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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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"that run away and lie out, _it is lawful for any person whatsoever to
kill and destroy such slaves, by such ways and means as he, she, or they
shall think fit, without accusation or impeachment of any crime for the
same_."--And lest private interest should incline the planter to mercy,
it is provided, "_That every slave so killed, in pursuance of this act,
shall be paid for by the public_."

It was doubtless a like sense of sympathy with that expressed by Morgan
Godwyn before mentioned, for the oppressed Negroes, and like zeal for
the cause of religion, so manifestly trampled upon in the case of the
Negroes, which induced Richard Baxter, an eminent preacher amongst the
Dissenters in the last century, in his _christian directory_, to express
himself as follows, viz. "Do you mark how God hath followed you with
plagues; and may not conscience tell you, that it is for your inhumanity
to the souls and bodies of men?"--"To go as pirates; and catch up poor
Negroes, or people of another land, that never forfeited life or
liberty, and to make them slaves, and sell them, is one of the worst
kinds of thievery in the world; and such persons are to be taken for the
common enemies of mankind; and they that buy them and use them as beasts
for their mere commodity, and betray, or destroy, or neglect their
souls, are fitter to be called devils incarnate than christians: It is
an heinous sin to buy them, unless it be in charity to deliver them.
Undoubtedly they are presently bound to deliver them, because by right
the man is his own, therefore no man else can have a just title to him."


Griffith Hughes's account of the number of Negroes in Barbadoes. Cannot
keep up their usual number without a yearly recruit. Excessive hardships
wear the Negroes down in a surprising manner. A servitude without a
condition, inconsistent with reason and natural justice. The general
usage the Negroes meet with in the West Indies. Inhuman calculations of
the strength and lives of the Negroes. Dreadful consequences which may
be expected from the cruelty exercised upon this oppressed part of

We are told by Griffith Hughes, rector of St. Lucy in Barbadoes, in his
natural history of that island, printed in the year 1750, "That there
were between sixty-five and seventy thousand Negroes, at that time, in
the island, tho' formerly they had a greater number. That in order to
keep up a necessary number, they were obliged to have a yearly supply
from Africa. That the hard labour, and often want of necessaries, which
these unhappy creatures are obliged to undergo, destroy a greater number
than are bred there." He adds, "That the capacities of their minds in
common affairs of life are but little inferior, if at all, to those of
the Europeans. If they fail in some arts, he says, it may be owing more
to their want of education, and the depression of their spirits by
slavery, than to any want of natural abilities." This destruction of the
human species, thro' unnatural hardships, and want of necessary
supplies, in the case of the Negroes, is farther confirmed in _an
account of the European settlements in America_, printed London, 1757,
where it is said, par. 6. chap. 11th, "The Negroes in our colonies
endure a slavery more compleat, and attended with far worse
circumstances, than what any people in their condition suffer in any
other part of the world, or have suffered in any other period of time:
Proofs of this are not wanting. The prodigious waste which we experience
in this unhappy part of our species, is a full and melancholy evidence
of this truth. The island of Barbadoes, (the Negroes upon which do not
amount to eighty thousand) notwithstanding all the means which they use
to increase them by propagation, and that the climate is in every
respect (except that of being more wholesome) exactly resembling the
climate from whence they come; notwithstanding all this, Barbadoes lies
under a necessity of an annual recruit of five thousand slaves, to keep
up the stock at the number I have mentioned. This prodigious failure,
which is at least in the same proportion in all our islands, shews
demonstratively that some uncommon and unsupportable hardship lies upon
the Negroes, which wears them down in such a surprising manner."

In an account of part of North America, published by Thomas Jeffery,
1761, the author, speaking of the usage the Negroes receive in the West
India islands, says, "It is impossible for a human heart to reflect upon
the servitude of these dregs of mankind, without in some measure feeling
for their misery, which ends but with their lives.--Nothing can be more
wretched than the condition of this people. One would imagine, they were
framed to be the disgrace of the human species; banished from their
country, and deprived of that blessing, liberty, on which all other
nations set the greatest value, they are in a measure reduced to the
condition of beasts of burden. In general, a few roots, potatoes
especially, are their food, and two rags, which neither screen them from
the heat of the day, nor the extraordinary coolness of the night, all
their covering; their sleep very short; their labour almost continual;
they receive no wages, but have twenty lashes for the smallest fault."
_A thoughtful_ person, who had an opportunity of observing the miserable
condition of the Negroes in one of our West India islands, writes thus,
"I met with daily exercise to see the treatment which those miserable
wretches met with from their masters; with but few exceptions. They whip
them most unmercifully on small occasions: you will see their bodies all
whealed and scarred; in short, they seem to set no other value on their
lives, than as they cost them so much money; and are restrained from
killing them, when angry, by no worthier consideration, than that they
lose so much. They act as though they did not look upon them as a race
of human creatures, who have reason, and remembrance of misfortunes, but
as beasts; like oxen, who are stubborn, hardy, and senseless, fit for
burdens, and designed to bear them: they won't allow them to have any
claim to human privileges, or scarce indeed to be regarded as the work
of God. Though it was consistent with the justice of our Maker to
pronounce the sentence on our common parent, and through him on all
succeeding generations, _That he and they should eat their bread by the
sweat of their brows_: yet does it not stand recorded by the same
eternal truth, _That the labourer is worthy of his hire?_ It cannot be
allowed, in natural justice, that there should be a servitude without
condition; a cruel, endless servitude. It cannot be reconcileable to
natural justice, that whole nations, nay, whole continents of men,
should be devoted to do the drudgery of life for others, be dragged away
from their attachments of relations and societies, and be made to serve
the appetite and pleasure of a race of men, whose superiority has been
obtained by illegal force."

Sir Hans Sloane, in the introduction to his natural history of Jamaica,
in the account he gives of the treatment the Negroes met with there,
speaking of the punishments inflicted on them, says, page 56. "For
rebellion, the punishment is burning them, by nailing them down to the
ground with crooked sticks on every limb, and then applying the fire, by
degrees, from the feet and hands, burning them gradually up to the head,
whereby _their pains are extravagant_. For crimes of a less nature,
gelding or chopping off half the foot with an axe.--For negligence, they
are usually whipped by the overseers with lance-wood switches.--After
they are whipped till they are raw, some put on their skins pepper and
salt, to make them smart; at other times, their masters will drop melted
wax on their skins, and use several _very exquisite torments_." In that
island, the owners of the Negroe slaves set aside to each a parcel of
ground, and allow them half a day at the latter end of the week, which,
with the day appointed by the divine injunction to be a day of rest and
service to God, and which ought to be kept as such, is the only time
allowed them to manure their ground. This, with a few herrings, or other
salt fish, is what is given for their support. Their allowance for
cloathing in the island, is seldom more than six yards of oznabrigs each
year. And in the more northern colonies, where the piercing westerly
winds are long and sensibly felt, these poor Africans suffer much for
want of sufficient cloathing; indeed some have none till they are able
to pay for it by their labour. The time that the Negroes work in the
West Indies, is from day-break till noon; then again from two o'clock
till dark (during which time, they are attended by overseers, who
severely scourge those who appear to them dilatory); and before they are
suffered to go to their quarters, they have still something to do, as
collecting herbage for the horses, gathering fuel for the boilers, &c.
so that it is often past twelve before they can get home, when they have
scarce time to grind and boil their Indian corn; whereby, if their food
was not prepared the evening before, it sometimes happens that they are
called again to labour before they can satisfy their hunger. And here no
delay or excuse will avail; for if they are not in the field immediately
upon the usual notice, they must expect to feel the overseer's lash. In
crop time (which lasts many months) they are obliged, by turns, to work
most of the night in the boiling house. Thus their owners, from a desire
of making the greatest gain by the labour of their slaves, lay heavy
burdens on them, and yet feed and cloath them very sparingly, and some
scarce feed or cloath them at all; so that the poor creatures are
obliged to shift for their living in the best manner they can, which
occasions their being often killed in the neighbouring lands, stealing
potatoes, or other food, to satisfy their hunger. And if they take any
thing from the plantation they belong to, though under such pressing
want, their owners will correct them severely for taking a little of
what they have so hardly laboured for; whilst many of themselves riot in
the greatest luxury and excess. It is matter of astonishment how a
people, who, as a nation, are looked upon as generous and humane, and so
much value themselves for their uncommon sense of the benefit of
liberty, can live in the practice of such extreme oppression and
inhumanity, without seeing the inconsistency of such conduct, and
feeling great remorse. Nor is it less amazing to hear these men calmly
making calculations about the strength and lives of their fellow men. In
Jamaica, if six in ten of the new imported Negroes survive the
seasoning, it is looked upon as a gaining purchase. And in most of the
other plantations, if the Negroes live eight or nine years, their labour
is reckoned a sufficient compensation for their cost. If calculations of
this sort were made upon the strength and labour of beasts of burden, it
would not appear so strange; but even then, a merciful man would
certainly use his beast with more mercy than is usually shewn to the
poor Negroes. Will not the groans, the dying groans, of this deeply
afflicted and oppressed people reach heaven? and when the cup of
iniquity is full, must not the inevitable consequence be, the pouring
forth of the judgments of God upon their oppressors? But alas! is it not
too manifest that this oppression has already long been the object of
the divine displeasure? For what heavier judgment, what greater
calamity, can befal any people, than to become subject to that hardness
of heart, that forgetfulness of God, and insensibility to every
religious impression, as well as that general depravation of manners,
which so much prevails in these colonies, in proportion as they have
more or less enriched themselves at the expence of the blood and bondage
of the Negroes.

It is a dreadful consideration, as a late author remarks, that out of
the stock of eighty thousand Negroes in Barbadoes, there die every year
five thousand more than are born in that island; which failure is
probably in the same proportion in the other islands. _In effect, this
people is under a necessity of being entirely renewed every sixteen
years._ And what must we think of the management of a people, who, far
from increasing greatly, as those who have no loss by war ought to do,
must, in so short a time as sixteen years, without foreign recruits, be
entirely consumed to a man! Is it not a christian doctrine, _that the
labourer is worthy of his hire?_ And hath not the Lord, by the mouth of
his prophet, pronounced, _"Wo unto that man who buildeth his house by
unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; who uses his neighbour's
service without wages, and giveth him nought for his work?"_ And yet the
poor Negro slaves are constrained, like the beasts, by beating, to work
hard without hire or recompence, and receive nothing from the hand of
their unmerciful masters, but such a wretched provision as will scarce
support them under their fatigues. The intolerable hardships many of the
slaves undergo, are sufficiently proved by the shortness of their
lives.--And who are these miserable creatures, that receive such
barbarous treatment from the planter? Can we restrain our just
indignation, when we consider that they are undoubtedly _his brethren!
his neighbours! the children of the same Father, and some of those for
whom Christ died, as truly as for the planter himself_. Let the opulent
planter, or merchant, prove that his Negro slave is not his brother, or
that he is not his neighbour, in the scripture sense of these
appellations; and if he is not able so to do, how will he justify the
buying and selling of his brethren, as if they were of no more
consideration than his cattle? The wearing them out with continual
labour, before they have lived out half their days? The severe whipping
and torturing them, even to death, if they resist his unsupportable
tyranny? Let the hardiest slave-holder look forward to that tremendous
day, when he must give an account to God of his stewardship; and let him
seriously consider, whether, at such a time, he thinks he shall be able
to satisfy himself, that any act of buying and selling, or the fate of
war, or the birth of children in his house, plantation, or territories,
or any other circumstance whatever, can give him such an absolute
property in the persons of men, as will justify his retaining them as
slaves, and treating them as beasts? Let him diligently consider whether
there will not always remain to the slave a _superior_ property or right
to the fruit of his own labour; and more especially to his own person;
that being which was given him by God, and which none but the Giver can
justly claim?


The advantage which would have accrued to the natives of Guinea, if the
Europeans had acted towards them agreeable to the dictates of humanity
and christianity. _An inordinate_ desire of gain in the Europeans, the
true occasion of the slave trade. Notice of the misrepresentations of
the Negroes by most authors, in order to palliate the iniquity of the
slave trade. Those misrepresentations refuted, particularly with respect
_to the Hottentot Negroes_.

From the foregoing accounts of the natural disposition of the Negroes,
and the fruitfulness of most parts of Guinea, which are confirmed by
authors of candour, who have wrote from their own knowledge, it may well
be concluded, that the Negroes acquaintance with the Europeans might
have been a happiness to them, if these last had not only bore the name,
but had also acted the part, of Christians, and used their endeavours by
example, as well as precept, to make them acquainted with the glad
tidings of the gospel, which breathes peace and good will to man, and
with that change of heart, that redemption from sin, which christianity
proposeth; innocence and love might then have prevailed, nothing would
have been wanting to complete the happiness of the simple Africans: but
the reverse has happened; the Europeans, forgetful of their duty as men
and christians, have conducted themselves in so iniquitous a manner, as
must necessarily raise in the minds of the thoughtful and well-disposed
Negroes, the utmost scorn and detestation of the very name of
christians. All other considerations have given way to an infallible
desire of gain, which has been the principal and moving cause of the
most _iniquitous and dreadful scene_ that was, perhaps, ever acted upon
the face of the earth; instead of making use of that superior knowledge
with which the Almighty, the common Parent of mankind, had favoured
them, to strengthen the principle of peace and good will in the breasts
of the incautious Negroes, the Europeans have, by their bad example, led
them into excess of drunkenness, debauchery, and avarice; whereby every
passion of corrupt nature being inflamed, they have been easily
prevailed upon to make war, and captivate one another; as well to
furnish means for the excesses they had been habituated to, as to
satisfy the greedy desire of gain in their profligate employers, who to
this intent have furnished them with prodigious quantities of arms and
ammunition. Thus they have been hurried into confusion, distress, and
all the extremities of temporal misery; every thing, even the power of
their Kings, has been made subservient to this wicked purpose; for
instead of being protectors of their subjects, some of those rulers,
corrupted by the excessive love of spirituous liquors, and the tempting
baits laid before them by the factors, have invaded the liberties of
their unhappy subjects, and are become their oppressors.

Here it may be necessary to observe, that the accounts we have of the
inhabitants of Guinea, are chiefly given by persons engaged in the
trade, who, from self-interested views, have described them in such
colours as were least likely to excite compassion and respect, and
endeavoured to reconcile so manifest a violation of the rights of
mankind to the minds of the purchasers; yet they cannot but allow the
Negroes to be possessed of some good qualities, though they contrive as
much as possible to cast a shade over them. A particular instance of
this appears in Astley's collection, vol. 2. p. 73, where the author,
speaking of the Mandingos settled at Galem, which is situated 900 miles
up the Senegal, after saying that they carry on a commerce to all the
neighbouring kingdoms, and amass riches, adds, "That excepting _the
vices peculiar to the Blacks_, they are a good sort of people, honest,
hospitable, just to their word, laborious, industrious, and very ready
to learn arts and sciences." Here it is difficult to imagine what vices
can be peculiarly attendant on a people so well disposed as the author
describes these to be. With respect to the charge some authors have
brought against them, as being void of all natural affection, it is
frequently contradicted by others. In vol. 2. of the Collection, p. 275,
and 629, the Negroes of North Guinea, and the Gold Coast, are said _to
be fond of their children, whom they love with tenderness_. And Bosman
says, p. 340, "Not a few in his country (viz. Holland) fondly imagine,
that parents here sell their children, men their wives, and one brother
the other: but those who think so deceive themselves; for this never
happens on any other account but that of necessity, or some great
crime." The same is repeated by J. Barbot, page 326, and also confirmed
by Sir Hans Sloane, in the introduction to his natural history of
Jamaica; where speaking of the Negroes, he says, "They are usually
thought to be haters of their own children, and therefore it is believed
that they sell and dispose of them to strangers for money: but this is
not true; for the Negroes of Guinea being divided into several
captainships, as well as the Indians of America, have wars; and besides
those slain in battle, many prisoners are taken, who are sold as slaves,
and brought thither: but the parents here, although their children are
slaves for ever, yet have so great love for them, that no master dares
sell, or give away, one of their little ones, unless they care not
whether their parents hang themselves or no." J. Barbot, speaking of the
occasion of the natives of Guinea being represented as a treacherous
people, ascribes it to the Hollanders (and doubtless other Europeans)
usurping authority, and fomenting divisions between the Negroes. At page
110, he says, "It is well known that many of the European nations
trading amongst these people, have very unjustly and inhumanly, without
any provocation, stolen away, from time to time, abundance of the
people, not only on this coast, but almost every where in Guinea, who
have come on board their ships in a harmless and confiding manner: these
they have in great numbers carried away, and sold in the plantations,
with other slaves which they had purchased." And although some of the
Negroes may be justly charged with indolence and supineness, yet many
others are frequently mentioned by authors _as a careful, industrious,
and even laborious_ people. But nothing shews more clearly how unsafe it
is to form a judgment of distant people from the accounts given of them
by travellers, who have taken but a transient view of things, than the
case of the Hottentots, viz. those several nations of Negroes who
inhabit the most southern part of Africa: _these people_ are represented
by several authors, who appear to have very much copied their relations
one from the other, as so savage and barbarous as to have little of
human, but the shape: but these accounts are strongly contradicted by
others, particularly Peter Kolben, who has given a circumstantial
relation of the disposition and manners of those people.[A] He was a man
of learning, sent from the court of Prussia solely to make astronomical
and natural observations there; and having no interest in the slavery of
the Negroes, had not the same inducement as most other relators had, to
misrepresent the natives of Africa. He resided eight years at and about
the Cape of Good Hope, during which time he examined with great care
into the customs, manners, and opinions of the Hottentots; whence he
sets these people in a quite different light from what they appeared in
former authors, whom he corrects, and blames for the falsehoods they
have wantonly told of them. At p. 61, he says, "The details we have in
several authors, are for the most part made up of inventions and
hearsays, which generally prove false." Nevertheless, he allows they are
justly to be blamed for their sloth.--_The love of liberty and indolence
is their all; compulsion is death to them. While necessity obliges them
to work, they are very tractable, obedient, and faithful; but when they
have got enough to satisfy the present want, they are deaf to all
further intreaty_. He also faults them for their nastiness, the effect
of sloth; and for their love of drink, and the practice of some
unnatural customs, which long use has established amongst them; which,
nevertheless, from the general good disposition of these people, there
is great reason to believe they might be persuaded to refrain from, if a
truly christian care had been extended towards them. He says, "They are
eminently distinguished by many virtues, as their mutual benevolence,
friendship, and hospitality; they breathe kindness and good will to one
another, and seek all opportunities of obliging. Is a Hottentot's
assistance required by one of his countrymen? he runs to give it. Is his
advice asked? he gives it with sincerity. Is his countryman in want? he
relieves him to the utmost of his power." Their hospitality extends even
to European strangers: in travelling thro' the Cape countries, you meet
with a chearful and open reception, in whatsoever village you come to.
In short, he says, page 339, "The integrity of the Hottentots, their
strictness and celerity in the execution of justice, and their charity,
are equalled by few nations. _In alliances, their word is sacred; there
being hardly any thing they look upon as a fouler crime than breach of
engagements. Theft and adultery they punish with death_." They firmly
believe there is a God, the author of all things, whom they call the God
of gods; but it does not appear that they have an institution of worship
directly regarding this supreme Deity. When pressed on this article,
they excuse themselves by a tradition, "_That their first parents so
grievously offended this great God, that he cursed them and their
posterity with hardness of heart; so that they know little about him,
and have less inclination to serve him_." As has been already remarked,
these Hottentots are the only Negroe nations bordering on the sea, we
read of, who are not concerned in making or keeping slaves. Those slaves
made use of by the Hollanders at the Cape, are brought from other parts
of Guinea. Numbers of these people told the author, "That the vices they
saw prevail amongst christians; their avarice, their envy and hatred of
one another; their restless discontented tempers; their lasciviousness
and injustice, were the things that principally kept the Hottentots from
hearkening to christianity."

[Footnote A: See Kolban's account of the Cape of Good Hope.]

Father Tachard, a French Jesuit, famous for his travels in the East
Indies, in his account of these people, says, "The Hottentots have more
honesty, love, and liberality for one another, than are almost anywhere
seen amongst christians."


Man-stealing esteemed highly criminal, and punishable by the laws of
Guinea: _No_ Negroes allowed to be sold for slaves there, but those
deemed prisoners of war, or in punishment for crimes. _Some_ of the
Negroe rulers, corrupted by the Europeans, violently infringe the laws
of Guinea. The King of Barsailay noted in that respect.

By an inquiry into the laws and customs formerly in use, and still in
force amongst the Negroes, particularly on the Gold Coast, it will be
found, that provision was made for the general peace, and for the safety
of individuals; even in W. Bosman's time, long after the Europeans had
established the slave-trade, the natives were not publicly enslaved, any
otherwise than in punishment for crimes, when prisoners of war, or by a
violent exertion of the power of their corrupted Kings. Where any of the
natives were stolen, in order to be sold to the Europeans, it was done
secretly, or at least, only connived at by those in power: this appears
From Barbot and Bosman's account of the matter, both agreeing that
man-stealing was not allowed on the Gold Coast. The first[A] says,
"_Kidnapping or stealing of human creatures is punished there, and even
sometimes with death._" And, W. Bosman, whose long residence on the
coast, enabled him to speak with certainty, says,[B] "_That the laws
were severe against murder, thievery, and adultery._" And adds, "_That
man-stealing was punished on the Gold Coast with rigid severity and
sometimes with death itself._" Hence it may be concluded, that the sale
of the greatest part of the Negroes to the Europeans is supported by
violence, in defiance of the laws, through the knavery of their
principal men,[C] who, (as is too often the case with those in European
countries) under pretence of encouraging trade, and increasing the
public revenue, disregard the dictates of justice, and trample upon
those liberties which they are appointed to preserve.

[Footnote A: Barbot, p. 303.]

[Footnote B: Bosman, p. 143.]

[Footnote C: Note. Barbot, page 270, says, the trade of slaves is in a
more peculiar manner the business of Kings, rich men, and prime
merchants, exclusive of the inferior sort of blacks.]

Fr. Moor also mentions man-stealing as being discountenanced by the
Negroe Governments on the river Gambia, and speaks of the inslaving the
peaceable inhabitants, as a violence which only happens under a corrupt
administration of justice; he says,[A] "The Kings of that country
generally advise with their head men, scarcely doing any thing of
consequence, without consulting them first, except the King of
Barsailay, who being subject to hard drinking, is very absolute. It is
to this King's insatiable thirst for brandy, that his subjects freedoms
and families are in so precarious a situation.[B] Whenever this King
wants goods or brandy, he sends a messenger to the English Governor at
James Fort, to desire he would send a sloop there with a cargo: _this
news, being not at all unwelcome_, the Governor sends accordingly;
against the arrival of the sloop, the King goes and ransacks some of his
enemies towns, seizing the people, and selling them for such commodities
as he is in want of, which commonly are brandy, guns, powder, balls,
pistols, and cutlasses, for his attendants and soldiers; and coral and
silver for his wives and concubines. In case he is not at war with any
neighbouring King, he then falls upon one of his own towns, which are
numerous, and uses them in the same manner." "He often goes with some of
his troops by a town in the day time, and returning in the night, sets
fire to three parts of it, and putting guards at the fourth, there
seizes the people as they run out from the fire; he ties their arms
behind them, and marches them either to Joar or Cohone, where he sells
them to the Europeans."

[Footnote A: Moor, page 61.]

[Footnote B: Idem, p. 46.]

A. Brue, the French director, gives much the same account, and says,[A]
"That having received goods, he wrote to the King, that if he had a
sufficient number of slaves, he was ready to trade with him. This
Prince, as well as the other Negroe monarchs, has always a sure way of
supplying his deficiencies, by selling his own subjects, for which they
seldom want a pretence. The King had recourse to this method, by seizing
three hundred of his own people, and sent word to the director, that he
had the slaves ready to deliver for the goods." It seems, the King
wanted double the quantity of goods which the factor would give him for
these three hundred slaves; but the factor refusing to trust him, as he
was already in the company's debt, and perceiving that this refusal had
put the King much out of temper, he proposed that he should give him a
licence for taking so many more of his people, as the goods he still
wanted were worth but this the King refused, saying "_It_ might occasion
a disturbance amongst his subjects."[B] Except in the above instance,
and some others, where the power of the Negroe Kings is unlawfully
exerted over their subjects, the slave-trade is carried on in Guinea
with some regard to the laws of the country, which allow of none to be
sold, but prisoners taken in their national wars, or people adjudged to
slavery in punishment for crimes; but the largeness of the country, the
number of kingdoms or commonwealths, and the great encouragement given
by the Europeans, afford frequent pretences and opportunities to the
bold designing profligates of one kingdom, to surprize and seize upon
not only those of a neighbouring government, but also the weak and
helpless of their own;[C] and the unhappy people, taken on those
occasions, are, with impunity, sold to the Europeans. These practices
are doubtless disapproved of by the most considerate amongst the
Negroes, for Bosman acquaints us, that even their national wars are not
agreeable to such. He says,[D] "If the person who occasioned the
beginning of the war be taken, they will not easily admit him to ransom,
though his weight in gold should be offered, for fear he should in
future form some new design against their repose."

[Footnote A: Collection vol. 2. p. 29.]

[Footnote B: Note, This Negroe King thus refusing to comply with the
factor's wicked proposal, shews, he was sensible his own conduct was not
justifiable; and it likewise appears, the factor's only concern was to
procure the greatest number of slaves, without any regard to the
injustice of the method by which they were procured. This Andrew Brue,
was, for a long time, principal director of the French African factory
in those parts; in the management of which, he is in the collection said
to have had extraordinary success. The part he ought to have acted as a
christian towards the ignorant Africans seems quite out of the question;
the profit of his employers appears to have been his sole concern. At
page 62, speaking of the country on the Senegal river, he says, "It was
very populous, the soil rich; and if the people were industrious, they
might, of their own produce, carry on a very advantageous trade with
strangers; there being but few things in which they could be excelled;
_but_ (he adds) _it is to be hoped, the Europeans will never let them
into the secret._" A remark unbecoming humanity, much more

[Footnote C: This inhuman practice is particularly described by Brue, in
collect. vol. 2. page 98, where he says, "That some of the natives are,
on all occasions, endeavouring to surprize and carry off their country
people. They land (says he) without noise, and if they find a lone
cottage, without defence, they surround it, and carry off all the people
and effects to their boat, and immediately reimbark." This seems to be
mostly practised by some Negroes who dwell on the sea coast.]

[Footnote D: Bosman, p. 155.]


An account of the shocking inhumanity, used in the carrying on of the
slave-trade, as described by factors of different nations, viz. by
Francis Moor, on the river Gambia; and by John Barbot, A. Brue, and
William Bosman, through the coast of Guinea. _Note_. Of the large
revenues arising to the Kings of Guinea from the slave-trade.

First, Francis Moor, factor for the English African company, on the
river Gambia,[A] writes, "That there are a number of Negro traders,
called joncoes, or merchants, who follow the slave-trade as a business;
their place of residence is so high up in the country as to be six weeks
travel from James Fort, which is situate at the mouth of that river.
These merchants bring down elephants teeth, and in some years two
thousand slaves, most of which, they say, are prisoners taken in war.
They buy them from the different Princes who take them; many of them are
Bumbrongs and Petcharies; nations, who each of them have different
languages, and are brought from a vast way inland. Their way of bringing
them is tying them by the neck with leather thongs, at about a yard
distant from each other, thirty or forty in a string, having generally a
bundle of corn or elephants teeth upon each of their heads. In their way
from the mountains, they travel thro' very great woods, where they
cannot for some days get water; so they carry in skin bags enough to
support them for a time. I cannot (adds Moor) be certain of the number
of merchants who follow this trade, but there may, perhaps, be about an
hundred, who go up into the inland country, with the goods which they
buy from the white men, and with them purchase, in various countries,
gold, slaves, and elephants teeth. Besides the slaves, which the
merchants bring down, there are many bought along the river: These are
either taken in war, as the former are, or men condemned for crimes; _or
else people stolen, which is very frequent_.--Since the slave-trade has
been used, all punishments are changed into slavery; there being an
advantage on such condemnation, _they strain for crimes very hard, in
order to get the benefit of selling the criminal_."

[Footnote A: Moor, page 28.]

John Barbot, the French factor, in his account of the manner by which
the slaves are procured, says,[A] "The slaves sold by the Negroes, are
for the most part prisoners of war, or taken in the incursions they make
in their enemies territories; others are stolen away by their
neighbours, when found abroad on the road, or in the woods; or else in
the corn fields, at the time of the year when their parents keep them
there all the day to scare away the devouring small birds." Speaking of
the transactions on that part of Guinea called the Slave Coast, where
the Europeans have the most factories, and from whence they bring away
much the greatest number of slaves, the same author, and also Bosman[B]
says, "The inhabitants of Coto do much mischief, in stealing those
slaves they sell to the Europeans, from the upland country.--That the
inhabitants of Popo excell the former; being endowed with a much larger
share of courage, they rob more successfully, by which means they
increase their riches and trade," The author particularly remarks,
"_That they are encouraged in this practice by the Europeans_; sometimes
it happens, according to the success of their inland excursions, that
they are able to furnish two hundred slaves or more, in a few days." And
he says,[C] "The blacks of Fida, or Whidah, are so expeditious in
trading for slaves, that they can deliver a thousand every month."--"If
there happens to be no stock of slaves there, the factor must trust the
blacks with his goods, to the value of one hundred and fifty, or two
hundred pounds; which goods they carry up into the inland country, to
buy slaves at all markets,[D] for above six hundred miles up the
country, where they are kept like cattle in Europe; the slaves sold
there being generally prisoners of war, taken from their enemies like
other booty, and perhaps some few sold by their own countrymen, in
extreme want, or upon a famine, as also some as a punishment of heinous
crimes." So far Barbot's account; that given by William Bosman is as
follows:[E] "When the slaves which are brought from the inland countries
come to Whidah, they are put in prison together; when we treat
concerning buying them, they are all brought out together in a large
plain, where, by our surgeons, they are thoroughly examined, and that
naked, both men and women, without the least distinction or modesty.[F]
Those which are approved as good, are set on one side; in the mean while
a burning iron, with the arms or name of the company, lies in the fire,
with which ours are marked on the breast. When we have agreed with the
owners of the slaves, they are returned to their prisons, where, from
that time forward, they are kept at our charge, and cost us two pence a
day each slave, which serves to subsist them like criminals on bread and
water; so that to save charges, we send them on board our ships the very
first opportunity; before which, their masters strip them of all they
have on their backs, so that they come on board stark naked, as well
women as men. In which condition they are obliged to continue, if the
master of the ship is not so charitable (which he commonly is) as to
bestow something on them to cover their nakedness. Six or seven hundred
are sometimes put on board a vessel, where they lie as close together as
it is possible for them to be crowded."

[Footnote A: John Barbot, page 47.]

[Footnote B: Bosman, page 310.]

[Footnote C: Barbot, page 326.]

[Footnote D: When the great income which arises to the Negroe Kings on
the Slave-Coast, from the slaves brought thro' their several
governments, to be shipped on board the European vessels, is considered,
we have no cause to wonder that they give so great a countenance to that
trade: William Bosman says, page 337, "_That each ship which comes to
Whidah to trade, reckoning one with another, either by toll, trade, or
custom, pays about four hundred pounds, and sometimes fifty ships come
hither in a year." Barbot confirms the same, and adds, page 350, "That
in the neighbouring kingdom of Ardah, the duty to the King is the value
of seventy or eighty slaves for each trading ship_." Which is near half
as much more as at Whidah; nor can the Europeans, concerned in the
trade, with any degree of propriety, blame the African Kings for
countenancing it, while they continue to send vessels, on purpose to
take in the slaves which are thus stolen, and that they are permitted,
under the sanction of national laws, to sell them to the colonies.]

[Footnote E: Bosman, page 340.]

[Footnote F: Note, from the above account of the indecent and shocking
manner in which the unhappy Negroes are treated, it is reasonable for
persons unacquainted with these people, to conclude them to be void of
that natural modesty, so becoming a reasonable creature; but those who
have had intercourse with the Blacks in these northern colonies, know
that this would be a wrong conclusion, for they are indeed as
susceptible of modesty and shame as other people. It is the unparallel'd
brutality, to which the Europeans have, by long custom, been inured,
which urgeth them, without blushing, to act so shameful a part. Such
usage is certainly grievous to the poor Negroes, particularly the women;
but they are slaves, and must submit to this, or any other abuse that is
offered them by their cruel task-masters, or expect to be inhumanly
tormented into acquiescence. That the Blacks are unaccustomed to such
brutality, appears from an instance mentioned in Ashley's collection,
vol. 2. page 201, viz. "At an audience which Casseneuve had of the King
of Congo, where he was used with a great deal of civility by the Blacks,
some slaves were delivered to him. The King observing Casseneuve
(according to the custom of the Europeans) to handle the limbs of the
slaves, burst out a laughing, as did the great men about him: the factor
asking the interpreter the occasion of their mirth, was told it
proceeded from his so nicely examining the slaves. Nevertheless, _the
King was so ashamed of it, that he desired him, for decency's sake, to
do it in a more private manner._"]


Extracts of several Journals of Voyages to the coast of Guinea for
slaves, whereby the extreme inhumanity of that traffick is described.
_Melancholy_ account of a ship blown up on that coast, with a great
number of Negroes on board, _Instances_ of shocking barbarity
perpetrated by masters of vessels towards their slaves. _Inquiry_ why
these scandalous infringements, both of divine and human laws, are
overlooked by the government.

The misery and bloodshed attendant on the slave-trade, are set forth by
the following extracts of two voyages to the coast of Guinea for slaves.
The first in a vessel from Liverpool, taken _verbatim_ from the original
manuscript of the Surgeon's Journal, _viz._

"Sestro, December the 29th, 1724, No trade to day, though many traders
came on board; they informed us, that the people are gone to war within
land, and will bring prisoners enough in two or three days, in hopes of
which we stay."

The 30th. "No trade yet, but our traders came on board to day, and
informed us the people had burnt four towns of their enemies, so that
to-morrow we expect slaves off: another large ship is come in. Yesterday
came in a large Londoner."

The 31st. "Fair weather, but no trade yet; we see each night towns
burning, but we hear the Sestro men are many of them killed by the
inland Negroes, so that we fear this war will be unsuccessful."

The 2d of January. "Last night we saw a prodigious fire break out about
eleven o'clock, and this morning see the town of Sestro burnt down to
the ground; (it contained some hundreds of houses) So that we find their
enemies are too hard for them at present, and consequently our trade
spoiled here; therefore, about seven o'clock, we weighed anchor, as did
likewise the three other vessels, to proceed lower down."

The second relation, also taken from the original manuscript Journal of
a person of credit, who went surgeon on the same trade, in a vessel from
New-York, about twenty years past, is as follows; _viz._ "Being on the
coast, the Commander of the vessel, according to custom, sent a person
on shore with a present to the King, acquainting him with his arrival,
and letting him know, they wanted a cargo of slaves. The King promised
to furnish them with the slaves; and, in order to do it, set out to go
to war against his enemies; designing to surprise some town, and take
all the people prisoners. Some time after, the King sent them word, he
had not yet met with the desired success; having been twice repulsed, in
attempting to break up two towns, but that he still hoped to procure a
number of slaves for them; and in this design he persisted, till he met
his enemies in the field, where a battle was fought, which lasted three
days, during which time the engagement was so bloody that four thousand
five hundred men were slain on the spot." The person who wrote the
account, beheld the bodies, as they lay on the field of battle. "Think
(says he in his Journal) what a pitiable sight it was, to see the widows
weeping over their lost husbands, orphans deploring the loss of their
fathers, &c. &c." In he 6th vol. of Churchill's collection of Voyages,
page 219, we have the relation of a voyage performed by Captain Philips,
in a ship of 450 tuns, along the coast of Guinea, for elephants teeth,
gold, and Negroe slaves, intended for Barbadoes; in which he says, that
they took "seven hundred slaves on board, the men being all put in irons
two by two, shackled together to prevent their mutinying or swimming
ashore. That the Negroes are so loth to leave their own country, that
they often leap out of the canoe, boat, or ship, into the sea, and keep
under water till they are drowned, to avoid being taken up, and saved by
the boats which pursue them."--They had about twelve Negroes who
willingly drowned themselves; others starved themselves to
death.--Philips was advised to cut off the legs and arms of some to
terrify the rest, (as other Captains had done) but this he refused to
do. From the time of his taking the Negroes on board, to his arrival at
Barbadoes, no less than three hundred and twenty died of various

[Footnote A: _The following relation is inserted at the request of the

That I may contribute all in my power towards the good of mankind, by
inspiring any individuals with a suitable abhorrence of that detestable
practice of trading in our fellow-creatures, and in some measure atone
for my neglect of duty as a Christian, in engaging in that wicked
traffic, I offer to their serious consideration some few occurrences, of
which I was an eye-witness; that being struck with the wretched and
affecting scene, they may foster that humane principle, which is the
noble and distinguished characteristic of man, and improve it to the
benefit of their children's children.

About the year 1749, I sailed from Liverpool to the coast of Guinea.
Some time after our arrival, I was ordered to go up the country a
considerable distance, upon having notice from one of the Negroe Kings,
that he had a parcel of slaves to dispose of. I received my
instructions, and went, carrying with me an account of such goods as we
had on board, to exchange for the slaves we intended to purchase. Upon
being introduced, I presented him with a small case of English spirits,
a gun, and some trifles; which having accepted, and understood by an
interpreter what goods we had, the next day was appointed for viewing
the slaves; we found about two hundred confined in one place. But here
how shall I relate the affecting sight I there beheld! How can I
sufficiently describe the silent sorrow which appeared in the
countenance of the afflicted father, and the painful anguish of the
tender mother, expecting to be for ever separated from their tender
offspring; the distressed maid, wringing her hands in presage of her
future wretchedness, and the general cry of the innocent from a dreadful
apprehension of the perpetual slavery to which they were doomed! Under a
sense of my offence to God, in the persons of his creatures, I
acknowledge I purchased eleven, whom I conducted tied two and two to the
ship. Being but a small ship, (ninety ton) we soon purchased our cargo,
consisting of one hundred and seventy slaves, whom thou mayest, reader,
range in thy view, as they were shackled two and two together, pent up
within the narrow confines of the main deck, with the complicated
distress of sickness, chains, and contempt; deprived of every fond and
social tie, and, in a great measure, reduced to a state of desperation.
We had not been a fortnight at sea, before the fatal consequence of this
despair appeared; they formed a design of recovering their natural
right, LIBERTY, by rising and murdering every man on board; but the
goodness of the Almighty rendered their scheme abortive, and his mercy
spared us to have time to repent. The plot was discovered; the
ring-leader, tied by the two thumbs over the barricade door, at sun-rise
received a number of lashes: in this situation he remained till sun-set,
exposed to the insults and barbarity of the brutal crew of sailors, with
full leave to exercise their cruelty at pleasure. The consequence of
this was, that next morning the miserable sufferer was found dead,
flayed from the shoulders to the waist. The next victim was a youth,
who, from too strong a sense of his misery, refused nourishment, and
died disregarded and unnoticed, till the hogs had fed on part of his
flesh. Will not christianity blush at this impious sacrilege? May the
relation of it serve to call back the struggling remains of humanity in
the hearts of those, who, from a love of wealth, partake in any degree
of this oppressive gain; and have such an effect on the minds of the
sincere, as may be productive of peace, the happy effect of true
repentance for past transgressions, and a resolution to renounce all
connexion with it for the time to come.]

Reader, bring the matter home to thy own heart, and consider whether any
situation can be more completely miserable than that of these distressed
captives. When we reflect that each individual of this number had
probably some tender attachment, which was broken by this cruel
separation; some parent or wife, who had not an opportunity of mingling
tears in a parting embrace; perhaps some infants, or aged parents, whom
his labour was to feed, and vigilance protect; themselves under the most
dreadful apprehension of an unknown perpetual slavery; confined within
the narrow limits of a vessel, where often several hundreds lie as close
as possible. Under these aggravated distresses, they are often reduced
to a state of despair, in which many have been frequently killed, and
some deliberately put to death under the greatest torture, when they
have attempted to rise, in order to free themselves from present misery,
and the slavery designed them. Many accounts of this nature might be
mentioned; indeed from the vast number of vessels employed in the trade,
and the repeated relations in the public prints of Negroes rising on
board the vessels from Guinea, it is more than probable, that many such
instances occur every year. I shall only mention one example of this
kind, by which the reader may judge of the rest; it is in Astley's
collection, vol. 2. p. 449, related by John Atkins, surgeon on board
admiral Ogle's squadron, of one "Harding, master of a vessel in which
several of the men-slaves and women-slaves had attempted to rise, in
order to recover their liberty; some of whom the master, of his own
authority, sentenced to cruel death, making them first eat the heart and
liver of one of those he had killed. The woman he hoisted by the thumbs,
whipped, and slashed with knives before the other slaves, till she
died."[A] As detestable and shocking as this may appear to such whose
hearts are not yet hardened by the practice of that cruelty, which the
love of wealth by degrees introduceth into the human mind, it will not
be strange to those who have been concerned or employed in the trade.

[Footnote A: A memorable instance of some of the dreadful effects of the
slave-trade, happened about five years past, on a ship from this port,
then at anchor about three miles from shore, near Acra Fort, on the
coast of Guinea. They had purchased between four and five hundred
Negroes, and were ready to sail for the West Indies. It is customary on
board those vessels, to keep the men shackled two by two, each by one
leg to a small iron bar; these are every day brought on the deck for the
benefit of air; and lest they should attempt to recover their freedom,
they are made fast to two common chains, which are extended on each side
the main deck; the women and children are loose. This was the situation
of the slaves on board this vessel, when it took fire by means of a
person who was drawing spirits by the light of a lamp; the cask
bursting, the fire spread with so much violence, that in about ten
minutes, the sailors, apprehending it impossible to extinguish it before
it could reach a large quantity of powder they had on board, concluded
it necessary to cast themselves into the sea, as the only chance of
saving their lives; and first they endeavoured to loose the chains by
which the Negroe men were fastened to the deck; but in the confusion the
key being missing, they had but just time to loose one of the chains by
wrenching the staple; when the vehemence of the fire so increased, that
they all but one man jumped over board, when immediately the fire having
gained the powder, the vessel blew up with all the slaves who remained
fastened to the one chain, and such others as had not followed the
sailors examples. There happened to be three Portugueze vessels in
sight, who, with others from the shore, putting out their boats, took up
about two hundred and fifty of those poor souls who remained alive; of
which number, about fifty died on shore, being mostly of those who were
fettered together by iron shackles, which, as they jumped into the sea,
had broke their legs, and these fractures being inflamed by so long a
struggle in the sea, probably mortified, which occasioned the death of
every one that was so wounded. The two hundred remaining alive, were
soon disposed of, for account of the owners to other purchasers.]

Now here arises a necessary query to those who hold the balance of
justice, and who must be accountable to God for the use they have made
of it, That as the principles on which the British constitution is
founded, are so favourable to the common rights of mankind, how it has
happened that the laws which countenance this iniquitous traffic, have
obtained the sanction of the legislature? and that the executive part of
the government should so long shut their ears to continual reports of
the barbarities perpetrated against this unhappy people, and leave the
trading subjects at liberty to trample on the most precious rights of
others, even without a rebuke? Why are the masters of vessels thus
suffered to be the sovereign arbiters of the lives of the miserable
Negroes, and allowed with impunity thus to destroy (may I not properly
say, _to murder_) their fellow-creatures; and that by means so cruel, as
cannot be even related but with shame and horror?


Usage of the Negroes, when they arrive in the West Indies. An hundred
thousand Negroes brought from Guinea every year to the English colonies.
The number of Negroes who die in the passage and seasoning. These are,
properly speaking, murdered by the prosecution of this infamous traffic.
Remarks on its dreadful _effects and tendency_.

When the vessels arrive at their destined port in the colonies, the poor
Negroes are to be disposed of to the planters; and here they are again
exposed naked, without any distinction of sexes, to the brutal
examination of their purchasers; and this, it may well be judged, is, to
many, another occasion of deep distress. Add to this, that near
connexions must now again be separated, to go with their several
purchasers; this must be deeply affecting to all, but such whose hearts
are seared by the love of gain. Mothers are seen hanging over their
daughters, bedewing their naked breasts with tears, and daughters
clinging to their parents, not knowing what new stage of distress must
follow their separation, or whether they shall ever meet again. And here
what sympathy, what commiseration, do they meet with? Why, indeed, if
they will not separate as readily as their owners think proper, the
whipper is called for, and the lash exercised upon their naked bodies,
till obliged to part. Can any human heart, which is not become callous
by the practice of such cruelties, be unconcerned, even at the relation
of such grievous affliction, to which this oppressed part of our species
are subjected.

In a book, printed in Liverpool, called _The Liverpool Memorandum_,
which contains, amongst other things, an account of the trade of that
port, there is an exact list of the vessels employed in the Guinea
trade, and of the number of slaves imported in each vessel; by which it
appears that in the year 1753, the number imported to America by one
hundred and one vessels belonging to that port, amounted to upwards of
thirty thousand; and from the number of vessels employed by the African
company in London and Bristol, we may, with some degree of certainty,
conclude, there are one hundred thousand Negroes purchased and brought
on board our ships yearly from the coast of Africa. This is confirmed in
Anderson's history of Trade and Commerce, lately printed; where it is
said,[A] "That England supplies her American colonies with Negroe
slaves, amounting in number to above one hundred thousand every year."
When the vessels are full freighted with slaves, they sail for our
plantations in America, and may be two or three months in the voyage;
during which time, from the filth and stench that is among them,
distempers frequently break out, which carry off commonly a fifth, a
fourth, yea sometimes a third or more of them: so that taking all the
slaves together, that are brought on board our ships yearly, one may
reasonably suppose, that at least ten thousand of them die on the
voyage. And in a printed account of the state of the Negroes in our
plantations, it is supposed that a fourth part, more or less, die at the
different islands, in what is called the seasoning. Hence it may be
presumed, that at a moderate computation of the slaves who are purchased
by our African merchants in a year, near thirty thousand die upon the
voyage, and in the seasoning. Add to this, the prodigious number who are
killed in the incursions and intestine wars, by which the Negroes
procure the number of slaves wanted to load the vessels. How dreadful
then is this slave-trade, whereby so many thousands of our fellow
creatures, free by nature, endued with the same rational faculties, and
called to be heirs of the same salvation with us, lose their lives, and
are, truly and properly speaking, murdered every year! For it is not
necessary, in order to convict a man of murder, to make it appear that
he had an _intention_ to commit murder; whoever does, by unjust force or
violence, deprive another of his liberty, and, while he hath him in his
power, continues so to oppress him by cruel treatment, as eventually to
occasion his death, is actually guilty of murder. It is enough to make a
thoughtful person tremble, to think what a load of guilt lies upon our
nation on this account; and that the blood of thousands of poor innocent
creatures, murdered every year in the prosecution of this wicked trade,
cries aloud to Heaven for vengeance. Were we to hear or read of a nation
that destroyed every year, in some other way, as many human creatures as
perish in this trade, we should certainly consider them as a very
bloody, barbarous people; if it be alledged, that the legislature hath
encouraged, and still does encourage this trade, It is answered, that no
legislature on earth can alter the nature of things, so as to make that
to be right which is contrary to the law of God, (the supreme Legislator
and Governor of the world) and opposeth the promulgation of the Gospel
of _peace on earth, and good will to man_. Injustice may be methodized
and established by law, but still it will be injustice, as much as it
was before; though its being so established may render men more
insensible of the guilt, and more bold and secure in the perpetration of

[Footnote A: Appendix to Anderson's history, p. 68.]


Observations on the disposition and capacity of the Negroes: Why thought
inferior to that of the Whites. Affecting instances of the slavery of
the Negroes. Reflections thereon.

Doubts may arise in the minds of some, whether the foregoing accounts,
relating to the natural capacity and good disposition of the inhabitants
of Guinea, and of the violent manner in which they are said to be torn
from their native land, are to be depended upon; as those Negroes who
are brought to us, are not heard to complain, and do but seldom manifest
such a docility and quickness of parts, as is agreeable thereto. But
those who make these objections, are desired to note the many
discouragements the poor Africans labour under, when brought from their
native land. Let them consider, that those afflicted strangers, though
in an _enlightened Christian country_, have yet but little opportunity
or encouragement to exert and improve their natural talents: They are
constantly employed in servile labour; and the abject condition in which
we see them, naturally raises an idea of a superiority in ourselves;
whence we are apt to look upon them as an ignorant and contemptible part
of mankind. Add to this, that they meet with very little encouragement
of freely conversing with such of the Whites, as might impart
instruction to them. It is a fondness for wealth, for authority, or
honour, which prompts most men in their endeavours to excell; but these
motives can have little influence upon the minds of the Negroes; few of
them having any reasonable prospect of any other than a state of
slavery; so that, though their natural capacities were ever so good,
they have neither inducement or opportunity to exert them to advantage:
This naturally tends to depress their minds, and sink their spirits into
habits of idleness and sloth, which they would, in all likelihood, have
been free from, had they stood upon an equal footing with the white
people. They are suffered, with impunity, to cohabit together, without
being married; and to part, when solemnly engaged to one another as man
and wife; notwithstanding the moral and religious laws of the land,
strictly prohibiting such practices. This naturally tends to beget
apprehensions in the most thoughtful of those people, that we look upon
them as a lower race, not worthy of the same care, nor liable to the
same rewards and punishments as ourselves. Nevertheless it may with
truth be said, that both amongst those who have obtained their freedom,
and those who remain in servitude, some have manifested a strong
sagacity and an exemplary uprightness of heart. If this hath not been
generally the case with them, is it a matter of surprize? Have we not
reason to make the same complaint of many white servants, when
discharged from our service, though many of them have had much greater
opportunities of knowledge and improvement than the blacks; who, even
when free, labour under the same difficulties as before: having but
little access to, and intercourse with, the most reputable white people,
they remain confined within their former limits of conversation. And if
they seldom complain of the unjust and cruel usage they have received,
in being forced from their native country, &c. it is not to be wondered
at; it being a considerable time after their arrival amongst us, before
they can speak our language; and, by the time they are able to express
themselves, they have great reason to believe, that little or no notice
would be taken of their complaints: yet let any person enquire of those
who were capable of reflection, before they were brought from their
native land, and he will hear such affecting relations, as, if not lost
to the common feelings of humanity, will sensibly affect his heart. The
case of a poor Negroe, not long since brought from Guinea, is a recent
instance of this kind. From his first arrival, he appeared thoughtful
and dejected, frequently dropping tears when taking notice of his
master's children, the cause of which was not known till he was able to
speak English, when the account he gave of himself was, "That he had a
wife and children in his own country; that some of these being sick and
thirsty, he went in the night time, to fetch water at a spring, where he
was violently seized and carried away by persons who lay in wait to
catch men, from whence he was transported to America. The remembrance of
his family, friends, and other connections, left behind, which he never
expected to see any more, were the principal cause of his dejection and
grief." Many cases, equally affecting, might be here mentioned; but one
more instance, which fell under the notice of a person of credit, will
suffice. One of these wretched creatures, then about 50 years of age,
informed him, "That being violently torn from a wife and several
children in Guinea, he was sold in Jamaica, where never expecting to see
his native land or family any more, he joined himself to a Negroe woman,
by whom he had two children: after some years, it suiting the interest
of his owner to remove him, he was separated from his second wife and
children, and brought to South Carolina, where, expecting to spend the
remainder of his days, he engaged with a third wife, by whom he had
another child; but here the same consequence of one man being subject to
the will and pleasure of another man occurring, he was separated from
this last wife and child, and brought into this country, where he
remained a slave." Can any, whose mind is not rendered quite obdurate by
the love of wealth, hear these relations, without being deeply touched
with sympathy and sorrow? And doubtless the case of many, very many of
these afflicted people, upon enquiry, would be found to be attended with
circumstances equally tragical and aggravating. And if we enquire of
those Negroes, who were brought away from their native country when
children, we shall find most of them to have been stolen away, when
abroad from their parents, on the roads, in the woods, or watching their
corn-fields. Now, you that have studied the book of conscience, and you
that are learned in the law, what will you say to such deplorable cases?
When, and how, have these oppressed people forfeited their liberty? Does
not justice loudly call for its being restored to them? Have they not
the same right to demand it, as any of us should have, if we had been
violently snatched by pirates from our native land? Is it not the duty
of every dispenser of justice, who is not forgetful of his own humanity,
to remember that these are men, and to declare them free? Where
instances of such cruelty frequently occur, and are neither enquired
into, nor redressed, by those whose duty it is _to seek judgment, and
relieve the oppressed_, Isaiah i. 17. what can be expected, but that the
groans and cries of these sufferers will reach Heaven; and what shall we
do _when God riseth up? and when he visiteth_, what will ye answer him?
_Did not he that made them, make us; and did not one fashion us in the
womb_? Job xxxi. 14.


The expediency of a general freedom being granted to the Negroes
considered. _Reasons_ why it might be productive of advantage and
_safety to the Colonies_.

It is scarce to be doubted, but that the foregoing accounts will beget
in the heart of the considerate readers an earnest desire to see a stop
put to this complicated evil, but the objection with many is, What shall
be done with those Negroes already imported, and born in our families?
Must they be sent to Africa? That would be to expose them, in a strange
land, to greater difficulties than many of them labour under at present.
To let them suddenly free here, would be perhaps attended with no less
difficulty; for, undiciplined as they are in religion and virtue, they
might give a loose to those evil habits, which the fear of a master
would have restrained. These are objections, which weigh with many well
disposed people, and it must be granted, these are difficulties in the
way; nor can any general change be made, or reformation effected,
without some; but the difficulties are not so great but that they may be
surmounted. If the government was so considerate of the iniquity and
danger attending on this practice, as to be willing to seek a remedy,
doubtless the Almighty would bless this good intention, and such methods
would be thought of, as would not only put an end to the unjust
oppression of the Negroes, but might bring them under regulations, that
would enable them to become profitable members of society; for the
furtherance of which, the following proposals are offered to
consideration: That all farther importation of slaves be absolutely
prohibited; and as to those born among us, after serving so long as may
appear to be equitable, let them by law be declared free. Let every one,
thus set free, be enrolled in the county courts, and be obliged to be a
resident, during a certain number of years, within the said county,
under the care of the overseers of the poor. Thus being, in some sort,
still under the direction of governors, and the notice of those who were
formerly acquainted with them, they would be obliged to act the more
circumspectly, and make proper use of their liberty, and their children
would have an opportunity of obtaining such instructions, as are
necessary to the common occasions of life; and thus both parents and
children might gradually become useful members of the community. And
further, where the nature of the country would permit, as certainly the
uncultivated condition of our southern and most western colonies easily
would, suppose a small tract of land were assigned to every Negroe
family, and they obliged to live upon and improve it, (when not hired
out to work for the white people) this would encourage them to exert
their abilities, and become industrious subjects. Hence, both planters
and tradesmen would be plentifully supplied with chearful and
willing-minded labourers, much vacant land would be cultivated, the
produce of the country be justly increased, the taxes for the support of
government lessened to individuals, by the increase of taxables, and the
Negroes, instead of being an object of terror,[A] as they certainly must
be to the governments where their numbers are great, would become
interested in their safety and welfare.

[Footnote A: The hard usage the Negroes meet with in the plantations,
and the great disproportion between them and the white people, will
always be a just cause of terror. In Jamaica, and some parts of
South-Carolina, it is supposed that there are fifteen blacks to one


Answer to a mistaken opinion, that the warmth of the climate in the
West-Indies, will not permit white people to labour there. No complaint
of disability in the whites, in that respect, in the settlement of the
islands. Idleness and diseases prevailed, as the use of slaves
increased. _The great_ advantage which might accrue to the British
nation, if the slave trade was entirely laid aside, and a fair and
friendly commerce established through the whole coast of Africa.

It is frequently offered as an argument, in vindication of the use of
Negroe slaves, that the warmth of the climate in the West Indies will
not permit white people to labour in the culture of the land: but upon
an acquaintance with the nature of the climate, and its effects upon
such labouring white people, as are prudent and moderate in labour, and
the use of spirituous liquors, this will be found to be a mistaken
opinion. Those islands were, at first, wholly cultivated by white men;
the encouragement they then met with, for a long course of years, was
such as occasioned a great increase of people. Richard Ligon, in his
history of Barbadoes, where he resided from the year 1647 to 1650, about
24 years after his first settlement, writes, "that there were then fifty
thousand souls on that island, besides Negroes; and that though the
weather was very hot, yet not so scalding but that servants, both
christians and slaves, laboured ten hours a day." By other accounts we
gather, that the white people have since decreased to less than one half
the number which was there at that time; and by relations of the first
settlements of the other islands, we do not meet with any complaints of
unfitness in the white people for labour there, before slaves were
introduced. The island of Hispaniola, which is one of the largest of
those islands, was at first planted by the Buccaneers, a set of hardy
laborious men, who continued so for a long course of years; till
following the example of their neighbours, in the purchase and use of
Negroe slaves, idleness and excess prevailing, debility and disease
naturally succeeded, and have ever since continued. If, under proper
regulations, liberty was proclaimed through the colonies, the Negroes,
from dangerous, grudging, half-fed slaves, might become able,
willing-minded labourers. And if there was not a sufficient number of
these to do the necessary work, a competent number of labouring people
might be procured from Europe, which affords numbers of poor distressed
objects, who, if not overlooked, with proper usage, might, in several
respects, better answer every good purpose in performing the necessary
labour in the islands, than the slaves now do.

A farther considerable advantage might accrue to the British nation in
general, if the slave trade was laid aside, by the cultivation of a
fair, friendly, and humane commerce with the Africans; without which, it
is not possible the inland trade of that country should ever be extended
to the degree it is capable of; for while the spirit of butchery and
making slaves of each other, is promoted by the Europeans amongst the
Negroes, no mutual confidence can take place; nor will the Europeans be
able to travel with safety into the heart of their country, to form and
cement such commercial friendships and alliances, as might be necessary
to introduce the arts and sciences amongst them, and engage their
attention to instruction in the principles of the christian religion,
which is the only sure foundation of every social virtue. Africa has
about ten thousand miles of sea coast, and extends in depth near three
thousand miles from east to west, and as much from north to south,
stored with vast treasures of materials, necessary for the trade and
manufactures of Great-Britain; and from its climate, and the
fruitfulness of its soil, capable, under proper management, of producing
in the greatest plenty, most of the commodities which are imported into
Europe from those parts of America subject to the English government;[A]
and as, in return, they would take our manufactures, the advantages of
this trade would soon become so great, that it is evident this subject
merits the regard and attention of the government.

[Footnote A: See note, page 109.]











Admitting the least CLAIM of private Property in the Persons of Men in





_The occasion of this Treatise. All Persons during their residence in_
Great Britain _are subjects; and as such, bound to the laws, and under
the Kings protection. By the English laws, no man, of what condition
soever, to be imprisoned, or any way deprived of his_ LIBERTY, _without
a legal process. The danger of_ Slavery _taking place in England.
Prevails in the Northern Colonies, notwithstanding the people's plea in
favour of_ Liberty. _Advertisements in the New-York Journal for the sale
of_ SLAVES. _Advertisements to the same purpose in the public prints in
England. The danger of confining any person without a legal warrant.
Instances of that nature. Note, Extract of several American laws,
Reflexions thereon._


Some persons respectable in the law, having given it as their opinion,
"_That a slave, by coming from the West Indies to Great Britain or
Ireland, either with or without his master, doth not become free, or
that his master's property or right in him is not thereby determined or
varied;--and that the master may legally compel him to return again to
the plantations_,"--this causes our author to remark, that these
lawyers, by thus stating the case merely on one side of the question, (I
mean in favour of the master) have occasioned an unjust presumption and
prejudice, plainly inconsistent with the laws of the realm, and against
the other side of the question; as they have not signified that their
opinion was only conditional, and not absolute, and must be understood
on the part of the master, "_That he can produce an authentic agreement
or contract in writing, by which it shall appear, that the said slave
hath voluntarily bound himself, without compulsion or illegal duress_."

Page 5. Indeed there are many instances of persons being freed from
slavery by the laws of England, but (God be thanked) there is neither
law, nor even a precedent, (at least I have not been able to find one)
of a legal determination to justify a master in claiming or detaining
any person whatsoever as a slave in England, who has not voluntarily
bound himself as such by a contract in writing.

Page 20. An English subject cannot be made a slave without his own free
consent: but--a foreign slave is made a subject with or without his own
consent: there needs no contract for this purpose, as in the other case;
nor any other act or deed whatsoever, but that of his being landed in
England; For according to statute 32d of Henry VIII. c. 16. Sect. 9.
"_Every alien or stranger born out of the King's obeisance, not being
denizen, which now or hereafter shall come into this realm, or elsewhere
within the King's dominions, shall, after the said first of September
next coming, be bounden by and unto the laws and statutes of this realm,
and to all and singular the contents of the same._"

Now it must be observed, that this law makes no distinction of _bond or
free_, neither of colours or complexions, whether of _black, brown_, or
_white_; for "_every alien or stranger_ (without exception) _are bounden
by and unto the law_, &c."

This binding, or obligation, is properly expressed by the English word
_ligeance, (a ligando_) which may be either perpetual or temporary.
Wood, b. I. c. 3. p. 37. But one of these is indispensably due to the
Sovereign from all ranks and conditions of people; their being bounden
unto the laws, (upon which the Sovereign's right is founded) expresses
and implies this subjection to the laws; and therefore to alledge, that
an alien is not a subject, because he is in bondage, is not only a plea
without foundation, but a contradiction in terms; for every person who,
in any respect, is in subjection to the laws, must undoubtedly be a

I come now to the main point--"_That every man, woman, or child, that
now is, or hereafter shall be, an inhabitant or resiant of this kingdom
of England, dominion of Wales, or town of Berwick upon Tweed,_" is, in
some respect or other, the _King's subject_, and, as such, is absolutely
secure in his or her _personal liberty_, by virtue of a statute, 31st
Car. II. ch. 11. and particularly by the 12th Sect. of the same, wherein
subjects of all conditions are plainly included.

This act is expressly intended for the better securing the liberty of
the subject, and for prevention of imprisonment beyond the seas. It
contains no distinction of "_natural born, naturalized, denizen, or
alien subject; nor of white or black, freemen, or even of bond-men_,"
(except in the case already mentioned _of a contract in writing_, by
which it shall appear, _that the said slave has voluntarily bound
himself, without compulsion or illegal duress_, allowed by the 13th
Sect. and the exception likewise in the 14th Sect. concerning felons)
but they are all included under the general titles of "_the subject, any
of the said subjects, every such person_" &c. Now the definition of the
word "_person_," in its relative or civil capacity (according to Wood.
b. I. c. 11. p. 27.) _is either the King, or a subject_. These are the
_only capital distinctions_ that can be made, tho' the latter consists
of a variety of denominations and degrees.

But if I were even to allow, that a _Negroe slave_ is not a subject,
(though I think I have clearly proved that he is) yet it is plain that
such an one ought not to be denied the benefit of the King's court,
unless the slave-holder shall be able to prove likewise that he is not,
a _Man_; because _every man_ may be _free_ to sue for, and _defend his
right in our courts_, says a stat. 20th Edw. III. c. 4. and elsewhere,
according to law. And _no man, of what estate or condition_ that he be,
(here can be no exception whatsoever) _shall be put out of land or
tenement, nor taken, nor imprisoned, nor disinherited, nor put to death,
without being brought in answer by due process of the law_. 28th Edw.
III, c. 3, _No man_ therefore, _of what estate or condition that he be_,
can lawfully be detained in England _as a slave_; because we have no law
whereby a man _may be_ condemned to _slavery_ without his own consent,
(for even convicted felons must "_in open court pray to transported_.")
(See Habeas Corpus act, Sect. 14.) and therefore there cannot be any
"_due process of the law_" tending to so base a purpose. It follows
therefore, that every man, who presumes to detain _any person_
whatsoever as a slave, otherwise than by virtue of a written contract,
acts manifestly without "_due process of the law_," and consequently is
liable to the slave's "_action of false imprisonment_," because "_every
man may be free to sue_," &c. so that the slave-holder cannot avail
himself of his imaginary _property_, either by the assistance of the
common law, or of a court of equity, (_except it appears that the said
slave has voluntarily bound himself, without compulsion or illegal
duress_) for in both his suit will certainly appear both unjust and
indefensible. The former cannot assist him, because the statute law at
present is so far from supposing any man in a state of slavery, that it
cannot even permit such a state, except in the two cases mentioned in
the 13th and 14th Section of the Habeas Corpus act; and the courts of
equity likewise must necessarily decide against him, because his mere
mercenary plea of _private property_ cannot equitably, in a case between
_man and man_, stand in competition with that _superior property_ which
every man must necessarily be allowed to have in his own _proper

How then is the slave-holder to secure what he esteems his _property?_
Perhaps he will endeavour clandestinely to seize the supposed slave, in
order to transport him (with or without _his consent_) to the colonies,
where such property is allowed: but let him take care what he does, the
very attempt is punishable; and even the making over his property to
another for that purpose, renders him equally liable to the severe
penalties of the law, for a bill of sale may certainly be included under
the terms expressed in the Habeas Corpus act, 12th Sect. viz. "_Any
warrant or writing for such commitment, detainer, imprisonment, or
transportation," &c._ It is also dangerous for a counsellor, or any
other person _to advise_ (see the act "shall be advising") such
proceedings, by saying, "_That a master may legally compel him_ (the
slave) _to return again to the plantations_." Likewise an attorney,
notary-public, or any other person, who shall presume to draw up,
negotiate, of even to witness a bill of sale, or other instrument for
such commitment, &c. offends equally against the law, because "_All, or
any person or persons, that shall frame, contrive, write, seal, or
countersign any warrant or writing for such commitment, detainer,
imprisonment, or transportation; or shall be advising, aiding, or
assisting in the same, or any of them_," are liable to all the penalties
of the act. "_And the plaintiff, in every such action, shall have
judgment to recover his treble costs, besides damages; which damages so
to be given shall not be less than five hundred pounds_;" so that the
injured may have ample satisfaction for their sufferings: and even a
judge may not direct or instruct a jury contrary to this statute,
whatever his private opinion may be concerning property in slaves;
because _no order or command, nor no injunction_, is allowed to
interfere with this _golden act of liberty_.

--I have before observed, that the general term, "_every alien_,"
includes _all strangers whatsoever_, and renders them _subject_ to the
King, and the laws, during their residence in this kingdom; and this is
certainly true, whether the aliens be Turks, Moors, Arabians, Tartars,
or even savages, from any part of the world.--Men are rendered obnoxious
to the laws by their offences, and not by the particular denomination of
their rank, order, parentage, colour, or country; and therefore, though
we should suppose that any particular body of people whatsoever were not
known, or had in consideration by the legislature at the different times
when the severe penal laws were made, yet no man can reasonably
conceive, that such men are exempted on this account from the penalties
of the said laws, when legally convicted of having offended against

Laws calculated for the moral purpose of preventing oppression, are
likewise usually supposed to be everlasting, and to make up a part of
our happy constitution; for which reason, though the kind of oppression
to be guarded against, and the penalties for offenders, are minutely
described therein, yet the persons to be protected are comprehended in
terms as general as possible; that "_no person who now is, or hereafter
shall be, an inhabitant or resiant in this kingdom_," (see Habeas Corpus
act, Sect. 12th) may seem to be excluded from protection. The general
terms of the several statutes before cited, are so full and clear, that
they admit of no exception whatsoever; for all persons (Negroes as well
as others) must be included in the terms "the subject;"--"_no subject of
this realm that now is, or hereafter shall be, an inhabitant, &c. any
subject; every such person_;" see Habeas Corpus act. Also _every man_
may be _free_ to sue, &c. 20th Edward III. cap. 4. and _no man, of what
estate or condition that he be_, shall be taken or imprisoned, &c. True
justice makes no respect of persons, and can never deny, to any one that
blessing to which all mankind have an undoubted right, their _natural
liberty_: though the law makes no mention of Negroe slaves, yet this is
no just argument for excluding them from the general protection of our
happy constitution.

Neither can the objection, that Negroe slaves were not "had in
consideration or contemplation," when these laws were made, prove any
thing against them; but, on the contrary, much in their favour; for both
these circumstances are strong presumptive proofs, that the practice of
importing slaves into this kingdom, and retaining them as such, is an
innovation entirely foreign to the spirit and intention of the laws now
in force.

--Page 79. A toleration of slavery is, in effect, a toleration of
inhumanity; for there are wretches in the world who make no scruple to
gain, by wearing out their slaves with continual labour, and a scanty
allowance, before they have lived out half their natural days. It is
notorious, that this is too often the case in the unhappy countries
where slavery is tolerated.

See the account of the European settlements in America, Part VI. Chap.
11. concerning the "_misery of the Negroes, great waste of them_," &c.
which informs us not only of a most scandalous profanation of the Lord's
day, but also of another abomination, which must be infinitely more
heinous in the sight of God, viz. oppression carried to such excess, as
to be even destructive of the human species.

At present, the inhumanity of constrained labour in excess, extends no
farther in England than to our beasts, as post and hackney-horses,
sand-asses, &c.

But thanks to our laws, and not to the general good disposition of
masters, that it is so; for the wretch who is bad enough to maltreat a
helpless beast, would not spare his fellow man if he had him as much in
his power.

The maintenance of civil liberty is therefore absolutely necessary to
prevent an increase of our national guilt, by the addition of the horrid
crime of tyranny.--Notwithstanding that the plea of necessity cannot
here be urged, yet this is no reason why an increase of the practice is
not to be feared.

Our North American colonies afford us a melancholy instance to the
contrary; for though the climate in general is so wholesome and
temperate, that it will not authorise this plea of necessity for the
employment of slaves, any more than our own, yet the pernicious practice
of slave-holding is become almost general in those parts. At New-York,
for instance, the infringement on civil or domestic liberty is become
notorious, notwithstanding the political controversies of the
inhabitants in praise of liberty; but no panegyric on this subject
(howsoever elegant in itself) can be graceful or edifying from the mouth
or pen of one of those provincials, because men who do not scruple to
detain others in slavery, have but a very partial and unjust claim to
the protection of the laws of liberty; and indeed it too plainly appears
that they have no real regard for liberty, farther than their own
private interests are concerned; and (consequently) that they have so
little detestation of despotism and tyranny, that they do not scruple to
exercise them whenever their caprice excites them, or their private
interest seems to require an exertion of their power over their
miserable slaves.

Every petty planter, who avails himself of the service of slaves, is an
arbitrary monarch, or rather a lawless Bashaw in his own territories,
notwithstanding that the imaginary freedom of the province wherein he
resides, may seem to forbid the observation.

The boasted liberty of our American colonies, therefore, has so little
right to that sacred name, that it seems to differ from the arbitrary
power of despotic monarchs only in one circumstance, viz. that it is a
_many-headed monster of tyranny_, which entirely subverts our most
excellent constitution; because liberty and slavery are so opposite to
each other, that they cannot subsist in the same community. "_Political
liberty (in mild or well regulated governments) makes civil liberty
valuable; and whosoever is deprived of the latter, is deprived also of
the former_." This observation of the learned Montesquieu, I hope
sufficiently justifies my censure of the Americans for their notorious
violation of civil liberty;--The New-York Journal, or, The General
Advertiser, for Thursday, 22d October, 1767, gives notice by
advertisement, of no less than eight different persons who have escaped
from slavery, or are put up to public sale for that horrid purpose.

That I may demonstrate the indecency of such proceedings in a free
country, I shall take the liberty of laying some of these advertisements
before my readers, by way of example.

"_To be SOLD for want of Employment_, A likely strong active Negroe man,
of about 24 years of age, this country born, (_N.B._ A natural born
subject) understands most of a baker's trade, and a good deal of farming
business, and can do all sorts of house-work.--Also a healthy Negroe
wench, of about 21 years old, is a tolerable cook, and capable of doing
all sorts of house-work, can be well recommended for her honesty and
sobriety: she has a female child of nigh three years old, which will be
sold with the wench if required, &c." Here is not the least
consideration, or scruple of conscience, for the inhumanity of parting
the mother and young child. From the stile, one would suppose the
advertisement to be of no more importance than if it related merely to
the sale of a cow and her calf; and that the cow should be sold with or
without her calf, according as the purchaser should require.--But not
only Negroes, but even American Indians, are detained in the same
abominable slavery in our colonies, though there cannot be any
reasonable pretence whatsoever for holding one of these as private
property; for even if a written contract should be produced as a voucher
in such a case, there would still remain great suspicion, that some
undue advantage had been taken of the Indian's ignorance concerning the
nature of such a bond.

"_Run away, on Monday the 21st instant, from J----n T----, Esq. of
West-Chester county, in the province of New-York_, An Indian slave,
named Abraham, he may have changed his name, about 23 years of age,
about five feet five inches."

Upon the whole, I think I may with justice conclude, that those
advertisements discover a shameless prostitution and infringement on the
common and natural rights of mankind--But hold! perhaps the Americans
may be able, with too much justice, to retort this severe reflexion, and
may refer us to news-papers published even in the free city of London,
which contain advertisements not less dishonourable than their own. See
advertisement in the Public Ledger of 31st December, 1761.

"_For SALE, A healthy NEGROE GIRL_, aged about fifteen years; speaks
good English, works at her needle, washes well, does houshold work, and
has had the small-pox. By J.W. &c."

Another advertisement, not long ago, offered a reward for stopping a
female slave who had left her mistress in Hatton-garden. And in the
Gazetteer of 18th April, 1769, appeared a very extraordinary
advertisement with the following title;

"_Horses, Tim Wisky, and black Boy_, To be sold at the Bull and Gate
Inn. Holborn, _A very good Tim Wisky_, little the worse for wear, &c."
Afterwards, "_A Chesnut Gelding_;" then, "_A very good grey Mare_;" and
last of all, (as if of the least consequence) "_A well-made
good-tempered black Boy_, he has lately had the small-pox, and will be
sold to any gentleman. Enquire as above."

Another advertisement in the same paper, contains a very particular
description of a Negroe man, called _Jeremiah_,--and concludes as
follows:--"Whoever delivers him to Capt. M---- U----y, on board the
Elizabeth, at Prince's Stairs, Rotherhithe, on or before the 31st
instant, shall receive thirty guineas reward, or ten guineas for such
intelligence as shall enable the Captain, or his master, effectually to
secure him. The utmost secrecy may be depended on." It is not on account
of shame, that men, who are capable of undertaking the desperate and
wicked employment of kidnappers, are supposed to be tempted to such a
business, by a promise "_of the utmost secrecy_;" but this must be from
a sense of the unlawfulness of the act proposed to them, that they may
have less reason to fear a prosecution. And as such a kind of people are
supposed to undertake any thing for money, the reward of thirty guineas
was tendered at the top of the advertisement, in capital letters. No man
can be safe, be he white or black, if temptations to break the laws are
so shamefully published in our news-papers.

_A Creole Black boy_ is also offered to sale, in the Daily Advertiser of
the same date.

Besides these instances, the Americans may, perhaps, taunt us with the
shameful treatment of a poor Negroe servant, who not long ago was put up
to sale by public auction, together with the effects of his bankrupt
master.--Also, that the prisons of this free city have been frequently
prostituted of late, by the tyrannical and dangerous practice of
confining Negroes, under the pretence of slavery, though there have been
no warrants whatsoever for their commitment.

This circumstance of confining a man without a warrant, has so great a
resemblance to the proceedings of a Popish inquisition, that it is but
too obvious what dangerous practices such scandalous innovations, if
permitted to grow more into use, are liable to introduce. No person can
be safe, if wicked and designing men have it in their power, under the
pretence of private property as a slave, to throw a man clandestinely,
without a warrant, into goal, and to conceal him there, until they can
conveniently dispose of him.

A free man may be thus robbed of his liberty, and carried beyond the
seas, without having the least opportunity of making his case known;
which should teach us how jealous we ought to be of all imprisonments
made without the authority, or previous examination, of a civil

The distinction of colour will, in a short time, be no protection
against such outrages, especially as not only Negroes, but Mulatoes, and
even American Indians, (which appears by one of the advertisements
before quoted) are retained in slavery in our American colonies; for
there are many honest weather-beaten Englishmen, who have as little
reason to boast of their complexion as the Indians. And indeed, the more
northern Indians have no difference from us in complexion, but such as
is occasioned by the climate, or different way of living. The plea of
private property, therefore, cannot, by any means, justify a private
commitment of any person whatsoever to prison, because of the apparent
danger and tendency of such innovation. This dangerous practice of
concealing in prison was attempted in the case of Jonathan Strong; for
the door-keeper of the P----lt----y C----pt----r (or some person who
acted for him) absolutely refused, for two days, to permit this poor
injured Negro to be seen or spoke with, though a person went on purpose,
both those days, to demand the same.--All laws ought to be founded upon
the principle of "_doing as one would be done by_;" and indeed this
principle seems to be the very basis of the English constitution; for
what precaution could possibly be more effectual for that purpose, than
the right we enjoy of being judged by our Peers, creditable persons of
the vicinage; especially, as we may likewise claim the right of
excepting against any particular juryman, who might be suspected of

This law breathes the pure spirit of liberty, equity, and social love;
being calculated to maintain that consideration and mutual regard which
one person ought to have for another, howsoever unequal in rank or

But when any part of the community, under the pretence of private
property, is deprived of this common privilege, it is a violation of
civil liberty, which is entirely inconsistent with the social principles
of a free state.

True liberty protects the labourer as well as his Lord; preserves the
dignity of human nature, and seldom fails to render a province rich and
populous; whereas, on the other hand, a toleration of slavery is the
highest breach of social virtue, and not only tends to depopulation, but
too often renders the minds of both masters and slaves utterly depraved
and inhuman, by the hateful extremes of exaltation and depression.

If such a toleration should ever be generally admitted in England,
(which God forbid) we shall no longer deserve to be esteemed a civilized
people; because, when the customs of uncivilized nations, and the
_uncivilized customs which disgrace our own colonies_, are become so
familiar as to be permitted amongst us with impunity, we ourselves must
insensibly degenerate to the same degree of baseness with those from
whom such bad customs were derived; and may, too soon, have the
mortification to see the _hateful extremes of tyranny and slavery
fostered under every roof_.

Then must the happy medium of a well regulated liberty be necessarily
compelled to find shelter in some more civilized country: where social
virtue, and that divine precept, "_Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself_," are better understood.

An attempt to prove the dangerous tendency, injustice, and disgrace of
tolerating slavery amongst Englishmen, would, in any former age, have
been esteemed as superfluous and ridiculous, as if a man should
undertake, in a formal manner, to prove, that darkness is not light.

Sorry am I, that the depravity of the present age has made a
demonstration of this kind necessary.

Now, that I may sum up the amount of what has been said in a single
sentence, I shall beg leave to conclude in the words of the great Sir
Edward Coke, which, though spoken on a different occasion, are yet
applicable to this; see Rushworth's Hist. Col. An. 1628. 4 Caroli. fol.

"It would be no honour to a King or kingdom, to be a King of bondmen or
slaves: the end of this would be both _dedecus_[A] and _damnum_[B] both
to King and kingdom, that in former times have been so renowned."

[Footnote A: Disgrace.]

[Footnote B: Loss.]

* * * * *

Note, at page 63; According to the laws of Jamaica, printed in London,
in 1756, "If any slave having been one whole year in this island, (says
an act, No 64, clause 5, p. 114) shall run away, and continue absent
from his owner's service for the space of thirty days, upon complaint
and proof, &c. before any two justices of the peace, and three
freeholders, &c. it shall and may be lawful for such justices and
freeholders to order such slave to be punished, by _cutting off one of
the feet of such slave_, or inflict such other corporal punishment as
they _shall think fit_." Now that I may inform my readers, what corporal
punishments are sometimes thought fit to be inflicted, I will refer to
the testimony of Sir Hans Sloane, (see voyage to the islands of Madeira,
Barbadoes, &c. and Jamaica, with the natural history of the last of
these islands, &c. London 1707. Introduction, p. 56, and 57.) "The
punishment for crimes of slaves (says he) are usually, for _rebellions_,
burning them, by nailing them down to the ground with crooked sticks on
every limb, and then applying the fire, by degrees, from the feet and
hands, and burning them gradually up to the head, whereby _the pains are
extravagant_; for crimes of a lesser nature, _gelding_, or _chopping off
half the foot_ with an axe. These punishments are suffered by them with
great constancy.--For negligence, they are usually whipped by the
overseers with lance-wood switches, till they be bloody, and several of
the switches broken, being first tied up by their hands in the mill
houses.--After they are whipped till they are raw, some put on their
skins pepper and salt, to make them smart; at other times, their masters
will drop melted wax on their skins, and use several _very exquisite
torments_." Sir Hans adds, "These punishments are sometimes merited by
the Blacks, who are a very perverse generation of people; and though
they appear very harsh, yet are scarce equal to some of their crimes,
and inferior to what punishments other European nations inflict on their
slaves in the East-Indies, as may be seen by Moquet, and other
travellers." Thus Sir Hans Sloane endeavours to excuse those shocking
cruelties, but certainly in vain, because no crimes whatsoever can merit
such severe punishments, unless I except the crimes of those who devise
and inflict them. Sir Hans Sloane, indeed, mentions _rebellion_ as the
principal crime; and certainly it is very justly esteemed a most heinous
crime, in a land of liberty, where government is limited by equitable
and just laws, if the same are tolerably well observed; but in countries
where arbitrary power is exercised with such intolerable cruelty as is
before described, if resistance be a crime, it is certainly the most
natural of all others.

But the 19th clause of the 38th act, would indeed, on a slight perusal,
induce us to conceive, that the punishment for rebellion is not so
severe as it is represented by Sir Hans Sloane; because a slave, though
_deemed rebellious_, is thereby condemned to no greater punishment than
transportation. Nevertheless, if the clause be thoroughly considered, we
shall find no reason to commend the mercy of the legislature; for it
only proves, that the Jamaica law-makers will not scruple to charge the
slightest and most natural offences with the most opprobrious epithets;
and that a poor slave, who perhaps has no otherwise incurred his
master's displeasure than by endeavouring (upon the just and warrantable
principles of self-preservation,) to escape from his master's tyranny,
without any criminal intention whatsoever, is liable to be _deemed
rebellious_, and to be arraigned as a capital offender. "For every slave
and slaves that shall run away, and continue but for the space of twelve
months, except such slave or slaves as shall not have been three years
in this island, shall be _deemed rebellious_," &c. (see act 38, clause
19. p. 60.) Thus we are enabled to define what a West Indian tyrant
means by the word _rebellious_. But unjust as this clause may seem, yet
it is abundantly more merciful and considerate than a subsequent act
against the same poor miserable people, because the former assigns no
other punishment for persons so _deemed rebellious_, than that they,
"_Shall be transported_ by order of two justices and three freeholders,"
&c. whereas the latter spares not the blood of these poor injured
fugitives: For by the 66th act, a reward of 50 pounds is offered to
those who "shall kill or bring in alive any _rebellious slaves_," that
is, any of these unfortunate people whom the law has "_deemed
rebellious_," as above; and this premium is not only tendered to
commissioned parties (see 2d. clause) but even to any private "_hunter,
slave, or other person_," (see 3d. clause.) Thus it is manifest, that
the law treats these poor unhappy men with as little ceremony and
consideration as if they were merely wild beasts. But the innocent blood
that is shed in consequence of such a detestable law, must certainly
call for vengeance on the murderous abettors and actors of such
deliberate wickedness: And though many of the guilty wretches should
even be so hardened and abandoned as never afterwards to be capable of
sincere remorse, yet a time will undoubtedly come, when they will
shudder with dreadful apprehensions, on account of the insufficiency of
so wretched an excuse, as that their poor murdered brethren were by law
"_deemed rebellious_" But bad as these laws are, yet in justice to the
freeholders of Jamaica, I must acknowledge, that their laws are not near
so cruel and inhuman as the laws of Barbadoes and Virginia, and seem at
present to be much more reasonable than they have formerly been; many
very oppressive laws being now expired, and others less severe enacted
in their room.

But it is far otherwise in Barbadoes; for by the 329th act, p. 125. "If
any Negro or other slave, under punishment by his master, or his order,
for running away, or any other crimes or misdemeanors towards his said
master, unfortunately shall suffer in life, or member, (which seldom
happens) (but it is plain by this law that it does sometimes happen) _no
person whatever 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_;"--now the reader, to
be sure, will naturally expect, that some very severe punishment must in
this case be ordained, to deter the _wanton, bloody-minded, and cruel_
wretch, from _wilfully killing_ his fellow creatures; but alas! the
Barbadian law-makers have been so far from intending to curb such
abandoned wickedness, that they have absolutely made this law on purpose
to skreen these enormous crimes from the just indignation of any
righteous person, who might think himself bound in duty to prosecute a
bloody-minded villain; they have therefore presumptuously taken upon
them to give a sanction, as it were, by law, to the horrid crime of
wilful murder; and have accordingly ordained, that he who is guilty of
it in Barbadoes, though the act should be attended with all the
aggravating circumstances before-mentioned--"_shall pay into the public
treasury_ (no more than) _fifteen pounds sterling_," but if he shall
kill another man's, he shall pay the owner of the Negroe double the
value, and into the public treasury _twenty-five pounds sterling_; and
he shall further, by the next justice of the peace, be bound to his good
behaviour during the pleasure of the governor and council, _and not be
liable to any other punishment or forfeiture for the same_.

The most consummate wickedness, I suppose, that any body of people,
under the specious form of a legislature, were ever guilty of! This act
contains several other clauses which are shocking to humanity, though
too tedious to mention here.

According to an act of Virginia, (4 Anne, ch. 49. sec. 37. p. 227.)
"after proclamation is issued against slaves that run away and lie out,
it is lawful for any person whatsoever, _to kill and destroy such
slaves, by such ways and means as he, she, or they, shall think fit_,
without accusation or impeachment of any crime for the same," &c. And
lest private interest should incline the planter to mercy, (to which we
must suppose such people can have no other inducement) it is provided
and enacted in the succeeding clause, (No 28.) "That for _every slave
killed_, in pursuance of this act, or _put to death by law_, the master
or owner of such slave _shall be paid by the public_."

Also by an act of Virginia, (9 Geo. I. ch. 4. sect. 18. p. 343.) it is
ordained, "That, where any slave shall hereafter be found notoriously
guilty of going abroad in the night, or running away, and lying out, and
cannot be reclaimed from _such_ disorderly courses by the common method
of punishment, it shall and may be lawful to and for the court of the
county, upon complaint and proof thereof to them made by the owner of
such slave, to order and direct every such slave to be punished by
_dismembering, or any other_ way, not touching life, as the said county
court _shall think fit_."

I have already given examples enough of the horrid cruelties which are
sometimes _thought fit_ on such occasions. But if the innocent and most
natural act of "_running away_" from intolerable tyranny, deserves such
relentless severity, what kind of punishment have these law-makers
themselves to expect hereafter, on account of their own enormous
offences! Alas! to look for mercy (without a timely repentance) will
only be another instance of their gross injustice! "_Having their
consciences seared with a hot iron_," they seem to have lost all
apprehensions that their slaves are men, for they scruple not to number
them with beasts. See an act of Barbadoes, (No 333. p. 128.) intituled,
"An act for the better regulating of _outcries_ in open market:" here we
read of "_Negroes, cattle, coppers, and stills, and other chattels_,
brought by execution to open market to be outcried, and these (as if all
of equal importance) are ranged together _in great lots or numbers to be

--Page 70. In the 329th act of Barbadoes, (p. 122.) it is asserted, that
"brutish slaves deserve not, for the baseness of their condition, to _be
tried by a legal trial of twelve men of their peers, or neighbourhood_,
which neither truly can be rightly done, as the subjects of England
are;" (yet slaves also are subjects of England, whilst they remain
within the British dominions, notwithstanding this insinuation to the
contrary) "nor is execution to be delayed towards them, in case of such
horrid crimes committed," &c.

A similar doctrine is taught in an act of Virginia, (9 Geo. I. ch. 4.
sect. 3. p. 339.) wherein it is ordained, "that every slave, committing
such offence as by the laws ought to be punished by death, or loss of
member, shall be forthwith committed to the common goal of the county,
&c. And the sheriff of such county, upon such commitment, shall
forthwith certify the same, with the cause thereof, to the governor or
commander in chief, &c. who is thereupon desired and impowered to issue
a commission of Oyer and Terminer, _To such persons as he shall think
fit_; which persons, forthwith after the receipt of such commission, are
impowered and required to cause the offender to be publicly arraigned
and tried, &c. without the solemnity of a jury," &c. Now let us consider
the dangerous tendency of those laws. As Englishmen, we strenuously
contend for this absolute and immutable necessity of trials by juries:
but is not the spirit and equity of this old English doctrine entirely
lost, if we partially confine that justice to ourselves alone, when we
have it in our power to extend it to others? The natural right of all
mankind, must principally justify our insisting upon this necessary
privilege in favour of ourselves in particular; and therefore if we do
not allow that the judgment of an impartial jury is indispensably
necessary in all cases whatsoever, wherein the life of man is depending,
we certainly undermine the equitable force and reason of those laws, by
which _we ourselves are protected_, and consequently are unworthy to be
esteemed either Christians or Englishmen.

Whatever right the members of a provincial assembly may have to enact
_bye laws_, for particular exigences among themselves, yet in so doing
they are certainly bound, in duty to their sovereign, to observe most
strictly the fundamental principles of that constitution, which his
Majesty is sworn to maintain; for wheresoever the bounds of the British
empire are extended, there the common law of England must of course take
place, and cannot be safely set aside by any _private law_ whatsoever,
because the introduction of an unnatural tyranny must necessarily
endanger the King's dominions. The many alarming insurrections of slaves
in the several colonies, are sufficient proofs of this. The common law
of England ought therefore to be so established in every province, as to
include the respective _bye laws_ of each province; instead of being by
them _excluded_, which latter has been too much the case.

Every inhabitant of the British colonies, black as well as white, bond
as well as free, are undoubtedly the _King's subjects_, during their
residence within the limits of the King's dominions; and as such, are
entitled to personal protection, however bound in service to their
respective masters; therefore, when any of these are put to death,
"_without the solemnity of a jury_," I fear that there is too much
reason to attribute _the guilt of murder_ to every person concerned in
ordering, the same, or in consenting thereto; and all such persons are
certainly responsible _to the King and his laws, for the loss of a
subject_. The horrid iniquity, injustice, and dangerous tendency of the
several plantation laws which I have quoted, are so apparent, that it is
unnecessary for me to apologize for the freedom with which I have
treated them. If such laws are not absolutely necessary for the
government of slaves, the law-makers must unavoidably allow themselves
to be the most cruel and abandoned tyrants upon earth; or, perhaps, that
ever were on earth. On the other hand, if it be said, that it is
impossible to govern slaves without such inhuman severity, and
detestable injustice, the same will certainly be an invincible argument
against the least toleration of slavery amongst christians, because the
temporal profit of the planter or master, however lucrative, cannot
compensate the forfeiture of his everlasting welfare, or (at least I may
be allowed to say) the apparent danger of such a forfeiture.

Oppression is a most grievous crime, and the cries of these much injured
people, (though they are only poor ignorant heathens) will certainly
reach heaven! The scriptures (_which are the only true foundation of all
laws_) denounce a tremendous judgment against the man who should offend
even one little-one; _"It were better for him_ (even the merciful
Saviour of the world hath himself declared) _that a millstone were
hanged about his neck, and be cast into the sea, than that he should
offend one of these little ones."_ Luke xvii. 2. Who then shall attempt
to vindicate those inhuman establishments of government, under which,
even our own countrymen so grievously _offend_ and _oppress_ (not merely
_one_, or a few little ones, but) an immense multitude of _men, women,
children_, and the _children of their children_, from generation to
generation? May it not be said with like justice, it were better for the
English nation that these American dominions had never existed, or even
that they should have been sunk into the sea, than that the kingdom of
Great Britain should be loaded with the horrid guilt of tolerating such
abominable wickedness! In short, if the _King's prerogative_ is not
speedily exerted for the relief of his Majesty's oppressed and much
injured subjects in the British colonies, (because to _relieve the
subject_ from the oppression of petty tyrants is the principal use of
the royal prerogative, as well as the principal and most natural means
of maintaining the same) and for the extension of the British
constitution to the most distant colonies, whether in the East or West
Indies, it must inevitably be allowed, that great share of this enormous
guilt will certainly rest on this side the water.

I hope this hint will be taken notice of by those whom it may concern;
and that the freedom of it will be excused, as from a _loyal and
disinterested_ adviser.

Extracts from the writings

of several _noted authors_,

on the subject of the, _slavery of the Negroes_,


George Wallace,

Francis Hutcheson,

James Foster.

George Wallace, in his _System of the Principles of the Laws of
Scotland_, speaking of the slavery of the Negroes in our colonies, says,
"We all know that they (the Negroes) are purchased from their Princes,
who pretend to have a right to dispose of them, and that they are, like
other commodities, transported, by the merchants who have bought them,
into America, in order to be exposed to sale. If this trade admits of a
moral or a rational justification, every crime, even the most atrocious,
may be justified. Government was instituted for the good of mankind;
kings, princes, governors, are not proprietors of those who are subject
to their authority; they have not a right to make them miserable. On the
contrary, their authority is vested in them, that they may, by the just
exercise of it, promote the happiness of their people. Of course, they
have not a right to dispose of their liberty, and to sell them for
slaves. Besides no man has a right to acquire, or to purchase them; men
and their liberty are not _in commercio_; they are not either saleable

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