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of the Dark Continent.*

During the same year the "Treasurer," a vessel sailing under the British flag, came to the shores of the colony bearing a burden of human freight from Africa. The "Treasurer" was supposed to be the property of the Earl of Warwick, but the notorious and rapacious scoundrel, Captain Samuel Argallwho at the time was ruler of the colony of Virginia -also owned a liberal share of the ship.†

From this time on the importation of Negro captives greatly increased-for it was an exceedingly lucrative occupation-and their status soon became almost uniformly that of unconditional slavery. This state of affairs continued throughout colonial times and was not disturbed in any material way until 1808, when laws were passed by the United States Congress prohibiting the African traffic.

However, a strong sentiment against the slavetrade and the increase of Negro population existed almost from the first, and developed and ripened as the slaves became more numerous.

For more than two centuries the conditions existing along the west coast of Africa, and aboard the slavers, constituted a veritable hell. The poor defenseless savages were torn forever from every tie that

*These Negroes are generally believed to have been sold into absolute slavery, but recent research shows that they were sold only into limited servitude. At that time there was no statutory recognition of absolute slavery in the American colonies. Recognition of absolute slavery in the American colonies occurred in Massachusetts in 1641, in Connecticut in 1650, in Virginia in 1661, and later in all the other colonies.

+After thorough research into the history of the times it seems well within the bounds of possibility that the Treasurer— which is known to have visited the colonies during the same year -may actually have preceded the Dutchman, and thus be entitled to the odious distinction of having landed the first indentured Negroes. There is no way of definitely deciding the point.

binds, without mercy and, apparently, without shame, either to die of ill treatment or to spend the remainder of life as chattels of a superior but mercenary race, in a strange land and for the most part under the lash of hard taskmasters. When once captured they were literally without hope, and without reward. Many of them committed suicide aboard ship. Close watch had to be kept to prevent serious financial losses to the captors by this means. To think of these poor wretches being taken by cunning, deception, and sheer force, from their tribal and family relations, and placed immediately and forever under conditions of torture, is grewsome beyond expression.

As a means of economizing space they were frequently packed spoon-fashion (that is laid upon their sides so that their knees and other parts of the body fitted into each other) on a deck constructed for the purpose. In many instances they were put into irons and tied down to a hard plank floor on an ill-ventilated and poorly, if at all, lighted deck, so close to the next above that if they chanced to have a free hand it could easily be extended to the ceiling. In this position they remained during the passagea period of from six to eight weeks. During these passages it was not uncommon for the poor creatures to die of thirst. It was until very recently a common occurrence for a ship to run short of water and on such occasions the imprisoned captives were, of course, the first to suffer. The horrors of the "middle passage," as it is called, are absolutely indescribable. In many cases-if the reader will excuse the inelegant language-these Negroes may truthfully be said to have been bound down to the filthy floor of a veritable dungeon to rot alive. The loss of a third in transit, from deprivation and its incidental diseases, was not at all unusual and it fre

quently happened that more than half perished before reaching their destination. The dreadful facts in these cases were concealed as far as possible, however, the evidence is preserved that in one instance, at least, the ship's crew became so depleted from death and illness-consequent upon the decaying human bodies lashed to the decks below them that the ship came near being lost in a calm sea for want of sailors to man her.

From 1695 onward, statutes were passed imposing duties with the avowed intention of discouraging the traffic, but on account of the great margin of profit these measures all proved, alike, ineffectual. In fact it may well be doubted if those in authority ever intended to arrest the trade by the passage of such laws. It was a convenient means of replenishing the treasury and, superficially, such acts bore the garb of attempted justice. They were designed rather to appease those who feared the consequences of further increase in Negro population on the one hand, and, on the other, that much larger class who, having no interest in the profits, were clamorous for justice. The penalties were not sufficient to arrest the trade even if they had been rigidly enforced, and if we may judge from the constant and open violations their enforcement was never intended. In other words, the arrest of the abominable practice was contrary to the wishes of those in authority, which is the best of evidence that the powers behind the representatives were in reality opposed to closing our ports to the trade.

In 1818 certain members of Congress made another attempt-apparently in good faith-to enact an efficient law, but when the measure reached the President it had been so completely emasculated by members dominated through interests favorable to

a continuation of Negro importations, that it was scarcely worth the paper upon which it was written. In practice it proved wholly inefficient.

At the following sessions (1819) those fearing the continuation of the trade, and the alarming increase in Negro population, succeeded in passing an act, which, if it could have been rigidly enforced would have practically ended the shameful capture and barter of these human beings. But its execution proved largely a failure, partly owing to the impossibility of guarding our entire Atlantic coast and partly in consequence of the neutrality, or open sympathy, of a large class with those engaged in the trade.

Beginning with the seventeenth century and continuing well into the nineteenth-a span of more than two hundred years-all the maritime powers of Europe, aided by the American colonies themselves, took an active part in Negro slave-trade.

Spite of the conviction and desire of a certain portion of humanity, that right should rank gain, it is lamentably true that when put to the trying test of a personal application, a distressingly large portion of the race has always been found on the side of private gain. Even in the midst of our vaunted Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-American civilizations, and in this year of our Lord 1913, this statement still holds good. In all the dark chapters of human history there are none more humiliating and shameful than the damnable annals of this Negro slave-trade. It must ever remain as an uneradicable blot on the pages of American history.

If we were under no other obligations to our black brothers, we could never free ourselves of the debt which these revolting facts entail. When we reflect upon these dark records of the deeds of our ances

tors, those of us who accept the doctrine of a universal and uninterrupted reign of natural law apparently possess a more comfortable faith than those who believe in an interposing Providence; for science teaches that natural law has ordained that one living creature should ever prey upon another, and that the stronger should subjugate, and often exterminate, the weaker. In the human species we see no exception, save in so far as civilization has developed his mental faculties, thereby softening his baser animal instincts, and supplementing the simpler laws of na


The mother country-as we have always fondly regarded old England-deserves the highest praise for her humane attitude and action on this question of legalized capture and enslavement of human beings, during the latter years of the practice. By an act of the British parliament in the year 1833effective August 1, 1834-twenty million pounds sterling was appropriated to provide liberty for an inferior and alien race. In addition to this (and beginning with this period) she spent annually more than five million pounds sterling and sacrificed thousands of her seamen in the maintenance of her African squadrons-all for the benefit of the despised Negro race.

On August 1, 1834, slavery for life was forever abolished within the bounds of the British Empire. This recognition of Great Britain of the obligation due an inferior and subject race by a superior and dominant one, has no parallel in history. Our own emancipation of four million slaves by a single edict is not a parallel, it being an unintentional and unforeseen consequence of civil war. Other nations have abrogated the practice of slavery, but this has usually come to pass reluctantly, and by force of cir

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