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and brandy, gentle and joyous themselves, and producers of comfort and luxury for the civilized world,- there seated in the finest climates of the globe, children of the sun,- I am heart-sick when I read how they came there, and how they are kept there. Their case was left out of the mind and out of the heart of their brothers. The prizes of society, the trumpet of fame, the privileges of learning, of culture, of religion, the decencies and joys of marriage, honor, obedience, personal authority, and a perpetual melioration into a finer civility,- these were for all, but not for them. For the negro was the slave-ship to begin with, in whose filthy hold he sat in irons, unable to lie down ; bad food, and insufficiency of that; disfranchisement; no property in the rags that covered him; no marriage, no right in the poor black woman that cherished him in her bosom, - no right to the children of his body; no security from the humors, none from the crimes, none from the appetites of his master ; toil, famine, insult, and flogging; and, when he sunk in the furrow, no wind of good fame blew over him, no priest of salvation visited him with glad tidings ; but he went down to death, with dusky dreams of African shadow-catchers and Obeahs hunting him. Very sad was the negro tradition that the Great Spirit, in the beginning, offered the black man, whom he loved better than the buckra or white, his choice of two boxes, a big and a little one. The black man was greedy, and chose the largest. “ The buckra box was full up with pen, paper and whip, and the negro box with hoe and bill; and hoe and bill for negro to this
But the crude element of good in human affairs must work and ripen, spite of whips, and plantation-laws, and West Indian interest. Conscience rolled on its pillow, and could not sleep. We sympathize very tenderly here with the poor aggrieved planter, of whom so many unpleasant things are said ; but if we saw the whip applied to old men, to tender women ; and, undeniably, though I shrink to say so,-- pregnant women set in the treadmill for refusing to work, when not they, but the eternal law of animal nature, refused to work ;- if we saw men's backs flayed with cowhides, and “hot rum poured on, superinduced with brine or pickle, rubbed in with a corn-husk, in the scorching heat of the sun ;'. if we saw the runaways hunted with bloodhounds into swamps and hills; and, in cases of passion, a planter throwing his negro into a copper of boiling cane-juice,- if we saw these things with
eyes, we too should wince. They are not pleasant sights. The blood is moral: the blood is anti-slavery: it runs cold in the veins: the stomach rises with disgust, and curses slavery. Well, so it happened ; a good man or woman, a country-boy or girl, it would so fall out, once in a while saw these injuries, and had the indiscretion to tell of them. The horrid story ran and flew ; the winds blew it all over the world. They who heard it asked their rich and great friends if it was true, or only missionary lies. The richest and greatest, the prime minister of England, the king's privy council were obliged to say, that it was too true. It became plain to all men, the more this business was looked into, that the crimes and cruelties of the slave-traders and slave-owners could not be overstated. The more it was searched, the more shocking anecdotes came up — things not to be spoken. Humane persons who were informed of the reports, insisted on proving them. Granville Sharpe was accidentally made acquainted with the sufferings of a slave, whom a West-Indian planter had brought with him to London, and had beaten with a pistol on his head so badly that his whole body became diseased, and the man useless to his master, who left him to go whither he pleased. The man applied to Mr. William Sharpe, a charitable surgeon, who attended the diseases of the poor. In process of time he was healed. Granville Sharpe found him at his brother's, and procured a place for him in an apothecary's shop. The master accidentally met his recovered slave, and instantly endeavored to get possession of him again. Sharpe protected the slave. In consulting with the lawyers they told Sharpe the laws were against him. Sharpe would not believe it ; no prescription on earth could ever render such iniquities legal. “But the decisions are against you, and Lord Mansfield, now chief justice of England, leans to the decisions." Sharpe instantly sat down and gave himself to the study of English law for more than two years, until he had proved that the opinions relied on of Talbot and Yorke were incompatible with the former English decisions, and with the whole spirit of English law. He published his book in 1769, and he so filled the heads and hearts of his advocates, that when he brought the case of George Somerset, another slave, before Lord Mansfield, the slavish decisions were set aside and equity affirmed. There is a sparkle of God's righteousness in Lord Mansfield judgment, which does the heart good. Very unwilling had that great lawyer been to reverse the late decisions; he
suggested twice from the bench, in the course of the trial, how the question might be got rid of : but the hint was not taken ; the case was adjourned again and again, and judgment delayed. At last judgment was demanded, and on the 22d June, 1772, Lord Mansfield is reported to have decided in these words: “Immemorial usage preserves the memory of positive law long after all traces of the occasion, reason, authority, and time of its introduction, are lost; and in a case so odious as the condition of slaves, must be taken strictly ; (tracing the subject to natural principles the claim of slavery never can be supported.) The power claimed by this return never was in use here. We can not say the cause set forth by this return is allowed or approved of by the laws of this kingdom ; and therefore the man must be discharged.”
This decision established the principle that the "air of England is too pure for any slave to breathe," but the wrongs in the islands were not thereby touched. Public attention, however, was drawn that way, and the methods of the stealing and the transportation from Africa became noised abroad. The Quakers got the story. In their plain meeting-houses and prim dwellings this dismal agitation got entrance. They were rich ; they owned for debt, or by inheritance, island property ; they were religious, tender-hearted men and women,-and they had to hear the news, and digest it as they could. Six Quakers met in London on the 6th July, 1783,William Dillwyn, Samuel Hoar, Geo. Harrison, Thomas Knowles, John Lloyd, Joseph Woods, — “to consider what step they should take for the relief and liberation of the negro slaves in the West Indies, and for the discouragement of the slave-trade on the coast of Africa.” They made friends and raised money for the slave; they interested their Yearly Meeting ; and all English and all American Quakers. John Woolman, of New Jersey, whilst yet an apprentice, was uneasy in his mind when he was set to write a bill of sale of a negro, for his master. He gave his testimony against the traffic, in Maryland and Virginia. Thomas Clarkson was a youth at Cambridge, England, when the subject given out for a Latin prize dissertation was, “Is it right to make slaves of others against their will ?” He wrote an essay, and won the prize ; but he wrote too well for his own peace; he began to ask himself if these things could be true; and if they were, he could no longer rest. He left Cambridge; he fell in with the six Quakers. They engaged him to act for them. He himself interested Mr. Wilberforce
in the matter. The shipmasters in that trade were the greatest miscreants, and guilty of every barbarity to their own crews. Clarkson went to Bristol, made himself acquainted with the interior of the slave-ships, and the details of the trade. The facts confirmed his sentiment, “ that Providence had never made that to be wise which was immoral, and that the slave-trade was as impolitic as it was unjust ;” that it was found peculiarly fatal to those employed in it. More seamen died in that trade, in one year, than in the whole remaining trade of the country in two. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox were drawn into the generous enterprise. In 1788, the House of Commons voted Parliamentary inquiry. In 1791, a bill to abolish the trade was brought in by Wilberforce, and supported by him, and by Fox, and Burke, and Pitt, with the utmost ability and faithfulness; resisted by the planters, and the whole West-Indian interest, and lost. During the next sixteen years, ten times, year
year, the attempt was renewed by Mr. Wilberforce, and ten times defeated by the planters. The king, and all the royal family but one, were against it. These debates are instructive, as they show on what grounds the trade was assailed and defended. Everything generous, wise, and sprightly is sure to come to the attack. On the other part are found cold prudence, barefaced selfishness, and silent votes. But the nation was aroused to enthusiasm. Every horrid fact became known. In 1791, three hundred thousand persons in Britain pledged themselves to abstain from all articles of island produce. The planters were obliged to give way; and in 1807, on the 25th March, the bill passed, and the slave-trade was abolished.
The assailants of slavery had early agreed to limit their political action on this subject to the abolition of the trade, but Granville Sharpe, as a matter of conscience, whilst he acted as chairman of the London Committee, felt constrained to record his protest against the limitation, declaring that slavery was as much a crime against the Divine law as the slave-trade. The trade, under false flags, went on as before. In 1821, according to official documents presented to the American government by the Colonization Society, 200,000 slaves were deported from Africa. Nearly 30,000 were landed in the port of Havana alone. In consequence of the dangers of the trade growing out of the act of abolition, ships were built sharp for swiftness, and with a frightful disregard of the comfort of the victims they were destined to transport. They
carried five, six, even seven hundred stowed in a ship built so narrow as to be unsafe, being made just broad enough on the beam to keep the sea. In attempting to make its escape from the pursuit of a man-of-war, one ship Aung five hundred slaves alive into the sea. These facts went into Parliament. In the islands was an ominous state of cruel and licentious society; every house had a dungeon attached to it; every slave was worked by the whip. There is no end to the tragic anecdotes in the municipal records of the colonies. The boy was set to strip and to flog his own mother to blood for a small offence. Looking in the face of his master by the negro was held to be violence by the island courts. He was worked sixteen hours, and his ration by law, in some islands, was a pint of flour and one salt herring a day. He suffered insult, stripes, mutilation, at the humor of the master : iron collars were riveted on their necks with iron prongs ten inches long; capsicum pepper was rubbed in the eyes of the females ; and they were done to death with the most shocking levity between the master and managor, without fine or inquiry. And when, at last, some Quakers, Moravians, and Wesleyan and Baptist missionaries, following in the steps of Carey and Ward in the East Indies, had been moved to come and cheer the poor victim with the hope of some reparation, in a future world, of the wrongs he suffered in this, these missionaries were persecuted by the planters, their lives threatened, their chapels burned, and the negroes furiously forbidden to go near them. These outrages rekindled the flame of British indignation. Petitions poured into Parliament; a million persons signed their names to these ; and in 1833, on the 14th May, Lord Stanley, minister of the colonies, introduced into the House of Commons his bill for the Emancipation.
The scheme of the minister, with such modification as it received in the Legislature, proposed gradual emancipation ; that on the 1st August, 1834, all persons now slaves should be entitled to be registered as apprenticed laborers, and to acquire thereby all the rights and privileges of freemen, subject to the restriction of laboring under certain conditions. These conditions were, that the prædials should owe three-fourths of the profits of their labor to their masters for six years, and the non-prædials for four years. The other fourth of the apprentice's time was to be his own, which he might sell to his master, or to other persons; and at the end of the term of years fixed, he should be free.