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[321] been for months the chief subject of deliberation, was
Chap. LX.} 1776. Apr.
discussed through all the next fortnight. One kind of traffic which the European maritime powers still encouraged, was absolutely forbidden, not from political reasons merely, but from a conviction of its unrighteousness and cruelty; and without any limitation as to time, or any reservation of a veto to the respective colonies, it was resolved, ‘that no slaves be imported into any of the thirteen United Colonies.’ The vote was pregnant with momentous consequences. From the activity of the trade in the preceding years, the negro race had been gaining relatively upon the white; and as its power consists in the combined force of its numbers and its intelligence, it might in some part of the continent have endangered the supremacy of the white man; but he was sure to increase more rapidly than the negro, now that the continent was barred against further importations of slaves. The prohibition made moreover a revolution in the state of the black men already in America; from a body of laborers, many of them barbarians, perpetually recruited and increased from barbarous African tribes, they were transformed into an insulated class, living in a state of domesticity, dependent for culture, employment, and support on a superior race; and it was then the prevailing opinion, especially in Virginia, that the total prohibition of the slave trade would, at no very distant day, be followed by universal emancipation.

The first who, as far as appears, suggested that negroes might be emancipated and a ‘public provision be made to transport them to Africa, where they might probably live better than in any other country,’

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