Kingsley Documents 1840s

Documents on this page were transcribed by Mark Fleszar, 2007.

From: The Floridian, (Tallahassee, FL) Saturday, April 04, 1840; Issue 36; col C

…Zepheniah [sic] Kingsley was the wealthiest man in East Florida; he was an avowed and open Abolitionist and Amalgamationist, and published a pamphlet in favor of both, and PRACTISED his principles, having a negro wife and several children by her—but was forced by the local legislation of the Territory, a few years since, to shift himself off to Hayti. It is said, he was, in early life a—slave-trader! He now returns, once or twice a year, from the West Indies, to see to his property. He has many friends and connexions in the East.

From: East Florida Herald and Southern Democrat, January 23, 1843

St. Augustine 18 Jan. 1843
Moses E. Levy Esq.

Dear Sir

Your letter of this date is received, in answer to which I have to say that ever since your son David was talked of as Delegate, I was repeatedly asker here, as well as at Jacksonville, by the prominent men of the party who opposed him, whether your sons were of a coloured origin? which I instantaneously contradicted, indignantly: and further said that I knew you at St. Thomas as a respectable merchant and esteemed as a moral man, and that I was intimately acquainted in the family in which you married, which was one of the most respectable in the Island.

As an old friend I regret exceedingly that malice should have gone so far for electioneering purposes; and that it should still continue after these Parties are well aware that it is not founded on truth.

I remain your friend your most obt.

"Emigration to Haiti," The Sun (Baltimore), Wednesday, November 11, 1840

EMIGRATION TO HAITI.-- Various inducements have been lately held out to the free people of color of the United States to cause them to emigrate, Africa was first proposed to them, but notwithstanding the inducements held out by talented persuasion, added to land, provisions, and passage free of expense, all these allurements of this African land of promise they very judiciously declined.

The next inducement for the emigration of these people, is now held out to them by the recently emancipated British Colonies, where passage and provisions are offered to them gratis, and employment after they arrive, together with a good government and civilized society, speaking their native language. Those should be strong inducements to emigrate, especially to those who are poor. But a field offering greater facilities to advancement and easier of access, is offered in the Island of Haiti, where rich land with every advantage of a good and convenient market for selling produce , and of the most fertile description of river valley land, near to good harbors, is offered to industrious agriculturalists for nothing but the trouble of settling.

In the old British Colonies, which are thickly settled, good lands conveniently situated for market, being owned by rich people, have acquired a great value, and are as much beyond the reach of a poor man as the lands about New York are. In the interior of Jamaica and Trinidad, where the lands are cheap, good roads are wanting, and the expenses of conveyance to market consumes the whole value of the produce before it reaches a landing. Haiti being ten times the size of Jamaica or Trinidad, under an independent and free government, and nearer to the United States, is more healthy, more fertile, and better watered, with a population thinner in proportion to its size; and being a new country, great quantities of excellent lands near to a market are unoccupied, and to be had merely for the trouble of settling, or for a very trifling consideration, such as enables a common laborer, with a little industry, to become, in a few months, owner o f his own farm. If its agricultural advantages aforesaid could not be proved by unquestionable demonstration now to be had in this city, what has already been said on this subject might be considered as mere speculation or romance, but any colored emigrant doubting it may satisfy himself by applying for information at the office of Charles Collins, of Franklin Square, where he will find a person of warranted truth and respectability ready to contract with him for the delivery of twenty tarreas of choice river valley or high land at his choice, or as much as he and his family have means to cultivate, with a water mill convenient to grind his corn, situated twenty-seven miles east of Port Plate, on the northeast part of Haiti, and on the harbor of Cabaret and navigable part of Yassico river, which is owned by George Kingsley, now residing on the premises, who will confirm his title to the land. The foregoing is held out to agriculturalists or to industrious farmers who are not afraid of work, and can apply themselves to the use of the axe or hoe, or to any person possessing one hundred dollars, with fifty dollars of which he can hire a man to clear and fence in the best manner, twenty tarreas of choice river valley land, or of any other, and with fifty dollars more he can have a good permanent house built sufficiently large to accommodate any family, and with twenty more he can have it planted in such a way or with such produce as he may direct. A more particular description of the aforesaid tract of land, or of other lands equally good, within seven miles of Port Plate by sea to the east, all at the disposal of George Kingsley, with a plan, is given in a pamphlet to be had at the store of Charles Collins, corner of over street and Franklin square.

N. B. Emigrants who are not prepared to go to Port Plate this fall, may wait until the spring, when a vessel will be hired to carry out such emigrants as are suitable to the aforesaid circumstances, who will be found with provisions and passage gratis; and all other emigrants whose character and circumstances shall be approved of by George Kingsley, will, upon the application to him there, be accommodated with a choice of land and maintenance, for such reasonable time as would allow them to obtain provisions from their own land, which would soon be produced in abundance, as one-fourth of an acre will yield, in three months, one hundred bushels of very fine sweet potatoes, of the white Taheita kind, many of them weighing ten pounds and upwards. Indian corn and other vegetable produce in proportion, one crop every three months, or four crops every year from the same land.

The government of Haiti is that of a military republic, under a constitution and laws that would do honor to any country. A man employed in agriculture pays no taxes, is not liable to be called out as a regular soldier, and is only expected to do militia duty once every three months. Religion is perfectly free, and the country is less liable to be involved in war, than any government we know of. The climate is temperate and healthy, without frost, and may be compared to the spring and summer of New York. Consumption and Rheumatism are hardly known in it, and excepting a few intermittent fevers of a very slight character, it may be called free from disease. It produces coffee, sugar, tobacco, and generally every kind of produce, with plenty of oranges, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables. The cows and horses are fat, there being few flies to trouble them, and they are not liable to sickness. The woods throughout are full of hogs, which keep fat upon the palm berries and other fruits falling from the trees, which cover the ground. Fowls and every kind of poultry ramble about in the woods, there being no animal bigger than a rat to hurt them; they increase prodigiously, nor are there any snakes or venomous animals upon the island, and very few flies of any description.

Nil- & wit*
New York. October 4, 1840.

"Kingsley’s Plantation," Emancipator and Free American (Boston), September 1, 1842

On the first page of this paper is another of L. M. Child’s admirable “Letters from New York,” giving an interesting account of a singular genius with whom she has lately become acquainted. With some of the facts which relates, I have been familiar for several years.—During the winter of 1837-8 an esteemed friend visiting Haiti for his health, with myself, made a visit to the plantation on which the old man, Kingsley, has settled his son George and a considerable number of slaves. The settlement was then in its infancy, it being only a year and a half since ground was first broken for it, in what had till then been a perfect wilderness.—Yet such was the fertility of the soil such the pleasantness of the climate, the luxuriance of every kind of tropical vegetation, the noble growth of timber, the fine streams, the convenient neighborhood of a harber, to which a good road was already opened, and the progress which has been made in the various projected improvements, that I feel no hesitation in receiving the statements of Kingsley, mentioned in the letter, as entirely free from exaggeration. As to the contentment and happiness of the laborers, I did not see enough of them to speak on that point, though what he says of their not being chattels, or legally liable to sale, is perfectly true. The laws of Haiti allow no property in man, and no service for life, or for an indefinite period.—They allow no longer contract for service in any case, than for nine years, and in this the laborer must be secured in his right to compensation, by having a legal claim on a fixed share of all the produce of the soil.—generally not less than one fourth. Kingsley’s laborers were at work on one of these long contracts, when my friend and I were there. The old man was not then on the island, but his son, a good-looking, apparently intelligent mulatto, received and entertained us with a frank and liberal hospitality, which would have done no discredit to any son of the “generous South.” True, his new settlement in the wilderness didn’t afford so many of the elegancies and refinements of hospitality as might be found in the mansion of some wealthy planter in the Old Dominion, but in the lavish abundance of all the substantials of “good living,” and in the seeming heartiness with which he ministered to our comfort and pleasure, he had no occasion, I dare say, to shrink from a comparison with every patriarch of the whole region, from the Pennsylvania line to the Gulf of Mexico. He appeared pleased to show us his crops, his cultivation, his improvements made or planned, and to talk of his prospects and purposes. I am quite inclined to believe that the prosecution of those purposes will confer no small benefit on Haiti, and will place his laborers in a condition much better than the chattel slavery of Florida. But after all is said, I doubt if the superiority is great enough to justify,—even on friend Kingsley’s principle of “balancing evils,”—the continued enslavement of their former fellow bondmen, in order to sustain the enterprise, which is to better their state. Much as their servitude is preferable to slavery, it still does not come up to a Yankee laborers, in no such school as the New England farm, where the owner and his hardy sons and his hired man—the son perhaps of his most respected neighbor—toil together through the day, and together at night sit down to their plain repast at the same table;--that those notions were rather what were to be looked for in a slave-holder’s son, reared in Florida, than what could be wished by men brought up to think labor the true source of respectability and independence. Still, let it be understood, Geo. Kingsley was not a slaveholder, nor his workmen slaves. I might add, we had a striking proof of this, under our own eyes, while we were at his estate. some difficulty had arisen between him and some of his hands, about the terms of their contract, a while before.—Unable to settle it to mutual satisfaction, appeal had been made to the authorities of the island, not to the summary decision of the cart whip. And all the way from Port au Platte, thirty miles, by a narrow, rugged wood path, climbing hills, fording rivers, and threading tangled thickets, where two men could not ride or even walk abreast, had the “commandant,” (the chief officer of the district) ridden with his retinue, to bear and adjust the difficulty. It would be a long day I apprehend, before the mayor of a Southern city would take the trouble to decide a matter between a master and his slaves, or a master would ask for his interference to convince his slaves that they ought to do his bidding.

Zephaniah Kingsley's Obituary, from: St. Augustine News, 30 September 1843


At New York, on the 13th inst. Mr. Zephaniah Kingsley, of Duval County, East Florida, aged 78 years.

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