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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Concerning African Colonization

By James Madison (1751–1836)

[From a Letter to R. R. Gurley.—Letters and other Writings of James Madison. Published by Order of Congress. 1865.]

DEAR SIR: I received in due time your letter of the 21st ultimo, and with due sensibility to the subject of it. Such, however, has been the effect of a painful rheumatism on my general condition, as well as in disqualifying my fingers for the use of the pen, that I could not do justice “to the principles and measures of the Colonization Society, in all the great and various relations they sustain to our own country and to Africa.” If my views of them could have the value which your partiality supposes, I may observe, in brief, that the Society had always my good wishes, though with hopes of its success less sanguine than were entertained by others found to have been the better judges; and that I feel the greatest pleasure at the progress already made by the Society, and the encouragement to encounter the remaining difficulties afforded by the earlier and greater ones already overcome. Many circumstances at the present moment seem to concur in brightening the prospects of the Society, and cherishing the hope that the time will come when the dreadful calamity which has so long afflicted our country, and filled so many with despair, will be gradually removed, and by means consistent with justice, peace, and the general satisfaction; thus giving to our country the full enjoyment of the blessings of liberty, and to the world the full benefit of its great example. I have never considered the main difficulty of the great work as lying in the deficiency of emancipations, but in an inadequacy of asylums for such a growing mass of population, and in the great expense of removing it to its new home. The spirit of private manumission, as the laws may permit and the exiles may consent, is increasing, and will increase, and there are sufficient indications that the public authorities in slave-holding States are looking forward to interpositions, in different forms, that must have a powerful effect.

MONTPELLIER, 28 December, 1831.