Meetings of the Liberated Africans
The Colored American
“Meetings of the Liberated Africans,” The Colored American. May 22, 1841.
We announced in our last, that the meeting of these brethren at the Tabernacle on Wednesday, the 12th inst., was equalled in interest by no meeting during the week, and was numerously attended. The proceedings were as follows :
The Hon. James G. Burney was called to the chair. The throne of grace was addressed by the Rev. Christopher Rush, after which Mr. Lewis Tappan proceeded to apologize to the audience for the absence of the Hon. John Quincy Adams, who was expected to be present, by announcing that he was detained at home, in writing out his argument in their defence. He next stated the object of the meeting to be, to show first, the improvement these brethren had made since they have been in this country— to raise money for their support and education during their further stay among us—to aid in sending them home, when they shall have got the necessary information preparatory to so doing, and to excite the sympathy of the public in relation to the establishment of a mission, which it is hoped will grow out of this case.
Mr. Booth, their teacher, next proceeded to make some statements, giving an account of the success which had attended his efforts to instruct them. He related many incidents respecting them, which had come under his own observation. He also related some things which he learned from them in regard to their native country—that the people live in small houses—have laws—are hospitable and honest—that the son, when old enough, does the work for his father, he himself retiring from any further labor, and that the children always live with their parents.
The Africans next read twice round from the New Testament, by which they showed the success with which they had mastered our language, as well as the proficiency they had made in learning to read. While some had done better than others, they had all succeeded beyond all human expectation. Only reflect, they had first to learn the language of the country, before they could understand, so as to receive instruction, and having been here but 19 months, and only having had a teacher constantly since October last, and now to read with ease in the New Testament, is amazing. Who could have outdone them ? They sung two hymns in English with great melody and harmony, and sung, also, two of their native songs.—Kinna, an amiable looking youth about 18 years old, and who has been hopefully converted, made an address in English, giving the history of their captivity, and making many remarks as to what he considered to be the American character. Cinque made an address in his native language, with great energy, and appealing occasionally to his associates for proof, and who always responded. When Cinque arose at any time, great bursts of applause resounded from all parts of the house.
The meeting on the Thursday following, in the same place, was well attended, and in some respects, we are informed, was more interesting than the former one.—We were unable to attend, but learn that the proceedings were about the same as on Wednesday, with some additional questions put to Kinna by persons in the audience, and which, on account of the readiness and correctness with which he answered them, quite astonished the assembly.
The following Friday, another meeting was held, by request, in the church, corner of Thompson and Houston streets, and which was crowded. The exercises were the same as at the previous meetings, so far as time would allow, and the audience was equally interested in the proceedings, as at the former meetings.
On Monday evening last, another meeting was held by request in Zion Church, corner of Church and Leonard streets. The audience was principally made up of colored people, and we do not recollect of ever having seen a larger assemblage of our people upon any occasion.—Messrs. Tappan and Booth were more brief in their statements than at the Tabernacle, but the Africans were more interesting, we thought, than at any of the previous meetings. Kinna in giving a brief history of his being taken from his own country, of his being carried to Cuba, and the scene on board the Amistad, &c., stated, “you are my brethren, the same color as myself,” and seemed to feel himself at home, and his address was exceedingly concise, distinct and happy. James Covey, also, the interpreter, who came from the same country, though in another vessel, made an admirable address, which drew tears from nearly every eye, and the manner in which he quoted and illustrated Scripture was amazing, and would serve as quite a lesson to a learned divine.
These meetings all have excited great attention, and have been of an exceedingly interesting character. The one at the Tabernacle on Wednesday,we regarded as a consuming fire to prejudice. We do not believe that any went away with the same views, and the same feelings in relation to any one in whose veins courses African blood. The event of the landing of these brethren upon our shores is to be, not without its beneficial effect, as well to the colored population of this country, as it promises to be to Ill-fated Africa.