In 1562 John Hawkins
, an English navigator, seeing the want of slaves in the West Indies
, determined to enter upon the piratical traffic.
gentlemen contributed funds liberally for the enterprise.
Three ships were provided, and with these and 100 men Hawkins
sailed to the coast of Guinea
, where, by bribery, deception, treachery, and force, he procured at least 300 negroes and sold them to the Spaniards in Hispaniola
, or Santo Domingo
, and returned to England
with a rich freight of pearls, sugar, and ginger.
The nation was shocked by the barbarous traffic, and the Queen
) declared to Hawkins
that, “if any of the Africans were carried away without their own consent, it would be detestable, and call down the vengeance of Heaven upon the undertakers.”
He satisfied the Queen
and continued the traffic, pretending that it was for the good of the souls of the Africans, as it introduced them to Christianity and civilization.
Already negro slaves had been introduced by the Spaniards into the West Indies
They first enslaved the natives, but these were unequal to the required toil, and they were soon almost extinguished by hard labor and cruelty.
Charles V. of Spain
granted a license to a Fleming to import 4,000 negroes annually into the West Indies
He sold his license to Genoese merchants, who began a regular trade in human beings between Africa
and the West Indies
These were found to thrive where the native laborers died.
The benevolent Las Casas
(see Las Casas, Bartolome De
) and others favored the system as a means for saving the Indian
tribes from destruction; and the trade was going on briskly when the English
, under the influence of Hawkins
, engaged in it in 1562. Ten years before a few negroes had been sold in England
, and it is said that Queen Elizabeth's scruples were so far removed that she shared in the profits of the traffic carried on by Englishmen.
kings of England
chartered companies for the trade; and Charles II.
and his brother James were members of one of them.
After the revolution of 1688 the trade was thrown open, and in 1713 an English company obtained the privilege of supplying the Spanish
colonies in America
, South and Central, for thirty years, stipulating to deliver 144,000 negro slaves within that period.
One quarter of the stock of the company was taken by King Philip V. of Spain
, and Queen Anne of England
reserved for herself the other quarter.
So the two monarchs became great slave-dealers.
The first slaves were introduced into the English-American
colonies by a Dutch trader, who, in 1619, sold twenty of them to the settlers at Jamestown, Va.
After that the trade between North America
was carried on quite vigorously; but some of the colonies remonstrated, and in the Continental Congress, and also in the public mind, there was a strong desire evinced to abolish the slave-trade.
and Cassandra Southwick
were banished from the colony of Massachusetts
, in 1658, under penalty of death if they should return.
Their crime was the embracing of the principles and mode of worship of the Quakers.
Their two children remained behind in extreme poverty.
They were fined for non-attendance upon the public worship carried on by their persecutors.
The magistrates insisted that the fine must be paid, and passed the following order: “Whereas, Daniel Southwick
and Provided Southwick
, son and daughter of Lawrence Southwick
, absenting themselves from the public ordinances, having been fined by the courts of Salem
, pretending they have no estates, and resolving not to work, the court, upon perusal of a law-which was made upon account of debts, in what should be done for the satisfaction of the fines, resolves, that the treasurers of the several counties are and shall be fully empowered to sell said persons to any of the English
natives at Virginia
to answer the said fines.”
, it is said, urged the execution of the measure with vehemence; but, to the honor of the marine service, not a sea-captain in the port of Boston
could be induced to become a slave-dealer to please the General Court.
They were spared the usual brutal whipping of contumacious persons as a special mark of humanity.
In 1662 the Virginia Assembly passed a law that children should be held, bond or free, “according to the condition of the mother.”
This was to meet the case of
mulatto children, born of black mothers, in the colony.
It was thought right to hold heathen Africans in slavery; but, as mulattoes must be part Christians, a knotty question came up, for the English
law in relation to serfdom declared the
A colonial slave-market in the seventeenth century.|
condition of the child must be determined by that of the father.
The Virginia law opposed this doctrine in favor of the slaveholders.
Some of the negroes brought into Virginia
were converted to Christianity and baptized.
The question was raised, “Is it lawful to hold Christians as slaves?”
The General Assembly came to the relief of the slave-holders by enacting a law that slaves, though converted and baptized, should not therefore become free.
It was also enacted that killing a slave by his master by “extreme correction” should not be esteemed a felony, since it might not be presumed that “malice prepense” would “induce any man to destroy his own estate.”
It was also enacted, as an evasion of the statute prohibiting the holding of Indians as slaves, “that all servants, not being Christians, imported by shipping, shall be slaves for life.”
Indian slaves, under this law, were imported from New England
and the West Indies
Freed slaves were then subjected to civil disabilities.
In 1663 the Maryland legislature enacted a law that “all negroes and other slaves within the province, and all negroes and other slaves to be thereafter imported into the province, should serve during life; and all children born of any negro should be slaves, as their fathers were, for the term of their lives.”
The same law recited that “divers free-born Englishwomen, forgetful of their free condition, and to the disgrace of the nation, did intermarry with negro slaves,” and it was enacted for deterring from such “shameful matches” that, during their husbands' lives, white women so intermarrying should be servants to the masters of their husbands, and that the issue of such marriages should be slaves for life.
In 1681 the legislature of Maryland passed a new act to remedy the evils of intermarrying of whites and blacks.
The preamble recited that such matches were often brought about by the instigation or connivance of the master or mistress, who took advantage of the former law to prolong the servitude of their white feminine servants, and at the same time to raise
up a brood of mulatto slaves.
The new law enacted that all white feminine servants intermarrying with negro slaves were free, at once, after the nuptials, and their children also; and that the minister celebrating and the master or mistress promoting or conniving at such marriages were subjected to a fine of 10,000 pounds of tobacco.
In 1682 the slave code of Virginia
It was enacted that runaways who refused to be arrested might be lawfully killed.
Slaves were forbidden to carry arms, offensive or defensive, or to go off the plantations of their masters without a written pass, or to lift a hand against a Christian, even in self-defence.
The condition of slavery was imposed upon all servants, whether “negroes, Moors
, mulattoes, or Indians
, brought into the colony by sea or land, whether converted to Christianity or not, provided they were not of Christian parentage or country, or, if Turks or Moors
, in amity with his Majesty.”
Nearly a century afterwards Virginia
tried to suppress the traffic in African
slaves, and in 1761 it was proposed in her legislature to suppress the importation of Africans by levying a prohibitory duty.
Danger to the political interest of that colony was foreboded by her wisest men in the continuance of the trade.
An act for levying the tax was passed by the Assembly, but in England
it met the fate of similar bills from other colonies to suppress the nefarious traffic.
It was sent back with a veto.
in council, on Dec. 10, 1770, issued an instruction, under his own hand, commanding the governor of Virginia
, “upon pain of the highest displeasure, to assent to no law by which the importation of slaves should be in any respect prohibited or obstructed.”
In 1772 the Virginia Assembly earnestly discussed the question, “How shall we get rid of the great evil?”
, Henry, Lee
, and other leading men anxiously desired to rid the colony of it. “The interest of the country,” it was said, “manifestly requires the total expulsion of them.”
The Assembly finally resolved to address the King
himself on the subject, who, in council, had compelled the toleration of the traffic.
They pleaded with him to remove all restraints upon their efforts to stop the importation of slaves, which they called “a very pernicious commerce.”
In this matter Virginia
represented the sentiments of all the colonies, and the King
knew it; but the monarch “stood in the path of humanity and made himself the pillar of the colonial slave-trade.”
Ashamed to reject the earnest and solemn appeal of the Virginians, he evaded a reply.
The conduct of the King
to write as follows in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence
: “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, capturing arid carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur a miserable death in their transportation thither.
This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King
of Great Britain
Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.”
This paragraph was stricken out of the Declaration of Independence
before the committee submitted it to a vote of the Congress
The unwise regulations of the trustees of Georgia
, which crushed incentives to industry and thrift, and other causes which exist in all new settlements, made that colony languish.
The settlers saw the prosperity of their neighbors in South Carolina
, and attributed the difference to the positive prohibition of slavery in Georgia
This became their leading grievance, and even Whitefield
advocated the introduction of slavery, under the old (and later) pretence of propagating, in that way, Christianity among the heathen Africans
, too, advocated the introduction.
“Many of the poor slaves in America
,” he wrote, “have already been made freemen of the heavenly Jerusalem
were assured by their friends in Germany
of its harmlessness.
Word came to them in 1749: “If you take slaves in faith and with the intent of conducting them to Christ
, the action will not be a sin, but may prove a benediction.”
So it was that avarice subdued conscience.
Already slaves had been introduced into Georgia
from South Carolina
as hired servants, under indentures for life, or for ninety-nine years; and at Savannah
the continual toast was, “The one thing needful,” which meant negro slaves.
Leading men among the Scotch and Germans who opposed the introduction of slavery were threatened and persecuted.
Under great pressure, the trustees yielded, and slavery was introduced on the condition that all masters should be obliged to compel the negroes to “attend, at some time on the Lord
's day, for instruction in the Christian
In 1752 the charter was
A slave auction in New Orleans.|
surrendered to the crown, the colony had all the privileges accorded to others, and flourished.
To completely enslave the English
- American colonies, the British Parliament, in 1750, gave liberty to trade in negroes, as slaves, to and from any part of Africa
, in South Barbary, and the Cape of Good Hope
, to all the subjects of the King
This was designed to fill the colonies with slaves, who should neither trouble Great Britain
with fears of encouraging political independence nor compete with their industry with British workshops; neither would they leave their employers the entire security that might enable them to prepare a revolt.
, a negro slave of James Stewart
, was taken from Virginia
, where he refused to serve his master any longer.
to be arrested and put on board a vessel to be conveyed to Jamaica
Being brought before Chief-Justice Mansfield
on a writ of habeas corpus (December, 1771), his
Slaves on a plantation.|
case was referred to the full court, where it was argued for the slave by the great philanthropist, Granville Sharp.
The decision would affect the estimated number of 14,000 slaves then with their masters in England
, involving a loss to their owners of $3,500,000. After a careful judicial investigation of the subject in its legal aspects, Chief-Justice Mansfield
gave the decision of the court that slavery was contrary to the laws of England
—that slavery could not exist there.
“Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision,” he said, “I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England
, and therefore the black must be discharged.”
The question of prohibiting the African slave-trade by a provision in the national Constitution caused .much and warm debate in the convention that framed that instrument.
A compromise was agreed to by the insertion of a clause (art.
9, clause 1) in the Constitution
, as follows: “The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress
prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax, or duty, may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.”
The idea of prohibiting the African slave-trade, then warmly advocated, was not new. In 1774 the Continental Congress, while releasing the colonies from other provisions of the American Association
(q. v.), had expressly resolved “that no slave be imported into any of the United States
, by her constitution, and Virginia
by special laws, had prohibited the importation of slaves.
Similar prohibitions were in force in all the more northern States; but they did not prevent the merchants of those States from carrying on the slave-trade
elsewhere, and already some New England
ships were engaged in a traffic from the African coast
and South Caro lina.
These States were forgetful of or indifferent to the pledges they had made through their delegates in the face of the world by their concurrence in the Declaration of Independence
, and seemed fully determined to maintain not only the slave system of labor, but the nefarious slave-trade.
did not prohibit the traffic, but denounced the further importation of slaves into the State
as “highly impolitic,” and imposed a heavy duty on future importations.
On the demand of Henry Laurens
, of South Carolina
, who entered into the negotiations for a preliminary treaty of peace, at a late hour, a clause in the treaty (1782) was interlined, prohibiting, in the British
evacuation, the “carrying away any negroes or other property of the inhabitants.”
So this treaty of peace, in which no word had, excepting indirectly, indicated the existence of slavery in the United States
, made known to the world that men could be held as property.
The legislature of Connecticut, early in 1784, passed an act that no negro or mulatto child born within that State after March 1 that year should be held in servitude longer than until the age of twenty-five years.
In 1788 the captain of a vessel in Boston
seized three colored persons, took them to the West Indies
, and sold them there for slaves.
This event caused the legislature of Massachusetts to pass a law to prevent the slave-trade in that State, and for granting relief to the families of such persons as may be kidnapped or decoyed from the commonwealth.
The law subjected to a heavy penalty any person who should forcibly take or detain any negro for the purpose of transportation as a slave, and the owner of the vessel in which such kidnapped man should be carried away incurred, also, a heavy penalty.
The insurance on the vessel was made void; and the relatives of the person kidnapped, if the latter were sold into slavery in a distant country, were allowed to prosecute for the crime.
On May 12, 1789, a tariff bill having been reported to Congress, and being under discussion on the question of its second reading, Parker
, of Virginia
, moved to insert a clause imposing a duty of $10 on every slave imported.
“He was sorry,” he said, “the Constitution
prevented Congress from prohibiting the importation altogether.
It was contrary to revolutionary principles, and ought not to be permitted.”
A warm debate ensued.
It called forth the opposition of South Carolinians and Georgians particularly.
, of Georgia
, made a vehement speech in opposition, in the course of which he said he hoped the proposition would be withdrawn, and that if it should be brought forward again it would comprehend “the white slaves as well as the black imported from all the jails of Europe
—wretches convicted of the most flagrant crimes, who were brought in and sold without any duty whatever.”
This was an allusion to the indentured white servants who were sold by the captains of vessels on their arrival here to pay the cost of their passage, a practice which had been put a stop to by the Revolutionary War
, but partially revived.
The motion was finally withdrawn.
In 1804 a provision was inserted into the act organizing the Territory of Orleans
, that no slaves should be carried thither, except from some part of the United States
, by citizens removing into the Territory
as actual settlers, this permission not to extend to negroes introduced into the United States
The object of this provision was to guard against the effects of an act recently adopted by the legislature of South Carolina for reviving the slave-trade after a cessation of it, as to that State, for fifteen years, and of six years as to the whole Union.
This was a consequence of the vast increase and profitableness of cotton culture, made so by Whitney
On Feb. 15, 1804, the legislature of New Jersey
, by an almost unanimous vote, passed an act to abolish slavery in that State by securing freedom to all persons born there after July 4 next ensuing, the children of slave parents to become free, masculine at twenty-five years of age, feminine at twenty-one.
The rapid extension of settlements in the Southwest
after the War
of 1812-15, and the great profits derived there from
the cultivation of cotton, not only caused the revival of the African slave-trade, in spite of prohibitory laws, but it gave occasion to a rival domestic slave-trade, of which the national capital had become one of the centres, where it was carried on by professional traffickers in human beings.
They bought up the slaves of impoverished planters of Maryland
, and sold them at large profits in the cotton-growing districts of the South and West.
This new traffic, which included many of the worst features of the African slave-trade, was severely denounced by John Randolph
, of Virginia
, as “heinous and abominable, inhuman and illegal.”
This opinion was founded on facts reported by a committee of inquiry. Gov. D. R. Williams
, of South Carolina
, denounced the traffic as “remorseless and cruel” ; a “ceaseless dragging along the streets and highways of a crowd of suffering victims to minister to insatiable avarice,” condemned alike by “enlightened humanity, wise policy, and the prayers of the just.”
The governor urged that it had a tendency to introduce slaves of all descriptions from other States, “defiling the delightful avocations of private life” “by the presence of convicts and malefactors.”
The legislature of South Carolina passed an act forbidding the introduction of slaves from other States.
A similar act was passed by the Georgia legislature.
This legislation was frequently resorted to on occasions of alarm, but the profitable extension of cotton cultivation and the demand for slave labor overcame all scruples.
Within two years after its passage the prohibitory act of South Carolina
The interState slave-traffic was carried on extensively until slavery was abolished in 1863.
A Richmond newspaper, in 1861, urging Virginia
to join the Southern Confederacy, which had prohibited the traffic between them and States that would not join them, gave as a most urgent reason for such an act that, if it were not accomplished, the “Old Dominion” would lose
Slave cabin on A plantation.|
Interior of a slave cabin.|
this trade, amounting annually to from $13,000,000 to $20,000,000.
When Admiral Cockburn
began his marauding expedition on the American
coast in the spring of 1813, he held out a promise of freedom to all slaves who should join his standard.
Many were seduced on board his vessels, but found themselves wretchedly deceived.
Intelligence of these movements reached the plantations farther south, and, in the summer of 1813, secret organizations were formed among the slaves to receive and co-operate with Cockburn
's army of liberation, as they supposed it to be. One of these secret organizations met regularly on St. John's Island
, near Charleston
Their leader was a man of great sagacity and influence, and their meetings were opened and closed by singing a hymn composed by that leader—a sort of parody of Hail Columbia
The following is the last of the three stanzas of the hymn alluded to:
Arise! arise! shake off your chains!
Your cause is just, so Heaven ordains;
To you shall freedom be proclaimed!
Raise your arms and bare your breasts,
Almighty God will do the rest.
Blow the clarion's warlike blast;
Call every negro from his task; Wrest the scourge from Buckra's hand, And drive each tyrant from the land!
(Chorus.) Firm, united let us be.
Resolved on death or liberty!
As a band of patriots joined,
Peace and plenty we shall find.
They held meetings every night, and had arranged a plan for the rising of all the slaves in Charleston
when the British
At one of the meetings the question, “What shall be done with the white people?”
was warmly discussed.
Some advocated their indiscriminate slaughter as the only security for liberty, and this seemed to be the prevailing opinion, when the leader and the author of the hymn came in and said: “Brethren, you know me. You know that I am ready to gain your liberty and mine.
But not one needless drop of blood must be shed.
I have a master whom I love, and the man who takes his life must pass over my dead body.”
been faithful to his promises to the negroes, and landed and declared freedom to the slaves of South Carolina
, no doubt many thousands of colored people would have
flocked to his standard.
But he was content to fill his pockets by plundering and carrying on a petty slave-trade for his private gain.
On March 13, 1824, articles of convention between the United States
and Great Britain
were signed at London
, by diplomatists appointed for the purpose, providing for the adoption of measures to suppress the African slave-trade.
The first article provided that the commanders and commissioned officers of each of the two contracting powers, duly authorized to cruise on the coast of Africa
, of America, and of the West Indies
, for the suppression of the slave-traffic, were empowered, under certain restrictions, to detain, examine, capture, and deliver over for trial and adjudication by some competent tribunal, any ship or vessel concerned in the illicit traffic in slaves, and carrying the flag of either nation.
This convention was signed by Richard Rush for the United States
, and by W. Huskisson
and Sir Stratford Canning
for Great Britain
On March 6, 1857, Roger B. Taney
of the United States
, and a majority of his associates in the Supreme Court, uttered an extra-judicial opinion, that any person who had been a slave, or was a descendant of a slave, could not enjoy the rights of citizenship in the United States
. Five years afterwards (1862) Secretary Seward
issued a passport to a man who had been a slave to travel abroad as “a citizen of the United States
Six years later still (July 20, 1868) the national Constitution was so amended that all persons, of whatever race or color, born or naturalized in the United States
, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States
and of the State
wherein they reside.
By the same amendment every civil right was given to every such person.
And by a subsequent amendment (1869) it was decreed that “the rights of any of the citizens of the United States
, or any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude should not be abridged.”
By a provision of the national Constitution the foreign slave-trade in the United States
was abolished, and Congress declared it to be “piracy.”
Encouraged by the practical sympathy of the national government, the friends of the slave-labor system formed plans for its perpetuity, which practically disregarded the plain requirements of the fundamental law. They resolved to reopen the African slave-trade.
Africans were kidnapped in their native country, brought across the sea, and landed on our shores as in colonial times, and placed in perpetual slavery.
, leading citizens engaged in a scheme for legalizing the traffic, under the guise of what they called the African Labor-supply Association, of which James B. De Bow
, editor of De bow's review
, published in New Orleans, was president.
was the acknowledged organ of the slaveholders, and wielded extensive and powerful influence when the flames of the Civil War
, negroes from Africa
were landed and sold, and when a grand jury at Savannah
was compelled by law to find several bills against persons engaged in the traffic, or charged with complicity in the slave-trade, they protested against the law they were compelled to support.
“We feel humbled,” they said, “as men, conscious that we are born freemen but in name, and that we are living, during the existence of such laws, under a tyranny as supreme as that of the despotic governments of the Old World.
Heretofore the people of the South
, firm in their consciousness of right and strength, have failed to place the stamp of condemnation upon such laws as reflect upon the institution of slavery, but have permitted, unrebuked, the influence of foreign opinion to prevail.”
The True Southron
, published in Mississippi
, suggested the “propriety of stimulating the zeal of the pulpit by founding a prize for the best sermon on free-trade in negroes.”
This proposition was approved, and pulpits exhibited zeal in the cause.
James H. Thornwell, D. D.
, president of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Columbus, S. C.
, asserted his conviction that the African slave-trade formed the most worthy of all missionary societies.
Southern legislatures and conventions openly discussed the subject of reopening the slave-trade.
The Southern Commercial Convention, held in Vicksburg, Miss.
, May 11, 1859, resolved, by a vote of 47 to
Scene in a Southern slave town.|
16, that “all laws, State or federal, prohibiting the African slave-trade ought to be abolished.”
It was warmly advocated by several men who became Confederate leaders in the Civil War
. The late John Slidell
(q. v.), of Louisiana
, urged in the United States Senate the propriety of withdrawing American cruisers from the coasts of Africa
, that the slave-trade might not be interfered with by them.
When, in the summer of 1858, it was known that the traffic was to be carried on actively by the African Labor-supply Association, the British cruisers in the Gulf of Mexico
were unusually vigilant, and in the course of a few weeks boarded about fifty American vessels suspected of being slavers.
The influence of the slaveholders was brought to bear so powerfully upon the administration that the government protested against what it was pleased to call the “odious British doctrine of the right of search.”
The British government, for “prudential reasons,” put a stop to the practice and laid the blame on the officers of the cruisers.
On April 7, 1862, a treaty was coneluded between the United States
and Great Britain
for the suppression of the African slave-trade, and signed at the city of Washington, D. C.
By it ships of the respective nations should have the right of search of suspected slave-ships; but that right was restricted to vessels of war authorized expressly for that object, and in no case to be exercised with respect
to a vessel of the navy of either of the powers, but only as regards merchant vessels.
Nothing was done under this treaty, as the emancipation proclamation and other circumstances made action unnecessary.
In his annual message to the Confederate Congress (Nov. 7, 1864), President Davis
drew a gloomy picture of the condition of the Confederate
finances and the military strength.
He showed that the Confederate
debt was $1,200,000,000, without a real basis of credit, and a paper currency depreciated several hundred per cent. It had been recommended, as the enlistments and conscriptions of the white people failed to make up losses in the
Scene on A plantation.|
Confederate army, to arm the slaves; but this was considered too dangerous, for they would be more likely to fight for the Nationals than for the Confederates
was averse to a general arming of the negroes, but he recommended the employment of 40,000 of them as pioneer and engineer laborers in the army, and not as soldiers, excepting in the last extremity.
“Should the alternative ever be presented,” he said, “of a subjugation, or the employment of the slave as a soldier, there seems to be no reason to doubt what should then be the decision” ; and he suggested the propriety of holding out to the negro, as an inducement for him to give faithful service, even as a laborer in the army, a promise of his emancipation at the end of the war. These propositions and suggestions disturbed the slaveholders, for they indicated an acknowledgment on the part of “the government” that the cause was reduced to the alternative of liberating the slaves and relying upon them to secure the independence of the Confederacy
, or of absolute subjugation.
There was wide-spread discontent; and when news of the re-election of President Lincoln
, by an unprecedented majority, reached the people, they yearned for peace rather than for independence.
The following is the full text of the fugitive-slave law of 1850: