The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

75.
Circular by Robert Campbell 13 May 1859

Black abolitionist-emigrationist Robert Campbell arrived in Britain during the spring of 1859 seeking funds to finance an African expedition. Campbell had joined Martin R. Delany, the leading American emigrationist, as a member of the Niger Valley Exploring Party--an agency founded to coordinate the establishment of an "industrial settlement" in Yoruba, West Africa. On 13 May 1859, Campbell issued a circular advertising his desire for support and describing the settlement's potential as a source of free labor cotton. The proposal appealed to the Manchester cotton merchant Thomas Clegg, who gave Campbell a letter of introduction; Clegg recommended the project as "the most feasible plan of helping on my scheme of superseding Slavery, by letting the African grow in his own country what every one wants him to grow elsewhere." Campbell eventually raised $500 and, on 24 June, sailed for Africa to meet Delany. Campbell's successful fund-raising foray was the beginning of an effective effort by a handful of black abolitionist-emigrationists to generate British commercial backing for their plans by linking those plans with the African goals of British cotton interests. Miller, Search for Black Nationality, 179-82, 198, 206-7.

EXPEDITION TO AFRICA,
TO PROMOTE THE CULTIVATION OF COTTON AND
OTHER PRODUCTS OF SLAVE-LABOUR,
BY EMIGRANTS FROM AMERICA.

A party, consisting of Martin R. Delany, M.D., 1 Robert Campbell, 2 J. W. Purnell, 3 Robert Douglass, 4 and Amos Aray, M.D.5 (the last two subsequently omitted), has been commissioned by a Convention of Coloured Persons, 6 held at Chatham, C. W., to proceed to Africa, and select a location for the establishment of an Industrial Colony. 7

While such an enterprise is of importance in the Evangelization and Civilization of Africa, and in affording an asylum in which the oppressed descendants of that country may find the means of developing their mental and moral faculties unimpeded by unjust restrictions, it is regarded as of still greater importance in facilitating the production of those staples, particularly Cotton, which now are supplied to the world chiefly by Slave Labour. The effect of this would be to lessen the profits of Slavery, to render in time the slave a burden to his owner, and thus furnish an irresistible motive to Emancipation. Africa possesses resources which, properly developed, must doubtless render her eventually a great, if not the greatest, producer of all the products of Slave Labour.

-447-

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