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Some Historical Account of Guinea, Its Situation, Produce, and the General Disposition of Its Inhabitants by Anthony Benezet

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SITUATION, PRODUCE, and the general



An Inquiry into the RISE and PROGRESS



Its NATURE, and lamentable EFFECTS.


A REPUBLICATION of the Sentiments of several Authors of Note on this
interesting Subject: Particularly an Extract of a Treatise written by


ACTS xvii. 24, 26. GOD, _that made the world hath made of_ one
blood _all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the
earth, and hath determined the--bounds of their habitation._




CHAPTER I. _A GENERAL account of_ Guinea; _particularly those
parts on the rivers_ Senegal _and_ Gambia.

CHAP. II. _Account of the_ Ivory-Coast, _the_ Gold-Coast _and
the Slave-Coast_.

CHAP. III. _Of the kingdoms of_ Benin, Kongo _and_ Angola.

CHAP. IV. Guinea, _first discovered and subdued by the_
Arabians. _The Portuguese make descents on the coast, and carry
off the natives. Oppression of the_ Indians: _De la Casa pleads
their cause_.

CHAP. V. _The_ English's _first trade to the coast of_ Guinea:
_Violently carry off some of the Negros._

CHAP. VI. _Slavery more tolerable under_ Pagans _and_ Turks
_than in the colonies. As christianity prevailed, ancient
slavery declined_.

CHAP. VII. Montesquieu's _sentiments of slavery_. Morgan
Godwyn's _advocacy on behalf of Negroes and Indians, &c._

CHAP. VIII. _Grievous treatment of the Negroes in the colonies,

CHAP. IX. _Desire of gain the true motive of the_ Slave trade.
_Misrepresentation of the state of the Negroes in Guinea_.

CHAP. X. _State of the Government in_ Guinea, &c.

CHAP. XI. _Accounts of the cruel methods used in carrying on of
the_ Slave trade, &c.

CHAP. XII. _Extracts of several voyages to the coast of_ Guinea,

CHAP. XIII. _Numbers of Negroes, yearly brought from_ Guinea,
_by the_ English, &c.

CHAP. XIV. _Observations on the situation and disposition of the
Negroes in the northern colonies_, &c.

CHAP. XV. Europeans _capable of bearing reasonable labour in
the_ West Indies, &c.

_Extracts from_ Granville Sharp's _representations,_ &c.

_Sentiments of several authors,_ viz. George Wallace, Francis
Hutcheson, _and_ James Foster.

_Extracts of an address to the assembly of_ Virginia.

_Extract of the bishop of_ Gloucester's _sermon_.


The slavery of the Negroes having, of late, drawn the attention of many
serious minded people; several tracts have been published setting forth
its inconsistency with every christian and moral virtue, which it is
hoped will have weight with the judicious; especially at a time when the
liberties of mankind are become so much the subject of general
attention. For the satisfaction of the serious enquirer who may not have
the opportunity of seeing those tracts, and such others who are
sincerely desirous that the iniquity of this practice may become
effectually apparent, to those in whose power, it may be to put a stop
to any farther progress therein; it is proposed, hereby, to republish
the most material parts of said tracts; and in order to enable the
reader to form a true judgment of this matter, which, tho' so very
important, is generally disregarded, or so artfully misrepresented by
those whose interest leads them to vindicate it, as to bias the opinions
of people otherwise upright; some account will be here given of the
different parts of Africa, from which the Negroes are brought to
America; with an impartial relation from what motives the Europeans were
first induced to undertake, and have since continued this iniquitous
traffic. And here it will not be improper to premise, that tho' wars,
arising from the common depravity of human nature, have happened, as
well among the Negroes as other nations, and the weak sometimes been
made captives to the strong; yet nothing appears, in the various
relations of the intercourse and trade for a long time carried on by the
Europeans on that coast, which would induce us to believe, that there is
any real foundation for that argument, so commonly advanced in
vindication of that trade, viz. "_That the slavery of the Negroes took
its rise from a desire, in the purchasers, to save the lives of such of
them as were taken captives in war, who would otherwise have been
sacrificed to the implacable revenge of their conquerors._" A plea which
when compared with the history of those times, will appear to be
destitute of Truth; and to have been advanced, and urged, principally by
such as were concerned in reaping the gain of this infamous traffic, as
a palliation of that, against which their own reason and conscience must
have raised fearful objections.





* * * * *

[Price 2s. 6d. stitched.]


Guinea affords an easy living to its inhabitants, with but little toil.
The climate agrees well with the natives, but extremely unhealthful to
the Europeans. Produces provisions in the greatest plenty. Simplicity of
their housholdry. The coast of Guinea described from the river Senegal
to the kingdom of Angola. The fruitfulness of that part lying on and
between the two great rivers Senegal and Gambia. Account of the
different nations settled there. Order of government amongst the Jalofs.
Good account of some of the Fulis. The Mandingos; their management,
government, &c. Their worship. M. Adanson's account of those countries.
Surprizing vegetation. Pleasant appearance of the country. He found the
natives very sociable and obliging.

When the Negroes are considered barely in their present abject state of
slavery, broken-spirited and dejected; and too easy credit is given to
the accounts we frequently hear or read of their barbarous and savage
way of living in their own country; we shall be naturally induced to
look upon them as incapable of improvement, destitute, miserable, and
insensible of the benefits of life; and that our permitting them to live
amongst us, even on the most oppressive terms, is to them a favour. But,
on impartial enquiry, the case will appear to be far otherwise; we shall
find that there is scarce a country in the whole world, that is better
calculated for affording the necessary comforts of life to its
inhabitants, with less solicitude and toil, than Guinea. And that
notwithstanding the long converse of many of its inhabitants with
(often) the worst of the Europeans, they still retain a great deal of
innocent simplicity; and, when not stirred up to revenge from the
frequent abuses they have received from the Europeans in general,
manifest themselves to be a humane, sociable people, whose faculties are
as capable of improvement as those of other Men; and that their oeconomy
and government is, in many respects, commendable. Hence it appears they
might have lived happy, if not disturbed by the Europeans; more
especially, if these last had used such endeavours as their christian
profession requires, to communicate to the ignorant Africans that
superior knowledge which Providence had favoured them with. In order to
set this matter in its true light, and for the information of those
well-minded people who are desirous of being fully acquainted with the
merits of a cause, which is of the utmost consequence; as therein the
lives and happiness of thousands, and hundreds of thousands, of our
fellow _Men_ have fallen, and are daily falling, a sacrifice to selfish
avarice and usurped power, I will here give some account of the several
divisions of those parts of Africa from whence the Negroes are brought,
with a summary of their produce; the disposition of their respective
inhabitants; their improvements, &c. &c. extracted from authors of
credit; mostly such as have been principal officers in the English,
French and Dutch factories, and who resided many years in those
countries. But first it is necessary to premise, as a remark generally
applicable to the whole coast of Guinea, "_That the Almighty, who has
determined and appointed the bounds of the habitation of men on the face
of the earth_" in the manner that is most conducive to the well-being of
their different natures and dispositions, has so ordered it, that altho'
Guinea is extremely unhealthy[A] to the Europeans, of whom many
thousands have met there with a miserable and untimely end, yet it is
not so with the Negroes, who enjoy a good state of health[B] and are
able to procure to themselves a comfortable subsistence, with much less
care and toil than is necessary in our more northern climate; which last
advantage arises not only from the warmth of the climate, but also from
the overflowing of the rivers, whereby the land is regularly moistened
and rendered extremely fertile; and being in many places improved by
culture, abounds with grain and fruits, cattle, poultry, &c. The earth
yields all the year a fresh supply of food: Few clothes are requisite,
and little art necessary in making them, or in the construction of their
houses, which are very simple, principally calculated to defend them
from the tempestuous seasons and wild beasts; a few dry reeds covered
with matts serve for their beds. The other furniture, except what
belongs to cookery, gives the women but little trouble; the moveables of
the greatest among them amounting only to a few earthen pots, some
wooden utensils, and gourds or calabashes; from these last, which grow
almost naturally over their huts, to which they afford an agreeable
shade, they are abundantly stocked with good clean vessels for most
houshold uses, being of different sizes, from half a pint to several

[Footnote A: _Gentleman's Magazine, Supplement, 1763. Extract of a
letter wrote from the island of Senegal, by Mr. Boone, practitioner of
physic there, to Dr. Brocklesby of London._

"To form just idea of the unhealthiness of the climate, it will
be necessary to conceive a country extending three hundred
leagues East, and more to the North and South. Through this
country several large rivers empty themselves into the sea;
particularly the Sanaga, Gambia and Sherbro; these, during the
rainy months, which begin in July and continue till October,
overflow their banks, and lay the whole flat country under
water; and indeed, the very sudden rise of these rivers is
incredible to persons who have never been within the tropicks,
and are unacquainted with the violent rains that fall there. At
Galem, nine hundred miles from the mouth of the Sanaga, I am
informed that the waters rise one hundred and fifty feet
perpendicular, from the bed of the river. This information I
received from a gentleman, who was surgeon's mate to a party
sent there, and the only survivor of three captains command,
each consisting of one captain, two lieutenants, one ensign, a
surgeon's mate, three serjeants, three corporals, and fifty

"When the rains are at an end, which usually happens in October,
the intense heat of the sun soon dries up the waters which lie
on the higher parts of the earth, and the remainder forms lakes
of stagnated waters, in which are found all sorts of dead
animals. These waters every day decrease, till at last they are
quite exhaled, and then the effluvia that arises is almost
insupportable. At this season, the winds blow so very hot from
off the land, that I can compare them to nothing but the heat
proceeding from the mouth of an oven. This occasions the
Europeans to be sorely vexed with bilious and putrid fevers.
From this account you will not be surprized, that the total loss
of British subjects in this island only, amounted to above two
thousand five hundred, in the space of three years that I was
there, in such a putrid moist air as I have described."


[Footnote B: James Barbot, agent general to the French African company,
in his account of Africa, page 105, says, "The natives are seldom
troubled with any distempers, being little affected with the unhealthy
air. In tempestuous times they keep much within doors; and when exposed
to the weather, their skins being suppled, and pores closed by daily
anointing with palm oil, the weather can make but little impression on

That part of Africa from which the Negroes are sold to be carried into
slavery, commonly known by the name of Guinea, extends along the coast
three or four thousand miles. Beginning at the river Senegal, situate
about the 17th degree of North latitude, being the nearest part of
Guinea, as well to Europe as to North America; from thence to the river
Gambia, and in a southerly course to Cape Sierra Leona, comprehends a
coast of about seven hundred miles; being the same tract for which Queen
Elizabeth granted charters to the first traders to that coast: from
Sierra Leona, the land of Guinea takes a turn to the eastward, extending
that course about fifteen hundred miles, including those several
civilians known by name of _the Grain Coast, the Ivory Coast, the Gold
Coast, and the Slave Coast, with the large kingdom of Benin_. From
thence the land runs southward along the coast about twelve hundred
miles, which contains the _kingdoms of Congo and Angola_; there the
trade for slaves ends. From which to the southermost Cape of Africa,
called the Cape of Good Hope, the country is settled by Caffres and
Hottentots, who have never been concerned in the making or selling

Of the parts which are above described, the first which presents itself
to view, is that situate on the great river Senegal, which is said to be
navigable more than a thousand miles, and is by travellers described to
be very agreeable and fruitful. Andrew Brue, principal factor for the
French African company, who lived sixteen years in that country, after
describing its fruitfulness and plenty, near the sea, adds,[A] "The
farther you go from the sea, the country on the river seems the more
fruitful and well improved; abounding with Indian corn, pulse, fruit,
&c. Here are vast meadows, which feed large herds of great and small
cattle, and poultry numerous: The villages that lie thick on the river,
shew the country is well peopled." The same author, in the account of a
voyage he made up the river Gambia, the mouth of which lies about three
hundred miles South of the Senegal, and is navigable about six hundred
miles up the country, says,[B] "That he was surprized to see the land so
well cultivated; scarce a spot lay unimproved; the low lands, divided by
small canals, were all formed with rice, &c. the higher ground planted
with millet, Indian corn, and pease of different sorts; their beef
excellent; poultry plenty, and very cheap, as well as all other
necessaries of life." Francis Moor, who was sent from England about the
year 1735, in the service of the African company, and resided at James
Fort, on the river Gambia, or in other factories on that river, about
five years, confirms the above account of the fruitfulness of the
country. William Smith, who was sent in the year 1726, by the African
company, to survey their settlements throughout the whole coast of
Guinea[C] says, "The country about the Gambia is pleasant and fruitful;
provisions of all kinds being plenty and exceeding cheap." The country
on and between the two above-mentioned rivers is large and extensive,
inhabited principally by those three Negro nations known by the name of
Jalofs, Fulis, and Mandingos. The Jalofs possess the middle of the
country. The Fulis principal settlement is on both sides of the Senegal;
great numbers of these people are also mixed with the Mandingos; which
last are mostly settled on both sides the Gambia. The government of the
Jalofs is represented as under a better regulation than can be expected
from the common opinion we entertain of the Negroes. We are told in the
Collection,[D] "That the King has under him several ministers of state,
who assist him in the exercise of justice. _The grand Jerafo_ is the
chief justice thro' all the King's dominions, and goes in circuit from
time to time to hear complaints, and determine controversies. _The
King's treasurer_ exercises the same employment, and has under him
Alkairs, who are governors of towns or villages. That the _Kondi_, or
_Viceroy_, goes the circuit with the chief justice, both to hear causes,
and inspect into the behaviour of the _Alkadi_, or chief magistrate of
every village in their several districts[E]." _Vasconcelas_, an author
mentioned in the collection, says, "The ancientest are preferred to be
the _Prince's counsellors_, who keep always about his person; and the
men of most judgment and experience are the judges." _The Fulis_ are
settled on both sides of the river _Senegal_: Their country, which is
very fruitful and populous, extends near four hundred miles from East to
West. They are generally of a deep tawny complexion, appearing to bear
some affinity with the Moors, whose country they join on the North. They
are good farmers, and make great harvest of corn, cotton, tobacco, &c.
and breed great numbers of cattle of all kinds. _Bartholomew Stibbs_,
(mentioned by _Fr. Moor_) in his account of that country says,[F] "_They
were a cleanly, decent, industrious people, and very affable_." But the
most particular account we have, of these people, is from _Francis Moor_
himself, who says,[G] "Some of these Fuli blacks who dwell on both sides
the river Gambia, are in subjection to the Mandingos, amongst whom they
dwell, having been probably driven out of their country by war or
famine. They have chiefs of their own, who rule with much moderation.
Few of them will drink brandy, or any thing stronger than water and
sugar, being strict Mahometans. Their form of government goes on easy,
because the people are of a good quiet disposition, and so well
instructed in what is right, that a man who does ill, is the abomination
of all, and, none will support him against the chief. In these
countries, the natives are not covetous of land, desiring no more than
what they use; and as they do not plough with horses and cattle, they
can use but very little, therefore the Kings are willing to give the
Fulis leave to live in their country, and cultivate their lands. If any
of their people are known to be made slaves, all the Fulis will join to
redeem them; they also support the old, the blind, and lame, amongst
themselves; and as far as their abilities go, they supply the
necessities of the Mandingos, great numbers of whom they have maintained
in famine." _The author_, from his own observations, says, "They were
rarely angry, and that he never heard them abuse one another."

[Footnote A: Astley's collect. vol. 2. page 46.]

[Footnote B: Astley's collection of voyages, vol. 2, page 86.]

[Footnote C: William Smith's voyage to Guinea, page 31, 34.]

[Footnote D: Astley's collection, vol. 2, page 358.]

[Footnote E: Idem. 259.]

[Footnote F: Moor's travels into distant parts of Africa, page 198.]

[Footnote G: Ibid, page 21.]

_The Mandingos_ are said by _A. Brue_ before mentioned, "To be the most
numerous nation on the Gambia, besides which, numbers of them are
dispersed over all these countries; being the most rigid Mahometans
amongst the Negroes, they drink neither wine nor brandy, and are politer
than the other Negroes. The chief of the trade goes through their hands.
Many are industrious and laborious, keeping their ground well
cultivated, and breeding a good stock of cattle.[A] Every town has an
_Alkadi_, or _Governor_, who has great power; for most of them having
two common fields of clear ground, one for corn, and the other for rice,
_the Alkadi_ appoints the labour of all the people. The men work the
corn ground, and the women and girls the rice ground; and as they all
equally labour, so he equally divides the corn amongst them; and in case
they are in want, the others supply them. This Alkadi decides all
quarrels, and has the first voice in all conferences in town affairs."
Some of these Mandingos who are settled at Galem, far up the river
Senegal, can read and write Arabic tolerably, and are a good hospitable
people, who carry on a trade with the inland nations."[B] They are
extremely populous in those parts, their women being fruitful, and they
not suffering any person amongst them, but such as are guilty of crimes,
to be made slaves." We are told from Jobson,"[C] That the Mahometan
Negroes say their prayers thrice a day. Each village has a priest who
calls them to their duty. It is surprizing (says the author) as well as
commendable, to see the modesty, attention, and reverence they observe
during their worship. He asked some of their priests the purport of
their prayers and ceremonies; their answer always was, _That they adored
God by prostrating themselves before him; that by humbling themselves,
they acknowledged their own insignificancy, and farther intreated him to
forgive their faults, and to grant them all good and necessary things as
well as deliverance from evil."_ Jobson takes notice of several good
qualities in these Negroe priests, particularly their great sobriety.
They gain their livelihood by keeping school for the education of the
children. The boys are taught to read and write. They not only teach
school, but rove about the country, teaching and instructing, for which
the whole country is open to them; and they have a free course through
all places, though the Kings may be at war with one another.

[Footnote A: Astley's collect. vol. 2, page 269.]

[Footnote B: Astley's collect. vol. 2, page 73.]

[Footnote C: Ibid, 296.]

The three fore-mentioned nations practise several trades, as smiths,
potters, sadlers, and weavers. Their smiths particularly work neatly in
gold and silver, and make knifes, hatchets, reaping hooks, spades and
shares to cut iron, &c. &c. Their potters make neat tobacco pipes, and
pots to boil their food. Some authors say that weaving is their
principal trade; this is done by the women and girls, who spin and weave
very fine cotton cloth, which they dye blue or black.[A] F. Moor says,
the Jalofs particularly make great quantities of the cotton cloth; their
pieces are generally twenty-seven yards long, and about nine inches
broad, their looms being very narrow; these they sew neatly together, so
as to supply the use of broad cloth.

[Footnote A: F. Moor, 28.]

It was in these parts of Guinea, that M. Adanson, correspondent of the
Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, mentioned in some former
publications, was employed from the year 1749, to the year 1753, wholly
in making _natural_ and _philosophical_ observations on the country
about the rivers Senegal and Gambia. Speaking of the great heats in
Senegal, he says,[A] "It is to them that they are partly indebted for
the fertility of their lands; which is so great, that, with little
labour and care, there is no fruit nor grain but grow in great plenty."

[Footnote A: M. Adanson's voyage to Senegal, &c, page 308.]

Of the soil on the Gambia, he says,[A] "It is rich and deep, and
amazingly fertile; it produces spontaneously, and almost without
cultivation, all the necessaries of life, grain, fruit, herbs, and
roots. Every thing matures to perfection, and is excellent in its
kind."[B] One thing, which always surprized him, was the prodigious
rapidity with which the sap of trees repairs any loss they may happen to
sustain in that country: "And I was never," says he, "more astonished,
than when landing four days after the locusts had devoured all the
fruits and leaves, and even the buds of the trees, to find the trees
covered with new leaves, and they did not seem to me to have suffered
much."[C] "It was then," says the same author; "the fish season; you
might see them in shoals approaching towards land. Some of those shoals
were fifty fathom square, and the fish crowded together in such a
manner, as to roll upon one another, without being able to swim. As soon
as the Negroes perceive them coming towards land, they jump into the
water with a basket in one hand, and swim with the other. They need only
to plunge and to lift up their basket, and they are sure to return
loaded with fish." Speaking of the appearance of the country, and of the
disposition of the people, he says,[D] "Which way soever I turned mine
eyes on this pleasant spot, I beheld a perfect image of pure nature; an
agreeable solitude, bounded on every side by charming landscapes; the
rural situation of cottages in the midst of trees; the ease and
indolence of the Negroes, reclined under the shade of their spreading
foliage; the simplicity of their dress and manners; the whole revived in
my mind the idea of our first parents, and I seemed to contemplate the
world in its primitive state. They are, generally speaking, very
good-natured, sociable, and obliging. I was not a little pleased with
this my first reception; it convinced me, that there ought to be a
considerable abatement made in the accounts I had read and heard every
where of the savage character of the Africans. I observed both in
Negroes and Moors, great humanity and sociableness, which gave me strong
hopes that I should be very safe amongst them, and meet with the success
I desired in my enquiries after the curiosities of the country."[E] He
was agreeably amused with the conversation of the Negroes, their
_fables, dialogues_, and _witty stories_ with which they entertain each
other alternately, according to their custom. Speaking of the remarks
which the natives made to him, with relation to the _stars_ and
_planets_, he says, "It is amazing, that such a rude and illiterate
people, should reason so pertinently in regard to those heavenly bodies;
there is no manner of doubt, but that with proper instruments, and a
good will, they would become _excellent astronomers_."

[Footnote A: Idem, page 164.]

[Footnote B: M. Adanson, page 161.]

[Footnote C: Idem, page 171.]

[Footnote D: Ibid, page 54.]

[Footnote E: Adanson, page 252, ibid.]


_The Ivory Coast_; its soil and produce. The character of the _natives_
misrepresented by some authors. These misrepresentations occasioned by
_the Europeans_ having treacherously carried off many of their people.
_John Smith, surveyor to the African company_, his observations thereon.
_John Snock's_ remarks. _The Gold Coast_ and _Slave Coast_, these have
the most _European factories_, and furnish the greatest number of slaves
to _the Europeans_. Exceeding fertile. The country of _Axim_, and of
_Ante_. Good account of the _inland people_ Great fishery. Extraordinary
trade for slaves. _The Slave Coast. The kingdom of Whidah_. Fruitful and
pleasant. The natives kind and obliging. Very populous. Keep regular
markets and fairs. Good order therein. Murder, adultery, and theft
severely punished. The King's revenues. The principal people have an
idea of the true God. Commendable care of the poor. Several small
governments depend on _plunder_ and the _slave_ trade.

That part of Guinea known by the name of the _Grain_, and _Ivory Coast,_
comes next in course. This coast extends about five hundred miles. The
soil appears by account, to be in general fertile, producing abundance
of rice and roots; indigo and cotton thrive without cultivation, and
tobacco would be excellent, if carefully manufactured; they have fish in
plenty; their flocks greatly increase, and their trees are loaded with
fruit. They make a cotton cloth, which sells well on the Coast. In a
word, the country is rich, and the commerce advantageous, and might be
greatly augmented by such as would cultivate the friendship of the
natives. These are represented by some writers as a rude, _treacherous
people_, whilst several other _authors_ of credit give them a very
different character, representing them as _sensible, courteous and the
fairest traders on the coast of Guinea_. In the Collection, they are
said[A] to be averse to drinking to excess, and such as do, are severely
punished by the King's order: On enquiry why there is such a
disagreement in the character given of these people, it appears, that
though they are naturally inclined to be _kind to strangers_, with whom
they are _fond_ of _trading_, yet the _frequent injuries_ done them by
Europeans, have occasioned their being _suspicious and shy_. The same
cause has been the occasion of the ill treatment they have sometimes
given to innocent strangers, who have attempted to trade with them. As
the Europeans have no settlement on this part of Guinea, the trade is
carried on by signals from the ships, on the appearance of which the
natives usually come on board in their canoes, bringing their gold-dust,
ivory, &c. which has given opportunity to some villainous Europeans to
carry them off with their effects, or retain them on board till a ransom
is paid. It is noted by some, that since the European voyagers have
carried away several of these people, their mistrust is so great, that
it is very difficult to prevail on them to come on board. _William
Smith_ remarks,[B] "As we past along this coast, we very often lay
before a town, and fired a gun for the natives to come off, but no soul
came near us; at length we learnt by some ships that were trading down
the coast, that the natives came seldom on board an English ship, for
fear of being detained or carried off; yet last some ventured on board,
but if those chanced to spy any arms, they would all immediately take to
their canoes, and make the best of their way home. They had then in
their possession one _Benjamin Cross_ the mate of an English vessel, who
was detained by them to make reprisals for some of their men, who had
formerly been carried away by some English vessel." In the Collection we
are told,[C]_This villainous custom is too often practised, chiefly by
the Bristol and Liverpool ships, and is a great detriment to the slave
trade on the windward coast. John Snock, mentioned in Bosman_[D] when on
that coast, wrote, "We cast anchor, but not one Negro coming on board, I
went on shore, and after having staid a while on the strand, some
Negroes came to me; and being desirous to be informed why they did not
come on board, I was answered that about two months before, the English
had been there with two large vessels, and had ravaged the country,
destroyed all their canoes, plundered their houses, and carried off some
of their people, upon which the remainder fled to the inland country,
where most of them were that time; so that there being not much to be
done by us, we were obliged to return on board.[E] When I enquired after
their wars with other countries, they told me they were not often
troubled with them; but if any difference happened, they chose rather to
end the dispute amicably, than to come to arms."[F] He found the
inhabitants civil and good-natured. Speaking of the _King of Rio Seftre_
lower down the coast, he says, "He was a very agreeable, obliging man,
and that all his subjects are civil, as well as very laborious in
agriculture, and the pursuits of trade," _Marchais_ says,[G] "That
though the country is very populous, yet none of the natives (except
criminals) are sold for slaves." _Vaillant_ never heard of any
settlement being made by the Europeans on this part of _Guinea_; and
_Smith_ remarks,[H] "That these coasts, which are divided into several
little kingdoms, and have seldom any wars, is the reason the slave trade
is not so good here as on _the Gold and Slave Coast_, where the
Europeans have several forts and factories." A plain evidence this, that
it is the intercourse with the Europeans, and their settlements on the
coast, which gives life to the slave trade.

[Footnote A: Collection, vol. 2, page 560.]

[Footnote B: W. Smith, page 111.]

[Footnote C: Astley's collection, vol. 2, page 475.]

[Footnote D: W. Bosman's description of Guinea, page 440.]

[Footnote E: W. Bosman's description of Guinea, page 429.]

[Footnote F: Ibid, 441.]

[Footnote G: Astley's collection, Vol. 2, page 565.]

[Footnote H: Smith's voyage to Guinea, page 112.]

Next adjoining to the _Ivory Coast_, are those called the _Gold Coast_,
and the _Slave Coast_; authors are not agreed about their bounds, but
their extent together along the coast may be about five hundred miles.
And as the policy, produce, and oeconomy of these two kingdoms of Guinea
are much the same, I shall describe them together.

Here the Europeans have the greatest number of forts and factories, from
whence, by means of the Negro sailors, a trade is carried on above seven
hundred miles back in the inland country; whereby great numbers of
slaves are procured, as well by means of the wars which arise amongst
the Negroes, or are fomented by the Europeans, as those brought from the
back country. Here we find the natives _more reconciled to the European
manners and trade_; but, at the same time, _much more inured to war_,
and ready to assist the European traders in procuring loadings for the
great number of vessels which come yearly on those coasts for slaves.
This part of Guinea is agreed by historians to be, in general,
_extraordinary fruitful and agreeable_; producing (according to the
difference of the soil) vast quantities of rice and other grain; plenty
of fruit and roots; palm wine and oil, and fish in great abundance, with
much tame and wild cattle. Bosman, principal factor for the Dutch at
D'Elmina, speaking of the country of Axim, which is situate towards the
beginning of the Gold Coast, says,[A] "The Negro inhabitants are
generally very rich, driving a great trade with the Europeans for gold.
That they are industriously employed either in trade, fishing, or
agriculture; but chiefly in the culture of rice, which grows here in an
incredible abundance, and is transported hence all over the Gold Coast.
The inhabitants, in lieu, returning full fraught with millet, jamms,
potatoes, and palm oil." The same author speaking of the country of
Ante, says,[B] "This country, as well as the Gold Coast, abounds with
hills, enriched with extraordinary high and beautiful trees; its
valleys, betwixt the hills, are wide and extensive, producing in great
abundance very good rice, millet, jamms, potatoes, and other fruits, all
good in their kind." He adds, "In short, it is a land that yields its
manurers as plentiful a crop as they can wish, with great quantities of
palm wine and oil, besides being well furnished with all sorts of tame,
as well as wild beasts; but that the last fatal wars had reduced it to a
miserable condition, and stripped it of most of its inhabitants." The
adjoining country of Fetu, he says,[C] "was formerly so powerful and
populous, that it struck terror into all the neighbouring nations; but
it is at present so drained by continual wars, that it is entirely
ruined; there does not remain inhabitants sufficient to till the
country, tho' it is so fruitful and pleasant that it may be compared to
the country of Ante just before described; frequently, says that author,
when walking through it before the last war, I have seen it abound with
fine well built and populous towns, agreeably enriched with vast
quantities of corn, cattle, palm wine, and oil. The inhabitants all
applying themselves without any distinction to agriculture; some sow
corn, others press oil, and draw wine from palm trees, with both which
it is plentifully stored."

[Footnote A: Bosman's description of the coast of Guinea, p, 5.]

[Footnote B: Idem, page 14.]

[Footnote C: Bosman, page 41.]

William Smith gives much the same account of the before-mentioned parts
of the Gold Coast, and adds, "The country about D'Elmina and Cape Coast,
is much the same for beauty and goodness, but more populous; and the
nearer we come towards the Slave Coast, the more delightful and rich all
the countries are, producing all sorts of trees, fruits, roots, and
herbs, that grow within the Torrid Zone." J. Barbot also remarks,[A]
with respect to the countries of Ante and Adom, "That the soil is very
good and fruitful in corn and other produce, which it affords in such
plenty, that besides what serves for their own use, they always export
great quantities for sale; they have a competent number of cattle, both
tame and wild, and the rivers abundantly stored with fish, so that
nothing is wanting for the support of life, and to make it easy." In the
Collection it is said,[B] "That the inland people on that part of the
coast, employ themselves in tillage and trade, and supply the market
with corn, fruit, and palm wine; the country producing such vast plenty
of Indian corn, that abundance is daily exported, as well by Europeans
as Blacks resorting thither from other parts." "These inland people are
said to live in great union and friendship, being generally well
tempered, civil, and tractable; not apt to shed human blood, except when
much provoked, and ready to assist one another."

[Footnote A: John Barbot's description of Guinea, page 154.]

[Footnote B: Astley's collect. vol. 2. page 535.]

In the Collection[A] it is said, "That the fishing business is esteemed
on the Gold Coast next to trading; that those who profess it are more
numerous than those of other employments. That the greatest number of
these are at Kommendo, Mina, and Kormantin. From each of which places,
there go out every morning, (Tuesday excepted, which is the Fetish day,
or day of rest) five, six, and sometimes eight hundred canoes, from
thirteen to fourteen feet long, which spread themselves two leagues at
sea, each fisherman carrying in his canoe a sword, with bread, water,
and a little fire on a large stone to roast fish. Thus they labour till
noon, when the sea breeze blowing fresh, they return on the shore,
generally laden with fish; a quantity of which the inland inhabitants
come down to buy, which they sell again at the country markets."

[Footnote A: Collection, vol. 2, page 640.]

William Smith says,[A] "The country about Acra, where the English and
Dutch have each a strong fort, is very delightful, and the natives
courteous and civil to strangers." He adds, "That this place seldom
fails of an extraordinary good trade from the inland country, especially
for slaves, whereof several are supposed to come from very remote parts,
because it is not uncommon to find a Malayan or two amongst a parcel of
other slaves. The Malaya, people are generally natives of Malacca, in
the East Indies, situate several thousand miles from the Gold Coast."
They differ very much from the Guinea Negroes, being of a tawny
complexion, with long black hair.

[Footnote A: William Smith, page 145.]

Most parts of the Slave Coasts are represented as equally fertile and
pleasant with the Gold Coast. The kingdom of Whidah has been
particularly noted by travellers.[A] William Smith and Bosman agree,
"That it is one of the most delightful countries in the world. The great
number and variety of tall, beautiful, and shady trees, which seem
planted in groves, the verdant fields every where cultivated, and no
otherwise divided than by those groves, and in some places a small
foot-path, together with a great number of villages, contribute to
afford the most delightful prospect; the whole country being a fine
easy, and almost imperceptible ascent, for the space of forty or fifty
miles from the sea. That the farther you go from the sea, the more
beautiful and populous the country appears. That the natives were kind
and obliging, and so industrious, that no place which was thought
fertile, could escape being planted, even within the hedges which
inclose their villages. And that the next day after they had reaped,
they sowed again."

[Footnote A: Smith, page 194. Bosman, page 319.]

Snelgrave also says, "The country appears full of towns and villages;
and being a rich soil, and well cultivated, looks like an entire
garden." In the Collection,[A] the husbandry of the Negroes is described
to be carried on with great regularity: "The rainy season approaching,
they go into the fields and woods, to fix on a proper place for sowing;
and as here is no property in ground, the King's licence being obtained,
the people go out in troops, and first clear the ground from bushes and
weeds, which they burn. The field thus cleared, they dig it up a foot
deep, and so let it remain for eight or ten days, till the rest of their
neighbours have disposed their ground in the same manner. They then
consult about sowing, and for that end assemble at the King's Court the
next Fetish day. The King's grain must be sown first. They then go again
to the field, and give the ground a second digging, and sow their seed.
Whilst the King or Governor's land is sowing; he sends out wine and
flesh ready dressed; enough to serve the labourers. Afterwards, they in
like manner sow the ground, allotted for their neighbours, as diligently
as that of the King's, by whom they are also feasted; and so continue to
work in a body for the public benefit, till every man's ground is tilled
and sowed. None but the King, and a few great men, are exempted from
this labour. Their grain soon sprouts out of the ground. When it is
about a man's height, and begins to ear, they raise a wooden house in
the centre of the field, covered with straw, in which they set their
children to watch their corn, and fright away the birds."

[Footnote A: Collection, vol. 2, page 651.]

Bosman[A] speaks in commendation of the civility, kindness, and great
industry of the natives of Whidah; this is confirmed by Smith,[B] who
says, "The natives here seem to be the most gentleman-like Negroes in
Guinea, abounding with good manners and ceremony to each other. The
inferior pay the utmost deference and, respect to the superior, as do
wives to their husbands, and children to their parents. All here are
naturally industrious, and find constant employment; the men in
agriculture, and the women in spinning and weaving cotton. The men,
whose chief talent lies in husbandry, are unacquainted with arms;
otherwise, being a numerous people, they could have made a better
defence against the King of Dahome, who subdued them without much
trouble.[C] Throughout the Gold Coast, there are regular markets in all
villages, furnished with provisions and merchandize, held every day in
the week, except Tuesday, whence they supply not only the inhabitants,
but the European ships. The _Negro women_ are very expert in buying and
selling, and extremely industrious; for they will repair daily to market
from a considerable distance, loaded like pack-horses, with a child,
perhaps, at their back, and a heavy burden on their heads. After selling
their wares, they buy fish and other necessaries, and return home loaded
as they came.

[Footnote A: Bosman, page 317.]

[Footnote B: Smith, page 195.]

[Footnote C: Collect, vol. 2, p. 657.]

"There is a market held at Sabi every, fourth day,[A] also a weekly one
in the province of Aplogua, which is so resorted to, that there are
usually five or six thousand merchants. Their markets are so well
regulated and governed, that seldom any disorder happens; each species
of merchandize and merchants have a place allotted them by themselves.
The buyers may haggle as much as they will, but it must be without noise
or fraud. To keep order, the King appoints a judge, who, with four
officers well armed, inspects the markets, hears all complaints, and, in
a summary way, decides all differences; he has power to seize, and sell
as slaves, all who are catched in stealing, or disturbing the peace. In
these markets are to be sold men, women, children, oxen, sheep, goats,
and fowls of all kinds; European cloths, linen and woollen; printed
callicoes, silk, grocery ware, china, golddust, iron in bars, &c. in a
word, most sorts of European goods, as well as the produce of Africa and
Asia. They have other markets, resembling our fairs, once or twice a
year, to which all the country repair; for they take care to order the
day so in different governments, as not to interfere with each other."

[Footnote A: Collect. vol. 3, p. 11.]

With respect to government, William Smith says,[A] "That the Gold Coast
and Slave Coast are divided into different districts, some of which are
governed by their Chiefs, or Kings; the others, being more of the nature
of a commonwealth are governed by some of the principal men, called
Caboceros, who, Bosman says, are properly denominated civil fathers,
whose province is to take care of the welfare of the city or village,
and to appease tumults." But this order of government has been much
broken since the coming of the Europeans. Both Bosman and Barbot mention
_murther and adultery to be severely punished on the Coast, frequently
by death; and robbery by a fine proportionable to the goods stolen_.

[Footnote A: Smith, page 193.]

The income of some of the Kings is large, Bosman says, "That the King of
Whidah's revenues and duties on things bought and sold are considerable;
he having the tithe of all things sold in the market, or imported in the
country."[A] Both the abovementioned authors say, _The tax on slaves
shipped off in this King's dominions, in some years, amounts to near
twenty thousand pounds_.

[Footnote A: Bosman, page 337. Barbot, page 335.]

Bosman tells us, "The Whidah Negroes have a faint idea of a true God,
ascribing to him the attributes of almighty power and omnipresence; but
God, they say, is too high to condescend to think of mankind; wherefore
he commits the government of the world to those inferior deities which
they worship." Some authors say, the wisest of these Negroes are
sensible of their mistake in this opinion, but dare not forsake their
own religion, for fear of the populace rising and killing them. This is
confirmed by William Smith, who says, "That all the natives of this
coast believe there is one true God, the author of them and all things;
that they have some apprehension of a future state; and that almost
every village has a grove, or public place of worship, to which the
principal inhabitants, on a set day, resort to make their offerings."

In the Collection[A] it is remarked as an excellency in the Guinea
government, "That however poor they may be in general, yet there are no
beggars to be found amongst them; which is owing to the care of their
chief men, whose province it is to take care of the welfare of the city
or village; it being part of their office, to see that such people may
earn their bread by their labour; some are set to blow the smith's
bellows, others to press palm oil, or grind colours for their matts, and
sell provision in the markets. The young men are listed to serve as
soldiers, so that they suffer no common beggar."

[Footnote A: Astley's collection, vol. 2, page 619.]

Bosman ascribes a further reason for this good order, viz. "That when a
Negroe finds he cannot subsist, he binds himself for a certain sum of
money, and the master to whom he is bound is obliged to find him
necessaries; that the master sets him a sort of task, which is not in
the least slavish, being chiefly to defend his master on occasions; or
in sowing time to work as much as he himself pleases."[A]

[Footnote A: Bosman, page 119.]

Adjoining to the kingdom of Whidah, are several small governments, as
Coto, great and small Popo, Ardrah, &c. all situate on the Slave Coast,
where the chief trade for slaves is carried on. These are governed by
their respective Kings, and follow much the same customs with those of
Whidah, except that their principal living is on plunder, and the slave


_The kingdom of Benin_; its extent. Esteemed the most potent in Guinea.
Fruitfulness of the soil. Good disposition of the people. Order of
government. Punishment of crimes. Large extent of the town of Great
Benin. Order maintained. The natives honest and charitable. Their
religion. The kingdoms of Kongo and Angola. Many of the natives profess
christianity. The country fruitful. Disposition of the people. The
administration of justice. The town of Leango. Slave trade carried on by
the Portugueze. Here the slave trade ends.

Next adjoining to the Slave Coast, is the kingdom of Benin, which,
though it extends but about 170 miles on the sea, yet spreads so far
inland, as to be esteemed the most potent kingdom in Guinea. By
accounts, the soil and produce appear to be in a great measure like
those before described; and the natives are represented as a reasonable
good-natured people. Artus says,[A] "They are a sincere, inoffensive
people, and do no injustice either to one another, or to strangers."
William Smith[B] confirms this account, and says, "That the inhabitants
are generally very good-natured, and exceeding courteous and civil. When
the Europeans make them presents, which in their coming thither to trade
they always do, they endeavour to return them doubly."

[Footnote A: Collection. vol. 3, page 228.]

[Footnote B: Smith, page 228.]

Bosman tells us,[A] "That his countrymen the Dutch, who were often
obliged to trust them till they returned the next year, were sure to be
honestly paid their whole debts."

[Footnote A: W. Bosman, page 405.]

There is in Benin a considerable order in government. Theft, murther,
and adultery, being severely punished. Barbot says,[A] "If a man and a
woman of any quality be surprized in adultery, they are both put to
death, and their bodies are thrown on a dunghill, and left there a prey
to wild beasts." He adds, "The severity of the laws in Benin against
adultery,[B] amongst all orders of people, deters them from venturing,
so that it is but very seldom any persons are punished for that crime."
Smith says, "Their towns are governed by officers appointed by the King,
who have power to decide in civil cases, and to raise the public taxes;
but in criminal cases, they must send to the King's court, which is held
at the town of Oedo, or Great Benin. This town, which covers a large
extent of ground, is about sixty mile from the sea."[C] Barbot tells us,
"That it contains thirty streets, twenty fathom wide, and almost two
miles long, commonly, extending in a straight line from one gate to
another; that the gates are guarded by soldiers; that in these streets
markets are held every day, for cattle, ivory, cotton, and many sorts of
European goods. This large town is divided into several wards, or
districts, each governed by its respective King of a street, as they
call them; to administer justice, and to keep good order. The
inhabitants are very civil and good natured, condescending to what the
Europeans require of them in a civil way." The same author confirms what
has been said by others of their justice in the payment of their debts;
and adds, "That they, above all other Guineans, are very honest and just
in their dealings; and they have such an aversion for theft, that by the
law of the country it is punished with death." We are told by the same
author,[D] "That the King of Benin is able upon occasion to maintain an
army of a hundred thousand men; but that, for the most part, he does not
keep thirty thousand." William Smith says, "The natives are all free
men; none but foreigners can be bought and sold there.[E] They are very
charitable, the King as well as his subjects." Bosman confirms this,[F]
and says, "The King and great Lords subsist several poor at their place
of residence on charity, employing those who are fit for any work, and
the rest they keep for God's sake; so that here are no beggars."

[Footnote A: Barbot, page 237.]

[Footnote B: By this account of the punishment inflicted on adulterers
in this and other parts of Guinea, it appears the Negroes are not
insensible of the sinfulness of such practices. How strange must it then
appear to the serious minded amongst these people, (nay, how
inconsistent is it with every divine and moral law amongst ourselves)
that those christian laws which prohibit fornication and adultery, are
in none of the English governments extended to them, but that they are
allowed to cohabit and separate at pleasure? And that even their masters
think so lightly of their marriage engagements, that, when it suits with
their interest, they will separate man from wife, and children from
both, to be sold into different, and even distant parts, without regard
to their sometimes grievous lamentations; whence it has happened, that
such of those people who are truly united in their marriage covenant,
and in affection to one another, have been driven to such desperation,
as either violently to destroy themselves, or gradually to pine away,
and die with mere grief. It is amazing, that whilst the clergy of the
established church are publicly expressing a concern, that these
oppressed people should be made acquainted with the christian religion,
they should be thus suffered, and even forced, so flagrantly to infringe
one of the principal injunctions of our holy religion!]

[Footnote C: J. Barbot, page 358, 359.]

[Footnote D: Barbot, page 369.]

[Footnote E: W. Smith, page 369.]

[Footnote F: Bosman, page 409.]

As to religion, these people believe there is a God, the efficient cause
of all things; but, like the rest of the Guineans, they are
superstitiously and idolatrously inclined.

The last division of Guinea from which slaves are imported, are the
kingdoms of Kongo and Angola: these lie to the South of Benin, extending
with the intermediate land about twelve hundred miles on the coast.
Great numbers of the natives of both these kingdoms profess the
christian religion, which was long since introduced by the Portugueze,
who made early settlements in that country.

In the Collection it is said, that both in Kongo and Angola, the soil is
in general fruitful, producing great plenty of grain, Indian corn, and
such quantities of rice, that it hardly bears any price, with fruits,
roots, and palm oil in plenty.

The natives are generally a quiet people, who discover a good
understanding, and behave in a friendly manner to strangers, being of a
mild conversation, affable, and easily overcome with reason.

In the government of Kongo, the King appoints a judge in every
particular division, to hear and determine disputes and civil causes;
the judges imprison and release, or impose fines, according to the rule
of custom; but in weighty matters, every one may appeal to the King,
before whom all criminal causes are brought, in which he giveth
sentence; but seldom condemneth to death.

The town of Leango stands in the midst of four Lordships, which abound
in corn, fruit, &c. Here they make great quantities of cloth of divers
kinds, very fine and curious; the inhabitants are seldom idle; they even
make needle-work caps as they walk in the streets.

The slave trade is here principally managed by the Portugueze, who carry
it far up into the inland countries. They are said to send off from
these parts fifteen thousand slaves each year.

At Angola, about the 10th degree of South latitude, ends the trade for


The antientest accounts of the Negroes is from the Nubian Geography, and
the writings of Leo the African. Some account of those authors. The
Arabians pass into Guinea. The innocency and simplicity of the natives.
They are subdued by the Moors. Heli Ischia shakes off the Moorish yoke.
The Portugueze make the first descent in Guinea. From whence they carry
off some of the natives. More incursions of the like kind. The
Portugueze erect the first fort at D'Elmina. They begin the slave trade.
Cada Mosto's testimony. Anderson's account to the same purport. De la
Casa's concern for the relief of the oppressed Indians. Goes over into
Spain to plead their cause. His speech before Charles the Fifth.

The most antient account we have of the country of the Negroes,
particularly that part situate on and between the two great rivers of
Senegal and Gambia, is from the writings of two antient authors, one an
Arabian, and the other a Moor. The first[A] wrote in Arabic, about the
twelfth century. His works, printed in that language at Rome, were
afterwards translated into Latin, and printed at Paris, under the
patronage of the famous Thuanus, chancellor of France, with the title of
_Geographica Nubiensis_, containing an account or all the nations lying
on the Senegal and Gambia. The other wrote by John Leo,[B] a Moor, born
at Granada, in Spain, before the Moors were totally expelled from that
kingdom. He resided in Africa; but being on a voyage from Tripoli to
Tunis, was taken by some Italian Corsairs, who finding him possessed of
several Arabian books, besides his own manuscripts, apprehended him to
be a man of learning, and as such presented him to Pope Leo the Tenth.
This Pope encouraging him, he embraced the Romish religion, and his
description of Africa was published in Italian. From these writings we
gather, that after the Mahometan religion had extended to the kingdom of
Morocco, some of the promoters of it crossing the sandy desarts of
Numidia, which separate that country from Guinea, found it inhabited by
men, who, though under no regular government, and destitute of that
knowledge the Arabians were favoured with, lived in content and peace.
The first author particularly remarks, "That they never made war, or
travelled abroad, but employed themselves in tending their herds, or
labouring in the ground." J. Leo says, page 65. "That they lived in
common, having no property in land, no tyrant nor superior lord, but
supported themselves in an equal state, upon the natural produce of the
country, which afforded plenty of roots, game, and honey. That ambition
or avarice never drove them into foreign countries to subdue or cheat
their neighbours. Thus they lived without toil or superfluities." "The
antient inhabitants of Morocco, who wore coats of mail, and used swords
and spears headed with iron, coming amongst these harmless and naked
people, soon brought them under subjection, and divided that part of
Guinea which lies on the rivers Senegal and Gambia into fifteen parts;
those were the fifteen kingdoms of the Negroes, over which the Moors
presided, and the common people were Negroes. These Moors taught the
Negroes the Mahometan religion, and arts of life; particularly the use
of iron, before unknown to them. About the 14th century, a native Negro,
called Heli Ischia, expelled the Moorish conquerors; but tho' the
Negroes threw off the yoke of a foreign nation, they only changed a
Libyan for a Negroe master. Heli Ischia himself becoming King, led the
Negroes on to foreign wars, and established himself in power over a very
large extent of country." Since Leo's time, the Europeans have had very
little knowledge of those parts of Africa, nor do they know what became
of his great empire. It is highly probable that it broke into pieces,
and that the natives again resumed many of their antient customs; for in
the account published by William Moor, in his travels on the river
Gambia, we find a mixture of the Moorish and Mahometan customs, joined
with the original simplicity of the Negroes. It appears by accounts of
antient voyages, collected by Hackluit, Purchas, and others, that it was
about fifty years before the discovery of America, that the Portugueze
attempted to sail round Cape Bojador, which lies between their country
and Guinea; this, after divers repulses occasioned by the violent
currents, they effected; when landing on the western coasts of Africa,
they soon began to make incursions into the country, and to seize and
carry off the native inhabitants. As early as the year 1434, Alonzo
Gonzales, the first who is recorded to have met with the natives, being
on that coast, pursued and attacked a number of them, when some were
wounded, as was also one of the Portugueze; which the author records as
the first blood spilt by christians in those parts. Six years after, the
same Gonzales again attacked the natives, and took twelve prisoners,
with whom he returned to his vessels; he afterwards put a woman on
shore, in order to induce the natives to redeem the prisoners; but the
next day 150 of the inhabitants appeared on horses and camels, provoking
the Portugueze to land; which they not daring to venture, the natives
discharged a volley of stones at them, and went off. After this, the
Portugueze still continued to send vessels on the coast of Africa;
particularly we read of their falling on a village, whence the
inhabitants fled, and, being pursued, twenty-five were taken: "_He that
ran best_," says the author, "_taking the most_. In their way home they
killed some of the natives, and took fifty-five more prisoners.[C]
Afterwards Dinisanes Dagrama, with two other vessels, landed on the
island Arguin, where they took fifty-four Moors; then running along the
coast eighty leagues farther, they at several times took fifty slaves;
but here seven of the Portugueze were killed. Then being joined by
several other vessels, Dinisanes proposed to destroy the island, to
revenge the loss of the seven Portugueze; of which the Moors being
apprized, fled, so that no more than twelve were found, whereof only
four could be taken, the rest being killed, as also one of the
Portugueze." Many more captures of this kind on the coast of Barbary and
Guinea, are recorded to have been made in those early times by the
Portugueze; who, in the year 1481, erected their first fort at D'Elmina
on that coast, from whence they soon opened a trade for slaves with the
inland parts of Guinea.

[Footnote A: See Travels into different parts of Africa, by Francis
Moor, with a letter to the publisher.]

[Footnote B: Ibid.]

[Footnote C: Collection, vol. 1, page 13.]

From the foregoing accounts, it is undoubted, that the practice of
making slaves of the Negroes, owes its origin to the early incursions of
the Portugueze on the coast of Africa, solely from an inordinate desire
of gain. This is clearly evidenced from their own historians,
particularly _Cada Mosto_, about the year 1455, who writes,[A] "That
before the trade was settled for purchasing slaves from the Moors at
Arguin, sometimes four, and sometimes more Portugueze vessels, were used
to come to that gulph, well armed; and landing by night, would surprize
some fishermen's villages: that they even entered into the country, and
carried off Arabs of both sexes, whom they sold in Portugal." And also,
"That the Portugueze and Spaniards, settled on four of the Canary
islands, would go to the other island by night, and seize some of the
natives of both sexes, whom they sent to be sold in Spain."

[Footnote A: Collection vol. 1, page 576.]

After the settlement of America, those devastations, and the captivating
the miserable Africans, greatly increased.

Anderson, in his history of trade and commerce, at page 336, speaking of
what passed in the year 1508, writes, "That the Spaniards had by this
time found that the miserable Indian natives, whom they had made to work
in their mines and fields, were not so robust and proper for those
purposes as Negroes brought from Africa; wherefore they, about that
time, began to import Negroes for that end into Hispaniola, from the
Portugueze settlements on the Guinea coasts; and also afterwards for
their sugar works." This oppression of the Indians had, even before this
time, rouzed the zeal, as well as it did the compassion, of some of the
truly pious of that day; particularly that of Bartholomew De las Casas,
bishop of Chapia; whom a desire of being instrumental towards the
conversion of the Indians, had invited into America. It is generally
agreed by the writers of that age, that he was a man of perfect
disinterestedness, and ardent charity; being affected with this sad
spectacle, he returned to the court of Spain, and there made a true
report of the matter; but not without being strongly opposed by those
mercenary wretches, who had enslaved the Indians; yet being strong and
indefatigable, he went to and fro between Europe and America, firmly
determined not to give over his pursuit but with his life. After long
solicitation, and innumerable repulses, he obtained leave to lay the
matter before the Emperor Charles the Fifth, then King of Spain. As the
contents of the speech he made before the King in council, are very
applicable to the case of the enslaved Africans, and a lively evidence
that the spirit of true piety speaks the same language in the hearts of
faithful men in all ages, for the relief of their fellow creatures from
oppression of every kind, I think it may not be improper here to
transcribe the most interesting parts of it. "I was," says this pious
bishop, "one of the first who went to America; neither curiosity nor
interest prompted me to undertake so long and dangerous a voyage; the
saving the souls of the heathen was my sole object. Why was I not
permitted, even at the expence of my blood, to ransom so many thousand
souls, who fell unhappy victims to avarice or lust? I have been an eye
witness to such cruel treatment of the Indians, as is too horrid to be
mentioned at this time.--It is said that barbarous executions were
necessary to punish or check the rebellion of the Americans;--but to
whom was this owing? Did not those people receive the Spaniards, who
first came amongst them, with gentleness and humanity? Did they not shew
more joy, in proportion, in lavishing treasure upon them, than the
Spaniards did greediness in receiving it?--But our avarice was not yet
satisfied;--tho' they gave up to us their land and their riches, we
would tear from them their wives, their children and their
liberties.--To blacken these unhappy people, their enemies assert, that
they are scarce human creatures?--but it is we that ought to blush, for
having been less men, and more barbarous, than they.--What right have we
to enslave a people who are born free, and whom we disturbed, tho' they
never offended us?--They are represented as a stupid people, addicted to
vice?--but have they not contracted most of their vices from the example
of the christians? And as to those vices peculiar to themselves, have
not the christians quickly exceeded them therein? Nevertheless it must
be granted, that the Indians still remain untainted with many vices
usual amongst the Europeans; such as ambition, blasphemy, treachery, and
many like monsters, which have not yet took place with them; they have
scarce an idea of them; so that in effect, all the advantage we can
claim, is to have more elevated notions of things, and our natural
faculties more unfolded and more cultivated than theirs.--Do not let us
flatter our corruptions, nor voluntarily blind ourselves; _all_ nations
are equally _free_; one nation has no right to infringe upon the freedom
of any other; let us do towards these people as we would have them to
have done towards us, if they had landed upon our shore, with the same
superiority of strength. And indeed, why should not things be equal on
both sides? How long has the right of the strongest been allowed to be
the balance of justice? What part of the gospel gives a sanction to such
a doctrine? In what part of the whole earth did the apostles and the
first promulgators of the gospel ever claim a right over the lives, the
freedom, or the substance of the Gentiles? What a strange method this is
of propagating the gospel, that holy law of grace, which, from being,
slaves to Satan, initiates us into the freedom of the children of
God!--Will it be possible for us to inspire them with a love to its
dictates, while they are so exasperated at being dispossessed of that
invaluable blessing, _Liberty?_ The apostles submitted to chains
themselves, but loaded no man with them. Christ came to free, not to
enslave us.--Submission to the faith he left us, ought to be a voluntary
act, and should be propagated by persuasion, gentleness, and reason."

"At my first arrival in Hispaniola, (added the bishop) it contained a
million of inhabitants; and now (viz. in the space of about twenty
years) there remains scarce the hundredth part of them; thousands have
perished thro' want, fatigue, merciless punishment, cruelty, and
barbarity. If the blood of _one_ man unjustly shed, calls loudly for
vengeance; how strong must be the cry of that of so _many_ unhappy
creatures which is shedding daily?"--The good bishop concluded his
speech, with imploring the King's clemency for subjects so unjustly
oppressed; and bravely declared, that heaven would one day call him to
an account, for the numberless acts of cruelty which he might have
prevented. The King applauded the bishop's zeal; promised to second it;
but so many of the great ones had an interest in continuing the
oppression, that nothing was done; so that all the Indians in
Hispaniola, except a few who had hid themselves in the most inaccessible
mountains, were destroyed.


First account of the English trading to Guinea. Thomas Windham and
several others go to that coast. Some of the Negroes carried off by the
English. Queen Elizabeth's charge to Captain Hawkins respecting the
natives. Nevertheless he goes on the coast and carries off some of the
Negroes. Patents are granted. The King of France objects to the Negroes
being kept in slavery. As do the college of Cardinals at Rome. The
natives, an inoffensive people; corrupted by the Europeans. The
sentiments of the natives concerning the slave-trade, from William
Smith: Confirmed by Andrew Brue and James Barbot.

It was about the year 1551, towards the latter end of the reign of King
Edward the Sixth, when some London merchants sent out the first English
ship, on a trading voyage to the coast of Guinea; this was soon followed
by several others to the same parts; but the English not having then any
plantations in the West Indies, and consequently no occasion for
Negroes, such ships traded only for gold, elephants teeth, and Guinea
pepper. This trade was carried on at the hazard of losing their ships
and cargoes, if they had fallen into the hands of the Portuguese, who
claimed an exclusive right of trade, on account of the several
settlements they had made there.[A] In the year 1553, we find captain
Thomas Windham trading along the coast with 140 men, in three ships, and
sailing as far as Benin, which lies about 3000 miles down the coast, to
take in a load of pepper.[B] Next year John Lock traded along the coast
of Guinea, as far as D'Elmina, when he brought away considerable
quantities of gold and ivory. He speaks well of the natives, and
says,[C] "_That whoever will deal with them must behave civilly, for
they will not traffic if ill used_." In 1555, William Towerson traded in
a peaceable manner with the natives, who made complaint to him of the
Portuguese, who were then settled in their castle at D'Elmina, saying,
"_They were bad men, who made them slaves if they could take them,
putting irons on their legs_."

[Footnote A: Astley's collection, vol. 1. page 139.]

[Footnote B: Collection vol. 1. p. 148.]

[Footnote C: Ibid. 257.]

This bad example of the Portuguese was soon followed by some evil
disposed Englishmen; for the same captain Towerson relates,[A] "That in
the course of his voyage, he perceived the natives, near D'Elmina,
unwilling to come to him, and that he was at last attacked by them;
which he understood was done in revenge for the wrong done them the year
before, by one captain Gainsh, who had taken away the Negro captain's
son, and three others, with their gold, &c. This caused them to join the
Portuguese, notwithstanding their hatred of them, against the English."
The next year captain Towerson brought these men back again; whereupon
the Negroes shewed him much kindness.[B] Quickly after this, another
instance of the same kind occurred, in the case of captain George
Fenner, who being on the coast, with three vessels, was also attacked by
the Negroes, who wounded several of his people, and violently carried
three of his men to their town. The captain sent a messenger, offering
any thing they desired for the ransom of his men: but they refused to
deliver them, letting him know, "_That three weeks before, an English
ship, which came in the road, had carried off three of their people; and
that till they were brought again, they would not restore his men, even
tho' they should give their three ships to release them_." It was
probably the evil conduct of these, and some other Englishmen, which was
the occasion of what is mentioned in Hill's naval history, viz. "That
when captain Hawkins returned from his first voyage to Africa, Queen
Elizabeth sent for him, when she expressed her concern, lest any of the
African Negroes should be carried off without their free consent; which
she declared would be detestable, and would call down the vengeance of
heaven upon the undertakers." Hawkins made great promises, which
nevertheless he did not perform; for his next voyage to the coast
appears to have been principally calculated to procure Negro slaves, in
order to sell them to the Spaniards in the West Indies; which occasioned
the same author to use these remarkable words: "_Here began the horrid
practice of forcing the Africans into slavery: an injustice and
barbarity, which, so sure as there is vengeance in heaven for the worst
of crimes, will some time be the destruction of all who act or who
encourage it_." This captain Hawkins, afterwards sir John Hawkins, seems
to have been the first Englishman who gave public countenance to this
wicked traffic: For Anderson, before mentioned, at page 401, says, "That
in the year 1562, captain Hawkins, assisted by subscription of sundry
gentlemen, now fitted out three ships; and having learnt that Negroes
were a very good commodity in Hispaniola, he sailed to the coast of
Guinea, took in Negroes, and sailed with them for Hispaniola, where he
sold them, and his English commodities, and loaded his three vessels
with hides, sugar and ginger, &c. with which he returned home anno 1563,
making a prosperous voyage." As it proved a lucrative business, the
trade was continued both by Hawkins and others, as appears from the
naval chronicle, page 55, where it is said, "That on the 18th of
October, 1564, captain John Hawkins, with two ships of 700 and 140 tuns,
sailed for Africa; that on the 8th of December they anchored to the
South of Cape Verd, where the captain manned the boat, and sent eighty
men in armour into the country, to see if they could take some Negroes;
but the natives flying from them, they returned to their ships, and
proceeded farther down the coast. Here they staid certain days, sending
their men ashore, in order (as the author says) to burn and spoil their
towns and take the inhabitants. The land they observed to be well
cultivated, there being plenty of grain, and fruit of several sorts, and
the towns prettily laid out. On the 25th, being informed by the
Portugueze of a town of Negroes called Bymba, where there was not only a
quantity of gold, but an hundred and forty inhabitants, they resolved to
attack it, having the Portugueze for their guide; but by mismanagement
they took but ten Negroes, having seven of their own men killed, and
twenty-seven wounded. They then went farther down the coast; when,
having procured a number of Negroes, they proceeded to the West Indies,
where they sold them to the Spaniards." And in the same naval chronicle,
at page 76, it is said, "That in the year 1567, Francis Drake, before
performing his voyage round the world, went with Sir John Hawkins in his
expedition to the coast of Guinea, where taking in a cargo of slaves,
they determined to steer for the Caribbee islands." How Queen Elizabeth
suffered so grievous an infringement of the rights of mankind to be
perpetrated by her subjects, and how she was persuaded, about the 30th
year of her reign, to grant patents for carrying on a trade from the
North part of the river Senegal, to an hundred leagues beyond Sierra
Leona, which gave rise to the present African company, is hard to
account for, any otherwise than that it arose from the misrepresentation
made to her of the situation of the Negroes, and of the advantages it
was pretended they would reap from being made acquainted with the
christian religion. This was the case of Lewis the XIIIth, King of
France, who, Labat, in his account of the isles of America, tells us,
"Was extremely uneasy at a law by which the Negroes of his colonies were
to be made slaves; but it being strongly urged to him as the readiest
means for their conversion to christianity, he acquiesced therewith."
Nevertheless, some of the christian powers did not so easily give way in
this matter; for we find,[C] "That cardinal Cibo, one of the Pope's
principal ministers of state, wrote a letter on behalf of the college of
cardinals, or great council at Rome, to the missionaries in Congo,
complaining that the pernicious and abominable abuse of selling slaves
was yet continued, requiring them to remedy the same, if possible; but
this the missionaries saw little hopes of accomplishing, by reason that
the trade of the country lay wholly in slaves and ivory."

[Footnote A: Collection, vol. 1. p. 148.]

[Footnote B: Ibid. 157.]

[Footnote C: Collection, vol. 3, page 164.]

From the foregoing accounts, as well as other authentic publications of
this kind, it appears that it was the unwarrantable lust of gain, which
first stimulated the Portugueze, and afterwards other Europeans, to
engage in this horrid traffic. By the most authentic relations of those
early times, the natives were an inoffensive people, who, when civilly
used, traded amicably with the Europeans. It is recorded of those of
Benin, the largest kingdom in Guinea,[A]_That they were a gentle, loving
people_; and Reynold says,[B] "_They found more sincere proofs of love
and good will from the natives, than they could find from the Spaniards
and Portugueze, even tho' they had relieved them from the greatest
misery_." And from the same relations there is no reason to think
otherwise, but that they generally lived in peace amongst themselves;
for I don't find, in the numerous publications I have perused on this
subject, relating to these early times, of there being wars on that
coast, nor of any sale of captives taken in battle, who would have been
otherwise sacrificed by the victors:[C] Notwithstanding some modern
authors, in their publications relating to the West Indies, desirous of
throwing a veil over the iniquity of the slave trade, have been hardy
enough, upon meer supposition or report, to assert the contrary.

[Footnote A: Collection, vol. 1, page 202.]

[Footnote B: Idem, page 245.]

[Footnote C: Note, This plea falls of itself, for if the Negroes
apprehended they should be cruelly put to death, if they were not sent
away, why do they manifest such reluctance and dread as they generally
do, at being brought from their native country? William Smith, at page
28, says, "_The Gambians abhor slavery, and will attempt any thing, tho'
never so desperate, to avoid it_," and Thomas Philips, in his account of
a voyage he performed to the coast of Guinea, writes, "_They, the
Negroes, are so loth to leave their own country, that they have often
leaped out of the canoe, boat, or ship, into the sea, and kept under
water till they were drowned, to avoid being taken up_."]

It was long after the Portugueze had made a practice of violently
forcing the natives of Africa into slavery, that we read of the
different Negroe nations making war upon each other, and selling their
captives. And probably this was not the case, till those bordering on
the coast, who had been used to supply the vessels with necessaries, had
become corrupted by their intercourse with the Europeans, and were
excited by drunkenness and avarice to join them in carrying on those
wicked schemes, by which those unnatural wars were perpetrated; the
inhabitants kept in continual alarms; the country laid waste; and, as
William Moor expresses it, _Infinite numbers sold into slavery_. But
that the Europeans are the principal cause of these devastations, is
particularly evidenced by one, whose connexion with the trade would
rather induce him to represent it in the fairest colours, to wit,
William Smith, the person sent in the year 1726 by the African company
to survey their settlements, who, from the information he received of
one of the factors, who had resided ten years in that country, says,[A]
"_That the discerning natives account it their greatest unhappiness,
that they were ever visited by the Europeans."--"That we christians
introduced the traffick of slaves; and that before our coming they lived
in peace_."

[Footnote A: William Smith, page 266.]

In the accounts relating to the African trade, we find this melancholy
truth farther asserted by some of the principal directors in the
different factories; particularly A. Brue says,[A] "_That the Europeans
were far from desiring to act as peace-makers amongst the Negroes; which
would be acting contrary to their interest, since the greater the wars,
the more slaves were procured_," And William Bosman also remarks,[B]
"That one of the former commanders _gave large sums of money to the
Negroes of one nation, to induce them to attack some of the neighbouring
nations, which occasioned a battle which was more bloody than the wars
of the Negroes usually are_." This is confirmed by J. Barbot, who says,
"_That the country of D'Elmina, which was formerly very powerful and
populous, was in his time so much drained of its inhabitants by the
intestine wars fomented amongst the Negroes by the Dutch, that there did
not remain inhabitants enough to till the country_."

[Footnote A: Collection, vol. 2, page 98.]

[Footnote B: Bosman, page 31.]


The conduct of the Europeans and Africans compared. Slavery more
tolerable amongst the antients than in our colonies. As christianity
prevailed amongst the barbarous nations, the inconsistency of slavery
became more apparent. The charters of manumission, granted in the early
times of christianity, founded on an apprehension of duty to God. The
antient Britons, and other European nations, in their original state, no
less barbarous than the Negroes. Slaves in Guinea used with much greater
lenity than the Negroes are in the colonies.--Note. How the slaves are
treated in Algiers, as also in Turkey.

Such is the woeful corruption of human nature, that every practice which
flatters our pride and covetousness, will find its advocates! This is
manifestly the case in the matter before us; the savageness of the
Negroes in some of their customs, and particularly their deviating so
far from the feelings of humanity, as to join in captivating and selling
each other, gives their interested oppressors a pretence for
representing them as unworthy of liberty, and the natural rights of
mankind. But these sophisters turn the argument full upon themselves,
when they instigate the poor creatures to such shocking impiety, by
every means that fantastic subtilty can suggest; thereby shewing in
their own conduct, a more glaring proof of the same depravity, and, if
there was any reason in the argument, a greater unfitness for the same
precious enjoyment: for though some of the ignorant Africans may be thus
corrupted by their intercourse with the baser of the European natives,
and the use of strong liquors, this is no excuse for high-professing
christians; bred in a civilized country, with so many advantages unknown
to the Africans, and pretending to a superior degree of gospel light.
Nor can it justify them in raising up fortunes to themselves from the
misery of others, and calmly projecting voyages for the seizure of men
naturally as free as themselves; and who, they know, are no otherwise to
be procured than by such barbarous means, as none but those hardened
wretches, who are lost to every sense of christian compassion, can make
use of. Let us diligently compare, and impartially weigh, the situation
of those ignorant Negroes, and these enlightened christians; then lift
up the scale and say, which of the two are the greater savages.

Slavery has been of a long time in practice in many parts of Asia; it
was also in usage among the Romans when that empire flourished; but,
except in some particular instances, it was rather a reasonable
servitude, no ways comparable to the unreasonable and unnatural service
extorted from the Negroes in our colonies. A late learned author,[A]
speaking of those times which succeeded the dissolution of that empire,
acquaints us, that as christianity prevailed, it very much removed those
wrong prejudices and practices, which had taken root in darker times:
after the irruption of the Northern nations, and the introduction of the
feudal or military government, whereby the most extensive power was
lodged in a few members of society, to the depression of the rest, the
common people were little better than slaves, and many were indeed such;
but as christianity gained ground, the gentle spirit of that religion,
together with the doctrines it teaches, concerning the original equality
of mankind, as well as the impartial eye with which the Almighty regards
men of every condition, and admits them to a participation of his
benefits; so far manifested the inconsistency of slavery with
christianity, that to set their fellow christians at liberty was deemed
an act of piety, highly meritorious and acceptable to God.[B]
Accordingly a great part of the charters granted for the manumission or
freedom of slaves about that time, are granted _pro amore Dei, for the
love of God, pro mercede animae, to obtain mercy to the soul_.
Manumission was frequently granted on death-beds, or by latter wills. As
the minds of men are at that time awakened to sentiments of humanity and
piety, these deeds proceeded from religious motives. The same author
remarks, That there are several forms of those manumissions still
extant, all of them founded _on religious considerations_, and _in order
to procure the favour of God_. Since that time, the practice of keeping
men in slavery gradually ceased amongst christians, till it was renewed
in the case before us. And as the prevalency of the spirit of
christianity caused men to emerge from the darkness they then lay under,
in this respect; so it is much to be feared that so great a deviation
therefrom, by the encouragement given to the slavery of the Negroes in
our colonies, if continued, will, by degrees, reduce those countries
which support and encourage it but more immediately those parts of
America which are in the practice of it, to the ignorance and barbarity
of the darkest ages.

[Footnote A: See Robertson's history of Charles the 5th.]

[Footnote B: In the years 1315 and 1318, Louis X. and his brother
Philip, Kings of France, issued ordonnances, declaring, "That as all men
were by nature free-born, and as their kingdom was called the kingdom of
Franks, they determined that it should be so in reality, as well as in
name; therefore they appointed that enfranchisements should be granted
throughout the whole kingdom, upon just and reasonable conditions."
"These edicts were carried into immediate execution within the royal
domain."--"In England, as the spirit of liberty gained ground, the very
name and idea of personal servitude, without any formal interposition of
the legislature to prohibit it, was totally banished." "The effects of
such a remarkable change in the condition of so great a part of the
people, could not fail of being considerable and extensive. The
husbandman, master of his own industry, and secure of reaping for
himself the fruits of his labour, became farmer of the same field where
he had formerly been compelled to toil for the benefit of another. The
odious name of master and of slave, the most mortifying and depressing
of all distinctions to human nature, were abolished. New prospects
opened, and new incitements to ingenuity and enterprise presented
themselves, to those who were emancipated. The expectation of bettering
their fortune, as well as that of raising themselves to a more
honourable condition, concurred in calling forth their activity and
genius; and a numerous class of men, who formerly had no political
existence, and were employed merely as instruments of labour, became
useful citizens, and contributed towards augmenting the force or riches
of the society, which adopted them as members." William Robertson's
history of Charles the 5th, vol. 1, P. 35. ]

If instead of making slaves of the Negroes, the nations who assume the
name and character of christians, would use their endeavours to make the
nations of Africa acquainted with the nature of the christian religion,
to give them a better sense of the true use of the blessings of life,
the more beneficial arts and customs would, by degrees, be introduced
amongst them; this care probably would produce the same effect upon
them, which it has had on the inhabitants of Europe, formerly as savage
and barbarous as the natives of Africa. Those cruel wars amongst the
blacks would be likely to cease, and a fair and honorable commerce, in
time, take place throughout that vast country. It was by these means
that the inhabitants of Europe, though formerly a barbarous people,
became civilized. Indeed the account Julius Caesar gives of the ancient
Britons in their state of ignorance, is not such as should make us proud
of ourselves, or lead us to despise the unpolished nations of the earth;
for he informs us, "That they lived in many respects like our Indians,
being clad with skins, painting their bodies, &c." He also adds, "That
they, brother with brother, and parents with children, had wives in
common." A greater barbarity than any heard of amongst the Negroes. Nor
doth Tacitus give a more honourable account of the Germans, from whom
the Saxons, our immediate ancestors, sprung. The Danes, who succeeded
them (who may also be numbered among our progenitors) were full as bad,
if not worse.

It is usual for people to advance as a palliation in favour of keeping
the Negroes in bondage, that there are slaves in Guinea, and that those
amongst us might be so in their own country; but let such consider the
inconsistency of our giving any countenance to slavery, because the
Africans, whom we esteem a barbarous and savage people, allow of it, and
perhaps the more from our example. Had the professors of christianity
acted indeed as such, they might have been instrumental to convince the
Negroes of their error in this respect; but even this, when inquired
into, will be to us an occasion of blushing, if we are not hardened to
every sense of shame, rather than a _palliation_ of our iniquitous
conduct; as it will appear that the slavery endured in Guinea, and other
parts of Africa, and in Asia,[A] is by no means so grievous as that in
our colonies. William Moor, speaking of the natives living on the river
Gambia,[B] says, "Tho' some of the Negroes have many house slaves, which
are their greatest glory; that those slaves live so well and easy, that
it is sometimes a hard matter to know the slaves from their masters or
mistresses. And that though in some parts of Africa they sell their
slaves born in the family, yet on the river Gambia they think it a very
wicked thing." The author adds, "He never heard of but one that ever
sold a family slave, except for such crimes as they would have been sold
for if they had been free." And in Astley's collection, speaking of the
customs of the Negroes in that large extent of country further down the
coast, particularly denominated the coast of Guinea, it is said,[C]
"They have not many slaves on the coast; none but the King or nobles are
permitted to buy or sell any; so that they are allowed only what are
necessary for their families, or tilling the ground." The same author
adds, "_That they generally use their slaves well, and seldom correct

[Footnote A: In the history of the piratical states of Barbary, printed
in 1750, _said to be_ wrote by a person who resided at Algiers, in a
public character, at page 265 the author says, "The world exclaims
against the Algerines for their cruel treatment of their slaves, and
their employing even tortures to convert them to mahometism: but this is
a vulgar error, artfully propagated for selfish views. So far are their
slaves from being ill used, that they must have committed some very
great fault to suffer any punishment. Neither are they forced to work
beyond their strength, but rather spared, lest they should fall sick.
Some are so pleased with their situation, that they will not purchase
their ransom, though they are able." It is the same generally through
the Mahometan countries, except in some particular instances, as that of
Muley Ishmael, late Emperor of Morocco, who being naturally barbarous,
frequently used both his subjects and slaves with cruelty. Yet even
under him the usage the slaves met with was, in general, much more
tolerable than that of the Negroe slaves in the West Indies. Captain
Braithwaite, an author of credit, who accompanied consul general Russel
in a congratulatory ambassy to Muley Ishmael's successor, upon his
accession to the throne, says, "The situation of the christian slaves in
Morocco was not near so bad as represented.--That it was true they were
kept at labour by the late Emperor, but not harder than our daily
labourers go through.--Masters of ships were never obliged to work, nor
such as had but a small matter of money to give the Alcaide.--When sick,
they had a religious house appointed for them to go to, where they were
well attended: and whatever money in charity was sent them by their
friends in Europe, was their own." Braithwaite's revolutions of Morocco.
Lady Montague, wife of the English ambassador at Constantinople, in her
letters, vol. 3. page 20, writes, "I know you expect I should say
something particular of the slaves; and you will imagine me half a Turk,
when I do not speak of it with the same horror other christians have
done before me; but I cannot forbear applauding the humanity of the
Turks to these creatures; they are not ill used; and their slavery, in
my opinion, is no worse than servitude all over the world. It is true
they have no wages, but they give them yearly cloaths to a higher value
than our salaries to our ordinary servants." ]

[Footnote B: W. Moor, p. 30]

[Footnote C: Collection vol. 2. p. 647.]


Montesquieu's sentiments on slavery. Moderation enjoined by the Mosaic
law in the punishment of offenders. Morgan Godwyn's account of the
contempt and grievous rigour exercised upon the Negroes in his time.
Account from Jamaica, relating to the inhuman treatment of them there.
Bad effects attendant on slave-keeping, as well to the masters as the
slaves. Extracts from several laws relating to Negroes. Richard Baxter's
sentiments on slave-keeping.

That celebrated civilian Montesquieu, in his treatise _on the spirit of
laws_, on the article of slavery says, "_It is neither useful to the
master nor slave; to the slave, because he can do nothing through
principle (or virtue); to the master, because he contracts with his
slave all sorts of bad habits, insensibly accustoms himself to want all
moral virtues; becomes haughty, hasty, hard-hearted, passionate,
voluptuous, and cruel_." The lamentable truth of this assertion was
quickly verified in the English plantations. When the practice of
slave-keeping was introduced, it soon produced its natural effects; it
reconciled men, of otherwise good dispositions, to the most hard and
cruel measures. It quickly proved, what, under the law of Moses, was
apprehended would be the consequence of unmerciful chastisements. Deut.
xxv. 2. "_And it shall be if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that
the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face,
according to his fault, by a certain number; forty stripes he may give
him, and not exceed_." And the reason rendered, is out of respect to
human nature, viz. "_Lest if he should exceed, and beat him above these
with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee_." As
this effect soon followed the cause, the cruelest measures were adopted,
in order to make the most of the poor _wretches_ labour; and in the
minds of the masters such an idea was excited of inferiority, in the
nature of these their unhappy fellow creatures, that they soon esteemed
and treated them as beasts of burden: pretending to doubt, and some of
them even presuming to deny, that the efficacy of the death of Christ
extended to them. Which is particularly noted in a book, intitled _The
Negroes and Indians advocate_, dedicated to the then Archbishop of
Canterbury, wrote so long since as in the year 1680, by Morgan Godwyn,
thought to be a clergyman of the church of England.[A] The same spirit
of sympathy and zeal which stirred up the good Bishop of Chapia to plead
with so much energy the kindred cause of the Indians of America, an
hundred and fifty years before, was equally operating about a century
past on the minds of some of the well disposed of that day; amongst
others this worthy clergyman, having been an eye witness of the
oppression and cruelty exercised upon the Negro and Indian slaves,
endeavoured to raise the attention of those, in whose power it might be
to procure them relief; amongst other matters, in his address to the
Archbishop, he remarks in substance, "That the people of the island of
Barbadoes were not content with exercising the greatest hardness and
barbarity upon the Negroes, in making the most of their labour, without
any regard to the calls of humanity, but that they had suffered such a
slight and undervaluement to prevail in their minds towards these their
oppressed fellow creatures, as to discourage any step being taken,
whereby they might be made acquainted with the christian religion. That
their conduct towards their slaves was such as gave him reason to
believe, that either they had suffered a spirit of infidelity, a spirit
quite contrary to the nature of the gospel, to prevail in them, or that
it must be their established opinion that the Negroes had no more souls
than beasts; that hence they concluded them to be neither susceptible of
religious impressions, nor fit objects for the redeeming grace of God to
operate upon. That under this persuasion, and from a disposition of
cruelty, they treated them with far less humanity than they did their
cattle; for, says he, they do not starve their horses, which they expect
should both carry and credit them on the road; nor pinch the cow, by
whose milk they are sustained; which yet, to their eternal shame, is too
frequently the lot and condition of those poor people, from whose labour
their wealth and livelihood doth wholly arise; not only in their diet,
but in their cloathing, and overworking some of them even to death
(which is particularly the calamity of the most innocent and laborious)
but also in tormenting and whipping them almost, and sometimes quite, to
death, upon even small miscarriages. He apprehends it was from this
prejudice against the Negroes, that arose those supercilious checks and
frowns he frequently met with, when using innocent arguments and
persuasions, in the way of his duty as a minister of the gospel, to
labour for the convincement and conversion of the Negroes; being
repeatedly told, with spiteful scoffings, (even by some esteemed
religious) that the Negroes were no more susceptible of receiving
benefit, by becoming members of the church, than their dogs and bitches.
The usual answer he received, when exhorting their masters to do their
duty in that respect, being, _What! these black dogs be made christians!
what! they be made like us! with abundance more of the same_.
Nevertheless, he remarks that the Negroes were capable, not only of
being taught to read and write, &c. but divers of them eminent in the
management of business. He declares them to have an equal right with us
to the merits of Christ; of which if through neglect or avarice they are
deprived, that judgment which was denounced against wicked Ahab, must
befal us: _Our life shall go for theirs_. The loss of their souls will
be required at our hands, to whom God hath given so blessed an
opportunity of being instrumental to their salvation."

[Footnote A: "There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human
mind, which in different places or ages hath had different names; it is,
however, pure, and proceeds from God.--It is deep and inward, confined
to no forms of religion, nor excluded from any, where the heart stands
in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, of what
nation soever, they become brethren in the best sense of the expression.
Using ourselves to take ways which appear most easy to us, when
inconsistent with that purity which is without beginning, we thereby set
up a government of our own, and deny obedience to Him whose service is
true liberty. He that has a servant, made so wrongfully, and knows it to
be so, when he treats him otherwise than a free man, when he reaps the
benefit of his labour, without paying him such wages as are reasonably
due to free men for the like service; these things, though done in
calmness, without any shew of disorder, do yet deprave the mind, in like
manner, and with as great certainty, as prevailing cold congeals water.
These steps taken by masters, and their conduct striking the minds of
their children, whilst young, leave less room for that which is good to
work upon them. The customs of their parents, their neighbours, and the
people with whom they converse, working upon their minds, and they from
thence conceiving wrong ideas of things, and modes of conduct, the
entrance into their hearts becomes in a great measure shut up against
the gentle movings of uncreated purity.

"From one age to another the gloom grows thicker and darker, till error
gets established by general opinion; but whoever attends to perfect
goodness, and remains under the melting influence of it, finds a path
unknown to many, and sees the necessity to lean upon the arm of divine
strength, and dwell alone, or with a few in the right, committing their
cause to him who is a refuge to his people. Negroes are our fellow
creatures, and their present condition among us requires our serious
consideration. We know not the time, when those scales, in which
mountains are weighed, may turn. The parent of mankind is gracious, his
care is over his smallest creatures, and a multitude of men escape not
his notice; and though many of them are trodden down and despised, yet
he remembers them. He seeth their affliction, and looketh upon the
spreading increasing exaltation of the oppressor. He turns the channel
of power, humbles the most haughty people, and gives deliverance to the
oppressed, at such periods as are consistent with his infinite justice
and goodness. And wherever gain is preferred to equity, and wrong things
publickly encouraged, to that degree that wickedness takes root and
spreads wide amongst the inhabitants of a country, there is a real cause
for sorrow, to all such whose love to mankind stands on a true
principle, and wisely consider the end and event of things."
Consideration on keeping Negroes, by John Woolman, part 2. p. 50.]

He complains, "That they were suffered to live with their women in no
better way than direct fornication; no care being taken to oblige them
to continue together when married; but that they were suffered at their
will to leave their wives, and take to other women." I shall conclude
this sympathizing clergyman's observations, with an instance he gives,
to shew, "that not only discouragements and scoffs at that time
prevailed in Barbadoes, to establish an opinion that the Negroes were
not capable of religious impressions, but that even violence and great
abuses were used to prevent any thing of the kind taking place. It was
in the case of a poor Negro, who having, at his own request, prevailed
on a clergyman to administer baptism to him, on his return home the
brutish overseer took him to task, giving him to understand, that that
was no sunday's work for those of his complexion; that he had other
business for him, the neglect whereof would cost him an afternoon's
baptism in blood, as he in the morning had received a baptism with
water, (these, says the clergyman, were his own words) which he
accordingly made good; of which the Negro complained to him, and he to
the governor; nevertheless, the poor miserable creature was ever after
so unmercifully treated by that inhuman wretch, the overseer, that, to
avoid his cruelty, betaking himself to the woods, he there perished."
This instance is applicable to none but the cruel perpetrator; and yet
it is an instance of what, in a greater or less degree, may frequently
happen, when those poor wretches are left to the will of such brutish
inconsiderate creatures as those overseers often are. This is confirmed
in a _History of Jamaica_, wrote in thirteen letters, about the year
1740, by a person then residing in that island, who writes as follows,
"I shall not now enter upon the question, whether the slavery of the
Negroes be agreeable to the laws of nature or not; though it seems
extremely hard they should be reduced to serve and toil for the benefit
of others, without the least advantage to themselves. Happy Britannia,
where slavery is never known! where liberty and freedom chears every
misfortune. Here (_says the author_) we can boast of no such blessing;
we have at least ten slaves to one freeman. I incline to touch the
hardships which these poor creatures suffer, in the tenderest manner,
from a particular regard which I have to many of their masters, but I
cannot conceal their sad circumstances intirely: the most trivial error
is punished with terrible whipping. I have seen some of them treated in
that cruel manner, for no other reason but to satisfy the brutish
pleasure of an overseer, who has their punishment mostly at his
discretion. I have seen their bodies all in a gore of blood, the skin
torn off their backs with the cruel whip; beaten pepper and salt rubbed
in the wounds, and a large stick of sealing wax dropped leisurely upon
them. It is no wonder, if the horrid pain of such inhuman tortures
incline them to rebel. Most of these slaves are brought from the coast
of Guinea. When they first arrive, it is observed, they are simple and
very innocent creatures; but soon turn to be roguish enough. And when
they come to be whipt, urge the example of the whites for an excuse of
their faults."

These accounts of the deep depravity of mind attendant on the practice
of slavery, verify the truth of Montesquieu's remark of its pernicious
effects. And altho' the same degree of opposition to instructing the
Negroes may not now appear in the islands as formerly, especially since
the Society appointed for propagating the Gospel have possessed a number
of Negroes in one of them; nevertheless the situation of these oppressed
people is yet dreadful, as well to themselves as in its consequence to
their hard task-masters, and their offspring, as must be evident to
every impartial person who is acquainted with the treatment they
generally receive, or with the laws which from time to time have been
made in the colonies, with respect to the Negroes; some of them being
absolutely inconsistent with reason, and shocking to humanity. By the
329th act of the assembly of Barbadoes, page 125, it is enacted,

"That if any Negroe or other slave under punishment by his master, or
his order, for running away, or any other crime or misdemeanors towards
his said master, unfortunately shall suffer in life or member, (which
seldom happens) no person whatsoever shall be liable to any fine
therefore. But if any man shall, _of wantonness, or only of
bloody-mindedness or cruel intention, wilfully kill a Negroe, or other
slave of his own, he shall pay into the public treasury, fifteen pounds
sterling_." Now that the life of a man should be so lightly valued, as
that fifteen pounds should be judged a sufficient indemnification of the
murder of one, even when it is avowedly done _wilfully, wantonly,
cruelly, or of bloody-mindedness_, is a tyranny hardly to be paralleled:
nevertheless human laws cannot make void the righteous law of God, or
prevent the inquisition of that awful judgment day, when, "_at the hand
of every man's brother the life of man shall be required_." By the law
of South Carolina, the person that killeth a Negroe is only subject to a
fine, or twelve months imprisonment. It is the same in most, if not all
the West-Indies. And by an act of the assembly of Virginia, (4 Ann. Ch.
49. sect. 27. p. 227.) after proclamation is issued against slaves,

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