Transport the Negroes to Nova Zembla
Orpheus C. Kerr

You and we are different races, and for this reason it must be evident to you, as well as to myself, that it is better you should be voluntarily compelled to colonize some distant but salubrious shore. There is a wide difference between our races; much wider, perhaps, than that which exists between any other two races. Your race suffers very greatly, and our race suffers in suffering your race to suffer. In a word, we both suffer, which establishes a reason why our race should not suffer your race to remain here any longer. You who are here are all present, I suppose.

A voice - "Yes, sah."

Perhaps you have not been here all your lives. Your race is suffering the greatest wrong that ever was; but when you cease to suffer, your sufferings are still far from an equality with our sufferings. Our white men are now changing their base of operations daily, and often taking Malvern Hills. This is on your account. You are the cause of it. How you have caused it I will not attempt to explain, for I do not know; but it is better for us both to be separated, and it is vilely selfish in you (I do not speak unkindly) to wish to reamin here in preference to going to Nova Zembla. The fact that we have always oppressed you renders your still more blameable, especially when we reflect upon the fact that you have never shown resistance. A trip on your part to Nova Zembla will benefit both races. I cannot promise you much bliss right away. You may starve at first, or die on the passage; but in the Revolutionary War General Washington lived exclusively on the future. He was benefitting his race; and though I do not see much similarity between his case and yours, you had better go to Nova Zembla. You may think that you could live in Washington, perhaps more so than you could on a foreign shore. This is a mistake. None but white army contractors and brigadiers on furlough can live here.

The festive isle of Nova Zembla has been in existence for some time, and is larger than any smaller place I know of. Many of the original settlers have died, and their offspring would still be living had they lived long enough to become accustomed to the climate. You may object to go on account of your affection for our race, but it does not strike me that there is any cogent reasons for such affection. So you had better go to Nova Zembla. The particular place I have in view for your colonization is the great highway between the North Pole and Sir John Franklin's supposed grave. It is a popular route of travel, being much frequented by the facetious penguin and the flowing seal. It has great resources for ice-water, and you will be able to have ice cream every day, provided you supply yourselves with the essence of lemon and patent freezers. As to other food, I can promise you nothing. There are fine harbors on all sides of this place, and though you may see no ships there, it will be still some satisfaction to know that you have such admirable harbors. Again, there is evidence of very rich bear-hunting. When you take your wives and families to a place where there is no food, nor any ground to be cultivated, nor any place to live in, then the human mind would as naturally turn to bear-hunting as to anything else. But if you should die of starvation at the outset, even bear-hunting may dwindle into insignificance. Why I attach so much importance to bear-hunting is, it will afford you an opportunity to die more easily than by famine and exposure. Bear-hunting is the best thing I know of under such circumstances.

You are intelligent, and know that human life depends as much upon those who possess it as upon anybody else. And much will depend upon yourselves if you go to Nova Zembla. As to the bear-hunting, I thnk I see the means available for engaging you in that very soon without injury to ourselves. I wish to spend a little money to get you there, and may possibly lose it all; but we cannot expect to succeed in anything if we are not successful at it.

The political affairs of Nova Zembla are not in quite such a condition as I could wish, the bears having occasional fights there, over the body of the last Esquimaux governor; but these bears are more generous than we are. They have no objection to dining upon the colored race.

Besides, I would endeavor to have you made equals, and have the best assurance that you should be equals of the best. The practical thing I want to ascertain is, whether I can get a certain number of able-bodied men to send to a place offering such encouragement and attractions. Could I get a hundred tolerably intelligent men, with their wives and children, to partake of all this bliss? Can I have fifty? If I had twenty-five able-bodied men, properly seasoned with women and children, I could make a commencement.

These are subjects of very great importance, and worthy of a month's study of the paternal offer I have made you. If you have no consideration for yourselves, at least consider the bears, and endeavor to reconcile yourselves to the beautiful and pleasing little hymn of childhood, commencing:

"I would not live always;
I ask not to stay."

At the termination of this flattering and paternal address, my boy, the delegation took their hats and commenced to leave in very deep silence; thereby proving that persons of African descent are utterly insensible of kindness and much inferior to the race at present practising strategy on this continent.

Colonization, my boy, involves a scheme of human happiness so entirely beyond the human power of conception, that the conception of it will almost pass for something inhuman.

Yours, utopianically,


The Orpheus C. Kerr Papers, Second Series, George W. Carleton, New York, 1863, pages 131-135.