To the Secretary and Board of Managers of the American Colonization Society
7 March 1833


[Published in The Liberator (Boston) Volume 3, Number 29, (July 13, 1833), page 109. It was taken from The Emancipator Extra, (June 25, 1833); it was also reprinted in The Antislavery Reporter (New York), Volume 1, no. 2, (July 1833), p. 26. ]



Between sundry citizens of New-York, and Rev. R. R. Gurley, Secretary of the American Colonization Society, Washington City.

NO. 1.




It cannot be unknown to you that many inquiries are made respecting the principles and plans of the important institution whose interests are committed to your charge. You are also aware that if an answer to these inquiries be sought in the speeches and addresses made in support of the Society, and published by order of the Board of Managers, in the Annual Reports of the Society, and in the columns of the African Repository, published also by order of your board, there will be found such a diversity, not to say contrariety of sentiment and opinion, as to afford no room for a satisfactory solution of the prominent questions. If referred to that clause of the constitution of the Society, which specifies and limits its objects, it is known that constructions have been given to this clause, differing as widely from each other, as the conflicting sentiments afloat in the community, on the general subject.

These circumstances, it is well known, have given rise to many doubts, and some serious contentions respecting the character, aims, and tendencies of your important society, among those who have formerly united, without hesitancy in the support of its claims. Nor have these perplexities been diminished, either by the proceedings of the late annual meeting of your society in Washington City, or by the more recent visit of Mr R. .S. Finley, late Agent of the Society, to this city, in connexion with the Resolutions adopted at the meeting held here on the subject,

With these introductory remarks, which we trust will sufficiently apologize for the liberty we are taking, we beg leave, very respectfully, to submit to your board, a few plain questions, soliciting an explicit answer to each, with the view of terminating all uncertainty and doubt, in respect to the principles, aims, tendencies, and purposes of the American Colonization Society.

The Questions are these:

1. Is it, or is it not, among the purposes and aims of the Society to effect the ultimate and complete extinction of slavery, in the United States?

2. Are, or are not, the operations of the Society considered by you a sufficient and adequate system of measures for the accomplishment of that object?

3. Is it, or is it not, claimed by the Society that its operations ought to be considered as covering the whole ground of desirable effort respecting emancipation?

4. Do, or do not, the principles and plans of the Colonization Society involve the position, that expatriation from their native soil is to be made the sine qua non of the emancipation of the enslaved?

5. Would it, or would it not, comport with the principles and plans of the society to transport from their native land the free people of color, should the enactments of the state governments deny them the right of a continual residence within their jurisdiction?

New York, March 7, 1833.

Arthur Tappan,

George Bourne,

William Goodell,

Joshua Leavitt,

Lewis Tappan,

S. P. Hines,

Henry R. Piercy,

Charles W. Denison,

L. D. Dewey,

Theodore D. Weld,

C. G. Finney,

G. R. Barker.