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at the ferry of Comie would appear to be something higher than the level of the Tsad, as given by Doctor Oudney. It may be observed, that the whole of the interior of northern Africa is a succession of elevated table. lands, the steep sides of the surrounding mountains being westerly and southerly, while interiorly, they present little or no declivity. From the summit of those passed by Clapperton, there was no descent to plains beyond them, and the mercury appears to have descended, rather than to have risen, as far as the ferry of the Quorra; but we have little doubt the whole question will now be speedily decided, as Major Rennell says, by firing a shot from Fernando Po. Any single person with a few scissors, needles, and brass ornaments for the wives of Badagry, Yourriba, Kiama, Boussa, and Yourri, would make his way without interruption, and from the last mentioned place to Bornou, avoiding altogether the Fellatas of Bello. The pastoral Fellatas are a harmless people. It is by means of single travellers that we shall eventually be able to settle the geography of northern Africa."
Virginia Legislature. Report of the Committee, to whom were referred sundry memori
als on the subject of Colonizing the Free People of Colour of Virginia.
The Committee, to whom were referred sundry memorials on the subject of colonizing, on the coast of Africa, the free people of colour of Virginia, having given to the subject, the attention justly due to its importance, and to its intimate connexion with what they believe to be the best interests of the State, beg leave to report, that the object of all the memorialists seems to be, to induce the General Assembly of Virginia, to avail itself of the offer of the American Colonization Society, to receive and protect within its settlement, on the coast of Africa, any portion of the free coloured population of America. To this course, the memorialists think the Legislature of Virginia not only pledged by its previous acts, but invited also by the most powerful considerations of State policy and national justice; and they appeal with confidence to the wisdom and patriotism of those to whom the interests of the State are now confided, to commence at once the important work of providing the necessary means for the gradual removal of such portions of the coloured population of the State, as are already free, or may hereafter be liberated.
Your committee are aware of the delicate nature of the subject, to which their attention has been thus directed; and while they deemn it their imperious duty to investigate in the fullest manner its merits and its consequences, they hope to be able to present the result of their investigation, in a mode calculated neither to alarm the fears, nor to excite the prejudices of any impartial mind.
The establishment within the limits of any State, of a large and growing community of individuals, essentially different from the great mass of its inhabitants, would, under any circumstances, be a matter of questionable expediency. But, if that community be distinguished by the peculiarity of its colour; be made up of slaves, or of their immediate descendants, and be diffused over every part of a slave-holding country, there is no longer room to doubt the baneful and dangeroụs character of the influence it must exert. The distinctive complexion by which it is marked, necessarily debars it from all familiar intercourse with the more favoured society that surrounds it, and of course denies to it all hope of either social or political elevation, by means of individual merit, however great, or individual exertions, however unremitted. The strongest incentives to industry, and moral as well as political rectitude, being thus withdrawn, it would argue a niost extraordinary ignorance of the character of the human heart, to anticipate from those, in relation to whom virtue and intelligence, and patriotism, are stripped of their most powerful attractions, a course of conduct calculated either to exalt themselves, or to benefit the country in which they live. Reason, on the contrary, would point us to the very results which our own experience has so fully demonstrated. Ignorance, idleness, and profligacy, must be the inseparable companions, the unavoidable consequences of individual degradation; and they who are its unfortunate subjects, cannot fail to be a curse to the community with which they are connected, detracting at once from its general wealth, its moral character, and its political strength.
But, there is yet a more important and alarming view, in which this subject necessarily presents itself to the mind of every Virginian. A community of the character that has been described, with this additional peculiarity, that it differs from the class
from which it has sprung, only in its exemption from the wholesome restraints of domestic authority, is found in the midst of a numerous and rapidly increasing slave population; and while its partial freedom, trammelled as it is, by the necessary rigours of the law, is nevertheless sufficiently attractive, to be a source of uneasiness and dissatisfaction to those who have not attained to its questionable privileges, its exemption from the prompt and efficient inquisition appertaining to slavery, makes it an important instrumentin the corruption and seduction of those who yet remain the property of their masters. The extent of this evil, may be fairly estimated, by a reference to our Statute book. The laws intended either to prevent or to limit its effects, are of a character, which nothing, but the extreme necessity of the case, could ever justify, to a community of republicans; and the obligation to resort to them, is sufficient to command the serious attention of every enlightened patriot.
To considerations such as these, may be traced the policy, first resorted to by the Legislature of Virginia in 1805, of arresting the progress of emancipation, by requiring the speedy removal from the State, of all, to whom its privileges might be extended; and rigorous as this policy may seem to be; at war with the feelings of a very large and respectable portion of the community; and repressing by its mandates, some of the noblest principles of the human heart, it was nevertheless justified by the most powerful considerations of public necessity; it had become essential, towards preventing the rapid extension of an evil, that threatened in its progress, to destroy the peace and tranquillity of the State.
But, this unfortunately, was the utmost limit of its operation. The evil was already in existence, and possessed within itself, the means of its own extension, and accordingly, the free colourod population of Virginia, which in 1800, was only 24,000, had in 1820, reached the amount of 36,875. The only expedient left, was to prevent its farther increase, and if possible to ensure its decrease, by providing for its gradual removal; and accordingly the General Assembly, in its Session of 1816–17, evidently with the intention of resorting to this expedient, renewed an effort it had made without success as early as 1800, to procure through the General Government, an asylum on the coast
of Africa, for the reception of its coloured population. This object, for reasons which it is unnecessary to enumerate, was never accomplished.
But, a Society of intelligent and patriotic individuals, with scarcely any other resources than such as were supplied by private charity, and their own enterprising spirits, have, in the mean time, succeeded in exploring the most important parts of the Western Coast of Africa, in procuring a settlement of almost indefinite extent, and in planting within its limits, a thriving Colony of more than twelve hundred people, taken indiscriminately from the different States of the Union. The doors of this settlement are now opened to the coloured population of Virginia, and it rests with the Legislature to determine, whether a wise policy, and the best interests of the State, do not require that suitable stimulants to emigration, should be offered to those, for whose especial benefit, this valuable asylum has been prepared.
It is deemed unnecessary to repeat what has already been said, of the character of the population in question, of its hopeless degradation, and its baneful influence, in the situation in which it is now placed.
The advantages that would result from its removal, not only to itself, but to the country it would leave, and to the country of its adoption, may very safely be assumed as a matter no longer admitting of a doubt. But, there is one consideration connected with the subject, so interesting, and sustained by so many of the most imposing sanctions, ever drawn to the support of legislative enactments, that your committee would feel itself guilty of the grossest neglect, were its present labours terminated, without claiming for it the attention it so justly merits.
Under the influence of a policy, already referred to, and justified by the necessity from which it sprung, the laws of Virginia have prohibited emancipation within the limits of the State, but on condition of the early removal of the individual emancipated. Do not justice and humanity require, that the rigours of this condition should be softened, as far as possible, by legislative interposition? And how can this be so effectually accomplished, as by providing a safe and suitable asylum, together with the means of emigration to it, for those whose removal from the State is
positively enjoined? There can be no doubt of the wisdom and propriety of controling, and even entirely repressing the operations of benevolence and philanthropy, when inconsistent with the public safety, or the public welfare. But, that Government would be justly chargeable with the extreme of despotism, that should attempt, without necessity, to interfere with the kind and generous feelings of the human heart; or, where the necessity exists, without tempering the rigour of its decrees with such emollients as charity may suggest, and the means at its disposal may supply.
On the present occasion, however, policy fortunately points to the very course which humanity would require. In providing for those whose removal from the State, is made a condition of their emancipation, the means of emigration to Africa, the General Assembly will be applying, in the opinion of your Committee, the only safe and efficient remedy to an evil, whose presence and magnitude is acknowledged, and whose future increase is dreaded by all. If the effect of this operation should not be, as some have sanguinely hoped, the entire extinction of slavery, in the end, there can be very little doubt, that it will at least open a drain for our coloured population, of which individual humanity and legislative wisdom may avail themselves, to an extent amply sufficient for all the purposes of public security. But should it realise in its results, the anticipations that have sometimes been formed in relation to it, and draw from us, without a single interference with individual rights, or a single violation of individual wishes, the great mass of our coloured population, then indeed may Virginia look to it, as the surest means of restoring her to that ascendency among her sister States, of which it may be safely affirmed, that slavery only has deprived her.
Entertaining these sentiments, your committee cannot hesitate to recommend, in compliance with the suggestions of the memorials referred to them, the provision of a permanent "fund for defraying, with proper limitations, the expenses of such free coloured people, as may choose to emigrate from the State of Virginia, to the settlement at Liberia. They are the more earnest in this recommendation, from having learned that there are at this moment, nearly six hundred applicants for emigration, a large proportion of whom are natives of Virginia. On two form