Part 18 out of 52
the negroes on the first of August, 1834, is ample proof of this; and
their uniform conduct since that event manifests an _habitual_ feeling
of gratitude. Said one, "The liberty we received from the king, we can
never sufficiently thank God for; whenever we think of it, our hearts go
out in gratitude to God." Similar expressions we heard repeatedly from
the negroes.--We observed that the slightest allusion to the first of
August in a company of freed persons, would awaken powerful emotions,
accompanied with exclamations of "tank de good Lord," "bless de Savior,"
"praise de blessed Savior," and such like.
It was the remark of Mr. James Howell, manager of Thibou Jarvis's--"That
the negroes evinced very little gratitude to their _masters_ for
freedom. Their gratitude all flowed toward God and the king, whom they
regarded as the sole authors of their liberty."
Mr. Watkins observed that "the negroes' motto was God and the king. This
feeling existed particularly at the time of emancipation, and shortly
after it. They have since become more attached to their former masters."
It is by no means strange that the negroes should feel little gratitude
toward their late masters, since they knew their opposition to the
benevolent intentions of the English government. We were informed by Dr.
Daniell and many others, that for several months before emancipation
took place, the negroes had an idea that the king had sent them 'their
free papers,' and that _their masters were keeping them back._ Besides,
it was but two years before that period, that they had come into fierce
and open hostility with the planters for abolishing the Sunday market,
and giving them no market-day instead thereof. In this thing their
masters had shown themselves to be their enemies.
That any good thing could come from such persons the slaves were
doubtless slow to believe. However, it is an undeniable fact, that since
emancipation, kind treatment on the part of the masters, has never
failed to excite gratitude in the negroes. The planters understand fully
how they may secure the attachment and confidence of their people. A
_grateful_ and _contented_ spirit certainly characterizes the negroes of
Antigua. They do not lightly esteem what they have got, and murmur
because they have no more. They do not complain of small wages, and
strike for higher. They do not grumble about their simple food and their
coarse clothes, and flaunt about, saying '_freemen ought to live
better_.' They do not become dissatisfied with their lowly,
cane-thatched huts, and say we ought to have as good houses as massa.
They do not look with an evil eye upon the political privileges of the
whites, and say we have the majority, and we'll rule. It is the common
saying with them, when speaking of the inconveniences which they
sometimes suffer, "Well, we must be satify and conten."
FIFTEENTH PROPOSITION.--The freed negroes of Antigua have proved that
_they are able to take care of themselves_. It is affirmed by the
opponents of emancipation in the United States, that if the slaves were
liberated, they could not take care of themselves. Some of the reasons
assigned for entertaining this view are--1st, "The negro is naturally
improvident." 2d, "He is constitutionally indolent." 3d, "Being of an
inferior race, he is deficient in that shrewdness and management
necessary to prevent his being imposed upon, and which are indispensable
to enable him to conduct any business with success." 4th, "All these
natural defects have been aggravated by slavery. The slave never
provides for himself, but looks to his master for everything he needs.
So likewise he becomes increasingly averse to labor, by being driven to
it daily, and flogged for neglecting it. Furthermore, whatever of mind
he had originally has been extinguished by slavery." Thus by nature and
by habit the negro is utterly unqualified to take care of himself. So
much for theory; now for testimony. First, what is the evidence with
regard to the _improvidence_ of the negroes?
"During slavery, the negroes squandered every cent of money they got,
because they were sure of food and clothing. Since their freedom, they
have begun to cultivate habits of carefulness and economy".--_Mr.
Facts--1st. The low wages of the laborers is proof of their providence.
Did they not observe the strictest economy, they could not live on fifty
cents per week.
2d. That they buy small parcels of land to cultivate, is proof of
economy and foresight. The planters have to resort to every means in
their power to induce their laborers not to purchase land.
3d. The Friendly Societies are an evidence of the same thing. How can we
account for the number of these societies, and for the large sums of
money annually contributed in them? And how is it that these societies
have trebled, both in members and means since emancipation, if it be
true that the negroes are thus improvident, and that freedom brings
4th. The weekly and monthly contributions to the churches, to benevolent
societies, and to the schools, demonstrate the economy of the negroes;
and the _great increase_ of these contributions since August, 1834,
proves that emancipation has not made them less economical.
5th. The increasing attention paid to the cultivation of their private
provision grounds is further proof of their foresight. For some time
subsequent to emancipation, as long as the people were in an unsettled
state, they partially neglected their grounds. The reason was, they did
not know whether they should remain on the same estate long enough to
reap their provisions, should they plant any. This state of uncertainty
very naturally paralyzed all industry and enterprise; and their
neglecting the cultivation of their provision grounds, _under such
circumstances_, evinced foresight rather than improvidence. Since they
have become more permanently established on the estates, they are
resuming the cultivation of their grounds with renewed vigor.
Said Dr. Daniell--"There is an increasing attention paid by the negroes
to cultivating their private lands, since they have become more
6th. The fact that the parents take care of the wages which their
children earn, shows their provident disposition. We were informed that
the mothers usually take charge of the money paid to their children,
especially their daughters, and this, in order to teach them proper
subordination, and to provide against casualties, sickness, and the
infirmities of age.
7th. The fact that the negroes are able to support their aged parents,
is further proof.
As it regards the second specification, viz., _constitutional
indolence_, we may refer generally to the evidence on this subject under
a former proposition. We will merely state here two facts.
1st. Although the negroes are not obliged to work on Saturday, yet they
are in the habit of going to estates that are weak-handed, and hiring
themselves out on that day.
2d. It is customary throughout the island to give two hours (from 12 to
2) recess from labor. We were told that in many cases this time is spent
in working on their private provision grounds, or in some active
employment by which a pittance may be added to their scanty earnings.
What are the facts respecting the natural _inferiority_ of the negro
race, and their incompetency to manage their own affairs?
Said Mr. Armstrong--"The negroes are exceedingly quick _to turn a
thought_. They show a great deal of shrewdness in every thing which
concerns their own interests. To a stranger it must be utterly
incredible how they can manage to live on such small wages. They are
very exact in keeping their accounts with the manager."
"The negroes are very acute in making bargains. A difficulty once arose
on an estate under my charge, between the manager and the people, in
settling for a job which the laborers had done. The latter complained
that the manager did not give them as much as was stipulated in the
original agreement. The manager contended that he had paid the whole
amount. The people brought their complaint before me, as attorney, and
maintained that there was one shilling and six-pence (about nineteen
cents) due each of them. I examined the accounts and found that they
were right, and that the manager had really made a mistake to the very
amount specified."--_Dr. Daniell_.
"The emancipated people manifest as much cunning and address in
business, as any class of persons."--_Mr. J. Howell_.
"The capabilities of the blacks for education are conspicuous; so also
as to mental acquirements and trades."--_Hon. N. Nugent_.
It is a little remarkable that while Americans fear that the negroes, if
emancipated, could not take care of themselves, the West Indians fear
lest they _should_ take care of themselves; hence they discourage them
from buying lands, from learning trades, and from all employments which
might render them independent of sugar cultivation.
SIXTEENTH PROPOSITION.--Emancipation has operated at once to elevate and
improve the negroes. It introduced them into the midst of all relations,
human and divine. It was the first formal acknowledgment that they were
MEN--personally interested in the operations of law, and the
requirements of God. It laid the corner-stone in the fabric of their
moral and intellectual improvement.
"The negroes have a growing self-respect and regard for character. This
was a feeling which was scarcely known by them during slavery."--_Mr.
"The negroes pay a great deal more attention to their personal
appearance, than they were accustomed to while slaves. The _women_ in
particular have improved astonishingly in their dress and
Abundant proof of this proposition may be found in the statements
already made respecting the decrease of licentiousness, the increased
attention paid to marriage, the abandonment by the mothers of the
horrible practice of selling their daughters to vile white men, the
reverence for the Sabbath, the attendance upon divine worship, the
exemplary subordination to law, the avoidance of riotous conduct,
insolence, and intemperance.
SEVENTEENTH PROPOSITION--Emancipation promises a vast improvement in the
condition of woman. What could more effectually force woman from her
sphere, than slavery has done by dragging her to the field, subjecting
her to the obscene remarks, and to the vile abominations of licentious
drivers and overseers; by compelling her to wield the heavy hoe, until
advancing pregnancy rendered her useless then at the earliest possible
period driving her back to the field with her infant swung at her back,
or torn from her and committed to a stranger. Some of these evils still
exist in Antigua, but there has already been a great abatement of them,
and the humane planters look forward to their complete removal, and to
the ultimate restoration of woman to the quiet and purity of
Samuel Bourne, Esq., stated, that there had been a great improvement in
the treatment of mothers on his estate. "Under the old system, mothers
were required to work half the time after their children were six weeks
old; but now we do not call them out for _nine months_ after their
confinement, until their children are entirely weaned."
"In those cases where women have husbands in the field, they do not turn
out while they are nursing their children. In many instances the
husbands prefer to have their wives engaged in other work, and I do not
require them to go to the field."--_Mr. J Howell_.
Much is already beginning to be said of the probability that the women
will withdraw from agricultural labor. A conviction of the impropriety
of females engaging in such employments is gradually forming in the
minds of enlightened and influential planters.
A short time previous to emancipation, the Hon. N. Nugent, speaker of
the assembly, made the following remarks before the house:--"At the
close of the debate, he uttered his fervent hope, that the day would
come when the principal part of the agriculture of the island would be
performed by males, and that the women would be occupied in keeping
their cottages in order, and in increasing their domestic comforts. The
desire of improvement is strong among them; they are looking anxiously
forward to the instruction and advancement of their children, and even
of themselves."--_Antigua Herald, of March_, 1834.
In a written communication to us, dated January 17, 1837, the Speaker
says: "Emancipation will, I doubt not, improve the condition of the
females. There can be no doubt that they will ultimately leave the
field, (except in times of emergency,) and confine themselves to their
appropriate domestic employments."
EIGHTEENTH PROPOSITION.--Real estate has risen in value since
emancipation; mercantile and mechanical occupations have received a
fresh impulse; and the general condition of the colony is decidedly more
flourishing than at any former period.
"The credit of the island has decidedly improved. The internal
prosperity of the island is advancing in an increased ratio. More
buildings have been erected since emancipation, than for twenty years
before. Stores and shops have multiplied astonishingly; I can safely say
that their number has more than quintupled since the abolition of
"Emancipation has very greatly increased the value of, and consequently
the demand for, real estate. That which three years ago was a drug
altogether unsaleable by private bargain; has now many inquirers after
it, and ready purchasers at good prices. The importation of British
manufactured goods has been considerably augmented, probably one fourth."
"The credit of the planters who have been chiefly affected by the
change, has been much improved. And _the great reduction of expense in
managing the estates_, has made them men of more real wealth, and
consequently raised their credit both with the English merchants and our
own."--_James Scotland, Sen., Esq._
"The effect of emancipation upon the commerce of the island _must needs_
have been beneficial, as the laborers indulge in more wheaten flour,
rice, mackerel, dry fish, and salt-pork, than formerly. More lumber is
used in the superior cottages now built for their habitations. More dry
goods--manufactures of wool, cotton, linen, silk, leather, &c., are also
used, now that the laborers can better afford to indulge their
propensity for gay clothing."--_Statement of a merchant and agent
"Real estate has risen in value, and mercantile business has greatly
improved."--_H. Armstrong, Esq._
A merchant of St. John's informed us, that real estate had increased in
value at least fifty per cent. He mentioned the fact, that an estate
which previous to emancipation could not be sold for L600 current,
lately brought L2000 current.
NINETEENTH PROPOSITION--Emancipation has been followed by the
introduction of labor-saving machinery.
"Various expedients for saving manual labor have already been
introduced, and we anticipate still greater improvements. Very little
was thought of this subject previous to emancipation."--_S.
"Planters are beginning to cast about for improvements in labor. My own
mind has been greatly turned to this subject since emancipation."--_H.
"The plough is beginning to be very extensively used."--_Mr. Hatley_.
"There has been considerable simplification in agricultural labor
already, which would have been more conspicuous, had it not been for
the excessive drought which has prevailed since 1834. The plough is
more used, and the expedients for manuring land are less
laborious."--_Extract of a letter from Hon. N. Nugent_.
TWENTIETH PROPOSITION.--Emancipation has produced the most decided
change in the views of the _planters_.
"Before emancipation took place, there was the bitterest opposition to
it among the planters. But after freedom came, they were delighted with
the change. I felt strong opposition myself, being exceedingly unwilling
to give up my power of command. But I shall never forget how differently
I felt when freedom took place I arose from my bed on the first of
August, exclaiming with joy, 'I am free, I am free; I _was the greatest
slave on the estate_, but now I am free.'"--_Mr. J. Howell_.
"We all resisted violently the measure of abolition, when it first began
to be agitated in England. We regarded it as an outrageous interference
with our rights, with our property. But we are now rejoiced that slavery
is abolished."--_Dr. Daniell_.
"I have already seen such decided benefits growing out of the free labor
system, that for my part I wish never to see the face of slavery again."
"I do not know of a single planter who would be willing to return to
slavery. We all feel that it was a great curse."--_D. Cranstoun, Esq._
The speaker of the assembly was requested to state especially the
advantages of freedom both to the master and the slave; and he kindly
communicated the following reply:
"The benefits to the master are conspicuous--he has got rid of the
cark and care, the anxiety and incessant worry of managing slaves;
all the trouble and responsibility of rearing them from infancy, of
their proper maintenance in health, and sickness, and decrepitude,
of coercing them to labor, restraining, correcting, and punishing
their faults and crimes--settling all their grievances and disputes.
He is now entirely free from all apprehension of injury, revenge, or
insurrection, however transient and momentary such impression may
have formerly been. He has no longer the reproach of being a
_slaveholder_; his property has lost all the _taint_ of slavery, and
is placed on as secure a footing, in a moral and political point of
view, as that in any other part of the British dominions.
As regards the _other_ party, it seems almost unnecessary to point
out the advantages of being a free man rather than a slave. He is no
longer liable to personal trespass of any sort; he has a right of
self-control, and all the immunities enjoyed by other classes of his
fellow subjects--he is enabled to better his condition as he thinks
proper--he can make what arrangements he likes best, as regards his
kindred, and all his domestic relations--he takes to his _own_ use
and behoof, all the wages and profits of his own labor; he receives
money wages instead of weekly allowances, and can purchase such
particular food and necessaries as he prefers--_and so on_! IT WOULD
BE ENDLESS TO ATTEMPT TO ENUMERATE ALL THE SUPERIOR ADVANTAGES OF A
STATE OF FREEDOM TO ONE OF SLAVERY!"
The writer says, at the close of his invaluable letter, "I was born in
Antigua, and have resided here with little interruption since 1809.
Since 1814, I have taken an active concern in plantation affairs." He
was born heir to a large slave property, and retained it up to the hour
of emancipation. He is now the proprietor of an estate.
We have, another witness to introduce to the reader, Ralph Higinbothom,
Esq., the UNITED STATES CONSUL!--_Hear him_!--
"Whatever may have been the dissatisfaction as regards emancipation
among the planters at its commencement, there are few, indeed, if any,
who are not _now_ well satisfied that under the present system, their
properties are better worked, and their laborers more contented and
cheerful, than in the time of slavery."
In order that the reader may see the _revolution_ that has taken place
since emancipation in the views of the highest class of society in
Antigua, we make a few extracts.
"There was the most violent opposition in the legislature, and
throughout the island, to the anti-slavery proceedings in Parliament.
The anti-slavery party in England were detested here for their
_fanatical and reckless course_. Such was the state of feeling previous
to emancipation, that it would have been certain disgrace for any
planter to have avowed the least sympathy with anti-slavery sentiments.
The humane might have their hopes and aspirations, and they might
secretly long to see slavery ultimately terminated; but they did not
dare to make such feelings public. _They would at once have been branded
as the enemies of their country!"--Hon. N. Nugent_.
"There cannot be said to have been any _anti-slavery party_ in the
island before emancipation. There were some individuals in St. John's,
and a very few planters, who favored the anti-slavery views, but they
dared not open their mouths, because of the bitter hostility which
prevailed."--_S. Bourne, Esq._
"The opinions of the clergymen and missionaries, with the exception of,
I believe, a few clergymen, were favorable to emancipation; but neither
in their conduct, preaching, or prayers, did they declare themselves
openly, until the measure of abolition was determined on. The
missionaries felt restrained by their instructions from home, and the
clergymen thought that it did not comport with their order 'to take part
in politics!' I never heard of a single _planter_ who was favorable,
until about three months before the emancipation took place; when some
few of them began to perceive that it would be advantageous to their
_interests_. Whoever was known or suspected of being an advocate for
freedom, became the object of vengeance, and was sure to suffer, if in
no other way, by a loss of part of his business. My son-in-law[A], my
son[B], and myself, were perhaps the chief marks for calumny and
resentment. The first was twice elected a member of the Assembly, and as
often put out by scrutinies conducted by the House, in the most
flagrantly dishonest manner. Every attempt was made to deprive the
second of his business, as a lawyer. With regard to myself, I was thrown
into prison, without any semblance of justice, without any form of
trial, but in the most summary manner, simply upon the complaint of one
of the justices, and without any opportunity being allowed me of saying
one word in my defence. I remained in jail until discharged by a
peremptory order from the Colonial Secretary, to whom I
appealed."--_James Scotland, Sen., Esq._
[Footnote A: Dr. Ferguson, physician in St. John's.]
[Footnote B: James Scotland, Jun., Esq., barrister, proprietor, and
member of Assembly.]
Another gentleman, a white man, was arrested on the charge of being in
the interest of the English Anti-Slavery party, and in a manner equally
summary and illegal, was cast into prison, and confined there for
From the foregoing statements we obtain the following comparative view
of the past and present state of sentiment in Antigua.
Views and conduct of the planters previous to emancipation:
1st. They regarded the negroes as an inferior race, fit only for slaves.
2d. They regarded them as their rightful property.
3d. They took it for granted that negroes could never be made to work
without the use of the whip; hence,
4th. They supposed that emancipation would annihilate sugar cultivation;
5th. That it would lead to bloodshed and general rebellion.
6th. Those therefore who favored it, were considered the "_enemies of
their country_"--"TRAITORS"--and were accordingly persecuted in various
ways, not excepting imprisonment in the common jail.
7th. So popular was slavery among the higher classes, that its morality
or justice could not be questioned by a missionary--an editor--or a
_planter_ even, without endangering the safety of the individual.
8th. The anti-slavery people in England were considered detestable men,
intermeddling with matters which they did not understand, and which at
any rate did not concern them. They were accused of being influenced by
selfish motives, and of designing to further their own interests by the
ruin of the planters. They were denounced as _fanatics, incendiaries,
knaves, religious enthusiasts_.
9th The abolition measures of the English Government were considered a
gross outrage on the rights of private property, a violation their
multiplied pledges of countenance and support, and a flagrant usurpation
of power over the weak.
Views and conduct of the planters subsequent to emancipation:
1st. The negroes are retarded as _men_--equals standing on the same
footing as fellow-citizens.
2d. Slavery is considered a foolish, impolitic, and wicked system.
3d. Slaves are regarded as an _unsafe_ species of property, and to hold
4th. The planters have become the _decided enemies_ of slavery. The
worst thing they could say against the apprenticeship, was, that "it was
only another name for _slavery_."
5th. The abolition of slavery is applauded by the planters as one of the
most noble and magnanimous triumphs ever achieved by the British
6th. Distinguished abolitionists are spoken of in terms of respect and
admiration. The English Anti-slavery Delegation[A] spent a fortnight in
the island, and left it the same day we arrived. Wherever we went we
heard of them as "the respectable gentlemen from England," "the worthy
and intelligent members of the Society of Friends," &c. A distinguished
agent of the English anti-slavery society now resides in St. John's, and
keeps a bookstore, well stocked with anti-slavery books and pamphlets.
The bust of GEORGE THOMPSON stands conspicuously upon the counter of the
bookstore, looking forth upon the public street.
[Footnote A: Messrs. Sturge and Harvey.]
7th. The planters affirm that the abolition of slavery put an end to all
danger from insurrection, rebellion, privy conspiracy, and sedition, on
the part of the slaves.
8th. Emancipation is deemed an incalculable blessing, because it
released the planters from an endless complication of responsibilities,
perplexities, temptations and anxieties, and because it _emancipated
them from the bondage of the whip_.
9th. _Slavery--emancipation--freedom_--are the universal topics of
conversation in Antigua. Anti-slavery is the popular doctrine among all
classes. He is considered an enemy to his country who opposes the
principles of liberty. The planters look with astonishment on the
continuance of slavery in the United States, and express their strong
belief that it must soon terminate here and throughout the world. They
hailed the arrival of French and American visitors on tours of inquiry
as a bright omen. In publishing our arrival, one of the St. John's
papers remarks, "We regard this as a pleasing indication that the
American public have their eyes turned upon our experiment, with a view,
we may hope, of ultimately following our excellent example." (!) All
classes showed the same readiness to aid us in what the Governor was
pleased to call "the objects of our philanthropic mission."
Such are the views now entertained among the planters of Antigua. What a
complete change[B]--and all in less than three years, and effected by
the abolition of slavery and a trial of freedom! Most certainly, if the
former views of the Antigua planters resemble those held by pro-slavery
men in this country, their present sentiments are a _fac simile_ of
those entertained by the immediate abolitionists.
[Footnote B: The following little story will further illustrate the
wonderful revolution which has taken place in the public sentiment of
this colony. The facts here stated all occurred while we were in
Antigua, and we procured them from a variety of authentic sources. They
were indeed publicly known and talked of, and produced no little
excitement throughout the island. Mr. Corbett was a respectable and
intelligent planter residing on an estate near Johnson's Point. Several
months previous to the time of which we now speak, a few colored
families (emancipated negroes) bought of a white man some small parcels
of land lying adjacent to Mr. C.'s estate. They planted their lands in
provisions, and also built them houses thereon, and moved into them.
After they had become actively engaged in cultivating their provisions,
Mr. Corbett laid claim to the lands, and ordered the negroes to leave
They of course refused to do so. Mr. C. then flew into a violent rage,
and stormed and swore, and threatened to burn their houses down over
their heads. The terrified negroes forsook their property and fled. Mr.
C. then ordered his negroes to tear down their huts and burn up the
materials--which was accordingly done. He also turned in his cattle upon
the provision grounds, and destroyed them. The negroes made a complaint
against Mr. C., and he was arrested and committed to jail in St. John's
for trial on the charge of _arson_.
We heard of this circumstance on the day of Mr. C.'s commitment, and we
were told that it would probably go very hard with him on his trial, and
that he would be very fortunate if he escaped the _gallows_ or
_transportation_. A few days after this we were surprised to hear that
Mr. C. had died in prison. Upon inquiry, we learned that he died
literally from _rage and mortification_. His case defied the, skill and
power of the physicians. They could detect the presence of no disease
whatever, even on a minute post-mortem examination. They pronounced it
as their opinion that he had died from the violence of his
passions--excited by being imprisoned, together with his apprehensions
of the fatal issue of the trial.
Not long before emancipation, Mr. Scotland was imprisoned for
_befriending_ the negroes. After emancipation, Mr. Corbett was
imprisoned for wronging them.
Mr. Corbett was a respectable planter, of good family and moved in the
first circles in the island]
TWENTY-FIRST PROPOSITION.--Emancipation has been followed by a manifest
diminution of "_prejudice against color_," and has opened the prospect
off its speedy extirpation.
Some thirty years ago, the president of the island, Sir Edward Byam,
issued an order forbidding the great bell in the cathedral of St. John's
being tolled at the funeral of a colored person; and directing a
_smaller_ bell to be hung up in the same belfry, and used on such
occasions. For twenty years this distinction was strictly maintained.
When a white person, however _vile_, was buried, the great bell was
tolled; when a colored person, whatever his moral worth, intelligence,
or station, was carried to his grave, the little bell was tinkled. It
was not until the arrival of the present excellent Rector, that this
"prejudice bell" was silenced. The Rev. Mr. Cox informed us that
prejudice had greatly decreased since emancipation. It was very common
for white and colored gentlemen to be seen walking arm in arm an the
streets of St. John's.
"Prejudice against color is fast disappearing. The colored people have
themselves contributed to prolong this feeling, _by keeping aloof from
the society of the whites_."--_James Howell, of T. Jarvis's_.
How utterly at variance is this with the commonly received opinion, that
the colored people are disposed to _thrust_ themselves into the society
of the whites!
"_Prejudice against color_ exists in this community only to a limited
extent, and that chiefly among those who could never bring themselves to
believe that emancipation would really take place. Policy dictates to
them the propriety of confining any expression of their feelings to
those of the same opinions. Nothing is shown of this prejudice in their
intercourse with the colored class--it is '_kept behind the
scenes_.'"--_Ralph Higginbotham, U. S. Consul._
Mr. H. was not the only individual standing in "high places" who
insinuated that the whites that still entertained prejudice were ashamed
of it. His excellency the Governor intimated as much, by his repeated
assurances for himself and his compeers of the first circles, that there
was no such feeling in the island as prejudice against _color_. The
reasons for excluding the colored people from their society, he said,
were wholly different from that. It was chiefly because of their
_illegitimacy_, and also because they were not sufficiently refined, and
because their _occupations_ were of an inferior kind, such as mechanical
trades, small shop keeping, &c. Said he, "You would not wish to ask your
tailor, or your shoemaker, to dine with you?" However, we were too
unsophisticated to coincide in his Excellency's notions of social
TWENTY-SECOND PROPOSITION.--The progress of the anti-slavery discussions
in England did not cause the masters to treat their slaves worse, but on
the contrary restrained them from outrage.
"The treatment of the slaves during the discussions in England, was
manifestly milder than before."--_Dr. Daniell._
"The effect of the proceedings in parliament was to make the planters
treat their slaves better. Milder laws were passed by the assembly, and
the general condition of the slave was greatly ameliorated."--_H.
"The planters did not increase the rigor of their discipline because of
the anti-slavery discussions; but as a general thing, were more lenient
than formerly."--_S. Bourne. Esq._
"We pursued a much milder policy toward our slaves after the agitation
began in England."--_Mr. Jas. Hawoil_.
"The planters did not treat their slaves worse on account of the
discussions; but were more lenient and circumspect."--_Letter of Hon.
"There was far less cruelty exercised by the planters during the
anti-slavery excitement in gland. They were always on their guard to
escape the notice of the abolitionists. _They did not wish to have their
names published abroad, and to be exposed as monsters of
cruelty!_"--_David Cranstoun, Esq._
We have now completed our observations upon Antigua. It has been our
single object in the foregoing account to give an accurate statement of
the results of IMMEDIATE EMANCIPATION. We have not taken a single step
beyond the limits of testimony, and we are persuaded that testimony
materially conflicting with this, cannot be procured from respectable
sources in Antigua. We now leave it to our readers to decide, whether
emancipation in Antigua has been to all classes in that island a
_blessing_ or a _curse_.
We cannot pass from this part of our report without recording the
kindness and hospitality which we everywhere experienced during our
sojourn in Antigua. Whatever may have been our apprehensions of a cool
reception from a community of ex-slaveholders, none of our forebodings
were realized. It rarely Falls to the lot of strangers visiting a
distant land, with none of the contingencies of birth, fortune, or fame,
to herald their arrival, and without the imposing circumstance of a
popular mission to recommend them, to meet with a warmer reception, or
to enjoy a more hearty confidence, than that with which we were honored
in the interesting island of Antigua. The very _object_ of our visit,
humble, and even odious as it may appear in the eyes of many of our own
countrymen, was our passport to the consideration and attention of the
higher classes in that free colony. We hold in grateful remembrance the
interest which all--not excepting those most deeply implicated in the
late system of slavery--manifested in our investigations. To his
excellency the Governor, to officers both civil and military, to
legislators and judges, to proprietors and planters, to physicians,
barristers, and merchants, to clergymen, missionaries, and teachers, we
are indebted for their uniform readiness in furthering our objects, and
for the mass of information with which they were pleased to furnish us.
To the free colored population, also, we are lasting debtors for their
hearty co-operation and assistance. To the emancipated, we recognise our
obligations as the friends of the slave, for their simple-hearted and
reiterated assurances that they should remember the oppressed of our
land in their prayers to God. In the name of the multiplying hosts of
freedom's friends, and in behalf of the millions of speechless but
grateful-hearted slaves, we render to our acquaintances of every class
in Antigua our warmest thanks for their cordial sympathy with the cause
of emancipation in America. We left Antigua with regret. The natural
advantages of that lovely island; its climate, situation, and scenery;
the intelligence and hospitality of the higher orders, and the
simplicity and sobriety of the poor; the prevalence of education,
morality, and religion; its solemn Sabbaths and thronged sanctuaries;
and above _all_, its rising institutions of liberty--flourishing so
vigorously,--conspire to make Antigua one of the fairest portions of the
earth. Formerly it was in our eyes but a speck on the world's map, and
little had we checked if an earthquake had sunk, or the ocean had
overwhelmed it; but now, the minute circumstances in its condition, or
little incidents in its history, are to our minds invested with
None, who are alive to the cause of religious freedom in the world, can
be indifferent to the movements and destiny of this little colony.
Henceforth, Antigua is the morning star of our nation, and though it
glimmers faintly through a lurid sky, yet we hail it, and catch at every
ray as the token of a bright sun which may yet burst gloriously upon us.
Barbadoes was the next island which we visited. Having failed of a
passage in the steamer,[A] (on account of her leaving Antigua on the
Sabbath,) we were reduced to the necessity of sailing in a small
schooner, a vessel of only seventeen tons burthen, with no cabin but a
mere _hole_, scarcely large enough to receive our baggage. The berths,
for there were two, had but one mattress between them; however, a
foresail folded made up the complement.
[Footnote A: There are several English steamers which ply between
Barbadoes and Jamaica, touching at several of the intermediate and
surrounding islands, and carrying the mails.]
The being for the most part directly against us, we were seven days in
reaching Barbadoes. Our aversion to the sepulchre-like cabin obliged us
to spend, not the days only, but the nights mostly on the open deck.
Wrapping our cloaks about us, and drawing our fur caps over our faces,
we slept securely in the soft air of a tropical clime, undisturbed save
by the hoarse voice of the black captain crying "ready, bout" and the
flapping of the sails, and the creaking of the cordage, in the frequent
tackings of our staunch little sea-boat. On our way we passed under the
lee of Guadaloupe and to the windward of Dominica, Martinique and St.
Lucia. In passing Guadaloupe, we were obliged to keep at a league's
distance from the land, in obedience to an express regulation of that
colony prohibiting small English vessels from approaching any nearer.
This is a precautionary measure against the escape of slaves to the
English islands. Numerous small vessels, called _guarda costas_, are
stationed around the coast to warn off vessels and seize upon all slaves
attempting to make their escape. We were informed that the eagerness of
the French negroes to taste the sweets of liberty, which they hear to
exist in the surrounding English islands, is so great, that
notwithstanding all the vigilance by land and sea, they are escaping in
vast numbers. They steal to the shores by night, and seizing upon any
sort of vessel within their reach, launch forth and make for Dominica,
Montserrat, or Antigua. They have been known to venture out in skiffs,
canoes, and such like hazardous conveyances, and make a voyage of fifty
or sixty miles; and it is not without reason supposed, that very many
have been lost in these eager darings for freedom.
Such is their defiance of dangers when liberty is to be won, that old
ocean, with its wild storms, and fierce monsters, and its yawning deep,
and even the superadded terrors of armed vessels ever hovering around
the island, are barriers altogether ineffectual to prevent escape. The
western side of Guadaloupe, along which we passed, is hilly and little
cultivated. It is mostly occupied in pasturage. The sugar estates are on
the opposite side of the island, which stretches out eastward in a low
sloping country, beautifully situated for sugar cultivation. The hills
were covered with trees, with here and there small patches of cultivated
grounds where the negroes raise provisions. A deep rich verdure covered
all that portion of the island which we saw. We were a day and night in
passing the long island of Guadaloupe. Another day and night were spent
in beating through the channel between Gaudaloupe and Dominica: another
day in passing the latter island, and then we stood or Martinique. This
is the queen island of the French West Indies. It is fertile and
healthful, and though not so large as Guadaloupe, produces a larger
revenue. It has large streams of water, and many of the sugar mills are
worked by them. Martinique and Dominica are both very mountainous. Their
highest peaks are constantly covered with clouds, which in their varied
siftings, now wheeling around, then rising or falling, give the hills
the appearance of smoking volcanoes. It was not until the eighth day of
the voyage, that we landed at Barbadoes. The passage from Barbadoes to
Antigua seldom occupies more than three days, the wind being mostly in
In approaching Barbadoes, it presented an entirely difference appearance
from that of the islands we had passed on the way. It is low and level,
almost wholly destitute of trees. As we drew nearer we discovered in
every direction the marks of its extraordinary cultivation. The cane
fields and provision grounds in alternate patches cover the island with
one continuous mantle of green. The mansions of the planters, and the
clusters of negro houses, appear at shore intervals dotting the face of
the island, and giving to it the appearance of a vast village
interspersed with verdant gardens.
We "rounded up" in the bay, off Bridgetown, the principal place in
Barbadoes, where we underwent a searching examination by the health
officer; who, after some demurring, concluded that we might pass muster.
We took lodgings in Bridgetown with Mrs. M., a colored lady.
The houses are mostly built of brick or stone, or wood plastered. They
are seldom more than two stories high, with flat roofs, and huge window
shutters and doors--the structures of a hurricane country. The streets
are narrow and crooked, and formed of white marle, which reflects the
sun with a brilliancy half blinding to the eyes. Most of the buildings
are occupied as stores below and dwelling houses above, with piazzas to
the upper story, which jut over the narrow streets, and afford a shade
for the side walks. The population of Bridgetown is about 30,000. The
population of the island is about 140,000, of whom nearly 90,000 are
apprentices, the remainder are free colored and white in the proportion
of 30,000 free colored and 20,000 whites. The large population exists on
an island not more than twenty miles long, by fifteen broad. The whole
island is under the most vigorous and systematic culture. There is
scarcely a foot of productive land that is not brought into requisition.
There is no such thing as a forest of any extent in the island. It is
thus that, notwithstanding the insignificance of its size, Barbadoes
ranks among the British islands next to Jamaica in value and importance.
It was on account of its conspicuous standing among the English
colonies, that we were induced to visit it, and there investigate the
operations of the apprenticeship system.
Our principal object in the following tales is to give an account of the
working of the apprenticeship system, and to present it in contrast with
that of entire freedom, which has been described minutely in our account
of Antigua. The apprenticeship was designed as a sort of preparation for
freedom. A statement of its results will, therefore, afford no small
data for deciding upon the general principle of _gradualism_!
We shall pursue a plan less labored and prolix than that which it seemed
necessary to adopt in treating of Antigua. As that part of the testimony
which respects the abolition of slavery, and the sentiments of the
planters is substantially the same with what is recorded in the
foregoing pages, we shall be content with presenting it in the sketch of
our travels throughout the island, and our interviews with various
classes of men. The testimony respecting the nature and operations of
the apprenticeship system, will be embodied in a more regular form.
VISIT TO THE GOVERNOR.
At an early day after our arrival we called on the Governor, in
pursuance of the etiquette of the island, and in order to obtain the
assistance of his Excellency in our inquiries. The present Governor is
Sir Evan John Murray McGregor, a Scotchman of Irish reputation. He is
the present chieftain of the McGregor clan, which figures so
illustriously in the history of Scotland. Sir Evan has been
distinguished for his victory in war, and he now bears the title of
Knight, for his achievements in the British service. He is
Governor-General of the windward islands, which include Barbadoes,
Grenada, St. Vincent's, and Tobago. The government house, at which he
resides, is about two miles from town. The road leading to it is a
delightful one, lined with cane fields, and pasture grounds, all verdant
with the luxuriance of midsummer. It passes by the cathedral, the king's
house, the noble residence of the Archdeacon, and many other fine
mansions. The government house is situated in a pleasant eminence, and
surrounded with a large garden, park, and entrance yard. At the large
outer gate, which gives admittance to the avenue leading to the house,
stood a _black_ sentinel in his military dress, and with a gun on his
shoulder, pacing to and fro. At the door of the house we found another
black soldier on guard. We were ushered into the dining hall, which
seems to serve as ante-chamber when not otherwise used. It is a spacious
airy room, overhung with chandeliers and lamps in profusion, and bears
the marks of many scenes of mirth and wassail. The eastern windows,
which extend from the ceiling to the floor, look out upon a garden
filled with shrubs and flowers, among which we recognised a rare variety
of the floral family in full bloom. Every thing around--the extent of
the buildings, the garden, the park, with deer browsing amid the tangled
shrubbery--all bespoke the old English style and dignity.
After waiting a few minutes, we were introduced to his Excellency, who
received us very kindly. He conversed freely on the subject of
emancipation, and gave his opinion decidedly in favor of unconditional
freedom. He has been in the West Indies five years, and resided at
Antigua and Dominica before he received his present appointment; he has
visited several other islands besides. In no island that he has visited
have affairs gone on so quietly and satisfactorily to all parties as in
Antigua. He remarked that he was ignorant of the character of the black
population of the United States, but from what he knew of their
character in the West Indies, he could not avoid the conclusion that
immediate emancipation was entirely safe. He expressed his views of the
apprenticeship system with great freedom. He said it was vexatious to
He remarked that he was so well satisfied that emancipation was safe and
proper, and that unconditional freedom was better than apprenticeship,
that had he the power, he would emancipate every apprentice to-morrow.
It would be better both for the planter and the laborer.
_He thought the negroes in Barbadoes, and in the windward islands
generally, now as well prepared for freedom as the slaves of Antigua._
The Governor is a dignified but plain man, of sound sense and judgement,
and of remarkable liberality. He promised to give us every assistance,
and said, as we arose to leave him, that he would mention the object of
our visit to a number of influential gentlemen, and that we should
shortly hear from him again.
A few days after our visit to the Governor's, we called on the Rev.
Edward Elliott, the Archdeacon at Barbadoes, to whom we had been
previously introduced at the house of a friend in Bridgetown. He is a
liberal-minded man. In 1812, he delivered a series of lectures in the
cathedral on the subject of slavery. The planters became
alarmed--declared that such discourses would lead to insurrection, and
demanded that they should lie abandoned. He received anonymous letters
threatening him with violence unless he discontinued them. Nothing
daunted, however, he went through the course, and afterwards published
the lectures in a volume.
The Archdeacon informed us that the number of churches and clergymen had
increased since emancipation; religious meetings were more fully
attended, and the instructions given had manifestly a greater influence.
Increased attention was paid to _education_ also. Before emancipation
the planters opposed education, and as far as possible, prevented the
teachers from coming to the estates. Now they encouraged it in many
instances, and where they do not directly encourage, they make no
opposition. He said that the number of marriages had very much increased
since the abolition of slavery. He had resided in Barbados for twelve
years, during which time he had repeatedly visited many of the
neighboring islands. He thought the negroes of Barbadoes _were as well
prepared for freedom in 1834, as those of Antigua_, and that there would
have been no bad results had entire emancipation been granted at that
time. He did not think there was the least danger of insurrection. On
this subject he spoke the sentiments of the inhabitants generally. He
did not suppose there were five planters on the island, who entertained
any fears on this score _now_.
On one other point the Archdeacon expressed himself substantially thus:
The planters undoubtedly treated their slaves better during the
anti-slavery discussions in England.
The condition of the slaves was very much mitigated by the efforts which
were made for their entire freedom. The planters softened down, the
system of slavery as much as possible. _They were exceedingly anxious to
put a stop to discussion and investigation._
Having obtained a letter of introduction from an American merchant here
to a planter residing about four miles from town, we drove out to his
estate. His mansion is pleasantly situated on a small eminence, in one
of the coolest and most inviting retreats which is to be seen in this
clime, and we were received by its master with all the cordiality and
frankness for which Barbados is famed. He introduced us to his family,
consisting of three daughters and two sons, and invited us to stop to
dinner. One of his daughters, now here on a visit, is married to an
American, a native of New York, but now a merchant in one of the
southern states, and our connection as fellow countrymen with one dear
to them, was an additional claim to their kindness and hospitality.
He conducted us through all the works and out-buildings, the mill,
boiling-house, caring-house, hospital, store-houses, &c. The people were
at work in the mill and boiling-house, and as we passed, bowed and bade
us "good mornin', massa," with the utmost respect and cheerfulness. A
white overseer was regulating the work, but wanted the insignia of
slaveholding authority, which he had borne for many years, the _whip_.
As we came out, we saw in a neighboring field a gang of seventy
apprentices, of both sexes, engaged in cutting up the cane, while others
were throwing it into carts to be carried to the mill. They were all as
quietly and industriously at work as any body of our own farmers or
mechanics. As we were looking at them, Mr. C., the planter, remarked,
"those people give me more work than when slaves. This estate was never
under so good cultivation as at the present time."
He took us to the building used as the mechanics' shop. Several of the
apprentices were at work in it, some setting up the casks for sugar,
others repairing utensils. Mr. C. says all the work of the estate is
done by the apprentices. His carts are made, his mill kept in order, his
coopering and blacksmithing are all done by them. "All these buildings,"
said he, "even to the dwelling-house, were built after the great storm
of 1831, by the slaves."
As we were passing through the hospital, or sick-house, as it is called
by the blacks, Mr. C. told us he had very little use for it now. There
is no skulking to it as there was under the old system.
Just as we were entering the door of the house, on our return, there was
an outcry among a small party of the apprentices who were working near
by. Mr. C. went to them and inquired the cause. It appeared that the
overseer had struck one of the lads with a stick. Mr. C. reproved him
severely for the act, and assured him if he did such a thing again he
would take him before a magistrate.
During the day we gathered the following information:--
Mr. C. had been a planter for thirty-six years. He has had charge of the
estate on which he now resides ten years. He is the attorney for two
other large estates a few miles from this, and has under his
superintendence, in all, more than a thousand apprenticed laborers. This
estate consists of six hundred and sixty-six acres of land, most of
which is under cultivation either in cane or provisions, and has on it
three hundred apprentices and ninety-two free children. The average
amount of sugar raised on it is two hundred hogsheads of a ton each, but
this year it will amount to at least two hundred and fifty
hogsheads--the largest crop ever taken off since he has been connected
with it. He has planted thirty acres additional this year. The island
has never been under so good cultivation, and is becoming better
During our walk round the works, and during the day, he spoke several
times in general terms of the great blessings of emancipation.
Emancipation is as great a blessing to the master as to the slave.
"Why," exclaimed Mr. C., "it was emancipation to me. I assure you the
first of August brought a great, _great_ relief to me. I felt myself,
for the first time, a freeman on that day. You cannot imagine the
responsibilities and anxieties which were swept away with the extinction
There were many unpleasant and annoying circumstances attending slavery,
which had a most pernicious effect on the master. There was continual
jealousy and suspicion between him and those under him. They looked on
each other as sworn enemies, and there was kept up a continual system of
plotting and counterplotting. Then there was the flogging, which was a
matter of course through the island. To strike a slave was as common as
to strike a horse--then the punishments were inflicted so unjustly, in
innumerable instances, that the poor victims knew no more why they were
punished than the dead in their graves. The master would be a little
ill--he had taken a cold, perhaps, and felt irritable--something were
wrong--his passion was up, and away went some poor fellow to the
whipping post. The slightest offence at such a moment, though it might
have passed unnoticed at another time, would meet with the severest
punishment. He said he himself had more than once ordered his slaves to
be flogged in a passion, and after he became cool he would have given
guineas not to have done it. Many a night had he been kept awake in
thinking of some poor fellow whom he had shut up in the dungeon, and had
rejoiced when daylight came. He feared lest the slave might die before
morning; either cut his throat or dash his head against the wall in his
desperation. He has known such cases to occur.
The apprenticeship will not have so beneficial an effect as he hoped it
would, on account of an indisposition on the part of many of the
planters to abide by its regulations. The planters generally are doing
very little to prepare the apprentices for freedom; but some are doing
very much to unprepare them. They are driving the people from them by
Mr. C. said he often wished for emancipation. There were several other
planters among his acquaintance who had the same feelings, but did not
dare express them. Most of the planters, however, were violently
opposed. Many of them declared that emancipation could not and should
not take place. So obstinate were they, that they would have sworn on
the 31st of July, 1831, that emancipation could not happen. _These very
men now see and acknowledge the benefits which have resulted from the
The first of August passed off very quietly. The people labored on that
day as usual, and had a stranger gone over the island, he would not have
suspected any change had taken place. Mr. C. did not expect his people
would go to work that day. He told them what the conditions of the new
system were, and that after the first of August, they would be required
to turn out to work at six o'clock instead of five o'clock as before. At
the appointed hour every man was at his post in the field. Not one
individual was missing.
The apprentices do more work in the nine hours required by law, than in
twelve hours during slavery.
His apprentices are perfectly willing to work for him during their own
time. He pays them at the rate of twenty-five cents a day. The people
are less quarrelsome than when they were slaves.
About eight o'clock in the evening, Mr. C. invited us to step out into
the piazza. Pointing to the houses of the laborers, which were crowded
thickly together, and almost concealed by the cocoa-nut and calabash
trees around them, he said, "there are probably more than four hundred
people in that village. All my own laborers, with their free children,
are retired for the night, and with them are many from the neighboring
estates." We listened, but all was still, save here and there a low
whistle from some of the watchmen. He said that night was a specimen of
every night now. But it had not always been so. During slavery these
villages were oftentimes a scene of bickering, revelry, and contention.
One might hear the inmates reveling and shouting till midnight.
Sometimes it would be kept up till morning. Such scenes have much
decreased, and instead of the obscene and heathen songs which they used
to sing, they are learning hymns from the lips of their children.
The apprentices are more trusty. They are more faithful in work which is
given them to do. They take more interest in the prosperity of the
estate generally, in seeing that things are kept in order, and that the
property is not destroyed.
They are more open-hearted. Formerly they used to shrink before the eyes
of the master, and appear afraid to meet him. They would go out of their
way to avoid him, and never were willing to talk with him. They never
liked to have him visit their houses; they looked on him as a spy, and
always expected a reprimand, or perhaps a flogging. Now they look up
cheerfully when they meet him, and a visit to their homes is esteemed a
favor. Mr. C. has more confidence in his people than he ever had before.
There is less theft than during slavery. This is caused by greater
respect for character, and the protection afforded to property by law.
For a slave to steal from his master was never considered wrong, but
rather a meritorious act. He who could rob the most without being
detected was the best fellow. The blacks in several of the islands have
a proverb, that for a thief to steal from a thief makes God laugh.
The blacks have a great respect for, and even fear of law. Mr. C.
believes no people on earth are more influenced by it. They regard the
same punishment, inflicted by a magistrate, much more than when
inflicted by their master. Law is a kind of deity to them, and they
regard it with great reverence and awe.
There is no insecurity now. Before emancipation there was a continual
fear of insurrection. Mr. C. said he had lain down in bed many a night
fearing that his throat would be cut before morning. He has started up
often from a dream in which he thought his room was filled with armed
slaves. But when the abolition bill passed, his fears all passed away.
He felt assured there would be no trouble then. The motive to
insurrection was taken away. As for the cutting of throats, or insult
and violence in any way, he never suspects it. He never thinks of
fastening his door at night now. As we were retiring to bed he looked
round the room in which we had been sitting, where every thing spoke of
serenity and confidence--doors and windows open, and books and plate
scattered about on the tables and sideboards. "You see things now," he
said, "just as we leave them every night, but you would have seen quite
a different scene had you come here a few years ago."
_Mr. C. thinks the slaves of Barbadoes might have been entirely and
immediately emancipated as well as those of Antigua._ The results, he
doubts not, would have been the same.
He has no fear of disturbance or insubordination in 1840. He has no
doubt that the people will work. That there may be a little unsettled,
excited, _experimenting_ feeling for a short time, he thinks
probable--but feels confident that things generally will move on
peaceably and prosperously. He looks with much more anxiety to the
emancipation of the non-praedials in 1838.
There is no disposition among the apprentices to revenge their wrongs.
Mr. C. feels the utmost security both of person and property.
The slaves were very much excited by the discussions in England. They
were well acquainted, with them, and looked and longed for the result.
They watched every arrival of the packet with great anxiety. The people
on his estate often knew its arrival before he did. One of his daughters
remarked, that she could see their hopes flashing from their eyes. They
manifested, however, no disposition to rebel, waiting in anxious but
quiet hope for their release. Yet Mr. C. had no doubt, that if
parliament had thrown out the emancipation bill, and all measures had
ceased for their relief, there would have been a general
insurrection.--While there was hope they remained peaceable, but had
hope been destroyed it would have been buried in blood.
There was some dissatisfaction among the blacks with the apprenticeship.
They thought they ought to be entirely free, and that their masters were
deceiving them. They could not at first understand the conditions of the
new system--there was some murmuring among them, but they thought it
better, however, to wait six years for the boon, than to run the risk of
losing it altogether by revolt.
The expenses of the apprenticeship are about the same as during slavery.
But under the free system, Mr. C. has no doubt they will be much less.
He has made a calculation of the expenses of cultivating the estate on
which he resides for one year during slavery, and what they will
probably be for one year under the free system. He finds the latter are
less by about $3,000.
Real estate has increased in value more than thirty per rent. There is
greater confidence in the security of property. Instances were related
to us of estates that could not be sold at any price before
emancipation, that within the last two years have been disposed of at
The complaints to the magistrates, on the part of the planters, were
very numerous at first, but have greatly diminished. They are of the
most trivial and even ludicrous character. One of the magistrates says
the greater part of the cases that come before him are from old women
who cannot get their coffee early enough in the morning! and for
offences of equal importance.
Prejudice has much diminished since emancipation. The discussions in
England prior to that period had done much to soften it down, but the
abolition of slavery has given it its death blow.
Such is a rapid sketch of the various topics touched upon during our
interview with Mr. C. and his family.
Before we left the hospitable mansion of Lear's, we had the pleasure of
meeting a company of gentlemen at dinner. With the exception of one, who
was provost-marshal, they were merchants of Bridgetown. These gentlemen
expressed their full concurrence in the statements of Mr. C., and gave
additional testimony equally valuable.
Mr. W., the provost-marshal, stated that he had the supervision of the
public jail, and enjoyed the best opportunity of knowing the state of
crime, and he was confident that there was a less amount of crime since
emancipation than before. He also spoke of the increasing attention
which the negroes paid to neatness of dress and personal appearance.
The company broke up about nine o'clock, but not until we had seen ample
evidence of the friendly feelings of all the gentlemen toward our
object. There was not a single dissenting voice to any of the statements
made, or any of the sentiments expressed. This fact shows that the
prevailing feeling is in favor of freedom, and that too on the score of
policy and self-interest.
Dinner parties are in one sense a very safe pulse in all matters of
general interest. They rarely beat faster than the heart of the
community. No subject is likely to be introduced amid the festivities of
a fashionable circle, until it is fully endorsed by public sentiment.
Through the urgency of Mr. C., we were induced to remain all night.
Early the next morning, he proposed a ride before breakfast to Scotland.
Scotland is the name given to an abrupt, hilly section, in the north of
the island. It is about five miles from Mr. C.'s, and nine from
Bridgetown. In approaching, the prospect bursts suddenly upon the eye,
extorting an involuntary exclamation of surprise. After riding for
miles, through a country which gradually swells into slight elevations,
or sweeps away in rolling plains, covered with cane, yams, potatoes,
eddoes, corn, and grass, alternately, and laid out with the regularity
of a garden; after admiring the cultivation, beauty, and skill exhibited
on every hand, until almost wearied with viewing the creations of art;
the eye at once falls upon a scene in which is crowded all the wildness
and abruptness of nature in one of her most freakish moods--a scene
which seems to defy the hand of cultivation and the graces of art. We
ascended a hill on the border of this section, which afforded us a
complete view. To describe it in one sentence, it is an immense basin,
from two to three miles in diameter at the top, the edges of which are
composed of ragged hills, and the sides and bottom of which are
diversified with myriads of little hillocks and corresponding
indentations. Here and there is a small sugar estate in the bottom, and
cultivation extends some distance up the sides, though this is at
considerable risk, for not infrequently, large tracts of soil, covered
with cane or provisions, slide down, over-spreading the crops below, and
destroying those which they carry with them.
Mr. C. pointed to the opposite side of the basin to a small group of
stunted trees, which he said were the last remains of the Barbadoes
forests. In the midst of them there is a boiling spring of considerable
In another direction, amid the rugged precipices, Mr. C. pointed out the
residences of a number of poor white families, whom he described as the
most degraded, vicious, and abandoned people in the island--"very far
below the negroes." They live promiscuously, are drunken, licentious,
and poverty-stricken,--a body of most squalid and miserable
From the height on which we stood, we could see the ocean nearly around
the island, and on our right and left, overlooking the basin below us,
rose the two highest points of land of which Barbadoes can boast. The
white marl about their naked tops gives them a bleak and desolate
appearance, which contrasts gloomily with the verdure of the surrounding
After we had fully gratified ourselves with viewing the miniature
representation of old Scotia, we descended again into the road, and
returned to Lear's. We passed numbers of men and women going towards
town with loads of various kinds of provisions on their heads. Some were
black, and others were white--of the same class whose huts had just been
shown us amid the hills and ravines of Scotland. We observed that the
latter were barefoot, and carried their loads on their heads precisely
like the former. As we passed these busy pedestrians, the blacks almost
uniformly courtesied or spoke; but the whites did not appear to notice
us. Mr. C inquired whether we were not struck with this difference in
the conduct of the two people, remarking that he had always observed it.
It is very seldom, said he, that I meet a negro who does not speak to me
politely; but this class of whites either pass along without looking up,
or cast a half-vacant, rude stare into one's face, without opening their
mouths. Yet this people, he added, veriest raggamuffins that they are,
despise the negroes, and consider it quite degrading to put themselves
on term of equity with them. They will beg of blacks more provident and
industrious than themselves, or they will steal their poultry and rob
their provision grounds at night; but they would disdain to associate
with them. Doubtless these _sans culottes_ swell in their dangling rags
with the haughty consciousness that they possess _white skins_. What
proud reflections they must have, as they pursue their barefoot way,
thinking on their high lineage, and running back through the long list
of their illustrious ancestry whose notable badge was a _white skin_! No
wonder they cannot stop to bow to the passing stranger. These sprouts of
the Caucasian race are known among the Barbadians by the rather
ungracious name of _Red Shanks_. They are considered the pest of the
island, and are far more troublesome to the police, in proportion to
their members, than the apprentices. They are estimated at about
The origin of this population we learned was the following: It has long
been a law in Barbadoes, that each proprietor should provide a white man
for every sixty slaves in his possession, and give him an acre of land,
a house, and arms requisite for defence of the island in case of
insurrection. This caused an importation of poor whites from Ireland and
England, and their number has been gradually increasing until the
During our stay of nearly two days with Mr. C., there was nothing to
which he so often alluded as to the security from danger which was now
enjoyed by the planters. As he sat in his parlor, surrounded by his
affectionate family, the sense of personal and domestic security
appeared to be a luxury to him. He repeatedly expressed himself
substantially thus: "During the existence of slavery, how often have I
retired to bed _fearing_ _that I should have my throat cut before
morning_, but _now_ the danger is all over."
We took leave of Lear's, after a protracted visit, not without a
pressing invitation from Mr. C. to call again.
SECOND VISIT TO LEAR'S.
The following week, on Saturday afternoon, we received a note from Mr.
C., inviting us to spend the Sabbath at Lear's, where we might attend
service at a neighboring chapel, and see a congregation composed chiefly
of apprentices. On our arrival, we received a welcome from the
residents, which reassured us of their sympathy in our object. We joined
the family circle around the centre table, and spent the evening in free
conversation on the subject of slavery.
During the evening Mr. C. stated, that he had lately met with a planter
who, for some years previous to emancipation, and indeed up to the very
event, maintained that it was utterly impossible for such a thing ever
to take place. The mother country, he said, could not be so mad as to
take a step which must inevitably ruin the colonies. _Now_, said Mr. C.,
this planter would be one of the last in the island to vote for a
restoration of slavery; nay, he even wishes to have the apprenticeship
terminated at once, and entire freedom given to the people. Such changes
as this were very common.
Mr. C. remarked that during slavery, if the negro ventured to express an
opinion about any point of management, he was met at once with a
reprimand. If one should say, "I think such a course would he best," or,
"Such a field of cane is fit for cutting," the reply would be, "_Think_!
you have no right to think any thing about it. _Do as I bid you_." Mr.
C. confessed frankly, that he had often used such language himself. Yet
at the same time that he affected such contempt for the opinions of the
slaves, he used to go around secretly among the negro houses at night to
overhear their conversation, and ascertain their views. Sometimes he
received very valuable suggestions from them, which he was glad to avail
himself of, though he was careful not to acknowledge their origin.
Soon after supper, Miss E., one of Mr. C.'s daughters, retired for the
purpose of teaching a class of colored children which came to her on
Wednesday and Saturday nights. A sister of Miss E. has a class on the
same days at noon.
During the evening we requested the favor of seeing Miss E.'s school. We
were conducted by a flight of stairs into the basement story, where we
found her sitting in a small recess, and surrounded by a dozen negro
girls; from the ages of eight to fifteen. She was instructing them from
the Testament, which most of them could read fluently. She afterwards
heard them recite some passages which they had committed to memory, and
interspersed the recitations with appropriate remarks of advice and
It is to be remarked that Miss E. commenced instructing after the
abolition; before that event the idea of such an employment would have
been rejected as degrading.
At ten o'clock on Sabbath morning, we drove to the chapel of the parish,
which is a mile and a half from Lear's. It contains seats for five
hundred persons. The body of the house is appropriated to the
apprentices. There were upwards of four hundred persons, mostly
apprentices, present, and a more quiet and attentive congregation we
have seldom seen. The people were neatly dressed. A great number of the
men wore black or blue cloth. The females were generally dressed in
white. The choir was composed entirely of blacks, and sung with
There was so much intelligence in the countenances of the people, that
we could scarcely believe we were looking on a congregation of lately
We returned to Lear's. Mr. C. noticed the change which has taken place
in the observance of the Sabbath since emancipation. Formerly the smoke
would be often seen at this time of day pouring from the chimneys of the
boiling-houses; but such a sight has not been seen since slavery
Sunday used to be the day for the negroes to work on their grounds; now
it is a rare thing for them to do so. Sunday markets also prevailed
throughout the island, until the abolition of slavery.
Mr. C. continued to speak of slavery. "I sometimes wonder," said he, "at
myself, when I think how long I was connected with slavery; but
self-interest and custom blinded me to its enormities." Taking a short
walk towards sunset, we found ourselves on the margin of a beautiful
pond, in which myriads of small gold fishes were disporting--now
circling about in rapid evolutions, and anon leaping above the surface,
and displaying their brilliant sides in the rays of the setting sun.
When we had watched for some moments their happy gambols, Mr. C. turned
around and broke a twig from a bush that stood behind us; "_there is a
bush_," said he, "_which has committed many a murder_." On requesting
him to explain, he said, that the root of it was a most deadly poison,
and that the slave women used to make a decoction of it and give to
their infants to destroy them; many a child had been murdered in this
way. Mothers would kill their children, rather than see them _grow up to
be slaves_. "Ah," he continued, in a solemn tone, pausing a moment and
looking at us in a most earnest manner, "I could write a book about the
evils of slavery. I could write a book about these things."
What a volume of blackness and blood![A]
[Footnote A: We are here reminded of a fact stated by Mr. C. on another
occasion. He said, that he once attended at the death of a planter who
had been noted for his severity to his slaves. It was the most horrid
scene he ever witnessed. For hours before his death he was in the
extremest agony, and the only words which he uttered were, "Africa. O
Africa!" These words he repeated every few minutes, till he died. And
such a ghastly countenance, such distortions of the muscles, such a
hellish glare of the eye, and such convulsions of the body--it made him
shudder to think of them.]
When we arose on Monday morning, the daylight has scarcely broken. On
looking out of the window, we saw the mill slowly moving in the wind,
and the field gang were going out to their daily work. Surely, we
thought, this does not look much like the laziness and insubordination
of freed negroes. After dressing, we walked down to the mill, to have
some conversation with the people. They all bade us a cordial "good
mornin'." The _tender_ of the mill was an old man, whose despised locks
were gray and thin, and on whose brow the hands of time and sorrow had
written many effaceless lines. He appeared hale and cheerful, and
answered our questions in distinct intelligible language. We asked him
how they were all getting along under the new system. "Very well,
massa," said he, "very well, thank God. All peaceable and good." "Do you
like the apprenticeship better then slavery?" "Great deal better, massa;
we is doing well now." "You like the apprenticeship as well as freedom,
don't you?" "O _no_ me massa, freedom _till better_."
"What will you do when you are entirely free?"
"We must work; all have to work when de free come, white and black."
"You are old, and will not enjoy freedom long; why do you wish for
freedom, then?" "Me want to _die_ free, massa--good ting to die free,
and me want to see _children_ free too."
We continued at Lear's during Monday, to be in readiness for a tour to
the windward of the island, which Mr. C. had projected for us, and on
which we were to set out early the next morning. In the course of the
day we had opportunities of seeing the apprentices in almost every
situation--in the field, at the mill, in the boiling-house, moving to
and from work, and at rest. In every aspect in which we viewed them,
they appeared cheerful, amiable, and easy of control. It was admirable
to see with what ease and regularity every thing moved. An estate of
nearly seven hundred acres, with extensive agriculture, and a large
manufactory and distillery, employing three hundred apprentices, and
supporting twenty-five horses, one hundred and thirty head of horned
cattle, and hogs, sheep; and poultry in proportion, is manifestly a most
complicated machinery. No wonder it should have been difficult to manage
during slavery, when the main spring was absent, and every wheel out
We saw the apprentices assemble after twelve o'clock, to receive their
allowances of yams. These provisions are distributed to them twice every
week--on Monday and Thursday. They were strewed along the yard in heaps
of fifteen pounds each. The apprentices came with baskets to get their
allowances. It resembled a market scene, much chattering and talking,
but no anger. Each man, woman, and child, as they got their baskets
filled, placed them of their heads, and marched off to their
On Tuesday morning, at an early hour, Mr. C. took us in his phaeton on
our projected excursion. It was a beautiful morning. There was a full
breeze from the east, which had already started the ponderous wings of
the wind-mills, in every direction. The sun was shaded by light clouds,
which rendered the air quite cool. Crossing the rich valley in which the
Bell estate and other noble properties are situated, we ascended the
cliffs of St. John's--a ridge extending through the parish of that name
and as we rode along its top, eastward, we had a delightful view of sea
and land. Below us on either hand lay vast estates glowing in the,
verdure of summer, and on three sides in the distance stretched the
ocean. Rich swells of land, cultivated and blooming like a vast garden,
extended to the north as far as the eye could reach, and on every other
side down to the water's edge. One who has been accustomed to the
wildness of American scenery, and to the imperfect cultivation,
intercepted with woodland, which yet characterizes the even the oldest
portions of the United States, might revel for a time amid the sunny
meadows. The waving cane fields, the verdant provision grounds, the
acres of rich black soil without a blade of grass, and divided into beds
two feet square for the cane plants with the precision almost of the
cells of a honey comb; and withal he might be charmed with the luxurious
mansions--more luxurious than superb--surrounded with the white cedar,
the cocoa-nut tree, and the tall, rich mountain cabbage--the most
beautiful of all tropical trees; but perchance it would not require a
very long excursion to weary him with the artificiality of the scenery,
and cause him to sigh for the "woods and wilds," the "banks and braes,"
of his own majestic country.
After an hour and a half's drive, we reached Colliton estate, where we
were engaged to breakfast. We met a hearty welcome from the manager,
Samuel Hinkston, Esq. we were soon joined by several gentlemen whom Mr.
H. had invited to take breakfast with us; these were the Rev. Mr.
Gittens, rector of St. Philip's parish, (in which Colliton estate is
situated,) and member of the colonial council; Mr. Thomas, an extensive
attorney of Barbadoes; and Dr. Bell, a planter of Demerara--then on a
visit to the island. We conversed with each of the gentlemen separately,
and obtained their individual views respecting emancipation.
Mr. Hinkston has been a planter for thirty-six years, and is highly
esteemed throughout the island. The estate which he manages, ranks among
the first in the island. It comprises six hundred acres of superior
land, has a population of two hundred apprentices, and yields an average
crop of one hundred and eighty hogsheads. Together with his long
experience and standing as a planter, Mr. H. has been for many years
local magistrate for the parish in which he resides. From these
circumstances combined, we are induced to give his opinions on a variety
1. He remarked that the planters were getting along _infinitely_ better
under the new system than they ever did under the old. Instead of
regretting that the change had taken place, he is looking forward with
pleasure to a better change in 1840, and he only regrets that it is not
to come sooner.
2. Mr. H. said it was generally conceded that the island was never under
better cultivation than at the present time. The crops for this year
will exceed the average by several thousand hogsheads. The canes were
planted in good season, and well attended to afterwards.
3. Real estate has risen very much since emancipation. Mr. H. stated
that he had lately purchased a small sugar estate, for which he was
obliged to give several hundred pounds more than it would have cost him
4. There is not the least sense of insecurity now. Before emancipation
there was much fear of insurrection, but that fear passed away
5. The prospect for 1840 is good. That people have no fear of ruin after
emancipation, is proved by the building of sugar works on estates which
never had any before, and which were obliged to cart their canes to
neighbouring estates to have them ground and manufactured. There are
also numerous improvements making on the larger estates. Mr. H. is
preparing to make a new mill and boiling-house on Colliton, and other
planters are doing the same. Arrangements are making too in various
directions to build new negro villages on a more commodious plan.
6. Mr. H. says he finds his apprentices perfectly ready to work for
wages during their own time. Whenever he needs their labor on Saturday,
he has only to ask them, and they are ready to go to the mill, or field
at once. There has not been an instance on Colliton estate in which the
apprentices have refused to work, either during the hours required by
law, or during their own time. When he does not need their services on
Saturday, they either hire themselves to other estates or work on their
7. Mr. H. was ready to say, both as a planter and a magistrate, that
vice and crime generally had decreased, and were still on the decrease.
Petty thefts are the principal offences. He has not had occasion to send
a single apprentice to the court of sessions for the last six months.
8. He has no difficulty in managing his people--far less than he did
when they were slaves. It is very seldom that he finds it necessary to
call in the aid of the special magistrate. Conciliatory treatment is
generally sufficient to maintain order and industry among the
9. He affirms that the negroes have no disposition to be revengeful. He
has never seen any thing like revenge.
10. His people are as far removed from insolence as from vindictiveness.
They have been uniformly civil.
11. His apprentices have more interest in the affairs of the estate, and
he puts more confidence in them than he ever did before.
12. He declares that the working of the apprenticeship, as also that of
entire freedom, depends entirely on the _planters_. If they act with
common humanity and reason, there is no fear but that the apprentices
will be peaceable.
Mr. Thomas is attorney for fifteen estates, on which there are upwards
of two thousand five hundred apprentices. We were informed that he had
been distinguished as a _severe disciplinarian_ under the old reign, or
in plain terms, had been a _cruel man and a hard driver_; but he was one
of those who, since emancipation, have turned about and conformed their
mode of treatment to the new system. In reply to our inquiry how the
present system was working, he said, "infinitely better (such was his
language) than slavery. I succeed better on all the estates under my
charge than I did formerly. I have far less difficulty with the people.
I have no reason to complain of their conduct. However, I think they
will do still better after 1840."
We made some inquiries of Dr. Bell concerning the results of abolition
in Demerara. He gave a decidedly flattering account of the working of
the apprenticeship system. No fears are entertained that Demerara will
be ruined after 1840. On the contrary it will be greatly benefited by
emancipation. It is now suffering from a want of laborers, and after
1840 there will be an increased emigration to that colony from the older
and less productive colonies. The planters of Demerara are making
arrangements for cultivating sugar on a larger scale than ever before.
Estates are selling at very high prices. Every thing indicates the
fullest confidence on the part of the planters that the prosperity of
the colony will not only be permanent, but progressive.
After breakfast we proceeded to the Society's estate. We were glad to
see this estate, as its history is peculiar. In 1726 it was bequeathed
by General Coddington to a society in England, called "The Society for
the promotion of Christian Knowledge." The proceeds of the estate were
to be applied to the support of an institution in Barbadoes, for
educating missionaries of the established order. Some of the provisions
of the will were that the estate should always have three hundred slaves
upon it; that it should support a school for the education of the negro
children who were to be taught a portion of every day until they were
twelve years old, when they were to go into the field; and that there
should be a chapel built upon it. The negroes belonging to the estate
have for upwards of a hundred years been under this kind of instruction.
They have all been taught to read, though in many instances they have
forgotten all they learned, having no opportunity to improve after they
left school. They enjoy some other comforts peculiar to the Society's
estate. They have neat cottages built apart--each on a half-acre lot,
which belongs to the apprentice and for the cultivation of which he is a
allowed one day out of the five working days. Another peculiarity is,
that the men and women work in separate gangs.
At this estate we procured horses to ride to the College. We rode by the
chapel and school-house belonging to the Society's estate which are
situated on the row of a high hill. From the same hill we caught a view
of Coddrington college, which is situated on a low bottom extending from
the foot of the rocky cliff on which we stood to the sea shore, a space
of quarter of a mile. It is a long, narrow, ill-constructed edifice.
We called on the principal, Rev. Mr. Jones, who received us very
cordially, and conducted us over the buildings and the grounds connected
with them. The college is large enough to accommodate a hundred
students. It is fitted out with lodging rooms, various professors'
departments, dining hall, chapel, library, and all the appurtenances of
a university. The number of student at the close of the last term was
The professors, two in number, are supported by a fund, consisting of
L40,000 sterling, which has in part accumulated from the revenue of
The principal spoke favorably of the operation of the apprenticeship in
Barbadoes, and gave the negroes a decided superiority over the lower
class of whites. He had seen only one colored beggar since he came to
the island, but he was infested with multitudes of white ones.
It is intended to improve the college buildings as soon as the toil of
apprentices on the Society's estate furnishes the requisite means. This
robbing of God's image to promote education is horrible enough, taking
the wages of slavery to spread the kingdom of Christ!
On re-ascending the hill, we called at the Society's school. There are
usually in attendance about one hundred children, since the abolition of
slavery. Near the school-house is the chapel of the estate, a neat
building, capable of holding three or four hundred people. Adjacent to
the chapel is the burial ground for the negroes belonging to the
Society's estate. We noticed several neat tombs, which appeared to have
been erected only a short time previous. They were built of brick, and
covered over with lime, so as to resemble white marble slabs. On being
told that these were erected by the negroes themselves over the bodies
of their friends, we could not fail to note so beautiful an evidence of
their civilization and humanity. We returned to the Society's estate,
where we exchanged our saddles for the phaeton, and proceeded on our
Mr. C. took us out of the way a few miles to show us one of the few
curiosities of which Barbadoes can boast. It is called the "Horse." The
shore for some distance is a high and precipitous ledge of rocks, which
overhangs the sea in broken cliffs. In one place a huge mass has been
riven from the main body of rock and fallen into the sea. Other huge
fragments have been broken off in the same manner. In the midst of
these, a number of steps have been cut in the rock for the purpose of
descending to the sea. At the bottom of these steps, there is a broad
platform of solid rock, where one may stand securely, and hear the waves
breaking around him like heavy thunders. Through the fissures we could
see the foam and spray mingling with the blue of the ocean, and flashing
in the sunshine. To the right, between the largest rock and the main
land, there is a chamber of about ten feet wide, and twenty feet long.
The fragment, which forms one of its sides, leans towards the main rock,
and touches it at top, forming a roof, with here and there a fissure,
through which the light enters. At the bottom of the room there is a
clear bed of water, which communicates with the sea by a small aperture
under the rock. It is as placid as a summer pond, and is fitted with
steps for a bathing place. Bathe, truly! with the sea ever dashing
against the side, and roaring and reverberating with deafening echo.
On a granite slab, fixed in the side of the rock at the bottom of the
first descent is an inscription. Time has very much effaced the letters,
but by the aid of Mr. C.'s memory, we succeeded in deciphering them.
They will serve as the hundred and first exemplification of the
Bonapartean maxim--"There is but one step from the sublime to the
"In this remote, and hoarse resounding place,
Which billows clash, and craggy cliffs embrace,
These babbling springs amid such horrors rise,
But armed with virtue, horrors we despise.
Bathe undismayed, nor dread the impending rock,
'Tis virtue shields us from each adverse shock.
GENIO LOCI SACRUM POSUIT
From the "Crane," which is the name given to that section of the country
in which the "Horse" is situated, we bent our way in a southerly
direction to the Ridge estate, which was about eight miles distant,
where we had engaged to dine. On the way we passed an estate which had
just been on fire. The apprentices, fearing lest their houses should be
burnt, had carried away all the moveables from them, and deposited them
in separate heaps, on a newly ploughed field. The very doors and window
shutters had been torn off and carried into the field, several acres of
which were strewed over with piles of such furniture. Mr. C. was
scarcely less struck with this scene than we were, and he assured us
that he had never known such providence manifested on a similar occasion
At the Ridge estate we met Mr. Clarke, manager at Staple Grove estate,
Mr. Applewhitte of Carton, and a brother of Mr. C. The manager, Mr.
Cecil, received us with the customary cordiality.
Mr. Clarke is the manager of an estate on which there are two hundred
apprentices. His testimony was, that the estate was better cultivated
since abolition than before, and that it is far easier to control the
laborers, and secure uniformity of labor under the present system. He
qualified this remark, by saying, that if harsh or violent measures were
used, there would be more difficulty now than during slavery; but kind
treatment and a conciliatory spirit never failed to secure peace and
industry. At the time of abolition, Mr. C. owned ten slaves, whom he
entirely emancipated. Some of these still remain with him as domestics;
others are hired on an adjoining estate. One of those who left him to
work on another estate, said to him, "Massa, whenever you want anybody
to help you, send to me, and I'll come. It makes no odds when it
is--I'll be ready at any time--day or night." Mr. C. declared himself
thoroughly convinced of the propriety of immediate emancipation; though
he was once a violent opposer of abolition. He said, that if he had the
power, be would emancipate every apprentice on his estate to-morrow. As
we were in the sugar-house examining the quality of the sugar, Mr. C.
turned to one of us, and putting his hand on a hogshead, said, "You do
not raise this article in your state, (Kentucky,) I believe." On being
answered in the negative, he continued, "Well, we will excuse you, then,
somewhat in your state--you can't treat your slaves so cruelly there.
_This, this_ is the dreadful thing! Wherever sugar is cultivated by
slaves, there is extreme suffering."
Mr. Applewhitte said emphatically, that there was no danger in entire
emancipation. He was the proprietor of more than a hundred apprentices
and he would like to see them all free at once.
During a long sitting at the dinner table, emancipation was the topic,
and we were gratified with the perfect unanimity of sentiment among
these planters. After the cloth was removed, and we were about leaving
the table, Mr. Clarke begged leave to propose a toast. Accordingly, the
glasses of the planters were once more filled, and Mr. C., bowing to us,
gave our health, and "success to our laudable undertaking,"--"_most_
laudable undertaking," added Mr. Applewhitte, and the glasses were
emptied. Had the glasses contained water instead of wine, our
gratification would have been complete. It was a thing altogether beyond
our most sanguine expectations, that a company of planters, all of whom
were but three years previous the actual oppressors of the slave, should
be found wishing success to the cause of emancipation.
At half past eight o'clock, we resumed our seats in Mr. C.'s phaeton,
and by the nearest route across the country, returned to Lear's. Mr. C.
entertained us by the way with eulogies upon the industry and
faithfulness of his apprentices. It was, he said, one of the greatest
pleasures he experienced, to visit the different estates under his
charge, and witness the respect and affection which the apprentices
entertained towards him. Their joyful welcome, their kind attentions
during his stay with them, and their hearty 'good-bye, massa,' when he
left, delighted him.
VISIT TO COLONEL ASHBY'S.
We were kindly invited to spend a day at the mansion of Colonel Ashby,
an aged and experienced planter, who is the proprietor of the estate on
which he resides. Colonel A.'s estate is situated in the parish of
Christ Church, and is almost on the extreme point of a promontory, which
forms the southernmost part of the island. An early and pleasant drive
of nine miles from Bridgetown, along the southeastern coast of the
island, brought us to his residence. Colonel A. is a native of
Barbadoes, has been a practical planter since 1795, and for a long time
a colonial magistrate, and commander of the parish troops. His present
estate contains three hundred and fifty acres, and has upon it two
hundred and thirty apprentices, with a large number of free children.
His average crop is eighty large hogsheads. Colonel A. remarked to us,
that he had witnessed many cruelties and enormities under "the reign of
terror." He said, that the abolition of slavery had been an incalculable
blessing, but added, that he had not always entertained the same views
respecting emancipation. Before it took place, he was a violent opposer
of any measure tending to abolition. He regarded the English
abolitionists, and the anti-slavery members in parliament, with
unmingled hatred. He had often cursed Wilberforce most bitterly, and
thought that no doom either in this life, or in the life to come, was
too bad for him. "But," he exclaimed, "how mistaken I was about that
man--I am convinced of it now--O he was a good man--_a noble
philanthropist_!--_if there is a chair in heaven, Wilberforce is in
it_!" Colonel A. is somewhat sceptical, which will account for his
hypothetical manner of speaking about heaven.
He said that he found no trouble in managing his apprentices. As local
or colonial magistrate, in which capacity he still continued to act he
had no cases of serious crime to adjudicate, and very few cases of petty
misdemeanor. Colonel A. stated emphatically, that the negroes were not
disposed to leave their employment, unless the master was intolerably
passionate and hard with them; as for himself, he did not fear losing a
single laborer after 1840.
He dwelt much on the trustiness and strong attachment of the negroes,
where they are well treated. There were no people in the world that he
would trust his property or life with sooner than negroes, provided he
had the previous management of them long enough to secure their
confidence. He stated the following fact in confirmation of this
sentiment. During the memorable insurrection of 1816, by which the
neighboring parishes were dreadfully ravaged, he was suddenly called
from home on military duty. After he had proceeded some distance, he
recollected that he had left five thousand dollars in an open desk at
home. He immediately told the fact to his slave who was with him, and
sent him back to take care of it. He knew nothing more of his money
until the rebellion was quelled, and peace restored. On returning home,
the slave led him to a cocoa-nut tree near by the house, and dug up the
money, which he had buried under its roots. He found the whole sum
secure. The negro, he said, might have taken the money, and he would
never have suspected him, but would have concluded that it had been, in
common with other larger sums, seized upon by the insurgents. Colonel A.
said that it was impossible for him to mistrust the negroes as a body.
He spoke in terms of praise also of the _conjugal attachment_ of the
negroes. His son, a merchant, stated a fact on this subject. The wife of
a negro man whom he knew, became afflicted with that loathsome disease,
the leprosy. The man continued to live with her, notwithstanding the
disease was universally considered contagious and was peculiarly dreaded
by the negroes. The man on being asked why he lived with his wife under
such circumstances, said, that he had lived with her when she was well,
and he could not bear to forsake her when she was in distress.
Colonel A. made numerous inquiries respecting slavery in America. He
said there certainly be insurrections in the slaveholding states, unless
slavery was abolished. Nothing but abolition could put an end to
Mr. Thomas, a neighboring planter, dined with us. He had not carried a
complaint to the special magistrate against his apprentices for six
months. He remarked particularly that emancipation had been a great
blessing to the master; it brought freedom to him as well as to
A few days subsequent to our visit to Colonel A.'s, the Reverend Mr.
Packer, of the Established Church, called at our lodgings, and
introduced a planter from the parish of St. Thomas. The planter is
proprietor of an estate, and has eighty apprentices. His apprentices
conduct themselves very satisfactorily, and he had not carried a half
dozen complaints to the special magistrate since 1831. He said that
cases of crime were very rare, as he had opportunity of knowing, being
local magistrate. There were almost no penal offences brought before
him. Many of the apprentices of St. Thomas parish were buying their
freedom, and there were several cases of appraisement[A] every week. The
Monday previous, six cases came before him, in four of which the
apprentices paid the money on the spot.
[Footnote A: When an apprentice signifies his wish to purchase his
freedom, he applies to the magistrate for an appraisement. The
appraisement is made by one special and two local magistrates.]
Before this gentleman left, the Rev. Mr. C. called in with Mr. Pigeot,
another planter, with whom we had a long conversation. Mr. P. has been a
manager for many years. We had heard of him previously as the only
planter in the island who had made an experiment in task work prior to
abolition. He tried it for twenty months before that period on an estate
of four hundred acres and two hundred people. His plan was simply to
give each slave an ordinary day's work for a task; and after that was
performed, the remainder of the time, if any, belonged to the slave. _No
wages were allowed_. The gang were expected to accomplish just as much
as they did before, and to do it as well, however long a time it might
require; and if they could finish in half a day, the other half was
their own, and they might employ it as they saw fit. Mr. P. said, he was
very soon convinced of the good policy of the system; though he had one
of the most unruly gangs of negroes to manage in the whole island. The
results of the experiment he stated to be these:
1. The usual day's work was done generally before the middle of the
afternoon. Sometimes it was completed in five hours.
2. The work was done as well as it was ever done under the old system.
Indeed, the estate continued to improve in cultivation, and presented a
far better appearance at the close of the twenty months than when he
took the charge of it.
3. The trouble of management was greatly diminished. Mr. P. was almost
entirely released from the care of overseeing the work: he could trust
it to the slaves.
4. The whip was entirely laid aside. The idea of having a part of the
day which they could call their own and employ for their own interests,
was stimulus enough for the slaves without resorting to the whip.
5. The time gained was not spent (as many feared and prophecied it would
be) either in mischief or indolence. It was diligently improved in
cultivating their provision grounds, or working for wages on neighboring
estates. Frequently a man and his wife would commence early and work
together until they got the work of both so far advanced that the man
could finish it alone before night; and then the woman would gather on a
load of yams and start for the market.
6. The condition of the people improved astonishingly. They became one
of the most industrious and orderly gangs in the parish. Under the
former system they were considered inadequate to do the work of the
estate, and the manager was obliged to hire additional hands every year,
to take off the crop; but Mr. P. never hired any, though he made as
large crops as were made formerly.
7. After the abolition of slavery, his people chose to continue on the
same system of task work.
Mr. P. stated that the planters were universally opposed to his
experiment. They laughed at the idea of making negroes work without
using the whip; and they all prophesied that it would prove an utter
failure. After some months' successful trial, he asked some of his
neighbor planters what they thought of it then, and he appealed to than
to say whether he did not get his work done as thoroughly and seasonably
as they did theirs. They were compelled to admit it; but still they were
opposed to his system, even more than ever. They called it an
_innovation_--it was setting a bad example; and they honestly declared
that they did not wish the slaves to _have any time of their own_. Mr.
P. said, he was first induced to try the system of task work from a
consideration that the negroes were men as well as himself, and deserved
to he dealt with as liberally as their relation would allow. He soon
found that what was intended as a favor to the slaves was really a
benefit to the master. Mr. P. was persuaded that entire freedom would be
better for all parties than apprenticeship. He had heard some fears
expressed concerning the fate of the island after 1840; but he
considered them very absurd.
Although this planter looked forward with sanguine hopes to 1840, yet he
would freely say that he did not think the apprenticeship would be any
preparation for entire freedom. The single object with the great
majority of the planters seemed to be to _get as much out_ of the
apprentices as they possibly could during the term. No attention had
been paid to preparing the apprentices for freedom.
We were introduced to a planter who was notorious during the reign of
slavery for the _strictness of his discipline_, to use the Barbadian
phrase, or, in plain English, for his rigorous treatment and
He is the proprietor of three sugar estates and one cotton plantation in
Barbadoes, on all of which there are seven hundred apprentices. He was a
luxurious looking personage, bottle-cheeked and huge i' the midst, and
had grown fat on slaveholding indulgences. He mingled with every
sentence he uttered some profane expression, or solemn appeal to his
"honor," and seemed to be greatly delighted with hearing himself talk.
He displayed all those prejudices which might naturally be looked for in
a mind educated and trained as his had been. As to the conduct of the
apprentices, he said they were peaceable and industrious, and mostly
well disposed. But after all, the negroes were a perverse race of
people. It was a singular fact, he said, that the severer the master,
the better the apprentices. When the master was mild and indulgent, they
were sure to be lazy, insolent, and unfaithful. _He knew this by
experience; this was the case with_ his _apprentices_. His house-servants
especially were very bad. But there was one complaint he had against
them all, domestics and praedials--they always hold him to the letter of
the law, and are ready to arraign him before the special magistrate for
every infraction of it on his part, however trifling. How ungrateful,
truly! After being provided for with parental care from earliest
infancy, and supplied yearly with two suits of clothes, and as many yams
is they could eat and only having to work thirteen or fifteen hours per
day in return; and now when they are no longer slaves, and new
privileges are conferred to exact them to the full extent of the law
which secures them--what ingratitude! How soon are the kindnesses of the
past, and the hand that bestowed them, forgotten! Had these people
possessed the sentiments of human beings, they would have been willing
to take the boon of freedom and lay it at their master's feet,
dedicating the remainder of their days to his discretionary service!
But with all his violent prejudices, this planter stated some facts
which are highly favorable to the apprentices.
1. He frankly acknowledged that his estates were never under better
cultivation than at the present time: and he could say the same of the
estates throughout the island. The largest crops that have ever been
made, will he realized this year.
2. The apprentices are generally willing to work on the estates on
Saturday whenever their labor is needed.
3. The females are very much disposed to abandon field labor. He has
great difficulty sometimes in inducing them to take their hoes and go
out to the field along with the men; it was the case particularly _with
the mothers!_ This he regarded as a sore evil!
4. The free children he represented as being in a wretched condition.
Their parents have the entire management of them, an they are utterly
opposed to having them employed on the estates. He condemned severely
the course taken in a particular instance by the late Governor, Sir
Lionel Smith. He took it upon himself to go around the island and advise
the parents never to bind their children in any kind of apprenticeship
to the planters. He told them that sooner than involve their free
children in any way, they ought to "work their own fingers to the
stubs." The consequence of this imprudent measure, said our informant,
is that the planters have no control over the children born on their
estates; and in many instances their parents have sent them away lest
their _residence_ on the property should, by some chance, give the
planter a claim upon their services. Under the good old system the young
children were placed together under the charge of some superannuated
women, who were fit for nothing else, and the mothers went into the
field to work; now the nursery is broken up, and the mothers spend half
of their time "_in taking care of their brats_."
5. As to the management of the working people, there need not he any
more difficulty now then during slavery. If the magistrates, instead of
encouraging the apprentices to complain and be insolent, would join
their influence to support the authority of the planters, things might
go on nearly as smoothly as before.
In company with Rev. Mr. Packer, late Rector of St. Thomas, we rode out
to the Belle estate, which is considered one of the finest in the
island. Mr. Marshall, the manager, received us cordially. He was
selected, with two others, by Sir Lionel Smith, to draw up a scale of
labor for general use in the island. There are five hundred acres in the
estate, and two hundred and thirty-five apprenticed laborers. The
manager stated that every thing was working well on his property. He
corroborated the statements made by other planters with retard to the
conduct of the apprentices. On one point he said the planters had found
themselves greatly disappointed. It was feared that after emancipation
the negroes would be very much verse to cultivating cane, as it was
supposed that nothing but the whip could induce them to perform that
species of labor. But the truth is, they now not only cultivate the
estate lands better than they did when under the lash, but also
cultivate a third of their half-acre allotments in cane on their own
accounts. They would plant the whole in cane if they were not
discouraged by the planter, whose principal objection to their doing so
is that it would lead to the entire neglect of _provision cultivation_.
The apprentices on Belle estate will make little short of one thousand
dollars the present season by their sugar.
Mr. M. stated that he was extensively acquainted with the cultivation of
the island, and he knew that it was in a better condition than it had
been for many years. There were twenty-four estates under the same
attorneyship with the Belle, and they were all in the same prosperous
A short time before we left Barbadoes we received an invitation from
Col. Barrow, to breakfast with him at his residence on Edgecome
estate--about eight miles from town. Mr. Cummins, a colored gentleman, a
merchant of Bridgetown, and agent of Col. B., accompanied us.
The proprietor of Edgecome is a native of Barbadoes, of polished manners
and very liberal views. He has travelled extensively, has held many