Philadelphia Daily News, November 22, 1860
What to do with our free colored population is a subject that has excited anxious consideration among statesmen and philanthropists. The question is one which deserves attention and action. Negroes are a very prolific race, and their numbers in this country are increasing to such an extent as to excite serious apprehension for the future.
It is unfortunate that any subject connected with our colored population in this country is generally connected in some way with the slavery question. Those humanitarians who have most interested themselves in the negro have generally been Abolitionists, and the public odium attaching to their political views has brought discredit upon their schemes. Yet, there is no subject more worthy the attention of statesmen and public spirited citizens than the disposal of our free Africans.
It is neither for the good of the colored race nor of our own that they should continue to dwell among us to any considerable extent. The two races can never exist in conjunction except as superior and inferior. True, the African is naturally the inferior race, and no injustice is done by keeping it in a subordinate condition. Yet, evident facts demonstrate that the negro population among us is already much too large for our requirements, as regards their menial servitude. A large proportion of them are unemployed, and live by any means, honest or dishonest, while others, through inclination or necessity, engage in occupations more suitable for whites in a country inhabited by white men. Thus a large share of the negro population usurp the business and the living of poor whites.
This state of things cannot properly continue. The two races cannot assimilate on account of natural prejudices. The consequence is that the negroes form a separate society, distinct from that of the whites, and with little sympathy between the two. Negroes may acquire wealth by industry or business talent, but they can never obtain station except among their own people. To whites, however poor, they will always be negroes.
Colonization in Africa has been a favorite scheme with many humanitarians. The societies for this purpose have doubtless effected much good, but there are difficulties in the way of making their benefits sufficiently extensive. Of course, any such emigration of the negro population must be voluntary, and the distance of the African shores from this country, and the uncertainty of finding what they seek there deters many of our free negroes from making the important change. This is natural, and when we consider the actual condition of affairs in Africa, we can scarcely blame even blacks who have been reared in our civilized climate, for not caring to venture so long a journey for a residence in that to them terra incognita.
The design of those who favor Liberian colonization is to build up on that distant shore a Republic of enlightened Africans, which shall exercise a civilized effect on the barbarous inhabitants around. The scheme is a grand one, and may in time succeed; but its progress so far has not been in proportion to the hopes of its originators, and doubtless for the reasons we have given. Negroes are not good pioneers nor are they well calculated for missionaries. They rather require to be instructed and upheld than to civilize others.
The Island of Hayti offers great inducements to colored people to emigrate to that Empire. Hayti possesses a soil and climate admirably adapted to the negro, while the Island is really one of the fairest in the world. The inhabitants can live with very little labor, for many indigenous fruits grow there almost spontaneously. This is really a paradise for negroes who are traditionally not over fond of exercise. The mineral resources are said to be surpassingly rich.
Under Geffrard, Hayti is said to be making amazing progress towards as enlightened a condition as could be expected under the circumstances. Geffrard doubtless possesses many qualities of the wise and patriotic ruler. He is developing the resources of the island, and instituting reforms in the government that command surprise and admiration. He is establishing schools and encouraging agriculture and manufactures. He is said to have instituted four colleges and one hundred and seventy schools of lower grades. He has built railroads and public edifices, and established steamship lines.
Yet he finds that he cannot succeed in making Hayti what he desires without increased emigration. The free blacks of the United States, he thinks would make the best inhabitants he can get. He therefore offers flattering inducements to our colored people to emigrate to Hayti. He will give to every family desiring to make Hayti their home five acres of good land, and to every single person two acres. Land in that quarter it must be understood is much more valuable than here. Five acres in Hayti with very little labor would suffice for the support of a considerable family. He also confers many civil benefits, and perfect freedom of conscience.
No better opportunity could be asked by the free negroes in our country, to obtain the privileges they naturally crave. They will be in a nation composed of persons of their own color, and governed by one of their blood. It is not surprising that emigration to Hayti has become a mania among our free negroes in certain localities. At New Orleans a regular steamship line has been established to Port au Prince for the conveyance of colored emigrants. We hope that the negroes here will, many of them, avail themselves of this excellent opportunity.
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