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Title: Address of James Turner Morehead, November 21, 1818: Electronic Edition.
Author: Morehead, James Turner, 1838-1919
Funding from the University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Bari Helms
Images scanned by Bari Helms
Text encoded by Risa Mulligan
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 21K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-11-15, Risa Mulligan finished TEI/XML encoding.
Title of collection: Records of the Dialectic Society (#40152), University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Address of James Turner Morehead, November 21, 1818
Author: James T. Morehead
Description: 8 pages, 8 page images
Note: Call number 40152 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Address of James Turner Morehead , November 21, 1818
Morehead, James Turner, 1838-1919

Page 1
Chapel Hill, N.C. November 21st 1818
It is the duty of every people to assist all who are labouring under the heavy yoke of oppression, it is also a noble principle to listen to the cries of humanity; and as far as lies in their power to comply with these heartfelt petitions. But when a compliance with these entreaties would be to the disadvantage of those who engage in the laudable undertaking, it cannot be any part of their duty to engage in the attempt. However strange my sentiments may be on the colonizing society, and however ungrateful my feelings may appear, yet a cool and dispassionate decision made from reason prompts me to these suggestions: we all equally agree in the curse of slavery; and we equally deplore the wretched situation of that part of mankind, which has been compelled to undergo this bitter draught for a number of years. Before there is any measure entered into it remains necessary to consider both the many good and bad effects; which will originate from this measure; otherwise it will permiting reason to be obscured by the hasty passions of humanity and it will may be like changing the most virtuous medicine into the worst poison. This small effort towards emancipation, has already added much to those who have taken an active part in it, no doubt but their principles are worthy to be registered in the heavens with sunbeams, so that they might be read by the world. It is feared, the progress of this society will not fulfil the sanguine expectations of its warm advocates, as there is a probability of its being attended with many disadvantage. There are but two places in which this colony can be established. It is then necessary to consider what will be the consequences; which will attend this colony if planted in either of those places.

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If you shew your humanity to the unfortunate creatures by establishing a colony in the North western part of our continent this by no means will be a politic measure. It will be like planting foe which in time will grow to such a size as to become formidable and perhaps become so powerful as to invade some part of our territory, it will be like establishing another savage race in our western world to harrass our defencless frontiers, in short it will be like fostering an enemy until it becomes able to exult in crimes committed against us. Is it not reasonable to suppose; that it would have a great effect on the minds of that unhappy part of mankind which would still be bound by the iron fetters of bondage? Would they not become more disaffected to their present situation knowing that a great part of their brethren were placed in a free situation? If this disaffection did not prompt to open insolence; the glimmering hope of reaching this peaceful land, would shed bitterness in their little share of thin happiness, and blast all their enjoyments. There is still another weighty objection to this measure; if this body should become more skilful in all the arts, which are common to all civilized people they would soon become a strong body; and their strength would be sufficient to do considerable damage when excited; this would be made a place of resort by those who should be disappointed in some of their views in the United States. What did disappointed ambition prompt Aaron Burr to; would he not have been highly gratified to have found such a place to fly to, in order to give vent to his malicious designs. It may then be reasonably supposed that this place would not be left free from attempts to excite their wrath. It would not be a difficult thing for a small share of eloquence to raise these
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would be but dim; the number for a few years might be considerable but are there a sufficient number of free blacks among us to keep this place constantly increasing. If then this source would not be sufficient to afford them protection; you must resort to some other measure by which assistance can be offered. The great abhorrence to slavery might induce some few of the generous hearted to free the small number in their possession, but how few would this add towards supplying this necessity, as we have daily evidence of the great desire of riches, which is almost a universal passion. Should this source fail, there is no other alternative unless the general government would take it under consideration; even if this were done, I cannot suppose that it would be free from objections; as it could not attempt to purchase slaves and send them to this colony; the number of them being so numerous it would require greater funds (to carry this very far into effect) than we have. Though this might be assisting the slaves, yet it would be very sensibly felt by those who had the burthen to bare; the event of such a measure might be so dangerous as impracticaple it would create disaffection among the people; the finances levied from them to support such a measure, would be too heavy to be borne. Finding then that such a course would not be a politic one; what other course could be entered into suppose the government should compell the citizen of the U.S. to set their slaves free if not [immediately] they should at a certain age; to consider at what age would not this create a disunion between the Northern and Southern states; the wealth of a great number of men in the Southern states consists in property of this kind, would it not then

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ignorant people the flames of discord would be easily kindled in their breasts by ingeniously painting to them the suffering which a great part of their brethren were compeled to undergo, and their memories would still be flush with the recollection of the many labours and toils they had undergone. Finding then that it would be an impolitic measure to shew our humanity, by planting a body of people, which might probably injure our peace & welfare. Let us farther investigate this subject. It is necessary to consider what will be the many disadvantages attending this colony if planted in Africa, which is thought to be the most practicable measure. This no doubt would be attended withe fewer disadvantages to us, but would the situation of the slave be any better? It is supposed not, the number which would be carried there would not be sufficient to protect themselves against the inroads of their barbarous neighbors without protections from the United States; if this assistance were denied them, they would soon become a prey to the merciless disposition of the African; though they had fled from the injustice of servitude, yet they would have to taste of the poison of death. It would then be an act of unpardonable inhumanity to carry them from a place of safty and leave them in this inhospitable country. Should the government of the U.S. undertake to protect them, how long would this assistance be necessary? Can it be reasonably supposed that this colony would soon become able to defend itself; have we any strong grounds to believe that this defect in population would be speedily remidied. Consider in what manner and how fast this body would increase. If none were carried there only those who had obtained their freedom here, the prospects for its speedy
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be unjust to wrong them out of that, which likely a great many of them had earned by the sweat of the brow. If at a certain age they should be set free, it ought to be considered what age that should be; you cannot do justice to the master if you do not grant him a right to the servant's labour until he shall recompence him for his trouble in raising him, and by the time the servant recompences his master's suffering, he will be far advanced in life, perhaps the vigour of manhood has already began to decline under the pressure of age and labour, would it then be a charitable act to carry him from the land of his nativity and leave him in this barren country? Can you conceive his situation to be improved by taking him from his task masters and placing him in this uncultivated situation, where there is nothing to support the decline of life except the little, which he may obtain by his own industry before the approach of old age. But should the wretch meet with the powers of misfortune, before he has had time to acquire the necessary subsistence for life, what will be his situation far from a land of gratitude surrounded by those whose feeling are frozen to the entreaties of pity; if by chance he meet with a friend who is willing to give him an assisting hand he is deprived of this assistance through ignorance; his friend though willing cannot afford him relief. His last moments then must be spent in the most heart rending afflictions. Reason to yourselves, paint to your imaginations the many evils which would likely attend his last state, and decide whether would it not be better to end a life under an indulgent superior than to have the name of liberty surrounded by so many serious disadvantages.

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There is still another disadvantage which would arise from measures, what may we suppose will be the state of religion among them in a few years; they are not sufficiently enlightened to propagate the gospel to much effect; as soon as those who have an imperfect idea of the Christian religion shall expire what will be the state of society, unless there are missionaries kept constantly among them? It is a principle of human nature to embrace the doctrine of some profession; if then the true doctrine of the cross is abolished, the next thing will be a promotion of the tenets of superstitious idolatry, and as soon as the idea of the true God is lost the crocodile will be raised from its native mud and made an object of idolization. You who have not an idea of the many difficulties and dangers in planting a body of people in a foreign country, take a view of the colonies in the first settling of the U.S. Your imaginations are filled with one continued scene of faction and danger, you may readily perceive with what difficulties it was that this body could flourish although composed of men brought up in an enlightened nation and skilled in all the branches of government; their rise to eminence was very slow though patronized by a great nation. It might have been reasonably expected that body would have immediately flourished as the inhabitants were well apprised of the danger of faction; but this was not the case; the seed of disaffection immediately taking root, excited a spirit of rebellion; often was it resolved on to desert their improved spot; but by the exertions of some few, who had the interest of the settlement at heart, this disposition faction was quelled.

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One day threatening all the horrors, which can spring from an inward disturbance, and before the approach of another, the father was raised from his rest by the flames of his house or the war hoop of the approaching enemy, and the mother was raised to see her tender babe sacrificed on the alter of cruelty to gratify the disposition of the savage; had it not been for the supplies brought from the mother country how often would these restless inhabitants have gone to destruction & how often did the arrival of fresh forces protect them from the merciless scalping? After taking these things into consideration we might ask what probability is there of establishing a colony in the barren regions of Africa; composed of a race of people almost in a state of nature; if it were with such great difficulties that colony could flourish; which was composed of an enlightened people. Though they might avoid the cruelties of their neighbours in time of peace, yet when some disturbance took place, if they were not sufficient in themselves to repel the foe, they would inevitably share the same misfortune, which the colonies of North America did. But should the government of the U.S. assist them in their infancy; it is quite likely they would not flourish when left to themselves, faction would soon be the distinguishing characteristic of those who were most esteemed among them; never having had the liberties of freedmen, as soon as they would reach this consecrated spot, infuriated with the thought of entire emancipation; the haughty spirit just raised from degradation could not submit to give up any of its natural liberties in order to form a social union, for the welfare of all; the idea of being restrained would grow to resentment, and the thought of government would create confusion.

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After many efforts are made in favour of this colony; it is feared it will not arrive at its wished for improvement; thoug[h] it should be established. How can we suppose that these people can manage a government of their own in their present situation & how can it be expected they would ever thrive in their present ignorance? But let us consider if there is much probability of its being carried into affect; this would be a great undertaking for the general government much less an individual thing; and therefore it is likely all the attempts made in favour of this business will prove fruitless. All of us who wish to shew our humanity to these unfortunate people, ought to endeavour to shew our government the injustice in permiting these people to be made an object of public trade; and in permiting them to be driven about in droves like brutes to market. Since we have them among us and no way to dispose of them to their own advantage; we must keep the[m]; and as we all know the wretchedness of their situation, it is our duty to improve it; it lies in our power to make it better or worse; then as we have the power of shewing our gratitude let us endeavour to make the state of the slave as comfortable as we can; and always bear in mind that it is our duty to treat them as servants, and that we are responsible for our conduct as masters.

James T. Morehead

Speech for the 9th of December