previous next

[418] under Charles the Fifth, France, under Louis thirteenth, and England, under Elizabeth, all granted to favorite subjects a monopoly of the slave trade, and each derived revenue from the traffic; and African slavery and the slave trade became a part of the political system of each of these great European powers. England was the last to approve and encourage this traffic. At, first its advantages were rejected by her continental provinces, but at length they engaged in it with great activity and success; and the profit to the colonist, as well as to the crown, induced England to demand from Spain, by the treaty of 1763, a monopoly in the African slave trade. It continued until suspended by our Revolution. And in 1788, when Mr. Pitt presented a petition to Parliament for its prohibition, it was estimated to amount 30,000 slaves, with an export of English goods to the amount of £ 800,000 sterling, bringing a return value of £ 1,400,000 and a revenue to the country by the tax on slaves of £ 256,000 sterling. And it is now little more than two centuries, since a few of these wild barbarians, naked, savage idolaters, black from the burning sun of their native clime, with knotted and combined locks, more like the wool of the beast than the hair of the human head, savage ill taste, manner, and disposition, were brought as slaves from the wilderness of Africa, to clear the forest and open the way for civilization in the British colonies of North America. Nobly has this race done the great work required, and in doing it they have become civilized, and they have multiplied in numbers with a rapidity far exceeding the increase of the Israelites during their bondage in Egypt, until now they number nearly 4,000,000 of people. And their improvement in personal appearance, in feeling and sympathies, in civilization and religion, is not less wonderful than their increase of population. And while they have been elevated in the scale of human beings, while they have been lifted up from the condition of the untamed, naked barbarian, from a condition of superiority only to the brute in the form of man, to a comparatively high social position, to a capacity for receiving and enjoying the blessings of the Christian faith, while they have made comfortable homes and supplied themselves abundantly with food and raiment, the surplus productions of their labor has done more for commerce, navigation, manufactories, and the general prosperity of our ,own country, has done more to give employment, has done more to feed the hungry and clothe the naked of other nations, than any other institution on earth. Under the cultivation and care of African slaves, an exotic plant, known for ages in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and America, but there comparatively of little value to commerce and the civilized world, a stranger to our soil and climate, it has been by their strong hands brought to a perfection before unknown. The fibre of this plant, filling an important place between flax and wool, next to bread has become one of the most important productions of human labor. Besides the clothing of nations, besides the employment of labor and capital, with the great profits in our own country, besides a medium of exchange between Europe and America to the annual value of near 200,000,000 of dollars, besides giving employment to more tonnage and navigation than any other article of commerce, and besides the profit and employment which it gives to people of other foreign nations, it gives employment and subsistence to nearly six millions of people in the British empire. All this is a part of the great work and results of African slavery. And though England, ever foremost in every great enterprise, has searched the globe for soil and climate, and has tried, by rigorous compulsion, with many other races, under a far worse system of bondage, she has found no other country, and she has found no other labor, to supply her great and increasing demand for cotton; and she feels and knows her dependence on us, and on our African slave labor, to supply a material constituting one of the greatest sources of her wealth, and essential to sustain her vast national power. A failure of our cotton crop for three years would be a far greater calamity to England than three years war with the greatest power on earth. And, next to the failure of the grain crops of Europe and America, she would suffer most from a failure of our cotton crop.

This race, so distinctly marked by nature with inferiority, physical, moral, and mental, as forever to forbid amalgamation, and keep it distinct from our own, has become a great class of laboring, civilized people, domesticated with the white race, and dependent on the discipline of that race for the preservation of the civilization it has acquired. It has now become a nation considerable in numbers, and justly considerable, for its usefulness to the whole civilized world. Members of this race form a part of the domestic association of almost every family in the South; and although the relation of master and slave is that of authority on one hand and obedience on the other, there is a mutual dependence, which produces mutual sympathies, mutual kindness, and mutual attachments. The African seems designed by the Creator for a slave; docile and humble, with a heart full of the kindest sensibilities, generally grateful and affectionate, and with a mind incapable of a higher elevation than that which is required to direct the machinery of his limbs to useful action. He is naturally social, cheerful, and contented; and when he has a good master, which is generally the case, he is much the happiest man. The rapid increase of numbers proves his comforts of life. All his wants are abundantly supplied, and he has no care for to-morrow, either for himself or his posterity. His spirit and pride of character wants the elevation; and his mind wants the capacity, to contemplate slavery as a degradation; and no liberty, no

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
England (United Kingdom) (5)
Europe (3)
America (Netherlands) (2)
North America (1)
France (France) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
W. H. Pitt (1)
Elizabeth (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1788 AD (1)
1763 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: