The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Enclosure: Transcript of Letter from S. O. Logemoh[1]to Dusé Mohamed[2]

My Honoured Friend,

I was delighted to have received your last letter in reply to my last to you, and I appreciate your kind sentiments expressed, but believe me, when ever I meet any one who is ready to champion the cause of this ill-used race of ours, I never consider any sacrifice too great to do, even with it I have to loose dear life itself. Except those who do not know, but those who know, must realize how the whiteman with one concerted mind has planned the annihilation of the Negroes all over the World on account of material aggrandizement—even the once exalted England whose sense of justice and humanitarian principles has never been reached by any nation before, particularly in days of Gladstone[3] and those highly Christianed statesmen, but today the tendency is rather to fool the Negroes with Heaven paved with Gold and brutalize and bruise his soul in this world for the gold here. However[,] now that Europe has been put on the balance let us venture to hope that, that one time righteous England may be made to realize the power of God above all things else which will make her decide as before “justice and right” for all millions of black subjects that have been entrust[ed to] her, then shall she come out victorious in this conflict of nations. I pass on—Really until a people can dev[e]lop along Commercial lines they are never considered any consequence—the Africans at least one or two who in the past endeavoured to bridge the difficulty have always met with over-whelming forces[4] which naturally paral[y]ze their attempt and all this wicked device is to make the African remain forever, “hewers of wood and drawers of water” but a new age is dawning, and a soul of another King is beginning to rouse the slumberer, in another 20 years there will be an astounding result of this much ill-used African Race. What the African wants all-over is Education, particularly Industrial Education.[5]
The American Negro is not yet awake from sleep, I have met a Russian Jew with whom I am engaged in business in West Africa—of course the Negro cannot yet realize the value of co-operation.
We are organizing an Industrial Mission in Africa with some West Indians who have acquired useful experience, of course we shall go without any noise until we are firmly established.
I may at times want to forward some parcels to West Africa and will forward to you as there is no direct parcels post from here.
We are looking forward to the re-appearance of your valuable journal and I shall not relax my interest and will do all my best to further its interest.
I shouldbe obliged if you can please let me have the addresses of Lawyer
Merriman,[6] and Mr. J. Eldred Taylor[7]—apologising for long writing. With sentiments of best regard, yours
Sd. S. o’Kagoo Logemoh
P.S. (On separate slip of paper). The Rev. Norman Wilson will be glad to know the price of the Koran published by you.[8] With thanks in advance. Sd. S. O. Logemoh.
PRO, CO 554/36. TLT.
[1] S. O. Logemoh (b. 1878), Sierra Leonean-born Liberian entrepreneur, usually referred to in Monrovia as “Professor,” resided in the U.S. from 1916 to 1920; for part of that time he was a student at North Carolina State College at Greensboro. He was involved with the Philadelphia-based African Steamship and Saw Mill Company in promoting a plan, in June 1920, to charter and operate a steamship between the U.S. and Africa. After returning to Liberia that same year, he established the African Industries Company, with the idea of shipping and trading African produce in the U.S. With the assistance of veteran African-American journalist John E. Bruce, he hoped to obtain support for his company by attending the August 1922 UNIA convention as a delegate; after his travel plan failed, nothing was heard of him again until 1932, when the Liberian government sent him to Gbanga, in the interior, to persuade local chiefs to reject a League of Nations plan for white district commissioners (Logemoh to John E. Bruce, 5, 15, 22, and 24 June 1922, NN-Sc, JEB; DNA, RG 84, General Correspondence: 1922, 811.1, June 1920; Svend Holsoe, Institute for Liberian Studies, Philadelphia, to Ibrahim Sundiata, 18 November 1985; MGP 6:520–521 n. 1).
S. O. Logemoh (passport photograph)
[2] Dusé Mohamed Ali (1866–1945), Pan-Africanist editor of the African Times and Orient Review (ATOR) and early mentor of the young Marcus Garvey, was born in Alexandria, Egypt. (He was known as Dusé Mohamed until he added “Ali” to his name in 1919.) The son of a Sudanese mother and, reputedly, an Egyptian army officer, he was brought to England at a young age by a French officer friend of his father. He established a stage career as a touring Shakespearean actor, performing in North America and the English provinces. By 1902 he had abandoned the stage for a financially uncertain career in journalism, acquiring a reputation as a fearless critic of European imperialism and a champion of the Muslim faith. He was associated with the Fabian weekly New Age, at that time edited by Alfred Richard Orage (1873–1934), but the two parted company when it was revealed that Ali’s widely acclaimed nationalist account of Egyptian history, In the Land of the Pharaohs (1911), was plagiarized from other works. Despite this scandal, the book was well received by black scholars of the time in West Africa and the U.S., and on its strength Ali was elected a corresponding member of the New York-based Negro Society for Historical Research, founded by Arthur Schomburg and John E. Bruce. Ali developed a personal and professional relationship with Bruce, sharing with him an interest in the commercial as well as political advancement of the black race. Ali also helped with the arrangements for the Universal Races Congress held in London in 1911 and met a number of prominent West African merchants and professional men, including Joseph E. Casely Hayford and J. Eldred Taylor.
A newspaper venture with Taylor fell through, but with the assistance of Taylor and other West Africans, Ali launched A TOR in July 1912. The journal earned Ali considerable renown among the colonial and black American intelligentsia but did little to advance his own business aspirations. Moreover, his attacks on colonial policy and his espousal of Turkish and Indian nationalism—together with his support of “Ethiopianism”—branded him a political subversive in British official circles. Ali became acquainted with Garvey in London in 1912, employing him for a few months as a messenger at the ATOR office. He then dismissed Garvey because of alleged laziness and poor character. Relations between the two remained cool for a decade. A letter from Ali attacking Garvey’s character is reported to have been read at a UNIA meeting in New York in 1917.
From 1911 to 1919 Ali was active in several organizations with an Islamic or pro-Turkish stance. He was also active in the League of Justice of the Afro-Asian Nations and the African Progress Union, an association of West Indian and African exiles founded in London in 1918. Technically a Turkish national, he came under increasing suspicion when the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the German side. He became involved in wartime charities directed toward the relief of war-wounded Indian Muslim soldiers and volunteered to join the British army. Skeptical British officials rejected this offer, as well as his bids to tour West Africa in 1914 and 1917 to raise a war loan among the African populace—and to pursue his own business schemes at the same time.
Even before ATOR collapsed in December 1920, Ali’s attention had turned to business ventures.
Characteristically, these combined racial advancement with self-interest. To further the interests of his Africa and Orient Trade Exchange, he paid his first visit to West Africa in July 1920. He spent several months in Lagos, Ibadan, and the Gold Coast in an unsuccessful attempt to interest local entrepreneurs in banking and produce-buying ventures, though at Ibadan he was sympathetically received by J. Akinpelu Obisesan. Around this time he also sought unsuccessfully to persuade President C. D. B. King of Liberia to accept an international loan from a black American consortium rather than from European or white American sources. None of these schemes materialized, and at the end of 1920 Ali became a director of the London-based Inter-Colonial Corporation. It was on behalf of this company that he traveled to the U.S. in mid-1921 to arrange a cocoa-purchasing deal. Ali claimed that his Gold Coast partners cheated him and left him penniless in New York. He survived by giving public lectures, and when another business venture, the American African Oriental Trading Company, collapsed, he turned in desperation to his pan-Africanist contacts and through John E. Bruce met up again with Garvey.
In July 1919 Garvey had written Ali, asking him to book London’s Royal Albert Hall and several provincial venues for a proposed tour of England in order to promote the UNIA, but Ali had ignored the request. Despite their earlier ill will, the rapprochement with Garvey was of advantage to both men. By 1922 Ali was a regular contributor to the Negro World, was appointed head of its Africa section, and was named UNIA foreign secretary in a petition to the League of Nations that year. Garvey, meanwhile, benefited from Ali’s connections in Africa and the Middle East and from his association with Pan-Islamic circles, his business networks, and his reputation as a journalist, as well as his subscription lists for ATOR. Ali drifted away from the UNIA by 1924, but his attitude toward Garvey did not seem negative. His portrayal of Garvey (as “Napoleon Hatbry”) in his autobiographical novel, Ere Roosevelt Came, was sympathetic (in marked contrast to his treatment of W. E. B. Du Bois), and his obituary notice for Garvey printed in the Comet was generous.
Ali remained in the U.S. for several years after leaving the UNIA, maintaining his interest both in pan-Africanism and trade with West Africa. After his American African Oriental Trading Company collapsed, he formed another short-lived company, the America-Asia Association, combining a commercial consulting service with cultural functions. Ali held office in the Native African Union of America in the late 1920s and became involved in promoting the grandiose business plans of the Gold Coast businessman Winifried Tete-Ansá.
Ali then returned to West Africa as an agent for a New York cocoa buyer. Denied entry to the Gold Coast, he and his wife turned up virtually penniless in Lagos in August 1931; there they were also prevented from disembarking. In desperation he wrote a note from the ship to Herbert Macaulay, then Nigeria’s leading nationalist politician, seeking his help. Ali had met Macaulay in England in 1920 and had also written him in 1928 promoting Tete-Ansá’s business schemes. Macaulay persuaded Dr. C. C. Adenyi-Jones, a close friend and political ally, and Dr. J. C. Vaughan (1833–1937), a popular medical practitioner, to provide bonds to enable Ali and his wife to come ashore. Predictably, Ali’s business plans collapsed, but his friends found him work in journalism.
Initially employed as a columnist on the Nigerian Daily Times, he became managing editor of the Nigerian Daily Telegraph in February 1932. Finally, with the financial support of his friends and admirers in Lagos, he was able to acquire his own newspaper, the Comet. One of his financial guarantors was A. S. W. Shackleford. The paper, initially a weekly, was moderately successful financially, building up a circulation of three to four thousand. By 1936 it had acquired its own printing press. Because of Ali’s technical and literary accomplishments the Comet was regarded as the best-produced newspaper in Lagos at the time. Nnamdi Azikiwe, then a rising politician and newspaper proprietor, obtained a controlling share of the Comet in February 1945 and full ownership following Ali’s death on 26 June of that year (Agent 800 [James W. Jones] to G. F. Ruch, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., 14 October 1921 and 3 March 1922, DJ-FBI, file 10537; cable from Wright, London, to secretary of state, Washington, D.C., 6 April 1921, DNA, RG 59, file 811.108G 191/3; Ali to Bruce, 12 September 1919, enclosing Garvey’s letter to Ali, 18 July 1919, NN-Sc, JEB; PRO, CO 554/35/55250; PRO, FO 371/3728/316; General Correspondence 1931, IU, HM, box III, file 10; Ian Duffield, “Dusé Mohamed Ali and the Development of Pan-Africanism, 1866–1945” [Ph.D. diss., University of Edinburgh, 1971], 2:660–678; Comet, February–October 1934; Dusé Mohamed Ali, “Leaves from an Active Life,” Comet, 12 June 1937–5 March 1938; Ian Duffield, “Dusé Mohamed Ali: An Example of the Economic Dimension of Pan-Africanism,” JHSN 4, no. 4 [1969]: 571–600; Robert A. Hill, “The First England Years and After, 1912–1916,” in Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa, ed. John Henrik Clarke [New York: Random House, 1974], pp. 38–76; Claude McKay, Harlem: Negro Metropolis [New York: E. P. Dutton, 1940], p. 147).
Dusé Mohamed Ali
[3] William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898) was prime minister of Britain from 1868 to 1874, 1880 to 1885, in 1886, and from 1892 to 1894. Edward Wilmot Blyden had begun corresponding with Gladstone in 1860 because of their mutual interest in classical literature. The two men met the next year in London, and Gladstone offered to support Blyden in a British university; Blyden declined, however, because he felt unable to commit the time necessary for full-time study outside of Liberia. In 1866 and again in 1871 Blyden visited England, where he was Gladstone’s guest at the House of Commons and through him met many influential scholars and clergymen (Hollis R. Lynch, Edward Wilmot Blyden: Pan-Negro Patriot, 1832 – 1912 [London: Oxford University Press, 1967], pp. 14–15, 26–27, 174, 180; WBD).
[4] From the early part of the century a number of commercial efforts were launched by Africans and African Americans to develop economic and trade ties. The most spectacular, even though it ended in tragic failure, and the one that could be considered the legitimate forerunner of the Garvey movement, was the Akim Trading Company, established in 1911 by Chief Alfred Charles Sam of the Gold Coast. It successfully purchased a ship and returned to the Gold Coast with a party of forty-nine African-American colonists, arousing strong opposition from the British government and the Gold Coast colonial administration. Chief Sam’s attempt at colonization, however, was from the outset supplementary to the goal of establishing trade. While the Akim Trading Company appealed for assistance among both Africans and African Americans, it extended a special inducement of stock “for our brethren in Africa to get into this movement” (Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, New York, Certificate of Incorporation of the Akim Trading Company, Brooklyn, New York, 21 July 1911). Sam’s main body of support was the U.S. African-American community, particularly after the company’s land acquisitions in the Birim Valley region of the Gold Coast came to the attention of black leaders in Oklahoma in 1911–1912 through advertisements by the African League. At this point the company’s original character as a commercial enterprise changed to encompass the aim of African-American immigration to Africa. Official hostility, combined with severe logistical problems in meeting the needs of the eventual colonists, many of whom died in Africa, led to the movement’s ultimate collapse in 1915 and 1916.
There were several other less well known attempts at establishing commercial ties between Africa and the U.S. African-American community. In March 1902, for example, W. E. B. Du Bois was involved as secretary in a Philadelphia-based venture calling itself the African Development Company whose purpose was to raise fifty thousand dollars in capital stock to be used, among other aims, “to acquire land in East Central Africa . . . for the cultivation of coffee and other products.” The prospectus also stated the company held “contracts with certain native chiefs for valuable concessions of land” (quoted in Herbert Aptheker, “W. E. B. Du Bois and Africa,” in Pan-African Biography, ed. Robert A. Hill [Los Angeles: African Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, and Crossroads Press, 1987], p. 100). It is not known if it reached the stage of actual incorporation.
The New York and Liberia Steamship Company was promoted in 1904 by James Robert Spurgeon, formerly U.S. chargé d’affaires in Monrovia, Liberia, and Augustus C. Faulkner, late machinist in the U.S. navy, with the aim of running a line of steamers between New York and Liberia. Potential stock buyers were urged to “rally and seize the extraordinary opportunity to establish yourselves firmly in the commercial and shipping life of New York and foreign parts of the globe” (Col ored American Magazine 7, no. 11 [November 1904]: 702).
The African Mining and Real Estate Company of America was organized in Brooklyn, N.Y., by E. E. Pettis, later secretary of the Akim Trading Company; among its board of directors were Bishop Alexander Walters (chairman), Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, and John E. Bruce.
The Chas. W. Chappelle Company of Brooklyn, N.Y., began trading in Africa in 1910. In 1912 its founder, Charles Ward Chappelle, an engineer and architect from Pittsburgh, visited the Gold Coast; upon his return to the U.S., he organized the African Union Company in December 1913, which absorbed the earlier firm and became incorporated in New York State in March 1914. The company reportedly controlled substantial amounts of mahogany in the territory of the Gold Coast. Chappelle relocated to Sekondi, Gold Coast, in April 1914, where he established himself as a mahogany merchant. Among the officers of the company was Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute.
In 1915 the African Steamship and Saw Mill Company was established by Rev. Lewis Garnett Jordan (1853–1939), president, and Bishop W. H. Heard, treasurer, of the Baptist Foreign Mission Society of Philadelphia. It was financed by members of the Baptist and AME churches and chartered under the laws of the state of Delaware. In March 1919, the company was reorganized through the efforts of S. O. Logemoh, who attempted to negotiate with the U.S. Shipping Board for purchase of a vessel.
In the fall of 1917, one year after Garvey’s arrival in the U.S., the African Industries Company was launched in New York, with the aim, according to William H. Ferris, of “laying plans for the commercial development of West Africa and urging black men to co-operate with each other” (New York Amsterdam News, 11 February 1925).
Garvey’s Black Star Line, organized in 1919, also had the goal of linking America, Africa, and the West Indies. Its problems of undercapitalization, technical inexperience, and poor logistical planning were similar to these earlier efforts at achieving self-supporting economic and trade relationships between the various parts of the African world (Colored American Magazine 7, no. 12 [December 1904]: 735–742; New York News, 2 April 1914; Jamaica Times [Kingston], 3 October 1914; African Telegraph [London], December 1914; Cris is 20, no. 5 [September 1920]: 239; Mission Herald [Philadelphia] 24, no. 15 [October 1921]; John O. Garrett, “Part Played by Negroes in Ancient and Modern Shipping Graphically Told,” NW, 14 July 1923; “Alfred Charles Sam and an African Return: A Case Study in Negro Despair,” Phylon 23, no. 2 [1962]: 178–196; A. G. Hopkins, “Economic Aspects of Political Movements in Nigeria and in the Gold Coast, 1918–1939,” JAH 7, no. 1 [1966]: 133–152; J. Ayodele Langley, “Chief Sam’s African Movement and Race Consciousness in West Africa,” Phylon 32, no. 2 [summer 1971]: 164–178; Ian Duffield, “Pan-Africanism, Rational and Irrational: Review Article,” JAH 18, no. 4 [1977]: 597–620; Robert A. Hill, “Before Garvey: Chief Alfred Sam and the African Movement, 1912–1916,” in Pan-African Biography, ed. Hill, pp. 57–77; Allister Macmillan, ed., The Red Book of West Africa [1920; reprint, London: Frank Cass, 1968], p. 215; William E. Bittle and Gilbert L. Geis, The Longest Way Home: Chief Alfred C. Sam ’ s Back-to-Africa Movement [Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1964]).
Chief Alfred C. Sam
[5] While schools devoted to teaching African Americans manual trades emerged as early as 1864, the first institution to devote its educational mission to industrial and agricultural subjects was the Hampton Institute, founded in Atlanta in 1868 by Samuel Chapman Armstrong. Booker T. Washington, who had taught at Hampton, brought such teaching to national preeminence at Tuskegee Institute, and it was given further support by the million-dollar John F. Slater Fund, established in 1882, for schools with manual-trade instruction. In the eyes of many whites, such training would instill “morality,” encourage “self-help,” and provide a steady supply of labor. Furthermore, the narrow emphasis on trades, at the expense of liberal arts, served southern whites in limiting the access of African Americans to business and politics (August Meier, Negro Thought in America, 1880 – 1915 [Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963], pp. 85–93; Kenneth James King, Pan-Africanism an d Education [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971], pp. 1–9).
[6] Probably a reference to Augustus Boyle Chamberlayne Merriman-Labor of Sierra Leone, otherwise known as Augustus Merriman (alias Ohlohr Maiji), lawyer and author of several books, including An Epitome of a Series of Lectures on the Negro Race (Manchester, England, 1899) and Britons through Negro Spectacles; or, A Negro on Britons, with a Description of London (London, 1909). The latter was said to contain amusing but “shrewd comments on English manners and customs from the point of view of an educated African” (“Through Negro Spectacles,” Jamaica Times, 23 October 1909). A Creole, Merriman-Labor was employed for a number of years as a clerk in the colonial secretariat in Sierra Leone, and was the editor of the Handbook of Sierra Leone for 1901 and 1902 (Manchester, England, 1902). From 1910 to 1915 he was a barrister-at-law at 31 Chancery Lane, London. In 1913 he assisted the British Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society in organizing a conference with Africans in England. During World War I he worked as an examiner at Royal Engineers Stores, in Woolwich, England (African Telegraph, April 1919; ATOR, n.s., 1, no. 4 [14 April 1914]: 84; Christopher Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone [London: Oxford University Press, 1962], p. 581; Leo Spitzer, “The Sierra Leone Creoles, 1870–1900,” in Africa and the West: Intellectual Responses to European Culture, ed. Philip D. Curtin [Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1972], pp. 121–129; PAM, p. 294).
[7] John Eldred Taylor, West African editor, businessman, and pan-African activist, was the son of the Rev. Eldred Taylor, government chaplain of the St. George’s Cathedral, at Freetown, and thus was born into the upper echelons of Krio society. Although born in Sierra Leone, he claimed to descend from Nigerian royalty. His brother, Henry Ernest Warren-Hastings Taylor, was the manager of a London trading company in Accra; his sudden death at the age of thirty-six prompted the largest African funeral in London to date. John Eldred’s business interests extended throughout British West Africa. A small-business promoter with little capital and high ambitions, he attempted to raise West African capital to develop West African resources at a time when merchants and farmers were being squeezed out by giant firms, such as Lever Brothers. He claimed to be the only African in London at that time who had studied stockbroking and “worked in the offices of London bankers” (African Telegraph, April 1919). According to his description, he was not involved in trade, but only in making investments in stock markets.
In 1911 Taylor was in London on business, as well as to protest to the Colonial Office against what he regarded as the bullying of the Lagos newspaper, the Nigerian Times, by colonial authorities. He initiated the publication of the African Times and Orient Review (ATOR) in July 1912, inviting Dusé Mohamed Ali to edit it. When Taylor failed to meet operating expenses, a group of influential West Africans in London took over its publication, to Taylor’s disapproval.
In November 1914 Taylor founded and edited a second magazine in London, the African Telegraph. During World War I he assumed an ultraloyal posture toward the war effort, but with the armistice he reopened an editorial attack which he had begun in ATOR on the practice of flogging in British West Africa. The African Telegraph also covered the 1919 race riots in Great Britain extensively. In 1918 Taylor and others founded the Society of Peoples of African Origin (SPAO), a pan-African pressure group based in London, whose stated goals were the furthering of the general interests of blacks everywhere and the promotion of closer commercial ties between blacks in the metropole and the colonies. The African Telegraph became the SPAO’s official organ. Both the society and its newspaper seem to have folded in 1919 because of financial difficulties. Also in 1919, Taylor formed an organization for the “Abolition of slavery in South Africa,” enlisting the support of white liberals in London and holding meetings and circulating petitions in connection with the SANNC delegation in England at that time.
Taylor represented the SPAO at the 1919 Pan-African Congress in Paris, and he attended the London session of the 1921 congress, at which he spoke highly of British rule in West Africa. In August 1921, just before his departure for England, Taylor published a pamphlet in Accra entitled He That Would Be Free. Described as “an unusual document,” it was viewed by a number of prominent citizens as the work of “a stranger meddling in their politics and which is supposed to strike at the basic routine of the political aspirations of the people of Accra” (Gold Coast Leader [Cape Coast], 20 August 1921). He also took part in the 1923 session of the NCBWA in Freetown. In 1945 he participated in the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England (Daily Mirror [London], 8 November 1919; African Telegraph, April, July–August, and December 1919; SLWN, 17 January 1920; Gold Coast Leader, 21–28 February 1920; Ian Duffield, “Dusé Mohamed Ali: An Example of the Economic Dimension of Pan-Africanism,” JHSN 4, no. 4 [1969]: 571–600; idem, “John Eldred Taylor and West African Opposition to Indirect Rule in Nigeria,” African Affairs 70, no. 280 [July 1971]: 252–268; W. F. Elkins, “Hercules and the Society of Peoples of African Origin,” Caribbean Studies 11, no. 4 [1971]: 47–59; P AM, p. 401; Leo Spitzer, The Creoles of Sierra Leone: Responses to Colonialism, 1870 – 1945 [Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1974], p. 177).
John Eldred Taylor
The Pan-African Congress in session, Paris, February 1919; seated in the middle front row is W. E. B. Du Bois, secretary
    [8]As late as 1911 Dusé Mohamed Ali spoke no Arabic and was basically nonreligious. Yet starting around 1913, he began to get more involved in the religious life of London’s Muslim community, becoming “Vice-President for Egypt” of the Islamic Society. Although there is no indication that he published a Koran, he perhaps supplied them through “The African and Oriental Bureau and Buying Agency,” which advertised its services with the motto “Nothing is too small and nothing is too large” (ATOR, n.s., 4, no. 2 [February 1917]; Ian Duffield, “Dusé Mohamed Ali, Islamic Politics and Pan-Africanism in Early-Twentieth-Century London” [paper presented at annual meeting of African Studies Association, New Orleans, November 1985]).