“To prepare the way of the gradual emancipation and colonization of our slaves.”

Posted on July 11, 2015 by

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ColonizationFrederickAuxiliaryCarrying over from the last post… this next run of text from the pamphlet continues to provide a history of the American Colonization Society. As I mentioned before, I feel as if the Auxiliary of Frederick County was trying to explain itself, and perhaps gather more financial support (if not simply support in general).

We have been informed, though not officially, that our colonists suffered much from sickness while in the Island of Sherbro. Three white persons attached to the colony, and fifteen of the coloured people, are probably dead. This event, however distressing, affords no ground for despondency. From the actual circumstances in which they were placed, it could not have happened otherwise. Destitute of the ways and means of selecting our own time for embarking the expedition, it was delayed week after week and month after month, until the government was ready to unite in our object; and when the settlers arrived on the coast of Africa, the rainy season was just commencing and it was too late for them to prepare a shelter from the inclemency of the weather in the healthy country to which they were destined. In this dilemma, they were forced to occupy the habitations provided for them by the humane John Kizel, on Sherbro Island, the situation of which is remarkably low, humid, and fatal to strangers. Not being enured to the climate, many was assaulted with disease and death. Precisely the same effect, resulting too from the same cause, was witnessed in Virginia during the late war, as will be recollected by those defenders of their country who were marched to Norfolk in the sickly season, or before they could prepare to encounter it. From this cause alone, two companies of regular soldiers lost by disease upwards of forty men in the course of a few months. In some of the militia regiments the mortality was much greater. Ten or twelve military funerals, in one day, was not an uncommon sight at Norfolk. And yet there are as few deaths reported from Fort Nelson and Fort Norfolk, as from any military posts in the U. States. And the obvious reason is, because the troops are gradually enured to the climate, and are not sent to those posts just at the commencement of the sickly season, and before they have acquired a knowledge of police duties.

We know that the first settlers of the United States were severely scourged with disease. Such indeed is the fate of all new colonies. We are confident, however, that no pestilence, beyond the ordinary lot of the most favoured climate, will assail our colonists after they shall occupy the beautiful and elevated country intended for their reception. If, however, actual experiment should convict us of error, we shall be the first to acknowledge it, and we shall then look elsewhere for the accomplishment of our views. While so large a portion of the world is within the reach of our benevolence, the insalubrity of a small territory shall never frustrate the important objects of the colonizing society. Some of our agents are no more. Others have already offered to supply their place. Some of the coloured people have found a grave in their own country. Their brethren in America, so far from being discouraged at the event, are importuning our society to transport them to the colony. There is, in reality, no cause of discouragement, as we have attempted to prove, and shall demonstrate more fully hereafter when we come to speak of the Bagron country.

This last portion (along with the last few sentences in the first paragraph) comes across as if they were saying that, yes, the initial colonization effort didn’t go so great, but… all that went bad wasn’t their fault. Bringing in the examples of the War of 1812 just seemed a little strange, but, I suppose they felt readers could best relate to more current, comparable events.

That behind them, they returned to bringing up specifics about their auxiliary.

It is now time to return from our digression, and relate the exertions of the citizens of Frederick County in this work of justice and humanity.

Ours is the first Auxiliary society formed in Virginia. On the 20th of September, 1817, its operations commenced, and in a short time about six thousand dollars were subscribed, payable in five annual installments, besides permanent subscribers. The individuals who contributed so liberally on this occasion, enjoy the smiles of an approving conscience, the gratitude of their country, and the admiration of the world. May they live to behold their efforts crowned with success – to see the midnight gloom which envelopes benighted Africa, dissipated by the sun of righteousness, and “Ethiopia stretch out her hands to God!”

Nor we can we omit to mention that the additional sum of $146.13 was lately collected in Frederick County, by female exertions, for the purchase of clothes to be distributed by the agents of the Society among the unlettered sons and daughters of Africa, who may resort to them for instruction. On this occasion, the ladies, with a tender sensibility peculiar to their sex, in a very short time completed three hundred and sixty four garments, for no other reward than the pleasure of doing good; and to this will be added the blessing of that God who delights in universal benevolence; who created bond and free, Africans and Europeans, of the same kindred, and equally heirs of immortality.

Our Society pursues its career with unabated vigor; but while we continue to gain many new proselytes, and to receive the sanction of the public from all parts of the Union, we have to regret that many, whose virtues we respect, whose talents we admire, and whose motives must be pure, are still indifferent or hostile to the objects of the Society. Have they, we would ask, sufficiently examined our principles and our progress? Or have they been precluded by professional avocations from bestowing due consideration on a Society unquestionably charitable in its design and wide as the world in its operation? If the latter be the fact, we must entreat their attention to the remainder of this report, while we shall endeavor to refute some of their most material objections; as we cannot forego the hope of being able to convince some of our respectable opponents, and their opposition arises from an inattention to the facts and principles by which we are governed.

We content that the design of the Society is both expedient and practicable.

Got that emphasis? This Society was not getting the love from everywhere. They not only had a lot of doubters (North and South) as to what their objectives were, but there were also the outright haters… who weren’t so happy to see slavery go away.

O.K., if you still aren’t sure what these folks wanted to do, they start to break it down…

The bare mention of the high objects of our pursuit, ought to convince every reflecting mind of their expediency. What are those objects?

1st. To colonize the free people of colour of the United States.

2d. To prepare the way of the gradual emancipation and colonization of our slaves.

3d. To contribute to the abolition of the slave trade.

4th. To perform an act of justice to African and her descendants, by restoring the unfortunate children, and by disseminating through that continent the principles of Christianity and civilization.

5th. As a consequence of the preceding proposition, to promote the prosperity of our own country and save it from impending ruin.

It was indispensably necessary to avow our real objects, since some have falsely charged us with wishing to rivet more strongly the fetters of slavery by removing the free persons of colour; whilst others, with no less absurdity, have accused us of an intention to emancipate all the slaves by a compulsory process equally repugnant to our wishes and transcending our authority.

They got a jab in there at the end, to those who misunderstood their intent… indeed, dealing with those “haters”. Anyway, I like this portion as it serves as an outline of an even more in-depth explanation that follows… in the next post.