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of slave ships subsequent to that date and the necessity of returning their cargoes to Africa, desired to negotiate for some port upon the western coast of that continent to which the captured slaves might be returned. With this object in view it occurred to him that Sierra Leone, a colony established by Great Britain, to which American slaves captured during the Revolution of 1776 were transported, was the most favorable point for the purpose; and he therefore suggested a treaty with that country which should designate that place as an asylum. But before any steps could be taken for the realization of his purpose, the United States and Great Britain were again at war and the project was indefinitely deferred.
The importance of the establishment of such a colony again suggested itself at the commencement of the administration of President Monroe, since it became evident that these miserable creatures, when captured and returned unprotected to their native land, were liable to be seized again and sold into slavery. In response, therefore, to petitions upon the subject, the Congress of the United States passed an act on March 3, 1819, authorizing President Monroe to return all such persons to the coast of Africa and to provide for their temporary relief and protection by the establishment of an agency or freedman's bureau there under the patronage and authority of the government of the United States. This is the only colonizing scheme that has ever been undertaken by our
In pursuance of the purposes of this act, Lieutenant Stockton of the American navy was instructed to proceed to the African coast in October, 1821, to carry out the designs of the government. This officer, touching first at Sierra Leone, sailed down the coast on a voyage of discovery in search of a favorable spot for the location of the colony. Upon his arrival at Cape Mesurado, a bold promontory some eighty feet above the
level of the sea, he was attracted by its topographical features, and, after landing and exploring the vicinity, resolved to purchase the land and found the settlement there. While, however, he was visiting the neighboring chiefs and endeavoring to arrange the necessary preliminaries, some slave traders were actively engaged in thwarting his purposes by slander and misrepresentation; so that, when a council of their chiefs had assembled to consider the proposals of Lieutenant Stockton, their disapproval of his scheme was manifested in such threatening terms that he found it necessary to call in an armed force that had been prudently posted near at hand. This opportune display of arms promptly wrought a change in the conduct of negotiations; so much so that the African warriors were easily induced to make a grant of the desired territory and a treaty to that effect was forthwith formulated and executed. A few American colonists who had accompanied the expedition were disembarked and, with the personal aid and material assistance of Lieutenant Stockton and his crew, they began to organize and build up the settlement. Thus was founded the city of Monrovia, so called in honor of President Monroe, at Cape Mesurado.
The negro republic of Liberia lies wholly within the torrid zone or between the fourth and seventh degrees of latitude north of the equator. Its territory extends from the San Pedro River at 4° 20' latitude north to the Manna River at 6° 80' latitude north or about six hundred miles, and from the Atlantic coast on the west to an undefined boundary about two hundred miles distant in the east. It is thus west of Soudan, south of Sierra Leone, and north of the negro monarchy Ashantee.
The constitution of the republic is closely modeled after that of the United States. The executive power is vested in a president who is elected for the term of two years. The
legislative council is composed of a senate of eight persons elected each four years and of a house of representatives of thirteen members elected every two years. The cabinet of the executive consists of five members. The average annual revenue, most of which is derived from customs duties, amounts to about $175,000, and the average annual expenditure, chiefly incurred for the general administration of the government, amounts to the sum of $165,000. The unpaid principal and interest of the national debt, contracted in England in 1871, amounts to $200,000. The chief exports consist of coffee, palm oil, palm nuts, cocoa, sugar, arrowroot, ivory, and hides. The annual coffee crop reaches about one million pounds. The combined annual exports and imports are estimated in the sum of one million dollars.
The native population of Liberia, comprising about 800,000 souls, has been reinforced by about fourteen thousand negro colonists from the United States and the West Indies and by nearly six thousand recaptured African slaves that have been sent there, from time to time, by the United States government. Although the country is a democracy yet the emigrants from America are exclusively the governing class and they have built up among themselves a sort of aristocracy, that is rigidly maintained to the entire exclusion of the natives. This latter class cannot aspire to any social equality with the American-born negro and is subjected to all the menial service that people, of their race are accustomed to perform in the United States. The aristocrats are absolved from all anxiety in reference to their social status by the fact that their government is a negro republic where white persons cannot hold property nor be admitted to citizenship.
Liberia, under the patronage and protection of the American colonization society, occupied a peculiarly anomalous position, since it had no rank among the states of the world and, though
established as a colony in due and legal form by the government of the United States, received small sympathy and encouragement from our country. Hence its intercourse with the world was attended with inconveniences and embarrassments and the colonists grew restive under this condition of affairs until 1848, when, with the approval of the American society, they resolved upon measures of self-government. To this end a declaration of independence was adopted in which, after reciting the wrongs to which their race was subjected in America, Liberia was declared to be a free, sovereign, and independent state. A constitution was soon after ratified, a president elected, and the new government formally inaugurated.
The black republic has thus far escaped any serious complication with foreign powers and has demonstrated, although in a feeble way, its capability for independent existence. While it has probably failed in every sense to justify the expectations of its promoters and founders, yet, as an outpost of civilization upon the dark continent, it may serve as a foothold for future efforts toward the humanizing and christianizing of the African race. If it had been founded forty years later, when the slave was the innocent cause of the great civil contest that cost our country so much blood and treasure, it is not unreasonable to suppose that it would have become an asylum for a very large portion of the black Americans and thus have mitigated if not entirely removed the conditions that have so long operated to disturb peace and order in the southern states.
A GENERAL VIEW OF EUROPE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
AT THE very time when the colonies in America were forming a stable government, Europe was approaching a crisis and a new order. (A general acquaintance with European affairs during the century is helpful to a clear understanding of the relations which have existed between the United States and the older nations.
In 1789 France was the scene of a significant, popular uprising, and for the next twenty-five years she played the leading part in social and governmental changes which extended to almost every quarter of Europe. Louis XVI. inherited in 1774 the throne of France, with its responsibilities, made serious by years of arbitrary and extravagant rule. The taxes fell heavily on the peasant and merchant, but rested lightly on an exempted nobility and clergy; an unjust system of land ownership, brought down by the nobles from feudal times, oppressed the common people cruelly; monopolies of staple articles granted to the rich and powerful were a further irritation to the masses. Strange, new notions about the "equality of men" and the true nature of governments were set going by a certain class of writers. The news of the successful revolt of the American colonies from England and of the share which Lafayette and other Frenchmen had taken in the struggle came as a suggestion and an encouragement. All these