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SmI TPIO ToLI .~ l.
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DELIVERED BEFORE TEE
IMERICA 4OLOIZATION SOCIETY ,
WJaunuar-y 81, 1079.
Genl. S. C. ARMSTRONG,
Principal of Hampton Institute, Virginia.
CoLONIzATIom BUILDING, 450 PENNYLV'ANIA AVE nU.
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37.L/~ L '
What is the sentiment of the colored people of this country, the South
especially, in respect to making the United States their home, and in
respect to emigration to Liberia ?
A few evenings ago, I asked of the over two hundred young colored
men and women who have come from throughout the land, principally
from the South, to the Hampton school for an education, what they
thought of going to Liberia. A dozen hands went quickly up. I in-
quired of each one the ground of his idea. A variety of reasons was
given that, I believe, fairly illustrates the status of the negro mind on
the Liberia question.
One young man had, in the spirit of Christian discipleship, consecrat-
ed himself to the work of preaching the gospel in that land; several
felt that in this country the negro never will be, as they expressed it,
S "free;" that the black man is and will be far from being free to
NL all that is open to the white man, and that only in a land of their
Sown can they be on even terms with all, and find the freedom which
The students had heard of coffee culture in Liberia and of other n-
ducements to go; but, on the other hand, some were awaiting letters
from friends who had gone over promising to write on,
but had never been heard from; some had heard
emigrants, and there was a general sense of in d unce
ir as to that country. f \
One fair-skinned, bright girl had an uncle ad o d sixtee
churches in Liberia and was full of hope an e't usiasm. eant 0
to go as a missionary; other young women h the ame idea; th great /
majority had no thought of emigration, and biany had decided notions
against the l4ublic.
As a whole, the students of Hampton expect to remain in this coun-
try, their idea being expressed by one who said "The colored man
is better off here than anywhere else in the world."
Our students have, more than once, been addressed by prominent
Southern men who have said to them, in effect: "Many of you are
Virginians; we must work together to build up this Commonwealth.
We believe in this work of education; you shall have your share of the
school money and we will protect you in your rights."
This is the tone of progressive men at the South, and their strength is
indicated by the fact that, at least in Virginia, no Democratic candi-
date dares venture, in his canvas for election to office, to denounce the
public school system.
The intelligent colored men and women who are honestly working for
the real welfare of their people in the Southern States, are, so far as I
know about them, winning the respect, good-will and moral support of
the people of all classes, and in spite of many discouragements, are gen-
erally cheerful and contented. Even the average freedman does not care
to change his home. Yet, in some quarters, there are grievous com-
plaints of hard times, poor pay and bad treatment, which create
a desire for a place where living may be easier.
It would be strange if among the four millions of Anglo-Africans
there were not men of honest purpose, and good capacity, anxious to
try a country of their own. The missionary idea is gaining strength
every year. The little company of graduates from negro schools in
America, one of them from Hampton, who are doing excellent work at
the Mendi Mission, under the American Missionary Association, near to
Libhia, is proof that the peculiar field of the enlightened freedmen of
this country is not forgotten. *
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Bos-
ton is looking to the South for men to enter the grand field opened up
by Stanley whenever the means shall be in hand; and I do not think it
will seek in vain.
Twelve years ago an earnest but unsuccessful effort was made by that
Board to secure colored missionaries for Africa; yet there were many
scores of educated negroes in the Northern States.
We are likely, I believe, to fi4d in the South the finest products of
Anglo-African civilization, abetter, simpler, more straight-forward de-
velopment. Thence, not exclusively of course, will go across the sea
the men who will best illustrate to the world the capabilities of their
race. White men will get a large part of the money that is to be made
from African trade, but I have faith that colored men will do their full
share in the work of regeneration waiting to be done there, the
need of which is the most piteous "Macedonian Cry" that ever was
sent over to Christendom.
Africa--Liberia as one of its open doors-is the field for an Anglo-
African crusade. No other region is for a moment to be thought of
compared with this. Just as, in the Providence of God, his people are
set free, and the young and earnest and able among them are rising to a
plane of Christian manhood and womanhood, the wonders and resources
of the Dark Continent are unfolded. Who doubts the final triumph of
right over wrong in the carrying back there of the very Christ to build
up whose Kingdom the slave-hunters were unconscious agents.
But there must be men and women of pure devotion and lives, of
clear, wise heads, and endowed with common sense. The requisition
for common sense will be the hardest to fill.
Among our colored people there is a discontented class; on edge with
things here; much occupied with its grievances, and, those of this class
who are plucky and adventurous, are disposed to try the Colored Re-
As things are here, the finer the cultivation of a colored man, the
keener his sufferings-especially in the North, where his mental and
moral wants are so lavishly supplied, but his social cravings neglected,
and his tinted skin is a taboo from congenial association. I think I
am right in stating that their advanced culture in America tends to
skepticism. The old religious nature is, to an educated negro, with-
ered by the pain that comes from finding that that which God made,
his complexion, is as a sign set against him a-mark tion.
Yet among the colored people themselves the luVo r,
here unobserved, because overpowered by tha es w
together under its ban the purest black and l rest white (pro de
a few drops of negro blood can be traced p latte ad by
common cause between them forces them e aI s.! Remdv6
this pressure from the outside and those of pure and mixed blood become
mutually jealous; the latter assuming a superiority by reason of the
white or "Norman bidd in their veins, and the pure being proud of
their purity. This is illustrated in Jamaica where the whites, col-
ored and blacks are completely severed socially. A trustee of Libe-
ria College told me that this question had given some trouble in the
appointments at that institution, and it appears in Liberian politics.
Going over there is not entire escape from prejudice of color.
There was evinced, in my conversation with the students at Hampton,
much curiosity about Liberia. They represent a class of negroes who
'take a very matter-of-fact view of that country; they wish to better
themselves," and in their pinching poverty, and in the money famine of
the South, turn eagerly to brighter prospects.
Wise, just treatment of the colored laborer in the South is far from
universal. I never saw or heard of a successful Southern farmer who
did not believe in negro labor as "the best in the world;" yet one of
the leading agricultural journals says, "We are cursed with negro
The "darkey is a convenient scapegoat for those who want to blame
somebody if ends don't meet. Good, kind management and wise di-
recting heads are indispensable to success with colored workmen, and
that they don't always get; the latter depend very much for the value
of their labor upon favorable outward conditions, the frequent absence
of which is to be expected in their circumstances.
Liberia, as giving to the enterprising but discontented or ill-treated
negro laborer scope and challenge for all his powers, is a most impor-
tant factor in reconstruction. It is simple justice, very inadequate, but
so far as it goes is a recognition of his claim to try the land he was torn
Thirty years ago, statesmen like Clay and Webster talked of the na-
tion's debt to the negro, and this inspired the Colonization scheme,
which commanded a strong support from the South. After slapping
the abolitionists in the face with their talk of right and wrong, a later
generation freed the slave, as a war measure enfranchised him, used his
vote as political capital, and, after squandering it, have left the burden
of his education and improvement to the old slave-holders. The ac-
count has not yet been squared. It is as true to-day as it was thirty
years ago that there is debt to the race brought here by violence and
wrong, and a part of that debt is a fair c)iance in the land of their fathers.
A difficulty in the Liberian question is the negroes' self-distrust. The
race has sadly, perhaps inevitably, adopted the white man's idea of
itself. It has, as a whole, no enthusiasm, no idea or sentiment.
It lacks organizing power, guiding instincts. It has no genius for
throwing and keeping uppermost its best and ablest men; it has plenty
of feeling, but no flow of it, no tendency to any clear and general end
or purpose. Such tendency is developed slowly, by long experience, by
endless struggle with difficulty ending in victory, and that the citizens
of Liberia have just commenced. The ex-slave is not easily allured to a
country ruled by his own people. I have an impression that the Libe-
rians are lacking, like the race here, in esprit de wrps, in patriotic sen-
timent and in strong administration.
There should be accorded to the freedmen the widest opportunity to
make for themselves homes on African shores if they choose to try it.
I rejoice in the existence of the Colonization Society, believing in its
work, the founding of an African Republic. I believe in it as a begin-
ninu not as an end; a hopeful beginning; a good showing for thirty
years of effort. It is not a power; but is it not a germ of power ? Gen-
erations alone can answer this. To disparage it by contrast is to re-
proach the negro for being unfortunate. It were better to blame the
Almighty directly for His doings in permitting suffering, injustice and
misfortune to exist.
Give the negro a chance. You don't despise the tottering steps of a
little child: time and hard knocks only can bring strength. Let the
black man's slender self-respect stiffen by struggle, and his race pride
gain by race effort. In the United States it is a curse to be a the
highly educated negro is like a man without a co
make one for himself.
The African race has been pushed suddenly f AM depths of bon
age to the highest liberty; it has skipped centt m theine of devel-
opment. On its unaccustomed height it is Mued; own
way; easily victimized by bad men, and trouble inevitable.
Genuine progress is plow, and is the result not" m h of struggle,
of successful struggle. The thing must not onl e a ted, it
must be done, and there should be a century in whi o it0 -
When a Northern man recently asked me Have the colored people
improved in morals in the past tenfears," I asked him, Has New Eng-
land improved in morals in the past ten years i" Every stage of civili-
zation has its peculiar difficulties and nations forge slowly ahead.
Progress is a moral rather than a material thing. All that is good in
civilization is "The sum of the sacrifices of those who have gone before
The African question, at bottom, is whether there will he enough men
and women of that race who shall unseltishly and wisely devote them-
selves to its welfare. Whatever shall be fine in their future will rest on
this foundation of sacrifice.
Has Liberia the men, or can she get them from here With them her
future is assured, and she will move Africa.
Ten such men would save her.
The ColonizLation Society claims much for its success so far. Consid-
ering that it has planted exotic ideas where men have for ages been fixed
in the lowest conditions, the Republic may be considered a wonder.
Compare it with the early stages of our own country's growth and there
is nothing to discourage.
We know too little about her. The roll of pamphlets sent me to read
contains no exhaustive statement of facts, but general expressions of
praise. I never felt really informed about Liberia till I read the letters
of Mr. Williams, correspondent of the Charlston Niews and Couriw,
whose mingled criticism and commendation made the Republic appear
like any new terrestrial region, full of advantages and of disadvantages.
For the first time I found what an intelligent man would say. against it.
There is need of a fair, forcible account of that country, with maps and
pictures, thathshall be to the colored man what a chart is to a sailor-a
guide to success and a guard against disaster.
How about colored communities in the United States ?
A colony composed of the 450 manumitted slaves of John Randolph
was, in 1846, placed in Miami County, Ohio. "They suffered much at
"first from prejudice, yet soon found kind friends. While producing
S"nothing remarkable, the old have died off and the new generation has
4"made considerable advancement. They, however, owe more to exter-
"nal influences than to inherent qualities." This statement I gleaned
from an apparently reliable letter to the New York Tribune.
S There are negro communities of which I Bave no definite knowledge,
notably one or two in Canada; but al, I believe, were established by
an influence from without. Certainly, in America, the negroes show no
tendency in themselves to segregate.
They drift to the cities in throngs, where their mortality increases and
their self-respect, as a class, seems to diminish.
In a simple, industrious, country life, the freedmen gain in numbers
and in average prosperity and worth.
Against this background of life in America, stands Liberia, attempt-
achievements whose success its record here makes doubtful.
Let us wait and see the negro on his own ground, on his own resour-
ces, blundering away, but slowly learning from his blunders-as we all
do-getting experience and digesting it. Let the negro race maintain
a respectable republic, and it will furnish the best possible answer to
Sthe charge so often made, "The negro has done nothing."