Letter from Georgia: March 27, 1873

Letter from Georgia
The New Era: March 27, 1873

SIRS: In your issue of the 13th instant, after doing me the honor of reproducing to the public an extract from a speech I delivered before in Savannah Lyceum, you hurl at my head the following very seething paragraph:

“Such stuff and nonsense, coming from a man who has had some reputation for good sense and sound feeling, is not only surprising, it is disgusting.”

Again you say:

“The speech was evidently made in the interest of the Colonization Society.”

And in several other paragraphs in your article you charge me with aiding the Colonization Society.

While your strictures and philippics are very unmerciful, I am, nevertheless, charitable enough to believe they were hastily penned. I cannot regard them as the prejudicial out-gush of a vaunted spleen, otherwise I should take no notice of them. But when you charge me with being prompted by the Colonization Society in making the remarks to which you object, you unintentionally (as I believe) misrepresent me. I never have had, nor do I ever expect to have, anything to do with the Colonization Society. And more, I want nothing to do with it. I am neither its advocate or opponent. If it is doing any good may the Lord be with it, and if it is doing harm may it be cut short. I know nothing of its operations.

What I said about Africa was said by higher considerations that the Colonization Society, Liberia, Sierra Leone, or any such minor matters. I gave my views as a political economist, and stated what I thought our race would do at some future day. And whatever negro-hating principles may actuate the agents of the Colonization Society, I think you would have considerable labor in making the colored people of the South believe that I was inspired by any such motives.

While I never expect to go to Africa, I have two sons I am struggling hard to educate, and should I succeed, it will afford me unutterable pleasure to see them leave college and start for that country, and aid in dispelling the gloom of ignorance from the mental and moral sky of those two hundred millions of human beings, who are as much in need of civilization as any people upon whom the sun ever shone.

About the Colonization Society I do not care the snap of a finger; but about Africa I care so much, that if I did not have four children to educate, I should spend the remainder of my days there teaching school and helping to bring that barren land under moral and intellectual cultivation. And if you wish to discuss the subject, please disconnect me from the Colonization Society, and I will freely take up the gauntlet.