The Lion at Bay
Indianapolis Freeman: March 26, 1892
In your issue of the 12th, inst., you do me the distinguished honor placing both my likeness and a personal letter to me, before the public. I am also charged in your paper with being the sole cause of the African emigration excitement, which is now prevailing among the people of my race; and, which has culminated in causing a large number of colored people to turn up in New York, and disturb, for a time at least, the charitable pockets of the pretended philanthropists of New York; while it has stirred the ire of another brainless class, who are driven to the necessity of manufacturing falsehoods as an excuse for not contributing to the relief of the distressed people, for whom they feign so much friendship.
Demands upon my time and labors at the present are so very exacting, that I cannot notice in detail, scarcely in the aggregate, the many points to which I might reply through the generous proffer you have kindly made. I am very grateful to you for offering me the columns of your great paper for vindicating myself from the false charges and aspersions hurled at me. But for the mild language and charitable terms employed in your open letter to me; and a seeming desire that justice should be done, even to a foe. I would not have stopped other pressing engagements to notice misrepresentations at all. But allow me to say:
First, that while I enjoy an occasional compliment, the illustrious status you attribute to me, is far more than any vanity can appreciate. If you and company are correct, I am the greatest colored man in the nation. Please hold a little. Do not put it on so thick. I will have to pinch myself to see if it is me. It is only for me to speak, and the colored people will rise up en masse and start across the ocean. Such men as Bishop Payne, Mr. Douglass, Senator Bruce, Mr. Langston and Lynch and a hundred other mighty colored men of the nation, are nowhere when I open my mouth. Why, sir, I am astonished at my own exaltedness. I am the monarch of ten millions of colored people in the United States and don’t you forget it.
But, dropping the ridiculous phase of the question, I would like for anybody to point out the man or woman that lives, whom I have ever told to go to Africa, either by word of mouth or by my writings. I have said, and say yet, that there is no more hope for the black man in this country to become a civil and political factor, than there is for a frog in a snake den. And any man who is too idiotic to see it, ought to go and himself.
Secondly, so far as being paid agent of the Colonization Society, it is too absurd for notice; and I will give any man $1,000 who will find where one cent has ever been offered, much less paid me; and no man in this country believes it, who has any knowledge of me.
Thirdly, while I am vice president of the Colonization Society, and have been since 1876, I have never met the society in my life.
Fourthly, so far as my church is concerned, every Bishop, minister and member knows I went to Africa in the interest of our mission work: and while I wrote fourteen letters of the scenes and observations which came under my eye, I advised no body to go to Africa. Everyone who read my letters can testify to the same. If I depicted in some meager manner the resources, and grandeur of that continent, I simply told a bit of truth. For I never told the ninety-ninth part of the whole truth. For the grandeur of Africa is too infinite to be depicted in a few short letters, and those who are displeased with the inestimable resources of the continent of Africa, must blame God for making them and not me for describing them.
Fifthly, I see it is also published that the colored people who have turned up in New York, are being sympathized with to the extent trying to get them back to the devil-ridden region of country from whence they came-trying to escape from the jaws of slaughter and death. May God hurl thunderbolts at the head of every Negro who would advise those people to return, is my sincere prayer.
Those would-be sympathizers should try and get them employment in the North, where they can have some protection for existence and life and the colored man who would persuade them to go back to their former hells of existence, should have a rope around his neck. It is a very easy thing for assumed leaders to sit down in the Northern states and give advice to our people who are living in the centers of carnage and death, but it is quite another thing, I find, to go into their midst and share their destiny. If I were revengeful, I would flood the North with Southern colored people so thick that they could scarcely turn around; and if something is not done or the betterment of their condition, I will do it anyway.
While I have no more to do with the multitude of our people who turned up in New York, than the man in the moon, I thank God in my heart they did go there. The nation has been sleeping over the Negro long enough. It is time for it to awake, and if you force me to put on my war paint, I will awaken it.
Time prevents me from continuing this letter, but as you have thrown your columns open to me, I shall avail myself of the opportunity of using them. When I have more time I will make my reply in full.
I predicted these calamities when the Civil Rights bill was nullified by the Supreme court. I called upon our people then, North and South, to awake to their danger, but I was laughed at and called a crank. All I predicted has been verified, and much more. Read what I said to the ministers of my district, in 1884, and see if my prediction has not been fulfilled. I send the address to constitute a part of this letter, and you shall hear from me again.