Response to Kingsley, 1838
Transcribed by Mark Fleszar, Georgia State University, 2007.
THE COLORED AMERICAN, New York, New York, August 11, 1838
The Christian Statesman of July, contains a singular letter addressed to the editor by Z. Kingsley, a Florida planter, giving an account of his "Colonization experiment made in the Island of Hayti." The result was that having a colored family and children, he had settled his son, son's wife, their children, and several colored people whom he had liberated, in that Island; and they now are all living there in the enjoyment of almost every thing that can make life pleasant.
What interests us most however, is the good sense with which he speaks of our relations with Hayti. - It has been the policy with slaveholders hitherto, rather, to let our commerce suffer, than to treat the Haytiens with that respect which a sovereign and independent people may justly claim. Mr. Kingsley takes the right view of this matter. The concluding part of his letter is as follows:
"As France has now consented to the independence of Hayti, to which it has formally relinquished all its claims, I will say a few words, in answer to some objection which I have heard made by very prudent people, to the policy of encouraging the growth and cultivation of the Island of Hayti, which objections, I presume originated in the fear of having a free colored government and powerful people, so near to our own slaveholding State. If this evil of situation, arising from a natural advantage over any equal portion of our neighboring continent, either as it relates to climate, soil, or situation, moreover its great extent and extraordinary fertility, renders it capable of supporting a large population, of at least fourteen millions of people, which, independent of all our efforts to the contrary, will fill up by natural increase in a few years, would it not be our best policy to cultivate a friendly understanding with this formidable people? improve their moral habits, and advance their civilization as fast as lays in our power? Hayti was formerly the commercial emporium of the western world; it supplied both hemispheres with sugar and coffee; it is now recovering fast from a state of anarchy and destitution; brought on by the French Revolution. Its government stands on a very respectable footing, and it only requires capital and education, to become a country of great commercial importance, and able to supply the whole consumption of the United States with sugar and coffee. The European nations are now taking advantage of this state of things, and are cultivating a friendly commercial intercourse with Hayti. Is it not our best policy to profit by the natural advantages which we have over them, arising from circumstances peculiar to our situation, and encourage as far as possible the industrious and most respectable part of our free colored population, especially the agricultural part, to emigrate to that country, now mostly vacant, which is within a week's sail of our coast? The natural prejudices of those emigrants towards the country of their birth, would greatly tend to promote a reciprocal national attachment, and would produce harmony and good will by an assimilation of manners, customs, and language, tending to strengthen the chain of commercial relations much to our advantage.
Finally, sir, I have to observe that if any colored people of the above description should apply to you for further information regarding Hayti, you may assure them of a good reception at George Kingsley's establishment near Porte Plate, where they will find plenty of good land to cultivate, which they may either rent or buy upon the most liberal terms; and that six months' labor as agriculturists, will render them entirely independent of all future want of provision. You may also assure them of Hayti's being comparatively a much healthier country than any of our seaboard countries, south of New York.
I remain, very respectfully, your most obedient servant, C. [sic] KINGSLEY, a Florida Planter.
He talks like a man of sense. The island of Hayti will stay just where it is; slaveholders cannot cut its moorings and send it to the South Seas, neither can they check its population and rising commercial importance. Free it will be, and formidable too. Better every way, especially for the South, that it be friendly, than hostile. (As to Mr. Kingsley's Colonization schemes, they are visionary.)
Return to Florida History Online - Zephaniah Kingsley.