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LETTER FROM BERNARD KOCK TO ABRAHAM LINCOLN REQUESTING THE COLONISATIN OF ILE-A-VACHE

TO HIS EXCELLENCY,
Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.

Sir:

I beg leave, Mr. President, to present my congratulations to Your Excellency for the promulgation of your late Emancipation Proclamation, and to offer my assistance in carrying out your philanthropic ideas of Colonization as connected therewith.

I need only refer to the destitute and wretched condition of the contrabands who have found their way within the lines of our armies, to rekindle your sympathies in their behalf, and to increase your zeal in promoting their interest and happiness.

The winter will soon be upon us, and whatever may be done in anticipation of its approach, these poor people will be but illy prepared to encounter its rigors; therefore, it is not only our duty, but justice and humanity demand, that we should do something promptly to avert the calamities which might ensue if we neglect them, or hesitate to place them in a position where they can sustain themselves without the further protection and fostering care of the Government.

With this end in view, I respectfully ask Your Excellency to assist me in providing immediate employment and permanent homes for five thousand or more of these destitute people.

The most beautiful, healthy, and fertile of all the islands belonging to the Republic of Hayti, is the Island of A'Vache, which is about twelve miles from the city of Aux Cayes. It covers an area of about a hundred square miles, is known to be free from reptiles, and to have a healthy and agreeable temperature, the thermometer rising rarely above 80° in the shade, in consequence of its exposure to the trade winds. The interior of the island is hilly, in some places rising as high as three hundred feet above the level of the sea. It is well timbered with mahogany, oak, hard, and dye-woods, while in the neighborhood of the coast it is mostly prairie land, and ready for the plough. As would be expected in a country like this, the soil and climate are adapted for all tropical productions, particularly sugar, coffee, indigo, and, more especially, cotton, which is indigenous. Upon the north side of the island is the beautiful Bay of Ferret, with an average depth of twenty-eight feet, upon whose bosom a large fleet could repose in safety, secure from the storms of the ocean; and here it is proposed to erect a commercial city, with all the conveniences necessary to such an enterprise.

Before the revolution which gave St. Domingo to the colored race, a portion of this island was cultivated by the Duke of Praslin, to whom it belonged by right of concession, but the French were driven from it, and for nearly a hundred years it has been a solitary waste, awaiting the hand of industry to awaken its echoes.

Attracted by its beauty, the value of its timber, its extreme fertility, and its adaptation for the cultivation of cotton, I prevailed upon President Geffrard to concede the island to me for twenty years, the documentary evidence of which has been lodged with the Secretary of the Interior.

THE PROPOSED PLAN OF COLONIZATION.

My original intention was to employ Germans and Swiss to cultivate cotton; but, after seeing the contrabands, and learning their destitute condition, their anxiety to be employed, and Your Excellency's desire to colonize them, I yielded to the solicitation of their friends, and have determined, with your assistance, to take at least five thousand, if I can sail with one thousand of them by the last of the present month, which will enable me to plant my first crop, so that it will mature by the first of March next.

I will give each family a comfortably furnished house, with a garden spot attached, and, without extra charge to them, supply all their provisions, provide a hospital and medical attendance, a church, and school-house, with a New England Christian minister, and New England school teachers. With each family I will make a contract for four years, and will pay them more liberal wages than is now paid in any of the West India Islands. At the expiration of the term for which these persons are employed, the Government of Hayti, by a special law, will give to each family sixteen acres of good land, and to each single man eight acres, so that, with this grant, and the money earned during the four years of service, the intelligent negro may enter upon a life of freedom and independence, conscious that he has earned the means of his livelihood, and at the same time disciplined himself to the duties, the pleasures, and the wants of free labor.

I will act as the Governor of the Island, and will personally superintend the operations of my colony, and, by the enforcement of wise and paternal regulations, I will see to the physical and moral wants of those entrusted to my care.

To perfect the establishment of this American Industrial Agricultural Colony, I respectfully solicit Your Excellency to furnish the contrabands with transportation and subsistence for a short period after their arrival upon the Island, and also to furnish the means for providing them with agricultural implements and machinery, and everything else that may be necessary for the successful commencement of the enterprise.

All money thus expended, except for transportation and rations, as above, I propose to refund within two years, and as security for the same, I will give a deed of trust upon all my personal property upon the Island, upon my deed of concession of A'Vache, and I will place at your disposal so much of each of my semi-annual crops as may be agreed upon.

I furthermore propose that a government agent be sent with me, partly as the superintendent of the rights of the colonists and partly with a view of securing the punctual payment of the government funds at the time their installments become due, and that I will entertain said agent while upon my island, free of expense.

Let me now briefly call Your Excellency's attention to the commercial importance of the enterprise. The island of A'Vache has no inhabitants, and it is now proposed to people it with industrious Americans, whose labors will be directed by intelligent, energetic, and enterprising business men and citizens of the United States. The commerce of this island will, in a few years, amotun to several millions, nearly the whole of which will be directed towards our own country, which will not be thethec if ase


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proposed colony is sustained by the British Cotton Supply Association, who would gladly avail themselves of an opportunity so advantageous to their interests.

Lastly, the political importance of this enterprise is such as, in my humble opinion, to demand your immediate attention.

Spain has long coveted the whole of these beautiful and fertile islands; she now claims a large portion of Hayti, and, by authentic private advices, I learn that the Court of Madrid has broken off all negotiations with the Haytien Ambassador, and that the boundary question has been referred to the Captain General of Cuba, from whose decision there will be no appeal.

Another circumstance which should attract the attention of the United States Government is, that the Haytien Ambassador at Madrid was well received so long as the Union cause appeared to prosper, but when the news of General McClellan's defeat before Richmond arrived, a coldness ensued and continued, until at last all diplomatic intercourse entirely ceased.

The successful establishment of such an American colony in Hayti, as proposed, would materially interfere with the ambitious designs of Spain in that quarter, and would greatly aid a young and thriving republic in maintaining her integrity, and would insure each individual thereof, his personal freedom from bondage and oppression.

Permit me to refer Your Excellency, for further information in relation the Island of A'Vache, to the subjoined extract from Moreau St Mery, a well-known authority on St. Domingo, and to the copy of a letter just received from Port au Prince.

I have the honor to remain, Your Excellency's humble servant,
{Omitted text, 2w}
Governor of A'Vache Island.

Washington City, October 1, 1862.

[Copy of Translation.]

Port au Prince, 8th September, 1862.

My Dear Sir: According to promise, I give you the information on the Island of A'Vache, which I have been enabled to gather. First, let me say, that on the 14th of August a law was enacted which forbids the making of any more such grants as yours--you have therefore obtained it in the right time.

With regard to the soil of the Island, all agree that it is excellent, and adapted for the culture of all produce. The coffee there is even better than that of the main island. The heavy rain-falls, as in Aux Cayes, in November and May, is not injurious, however, but you will have to commence the planting of your crops in November, so that the rain does not interfere immediately after planting, or while gathering your crops. The plants which can be raised together with cotton on the same fields, are peas, corn, and hoholi; the latter is highly estimated, and fetches about half the price of coffee; it gives an excellent oil, which you can press yourself on the Island. With regard to the timber, there is also an excellent hard wood for building purposes, which may be sold readily in the country, so that, even in this article, a remunerating business might be done. All information, besides, which I have been able to gather, is very satisfactory. Regarding cotton, we know by actual experiment, that during the present year, the crop was ready to be gathered in two months and twenty-eight days from the time of planting. Not calculating always upon such a fine season, it appears, however, that four months is the maximum from planting till full gathering.

In political matters there is not much news. The President goes, day after to-morrow, to the north of the Island. Spain has broken off all negotiations with the Haytien Ambassador, the boundary question is to be referred to the Captain General of Cuba. A circumstance which should attract the attention of the American Government is, that the Haytien Commissioner to Madrid was well received up to the time that the news was favorable to the Union cause, but as soon as the news of McClellan's defeat before Richmond arrived, a coolness ensued, and continued until they broke off altogether.

Yours, sincerely,
(Signed,)..........Dr. MULLER,
Surgeon General to the Government of Hayti.

B. Kock, Esq.

THE ISLAND OF A'VACHE.

The following description of the Island of A'Vache is extracted from a standard work on St. Domingo, by "Moreau of St. Mery," and published in Philadelphia in 1798.

This Island is about twelve miles S.S.E. from the city of Aux Cayes. It is sixteen miles long, from east to west, by an average breadth of six miles north and south. The Bay of Ferret is from eighteen to thirty feet deep, and was, at one time, the favorite resort of pirates.

The Island owes its name to the immense number of wild cattle which subsisted upon it.

In the year 1698, M. Ducas, the French Governor, conceded the Island to M. Beauregard, who, in 1699, put one thousand sheep upon it.

Originally, this Island did not belong to the St. Domingo Company, but upon the death of M. Beauregard it was conceded to them by order of the Council of State, in 1700. When this Company was suppressed the Island reverted to the crown lands.

During the war of 1756, a famous captain of pirates, who hailed from Jamaica, erected a villa upon the Bay of Ferret, and when peace was declared his farm was still visible.

In 1771 the Island was conceded to the Duke of Praslin, which caused universal indignation, as it was highly regarded by the people for its unsurpassed fertility and the value of its wood. The Duke was the last occupant, and traces of his plantatio are still to be seen.