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[28] gainful and jealous monopolies, and its profits were greedily shared by philosophers, statesmen, and kings.1

When, in 1607, the first abiding English colony — Virginia — was founded on the Atlantic coast of what is now our country, Negro Slavery, based on the African slavetrade, was more than a century old throughout Spanish and Portuguese America, and so had already acquired the stability and respectability of an institution. It was nearly half a century old in the British West Indies. Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, and British vessels and trading companies2 vied with each other for the gains to be speedily acquired by purchasing, or kidnapping, young negroes on the coast of Guinea, and selling them in the American colonies of their own and other nations. The early colonists of Virginia were mainly adventurers of an unusually bad type — bankrupt prodigals, genteel spendthrifts, and incorrigible profligates, many of whom had left their native country for that country's good, in obedience to the urgent persuasion of sheriffs, judges, and juries. All were intoxicated by the common illusions of emigrants with regard to the facilities for acquiring vast wealth at the cost of little or no labor in the Eden to which they were attracted. Probably no other colony that ever succeeded or endured was so largely made up of unfit and unpromising materials. Had it not been backed by a strong and liberal London company, which enjoyed for two or three generations the special favor and patronage of the Crown, it must have perished in its infancy. But the climate of tide-water Virginia is genial, the soil remarkably fertile and facile, the timber abundant and excellent, while its numerous bays and inlets abound in the choicest shell-fish; so that a colony that would fail here could succeed nowhere. Tobacco, too, that bewitching but poisonous narcotic, wherewith Providence has seen fit to balance the inestimable gifts of Indian Corn and the Potato by the New World to the Old, grew luxuriantly on the intervals of her rivers, and was eagerly bought at high prices by the British merchants, through whom nearly every want of the colonists was supplied. Manual labor of all kinds was in great demand in the English colonies; so that, for some time, the

1 “A Flemish favorite of Charles V. having obtained of this king a patent containing an exclusive right of importing four thousand negroes annually to the West Indies, sold it for twenty-five thousand ducats, to some Genoese merchants, who first brought into a regular form the commerce for slaves between Africa and America.” --Holmes's Annals of America, vol. i., p. 3.5.

“In 1563, the English began to import negroes into the West Indies. Their first slave-trade was opened the preceding year on the coast of Guinea. John Hawkins, in the prospect of a great gain, resolved to make trial of this nefarious and inhuman traffic. Communicating the design to several gentlemen in London, Who became liberal contributors and adventurers, three good ships were immediately provided; and, with these and one hundred men, Hawkins sailed to the coast of Guinea, where, by money, treachery, and force, he procured at least three hundred negroes, and now sold them at Hispaniola.” --Ibid., p. 83.

“Ferdinand” (in 1513) “issued a decree declaring that the servitude of the Indians is warranted by the laws of God and man” --Ibid., p.32.

“Every freeman of Carolina shall have absolute power and authority over his negro slaves, of what nation or religion whatsoever.” --Locke's Fundamental Constitution for South Carolina.

2 According to Bancroft, upon the establishment of the Assiento Treaty in 1713, creating a Company for the prosecution of the African Slave Trade, one-quarter of the stock was taken by Philip of Spain; Queen Anne reserved to herself another quarter, and the remaining moiety was to be divided among her subjects. “Thus did the sovereigns of England and Spain become the largest slave-merchants in the world.”

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