« AnteriorContinuar »
and object that lie at the bottom of them is worthy of the most that we can do for the soldier who goes to fight the battles of his country. From the fair and tender hand of women is much, very much done for the soldier, continually reminding him of the care and thought for him at home. The knowledge that he is not forgotten is grateful to his heart. (Applause.) Another view of these institutions is worthy of thought. They are voluntary contributions, giving proof that the national resources are not at all exhausted, and that the national patriotism will sustain us through all. It is a pertinent question, When is this war to end? I do not wish to name a day when it will end, lest the end should not come at the given time. We accepted this war, and did not begin it. (Deafening applause.) We accepted it for an object, and when that object is accomplished the war will end, and I hope to God that it will never end until that object is accomplished. (Great applause.) We are going through with our task, so far as I am concerned, if it takes us three years longer. I have not been in the habit of making predictions, but I am almost tempted now to hazard one. I will. It is, that Grant is this evening in a position, with Meade and Hancock, of Pennsylvania, whence he can never be dislodged by the enemy until Richmond is taken. If I shall discover that General Grant may be greatly facilitated in the capture of Richmond, by rapidly pouring to him a large number of armed men at the briefest notice, will you go? (Cries of "Yes.") Will you march on with him? (Cries of "Yes, yes.") Then I shall call upon you when it is necessary. (Laughter and applause, during which the President retired from the table.)
It became manifest, soon after the commencement of the war, that its progress would inevitably have the effect •of freeing very many, if not all, the slaves of the Southern States. The President's attention was therefore directed at an early day to the proper disposition of those who should thus be freed. As his messages show, he was strongly in favor of colonizing them, with their own consent, in some country where they could be relieved from the embarrassments occasioned by the hostile prejudices of the whites, and enter upon a career of their own. In consequence of his urgent representations upon this subject, Congress at its session of 1862 passed an act placing at his disposal the sum of six hundred thousand dollars, to be expended, in his discretion, in removing, with their own consent, free persons of African descent to some country which they might select as adapted to their condition and necessities.
On the 14th of August, 1862, the President received a
deputation of colored persons, with whom he had an interview on the subject, of which one of the parties interested has made the following record :
WASHINGTON, Thursday, August 14, 1862.
This afternoon the President of the United States gave an audience to a committee of colored men at the White House. They were introduced by Rev. J. Mitchell, Commissioner of Emigration. E. M. Thomas, the chairman, reinarked that they were there by invitation to hear what the Executive had to say to them.
Having all been seated, the President, after a few preliminary observations, informed them that a sum of money had been appropriated by Congress, and placed at his disposition, for the purpose of aiding the colonization in some country, of the people, or a portion of them, of African descent, thereby making it his duty, as it had for a long time been his inclination, to favor that cause. And why, he asked, should the people of your race be colonized, and where? Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration. You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason, at least, why we should be separated. You here are freemen, I suppose.
A voice-Yes, sir.
The President-Perhaps you have long been free, or all your lives. Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoys. The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad continent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you. I do not propose to discuss this, but to present it as a fact, with which we have to deal. I cannot alter it if I would. It is a fact about which we all think and feel alike, I and you. We look to our condition. Owing to the existence of the two races on this continent, I need not recount to you the effects upon white men, growing out of the institution of slavery. I believe in its general evil effects on the white race. See our present condition-the country engaged in war! our white men cutting one another's throats-none knowing how far it will extend-and then consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among as there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other. Nevertheless, I repeat, without
Now if you could door for many to
the institution of slavery, and the colored race as a basis, the war could not have an existence. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. I know that there are free men among you who, even if they could better their condition, are not as much inclined to go out of the country as those who, being slaves, could obtain their freedom on this condition. I suppose one of the principal difficulties in the way of colonization is, that the free colored man cannot see that his comfort would be advanced by it. You may believe that you can live in Washington, or elsewhere in the United States, the remainder of your life; perhaps more so than you can in any foreign country; and hence you may come to the conclusion that you have nothing to do with the idea of going to a foreign country. This is (I speak in no unkind sense) an extremely selfish view of the case. But you ought to do something to help those who are not so fortunate as yourselves. There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored people to remain with us. give a start to the white people, you would open a wide be made free. If we deal with those who are not free at the beginning, and whose intellects are clouded by slavery, we have very poor material' to start with. If intelligent colored men, such as are before me, would move in this matter, much might be accomplished. It is exceedingly important that we have men at the beginning capable of thinking as white men, and not those who have been systematically oppressed. There is much to encourage you. For the sake of your race you should sacrifice something of your present comfort for the purpose of being as grand in that respect as the white people. It is a cheering thought throughout life, that something can be done to ameliorate the condition of those who have been subject to the hard usages of the world. It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him. In the American Revolutionary War sacrifices were made by men engaged in it, but they were cheered by the future. General Washington himself endured greater physical hardships than if he had remained a British subject, yet he was a happy man, because he was engaged in benefiting his race; in doing something for the children of his neighbors, having none of his own.
The colony of Liberia has been in existence a long time. In a certain sense, it is a success. The old President of Liberia, Roberts, has just been with me, the first time I ever saw him. He says they have within the bounds of that colony between three and four hundred thousand people, or more than in some of our old States, such as Rhode Island or Delaware, or in some of our newer States, and less than in some of our larger ones. They are not all American colonists or their descendants. Something less than twelve thousand have been sent thither from this country. Many of the original settlers have died, yet, like people elsewhere, their offspring outnumber those deceased. The question is, if the colored people are persuaded to go anywhere, why not there? One reason for unwillingness to do so is, that some of you would rather remain within reach of the
country of your nativity. I do not know how much attachment you may bave towards our race. It does not strike me that you have the greatest reason to love them. But still you are attached to them at all events. The place I am thinking about having for a colony, is in Central America. It is nearer to us than Liberia-not much more than one-fourth as far as Liberia, and within seven days' run by steamers. Unlike Liberia, it is a great line of travel-it is a highway. The country is a very excellent one for any people, and with great natural resources and advantages, and espe- . cially because of the similarity of climate with your native soil, thus being suited to your physical condition. The particular place I have in view is to be a great highway from the Atlantic or Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, and this particular place has all the advantages for a colony. On both sides there are harbors among the finest in the world. Again, there is evidence of very rich coal mines. A certain amount of coal is valuable in any country, and there may be more than enough for the wants of any country. Why I attach so much importance to coal is, it will afford an opportunity to the inhabitants for immediate employment till they get ready to settle permanently in their homes. If you take colonists where there is no good landing, there is a bad show; and so where there is nothing to cultivate, and of which to make a farm. But if something is started so that you can get your daily bread as soon as you reach there, it is a great advantage. Coal land is the best thing I know of with which to cominence an enterprise. To return-you have been talked to upon this subject, and told that a speculation is intended by gentlemen who have an interest in the country, including the coal mines. We have been mistaken all our lives if we do not know whites, as well as blacks, look to their self-interest. Unless among those deficient of intellect, everybody you trade with makes something. You meet with these things here and everywhere. If such persons have what will be an advantage to thom, the question is, whether it cannot be made of advantage to you? You are intelligent, and know that success does not as much depend on external help as on self-reliance. Much, therefore, depends upon yourselves. As to the coal mines, I think I see the means available for your self-reliance. I shall, if I get a sufficient number of you engaged, have provision made that you shall not be wronged. If you will engage in the enterprise, I will spend some of the money intrusted to me. I am not sure you will succeed. The Government may lose the money, but we cannot succeed unless we try; but we think with care we can succeed. The political affairs in Central America are not in quite as satisfactory condition as I wish. There are contending factions in that quarter; but it is true, all the factions are agreed alike on the subject of colonization, and want it, and are more generous than we are here. To your colored race they have no objection. Besides, I would endeavor to have you made equals, and have the best assurance that you should be the equals of the best. The practical thing I want to ascertain is, whether I can get a number of able bodied men, with their wives and children, who are willing to go, when
I present evidence of encouragement and protection. Could I get a hundred tolerably intelligent men, with their wives and children, and able to "cut their own fodder," so to speak? Can I have fifty? If I could find twenty-five able-bodied men, with a mixture of women and childrengood things in the family relation, I think-I could make a successful commencement. I want you to let me know whether this can be done or not. This is the practical part of my wish to see you. These are subjects of very great importance-worthy of a month's study, of a speech delivered in an hour. I ask you, then, to consider seriously, not pertaining to yourselves merely, nor for your race and ours for the present time, but as one of the things, if successfully managed, for the good of mankind -not confined to the present generation, but as
"From age to age descends the lay
To millions yet to be,
Till far its echoes roll away
The above is merely given as the substance of the President's remarks. The chairman of the delegation briefly replied, that "they would hold a consultation, and in a short time give an answer." The President said, "Take your full time-no hurry at all."
The delegation then withdrew.
In pursuance of his plans of colonization, an agreement was entered into by the President, September 12, 1862, with A. W. Thompson, for the setlement, by free colored emigrants from the United States, of a tract of country within the Republic of New Grenada―the region referred to by the President in his remarks quoted above; and the Hon. S. E. Pomeroy, a senator from Kansas, proposed to accompany and superintend the expedition. The sum of twenty-five thousand dollars was advanced to him from the colonization fund, but it was soon after discovered that the Government of New Grenada objected to the landing of these emigrants upon its territory, and the project was abandoned.
In April, 1863, an agreement was made with responsible and highly respectable parties in New York for the colonization of Ile à Vache, within the Republic of Hayti, of which a favorable grant had been made by the Governmeift and which was represented in the published report of the Commissioner of Emigration in the Department of