John Price Durbin, "Plan for the Removal of Slavery, " Christian Advocate and Journal, February 10, 1847

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    “Plan for the Removal of Slavery,” New York Christian Advocate, March 10, 1847.
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    Meghan Rafferty

    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    Plan for the Removal of Slavery

    Philadelphia, Nov 10, 1846.*

    It is impossible to consider the influence which the subject of slavery is exerting upon the people of these United States, without perceiving that the ultimate result must be disastrous, unless prevented by timely remedies. It lies at the foundation of the political contest about the tariff, internal improvements, admission of new states, and additional territory: and gives rise to conflicts and irritation between different states and citizens thereof; as lately between Massachusetts and South Carolina and along the . . . between Maryland and Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio, and Kentucky and Indiana. It has affected the principal Churches which have parted asunder, or are likely to part asunder, giving to their conflicting views of its moral and religious hearings. These are symptoms within our own country. When we look abroad, we find the progress of our free principles embarrassed by the obvious conflict between them and our practice; and though we may reconcile this discrepancy to our own satisfaction, yet the other nations of the earth cannot. Besides, the existence of nearly three millions of slaves, in the most . . . and . . . portion of our country, tends to invite foreign wars, especially from England, because she well knows, that we would have dangerous . . . in our own bosom, . . . which we should have to protect ourselves and the more dangerous in the presence of hostile . . . offering them liberty, if not . . . them against us. This our weakness and danger has been repeatedly alluded to in European journals, and in very significant terms. There can be no doubt, should we ever have a war with any European power, it will not fight for honor and territory only, but for the liberation of three million of slaves, held as the people of Europe religiously believe is the most cruel and . . . . . . , by a nation of Christians. I do not enumerate these facts for the purpose of . . . or justification, but simply as facts, and as working the effects attributed to them. The questions then, is, what is our duty as a nation? I answer, To take conditional . . . for the . . . removal of slavery from our soil; which if the people of these United States, and then the people of each slave state, are willing can be accomplished without injury or loss to . . . In the . . . extinction of slavery three . . . . . . .be obtained.
    1. Remuneration must be made to the owners from the treasury of the United States.
    2. The emancipated slaves must be removed from the country.
    3. . . . . . . . ends may be accomplished
    First. The conditions of the united States must be so amended as to give to congress the power to make the necessary appropriations.
    Secondly. By . . . as purchase, let the United States procure on the West Coast of Africa sufficient territory for five million of people, (. . . . . . .) to which the emancipated slaves may be transferred, and settled as a colony, under the protection of the United States, which shall retain as long as is necessary the legislative and extensive authority, relinquishing it gradually as the colony improves.
    Thirdly. Let congress institute a national board of commissioners, to estimate the value of slaves of any state that shall make legal provision for the gradual emancipation of the slaves within its territory, to draw warrants on the national treasury for the payment of the same, and to . . . their emigration and settlement in Africa.
    The practicality of this plan is next to be considered. As it respects the alteration of the constitution, and the necessary legislative enactments by the states, its possibility is unquestionable. There is very little ground to question the practicality of procuring sufficient territory in Africa. The only cause of doubt is, can a sufficient revenue be . . . .to carry out the plan. This will depend upon the patriotism of the country. If we are all willing to make a sacrifice not to costly for the attainment of so glorious a result, it can be done, and not be burdensome, and instead of impoverishing, it will increase the wealth of the country.
    Take the slave population at three millions, and the average value at . . . dollars each the . . . value would be . . . millions of dollars. . . 150 millions for increase during the exertion of the plan, for purchase of territory, transportation and settlement in Africa: and the whole expense of the plan would be six hundred millions of dollars. Can the nation bear this expense? The proceeds of the public . . . , and a judicious tariff in view of this object would, perhaps, afford revenue enough to meet the expenditure as it arose; and if not, the country . .. . .to . . . willing to incur a reasonable debt for the consummation of so great a national blessing; and, if necessary, to have a direct tax to discharge the debt.
    In the accomplishment of the plan the North would find her interest, in a sure and continued protection to her manufactures; the South would realize capital, to invest in the more profitable employment of free labor to fill her lands; but particularly for investments in manufactures, the most protective of all investments and appellations of labor, for which her products, her climate, and her natural advantages, . . . . . . . . ; the whole country would become tranquil, and united in interest, which would insure the perpetuity of our institutions; and a Christian state would be created in Africa, made up of her own children, who would . .. . the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout that vast continent. Are not these results worth the sacrifice required to attain . . .?
    I have carefully avoided going into detail. The object is simply to . . . public attention to . . . . . deemed peaceful, . . . . . ..

    J.P. Durbin


    * Durbin had written his appeal during late 1846 but hesitated to publish it.  By early 1847, the outcome of the Mexican War had brought the subject back into intense scrutiny and he published. 
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