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Lowell History: Visitor Observations 1827-1913

Observations of Lowell by Edward Morris, 1861


No. 7. 
Office No. 916 Arch Street 
"In every point of view, Cotton may be considered as one of the most important of African products. No other article is now so universally used over the whole surface of the Globe; and no other (with the exception perhaps of iron,) fills so eminent a space in the scales of commerce and manufactures. The country which possesses a good growth of cotton, if it owns no other object of traffic, may well be called rich. In Africa this truly useful and ever valuable article is most abundantly and spontaneously produced, and it is superior in quality to that afforded by any other part of the world; while in point of cheapness, the advantage which African cotton possesses is equally great.

We know that the uncivilized natives in the interior of Africa, carry on the cultivation of cotton to a considerable extent; and it is stated, on excellent authority, that from sixty to seventy-five looms for the weaving of cotton cloth are employed in a single native town. But how vast will be the scale of operations when the full energies of a civilized people, with all their varied facilities, and all their practical knowledge, are bent upon the same great work! Then, along the shores of Liberia will be seen rising many lofty warehouses, from whose stores load after load of cotton bales is being transferred to the numerous vessels waiting in the harbor to bear away their freight to every quarter of the earth.

"Further inland, the view will present the huge factory with its humming machinery and busy operatives, the neat factory village with its rows of comfortable dwellings, and the elegant mansion which, with all its attendant luxuries, has been secured to the proprietor of the manufactory by his own enterprise and industry. Such, viewed only as a source of pecuniary profit, are the capabilities of the Liberian cotton trade. But there is a greater and nobler incentive to its prosecution than this. What benevolent and patriotic citizen of Liberia, particularly if he has lived in one of our Southern States, does not often, amid his own free and unlimited privileges and opportunities, reflect upon the condition of those thousands of his race to whom the rights of citizenship and the exercise of choice in the moulding of their own fortunes are entirely unknown? Every piece of labor which the Liberian performs he knows to be so much towards securing case and comfort for himself, and building up an inheritance for his children. But the industry of the slave, though prosecuted from the dawning to the setting of the sun, makes himself not a farthing richer, and cannot secure one morsel of bread to his offspring. This oppressive burden, resting upon so considerable a number of the human race, has long been a source of grief and disquietude to many philanthropic hearts; and the wisest statesmen of America have declared that the great wrong of slavery must prove degrading and destructive to the race which inflicts it, as well as to that which endures it. Yet while all judicious and enlightened minds lamented the  


existence of slavery and dreaded its effects, the evil appeared to have become so deep-seated as to be beyond the possibility of human cure. But at this critical juncture, the Divine Wisdom and Mercy presents a plan of deliverance at once so efficacious and so simple, that the inhabitants of two great continents must hail it with mingled wonder, joy, and gratitude. The principal object of slave labor, and the only plausible excuse which misguided men could offer as a proof of its pretended necessity, is to be done sway with by the removal of the cotton trade from the United States to Africa. The abundant supply of African cotton, its superior quality, and the moderate rate at which it can be furnished, will soon give to Liberia a monopoly of this branch of commerce, and cut off those gains which our Southern planters reap from the involuntary labor of their bondmen.

"The factories of both America and England, Lowell and Manchester, will be supplied with Liberian cotton, not cultivated by repining slaves beneath a foreign sky, but reared by the hands of freemen from the soil of their own country. What conscientious and benevolent man would not far rather deal in a commodity thus produced, then one which he knew to be the result of slave labor? It is upon the Liberians that this great reformatory movement depends, and the prosperous results will be altogether owing to their resolute and persevering industry. No foreign aid will be called in to effect the deliverance of the African; for the proud and ennobling privilege of becoming the liberators of their race is reserved for the Africans themselves. If ever the designs of a just and gracious Providence may be read in the course of human affairs, it was for this that the pioneers of Liberia were guided in safety to her shores, and prospered in their efforts to build up the home of a nation. To restore to all the rights and dignity of men, a race weighed down for centuries by the manacles of bondage; to prove that the African, laboring for himself, can acquire more wealth and commercial importance than was ever gained by the toil of bondmen, and to found a powerful empire where the name and presence of a slave shall never be known, this, as the revolution of time must prove, is to be the grand and glorious mission of Liberia."

E. S. M.