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[29] banishment thither of felons from the mother country seems to have provoked no serious objection. That such a colony, in such an age, should have existed thirteen years prior to the introduction of Negro Slavery, indicates rather its weakness and poverty than its virtue. The probability is that its planters bought the first slaves that were offered them; at any rate, the first that they were able to pay for. When the Pilgrim Fathers landed on the rock of Plymouth,1 Virginia had already received and distributed her first cargo of slaves.2

There is no record of any serious opposition, whether on moral or economic grounds, to the introduction of slaves and establishment of Slavery in the various British, Dutch, and Swedish Colonies, planted along the coast between the Penobscot and the Savannah rivers during the succeeding century. At the outset, it is certain that the importation of negro chattels into the various seaports, by merchants trading thither, was regarded only with vague curiosity and marvel, like that which would now be excited by the experimental introduction of elephants or hippopotami as beasts of burden. Human rights, in the abstract, had not yet been made a theme of popular discussion, hardly of philosophic speculation: for English liberty, John Hampden had not yet poured out his blood on the battle-field, nor Algernon Sidney laid his head on the block. The negroes, uncouth and repulsive, could speak no word intelligible to British or Colonial ears, when first imported, and probably had a scarcely clearer conception of their own rights and wrongs than had those by whom they were surrounded. Some time ere the middle of the Seventeenth Century, a British Attorney-General, having the question formally submitted to him, gave his official opinion, that negroes, being pagans, might justly be held in Slavery, even in England itself. The amount of the fee paid by the wealthy and prosperous slave-traders

1 December 22, 1(20. The first slaves brought to Virginia were sold from a Dutch vessel, which landed twenty at Jamestown, in 1620.

2 “ In the first recorded case (Butts v. Penny, 2 Lev., 201; 3 Kib., 785), in 1677, in which the question of property in negroes appears to have come before the English courts, it was held, ‘that, being usually bought and sold among merchants as merchandise, and also being infidels, there might be a property in them sufficient to maintain trover.’ ” --Hildreth's Hist. U. S., vol II., p. 214.

“What precisely the English law might be on the subject of Slavery, still remained a matter of doubt. Lord Holt had expressed the opinion, as quoted in a previous chapter, that Slavery was a condition unknown to English law, and that every person setting foot in England thereby became free. American planters, on their visits to England, seem to have been annoyed by claims of freedom set up on this ground, and that, also, of baptism. To relieve their embarrassments, the merchants concerned in the American trade” (in 1729) “had obtained a written opinion from Yorke and Talbot, the attorney and solicitor general of that day. According to this opinion, which passed for more than forty years as good law, not only was baptism no bar to Slavery, but negro slaves might be held in England just as well as in the Conies. The two lawyers by whom this opinion was given rose afterward, one of them to be chief justice of England, and both to be chancellors. Yorke, sitting in the latter capacity, with the title of Lord Hardwicke” (in 1749), “had recently recognized the doctrine of that opinion as sound law. (Pearce v. Lisle, Ambler, 76.) He objects to Lord Holt's doctrine of freedom, secured by setting foot on English soil, that no reason could be found why slaves should not be equally free when they set foot in Jamaica, or any other English plantation. All our colonies are subject to the laws of England, although as to some purposes they have laws of their own I His argument is that, if Slavery be contrary to English law, no local enactments in the Colonies could give it any validity. To avoid overturning Slavery in the Colonies, it was absolutely necessary to uphold it in England.” --Ibid,m p. 426.

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