As a Refuge to the Negro – Liberia History

It would be unnecessary to bring into review the causes that are operating daily to make the conditions of earning a living in America more difficult. However much or little credence we place in the Malthusian theory of the increase of population, in the doctrine of diminishing returns, or the iron law of wages, all thinking men are agreed that the country is already entering upon a new era. The period of expansion, of the taking up of new territory by the overflowing population of the older districts, is practically ended; future development will be intensive, the country will be more thickly settled, and the sharpness of competition will be immeasurably increased. The possibility of rising in life will be reduced to a minimum; and there will exist a class, as in the older civilizations of Europe, who live, and expect to see their children live, in a subordinate or inferior relation, without the prospect of anything better.

There may be under this new régime a number of occupations in which the Negro, by contentedly accepting a subordinate position, may hold his ground. Or the conditions of life may become so severe that a sharp struggle for existence will leave in possession the race which shall prove fittest to survive. To follow the train of thought would lead into all the unsolved difficulties of the Negro Problem. But surely there will be some among all the millions of the race who will become dissatisfied with their life here. Some will aspire to higher things, some will seek merely a field where their labor will meet an adequate return; many will be moved by self interest, a few by nobler motives. To all these Liberia eagerly opens her arms. The pressure in America finds an efficient safety valve in the colonization of Africa.

With such additions to her strength, the resources of Liberia will be brought out and developed. Communication with America will be made easier and cheaper. The toiling masses left behind will have before them the constant example of numbers of their race living in comfort and increasing prosperity under their own government. Many will become eager to secure the same advantages, and gradually a migration will begin that will carry hundreds of thousands from the house of bondage to the promised land.

It is absurd to declaim about “expatriation” and to declare such a movement forced and unnatural. The whole course of history reveals men leaving their homes under pressure of one cause or another, and striking out into new fields. The western course of migration has reached its uttermost limit, and the tide must turn in other directions. One vast and rich continent remains; upon it the eyes of the world are fixed. Already the aggressive Aryan has established himself wherever he can gain a foothold; but the greater part of the country is forever barred to him by a climate which he cannot subdue.

To whom then can this rich territory offer greater inducements than to the colored people of the United States? And what is more natural and rational than that they, when the population of the country approaches the migration point, should follow the line of least resistance and turn their steps to the home of their forefathers.


McPherson, John Hanson Thomas. The History Of Liberia. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. 1891.

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