Colonization of Free Blacks. Memorial of Leonard Dugged, George A. Bailey, and 240 other free colored persons of California, praying Congress to provide means for their colonization for some country in which their color will not be a badge of degradation [caption title].
In 1862, California African-Americans petition Congress. These African Americans want to emigrate from America to live free of prejudice and inequality.
As the Civil War continues, over 200 African-American Californians seek relief from Congress for racial discrimination. The petition begins this:
This memorial of colored persons, natives of the United States, and residents of California, respectfully showeth:
That in view of the many disadvantages which the colored population of the United States labor under—their being deprived of many of the most important privileges of citizenship, and denied the rights and franchises freely extended to all other native-born citizens, and also to every other class of aliens; their being marked out, not only by law, but also by public sentiment, which is stronger or more effective than law, as an inferior and degraded caste, prevented by the force of circumstances from engaging in honorable or lucrative employments, thus being in a great measure prevented from leading a life either honorable to themselves or useful to their country—a strong and rapidly increasing feeling has grown up among a large portion of the free colored population (probably already a majority of the whole) in favor of emigration to those countries where color is not considered a badge of degradation, and has ceased to act as a barrier to honorable advancement.
While there is considerable diversity of opinion as to the best location to migrate to, some preferring Africa, some the British West India Islands, some Hayti, some South America and Central America, they all seem to agree that either is preferable to remaining under the disabilities imposed upon them in the land of their birth, and a very large majority look upon the first and last named regions, Africa and Central America, as offering greater inducements than any other localities to the industrious emigrant. We therefore pray your honorable body to grant assistance, in such manner as you may deem expedient, to colored natives of the United States who may desire to emigrate to Africa or the tropical regions of America.
The petition continues further until half way down page four; there begins, printed in type in two columns, until p6, the names of the Californian petitioners. It is interesting to note there is no mention of the ongoing Civil War. An eloquent and clear statement of racial discrimination and injustices against African Americans by African Americans.
Author Rudolph M. Lapp notes: “Nothing came of the petition, and the events of the Civil War undoubtedly overtook it. However, its timing suggests that a considerable number of California Negroes shared Frederick Douglass’s despair, that the Civil War would never benefit blacks.”
Description: Colonization of Free Blacks. Memorial of Leonard Dugged, George A. Bailey, and 240 other free colored persons of California, praying Congress to provide means for their colonization for some country in which their color will not be a badge of degradation [caption title].
37th Congress, 2d Session. House of Representatives. Mis. Doc. 31. [Washington: 1862]. 8vo. 6, [2, blank] pp. Removed from a bound volume; fine.
Lapp, Blacks in Gold Rush California (Yale, 1977).
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