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ARTICLE III.-AFRICAN CIVILIZATION AND THE COT
Julius Caesar is reported to have said, that for the certainty of discovering the sources of the Nile, he would even abandon the civil war. Perhaps had we as a nation given due encouragement to the exploration of interior Africa, with a view to civilizing that continent, by developing its natural and industrial resources, by opening a lawful and profitable commerce, by establishing with its people political relations upon the basis of justice and of mutual respect,-imparting to them the arts of peace, and the knowledge of Christianity,-we might never
, have been called to defend our government, our constitution, our capital, our dearest rights, against the audacious treason of a slave-state confederacy. The present slave-holders' rebellion dates its origin, first, from the indirect toleration of the slavetrade by the federal constitution, for the period of twenty years; in which time the slave population gained upon the white population in every Southern state, in a ratio ranging
, from three per cent. to seven,-thus creating an important moneyed and political interest in favor of slavery. And the rebellion dates, secondly, from the invention of the cotton-gin in 1793, which, in two years, increased the export of cotton from one hundred and thirty-eight thousand pounds to five and a quarter millions of pounds—since increased to nearly twelve hundred millions of pounds--and by stimulating the culture made cotton thenceforth a source of wealth and power to the South, for the sake of which she clutches her system of slave-labor with ever increasing jealousy and tenacity. The financial and political
* This article was originally prepared as an address before the African Civili. zation Society, and its rhetorical cast is retained for convenience, though several points have been much elaborated.
+ The value of the entire cotton crop of the United States in 1791, was. $ 333,000 1831, was.
$ 76,000,000 1801, 8,000,000 1841,
67,400,000 1811, " 12,500,000 1851,
112,000,000 1821, “ 38,000,000 | 1861, say.
140,000,000 Prices have fluctuated from 9 cts. to 44. See in Ure, Vol. 2, p. 405.
interests of the South being so largely involved in the existence of slavery—a capital of hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in her four million slaves, and a favoritism in the basis of Congressional representation being conceded to the slavestates--every motive of cupidity and ambition combines with the pride of caste and the instinct of self-preservation to unite the slaveholders of the South in the determination at all hazards to uphold and perpetuate slavery. For this they have sought by political maneuvre to control the government, and to cajole or subjugate the North. Perceiving at length that the swelling census of the Free states, and the infusion of the sentiment of justice and the hereditary love of freedom into the political action of those states, were likely to break down its domination and to check its selfish ambition, this slaveholding oligarchy resolved to rend and destroy the Union; and fail. ing of this, has made war upon the government and people of these United States. No doubt we shall put down this rebellion--shall break its head and the power of its leaders. No doubt, warring in the sacred names of Justice, of Freedom, of Humanity, we shall vindicate the government and the Constitution against treason and anarchy. But the spirit of treason and rebellion will fester in the South while slavery exists; and unless the Providence of God shall sweep away that system by the storm of war which its abettors have invoked, it will not be abolished so long as it retains its financial value and its monopoly of one great staple of civilized life. Therefore, had we given to Africa the means of breaking down the slaveholders' monopoly in cotton, we might have been spared the cost of civil war.
We have chosen to bring the question of African capacity and destiny into our own bosom, till it has distracted our councils, destroyed our trade, and driven us to war as the only refuge from anarchy and the terrorism of a slaveocracy. When we shall have thoroughly subdued this rebellion, we must carry the war literally into Africa, and teach her people how to fight against slavery with the cotton gin, and from behind cotton bales of their own making.
Africa has been happily styled “the continent of the future.”
The ancients looked upon Africa as a land of mystery and terrors. Burning wastes and barren mountains, wild beasts and noxious reptiles, creatures half men, half beasts, men without language or articulate voice, living naked in earth-holes, and feeding upon serpents, worshiping devils only, and cursing the sun as their enemy; others having their heads beneath their shoulders ; others crawling like the kangaroo-such was the picture which ignorance and fear had early drawn of Africa and its inhabitants, and traces of which are found even in the scholarly pages of Herodotus and Pliny. Shakespeare puts such stories into the mouth of Othello to woo the gentle Desdemona :
“ Wherein of antres vast, and deserts wild,
And yet the ancients had withal a story of Mount Atlas, which may well serve as a type of the African continent and its history. The Atlas range they imagined one huge mountain, which from the midst of the sands raises its head to the heavens ; rugged and craggy on the side looking toward the outer world, but on the side facing the interior of Africa, shaded by dense groves and refreshed by flowing streams-fruits of all kinds springing up there spontaneously, so as to more than satiate every possible desire. By day no inhabitants of this mountain can be seen, but all is silent, as the dread stillness of the desert; but by night it gleams with innumerable fires, and reechoes with the notes of the flute and the pipe, and the clash of drums and cymbals. “The space,” says Pliny," which intervenes before you arrive at this mountain is immense, and the country quite unknown.” But while modern research has corrected the physical geography of the Atlas region, and dispelled its mysteries, it fully confirms the statement of Pliny, that the trees of Africa are “ covered with a flossy down, from
which, by the aid of art, might be manufactured a fine cloth like the textures made from the produce of the silk-worm."*
Like the fabled Atlas of the ancients has stood Africa itself upon the map of history.
of history. Its interior an immense unknownwalled in from the civilized world by desert and mountain-a drear, silent, forbidding waste. But already through the night, we see the kindling fires of peopled homes, and catch the wild music of free and joyous races; and beyond the desert are gushing fountains and streams of life, luxurious fruits and refreshing shades; and most of all, there is everywhere that flossy tree, which art has learned to fabricate into textures that vie with the silks of a Roman Senator.
The map of Africa in its physical geography, presents one of the most striking configurations upon the surface of the globe. It has been likened to “
“ an enormous peninsula attached to Asia by the isthmus of Suez”—which alone hinders its complete circumnavigation.t North of the equator it reaches out westward a huge bulging head; south, it converges to a triangle with its apex at the cape; in its extreme length and breadth measuring about equal, five thousand miles either way. Washed by the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the Indian oceans, its shore is fringed with irregular but often luxurious streams, while North, West, South and East, great rivers, the Nile, the Niger, the Congo, the Zambesi, open the path of commerce into the far interior. Mountains and highlands girdling im
* Nat. Hist., B. V, c. i.
Pliny makes frequent mention of the cotton-plant as indigenous to Africa. “[pper Egypt, towards Arabia, produces a shrub which some call gossypium, others xylon, from which are made cloths called xylina. The shrub is small, and pro duces a fruit like a bearded nut, from whose downy contents a yarn is spun.
No cloth is superior to this in softness and whiteness. The garments made from it are preferred to all others by the priests of Egypt.” (Nat. Hist., XIX, c. 2.)
The botanical name of the cotton-plant is gossypium, and the shrub, which Pliny so minutely describes, can be no other. In B. XII, c. 21, Pliny speaks of a tree on the island of Tylos, in the Persian gulf, known by the name of gossy pinus, which “bears a kind of gourd about the size of a quince; which, when arrived at maturity, bursts open and discloses a ball of down, from which a costly kind of cloth is made.” Cotton fabrics anciently were highly valued.
+ The re-opening of the ancient canal, now promised by Mons. de Lesseps, will surround Africa with the waters of the sea.
mense plateaus, navigable lakes—some of them two or three hundred miles in length, by from forty to ninety in widthvast grazing plains alternating with arid wastes, present a continent alike marked in structure and in resources, now challenging the enterprise, as it had long baffled the curiosity of the civilized world.
The most reliable statistics (by Dieterici of Prussia) give to Africa an area of about 9,000,000 square miles, or nearly one fourth the surface of the globe-a continent three times greater than Europe, only one third less than America.* Its population is computed in round numbers at 200,000,000, or one sixth of the estimated population of the globe-one fourth that of Asia, three times that of America. Africa is rich in valuable woods-dye woods, ornamental woods, ship timber, especially the indestructible teak; every variety of palm-the date palm, the oil palm, the cocoa ; it yields coffee, rice, wheat, maize, millet, indigo, ginger, tobacco, sugar, cotton, salt, nuts, and legumes in endless variety ; has mines of gold, silver, copper, iron ; and can furnish ivory and skins, medicinal and aromatic gums, in quantities to satiate the markets of the world.
So large a section of the globe, so well endowed by nature, invited the inquisitive gaze
of commerce even when commerce hugged the coasts of continents, and threaded only their most accessible arteries. History tells of great seats of empire upon the continent of Africa. Not to speak of Egypt, which has ever been as unique in its civilization as it is isolated in position, nor of Carthage, which drew its strength and vitality from the Punic race, nor of the Roman empire that overspread the Mediterranean coast of Africa, the scholar ponders the stories of Lybia and Ethiopia, from IIomer and Herodotus down to Pliny and Strabo, with the conviction that the true aboriginal races of Africa once had a name and rank in the vanguard of nations. Heeren, in his “Historical Researches,” remarks, that " Except the Egyptians, there is no aboriginal people of Africa with so many claims upon our attention as the Ethiopians; from the remotest times to the present, one of the most celebrated and