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The People Of Hayti And A Plan Of Emigration





BY PRINCE SAUNDERS

[Note 1: Extracts from an address delivered at the American
Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and Improving the
Condition of the African Race, Philadelphia, Pa., December 11, 1818.]


Respected Gentlemen and Friends:

At a period so momentous as the present, when the friends of abolition
and emancipation, as well as those whom observation and experience might
teach us to beware to whom we should apply the endearing appellations,
are professedly concerned for the establishment of an Asylum for those
Free Persons of Color, who may be disposed to remove to it, and for such
persons as shall hereafter be emancipated from slavery, a careful
examination of this subject is imposed upon us.

So large a number of abolitionists, convened from different sections of
the country, is at all times and under any circumstances, an interesting
spectacle to the eye of the philanthropist, how doubly delightful then
is it, to me, whose interests and feelings so largely partake in the
object you have in view, to behold this convention engaged in solemn
deliberation upon those subjects employed to promote the improvement of
the condition of the African race.

* * * * *

Assembled as this convention is, for the promotion and extension of its
beneficent and humane views and principles, I would respectfully beg
leave to lay before it a few remarks upon the character, condition, and
wants of the afflicted and divided people of Hayti, as they, and that
island, may be connected with plans for the emigration of the free
people of color of the United States.

God in the mysterious operation of his providence has seen fit to permit
the most astonishing changes to transpire upon that naturally beautiful
and (as to soil and productions) astonishingly luxuriant island.

The abominable principles, both of action and belief, which pervaded
France during the long series of vicissitudes which until recently she
has experienced, extended to Hayti, or Santo Domingo have undoubtedly
had an extensive influence upon the character, sentiments, and feelings
of all descriptions of its present inhabitants.

This magnificent and extensive island which has by travellers and
historians been often denominated the "paradise of the New World," seems
from its situation, extent, climate, and fertility peculiarly suited to
become an object of interest and attention to the many distinguished and
enlightened philanthropists whom God has been graciously pleased to
inspire with a zeal for the promotion of the best interests of the
descendants of Africa. The recent proceedings in several of the slave
States toward the free population of color in those States seem to
render it highly probable that that oppressed class of the community
will soon be obliged to flee to the free States for protection. If the
two rival Governments of Hayti were consolidated into one well-balanced
pacific power, there are many hundred of the free people in the New
England and Middle States who would be glad to repair there immediately
to settle, and believing that the period has arrived, when many zealous
friends to abolition and emancipation are of opinion that it is time for
them to act in relation to an asylum for such persons as shall be
emancipated from slavery, or for such portion of the free colored
population at present existing in the United States, as shall feel
disposed to emigrate, and being aware that the authorities of Hayti are
themselves desirous of receiving emigrants from this country, are among
the considerations which have induced me to lay this subject before the
convention.

The present spirit of rivalry which exists between the two chiefs in the
French part of the island, and the consequent belligerent aspect and
character of the country, may at first sight appear somewhat
discouraging to the beneficent views and labors of the friends of peace;
but these I am inclined to think are by no means to be considered as
insurmountable barriers against the benevolent exertions of those
Christian philanthropists whose sincere and hearty desire it is to
reunite and pacify them.

There seems to be no probability of their ever being reconciled to each
other without the philanthropic interposition and mediation of those who
have the welfare of the African race at heart. And where, in the whole
circle of practical Christian philanthropy and active beneficence, is
there so ample a field for the exertion of those heaven-born virtues as
in that hitherto distracted region? In those unhappy divisions which
exist in Hayti is strikingly exemplified the saying which is written in
the sacred oracles, "that when men forsake the true worship and service
of the only true God, and bow down to images of silver, and gold, and
four-footed beasts and creeping things, and become contentious with each
other," says the inspired writer, "in such a state of things trust ye
not a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy
mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom; for there the son dishonoreth
the father, and the daughter riseth up against her mother, the
daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies shall be
those of his own house."

Had the venerable prophet in the foregoing predictions alluded expressly
and entirely to the actual moral, political, and above all, to the
religious character and condition of the Haytians, he could scarcely
have given a more correct description of it.

For there is scarcely a family whose members are not separated from each
other, and arrayed under the banners of the rival chiefs, in virtual
hostility against each other. In many instances the husband is with
Henry, and the wife and children with Boyer, and there are other
instances in which the heads of the family are with Boyer, and the other
members with Henry.

Let it be distinctly remembered, that these divided and distressed
individuals are not permitted to hold any intercourse with each other;
so that it is only when some very extraordinary occurrence transpires,
that persons in the different sections of the country receive any kind
of information from their nearest relatives and friends.

"Blessed are the peacemakers," is the language of that celestial
law-giver, who taught as never man taught; and his religion uniformly
assures the obedient recipients of his spirit, that they shall be
rewarded according to the extent, fidelity, and sincerity of their works
of piety and beneficence.

And if, according to the magnitude of the object in all its political,
benevolent, humane, and Christian relations, the quantum of recompense
is to be awarded and apprised to the just, to how large a share of the
benediction of our blessed Savior to the promoters of peace shall those
be authorized to expect who may be made the instruments of the
pacification and reunion of the Haytian people? Surely the blessings of
thousands who are, as it were, ready to perish, must inevitably come
upon them.

When I reflect that it was in this city that the first abolition society
that was formed in the world was established, I am strongly encouraged
to hope, that here also there may originate a plan, which shall be the
means of restoring many of our fellow beings to the embraces of their
families and friends, and place that whole country upon the basis of
unanimity and perpetual peace.

If the American Convention should in their wisdom think it expedient to
adopt measures for attempting to affect a pacification of the Haytians,
it is most heartily believed, that their benevolent views would be
hailed and concurred in with alacrity and delight by the English
philanthropists.

It is moreover believed that a concern so stupendous in its relations,
and bearing upon the cause of universal abolition and emancipation, and
to the consequent improvement and elevation of the African race, would
tend to awaken an active and a universally deep and active interest in
the minds of that numerous host of abolitionists in Great Britain, whom
we trust have the best interests of the descendants of Africa deeply at
heart.





Next: Toussaint L'ouverture And The Haytian Revolutions




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