Projecting the financial costs and gains of colonizing emancipated slaves

Posted on July 21, 2015 by


This is the one instance in this series, where I’ll allow the pamphlet’s authors to speak for themselves. What did they see as both the financial costs and gains in colonizing emancipated slaves?

Captain Paul Cuffee, from actual experiment, estimated the expense of transporting free person of colour to Africa, at 60 dollars each. The whole number of blacks, bond and free, may be estimated at 1,900,000, and the annual increase at 58,000. An annual appropriation of 5 millions of dollars would be adequate to transport every year at 60 dollars each, 83,333, which is 25,000 more than the increase. Thus by sending out every year 25,000 more than the increase, we would in 40 years export the while number. This calculation is strictly accurate, making due allowance for the annual diminution of the increase.

According to Seybert’s statistics, the whole number of free persons of colour in the U. States amounted in 1810, to 186,446. Admitting 23,000 of this number to be able to transport themselves, the residue, agreeably to the foregoing process, might all be transported in two years! And we take it for granted that money will always command any number of vessels, even if it should be necessary to build them.

It is obvious that the estimate of the expense of transporting the whole black population, would be lessened at least one third, were we to make a fair deduction for all those who would be able, from the ordinary causes applicable to emigration, to defray their own expenses. But we are willing to concede every thing to our adversaries, confident of our ability to defeat them upon their own data.

But it is said the appropriation of five millions per annum is too enormous. To this we reply that the evil to be remedied is still more enormous, and the vast resources of our country, continually augmenting, would fully justify an expense essential to her own safety and welfare. To some persons 15 millions appeared a great price for the purchase of Louisiana; and yet, by giving that price, we probably escaped a war which would have cost us 100 millions, besides the loss of valuable lives. Thus a liberal expenditure may eventually become a national saving.

But although the nominal expense would be considerable, our country would in reality lose nothing; on the contrary, the national wealth would be greatly increased. The sale, or value, of the lands necessary to the support of our black population, would more than defray the expense of their transportation; and by substituting in their place the labour of freemen, the saving would be astonishing.

This idea may be illustrated by referring to the state of agriculture and domestic economy in the slave holding states. A farmer cultivates a farm of 10,000 acres with [illegible] 00 slaves. Of these at least 150 may be deducted as supernumeraries, and fifty more as old and infirm, children and sick, domestics, and such as are required to administer to the daily wants of their fellows. But deduct only fifty in all, and it is evident that they, as well as their master and overseers, must be supported by the labour of the residue. Owing to this wretched system connected with the bad cultivation, the indolent and destructive habits, generated by slavery, the master amasses nothing, but barely supports his family, while his property is daily depreciating. It may be assumed that the labour of 40 freemen judiciously bestowed on these 10,000 acres would be as productive as that of 300 slaves. But the labour of 300 slaves may, under our assumption, be considered about equal to their support, and at 100 dollars each will amount to 30,000 doll.; which sum will be necessary for the preservation of the estates, or principal. The support of 40 free labourers, at 150 dollars each, will be 6000 dollars. Consequently, the gross produce of the labour of the slaves and freemen being the same, while the profits of the former are entirely absorbed for the support of the farm, there will be an actual, clear profit in favour of the latter, of $24,000 [?] over and above support. And thus there will be an addition to the national wealth of $24,000, resulting from the substitution of 40 freemen in the room of 300 slaves.

Some of the slaves, chiefly on small estates are doubtless employed more profitably; but admit that our argument applies to 100,000 of them, which is little more than one twentieth of the whole, and by extending the computation to this number there will result an annual addition to individual and national wealth of 8 millions of dollars! But 5 millions of dollars annually, for a limited period, would be an abundance to colonize the whole black population. Therefore by appropriating this sum, the annual saving to the nation would in a few years be immense.

This gain would in process of time be greatly enhanced, owing to the improved cultivation of freeman; and the lands would be more equally distributed among the citizens, who would labour for their own emolument, and thereby augment still more the national wealth. Let us, for example, divide the farm of 10,000 acres into 40 farms of 250 acres each, which would be considered large in Pennsylvania and other states exempt from the curse of slavery. The clear annual profit of these farms at 1000 dollars each, would at no distant period be 40,000 dollars; and this sum would be saved by transporting the 300 slaves now employed on the same land.

By parity of reasoning, the removal of 100,000 slaves, similarly employed, would save annually to the nation 13,333,333 dollars.

We must now draw to a conclusion, with an humble hope that the common Father of all mankind will excite a sympathy in behalf of his children; and we are confident that when our objects shall be fully understood, and impartially considered they will be generally embraced by statesmen and politicians, moralists, philanthropists, and Christians.

From my post “Lincoln on compensated border state emancipation, coupled with colonization“, consider the estimates on the cost of colonizing mentioned above (in 1820), with those projected in discussions in 1862:

The proposition was addressed to all the States, and embraced the whole number of slaves. According to the census of 1860 there were then very nearly four million slaves in the country; from natural increase they exceed that number now. At even the low average of three hundred dollars, the price fixed by the emancipation act for the slaves of this District, and greatly below their real worth, their value runs up to the enormous sum of twelve hundred millions of dollars; and if to that we add the cost of deportation and colonization, at one hundred dollars each, which is but a fraction more than is actually paid by the Maryland Colonization Society, we have four hundred millions more! We were not willing to impose a tax on our people sufficient to pay the interest on that sum, in addition to the vast and daily increasing debt already fixed upon them. By the exigencies of the war; and if we had been willing, the country could not bear it. Stated is this form, the proposition is nothing less than the deportation from the country of sixteen hundred million dollars worth of producing labor, and the substitution in its place of an interest-bearing debt of the same amount!

But, if we are told that it was expected that only the States we represent would accept the proposition, we respectfully submit that even then it involves a sum too great for the financial ability of this Government at this time. According to the census of 1860:

Kentucky had……….225,490 slaves
Making it a whole……….1,196,112 [*]

At the same rate of valuation these would amount to ……….$358,833,600

Add for deportation and colonization $100 each……….119,244,588

And we have the enormous sum of $478,078,178

As the Auxiliary Society of Frederick County, Virginia was only one (though, from what I’ve read, it was the most active) of a number of auxiliaries, in my next post in this series, I plan on breaking away from the pamphlet for a bit, while taking a look at some of the other sub-societies, inside and outside the Shenandoah Valley.