SLAVERY - CRESSON, Elliott (1796-1854)
Autograph letter signed to Member of Parliament Benjamin Hawes, concerning the Spanish slave market in Sierra Leone and the colony at Liberia
Philadelphia: 5 May 1834. 3pp. Later annotation at head of first page.
Scarce letter on the Liberian colonization movement by one of its founders.
Writing to Hawes, a member of Parliament and a committee member of the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade, Cresson wishes for success in the British anti-slavery action off the coast of Sierra Leone, writing "[I] hope that you may yet enjoy the satisfaction of crushing one of the worst & most unacceptable of the slave markets in existence, that at Gallinas..." After mentioning the travels of the colonial governor of Liberia, he writes: "... I have been gratified to learn from several highly respectable sources, that such a Colony as you propose, located either at the mouth of the Cape Mount River, or even a little more to the Northward, say at Sugaree, & provided with a good supply of trade goods to exchange with the natives, would have a powerful tendency to break up the monopoly now enjoyed by the Spanish Slavers. My letters from Africa state that the demand is so great in Cuba, from the ravages of Cholera among their ill-fed human cattle, as to have rendered the shipments from the Gallinas, during the past year, almost unprecedented. It appears that the benevolent efforts of your Govt. are not likely to extirpate the evil, until commercial & agricultural colonies shall be substituted for cruisers." The letter continues with news from their consul at Liberia, before turning to American politics: "... political affairs engrossing the entire energies of the nation. The excitement is painfully great ... Our military chieftan Jackson, by his acts of unauthorized assumption, has called forth a burst of indignation which cannot subside until we get rid of the offender." The letter concludes with an introduction for Gerard Ralston.
Cresson, a noted Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist, was among the most ardent supports of colonization, the movement to relocate former slaves and free African Americans to colonies in Liberia. In 1833, Cresson and the Philadelphia Young Men's Colonization Society, a branch of the American Colonization Society, founded Port Cresson in Liberia. However the colony was attacked in 1835 by Bassa tribesmen, incited by Spanish slave traders, and destroyed.