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(title page) A Statement with Regard to the Moorish Prince, Abduhl Rahhahman
Rev. T. H. Gallaudet
Printed by Daniel Fanshaw
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
[Title Page Image]
Published by order of the Committee appointed to solicit Subscriptions in New
York to aid redeeming the Family of the Prince from Slavery.
Prince Abduhl Rahhahman is a native of Tombuctoo. His grandfather was King of that city, and the extensive territory bearing the same name. Prince's father, when a young man, was sent to conquer the Soosoos, a nation living twelve or fifteen hundred miles from Tombuctoo. He succeeded, and established a new kingdom, called Footah Jalloh, and founded its capital, Teembo, a city now containing a very numerous population.
He went back and forth, several times, from Teembo to Tombuctoo, from which place he finally removed his family, Prince being then about five years of age, to his newly acquired territory. At twelve years of age Prince was sent to Tombuctoo, to obtain an education, being the rightful heir to the throne, in preference to an elder brother, whose mother was a Soosoo, while Prince's was a Moor. While at Tombuctoo, his grandfather, very far advanced in life, resigned his throne to his son, an uncle of Prince. The family seems to have been a very powerful one; for the King of Jimbala, the Governors of Jennah, Massina, and Bambougo, were either Prince's uncles or cousins.--They were Mahometans, and the cities and territories over which they ruled, had advanced to a very considerable degree of civilization. Since his residence in this country, Prince has embraced the Christian religion. Himself, wife, and eldest son have been baptized, and are in connexion with the Baptist Church.
When Prince was nineteen years of age, Dr. Cox, an American citizen, surgeon on board a ship, arrived at Sierra Leone. Having gone a hunting in the interior, and getting lost in the woods, he found, on his return to the coast, that his ship had sailed. He undertook an excursion into the country, and becoming lame and sick, arrived, at length, within the territory of Footah Jalloh. Being the first white man ever seen by the inhabitants, he was carried, as a great curiosity, to the King, Prince's father, at Teembo, who entertained him for six months with the greatest hospitality. During this time he was an inmate at Prince's house, adjoining that of his father. Restored to perfect health, he was sent by the King, with gold, ivory, clothes, and an escort of armed men to protect him, to Sierra Leone, where, providentially, his ship had returned, and he came back in it in safety to this country.
Seven years afterwards, Prince, being a Colonel in his father's
cavalry, was sent, with a party of seventeen hundred men, to retaliate upon the Hebohs, who had very much annoyed the trade of the people of Footah Jalloh with the seacoast. After a successful campaign, Prince, on his return, was taken prisoner by the Hebohs, who surprised him and his party in ambush. He was sold to the Mandingos, who, in turn, sold him to a slave-ship, at the mouth of the Gambia. Thence he was carried to Dominique, and thence to Natchez, where he was sold to his late master, Col. Thos. Foster.
About 16 or 18 years after this transaction, as Prince was selling sweet potatoes in Washington, a neighbouring town, he was met and recognized by his old acquaintance and inmate at Teembo, Dr. Cox. Such a meeting can more easily be conceived than described. In the fullness of his gratitude, Dr. Cox went to Col. Foster, and offered him one thousand dollars if he would liberate Prince. But he was so valuable a slave, and so serviceable to Col. Foster by the salutary influence which he exerted over all the slaves on his plantation, that he could not consent to part with him. In addition to this, his master, of whom Prince always speaks with great affection and respect, doubted whether his freedom would increase his happiness.--Since Dr. Cox's death, which happened ten or twelve years ago, his son has renewed the negociation with Col. Foster for Prince's freedom, but without success. Within two years past, some gentlemen in Natchez have interested themselves in Prince's case. A representation was made on the subject to the Government of the United States, which, after having obtained the most satisfactory evidence of the truth of Prince's history, directed its agent at Natchez to procure his freedom. On application for this purpose, Col. Foster manumitted him without any equivalent.
But Prince's old wife, with five sons and eight grandchildren, was still in bondage, all owned by Col. Foster, who could not reasonable be required to make so great a sacrifice as to set them free without a compensation.--Prince's wife was estimated at three hundred dollars, but her master manumitted her for two hundred, which was raised by subscription in Natchez, and the neighbourhood. This fact alone shows in what estimation Prince was held by those who knew him.
On his arrival at the seat of government, with his aged wife, their hearts being deeply affected at the thoughts of leaving their little flock behind them, Prince was advised to make an appeal to the citizens of the free and happy country in their behalf, and to endeavour to raise a sum sufficient to carry his children and grandchildren back with him and his wife to his native land.
Sixty-six years old, after having been forty years a slave, and sustaining, during this time, a most exemplary character
for fidelity, industry, kindness, sobriety, and strict integrity, as the certificates which he has in his possession most abundantly prove, he comes to this section of our country to make his appeal; and can it be disregarded?
He appeals to our humanity. The case of this venerable old man and his affectionate wife, is so touching, that simply to state it, is the best way to give it its full effect upon every heart that can feel for the sorrows of others!
He appeals to our gratitude as American citizens. We profess to glory in this name. Are we under no obligation to the son of a man who treated one of our own countrymen, while a sick, wandering, friendless stranger in Africa, with so much kindness, and restored him in safety to that very land, in which this very son has been forty long years a slave!
But these considerations, affecting as they are, are almost lost in those a still higher nature.
Do we wish as philanthropists to strike a death blow at the root of the slave trade in Africa? This can never be done by any naval armaments to watch the sea-coasts of that vast continent, nor by any penalties, however severe, inflicted by our own and other nations on those who continue to carry on this infernal traffic. Such restraints, however imposing in their character, will always be eluded, in a greater or less degree, so long as avarice holds its iron rule to the human breast.--Commercial intercourse must be established with the interior nations of Africa. They must be made to see, that they can be furnished with such articles as they need, for the native productions of their own soil. Then, and not till then, will their self-interest prompt them to abandon the cruel wars which they wage against each other, to procure those wretched victims, which they find will alone satisfy the cupidity of those who wish to trade with them. These positions are strengthened by the following circumstances.
After the death of Prince's father, his brother became King of Footah Jalloh. The present King is his nephew, Almam Boorbahkar, forty-two years of age, described as a peaceable man, carrying on a considerable trade with Sierra Leone, the consequence of which is, the abolition of the traffic in slaves within his whole territory. Prince has also a son, Allusine, living in Teembo, about the same age, a General in the army of his nephew, having declined being made King. This account Prince lately received from an authentic source.
Prince, although the rightful heir to the throne of Footah Jalloh, has no wish to be a King. He has seen too much of the vanity of human life to wish to wear a crown of thorns in his declining days. Age has mellowed his youthful vigour; servitude has softened his heroic spirit; and, we hope, Divine Grace has touched his sorrowing heart; and he wishes to go
back to his native land, with his dear wife and descendants, to become a resident in our infant, though very prosperous, colony at Liberia, and to lend his aid in annihilating that trade in human flesh, the horrors of which he has so deeply felt; and in introducing commerce, and civilization, and freedom, and intelligence, and Christianity, in to the heart of Africa--to his very birth-place, the famous Tombuctoo.
Footah Jalloh, a territory probably more extensive than all New-England; with a capital containing a very numerous population; able to furnish us with a variety of productions that constitute a very considerable part of our trade; and ready to take our own manufactures in return; lies within one hundred and fifty, or two hundred miles, of Liberia, and roads are, at this moment, opening towards it.--Should Prince arrive at Liberia, in safety, with his little flock, and convey the intelligence of his return, as he easily can, to his nephew and son at Teembo, and be visited, as he doubtless would be, by the latter and some of his countrymen, and satisfy them with regard to his pacific and disinterested views--is it not most rational to conclude, that a friendly intercourse would thus, at once, be established between his country and our own, through our colony at Liberia? What an impression, too, would this venerable man's return make, under such circumstances, in our favor, upon his countrymen, and what an interest he would take in giving force and permanency to such an impression!
His influence may even reach, through the medium of his old family connexions, (Teembo, as it were, having been settled by a colony for Tombuctoo,) through other populous cities and nations, quite to this his native place, and the results, under Providence, be as incalculable as they will be important.
For his case makes its last and highest appeal to our feelings as Christians. So singular are the events of his life, that it would seems as if Providence had taken him under His peculiar care, and destined him, and his interesting family, to be the means of opening, into the very interior of Africa, "a wide and effectual door" for the diffusion of that Gospel, to which we are indebted for so many invaluable blessings; and to shed the benign beams of which upon poor, benighted, oppressed Africa, is the richest recompense that our own and other nations, called Christian, can make for the accumulated wrongs that she has so long endured.
A volume respecting this interesting stranger, who has thus come among us on so affecting an errand, might easily be written. A very small part of his story has been told. The certificates which he has with him, are from many of the most intelligent and respectable men in our country, and have satisfied
all who have examined them, of the worth of his character, and of the truth of his history.
He has visited Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Providence, New-Bedford, Boston, Springfield , (Mass.) and Suffield, Windsor, Hartford, and New-Haven, in Connecticut. In these places he has obtained twenty-five hundred dollars, which is deposited in the hands of responsible gentlemen. He needs, for the accomplishment of his object, about thirty-five hundred more. He ventures to make an appeal to the inhabitants of this enlightened, commercial, and benevolent city. What a solace to his anxious breast, and that of his aged partner, if it should happily prove to the last that he will be under the necessity of making!
The Rev. James Laurie, D. D. of Washington City, one of the Managers of the American Colonization Society, states, "that the circumstances related of Prince are true, as established by the clearest evidence. Documents containing this evidence are in possession of the Government. Others are in possession of the Board of Managers of the Colonization Society.--It may also be mentioned, that, from the clearest conviction of the truth of this statement, the Executive of the United States had given authority to an agent in Natchez to redeem Prince, and to send him on here, that he might be restored to his own country by the way of Liberia."
Messrs. Thomas C. James, Samuel Archer, Wm. B. Davidson, John K. Mitchell, Alexander Henry, Gerard Ralston, and John H. Kennedy, of Philadelphia, state, "that letters from the Resident Agent of the American Colonization Society to members of the Pennsylvania Colonization Society, recommending Prince Abduhl to their attention, were brought by him; and that they are satisfied of the correctness of the statement made concerning him."
In the two above mentioned certificates, the outlines of Prince's history are given, and, especially, a minute account of that part of it which relates to Dr. Cox. These two certificates are immediately followed by another from the Hon. Nathaniel A. Ware, formerly acting Governor of Mississippi, to this effect:
"I lived neighbour to Col. Foster and Prince ten years, and know the worth of the Prince, and the truth of the above statement."
Signed, NATH. A. WARE.
The subscription paper at Natchez to the procure aid to enable Prince to ransom his wife, signed by one hundred and forty persons, states, "that the kindness of Mr. Foster induces him to offer another pecuniary sacrifice"--(he had given Prince his freedom without any ransom)--"to the happiness of these faithful servants, and he has consented to manumit her for two hundred dollars.--Col. Andrew Marschalk is the authorized agent of the general government, and has received instructions to forward Prince to the seat of government without delay."
Prince has with him the deed of sale in trust, by Mr. Foster in Col. Marschalk, of his wife, and of her manumission by Col. M.; and also certificates from Col. Marschalk, Woodson Wren, Clerk of the County Court, Henry Tooley, Justice of the Peace, and Mr. John Henderson, all of Natchez, who testify, that they have personally known Prince from 13 to 25 years past, and that he has uniformly sustained the character of a moral, honest man; remarkable for his strict integrity; harmless, faithful, and inoffensive in his conduct; courteous in his behaviour, and friendly to all; and that he has borne his state of servitude with a fortitude and patience more becoming a Christian than a Pagan, being generally respected by a large and respectable circle of acquaintance.
NOTE--It was a year ago last May, that Prince was baptized.
Prince has, also, with him, a recommendatory certificate from the Hon. Henry Clay, Secretary of State.
Dr. Cox, from whom the complete confirmation of the truth of Prince's history was obtained, and who died a few years ago in Natchez, was personally known, in that city, by a gentleman of respectability now residing in Massachusetts, and who lately assured Mr. Gallaudet, that the most entire confidence could be placed in whatever Dr. Cox had stated;--it will be noticed, also, that the certificate of the Hon. Nathaniel A. Ware, in connexion with the two preceding it, is explicit on this point.
Other testimony might be produced, particularly that of gentlemen from Natchez, lately in this section of the country; but the Committee deem what has already been stated abundantly sufficient.