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THE PRESIDENT ON COLONIZATION.
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 have toward 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 especially because of the similarity of climato 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 80 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 commence 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 sich persons have what will be an advantage to them, 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-reli
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.
engage in the enterprise, I will spend some of the money intrusted to me. I am not sure you will suc
ceed. 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 quartor; 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 wact 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 bave fifty ? If I could find twenty-five able-bodied men, with a mixture of women and children--good 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,
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 settlement, 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
EFFORTS AT NEGRO COLONIZATION.
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 $25,000 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 Government-and which was represented in the published report of the Commissioner of Emigration in the Department of the Interior, as being in every way adapted to the culture of cotton and other tropical products, and as eminently favorable for such an experiment. The Government agreed to pay fifty dollars each for the removal of the consenting einigrants thither-payment to be made on official certificate of their arrival. The contractors fulfilied their portion of the agreement with fidelity, and to the utmost extent of their ability ; but after an expenditure of about eighty thousand dollars, it was discovered that the representations of the fertility of the island had been utterly unfounded, and that the enterprise was hopeless. The agent of the Company, moreover, through whom the Government had made the original contract, proved to be utterly untrustworthy and incapable, and was removed. The Government at last brought the negroes back to the United States, but incurred no additional expense, as it declined to pay the contractors the stipulated sum for the removal of the emigrants, or to reimburse them any portion of the moneys expended in the enterprise.
No further experiments have been made in the matter of colonization; but the disposition and employment of the negroes has engaged a good deal of the attention and solici
tude of the Government. When the rebellion first broke out there were many persons who insisted upon the instant emancipation of the slaves, and their employment in arms against the rebels of the Southern States. Public sentiment, however, was by no means prepared for the adoption of such a measure. The Administration, upon its advent to power, was compelled to encounter a wide-spread distrust of its general purposes in regard to slavery, and special pains were taken by the agents and allies of the rebellion to alarm the sensitive apprehensions of the Border States upon this subject. The President, therefore, deemed it necessary, in order to secure that unity of sentiment without which united and effective action against the rebellion was felt to be impossible, to exclude from the contest all issues of a secondary nature, and to fasten the attention and thought of the whole country upon the paramount end and aim of the war—the restoration of the Union and the authority of the Constitution of the United States. How steadily and carefully this policy was pursued, the preceding pages of this record will show.
But as the war went on, and the desperate tenacity of the rebel resistance became more manifest—as the field of
operations, both military and political, became enlarged, and the elements of the rebel strength were better understood, the necessity of dealing with the question of Slavery forced itself upon the people and the Government. The legislation of Congress, from time to time, represented and embodied these advancing phases of public opinion. At the extra session of 1861 a law was passed, discharging from slavery every slave who should be required or permitted by his master to take up arms against the United States, or to be employed in any military capacity in the rebel service. At the next session the President was authorized to employ persons of African descent in the suppression of the rebellion, “in such manner as he should judge best for the public welfare," and also to
EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS,
issue a proclamation commanding all persons in rebellion against the United States to lay down their arms and return to their allegiance; and if any persons so warned should be found in rebellion thirty days after the date of such proclamation, the President was authorized to set free their slaves. Under these comprehensive acts the President took such steps on the subject as be believed the necessities of the country required, and as the public sentiment of the country would sustain. The Emancipation proclamation was issued on the 1st of January, 1863, and measures were adopted soon afterwards to provide for the changes which it made inevitable. On the 20th of January, the Secretary of War authorized Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, to enlist volunteers for three years, and to include persons of African descent, organized into a separate corps.
In April negro troops were enlisted by Adjutant-General Thomas for service in Arkansas, and on the 15th of that month he issued an order appointing commissioners to superintend the execution of a policy which the Government had adopted for committing the protection of the banks of the Mississippi to a negro force. On the 22d of May, orders were issued by the Secretary of War creating a Bureau of the War Department for all matters relating to the organization of colored troops, and establishing rules for their enlistment, and for the appointment of officers to command them. And, on the 20th of August, Hon. J. Holt, JudgeAdvocate General, sent to the President an official opinion, to the effect that, under the laws of Congress on the subject, he had full authority to enlist slaves for service in the army precisely as he might enlist any other persons—providing for compensation to loyal owners whose property might thus be taken for the public service.
These were the initial steps of a movement for the employment of negro troops, which has gone forward steadily ever since, until, as has been seen from the President's Message,