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SECRETARY'S REPORT.

FROM The African Repository and Colonial Journal 13, No. 7 (July 1837): 201-206.


The Secretary of the Society left his residence in March last, on a visit to several of the Southern and Western States, with the purpose of advancing the interests of the cause in that region. Subjoined is the greater part of a Report recently made by him to the Managers, in which are given some interesting particulars in relation to Moro, an African convert to Christianity. The concluding passage of the Report will not, we trust, be without its influence in animating the Ministers of the Gospel to exertions on behalf of the Society on, or about the Fourth inst:-

AUGUSTA, (GEORGIA) May 21st, 1837

To the Board of Managers of the American Colonization Society;

GENTLEMEN, I have the honor to submit a brief report of my proceedings since I left Washington early in March, with such suggestions and reflections as may occur during the relation of the incidents and observations of my tour up to this date.

I left Washington the 10th of March, and on Sunday the 12th addressed the friends of the Society in Fredericksburg, in the Methodist Church, on the views, state, and prospects of the Society, and of its settlements in Africa. Liberal contributions have been made in former times, by the citizens of this place, to the funds of the Society, and the recent appeals of the able Agent of the Society, Mr. Andrews, to the Episcopal congregation have been successful.

At Richmond, I attended a large meeting of the friends of the Society, in the Hall of the House of the Delegates, convened especially to hear statements from the Rev. Mr. Rockwell (late Chaplain of the United States' ship Potomac) who had then just returned from a visit to Liberia. In the month of November last this gentleman examined the condition and prospects of all the settlements within the limits of the Colony, and also the settlement at Cape Palmas under the exclusive direction of the Maryland Colonization Society, and his testimony, as publicly given before the citizens of Richmond, was adapted to animate the zeal, and strengthen the resolution and confidence of all the friends of African Colonization. A noble minded benefactor of the Society in that place expressed to me his purpose to subscribe $500 in aid of the cause, provided a few other individuals could be induced to unite with him in raising a liberal Fund to promote it. The great and enlightened Commonwealth of Virginia will sustain with increasing energy the operations of the Society, and Richmond, the centre of her power and influence, will give to it a constant and firm support.

In company with the Rev. C. W. Andrews, the very efficient Agent of the Virginia Colonization Society, the writer attended a meeting of the friends of the Institution in Petersburg on the 23d of March, when a subscription was received for the benefit of the Society. Among the generous inhabitants of that town prevails a general and active interest in the enterprise of the Society, and I feel confident it will continue to receive from them a liberal proportion of their regard. The Rev. Wm. M. Atkinson, of this place, is well known throughout Virginia and the Union, as an early, able, and devoted friend of the Society, who both by his pen, and eloquent addresses, has done much to recommend it to the confidence of his fellow citizens, and especially to present it to the South in those clear lights of truth and reason which command a favorable verdict of the judgment even when they fail to win the heart.

North Carolina will stand forth a powerful and decided friend of the scheme of Colonization. The State Society (over which Judge Cameron, one of the most intelligent, wealthy and respected citizens presides) has revived, filled with able and active friends of the cause, the vacancies in her Board of Directors, and resolved to employ an Agent to explain the views, enforce the claims, and solicit aid to the objects of the Society in the several counties of the State. The Society of Friends in this State, early turned their thoughts to the plan of African Colonization, encouraged the free people of colour under their protection to emigrate to Liberia, and supplied a generous fund to defray the expenses of such as consented to remove thither. Several hundreds, once under the guardian care of this Society, are now enjoying the freedom and privileges of that Colony. There are still in North Carolina numerous free coloured persons of respectable intelligence and moral character. Those in Fayetteville, Elizabethtown, and Wilmington, have probably no superiors, among their own class, in the United States. After careful reflection, some have resolved to remove to Africa, and others are anxiously directing their thoughts to the subject. Louis Sheridan, with whose reputation and views the Board are partially acquainted, is a man of education, uncommon talents for business, a handsome property, and the master of nineteen slaves. His determination to emigrate to Liberia with a company of from forty to sixty of his relations and friends has already been announced. The public meetings held in Raleigh, during my visit, were well attended and of much interest, and addressed with spirit and effect by several of the citizens of that place. Collections were made for the benefit of the Society. The Resolutions adopted by the citizens of Raleigh are before the public.

In Fayetteville, gentlemen of all political and religious opinions gave countenance and assistance to the cause. At several public meetings in the Methodist Church, attended indiscriminately by the members of the several religious denominations, one sentiment of confidence in the principles and policy and concern for the success of the Society was manifested. Gentlemen of different communions in the Christian Church, but of one spirit, addressed these meetings; and the measures adopted (already before the public) will result, I doubt not, in the awakening of a new and extended interest throughout a large portion of the State in the prosperity of the African Colonies and in the diffusion, through them, far over the barbarous territories of Africa, of knowledge, civilization, and the inestimable blessing of the Religion of Christ. Collections were made for the Society, both in the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, and several donations received from individuals.

In Wilmington, the views, purposes, and prospects of the Society were submitted in the Presbyterian Church to the consideration of a large audience of different religious sects, which contributed in aid of its funds. It was the first time that public attention had ever, in that place, been invited to the scheme and interests of the Society. Several gentlemen expressed their purposes of endeavouring at an early day to organize an Auxiliary Colonization Society.

In the respected family of General Owen, of Wilmington, I became acquainted with a native African, whose history and character are exceedingly interesting, and some sketches of whose life have been already published. I allude to Moro or Omora, a Foulah by birth, educated a Mahometan, and who, long after he came in slavery to this country, retained a devoted attachment to the faith of his fathers and deemed a copy of the Koran in Arabic (which language he reads and writes with facility) his richest treasure. About twenty years ago, while scarcely able to express his thoughts intelligibly on any subject in the English language, he fled from a severe master in South Carolina, and on his arrival at Fayetteville, was seized as a runaway slave, and thrown into jail. His peculiar appearance, inability to converse, and particularly the facility with which he was observed to write a strange language attracted much attention, and induced his present humane and christian master to take him from prison and finally, at his earnest request, to become his purchaser. His gratitude was boundless, and his joy to be imagined only by him, who has himself been relieved from the iron that enters the soul. Since his residence with General Owen he has worn no bonds but those of gratitude and affection.

"Oh, 'tis a Godlike privilege to save
And he who scorns it is himself a slave."

Being of a feeble constitution, Moro's duties have been of the lightest kind, and he has been treated rather as a friend than a servant. The garden has been to him a place of recreation rather than a toil, and the concern is not that he should labor more but less. The anxious efforts made to instruct him in the doctrines and precepts of our Divine Religion, have not been in vain. He has thrown aside the bloodstained Koran and now worships at the feet of the Prince of Peace. The Bible, of which he has an Arabic copy, is his guide, his comforter, or as he expresses it, "his Life." Far advanced in years, and very infirm, he is animated in conversation, and when he speaks of God or the affecting truths of the scriptures, his swarthy features beam with devotion, and his eye is lit up with the hope of immortality. Some of the happiest hours of his life were spent in the society of the Rev. James King, during his last visit from Greece to the United States. With that gentleman he could converse and read the scriptures in the Arabic language and feel the triumphs of the same all-conquering faith as he chanted with him the praises of the Christian's God.

Moro is much interested in the plans and progress of the American Colonization Society. He thinks his age and infirmities forbid his return to his own country. His prayer is that the Foulahs and all other Mahomedans may receive the Gospel. When, more than a year ago, a man by the name of Paul, of the Foulah nation and able like himself to understand Arabic, was preparing to embark at New York for Liberia, Moro corresponded with him and presented him with one of his two copies of the Bible in that language. Extracts from Moro's letters are before me. In one of them he says "I hear you wish to go back to Africa; if you do go, hold fast to Jesus Christ's law, and tell all the Brethren, that they may turn to Jesus before it is too late. The Missionaries who go that way to preach to sinners, pay attention to them, I beg you for Christ's sake. They call all people, rich and poor, white and black, to come and drink of the waters of life freely, without money and without price. I have been in Africa; it is a dark part. I was a follower of Mahomet, went to church, prayed five times a day and did all Mahomet said I must but the Lord is so good. He opened my way and brought me to this part of the world where I found the light. Jesus Christ is the light, all that believe in him shall be saved, all that believe not shall be lost. The Lord put religion in my heart about ten years ago. I joined the Presbyterian Church, and since that time I have minded Jesus' laws. I turned away from Mahomet to follow Christ. I don't ask for long life, for riches, or for great things in this world, all I ask is a seat at Jesus' feet in Heaven. The Bible, which is the word of God, says sinners must be born again or they can never see God in peace. They must be changed by the Spirit of God. I loved and served the world a long time, but this did not make me happy. God opened my eyes to see the danger I was in. I was like one who stood by the road side and cried Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy; he heard me and did have mercy. 'God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.' I am an old sinner, but Jesus is an old Saviour; I am a great sinner, but Jesus is a great Saviour: thank God for it.—If you wish to be happy, lay aside Mahomet's prayer and use the one which our blessed Saviour taught his disciples—our Father, &c.

In another letter to the same, he writes, "I have every reason to believe that you are a good man, and as such I love you as I love myself. I have two Arabic Bibles, procured for me by my good Christian friends, and one of them I will send you the first opportunity; we ought now to wake up, for we have been asleep. God has been good to us in bringing us to this country and placing us in the hands of Christians. Let us now wake up and go to Christ, and he will give us light. God bless the American land! God bless the white people. They send out men every where to hold up a crucified Saviour to the dying world. In this they are doing the Lord's will. My lot is at last a delightful one. From one man to another I went until I fell into the hands of a pious man. He read the Bible for me until my eyes were opened, now I can see; thank God for it. I am dealt with as a child, not as a servant."

I spent but a few days in South Carolina, and can express no very decided opinion in regard to the general sentiment towards the Colonization Society. A clergyman of high standing in the Episcopal Church, and who has ever resided in that State, said he believed some reaction had commenced in the public mind favorable to the Society. Such I judge to be the fact from conversations with many sensible and religious men, citizens of that community. The passions of men, inflamed and agitated almost to fury during the late conflict of political parties, are sinking to repose. All rejoice in the fact; the bands of social affection are reuniting, topics which would awaken unkind or painful recollections are sedulously avoided, and the general desire is for harmony and peace. Hitherto the press in South Carolina has excluded every thing in favor of Colonization. The subject is not understood. A few political men have frowned upon it, and this has been enough to prevent the multitude from examining its merits. Times are changing, and opinions also in South Carolina. We have warm and enlightened friends there. Many in that State do not and never will adopt the ultra doctrines of Gov. McDuffie on slavery. A discreet and able Agent might, I think, render as important service to the interests of the Society in South Carolina as in any State of the Union. Even when mistaken, the citizens have a large share of honor, candor, and integrity.

The Board may recollect, that soon after the organization of the Society, several auxiliary associations arose in this State, (Georgia,) that several valuable Reports were published in behalf of the Society, and some generous subscriptions made to its funds. In this place, Augusta, individuals have contributed liberally to sustain the institution. From many of the citizens of this place, the Society may expect aid; much will be done for it throughout this State. No time, however, could be more unfortunate than the present for applications to obtain pecuniary means for any object and in any section of the Union. The necessities of the Society are urgent, or I should certainly deem it wise to postpone such applications, until the public shall have recovered (in some degree at least) from the shock which they have of late, and are now experiencing in the overthrow of so many great commercial establishments, and the vast ruin of general confidence, of high expectations and enthusiastic hopes which has succeeded.

The slaves recently manumitted, conditionally, by the will of the late Mr. Tubman of this place, most of whom, are now about to emigrate to Cape Palmas, under the direction of the Maryland Colonization Society, are represented as intelligent, of good habits, and several of them of fair christian character. Six of their number preferred to remain in this country. Forty-two go from Mr. Tubman's estate, and four others, their relations, who have been emancipated by benevolent individuals, accompany them. One noble minded friend of the Colonization Society, aided by some of his wealthy relatives, purchased three of them at a cost of about two thousand dollars. Another was manumitted by a gentleman who has repeatedly testified his regard to the Institution by large donations.

In a time like this, of general depression in pecuniary affairs, increased liberality becomes those who are not deeply affected by the calamity. Without this, the resources of our charitable institutions must fail. But let those to whom Providence continues large means give much, and all of moderate ability something, and their operations will be with increasing power.

And may we not rely upon the Churches, generally, to unity in contributions for the benefit of the American Colonization Society on the Fourth of July, or on some Sabbath near that day? I hope that earnest appeals will be made to them, that they will understand that without their aid, at this period, the means of the Society must prove altogether inadequate to its necessities. I trust they will not close their ears to the cries of Africa, but realize the truth, that all the suffering now experienced in christendom by pecuniary failures and embarrassments, is small compared with those endured annually, in that land, since the slave trade first made merchandise of her children; and I fervently pray, that our whole nation may feel its obligations to conduct forward the scheme of African Colonization to those magnificent results, which from its vigorous prosecution, may reasonably be expected—the establishment of a free and christian empire on her shore, and the submission of her vast population to the dominion of Christ.

I have the honor to be,
With great respect,
Gentlemen, your obedient Servant,

R. R. GURLEY

Titles by Omar ibn Said