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Caldwell, E. B. (fl. 1820) to Simeon Baldwin re: American Colonization Society Report (printed letter)

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC05157 Author/Creator: Caldwell, E. B. (fl. 1820) Place Written: Washington Type: Letter Date: 1820/10/27 Pagination: 2 p. 29.7 x 20.9 cm

Summary of Content: Slavery-related circular letter concerning the death of the Society's agents in Africa who had sought to save recaptured colonists, and calling for continuing efforts. Caldwell was Secretary of the American Colonization Society.

Full Transcript: The Board of Managers of the American Colonization Society have to discharge a painful duty in laying before the Auxiliary Societies and the public the distressing intelligence received from the ...coast of Africa. The following extract of a letter, from a correspondent in London, is the latest information obtained….
"You will probably have heard…of the fatal calamity which has been permitted to befall Mr. Bacon and most of his white companions on the coast of Africa, in their benevolent undertaking for the welfare of their fellow creatures. It is another of that class of Providential dispensations which repeats, with a loud voice, "Be still; and know that I am GOD;" but which should never be permitted to discourage human efforts…Mr. Bacon purchased a schooner at Sierra Leone…in order to land the people and disembark the stores…with the design of remaining there until till the rainy season was over, and then to proceed to the place which might be selected for the reception of recaptured negroes…[Four out of five white colonization society agents died of disease] 15 out of 82 people of color had also died…."
At present we would request our friends not to be discouraged. The Board lament the unfortunate issue of their first efforts; but they had no right to calculate upon the absence of those disasters and disappointments which attend all human affairs, and which are ordered or permitted to attend them for purposes, the wisdom and goodness of which, though we may not see, we cannot doubt. We lament , also, the loss sustained by the Society and our country, and the cause of humanity, in the deaths of those who so freely offered themselves in the service of God, and for the good of man, to toil and suffering and death. They have "entered into their rest, and their works do follow them;" and we trust they have obtained "the prize of their high calling;" and their example and their fate, we rejoice to know, instead of deterring, has encouraged others to assume their posts….Could we believe that the climate of the coast of Africa was such as to forbid all hope of settlement, we should be ready to abandon our purpose, and look elsewhere for a more safe asylum: but the circumstances that have occurred there do not, in our judgment, any further prove such a fact than similar instances during the late season in our own country.
We think…from the unforeseen detention of the Elizabeth, her arrival upon the coast was unseasonable. The rains were at hand, and no adequate provisions, we think it probable, was made for shelter and comfort of the people. The zeal and activity of the agents, in providing for this state of things, we have no doubt, increased their exposure and danger. Against all these disadvantages, we hope to be better able to guard for the future. It is also worthy of particular remark, that the mortality amongst our people should by no means be imputed to the situation selected for our first settlement. On the contrary, we have every reason to presume that the fatal

diseases were contracted by them either on board the vessels, to which they appear to have been a good deal confined on a sickly coast; or at such temporary abodes on shore as were resorted to for shelter, until the necessary arrangements could be completed for obtaining a grant of the lands contemplated as the site of our intended settlements….We are pleased to discover that the free colored people of this country are not intimated; numbers of the most respectable and intelligent of that population are renewing their entreaties to be sent out this Fall; and agents well qualified have already offered themselves to lead tem. With these views and encouragements, the Board of Managers propose to send out one or two vessels in the course of the next month….
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Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: African American HistorySlaveryColonizationAfricaDeath

Sub Era: The First Age of Reform

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