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THE LIBERIA FARMER;

OR,

COLONIST'S GUIDE

TO

INDEPENDENCE AND DOMESTIC COMFORT.

INSCRIBED TO ALL THE INDUSTRIOUS SETTLERS OF LIBERIA,

BY THEIR FRIEND AND AGENT,

J. ASHMUN.

1825.

INTRODUCTION.

You have come together from different and distant States in America. The climates, soils, productions and mode of Agriculture, to which you were there accustomed, are very various ; but all are widely different from those of Africa. Some of you were mechanics in your native country, but you are all farmers here; and have every thing belonging to the business, to learn anew. American crops, and the American modes of tillage, must nearly all be given up; and a new systein of farming adopted. Of this, I can easily convince you.

Look at our African seasons, and compare them with the seasons in America. Here, you can find neither Winter, Spring, Summer nor Autumn. These interesting changes have disappeared from the African year. Now, the whole system of cropping in America depended on the seasons. Some grains and fruits in that country, you recollect, required even the frosts and snows of its terrible winters. Before other seeds could be planted, it was necessary the warm Spring months should be considerably advanced. Three or four Summer months, then made up nearly the only season of the year, in which vegetables and grains would grow and ripen. The last months of Summer and all the Autumnal months, varying with the nature of the crop, were the harvest

season.

But not having any of these seasons in Africa, you must learn an entirely different way of farming, and turn your attention to new productions, agreeing better with your new climate and seasons. It is the intention of this little treatise, to assist you to acquire this necessary information, in the shortest time, and use it in the best possible way. It does not prosess to teach a persect system of African farming. That can only be discovered by the light of a great number of experiments and facts, which depend on your own future industry and observation. But it is all-important, you should begin your farming operations in possession of all the correct information that can be obtained ; and lay aside all your prejudices in favor of American modes, which will not answer in this country. This is the only way to turn your labor an! time to any good account; and support your families with credit and comfort, by the proceeds of your own industry.

On this last point, suffer me to put down two or three remarks, of the truth and importance of which you cannot be too sensible. The first is, That the cultivation of your rich lands, is the only way you will ever find out to indepcadence, comfort and wealth.

It is hard for some of you to understand, or to believe this maxim. But it is, nevertheless, most true, and capable of being clearly proved.

I will suppose you to be a mechanic, and that your trade is worth one dollar a day-you have, then, 300 dollars a year to support yourself on. But if agriculture is neglected here generally, you must send to America for every article of provisions and clothing; or buy of trading vessels, which will make you pay 100 per cent. profit, besides expenses. What will a dollar laid out in this way, buy you? Not more than thirty or forty cents' worth in America. If you are single, you may in this way feed and clothe yourself poorly. But, if

you have a family, you must all suffer for want of the necessaries of life, if you rely on your mechanical labors alone.

But, perhaps you hope to buy rice, fowls and plantains, of the natives; and 40 cents a day will go, you imagine, a great way with them.

Suppose, however, the natives should do what they often have done alieady, prohibit all trade and intercourse with you? Rely on it, the moment they find you depending on them, they will do so; or elsc, make you pay four or five prices for every thing they sell you. But, if there is no agriculture, there will be nothing in the Colony to pay mechanics with ; and consequently, no employment for them. The natives, likewise, are often too poor to feed them. selves. And had they cassada to sell you, and you tobacco to buy it; are you so lost to all sense of shame, as to be willing to depend on a half naked Savage to feed you?

But there is another bewitching spell, which I fear will keep some of you in poverty, debt, and wretchedness, as long as you live. I mean, That most de ceptive hope of supporting yourselves by trade.

You could not succeed in the attempt, if you had all been bred merchants; and for this good reason, the Colony has not trade enough to support twenty families. The natives bring you nothing but Camwood, and small Ivory. No Camwood grows on your own land, and all the natives cut between this and Cape Mount, does not amount to 300 tons. Trading Vessels will always take one-half of this, for they can always undersell you. No man in Africa can make more than 20 dollars clear profit, on aton; so that 3000 dollars is the most you all can ever make on this article : and this sum in Africa, will support ten families. Now, suppose 100 families depend on this trade? They may make 30 dollars each. And 30 dollars will buy one barrel of Pork, and one of Flour, and nothing more. They must starve.

The Ivory part is not worth a fourth part as inuch as the Camwood. The clear profits it would afford, are not worth five dollars to a family: and yet, some of you hope to support your families, and grow rich by trading !—Twenty poles of Lima Beans, will be a much surer dependence, and actually go farther towards supporting a family, than the whole trade in Camwood and Ivory, if it was equally shared among you all. You can make the calculation for yourselves. Some of you have already gone too deep in trade. And you feel the bad effects of it. Show me a man without a good house, without improvements on his lands, who is deep in debt, and pinched and harrassed in all his circumstances ; and I will show you a man who has foolishly depended on trading with the country people for a support. Look around, and tell me how many exceptions there are to this remark. Trade and day-labor as a me. chanic, may then be reckoned as your worst dependence. If you have no other you must content yourself to keep as poor as a native, while you live.

“Have we then been sent to Africa to starve?" No. You may if you please, and God gives you health, become as independent, comfortable and happy, as you ought to be in this world. The upland of the Cape, is not the best. The Creator has formed it for a town, and not for plantations. But the flat lands around you, and particularly your farms, have as good a soil as can be met with in any country. They will produce two crops of corn, sweet potatoes, and several other vegetables in a year. They will yield a larger crop than the best soils in America. And they will produce a number of very valuable articles, for which in the United States, millions of money are every year paid away to foreigners. One acre of rich land, well tilled, will produce you three hundred dollars' worth of Indigo. Half an acre may be made to grow half a ton of arrow root. Four acres laid out in Coffee-plants, will, after the third year, produce you a clear income of two or three hundred dollars. Half an acre of cottontrees will clothe your whole family; and, except a little hoeing, your wife and children can perform the whole labor of cropping and manufacturing it. One acre of canes will make you independent of all the world, for the sugar you use in your family. One acre set with fruit trees, and well attended, will furnish you the year round, with more Plantains, Bananas, Oranges, Limes, Guavas, Papaws, and Pine apples, than you will ever gather. Nine months of the year, you may grow fresh vegetables every month, and some of you who have lowland plantations, may do so throughout the year. Soon, all the vessels visit. ing the coast, will touch here for refreshments. You never will want a ready market for your fruits and vegetables. Your other crops being articles of ex

port, will always command the cash, or something better. With these resources, (and nothing but industry and perseverance is necessary to realize them,) you cannot fail to have the means of living as comfortably, independently, and happily as any people on earth. If you forfeit such prospects, through indolence, or folly, thank yourselves for it. No one else, I promise you, will condole with you.

This little treatise is intended only for the industrious, and for such as are willing to become so. And in order to assist your industry to produce its full effects, I shall throw together the brief notices which I have to offer, into several short chapters, each one relating to some subject in agriculture, which you may directly reduce to practice.

CHAPTER I.

THE CLIMATE OF AFRICA, Is uniformly sultry and moist. But the heat is not excessive. You who keep therinometers, will perceive the mercury to stand in the wet season, at about 77 degrees, and in the dry, after sunrise, at about 82 degrees. Now the heat of a summers' day in Baltimore, and Richmond, is from 84 to 90 degrees. So that the heat of Liberia is never insupportable; and commonly, very comfortably moderate. But, the difference of heat at night and by day, seldom exceeds three or four degrees of the scale. In America it often sinks and rises in the twenty-four hours, more than ten or twelve degrees. This uniform heat has a most favorable effect on the growth of plants and vegetables. It sustains the vegetable life in a constant, and unabated state of activity. The cold nights and cold storms of America, never are felt here. Consequently, as long as your plantations and gardens have moisture sufficient, you may expect every blade of Rice, every stalk of corn, every fruit-tree and vegetable, to flourish with the utmost luxuriance. The papaw and plantain trees are a good example of the power of an uniformly heated climate, to accelerate vegetation. You may see in the gardens, many of the former, not more than fifteen months from the seed, already fifteen inches round the stem, and fifteen feet high, with several pecks of ripening fruit. Clear your lands; plant your crops ; keep the weeds down; and the most favorable climate in the world, alone, under the direction of a bountiful Providence, will do more for you than all your toil and care could accomplish in America.

CHAPTER II.

THE AFRICAN SEASONS, Are very properly divided into the wet, and dry. The wet season begins at Montserado, about the 10th, or 15th of May; after three or four weeks of frequent thunder-showers, and very short and sudden tempests of wind from the land.

The latter part of May, and the whole of June, comprise perhaps, the most rainy period in the year. It is vastly important that your new grounds should be cleared, well burnt, planted and fenced, before these rains come on. It is not possible to do either, well, afterwards. The natives who have no almanacs, and who are accused of great indolence, are never behindhand in their rice plantations. In the months of March and April, their plantation fires send up columns of smoke in all directions; and the month of June witnesses a most verdant display of springing rice in the neighborhood of all their towns.

July and August are, commonly, almost as dry as the same months in America. The weather is delightfully cool; and seems to have been appointed for the convenience of dressing gardens and plantations. You have now an opportunity to weed, and grub up the sprouts and bushes on your crop lands; to make fences, and set out fruit, cotton, and coffee trees. After having performed all that your plantations and gardens require, you may find a few weeks of this cool and pleasant season, to provide timber and materials for building outhouses, or enlarging your dwellings. Should birds or insects have destroyed any part of the young crop of rice, or vegetables, you can now fill it in with new seed, before the September rains come on. But never expect a crop planted in July and August, will succeed as well as that which enjoys the benefit of the June rains.

On the last of August, the second, and much the longest course of rains, usually sets in. They prevail without much intermission, throughout September and October. In November, the thunder-gusts return, and the rains gradually subside. Your rice crop is now fit for the sickle; and you must stand by every fair day to secure it, as soon as possible. The corn-crop, if planted seasonably, will come in, early in September. The second planting, sometime in November. That part of the Indigo, and Coffee crops, which comes to maturity in these months must be carefully gathered as it ripens, and cured under cover. But, after all these labors, many days of this dripping season will re. main, and they can be best employed by mechanics at their trades, and by all others in dressing and mortising fence-posts, and making gates, refitting their implements, and performing all the rough work required about their houses, and plantations, which can be done under shelter. Fruit, cotton, and coffee-trees may also be transplanted.

The month of November puts an end to the redundant rains of the year. The season for clearing lands, now begins. No industrious man will neglect commencing this work beyond the 1st day of December, while an acre remains to be cleared on his plantation.--Occasional showers may be expected 'till the first week in January.

January, February, and March are the driest-March and April, the hottest months in the year. These are the months in which one day's work in clear. ing and burning brush-wood, killing weeds and sprouts on your plantations, grubbing up roots and stubs, will effect more than a whole week in any other season. December and January, are the months for cutting down the timber,

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