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An Appeal from the Colored Men of Philadelphia to the President of the United States
August 1862



Consider These Questions


In this document, a group of prominent African American citizens from Philadelphia replied to Lincoln's "Address on Colonization."

   In the purity and goodness of your heart, and as we believe, through a willingness to serve the cause of humanity, you have been pleased to hold an audience with a Committee of colored men, brethren of ours--kindred in race.

   The object was to acquaint them with the fact that a sum of money had been appropriated by Congress for the purpose of Colonization, a cause which you were inclined to favor, and dear to the hearts of many good men.

   Among the prominent reasons given for colonizing us, is the one most common throughout our enslaved country, that of color. Admitting this distinction to be of great disadvantage to us, the cause of many tears and much anguish, as we pass along this rugged life of ours; yet, we believe that most of this prejudice grows out of the Institution of Slavery.

   Benighted by the ignorance entailed up on us, oppressed by the iron-heel of the master who knows no law except that of worldly gain and self-aggrandizement, why should we not be poor and degraded?

   If, under the existing prejudices, adverse laws, and low degree of general education, a few become respectable and useful citizens, there is truly hope for the many. We pray for a more liberal and enlightened public policy. We regret the ignorance and poverty of our race. We find, however, in this great city a parallel in the white, and however degraded a part of us may be, there is, under the circumstances surrounding each, a deeper degradation still. Our fathers were not, of their own free will and accord, transferred to this, our native land. Neither have we, their descendants, by any act of ours, brought this country to its present deplorable condition. If there is in the heart of any, claiming by virtue of their color and predominance, a desire to persecute and oppress, no such unhallowed motives govern us.

   We can find nothing in the religion of our Lord and Master, teaching us that color is the standard by which He judges his creatures, either in this life nor the life which is to come. He created us and endowed us with the faculties of the man, giving us a part of the earth as an habitation, and its products for our sustenance. He also made it sufficient in compass and fruitfulness to provide for the wants of all, and has nowhere taught us to devour each other, that even life itself might be sustained.

   Thus, humbly, have we presented our cause in some of its moral aspects.

   Permit us, in further response to your generous efforts in our behalf, to present another, and possibly, a more selfish view, embracing pecuniary and political matters, not more important to ourselves than to others.

   We know that the problem of American Slavery has been a difficult one to solve; that statement hesitate, politicians ignore, and the people even now evade the serious reality of a most bloody war, cause solely by the dealers in our flesh. We have not sought such a solution, nor asked a sacrifice so great, without being willing to drink of the same bitter cup.

   The blood of millions of our race cries from the ground, while millions more are yet enslaved.

   They have produced mush of the wealth of this country. Cotton, the product of their labor, while it should have proven a blessing to mankind, has well nigh overthrown the Nations dependent upon it, and is not denominated "King."

   Thus has the master of the slave enslaved the world. While colonization, in many of its features might be advantageous to our race, yet were all of us to be sent out of the country, the population of the United States would be reduced nearly one-sixth part. It is doubtful whether the people seriously desire a depletion of this kind, however much they may wish to separate from us.

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