"Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois.
John P. Usher to Abraham Lincoln, Saturday, August 02, 1862 (Colonization)
From John P. Usher to Abraham Lincoln1, August 8, 1862
"Department of the Interior
August 2 1862
You will see that the Contract as now proposed provides for the advance in the first instance of a sum to Thompson which is proposed to be limited to such sum as you may think is necessary to enable him to provide means to make the Emigrants reasonably comfortable after their arrival. He must provide Hospital stores, medicines, Physicians, Schools &c. he will also want axes, machettes, hoes, shovels picks, Agricultural implements of many kinds, tools for making roads, and introducing mechanic arts. A small steam Tug boat, Saw mills, a small printing press, and printing materials, and many other things impossible to enumerate in order to make the Emigrants comfortable, and the scheme popular and a success. It is in vain to suppose that it will do to think of putting them in an uncultivated country and anticipate any other than a mortifying and shameful result, without provisions similar to those indicated in the Contract, The 12th Section of the Act of Congress of July 17 1862 is as follows, " That the President of the United States is hereby authorized to make provision for the transportation, colonization and settlement, in some tropical country beyond the limits of the United States, of such persons of the African race, made free by the provisions of this act, as may be willing to emigrate".
It authorizes you to make provision for the transportation, colonization, and settlement of persons of the African race, and I think the word "settlement" means that you are to provide for them after transportation means with which with their own industry added will enable them to make a living, and if by doing that you can establish a friendly colony through which the United States may indirectly gain an important naval and coaling station, I an sure you will try to secure it. We are to remember that th e last Administration contracted to give Thompson $300,000, for privileges no greater not so great as those he now proposes to you and for about the in addition to these for about the same money you will be enabled to emigrate at least ten thousand negroes with the same money. That Contract you know received an almost unanimous vote in the Senate, the sanction of all but two of the naval committee in the House, and a large vote in the House, but was there defeated by the influence of Mr Sedgwick an d Mr Stevens, both of whom are now its friends. The objection of Mr Stevens was that it was not absolutely certain that there was Coal at Chiriqui, is obviated in this, for it is not proposed that any thing shall be laid out for Coal or any work done towards developing the mines, until your Agent from further inspection shall determine that it is proper to do so, and that determination will of course be based upon the productiveness of the mines, and the value of the same for steam purposes. In addition to this of course will be considered the fitness of the harbors &c, so that in that respect you will be in no danger of just censure.
The principle objection of Mr Sedgwick was that the United States could not acquire the title in fee to Territory in foreign countries. That is now obviated by giving you the use.
The Government of New Granada or "Columbia" as it is now called is not deprived of any right for you see in the Contract proposed it is protected, for the rights of the United States and its guarantees see page 898, Vol 9. Sts at Large Art 35. Treaty with New Granada:
Whatever labor the United States may elect to have expended in developing the mines will be repaid in Coal. The only thing we shall lose in this will be the use of the money from the date of the outlay until the delivery of the Coal, and that need be no greater length of time than it will require to develop the Coal. The advantage s you gain in this, is the employment of the blacks and the obtaining the Coal, when the government must want it in large quantities.
The vessels will be only such as you may approve in price and capacity. They will belong to the government until paid for by Thompson and surely there cannot be much chance for loss on them.
Unless this project of colonization is abandoned, wholly by the government some risks will have to be encountered."