Establishment of the Negroes in Nova Scotia Appendix 17
Glenelg to Campbell, 25 Oct. 1837:
I have received your Dispatch No. 92 of the 25th. August bringing under my notice the state of the Refugee Slaves who in 1814 were removed from the United States and became Settlers in Nova Scotia, & recommending that you should be authorized to transfer as suggested by the House of Assembly these People from their present sterile locations to some other part of the Province where more fruitful Lands belonging to the Crown might be given to them for their support.
I need not assure you that it would afford me much pleasure to have it in my power to improve the unhappy condition of these Blacks. The mode however in which you propose that this should be done is open to serious & I fear insuperable objections.
The free gift of any part of the Waste Lands of the Crown would involve a departure from the spirit as well as the letter of the present Land Regulations, to the strict observance of which the faith of Her Majesty's Government has been so repeatedly pledged. Her Majesty's Government feel that they would not be justified in sanctioning any infringement of those Regulations excepting in cases where satisfactory proof could be adduced that the Public interest imperatively required their relaxation. In the present instance no such proof is afforded. On the contrary the measure is merely an expedient for the relief of these People, the principle as well as the success of which seems to be very doubtful. It is assumed that their possession of a fruitful soil would stimulate them to industry. But it does not appear why the pressure of necessity accompanied by facilities, which, from their being located near large towns I presume must exist for procuring employment & consequent maintenance by their labor, has not hitherto proved a sufficient stimulus to their industry. If the want & privations from which they have so long suffered have not furnished sufficient inducement to active and industrious habits, I should fear that the mere occupation of rich Land would fail of that effect. The proposed scheme appears to me directly calculated to cherish the mistaken & mischievous notion, that if they are to subsist at all, it must be as proprietors of Land and not as Laborers for hire.
The adoption of your proposal I perceive would be attended by another difficulty. I refer to the Expenditure which would be required to enable those People to remove to their new locations and to commence their operations. There are but two sources from which funds could be derived for that purpose either the Colonial Revenue or the Imperial Treasury. After the liberality which has already been extended by the Assembly towards these People, I cannot assume that they would consent to appropriate any more of the Public money for their benefit. With regard to applying to the Imperial Parliament for a Grant for this purpose, Her Majesty's Government feel that they could not consistently do so, without establishing a most inconvenient precedent, & exciting expectations which could not be realized amongst a class of Settlers in some of the British Colonies whose improvidence has reduced them to great poverty & distress.
The information however to be collected from your Dispatch is not sufficient to enable me to arrive at a definitive decision on the subject. I would wish you to institute enquiries in order to ascertain
1. Whether these Blacks enjoy the same means of obtaining in the vicinity of their locations, a livelihood, in common with others of the laboring class, by their own exertions.
2d. If that should not be the case, whether other parts of the Province do not offer an eligible opening for their employment as Laborers.
& 3d. Whether in that case the Assembly would be disposed to vote a moderate sum to enable the parties to transfer their Labor to those Districts.
Date: Publication No. 8, Halifax, N.S., The Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1948
Author: Prepared by C.B. Fergusson, Assistant Archivist under the direction of D.C. Harvey, Archivist
Reference no.: Commissioner of Public Records Nova Scotia Archives RG 1 vol. 422, no. 50 (microfilm no. 15463)