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without, with provisions for only fifteen days and but two rounds of ammunition for their guns within, was a situation to try their faith and fortitude. The discharge of a cannon in the night, was heard on board a British ship, and so strange a sound aroused curiosity. In the morning a boat was sent on shore. This led to the acceptance of terms of peace by the hostile chiefs, who were glad to accede to the proposals made by Major Laing, the African traveller, as they had already suffered two defeats from the colonists.
The colonists soon began to be dissatisfied with their exclusion from the public administration of their concerns. A special agent came over from America, and laid before them the plan of a constitution; this was gladly acceded to, and henceforth all public officers, except the governor and two magistrates, were to be elected under certain regulations by the colonists. The colony was now designated Liberia, and its chief town was named Monrovia. New emigrants formed new settlements, and after some failures, agricultural labours were put into successful operation.
The Colonization Society had now to pass through a fiery ordeal. It was denounced as a slaveholders' association. Its real object was declared to be the clearance of the free coloured population from the American states, that their presence might not alarm the slave-owners, nor incite the slaves to procure their freedom. As the result of this outcry, the society became bankrupt. This decline began in about the year 1830; but the favourable accounts which came from the colony brought about a reaction; and at length, in the Report of January 1846, the directors were able to announce that the society was out of debt, and that it had a surplus in its funds. But we are anticipating events. In 1839 the Colonization Society furnished the colony with a new constitution; the governor was appointed and paid by the society, and a lieutenant-governor was elected by the colonists. Liberia now numbered nine towns, with twenty-one churches, ten day and many Sunday schools. There were four printing-presses, and two newspapers, one of which had been established ten years ago.
The import duties levied by the colonial legislature became a subject of complaint with British traders. The British government denied the right of a private association to impose these taxes; this led to the establishment of Liberia as an independent self-governing republic in 1847. The flag of the commonwealth is striped with white and red, with a star in the centre of a square blue ground in its upper and inner corner; the seal is a dove on the wing with an open scroll in its claws, and a ship under sail at sunrise beneath, and a palm tree on one side, with a plough and a spade at its foot. The motto, “ The love of liberty brought us here,” lies above these emblems.
Joseph John Roberts, a coloured man, was elected the first president. The legislature consists of a senate and a house of representatives. Two members from each of the three counties of the State constitute the senate, each member retaining his seat for four years; the representatives are apportioned to the counties, according to their population, and every town of ten thousand inhabitants is to have a representative. Compensation is given both to senators and representatives. The president is elected by the people for the space of two years, but the judges hold their office so long as they conduct themselves well. Citizenship is restricted to men of colour.
In 1848, President Roberts visited America, and was very well received. He then came to England, where the new state was at once recognised; a beautiful cutter was presented to it by the British government. The following extract relative to this visit is highly interesting :
"I do not recollect whether I have already told you of the very interesting interview which Mr. Roberts had with the Bishop of London, and also what took place at the Prussian ambassador's house, where the president dined with Lord Ashley, Mr. Gurney, and others. The bishop was exceedingly interested in what the president told him, and took down notes of the conversation, which filled three sides of a large sheet of paper. He promised all the aid in missionary efforts possible. At Chevalier Bunsen's table, Mr. Roberts sat beside the excellent and benevolent Lord Ashley, who was very minute in his inquiries about Liberia, and the suppression of the slave-trade. Mr. Roberts told him, the most effectual way to put down the latter would be to purchase the Gallinas territory, which is between the Sierra Leone colony and the republic of Liberia, and thus seven hundred miles of coast would be for ever guaranteed against the slave-trade. His lordship asked how much money would buy it? to which Mr. Roberts replied, 20001. would be ample to do the thing perfectly. Lord Ashley said the enterprise must be set about immediately; and, after they rose from the table, he went to Mr. Gurney, and proposed to him to buy and present this territory to the new republic. Mr. Gurney received the proposition favourably, and requested Mr. Roberts to call upon him in Lombard Street next morning, when Mr. Gurney gave him an obligation for half the amount, 10001., and a kind of promise, that if the British government did not make the purchase for President Roberts, he himself would see that the purchase was made on his own responsibility, if he could not get some friends to join him in effecting this important object. I have now the pleasure to add, that when I called upon Mr. Gurney a few days ago, he informed me that such arrangements have been made as will secure the acquisition of the Gallinas to the republic of Liberia."
After visiting France and Belgium, Mr. Roberts was offered a passage home by the British government, and in December 1848 he sailed for Liberia. He has been re-elected to the presidency twice,
From an account published in 1848, we learn that then it was estimated that not less than two millions of persons in the interior obtained their supply of European goods from Liberia, and from the kindred colony of Cape Palmas. "Last year,” says this account, “cighty-two foreign vessels visited Liberia, and exchanged merchandise for articles of African production, to the amount of six hundred thousand dollars."
The above paragraph needs some explanation. The colony of Cape Palmas, which is included in our statistics, was founded by the Maryland State Colonization Society, and the name of “ Maryland in Liberia," was given to it, because it was expected that it would eventually unite with the older settlement. Its chief town, Harper, has a population of about eight hundred. Ten of the native chiefs who occupy the territory for about fifty miles on each side of the settlement have put themselves under its protection.
In 1852, President Roberts again visited this country. Difficulties had sprung up with two or three traders, but they were satisfactorily settled. The government again offered him a passage home.
The Liberian shore is generally low, but at the distance of a few miles from the sea, the land becomes higher, and mounts gradually. The interior is as yet unknown, but there is reason to believe that the country is a fine one. Liberia has no large rivers at present. Its year is divided into the dry and the rainy season, the former commencing in November, the latter in May. The average heat of January—the hottest month—is eighty-five degrees. In June, which is the coldest month, the thermometer is generally at about seventy-five. “The true character of the African climate," said the citizens of Monrovia, in 1827, “is not well understood in other countries. Its inhabitants are as robust, as healthy, as long-lived, to say the least, as those of any other country. Nothing like an epidemic has ever appeared in this colony; nor can we learn from the natives, that the calamity of a sweeping sickness ever yet visited this part of the continent.” But still the climate appears to be a deadly one to the white man.
Every tropical plant is said to thrive. Rice, maize, sweet potatoes, cassava root, beans, peas, pine apples, mangoes, guavas, water-melons, lemons, oranges, bananas, pomegranates, tamarinds, papaws, plantains, and millet, are all Liberian productions. Cotton, coffee, indigo, and the sugar-cane, grow spontaneously in the forests, and the same may be said of many other vegetable productions. Ginger, pepper, ground-nuts, and arrowroot, are all likely to add to the resources of the country. Palm oil and camwood are the chief exports at present. The annual exports were estimated at 140,0001. in 1839, and the imports at 80,0007. More than 30,0001.'s worth of palm oil was shipped in 1847. A monthly line of packets now runs between England and Western Africa—an arrangement which, we trust, will be of great service to Liberia.
Cows are plentiful, and sheep, which are hairy instead of woolly, are raised without difficulty. “Cattle, swine, fowls, ducks, goats, and sheep thrive without feeding," was the language of the citizens of Monrovia in 1827. According to a recent account, swine do not thrive so much as sheep and goats. The climate has been fatal to horses ; and it was stated a few years ago, that much of the camwood that was exported was carried two hundred miles on men's backs.
We will conclude our account of the physical condition of Liberia, with another extract from the address of the Monrovian citizens :-“A more fertile soil, and a more productive country, so far as it is cultivated, there is not, we believe, on the face of the earth. Its hills and plains are covered with a verdure which never fades; the productions of nature keep on in their growth through all the seasons of the year. Even the natives of the country, almost without farming tools, without skill, and with very little labour, make more grain and vegetables than they can consume, and often more than they can sell."
Liberia is divided into three counties, and the colony at Cape Palmas will probably soon make a fourth. Every town has a corporation, and the townships are usually about eight miles in extent. It is the testimony of a recent visitor, that he never saw so orderly a people ; he saw but one intoxicated colonist, and never heard a profane word. Sunday was strictly observed, and the churches were crowded with orderly and attentive worshippers. The acclimated colonists enjoyed excellent health. Some eighteen or twenty small sloops and schooners, built in the country, were engaged in the coast-trade. Brick houses were being built in Monrovia, and in the settlements on the St. Paul's river. As drawbacks, we may mention the want of good harbours, of beasts of draught and burden, of suitable materials for fencing, and the high price of lumber for building purposes. Timber is plentiful, but rail timber cannot be got; but the palm, the lime, the soap tree, and the croton-oil shrub, offer facilities for making live fences.
We cannot but hope that Liberia is destined to be a bright spot in the dark page of West African annals. The free coloured Americans are making ready for emigration in large numbers. Many owners have made their slaves free in order that they might emigrate, and many have signified that they intend to do the same. Thousands are leaving every year for Liberia. Irish and German emigrants are displacing free coloured labourers, and decreasing the value of slave labour. A brighter day appears to be dawning over Western Africa, and we trust that the sun of Christianity will soon enlighten the whole of that mighty continent.
DURING the time that Sidney Godolphin occupied the office of Lord High Treasurer of England, between the years 1701 and 1710, he visited more than once his seat in Cornwall. No regular conveyances then proceeded further west than Exeter; but, when certain masses of letters had accumulated, the whole were forwarded together, by what was called “ the post.” The Lord High Treasurer engaged a weekly messenger from Exeter to bring his letters, despatches, and a newspaper; and on the fixed day of the arrival, all the gentlemen from many miles round assembled at Godolphin House, to hear the newspaper read, in the great hall.