American Series Sample Documents

Volume VII: November 1927--August 1940

A.&nbspS. Jelf,^1 Colonial Secretary, Jamaica,
to M. D. Harrel,^2 Inspector General of Police, Kingston

Kingston, /30/ November [19]27


[1.] I am directed to inform you that a telegram has been received from the British Ambassador at Washington intimating that Mr. Marcus Garvey has been released and that His Majesty's Consul at Atlanta granted him an Emergency Certificate for deportation to Jamaica on the 23rd November.

2. I am to say that no action should be taken to hinder Garvey from landing in Jamaica. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,

Colonial Secretary

JA, CSO, file 1B/5/79/15. TLS, recipient's copy. Marked "CONFIDENTIAL."

1. Arthur Selborne Jelf (1876--1947), colonial secretary of Jamaica from 1925 to 1935, acted as governor of Jamaica on several occasions during the administrations of Samuel Herbert Wilson, R. Edward  Stubbs, A. Ransford Slater, and Edward Brandis Denham. Before he was stationed in Jamaica, Jelf was a member of the Malayan civil service; he was also active in the British Military Intelligence Service during World War I. He became mayor of Hythe, England, after his retirement from colonial service (Times [London], 27 February 1947; David P. Henige, Colonial Governors from the Fifteenth Century to the Present [Madison, Milwaukee, and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1970], p. 129; WWW).

2. M. D. Harrel was inspector general of police at the headquarters of the Constabulary Department, Kingston, in 1926--1930. He had first entered public service in 1896 (Frank Cundall, ed., Handbook of Jamaica [Kingston: GPO, 1926], p. 193; ibid., [1930], p. 143).

Articles in the Chicago Defender

Garvey Sails with Pledge to Fight on
Hundreds Plan to Join Him in Exile
Jamaicans Celebrate

Kingston, Jamaica, Dec. 9 [10]^1

What is said to have been the most wonderful demonstration ever held here was occasioned on the arrival of Marcus Garvey, who returned to Kingston as a deportee from the United States Wednesday [Saturday].

Bands greeted him at the harbor and he was escorted to Ward theater, where addresses were delivered in his honor by many prominent speakers, including an alderman of the local government.^2

"Good-by, America, farewell my people!" Speaking these words as he stood bareheaded in a driving rain, Marcus Garvey, promoter of the "Back to Africa" movement and founder of the Black Star Line, bade adieu to the nation which had ordered him deported to his native Jamaica on his release from the federal prison at Atlanta, where he served a term for using the United States mails for fraudulent purposes.

Garvey left the United States at 12:15 noon Friday, Dec. 2. He sailed on the United States fruit steamship Sacramacca [Saramacca] bound for Cristobal, Canal Zone. There he will be transferred to another ship bound for Kingston, Jamaica.

Five hundred of his followers crowded the wharves to say good-by. Men, women and children marched in single file during a steady downpour of rain on one of the coldest days of the year to press the hand of their leader and hear what he had to say.

Given $10,000

A committee composed of officers of the Universal Negro Improvement [A]ssociation, of which Garvey is the head, came here from New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh to see him off.^3 One of the leaders announced that members of the association had given Garvey $10,000 to defray expenses of the trip to Jamaica and for settling there after he arrived. He is expected to open offices in Jamaica, it was said.

Half an hour before the ship sailed Garvey made an address from the upper deck of the Saramacca. He said:

I desire to convey to my supporters and friends and to the American public in general my heartfelt thanks for the great confidence they have shown in me at all times and especially during the periods of my trial and imprisonment, which I regard as a wonderful testimony of the knowledge they have of my innocence.

I leave America fully as happy as when I came, in that my relationship with my people was most pleasant and inspiring, and I shall work forever in their behalf. The program of nationalism is as important now as it ever was, and my entire life shall be devoted to the supreme cause. I sincerely believe that it is only by nationalizing the Negro and awakening him to the possibilities of himself that this universal problem can be solved.

Leaves Message

To my white friends I desire to say that I shall always consider their interest in me as a cause for respecting everywhere and always the rights of their Race.

The program I represent is not hostile to the white race or any other race. All that I want to do is to complete the freedom of the Negro economically and culturally and make him a full man. The intelligent white man has and will continue to indorse my program.

The report is current here that thousands of his followers throughout the country are preparing to follow Garvey into exile. According to the report, he is to be joined by an army of men and women---physicia[ns], skilled mechanics and executives---who will be recruited from New York and other American cities.

While Mrs. Amy Jacques Garvey, his wife and head of the empire organization, remained silent on Garvey's plans, it was learned from a reliable source that the "president" intends to go to Africa, where, with this army at his command, he intends to build his empire on the west coast, it was said. He already has, it was announced, established dozens of outposts in the cities along the African coast and in the hinterland.

Garvey carried a silver-headed malacca cane and wore a snappy tailored light brown checked suit. His followers held an umbrella over him as he crossed the wharf and boarded the ship.

Printed in CD, 10 December 1927. Two reports printed as one article under one set of headlines.

1. There is a confusion of dates and facts in these twin reports printed as one article in the Chicago Defender. Although the Chicago Defender dated both reports 9 December 1927, Garvey left New Orleans on Friday, 2 December 1927. Deported on the S.S. Saramacca, Garvey changed ships at Cristobal, Canal Zone, on Wednesday, 7 December 1927, and completed the last leg of his journey to Kingston aboard the S.S. Santa Marta (Panama Star and Herald, 6 December 1927; DG, 10 December, 11 December, 13 December, and 17 December, 1927; NYT, 11 December 1927; NW, 17 December, 1927).

2. Garvey was escorted to Liberty Hall on the day of his arrival in Kingston (Saturday, 10 December); ceremonies took place at Ward Theatre the following evening. People had begun organizing in favor of Garvey's release and preparing for his arrival in Jamaica even before the official pardon was announced. The Kingston UNIA division began to plan a "Garvey release week" at the beginning of November 1927 for the purpose of demonstrating mass support for a presidential pardon. Charles Johnson, the president of the division, served as chair of the organizing committee and vocal supporters included H. A. L. Simpson, Henrietta Vinton Davis, and the reverends C. A. Wilson, S. M. Jones, W. E. Barclay and E. E. McLaughlin (DG, 1 November, 3 November, 4 November, and 14 November 1927). On 30 November 1927 Davis served as chair of a closed meeting in Kingston that a detective estimated was attended by "about three hundred financial members." The meeting was called, as Davis said, "to think out the best plan by which we can accord our leader a hearty reception on his return to his native land" knowing "that the eyes of the world are upon us" ("UNIA Arrangements for the Entertainment of Marcus Garvey on his Return to the Island," confidential report, 30 November 1927, Detective Inspector's Office, Kingston Jamaica JA file 15[v]/D:I:O:36/27). Davis continued to oversee the arrangements for Garvey's arrival which included a mass procession through the streets of Kingston "from the United Fruit Co. Pier, along Port Royal Street, up King Street, along the South Parade, up to the West Parade into the North Parade thence to Upper King Street to Liberty Hall" (DG, 10 December 1927; see also DG, 8 December 1927; NYT, 11 December I927). The procession took place with the support of the Kingston police, who kept order along the parade route. Both the Liberty Hall reception and the mass meeting at the Ward Theatre that took place the following night were full to overflowing, with several hundred enthusiasts congregating outside the respective buildings while the programs commenced within. After the Sunday evening meeting Garvey embarked on a speaking itinerary around the island, wherein, as the Daily Gleaner reported, he visited many "of the country parishes where there are branches of the UNIA" and had "an opportunity of seeing the peasants, and wherever he goes a warm welcome awaits him" (13 December 1927; see also DG, 15 December 1927; NW, 17 December 1927).

3. A reference to E. B. Knox (of Chicago), William Ware (of Cincinnati), S. V. Robertson (of Cleveland), and Samuel Haynes (of Pittsburgh). J. J. Peters, president of the New Orleans division, and J. A. Craigen, executive secretary of the Detroit division, were also with the committee who met with Garvey on board the S.S. Saramacca (E. David Cronon, Black Moses: The Story of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, 2d ed. [Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1969], pp. 142--143).

Article by Cespedes Burke in the Panama Star and Herald

New Orleans, Dec. 9 [2] [Panama, December 8, 1927]

S.S. "Saramacca" Docks at 11.35 with Pres. General Garvey
Receiving U.N.I.A. Delegation of Divisions and Chapter[s]

The steamship Saramacca on which Mr. Marcus Garvey, the President General of the U.N.I.A. and A.C.L. sailed from New Orleans, arrived at Cristobal this morning at 11:35. The delegation to interview him was present as the steamer slowly and majestically approached and drew alongside the pier. After the passengers aboard had debarked the delegates were permitted to board the vessel, when they exchanged warm greetings with the honorable leader who very warmly received them.

The minute the imposing figure of Mr. Garvey was recognized, the delegates as well as all the silver helpers on the pier who were equally eager to see the martyr, their hats were as it were simultaneously lifted in respect, and the immortal hero "Marcus Garvey" similarly responded to their greetings, lifting his hat which more clearly revealed the broad and pleasant smile he wore. He is veritably an indomitable personage.

After shaking hands individually with the delegates, Messrs[.] L. A. Lindo, N. W. Collins, E. I. Moulton, C. Burke, J. A. Parchment, John Thompson and also Mr. Sidney A. Young[,]^1 West Indian Editor of the Panama American[,] Mr. Garvey inquired if there was anything we had to say, and upon learning that we had certain memorials to present we were ushered into the ship's sitting room where a conference was held for approximately two hours.

As the introductory to this[,] however, Mr. L. A. Lindo, President of Division No. 17, Panama, and speaker of the delegates, read the delegates' address of presentation and presented Mr. Garvey with the purse which, raised for him, the body of which was as follows:

We the undersigned representatives of your constituents of the cities of Col&oacuten, Panama[,] and the Canal Zone, numbering approximately two thousand active members, greet you.

When the news of the commutation of your sentence was received on the 24th ult., through the Associated Press, our hearts leaped for joy. It was felt that the freedom of Africa was more evident than before. The nations of the earth have secured their inspirations by war, imprisonment and death, and surely, this your excarceration has vividly brought home the inspiration that "Conquer we must."

We hope that you will not be discouraged, but that you will be greater energized for the stupendous task before you, knowing that the greatest battle is fought immediately before your victory. Remembering tha[t] the silver lining lies behind the darkest clouds, we encourage in the words of the poet:


Courage brother, do not stumble
Though the path be dark as night,
There's a star to guide the humble,
Trust in God and do the right.

We have kept the candle burning though not without great difficulties, and it is with much regret that conditions have deprived us [of] the pleasure of having you on our rostrum before your departure for Jamaica. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that it will not be long ere we shall have the pleasure of greeting you in our Liberty Halls.

There are many questions of vital importance pertaining to our internal welfare and that of the Universal Negro Improvement Association at large which we would like to discuss with you; but it being impossible, we have attached certain memorials for your kind, early consideration and decision. Should you require further facts to establish the correctness (and as we feel) justifiable ground for our request, we shall be only too pleased to furnish same.

In wishing you "bon voyage" to Jamaica, we commit you to the providential care of the Omnipotent. On behalf of our constituents, we beg to present you with this small purse in token of our love and appreciation.

We beg to remain under the undying motto of the Association.

To which Mr. Garvey "formally" replied as follows:

Mr. President and co-workers of the divisions and chapters mentioned, I thank you immensely for this testimonial of your fellowship and your interest in me as President General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association of which you are members.

For years I have been following the work of the organization on the Isthmus; at times I became nerv[o]us about its future because of the many unpleasant . . . happenings, but knowing the race or people as I do, I appreciate the fact that these misunderstandings must arise from time to time.

Coming this way, I thought that I would have had time to meet all the members personally, but because of the peculiar circumstances under which I go to Jamaica and because of the shortness of time, I will not find it possible to visit you in your Liberty Halls as you have suggested, but in my itinerary of the next thirty days I hope to return to Panama and then have the opportunity of meeting the members in person. I intend to visit South America and the West Indies before I go to Europe to represent the interest of the organization. By now and January I expect to visit you.

I want you to realize this, that in all history nothing has been achieved by any people bickering among themselves. To achieve success we must unite in the common cause. This is necessary, and I do hope that even before I return to Panama you will have so welded yourselves together as to leave no chance for the enemies to penetrate.

You are only weakening yourself as a people. Probably in this isolated part of the world you may not realize this.

I appreciate the testimonials that you have given me because you seem to have entered in it the spirit of the movement. Our people have not realized what the movement means. What I have suffered in America is for you and the movement. My leaving the United States of America was as pleasant as my going there. I h[a]d no prejudice in leaving as I had none in going.

Now if you go back to your respective places before I leave tomorrow, I do not want you to misrepresent me in my receiving you to the extent that I am receiving you in disregard for others. As President General it is not in my way of thinking to exclude any member who desires to speak to me either for grievances or cheer.

You will make it clearly understood to your friends and your enemies of the organization that I have absolutely no friends to the exclusion of the U.N.I.A. All the U.N.I.A. members are my friends as long as they have the spirit of the U.N.I.A. The U.N.I.A. means the salvation of the Race. I do not mean to exclude anyone. In going by the other fellows who were not privileged to see me, tell them that I am sorry I could not see them. I want you to bear in mind that we are all Negroes having a tremendous burden upon our shoulders. So whatever your misunderstandings might have been in the past, remember that you are men, and[,] in addition[,] Negro men with one common cause, one common object, one common urge. I want you to keep steadfast to the calling, steadfast to the urge and steadfast to the object. That is the spirit that I want to find among you when I return to Panama.

I want it to be understood that I have millions of friends in the United States. My deportation now is due to the present poli[t]icians now in power.

I respect authority. I want every member of the Association to respect authority, and I am glad that with all your troubles you have respected authorities---those of the Canal Zone Government and of the Panama Government. Our cause is a righteous one and it must triumph.

The Constitution of America is liberal and the Consti[t]ution of England of which I am a subject, fortunately or unfortunately, is also liberal. I am glad that you have so conducted yourselves as to merit the consideration of the Governor of the Panama Canal in allowing you to see me. To him I am thankful and with your conduct I am pleased.

I thank you for your interest and for your purse and I want you to go back to your members and give them my credit and greetings. This is all I can say to you now. [ . . . ]

Printed in the Panama Star and Herald, 8 December 1927. Text abridged.

1. Sidney Adolphus Young (b. 1898), Kingston-born reporter and publisher, began his career in journalism as assistant manager for the Central American News in 1924. He had previously been a proprietor of a mercantile company and a bakery in Panama. He was cable and West Indian editor for the Panama Star and Herald from 1925 to 1928, and from 1928 until his death he served as editor and publisher of the Panama Tribune. Young was described as taking a "leading part in nearly all welfare organizations and active movements for the advancement of West Indians in Panama" (WWJ).

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