Official Report of the Niger Valley Exploring Party
by Martin Robinson Delany
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Published 1861


Official Report of the Niger Valley Exploring Party

Section I. Political Movements 229

Section II. Succeeding Conventions 234

Section III. History of the Project 236

Section IV. Arrival and Reception in Liberia 254

Section V. Liberia—Climate, Soil, Productions, etc. 263

Section VI. Diseases—Cause—Remedy 278

Section VII. The Interior—Yoruba 284

Section VIII. Topography, Climate, etc. 288

Section IX. Diseases of This Part of Africa, Treatment, Hygiene, Aliment 312

Section X. Missionary Influence 332

Section XI. What Africa Now Requires 338

Section XII. To Direct Legitimate Commerce 345

Section XIII. Cotton Staple 351

Section XIV. Success in Great Britain 361

Section XV. Commercial Relations in Scotland 379

Section XVI. The Time to Go to Africa 387

Section XVII. Concluding Suggestions 391



On or about the latter part of July, 1853, the following document was sent on, and shortly appeared in the columns of "FREDERICK DOUGLASS' PAPER," Rochester, N.Y., and the "ALIENED AMERICAN," published and edited by William Howard Day, Esq., M.A., at Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., which continued in those papers every issue, until the meeting of the Convention:

CALL FOR A NATIONAL EMIGRATION CONVENTION OF COLORED MEN To be held in Cleveland, Ohio, on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of August, 1854

MEN AND BRETHREN: The time has fully come when we, as an oppressed people, should do something effectively, and use those means adequate to the attainment of the great and long desired end—do something to meet the actual demands of the present and prospective necessities of the rising generation of our people in this country. To do this, we must occupy a position of entire equality, of unrestricted rights, composing in fact, an acknowledged necessary part of the ruling element of society in which we live. The policy necessary to the preservation of this element must be in our favor, if ever we expect the enjoyment, freedom, sovereignty, and equality of rights anywhere. For this purpose, and to this end, then, all colored men in favor of Emigration out of the United States, and opposed to the American Colonization scheme of leaving the Western Hemisphere, are requested to meet in CLEVELAND, OHIO, TUESDAY, the 24th day of AUGUST, 1854, in a great NATIONAL CONVENTION, then and there to consider and decide upon the great and important subject of Emigration from the United States.

No person will be admitted to a seat in the Convention, who would introduce the subject of Emigration to the Eastern Hemisphere—either to Asia, Africa, or Europe—as our object and determination are to consider our claims to the West Indies, Central and South America, and the Canadas. This restriction has no reference to personal preference, or individual enterprise; but to the great question of national claims to come before the Convention.

All persons coming to the Convention must bring credentials properly authenticated, or bring verbal assurance to the Committee on Credentials—appointed for the purpose—of their fidelity to the measures and objects set forth in this call, as the Convention is specifically by and for the friends of Emigration, and none others—and no opposition to them will be entertained.

The question is not whether our condition can be bettered by emigration, but whether it can be made worse. If not, then, there is no part of the wide spread universe, where our social and political condition are not better than here in our native country, and nowhere in the world as here, proscribed on account of color.

We are friends to, and ever will stand shoulder to shoulder by our brethren, and all our friends in all good measures adopted by them for the bettering of our condition in this country, and surrender no rights but with our last breath; but as the subject of Emigration is of vital importance, and has ever been shunned by all delegated assemblages of our people as heretofore met, we cannot longer delay, and will not be farther baffled; and deny the right of our most sanguine friend or dearest brother, to prevent an intelligent inquiry into, and the carrying out of these measures, when this can be done, to our entire advantage, as we propose to show in Convention—as the West Indies, Central and South America—the majority of which are peopled our brethren, or those identified with us in race, and what is more, destiny, on this continent—all stand with open arms and yearning hearts, importuning us in the name of suffering humanity to come—to make common cause, and share one common fate on the continent.

The Convention will meet without fail at the time fixed for assembling, as none but those favorable to Emigration are admissible; therefore no other gathering may prevent it. The number of delegates will not be restricted—except in the town where the Convention may be held—and there the number will be decided by the Convention when assembled, that they may not too far exceed the other delegations.

The time and place fixed for holding the Conventions are ample; affording sufficient time, and a leisure season generally—and as Cleveland is now the centre of all directions—a good and favorable opportunity to all who desire to attend. Therefore, it may reasonably be the greatest gathering of the colored people ever before assembled in a Convention in the United States.

Colonizationists are advised, that no favors will be shown to them or their expatriating scheme, as we have no sympathy with the enemies of our race.

All colored men, East, West, North, and South, favorable to the measures set forth in this Call will send in their names (post-paid) to M. R. DELANY, or REV. WM. WEBB, Pittsburgh, Pa., that there may be arranged and attached to the Call, five names from each State.

We must make an issue, create an event, and establish a position for ourselves. It is glorious to think of, but far more glorious to carry out.


This Call was readily responded to by the addition of names from other States, which appeared in subsequent issues.

* * * * *

At the Convention, which according to the Call sat in Cleveland successively on Thursday, 24th, Friday, 25th, and Saturday, 26th of August, 1854, the following States were represented: Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Virginia, and the Canadas; the great body consisting of nearly sixteen hundred persons. W. H. DAY, Esq., editor of the Aliened American, entered the Convention, and the Chairman invited him forward, offering him the privileges of the Convention, stating that wherever colored people were, William Howard Day was free—whether or not he altogether agreed in sentiment on minor points; and the Convention unanimously concurred in the invitation given.

Mr. Day subsequently proffered to the Convention any books or documents at his command for the use of that body.

The following permanent Institution was established:


Central Commissioners, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—M. R. DELANY, President; WM. WEBB, Vice-President; THOS. A. BROWN, Treasurer; EDW. R. PARKER, Auditor; CHAS. W. NIGHTEN, Secretary; PROFESSOR M. H. FREEMAN, A.M., Special For. Sec.; SAMUEL VENERABLE, ALFRED H. JOHNS, SAMUEL BRUCE, PARKER SORRELL.


Committee on Domestic Relations.—SAMUEL BRUCE, Chairman; SAMUEL VENERABLE, CHARLES W. NIGHTEN. Financial Relations.—THOMAS A. BROWN, Chairman; PARKER SORRELL, ALFRED H. JOHNS. Foreign Relations.—REV. WM. WEBB, Chairman; M. R. DELANY, EDW. R. PARKER. Special Foreign Secretary. PROF. MARTIN H. FREEMAN, A. M. State Commissioners.Massachusetts—WM. C. NELL, Boston; C. L. REMOND, Salem. New York, Buffalo.—JAMES M. WHITFIELD, J. THEODORE HOLLY. Ohio, Cincinnati.—AUGUSTUS R. GREEN, PHILLIP TOLIVAR, Jun. Michigan, Detroit.—WILLIAM C. MUNROE, WILLIAM LAMBERT. Kentucky, Louisville.—CONAWAY BARBOUR, JAMES H. GIPSON. Missouri, St. Louis.—REV. RICH'D ANDERSON, REV. JORDAN BROWN. Virginia, Richmond.—RICHARD HENDERSON, JOHN E. FERGUSON. Tennessee, Nashville.—ELDER PETER A. H. LOWRY, CHARLES BARRATT. Louisiana, New Orleans.—JORDAN B. NOBLE, REV. JOHN GARROW. California, San Francisco.—HENRY M. COLLINS, ORANGE LEWIS.



The Second Convention, pursuant to a call, was held in Cleveland, in August, 1856, when some modification and amendments were made in the Constitution, and some changes in the officers of the Board; but the president was unanimously re-elected, and continued in office until the close of the of the Third Convention, which met pursuant to a call in the town of Chatham, Canada West, in August, 1858, when, resigning his position in the Board, the following officers succeeded to the



NOTE.—The names only of the Central Commissioners are here given, the others being re-elected as chosen in 1856, at Cleveland.



At an Executive Council Meeting of the Board, September 1st, 1858, the following resolution, as taken from the Minutes, was adopted: That Dr. Martin R. Delany, of Chatham, Kent Country, Canada West, be a Commissioner to explore in Africa, with full power to choose his own colleagues.



In the winter of 1831-32, being then but a youth, I formed the design of going to Africa, the land of my ancestry; when in the succeeding winter of 1832-33, having then fully commenced to study, I entered into a solemn promise with the Rev. Molliston Madison Clark, then a student in Jefferson College, at Cannonsburg, Washington County, Pennsylvania, being but seventeen miles from Pittsburgh, where I resided (his vacations being spent in the latter place), to complete an education, and go on an independent and voluntary mission—to travel in Africa—I as a physician and he as a clergyman, for which he was then preparing.

During these vacations of about seven weeks each, Mr. Clark was of great advantage to me in my studies, he being then a man of probably thirty years of age, or more, and in his senior year (I think) at college.

This design I never abandoned, although in common with my race in America, I espoused the cause, and contended for our political and moral elevation on equality with the whites, believing then, as I do now, that merit alone should be the test of individual claims in the body politic. This cause I never have nor will abandon; believing that no man should hesitate or put off any duty for another time or place, but "act, act in the living present, act," now or then. This has been the rule of my life, and I hope ever shall be.

In 1850, I had fully matured a plan for an adventure, and to a number of select intelligent gentlemen (of African descent, of course) fully committed myself in favor of it. They all agreed that the scheme was good; and although neither of them entered personally into it, all fully sanctioned it, bidding me God-speed in my new adventure, as a powerful handmaid to their efforts in contending for our rights in America.

* * * * *

In 1854, at the great Emigration Convention in Cleveland, my paper, read and adopted as a "Report on the Political Destiny of the Colored Race on the American Continent," set forth fully my views on the advantages of Emigration.

* * * * *

Although the Call itself strictly prohibits the introduction of the question of emigration from the American Continent or Western Hemisphere, the qualification which directly follows—"This restriction has no reference to personal preference, or individual enterprise"—may readily be understood. It was a mere policy on the part of the authors of those documents, to confine their scheme to America (including the West Indies), whilst they were the leading advocates of the regeneration of Africa, lest they compromised themselves and their people to the avowed enemies of the race.

* * * * *

The Convention (at Cleveland, 1854), in its Secret Sessions made, Africa, with its rich, inexhaustible productions, and great facilities for checking the abominable Slave Trade, its most important point of dependence, though each individual was left to take the direction which in his judgment best suited him. Though our great gun was leveled, and the first shell thrown at the American Continent, driving a slaveholding faction into despair, and a political confusion from which they have been utterly unable to extricate themselves, but become more and more complicated every year, Africa was held in reserve, until by the help of an All-wise Providence we could effect what has just been accomplished with signal success—a work which the most sanguine friend of the cause believed would require at least the half of a century.

It is a curious, and not less singular historical fact, that a leading political journal, and the first newspaper which nominated Mr. James Buchanan, many years ago, for the Presidency of the United States; and at a time whilst he was yet at the court of St. James (1854), as Envoy Extraordinary, this paper was strongly urging his claims as such, thus expresses itself, which gives a fair idea of the political pro-slavery press generally, especially in Pennsylvania, Mr. Buchanan's native State. I intended to give the article entire, as alarm will be seen even at the commencement; but pressure for space will prevent my quoting but a few sentences. It is from the Pittsburgh Daily Morning Post, Wednesday, October 18th, 1854:


In August last, a National Convention of colored people was held at Cleveland, Ohio. It was composed of delegates from most of the States. It was called the 'National Emigration Convention,' and its objects were to consider the political destinies of the black race; and recommend a plan of Emigration to countries where they can enjoy political liberty, and form nations 'free and independent.'

The Committee then proceeds to mark out a grand scheme by which the Negro race may be regenerated, and formed into free, intelligent, and prosperous nations. The West India Islands, Central America, and all the Northern and middle portions of South America, including the whole of Brazil, are designated as the regions desired; and that can be obtained as the seat of Negro civilization and empire. These regions and islands together are represented as containing twenty-four and a half millions of population; but one-seventh of which, some three and a half millions, are whites of pure European extraction; and the remainder, nearly twenty-one millions, are colored people of African and Indian origin. This immense preponderance of the colored races in those regions, it is supposed, will enable them, with the aid of Emigration from the United States, to take possession of all those countries and islands, and become the ruling race in the empires to be formed out of those wide and fruitful realms. The Committee expresses full confidence in the practicability of this great undertaking; and that nothing is wanting to its success at no distant day but unanimity of sentiment and action among the masses of the colored people. The climate of those regions is represented as entirely congenial to the colored race, while to the European races it is enervating and destructive; and this fact, added to the present immense superiority of numbers on the part of the negroes, is relied on as a sure guarantee of the success of the great enterprise; and that their race could forever maintain the possession and control of those regions.

Other great events, it is supposed, will follow in the train of this mighty movement. With the West India Islands, and Central and South America, composing free negro nations, slavery in the United States would, they suppose, soon be at an end. The facility of escape, the near neighborhood of friends and aid, it is urged, would rapidly drain off from the Southern States all the most intelligent, robust, and bold of their slaves.

Dr. M. R. Delany, of Pittsburgh, was the chairman of the committee that made this report to the convention. It was, of course, adopted.

If Dr. D. drafted this report, it certainly does him much credit for learning and ability; and cannot fail to establish for him a reputation for vigor and brilliancy of imagination never yet surpassed. It is a vast conception of impossible birth. The Committee seem to have entirely overlooked the strength of the 'powers on earth' that would oppose the Africanization of more than half the Western Hemisphere.

We have no motive in noticing this gorgeous dream of 'the Committee,' except to show its fallacy—its impracticability, in fact, its absurdity. No sensible man, whatever his color, should be for a moment deceived by such impracticable theories.

On the African coast already exists a thriving and prosperous Republic. It is the native home of the African race; and there he can enjoy the dignity of manhood, the rights of citizenship, and all the advantages of civilization and freedom. Every colored man in this country will be welcomed there as a free citizen; and there he can not only prosper, and secure his own comfort and happiness, but become a teacher and benefactor of his kindred races; and become an agent in carrying civilization and Christianity to a benighted continent. That any one will be turned aside from so noble a mission by the delusive dream of conquest and empire in the Western Hemisphere is an absurdity too monstrous and mischievous to be believed. Yet 'the Committee's Report' was accepted, and adopted, and endorsed by a 'National Convention;' and is published and sent forth to the world.

In July, 1855, Rev. James Theodore Holly, an accomplished black gentleman, now rector of St. Luke's Church, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S., was commissioned to Faustin Soulouque, Emperor of Hayti, where he was received at court with much attention, interchanging many official notes during a month's residence there, with favorable inducements to laborers to settle.

During the interval from the first convention, 1854 to 1858, as President of the Council, I was actively engaged corresponding in every direction, among which were several States of Central and South America, as well as Jamaica and Cuba; the Rev. J. T. Holly, who, during two years of the time, filled the office of Foreign Secretary, contributing no small share in its accomplishment.

Immediately after the convention of 1856, from which I was absent by sickness, I commenced a general correspondence with individuals, imparting to each the basis of my adventure to Africa to obtain intelligent colleagues. During this time (the Spring of 1857), "Bowen's Central Africa" was published, giving an interesting and intelligent account of that extensive portion of Africa known on the large missionary map of that continent as Yoruba. Still more encouraged to carry out my scheme at this juncture, Livingstone's great work on Africa made its appearance, which seemed to have stimulated the Africo-Americans in many directions, among others, those of Wisconsin, from whom Mr. Jonathan J. Myers, a very respectable grocer, was delegated as their Chairman to counsel me on the subject. In the several councils held between Mr. Myers and myself, it was agreed and understood that I was to embody their cause and interests in my mission to Africa, they accepting of the policy of my scheme.

At this time, I made vigorous efforts to accomplish my design, and for this purpose, among others, endeavored to obtain goods in Philadelphia to embark for Loando de St. Paul, the Portuguese colony in Loango, South Africa, where the prospect seemed fair for a good trade in beeswax and ivory, though Lagos, West Central Africa, was my choice and destination. Robert Douglass, Esq., artist, an accomplished literary gentleman (landscape, portrait painter, and photographer) of Philadelphia with whom I was in correspondence, sent me the following note:


DEAR SIR—I think very highly of the intended Expedition to the 'Valley of the Niger.' I would be pleased to accompany it professionally, if I were to receive a proper outfit and salary. Dr. Wilson declines; but Mr. Robert Campbell, of the 'Institute for Colored Youth,' a very accomplished Chemist, &c., &c., &c., says he will gladly accompany the Expedition, if a proper support for his family in his absence were assured. Rev. William Douglass, in conversation with me, has expressed very favorable views. Hoping you may be very successful, I remain in expectation of receiving more detailed accounts of the plan, its prospects and progress,

Your friend and well-wisher, ROBERT DOUGLASS

661, N. Thirteenth St., Phil.

Up to this time, I had never before known or heard of Mr. Campbell, who is a West India gentleman, native bred in Jamaica, but the recommendation of Mr. Douglass, an old acquaintance and gentleman of unsullied integrity, accompanied as it was by the following note from Dr. Wilson, also an accomplished gentleman of equal integrity, a physician, surgeon, and chemist, who, being selected by me as Surgeon and Naturalist of the party, also recommended Mr. Campbell in a detached note which has been mislaid, was sufficient at the time:


DEAR SIR—I received your note of May 25th, through the kindness of R. Douglass, Jr., and can truly say, I am highly gratified to learn of so laudable an enterprise and expedition; and would be happy and proud to be numbered with the noble hearts and brilliant minds, identified with it. Yet, whilst I acknowledge (and feel myself flattered by) the honor conferred upon me in being selected for so important and honorable position, I regret to inform you, that it will be wholly out of my power to accept.

Very respectfully, JAMES H. WILSON

838, Lombard Street.

I have been the more induced to give the letters of Mr. Douglass and Dr. Wilson in favor of Mr. Campbell, because some of my friends were disposed to think that I "went out of the way to make choice of an entire stranger, unknown to us, instead of old and tried acquaintances," as they were pleased to express it. I had but one object in view—the Moral, Social, and Political Elevation of Ourselves, and the Regeneration of Africa, for which I desired, as a preference, and indeed the only adequate and essential means by which it is to be accomplished, men of African descent, properly qualified and of pure and fixed principles. These I endeavored to select by corresponding only with such of my acquaintances.

At the Council which appointed me Commissioner to Africa, having presented the names of Messrs. Douglass and Campbell, asking that they also might be chosen; at a subsequent meeting the following action took place:

Whereas, Dr. Martin R. Delany, Commissioner to Africa, having presented the names of Messrs. Robert Douglas and Robert Campbell of Philadelphia, Pa., U.S., requesting that they be appointed Commissioners, the Board having made him Chief Commissioner with full power to appoint his own Assistants, do hereby sanction the appointment of these gentlemen as Assistant Commissioners.

A paper was then laid before the Council, presenting the name and scheme of the party, which was received and adopted.

Dr. Amos Aray, surgeon, a highly intelligent gentleman, and Mr. James W. Purnell, also an intelligent young gentleman, bred to mercantile pursuits, having subsequently sent in their names and received appointments by the Chief Commissioner, the following document was made out:


The President and Officers of the General Board of Commissioners, viz: William H. Day, A.M., President; Matison F. Bailey, Vice-President; George W. Brodie, Secretary; James Madison Bell, Treasurer; Alfred Whipper, Auditor; Dr. Martin R. Delany, Special Foreign Secretary; Abram D. Shadd, James Henry Harris, and Isaac D. Shadd, the Executive Council in behalf of the organization for the promotion of the political and other interests of the Colored Inhabitants of North America, particularly the United States and Canada.

To all, unto whom these letters may come, greeting: The said General Board of Commissioners, in Executive Council assembled, have this day chosen, and by these presents do hereby appoint and authorize Dr. Martin Robison Delany, of Chatham, County of Kent, Province of Canada, Chief Commissioner; and Robert Douglass, Esq., Artist, and Prof. Robert Campbell, Naturalist, both of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of the United States of America, to be Assistant Commissioners; Amos Aray, Surgeon; and James W Purnell, Secretary and Commercial Reporter, both of Kent County, Canada West, of a Scientific Corps, to be known by the name of


The object of this Expedition is to make a Topographical, Geological and Geographical Examination of the Valley of the River Niger, in Africa, and an inquiry into the state and condition of the people of that Valley, and other parts of Africa, together with such other scientific inquiries as may by them be deemed expedient, for the purposes of science and for general information; and without any reference to, and with the Board being entirely opposed to any Emigration there as such. Provided, however, that nothing in this Instrument be so construed as to interfere with the right of the Commissioners to negotiate in their own behalf, or that of any other parties, or organization for territory.

The Chief-Commissioner is hereby authorized to add one or more competent Commissioners to their number; it being agreed and understood that this organization is, and is to be exempted from the pecuniary responsibility of sending out this Expedition.

Dated at the Office of the Executive Council, Chatham, county of Kent, Province of Canada, this Thirtieth day of August, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty-eight.

By the President, WILLIAM HOWARD DAY ISAAC D. SHADD, Vice-President[1] GEORGE W. BRODIE, Secretary

So soon as these names with their destined mission were officially published, there arose at once from mistaken persons (white) in Philadelphia, a torrent of opposition, who presuming to know more about us (the blacks) and our own business than we did ourselves, went even so far as to speak to one of our party, and tell him that we were not ready for any such important undertaking, nor could be in three years yet to come! Of course, as necessary to sustain this, it was followed up with a dissertation on the disqualification of the Chief of the Party, mentally and physically, external appearances and all. So effectually was this opposition prosecuted, that colored people in many directions in the United States and the Canadas, were not only affected by it, but a "Party" of three had already been chosen and appointed to supersede us! Even without any knowledge on my part, claims were made in England in behalf of the "Niger Valley Exploring Party," solely through the instrumentality of these Philadelphians.

Such were the effects of this, that our preparatory progress was not only seriously retarded (I having to spend eight months in New York city to counteract the influence, where six weeks only would have been required), but three years originally intended to be spent in exploring had to be reduced to one, and the number of Commissioners from five to two, thereby depriving Mr. Robert Douglass from going, an old friend and most excellent gentleman, whose life, as well as that of his father before him, had been spent in efforts, not only of self-elevation, but the elevation also of his people. Many years ago, the accomplished articles of "Robert Douglass, Jun," to the United States Gazette, and other public journals, forced those negro-hating periodicals to respect at least the writer, if not his race. Dr. Aray, also an excellent gentleman who had given up business to join the party, was doomed to disappointment. And of Mr. Jas. W. Purnell—who met me in New York two weeks after my arrival, and through the whole eight months of adversity and doubtful progress, stood by me, performing the duty of Secretary, writing in every direction, copying, and from dictation for hours at a time—I cannot say too much. For a young gentleman inexperienced in such matters, he has no superior; and for integrity, true heartedness, and trustworthiness, in my estimation, he has few if any rivals. To his great and good uncle, under whom he was brought up, much of his character is to be credited.

As an expression of the feelings of the most intelligent emigrationists with whom I corresponded generally in America, I give below two extracts from letters of Professor Freeman. The Professor is now as he then was, the Principal of Avery College.

ALLEGHANY CITY, April 14, 1858

MY DEAR FRIEND—Your letter of condolence was duly received, for which we tender you our warmest thanks.

I have read Bowen's work, and shall to-day purchase Livingstone's. I am more and more convinced that Africa is the country to which all colored men who wish to attain the full stature of manhood, and bring up their children to be men and not creeping things, should turn their steps; and I feel more and more every day, that I made a great mistake in not going there, when I was untrammelled by family ties, and had the opportunity.

Respectfully yours, M. H. Freeman

Again the Professor says:

I see that Emigration has broken out in the East, and that —— can notice one now without scoffing at, which he could not in 1854. Well, people can grow wondrously wise in four years. But it will take several more Olympiads to bring the leaders among us up to the old Cleveland Platform of 1854.

All the fault of that movement was this, that it was at least one generation ahead of the colored heads of our people. We may, if we please, refuse to emigrate, and crouch like spaniels, to lick the hand that beats us; but children's children at the farthest, will have outgrown such pitiful meanness, and will dare to do all that others have dared and done for the sake of freedom and independence. Then all this cowardly cant about the unhealthy climate, the voracious beasts, and venomous reptiles of Africa, will be at a discount, instead of passing current as now for wisdom and prudence.

Mr. Campbell, who finally agreed voluntarily to be one of the "Niger Valley Exploring Party," spent some time with us in New York and some time in Philadelphia, but finally, in consequence of the doubtful prospects of my success, left, it would seem, at the suggestion and with the advice and recommendation of parties in Philadelphia, disconnected with and unknown to me, from whom he received letters of introduction for England. In justice to myself and party as organized, as well as the great cause and people whom I represent, I here simply remark, that this was no arrangement of mine nor our party, as such at the time; and whatever of success the visit was attended with, and benefit thereby accrued mutually to us in Africa, I as frankly decline any authority in the matter and credit to myself, as I should had the result proved what it might have done otherwise. I am only willing to claim that which is legitimately mine, and be responsible for my own doings whether good or bad; but this act the integrity of the Party was forced to acknowledge, as the following circular published in England will show:


A party, consisting of Martin R. Delany, M.D., Robert Campbell, J. W. Purnell, Robert Douglass, and Amos Aray, M.D., (the last two subsequently omitted) has been commissioned by a Convention of Colored Persons, held at Chatham, C.W., to proceed to Africa, and select a location for the establishment of an Industrial Colony.

While such an enterprise is of importance in the Evangelization and Civilization of Africa, and in affording an asylum in which the oppressed descendants of that country may find the means of developing their mental and moral faculties unimpeded by unjust restrictions, it is regarded as of still greater importance in facilitating the production of those staples, particularly Cotton, which now are supplied to the world chiefly by Slave Labor. The effect of this would be to lessen the profits of Slavery, to render in time the slave a burden to his owner, and thus furnish an irresistible motive to Emancipation. Africa possesses resources which, properly developed, must doubtless render her eventually a great, if not the greatest, producer of all the products of Slave Labor. And how would all good men rejoice to see the blow which shall effectually prostrate the giant Slavery, struck by the Black Man's arm! It is necessary, however, that civilized influences be diffused in her midst or, at least, that facilities for rendering available her products, be supplied equal to the demand for them.

It is the purpose of the party to proceed to Lagos, thence through Abbeokuta to Rabba, on the Niger, about 350 miles from the coast; to study the Agricultural and Commercial facilities of the country, and the disposition of the Natives towards strangers as settlers; also to negotiate for the grant or purchase of land, and to ascertain the conditions on which we might be protected in the usages of civilized life.

These objects being accomplished, the party will return and report the result of their labors, when a considerable number of intelligent and enterprising persons from the United States and Canada, many of them intimately acquainted with the production of Cotton, and its preparation for market, will be prepared to emigrate.

Towards defraying the expenses of this undertaking, L500 has been subscribed in America. This amount has been expended in providing for the families of two of the party in their absence; in paying the passage of Martin R. Delany and J. W. Purnell to Africa, direct from America, and providing them a few articles of outfit; in defraying the current expenses of the party since the 1st December ult., while engaged in soliciting subscriptions and otherwise forwarding the objects of the Expedition; and in providing the Subscriber with the means of coming hither.

It is desired to raise in this country, in time to enable the Subscriber to depart for Africa in June by the steamer from Liverpool, an additional sum of L250, with which to provide other articles of outfit, and goods for trading with the natives for the means of subsistence, as well as to provide for other necessary and contingent expenses.

The Subscriber will take the liberty of calling upon you personally, at an early day, to solicit your aid in this enterprise.


Grant, for charity's sake, that it was done with the best of motives, it was flagrantly and fatally at variance with every principle of intelligent—to say nothing of enlightened—organizations among civilized men, and in perfect harmony with that mischievous interference by which the enemies of our race have ever sought to sow discord among us, to prove a natural contempt for the Negro and repugnance to his leadership, then taunt us with incapacity for self-government. These flambeaus and rockets directed with unerring precision, taking effect in the very centre of our magazine, did not cause, in those for whom it was intended, a falter nor a wince in their course, but steadily and determinedly they pressed their way to the completion of their object under prosecution. In this design the enemy was thwarted.

I drop every reflection and feeling of unpleasantness towards my young brother Campbell, who, being a West Indian, probably did not understand those white Americans, and formed his opinion of American blacks and their capacity to "lead," from the estimate they set upon them. I owe it to posterity, the destiny of my race, the great adventure into which I am embarked and the position I sustain to it, to make this record with all Christian (or African, if you please) forgiveness, against this most glaring and determined act of theirs to blast the negro's prospects in this his first effort in the Christian Era, to work out his own moral and political salvation, by the regeneration of his Fatherland, through the medium of a self-projected scheme; and thereby take the credit to themselves. It was too great an undertaking for negroes to have the credit of, and therefore they must go under the auspices of some white American Christians. To be black, it would seem, was necessarily to be "ungodly"; and to be white was necessarily to be "godly," or Christian, in the estimation of some.

With a grateful heart, I here as freely record as an equal duty I owe to posterity, my unfeigned thanks to all those gentlemen who took an active part and in any way aided the mission on my behalf, either from the pulpit, by the contribution of books, stationery, charts, instruments, or otherwise, especially those who made each the one hundred dollar contribution, and the two in New York, through whose instrumentality and influence these were obtained. Those disinterested and voluntary acts of kindness I never shall forget whilst reason occupies her throne, and would here willingly record their names, had I their consent to do so.

I sailed from New York May 24th, in the fine barque Mendi—Captain M'Intyre—vessel and cargo owned by Johnson, Turpin and Dunbar, three enterprising colored gentlemen of Monrovia, Liberia, all formerly of New York, U.S. In the name of the General Board of Commissioners for the promotion of the political and other interest of the colored people of the United States and the Canadas, by self-exertion, I thank them.

I cannot close this section without expressing my obligations to Captain M'Intyre for his personal kindness to me; and also to his first officer, Captain Vernon Locke, (himself a ship-master, who took the position of first officer for the voyage, and who had been, for the last three or four years, collecting scientific information by astronomical, meteorological, and other observations, for Lieutenant Maury, Director of the Observatory at Washington, D.C., U.S.,) I am greatly indebted for many acts of kindness in facilitating my microscopic and other examinations and inquiries, during the voyage. Concerning the nautilus and whale, I learned more through this accomplished seaman than I had ever learned before. The first by examination of the mollusca, which were frequently caught by Captain L. for my accommodation—and of the latter, by oral information received from him (who had been a great whaler) on frequently observing those huge monsters during the voyage.[2]


[1] Mr. Shadd was elected Vice-President in the place of Mr. Bailey, who left the Province for New Caledonia.

[2] On the 16th day of June, lat. 35 deg. 35 min., long. 38 deg. 39 min., a very large school (the largest Captain Locke said that he had ever seen or read of), probably five hundred, of sperm whales made their appearance in the segment of a circle to windward and leeward of the vessel about noon, continuing in sight, blowing and spouting, filling the air with spray for a long time, to our amusement and delight. The captain said, though an old whaler, he had never known of sperm whales in that latitude before; and from the immense number, and as they were frequently seen as we approached Africa many times on different days afterwards, that he thought a new whaling point had been discovered. Other whales were also seen frequently in these latitudes—lazy, shy, "old bulls," which floated with their huge backs and part of their heads out of water, so as to expose their eyes, when they would suddenly disappear and as quickly appear again; but the great quantity of squid spawn, the peculiar mollusca upon which the sperm whale feeds, made it ominous, according to the opinion of Captain Locke, that a great new sperm whale fishery had been discovered, the spawn being seen during several days' sail before and after observing the great school.

NOTE.—I should not close this part of my report without stating that, during the year 1858, Mr. Myers wrote to the Royal Geographical Society, London; Thomas Clegg, Esq., Manchester; Dr. Livingstone, and perhaps others, all over my name as secretary and himself chairman. The letters referred to were written (without my knowledge) by a son of Mr. Myers; and I only mention the fact here because I am unwilling to claim the honor of the authorship of correspondence carried on through a lad of sixteen years of age.



Arrival in Africa

Saturday, July 10th.—I landed on the beach at Grand Cape Mount, Robertsport, in company with Messrs. the Hon. John D. Johnson, Joseph Turpin, Dr. Dunbar, and Ellis A. Potter, amid the joyous acclamations of the numerous natives who stood along the beautiful shore, and a number of Liberians, among whom was Reverend Samuel Williams, who gave us a hearty reception. Here we passed through the town (over the side of the hill), returning to the vessel after night.


Monday, July 12th.—The roadstead of Monrovia was made about noon, when I, in company with B. E. Castendyk, Esq., a young German gentleman traveling for pleasure, took lodgings at Widow Moore's, the residence of Rev. John Seys, the United States consular agent, and commissioner for recaptured Africans.

On the day after my arrival, the following correspondence took place:

Residence of the United States Consular Agent Monrovia, Liberia, July 12th, 1859

To His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Liberia: SIR—By a Convention of Colored People of the United States and the Canadas, Martin R. Delany, Robert Douglass, Robert Campbell, Amos Aray, and James W. Purnell, were appointed as Commissioners under the name of the 'Niger Valley Exploring Party,' to make an Exploration through different parts of Africa.

I have arrived, Sir, near your Government, and expect soon to meet other members of the party. Any aid, orally, documentary, or in the person of an Official Commissioner, which you may please to give to facilitate the mission in Liberia will be gratefully and highly appreciated. I ask the favor of an interview with your Excellency, either privately or in Cabinet Council, or with any other gentlemen that the occasion may suggest, at such time as may be designated.

I am happy, Sir, of the opportunity of giving your Excellency assurance of my most distinguished consideration.


His Excellency, President Benson. Government House, Monrovia, July 13, 1859

SIR—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 12th instant, conveying to me the information of your appointment (in connection with colleagues expected soon to arrive), by a Convention of the colored people of the United States and the Canadas, 'Commissioners,' under the name of 'The Niger Valley Exploring Party'; and of your arrival near this Government. You have also been pleased to signify, that you will duly appreciate any aid, oral, documentary or in the form of an official Commissioner this Government may feel disposed to afford you, in facilitation of the enterprise.

In reply, I have to express my deep regret, that the receipt of your very interesting note is on the very eve of my leaving this city on an official visit to the leeward counties, which will, for the present, deprive me of the pleasure I had anticipated of an interview with you on the very interesting and highly important objects of your mission.

The Hon. John N. Lewis, Secretary of State, with whom I will converse on the subject matter of your note before leaving, will be pleased to grant you an audience; and will, with pleasure, meet your wishes, so far as he can consistently.

Please be reassured of the deep interest I feel in your very laudable enterprise; and that, if it were not for very important despatches received last week from the county of Maryland, which make it absolutely necessary that I should delay no time in reaching there, I would defer my departure a couple of days for the express purpose of consultation with you in person.

I have the honor to be most respectfully, Your very obedient servant,

To M. R. Delany, Esq., &c. STEPHEN A. BENSON

* * * * *

Monrovia, July 13, 1859 Martin R. Delany, Esq.:

DEAR SIR—The undersigned, citizens of the city of Monrovia, having long heard of you and your efforts in the United States to elevate our down-trodden race, though those efforts were not infrequently directed against Liberia, are glad to welcome you, in behalf of the community to these shores; recognizing, as they do in you, an ardent and devoted lover of the African race, and an industrious agent in promoting their interests. And they take this opportunity of expressing to you their most cordial sympathy with the enterprise which has brought you to these shores, sincerely praying that your endeavors may be crowned with complete success.

The undersigned, further, in the name and behalf of the members of this community, respectfully request that you would favor the citizens with a lecture to-morrow evening, or on any other evening you may choose to appoint, at half-past seven o'clock, on any subject you may be pleased to select.

On receiving your reply notices will be issued accordingly.


Residence of the United States Consular Agent, Monrovia, July 13th, 1859

GENTLEMEN—Your note of to-day has been received, for the honor of which I thank you, and beg to say that numerous engagements prevent me from complying with your request on to-morrow evening.

You are mistaken, gentlemen, in supposing that I have ever spoken directly 'against Liberia,' as wherever I have been I have always acknowledged a unity of interests in our race wherever located; and any seeming opposition to Liberia could only be constructively such, for which I am not responsible.

Should it be your pleasure, I will do myself the honor serving you on Monday evening next, or any other evening during the week, by a discourse on the 'Political Destiny of the African Race,' and assure you of the pleasure with which I have the honor to be,

Your most obedient servant, M. R. DELANY

Col. B. P. Yates; Hon. D. B. Warner; S. F. McGill, M.D.; Hon. B. V. R. James; Rev. Saml. Matthews; Urias McGill, Esq.; Rev. Edw. W. Blyden; H. W. Dennis, Esq.; H. A. Johnson, Esq., District Attorney.

* * * * *

M. R. Delany, Esq.: Monrovia, July 14, 1859

SIR—We have the honor to acknowledge your note of to-day in reply to an invitation of yesterday from us requesting that you would favor us, with many others, with an address on to-morrow evening, or at any other time agreeable to yourself. Having signified to us that next Monday evening you would be pleased to comply with the request, we tender you our thanks and will be happy to listen to a discourse on the 'Political destiny of the African Race.'

We have the honor to be, very respectfully, &c., yours,



On Monday evening, the 19th of July, having addressed a crowded audience in the Methodist Episcopal Church, Ex-Governor McGill in the chair, T. M. Chester, Esq., Secretary; Ex-President Roberts rose and in a short speech, in the name of the Liberians, welcomed me to Africa. By a vote of thanks and request to continue the discourse on a subsequent evening, this request was complied with on the following Tuesday evening.

Dr. M. R. Delany, Monrovia, July 28, 1859

DEAR SIR—The undersigned citizens of Monrovia having been much edified by listening to two very interesting lectures delivered by you in the Methodist church, avail themselves of this method to express their appreciation of the same, and to respectfully request that you will favor the community with a popular lecture on 'Physiology' on Friday evening, the 29th inst.


Public Lecture

The reply to this polite invitation of Doctors Roberts and McGill, and others, having been mislaid, I simply remark here that the request was complied with on the evening of August 3d, in the Methodist Church, to a crowded house of the most intelligent citizens of Monrovia, of both sexes and all ages.

Departure from Monrovia. Coasting, Cape Palmas

On the evening of August 5th, I left Monrovia in the bark Mendi, stopping at Junk, Little Bassa, Grand Bassa mouth of St. John's River, Sinou, arriving at Cape Palmas Sabbath noon, August 20th.

Missionary Greeting

Half an hour after my arrival, I was called upon by the Rev. Mr. Hoffman, Principal of the Female Orphan Asylum, at the residence of John Marshall, Esq., whose hospitality I was then receiving, and in the name of the white Missionaries welcomed to that part of Liberia. Before Mr. Hoffman left I was honored by a visit also from Rev. Alexander Crummell, Principal of Mount Vaughan High School, where, after partaking of the hospitality of Mr. Marshall during that day and evening, I took up my residence during a month's stay in this part of Liberia.


Having taken the acclimating fever on the 5th of the month, the day I left Monrovia, and besides regularly a dessert spoonful of a solution of the sulphate of quinia three times a day, and the night of my arrival two eight grain doses of Dover's Powder, the reference to "the state of my health" in the following correspondence, will be understood:

To Dr. M. R. Delany:

DEAR SIR—We, the undersigned citizens of the county of Maryland, Liberia, beg to tender you a heartfelt welcome to our neighborhood, and to assure you of our warmest interest in the important mission which has called you to the coast of Africa. Perhaps you will consent, should your health permit, to favor us with a public interview before you leave. We would be most happy to hear your views concerning the interest of our race in general, and of your mission in particular. Moreover, by so doing, you will afford us an opportunity of paying you that respect which your reputation, talents, and noble mission command, and which it is our sincere desire to pay you.

If Thursday or Friday will suit your convenience it will be agreeable to us; but we leave the character of the meeting to be designated by yourself.


* * * * *

Mount Vaughan, near Harper, Cape Palmas August 27th, 1859

Gentlemen—Your note of the 23rd inst., requesting me, should my health permit, to appear before the citizens of your county, is before me, and for the sentiments therein expressed I thank you most kindly.

As I have reason to believe that I am now convalescent from my second attack of native fever, should my health continue to improve I shall start on an exploration for the head of Kavalla river on Monday next ensuing, to return on Friday evening.

Should it be your pleasure, gentlemen, and my health will permit, I will meet you on Monday, the 5th of September, the place and hour to be hereafter named according to circumstances.

I assure you of the pleasure, Gentlemen, with which I have the honor to be,

Your most obedient servant, M. R. DELANY

Gen. Wood; Judge Drayton; Rev. Alex. Crummell; John Marshall, Esq.; Hon. J. T. Gibson; C. H. Harmon, Esq.; J. W. Cooper, Esq.; Dr. Fletcher; Giles Elem, Esq.; Jas. M. Moulton, Esq.; Benjamin Cook, Esq.; S. B. D'Lyon, M.D., and others, Committee, &c., &c.

Reception Meeting at Palmas

On the evening of the 14th this request was complied with in the Methodist Church at Latrobe, an out-village of Harper, by addressing a crowded assemblage of both sexes and all ages of the most respectable people of the Cape, on the part of whom I was most cordially welcomed by Rev. Alexander Crummell.



Territory, Climate

Liberia extends from a point north of Grand Cape Mount, about 7 deg. 30 min. north lat., on sea shore, northeasterly to the western extremity of the most southern range of the Kong Mountains, lat. 4 deg. 30 min. The climate is generally salubrious, and quite moderate. But it is frequently somewhat oppressive, though mild and genial, and the high hills and mountain ranges sometimes enervating to strangers or foreigners from temperate climates, in consequence of the "air being freighted with fragrance" from the flowers and aroma of the exuberant, rich, rank growth of vegetable matter, as trees, shrubbery, and other herbage.


The temperature is seldom or never great, the average being 85 deg. Fahr.[5] This, it will be perceived, is but 5 deg. above summer temperature in the temperate zone of America, according to Fahrenheit's scale.

Comparative Temperature Bees

It is worthy of observation that, by a natural law, we are enabled to compare the temperature in many parts of Africa satisfactorily with that of some other countries. There are parts of India, and also Central and South America, where it is said that bees cannot propagate, in consequence of their inability to build their cells because of the heat, the cera or wax melting in their hive or habitation. While in Africa such is not the case, there being no part known to civilized travelers where bees are not seen ever busy on every blossom, gathering their store, leaving laden with the rich delicacies of the blooming flowers; and Doctor Livingstone not only speaks most frequently of the profusion of honey in the extensive country through which he traveled, but says that, while near the coast in Loango, he encountered many persons laden with "tons of beeswax" carried on their heads exposed to the sun, on their way to the trading posts. And during our stay at Abbeokuta, Mr. Campbell my colleague, had two swarms of bees; the first taken by him when in transitu (swarmed) and hived, which bred a new swarm in the hive at the Mission House where we resided.

Soil, Stone, Minerals, Productions

The soil is very rich, which, like that of other parts of Africa through which I traveled, rates from a sandy loam to a rich alluvial, resting on strata of granite, limestone, and quartz with a large percentage of mica, profusely incorporated with iron, and doubtless other rich minerals not yet discovered. Palm oil and camwood are abundant, comprising the principal articles of native products for exportation; a good deal of ivory from the interior through the Golah country, but not so much as formerly; palm nuts, which principally go to France; ginger, arrowroot, pepper, coffee, sugar and molasses, to which three latter articles (as well as pepper, ginger and arrowroot,) the industrious citizens of Liberia have, during the last six years, turned their attention.

Domestic Animals, Fowls, Goats, Sheep, Swine, Cattle

The stock consists of fowls of various kinds—as chickens, ducks, common and Muscovy; Guinea fowls in abundance; turkeys, and on one farm—the Gaudilla farm of William Spencer Anderson, Esq., sugar planter, on the St. Paul River—geese. Neither are the cows so small as supposed to be from the general account given of them by travelers. Those which are common to, and natives of this part of Africa, which I shall classify as the Bassa (pronounced Bassaw) cattle, are handsome and well-built, comparing favorably in size (though neither so long-legged nor long-bodied) with the small cattle in the interior counties of Pennsylvania, U.S., where no attention is paid scientifically to the breeding of cattle; though the Liberia or Bassa are much the heaviest, and handsomely made like the Golah, or Fulatah, hereafter to be described, resembling the Durham cattle of England in form. Also swine, goats, and sheep are plentiful.

Horses, None. Why?

I saw but one horse in Liberia, and that on the Gaudilla farm of Mr. Anderson; and though, as the Liberians themselves informed me, they have been taken there by the Mandingo and Golah traders, they never lived. And why—if they live in other parts of Africa, on the western coast, which they do, even near the Mangrove swamps, as will hereafter be shown—do they not live in Liberia, the civilized settlements of which as yet, except on the St. Paul and at Careysburg, are confined to the coast? There are certainly causes for this, which I will proceed to show.

Horse Feed, Pasturage, Hay

In the first place, horses, like all other animals, must have feed naturally adapted to their sustenance. This consists mainly of grass, herbage, and grains, especially the latter when the animal is domesticated. Secondly, adequate shelter from sun and weather, as in the wild state by instinct they obtain these necessary comforts for themselves.

No Cultivated Farms—No Shelter for Horses

Up to the time, then, when the Liberians ceased the experiment of keeping horses, they had not commenced in any extensive manner to cultivate farms, consequently did not produce either maize (Indian corn), Guinea corn (an excellent article for horses in Africa, resembling the American broom corn both in the stock, blade, and grain, the latter being larger and browner than those of the broom corn, and more nutritious than oats); peas, nor any other grain upon which those animals are fed, and the great, heavy, rich, rank, pseudo reed-grass of the country was totally unfit for them, there being no grass suited either for pasturage or hay. Again, I was informed by intelligent, respectable Liberians, that to their knowledge there never had been a stable or proper shelter prepared for a horse, but that they had, in one or more instances, known horses to be kept standing in the sun the entire day, and in the open air and weather during the entire night, while their owners had them.

No Horses; Why, and Why Not

It is very evident from this, that horses could not live in Liberia, and since the tsetse fly introduced to the notice of the scientific world recently by Doctor Livingstone the African Explorer, has never been seen nor heard of in this part of the continent, nor any other insect that tormented them, those must have been the prime causes of fatality to these noble and most useful domestic creatures. I have been thus explicit in justice to Liberia, even in opposition to the opinion of some very intelligent and highly qualified gentlemen in that country (among whom is my excellent friend, Doctor Roberts, I think,) because I believe that horses can live there as well as in other parts of Africa, when fairly and scientifically inquired into and tested. Proper feed and care, I have no doubt, will verify my opinion; and should I but be instrumental, by calling the attention of my brethren in Liberia to these facts, in causing them successfully to test the matter, it will be but another evidence of the fact, that the black race should take their affairs in their own hands, instead of placing them in the hands of others.

Exploration. Farms, Sugar, Coffee

My explorations in Liberia extended to every civilized settlement in the Republic except Careysburg, and much beyond these limits up the Kavalla River. There is much improvement recently up the St. Paul River, by the opening up of fine, and in some cases, extensive farms of coffee and sugar; also producing rice, ginger, arrowroot, and pepper, many of which have erected upon them handsome and well-constructed dwellings; also sugar mills and machinery for the manufacture of sugar and molasses, which articles manufactured, compare favorably with the best produced in other countries. There has, as yet, been no improvement introduced in the hulling and drying of coffee, there being probably not enough produced to induce the introduction of machinery. I am informed that there have also been commenced several good farms on the Junk River, which district, farther than the settlement at the mouth, I did not visit. The people are willing and anxious for improvement, and on introducing to many of the farmers the utility of cutting off the centre of each young coffee-tree so soon as it grew above the reach of a man of ordinary height, I had the satisfaction of seeing them immediately commence the execution of the work. The branches of the tree spread, in proportion to the checking of the height; hence, instead of eight feet apart, as some of the farmers have done, the trees should be planted at least twenty feet apart, thus leaving ample space between for the spreading of the branches. The tree should never be permitted to grow too high to admit of the berry being picked from the ground, or at least from a stand which may be stepped upon without climbing.


The schools are generally good, every settlement being amply accommodated with them; and in Monrovia and at Cape Palmas the classics are being rigidly prosecuted.[4]

Churches Missionaries

Churches are many and commodious, of every Christian denomination—except, I believe, the Roman Catholic. The Missionaries seem to be doing a good work, there being many earnest and faithful laborers among them of both sexes, black and white, and many native catechists and teachers, as well as some few preachers.

Business, Professions, Theology, Medicine, Law

The principal business carried on in Liberia is that of trading in native and foreign produce, the greater part being at the Capital. The greater part of merchants here are Liberians; but there are also three white houses—two German and one American. And along the coast there are a number of native trading-posts, the proprietors of which are white foreigners, with black agents. Many of the Liberian Clergy of all denominations are well educated gentlemen; and the Medical Profession is well represented by highly accomplished Physicians; but of all the professions, the Law is the most poorly represented—there being, as I learnt when there, but one young gentlemen at the bar who had been bred to the profession; and not a Judge on the bench who was learned in the law. This I do not mention in disparagement of the gentlemen who fill those honorable positions of presiding over the legal investigations of their country, as many—indeed, I believe the majority of them—are clergymen, who from necessity have accepted those positions, and fill their own legitimate callings with credit. I sincerely hope that the day is not far distant when Liberia will have her learned counsellors and jurists—dispensing law, disseminating legal opinions, and framing digests as well as other countries, for the benefit of nations.


At Grand Bassa I held a Council with some of the most eminent Liberians, among whom were several members of the National Legislature—the venerable Judge Hanson in the chair. Several able speeches were made—the objects of my mission and policy approved; and I shall never forget the profound sensation produced at that ever-memorable Council, and one of the most happy hours of my life. When the honored old judge and sage, sanctioning my adventure, declared that, rather than it should fail, he would join it himself, and with emotion rose to his feet; the effect was inexpressible, each person being as motionless as a statue.

Public Affairs, Municipal and Public Improvements

The laws of Liberia seem to be well constructed, and framed to suit the wants of the people, and their public affairs are quite well and creditably conducted. But there is a great deficiency in public improvements, and, as I learned—and facts from actual observation verified until comparatively recent—also in public spirit. There are no public buildings of note, or respectable architectural designs; no harbor improvements, except a lighthouse each on the beautiful summit rock-peaks of Cape Messurado and Cape Palmas—not even a buoy to indicate the shoal; no pier, except a little one at Palmas; nor an attempt at a respectable wharfage for canoes and lighters (the large keels owned by every trading vessel, home and foreign, which touches there.) And, with the exception of a handsome wagon-road, three and a half miles out from Harper, Cape Palmas, beyond Mount Vaughan, there is not a public or municipal road in all Liberia. Neither have I seen a town which has a paved street in it, although the facilities for paving in almost all the towns are very great, owing to the large quantities of stone everywhere to be had.

The Capital No City

And what is surprising, Monrovia, although the capital, has not a city municipality to give it respectability as such; hence, there is neither mayor nor council (city council I mean) to give character to any public occasion, but His Excellency the President, the Chief Executive of the nation, must always be dragged down from his reserved and elevated position, and made as common as a common policeman to head every little petty affair among the people. The town was once, by the wisdom of some legislators, chartered into a city, and Dr. T. F. M'Gill (ex-governor) chosen mayor, who, by his high intelligence and fitness for the office, had commenced the most useful and commendable improvements; but the wisdom of other legislators, after a year's duration, in consequence of the heavy expenses incurred to "make Monrovia, where big folks lived, a fine place," repealed the act, degrading their Capital to a town. That is the same as declaring that a court shall not have a judge—the nation a President or Executive, or there shall be no head at all; hence, to reduce the judge to the grade of a lawyer, the lawyer to that of the clerk of the court, the President of the nation to that of the county magistrate, and the county magistrate to that of a constable. How much respect would a people be entitled to who would act thus? They must understand that nothing is greater than its head, and the people of a nation cannot rise above the level of the head of their nation any more than the body of the individual in its natural position can be raised above the head. It is just so with a town population. A villager is a villager, a citizen is a citizen, and a metropolitan is a metropolitan—each of which is always expected to have a standing commensurate with his opportunities.

Self-Reliance, Ways and Means

One word as a suggestion in political economy to the young politician of Liberia: Always bear in mind, that the fundamental principle of every nation is self-reliance, with the ability to create their own ways and means: without this, there is no capacity for self-government. In this short review of public affairs, it is done neither to disparage nor under-rate the gentlemen of Liberia with whom, from the acquaintance I have made with them in the great stride for black nationality, I can make common cause, and hesitate not to regard them, in unison with ourselves, a noble band of brothers.

Executive Munificence

There has been much progress made in the various industrial vocations within a few years past by the munificence of President Benson, aided by the wisdom of the Legislature, through the agency of a national agricultural fair, with liberal premiums on samples exhibited in a spacious receptacle prepared each season for the purpose, in the Public Square in front of the President's mansion, called Palm Palace. Like his predecessor President Roberts, in pressing the claims of his country before the nations of Europe, President Benson has spared no authority which he possessed in developing the agricultural resources of his country. Every man has his forte, and in his turn probably becomes a necessity for the time being, according to his faculty. Consequently my opinion is, that the forte and mission of President Roberts for the time being were the establishment of a Nationality, and that of President Benson the development of its resources, especially the agricultural. Neither of these gentlemen, therefore, might be under-rated, as each may have been the instrument which God in his wisdom appointed to a certain work.

Official and Personal Favors

To John Moore, Esq., Government Surveyor; the Hon. B. P. Yates, ex-Vice-President of the Republic; Hon. John Seys, U.S. Agent for Re-captured Africans, and Consular Agent, I am much indebted for acts of kindness in facilitating my Explorations in Liberia. The Hon. Mr. Seys and Mr. Moore, for personally accompanying me up the St. Paul River; and Colonel Yates, for the loan of his fine canvas-covered boat for my use. Also to Dr. Henry J. Roberts, for remedies and medicines for my own use; Dr. Thomas F. M'Gill, for offering to make advances on articles of merchandise which I took out on trade to bear expenses, much beyond the market price; and to those excellent gentlemen, Messrs. Johnson, Turpin, and Dunbar, also for large advances made above market price in cash for my commodity, as well as other favors, especially on the part of Mr. Johnson, who, having for years been a resident in Monrovia, did everything to advance my mission and make my duty an agreeable one.

To the Rev. Alexander Crummell, who accompanied me up the Kavalla, above the Falls, making my task an easy one; to Drs. Fletcher and D'Lyon, who rendered me professional aid, and also to our excellent, faithful, and reliable guide, Spear Mehia is, a native civilized Christian Prince, the son of the old friend of the missionaries, Nmehia, the deceased King of Kavalla, I here make acknowledgments. And I cannot close this section without an acknowledgment that, wherever I went, the people of the country generally did everything to make me happy—Esquire Wright at Junk, Dr. Smith at Grand Bassa, and the Hon. Mr. Priest at Sinou whose guest I was, all here will receive my thanks for their aid in facilitating my mission.

Settlement and Sites of Towns

I conclude this section by remarking, that Monrovia is one of the handsomest and most eligible sites for a city that I ever saw, and only lacks the population and will of the people to make it a most beautiful place; and how much it is to be regretted that the charter was repealed, and Mayor M'Gill and the City Council cut off in the beginning of the first steps towards a national pride, which was to have a Capital City in reality as well as name.[3] How unsightly to a stranger, as he steps from the boat at the mouth of Stockton Creek, on the Messurado River, is the rude and rugged steep, leading by simple pathways in true native style, from the warehouses up to the town, which, if improved as it might and should be, would be one of the most pleasing as well as attractive approaches to any city in the world. Not even is there a respectable public market-house or market space in town. But wisdom decreed it otherwise, and for the present it must be so. "Wisdom" in this case "hath" not "built her house" neither "hath she hewn out" the stone "pillars" leading from the beach.

Another good site for a city is Edina, on the northeast side of the St. John River, opposite Buchanan, Grand Bassa, which doubtless in time Buchanan will include. This is also a handsome place, from the gradually rising elevation. Edina is the residence of that great-hearted, good old gentleman, Judge Hanson. Junk, Little Bassa, and Sinou, are also good, but each of these are low, and consequently not so imposing.

Next to Monrovia is Cape Palmas for beauty of location and scenery, and a stranger will more readily be pleased at first sight with Harper than the Capital. A beautiful city will in time occupy the extensive Cape for several miles back, including Mount Vaughan and the country around; and it may be remarked, that this place presents greater evidences of public improvement than any town in Liberia, and the only place in the country which has a regular wagon road with ox-teams running upon it.


The private buildings in Liberia are generally good and substantial, and especially those of Monrovia, built of brick. Many of them are handsome and quite extensive mansions, the warehouses mostly being built of stone. The wooden houses generally are well-built frames, and "weather-boarded," and not, as some romancers and wonder-vendors would have it, being either log, bamboo, or mud huts. To take the settlers generally, there cannot be much fault found with their style of living, except perhaps in some instances, rather a little too much extravagance. Caldwell, Clay-Ashland, and Millsburg on the St. Paul, are pleasant and prospectively promising villages, and deserve a notice in this place. Clay-Ashland is the residence of Judge Moore, to whom I am indebted for personal favors and much useful information when examining the land over his extensive sugar and coffee farms. And to my excellent friend Dr. Daniel Laing, of the same place, for similar acts of courtesy and kindness, I am much indebted.

Public Meeting

I addressed the citizens in a very long political meeting in the Methodist church, on the evening of my visit there.


[3] This day, August 2, 1861, while revising this Report, the thermometer Fahr. stands in the most favorable shade in the town of Chatham, Kent county, C. W., 96 deg. (98 is the general test of this day) and in the sun 113—being one degree above fever heat. A fact to which my attention was called by an intelligent Liberian—and which science may hereafter account for—that the nearer the approach to the equator, the more moderate is the heat. Has the sun the same effect upon the general bulk of the earth that it has upon particular locations—the greater the elevation the cooler—or is it because of the superior velocity of this part, that a current is kept up by its passage through the atmosphere surrounding it? It is a settled fact that the earth is "elevated at the equator and depressed at the poles," and hills are cool, while valleys and plains are hot, because of their peculiar property of attracting and reflecting heat.

[4] The "Liberia College" has been fully established since my visit there, by the erection of a fine stone edifice, and the choice of the Hon. Ex-President Joseph Jenkins Roberts, President and Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law; Rev. Alexander Crummell, A.B., Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy and English Literature; Rev. Edward Welmot Blydon, Professor of Greek and Latin Languages and Literature. This is a grand stride in the march of African Regeneration and Negro Nationality.

[5] I am happy to learn by advices recently received from Liberia, that Monrovia has again been created and organized a City Municipality, ex-Judge James Mayor; and I should have named in connection with the public spirit of Liberia, three newspapers—the Liberia Herald, Star of Liberia, and Christian Advocate—the last, a religious journal, under the auspices of that excellent Christian gentleman, Bishop Burns the Methodist Missionary-Bishop of Liberia.


First Symptoms

The first sight and impressions of the coast of Africa are always inspiring, producing the most pleasant emotions. These pleasing sensations continue for several days, more or less, until they gradually merge into feelings of almost intense excitement, not only mentally, but the entire physical system share largely in it, so that it might be termed a hilarity of feeling almost akin to approaching intoxication; or as I imagine, like the sensation produced by the beverage of champagne wine. Never having enjoyed the taste for it, I cannot say from experience.

Second Stage of Symptoms

The first symptoms are succeeded by a relaxity of feelings, in which there is a disposition to stretch, gape, and yawn, with fatigue.

Third Stage of Symptoms

The second may or may not be succeeded by actual febrile attacks, with nausea, chills, or violent headache; but whether or not such symptoms ensue, there is one most remarkable, as almost (and I think quite) a necessary affection, attendant upon the acclimation at this incipient stage: a feeling of regret that you left your native country for a strange one; an almost frantic desire to see friends and nativity; a despondency and loss of the hope of ever seeing those you love at home again.

These feelings, of course, must be resisted, and regarded as a mere morbid affection of the mind at the time, arising from an approaching disease, which is not necessarily serious, and may soon pass off; which is really the case.

Its Effects

It is generally while laboring under this last-described symptom, that persons send from Africa such despairing accounts of their disappointments and sufferings, with horrible feelings of dread for the worst to come.


When an entire recovery takes place, the love of the country is most ardent and abiding. I have given the symptoms first, to make a proper impression first.


I have thought it proper to give a section in my Report entirely to the diseases of Liberia, which are the same as those in other parts of Africa, with their complication with diseases carried from America by the settlers.

Native Diseases, Peculiar Character in Liberia

The native diseases are mainly the native fever, which is nothing but the intermittent fever of America, known in different parts as ague, chills and fever, fever and ague, with its varied forms of bilious, intermittent, remittent, continued, and its worst form of inflammatory when it most generally assumes the congestive type of the American Southern States. In this condition, the typhoid symptoms with coma, give unmistakable evidence of the character of the malady. The native fever which is common to all parts of Africa, in Liberia while to my judgment not necessarily fatal (and in by far the greater percentage of cases in the hands of an intelligent, skilful physician, quite manageable), is generally much worse in its character there than in the Yoruba country, where I have been. The symptoms appear to be much more aggravated and the patient to suffer more intensely.


The density and rankness of the vegetable growth, the saturation of the air continually with fragrance, and other miasma, and the malaria from the mangrove swamps, I assign as the cause of difference in the character of the same disease in different parts of the continent. The habits also of the settlers, have much to do with the character of the disease. A free indulgence in improper food and drink, which doubtless is the case in many instances, are exciting causes to take the malady, and aggravating when suffering under it.


There are several other diseases that might be named, which I reserve for a section on another part of Africa, and confine my remarks simply to the complication of the native with foreign. All scorbutic, scrofulous, or syphilitic persons, where the affection has not been fully suppressed, may become easy victims to the fever in Liberia, or lingering sufferers from ulcers, acute rheumatism, or elephantiasis—a frightful enlargement of the limbs. Ulcerated opthalmia is another horrible type, that disease in such chronically affected persons may assume. But any chronic affection—especially lung, liver, kidney, and rheumatic—when not too deeply seated, may, by favorable acclimation, become eliminated, and the ailing person entirely recover from the disease.

Remedies, Natural and Artificial

The natural remedy for the permanent decrease of the native fever, is the clearing up and cultivation of the land, which will be for some time yet to come, tardy; as emigration to Liberia is very slow, and the natives very unlike those of Yoruba—cultivate little or nothing but rice, cassaba, and yams, and these in comparative small patches, so that there is very little need for clearing off the forest. Neither have they in this part of Africa any large towns of substantial houses, all of which would necessitate a great deal of clearing; but instead, they consist of small clusters of reed or bamboo huts in a circle, always in the densest of the forest, which can scarcely ever be seen (except they be situated on a high hill) until you are right upon them. The clearing away of the mangrove swamps—which is practicable—will add greatly to the sanitary condition of Liberia; but this also will take time, as it must be the work of a general improvement in the country, brought about by populating and civilizing progress.


The treatment of the native fever must be active and prudential. But the remedies are simple and easily obtained, being such as may be had at any well-kept apothecary's shop. The sulphate of quinia, in moderate doses, three or four times a day, with the usual attention to the febrile changes, gentle aperients, effervescent and acidulous drinks, taking care to prevent acridness in the stomach. In my advice to persons going to Africa, I shall speak more pointedly of the domestic or social customs to be avoided.


I observed that all elevated places, as Monrovia and Freetown, subject to severe visitations of disease, are situated near mangrove swamps; consequently, from the rising of the malaria, they are much more unhealthy than those in low plains, such as Lagos and many other places, above which the miasma generally rises for the most part passing off harmlessly.

I left Cape Palmas, Liberia, on Thursday, 2 P.M. the 15TH of Sept., on the British Royal Mail African steamer, "Armenian," Captain Walker, to whom and his officers, I make acknowledgments for acts of kindness.


Coasting. Cape Coast Castle, Bight of Benin

Thursday, the 20th of September, about noon, after stopping at Cape-Coast Castle for twelve hours, on the Coast of Benin, the steamer made her moorings in the roadstead, Bight of Benin, Gulf of Guinea, off Lagos. I disembarked, going ashore with the mail-boat managed by natives; from whence, by the politeness of the gentlemanly young clerk (a native gentleman) of Captain Davies', a native merchant, I was taken in a sail-boat, also manned by natives, up the bay, and landed at the British Consulate; whence I was met by Mr. Carew, the native agent of the Rev. J. M. Harden, a most excellent man, Missionary, and conducted to the Baptist Mission House.

After a stay of five weeks, visiting almost everything and place worthy of note, being called upon by many of the most noted persons, among whom were several chiefs, having several interviews with the authorities, and meeting the most active, intelligent, Christian young men, in several of their associated gatherings, I was waited on by the messenger of the king; when after several interchanges of "words" between us, the following instrument of writing was "duly executed, signed, sealed, and delivered," I, and Mr. Harden being present, and witnessing the measurement of the land, according to the present custom in that place:


Lagos, October 25th, 1859

Know all Men by these Presents:

That I DOCEMO, King of Lagos and the Territories thereunto belonging, have this day granted, assigned, and made over, unto Doctor Martin R. Delany, for his use and the use of his Heirs and Assigns forever, All that Piece of Ground, situated on the South of the Premises and Ground occupied by Fernando, in the field at Okai Po, Po, measuring as follows, Three Hundred and Thirty Feet square.

Witness my Stamp hereunto affixed, and the Day and Year above written.


* * * * *

BRITISH CONSULATE, Lagos, October 28th, 1859

I CERTIFY that the Circular Stamp, as above, with KING DOCEMO, of LAGOS in the centre, is the Official Stamp of Docemo, King of Lagos, and is used by him as his signature to all Letters, Deeds, and Documents.


Acting Consul.

The Deed of Land above, granted to Doctor Martin R. Delany, by King Docemo of Lagos, has this 18th day of October, 1859, been registered in the Registry Book of the British Consulate, and numbered.


On the 30th of October, I left Lagos, proceeding via Ogun river, to Abbeokuta, which I reached on Saturday, the 5th of November.

Explorations. Abbeokuta

Here I met for the first time with my colleague and Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Robert Campbell, from whom, at Lagos, I found a letter waiting for my arrival in the hands of Acting Consul, Lieut. Edward F. Lodder, of Her Majesty's war vessel "Brun," which continually lies in the harbor, directly opposite and near to the Consulate. Consul Campbell (since deceased), had paid an official visit to England, and Lieut. Lodder was supplying his place.

Towns from Abbeokuta

From Abbeokuta, population 110,000, we proceeded to Ijaye, population 78,000, reckoned by the white missionaries and officers of the Niger Expedition of Her Majesty's service, who passed through once, at 80,000; Oyo, population, 75,000; Ogbomoso, population 70,000; Illorin, population 120,000; returning back, via Ogbomoso to Oyo: when by arrangement, Mr. Campbell leaving me at Oyo, returned to Abbeokuta by a new route through Isen and Biolorin-Pellu, small places: whence I, a week later, also by another strange route, returned, passing through Iwo, population 75,000; and Ibaddan, population 150,000 an immense city, the estimated number of inhabitants by the Civil Corps who passed through, being 250,000. It will be seen that I have made a liberal deduction of two-fifths, or 100,000 from this estimate; still, the population is immense and the city extensive, the walls embracing an outline of at least twenty-three miles.

Return to Lagos

From Abbeokuta, the water being very low, it was thought advisable that Mr. Campbell take charge of all our luggage, and proceed by way of the Ogun to Lagos, (he having disposed of his horse at Abbeokuta) whilst I, on horseback, with William Johnson our cook, the only servant we retained—a civilized native—as guide and attendant, proceeded by land, both reaching Lagos three days after, in the same hour of the same day.


Topography, Climate

The whole face of the country extending through the Aku region or Yoruba, as it is laid down on the large missionary map of Africa, is most beautifully diversified with plains, hills, dales, mountains, and valleys, interlined with numerous streams, some of which are merely temporary or great drains; whilst the greater part are perennial, and more or less irrigating the whole year, supplying well the numerous stocks of cattle and horses with which that country is so well everywhere provided. The climate is most delightful.

First Plateau and Second Plateau, or Table Lands

The first plateau or low land from Lagos, extends about thirty-five or forty miles interiorly, with but occasionally, small rugged or rocky elevations breaking the surface, when it almost abruptly rises into elevated lands, undulating and frequently craggy, broken often by deep declivities of glens and dales.


The soil of the first plateau, for ten or fifteen miles, is moist and sandy, more or less, gradually incorporating with a dark rich earth, which, extending quite through the second plateau, continually varies in quality, consistence, and color, from a sandy loam and clay-red iron pyrite appearance to a potter's-clay, and rich alluvial color and quality, the whole being exceedingly fertile and productive; as no district through which we traveled was without cultivation more or less, and that always in a high degree, whatever the extent of ground under cultivation or the produce cultivated.

Stone Formation

The stone formation throughout these regions consist of primitive dark-gray granite, quartz, and conglomerates, with, occasionally, strata of felspar and mica, which are found mainly in the beautiful mountain regions (which are detailed extensions of the great mountains of Kong), having in these sections always beautiful gaps or passes of delightful valleys.

Minerals, Iron, Copper, Zinc

The minerals consist of iron in the greatest abundance, which at present is smelted by the natives from the clay, and every town of any note or size has not only its blacksmiths' shops, but the largest all have iron smelting works. At Ijaye there is quite an extensive and interesting establishment of the kind. And, as they manufacture brass, there must be also zinc and copper found there—indications of the last-named metal being often seen by the color of certain little water surfaces. The stone formation bears the usual indications of aqueous and igneous deposits, but more of the former than the latter.

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