Part 5 out of 16
they sing of it, and they write of it; they chant to liberty in their
school rooms, and they resume the strains on their homeward way, till
every rustling lime-grove, and waving cane-field, is alive with their
notes, and every hillock and dell rings with "free" echoes.
The girls, in their turn, pressed around us with the liveliest eagerness
to display their little pieces of needle-work. Some had samplers marked
with letters and devices in vari-colored silk. Others showed specimens
of stitching; while the little ones held up their rude attempts at
hemming handkerchiefs, aprons, and so on.
During the exercises we spoke to several elderly women, who were present
to witness the scene. They were laborers on the estates, but having
children in the school, they had put on their Sunday dresses, and "come
to see." We spoke to one, of the privileges which the children were
enjoying, since freedom. Her eyes filled, and she exclaimed, "Yes,
massa, we do tank de good Lord for bring de free--never can be too
tankful." She said she had seven children present, and it made her feel
happy to know that they were learning to read. Another woman said, when
she heard the children reading so finely, she wanted to "take de word's
out of da mouts and put em in her own." In the morning, when she first
entered the school house, she felt quite sick, but all the pleasant
things she saw and heard, had made her well, and she added, "I tell you,
me massa, it do my old heart good to come here." Another aged woman, who
had grand-children in the school, said, when she saw what advantages the
children enjoyed, she almost cried to think she was not a child too.
Besides these there were a number of adult men and women, whom curiosity
or parental solicitude had brought together, and they were thronging
about the windows and doors witnessing the various exercises with the
deepest interest. Among the rest was one old patriarch, who, anxious to
bear some part however humble in the exercises of the occasion, walked
to and fro among the children, with a six feet pole in his hand, to
These schools, and those examined at Parham, are under the general
supervision of Mr. Charles Thwaites, an indefatigable and long tried
friend of the negroes.
We here insert a valuable communication which we received from Mr. T. in
reply to several queries addressed to him. It will give further
information relative to the schools.
_Mr. Charles Thwaites' Replies to Queries on Education in Antigua._
1. What has been your business for some years past in Antigua?
A superintendent of schools, and catechist to the negroes.
2. How long have you been engaged in this business?
Twenty-four years. The first four years engaged gratuitously, ten years
employed by the Church Missionary Society, and since, by the Wesleyan
3. How many schools have you under your charge?
Sunday schools, (including all belonging to the Wesleyan Missionary
Society,) eight, with 1850 scholars; day schools, seventeen with 1250
scholars; night schools on twenty-six estates, 336 scholars. The total
number of scholars under instruction is about 3500.
4. Are the scholars principally the children who were emancipated in
Yes, except the children in St. John's, most of whom were free before.
5. Are the teachers negroes, colored, or white?
One white, four colored, and sixteen black.[A]
[Footnote A: This number includes only salaried teachers, and not the
6. How many of the teachers were slaves prior to the first of August,
7. What were their opportunities for learning?
The Sunday and night schools; and they have much improved themselves
since they have been in their present employment.
8. What are their qualifications for teaching, as to education,
religion, zeal, perseverance, &c.?
The white and two of the colored teachers, I presume, are well
calculated, in all respects, to carry on a school in the ablest manner.
The others are deficient in education, but are zealous, and very
9. What are the wages of these teachers?
The teachers' pay is, some four, and some three dollars per month. This
sum is far too small, and would be greater if the funds were sufficient.
10. How and by whom are the expenses of superintendent, teachers, and
The superintendent's salary, &c., is paid by the Wesleyan Missionary
Society. The expenses of teachers and schools are defrayed by charitable
societies and friends in England, particularly the Negro Education
Society, which grants 50l. sterling per annum towards this object, and
pays the rent of the Church Missionary Society's premises in Willoughby
Bay for use of the schools. About 46l. sterling per annum is also raised
from the children; each child taught writing and needle-work, pays
1-1/2d. sterling per week.
11. Is it your opinion that the negro children are as ready to receive
instruction as white children?
Yes, perfectly so.
12. Do parents manifest interest in the education of their children?
They do. Some of the parents are, however, still very ignorant, and are
not aware how much their children lose by irregular attendance at
13. Have there been many instances of _theft_ among the scholars?
Not more than among any other class of children.
Besides an attendance upon the various schools, we procured specific
information from teachers, missionaries, planters, and others, with
regard to the past and present state of education, and the weight of
testimony was to the following effect:
First, That education was by no means extensive previous to
emancipation. The testimony of one planter was, that not a _tenth part_
of the present adult population knew the letters of the alphabet. Other
planters, and some missionaries, thought the proportion might be
somewhat larger; but all agreed that it was very small. The testimony of
the venerable Mr. Newby, the oldest Moravian missionary in the island,
was, that such was the opposition among the planters, it was impossible
to teach the slaves, excepting by night, secretly. Mr. Thwaites informed
us that the children were not allowed to attend day school after they
were six years old. All the instruction they obtained after that age,
was got at night--a very unsuitable time to study, for those who worked
all day under an exhausting sun. It is manifest that the instruction
received under six years of age, would soon be effaced by the incessant
toil of subsequent life. The account given in a former connection of the
adult school under the charge of Mr. Morrish, at Newfield, shows most
clearly the past inattention to education. And yet Mr. M. stated that
his school was a _fair specimen of the intelligence of the negroes
generally_. One more evidence in point is the acknowledged ignorance of
Mr. Thwaites' teachers. After searching through the whole freed
population for a dozen suitable teachers of children. Mr. T. could not
find even that number who could _read well_. Many children in the
schools of six years old read better than their teachers.
We must not be understood to intimate that up to the period of the
Emancipation, the planters utterly prohibited the education of their
slaves. Public sentiment had undergone some change previous to that
event. When the public opinion of England began to be awakened against
slavery, the planters were indured, for peace sake, to _tolerate_
education to some extent; though they cannot be said to have
_encouraged_ it until after Emancipation. This is the substance of the
statements made to us. Hence it appears that when the active opposition
of the planters to education ceased, it was succeeded by a general
indifference, but little less discouraging. We of course speak of the
planters as a body; there were some honorable exceptions.
Second, Education has become very extensive _since_ emancipation. There
are probably not less than _six thousand_ children who now enjoy daily
instruction. These are of all ages under twelve. All classes feel an
interest in _knowledge_. While the schools previously established are
flourishing in newness of life, additional ones are springing up in
every quarter. Sabbath schools, adult and infant schools, day and
evening schools, are all crowded. A teacher in a Sabbath school in St.
John's informed us, that the increase in that school immediately after
emancipation was so sudden and great, that he could compare it to
nothing but the rising of the mercury when the thermometer is removed
_out of the shade into the sun_.
We learned that the Bible was the principal book taught in all the
schools throughout the island. As soon as the children have learned to
read, the Bible is put into their hands. They not only read it, but
commit to memory portions of it every day:--the first lesson in the
morning is an examination on some passage of scripture. We have never
seen, even among Sabbath school children, a better acquaintance with the
characters and events recorded in the Old and New Testaments, than among
the negro children in Antigua. Those passages which inculcate _obedience
to law_ are strongly enforced; and the prohibitions against stealing,
lying, cheating, idleness, &c., are reiterated day and night.
Great attention is paid to _singing_ in all the schools.
The songs which they usually sung, embraced such topics as Love to
God--the presence of God--obedience to parents--friendship for brothers
and sisters and schoolmates--love of school--the sinfulness of sloth, of
lying, and of stealing. We quote the following hymn as a specimen of the
subjects which are introduced into their songs: often were we greeted
with this sweet hymn, while visiting the different schools throughout
We're all brothers, sisters, brothers,
We're sisters and brothers,
And heaven is our home.
We're all brothers, sisters, brothers,
We're sisters and brothers,
And heaven is our home.
The God of heaven is pleased to see
That little children all agree;
And will not slight the praise they bring,
When loving children join to sing:
We're all brothers, sisters, brothers, &c.
For love and kindness please him more
Than if we gave him all our store;
And children here, who dwell in love,
Are like his happy ones above.
We're all brothers, sisters, brothers, &c.
The gentle child that tries to please,
That hates to quarrel, fret, and teaze,
And would not say an angry word--
That child is pleasing to the Lord.
We're all brothers, sisters, brothers, &c.
O God! forgive, whenever we
Forget thy will, and disagree;
And grant that each of us, may find
The sweet delight of being kind.
We're all brothers, sisters, brothers, &c.
We were convinced that the negroes were as capable of receiving
instruction as any people in the world. The testimony of teachers,
missionaries, clergymen, and planters, was uniform on this point.
Said one planter of age and long experience on the island, "The negroes
are as capable of culture as any people on earth. _Color makes no
difference in minds_. It is slavery alone that has degraded the negro."
Another planter, by way of replying to our inquiry on this subject, sent
for a negro child of five years, who read with great fluency in any part
of the Testament to which we turned her. "Now," said the gentleman, "I
should be ashamed to let you hear my own son, of the same age with that
little girl, read after her." We put the following questions to the
Wesleyan missionaries: "Are the negroes as _apt to learn_, as other
people in similar circumstances?" Their written reply was this: "We
think they are; the same diversified qualities of intellect appear among
them, as among other people." We put the same question to the Moravian
missionaries, to the clergymen, and to the teachers of each
denomination, some of whom, having taught schools in England, were well
qualified to judge between the European children and the negro children;
and we uniformly received substantially the same answer. Such, however,
was the air of surprise with which our question was often received, that
it required some courage to repeat it. Sometimes it excited a smile, as
though we could not be serious in the inquiry. And indeed we seldom got
a direct and explicit answer, without previously stating by way of
explanation that we had no doubts of our own, but wished to remove those
extensively entertained among our countrymen. After all, we were
scarcely credited in Antigua. Such cases as the following were common in
every school: children of four and five years old reading the Bible;
children beginning in their A, B, C's, and learning to read in four
months; children of five and six, answering a variety of questions on
the historical parts of the Old Testament; children but a little older,
displaying fine specimens of penmanship, performing sums in the compound
rules, and running over the multiplication table, and the pound,
shilling, and pence table, without mistake.
We were grieved to find that most of the teachers employed in the
instruction of the children, were exceedingly unfit for the work. They
are very ignorant themselves, and have but little skill in the
management of children. This however is a necessary evil. The
emancipated negroes feel a great anxiety for the education of their
children. They encourage them to go to school, and they labor to support
them, while they have strong temptation to detain them at home to work.
They also pay a small sum every week for the maintenance of the schools.
In conclusion, we would observe, that one of the prominent features of
_regenerated_ Antigua, is its _education_. An intelligent religion, and
a religious education, are the twin glories of this emancipated colony.
It is comment enough upon the difference between slavery and freedom,
that the same agents which are deprecated as the destroyers of the one,
are cherished as the defenders of the other.
Before entering upon a detail of the testimony which bears more directly
upon slavery in America, we deem it proper to consider the inquiry.
"What is the amount of freedom in Antigua, as regulated by law?"
1st. The people are entirely free from the whip, and from all compulsory
control of the master.
2d. They can change employers whenever they become dissatisfied with
their situation, by previously giving a month's notice.
3d. They have the right of trial by jury in all cases of a serious
nature, while for small offences, the magistrate's court is open. They
may have legal redress for any wrong or violence inflicted by their
4th. Parents have the entire control of their children. The planter
cannot in any way interfere with them. The parents have the whole charge
of their support.
5th. By an express provision of the legislature, it was made obligatory
upon every planter to support all the superannuated, infirm, or diseased
on the estate, _who were such at this time of emancipation_. Those who
have become so since 1834, fall upon the hands of their relatives for
6th. The amount of wages is not determined by law. By a general
understanding among the planters, the rate is at present fixed at a
shilling per day, or a little more than fifty cents per week, counting
five working days. This matter is wisely left to be regulated by the
character of the seasons, and the mutual agreement of the parties
concerned. As the island is suffering rather from a paucity of laborers,
than otherwise, labor must in good seasons command good wages. The
present rate of wages is extremely low, though it is made barely
tolerable by the additional perquisites which the people enjoy. They
have them houses rent free, and in connection with them small premises
forty feet square, suitable for gardens, and for raising poultry, and
pigs, &c.; for which they always find a ready market. Moreover, they are
burthened with no taxes whatever; and added to this, they are supplied
with medical attendance at the expense of the estates.
7th. The master is authorized in case of neglect of work, or turning out
late in the morning, or entire absence from labor, to reduce the wages,
or withhold them for a time, not exceeding a week.
8th. The agricultural laborers may leave the field whenever they choose,
(provided they give a month's previous notice,) and engage in any other
business; or they may purchase land and become cultivators themselves,
though in either case they are of course liable to forfeit their houses
on the estates.
9th. They may leave the island, if they choose, and seek their fortunes
in any other part of the world, by making provision for their near
relatives left behind. This privilege has been lately tested by the
emigration of some of the negroes to Demerara. The authorities of the
island became alarmed lest they should lose too many of the laboring
population, and the question was under discussion, at the time we were
in Antigua, whether it would not be lawful to prohibit the emigration.
It was settled, however, that such a measure would be illegal, and the
planters were left to the alternative of either being abandoned by their
negroes, or of securing their continuance by adding to their comforts
and treating them kindly.
10. The right of suffrage, and eligibility to office are subject to no
restrictions, save the single one of property, which is the same with
all colors. The property qualification, however, is so great, as
effectually to exclude the whole agricultural negro population for
11th. _The main constabulary force is composed of emancipated negroes,
living on the estates_. One or two trust-worthy men on each estate are
empowered with the authority of constables in relation to the people on
the same estate, and much reliance is placed upon these men, to preserve
order and to bring offenders to trial.
12th. A body of police has been established, whose duty it is to arrest
all disorderly or riotous persons, to repair to the estates in case of
trouble, and co-operate with the constables, in arraigning all persons
charged with the violation of law.
13th. The punishment for slight offences, such as stealing sugar-canes
from the field, is confinement in the house of correction, or being
sentenced to the tread-mill, for any period from three days to three
months. The punishment for burglary, and other high offences, is
solitary confinement in chains, or transportation for life to
Such are the main features in the statutes, regulating the freedom of
the emancipated population of Antigua. It will be seen that there is no
enactment which materially modifies, or unduly restrains, the liberty of
the subject. There are no secret reservations or postscript provisoes,
which nullify the boon of freedom. Not only is slavery utterly
abolished, but all its appendages are scattered to the winds; and a
system of impartial laws secures justice to all, of every color and
The measure of success which has crowned the experiment of emancipation
in Antigua--an experiment tried under so many adverse circumstances, and
with comparatively few local advantages--is highly encouraging to
slaveholders in our country. It must be evident that the balance of
advantages between the situation of Antigua and that of the South, _is
decidedly in favor of the latter_. The South has her resident
proprietors, her resources of wealth, talent, and enterprise, and her
preponderance of white population; she also enjoys a regularity of
seasons, but rarely disturbed by desolating droughts, a bracing climate,
which imparts energy and activity to her laboring population, and
comparatively numerous wants to stimulate and press the laborer up to
the _working mark_; she has close by her side the example of a free
country, whose superior progress in internal improvements, wealth, the
arts and sciences, morals and religion, all ocular demonstration to her
of her own wretched policy, and a moving appeal in favor of abolition;
and above all, site has the opportunity of choosing her own mode, and of
ensuring all the blessings of a _voluntary and peaceable manumission_,
while the energies, the resources, the sympathies, and the prayers of
the North, stand pledged to her assistance.
* * * * *
FACTS AND TESTIMONY.
We have reserved the mass of facts and testimony, bearing immediately
upon slavery in America, in order that we might present them together in
a condensed furor, under distinct heads. These heads, it will be
perceived, consist chiefly of propositions which are warmly contested in
our country. Will the reader examine these principles in the light of
facts? Will the candid of our countrymen--whatever opinions they may
hitherto hate entertained on this subject--hear the concurrent testimony
of numerous planters, legislators, lawyers, physicians, and merchants,
who have until three years past been wedded to slavery by birth,
education, prejudice, associations, and supposed interest, but who have
since been divorced from all connection with the system?
In most cases we shall give the names, the stations, and business of our
witnesses; in a few instances, in which we were requested to withhold
the name, we shall state such circumstances as will serve to show the
standing and competency of the individuals. If the reader should find in
what follows, very little testimony unfavorable to emancipation, he may
know the reason to be, that little was to be gleaned from any part of
Antigua. Indeed, we may say that, with very few exceptions, the
sentiments here recorded as coming from individuals, are really the
sentiments of the whole community. There is no such thing known in
Antigua as an _opposing, disaffected party_. So complete and thorough
has been the change in public opinion, that it would be now
_disreputable_ to speak against emancipation.
FIRST PROPOSITION.--The transition from slavery to freedom is
represented as a greet revolution, by which a prodigious change was
effected in _the condition of the negroes_.
In conversation with us, the planters often spoke of the greatness and
suddenness of the change. Said Mr. Barnard, of Green Castle estate, "The
transition from slavery to freedom, was like passing suddenly out of a
dark dungeon into the light of the sun."
R.B. Eldridge, Esq., a member of the assembly, remarked, that, "There
never had been in the history of the world so great and instantaneous a
change in the condition of so large a body of people."
The Honorable Nicholas Nugent, speaker of the house of assembly, and
proprietor, said, "There never was so sudden a transition from one state
to another, by so large a body of people. When the clock began to strike
the hour of twelve on the last night of July, 1834, the negroes of
Antigua were _slaves_--when it ceased they were all _freemen!_ It was a
stupendous change," he said, "and it was one of the sublimest spectacles
ever witnessed, to see the subjects of the change engaged at the very
moment it occurred, in worshipping God."
These, and very many similar ones, were the spontaneous expressions of
men _who had long contended against the change_ of which they spoke.
It is exceedingly difficult to make slaveholders see that there is any
material difference between slavery and freedom; but when they have once
renounced slavery, they _will magnify this distinction_ more than any
other class of men.
SECOND PROPOSITION.--Emancipation in Antigua was the result of political
and pecuniary considerations merely.
Abolition was seen to be inevitable, and there were but two courses left
to the colonists--to adopt the apprenticeship system, or immediate
emancipation. Motives of convenience led them to choose the latter.
Considerations of general philanthropy, of human rights, and of the
sinfulness of slavery, were scarcely so much as thought of.
Some time previous to the abolition of slavery, a meeting of the
influential men of the island was called in St. John's, to memorialize
parliament against the measure of abolition. When the meeting convened,
the Hon. Samuel O. Baijer, who had been the champion of the opposition,
was called upon to propose a plan of procedure. To the consternation of
the pro-slavery meeting, their leader arose and spoke to the following
effect:--"Gentlemen, my previous sentiments on this subject are well
known to you all; be not surprised to learn that they have undergone an
entire change, I have not altered my views without mature deliberation.
I have been making calculations with regard to the probable results of
emancipation, and _I have ascertained beyond a doubt, that I can
cultivate my estate at least one third cheaper by free labor than by
slave labor_." After Mr. B. had finished his remarks, Mr. S. Shands,
member of assembly, and a wealthy proprietor, observed that he
entertained precisely the same views with those just expressed; but he
thought that the honorable gentleman had been unwise in uttering them in
so public a manner; "for," said he, "should these sentiments reach the
ear of parliament, as coming from us, _it might induce them to withhold
Col. Edwards, member of the assembly, then arose and said, that he had
long been opposed to slavery, but he had not _dared to avow his
As might be supposed, the meeting adjourned without effecting the object
for which it was convened.
When the question came before the colonial assembly, similar discussions
ensued, and finally the bill for immediate emancipation passed both
bodies _unanimously_. It was an evidence of the spirit of selfish
expediency, which prompted the whole procedure, that they clogged the
emancipation bill with the proviso that a certain governmental tax on
exports, called the four and a half per cent tax[A], should be repealed.
Thus clogged, the bill was sent home for sanction, but it was rejected
by parliament, and sent back with instructions, that before it could
receive his majesty's seal, it must appear wholly unencumbered with
extraneous provisoes. This was a great disappointment to the
legislature, and it so chagrined them that very many actually withdrew
their support from the bill for emancipation, which passed finally in
the assembly only by the casting vote of the speaker.
[Footnote A: We subjoin the following brief history of the four and a
half per cent. tax, which we procured from the speaker of the assembly.
In the rein of Charles II., Antigua was conquered by the French, and the
inhabitants were forced to swear allegiance to the French government. In
a very short time the French were driven off the island and the English
again took possession of it. It was then declared, by order of the king,
that as the people had, by swearing allegiance to another government,
forfeited the protection of the British government, and all title to
their lands, they should not again receive either, except on condition
of paying to the king a duty of four and a half per cent on every
article exported from the island--and that they were to do in
_perpetuity_. To this hard condition they were obliged to submit, and
they have groaned under the onerous duty ever since. On every occasion,
which offered any hope, they have sought the repeal of the tax, but have
uniformly been defeated. When they saw that the abolition question was
coming to a crisis, they resolved to make a last effort for the repeal
of the four and a half percent duty. They therefore adopted immediate
emancipation, and then, covered as they were, with the laurels of so
magnanimous an act, they presented to parliament their cherished object.
The defeat was a humiliating one, and it produced such a reaction in the
island, as well nigh led to the rescinding of the abolition bill.]
The verbal and written statements of numerous planters also confirm the
declaration that emancipation was a measure solely of selfish policy.
Said Mr. Bernard, of Green Castle estate "Emancipation was preferred to
apprenticeship, because it was attended with less trouble, and left the
planters independent, instead of being saddled with a legion of
Said Dr. Daniell, member of the council, and proprietor--"The
apprenticeship was rejected by us solely from motives of policy. We did
not wish to be annoyed with stipendiary magistrates."
Said Hon. N. Nugent--"We wished to let ourselves down in the easiest
manner possible; _therefore_ we chose immediate freedom in preference to
"Emancipation was preferred to apprenticeship, because of the inevitable
and endless perplexities connected with the latter system."--_David
Cranstoun, Esq., colonial magistrate and planter_.
"It is not pretended that emancipation was produced by the influence of
religious considerations. It was a measure of mere convenience and
interest."--_A Moravian Missionary_.
The following testimony is extracted from a letter addressed to us by a
highly respectable merchant of St. John's--a gentleman of long
experience on the island, and now agent for several estates.
"Emancipation was an act of mere policy, adopted as _the safest and most
Our last item of testimony under this head is from a written statement
by the Hon. N. Nugent, speaker of the assembly, at the time of
emancipation. His remarks on this subject, although long, we are sure
will be read with interest. Alluding to the adoption of immediate
emancipation in preference to the apprenticeship, he observes:--
"The reasons and considerations which led to this step were various, of
course impressing the minds of different individuals in different
degrees. As slave emancipation could not be averted, and must inevitably
take place very shortly, it was better to meet the crisis at once, than
to have it hanging over our heads for six years, with all its harassing
doubts and anxieties; better to give an air of grace to that which would
be ultimately unavoidable; the slaves should rather have a motive of
gratitude and kind reciprocation, than to feel, on being declared free,
that their emancipation could neither be withheld nor retarded by their
owners. The projected apprenticeship, while it destroyed the means of an
instant coercion in a state of involuntary labor, equally withdrew or
neutralized all those urgent motives which constrain to industrious
exertion in the case of freemen. It abstracted from the master, in a
state of things then barely remunerative, one fourth of the time and
labor required in cultivation, and gave it to the servant, while it
compelled the master to supply the same allowances as before. With many
irksome restraints, conditions, and responsibilities imposed on the
master, it had no equivalent advantages. There appeared no reason, in
short, why general emancipation would not do as well in 1834 as in 1840.
Finally, a strong conviction existed that from peculiarity of climate
and soil, the physical wants and necessities of the peasantry would
compel them to labor for their subsistence, to seek employment and wages
from the proprietors of the soil; and if the _transformation_ could be
safely and quietly brought about, that the _free_ system might be
cheaper and more profitable than the other."
The general testimony of planters, missionaries, clergymen, merchants,
and others, was in confirmation of the same truth.
There is little reason to believe that the views of the colonists on
this subject have subsequently undergone much change. We did not hear,
excepting occasionally among the missionaries and clergy, the slightest
insinuation thrown out that _slavery was sinful_; that the slaves had a
right to freedom, or that it would have been wrong to have continued
them in bondage. The _politics_ of anti-slavery the Antiguans are
exceedingly well versed in, but of its _religion_, they seem to feel but
little. They seem never to have examined slavery in its moral relations;
never to have perceived its monstrous violations of right and its
impious tramplings upon God and man. The Antigua planters, it would
appear, have _yet_ to repent of the sin of slaveholding.
If the results of an emancipation so destitute of _principle_, so purely
selfish, could produce such general satisfaction, and be followed by
such happy results, it warrants us in anticipating still more decided
and unmingled blessings in the train of a voluntary, conscientious, and
THIRD PROPOSITION.--The _event_ of emancipation passed PEACEFULLY. The
first of August, 1834, is universally regarded in Antigua, as having
presented a most imposing and sublime moral spectacle. It is almost
impossible to be in the company of a missionary, a planter, or an
emancipated negro, for ten minutes, without hearing some allusion to
that occasion. Even at the time of our visit to Antigua, after the lapse
of nearly three years, they spoke of the event with an admiration
For some time previous to the first of August, forebodings of disaster
lowered over the island. The day was fixed! Thirty thousand degraded
human beings were to be brought forth from the dungeon of slavery and
"turned loose on the community!" and this was to be done "in a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye."
Gloomy apprehensions were entertained by many of the planters. Some
timorous families did not go to bed on the night of the 31st of July;
fear drove sleep from their eyes, and they awaited with fluttering pulse
the hour of midnight, fearing lest the same bell which sounded the
jubilee of the slaves might toll the death knell of the masters.[A]
[Footnote A: We were informed by a merchant of St. John's, that several
American vessels which had lain for weeks in the harbor, weighed anchor
on the 31st of July, and made their escape, through actual fear, that
the island would be destroyed on the following day. Ere they set sail
they earnestly besought our informant to escape from the island, as he
valued his life.]
The more intelligent, who understood the disposition of the negroes, and
contemplated the natural tendencies of emancipation, through
philosophical principles, and to the light of human nature and history,
were free from alarm.
To convey to the reader some idea of the manner in which the great
crisis passed, we give the substance of several accounts which were
related to us in different parts of the island, by those who
The Wesleyans kept "watch-night" in all their chapels on the night of
the 31st July. One of the Wesleyan missionaries gave us an account of
the watch meeting at the chapel in St. John's. The spacious house was
filled with the candidates for liberty. All was animation and eagerness.
A mighty chorus of voices swelled the song of expectation and joy, and
as they united in prayer, the voice of the leader was drowned in the
universal acclamations of thanksgiving and praise, and blessing, and
honor, and glory, to God, who had come down for their deliverance. In
such exercises the evening was spent until the hour of twelve
approached. The missionary then proposed that when the clock on the
cathedral should begin to strike, the whole congregation should fall
upon their knees and receive the boon of freedom in silence.
Accordingly, as the loud bell tolled its first note, the immense
assembly fell prostrate on their knees. All was silence, save the
quivering half-stifled breath of the struggling spirit. The slow notes
of the clock fell upon the multitude; peal on peal, peal on peal, rolled
over the prostrate throng, in tones of angels' voices, thrilling among
the desolate chords and weary heart strings. Scarce had the clock
sounded its last note, when the lightning flashed vividly around, and a
loud peal of thunder roared along the sky--God's pillar of fire, and
trump of jubilee! A moment of profoundest silence passed--then came the
_burst_--they broke forth in prayer; they shouted, they sung, "Glory,"
"alleluia;" they clapped their hands, leaped up, fell down, clasped each
other in their free arms, cried, laughed, and went to and fro, tossing
upward their unfettered hands; but high above the whole there was a
mighty sound which ever and anon swelled up; it was the utterings in
broken negro dialect of gratitude to God.
After this gush of excitement had spent itself; and the congregation
became calm, the religious exercises were resumed, and the remainder of
the night was occupied in singing and prayer, in reading the Bible, and
in addresses from the missionaries explaining the nature of the freedom
just received, and exhorting the freed people to be industrious, steady,
obedient to the laws, and to show themselves in all things worthy of the
high boon which God had conferred upon them.
The first of August came on Friday, and a release was proclaimed from
all work until the next Monday. The day was chiefly spent by the great
mass of the negroes in the churches and chapels. Thither they flocked
"as clouds, and as doves to their windows." The clergy and missionaries
throughout the island were actively engaged, seizing the opportunity in
order to enlighten the people on all the duties and responsibilities of
their new relation, and above all, urging them to the attainment of that
higher liberty with which Christ maketh his children free. In every
quarter we were assured that the day was like a Sabbath. Work had
ceased; the hum of business was still, and noise and tumult were unheard
on the streets. Tranquillity pervaded the towns and country. A Sabbath
indeed! when the wicked ceased from troubling, and the weary were at
rest, and the slave was free from his master! The planters informed us
that they went to the chapels where their own people were assembled,
greeted them, shook hands with them, and exchanged the most hearty
The churches and chapels were thronged all over the island. At Cedar
Hall, a Moravian station, the crowd was so great that the minister was
obliged to remove the meeting from the chapel to a neighboring grove.
At Grace Hill, another Moravian station, the negroes went to the
Missionary on the day before the first of August, and begged that they
might be allowed to have a meeting in the chapel at sunrise. It is the
usual practice among the Moravians to hold but one sunrise meeting
during the year, and that is on the morning of Easter: but as the people
besought very earnestly for this special favor on the Easter morning of
their freedom, it was granted to them.
Early in the morning they assembled at the chapel. For some time they
sat in perfect silence. The missionary then proposed that they should
kneel down and sing. The whole audience fell upon their knees, and sung
a hymn commencing with the following verse:
"Now let us praise the Lord,
With body, soul and spirit,
Who doth such wondrous things,
Beyond our sense and merit."
The singing was frequently interrupted with the tears and sobbings of
the melted people, until finally it was wholly arrested, and a tumult of
emotion overwhelmed the congregation.
During the day, repeated meetings were held. At eleven o'clock, the
people assembled in vast numbers. There were at least a _thousand_
persons around the chapel, who could not get in. For once the house of
God suffered violence, and the violent took it by force. After all the
services of the day, the people went again to the missionaries in a
body, and petitioned to have a meeting in the evening.
At Grace Bay, the people, all dressed in white, assembled in a spacious
court in front of the Moravian chapel. They formed a procession and
walked arm in arm into the chapel. Similar scenes occurred at all the
chapels and at the churches also. We were told by the missionaries that
the dress of the negroes on that occasion was uncommonly simple and
modest. There was not the least disposition of gaiety.
We were also informed by planters and missionaries in every part of the
island, that there was not a single dance known of, either day or night,
nor so much as a fiddle played. There were no riotous assemblies, no
drunken carousals. It was not in such channels that the excitement of
the emancipated flowed. They were as far from dissipation and
debauchery, as they were from violence and carnage. GRATITUDE was the
absorbing emotion. From the hill-tops, and the valleys, the cry of a
disenthralled people went upward like the sound of many waters, "Glory
to God, glory to God."
The testimony of the planters corresponds fully with that of the
Said R.B. Eldridge, Esq., after speaking of the number emancipated, "Yet
this vast body, (30,000,) _glided_ out of slavery into freedom with the
Dr. Daniell observed, that after so prodigious a revolution in the
condition of the negroes, he expected that some irregularities would
ensue; but he had been entirely disappointed. He also said that he
anticipated some relaxation from labour during the week following
emancipation. But he found his hands in the field early on Monday
morning, and not one missing. The same day he received word from another
estate, of which he was proprietor,[A] that the negroes had to a man
refused to go to the field. He immediately rode to the estate and found
the people standing with their hoes in their hands doing nothing. He
accosted them in a friendly manner: "What does this mean, my fellows,
that you are not at work this morning?" They immediately replied, "It's
not because we don't want to work, massa, but we wanted to see you first
and foremost to _know what the bargain would be_." As soon as that
matter was settled, the whole body of negroes turned out cheerfully,
without a moment's cavil.
[Footnote A: It is not unusual in the West Indies for proprietors to
commit their own estates into the hands of managers; and be themselves,
the managers of other men's estates.]
Mr. Bourne, of Millar's, informed us that the largest gang he had ever
seen in the field on his property, turned out the _week after
Said Hon. N. Nugent, "Nothing could surpass the universal propriety of
the negroes' conduct on the first of August, 1834! Never was there a
more beautiful and interesting spectacle exhibited, than on that
FOURTH PROPOSITION.--There has been _since_ emancipation, not only _no
rebellion in fact_, but NO FEAR OF IT in Antigua.
Proof 1st. The militia were not called out during Christmas holidays.
_Before_ emancipation, martial law invariably prevailed on the holidays,
but the very first Christmas after emancipation, the Governor made a
proclamation stating that _in consequence of the abolition of slavery_
it was no longer necessary to resort to such a precaution. There has not
been a parade of soldiery on any subsequent Christmas.[B]
[Footnote B: This has been followed by a measure on the part of the
Legislature, which is further proof of the same thing. It is "an Act for
amending and further continuing the several Acts at present in force for
better organizing and ordering the militia."
The preamble reads thus:
"WHEREAS the abolition of slavery in this island renders it
expedient to provide against an unnecessary augmentation of the
militia, and the existing laws for better organizing and ordering
that local force require amendment."
The following military advertisement also shows the increasing
confidence which is felt in the freed men:
"RECRUITS WANTED.--The free men of Antigua are now called on to show
their gratitude and loyalty to King WILLIAM, for the benefits he has
conferred on them and their families, by volunteering their services
as soldiers in his First West India Regiment; in doing which they
will acquire a still higher rank in society, by being placed on a
footing of perfect equality with the other troops in his Majesty's
service, and receive the same bounty, pay, clothing, rations and
None but young men of good character can be received, and all such
will meet with every encouragement by applying at St. John's
H. DOWNIE, _Capt. 1st W.I. Regt_. _September 15th_, 1836."
2d. The uniform declaration of planters and others:
"Previous to emancipation, many persons apprehended violence and
bloodshed as the consequence of turning the slaves all loose. But when
emancipation took place, all these apprehensions vanished. The sense of
personal security is universal. We know not of a single instance in
which the negroes have exhibited a _revengeful spirit_."
_S. Bourne, Esq., of Millar's.--Watkins, Esq., of Donovan's._
"It has always appeared to me self-evident, that if a man is peaceable
while a _slave_, he will be so when a _free man_."
"There is no possible danger of personal violence from the slaves;
should a foreign power invade our island, I have no doubt that the
negroes would, to a man, fight for the planters. I have the utmost
confidence in all the people who are under my management; they are my
friends, and they consider me their friend."
_H. Armstrong, Esq., of Fitch's Creek._
The same gentleman informed us that during slavery, he used frequently
to lie sleepless on his bed, thinking about his dangerous situation--a
lone white person far away from help, and surrounded by hundreds of
savage slaves; and he had spent hours thus, in devising plans of
self-defence in case the house should be attacked by the negroes. "If
they come," he would say to himself, "and break down the door, and fill
my bedroom, what shall I do? It will be useless to fire at them; my only
hope is to frighten the superstitious fellows by covering myself with a
white sheet, and rushing into the midst of them, crying,
Now Mr. A. sleeps in peace and safety, without conjuring up a ghost to
keep guard at his bedside. His bodyguard is a battalion of substantial
flesh and blood, made up of those who were once the objects of his
"There has been no instance of personal violence since freedom. Some
persons pretended, prior to emancipation, to apprehend disastrous
results; but for my part I cannot say that I ever entertained such
fears. I could not see any thing which was to instigate negroes to
rebellion, _after_ they had obtained their liberty. I have not heard of
a single case of even _meditated_ revenge."
_Dr. Daniell, Proprietor, Member of Council, Attorney of six estates,
and Manager of Weatherill's._
"One of the blessings of emancipation has been, that it has banished the
_fear_ of insurrections, incendiarism, &c."
_Mr. Favey, Manager of Lavicount's._
"In my extensive intercourse with the people, as missionary, I have
never heard of an instance of violence or revenge on the part of the
negroes, even where they had been ill-treated during slavery."
_Rev. Mr. Morrish, Moravian Missionary._
"Insurrection or revenge is in no case dreaded, not even by those
planters who were most cruel in the time of slavery. My family go to
sleep every night with the doors unlocked, and we fear neither violence
_Hon. N. Nugent._
Again, in a written communication, the same gentleman remarks:--"There
is not the slightest feeling of insecurity--quite the contrary. Property
is more secure, _for all idea of insurrection is abolished forever_."
"We have no cause now to fear insurrections; emancipation has freed us
from all danger on this score."
_David Cranstoun, Esq._
Extract of a letter from a merchant of St. John's who has resided in
Antigua more than thirty years:
"There is no sense of personal danger arising from insurrections or
conspiracies among the blacks. Serious apprehensions of this nature were
formerly entertained; but they gradually died away _during the first
year of freedom_."
We quote the following from a communication addressed to us by a
gentleman of long experience in Antigua--now a merchant in St.
John's--_James Scotland, Sen., Esq._
"Disturbances, insubordinations, and revelry, have greatly decreased
since emancipation; and it is a remarkable fact, that on the day of
abolition, which was observed with the solemnity and services of the
Sabbath, not an instance of common insolence was experienced from any
"There is no feeling of insecurity. A stronger proof of this cannot be
given than the dispensing, within five months after emancipation, with
the Christmas guards, which had been regularly and uninterruptedly kept,
for nearly one hundred years--during the whole time of slavery."
"The military has never been called out, but on one occasion, since the
abolition, and that was when a certain planter, the most violent enemy
of freedom, reported to the Governor that there were strong symptoms of
insurrection among his negroes. The story was generally laughed at, and
the reporter of it was quite ashamed of his weakness and fears."
"My former occupation, as editor of a newspaper, rendered it necessary
for me to make incessant inquiries into the conduct as well as the
treatment of the emancipated, and I have _never heard any instance of
revenge_ for former injuries. The negroes have _quitted_ managers who
were _harsh or cruel_ to them in their bondage, but they removed in a
peaceable and orderly manner."
"Our negroes, and I presume other negroes too, are very little less
sensible to the force of those motives which lead to the peace, order,
and welfare of society, than any other set of people."
"The general conduct of the negroes has been worthy of much praise,
especially considering the sudden transition from slavery to
unrestricted freedom. Their demeanor is peaceable and orderly."
_Ralph Higinbothom, U. S. Consul._
As we mingled with the missionaries, both in town and country, they all
bore witness to the security of their persons and families. They,
equally with the planters, were surprised that we should make any
inquiries about insurrections. A question on this subject generally
excited a smile, a look of astonishment, or some exclamation, such as
"_Insurrection_! my dear sirs, we do not think of such a thing;" or,
"Rebellion indeed! why, what should they rebel for _now_, since they
have got their liberty!"
Physicians informed us that they were in the habit of riding into the
country at all hours of the night, and though they were constantly
passing negroes, both singly and in companies, they never had
experienced any rudeness, nor even so much as an insolent word. They
could go by night or day, into any part of the island where their
professional duties called them, without the slightest sense of danger.
A residence of nine weeks in the island gave us no small opportunity of
testing the reality of its boasted security. The hospitality of planters
and missionaries, of which we have recorded so many instances in a
previous part of this work, gave us free access to their houses in every
part of the island. In many cases we were constrained to spend the night
with them, and thus enjoyed, in the intimacies of the domestic circle,
and in the unguarded moments of social intercourse, every opportunity of
detecting any lurking fears of violence, if such there had been; but we
saw no evidence of it, either in the arrangements of the houses or in
the conduct of the inmates[A].
[Footnote A: In addition to the evidence derived from Antigua, we
would mention the following fact:
A planter, who is also an attorney, informed us that on the neighboring
little island of Barbuda, (which is leased from the English government
by Sir Christopher Coddrington,) there are five hundred negroes and only
_three white men_. The negroes are entirely free, yet the whites
continue to live among them without any fear of having their throats
cut. The island is cultivated in sugar.--Barbuda is under the
government of Antigua, and accordingly the act of entire emancipation
extended to that island.]
FIFTH PROPOSITION.--There has been no fear of house breaking, highway
robberies, and like misdemeanors, since emancipation. Statements,
similar to those adduced under the last head, from planters, and other
gentlemen, might be introduced here; but as this proposition is so
intimately involved in the foregoing, separate proof is not necessary.
The same causes which excite apprehensions of insurrection, produce
fears of robberies and other acts of violence; so also the same state of
society which establishes security of person, insures the safety of
property. Both in town and country we heard gentlemen repeatedly speak
of the slight fastenings to their houses. A mere lock, or bolt, was all
that secured the outside doors, and they might be burst open with ease,
by a single man. In some cases, as has already been intimated, the
planters habitually neglect to fasten their doors--so strong is their
confidence of safety. We were not a little struck with the remark of a
gentleman in St. John's. He said he had long been desirous to remove to
England, his native country, and had slavery continued much longer in
Antigua, he certainly should have gone; but _now_ the _security of
property was so much greater in Antigua than it was in England_, that he
thought it doubtful whether he should ever _venture_ to take his
SIXTH PROPOSITION.--Emancipation is regarded by all classes as a great
blessing to the island.
There is not a class, or party, or sect, who do not esteem the abolition
of slavery as a _special blessing to them_. The rich, because it
relieved them of "property" which was fast becoming a disgrace, as it
had always been a vexation and a tax, and because it has emancipated
them from the terrors of insurrection, which kept them all their life
time subject to bondage. The poor whites--because it lifted from off
them the yoke of civil oppression. The free colored population--because
it gave the death blow to the prejudice that crushed them, and opened
the prospect of social, civil, and political equality with the whites.
The _slaves_--because it broke open their dungeon, led them out to
liberty, and gave them, in one munificent donation, their wives, their
children, their bodies, their souls--every thing!
The following extracts from the journals of the legislature, show the
state of feeling existing shortly after emancipation. The first is dated
October 30, 1834:
"The Speaker said, that he looked with exultation at the prospect before
us. The hand of the Most High was evidently working for us. Could we
regard the universal tranquillity, the respectful demeanor of the lower
classes, as less than an interposition of Providence? The agricultural
and commercial prosperity of the island were absolutely on the advance;
and for his part he would not hesitate to purchase estates to-morrow."
The following remark was made in the course of a speech by a member of
the council, November 12, 1834:
"Colonel Brown stated, that since emancipation he had never been without
a sufficient number of laborers, and he was certain he could obtain as
many more to-morrow as he should wish."
The general confidence in the beneficial results of emancipation, has
grown stronger with every succeeding year and month. It has been seen
that freedom will bear trial; that it will endure, and continue to bring
forth fruits of increasing value.
The Governor informed us that "it was _universally admitted_, that
emancipation had been a great blessing to the island."
In a company of proprietors and planters, who met us on a certain
occasion, among whom were lawyers, magistrates, and members of the
council, and of the assembly, the sentiment was distinctly avowed, that
emancipation was highly beneficial to the island, and there was not a
"Emancipation is working most admirably, especially for the planters. It
is infinitely better policy than slavery or the apprenticeship either."
"Our planters find that freedom answers a far better purpose than
slavery ever did. A gentleman, who is attorney for eight estates,
assured me that there was no comparison between the benefits and
advantages of the two systems."--_Archdeacon Parry_.
"All the planters in my neighborhood (St. Philip's parish) are highly
pleased with the operation of the new system."--_Rev. Mr. Jones, Rector
of St. Philip's_.
"I do not know of more than one or two planters in the whole island, who
do not consider emancipation as a decided advantage to all parties."
That emancipation should be universally regarded as a blessing, is
remarkable, when we consider that combination of untoward circumstances
which it has been called to encounter--a combination wholly
unprecedented in the history of the island. In 1835, the first year of
the new system, the colony was visited by one of the most desolating
hurricanes which has occurred for many years. In the same year,
cultivation was arrested, and the crops greatly reduced, by drought.
About the same time, the yellow fever prevailed with fearful mortality.
The next year the drought returned, and brooded in terror from March
until January, and from January until June: not only blasting the
harvest of '36, but extending its blight over the crops of '37.
Nothing could be better calculated to try the confidence in the new
system. Yet we find all classes zealously exonerating emancipation, and
in despite of tornado, plague, and wasting, still affirming the
blessings and advantages of freedom!
SEVENTH PROPOSITION.--_Free labor_ is decidedly LESS EXPENSIVE than
_slave labor_. It costs the planter actually less to pay his free
laborers daily wages, than it did to maintain his slaves. It will be
observed in the testimony which follows, that there is some difference
of opinion as to the _precise amount_ of reduction in the expenses,
which is owing to the various modes of management on different estates,
and more particularly, to the fact that some estates raise all their
provisions, while others raise none. But as to the fact itself, there
can scarcely be said to be any dispute among the planters. There was one
class of planters whose expenses seemed to be somewhat increased, viz.
those who raised all their provisions before emancipation, and ceased to
raise any _after_ that event. But in the opinion of the most intelligent
planters, even these did not really sustain any loss, for originally it
was bad policy to raise provisions, since it engrossed that labor which
would have been more profitably directed to the cultivation of sugar;
and hence they would ultimately be gainers by the change.
S. Bourne, Esq. stated that the expenses on Millar's estate, of which he
is manager, had diminished about _one third_.
Mr. Barnard, of Green Castle, thought his expenses were about the same
that they were formerly.
Mr. Favey, of Lavicount's estate, enumerated, among the advantages of
freedom over slavery, "the diminished expense."
Dr. Nugent also stated, that "the expenses of cultivation were greatly
Mr. Hatley, manager of Fry's estate, said that the expenses on his
estate had been greatly reduced since emancipation. He showed us the
account of his expenditures for the last year of slavery, and the first
full year of freedom, 1835. The expenses during the last year of slavery
were 1371_l._ 2_s._ 4-1/2_d._; the expenses for 1835 were 821_l._ 16_s._
7-1/2_d._: showing a reduction of more than one third.
D. Cranstoun, Esq., informed us that his weekly expenses during slavery,
on the estate which he managed, were, on an average, 45_l._; the average
expenses now do not exceed 20_l._
Extract of a letter from Hon. N. Nugent:
"The expenses of cultivating sugar estates have in no instance, I
believe, been found _greater_ than before. As far as my experience goes,
they are certainly less, particularly as regards those properties which
were overhanded before, when proprietors were compelled to support more
dependents than they required. In some cases, the present cost is less
by _one third_. I have not time to furnish you with any detailed
statements, but the elements of the calculation are simple enough."
It is not difficult to account for the diminution in the cost of
cultivation. In the first place, for those estates that bought their
provision previous to emancipation, it cost more money to purchase their
stores than they now pay out in wages. This was especially true in dry
seasons, when home provisions failed, and the island was mainly
dependent upon foreign supplies.
But the chief source of the diminution lies in the reduced number of
people to be supported by the planter. During slavery, the planter was
required by law to maintain _all_ the slaves belonging to the estate;
the superannuated, the infirm, the pregnant, the nurses, the young
children, and the infants, as well as the working slaves. Now it is only
the latter class, the effective laborers, (with the addition of such as
were superannuated or infirm at the period of emancipation,) who are
dependent upon the planter. These are generally not more than one half,
frequently less than a third, of the whole number of negroes resident on
the estate; consequently a very considerable burthen has been removed
from the planter.
The reader may form some estimate of the reduced expense to the planter,
resulting from these causes combined, by considering the statement made
to us by Hon. N. Nugent, and repeatedly by proprietors and managers,
that had slavery been in existence during the present drought, many of
the smaller estates _must have been inevitably ruined_; on account of
the high price of imported provisions, (home provisions having fallen
short) and the number of slaves to be fed.
EIGHTH PROPOSITION.--The negroes work _more cheerfully_, and _do their
work better_ than they did during slavery. Wages are found to be an
ample substitute for the lash--they never fail to secure the amount of
labor desired. This is particularly true where task work is tried, which
is done occasionally in cases of a pressing nature, when considerable
effort is required. We heard of no complaints on the score of idleness,
but on the contrary, the negroes were highly commended for the
punctuality and cheerfulness with which they performed the work
The Governor stated, that "he was assured by planters, from every part
of the island, that the negroes were very industriously disposed."
"My people have become much more industrious since they were
emancipated. I have been induced to extend the sugar cultivation over a
number of acres more than have ever been cultivated before."--_Mr.
Watkins, of Donovan's_.
"Fearing the consequences of emancipation, I reduced my cultivation in
the year '34; but soon finding that my people would work as well as
ever, I brought up the cultivation the next year to the customary
extent, and this year ('36) I have added fifteen acres of new
land."--_S. Bourne, of Millar's_.
"Throughout the island the estates were never in a more advanced state
than they now are. The failure in the crops is not in the slightest
degree chargeable to a deficiency of labor. I have frequently adopted
the job system for short periods; the results have always been
gratifying--the negroes accomplished twice as much as when they worked
for daily wages, because they made more money. On some days they would
make three shillings--three times the ordinary wages."--_Dr. Daniell_.
"They are as a body _more_ industrious than when slaves, for the obvious
reason that they are _working for themselves_."--_Ralph Higinbothom,
"I have no hesitation in saying that on my estate cultivation is more
forward than ever it has been at the same season. The failure of the
crops is not in the least degree the fault of the laborers. They have
done well."--_Mr. Favey, of Lavicount's estate_.
"The most general apprehension prior to emancipation was, that the
negroes would not work after they were made free--that they would be
indolent, buy small parcels of land, and '_squat_' on them to the
neglect of sugar cultivation. Time, however, has proved that there was
no foundation for this apprehension. The estates were never in better
order than they are at present. If you are interrogated on your return
home concerning the cultivation of Antigua, you can say that every thing
depends upon the _weather_. If we have _sufficient rain_, you may be
certain that we shall realize abundant crops. If we have no rain, the
crops _must inevitably_ fail. _But we always depend upon the laborers_.
On account of the stimulus to industry which wages afford, there is far
less feigned sickness than there was during slavery. When slaves, the
negroes were glad to find any excuse for deserting their labor, and they
were incessantly feigning sickness. The sick-house was thronged with
real and pretended invalids. After '34, it was wholly deserted. The
negroes would not go near it; and, in truth, I have lately used it for a
stable."--_Hon. N. Nugent_.
"Though the laborers on both the estates under my management have been
considerably reduced since freedom, yet the grounds have never been in a
finer state of cultivation, than they are at present. When my work is
backward, I give it out in jobs, and it is always done in half the
"Emancipation has almost wholly put an end to the practice of
_skulking_, or pretending to be sick. That was a thing which caused the
planter a vast deal of trouble during slavery. Every Monday morning
regularly, when I awoke, I found ten or a dozen, or perhaps twenty men
and women, standing around my door, waiting for me to make my first
appearance, and begging that I would let them off from work that day on
account of sickness. It was seldom the case that one fourth of the
applicants were really unwell; but every one would maintain that he was
very sick, and as it was hard to contend with them about it, they were
all sent off to the sick-house. Now this is entirely done away, and my
sick-house is converted into a chapel for religious worship."--_James
"I find my people much more disposed to work than they formerly were.
The habit of feigning sickness to get rid of going to the field, is
completely broken up. This practice was very common during slavery. It
was often amusing to hear their complaints. One would come carrying an
arm in one hand, and declaring that it had a mighty pain in it, and he
could not use the hoe no way; another would make his appearance with
both hands on his breast, and with a rueful look complain of a great
pain in the stomach; a third came limping along, with a _dreadful
rheumatiz_ in his knees; and so on for a dozen or more. It was vain to
dispute with them, although it was often manifest that nothing earthly
was ailing them. They would say, 'Ah! me massa, you no tink how bad me
feel--it's _deep in_, massa.' But all this trouble is passed. We have no
sick-house now; no feigned sickness, and really much less actual illness
than formerly. My people say, '_they have not time to be sick now_.' My
cultivation has never been so far advanced at the same season, or in
finer order than it is at the present time. I have been encouraged by
the increasing industry of my people to bring several additional acres
under cultivation."--_Mr. Hatley, Fry's estate_.
"I get my work done better than formerly, and with incomparably more
cheerfulness. My estate was never in a finer state of cultivation than
it is now, though I employ _fewer_ laborers than during slavery. I have
occasionally used job, or task work, and with great success. When I give
out a job, it is accomplished in about half the time that it would have
required by giving the customary wages. The people will do as much in
one week at job work, as they will in two, working for a shilling a day.
I have known them, when they had a job to do, turn out before three
o'clock in the morning, and work by moonlight."--_D. Cranstoun, Esq._
"My people work very well for the ordinary wages; I have no fault to
find with them in this respect."--_Manager of Scotland's estate_.
_Extract from the Superintendent's Report to the Commander in Chief_.
SUPERINTENDENT'S OFFICE, _June 6th_. 1836.
"During the last month I have visited the country in almost every
direction, with the express object of paying a strict attention to
all branches of agricultural operations at that period progressing.
The result of my observations is decidedly favorable, as regards
proprietors and laborers. The manufacture of sugar has advanced as
far as the long and continued want of rain will admit; the lands,
generally, appear to be in a forward state of preparation for the
ensuing crop, and the laborers seem to work with more steadiness and
satisfaction to themselves and their employers, than they have
manifested for some length of time past, and their work is much more
Complaints are, for the most part, adduced by the employers against
the laborers, and principally consist, (as hitherto,) of breaches of
contract; but I am happy to observe, that a diminution of
dissatisfaction on this head even, has taken place, as will be seen
by the accompanying general return of offences reported.
Your honor's most obedient, humble servant,
_Richard S. Wickham, Superintendent of police_."
NINTH PROPOSITION.--The negroes are _more easily managed_ as freemen
than they were when slaves.
On this point as well as on every other connected with the system of
slavery, public opinion in Antigua has undergone an entire revolution,
since 1834. It was then a common maxim that the peculiar characteristics
of the negro absolutely required a government of terror and brute force.
The Governor said, "The negroes are as a race remarkable for _docility_;
they are very easily controlled by kind influence. It is only necessary
to gain their confidence, and you can sway them as you please."
"Before emancipation took place, I dreaded the consequence of abolishing
the power of compelling labor, but I have since found by experience that
forbearance and kindness are sufficient for all purposes of authority. I
have seldom had any trouble in managing my people. They consider me
their friend, and the expression of my wish is enough for them. Those
planters who have retained their _harsh manner_ do not succeed under the
new system. The people will not bear it."--_Mr. J. Howell_.
"I find it remarkably easy to manage my people. I govern them entirely
by mildness. In every instance in which managers have persisted in their
habits of arbitrary command, they have failed. I have lately been
obliged to discharge a manager from one of the estates under my
direction, on account of his overbearing disposition. If I had not
dismissed him, the people would have abandoned the estate _en
"The management of an estate under the free system is a much lighter
business than it used to be. We do not have the trouble to get the
people to work, or to keep them in order."--_Mr. Favey_.
"Before the abolition of slavery, I thought it would be utterly
impossible to manage my people without tyrannizing over them as usual,
and that it would be giving up the reins of government entirely, to
abandon the whip; but I am now satisfied that I was mistaken. I have
lost all desire to exercise arbitrary power. I have known of several
instances in which unpleasant disturbances have been occasioned by
managers giving way to their anger, and domineering over the laborers.
The people became disobedient and disorderly, and remained so until the
estates went into other hands, and a good management immediately
restored confidence and peace."--_Mr. Watkins_.
"Among the advantages belonging to the free system, may he enumerated
the greater facility in managing estates. We are freed from a world of
trouble and perplexity."--_David Cranstoun, Esq._
"I have no hesitation in saying, that if I have a supply of cash, I can
take off any crop it may please God to send. Having already, since
emancipation, taken off one fully sixty hogsheads above the average of
the last twenty years. I can speak with confidence."--_Letter from S.
Mr. Bourne stated a fact which illustrates the ease with which the
negroes are governed by gentle means. He said that it was a prevailing
practice during slavery for the slaves to have a dance soon after they
had finished gathering in the crop. At the completion of his crop in
'35, the people made arrangements for having the customary dance. They
were particularly elated because the crop which they had first taken off
was the largest one that had ever been produced by the estate, and it
was also the largest crop on the island for that year. With these
extraordinary stimulants and excitements, operating in connection with
the influence of habit, the people were strongly inclined to have a
dance. Mr. B. told them that dancing was a bad practice--and a very
childish, barbarous amusement, and he thought it was wholly unbecoming
_freemen_. He hoped therefore that they would dispense with it. The
negroes could not exactly agree with their manager--and said they did
not like to be disappointed in their expected sport. Mr. B. finally
proposed to them that he would get the Moravian minister, Rev. Mr.
Harvey, to ride out and preach to them on the appointed evening. The
people all agreed to this. Accordingly, Mr. Harvey preached, and they
said no more about the dance--nor have they ever attempted to get up a
We had repeated opportunities of witnessing the management of the
laborers on the estates, and were always struck with the absence of
every thing like coercion.
By the kind invitation of Mr. Bourne, we accompanied him once on a
morning circuit around his estate. After riding some distance, we came
to the 'great gang' cutting canes. Mr. B. saluted the people in a
friendly manner, and they all responded with a hearty 'good mornin,
massa.' There were more than fifty persons, male and female, on the
spot. The most of them were employed in cutting canes[A], which they did
with a heavy knife called a _bill_. Mr. B. beckoned to the
superintendent, a black man, to come to him, and gave him some
directions for the forenoon's work, and then, after saying a few
encouraging words to the people, took us to another part of the estate,
remarking as we rode off, "I have entire confidence that those laborers
will do their work just as I want to have it done." We next came upon
some men, who were hoeing in a field of corn. We found that there had
been a slight altercation between two of the men. Peter, who was a
foreman, came to Mr. B., and complained that George would not leave the
cornfield and go to another kind of work as he had bid him. Mr. B.
called George, and asked for an explanation. George had a long story to
tell, and he made an earnest defence, accompanied with impassioned
gesticulation; but his dialect was of such outlandish description, that
we could not understand him. Mr. B. told us that the main ground of his
defence was that Peter's direction was _altogether unreasonable_. Peter
was then called upon to sustain his complaint; he spoke with equal
earnestness and equal unintelligibility. Mr. B. then gave his decision,
with great kindness of manner, which quite pacified both parties.
[Footnote A: The process of cutting canes is this:--The leafy part, at
top is first cut off down as low as the saccharine matter A few of the
lowest joints of the part thus cut off, are then stripped of the leaves,
and cut off for _plants_, for the next crop. The stalk is then cut off
close to the ground--and it is that which furnishes the juice for
sugar. It is from three to twelve feet long, and from one to two inches
in diameter, according to the quality of the soil, the seasonableness of
the weather, &c. The cutters are followed by _gatherers_, who bind up
the plants and stalks, as the cutters cast them behind them, in
different bundles. The carts follow in the train, and take up the
bundles--carrying the stalks to the mill to be ground, and the plants in
As we rode on, Mr. B. informed us that George was himself the foreman of
a small weeding gang, and felt it derogatory to his dignity to be
ordered by Peter.
We observed on all the estates which we visited, that the planters, when
they wish to influence their people, are in the habit of appealing to
them as _freemen_, and that now better things are expected of them. This
appeal to their self-respect seldom fails of carrying the point.
It is evident from the foregoing testimony, that if the negroes do not
work well on any estate, it is generally speaking the _fault of the
manager_. We were informed of many instances in which arbitrary men were
discharged from the management of estates, and the result has been the
restoration of order and industry among the people.
On this point we quote the testimony of James Scotland, Sen., Esq., an
intelligent and aged merchant of St. John's:
"In this colony, the evils and troubles attending emancipation have
resulted almost entirely from the perseverance of the planters in their
old habits of domination. The planters very frequently, indeed, _in the
early stage of freedom_, used their power as employers to the annoyance
and injury of their laborers. For the slightest misconduct, and
sometimes without any reason whatever, the poor negroes were dragged
before the magistrates, (planters or their friends,) and mulcted in
their wages, fined otherwise, and committed to jail or the house of
correction. And yet those harassed people remained patient, orderly and
submissive. _Their treatment now is much improved. The planters have
happily discovered, that as long as they kept the cultivators of their
lands in agitations and sufferings, their own interests were
TENTH PROPOSITION.--The negroes are _more trust-worthy, and take a
deeper interest in their employers' affairs_, since emancipation.
"My laborers manifest an increasing attachment to the estate. In all
their habits they are becoming more settled, and they begin to feel that
they have a personal interest in the success of the property on which
they live."--_Mr. Favey_.
"As long as the negroes felt uncertain whether they would remain in one
place, or be dismissed and compelled to seek a home elsewhere, they
manifested very little concern for the advancement of their employers'
interest; but in proportion as they become permanently established on an
estate, they seem to identify themselves with its prosperity. The
confidence between master and servant is mutually increasing."--_Mr.
The Hon. Mr. Nugent, Dr. Daniell, D. Cranstoun, Esq., and other
planters, enumerated among the advantages of freedom, the planters being
released from the perplexities growing out of want of confidence in the
sympathy and honesty of the slaves.
S. Bourne, Esq., of Millar's, remarked as we were going towards his mill
and boiling-house, which had been in operation about a week, "I have not
been near my works for several days; yet I have no fears but that I
shall find every thing going on properly."
The planters have been too deeply experienced in the nature of slavery,
not to know that mutual jealousy, distrust, and alienation of feeling
and interest, are its legitimate offspring; and they have already seen
enough of the operation of freedom, to entertain the confident
expectation, that fair wages, kind treatment, and comfortable homes,
will attach the laborers to the estates, and identify the interests of
the employer and the employed.
ELEVENTH PROPOSITION.--The experiment in Antigua proves that emancipated
slaves can _appreciate law_. It is a prevailing opinion that those who
have long been slaves, cannot at once be safely subjected to the
control of law.
It will now be seen how far this theory is supported by facts. Let it be
remembered that the negroes of Antigua passed, "by a single _jump_, from
absolute slavery to unqualified freedom."[A] In proof of _their
subordination to law_, we give the testimony of planters, and quote also
from the police reports sent in monthly to the Governor, with copies of
which we were kindly furnished by order of His Excellency.
[Footnote A: Dr. Daniell.]
"I have found that the negroes are readily controlled by law; more so
perhaps than the laboring classes in other countries."--_David
"The conduct of the negro population generally, has surpassed all
expectation. They are as pliant to the hand of legislation, as any
people; perhaps more so than some." _Wesleyan Missionary_.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the Governor, the Hon. N. Nugent,
R.B. Eldridge, Esq., Dr. Ferguson, Dr. Daniell, and James Scotland, Jr.,
Esq., and numerous other planters, managers, &c. This testimony is
corroborated by the police reports, exhibiting, as they do,
comparatively few crimes, and those for the most part minor ones. We
have in our possession the police reports for every month from
September, 1835, to January, 1837. We give such specimens as will serve
to show the general tenor of the reports.
_Police-Office, St. John's, Sept_. 3, 1835.
"From the information which I have been able to collect by my own
personal exertions, and from the reports of the assistant
inspectors, at the out stations, I am induced to believe that, in
general, a far better feeling and good understanding at present
prevails between the laborers and their employers, than hitherto.
Capital offences have much decreased in number, as well as all minor
ones, and the principal crimes lately submitted for the
investigation of the magistrates, seem to consist chiefly in
trifling offences and breaches of contract.
_Signed, Richard S. Wickham,
Superintendent of Police_."
* * * * *
"To his excellency,
_Sir C.I. Murray McGregor, Governor, &c_.
_St. John's, Antigua, Oct_. 2, 1835.
Sir--The general state of regularity and tranquillity which prevails
throughout the island, admits of my making but a concise report to
your Excellency, for the last month.
The autumnal agricultural labors continue to progress favorably, and
I have every reason to believe, that the agriculturalists,
generally, are far more satisfied with the internal state of the
island affairs, than could possibly have been anticipated a short
From conversations which I have had with several gentlemen of
extensive interest and practical experience, united with my own
observations, I do not hesitate in making a favorable report of the
general easy and quietly progressing state of contentedness,
evidently showing itself among the laboring class; and I may add,
that with few exceptions, a reciprocity of kind and friendly feeling
at present is maintained between the planters and their laborers.
Although instances do occur of breach of contract, they are not very
frequent, and in many cases I have been induced to believe, that the
crime has originated more from the want of a proper understanding of
the time, intent, and meaning of the contract into which the
laborers have entered, than from the actual existence of any
dissatisfaction on their part."
* * * * *
_St. John's, Antigua, Dec. 2d_, 1835.
"Sir--I have the honor to report that a continued uninterrupted
state of peace and good order has happily prevailed throughout the
island, during the last month.
The calendar of offences for trial at the ensuing sessions, bears
little comparison with those of former periods, and I am happy to
state, that the crimes generally, are of a trifling nature, and
principally petty thefts.
By a comparison of the two last lists of offences submitted for
investigation, it will be found that a decrease has taken place in
that for November."
* * * * *
St. John's, January 2d, 1836.
"Sir--I have great satisfaction in reporting to your Honor the
peaceable termination of the last year, and of the
At this period of the year, which has for ages been celebrated for
scenes of gaiety and amusement among the laboring, as well as all
other classes of society, and when several successive days of
idleness occur, I cannot but congratulate your Honor, on the quiet
demeanor and general good order, which has happily been maintained
throughout the island.
It may not be improper here to remark, that during the holidays, I
had only one prisoner committed to my charge, and that even his
offence was of a minor nature."
* * * * *
_Extract of Report for February, 1836._
"The operation of the late Contract Acts, caused some trifling
inconvenience at the commencement, but now that they are clearly
understood, even by the young and ignorant, I am of opinion, that
the most beneficial effects have resulted from these salutary Acts,
equally to master and servant, and that a permanent understanding is
A return of crimes reported during the month of January, I beg leave
to enclose, and at the same time, to congratulate your Honor on the
vast diminution of all minor misdemeanors, and of the continued
total absence of capital offences."
* * * * *
_Superintendent's office_, _Antigua, April 4th_, 1836.
"SIR--I am happy to remark, for the information of your Honor, that
the Easter holidays have passed off, without the occurrence of any
violation of the existing laws sufficiently serious to merit
* * * * *
[Footnote A: This and the other reports concern, not St. John's merely,
but the entire population of the island.]
_Extract from the Report for May, 1836._
"It affords me great satisfaction in being able to report that the
continued tranquillity prevailing throughout the island, prevents
the necessity of my calling the particular attention of your Honor
to the existence of any serious or flagrant offence.
The crop season having far advanced, I have much pleasure in
remarking the continued steady and settled disposition, which on
most properties appear to be reciprocally established between the
proprietors and their agricultural laborers; and I do also venture
to offer as my opinion, that a considerable improvement has taken
place, in the behavior of domestic, as well as other laborers, not
immediately employed in husbandry."
We quote the following table of offences as a specimen of the monthly
_Police Office, St. John's, 1836._
RETURN OF OFFENCES REPORTED AT THE POLICE STATIONS FROM 1ST TO 31ST MAY.
NATURE OF St. E. Par- John- Total. More Less
OFFENSES. John's. Har- ham. ston's than than
bour. Point. last last
Assaults. 2 2 4 5
Batteries. 2 3 5 10 8
Contract. 4 11 59 74 16
Burglaries. 2 3 5 2
Act. 4 1 5 10
Fines. 5 5 2
Felonies. 2 2 2
property. 4 9 7 20 5
Larcenies. 4 4 4
Misdemeanors.3 12 15 15
Thefts. 1 1 10
Trespasses. 1 2 2 5
Total 33 41 76 150 25 61
_Signed_, Richard S. Wickham,
_Superintendent of Police_.
* * * * *
_Antigua, July 6th_, 1836.
"SIR,--I have the honor to submit for your information, a general
return of all offences reported during the last month, by which your
Honor will perceive, that no increase of 'breach of contract' has
While I congratulate your Honor on the successful maintenance of
general peace, and a reciprocal good feeling among all classes of
society, I beg to assure you, that the opinion which I have been
able to form in relation to the behavior of the laboring population,
differs but little from my late observations.
At a crisis like this, when all hopes of the ultimate success of so
grand and bold an experiment, depends, almost entirely, on a cordial
co-operation of the community, I sincerely hope, that no obstacles
or interruptions will now present themselves, to disturb that
general good understanding so happily established, since the
adoption of unrestricted freedom."
* * * * *
_St. John's, Sept. 4th_, 1836.
"SIR--I have the honor to enclose, for the information of your
Excellency, the usual monthly return of offences reported for
It affords me very great satisfaction to report, that the internal
peace and tranquillity of the island has remained uninterrupted
during the last month; the conduct of all classes of the community
has been orderly and peaceable, and strictly obedient to the laws of
The agricultural laborers continue a steady and uniform line of
conduct, and with some few exceptions, afford a general satisfaction
to their several employers.
Every friend to this country, and to the liberties of the world,
must view with satisfaction the gradual improvement in the character
and behavior of this class of the community, under the constant
operation of the local enactments.
The change must naturally be slow, but I feel sure that, in due
time, a general amelioration in the habits and industry of the
laborers will be sensibly experienced by all grades of society in
this island, and will prove the benign effects and propitious
results of the co-operated exertions of all, for their general
benefit and future advancement.
Complaints have been made in the public prints of the robberies
committed in this town, as well as the neglect of duty of the police
force, and as these statements must eventually come under the
observation of your Excellency, I deem it my duty to make a few
observations on this point.
The town of St. John's occupies a space of one hundred and sixty
acres of land, divided into fourteen main, and nine cross streets,
exclusive of lanes and alleys--with a population of about three
thousand four hundred persons.
The numerical strength of the police force in this district, is
eleven sergeants and two officers; five of these sergeants are on
duty every twenty-four hours. One remains in charge of the premises,
arms, and stores; the other four patrole by day and night, and have
also to attend to the daily duties of the magistrates, and the
eleventh is employed by me (being an old one) in general patrole
duties, pointing out nuisances and irregularities.
One burglary and one felony alone were reported throughout the
island population of 37,000 souls in the month of July; and no
burglary, and three felonies, were last month reported.
The cases of robbery complained of, have been effected without any
violence or noise, and have principally been by concealment in
stores, which, added to the great want of a single lamp, or other
light, in any one street at night, must reasonably facilitate the
design of the robber, and defy the detection of the most active and
vigilant body of police."
* * * * *
_Antigua, January 4th, 1837._
"SIR--It is with feelings of the most lively gratification that I
report, for your notice the quiet and peaceable termination of
Christmas vacation, and the last year, which were concluded without
a single serious violation of the governing laws.
I cannot refrain from cordially congratulating your Excellency on
the regular and steady behavior, maintained by all ranks of society,
at this particular period of the year.
Not one species of crime which can be considered of an heinous
nature, has yet been discovered; and I proudly venture to declare my
opinion, that in no part of his Majesty's dominions, has a
population of thirty thousand conducted themselves with more strict
propriety, at this annual festivity, or been more peaceably obedient
to the laws of their country."
* * * * *
In connection with the above quotation from the monthly reports, we
present an extract of a letter from the superintendent of the police,
addressed to us.
_St. John's, 9th February, 1837._
"MY DEAR SIRS--In compliance with your request, I have not any
hesitation in affording you any information on the subject of the
free system adopted in this island, which my public situation has
naturally provided me with.
The opinion which I have formed has been, and yet remains, in favor
of the emancipation; and I feel very confident that the system has
and continues to work well, in almost all instances. The laborers
have conducted themselves generally in a highly satisfactory manner
to all the authorities, and strikingly so when we reflect that the
greater portion of the population of the island were at once removed
from a state of long existing slavery, to one of unrestricted
freedom. Unacquainted as they are with the laws newly enacted for
their future government and guidance, and having been led in their
ignorance to expect incalculable wonders and benefits arising from
freedom, I cannot but reflect with amazement on the peace and good
order which have been so fortunately maintained throughout the
island population of thirty thousand subjects.
Some trifling difficulties sprang up on the commencement of the new
system among the laborers, but even these, on strict investigation,
proved to originate more from _an ignorance of their actual
position_, than from any bad feeling, or improper motives, and
consequently _were of short duration_. In general the laborers are
peaceable orderly, and civil, not only to those who move in higher
spheres of life than themselves, but also to each other.
The crimes they are generally guilty of, are petty thefts, and other
minor offences against the local acts; but crimes of an heinous
nature are very rare among them; and I may venture to say, that
petty thefts, _breaking sugar-canes to eat_, and offences of the
like description, _principally_ swell the calendars of our quarterly
courts of sessions. _Murder_ has been a stranger to this island for
many years; no execution has occurred among the island population
for a very long period; the only two instances were two
The lower class having become more acquainted with their governing
laws, have also become infinitely more obedient to them, and I have
observed _that particular care is taken among most of them to
explain to each other the nature of the laws_, and to point out in
their usual style the ill consequences attending any violation of
them. ==> _A due fear of, and a prompt obedience to, the
authority of the magistrates, is a prominent feature of the lower
orders_, and to this I mainly attribute the successful maintenance
of rural tranquillity.
Since emancipation, the agricultural laborer has had to contend with
two of the most obstinate droughts experienced for many years in the
island, which has decreased the supply of his accustomed vegetables
and ground provisions, and consequently subjected him and family to
very great privations; but this even, I think, has been submitted to
with becoming resignation.
To judge of the past and present state of society throughout the
island, I presume that _the lives and properties of all classes are
as secure in this, as in any other portion of his Majesty's
dominions_; and I sincerely hope that the future behavior of all,
will more clearly manifest the correctness of my views of this
highly important subject.
I remain, dear sirs, yours faithfully, RICHARD S. WICKHAM,
_Superintendent of police_."
* * * * *
This testimony is pointed and emphatic; and it comes from one whose
_official business it is to know_ the things whereof he here affirms. We
have presented not merely the opinions of Mr. W., relative to the
subordination of the emancipated negroes in Antigua, but likewise the
_facts_ upon which be founded his opinion.
On a point of such paramount importance we cannot be too explicit. We
therefore add the testimony of planters as to the actual state of crime
compared with that previous to emancipation.
Said J. Howell, Esq., of T. Jarvis's estate, "I do not think that
aggressions on property, and crime in general, have increased since
emancipation, but rather decreased. They _appear_ to be more frequent,
because they are made _more public_. During slavery, all petty thefts,
insubordination, insolence, neglect of work, and so forth, were punished
summarily on the estate, by order of the manager, and not even so much
as the rumor of them ever reached beyond the confines of the property.
Now all offences, whether great or trifling, are to be taken cognizance
of by the magistrate or jury, and hence they become notorious. Formerly
each planter knew only of those crimes which occurred on his own
property; now every one knows something about the crimes committed on
every other estate, as well as his own."
It will be remembered that Mr. H. is a man of thorough and long
experience in the condition of the island, having lived in it since the
year 1800, and being most of that time engaged directly is the
management of estates.
"Aggression on private property, such as breaking into houses, cutting
canes, &c., are decidedly fewer than formerly. It is true that crime is
made more _public_ now, than during slavery, when the master was his own
"I am of the opinion that crime in the island has diminished rather than
increased since the abolition of slavery. There is an _apparent_
increase of crime, because every misdemeanor, however petty, floats to
the surface."--_Hon. N. Nugent_.
We might multiply testimony on this point; but suffice it to say that
with very few exceptions, the planters, many of whom are also civil
magistrates, concur in these two statements; that the amount of crime is
actually less than it was during slavery; and that it _appears_ to _be
greater_ because of the publicity which is necessarily given by legal
processes to offences which were formerly punished and forgotten on the
spot where they occurred.
Some of the prominent points established by the foregoing evidence are,
1st. That most of the crimes committed are petty misdemeanors such as
turning out to work late in the morning, cutting canes to eat, &c. _High
penal offences_ are exceedingly rare.
2d. That where offences of a serious nature do occur, or any open
insubordination takes place, they are founded in ignorance or
misapprehension of the law, and are seldom repeated a second time, if
the law be properly explained and fully understood.
3d. That the above statements apply to no particular part of the island,
where the negroes are peculiarly favored with intelligence and religion,
but are made with reference to tire island generally. Now it happens
that in one quarter of the island the negro population are remarkably
ignorant and degraded. We were credibly informed by various
missionaries, who had labored in Antigua and in a number of the other
English islands, that they had not found in any colony so much
debasement among the people, as prevailed in the part of Antigua just
alluded to. Yet they testified that the negroes in that quarter were as
peaceable, orderly, and obedient to law, as in any other part of the
colony. We make this statement here particularly for the purpose of
remarking that in the testimony of the planters, and in the police
reports; there is not a single allusion to this portion of the island as
forming an exception to the prevailing state of order and subordination.
After the foregoing facts and evidences, we ask, what becomes of the
dogma, that slaves cannot be immediately placed under the government of
_equitable laws_ with safety to themselves and the community?
Twelfth proposition.--The emancipated negroes have shown _no disposition
to roam from place to place._ A tendency to rove about, is thought by
many to be a characteristic of the negro; he is not allowed even an
ordinary share of local attachment, but must leave the chain and staple
of slavery to hold him amidst the graves of his fathers and the society
of his children. The experiment in Antigua shows that such sentiments
are groundless prejudices. There a large body of slaves were "_turned
loose_;" they had full liberty to leave their old homes and settle on
other properties--or if they preferred a continuous course of roving,
they might change employers every six weeks, and pass from one estate to
another until they had accomplished the circuit of the island. But, what
are the facts? "The negroes are not disposed to leave the estates on
which they have formerly lived, unless they are forced away by bad