Lower California as a Negro Home
A unique and somewhat startling proposition was broached this week by
Senator Teller, at Washingtonstartling insomuch as it shows what class of
schemes it is considered perfectly proper for our Congressional representatives
to father and endorse. This scheme contemplates the appropriation of the modest
sum of $50,000,000 for the purpose of enabling a negro colony to emigrate to and
settle in Lower California, said sum to be bonded for a period of forty years at
a low rate of interest, by which time the promoters of the scheme presume the colony
will be able to refund the debt.
The matter began with a petition to Congress complaining of the injustice
to which our negro population is subject under existing social conditions and laws,
and asserting that the only way out of the difficulty is to give the negro population
an opportunity to form an independent and self-supporting colony for itself, where
its members may be at liberty to acquire wealth and work out their own social and
political salvation in their own way.
The scheme is so visionary and Utopian in character that it leads one
to doubt either the sanity of its projectors or the accuracy of the report as to
the conditions under which it is proposed to found the colony in question.
In the first place Lower California cannot be appropriated and colonized
in the off-hand and wholesome way which the originators of the scheme evidently
have a childlike confidence in their ability to perform. The Mexican Government
has something to say on the matter, and might possibly object to an Ethiopian influx
of the dimensions which such a movement might assume.
In the second place it is a very grave and still a most doubtful question
whether the arid, barren and sparsely settled peninsula stretching from San Diego
to Cape San Lucas, could support, much less provide comfortable homes and the increased
wealth aimed at, for a great colony such as an expenditure of $50,000,000 would
necessarily imply. Scheme upon scheme has been originated during the past twenty
years for the appropriation and colonization of Lower California by adventurer after
adventurer. Gold mines, pearl fisheries, cattle ranches, and what not have been
sprung upon the unwary all over that delectable region. Everyone remembers the outcome
of the Magdalena Bay excitement. The Topolobampo farce, though enacted on the Mexican
mainland at the other side of the gulf of California, was played upon in most respects
similar to that of the peninsula.
Cynical persons might hint that there is a nigger in the fenceno
pun intendedin the present proposition, and that someone interested in working
off lands in the barren peninsula, has got to the ear of the confiding Washington
negro preachers and others who are moving in the matter, and by specious representations
has induced them to believe that Lower California is a land flowing with milk and
honey, in short the Promised Land for the oppressed Ethiopian race.
Once let such an idea become imbued in the negro mind, its volatile and
enthusiastic character is such, as has been repeatedly shown in similar movement
of the past, that the exodus would not stop till most of the five millions of the
race upon the continent took part in it.
What untold misery might result from such a movement as the wholesale
deportation of a race not yet proved capable of self-government to an inhospitable
region, the soil of which has not yet been shown to be capable of supporting its
inhabitants by agricultural pursuits, it is not necessary to contemplate.
There never will be a Congress of the United States silly enough to entertain
such a proposition as that of Senator Teller.
San Francisco News Letter
January 17, 1891
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