, at no distant period, of disseminating civilization and Christianity throughout the whole of that continent. Already, a great many of the natives have placed themselves under the protection of the Liberians, whose knowledge of agriculture and the arts inspires confidence and respect.

As a missionary enterprise, therefore, the colonization of Africa by the descendants of Africans on this continent, deserves, and no doubt will receive, the countenance and support of the whole Christian world.


Two points are now regarded, both in Europe and in this country, as settled truths, viz: 1st. That the planting and building up of Christian colonies on the coast of Africa, is the only practical remedy for the slave trade. 2d. That colored men only can with safety settle upon the African coast.

That the free negroes of the U. S. will be induced to go in large numbers to Liberia, if a quick and pleasant passage by steam vessels be provided, and suitable preparation be made for them on their arrival, by the Colonization Society, cannot admit of any doubt.

The funds of that society, augmented probably twenty fold, will then be available, almost exclusively, for the comfortable establishment of the emigrants in their new homes—the expense of transportation chargeable to the society being merely nominal.

It is estimated that there are no less than 500,000 free colored people in the several States, and that the annual increase therein of the black race is 70,000 per annum. With respect to slaves, who may hereafter be manumitted, no doubt such manumission will, almost in every instance, be upon the condition that the parties shall avail themselves of the opportunity of emigrating to Liberia.

The committee do not propose that the emigrants should be landed in Liberia and then left to their own resources. Liberia is at present incapable of[16] receiving and providing shelter, subsistence, and employment for any great number of emigrants who may land there in a state of destitution. It has been the practice, heretofore, for the Colonization Society to provide for the colonists, whom they have sent out, for 6 months after their arrival, and the cost of such provision has averaged $30 per head, in addition to the cost of transportation.

A large amount of money will be required to settle the colonists in the first instance comfortably in their new homes. But there is no doubt, that if the Government establish the proposed line of steam ships, the people of the different States, and the State Legislatures, will at once turn their attention to the subject of colonization, and that large appropriations will be voted, and liberal collections made, in aid of that object. The State of Maryland has already appropriated and laid out $200,000 in this work, and the Legislature of Virginia has lately appropriated $40,000 per year for the same purpose. But these sums are insignificant in comparison to what may be expected, if the Government shall give its high sanction to the colonization of Africa, and provide the means of transportation by a line of steam ships. In that event, the whole mass of the people, north and south, who for the most part do not appreciate the rapid progress, and the high capabilities of Liberia, will quickly discover the vast importance of colonization, and will urge their representatives[17] to adopt measures adequate to the exigency of the case and the magnitude of the enterprise.

There is good reason to anticipate, that important assistance will be rendered to the emigrants, not only by the missionary societies of Europe, but also by those governments which have taken an interest in the suppression of the slave trade, and which are desirous of opening channels for their commerce, and marts for their manufactures, on the western coast of Africa.

It is estimated, that by the time when the first two ships are to be finished and ready for sea, there will be a large body of emigrants ready to take passage in them, and that for the next two years each ship will take from 1000 to 1500 passengers on each voyage, or from 8,000 to 12,000 in each of those years. To furnish each family, intending to devote themselves to agricultural pursuits, with a dwelling-house suitably furnished, and a piece of land of sufficient extent cleared and planted, together with the necessary agricultural implements and a stock of provisions, will, it is calculated, cost the society a sum equal to $30 or $40 per head for each emigrant, allowing each family to consist of five persons. The cost of establishing families intending to follow trading and mechanical pursuits, will be somewhat less than the above estimate for agricultural families; but the average cost for the whole of the emigrants may be estimated at $50 per head,[18] including all the expenses of transportation, making a total of from $400,000 to $600,000 per annum, for the first two years.

As the colony increases in population, and the interior of the country becomes settled, any number of emigrants that may be sent out will be readily absorbed, as there will be a demand for all kinds of laborers, mechanics, and domestic servants, and it will be unnecessary to make that provision for them which is now indispensable.

The Colonization Society will, as heretofore, so regulate the emigration as to send out only suitable persons, and keep up a due proportion between the two sexes.

By the compact between the Colonization Society and the Republic, made when the society ceded its territory to the Republic, ample power is reserved by the society for the protection of emigrants who may be sent out by them. Moreover, the authorities invite emigration, and each emigrant receives a donation of a tract of land.

The establishment of prosperous colonies on the western coast of Africa will, doubtless, tend greatly, in the course of time, to the augmentation of the commerce of this country. It appears that British commerce with Africa amounts to no less than 5 millions sterling, or about $25,000,000 per annum. The belief is now confidently entertained in Great Britain, that an immense commerce may be opened[19] up with that continent, by putting an end to the slave trade, and stimulating the natives to the arts of peace.

The commerce of Africa is certainly capable of great extension, and it is worthy of observation, that the proposed steamers will open entirely new sources of trade.

On this subject, the committee beg leave to submit the following particulars, from which the future resources of this vast undeveloped region may be, to some extent, anticipated.

Palm oil is produced by the nut of the Palm tree, which grows in the greatest abundance throughout Western Africa. The demand for it, both in Europe and America, is daily increasing. The average import into Liverpool of palm oil for some years past has been at least 15,000 tons, valued at £400,000 sterling.

Gold is found at various points of the coast. It is obtained by the natives by washing the sand which is brought down by the rivers from the mountains. An exploration of the mountains will probably result in the discovery of large quantities of the metal. It is calculated that England has received, altogether, $200,000,000 of gold from Africa. Liberia is adjacent to the “Gold Coast.”

Ivory is procurable at all points, and constitutes an important staple of commerce.

Coffee, of a quality superior to the best Java or[20] Mocha, is raised in Liberia, and can be cultivated with great ease to any extent. The coffee tree bears fruit from thirty to forty years, and yields an average of ten pounds to the shrub yearly.

Cam wood and other dye woods are found in great quantities in many parts of the country. About thirty miles east of Bassa Cove is the commencement of a region of unknown extent, where scarcely any tree is seen except the cam wood.

Gums of different kinds enter largely into commercial transactions.

Dyes of all shades and hues are abundant, and they have been proved to resist both acids and light.

Pepper, ginger, arrow-root, indigo, tamarinds, oranges, lemons, limes, and many other articles which are brought from tropical countries to this, may be added to the list. Indeed, there is nothing in the fertile countries of the East or West Indies which may not be produced in equal excellence in Western Africa.

The soil is amazingly fertile. Two crops of corn, sweet potatoes, and several other vegetables, can be raised in a year. It yields a larger crop than the best soil in the United States. One acre of rich land well tilled, says Governor Ashman, will produce three hundred dollars’ worth of indigo. Half an acre may be made to grow half a ton of arrow-root.

“An immense market may be opened for the exchange[21] and sale of the innumerable products of the skill and manufactures of our people. Africa is estimated to contain one hundred and sixty millions of inhabitants. Liberia enjoys a favorable geographical position. She is protected by the great Powers of Europe. The Liberians have constitutions adapted to the climate, and a similarity of color with the natives. They will penetrate the interior with safety, and prosecute their trade in the bays and rivers of the coast, without suffering from the diseases which are so fatal to the white man. Liberia is the door of Africa, and is destined to develope the agricultural and commercial resources of that continent, besides being the means of regenerating her benighted millions.”

The foregoing remarks have related entirely to the advantages of the proposed measure. It is possible some scruples may be entertained in regard to its constitutionality. This, the committee think, cannot be reasonably doubted. The Government has already adopted this mode of providing a powerful steam navy, at the same time giving incidental but important encouragement to great commercial interests. In this instance, the effectual suppression of the slave trade and the withdrawal of the African squadron by the substitution of a number of mighty steamers regularly plying to that coast, afford a motive and a justification which do not exist in regard to any one of the lines already established.

It was the opinion of Mr. Jefferson that the[22] United States had power to establish colonies for the free blacks on the coast of Africa, and he desired its exercise. Chief Justice Marshall and Mr Madison concurred in this opinion. And it is to be observed that the first purchase in the colony of Liberia was made by the Government of the United States. The opinions of the leading jurists of our day do not appear to differ from those of the great founders of the Constitution, who believed not only that indirect aid to the cause of colonization may be given in accordance with that instrument, but that the Government has power to establish the colonies themselves. The proposition of the committee does not, by any means, go to this extent. It goes no further than recently adopted and still existing operations of the Government, while it is believed to rest upon far higher and better grounds of support.

Nor does it involve any merely sectional considerations. The committee have, therefore, refrained from expressing any views which might be considered favorable to the peculiar interests either of the North or of the South. The question of slavery, now the cause of so deep an excitement, is not, to any extent, either directly or indirectly involved. The Government of the United States, it is admitted on all hands, has no power to interfere with that subject within the several States. Neither does the proposition at all interfere with the question of emancipation. This is wholly beyond the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, and belongs exclusively[23] to the people of the several States, and the individual slaveholders themselves. But the removal of the free blacks to the coast of Africa is a measure in which all sections, and all interests, are believed to be equally concerned.

From the foregoing considerations, the committee believe it to be wise and politic to accept the proposition of the memorialists, with some modifications which meet with their approval.

Instead of four ships, it is proposed to make the line consist of three, which shall make monthly trips to Liberia, touching on their return at certain points in Spain, Portugal, France, and England, thus: one ship will leave New York every three months, touching at Savannah for freight and mails; one will leave Baltimore every three months, touching at Norfolk and Charleston for passengers, freight, and mails; and one will leave New Orleans every three months, with liberty to touch at any of the West India islands. They will proceed directly to Liberia, with liberty to touch at any of the islands or ports of the coast of Africa; thence to Gibraltar, carrying the Mediterranean mails; thence to Cadiz, or some other port of Spain, to be designated by the Government; thence to Lisbon; thence to Brest, or some other port of France, to be designated as above; and thence to London—bringing mails from all those points to the United States.


The measure proposed by the committee contains the following stipulations and provisions, to wit:

Each ship to be of not less than 4,000 tons burden, and the cost of each not to exceed $900,000. The Government to advance two-thirds of the cost of construction, from time to time, as the building progresses—the advance to be made in five per cent. stocks payable at the end of 30 years—such advances to be repaid by the contractors in equal annual instalments, beginning and ending with the service. The said ships to be built in accordance with plans to be submitted to and approved by the Secretary of the Navy, and under the superintendence of an officer to be appointed by the Secretary of the Navy, and to be so constructed as to be convertible, at the least possible expense, into war steamers of the first class. The ships to be kept up by alterations, repairs, or additions, to be approved by the Secretary of the Navy, so as to be at all times fully equal to the exigencies of the service, and the faithful performance of the contract.

Each ship to be commanded by an officer of the Navy, who, with four passed midshipmen to serve as watch officers, shall be accommodated in a manner suitable to their rank, without charge to the Government. The Secretary of the Navy at all times to have the right to place on board of each ship two guns of heavy calibre, and the men necessary to[25] serve them, to be accommodated and provided for by the contractors.

The Secretary of the Navy to exercise at all times such control over said ships as may not be inconsistent with these terms, and to have the right to take them, or either of them, in case of war, for the exclusive use and service of the United States, on paying the value thereof; such value, not exceeding the cost, to be ascertained by appraisers mutually chosen by the Secretary and the contractors. The Secretary also to have power to direct, at the expense of the Government, such changes in the machinery and the internal arrangements of the said ships, or any of them, as he, at any time, may deem advisable.

The contractors are further required to stipulate to carry, on each and every voyage they may make, so many emigrants, being free persons of color, and not exceeding 2,500 for each voyage, as the American Colonization Society may send; the said society paying in advance $10 for each emigrant over twelve years of age, and $5 for each one under that age; these sums to include the transportation of baggage, and the daily supply of sailors’ rations.

The contractors also to convey, free from cost, such necessary agents as the Government or the Colonization Society may require, upon each one of said ships.

Two of said ships to be finished and ready for[26] sea within two and a half years, and the other within three years, after the execution of the contract.

The Government to pay forty thousand dollars for each and every trip; and to exact ample security for the faithful performance of the contract, besides taking a lien on the ships for the repayment of the sums advanced. The contract to continue 15 years from the completion of all the ships.

To assist in forming a correct judgment as to the fairness of this compensation, the committee present an estimate of the probable cost of running the said ships.

The cost of the ships at $900,000 will be $2,700,000. Upon this amount, interest should be calculated at 6 per cent.; for, although the contractors will pay the Government but five per cent. on the portion advanced, the balance supplied by the contractors, must be estimated at the rates in New York and New Orleans, which are above six per cent. Six per cent. will be a fair average for the whole.

The depreciation of this kind of property is estimated variously, sometimes as high as ten per cent. per annum on the total cost; but as these ships will be substantially built for war purposes, it may be estimated at a lower rate.

Besides this, an allowance must be made for repairs. New boilers will be required every six years, and the substitution of these for the old ones not[27] only causes loss of time, but also injury to the ships involving much expense.

The rate of insurance for this species of property is high. The committee are informed, that the steamships Ohio and Georgia pay 8½ per cent.

Add the expense of running the ships, viz., fuel, wages of the crew, provisions, stores, dock charges, harbor dues, agents, pilotage, light-house dues, &c., which cannot be estimated at less than $50,000 per voyage, considering that the distance to Liberia, and thence home, via Madeira, Gibraltar, Cadiz, Lisbon, Brest, and London, is about 12,000 miles; and that each voyage, with the necessary delays in the various ports, will occupy about three months.

Statement of expenses.
Interest on $2,700,000, at 6 per cent. $162,000
Depreciation and repairs, 10 per cent. 270,000
Insurance 7 per cent. 189,000
Cost of running the ships, $50,000 per voyage, 12 voyages per annum, 600,000
Total annual expense— $1,221,000
Estimating 1500 passengers for each voyage, and 12 voyages per annum, we have 18,000 passengers. These, $10 for adults and $5 for children, may average a profit of $3 each, making $54,000
Government pay 480,000
Balance of expense over Government pay and profit of emigrants $687,000


Thus it will be seen that the contractors will have, of their probable expenses, more than two-thirds of a million, or $57,250 each voyage, to be made by commerce and passengers, independent of the Government pay and the profit from the Colonization Society. It is quite evident that any further profit, beyond the ordinary rate of interest at 6 per cent., will be contingent upon the success of the enterprise in stimulating commerce with the United States at the points regularly touched by these steamers. The contractors have confidence in this, and the committee do not doubt that their confidence will be rewarded to a reasonable extent.

It will be observed, that as the Colonization Society now pay for the transportation of emigrants to Liberia, in sailing vessels, no less than $30 per head, the proposed arrangement will make the actual cost eventually less than this, even adding the amount to be paid by the United States for this service, to the amount to be paid by the said society, without estimating the receipt from mails, which will probably be large.


At the commencement of operations, when it is estimated that the first two ships will carry out 1000 or 1500 emigrants for each voyage, the cost will be little more than it is at present, while the passage will be quicker, pleasanter, and healthier, offering great inducements to emigrants, and placing them upon the shores of Liberia in a sound and efficient condition.

As the capacity of the colony to receive a large number of emigrants increases, the ratio of expense will be diminished; and it cannot be doubted, that eventually, as the number of emigrants will increase, the cost of transportation will relatively diminish.

The committee do not recommend the acceptance of the proposition of the memorialists, that they shall be permitted to import the produce of Liberia into this country free of duty; on the contrary, it is believed to be better, for obvious reasons, to enter into no such stipulations, but to confine the remuneration, whatever it may be, to a direct payment of money.

In the above estimates, the committee have endeavored, as far as possible, to arrive at just conclusions; while at the same time, in view of the great public objects to be attained by the establishment of the proposed line of steamships, they have not deemed it inconsistent with the just liberality of the Government, that those who have had the sagacity to conceive, and who have the ability faithfully[30] to carry out this noble project, should have at least a contingent opportunity of deriving a handsome profit from their enterprise. Considering the hazards involved in it, the committee believe their estimates to be fair and just to both parties.

The committee report a bill accordingly, to which they ask the favorable consideration of the House.

Reported from the Committee by


Washington, Aug. 1, 1850.



From the Executive Committee of the American Colonization Society, to the friends of Colonization throughout the U. States.

The foregoing Report, emanating from the Committee on Naval Affairs of the House of Representatives, U. S., we commend to your earnest attention.

The subjects embraced therein are worthy the most zealous co-operation of all who value the institutions of our country, and who are willing to establish on the coast of Africa the only means which, under the blessing of God, may bring light out of gloom, order out of disorder, mind out of instinct, civilization out of barbarism, and heaven-born truth out of Pagan superstition and cruelty.

This able and comprehensive Report has been read by us with much pleasure, and we cannot doubt will be highly instrumental in calling out the assistance of legislators, both National and State.

The cautious and wise manner in which our Society is to derive the most unexpected and ample assistance, fills us with admiration, and inspires us with hopes in its entire success.

Without arrogating to ourselves the pretension of adding to said Report, we only avail ourselves of the occasion of its circulation, to give a few extracts from the opinions and sentiments of some of our wisest statesmen and purest patriots.

from Ex. Com. Col. Society.

Washington City, August, 1850.


Letter from Hon. Elisha Whittlesey, one of the Vice Presidents of the American Colonization Society.

Treasury Department,
Comptroller’s Office, July 20th, 1850.

Matthew St. Clair Clarke, Esq.,
Member of the Ex. Com. Col. Society, Washington.

My dear sir: Judge Joseph Bryan and his associates have petitioned Congress for some aid and assistance to establish and maintain a line of steamers to the western coast of Africa, and you express “a desire to have a few remarks from me on the probable benefit resulting therefrom to our great and good Society, for which we have so long labored.”

You very properly restricted me to a few remarks, and those to the subject of Colonization.

The Committee on Naval Affairs, to whom the memorial was referred in the House of Representatives, will, without doubt, establish in their report the importance of the measure, as connected with the increase of our steam navy, so essential to our defence in time of war, and to our commerce with Africa. This commerce will be great, beyond the most extravagant calculation that has been made.

My attention was first drawn to the subject of African colonization at the annual meeting of the Society in 1823, when listening to the remarks of the Hon. Robert Goodloe Harper, and others. From that time to the present, my belief has been, and now is, that an “all-wise Providence” will accomplish, through the institution of slavery in this country, the civilization and Christianization of Africa, by the agency of this Society and its kindred associations. The Republic of Liberia invites those who wish to give freedom to the human beings they hold in bondage to do so, without any excitement, commotion, or opposition. An acceptance of the invitation violates no right, alarms no fear, wounds no feeling, awakens no jealousy. One party is relieved from a heavy responsibility, and the other enjoys, in the land of[33] their fathers, civil and religious freedom. Every intelligent emigrant from this country is a missionary to, and an instructor of, his brethren. Africa will be Christianized when parts of Asia will be in heathen darkness.

The plan ranks with the most important of those of the interesting age in which we live; and, if patronized by Congress, will richly bless two continents. There has been no colony so prosperous, or that has achieved so much within the same space of time, as the colony of Liberia; and it is a remarkable fact, that during a period of thirty years, since the first expedition was fitted out to Africa, not a life has been lost by shipwreck.

If this Congress shall co-operate in this great national interest, it will stand immortalized on the page of history.

Most sincerely yours,


Letter from the Hon. R. J. Walker, one of the Vice Presidents of the American Colonization Society.

Washington City, July 23, 1850.

Dear Sir: I have received your letter of last week, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the American Colonization Society, addressed to me as a Vice President of that Society, requesting my views as to Mr. Bryan’s memorial for the transportation, by steam vessels, of our free blacks to Liberia.

I have had no time to examine the details of the plan, but as regards the main question, I most fully concur in the policy of a removal of our free blacks to Liberia, through the instrumentality of steamships, and with the aid of the Government of the United States. The plan presented seems to me free from all constitutional objections. It seems, also, to be perfectly practicable, and its successful execution would confer incalculable blessings upon our country. Indeed, I have ever regarded colonization and abolition as antagonist measures, and that the success[34] of the first would overthrow the latter, and thus rescue our beloved country from the danger of disunion.

Very truly your friend,


M. St. Clair Clarke,
Ch. Ex. Com. of Am. Col. Soc.

Extract of a letter from Gov. Wright, of Indiana.

Indianapolis, Indiana, July 3d, 1850.

To the Executive Committee of the Col. Society

Gentlemen: Your circular, containing a copy of Mr. Bryan’s memorial, came to hand a few days ago, and I have no hesitation in saying that Mr. B’s plan, or any other good plan, of forming a line, or lines, of transport to draw off our free people of color, will meet with general favor in our State.

And some movement of the kind is much needed; for the youth of the free States are growing up ignorant of the merits of colonization, and very sceptical as to its final success. This has been produced by the labors of men in the North who have never investigated the subject, and who have poured contempt on all your attempts to colonize—they have been too successful in indoctrinating the youth of the North. A want of faith in the enterprise, or confidence in its final success, will soon paralyze all your efforts in the North; for in a few years the unbelief of our young men will become confirmed, and when they grasp the reins of government, which they will do in the course of time, African colonization will be discarded by the North.

The best remedy that can be devised for the above ignorance and scepticism, among Northern men, will be a bold and decided movement on the part of the General Government, which will look directly toward the separation of the colored race from the white race, and the erection of the colored people into an independent commonwealth.


This movement will confound the opponents of colonization in the North; it will send a thrill of confidence through the hearts of all our friends; it will compel the people to think and talk on the subject of a national colonization enterprise, and it will compel each newspaper in the land to speak out on the subject. Discussion is all we want, for then we can make thousands of friends; in short, we can indoctrinate the nation with our opinions, “and opinion rules the world.”

As to Mr. B’s plan, we are willing that he and his friends shall have the monopoly of the African trade for a time; but that monopoly should be so guarded as to make it a source of wealth to Liberia, and not a drain on the wealth of that Republic, or be calculated to retard her progress. The East India Company has been a stupendous leech on British India, from which it has drawn untold millions, and under whose management India must become impoverished, and made dependent on England.

The interest of colonization requires that we foster Liberia, and not impoverish her. If Mr. B. is to be remunerated for his trouble, and doubtless he should be paid, and well paid, let the American people pay him, and not Africa. So plan the scheme that it will be the interest of the free man of color to go to Africa, and this can be best accomplished by making Liberia a wealthy commercial nation.

It would be well to blend the Colonization Society and Mr. B’s company into one association, if possible, and procure liberal provisions from the General Government, granting large powers for forming settlements and trading stations on the coast of Africa; but having no power to hold real estate in Africa, except a few acres at proper points on the coast for factories, around which colonies might be established, which, growing into states, would in due time take their place among the states of the Liberian confederacy....

I know of no enterprise of this age that we, as Americans,[36] should be so willing to take hold of as one man, with nerve and energy, as that of the settlement of Liberia.

As one citizen of this nation, I would be willing to make all my contributions, and devote the last dollar of my means, to the colonization of the black man of this country to Liberia.

I have the honor to be,

Yours, most respectfully,


Rev. William McLain,
Sec. Am. Col. Soc., Washington City.

Opinions of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Chief Justice Marshall, and others, on the colonization of Africa.

The following extracts from an Address to the Legislators and People of Virginia, published in the thirty-third Annual Report of the American Colonization Society, Jan. 15, 1850, shows the progress of the question in Virginia:

The Governor of the Commonwealth having in his late message recommended the American Colonization Society to the particular attention of the Legislature, and the subject having been referred to a select committee, whose report is daily anticipated, it seems a fitting time to remind the Legislators and citizens of Virginia of some fuels touching the origin and history of an institution which is attracting the regards and challenging the admiration of the civilized world. It must endear this institution to Virginians, and strengthen their confidence in its wisdom, to be reminded that it comes commended to the present generation by the authority of our most patriotic and sagacious statesmen, and the deliberate successive acts of our Legislature.

It claims for its authors Thos. Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, Edmund Pendleton and George Wythe, high in the first rank of their country’s orators and jurists—the Mansfield and the Hale of Virginia—George Mason, perhaps the[37] wisest statesman to whom Virginia has given birth, and Thomas Ludwell Lee, who was deemed by the Legislature of 1776 their fit associate. These gentlemen were appointed, by the first Legislature after the Declaration of Independence, to revise the laws of this State. This committee proposed a comprehensive plan of colonization. The emancipation feature in this plan was probably the reason of its failure. The seed of the Colonization Society had nevertheless been sown, which springing up after the lapse of a few years, and pruned of its excrescences, began to grow and bear fruit. Its first fruit was the plan of Dr. Thornton, (a Virginian,) in 1787, to colonize the free colored people upon the coast of Africa. This being the suggestion of a private individual had no visible results. A few years afterward the Colony of Sierra Leone, consisting of slaves who had taken refuge in the British army during the Revolutionary war, was established.

On the 31st December, 1800, the House of Delegates of Virginia passed almost unanimously the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Governor be requested to correspond with the President of the United States on the subject of purchasing lands without the limits of this State, whither persons obnoxious to the laws, or dangerous to the peace of Society, may be removed.”

In compliance with this resolution, Mr. Monroe addressed a letter to Mr. Jefferson, dated Richmond, 15th June, 1801, in which he says: “We perceive an existing evil which commenced under our colonial system, with which we are not properly chargeable, and we acknowledge the extreme difficulty of remedying it. At this point the mind rests with suspense, and surveys with anxiety obstacles which become more serous as we approach them. To lead to a sound decision, and make the result a happy one, it is necessary that the field of practicable expedients be opened on the widest possible scale; under this view of the subject, I shall beg leave to be advised whether a tract of land in the western territory of the United States can be procured for[38] this purpose, in what quarter, and on what terms? You perceive that I invite your attention to a subject of great importance, one which in a peculiar degree involves the future peace and tranquility and happiness of the good people of this commonwealth.”

On the 8th of November, 1801, Mr. Jefferson replied in a long letter, in the course of which he goes on to discuss the practicability and expediency of procuring territory on our western or southern frontier, and concludes with asking, would we be willing to have such a colony in contact with us? It is impossible, he adds, not to look forward to distant times, when our rapid multiplication will expand beyond those limits, and cover the whole northern if not the whole southern continent with a people speaking the same language and governed with the same laws. Nor can we contemplate with satisfaction either blot or mixture on that surface.

He then gives the preference to the West Indies, and among these islands to St. Domingo, in consideration of their being already inhabited by a people of their own race and color, and having a climate congenial with their constitution, and being insulated from other descriptions of men. Africa, he concludes, would offer a last and undoubted resort, if all others more desirable should fail us.

On the 16th June, 1802, the House of Delegates of Virginia passed the following resolutions, which were agreed to by the Senate on the 23d:

Resolved, That the Governor be requested to correspond with the President of the United States for the purpose of obtaining a place without the limits of the same, to which free negroes or mulattoes, and such negroes or mulattoes may be emancipated, may be sent or choose to remove as a place of asylum, and that it is not the wish of the Legislature to obtain the sovereignty of such place.”

In December, 1804, Mr. Jefferson addressed a letter to Governor[39] Page of Virginia, in which he says, the island of St. Domingo, our nearest and most convenient resource, is too unsettled to be looked to for any permanent arrangements. He then suggests whether the inhabitants of our late purchase beyond the Mississippi, and the National Legislature, would consent that a portion of that country should be set apart for the persons contemplated. And not yet seeming to despair of Africa, he adds, my last information as to Sierra Leone is that the company was proposing to deliver up their colony to the Government. Should this take place it might furnish an opportunity for an incorporation of ours into it. This led to the following resolution of the House of Delegates on the 3d of December, 1804:

Resolved, That the Senators of this State in the Congress of the United States be instructed, and the Representatives be requested, to exert their best efforts for the purpose of obtaining from the General Government a competent portion of territory in the country of Louisiana, to be appropriated to the residence of such people of color as have been or may be emancipated in Virginia, or may hereafter become dangerous to the public safety. Provided, That no contract or arrangement respecting such territory shall be obligatory on this Commonwealth, until ratified by the Legislature.”

This resolution was sent by Governor Page to the Representatives of Virginia.

Our difficulties with France and England now supervened, and arrested at this point these interesting proceedings. But there was at least one eminent politician whose mind was not diverted from the contemplation of this subject by the approaching war with England. In January, 1811, Mr. Jefferson said, “I have long ago made up my mind upon this subject, and have no hesitation in saying I have ever thought it the most desirable measure for gradually drawing off this part of our population. Going from a country possessing all the useful arts, they might be the means of transporting them among the inhabitants of[40] Africa, and would thus carry back to the country of their origin the seed of civilization, which might render their sojourning here a blessing in the end to that country. Nothing is more to be wished than that the United States would themselves undertake to make such an establishment on the coast of Africa. Exclusive of motives of humanity, the commercial advantages to be derived from it might defray all its expenses.”

A treaty of peace having been concluded with Great Britain in 1815, the public mind reverted with increased interest to the scheme of colonization.

In the mean time Dr. Finley, Bishop Meade, Frank Key, &c., had been anxiously pondering the subject of African colonization. These, with other persons of like minds, assembled in the city of Washington on the 21st of December of the same year, and recommended the formation of the American Colonization Society.

Mr. Clay was chairman of the meeting, and stirring addresses were made by him, and by Messrs. Caldwell and Randolph, of Roanoke. A committee was appointed to present a memorial to Congress, asking their co-operation; John Randolph was on that committee. The society held its first meeting on the 17th of January, 1817, and elected its officers. Hon. Bushrod Washington was made president, and among the thirteen vice-presidents were Clay, Crawford, Jackson, and John Taylor, of Virginia. The committee of the society prepared a memorial to Congress, which was referred to a committee of the House of Representatives, who made an able report, concluding with resolutions recommending negotiations with the great states of Europe for the abolition of the slave trade, and an application to Great Britain to receive into the colony of Sierra Leone such of the free people of color of the United States as should be carried thither. And should this proposition not be accepted, then to obtain from Great Britain a stipulation, guaranteeing a permanent neutrality to any colony established under the auspices of the United States upon the coast of Africa.


On the 3d of March, 1819, Congress passed an act, authorizing the President of the United States to make such arrangements as he might deem expedient, for the safe keeping and removal out of the United States of such persons of color as might be brought into any of the States under the act abolishing the slave trade, and to appoint agents upon the coast of Africa for receiving such persons. Agents were accordingly appointed by the Government, who, acting in co-operation with the agents of the society, purchased territory, and established the colony. This purchase was made in 1822, by an agent of the society, and Captain Stockton, of the navy, on the part of the Government of the United States. From that moment the course of the colony has been steadily onward, “through evil and through good report,” until it has taken its place among the independent nations of the earth, under the denomination of the “Republic of Liberia.”

To return from this digression to Virginia. An auxiliary society was formed in Richmond in November, 1823, at the head of which was placed the Hon. John Marshall, (clarum et venerabile nomen,) who continued to preside over its deliberations, and to guide it by his wise counsels, to the day of his lamented death. He was succeeded by the Hon. John Tyler, late President of the United States. The Richmond society, by its able reports, its energetic agencies, and its stirring appeals, was instrumental in diffusing information and procuring contributions, which rendered very valuable aid in a time of need to the Parent Society at Washington. It also obtained from the Legislature, in 1825 and 1828, donations in clothing and implements of agriculture, which supplied very opportunely pressing wants of the infant colony in Africa. The Colonization Society, at this period, had a task of great delicacy to perform. The questions growing out of the admission of Missouri into the Union had fearfully agitated the whole country, and threatened to overwhelm this benevolent enterprise in ruin; but by following the chart of her original principles with the strictest fidelity, and steering between the rock of indifferentism on the one hand, and the whirlpool of abolitionism[42] on the other, she was enabled, with the blessing of Heaven, to weather the storm. At this critical juncture were heard above the roaring of the tempest of fanaticism the voices of her gallant commanders, Madison and Marshall, cheering her onward in her noble mission.

Mr. Madison, in a letter dated Jan. 16, 1832, said, “the Society had always my best wishes, although with hopes of success less sanguine than those entertained by others found to be better judges, and I feel the greatest pleasure at the progress already made by the Society, and the encouragement to encounter remaining difficulties afforded by the greater and earlier difficulties already overcome. I cherish the hope that the time will come when the dreadful calamity which has so long afflicted our country, and filled so many with despair, will be gradually removed, and by means consistent with justice, peace, and the general satisfaction; thus giving to our country the full enjoyment of the blessings of liberty, and to the world the full benefit of its great example.”

Judge Marshall, in the same year, said, the removal of our colored population is a common object, by no means confined to the slave States, although they are more immediately interested in it. The whole Union, he adds, would be strengthened by it, and relieved from a danger whose extent can be scarcely estimated. Here we have the authority of the “father of the Constitution,” and its greatest expounder, both of whom thought the object contemplated by the Colonization Society so important that it demanded the interposition of the General Government, and both regarded the public lands as a proper resource of effecting it.

General Brodnax, in the session of 1832 and 1833, reported a bill devising ways and means for deporting free negroes, and such as may become free in Virginia, to Liberia. The bill proposed an appropriation of $35,000 for the present year, and $90,000 for the next, to be applied to this purpose. It passed the House of Delegates, but was lost in the Senate. Notwithstanding this[43] discouragement, the subject was again moved, and on the 4th of March, 1833, an act passed the Legislature, appropriating $18,000, and constituting the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and 1st and 2d Auditors, a board of commissioners for carrying its provisions into effect. This act, as was predicted at the time, was rendered utterly inefficient by the restrictions with which it was encumbered.

In 1837, the Board of Managers of the Virginia Society, seconded by petitions from several auxiliary societies, presented a memorial to the Legislature, asking for an act of incorporation, and an amendment of the act of 1833, so as to make its provisions available; and on the 13th of February, of the same year, the report of the select committee, declaring these petitions reasonable, was agreed to by the House of Delegates, and a bill ordered. For want of time, or some other cause not known, this bill did not become a law. And now, in 1850, Mr. Dorman has reported a bill to the same end, founded upon the recommendation in the message of Governor Floyd.

Such is believed to be a just account of the history of the idea of colonizing our people of color, from its first conception until its full development in the American Colonization Society. It is not within the scope of this address to write the history of that Society—its unparalleled success is not now questioned by any unprejudiced man. Mr. Gurley, who was commissioned by the General Government to visit Liberia and investigate its condition, is just returned, and is now preparing an elaborate report, illustrating the commercial and other interests of that young Republic; his testimony to its present prosperity and the greatness of its future prospects is most decisive and encouraging. Neither is it a part of my plan to cite the authority or acts of the several State Legislatures, fourteen of which have given the Society their approbation; and one, Maryland, has made it a part of her permanent policy, by establishing and cherishing with annual appropriations the colony of Maryland in Liberia. Nor will I now[44] insist upon the benefits, social, political, and moral, that are conferred by this Society upon the white race in America, and upon the black race upon both continents. Let it suffice to say that we have in our midst, in the persons of our free colored people, an evil of enormous magnitude. That this evil has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished, every body admits. When Mr. Jefferson proposed his plan of colonization, there were only about 10,000 free negroes in Virginia—now the number is estimated at 60,000, and is increasing.

JOINT RESOLUTION for abolishing the traffic in slaves, and for the colonization of the free people of color of the United States—Proposed February 11, 1817, by a committee of the House of Representatives.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to consult and negotiate with all the Governments where ministers of the United States are or shall be accredited, on the means of effecting an entire and immediate abolition of the traffic in slaves. And, also, to enter into a convention with the Government of Great Britain for receiving into the colony of Sierra Leone such of the free people of color of the United States as, with their own consent, shall be carried thither; stipulating such terms as shall be most beneficial to the colonists, while it promotes the peaceful interests of Great Britain and the United States. And should this proposition not be accepted, then to obtain from Great Britain and the other maritime powers a stipulation, or a formal declaration to the same effect, guarantying a permanent neutrality for any colony of free people of color which, at the expense and under the auspices of the United States, shall be established on the African coast.

Resolved, That adequate provision shall hereafter be made to defray any necessary expenses which may be incurred in carrying the preceding resolution into effect.

Note.—No proceeding took place in the House on these resolutions at this session.


The committee consisted of Mr. Pickering, Mr. Comstock, Mr. Condict, Mr. Tucker, Mr. Taggart, Mr. Cilley, and Mr. Hooks, on colonizing the free people of color of the United States.

Nineteenth Congress, first Session.

February 18, 1825.

The following resolution was submitted to the Senate of the United States, by Mr. Rufus King, of New York:

Resolved, That, as soon as the portion of the existing funded debt of the United States, for the payment of which the public land of the United States is pledged, shall have been paid off, then, and thenceforth, the whole of the public land of the United States, with the net proceeds of all future sales thereof, shall constitute or form a fund, which is hereby appropriated; and the faith of the United States is pledged that the said fund shall be inviolably applied to aid the emancipation of such slaves, within any of the United States, and aid the removal of such slaves, and the removal of such free people of color, in any of the said States, as, by the laws of the States, respectively, may be allowed to be emancipated or removed, to any territory or country without the limits of the United States of America.

Extract of a letter from the Hon. James Madison to the secretary of the society, the Rev. R. R. Gurley.

Montpelier, December 29, 1831.

Dear sir: I received in due time your letter of the 21st ultimo, and with due sensibility to the subject of it. Such, however, has been the effect of a painful rheumatism on my general condition, as well as in disqualifying my fingers for the use of the pen, that I could not do justice “to the principles and measures of the Colonization Society, in all the great and various relations they sustain to our own country and to Africa,” if my views of them could have the value which your partiality supposes. I may observe, in brief, that the society had always my good wishes,[46] though with hopes of its success less sanguine than were entertained by others, found to have been the better judges; and that I feel the greatest pleasure at the progress already made by the society, and the encouragement to encounter remaining difficulties afforded by the earlier and greater ones already overcome. Many circumstances at the present moment seem to concur in brightening the prospects of the society, and cherishing the hope that the time will come when the dreadful calamity which has so long afflicted our country, and filled so many with despair, will be gradually removed, and by means consistent with justice, peace, and the general satisfaction; thus giving to our country the full enjoyment of the blessings of liberty, and to the world the full benefit of its great example. I never considered the main difficulty of the great work as lying in the deficiency of emancipation, but in an inadequacy of asylums for such a growing mass of population, and in the great expense of removing it to its new home. The spirit of private manumissions, as the laws may permit and the exiles may consent, is increasing, and will increase; and there are sufficient indications that the public authorities in slaveholding States are looking forward to interpositions in different forms, that must have a powerful effect. With respect to the new abode for the emigrants, all agree that the choice made by the society is rendered peculiarly appropriate by considerations which need not be repeated; and, if other situations should not be found eligible receptacles for a portion of them, the prospects in Africa seem to be expanding in a highly encouraging degree.

In contemplating the pecuniary resources needed for the removal of such a number to so great a distance, my thoughts and hopes have been long turned to the rich fund presented in the western lands of our nation, which will soon entirely cease to be under a pledge for another object. The great one in question is truly of a national character, and it is known that distinguished patriots, not dwelling in slaveholding States, have viewed the object in that light, and would be willing to let the national domain he a resource in effecting it.

Should it be remarked that the States, though all may be interested[47] in relieving our country from the colored population, are not all equally so, it is but fair to recollect that the sections most to be benefited are those whose cessions created the fund to be disposed of.

Extract of a letter from the Hon. John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United Hates, to the Rev. R. R. Gurley, dated

Richmond, December 14, 1831.

The great object of the society, I presume, is to obtain pecuniary aids. Application will undoubtedly be made, I hope successfully, to the several State legislatures, by the societies formed within them, respectively. It is extremely desirable that they should pass permanent laws on the subject; and the excitement produced by the late insurrection makes this a favorable moment for the friends of the colony to press for such acts. It would be also desirable, if such a direction could be given to State legislation, as might have some tendency to incline the people of color to migrate. This, however, is a subject of much delicacy. Whatever may be the success of our endeavors to obtain acts for permanent aids, I have no doubt that our applications for immediate contributions will receive attention. It is possible, though not probable, that more people of color may be disposed to migrate, than can be provided for with the funds the society may be enabled to command. Under this impression I suggested, some years past, to one or two of the board of managers, to allow a small additional bounty in lands to those who would pay their own passage, in whole or in part. The suggestion, however, was not approved.

It is undoubtedly of great importance to retain the countenance and protection of the General Government. Some of our cruisers stationed on the coast of Africa would, at the same time, interrupt the slave trade—a horrid traffic, detested by all good men—and would protect the vessels and commerce of the colony from pirates[48] who infest those seas. The power of the Government to afford this aid is not, I believe, contested. I regret that its power to grant pecuniary aid is not equally free from question. On this subject I have always thought, and still think, that the proposition made by Mr. King, in the Senate, is the most unexceptionable, and the most effective, that can be devised.

The fund would probably operate as rapidly as would be desirable, when we take into view the other resources which might come in aid of it; and its application would be, perhaps, less exposed to those constitutional objections which are made in the South, than the application of money drawn from the treasury and raised by taxes. The lands are the properly of the United Slates, and have heretofore been disposed of by the Government, under the idea of absolute ownership.

Acts and Resolutions of State Legislatures in relation to Colonization.


Vermont Legislature, Nov. 12, 1827.

On the petition of the Vermont Colonization Society, the committee reported a resolution, instructing their Senators and Members in Congress to use their exertions in procuring the passage of a law in aid of the objects of the society; which was read and adopted.


Resolutions, 1831.

1. Resolved, That the Legislature of Massachusetts view with great interest the efforts made by the American Colonization Society, in establishing an asylum on the coast of Africa for the free people of color of the United States; and that, in the opinion of this Legislature, it is a subject eminently deserving the attention and aid of Congress, so far as shall be consistent with the powers[49] of Congress, the rights of the several States of the Union, and the rights of the individuals who are the objects of those efforts.

2. Resolved, That our Senators and Representatives in Congress be, and they are hereby, requested, in the name of the State of Massachusetts, to solicit the assistance of the General Government to aid the laudable designs of that society, in such manner as Congress, in its wisdom, may deem expedient, and is consistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the United States.


Resolutions of the Senate, April 13, 1832.

Mr. Tallmadge, from the select committee to which was referred the memorials of the State Colonization Society, and of William A. Duer and others, of the city of New York, reported the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the Senate applaud the motives, and approve the objects, of the American Colonization Society, and have full confidence in the fidelity, discretion, and ability, of its executive officers.

Resolved, That, as the said society proposes to remove or mitigate existing evils, and prevent or diminish apprehended dangers, it deserves the confidence and encouragement of the American people.

Resolved, That the Senate commend the said society to the consideration and patronage of the citizens of this State.

Resolved, That these resolutions be transmitted to the honorable the Assembly, for their consideration.

The resolutions passed the House of Assembly with hardly a dissenting voice.



Resolution, 1829.

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met, That, in the opinion of this General Assembly, the American Colonization Society eminently deserves the support of the National Government; and that our Senators be directed, and that the Representatives in Congress be requested, to aid the same by all proper and constitutional means.



Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met, That it is requisite for our prosperity, and, what is of more important concern, essential to our safety, that measures should be taken for the removal from this country of the free negroes and free mulattoes.

Resolved, That this General Assembly approve the objects of the American Colonization Society, and consider that these objects deserve public support, and that they ought to be fostered and encouraged by the National Government, and with the national funds.

Resolved, That the Senators of this State in Congress, with the Representative from this State, be requested to approve and promote, in the councils of the nation, measures for removing from this country to Africa the free colored population who may be willing to emigrate.

Resolved, That the Speakers of the two Houses be requested officially to sign these resolutions, and forward a copy to each of our Senators, and a copy to our Representative in Congress.



Resolution of the House of Delegates, 1818.

By the House of Delegates, Jan. 26, 1818.

Resolved, unanimously, That the Governor be requested to communicate to the President of the United State and to our Senators and Representatives in Congress, the opinion of this General Assembly, that a wise and provident policy suggests the expediency, on the part of our National Government, of procuring, through negotiation, by cession or purchase, a tract of country, on the western coast of Africa, for the colonization of the free people of color of the United States.


Preamble and resolution, 1816.

Whereas the General Assembly of Virginia have repeatedly sought to obtain an asylum, beyond the limits of the United States, for such persons of color as had been, or might be, emancipated under the laws of this Commonwealth, but have hitherto found all their efforts for the accomplishment of this desirable purpose frustrated, either by the disturbed state of other nations, or domestic causes equally unpropitious in its success, they do now avail themselves of a period when peace has healed the wounds of humanity, and the principal nations of Europe have concurred with the Government of the United States in abolishing the African slave trade, (a traffic which this Commonwealth, both before and since the Revolution, zealously sought to terminate,) to renew this effort; and do, therefore,

Resolve, That the Executive be requested to correspond with the President of the United States, for the purpose of obtaining a territory on the coast of Africa, or at some other place not within any of the States or Territorial Governments of the United States, to serve as an asylum for such persons of color as are now free, and may desire the same, and for those who may hereafter be[52] emancipated within this Commonwealth; and that the Senators and Representatives of this State in the Congress of the United States, be requested to exert their best efforts to aid the President of the United States in the attainment of the above object: Provided, That no contract or arrangement respecting such territory shall be obligatory on this Commonwealth until ratified by the legislature.

Passed by the House of Delegates, December 15th; by the Senate, with an amendment, December 20th; concurred in by the House of Delegates, December 21, 1816.



A resolution, recently presented to this body, proposing the appointment of a joint committee to take into consideration the expediency of promoting the emigration of free people of color from that State to Liberia, was adopted by a vote of twenty-two against eleven.


Report and resolution, 1818.

Your committee are of opinion that such parts of said memorials and petitions as ask this General Assembly to aid the Federal Government in devising and executing a plan for colonizing, in some distant country, the free people of color in the United States, are reasonable; and, for the purpose of effecting the object which they have in view, the committee have draughted a resolution, which accompanies this report, the adoption of which they would recommend.

Mr. Willis, from the same committee, submitted the following resolution, which was read and adopted:

Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That the Senators in Congress from this State be, and they are hereby, instructed, and that the Representatives be, and they are hereby, requested, to give to the Government of the United States any[53] aid in their power in devising and carrying into effect a plan which may have for its object the colonizing, in some distant country, the free people of color who are within the limits of the United States, or within the limits of any of their Territories.


Report and resolutions, 1827.

The committee to whom was referred the memorial of the American Colonization Society, have had that subject under consideration, and now report;

That, upon due consideration of the said memorial, and from all other information which your committee has obtained touching that subject, they are fully satisfied that no jealousies ought to exist, on the part of this or any other slaveholding State, respecting the objects of this society, or the effects of its labor.

Your committee are further well assured that the benevolent and humane purposes of the society, and the political effects of those purposes, are worthy the highest consideration of all philanthropists and statesmen in the Union, whether they be citizens of slaveholding or non-slaveholding States. It is believed by your committee that the memorial itself is well calculated to present the subject in a proper point of view, and to interest the public mind in the laudable objects of that society. They, therefore, refer to the same as a part of this report. Your committee recommend the adoption of the following resolutions:

Resolved by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That they view, with deep and friendly interest, the exertions of the American Colonization Society in establishing an asylum on the coast of Africa for the free people of color of the United States; and that the Senators and Representatives in Congress from this State be, and they are hereby, requested to use their efforts to facilitate the removal of such free persons of color as may desire to emigrate from the United States to the colony in Africa, and to ensure to them the protection and patronage of the[54] General Government, so far as shall be deemed consistent with the safety and interest of the United States.

Resolved, That the Governor he requested to transmit a copy of the foregoing resolution to each of our Senators and Representatives in Congress.

Joint resolutions.

During the year 1828 the following joint resolutions passed the Senate of Kentucky, with only three dissenting voices:

Resolved, &c, That our Senators and Representatives in Congress be requested to use their best endeavors to procure an appropriation of money of Congress to aid, so far as is consistent with the [Constitution of the] United States, in colonizing the free people of color of the United States in Africa, under the direction of the President of the United States.

2. That the Governor of this State be requested to transmit a copy of the foregoing resolution to each of our Senators and Representatives in Congress, and to the Governors of the several States.


Preamble and joint resolutions, 1829.

Whereas the members of the present General Assembly of the State of Indiana view with unqualified approbation the continued exertions of the American Colonization Society to ameliorate the condition of the colored population of our country, and believing that the cause of humanity and the true interest of the United States require the removal of this people from amongst us more speedily than the ability of the Colonization Society will permit:

Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana, That our Senators and Representatives in Congress be, and they are hereby, requested, in the name of the State of Indiana, to solicit the assistance of the General Government to aid the laudable designs of the Colonization Society, in such manner as Congress in its wisdom may deem expedient.


Resolved, That the Governor be, and he is hereby, requested to forward a copy of the foregoing resolution to our Senators and Representatives in Congress.


Joint resolutions of the Illinois Legislature to transport the free persons of color from the United States to Africa; passed session of 1847-’8.

Whereas efforts have been made to create the impression that the citizens of the free States desire to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists by law; and whereas such efforts are likely to create discord and jealousy among the several States, and weaken the bonds of our glorious Union; and whereas we desire most earnestly to undeceive our brethren of the Southern States on the subject, and manifest our fraternal regard for them, and to contribute all in our power to assist in relieving them of the burden of slavery, in the manner best suited to their feelings and interests; therefore,

Be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring herein, That our Senators in Congress be instructed, and our Representatives requested, to employ all constitutional means in their power to procure ample resources by the Federal Government to remove all such free persons of color as can be induced to emigrate to Liberia, or elsewhere in Africa, and to provide for their necessary wants.

Resolved, That the Governor be requested to transmit a copy of the above preamble and resolution to each of our Senators and Representatives, with a request that the subject be brought before Congress.

Note.—New Jersey, Connecticut, and several other States have adopted resolutions similar to the above; and in most of them the resolutions have been repeated from time to time, down to a recent date.


Extracts from the report of the Committee of the House of Representatives on Commerce on the subject of African Colonization. Feb. 28, 1843.

The necessity of making some provision for the colonization and settlement of the free colored population of this country began, at an early period, to attract the attention of the public. During the administration of Mr. Jefferson, the State of Virginia made an application to the General Government for aid in this purpose. That State desired to originate some measure which should provide an asylum for this population, either on the coast of Africa, or in some other appropriate region beyond the limits of the Union. Resolutions were more than once adopted by its Legislature, expressive of the interest which the State felt in the subject, and of the importance attached to it; and at length the Governor was directed, in 1816, when Dr. Finley was employed at Washington in his memorable enterprise of establishing the American Colonization Society, to correspond with the President for the promotion of that design. The assistance of the Senators and Representatives of the State was invoked to the same end.

The Society was founded in December, 1816. It comprised many eminent individuals from the several States; was characterized by its freedom from sectional distinctions; enlisted the aid of men from every quarter of the Union; and was generally received and applauded as a beneficent and highly national undertaking.

Its design, as set forth in an article of its constitution, was to act “in co-operation with the General Government and such of the States as might adopt regulations on the subject.” Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, and Georgia were the first to respond to the invitation invoking their assistance. They passed resolutions recommending the subject to the country, and generally announced their accordance in the opinion, expressed by Mr. Jefferson, that it was desirable the United States should undertake the colonization of the free people of color on the coast of Africa....

About half the States of the Union have expressed their decided[57] approbation of the scheme of African colonization, and the citizens and Legislature of Maryland have proceeded to plant a flourishing colony at Cape Palmas. Through the efforts and under the influence of the American Colonization Society, nearly twenty eligible tracts of country have been purchased between Cape Mount and Cape Palmas, and on many of them promising settlements established. The enterprise is demonstrated to be practicable, and capable of indefinite extension. Though the colonies embrace but a few thousand emigrants, their salutary influence is widely felt, and many thousands of the native population have sought their protection, submitted to their laws, and enjoy the advantages of their instruction. Able and disinterested citizens of the United States have, from time to time, devoted themselves to their interests, and, under the authority of the colonization societies, have assisted them to frame their social institutions, their government and laws. They exhibit to the eyes of a barbarous people the model of a free, temperate, industrious, civilized, and Christian society. They have legislative assemblies, courts of justice, schools, and churches. Though having enjoyed in this country but very imperfect means of improvement, and left it with small means, they have done much for themselves, and much for civilization and Christianity—have enacted laws for the extirpation of the slave trade, and, wherever their rightful authority exists, executed them with vigor; they have successfully engaged in agriculture and in lawful commerce; they have opened the way for many Christian missionaries, of different communions, to the heathen tribes, and afforded them protection and facilities in their work. In fine, Liberia and the Maryland settlement at Cape Palmas present themselves to this country and the world, not only as eligible asylums for our free colored population, and for such as may become free, but as republican and Christian States, informed by the elements of indefinite growth and improvement, capable, duly countenanced, and guarded against the interference of unfriendly powers, of rising to honor and greatness, and of diffusing the influence of its laws and example over wide districts of Africa.


The annual imports from western Africa into this country probably exceed a million of dollars, and into Great Britain are about four millions. The palm oil trade, now becoming of great value, had hardly an existence twelve years ago, is rapidly increasing, and may be increased to an almost indefinite extent. Hitherto, the slave trade has been at war with all improvement and every kind of innocent commerce. Its cessation will be succeeded by the cultivation of the soil, and the growth of trade in all the varied and valuable productions of the African climate. It is of infinite importance that the natives of Africa should be convinced that agricultural labor, and the substitution of lawful trade for the infamous commerce in human beings, will be for their advantage; and that, in their intercourse with them, our own merchants should possess every privilege granted to those of England, or any other nation.

The establishment of a commercial agency, (as recommended by Dr. Hall,) to reside in Liberia, and occasionally to visit, in a Government vessel, various points on the coast, to ascertain the best sites for mercantile establishments, to form conventions and treaties of commerce, and for the suppression of the slave trade with the principal chiefs, to take charge of the stores and other property sent out for our ships of war, to guard the rights and interests of our seamen, and secure for American vessels a free and unrestrained right of trade at all important stations, the committee would recommend as an object urgently demanded by interest and humanity.

The time has arrived, in the opinion of the committee, when this subject of African colonization has become sufficiently important to attract the attention of the people, in its connexion with the question of the political relations which these colonies are to hold with our Government.

Speech of the Hon. Henry Clay.

At the 31st Anniversary of the American Colonization Society, held at Washington, January 18, 1848, the Hon. Henry Clay, in the course of his speech, made the following remarks:


“It is now nearly thirty years since Mr. Finley, Mr. Caldwell, and some other gentlemen, met by agreement with a view to form a Colonization Society. I was one of that number. We did not intend to do more or less than establish on the shores of Africa a colony, to which free colored persons with their own voluntary consent might go. There was to be no constraint, no coercion, no compulsory process to which those who went must submit: all was to be perfectly voluntary and unconstrained in any manner or degree. Far, very far, was it from our purpose to interfere with the slaves, or to shake or affect the title by which they are held in the least degree whatever. We saw and were fully aware of the fact that the free white race and the colored race never could live together on terms of equality. We did not stop to ask whether this was right or wrong: we looked at the fact, and on that fact we founded our operations. I know, indeed, that there are men, many of them of high respectability, who hold that all this is prejudice; that it should be expelled from our minds, and that we ought to recognise in men, though of different color from ourselves, members of our common race, entitled in all respects to equal privileges with ourselves. This may be so according to their view of the matter; but we went on the broad and incontestible fact, that the two races could not, on equal terms, live in the same community harmoniously together. And we thought that the people of color should be voluntarily removed, if practicable, to their native country, or to the country at least of their ancestors: there they might enjoy all those blessings of freedom and equality of condition which to them were impossible here. Our object, let me repeat it, was limited to the free; we never thought of touching in any manner the title to slave property. We hoped to be able to demonstrate the practicability of colonizing them; and when that should have been demonstrated, those who owned slaves might avail themselves of it or not—might send liberated slaves to Africa or not, precisely as they pleased. All our purpose was to establish, if we could, a colony of free[60] colored men, and thus to demonstrate to the world that colonization was practicable.

“It has been truly stated, that from the day of its formation to the present hour, the Society has been surrounded with difficulties. It has had to stand the fire of batteries both in front and rear, and upon both flanks. Extremes of opinion and of action, which could unite in nothing else, united in assaulting us. Those who cared for the safety of the institution of slavery assailed us on one hand, while the Abolitionists assaulted us on the other. But on what ground should either oppose such an enterprise? Our ground in regard to both was total non-interference. We meant to deal only with colored persons already free. This did not interfere with the projects of the Abolitionists. For myself, I believe those projects to be impracticable; and I am persuaded that if the same energy and effort which have been expended in getting up abolition movements, had been directed to the work of colonization, a vast amount of benefit would have resulted to the cause of humanity and to the colored race. Why should they attack us? We do not interfere with them. Their project is to emancipate at one blow the whole colored race. Well, if they can do that, then our object begins. The office of colonization commences only where theirs would end. The colored race being here in the midst of us, and not being capable of enjoying a state of equality with the whites around them, our object is to carry them to a place where they may enjoy, without molestation, all the benefits of freemen. Here is no incompatibility; and in point of fact we have thus far gone on our way without disturbing any body, either on the right or on the left.

“But it is said that our Society is incapable of effecting any great object. That our aims can never be accomplished without aid from the State governments, or unless the General Government shall send out of the country all the free blacks. It is our purpose to show the power of colonization, in competent hands, fully to carry out the benevolent ends we have in view, to work all the[61] great results for which this Society was formed. Our purpose is to demonstrate to the American people, that if they choose to take hold of this great project in their State Legislatures, or otherwise, the end sought is practicable, and the principle of colonization is competent to carry abroad all the colored population who shall be emancipated. That demonstration has been made.

“The separation of free colored people from the white race is a measure recommended not only by the mutual and the separate good of both, but by the prospect that Africa, which has so long lain in barbarism, worshipping unknown and forbidden gods, may thus be brought to the light and blessings of Christianity. Those who met to form this Society saw not only that great good would accrue from their design to the colored race, by elevating their character, and restoring them to the possession of rights they never can enjoy here, but that it would be a probable means, in the end, of carrying to Africa all the blessing of our holy religion, and all the benefits of our civilization and freedom. What Christian is there who does not feel a deep interest in sending forth missionaries to convert the dark heathen, and bring them within the pale of Christianity? But what missionaries can be so potent as those it is our purpose to transport to the shores of Africa? Africans themselves by birth, or sharing at least African blood, will not all their feelings, all their best affections, induce them to seek the good of their countrymen? At this moment there are between four and five thousand colonists who have been sent to Africa under the care of this Society; and I will venture to say that they will accomplish as missionaries of the Christian religion more to disseminate its blessings than all the rest of the missionaries throughout the globe. Why, gentlemen, what have we heard? In the colony of Liberia there are now twenty-five places of public worship dedicated to the service of Almighty God, and to the glory of the Saviour of men; while thousands of the neighboring heathens are flocking into the colony to obtain a knowledge of the arts, and who may ultimately receive the better knowledge which Christianity alone can bestow.


“These are the great purposes we had in view when a few of us met to form this Society. As soon as a purchase of territory had been effected by the agent we dispatched to Africa for that purpose, the first colonists, about twenty-five years since, left the American shores, and were safely transplanted to the land of their ancestors.

“I know it was then urged, as it has been since, that other places might have been selected with equal advantage. I do not concur in that opinion. Look at the expense alone. It has been stated in your report that the sum of fifty dollars is sufficient to cover the expense of transporting one emigrant to Liberia, and of maintaining him there for six months after his arrival. To what other position in the known world could he be sent at so cheap a rate? Not to the Pacific; not to Oregon; not to Mexico. Then consider the advantages of this position in point of navigation: remember the shortness of the voyage. When these things are duly considered, it must be evident that to no other spot on the face of the globe could the free colored people be sent with so much propriety as to the coast of Africa. Besides, in any other place that might be selected, you would deprive yourselves of accomplishing those high moral and religious objects which, in Africa, may be so confidently hoped for.

“But, again, it has been said that the object of carrying all the free colored race from this country to Africa is one which the Government itself, with all its means, could not effect. Now, on that point, let me state a fact by way of reply. If I am not mistaken, the immigration from abroad into the port of New York alone, in the course of the last year, was fully equal to the annual increase of the free colored population of the Union, and yet all that was done voluntarily, and in most cases without any, or with very little aid. The fact rests on the great motive which, to a greater or less extent, governs all human action. Why is it that the Germans and the Irish have thus flocked to our shores in numbers to meet the annual increase of our free colored people not only, but, as I believe, that of the slave population also? They[63] come in obedience to one of the great laws of our nature; they have come under that efficient motive which propels men to all enterprises—the desire to better their condition. A like motive will sway the free blacks when enlightened as to the real facts of the case. If they reach the shores of Africa, whether by their own means, or by the aid and agency of others, their position will be physically, morally, and politically better than by any possibility it ever can be here. It is not our office to attempt impracticabilities; to amalgamate two races which God himself, by a difference of color, besides other inherent distinctions, has declared must be separate, and remain separate, from each other. And if such be of necessity their condition here, to send them to Africa, not by coercion, but with their own free consent, is surely the best practicable mode of doing them good. And here I would say to those in both extremes of opinion and of feeling on the subject of slavery—I would say to all men—why should the free people of color of these United States not have the option of removing to Africa, or remaining where they are, just as they themselves shall choose? That is all we attempt. We wish to describe to him the country, to facilitate his emigration to it, and then leave him to his free choice. And if after this he chooses to go, why interpose any obstacle in his way? In reply, it is said to be an act of cruelty to send him there. The climate is represented as inhospitable; he will be exposed to inevitable sickness, and will probably soon find a grave on that distant shore. To send a colored man out of the United States to a country like that is held up as an act of the greatest inhumanity. But, happily, our records bear the most grateful testimony to the reverse of all this. Let us for a moment compare the mortality of Liberia with that of the colonies planted on our own shores. Within the first seventeen years from the settlement of Jamestown, in Virginia, nine thousand colonists arrived, £150,000 sterling were expended in transporting them from England, yet at the end of that period but about two thousand of them remained alive. All the rest had fallen[64] victims either to the climate, or to the tomahawk of the savage, or had perished from other causes. Then look at Plymouth. History records that in less than six months after the arrival of the Mayflower, full half of all who landed had been destroyed by disease, want, and suffering. Now, compare with these efforts at British colonization the results of our settlement at Liberia. In twenty-five years, since the first emigrants landed from the United States, the deaths amounted to but twenty per cent. of the entire number, being far less than died at Plymouth in six months; far less than at Jamestown in seventeen years. The deaths at Jamestown were in seventeen years more than four times as numerous, in proportion, as at Liberia in twenty-five years. There is then nothing in the climate to discourage us, nothing in the alleged dreadful mortality of the colony to frighten us.

“But it is said we have done very little. All the great enterprises of man have had small beginnings. The founders of Rome, if we may believe the tale of tradition, were suckled by a wolf. Jamestown and Plymouth both languished for years after the period to which I have already referred. Yet now, what land is there on the broad surface of the habitable globe, what sea spreads out its waste of waters, that has not been penetrated and traversed by the enterprise, the skill, and the courage of our New England brethren? And on what battle-field, in what council chamber, can a single spot in our vast country be found where the Virginian character has not displayed itself in its gallantry or its deliberative wisdom? I repeat it; all the greatest enterprises of man have had small beginnings. Our colony is but twenty-five years old; it has received already between four and five thousand colored emigrants, besides hundreds more of recaptured Africans; all of which have been sent there by order of this Government. Immense numbers of the natives are crowding into the colony to obtain the benefits of education, of civilization, and of Christianity. In addition to all these, there are many thousands more in the United States now seeking the advantages of colonization through the means[65] held out by this Society. As far then as we have gone, good is done.

“Is it not better that those four or five thousand emigrants should be there, than that they should have remained here? Is it not better for themselves, is it not better for us? Every year the progress of our colony becomes more and more cheering; and, with every free African sent over to it, those prospects brighten, and so much more of good is done. True, we have done all we desire to do. Glad should we be should every free colored man throughout all the States go there, and become free indeed. But it requires time to accomplish great national affairs. The creation of a nation is not the work of a day or of a century. For two or three centuries the embryo nation of the Israelites remained captives in Egypt. But when this Government, or the State governments, shall lend the enterprise their powerful aid, its progress will not be so slow. And when the colony shall have made further advances, it will be self-sustained and increased by its own commerce and marine. I speak not, of course, of any unconstitutional aid. Incidental aid, at least, may be given it in strict accordance with the Constitution. On this subject the legislature of Maryland has set us a noble example. She cherishes her infant colony with the utmost solicitude and care. When other States of the Union shall do the same, the cause of colonization will experience a vast acceleration.

“During, now, a period of twenty-five years, without power, without revenue, without aid, save the voluntary contributions of the charitable and humane, has this Society continued its labors. During that period it has carried on a defensive war. It has made treaties. It has purchased territory, and that to a large extent; owning, now, some three hundred and twenty miles along the western coast of Africa, throughout the whole of which extent (with one dark exception) the slave trade has been suppressed. And in this connexion I may be permitted to remark, that if the Governments of Europe and of the United States, who have united their efforts for the suppression of the slave trade, would consent to[66] lend but a small portion of the navies they now, at so great a cost, maintain off the African coast in furtherance of that design, to the great object of colonization, they would prove much more successful than they have hitherto found themselves in putting an end to that detested traffic. I believe that no other means will ever prove so operative and effectual to that end as the covering the entire coast of that quarter of the globe with colonies of free colored men. Then would all be united, by sympathy for their outraged countrymen, in heartily advancing a design which commends itself to every feeling of the black man’s heart.

“And now, in conclusion, I should fail of expressing the feelings which are rising in my bosom, did I not congratulate you, gentlemen of the Society, on the eminent success which has already crowned your benevolent labors. A new republic has sprung into existence under your auspices. Yes; a free, representative, constitutional republic, formed on the model of our own beloved institutions. A republic, founded by black men, reared by black men, put into operation by the blacks, and which holds out to our hope the brightest prospects. Whether we look at what has already been done, or lift our eyes to the future and cast them down the long vista of coming time—when we may anticipate, as we are warranted to do, the dissemination over a large part, if not the whole, of Africa, of our own free government, our love of liberty, our knowledge of Christianity, our arts, and civilization, and domestic happiness—when we behold those blessings realized on that continent, which I trust in God we are long, long destined to enjoy on this, and think how the hearts of posterity will be gladdened by such a spectacle—how ought our own to exult in hope and to swell with gratitude?

“Go on, then, gentlemen; go on in your noble cause. For myself, I shall soon leave you and this stage of human action forever. I may never occupy this chair again; but I trust that the spirit which originated and which has sustained this Society will long survive me, and that you may long continue, now that our African republic is at length born, to discharge the offices of guardianship,[67] and aid, and co-operation, and ever give to the interests of African freedom, civilization and social happiness, your best energies and most fervent prayers. From this auspicious hour, even to the end of time, or until the great object of the amicable separation of the two races shall have been fully effected, may others spring up to take your places, and to tread in your steps. And, finally, invoking on this great and good cause the blessing of that God without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, and whose smiles, I believe, have hitherto been extended to it, I bid you a cordial farewell.”

Resolutions delivered and proposed by Hon. R. W. Thompson, Hon. R. J. Walker, Hon. Joseph R. Ingersoll, Hon. R. M. McLane, Hugh Maxwell, esq., and others.

At the 32d annual meeting of the American Colonization Society, held at Washington, January 16, 1849, the Hon. R. W. Thompson, of Indiana, offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved, That the history of the past year, as developed in the report which has just been read, has strengthened our confidence in the great principles of the Colonization Society, and that in their purity and strength we see satisfactory evidence of their ultimate triumph.”

The Hon. Robert J. Walker, Secretary of the Treasury, with some appropriate remarks, introduced the following resolution:

Resolved, That in founding a new republican empire on the shores of Africa, introducing there civilization and Christianity; in banishing the slave trade from a large portion of its western coast, and accelerating its expulsion from that whole continent; in opening commerce and intercourse with the savage tribes of the interior, soon to be followed by a rapid advancement in their condition; in laying the foundation of a system destined to facilitate the ultimate separation of the two races of Ham and Japhet[68] in this Confederacy, by universal consent, for the advantage of both, and the gradual and peaceful restoration of the former to the land of their forefathers, regenerated by the light of Christianity, and trained in the principles of our free institutions: and especially in fixing a basis upon which the friends of religion and humanity, of freedom, of the Constitution, and of the Union, can every where, in every State, north and south, east and west, unite their efforts for the advancement of the happiness of both races, and at the same time accomplish the glorious purpose of preserving the harmony and perpetuating the union of the States; the American Colonization Society, embracing the whole country and all its parts, has established a claim upon the efficient aid and zealous co-operation of every lover of his country and of mankind.”

The Hon. J. R. Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania, seconded the resolution, and addressed the meeting thereupon, after which it was adopted.

The Hon. Robert M. McLane, of Maryland, offered the following preamble and resolutions, which were adopted:

“Whereas the institution of domestic slavery in the United States exists as the creature of local municipal law, so recognised and respected in the Federal Constitution: Therefore—

Resolved, That in all action affecting this institution in its social or political aspect, the American citizen and statesman who reveres the Federal Union, has imposed upon him the most solemn obligations to respect in spirit and letter the authority of such local and municipal sovereignties, and to resist all aggressive influences which tend to disturb the peace and tranquility of the States, that may have created or sanctioned this institution.

Resolved, further, That the efforts of the American Colonization Society to facilitate the ultimate emancipation and restoration of the black race to social and national independence are highly honorable and judicious, and consistent with a strict respect for the rights and privileges of the citizens of the several States wherein the institution of slavery is sanctioned by municipal law.”


Hugh Maxwell, esq., of New York, was called upon, and having made an address, offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved, That the influence which the scheme of African colonization exerts to suppress the slave trade, to spread the English language and the principles of republican government, and to open new markets for American products, and extend American commerce, should commend it to the favorable consideration of the respective State Legislatures and of the General Government.”

Opinion of the Hon. Daniel Webster on colonization at the expense of the General Government.

The Hon. Daniel Webster, in his great speech in the United States Senate, 7th of March, 1850, spoke as follows:

“I have one other remark to make. In my observations upon slavery as it has existed in the country, and as it now exists, I have expressed no opinion of the mode of its extinguishment or melioration. I will say, however, though I have nothing to propose on that subject, because I do not deem myself so competent as other gentlemen to consider it, that if any gentleman from the South shall propose a scheme of colonization to be carried on by this Government upon a large scale, for the transportation of free colored people to any colony or any place in the world, I should be quite disposed to incur almost any degree of expense to accomplish that object. Nay, sir, following an example set here more than twenty years ago by a great man, then a Senator from New York, I would return to Virginia, and through her for the benefit of the whole South, the money received from lands and territories ceded by her to this Government, for any such purpose as to relieve, in whole or in part, or in any way to diminish or deal beneficially with, the free colored population of the Southern States. I have said that I honor Virginia for her cession of this territory. There have been received into the Treasury of the United States eighty millions of dollars, the proceeds of the sales of the public lands[70] ceded by her. If the residue should be sold at the same rate, the whole aggregate will exceed two hundred millions of dollars. If Virginia and the South see fit to adopt any proposition to relieve themselves from the free people of color among them, they have my free consent that the Government shall pay them any sum of money out of its proceeds, which may be adequate to the purpose.”

Extracts from a letter from Commodore Stockton to Hon. Daniel Webster, dated March 25th, 1850.

“Yonder is Africa, with her one hundred and fifty millions of miserable, degraded, ignorant, lawless, superstitious idolaters. Whoever has stood upon her sands, has stood upon a continent that has geographical and physical peculiarities which belong to no other of the great divisions of the globe. The latter appear, upon the face of them, to have been adapted to draw out the energies of the natives in their inequalities of temperature, soil, and surface, inviting the ingenuity and enterprise of man to overcome them, and in the varieties of their products tempting the interchanges of commerce; thus affording ample encouragement to the progress of civil and social improvement. But Africa is still, as of old, a land of silence and of mystery. Like the interminable dreariness of her own deserts, her moral wastes of mind lie waiting for the approach of influences from abroad. No savage people have ever advanced to a civilized state without intercommunication with others. All the continents of the world have, in their turn, been occupied and civilized by means of colonies; but in no one of them did it appear so inevitably necessary, from a previous examination of circumstances, as in that of Africa. It is plain to the very eye, that Africa is a land to which civilization must be brought. The attempt has been made over and over again by devoted missionaries and others to penetrate that land, and seek to impart the blessings of civilization and Christianity to her savage hordes. But the labor has been spent in vain. The white man cannot live in Africa. The annals of the Moravians,[71] of Cape Colony, of Sierra Leone, of Liberia, contain the records of the sacrifice of some of the best men that have lived to grace the pages of any people’s history, in the vain attempt to accomplish something for her redemption through the instrumentality of white men. Who, then, is to do this work?

“Let now any calm, reflecting spectator of the present state of the world be asked to look at Africa, and then, from among the nations, point out the people best calculated to do this work—and when his eye falls upon the descendants of the sons of that continent now in America, will he not say, These are the people appointed for that work?

“Let us not be impatient or presumptuous. These African people are passing to their destiny along the same path which has been trod by other nations, through a mixture of hardship, of endurance; but in a land of light, and amid a civilized society. They are preparing to accomplish a work for their native continent, which no other people in the world can accomplish. Their plain mission is, ultimately to carry the gifts of society, of religion, of government, to the last remaining continent of the earth, where these blessings are totally unknown. Their work is a great one, as it would seem to be connected essentially with the final and universal triumph of civilization and Christianity in the world.”

Extract from a letter from the Hon. Edward Everett to the Hon. Simon Greenleaf, President of the Society, dated Cambridge, 28th May, 1849.

“I have for many years felt an interest in the subject of African colonization. In the winter of 1831, the Legislature of Massachusetts passed a resolution, requesting the Senators and Representatives of the Commonwealth in Congress to lend their efforts in support of the American Colonization Society. I was led at that time to investigate the subject with some care, and I came to the conclusion that the work which the Society had undertaken was of the highest interest and importance, second to no one of the enterprises undertaken by the philanthropy of the[72] age. The views entertained by me at that time are set forth in a speech before the Society, in the Hill of the House of Representatives at Washington, made on the 16th of January, 1832.

“These impressions were renewed and strengthened a few years since, when it became my duty, in another capacity, to maintain the rights and interests of the colony of Liberia, in my official correspondence with the British Government at London.

“Since that time, the recognition of the political independence of Liberia, by the leading European powers, is an event well calculated to lead thoughtful persons to contemplate, with new interest, what seems to me one of the most important occurrences of the age—the appearance of a new Republic on the shores of Africa, composed of citizens who by birth are (the greater part of them) our own countrymen; but who will carry to the home of their ancestors means and facilities for promoting the civilization and Christianization of that continent, which Providence has confided to them, and to them alone.

“It is unfortunate, for the cause of colonization, that it has been considered mainly in direct connexion with the condition of the descendants of Africa in this country. But great as this object is, it seems to me subordinate to a direct operation upon Africa itself; the regeneration of which, I cannot but think, is the path appointed by Providence for the elevation of the descendants of Africa throughout the world. I am led to the opinion, from all the inquiry I have been able to make, that the difficulty of effecting the regeneration of Africa is exaggerated; that a large part of her population is susceptible of the highest forms of civilization; that the arts of life, as we understand them, already exist in many parts of the continent to a much greater extent than is commonly supposed; that the interior slave trade is the great obstacle which prevents its speedily taking a high place in the family of nations; and that nothing would so effectually remove this cause of demoralization and barbarity as the introduction of Christianity, and with it the languages, improved arts, and commerce of Europe and America.


“These effects have immediately begun to show themselves, wherever the African coast has been colonized from countries disposed in good faith to abolish the slave trade; and I confess I see no other mode for effecting the object.”


Monrovia, (Liberia,) May 17, 1850.

Dear Sir: I have just returned from the windward coast, and find here the U. S. brig Bainbridge, on the eve of sailing for the United States, via Porto Praya. Capt. Slaughter has been kind enough to allow me an hour to send a letter or two by him. I therefore avail myself of the opportunity to send you a hasty note, to say that we have at length succeeded in securing the famed territory of Gallinas to this Government, including all the territories between Cape Mount and Shebar, excepting a small slip of about five miles of coast in the Kellou country, which will also soon fall into our hands.

For these tracts we have incurred a large debt, and we confidently look to you to aid us in meeting these liabilities at maturity. Had I not deemed it absolutely important to secure the Gallinas, to prevent the revival of the slave trade there, I would not have paid the price demanded. The purchase of Gallinas and the neighboring tracts will cost us about $9,500.

The chiefs were aware of the object of the purchase, and urged strenuously the sacrifice, as they consider it, they must make in abandoning forever the slave trade, and demanded a large sum as an equivalent. In addition to the amount stated above, we have obligated ourselves to appoint commissioners immediately to settle the wars in the country, and open the trade in camwood, ivory, and palm oil with the interior tribes; and also settle among them, as soon as convenient, persons capable of instructing them in the arts of husbandry. This will also cost us a considerable sum, which will no doubt be returned in the end by the advantages the trade will give. Still the present outlay will be, I fear, more than equal to our ability.


The schooner “David C. Foster” has arrived safely, and the emigrants, as far as I have learned, were landed in good health.

We have no further news worth communicating.

Yours, in haste,


Rev. W. McLain, Washington.

Note.—This purchase makes the coast of Liberia 700 miles in length, along the whole course of which the Slave trade was formerly carried on to a great extent.

Extracts from the leading article in the African Repository and Colonial Journal for May, 1850, (the official organ of the Colonization Society,) on the establishment of the proposed line of Steamers.

The Colonization Society undertook to found a colony, to which the colored people might find it advantageous to emigrate. This has already been done. The work has been slow in its progress, as it were piling one stone upon other, till now the foundation is laid deep and wide. The Republic is sufficiently well established to receive a large number of emigrants yearly: there is room enough for them, and every thing invites them there, and these four steamers afford the facilities for their reaching there. It now only remains for the United States Government to adopt, foster, and encourage this work, and it will be done.

The great ends to be established present considerations of sufficient importance to induce the Government to comply with the prayer of the memorial. When these steamers are started the United States squadron on that coast may be withdrawn. It now costs upwards of $384,500 to maintain that squadron a year. These four steamers, and the emigrants carried out by them, will annually accomplish a thousand fold more for the suppression of the slave trade, than the squadron ever has or ever can accomplish! There cannot be a doubt of this. Does the United States Government desire the suppression of the slave trade? Undoubtedly. Here then is the way in which it may be done.


We may ask another question. Is it desirable that American commerce should be extended? Undoubtedly. Here then is a way in which it may be done. The 150,000,000 inhabitants of Africa, now all naked, must be clothed, and will be as civilization advances among them. They must have the means and appliances of agriculture and the mechanic arts. And in return for all these, they have all the rich and varied productions of tropical climates! How shall this work be accomplished? How shall Africa be civilized? How shall a market be opened there for all the articles manufactured in the United States, and for the surplus productions of our soil? How shall the inexhaustible treasures of that immense continent be brought to supply our wants, and increase our wealth and our glory?

By Colonization—by carrying out the plans and measures which the Society has adopted and been struggling to achieve. Already more than 80,000 of the natives have put themselves under the laws of Liberia, and are rising in the scale of humanity. Already there is a large demand for the productions of this country.

When the transported population of Liberia shall be 50,000 or 200,000, they will present a market for our surplus manufactures, and bread stuffs, of immense value. A line of settlements on the coast will command the commerce of the interior. If that power is held by men sent from this country by a large and liberal policy, nurtured and grown up under our institutions, and by our fostering care and aid, in establishing themselves in Liberia, they will ever be inclined to trade with this country, and thus open to our merchant, those wide fields of wealth! The amount asked by the Company from the Government for carrying the mails, would not affect injuriously one single interest of the country, and it would be more than repaid with interest by the advantages of the commerce to be secured thereby.

The advantages which would be enjoyed by the people of the United States as the result of the removal of the free colored people, and the separation of the races, would be immense. The[76] blessings to them would be incalculable. They dwell among us, but they are not of us. They do not enjoy, and the prospect is, they never can enjoy here, true liberty! We provide for them a means of escape from these depressing circumstances, and place them in a situation were nothing can prevent them from rising to the highest elevation of which they are capable.

Under these circumstances, what is the duty of the Government to do? To sit still and lose the golden opportunity? No, this is not, this cannot be, the wisest policy! Motives of honor, of benevolence, of justice, of patriotism, demand a different policy.

Let it be remembered that the legislation of our country touching the extinction of the slave trade, conferred upon her a glory as imperishable as the Constitution herself. A just regard to our national character calls for a perseverance in that policy, until its wisdom and benignity shall be vindicated in the full accomplishment of its ends; the giving to Africa civilization and the arts, and a lawful commerce!

Extracts from the July No. of the African Repository.

In all parts of the country we perceive that the friends of Liberia look upon this four-steamships scheme as fraught with immense promise. The public sentiment of the country is decidedly in favor of colonization, and of national and State appropriations for carrying it on.

We think there are indications that the State Legislatures will render assistance to an almost unlimited extent. When it is made manifest that colonization can and will be prosecuted on a scale of grandeur and magnificence equal to its merits, the whole country will unite in favor and liberality.

We have the control of the number of emigrants who may be sent in these steamships. We are not bound to send any specific number. They are bound to take as many as we want to send. But we shall take good care not to send more than the Republic can safely receive; nor more than we have the means of paying[77] the passage of, and comfortably settling in Liberia? This is our safe-guard.

Let it be remembered, that it will be some two or three years before the steamships will be ready for operation. This will give time for consideration, for preparation, and for gathering up the resources for a grand demonstration of what can be done. The work is worthy of a nation’s energy! Why may we not hope that it will receive it?

Does any one say, “the time has not yet come?” Are you sure of it? Is not this the day of great things? How rapid has been the march of improvement during the last few years! Who can predict what is next to come? Is it not a fact that the Government of Liberia is now firmly established? Do they not want more citizens of education and influence? Are there not thousands of acres of the richest land there, waiting for cultivation? Have we not all been for years looking to the time when the work of colonization should be carried on with means and resources adequate to the greatness of the work? How much longer, then, shall we wait before we make the attempt to summon these means, and enter on these enlarged operations? Has not the time fully come? We are persuaded it has.

At the annual meeting of the American Colonization Society, on January 16th, 1850, the Hon. Henry Clay was elected President of the Society, and the following gentlemen were elected Vice Presidents: