Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

American Negro Slavery by Ulrich Bonnell Phillips

Part 3 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

that every negro or mulatto child should inherit the status of its mother.

The murder of a white family by a quartet of slaves in conspiracy not only
led to their execution, by burning in one case, but prompted an enactment
in 1708 that slaves charged with the murder of whites might be tried
summarily by three justices of the peace and be put to death in such manner
as the enormity of their crimes might be deemed to merit, and that slaves
executed under this act should be paid for by the public. Thus stood the
law when a negro uprising in the city of New York in 1712 and a reputed
conspiracy there in 1741 brought atrociously numerous and severe
punishments, as will be related in another chapter.[35] On the former of
these occasions the royally appointed governor intervened in several cases
to prevent judicial murder. The assembly on the other hand set to work
at once on a more elaborate negro law which restricted manumissions,
prohibited free negroes from holding real estate, and increased the rigor
of slave control. Though some of the more drastic provisions were afterward
relaxed in response to the more sober sense of the community, the negro
code continued for the rest of the colonial period to be substantially as
elaborated between 1702 and 1712.[36] The disturbance of 1741 prompted
little new legislation and left little permanent impress upon the
community. When the panic passed the petty masters resumed their customary
indolence of control and the police officers, justly incredulous of public
danger, let the rigors of the law relapse into desuetude.

[Footnote 35: Below, pp. 470, 471.]

[Footnote 36: The laws are summarized and quoted in A.J. Northrup "Slavery
in New York," in the New York State Library _Report_ for 1900, pp. 254-272.
_See also_ E.V. Morgan, "Slavery in New York," in the American Historical
Association _Papers_ (New York, 1891), V, 335-350.]

As to New Jersey, the eastern half, settled largely from New England, was
like in conditions and close in touch with New York, while the western
half, peopled considerably by Quakers, had a much smaller proportion of
negroes and was in sentiment akin to Pennsylvania. As was generally the
case in such contrast of circumstances, that portion of the province which
faced the greater problem of control determined the legislation for
the whole. New Jersey, indeed, borrowed the New York slave code in all
essentials. The administration of the law, furthermore, was about as it was
in New York, in the eastern counties at least. An alleged conspiracy near
Somerville in 1734 while it cost the reputed ringleader his life, cost his
supposed colleagues their ears only. On the other hand sentences to burning
at the stake were more frequent as punishment for ordinary crimes; and on
such occasions the citizens of the neighborhood turned honest shillings
by providing faggots for the fire. For the western counties the published
annals concerning slavery are brief wellnigh to blankness.[37]

[Footnote 37: H.S. Cooley, _A Study of Slavery in New Jersey_ (Johns
Hopkins University _Studios_, XIV, nos. 9, 10, Baltimore, 1896).]

Pennsylvania's place in the colonial slaveholding sisterhood was a little
unusual in that negroes formed a smaller proportion of the population than
her location between New York and Maryland might well have warranted.
This was due not to her laws nor to the type of her industry but to the
disrelish of slaveholding felt by many of her Quaker and German inhabitants
and to the greater abundance of white immigrant labor whether wage-earning
or indentured. Negroes were present in the region before Penn's colony was
founded. The new government recognized slavery as already instituted. Penn
himself acquired a few slaves; and in the first quarter of the eighteenth
century the assembly legislated much as New York was doing, though somewhat
more mildly, for the fuller control of the negroes both slave and free. The
number of blacks and mulattoes reached at the middle of the century
about eleven thousand, the great majority of them slaves. They were most
numerous, of course, in the older counties which lay in the southeastern
corner of the province, and particularly in the city of Philadelphia.
Occasional owners had as many as twenty or thirty slaves, employed either
on country estates or in iron-works, but the typical holding was on a petty
scale. There were no slave insurrections in the colony, no plots of any
moment, and no panics of dread. The police was apparently a little more
thorough than in New York, partly because of legislation, which the white
mechanics procured, lessening negro competition by forbidding masters to
hire out their slaves. From travelers' accounts it would appear that the
relation of master and slave in Pennsylvania was in general more kindly
than anywhere else on the continent; but from the abundance of newspaper
advertisements for runaways it would seem to have been of about average
character. The truth probably lies as usual in the middle ground, that
Pennsylvania masters were somewhat unusually considerate. The assembly
attempted at various times to check slave importations by levying
prohibitive duties, which were invariably disallowed by the English crown.
On the other hand, in spite of the endeavors of Sandiford, Lay, Woolman
and Benezet, all of them Pennsylvanians, it took no steps toward relaxing
racial control until the end of the colonial period.[38]

[Footnote 38: E.R. Turner, _The Negro in Pennsylvania_ (Washington, 1911);
R.R. Wright, Jr., _The Negro in Pennsylvania_ (Philadelphia, 1912).]

In the Northern colonies at large the slaves imported were more generally
drawn from the West Indies than directly from Africa. The reasons were
several. Small parcels, better suited to the retail demand, might be
brought more profitably from the sugar islands whither New England, New
York and Pennsylvania ships were frequently plying than from Guinea whence
special voyages must be made. Familiarity with the English language and
the rudiments of civilization at the outset were more essential to petty
masters than to the owners of plantation gangs who had means for breaking
in fresh Africans by deputy. But most important of all, a sojourn in the
West Indies would lessen the shock of acclimatization, severe enough under
the best of circumstances. The number of negroes who died from it was
probably not small, and of those who survived some were incapacitated and
bedridden with each recurrence of winter.

Slavery did not, and perhaps could not, become an important industrial
institution in any Northern community; and the problem of racial
adjustments was never as acute as it was generally thought to be. In not
more than two or three counties do the negroes appear to have numbered more
than one fifth of the population; and by reason of being distributed
in detail they were more nearly assimilated to the civilization of the
dominant race than in southerly latitudes where they were held in gross.
They nevertheless continued to be regarded as strangers within the gates,
by some welcomed because they were slaves, by others not welcomed even
though they were in bondage. By many they were somewhat unreasonably
feared; by few were they even reasonably loved. The spirit not of love but
of justice and the public advantage was destined to bring the end of their
bondage.

CHAPTER VII

REVOLUTION AND REACTION

After the whole group of colonies had long been left in salutary neglect
by the British authorities, George III and his ministers undertook the
creation of an imperial control; and Parliament was too much at the king's
command for opposing statesmen to stop the project. The Americans wakened
resentfully to the new conditions. The revived navigation laws, the stamp
act, the tea duty, and the dispatch of redcoats to coerce Massachusetts
were a cumulation of grievances not to be borne by high-spirited people.
For some years the colonial spokesmen tried to persuade the British
government that it was violating historic and constitutional rights; but
these efforts had little success. To the argument that the empire was
composed of parts mutually independent in legislation, it was replied that
Parliament had legislated imperially ever since the empire's beginning, and
that the colonial assemblies possessed only such powers as Parliament might
allow. The plea of no taxation without representation was answered by the
doctrine that all elements in the empire were virtually represented in
Parliament. The stress laid by the colonials upon their rights as Britons
met the administration's emphasis upon the duty of all British subjects
to obey British laws. This countering of pleas of exemption with
pronouncements of authority drove the complainants at length from proposals
of reform to projects of revolution. For this the solidarity of the
continent was essential, and that was to be gained only by the most
vigorous agitation with the aid of the most effective campaign cries. The
claim of historic immunities was largely discarded in favor of the more
glittering doctrines current in the philosophy of the time. The demands for
local self-government or for national independence, one or both of which
were the genuine issues at stake, were subordinated to the claim of the
inherent and inalienable rights of man. Hence the culminating formulation
in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by
their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The cause of the community was to be
won under the guise of the cause of individuals.

In Jefferson's original draft of the great declaration there was a
paragraph indicting the king for having kept open the African slave trade
against colonial efforts to close it, and for having violated thereby the
"most sacred rights of life and liberty of a distant people, who never
offended him, captivating them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to
incur miserable death in their transportation thither." This passage,
according to Jefferson's account, "was struck out in complaisance to South
Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation
of slaves and who on the contrary still wished to continue it. Our Northern
brethren also I believe," Jefferson continued, "felt a little tender under
these censures, for though their people have very few slaves themselves,
yet they have been pretty considerable carriers of them to others."[1] By
reason of the general stress upon the inherent liberty of all men, however,
the question of negro status, despite its omission from the Declaration,
was an inevitable corollary to that of American independence.

[Footnote 1: Herbert Friedenwald, _The Declaration of Independence_ (New
York, 1904), pp. 130, 272.]

Negroes had a barely appreciable share in precipitating the Revolution
and in waging the war. The "Boston Massacre" was occasioned in part by an
insult offered by a slave to a British soldier two days before; and in that
celebrated affray itself, Crispus Attucks, a mulatto slave, was one of the
five inhabitants of Boston slain. During the course of the war free negro
and slave enlistments were encouraged by law in the states where racial
control was not reckoned vital, and they were informally permitted in the
rest. The British also utilized this resource in some degree. As early as
November 7, 1775, Lord Dunmore, the ousted royal governor of Virginia,
issued a proclamation offering freedom to all slaves "appertaining to
rebels" who would join him "for the more speedy reducing this colony to a
proper sense of their duty to his Majesty's crown and dignity."[2] In reply
the Virginia press warned the negroes against British perfidy; and the
revolutionary government, while announcing the penalties for servile
revolt, promised freedom to such as would promptly desert the British
standard. Some hundreds of negroes appear to have joined Dunmore, but they
did not save him from being driven away.[3]

[Footnote 2: _American Archives_, Force ed., fourth series, III, 1385.]

[Footnote 3: _Ibid_., III, 1387; IV, 84, 85; V, 160, 162.]

When several years afterward military operations were transferred to the
extreme South, where the whites were few and the blacks many, the problem
of negro enlistments became at once more pressing and more delicate. Henry
Laurens of South Carolina proposed to General Washington in March, 1779,
the enrollment of three thousand blacks in the Southern department.
Hamilton warmly endorsed the project, and Washington and Madison more
guardedly. Congress recommended it to the states concerned, and pledged
itself to reimburse the masters and to set the slaves free with a payment
of fifty dollars to each of these at the end of the war. Eventually Colonel
John Laurens, the son of Henry, went South as an enthusiastic emissary of
the scheme, only to meet rebuff and failure.[4] Had the negroes in general
possessed any means of concerted action, they might conceivably have played
off the British and American belligerents to their own advantage. In
actuality, however, they were a passive element whose fate was affected
only so far as the master race determined.

[Footnote 4: G.W. Williams, _History of the Negro Race in America_ (New
York [1882]), I, 353-362.]

Some of the politicians who championed the doctrine of liberty inherent and
universal used it merely as a means to a specific and somewhat unrelated
end. Others endorsed it literally and with resolve to apply it wherever
consistency might require. How could they justly continue to hold men in
bondage when in vindication of their own cause they were asserting the
right of all men to be free? Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Edmund
Randolph and many less prominent slaveholders were disquieted by the
question. Instances of private manumission became frequent, and memorials
were fairly numerous advocating anti-slavery legislation. Indeed Samuel
Hopkins of Rhode Island in a pamphlet of 1776 declared that slavery in
Anglo-America was "without the express sanction of civil government," and
censured the colonial authorities and citizens for having connived in the
maintenance of the wrongful institution.

As to public acts, the Vermont convention of 1777 when claiming statehood
for its community framed a constitution with a bill of rights asserting the
inherent freedom of all men and attaching to it an express prohibition of
slavery. The opposition of New York delayed Vermont's recognition until
1791 when she was admitted as a state with this provision unchanged.
Similar inherent-liberty clauses but without the expressed anti-slavery
application were incorporated into the bills of rights adopted severally by
Virginia in 1776, Massachusetts in 1780, and New Hampshire in 1784. In the
first of these the holding of slaves persisted undisturbed by this action;
and in New Hampshire the custom died from the dearth of slaves rather than
from the natural-rights clause. In Massachusetts likewise it is plain
from copious contemporary evidence that abolition was not intended by the
framers of the bill of rights nor thought by the people or the officials to
have been accomplished thereby.[5] One citizen, indeed, who wanted to keep
his woman slave but to be rid of her child soon to be born, advertised in
the _Independent Chronicle_ of Boston at the close of 1780: "A negro child,
soon expected, of a good breed, may be owned by any person inclining to
take it, and money with it."[6] The courts of the commonwealth, however,
soon began to reflect anti-slavery sentiment, as Lord Mansfield had done in
the preceding decade in England,[7] and to make use of the bill of rights
to destroy the masters' dominion. The decisive case was the prosecution of
Nathaniel Jennison of Worcester County for assault and imprisonment alleged
to have been committed upon his absconded slave Quork Walker in the process
of his recovery. On the trial in 1783 the jury responded to a strong
anti-slavery charge from Chief Justice Cushing by returning a verdict
against Jennison, and the court fined him L50 and costs.

[Footnote 5: G.H. Moore, _Notes on the History of Slavery in
Massachusetts_, pp. 181-209.]

[Footnote 6: _Ibid_., p. 208. So far as the present writer's knowledge
extends, this item is without parallel at any other time or place.]

[Footnote 7: The case of James Somerset on _habeas corpus_, in Howell's
_State Trials_, XX, Sec.548.]

This action prompted the negroes generally to leave their masters, though
some were deterred "on account of their age and infirmities, or because
they did not know how to provide for themselves, or for some pecuniary
consideration."[8] The former slaveholders now felt a double grievance:
they were deprived of their able-bodied negroes but were not relieved of
the legal obligation to support such others as remained on their hands.
Petitions for their relief were considered by the legislature but never
acted upon. The legal situation continued vague, for although an act of
1788 forbade citizens to trade in slaves and another penalized the sojourn
for more than two months in Massachusetts of negroes from other states,[9]
no legislation defined the status of colored residents. In the federal
census of 1790, however, this was the only state in which no slaves were
listed.

[Footnote 8: Massachusetts Historical Society _Collections_, XLIII, 386.]

[Footnote 9: Moore, pp. 227-229.]

Racial antipathy and class antagonism among the whites appear to
have contributed to this result. John Adams wrote in 1795, with some
exaggeration and incoherence: "Argument might have [had] some weight in
the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts, but the real cause was the
multiplication of labouring white people, who would no longer suffer the
rich to employ these sable rivals so much to their injury ... If the
gentlemen had been permitted by law to hold slaves, the common white people
would have put the negroes to death, and their masters too, perhaps ...
The common white people, or rather the labouring people, were the cause of
rendering negroes unprofitable servants. Their scoffs and insults, their
continual insinuations, filled the negroes with discontent, made them lazy,
idle, proud, vicious, and at length wholly useless to their masters,
to such a degree that the abolition of slavery became a measure of
economy."[10]

[Footnote 10: Massachusetts Historical Society _Collections_, XLIII, 402.]

Slavery in the rest of the Northern states was as a rule not abolished, but
rather put in process of gradual extinction by legislation of a peculiar
sort enacted in response to agitations characteristic of the times.
Pennsylvania set the pattern in an act of 1780 providing that all children
born thereafter of slave mothers in the state were to be the servants of
their mothers' owners until reaching twenty-eight years of age, and then to
become free. Connecticut followed in 1784 with an act of similar purport
but with a specification of twenty-five years, afterward reduced to
twenty-one, as the age for freedom; and in 1840 she abolished her remnant
of slavery outright. In Rhode Island an act of the same year, 1784, enacted
that the children thereafter born of slave mothers were to be free at the
ages of twenty-one for males and eighteen for females, and that these
children were meanwhile to be supported and instructed at public expense;
but an amendment of the following year transferred to the mothers' owners
the burden of supporting the children, and ignored the matter of their
education. New York lagged until 1799, and then provided freedom for the
after-born only at twenty-eight and twenty-five years for males and females
respectively; but a further act of 1817 set the Fourth of July in 1827 as a
time for the emancipation for all remaining slaves in the state. New
Jersey fell into line last of all by an act of 1804 giving freedom to the
after-born at the ages of twenty-five for males and twenty-one for females;
and in 1846 she converted the surviving slaves nominally into apprentices
but without materially changing their condition. Supplementary legislation
here and there in these states bestowed freedom upon slaves in military
service, restrained the import and export of slaves, and forbade the
citizens to ply the slave trade by land or sea.[11]

[Footnote 11: E.R. Turner, _The Negro in Pennsylvania_, pp. 77-85; B.C.
Steiner, _Slavery in Connecticut_, pp. 30-32; _Rhode Island Colonial
Records_, X, 132, 133; A.J. Northrup, "Slavery in New York," in the New
York State Library _Report_ for 1900, pp. 286-298; H.S. Cooley, "Slavery
in New Jersey" (Johns Hopkins University _Studies_, XIV, nos. 9, 10), pp.
47-50; F.B. Lee, _New Jersey as a Colony and as a State_ (New York, 1912),
IV, 25-48.]

Thus from Pennsylvania eastward the riddance of slavery was procured or put
in train, generally by the device of emancipating the _post nati_; and in
consequence the slave population in that quarter dwindled before the middle
of the nineteenth century to a negligible residue. To the southward the
tobacco states, whose industry had reached a somewhat stationary condition,
found it a simple matter to prohibit the further importation of slaves from
Africa. Delaware did this in 1776, Virginia in 1778, Maryland in 1783 and
North Carolina in 1794. But in these commonwealths as well as in their more
southerly neighbors, the contemplation of the great social and economic
problems involved in disestablishing slavery daunted the bulk of the
citizens and impelled their representatives to conservatism. The advocacy
of abolition, whether sudden or gradual, was little more than sporadic.
The people were not to be stampeded in the cause of inherent rights or
any other abstract philosophy. It was a condition and not a theory which
confronted them.

In Delaware, however, the problem was hardly formidable, for at the time of
the first federal census there were hardly nine thousand slaves and a third
as many colored freemen in her gross population of some sixty thousand
souls. Nevertheless a bill for gradual abolition considered by the
legislature in 1786 appears not to have been brought to a vote,[12] and no
action in the premises was taken thereafter. The retention of slavery seems
to have been mainly due to mere public inertia and to the pressure of
political sympathy with the more distinctively Southern states. Because of
her border position and her dearth of plantation industry, the slaves in
Delaware steadily decreased to less than eighteen hundred in 1860, while
the free negroes grew to more than ten times as many.

[Footnote 12: J.R. Brackett, "The Status of the Slave, 1775-1789," in J.F.
Jameson ed., _Essays in the Constitutional History of the United States,
1775-1789_ (Boston, 1889), pp. 300-302.]

In Maryland various projects for abolition, presented by the Quakers
between 1785 and 1791 and supported by William Pinckney and Charles
Carroll, were successively defeated in the legislature; and efforts
to remove the legal restraints on private manumission were likewise
thwarted.[13] These restrictions, which applied merely to the freeing of
slaves above middle age, were in fact very slight. The manumissions indeed
were so frequent and the conditions of life in Maryland were so attractive
to free negroes, or at least so much less oppressive than in most other
states, that while the slave population decreased between 1790 and 1860
from 103,036 to 87,189 souls the colored freemen multiplied from 8046 to
83,942, a number greater by twenty-five thousand than that in any other
commonwealth.

[Footnote 13: J.R. Brackett, _The Negro in Maryland_ (Baltimore, 1899), pp.
52-64, 148-155.]

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1785 that anti-slavery men were as scarce to the
southward of Chesapeake Bay as they were common to the north of it, while
in Maryland, and still more in Virginia, the bulk of the people approved
the doctrine and a respectable minority were ready to adopt it in practice,
"a minority which for weight and worth of character preponderates against
the greater number who have not the courage to divest their families of
a property which, however, keeps their conscience unquiet." Virginia,
he continued, "is the next state to which we may turn our eyes for the
interesting spectacle of justice in conflict with avarice and oppression, a
conflict in which the sacred side is gaining daily recruits from the influx
into office of young men grown and growing up. These have sucked in the
principles of liberty as it were with their mother's milk, and it is to
them that I look with anxiety to turn the fate of the question."[14]
Jefferson had already tried to raise the issue by having a committee for
revising the Virginia laws, appointed in 1776 with himself a member, frame
a special amendment for disestablishing slavery. This contemplated a
gradual emancipation of the after-born children, their tutelage by the
state, their colonization at maturity, and their replacement in Virginia
by white immigrants.[15] But a knowledge that such a project would raise
a storm caused even its framers to lay it aside. The abolition of
primogeniture and the severance of church from state absorbed reformers'
energies at the expense of the slavery question.

[Footnote 14: Jefferson, _Writings_, P.L. Ford ed., IV, 82-83.]

[Footnote 15: Jefferson, _Notes on Virginia_, various editions, query 14.]

When writing his _Notes on Virginia_ in 1781 Jefferson denounced the
slaveholding system in phrases afterward classic among abolitionists: "With
what execration should the statesman be loaded who, permitting one-half of
the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those
into despots and these into enemies ... And can the liberties of a nation
be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction
in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That
they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my
country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep
forever."[16] In the course of the same work, however, he deprecated
abolition unless it were to be accompanied with deportation: "Why not
retain and incorporate the blacks into the state...? Deep rooted prejudices
entertained by the whites, ten thousand recollections by the blacks of the
injuries they have sustained, new provocations, the real distinctions which
nature has made, and many other circumstances, will divide us into
parties and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the
extermination of the one or the other race ... This unfortunate difference
of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the
emancipation of these people. Many of their advocates while they wish to
vindicate the liberty of human nature are anxious also to preserve its
dignity and beauty. Some of these, embarrassed by the question 'What
further is to be done with them?' join themselves in opposition with those
who are actuated by sordid avarice only. Among the Romans, emancipation
required but one effort. The slave when made free might mix without
staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary
unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of
mixture."[17]

[Footnote 16: Jefferson, _Notes on Virginia_, query 18.]

[Footnote 17: _Ibid_., query 14.]

George Washington wrote in 1786 that one of his chief wishes was that some
plan might be adopted "by which slavery may be abolished by slow, sure and
imperceptible degrees." But he noted in the same year that some abolition
petitions presented to the Virginia legislature had barely been given a
reading.[18]

[Footnote 18: Washington, _Writings_, W.C. Ford ed., XI, 20, 62.]

Seeking to revive the issue, Judge St. George Tucker, professor of law in
William and Mary College, inquired of leading citizens of Massachusetts in
1795 for data and advice, and undaunted by discouraging reports received in
reply or by the specific dissuasion of John Adams, he framed an intricate
plan for extremely gradual emancipation and for expelling the freedmen
without expense to the state by merely making their conditions of life
unbearable. This was presented to the legislature in a pamphlet of 1796
at the height of the party strife between the Federalists and
Democratic-Republicans; and it was impatiently dismissed from
consideration.[19] Tucker, still nursing his project, reprinted his
"dissertation" as an appendix to his edition of Blackstone in 1803, where
the people and the politicians let it remain buried. In public opinion, the
problem as to the freedmen remained unsolved and insoluble.

[Footnote 19: St. George Tucker, _A Dissertation on Slavery, with a
proposal for the gradual abolition of it in the State of Virginia_
(Philadelphia, 1796, reprinted New York, 1860). Tucker's Massachusetts
correspondence is printed in the Massachusetts Historical Society
_Collections_, XLIII (Belknap papers), 379-431.]

Meanwhile the Virginia black code had been considerably moderated during
and after the Revolution; and in particular the previous almost iron-clad
prohibition of private manumission had been wholly removed in effect by an
act of 1782. In spite of restrictions afterward imposed upon manumission
and upon the residence of new freedmen in the state, the free negroes
increased on a scale comparable to that in Maryland. As compared with an
estimate of less than two thousand in 1782, there were 12,866 in 1790,
20,124 in 1800, and 30,570 in 1810. Thereafter the number advanced more
slowly until it reached 58,042, about one-eighth as many as the slaves
numbered, in 1860.

In the more southerly states condemnation of slavery was rare. Among
the people of Georgia, the depressing experience of the colony under a
prohibition of it was too fresh in memory for them to contemplate with
favor a fresh deprivation. In South Carolina Christopher Gadsden had
written in 1766 likening slavery to a crime, and a decade afterward Henry
Laurens wrote: "You know, my dear son, I abhor slavery.... The day, I hope
is approaching when from principles of gratitude as well as justice every
man will strive to be foremost in showing his readiness to comply with the
golden rule. Not less than twenty thousand pounds sterling would all my
negroes produce if sold at public auction tomorrow.... Nevertheless I am
devising means for manumitting many of them, and for cutting off the entail
of slavery. Great powers oppose me--the laws and customs of my country,
my own and the avarice of my countrymen. What will my children say if
I deprive them of so much estate? These are difficulties, but not
insuperable. I will do as much as I can in my time, and leave the rest to
a better hand. I am not one of those ... who dare trust in Providence for
defence and security of their own liberty while they enslave and wish
to continue in slavery thousands who are as well entitled to freedom as
themselves. I perceive the work before me is great. I shall appear to many
as a promoter not only of strange but of dangerous doctrines; it will
therefore be necessary to proceed with caution."[20] Had either Gadsden
or Laurens entertained thoughts of launching an anti-slavery campaign,
however, the palpable hopelessness of such a project in their community
must have dissuaded them. The negroes of the rice coast were so
outnumbering and so crude that an agitation applying the doctrine of
inherent liberty and equality to them could only have had the effect of
discrediting the doctrine itself. Furthermore, the industrial prospect,
the swamps and forests calling for conversion into prosperous plantations,
suggested an increase rather than a diminution of the slave labor supply.
Georgia and South Carolina, in fact, were more inclined to keep open the
African slave trade than to relinquish control of the negro population.
Revolutionary liberalism had but the slightest of echoes there.

[Footnote 20: Frank Moore ed., _Correspondence of Henry Laurens_ (New York,
1861), pp. 20, 21. The version of this letter given by Professor Wallace in
his _Life of Henry Laurens_, p. 446, which varies from the present one, was
derived from a paraphrase by John Laurens to whom the original was written.
Cf. _South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine_, X. 49. For
related items in the Laurens correspondence _see_ D.D. Wallace, _Life of
Henry Laurens_, pp. 445, 447-455.]

In North Carolina the prevailing lack of enterprise in public affairs had
no exception in regard to slavery. The Quakers alone condemned it. When in
1797 Nathaniel Macon, a pronounced individualist and the chief spokesman of
his state in Congress, discussed the general subject he said "there was not
a gentleman in North Carolina who did not wish there were no blacks in the
country. It was a misfortune--he considered it a curse; but there was no
way of getting rid of them." Macon put his emphasis upon the negro problem
rather than upon the question of slavery, and in so doing he doubtless
reflected the thought of his community.[21] The legislation of North
Carolina regarding racial control, like that of the period in South
Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, was more conservative than
liberal.

[Footnote 21: _Annals of Congress_, VII, 661. American historians, through
preoccupation or inadvertence, have often confused anti-negro with
anti-slavery expressions. In reciting the speech of Macon here quoted
McMaster has replaced "blacks" with "slaves"; and incidentally he has made
the whole discussion apply to Georgia instead of North Carolina. Rhodes
in turn has implicitly followed McMaster in both errors. J.B. McMaster,
_History of the People of the United States_, II, 359; J.F. Rhodes,
_History of the United States_, I, 19.]

The central government of the United States during the Revolution and the
Confederation was little concerned with slavery problems except in its
diplomatic affairs, where the question was merely the adjustment of
property in slaves, and except in regard to the western territories.
Proposals for the prohibition of slavery in these wilderness regions were
included in the first projects for establishing governments in them.
Timothy Pickering and certain military colleagues framed a plan in 1780 for
a state beyond the Ohio River with slavery excluded; but it was allowed
to drop out of consideration. In the next year an ordinance drafted by
Jefferson was introduced into Congress for erecting territorial governments
over the whole area ceded or to be ceded by the states, from the
Alleghanies to the Mississippi and from Canada to West Florida; and one of
its features was a prohibition of slavery after the year 1800 throughout
the region concerned. Under the Articles of Confederation, the Congress
could enact legislation only by the affirmative votes of seven state
delegations. When the ballot was taken on the anti-slavery clause the six
states from Pennsylvania eastward voted aye: Maryland, Virginia and South
Carolina voted no; and the other states were absent. Jefferson was not
alone in feeling chagrin at the defeat and in resolving to persevere.
Pickering expressed his own views in a letter to Rufus King: "To suffer the
continuance of slaves till they can be gradually emancipated, in states
already overrun with them, may be pardonable because unavoidable without
hazarding greater evils; but to introduce them into countries where none
already exist ... can never be forgiven." King in his turn introduced a
resolution virtually restoring the stricken clause, but was unable to bring
it to a vote. After being variously amended, the ordinance without this
clause was adopted. It was, however, temporary in its provision and
ineffectual in character; and soon the drafting of one adequate for
permanent purposes was begun. The adoption of this was hastened in July,
1787, by the offer of a New England company to buy from Congress a huge
tract of Ohio land. When the bill was put to the final vote it was
supported by every member with the sole exception of the New Yorker,
Abraham Yates. Delegations from all of the Southern states but Maryland
were present, and all of them voted aye. Its enactment gave to the country
a basic law for the territories in phrasing and in substance comparable to
the Declaration of Independence and the Federal Constitution. Applying
only to the region north of the Ohio River, the ordinance provided for
the erection of territories later to be admitted as states, guaranteed in
republican government, secured in the freedom of religion, jury trial and
all concomitant rights, endowed with public land for the support of schools
and universities, and while obligated to render fugitive slaves on claim
of their masters in the original states, shut out from the regime of
slaveholding itself.[22] "There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary
servitude in the said territory," it prescribed, "otherwise than in
punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." The
first Congress under the new constitution reenacted the ordinance, which
was the first and last antislavery achievement by the central government in
the period.

[Footnote 22: A.C. McLaughlin, _The Confederation and the Constitution_
(New York [1905]), chap. 7; B.A. Hinsdale, _The Old Northwest_ (New York,
1888), chap. 15.]

By this time radicalism in general had spent much of its force. The
excessive stress which the Revolution had laid upon the liberty of
individuals had threatened for a time to break the community's grasp upon
the essentials of order and self-restraint. Social conventions of many
sorts were flouted; local factions resorted to terrorism against their
opponents; legislatures abused their power by confiscating loyalist
property and enacting laws for the dishonest promotion of debtor-class
interests, and the central government, made pitiably weak by the prevailing
jealousy of control, was kept wholly incompetent through the shirking
of burdens by states pledged to its financial support. But populism and
particularism brought their own cure. The paralysis of government now
enabled sober statesmen to point the prospect of ruin through chaos and
get a hearing in their advocacy of sound system. Exalted theorising on the
principles of liberty had merely destroyed the old regime: matter-of-fact
reckoning on principles of law and responsibility must build the new. The
plan of organization, furthermore, must be enough in keeping with the
popular will to procure a general ratification.

Negro slavery in the colonial period had been of continental extent but
under local control. At the close of the Revolution, as we have seen,
its area began to be sectionally confined while the jurisdiction over it
continued to lie in the several state governments. The great convention
at Philadelphia in 1787 might conceivably have undertaken the transfer of
authority over the whole matter to the central government; but on the one
hand the beginnings of sectional jealousy made the subject a delicate
one, and on the other hand the members were glad enough to lay aside all
problems not regarded as essential in their main task. Conscious ignorance
by even the best informed delegates from one section as to affairs in
another was a dissuasion from the centralizing of doubtful issues; and the
secrecy of the convention's proceedings exempted it from any pressure of
anti-slavery sentiment from outside.

On the whole the permanence of any critical problem in the premises was
discredited. Roger Sherman of Connecticut "observed that the abolition of
slavery seemed to be going on in the United States, and that the good sense
of the people of the several states would by degrees compleat it." His
colleague Oliver Ellsworth said, "The morality or wisdom of slavery are
considerations belonging to the states themselves"; and again, "Let us not
intermeddle. As population increases poor laborers will be so plenty as to
render slaves useless. Slavery in time will not be a speck in our country."
And Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts "thought we had nothing to do with the
conduct of states as to slaves, but ought to be careful not to give any
sanction to it." The agreement was general that the convention keep its
hands off so far as might be; but positive action was required upon
incidental phases which involved some degree of sanction for the
institution itself. These issues concerned the apportionment of
representation, the regulation of the African trade, and the rendition of
fugitives. This last was readily adjusted by the unanimous adoption of a
clause introduced by Pierce Butler of South Carolina and afterward changed
in its phrasing to read: "No person held to service or labour in one state
under the laws thereof escaping into another shall in consequence of any
law or regulation therein be discharged from such service or labour, but
shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour
may be due." After some jockeying, the other two questions were settled by
compromise. Representation in the lower house of Congress was apportioned
among the states "according to their several members, which shall be
determined by adding to the whole number of free persons ... three fifths
of all other persons." As to the foreign slave trade, Congress was
forbidden to prohibit it prior to the year 1808, and was merely permitted
meanwhile to levy an import duty upon slaves at a rate of not more than ten
dollars each. [23]

[Footnote 23: Max Farrand ed., _The Records of the Federal Convention_ (New
Haven, 1911), _passim_]

In the state conventions to which the Constitution was referred for
ratification the debates bore out a remark of Madison's at Philadelphia
that the real difference of interests lay not between the large and small
states but between those within and without the slaveholding influence. The
opponents of the Constitution at the North censured it as a pro-slavery
instrument, while its advocates apologized for its pertinent clauses on the
ground that nothing more hostile to the institution could have been carried
and that if the Constitution were rejected there would be no prospect of
a federal stoppage of importations at any time. But at the South the
opposition, except in Maryland and Virginia where the continuance of the
African trade was deprecated, declared the slavery concessions inadequate,
while the champions of the Constitution maintained that the utmost
practicable advantages for their sectional interest had been achieved.
Among the many amendments to the Constitution proposed by the ratifying
conventions the only one dealing with any phase of slavery was offered,
strange to say, by Rhode Island, whose inhabitants had been and still
were so active in the African trade. It reads: "As a traffic tending to
establish and continue the slavery of the human species is disgraceful to
the cause of liberty and humanity, Congress shall as soon as may be promote
and establish such laws as may effectually prevent the importation of
slaves of every description."[24] The proposal seems to have received no
further attention at the time.

[Footnote 24: This was dated May 29, 1790. H.V. Ames, "Proposed Amendment
to the Constitution of the United States," in the American Historical
Association _Report_ for 1896, p. 208]

In the early sessions of Congress under the new Constitution most of the
few debates on slavery topics arose incidentally and ended without positive
action. The taxation of slave imports was proposed in 1789, but was never
enacted: sundry petitions of anti-slavery tenor, presented mostly by
Quakers, were given brief consideration in 1790 and again at the close
of the century but with no favorable results; and when, in 1797, a more
concrete issue was raised by memorials asking intervention on behalf of
some negroes whom Quakers had manumitted in North Carolina in disregard of
legal restraints and who had again been reduced to slavery, a committee
reported that the matter fell within the scope of judicial cognizance
alone, and the House dismissed the subject. For more than a decade, indeed,
the only legislation enacted by Congress concerned at all with slavery was
the act of 1793 empowering the master of an interstate fugitive to seize
him wherever found, carry him before any federal or state magistrate in the
vicinage, and procure a certificate warranting his removal to the state
from which he had fled. Proposals to supplement this rendition act on the
one hand by safeguarding free negroes from being kidnapped under fraudulent
claims and on the other hand by requiring employers of strange negroes to
publish descriptions of them and thus facilitate the recovery of runaways,
were each defeated in the House.

On the whole the glamor of revolutionary doctrines was passing, and self
interest was regaining its wonted supremacy. While the rising cotton
industry was giving the blacks in the South new value as slaves, Northern
spokesmen were frankly stating an antipathy of their people toward negroes
in any capacity whatever.[25] The succession of disasters in San Domingo,
meanwhile, gave warning against the upsetting of racial adjustments in the
black belts, and the Gabriel revolt of 1800 in Virginia drove the lesson
home. On slavery questions for a period of several decades the policy
of each of the two sections was merely to prevent itself from being
overreached. The conservative trend, however, could not wholly remove the
Revolution's impress of philosophical liberalism from the minds of men.
Slavery was always a thing of appreciable disrelish in many quarters; and
the slave trade especially, whether foreign or domestic, bore a permanent
stigma.

[Footnote 25: _E. g., Annals of Congress_, 1799-1801, pp. 230-246.]

CHAPTER VIII

THE CLOSING OF THE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE

The many attempts of the several colonies to restrict or prohibit the
importation of slaves were uniformly thwarted, as we have seen, by the
British government. The desire for prohibition, however, had been far from
constant or universal.[1] The first Continental Congress when declaring the
Association, on October 18, 1774, resolved: "We will neither import, nor
purchase any slave imported, after the first day of December next; after
which time we will wholly discontinue the slave trade, and will neither
be concerned in it ourselves nor will we hire our vessels nor sell our
commodities or manufactures to those who are concerned in it."[2] But even
this was mainly a political stroke against the British government; and the
general effect of the restraint lasted not more than two or three years.[3]
The ensuing war, of course, hampered the trade, and the legislatures of
several Northern states, along with Delaware and Virginia, took occasion
to prohibit slave importations. The return of peace, although followed by
industrial depression, revived the demand for slave labor. Nevertheless,
Maryland prohibited the import by an act of 1783; North Carolina laid a
prohibitive duty in 1787; and South Carolina in the spring of that year
enacted the first of a series of temporary laws which maintained a
continuous prohibition for sixteen years. Thus at the time when the framers
of the Federal Constitution were stopping congressional action for twenty
years, the trade was legitimate only in a few of the Northern states, all
of which soon enacted prohibitions, and in Georgia alone at the South.
The San Domingan cataclysm prompted the Georgia legislature in an act
of December 19, 1793, to forbid the importation of slaves from the West
Indies, the Bahamas and Florida, as well as to require free negroes to
procure magisterial certificates of industriousness and probity.[4] The
African trade was left open by that state until 1798, when it was closed
both by legislative enactment and by constitutional provision.

[Footnote 1: The slave trade enactments by the colonies, the states and
the federal government are listed and summarized in W.E.B. DuBois, _The
Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States, 1638-1870_
(New York, 1904), appendices.]

[Footnote 2: W.C. Ford, ed., _Journals of the Continental Congress_
(Washington, 1904), I, 75, 77.]

[Footnote 3: DuBois, pp. 44-48.]

[Footnote 4: The text of the act, which appears never to have been printed,
is in the Georgia archives. For a transcript I am indebted to the Hon.
Philip Cook, Secretary of State of Georgia.]

The scale of the importation in the period when Georgia alone permitted
them appears to have been small. For the year 1796, for example, the
imports at Savannah were officially reported at 2084, including some who
had been brought coastwise from the northward for sale.[5] A foreign
traveler who visited Savannah in the period noted that the demand was light
because of the dearth of money and credit, that the prices were about three
hundred dollars per head, that the carriers were mainly from New England,
and that one third of each year's imports were generally smuggled into
South Carolina.[6]

[Footnote 5: American Historical Association _Report_ for 1903, pp. 459,
460.]

[Footnote 6: LaRochefoucauld-Liancourt, _Travels in the United States_
(London, 1799), p. 605.]

In the impulse toward the prohibitory acts the humanitarian motive was
obvious but not isolated. At the North it was supplemented, often in
the same breasts, by the inhumane feeling of personal repugnance toward
negroes. The anti-slave-trade agitation in England also had a contributing
influence; and there were no economic interests opposing the exclusion.
At the South racial repugnance was fainter, and humanitarianism though of
positive weight was but one of several factors. The distinctively Southern
considerations against the trade were that its continuance would lower the
prices of slaves already on hand, or at least prevent those prices from
rising; that it would so increase the staple exports as to spoil the
world's market for them; that it would drain out money and keep the
community in debt; that it would retard the civilization of the negroes
already on hand; and that by raising the proportion of blacks in the
population it would intensify the danger of slave insurrections. The
several arguments had varying degrees of influence in the several areas.
In the older settlements where the planters had relaxed into easy-going
comfort, the fear of revolt was keenest; in the newer districts the
settlers were more confident in their own alertness. Again, where
prosperity was declining the planters were fairly sure to favor anything
calculated to raise the prices of slaves which they might wish in future to
sell, while on the other hand the people in districts of rising industry
were tempted by programmes tending to cheapen the labor they needed.

The arguments used in South Carolina for and against exclusion may be
gathered from scattering reports in the newspapers. In September, 1785, the
lower house of the legislature upon receiving a message from the governor
on the distressing condition of commerce and credit, appointed a committee
of fifteen on the state of the republic. In this committee there was a
vigorous debate on a motion by Ralph Izard to report a bill prohibiting
slave importations for three years. John Rutledge opposed it. Since the
peace with Great Britain, said he, not more than seven thousand slaves
had been imported, which at L50 each would be trifling as a cause of the
existing stringency; and the closing of the ports would therefore fail to
relieve the distress[7] Thomas Pinckney supported Rutledge with an argument
that the exclusion of the trade from Charleston would at once drive
commerce in general to the ports of Georgia and North Carolina, and that
the advantage of low prices, which he said had fallen from a level of L90
in 1783, would be lost to the planters. Judge Pendleton, on the other hand,
stressed the need of retrenchment. Planters, he said, no longer enjoyed the
long loans which in colonial times had protected them from distress; and
the short credits now alone available put borrowers in peril of bankruptcy
from a single season of short crops and low prices.[8] The committee
reported Izard's bill; but it was defeated in the House by a vote of 47 to
51, and an act was passed instead for an emission of bills of credit by the
state. The advocacy of the trade by Thomas Pinckney indicates that at this
time there was no unanimity of conservatives against it.

[Footnote 7: Charleston _Evening Gazette_, Sept. 26 and 28, 1785.]

[Footnote 8: _Ibid_., Oct. 1, 1785.]

When two years later the stringency persisted, the radicals in the
legislature demanded a law to stay the execution of debts, while the now
unified conservatives proposed again the stoppage of the slave trade. In
the course of the debate David Ramsay "made a jocose remark that every
man who went to church last Sunday and said his prayers was bound by a
spiritual obligation to refuse the importation of slaves. They had devoutly
prayed not to be led into temptation, and negroes were a temptation too
great to be resisted."[9] The issue was at length adjusted by combining
the two projects of a stay-law and a prohibition of slave importations for
three years in a single bill. This was approved on March 28, 1787; and a
further act of the same day added a penalty of fine to that of forfeiture
for the illegal introduction of slaves. The exclusion applied to slaves
from every source, except those whose masters should bring them when
entering the state as residents.[10]

[Footnote 9: Charleston _Morning Post_, March 23, 1787.]

[Footnote 10: _Ibid_., March 29, 1787; Cooper and McCord, _Statutes at
Large of South Carolina_, VII, 430.]

Early in the next year an attempt was made to repeal the prohibition. Its
leading advocate was Alexander Gillon, a populistic Charleston merchant
who had been made a commodore by the State of South Carolina but had never
sailed a ship. The opposition was voiced so vigorously by Edward Rutledge,
Charles Pinckney, Chancellor Matthews, Dr. Ramsay, Mr. Lowndes, and others
that the project was crushed by 93 votes to 40. The strongest weapon in
the hands of its opponents appears to have been a threat of repealing the
stay-law in retaliation.[11] At the end of the year the prohibitory act
had its life prolonged until the beginning of 1793; and continuation acts
adopted every two or three years thereafter extended the regime until the
end of 1803. The constitutionality of the prohibition was tested before the
judiciary of the state in January, 1802, when the five assembled judges
unanimously pronounced it valid.[12]

[Footnote 11: _Georgia State Gazette_ (Savannah), Feb. 17, 1788.]

[Footnote 12: Augusta, Ga., _Chronicle_, Jan. 30, 1802.]

But at last the advocates of the open trade had their innings. The governor
in a message of November 24, 1803, recited that his best exertions to
enforce the law had been of no avail. Inhabitants of the coast and the
frontier, said he, were smuggling in slaves abundantly, while the people of
the central districts were suffering an unfair competition in having to
pay high prices for their labor. He mentioned a recently enacted law of
Congress reinforcing the prohibitory acts of the several states only to
pronounce it already nullified by the absence of public sanction; and he
dismissed any thought of providing the emancipation of smuggled slaves
as "a remedy more mischievous than their introduction in servitude."[13]
Having thus described the problem as insoluble by prohibitions, he left the
solution to the legislature.

[Footnote 13: Charleston _Courier_, Dec. 5, 1803.]

In spite of the governor's assertion, supported soon afterward by a
statement of William Lowndes in Congress,[14] there is reason to believe
that violations of the law had not been committed on a great scale. Slave
prices could not have become nearly doubled, as they did during the period
of legal prohibition, if African imports had been at all freely made. The
governor may quite possibly have exaggerated the facts with a view to
bringing the system of exclusion to an end.

[Footnote 14: _Annals of Congress_, 1803-1804, p. 992.]

However this may have been, a bill was promptly introduced in the Senate
to repeal all acts against importations. Mr. Barnwell opposed this on
the ground that the immense influx of slaves which might be expected in
consequence would cut in half the value of slave property, and that the
increase in the cotton output would lower the already falling prices of
cotton to disastrous levels. The resumption of the great war in Europe,
said he, had already diminished the supply of manufactured goods and raised
their prices. "Was it under these circumstances that we ought to lay
out the savings of our industry, the funds accumulated in many years of
prosperity and peace, to increase that produce whose value had already
fallen so much? He thought not. The permission given by the bill would lead
to ruinous speculations. Everyone would purchase negroes. It was well known
that those who dealt in this property would sell it at a very long credit.
Our citizens would purchase at all hazards and trust to fortunate crops and
favorable markets for making their payments; and it would be found that
South Carolina would in a few years, if this trade continued open, be in
the same situation of debt, and subject to all misfortunes which that
situation had produced, as at the close of the Revolutionary war." The
newspaper closed its report of the speech by a concealment of its further
burden: "The Hon. member adduced in support of his opinion various other
arguments, still more cogent and impressive, which from reasons very
obvious we decline making public."[15] It may be surmised that the
suppressed remarks dealt with the danger of slave revolts. In the further
course of the debate, "Mr. Smith said he would agree to put a stop to the
importation of slaves, but he believed it impossible. For this reason he
would vote for the bill." The measure soon passed the Senate.

[Footnote 15: Charleston _Courier_, Dec. 26, 1803.]

Meanwhile the lower house had resolved on December 8, in committee of the
whole, "that the laws prohibiting the importation of negroes and other
persons of colour in this state can be so amended as to prevent their
introduction amongst us," and had recommended that a select committee be
appointed to draft a bill accordingly.[16] Within the following week,
however, the sentiment of the House was swung to the policy of repeal, and
the Senate bill was passed. On the test vote the ayes were 55 and the
noes 46.[17] The act continued the exclusion of West Indian negroes, and
provided that slaves brought in from sister states of the Union must have
official certificates of good character; but as to the African trade it
removed all restrictions. In 1805 a bill to prohibit imports again was
introduced into the legislature, but after debate it was defeated.[18]

[Footnote 16: _Ibid_., Dec. 20, 1803.]

[Footnote 17: Charleston _City Gazette_, Dec. 22, 1803.]

[Footnote 18: "Diary of Edward Hooker" in the American Historical
Association _Report_ for 1896, p. 878.]

The local effect of the repeal is indicated in the experience of E.S.
Thomas, a Charleston bookseller of the time who in high prosperity had just
opened a new importation of fifty thousand volumes. As he wrote in after
years, the news that the legislature had reopened the slave trade "had not
been five hours in the city, before two large British Guineamen, that had
been lying on and off the port for several days expecting it, came up to
town; and from that day my business began to decline.... A great change at
once took place in everything. Vessels were fitted out in numbers for the
coast of Africa, and as fast as they returned their cargoes were bought
up with avidity, not only consuming the large funds that had been
accumulating, but all that could be procured, and finally exhausting credit
and mortgaging the slaves for payment.... For myself, I was upwards of five
years disposing of my large stock, at a sacrifice of more than a half, in
all the principal towns from Augusta in Georgia to Boston."[19]

[Footnote 19: E.S. Thomas, _Reminiscences_, II, 35, 36.]

As reported at the end of the period, the importations amounted to 5386
slaves in 1804; 6790 in 1805; 11,458 in 1806; and 15,676 in 1807.[20]
Senator William Smith of South Carolina upon examining the records at a
later time placed the total at 39,310, and analysed the statistics as
follows: slaves brought by British vessels, 19,449; by French vessels,
1078; by American vessels, operated mostly for the account of Rhode
Islanders and foreigners, 18,048.[21] If an influx no greater than this
could produce the effect which Thomas described, notwithstanding that many
of the slaves were immediately reshipped to New Orleans and many more
were almost as promptly sold into the distant interior, the scale of
the preceding illicit trade must have been far less than the official
statements and the apologies in Congress would indicate.

[Footnote 20: _Virginia Argus_, Jan. 19, 1808.]

[Footnote 21: _Annals of Congress_, 1821-1822, pp. 73-77.]

South Carolina's opening of the trade promptly spread dismay in other
states. The North Carolina legislature, by a vote afterwards described as
virtually unanimous in both houses, adopted resolutions in December, 1804,
instructing the Senators from North Carolina and requesting her Congressmen
to use their utmost exertions at the earliest possible time to procure
an amendment to the Federal Constitution empowering Congress at once to
prohibit the further importation of slaves and other persons of color
from Africa and the West Indies. Copies were ordered sent not only to the
state's delegation in Congress but to the governors of the other states for
transmission to the legislatures with a view to their concurrence.[22] In
the next year similar resolutions were adopted by the legislatures of New
Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland and Tennessee;[23] but the approach of the
time when Congress would acquire the authority without a change of the
Constitution caused a shifting of popular concern from the scheme of
amendment to the expected legislation of Congress. Meanwhile, a bill for
the temporary government of the Louisiana purchase raised the question of
African importations there which occasioned a debate in the Senate at the
beginning of 1804[24] nearly as vigorous as those to come on the general
question three years afterward.

[Footnote 22: Broadside copy of the resolution, accompanied by a letter of
Governor James Turner of North Carolina to the governor of Connecticut, in
the possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society.]

[Footnote 23: H.V. Ames, _Proposed Amendments to the Constitution_, in the
American Historical Association _Report_ for 1896, pp. 208, 209.]

[Footnote 24: Printed from Senator Plumer's notes, in the _American
Historical Review_, XXII, 340-364.]

In the winter of 1804-1805 bills were introduced in both Senate and House
to prohibit slave importations at large; but the one was postponed for a
year and the other was rejected,[25] doubtless because the time was not
near enough when they could take effect. At last the matter was formally
presented by President Jefferson. "I congratulate you, fellow-citizens,"
he said in his annual message of December 2, 1806, "on the approach of
the period at which you may interpose your authority constitutionally to
withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation
in those violations of human rights which have been so long continued
on the unoffending inhabitants of Africa, and which the morality, the
reputation, and the best interests of our country have long been eager to
proscribe. Although no law you can pass can take effect until the day of
the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, yet the intervening period
is not too long to prevent, by timely notice, expeditions which cannot be
completed before that day."[26] Next day Senator Bradley of Vermont gave
notice of a bill which was shortly afterward introduced and which, after
an unreported discussion, was passed by the Senate on January 27. Its
conspicuous provisions were that after the close of the year 1807 the
importation of slaves was to be a felony punishable with death, and that
the interstate coasting trade in slaves should be illegal.

[Footnote 25: W.E.B. DuBois, _Suppression of the African Slave Trade_, p.
105.]

The report of proceedings in the House was now full, now scant. The
paragraph of the President's message was referred on December 3 to a
committee of seven with Peter Early of Georgia as chairman and three other
Southerners in the membership. The committee's bill reported on December
15, proposed to prohibit slave importations, to penalize the fitting out of
vessels for the trade by fine and forfeiture, to lay fines and forfeitures
likewise upon the owners and masters found within the jurisdictional waters
of the United States with slaves from abroad on board, and empowered the
President to use armed vessels in enforcement. It further provided that if
slaves illegally introduced should be found within the United States they
should be forfeited, and any person wittingly concerned in buying or
selling them should be fined; it laid the burden of proof upon defendants
when charged on reasonable grounds of presumption with having violated the
act; and it prescribed that the slaves forfeited should, like other
goods in the same status, be sold at public outcry by the proper federal
functionaries.[27]

[Footnote 26: _Annals of Congress_, 1806-1807, p. 14.]

[Footnote 27 _Ibid_., pp. 167, 168.]

Mr. Sloan of New Jersey instantly moved to amend by providing that the
forfeited slaves be entitled to freedom. Mr. Early replied that this would
rob the bill of all effect by depriving it of public sanction in the
districts whither slaves were likely to be brought. Those communities, he
said, would never tolerate the enforcement of a law which would set fresh
Africans at large in their midst. Mr. Smilie, voicing the sentiment and
indicating the dilemma of most of his fellow Pennsylvanians, declared
his unconquerable aversion to any measure which would make the federal
government a dealer in slaves, but confessed that he had no programme of
his own. Nathaniel Macon, the Speaker, saying that he thought the desire
to enact an effective law was universal, agreed with Early that Sloan's
amendment would defeat the purpose. Early himself waxed vehement,
prophesying the prompt extermination of any smuggled slaves emancipated in
the Southern states. The amendment was defeated by a heavy majority.

Next day, however, Mr. Bidwell of Massachusetts renewed Sloan's attack by
moving to strike out the provision for the forfeiture of the slaves; but
his colleague Josiah Quincy, supported by the equally sagacious Timothy
Pitkin of Connecticut, insisted upon the necessity of forfeiture; and Early
contended that this was particularly essential to prevent the smuggling of
slaves across the Florida border where the ships which had brought them
would keep beyond the reach of congressional laws. The House finding itself
in an impasse referred the bill back to the same committee, which soon
reported it in a new form declaring the illegal importation of slaves
a felony punishable with death. Upon Early's motion this provision was
promptly stricken out in committee of the whole by a vote of 60 to 41;
whereupon Bidwell renewed his proposal to strike out the forfeiture of
slaves. He was numerously supported in speeches whose main burden was that
the United States government must not become the receiver of stolen goods.
The speeches in reply stressed afresh the pivotal quality of forfeiture in
an effective law; and Bidwell when pressed for an alternative plan could
only say that he might if necessary be willing to leave them to the
disposal of the several states, but was at any rate "opposed to disgracing
our statute book with a recognition of the principle of slavery." Quincy
replied that he wished Bidwell and his fellows "would descend from their
high abstract ground to the level of things in their own state--such
as have, do and will exist after your laws, and in spite of them." The
Southern members, said he, were anxious for nothing so much as a total
prohibition, and for that reason were insistent upon forfeiture. For the
sake of enforcing the law, and for the sake of controlling the future
condition of the smuggled slaves, forfeiture was imperative. Such a
provision would not necessarily admit that the importers had had a title
in the slaves before capture, but it and it alone would effectively divest
them of any color of title to which they might pretend. The amendment was
defeated by a vote of 36 to 63.

When the bill with amendments was reported to the House by the committee of
the whole, on December 31, there was vigorous debate upon the question of
substituting imprisonment of from five to ten years in place of the death
penalty. Mr. Talmadge of Connecticut supported the provision of death with
a biblical citation; and Mr. Smilie said he considered it the very marrow
of the bill. Mr. Lloyd of Maryland thought the death penalty would be
out of proportion to the crime, and considered the extract from Exodus
inapplicable since few of the negroes imported had been stolen in Africa.
But Mr. Olin of Vermont announced that the man-stealing argument had
persuaded him in favor of the extreme penalty. Early now became furious,
and in his fury, frank. In a preceding speech he had pronounced slavery
"an evil regretted by every man in the country."[28] He now said: "A large
majority of the people in the Southern states do not ... believe it immoral
to hold human flesh in bondage. Many deprecate slavery as an evil; as a
political evil; but not as a crime. Reflecting men apprehend, at some
future day, evils, incalculable evils, from it; but it is a fact that
few, very few, consider it as a crime. It is best to be candid on this
subject.... I will tell the truth. A large majority of people in the
Southern states do not consider slavery as an evil. Let the gentleman go
and travel in that quarter of the Union; let him go from neighborhood to
neighborhood, and he will find that this is the fact. Some gentlemen appear
to legislate for the sake of appearances.... I should like to know what
honor you will derive from a law that will be broken every day of your
lives."[29] Mr. Stanton said with an air of deprecation on behalf of his
state of Rhode Island: "I wish the law made so strong as to prevent this
trade in future; but I cannot believe that a man ought to be hung for only
stealing a negro. Those who buy them are as bad as those who import them,
and deserve hanging quite as much." The yeas and nays recorded at the end
of the exhausting day showed 63 in favor and 53 against the substitution of
imprisonment. The North was divided, 29 to 37, with the nays coming mostly
from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut; the South, although South
Carolina as well as Kentucky was evenly divided, cast 34 yeas to 16 nays.
Virginia and Maryland, which might have been expected to be doubtful,
virtually settled the question by casting 17 yeas against 6 nays.

[Footnote 28: _Annals of Congress_, 1806-1807, p. 174.]

[Footnote 29: _Ibid_., pp. 238, 239.]

When the consideration of the bill was resumed on January 7, Mr. Bidwell
renewed his original attack by moving to strike out the confiscation of
slaves; and when this was defeated by 39 to 77, he attempted to reach the
same end by a proviso "That no person shall be sold as a slave by virtue of
this act," This was defeated only by the casting vote of the Speaker. Those
voting aye were all from Northern states, except Archer of Maryland, Broom
of Delaware, Bedinger of Kentucky and Williams of North Carolina. The noes
were all from the South except one from New Hampshire, ten from New York,
and one from Pennsylvania. The outcome was evidently unsatisfactory to the
bulk of the members, for on the next day a motion to recommit the bill to
a new committee of seventeen prevailed by a vote of 76 to 46. Among the
members who shifted their position over night were six of the ten from New
York, four from Maryland, three from Virginia, and two from North Carolina.
In the new committee Bedinger of Kentucky, who was regularly on the
Northern side, was chairman, and Early was not included.

This committee reported in February a bill providing, as a compromise, that
forfeited negroes should be carried to some place in the United States
where slavery was either not permitted or was in course of gradual
extinction, and there be indentured or otherwise employed as the President
might deem best for them and the country. Early moved that for this there
be substituted a provision that the slaves be delivered to the several
states in which the captures were made, to be disposed of at discretion;
and he said that the Southern people would resist the indenture provision
with their lives. This reckless assertion suggests that Early was either
set against the framing of an effective law, or that he spoke in mere blind
rage.

Before further progress was made the House laid aside its bill in favor of
the one which the Senate had now passed. An amendment to this, striking out
the death penalty, was adopted on February 12 by a vote of 67 to 48. The
North gave 31 ayes and 36 noes, quite evenly distributed among the states.
The South cast 37 ayes to 11 noes, five of the latter coming from Virginia,
two from North Carolina, and one each from Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and
South Carolina. A considerable shifting of votes appeared since the ballot
on the same question six weeks before. Knight of Rhode Island, Sailly and
Williams of New York, Helms of New Jersey and Wynns of North Carolina
changed in favor of the extreme penalty; but they were more than offset by
the opposite change of Bidwell of Massachusetts, Van Cortlandt of New York,
Lambert of New Jersey, Clay and Gray of Virginia and McFarland of North
Carolina. Numerous members from all quarters who voted on one of these
roll-calls were silent at the other, and this variation also had a net
result against the infliction of death. The House then filled the blank
it had made in the bill by defining the offense as a high misdemeanor and
providing a penalty of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than
ten years. John Randolph opposed even this as excessive, but found himself
unsupported. The House then struck out the prohibition of the coasting
trade in slaves, and returned the bill as amended to the Senate. The latter
concurred in all the changes except that as to the coastwise trade, and
sent the bill back to the House.

John Randolph now led in the insistence that the House stand firm. If the
bill should pass without the amendment, said he, the Southern people would
set the law at defiance, and he himself would begin the violation of so
unconstitutional an infringement of the rights of property. The House voted
to insist upon its amendment, and sent the bill to conference where in
compromise the prohibition as to the coastwise carriage of slaves for sale
was made to apply only to vessels of less than forty tons burthen. The
Senate agreed to this. In the House Mr. Early opposed it as improper in law
and so easy of evasion that it would be perfectly futile for the prevention
of smuggling from Florida. John Randolph said: "The provision of the bill
touched the right of private property. He feared lest at a future period it
might be made the pretext of universal emancipation. He had rather lose the
bill, he had rather lose all the bills of the session, he had rather lose
every bill passed since the establishment of the government, than agree
to the provision contained in this slave bill. It went to blow up the
Constitution in ruins."[30] Concurrence was carried, nevertheless, by a
vote of 63 to 49, in which the North cast 51 ayes to 12 noes, and the South
12 ayes to 37 noes. The Southern ayes were four from Maryland, four
from North Carolina, two from Tennessee, and one each from Virginia and
Kentucky. The Northern noes were five from New York, two each from New
Hampshire and Vermont, and one each from Massachusetts, Connecticut and
Pennsylvania.

[Footnote 30: _Annals of Congress_, 1806-1807, p. 626.]

The bill then passed the House. Its variance from the original House bill
was considerable, for it made the importation of slaves from abroad a high
misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment; it prohibited the coastwise trade
by sea in vessels of less than forty tons, and required the masters of
larger vessels transporting negroes coastwise to deliver to the port
officials classified manifests of the negroes and certificates that to the
best of their knowledge and belief the slaves had not been imported since
the beginning of 1808; and instead of forfeiture to the United States it
provided that all smuggled slaves seized under the act should be subject to
such disposal as the laws of the state or territory in which the seizure
might be made should prescribe.[31] Randolph, still unreconciled, offered
an explanatory act, February 27, that nothing in the preceding act should
be construed to affect in any manner the absolute property right of masters
in their slaves not imported contrary to the law, and that such masters
should not be liable to any penalty for the coastwise transportation of
slaves in vessels of less than forty tons. In attempting to force this
measure through, he said that if it did not pass the House at once he hoped
the Virginia delegation would wait on the President and remonstrate against
his approving the act which had passed.[32] By a vote of 60 to 49 this bill
was made the order for the next day; but its further consideration was
crowded out by the rush of business at the session's close. The President
signed the prohibitory bill on March 2, without having received the
threatened Virginia visitation.

[Footnote 31: _Ibid_., pp. 1266-1270.]

[Footnote 32: _Annals of Congress_, 1806-1807, p. 637.]

Among the votes in the House on which the yeas and nays were recorded in
the course of these complex proceedings, six may be taken as tests. They
were on striking out the death penalty, December 31; on striking out the
forfeiture of slaves, January 7; on the proviso that no person should
be sold by virtue of the act, January 7; on referring the bill to a new
committee, January 8; on striking out the death penalty from the Senate
bill, February 12; and on the prohibition of the coasting trade in slaves
in vessels of under forty tons, February 26. In each case a majority of
the Northern members voted on one side of the question, and a yet larger
majority of Southerners voted on the other. Twenty-two members voted in
every case on the side which the North tended to adopt. These comprised
seven from Massachusetts, six from Pennsylvania, three from Connecticut,
and one or two from each of the other Northern states except Rhode Island
and Ohio. They comprised also Broom of Delaware, Bedinger of Kentucky, and
Morrow of Virginia; while Williams of North Carolina was almost equally
constant in opposing the policies advocated by the bulk of his fellow
Southerners. On the other hand the regulars on the Southern side comprised
not only ten Virginians, all of the six South Carolinians, except three of
their number on the punishment questions, all of the four Georgians, three
North Carolinians, two Marylanders and one Kentuckian, but in addition
Tenney of New Hampshire, Schuneman, Van Rensselaer and Verplanck of New
York on all but the punishment questions.

On the whole, sectional divergence was fairly pronounced, but only on
matters of detail. The expressions from all quarters of a common desire
to make the prohibition of importations effective were probably sincere
without material exception. As regards the Virginia group of states, their
economic interest in high prices for slaves vouches for the genuine purpose
of their representatives, while that of the Georgians and South Carolinians
may at the most be doubted and not disproved. The South in general
wished to prevent any action which might by implication stigmatize the
slaveholding regime, and was on guard also against precedents tending to
infringe state rights. The North, on the other hand, was largely divided
between a resolve to stop the sanction of slavery and a desire to enact
an effective law in the premises directly at issue. The outcome was a law
which might be evaded with relative ease wherever public sanction was weak,
but which nevertheless proved fairly effective in operation.

When slave prices rose to high levels after the war of 1812 systematic
smuggling began to prevail from Amelia Island on the Florida border, and on
a smaller scale on the bayous of the Barataria district below New Orleans;
but these operations were checked upon the passage of a congressional act
in 1818 increasing the rewards to informers. Another act in the following
year directed the President to employ armed vessels for police in both
African and American waters, and incidentally made provisions contemplating
the return of captured slaves to Africa. Finally Congress by an act of 1820
declared the maritime slave trade to be piracy.[33] Smuggling thereafter
diminished though it never completely ceased.

[Footnote 33: DuBois, _Suppression of the Slave Trade_, pp. 118-123.]

As to the dimensions of the illicit importations between 1808 and 1860,
conjectures have placed the gross as high as two hundred and seventy
thousand.[34] Most of the documents in the premises, however, bear palpable
marks of unreliability. It may suffice to say that these importations were
never great enough to affect the labor supply in appreciable degree. So far
as the general economic regime was concerned, the foreign slave trade was
effectually closed in 1808.

[Footnote 34: W.H. Collins, _The Domestic Slave Trade of the Southern
States_ (New York [1904], pp. 12-20). _See also_ W.E.B. DuBois,
"Enforcement of the Slave Trade Laws," in the American Historical
Association _Report_ for 1891, p. 173.]

At that time, however, there were already in the United States about one
million slaves to serve as a stock from which other millions were to be
born to replenish the plantations in the east and to aid in the peopling of
the west. These were ample to maintain a chronic racial problem, and had no
man invented a cotton gin their natural increase might well have glutted
the market for plantation labor. Had the African source been kept freely
open, the bringing of great numbers to meet the demand in prosperous times
would quite possibly have so burdened the country with surplus slaves in
subsequent periods of severe depression that slave prices would have fallen
virtually to zero, and the slaveholding community would have been driven
to emancipate them wholesale as a means of relieving the masters from the
burden of the slaves' support. The foes of slavery had long reckoned that
the abolition of the foreign trade would be a fatal blow to slavery
itself. The event exposed their fallacy. Thomas Clarkson expressed the
disappointment of the English abolitionists in a letter of 1830: "We
certainly have been deceived in our first expectations relative to the
fruit of our exertions. We supposed that when by the abolition of the slave
trade the planters could get no more slaves, they would not only treat
better those whom they then had in their power, but that they would
gradually find it to their advantage to emancipate them. A part of our
expectations have been realized; ... but, alas! where the heart has been
desperately wicked, we have found no change. We did not sufficiently take
into account the effect of unlimited power on the human mind. No man likes
to part with power, and the more unbounded it is, the less he likes to
part with it. Neither did we sufficiently take into account the ignominy
attached to a black skin as the badge of slavery, and how difficult it
would be to make men look with a favourable eye upon what they had looked
[upon] formerly as a disgrace. Neither did we take sufficiently into
account the belief which every planter has, that such an unnatural state
as that of slavery can be kept up only by a system of rigour, and how
difficult therefore it would be to procure a relaxation from the ordinary
discipline of a slave estate."[35]

[Footnote 35: MS. in private possession.]

If such was the failure in the British West Indies, the change in
conditions in the United States was even greater; for the rise of the
cotton industry concurred with the prohibition of the African trade to
enhance immensely the preciousness of slaves and to increase in similar
degree the financial obstacle to a sweeping abolition.

CHAPTER IX

THE INTRODUCTION OF COTTON AND SUGAR

The decade following the peace of 1783 brought depression in all the
plantation districts. The tobacco industry, upon which half of the Southern
people depended in greater or less degree, was entering upon a half century
of such wellnigh constant low prices that the opening of each new tract for
its culture was offset by the abandonment of an old one, and the export
remained stationary at a little less than half a million hogsheads. Indigo
production was decadent; and rice culture was in painful transition to the
new tide-flow system. Slave prices everywhere, like those of most other
investments, were declining in so disquieting a manner that as late as the
end of 1794 George Washington advised a friend to convert his slaves into
other forms of property, and said on his own account: "Were it not that I
am principled against selling negroes, as you would cattle in a market, I
would not in twelve months hence be possessed of a single one as a slave.
I shall be happily mistaken if they are not found to be a very troublesome
species of property ere many years have passed over our heads."[1] But at
that very time the addition of cotton and sugar to the American staples was
on the point of transforming the slaveholders' prospects.

[Footnote 1: New York Public Library _Bulletin_, 1898, pp. 14, 15.]

For centuries cotton had been among the world's materials for cloth,
though the dearth of supply kept it in smaller use than wool or flax. This
continued to be the case even when the original sources in the Orient were
considerably supplemented from the island of Bourbon and from the colonies
of Demarara, Berbice and Surinam which dotted the tropical South American
coast now known as Guiana. Then, in the latter half of the eighteenth
century, the great English inventions of spinning and Weaving machinery so
cheapened the manufacturing process that the world's demand for textiles
was immensely stimulated. Europe was eagerly inquiring for new fiber
supplies at the very time when the plantation states of America were under
the strongest pressure for a new source of income.

The green-seed, short-staple variety of cotton had long been cultivated
for domestic use in the colonies from New Jersey to Georgia, but on such a
petty scale that spinners occasionally procured supplies from abroad. Thus
George Washington, who amid his many activities conducted a considerable
cloth-making establishment, wrote to his factor in 1773 that a bale of
cotton received from England had been damaged in transit.[2] The cutting
off of the foreign trade during the war for independence forced the
Americans to increase their cotton production to supply their necessities
for apparel. A little of it was even exported at the end of the war, eight
bags of which are said to have been seized by the customs officers at
Liverpool in 1784 on the ground that since America could not produce so
great a quantity the invoice must be fraudulent. But cotton was as yet kept
far from staple rank by one great obstacle, the lack of a gin. The fibers
of the only variety at hand clung to the seed as fast as the wool to the
sheep's back. It had to be cut or torn away; and because the seed-tufts
were so small, this operation when performed by hand was exceedingly slow
and correspondingly expensive. The preparation of a pound or two of lint a
day was all that a laborer could accomplish.

[Footnote 2: MS. in the Library of Congress, Washington letter-books, XVII,
90.]

The problem of the time had two possible solutions; the invention of a
machine for cleaning the lint from the seed of the sort already at hand,
or the introduction of some different variety whose lint was more lightly
attached. Both solutions were applied, and the latter first in point of
time though not in point of importance.

About 1786 seed of several strains was imported from as many quarters
by planters on the Georgia-Carolina coast. Experiments with the Bourbon
variety, which yielded the finest lint then in the market, showed that
the growing season was too short for the ripening of its pods; but seed
procured from the Bahama Islands, of the sort which has ever since been
known as sea-island, not only made crops but yielded a finer fiber than
they had in their previous home. This introduction was accomplished by
the simultaneous experiments of several planters on the Georgia coast. Of
these, Thomas Spaulding and Alexander Bissett planted the seed in 1786 but
saw their plants fail to ripen any pods that year. But the ensuing winter
happened to be so mild that, although the cotton is not commonly a
perennial outside the tropics, new shoots grew from the old roots in the
following spring and yielded their crop in the fall.[3] Among those who
promptly adopted the staple was Richard Leake, who wrote from Savannah at
the end of 1788 to Tench Coxe: "I have been this year an adventurer, and
the first that has attempted on a large scale, in the article of cotton.
Several here as well as in Carolina have followed me and tried the
experiment. I shall raise about 5000 pounds in the seed from about eight
acres of land, and the next year I expect to plant from fifty to one
hundred acres."[4]

[Footnote 3: Letter of Thomas Spaulding, Sapelo Island, Georgia, Jan. 20,
1844, to W.B. Scabrook, in J.A. Turner, ed., _The Cotton Planter's Manual_
(New York, 1857), pp. 280-286.]

[Footnote 4: E.J. Donnell, _Chronological and Statistical History of
Cotton_ (New York, 1872), p. 45.]

The first success in South Carolina appears to have been attained by
William Elliott, on Hilton Head near Beaufort, in 1790. He bought five and
a half bushels of seed in Charleston at 14s per bushel, and sold his crop
at 10-1/2d per pound. In the next year John Screven of St. Luke's parish
planted thirty or forty acres, and sold his yield at from 1s. 2d. to 1s.
6d. sterling per pound. Many other planters on the islands and the adjacent
mainland now joined the movement. Some of them encountered failure, among
them General Moultrie of Revolutionary fame who planted one hundred and
fifty acres in St. John's Berkeley in 1793 and reaped virtually nothing.[5]

[Footnote 5: Whitemarsh B. Seabrook, _Memoir on the Origin, Cultivation and
Uses of Cotton_ (Charleston, 1844), pp. 19, 20.]

The English market came promptly to esteem the long, strong, silky
sea-island fiber as the finest of all cottons; and the prices at Liverpool
rose before the end of the century to as high as five shillings a pound.
This brought fortunes in South Carolina. Captain James Sinkler from a crop
of three hundred acres on his plantation, "Belvedere," in 1794 gathered
216 pounds to the acre, which at prices ranging from fifty to seventy-five
cents a pound brought him a gross return of $509 per laborer employed.[6]
Peter Gaillard of St. John's Berkeley received for his crop of the same
year an average of $340 per hand; and William Brisbane of St. Paul's earned
so much in the three years from 1796 to 1798 that he found himself rich
enough to retire from work and spend several years in travel at the North
and abroad. He sold his plantation to William Seabrook at a price which the
neighbors thought ruinously high, but Seabrook recouped the whole of it
from the proceeds of two years' crops.[7]

[Footnote 6: Samuel DuBose, _Address delivered before the Black Oak
Agricultural Society, April 28, 1858_, in T.G. Thomas, _The Huguenots of
South Carolina_ (New York, 1887).]

[Footnote 7: W.B. Seabrook, _Memoir on Cotton_, p. 20.]

The methods of tillage were quickly systematized. Instead of being planted,
as at first, in separate holes, the seed came to be drilled and plants
grown at intervals of one or two feet on ridges five or six feet apart;
and the number of hoeings was increased. But the thinner fruiting of this
variety prevented the planters from attaining generally more than about
half the output per acre which their upland colleagues came to reap from
their crops of the shorter staple. A hundred and fifty pounds to the acre
and three or four acres to the hand was esteemed a reasonable crop on the
seaboard.[8] The exports of the sea-island staple rose by 1805 to nearly
nine million pounds, but no further expansion occurred until 1819 when an
increase carried the exports for a decade to about eleven million pounds a
year. In the course of the twenties Kinsey Burden and Hugh Wilson, both of
St. John's Colleton, began breeding superfine fiber through seed selection,
with such success that the latter sold two of his bales in 1828 at the
unequaled price of two dollars a pound. The practice of raising fancy
grades became fairly common after 1830, with the result, however, that for
the following decade the exports fell again to about eight million pounds a
year.[9]

[Footnote 8: John Drayton, _View of South Carolina_ (Charleston, 1802), p.
132; J.A. Turner, ed., _Cotton Planter's Manual_, pp. 129, 131.]

[Footnote 9: Seabrook, pp. 35-37, 53.]

Sea-island cotton, with its fibers often measuring more than two inches in
length, had the advantages of easy detachment from its glossy black seed by
squeezing it between a pair of simple rollers, and of a price for even its
common grades ranging usually more than twice that of the upland staple.
The disadvantages were the slowness of the harvesting, caused by the
failure of the bolls to open wide; the smallness of the yield; and the
necessity of careful handling at all stages in preparing the lint for
market. Climatic requirements, furthermore, confined its culture within
a strip thirty or forty miles wide along the coast of South Carolina and
Georgia. In the first flush of the movement some of the rice fields were
converted to cotton;[10] but experience taught the community ere long that
the labor expense in the new industry absorbed too much of the gross return
for it to displace rice from its primacy in the district.

[Footnote 10: F.A. Michaux, _Travels_, in R.G. Thwaites, ed., _Early
Western Travels_, III, 303.]

In the Carolina-Georgia uplands the industrial and social developments
of the eighteenth century had been in marked contrast with those on the
seaboard. These uplands, locally known as the Piedmont, were separated from
the tide-water tract by a flat and sandy region, the "pine barrens," a
hundred miles or more in breadth, where the soil was generally too light
for prosperous agriculture before the time when commercial fertilizers came
into use. The Piedmont itself is a rolling country, extending without a
break from Virginia to Alabama and from the mountains of the Blue Ridge to
the line of the lowest falls on the rivers. The soil of mingled clay
and sand was originally covered with rich forest mold. The climate was
moderately suited to a great variety of crops; but nothing was found for
which it had a marked superiority until short-staple cotton was made
available.

In the second half of the eighteenth century this region had come to
be occupied in scattered homesteads by migrants moving overland from
Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, extending their regime of frontier
farms until the stubborn Creek and Cherokee Indian tribes barred further
progress. Later comers from the same northeastward sources, some of them
bringing a few slaves, had gradually thickened the settlement without
changing materially its primitive system of life. Not many recruits had
entered from the rice coast in colonial times, for the regime there was not
such as to produce pioneers for the interior. The planters, unlike those of
Maryland and Virginia, had never imported appreciable numbers of indentured
servants to become in after years yeomen and fathers of yeomen; the slaves
begat slaves alone to continue at their masters' bidding; and the planters
themselves had for the time being little inducement to forsake the
lowlands. The coast and the Piedmont were unassociated except by a trickle
of trade by wagon and primitive river-boat across the barrens. The capture
of Savannah and Charleston by the British during the War for Independence,
however, doubtless caused a number of the nearby inhabitants to move into
the Piedmont as refugees, carrying their slaves with them.

The commercial demands of the early settlers embraced hardly anything
beyond salt, ammunition and a little hardware. The forest and their
half-cleared fields furnished meat and bread; workers in the households
provided rude furniture and homespun; and luxuries, except home-made
liquors, were unknown. But the time soon came when zealous industry yielded
more grain and cattle than each family needed for its own supply. The
surplus required a market, which the seaboard was glad to furnish. The road
and river traffic increased, and the procurement of miscellaneous goods
from the ports removed the need of extreme diversity in each family's work.
This treeing of energy led in turn to a search for more profitable market
crops. Flax and hemp were tried, and tobacco with some success. Several new
villages were founded, indeed, on the upper courses of the rivers to serve
as stations for the inspection and shipment of tobacco; but their budding
hopes of prosperity from that staple were promptly blighted. The product
was of inferior grade, the price was low, and the cost of freightage high.
The export from Charleston rose from 2680 hogsheads in 1784 to 9646 in
1799, but rapidly declined thereafter. Tobacco, never more than a makeshift
staple, was gladly abandoned for cotton at the first opportunity.[11]

[Footnote 11: U.B. Phillips, _History of Transportation in the Eastern
Cotton Belt to 1860_ (New York, 1908), pp. 46-55.]

At the time of the federal census of 1790 there were in the main group of
upland counties of South Carolina, comprised then in the two "districts" of
Camden and Ninety-six, a total of 91,704 white inhabitants, divided into
15,652 families. Of these 3787 held slaves to the number of 19,934--an
average of 5-1/4 slaves in each holding. No more than five of these parcels
comprised as many as one hundred slaves each, and only 156 masters, about
four per cent, of the whole, had as many as twenty each. These larger
holdings, along with the 335 other parcels ranging from ten to nineteen
slaves each, were of course grouped mainly in the river counties in the
lower part of the Piedmont, while the smallest holdings were scattered far
and wide. That is to say, there was already discoverable a tendency toward
a plantation regime in the localities most accessible to market, while
among the farmers about one in four had one or more slaves to aid in the
family's work. The Georgia Piedmont, for which the returns of the early
censuses have been lost, probably had a somewhat smaller proportion of
slaves by reason of its closer proximity to the Indian frontier.

A sprinkling of slaves was enough to whet the community's appetite for
opportunities to employ them with effect and to buy more slaves with the
proceeds. It is said that in 1792 some two or three million pounds
of short-staple cotton was gathered in the Piedmont,[12] perhaps in
anticipation of a practicable gin, and that the state of Georgia had
appointed a commission to promote the desired invention.[13] It is certain
that many of the citizens were discussing the problem when in the spring of
1793 young Eli Whitney, after graduating at Yale College, left his home in
Massachusetts intending to teach school in the South. While making a visit
at the home of General Greene's widow, near Savannah, he listened to a
conversation on the subject by visitors from upland Georgia, and he was
urged by Phineas Miller, the manager of the Greene estate, to apply his
Yankee ingenuity to the solution. When Miller offered to bear the expenses
of the project, Whitney set to work, and within ten days made a model which
met the essential requirements. This comprised a box with a slatted side
against which a wooden cylinder studded with wire points was made to play.
When seed cotton was fed into the box and the cylinder was revolved, the
sharp wires passing between the slats would engage the lint and pull it
through as they passed out in the further revolution of the cylinder. The
seed, which were too large to pass through the grating, would stay within
the hopper until virtually all the wool was torn off, whereupon they would
fall through a crevice on the further side. The minor problem which now
remained of freeing the cylinder's teeth from their congestion of lint
found a solution in Mrs. Greene's stroke with a hearth-broom. Whitney,
seizing the principle, equipped his machine with a second cylinder studded
with brushes, set parallel to the first but revolving in an opposite
direction and at a greater speed. This would sweep the teeth clean as fast
as they emerged lint-laden from the hopper. Thus was the famous cotton-gin
devised.[14]

[Footnote 12: Letter of Phineas Miller to the Comptroller of South
Carolina, in the _American Historical Review_, III, 115.]

[Footnote 13: M.B. Hammond, _The Cotton Industry_ (New York, 1807), p. 23.]

[Footnote 14: Denison Olmstead, _Memoir of Eli Whitney, Esq_. (New Haven,
1846), reprinted in J.A. Turner, ed., _Cotton Planter's Manual_, pp.
297-320. M.B. Hammond, _The Cotton Industry_, pp. 25, 26.]

Miller, who now married Mrs. Greene, promptly entered into partnership with
Whitney not only to manufacture gins but also to monopolize the business
of operating them, charging one-third of the cotton as toll. They even
ventured into the buying and selling of the staple on a large scale. Miller
wrote Whitney in 1797, for example, that he was trying to raise money for
the purchase of thirty or forty thousand pounds of seed cotton at the
prevailing price of three cents, and was projecting a trade in the lint to
far-off Tennessee.[15] By this time the partners had as many as thirty gins
in operation at various points in Georgia; but misfortune had already begun
to pursue them. Their shop on the Greene plantation had been forced by a
mob even before their patent was procured in 1793, and Jesse Bull, Charles
M. Lin and Edward Lyons, collaborating near Wrightsboro, soon put forth an
improved gin in which saw-toothed iron discs replaced the wire points of
the Whitney model.[16] Whitney had now returned to New Haven to establish
a gin factory, and Miller wrote him in 1794 urging prompt shipments and
saying: "The people of the country are running mad for them, and much can
be said to justify their importunity. When the present crop is harvested
there will be a real property of at least fifty thousand dollars lying
useless unless we can enable the holders to bring it to market," But an
epidemic prostrated Whitney's workmen that year, and a fire destroyed his
factory in 1795. Meanwhile rival machines were appearing in the market, and
Whitney and Miller were beginning their long involvement in lawsuits. Their
overreaching policy of monopolizing the operation of their gins turned
public sentiment against them and inclined the juries, particularly in
Georgia, to decide in favor of their opponents. Not until 1807, when their
patent was on the point of expiring did they procure a vindication in the
Georgia courts. Meanwhile a grant of $50,000 from the legislature of South
Carolina to extinguish the patent right in that state, and smaller grants
from North Carolina and Tennessee did little more than counterbalance
expenses.[17] A petition which Whitney presented to Congress in 1812 for a
renewal of his expired patent was denied, and Whitney turned his talents to
the manufacture of muskets.

[Footnote 15: _American Historical Review_. Ill, 104.]

[Footnote 16: J.A. Turner, ed., _Cotton Planter's Manual_, pp. 289, 290,
293-295.]

[Footnote 17: M.B. Hammond, "Correspondence of Eli Whitney relating to the
Invention of the Cotton Gin," in the _American Historical Review_, III,
90-127.]

In Georgia the contest of lawyers in the courts was paralleled by a battle
of advertisers in the newspapers. Thomas Spaulding offered to supply Joseph
Eve's gins from the Bahama Islands at fifty guineas each;[18] and Eve
himself shortly immigrated to Augusta to contend for his patent rights on
roller-gins, for some of his workmen had changed his model in such a way as
to increase the speed, and had put their rival gins upon the market.[19]
Among these may have been John Currie, who offered exclusive county rights
at $100 each for the making, using and vending of his type of gins,[20]
also William Longstreet of Augusta who offered to sell gins of his own
devising at $150 each,[21] and Robert Watkins of the short-lived town of
Petersburg, Georgia, who denounced Longstreet as an infringer of his patent
and advertised local non-exclusive rights for making and using his own
style of gins at the bargain rate of sixty dollars.[22] All of these were
described as roller gins; but all were warranted to gin upland as well as
sea-island cotton.[23] By the year 1800 Miller and Whitney had also
adopted the practice of selling licenses in Georgia, as is indicated by an
advertisement from their agent at Augusta. Meanwhile ginners were calling
for negro boys and girls ten or twelve years old on hire to help at the
machines;[24] and were offering to gin for a toll of one-fifth of the
cotton.[25] As years passed the rates were still further lowered. At
Augusta in 1809, for example, cotton was ginned and packed in square bales
of 350 pounds at a cost of $1.50 per hundredweight.[26]

[Footnote 18: _Columbian Museum_ (Savannah, Ga.), April 26, 1796.]

[Footnote 19: J.A. Turner, ed., _Cotton Planter's Manual_, p. 281.]

[Footnote 20: Augusta, Ga., _Chronicle_, Dec. 10, 1796.]

[Footnote 21: _Southern Sentinel_ (Augusta, Ga.), July 14, 1796.]

[Footnote 22: _Ibid_., Feb. 7, 1797; Augusta _Chronicle_, June 10, 1797.]

[Footnote 23: Augusta _Chronicle_, Dec. 13, 1800.]

[Footnote 24: _Southern Sentinel_, April 23, 1795.]

[Footnote 25: Augusta _Chronicle_, Jan. 16, 1796.]

[Footnote 26: _Ibid_., Sept. 9, 1809.]

The upland people of Georgia and the two Carolinas made prompt response to
the new opportunity. By 1800 even Tennessee had joined the movement, and
a gin of such excellence was erected near Nashville that the proprietors
exacted fees from visitors wishing to view it;[27] and by 1802 not only
were consignments being shipped to New Orleans for the European market, but
part of the crop was beginning to be peddled in wagons to Kentucky and in
pole-boats on the Ohio as far as Pittsburg, for the domestic making of
homespun.[28] In 1805 John Baird advertised at Nashville that, having
received a commission from correspondents at Baltimore, he was ready to
buy as much as one hundred thousand pounds of lint at fifteen cents a
pound.[29] In the settlements about Vicksburg in the Mississippi Territory,
cotton was not only the staple product by 1809, but was also for the time
being the medium of exchange, while in Arkansas the squatters were debarred
from the new venture only by the poverty which precluded them from getting
gins.[30] In Virginia also, in such of the southerly counties as had
summers long enough for the crop to ripen in moderate security, cotton
growing became popular. But for the time being these were merely an
out-lying fringe of cotton's principality. The great rush to cotton growing
prior to the war of 1812 occurred in the Carolina-Georgia Piedmont, with
its trend of intensity soon pointing south-westward.

[Footnote 27: _Tennessee Gazette_ (Nashville, Tenn.), April 9, 1800.]

[Footnote 28: F.A. Michaux in Thwaites, ed., _Early Western Travels_, III,
252.]

[Footnote 29: _Tennessee Gazette_, March 27, 1805.]

[Footnote 30: F. Cuming, _Tour to the Western Country_ (Pittsburg, 1810),
in Thwaites, ed., _Early Western Travels_, IV, 272, 280, 298.]

A shrewd contemporary observer found special reason to rejoice that the new
staple required no large capital and involved no exposure to disease. Rice
and indigo, said he, had offered the poorer whites, except the few employed
as overseers, no livelihood "without the degradation of working with
slaves"; but cotton, stimulating and elevating these people into the rank
of substantial farmers, tended "to fill the country with an independent
industrious yeomanry."[31] True as this was, it did not mean that producers
on a plantation scale were at a disadvantage. Settlers of every type,
in fact, adopted the crop as rapidly as they could get seed and ginning
facilities, and newcomers poured in apace to share the prosperity.

[Footnote 31: David Ramsay, _History of South Carolina_ (Charleston, 1808),
II, 448-9.]

The exports mounted swiftly, but the world's market readily absorbed them
at rising prices until 1801 when the short-staple output was about forty
million pounds and the price at the ports about forty-four cents a pound.
A trade in slaves promptly arose to meet the eager demand for labor; and
migrants coming from the northward and the rice coast brought additional
slaves in their train. General Wade Hampton was the first conspicuous one
of these. With the masterful resolution which always characterized him, he
carried his great gang from the seaboard to the neighborhood of Columbia
and there in 1799 raised six hundred of the relatively light weight bales
of that day on as many acres.[32] His crop was reckoned to have a value of
some ninety thousand dollars.[33]

[Footnote 32: Seabrook, pp. 16, 17.]

[Footnote 33: Note made by L. C Draper from the Louisville, Ga., _Gazette_,
Draper MSS., series VV, vol. XVI, p. 84, Wisconsin Historical Society.]

The general run of the upland cultivators, however, continued as always to
operate on a minor scale; and the high cost of transportation caused them
generally to continue producing miscellaneous goods to meet their domestic
needs. The diversified regime is pictured in Michaux's description of a
North Carolina plantation in 1802: "In eight hundred acres of which it is
composed, a hundred and fifty are cultivated in cotton, Indian corn, wheat
and oats, and dunged annually, which is a great degree of perfection in the
present state of agriculture in this part of the country. Independent of
this [the proprietor] has built in his yard several machines that the same
current of water puts in motion; they consist of a corn mill, a saw mill,
another to separate the cotton seeds, a tan-house, a tan-mill, a distillery
to make peach brandy, and a small forge where the inhabitants of the
country go to have their horses shod. Seven or eight negro slaves are
employed in the different departments, some of which are only occupied at
certain periods of the year. Their wives are employed under the direction
of the mistress in manufacturing cotton and linen for the use of the
family."[34]

[Footnote 34: F.A. Michaux in Thwaites, ed., _Early Western Travels_, III,
292.]

The speed of the change to a general slaveholding regime in the uplands may
easily be exaggerated. In those counties of South Carolina which lay wholly
within the Piedmont the fifteen thousand slaves on hand in 1790 formed
slightly less than one-fifth of the gross population there. By 1800
the number of slaves increased by seventy per cent., and formed nearly
one-fourth of the gross; in the following decade they increased by ninety
per cent., until they comprised one-third of the whole; from 1810 to 1820
their number grew at the smaller rate of fifty per cent, and reached
two-fifths of the whole; and by 1830, with a further increase of forty per
cent., the number of slaves almost overtook that of the whites. The slaves
were then counted at 101,982, the whites at 115,318, and the free negroes
at 2,115. In Georgia the slave proportion grew more rapidly than this
because it was much smaller at the outset; in North Carolina, on the
other hand, the rise was less marked because cotton never throve there so
greatly.

In its industrial requirements cotton was much closer to tobacco than to
rice or sugar. There was no vital need for large units of production. On
soils of the same quality the farmer with a single plow, if his family did
the hoeing and picking, was on a similar footing with the greatest planter
as to the output per hand, and in similar case as to cost of production per
bale. The scale of cotton-belt slaveholdings rose not because free labor
was unsuited to the industry but because slaveholders from the outside
moved in to share the opportunity and because every prospering
non-slaveholder and small slaveholder was eager to enlarge his personal
scale of operations. Those who could save generally bought slaves with
their savings; those who could not, generally continued to raise cotton
nevertheless.

The gross cotton output, in which the upland crop greatly and increasingly
outweighed that of the sea-island staple, rapidly advanced from about
forty-eight million pounds in 1801 to about eighty million in 1806; then it
was kept stationary by the embargo and the war of 1812, until the return
of peace and open trade sent it up by leaps and bounds again. The price
dropped abruptly from an average of forty-four cents in the New York market
in 1801 to nineteen cents in 1802, but there was no further decline until
the beginning of the war with Great Britain.[35]

[Footnote 35: M.B. Hammond, _The Cotton Industry_, table following p. 357.]

Cotton's absorption of the people's energies already tended to become
excessive. In 1790 South Carolina had sent abroad a surplus of corn from
the back country measuring well over a hundred thousand bushels. But by
1804 corn brought in brigs was being advertised in Savannah to meet the
local deficit;[36] and in the spring of 1807 there seems to have been a
dearth of grain in the Piedmont itself. At that time an editorial in the
_Augusta Chronicle_ ran as follows: "A correspondent would recommend to the
planters of Georgia, now the season is opening, to raise more corn and less
cotton ... The dear bought experience of the present season should teach us
to be more provident for the future." [37] Under the conditions of the time
this excess at the expense of grain was likely to correct itself at once,
for men and their draught animals must eat to work, and in the prevailing
lack of transportation facilities food could not be brought from a
distance at a price within reach. The systematic basis of industry was the
production, whether by planters or farmers, of such food as was locally
needed and such supplies of cloth together with such other outfit as it was
economical to make at home, and the devotion of all further efforts to the
making of cotton.

[Footnote 36: Savannah _Museum_, April n, 1804.]

[Footnote 37: Reprinted in the _Farmer's Gazette_ (Sparta, Ga.), April 11,
1807.]

Coincident with the rise of cotton culture in the Atlantic states was that
of sugar in the delta lands of southeastern Louisiana. In this triangular
district, whose apex is the junction of the Red and Mississippi rivers, the
country is even more amphibious than the rice coast. Everywhere in fact the
soil is too waterlogged for tillage except close along the Father of Waters
himself and his present or aforetime outlets. Settlement must, therefore,
take the form of strings of plantations and farms on these elevated
riparian strips, with the homesteads fronting the streams and the fields
stretching a few hundred or at most a few thousand yards to the rear; and
every new establishment required its own levee against the flood. So long
as there were great areas of unrestricted flood-plain above Vicksburg to
impound the freshets and lower their crests, the levees below required no
great height or strength; but the tasks of reclamation were at best arduous
enough to make rapid expansion depend upon the spur of great expectations.

The original colony of the French, whose descendants called themselves
Creoles, was clustered about the town of New Orleans. A short distance up
stream the river banks in the parishes of St. Charles and St. John the
Baptist were settled at an early period by German immigrants; thence the
settlements were extended after the middle of the eighteenth century, first
by French exiles from Acadia, next by Creole planters, and finally by
Anglo-Americans who took their locations mostly above Baton Rouge. As to
the westerly bayous, the initial settlers were in general Acadian small
farmers. Negro slaves were gradually introduced into all these districts,
though the Creoles, who were the most vigorous of the Latin elements, were
the chief importers of them. Their numbers at the close of the colonial
period equalled those of the whites, and more than a tenth of them had been
emancipated.

The people in the later eighteenth century were drawing their livelihoods
variously from hunting, fishing, cattle raising and Indian trading, from
the growing of grain and vegetables for sale to the boatmen and townsmen,
and from the production of indigo on a somewhat narrow margin of profit as
the principal export crop. Attempts at sugar production had been made in
1725 and again in 1762, but the occurrence of winter frosts before the cane
was fully ripe discouraged the enterprise; and in most years no more cane
was raised than would meet the local demand for sirup and rum. In the
closing decades of the century, however, worm pests devoured the indigo
leaves with such thoroughness as to make harvesting futile; and thereby the
planters were driven to seek an alternative staple. Projects of cotton were
baffled by the lack of a gin, and recourse was once more had to sugar. A
Spaniard named Solis had built a small mill below New Orleans in 1791 and
was making sugar with indifferent success when, in 1794-1795, Etienne de
Bore, a prominent Creole whose estate lay just above the town, bought a
supply of seed cane from Solis, planted a large field with it, engaged a
professional sugar maker, and installed grinding and boiling apparatus
against the time of harvest. The day set for the test brought a throng of
onlookers whose joy broke forth at the sight of crystals in the cooling
fluid--for the good fortune of Bore, who received some $12,000 for his crop
of 1796, was an earnest of general prosperity.

Other men of enterprise followed the resort to sugar when opportunity
permitted them to get seed cane, mills and cauldrons. In spite of a dearth
of both capital and labor and in spite of wartime restrictions on maritime
commerce, the sugar estates within nine years reached the number of
eighty-one, a good many of which were doubtless the property of San
Domingan refugees who were now pouring into the province with whatever
slaves and other movables they had been able to snatch from the black
revolution. Some of these had fled first to Cuba and after a sojourn there,
during which they found the Spanish government oppressive, removed afresh
to Louisiana. As late as 1809 the year's immigration from the two islands
was reported by the mayor of New Orleans to the governor of Louisiana at
2,731 whites and 3,102 free persons of color, together with 3,226 slaves
warranted as the property of the free immigrants.[38] The volume of the
San Domingan influx from first to last was great enough to double the
French-speaking population. The newcomers settled mainly in the New Orleans
neighborhood, the whites among them promptly merging themselves with the
original Creole population. By reason of their previous familiarity with
sugar culture they gave additional stimulus to that industry.

[Footnote 38: _Moniteur de la Louisiane_ (New Orleans), Jan. 27 and Mch.
24, 1810.]

Meanwhile the purchase of Louisiana by the United States in 1803 had
transformed the political destinies of the community and considerably
changed its economic prospects. After prohibiting in 1804 the importation
into the territory of any slaves who had been brought from Africa since
1798, Congress passed a new act in 1805 which, though probably intended to
continue the prohibition, was interpreted by the attorney-general to permit
the inhabitants to bring in any slaves whatever from any place within the
United States.[39] This news was published with delight by the New Orleans
newspapers at the end of February, 1806;[40] and from that time until the
end of the following year their columns bristled with advertisements of
slaves from African cargoes "just arrived from Charleston." Of these the
following, issued by the firm of Kenner and Henderson, June 24, 1806, is
an example: "The subscribers offer for sale 74 prime slaves of the Fantee
nation on board the schooner _Reliance_, I. Potter master, from Charleston,
now lying opposite this city. The sales will commence on the 25th. inst.
at 9 o'clock A.M., and will continue from day to day until the whole is
sold.[41] Good endorsed notes will be taken in payment, payable the 1st.
of January, 1807. Also [for sale] the above mentioned schooner _Reliance_,
burthen about 60 tons, completely fitted for an African voyage."

[Footnote 39: W.E.B. DuBois, _Suppression of the African Slave Trade_, pp.
87-90. The acts of 1804 and 1805 are printed in B.P. Poore, _Charters and
Constitutions_ (Washington, 1877), I, 691-697.]

[Footnote 40: _Louisiana Gazette_, Feb. 28, 1806.]

[Footnote 41: _Louisiana Gazette_, July 4, 1806.]

Upon the prohibition of the African trade at large in 1808, the slave
demand of the sugar parishes was diverted to the Atlantic plantation states
where it served to advertise the Louisiana boom. Wade Hampton of South
Carolina responded in 1811 by carrying a large force of his slaves to
establish a sugar estate of his own at the head of Bayou Lafourche, and a
few others followed his example. The radical difference of the industrial
methods in sugar from those in the other staples, however, together with
the predominance of the French language, the Catholic religion and a
Creole social regime in the district most favorable for sugar, made
Anglo-Americans chary of the enterprise; and the revival of cotton prices
after 1815 strengthened the tendency of migrating planters to stay within
the cotton latitudes. Many of those who settled about Baton Rouge and on
the Red River with cotton as their initial concern shifted to sugar at the
end of the 'twenties, however, in response to the tariff of 1828 which
heightened sugar prices at a time when the cotton market was depressed.
This was in response, also, to the introduction of ribbon cane which
matured earlier than the previously used Malabar and Otaheite varieties and
could accordingly be grown in a somewhat higher latitude.

The territorial spread was mainly responsible for the sudden advance of the
number of sugar estates from 308 operating in 1827, estimated as employing
21,000 able-bodied slaves and having a gross value of $34,000,000, to 691
plantations in 1830,[42] with some 36,000 working slaves and a gross value
of $50,000,000. At this time the output was at the rate of about 75,000
hogsheads containing 1,000 pounds of sugar each, together with some forty
or fifty gallons of molasses per hogshead as a by-product. Louisiana was at
this time supplying about half of the whole country's consumption of sugar

Book of the day: