A Colored Canadian to Frederick Douglass, June 10, 1854

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A Colored Canadian to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: FDP, 23 June 1854. Comments on the Baltimore Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church; criticizes their support of colonization.

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For Frederick Douglass' Paper

FROM OUR TORONTO CORRESPONDENT.

BALTIMORE ANNUAL CONFERENCE

TORONTO, June 10th, 1854.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Esq; DEAR SIR:— In my last, I intimated that I was not quite done with the doings of the late Baltimore Annual Conference of the M. E. Church;— that I had something to say in regard to the politics of these rev. gentlemen. I alluded to the appointment, by the Conference, of "a committee on colonization." This conference cherished a most cordial detestation of those principles of christianity which accord to all, irrespective of color, liberty, equality, and fraternity. And knowing that these principles are essentially embodied in, or identical with abolitionism;—being unable, from the dwarfish calibre of their souls, to brook the sublime spectacle which these principles if faithfully carried out, could not fail to prevent;—and having come to the determination to risk the salvation of their souls rather than treat the colored populations the law of God imperatively demands; they have resolved to adopt, as the most [sooting impetus] for the clamore of a guilty conscience, the African colonization system. They have thus formed a most unholy alliance with Caesar, giving him "aid and comfort" in his nefarious scheme of expulsion from their native home, of the most inoffensive people on the American continent. Yes, they have entered formally and heartily into the colonization system because, in colonization phraseology, "it is the antagonist of abolition," and because it promises to remove from their sight the objects of their fastidious aversion, the standing, lying, and blazing monuments of their infidelity to christianity. Instead do they tell us that they are moved to this work by the love they bear to "poor, bleeding, benighted Africa." We have, for years, been heartily sick of this affected stereotyped cant. "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love" those "whom he hath not seen." The love they cherish for their noble brethren, who are ever present with them, is not that love which works no ill to its neighbor; it is a love sui generis: it attracts the objects of its affection with the magnetism of an iceberg, and repels them with the warmest expressions of pity and compassion. In countering its blessings, its paramount concern is, not the happiness of its beneficiaries, but the gratification of its liberal feelings, and unchristian prejudices. It disregards and despieses the wishes of the objects of its pseudo solicitude; nay, in despite of their most earnest and indignant remonstrances, it would compel the to accept as a blessing that which they reject with ineffable loathing. This circumstance in one stamps the system as one of essential injustice and cruelty, and its abettors as persecutors and oppressors. Sir, the Conference is wholly without excuse, and we hold it eminently responsible for the threatened evils which impend over the colored population in the Southern States. This conference knows well that the repugnance of the free people of color to colonizationism be invincible;—that you can scarecly insult an intelligent colored man more readily and grossly than to tell him that he should leave his native home and its many congenial comforts, for a land of disease, and privation,

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and death. The members of the conference know that so uncomprising is the hostility of the colored population to their cherished scheme of expatriation, that where, some two years ago, a few colored men, under certain influences, got up, by extraordinary means, a convention in Baltimore, ostensibly for considering the propriety of emigration,— but really to promote African colonization,— that the colored population of Baltimore became so violent in their opposition to the sittings of the convention that the public authorities had to protect it during its brief and inglorious sittings, while the names of the colored leaders, or rather instigators of the convention, for obvious reasons, became a hissing and a by-word.— We could state particulars more strongly illustrative of the intense detestation with which the scheme of African colonization is viewed by colored Baltimoreans. But we forbear. Now, as these things were too notorious to be overlooked by the members of this conference, why do they persist in fostering this great political machination for removing, from the land of their birth, their poor colored brethren, whose right to the soil is as indefensible as theirs can possibly be. Can they, in view of the facts adduced, any longer cloak their intention by harping on the old hacknied phrase, "with their own consent," when they know, as well as you or I, that if ever such a consent should be obtained, it would be by measures of injustice and cruelty that would shock the moral sense of Christendom? Mr. Fisher honestly said, in the Virginia Legislature, "If we wait until the free negroes consent to leave the State, we shall wait until time shall be no more. They will never give their consent." Mr. Broadnax, a member of the same Legislature, said, "It is idle to talk about not resorting to force. Every body must look to force of some kind or other, direct or indirect, moral or physical, legal or illegal."— We think a great deal more of men who thus boldly avow their cruel purpose than we do of those who are just as intent upon the same fell purpose, but under the specious pretence of carrying civilization and the gospel into "poor, benighted Africa." The colonization convention of 1841, which was held in the M.E. Church in Baltimore, solemnly warned, by resolution, the free people of color of Maryland, "that the day must arrive, when circumstances that cannot then be controlled and which are now maturing, will deprive them of the freedom of choice, and leave them no alternative but removal." Now, one of the bishops of the church, to say nothing of some of his brother ministers in the convention, not only voted for the resolution quoted, but frankly avowed his preference for the original one, because it was more expressive of the views of the convention than the one adopted, which was modified in its harsher features at the suggestion of a rev. gentleman of a different denomination, lest, it was said, abolitionists should take advantage of it. Who does not see that such a resolution, under such auspices, is well calculated to bring about the catastrophe menaced and predicted.— "Should then," says a report of the Board of Managers of the Maryland State Colonization Society, "the future bring troublous times, unhappily, to the free colored people of the State, Maryland will, at all events, have done all in her power to avert them.—

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Should the race then complain, Maryland may point in her vindication to the establishment of Maryland in Liberia. Her (Maryland's) object, her duty, was to provide a home of refuge. When the poor, unfortunate refugees will receive notice to leave, we shall be more fully informed, perhaps, when that great desideratum, the "ebony line of steamers," shall have got fairly into operation, and a specious pretext for the notice shall have been concocted, and sprung upon the community. In the mean time, the services of the M.E. Church in behalf of this premeditated, cold blooded scheme of persecution, must, by all means, be enlisted, as colored Methodists are very numerous, and advantage may be taken of the religious feeling of many of them.— Nay, a Methodist preacher, who has been in Africa, must be hired by the Maryland State Colonization Society to travel through the state from year to year, to preach, not the gospel which he professes to have been called to preach by the Lord Jesus Christ, but colonizationism, in its most detestable aspects, a doctrine which I suspect pays better, and is more congenial to the feelings of the inner man. We have neither time, space, nor inclination, to give a specimen of the peculiar preaching of this agent as we might do. To do so would be to show that he is to the free people of color, what Saul of Tarsus was to the Jews. It will be sufficient for the present to give an extract from and "Address delivered at the Baltimore Annual Conference M. E. Church, March 15th, 1841, by Rev. John [S--s] Travelling Agent." Hear him: "I am no advocate for coercive measures." No, not you. "I say persuadehim to go." The Conference understood the forcible import of this soothing term in this connexion, and doubtless found it difficult to restrain their risible faculties. He continues: "I cannot concur with individuals, with bodies of men, no, nor with legislatures for driving the black man from this country." This affected disclaimer is extorted by the ever present and very obvious fact that such "driving" will inevitably result from the successful propagation of colonization principles and doctrines. He adds, "Poor fellow at the very best, America is a sorry home for him any how. Teach him this; help him to feel its force and truth, and when he will go, then help him." Yes, when the "poor fellow" is thus effectually persuaded and taught, and helped, his condition will make an angel weep. The Rev. gentleman proceeds: "But why should he go? is the question of some, why not remain here, keep his ground, and contend for his rights, as some mistaken friends advise him? Because he has no rights. He is an alien and a foreigner in a strange land. He is but a sojourner in the White man's country." Sir, only think of it; this is the language of a foreigner, one born a British subject. What unblushing effrontery! I chain my pen because I am unwilling to comment, in appropriate terms, upon the reckless veracity of the Rev. gentleman's declarations. But we interrupt him too frequently, let him continue his speech a little further: "The laws forbid him from enjoying equal privileges and immunities with the lords of the soil. Is not this the fact? Suppose him to be in every other respect qualified to occupy the most prominent and responsible offices in the community, is not the color of his skin an insuperable barrier?— Do we see him in the halls of legislation representing his people? Is he allowed to practice the liberal professions? Tell me where the Seminary of learning or College is to be found with a colored principal or

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President. No, my Brethren. It is because of his sable complexion that he is doomed to be a hewer of wood and a drawer of water— or perchance he may graduate to the honorable office of Barber, and enjoy the privilege of shaving the white man's chin." The preacher of the gospel who can thus speak of the disabilities, the privations, the grievous wrongs, the occupations of his fellow beings, and of the color of their skin as necessitat ing their degradation and misery, has no self respect, no apprehension of the dignity of his vocation, and but little, if any, concern for the interests of the Redeemer's Kingdom; and, as a man, we have no hesitation in saying, he abundantly demonstrates that he has a mean soul in his tabernacle of clay. The sooner such men leave the christian ministry the better for the cause of God. Indeed, it is a lamentable fact that the Bishop and Conference could listen, without rebuke, nay, with complacency, to remarks so disparaging and damaging in reference to thousands concerning whom Christ says, "the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Finally, in taking my leave of the Baltimore Annual Conference, I would assure them, that I shall be less disposed to complain of their course if they will go to the colored portions of their flocks and frankly avow the wordly policy they have resolved to adopt in regard to them and their brethren throughout the South. Let them, for the honor of christianity, say "Sable fellow countrymen:—After the maturest consideration, we have concluded that we cannot treat you as men, as children of one common Father, amidst this 'faithless and perverse generation,' from whom we get our bread, without a degree of personal inconvenience and an amount of persecution which we have not the moral courage nor the disposition to encounter, even for Christ's sake. We know that the Savior declares you to be the workmanship of his hands, and his spiritual relations, and has most unequivocally said, 'whoseover shall offend one of these little ones, that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea;— yet, as the relationship which he has established between his disciples, of every hue and clime is in your case, repugnant to our taste, to our sense of propriety, we have ventured, at all hazards, to repudiate it; and as your presence, under the circumstances, is extremely annoying,—and we have therefore determined to colonize you, nolens volens-—we have thought it but simple justice, if not a dictate of humanity, to relinquish all pecuniary claims upon you for our spiritual services in preparing you to evangelize the heathen, and would advise you to squander no more of your hard earnings in building additional churches and deeding them to us, as you will stand in need of all you can honestly accumulate to prepare you for the Exodus you are doomed to undergo."

A COLORED CANADIAN.

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