« PreviousContinue »
ART. I. That the King and Chief on their part agree to grant and assign unto the said Commissioners, on behalf of the African race in America, the right and privilege of farming in common with the Egba people, and of building their houses and residing in the town of Abbeokuta, and intermingling with the population.
II. That all matters requiring legal investigation among the settlers be left to themselves to be disposed of according to their own custom.
III. That the Commissioners on their part also agree that the settlers shall bring with them as an equivalent for the privileges above accorded, intelligence, education, a knowledge of the arts. and sciences, agriculture, and other mechanical and industrial occupations which they shall put into immediate operation by improving the lands, and in other useful vocations.
IV. That the laws of the Egba people shall be strictly respected by the settlers, and in all matters in which both parties are concerned an equal number of Commissioners, mutually agreed upon, shall be appointed, who shall have power to settle such matters."
The first wording of the Treaty presented to the King had been previously drawn out on parchment, having Article I in this form :
"ART. I. That the King and Chiefs on their part agree to grant and assign unto said Commissioners, on behalf of the African race in America, the right and privilege of settling in common with the Egba people on any part of the territory belonging to Abbeokuta not otherwise occupied."
The Alake or King of Abbeokuta not being able to read or write, had the Articles of the Treaty interpreted and explained to him by the Rev. S. Crowther in the native tongue, clause by clause, while Mr. Campbell read them.
To the following clause he objected, "of settling on any part of the territory belonging to Abbeokuta not otherwise occupied," rendering the Article thus: "the right and privilege of farming in common with the Egba people, and of building their houses and residing in the town of Abbeokuta, intermingling with the population." With this impression the King as well as ourselves signed the Treaty. The Alake or King previous to marking his against his name, expressed fully his reasons for wishing that Dr. Delany, Mr. Campbell, and the settlers expected should intermingle with the Egbas at Abbeokuta, and not be separately located:
1st. That they be under his immediate control.
2nd. That they be within the reach of his protection from the assaults of neighbouring tribes.
3rd. That they render him all assistance in protecting Abbeokuta from the Dahomians and other invaders.
4th. That the inhabitants of Abbeokuta might receive immediate advantage from their superior intelligence in agriculture and other arts and sciences.
For a further confirmation of the above statements, of which I have been an eye-witness and personally concerned in the formation of the Treaty, I would refer you to the Rev. S. Crowther at Lagos. Hoping that this may assist you in the successful accomplishment of this noble object of the African Aid Society.
Lord A. Churchill.
I beg, &c.
SAML. CROWTHER, JUN.
(Inclosure 3.)-Mr. Crowther to Lord A Churchill.
MY LORD, 50, Baker Street, Portman Square, April 18, 1861. THUS the above Treaty was satisfactorily made and signed by the parties concerned on the 27th December, 1859. The King and Chiefs of Abbeokuta were perfectly satisfied, confident, and assured of the sincerity of the Commissioners, from the fact, as has been afterwards expressed by them, their conviction that the introduction of anything good into the country by resident civilized coloured men could not but result from a sincere motive. Since the above date to the departure of my father and self from Abbeokuta, February, 1861, I have not heard any opinion expressed either by the King, Chiefs, or people against the Treaty, as it was understood; but, on the contrary, constant inquiries have been made after the Commissioners and their expected companions.
But, my Lord, a few days after the formation of the Treaty, and the Commissioners had quitted Abbeokuta on their way to the inland countries to complete their work with the more distant tribes, all of whom received them with open hands and great joy, Chief Ogubonna, one of the King's chief warriors, who had also signed the Treaty, called to my house, and among other conversatious confidentially informed me that "jealousy" had crept into the affair, the late formation of the Treaty; that two old European missionaries residing in the town of Abbeokuta, one of whom had kindly offered his services to the King of Abbeokuta as his private Secretary, and succeeding me in that capacity-that these two missionaries, immediately after the departure of the Commissioners, had either visited himself, or sent messengers to him, the King and other Chiefs, expressing their regret, surprise, and disappointment that they were not made instrumental in introducing the Commissioners to the authorities, and attesting to their signature, and further, that they thought that they had the "right" of such a privilege; but the King and Chiefs, not seeming to notice the dispute of "right" were further taxed with the representation that the Commissioners had a hostile motive, and that one day the settlers will rise against them and take
their town from them. Although such statements from such men were calculated to alarm and rouse the timid minds of these illiterate men, yet, notwithstanding, the Chief asssured me that they would take no notice of the insinuations; the Chiefs knew. very well that such accounts originated from a "petty jealousy" as to who has or who has not the right of enjoying the privilege and receiving the honour of introducing authorities, took no notice of it; thus the first attempt to destroy the Treaty.
Confident as I am of my countrymen's good common sense and judgment; assured as I am of their readiness to take advice, I am not backward to affirm that this great, apparently startling contradiction is not to be looked upon as the legitimate result of any desire of the King of Abbeokuta and his Chiefs to destroy a Treaty which they themselves made and signed before competent witnesses; neither to prevent the return of coloured American settlers.
No public or private opinion was ever expressed in my hearing by the King and Chiefs against civilized coloured Americans settling, like the Sierra Leone emigrants, among them.
The facts above stated will explain at once the cause of the King's contradictory letter.
I hope, therefore, that you be not alarmed, but would advise you simply to consider the affair as a misunderstanding with the King and his Chiefs, and inclose to them the Treaty in the form I inclose you, to be explained to them through an unbiassed party, I should recommend the Rev. S. Crowther, having been the attest to the Treaty made on that occasion.
I am quite certain that the simple-minded King of Abbeokuta, with his noble Chiefs of good common sense and judgment, will, if left to themselves and made to speak for themselves, relate you a story entirely different from what has appeared in his so-called letter. I warrant from 9 years' acquaintance with the King and Chiefs of Abbeokuta, that they would grant you even more than they have been contained in this former Treaty, if desired, for the facility of the emigration of their countrymen into their motherland. Believe me, &c.
Lord A. Churchill.
SAML. CROWTHER, JUN.
(Inclosure 4.)-Mr. Crowther to Lord A Churchill.
50, Baker Street, Portman Square, April 18, 1861. As this apparent contradiction of the fact that a Treaty having been signed by the Alake, King of Abbeokuta, his Chiefs and Dr. Delany and Mr. Campbell, will, no doubt, cause you some annoyance and a difficulty in reconciling, I proceed to explain to you some important facts which might enable you to understand the whole affair fully :
1st. The 6 names at the foot of the document should not alarm you, they are the names of Sierra Leone emigrants whom I personally know, all of whom I question rightly understand the particulars of the case; they are men who, with the right explanation given them, would any day sign another document expressing the non-objection of the Alake to allow other coloured emigrants like themselves to dwell amongst them. The points objected to by the King and Chiefs during the formation of the Treaty seemed to have been represented afresh to him with great stress in the presence of the witnesses, so as to insure the King's denial to having agreed to such conditions, and thus bring about the destruction of a Treaty that had been formed.
I could almost promise you on my return to Africa to send you a document directly opposite nature signed by the King's own hand, with the signature of the identical Sierra emigrants in question.
2ndly. Mr. D. Williams, whose name is attached, is a schoolmaster under the Rev. H. Townsend, and copies all letters written by the above gentleman for the King. Andrew Wilhelm is the interpreter of the Rev. H. Townsend. I had been the Secretary of the King of Abbeokuta by the joint wish of the late B. Campbell, Consul of Lagos, and the Alake, or King of Abbeokuta, but in consequence of my absence from Abbeokuta I was obliged to resign the office; the Rev. H. Townsend has since acted, and on my return I had no time to reoccupy my former duties. I am, therefore, capable of giving you an idea of "the King's letters." The King receives advice from parties, chiefly the Secretary, that such and such is necessary: he replies, If you think so, write it on my behalf. The King's letter is worded and expressed and sent by the Secretary, and in many cases without a reading with the King; but the King is satisfied, he depends upon the faithfulness of his Secretary: in many cases, therefore, the Secretary broaches the idea, writes the letter, and sends it with the Alake's name. The King of Abbeokuta is a quiet docile, well-meaning man, of no literary attainment, and not a Christian, but of sound judgment.
The time that the King of Abbeokuta wrote his contradictory letter was the 4th of March, 1861, after the parties, witnesses to the Treaty, having been found had left Abbeokuta for Lagos and England the month previous.
Any more information to enlighten you on the said scheme that is going on to prevent the success of such a noble object will be most willingly given by your humble servant.
Lord A. Churchill.
SAML. CROWTHER, JUN.
No. 9.-Consul Foote to Lord J. Russell.-(Received June 12.) (Extract.)
Lagos, May 8, 1861. IN my despatch of April 1, I reported to your Lordship my intention of proceeding on the following day to Abbeokuta.
I accordingly left Lagos at 6 A.M. of the 2nd for the mainland. The distance from the island is not very great-about an hour's pulling. I considered it advisable before leaving to make an arrangement with the Rev. Mr. Crowther to accompany me.
I considered his services of great importance. His thorough knowledge of the people, of the language, and of the history of the country, of the wars, and the various influences which impeded or advanced the improvement of the people, weighed a good deal in my choice of a companion.
We mounted our horses on landing and struck into a narrow path, which led directly through fields of maize, cassada, and yams. The soil every instant became more consistent, the sand being mixed with red and black loam alternately. From the appearance of the root-crops and maize, I should say it was very productive. For Sea Island cotton it is the very best, and having the advantage of the sea air, so necessary for Sea Island, I should say cotton of the best quality could be produced upon it.
This beautiful and rich level country extends for about 3 leagues to the Great Forest. The forest extends from the Niger to the Ashantee country, preserving an uniform breadth of about 37 miles.
We entered the forest just as the sun became troublesome. The soil I observed to be exceedingly rich, composed of black and red loam and clay; the timber of immense size; the cotton tree predominating, but here and there I observed some gigantic hard-wood trees, including the African oak, fustic, and a tree resembling the Central American cedar, a species of bastard mahogany; also the india-rubber, and the rosewood, besides numberless others which I did not know, but I should think, from the colour and grain, they would take an excellent polish, and be considered valuable in Europe.
Of smaller shrubs, balsams, and trees producing fibre, there are several in the forest.
Here and there a small clearing had been commenced, but so great is the dread of the kidnappers of Dahomey that the people cannot live on their small farms. They merely clear and plant a small space of ground, and retire to their towns in the evening.
We passed the ruins of several small villages, the only melancholy remnants left by the kidnappers. Here and there also we saw abandoned cotton-fields, the cotton still flourishing, blossoming, and scattering its wool over the ground, for not a soul cared about gathering it.