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Title: History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 - Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens
Author: Williams, George W., 1849-1891
Language: English
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                                OF THE

                         NEGRO RACE IN AMERICA

                          _FROM 1619 TO 1880._


                             TOGETHER WITH

                      SIERRA LEONE AND LIBERIA.


                          GEORGE W. WILLIAMS,


                            _IN TWO VOLUMES._

                                VOLUME I.

                              1619 TO 1800.

                                NEW YORK:
                            G.P. PUTNAM'S SONS,
                        27 AND 29 WEST 23D STREET.


                                 TO THE

                       REV. JUSTIN DEWEY FULTON, D.D.,
                          OF BROOKLYN, NEW YORK;

                               AND TO THE

                           HON. CHARLES FOSTER,
                            GOVERNOR OF OHIO;


       To the Illustrious Representative of the Church of Christ:


                    To the Distinguished Statesman:



                              THE EXECUTIVE.


                        FRIEND AND HUMBLE SERVANT,

                              THE AUTHOR.


I was requested to deliver an oration on the Fourth of July, 1876, at
Avondale, O. It being the one-hundredth birthday of the American
Republic, I determined to prepare an oration on the _American Negro_.
I at once began an investigation of the records of the nation to
secure material for the oration. I was surprised and delighted to find
that the historical memorials of the Negro were so abundant, and so
creditable to him. I pronounced my oration on the Fourth of July,
1876; and the warm and generous manner in which it was received, both
by those who listened to it and by others who subsequently read it in
pamphlet form, encouraged me to devote what leisure time I might have
to a further study of the subject.

I found that the library of the Historical and Philosophical Society
of Ohio, and the great _Americana_ of Mr. Robert Clarke containing
about eight thousand titles, both in Cincinnati, offered peculiar
advantages to a student of American history. For two years I spent
what time I could spare from professional cares in studying the whole
problem of the African slave-trade; the founding of the British
colonies in North America; the slave problem in the colonies; the
rupture between the colonies and the British Government; the war of
the Revolution; the political structure of the Continental government
and Confederation; the slavery question in local and national
legislation; and then traced the slavery and anti-slavery question
down to the Rebellion. I became convinced that a history of the
Colored people in America was required, because of the ample
historically trustworthy material at hand; because the Colored people
themselves had been the most vexatious problem in North America, from
the time of its discovery down to the present day; because that in
every attempt upon the life of the nation, whether by foes from
without or within, the Colored people had always displayed a matchless
patriotism and an incomparable heroism in the cause of Americans; and
because such a history would give the world more correct ideas of the
Colored people, and incite the latter to greater effort in the
struggle of citizenship and manhood. The single reason that there was
no history of the Negro race would have been a sufficient reason for
writing one.

The labor incident upon the several public positions held by me
precluded an earlier completion of this task; and, finding it
absolutely impossible to write while discharging public duties or
practising law, I retired from the public service several years ago,
and since that time have devoted all my energies to this work. It is
now nearly seven years since I began this wonderful task.

I have been possessed of a painful sense of the vastness of my work
from first to last. I regret that for the sake of pressing the work
into a single volume, favorable to a speedy sale,--at the sacrifice of
the record of a most remarkable people,--I found my heart unwilling,
and my best judgment protesting.

In the preparation of this work I have consulted over twelve thousand
volumes,--about one thousand of which are referred to in the
footnotes,--and thousands of pamphlets.

After wide and careful reading, extending through three years, I
conceived the present plan of this history. I divided it into nine
parts. Two thoughts led me to prepare the chapters under the head of
PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS. _First_, The defenders of slavery and the
traducers of the Negro built their pro-slavery arguments upon biblical
ethnology and the curse of Canaan. I am alive to the fact, that, while
I am a believer in the Holy Bible, it is not the best authority on
ethnology. As far as it goes, it is agreeable to my head and heart.
Whatever science has added I have gladly appropriated. I make no
claim, however, to be a specialist. While the curse of Canaan is no
longer a question of debate, yet nevertheless the folly of the
obsolete theory should be thoroughly understood by the young men of
the Negro race who, though voting now, were not born when Sumter was
fired upon. _Second_, A growing desire among the enlightened Negroes
in America to learn all that is possible from research concerning the
antiquity of the race,--Africa, its inhabitants, and the development
of the Negro governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia, led me to
furnish something to meet a felt need. If the Negro slave desired his
native land before the Rebellion, will not the free, intelligent, and
reflective American Negro turn to Africa with its problems of
geography and missions, now that he can contribute something towards
the improvement of the condition of humanity? Editors and writers
everywhere throughout the world should spell the word Negro with a
capital N; and when referring to the race as Colored people employ a
capital C. I trust this will be observed.

In PART II., SLAVERY IN THE COLONIES, I have striven to give a
succinct account of the establishment and growth of slavery under the
English Crown. It involved almost infinite labor to go to the records
of "the original thirteen colonies." It is proper to observe that this
part is one of great value and interest.

almost romantic character. Many traditions have been put down, and
many obscure truths elucidated. Some persons may think it irreverent
to tell the truth in the plain, homely manner that characterizes my
narrative; but, while I have nothing to regret in this particular, I
can assure them that I have been actuated by none other spirit than
that of candor. Where I have used documents it was with a desire to
escape the charge of superficiality. If, however, I may be charged
with seeking to escape the labor incident to thorough digestion, I
answer, that, while men with the reputation of Bancroft and Hildreth
could pass unchallenged when disregarding largely the use of documents
and the citation of authorities, I would find myself challenged by a
large number of critics. Moreover I have felt it would be almost cruel
to mutilate some of the very rare old documents that shed such
peerless light upon the subject in hand.

I have brought the first volume down to the close of the eighteenth
century, detailing the great struggle through which the slavery
problem passed. I have given as fair an idea of the debate on this
question, in the convention that framed the Constitution, as possible.
It was then and there that the hydra of slavery struck its fangs into
the Constitution; and, once inoculated with the poison of the monster,
the government was only able to purify itself in the flames of a great
civil war.

The second volume opens with the present century, and closes with the
year 1880. Unable to destroy slavery by constitutional law, the best
thought and effort of this period were directed against the extension
of the evil into the territory beyond the Ohio, Mississippi, and
Missouri rivers. But having placed three-fifths of the slave
population under the Constitution, having pledged the Constitution to
the protection of slave property, it required an almost superhuman
effort to confine the evil to one section of the country. Like a
loathsome disease it spread itself over the body politic until our
nation became the eyesore of the age, and a byword among the nations
of the world. The time came when our beloved country had to submit to
heroic treatment, and the cancer of slavery was removed by the sword.

In giving an account of the _Anti-Slavery Agitation Movement_, I have
found myself able to deal briefly with methods and results only. I
have striven to honor all the multifarious measures adopted to save
the Negro and the Nation. I have not attempted to write a history of
the Anti-Slavery Movement. Many noble men and women have not even been
mentioned. It should not be forgotten that this is a history of the
Negro race; and as such I have not run into the topic discussed by the
late Henry Wilson in his "Rise and Fall of the Slave Power."

In discussing the problem of the rendition of fugitive slaves by the
Union army, I have given the facts with temperate and honest
criticism. And, in recounting the sufferings Negro troops endured as
prisoners of war in the hands of the Rebels, I have avoided any spirit
of bitterness. A great deal of the material on the war I purchased
from the MS. library of Mr. Thomas S. Townsend of New-York City. The
questions of vital, prison, labor, educational, and financial
statistics cannot fail to interest intelligent people of all races and
parties. These statistics are full of comfort and assurance to the
Negro as well as to his friends.

Every cabinet minister of the President wrote me full information upon
all the questions I asked, and promptly too. The refusal of the
general and adjutant-general of the army did not destroy my hope of
getting some information concerning the Negro regiments in the regular
army. I visited the Indian Territory, Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico,
where I have seen the Ninth and Tenth Regiments of cavalry, and the
Twenty-fourth Regiment of infantry. The Twenty-fifth Regiment of
infantry is at Fort Randall, Dakota. These are among the most
effective troops in the regular army. The annual desertions in white
regiments of cavalry vary from ninety-eight to a hundred and eighteen;
while in Negro regiments of cavalry the desertions only average from
six to nine per annum. The Negro regiments are composed of young men,
intelligent, faithful, brave. I heard but one complaint from the lips
of a score of white officers I met, and that was that the Negroes
sometimes struck their horses over the head. Every distinction in law
has disappeared, except in the regular army. Here Negroes are excluded
from the artillery service and engineer's department. It is wrong, and
Congress should place these brave black soldiers upon the same footing
as the white troops.

I have to thank Drs. George H. Moore and S. Austin Allibone, of the
Lenox Library, for the many kind favors shown me while pursuing my
studies in New-York City. And I am under very great obligations to Dr.
Moore for his admirable "History of Early Slavery in Massachusetts,"
without which I should have been put to great inconvenience. To Mr.
John Austin Stevens, late editor of "The Magazine of American
History," who, during several months residence in New-York City,
placed his private library and office at my service, and did every
thing in his power to aid my investigations, I return my sincerest
thanks. To the Librarians of the New-York Historical, Astor, and
New-York Society Libraries, I return thanks for favors shown, and
privileges granted. I am especially grateful to the Hon. Ainsworth R.
Spofford, Librarian of Congress, for the manner in which he
facilitated my researches during my sojourn in Washington. I had the
use of many newspapers of the last century, and of other material to
be found only in the Congressional Library.

To Sir T. Risely Griffith, Colonial Secretary and Treasurer of Sierra
Leone, I am indebted for valuable statistics concerning that colony.

To the Assistant Librarian of the State Library of Ohio, the
accomplished and efficient Miss Mary C. Harbough, I owe more than to
any other person. Through her unwavering and untiring kindness and
friendship, I have been enabled to use five hundred and seventy-six
volumes from that library, besides newspaper files and Congressional
Records. To Gov. Charles Foster, Chairman of the Board of Library
Commissioners, I offer my profoundest thanks for the intelligent,
active, and practical interest he has taken in the completion of this
work. And to Major Charles Townsend, Secretary of State, I offer
thanks for favors shown me in securing documents. To the Rev. J.L.
Grover and his competent assistant, Mr. Charles H. Bell, of the Public
Library of Columbus, I am indebted for the use of many works. They
cheerfully rendered whatever aid they could, and for their kindness I
return many thanks.

I am obliged to the Rev. Benjamin W. Arnett, Financial Secretary of
the A.M.E. Church of the United States, for the statistics of his
denomination. And to all persons who have sent me newspapers and
pamphlets I desire to return thanks. I am grateful to C.A. Fleetwood,
an efficient clerk in the War Department, for statistics on the
Freedmen's Bank. And, above all and more than all, I return my
profoundest thanks to my heavenly Father for the inspiration, health,
and money by which I have been enabled to complete this great task.

I have mentioned such Colored men as I thought necessary. To give a
biographical sketch of all the worthy Colored men in the United
States, would require more space than has been occupied in this work.

Not as the blind panegyrist of my race, nor as the partisan apologist,
but from a love for "_the truth of history_," I have striven to record
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I have not
striven to revive sectional animosities or race prejudices. I have
avoided comment so far as it was consistent with a clear exposition of
the truth. My whole aim has been to write a thoroughly trustworthy
history; and what I have written, if it have no other merit, is

I commit this work to the public, white and black, to the friends and
foes of the Negro, in the hope that the obsolete antagonisms which
grew out of the relation of master and slave may speedily sink as
storms beneath the horizon; and that the day will hasten when there
shall be no North, no South, no Black, no White,--but all be American
citizens, with equal duties and equal rights.

                                        GEORGE W. WILLIAMS.

NEW YORK, November, 1882.


Part I.


       *       *       *       *       *



     The Biblical Argument.--One Race and One Language.--One
     Blood.--The Curse of Canaan.                                     1



     Cushim and Ethiopia.--Ethiopians, White and Black.--Negro
     Characteristics.--The Dark Continent.--The Antiquity of the
     Negro.--Indisputable Evidence.--The Military and Social
     Condition of Negroes.--Cause of Color.--The Term
     "Ethiopian."                                                    12



     The Ancient and High Degree of Negro Civilization.--Egypt,
     Greece, and Rome borrow from the Negro the Civilization that
     made them Great.--Cause of the Decline and Fall of Negro
     Civilization.--Confounding the Terms "Negro" and "African."     22



     BENIN: Its Location.--Its Discovery by the
     Portuguese.--Introduction of the Catholic Religion.--The
     King as a Missionary.--His Fidelity to the Church purchased
     by a White Wife.--Decline of Religion.--Introduction of
     Slavery.--Suppression of the Trade by the English
     Government.--Restoration and Peace.

     DAHOMEY: Its Location.--Origin of the Kingdom.--Meaning of
     the Name.--War.--Capture of the English Governor, and his
     Death.--The Military Establishment.--Women as
     Soldiers.--Wars and their Objects.--Human Sacrifices.--The
     King a Despot.--His Powers.--His Wives.--Polygamy.--Kingly
     Succession.--Coronation.--Civil and Criminal Law.--Revenue
     System.--Its Future.

     YORUBA. Its Location.--Slavery and its Abolition--Growth of
     the People of Abeokuta.--Missionaries and Teachers from
     Sierra Leone.--Prosperity and Peace attend the
     People.--Capacity of the People for Civilization.--Bishop
     Crowther.--His Influence.                                       26



     Its Location and Extent.--Its Famous Kings.--The Origin of
     the Ashantees Obscure.--The War with Denkera.--The Ashantees
     against the Field conquer two Kingdoms, and annex
     them.--Death of Osai Tutu.--The Envy of the King of
     Dahomey.--Invasion of the Ashantee Country by the King of
     Dahomey.--His Defeat shared by his Allies.--Akwasi pursues
     the Army of Dahomey into its own Country.--Gets a Mortal
     Wound and suffers a Humiliating Defeat,--The King of Dahomey
     sends the Royal Kudjoh his Congratulations.--Kwamina deposed
     for attempting to introduce Mohammedanism into the
     Kingdom.--The Ashantees conquer the Mohammedans.--Numerous
     Wars.--Invasion of the Fanti Country.--Death of Sir Charles
     McCarthy.--Treaty.--Peace.                                      34



     Climate the Cause.--His Geographical Theatre.--He is
     susceptible to Christianity and Civilization.                   45



     Patriarchal Government.--Construction of Villages.--Negro
     Architecture.--Election of Kings.--Coronation
     Ceremony.--Succession.--African Queens.--Law, Civil and
     Arts.--Blacksmiths.                                             50



     Structure of African Languages.--The Mpongwe, Mandingo, and
     Grebo.--Poetry: Epic, Idyllic, and Miscellaneous.--Religions
     and Superstitions.                                              66



     Its Discovery and Situation.--Natural Beauty.--Founding of a
     Negro Colony.--The Sierra Leone Company.--Fever and
     Insubordination.--It becomes an English Province.--Character
     of its Inhabitants.--Christian Missions, etc.                   85



     Liberia.--Its Location.--Extent.--Rivers and
     Mountains.--History of the First Colony.--The Noble Men who
     laid the Foundation of the Liberian Republic.--Native
     Tribes.--Translation of the New Testament into the Vei
     Language.--The Beginning and Triumph of Christian Missions
     to Liberia.--History of the Different Denominations on the
     Field.--A Missionary Republic of Negroes.--Testimony of
     Officers of the Royal Navy as to the Efficiency of the
     Republic in suppressing the Slave-Trade.--The Work of the
     Future.                                                         95



     The Unity of the Human Family re-affirmed.--God gave all
     Races of Men Civilization.--The Antiquity of the Negro
     beyond Dispute.--Idolatry the Cause of the Degradation of
     the African Races.--He has always had a Place in History,
     though Incidental.--Negro Type caused by Degradation.--Negro
     Empires an Evidence of Crude Ability for
     Self-Government.--Influence of the two Christian Governments
     on the West Coast upon the Heathen.--Oration on Early
     Christianity in Africa.--The Duty of Christianity to
     evangelize Africa.                                             108

       *       *       *       *       *

Part II.





     Introduction of the First Slaves.--"The Treasurer" and the
     Dutch Man-of-War.--The Correct Date.--The Number of
     Slaves.--Were there Twenty, or Fourteen?--Litigation about
     the Possession of the Slaves.--Character of the Slaves
     imported, and the Character of the Colonists.--Race
     Prejudices.--Legal Establishment of Slavery.--Who are Slaves
     for Life.--Duties on Imported Slaves.--Political and
     Military Prohibitions against Negroes.--Personal
     Rights.--Criminal Laws against Slaves.--Emancipation.--How
     brought about.--Free Negroes.--Their Rights.--Moral and
     Religious Training.--Population.--Slavery firmly
     established.                                                   115




     Settlement of New York by the Dutch in 1609.--Negroes
     introduced into the Colony, 1628.--The Trade in Negroes
     increased.--Tobacco exchanged for Slaves and
     Merchandise.--Government of the Colony.--New Netherland
     falls into the Hands of the English, Aug. 27, 1664.--Various
     Changes.--New Laws adopted.--Legislation.--First
     Representatives elected in 1683.--In 1702 Queen Anne
     instructs the Royal Governor in Regard to the Importation of
     Slaves.--Slavery Restrictions.--Expedition to effect the
     Conquest of Canada unsuccessful.--Negro Riot.--Suppressed by
     the Efficient Aid of Troops.--Fears of the Colonists.--Negro
     Plot of 1741.--The Robbery of Hogg's House.--Discovery of a
     Portion of the Goods.--The Arrest of Hughson, his Wife, and
     Irish Peggy.--Crimination and Recrimination.--The
     Breaking-out of Numerous Fires.--The Arrest of Spanish
     Negroes.--The Trial of Hughson.--Testimony of Mary
     Burton.--Hughson hanged.--The Arrest of Many Others
     implicated in the Plot.--The Hanging of Cæsar and
     Prince.--Quack and Cuffee burned at the Stake.--The
     Lieutenant-Governor's Proclamation.--Many White Persons
     accused of being Conspirators.--Description of Hughson's
     Manner of swearing those having Knowledge of the
     Plot.--Conviction and Hanging of the Catholic Priest
     Ury.--The Sudden and Unexpected Termination of the
     Trial.--New Laws more stringent toward Slaves adopted.         134




     The Earliest Mentions of Negroes in Massachusetts.--Pequod
     Indians exchanged for Negroes.--Voyage of the Slave Ship
     "Desire" in 1638--Fundamental Laws adopted.--Hereditary
     Slavery--Kidnapping Negroes--Growth of Slavery in the
     Seventeenth Century--Taxation of Slaves--Introduction of
     Indian Slaves prohibited.--The Position of the Church
     respecting the Baptism of Slaves--Slave Marriage--Condition
     of Free Negroes--Phillis Wheatley the African Poetess.--Her
     Life--Slavery recognized in England in Order to be
     maintained in the Colonies--The Emancipation of
     Slaves.--Legislation favoring the Importation of White
     Servants, but prohibiting the Clandestine bringing-in of
     Negroes.--Judge Sewall's Attack on Slavery.--Judge Saffin's
     Reply to Judge Sewall.                                         172




     The Era of Prohibitory Legislation against Slavery.--Boston
     instructs her Representatives to vote against the
     Slave-Trade.--Proclamation issued by Gov. Dummer against the
     Negroes, April 13, 1723.--Persecution of the
     Negroes.--"Suing for Liberty."--Letter of Samuel Adams to
     John Pickering, jun., on Behalf of Negro Memorialists.--A
     Bill for the Suppression of the Slave-Trade passes.--Is
     vetoed by Gov. Gage, and fails to become a Law.                220




     Maryland under the Laws of Virginia until 1630.--First
     Legislation on the Slavery Question in 1637-38--Slavery
     established by Statute in 1663--The Discussion of
     Slavery.--An Act passed encouraging the Importation of
     Negroes and White Slaves in 1671.--An Act laying an Impost
     on Negroes and White Servants imported into the
     Colony.--Duties imposed on Rum and Wine.--Treatment of
     Slaves and Papists.--Convicts imported into the Colony--An
     Attempt to justify the Convict-Trade.--Spirited
     Replies.--The Laws of 1723, 1729, 1752.--Rights of
     Slaves--Negro Population in 1728.--Increase of Slavery in
     1750--No Efforts made to prevent the Evils of Slavery.--The
     Revolution nearing.--New Life for the Negroes.                 238




     The Territory of Delaware settled in part by Swedes and
     Danes, anterior to the Year 1638.--The Duke of York
     transfers the Territory of Delaware to William Penn.--Penn
     grants the Colony the Privilege of Separate
     Government.--Slavery introduced on the Delaware as early as
     1636.--Complaint against Peter Alricks for using Oxen and
     Negroes belonging to the Company.--The First Legislation on
     the Slavery Question in the Colony.--An Enactment of a Law
     for the Better Regulation of Servants.--An Act restraining
     Manumission.                                                   249




     The Founding of Connecticut, 1631-36.--No Reliable Data
     given for the Introduction of Slaves.--Negroes were first
     introduced by Ship during the Early Years of the
     Colony.--"Committee for Trade and Foreign
     Plantations."--Interrogating the Governor as to the Number
     of Negroes in the Colony in 1680.--The Legislature (1690)
     passes a Law pertaining to the Purchase and Treatment of
     Slaves and Free Persons.--An Act passed by the General Court
     in 1711, requiring Persons manumitting Slaves to maintain
     them.--Regulating the Social Conduct of Slaves in 1723.--The
     Punishment of Negro, Indian, and Mulatto Slaves, for the Use
     of Profane Language, in 1630.--Lawfulness of Indian and
     Negro Slavery recognized by Code, Sept. 5, 1646.--Limited
     Rights of Free Negroes in the Colony.--Negro Population in
     1762.--Act against Importation of Slaves, 1774.                252




     Colonial Government in Rhode Island, May, 1647.--An Act
     passed to abolish Slavery in 1652, but was never
     enforced.--An Act specifying what Times Indian and Negro
     Slaves should not appear in the Streets.--An Impost-Tax on
     Slaves (1708).--Penalties imposed on Disobedient
     Slaves.--Anti Slavery Sentiment in the Colonies receives
     Little Encouragement.--Circular Letter from the Board of
     Trade to the Governor of the English Colonies, relative to
     Negro Slaves.--Governor Cranston's Reply.--List of
     Militia-Men, including White and black Servants.--Another
     Letter from the Board of Trade.--An Act preventing
     Clandestine Importations and Exportations of Passengers,
     Negroes, or Indian Slaves.--Masters of Vessels required to
     report the Names and Number of Passengers to the
     Governor.--Violation of the Impost-Tax Law on Slaves
     punished by Severe Penalties.--Appropriation by the General
     Assembly, July 5, 1715, from the Fund derived from the
     Impost Tax, for the paving of the Streets of Newport.--An
     Act passed disposing of the Money raised by
     Impost-Tax.--Impost-Law repealed, May, 1732.--An Act
     relating to freeing Mulatto and Negro Slaves passed 1728--An
     Act passed preventing Masters of Vessels from carrying
     Slaves out of the Colony, June 17, 1757.--Eve of the
     Revolution.--An Act prohibiting Importation of Negroes into
     the Colony in 1774.--The Population of Rhode Island in 1730
     and 1774.                                                      262




     New Jersey passes into the Hands of the English.--Political
     Powers conveyed to Berkeley and Carteret.--Legislation on
     the Subject of Slavery during the Eighteenth Century.--The
     Colony divided into East and West Jersey.--Separate
     Governments.--An Act concerning Slavery by the Legislature
     of East Jersey.--General Apprehension respecting the rising
     of Negro and Indian Slaves.--East and West Jersey surrender
     their Rights of Government to the Queen.--An Act for
     regulating the Conduct of Slaves.--Impost-Tax of Ten Pounds
     levied upon each Negro imported into the Colony.--The
     General Court passes a Law regulating the Trial of
     Slaves.--Negroes ruled out of the Militia Establishment upon
     Condition.--Population of the Jerseys in 1738 and 1745.        282




     The Carolinas receive two Different Charters from the Crown
     of Great Britain.--Era of Slavery Legislation.--Law
     establishing Slavery.--The Slave Population of this Province
     regarded as Chattel Property.--Trial of Slaves.--Increase of
     Slave Population.--The Increase in the Rice-Trade.--Severe
     Laws regulating the Private and Public Conduct of
     Slaves.--Punishment of Slaves for running away.--The Life of
     Slaves regarded as of Little Consequence by the Violent
     Master Class.--An Act empowering two Justices of the Peace
     to investigate Treatment of Slaves.--An Act prohibiting the
     Overworking of Slaves.--Slave-Market at
     Charleston.--Insurrection.--A Law authorizing the carrying
     of Fire-Arms among the Whites.--The Enlistment of Slaves to
     serve in Time of Alarm.--Negroes admitted to the Militia
     Service.--Compensation to Masters for the Loss of Slaves
     killed by the Enemy or who desert.--Few Slaves
     manumitted.--From 1754-76, Little Legislation on the Subject
     of Slavery.--Threatening War between England and her
     Provincial Dependencies.--The Effect upon Public Sentiment.    289




     The Geographical Situation of North Carolina favorable to
     the Slave-Trade.--The Locke Constitution adopted.--William
     Sayle commissioned Governor.--Legislative Career of the
     Colony.--The Introduction of the Established Church of
     England into the Colony.--The Rights of Negroes controlled
     absolutely by their Masters.--An Act respecting
     Conspiracies.--The Wrath of Ill-natured Whites visited upon
     their Slaves.--An Act against the Emancipation of
     Slaves.--Limited Rights of Free Negroes.                       302




     The Provincial Government of Massachusetts exercises
     Authority over the State of New Hampshire at its
     Organization.--Slavery existed from the Beginning.--The
     Governor releases a Slave from Bondage.--Instruction against
     Importation of Slaves.--Several Acts regulating the Conduct
     of Servants.--The Indifferent Treatment of Slaves.--The
     Importation of Indian Servants forbidden.--An Act checking
     the Severe Treatment of Servants and Slaves.--Slaves in the
     Colony until the Commencement of Hostilities.                  309




     Organization of the Government of Pennsylvania.--The Swedes
     and Dutch plant Settlements on the Western Bank of the
     Delaware River.--The Governor of New York seeks to exercise
     Jurisdiction over the Territory of Pennsylvania.--The First
     Laws agreed upon in England.--Provisions of the
     Law.--Memorial against Slavery draughted and adopted by the
     Germantown Friends.--William Penn presents a Bill for the
     Better Regulation of Servants.--An Act preventing the
     Importation of Negroes and Indians.--Rights of Negroes.--A
     Duty laid upon Negroes and Mulatto Slaves.--The Quaker the
     Friend of the Negro.--England begins to threaten her
     Dependencies in North America.--The People of Pennsylvania
     reflect upon the Probable Outrages their Negroes might
     commit.                                                        312




     Georgia once included in the Territory of Carolina.--The
     Thirteenth Colony planted in North America by the English
     Government.--Slaves ruled out altogether by the
     Trustees.--The Opinion of Gen. Oglethorpe concerning
     Slavery.--Long and Bitter Discussion in Regard to the
     Admission of Slavery into the Colony.--Slavery
     introduced.--History of Slavery in Georgia.                    316

       *       *       *       *       *

Part III.





     The Colonial States in 1715.--Ratification of the
     Non-Importation Act by the Southern Colonies.--George
     Washington presents Resolutions against Slavery, in a
     Meeting at Fairfax Court-House, Va.--Letter written by
     Benjamin Franklin to Dean Woodward, pertaining to
     Slavery.--Letter to the Freemen of Virginia from a
     Committee, concerning the Slaves brought from
     Jamaica.--Severe Treatment of Slaves in the Colonies
     modified.--Advertisement in "The Boston Gazette" of the
     Runaway Slave Crispus Attucks.--The Boston Massacre.--Its
     Results.--Crispus Attucks shows his Loyalty.--His Spirited
     Letter to the Tory Governor of the Province.--Slaves
     admitted into the Army.--The Condition of the Continental
     Army.--Spirited Debate in the Continental Congress, over the
     Draught of a Letter to Gen. Washington.--Instructions to
     discharge all Slaves and Free Negroes in his Army.--Minutes
     of the Meeting held at Cambridge.--Lord Dunmore's
     Proclamation.--Prejudice in the Southern Colonies.--Negroes
     in Virginia flock to the British Army.--Caution to the
     Negroes printed in a Williamsburg Paper.--The Virginia
     Convention answers the Proclamation of Lord Dunmore.--Gen.
     Greene, in a Letter to Gen. Washington, calls Attention to
     the raising of a Negro Regiment on Staten Island.--Letter
     from a Hessian Officer.--Connecticut Legislature on the
     Subject of Employment of Negroes as Soldiers.--Gen. Varnum's
     Letter to Gen. Washington, suggesting the Employment of
     Negroes, sent to Gov. Cooke.--The Governor refers Varnum's
     Letter to the General Assembly.--Minority Protest against
     enlisting Slaves to serve in the Army.--Massachusetts tries
     to secure Legal Enlistments of Negro Troops.--Letter of
     Thomas Kench to the Council and House of Representatives,
     Boston, Mass.--Negroes serve in White Organizations until
     the Close of the American Revolution.--Negro Soldiers serve
     in Virginia.--Maryland employs Negroes.--New York passes an
     Act providing for the Raising of two Colored Regiments.--War
     in the Middle and Southern Colonies.--Hamilton's Letter to
     John Jay.--Col. Laurens's Efforts to raise Negro Troops in
     South Carolina.--Proclamation of Sir Henry Clinton inducing
     Negroes to desert the Rebel Army.--Lord Cornwallis issues a
     Proclamation offering Protection to all Negroes seeking his
     Command,--Col. Laurens is called to France on Important
     Business.--His Plan for securing Black Levies for the South
     upon his Return.--His Letters to Gen. Washington in Regard
     to his Fruitless Plans.--Capt David Humphreys recruits a
     Company of Colored Infantry in Connecticut.--Return of
     Negroes in the Army in 1778.                                   324




     The Negro as a Soldier.--Battle of Bunker Hill--Gallantry of
     Negro Soldiers.--Peter Salem, the Intrepid Black
     Soldier.--Bunker-hill Monument.--The Negro Salem Poor
     distinguishes himself by Deeds of Desperate Valor.--Capture
     of Gen. Lee.--Capture of Gen. Prescott--Battle of Rhode
     Island.--Col. Greene commands a Negro Regiment.--Murder of
     Col. Greene in 1781.--The Valor of the Negro Soldiers.         363




     The Negro was Chattel or Real Property.--His Legal Status
     during his New Relation as a Soldier--Resolution introduced
     in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to prevent the
     selling of Two Negroes captured upon the High Seas--The
     Continental Congress appoints a Committee to consider what
     should be done with Negroes taken by Vessels of War in the
     Service of the United Colonies.--Confederation of the New
     States.--Spirited Debate in Congress respecting the Disposal
     of Recaptures.--The Spanish Ship "Victoria" captures an
     English Vessel having on Board Thirty-four Negroes taken
     from South Carolina.--The Negroes recaptured by Vessels
     belonging to the State of Massachusetts.--They are delivered
     to Thomas Knox, and conveyed to Castle Island.--Col. Paul
     Revere has Charge of the Slaves on Castle
     Island--Massachusetts passes a Law providing for the
     Security, Support, and Exchange of Prisoners brought into
     the State.--Gen Hancock receives a Letter from the Governor
     of South Carolina respecting the Detention of Negroes--In
     the Provincial Articles between the United States of America
     and His Britannic Majesty, Negroes were rated as
     Property.--And also in the Definite Treaty of Peace between
     the United States of America and His Britannic Majesty.--And
     also in the Treaty of Peace of 1814, between His Britannic
     Majesty and the United States, Negroes were designated as
     Property.--Gen. Washington's Letter to Brig-Gen Rufus Putnam
     in regard to a Negro in his Regiment claimed by Mr.
     Hobby.--Enlistment in the Army did not always work a
     Practical Emancipation.                                        370



     Statutory Prohibition against the Education of
     Negroes.--Benjamin Banneker, the Negro Astronomer and
     Philosopher.--His Antecedents--Young Banneker as a Farmer
     and Inventor--The Mills of Ellicott & Co.--Banneker
     cultivates his Mechanical Genius and Mathematical
     Tastes.--Banneker's first Calculation of an Eclipse
     submitted for Inspection in 1789.--His Letter to Mr
     Ellicott.--The Testimony of a Personal Acquaintance of
     Banneker as to his Upright Character.--His Home becomes a
     Place of Interest to Visitors.--Record of his Business
     Transactions.--Mrs. Mason's Visit to him.--She addresses him
     in Verse.--Banneker replies by Letter to her.--Prepares his
     First Almanac for Publication in 1792.--Title of his
     Almanac--Banneker's Letter to Thomas Jefferson.--Thomas
     Jefferson's Reply.--Banneker invited to accompany the
     Commissioners to run the Lines of the District of
     Columbia.--Banneker's Habits of studying the Heavenly
     Bodies.--Minute Description given to his Sisters in
     Reference to the Disposition of his Personal Property after
     Death.--His Death.--Regarded as the most Distinguished Negro
     of his Time.--Fuller the Mathematician, or "The Virginia
     Calculator."--Fuller of African Birth, but stolen and sold
     as a Slave into Virginia.--Visited by Men of Learning.--He
     was pronounced to be a Prodigy in the Manipulation of
     Figures.--His Death.--Derham the Physician.--Science of
     Medicine regarded as the most Intricate Pursuit of
     Man.--Early Life of James Derham.--His Knowledge of
     Medicine, how acquired.--He becomes a Prominent Physician in
     New Orleans.--Dr. Rush gives an Account of an Interview with
     him.--What the Negro Race produced by their Genius in
     America.                                                       385




     Progress of the Slave-Trade.--A Great War for the
     Emancipation of the Colonies from Political
     Bondage.--Condition of the Southern States during the
     War.--The Virginia Declaration of Rights.--Immediate
     Legislation against Slavery demanded.--Advertisement from
     "The Independent Chronicle."--Petition of Massachusetts
     Slaves.--An Act preventing the Practice of holding Persons
     in Slavery.--Advertisements from "The Continental
     Journal."--A Law passed in Virginia limiting the Rights of
     Slaves.--Law emancipating all Slaves who served in the
     Army.--New York promises her Negro Soldiers Freedom.--A
     Conscientious Minority in Favor of the Abolition of the
     Slave-Trade.--Slavery flourishes during the Entire
     Revolutionary Period.                                          402




     British Colonies in North America declare their
     Independence.--A New Government established.--Slavery the
     Bane of American Civilization.--The Tory Party accept the
     Doctrine of Property in Man.--The Doctrine of the Locke
     Constitution in the South.--The Whig Party the Dominant
     Political Organization in the Northern States.--Slavery
     recognized under the New Government.--Anti Slavery Agitation
     in the States.--Attempted Legislation against
     Slavery.--Articles of Confederation.--Then Adoption in
     1778.--Discussion concerning the Disposal of the Western
     Territory.--Mr. Jefferson's Recommendation.--Amendment by
     Mr. Spaight.--Congress in New York in 1787.--Discussion
     respecting the Government of the Western
     Territory.--Convention at Philadelphia to frame the Federal
     Constitution.--Proceedings of the Convention.--The Southern
     States still advocate Slavery.--Speeches on the Slavery
     Question by Leading Statesmen.--Constitution adopted by the
     Convention in 1787.--First Session of Congress under the
     Federal Constitution held in New York in 1789.--The
     Introduction of a Tariff-Bill.--An Attempt to amend it by
     inserting a Clause levying a Tax on Slaves brought by
     Water.--Extinction of Slavery in Massachusetts.--A Change in
     the Public Opinion of the Middle and Eastern States on the
     Subject of Slavery.--Dr. Benjamin Franklin's Address to the
     Public for promoting the Abolition of Slavery.--Memorial to
     the United-States Congress.--Congress in 1790.--Bitter
     Discussion on the Restriction of the
     Slave-Trade.--Slave-Population.--Vermont and Kentucky
     admitted into the Union.--A Law providing for the Return of
     Fugitives from "Labor and Service."--Convention of Friends
     held in Philadelphia.--An Act against the Foreign
     Slave-Trade.--Mississippi Territory.--Constitution of
     Georgia revised.--New York passes a Bill for the Gradual
     Extinction of Slavery.--Constitution of Kentucky
     revised.--Slavery as an Institution firmly established.        412


Part I.





During the last half-century, many writers on ethnology, anthropology,
and slavery have strenuously striven to place the Negro outside of the
human family; and the disciples of these teachers have endeavored to
justify their views by the most dehumanizing treatment of the Negro.
But, fortunately for the Negro and for humanity at large, we live now
in an epoch when race malice and sectional hate are disappearing
beneath the horizon of a brighter and better future. The Negro in
America is free. He is now an acknowledged factor in the affairs of
the continent; and no community, state, or government, in this period
of the world's history, can afford to be indifferent to his moral,
social, intellectual, or political well-being.

It is proposed, in the first place, to call the attention to the
absurd charge that the Negro does not belong to the human family.
Happily, there are few left upon the face of the earth who still
maintain this belief.

In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis it is clearly stated that
"God created man," "male and female created he them;"[1] that "the
Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul;"[2] and
that "the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden
to dress it and to keep it."[3] It is noticeable that the sacred
historian, in every reference to Adam, speaks of him as "_man_;" and
that the divine injunction to them was,--Adam and Eve,--"Be fruitful,
and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have
dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and
over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."[4] As among the
animals, so here in the higher order, there were two,--a pair,--"male
and female," of the human species. We may begin with man, and run down
the scale, and we are sure to find two of a kind, "male and female."
This was the divine order. But they were to "be fruitful," were to
"replenish the earth." That they did "multiply," we have the
trustworthy testimony of God; and it was true that man and beast, fowl
and fish, increased. We read that after their expulsion from the
Garden of Eden, Eve bore Adam a family. Cain and Abel; and that they
"peopled the earth."

After a number of years we find that wickedness increased in the
earth; so much so that the Lord was provoked to destroy the earth with
a flood, with the exception of Noah, his wife, his three sons and
their wives,--eight souls in all.[5] Of the animals, two of each kind
were saved.

But the most interesting portion of Bible history comes after the
Flood. We then have the history of the confusion of tongues, and the
subsequent and consequent dispersion of mankind. In the eleventh
chapter and first verse of Genesis it is recorded: "_And the_ WHOLE
EARTH _was of_ ONE LANGUAGE, _and of_ ONE SPEECH." "The whole earth"
here means all the inhabitants of the earth,--all mankind. The medium
of communication was common. Everybody used one language. In the sixth
verse occurs this remarkable language: "And the Lord said, Behold, the
people is _one_, and they have all _one_ language." Attention is
called to this verse, because we have here the testimony of the Lord
that "the people is _one_," and that the language of the people is
one. This verse establishes two very important facts; i.e., there was
but one nationality, and hence but one language. The fact that they
had but one language furnishes reasonable proof that they were of one
blood; and the historian has covered the whole question very
carefully by recording the great truth that they were _one people_,
and had but _one language_. The seventh, eighth, and ninth verses of
the eleventh chapter are not irrelevant: "Go to, let us go down, and
there confound their language, that they may not understand one
another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon
the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.
Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there
confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the Lord
scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."

It was the wickedness of the people that caused the Lord to disperse
them, to confound their speech, and bring to nought their haughty
work. Evidently this was the beginning of different families of
men,--different nationalities, and hence different languages. In the
ninth verse it reads, that "from thence did the Lord scatter them
abroad upon the face of all the earth." There is no ambiguity about
this language. He did not only "confound their language," but
"scattered them from thence," from Babel, "upon the face of all the
earth." Here, then, are two very important facts: their _language_ was
_confused_, and they _were_ "_scattered_." They were not only
"scattered," they were "scattered _abroad upon the face of all_ the
earth." That is, they were dispersed very widely, sent into the
various and remote parts of the earth; and their nationality received
its being from the latitudes to which the divinely appointed wave of
dispersion bore them; and their subsequent racial character was to
borrow its tone and color from climateric influences. Three great
families, the Shemitic, Hamitic, and Japhetic, were suddenly built up.
Many other families, or tribes, sprang from these; but these were the
three great heads of all subsequent races of men.

     "That the three sons of Noah overspread and peopled the
     whole earth, is so expressly stated in Scripture, that, had
     we not to argue against those who unfortunately disbelieve
     such evidence, we might here stop: let us, however, inquire
     how far the truth of this declaration is substantiated by
     other considerations. Enough has been said to show that
     there is a curious, if not a remarkable, analogy between the
     predictions of Noah on the future descendants of his three
     sons, and the actual state of those races which are
     generally supposed to have sprung from them. It may here be
     again remarked, that, to render the subject more clear, we
     have adopted the quinary arrangement of Professor
     Blumenbach: yet that Cuvier and other learned physiologists
     are of opinion that the primary varieties of the human form
     are more properly but three; viz., the Caucasian, Mongolian,
     and Ethiopian. This number corresponds with that of Noah's
     sons. Assigning, therefore, the Mongolian race to Japheth,
     and the Ethiopian to Ham, the Caucasian, the noblest race,
     will belong to Shem, the third son of Noah, himself
     descended from Seth, the third son of Adam. That the primary
     distinctions of the human varieties are but _three_, has
     been further maintained by the erudite Prichard; who, while
     he rejects the nomenclature both of Blumenbach and Cuvier,
     as implying absolute divisions, arranges the leading
     varieties of the human skull under three sections, differing
     from those of Cuvier only by name. That the three sons of
     Noah who were to 'replenish the earth,' and on whose progeny
     very opposite destinies were pronounced, should give birth
     to different races, is what might reasonably be conjectured;
     but that the observation of those who do, and of those who
     do not, believe the Mosaic history, should tend to confirm
     truth, by pointing out in what these three races do actually
     differ, both physically and morally, is, to say the least, a
     singular coincidence. It amounts, in short, to a presumptive
     evidence, that a mysterious and very beautiful analogy
     pervades throughout, and teaches us to look beyond natural
     causes in attempting to account for effects apparently
     interwoven in the plans of Omnipotence."[6]

In the seventeenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, twenty-sixth
verse, we find the following language: "And hath made of one blood all
nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath
determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their
habitation."[7] The Apostle Paul was a missionary. He was, at this
time, on a mission to the far-famed city of Athens,--"the eye of
Greece, and the fountain of learning and philosophy." He told the "men
of Athens," that, as he travelled through their beautiful city, he had
not been unmindful of its attractions; that he had not been
indifferent to the claims of its citizens to scholarship and culture,
and that among other things he noticed an altar erected to _an unknown
God_. He went on to remark, that, great as their city and nation were,
God, whose offspring they were, had created other nations, who lived
beyond their verdant hills and swelling rivers. And, moreover, that
God had created "all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of
the earth" out "of one blood." He called their attention to the
fact that God had fenced all the nations in by geographical
boundaries,--had fixed the limits of their habitation.

We find two leading thoughts in the twenty-sixth verse; viz., that
this passage establishes clearly and unmistakably the unity of
mankind, in that God created them of one blood; second, he hath
determined "the bounds of their habitation,"--hath located them
geographically. The language quoted is very explicit. "He hath
determined the bounds of their habitation," that is, "all the nations
of men.[8] We have, then, the fact, that there are different "nations
of men," and that they are all "of one blood," and, therefore, have a
common parent. This declaration was made by the Apostle Paul, an
inspired writer, a teacher of great erudition, and a scholar in both
the Hebrew and the Greek languages.

It should not be forgotten either, that in Paul's masterly discussion
of the doctrine of sin,--the fall of man,--he always refers to Adam as
the "one man" by whom sin came into the world.[9] His Epistle to the
Romans abounds in passages which prove very plainly the unity of
mankind. The Acts of the Apostles, as well as the Gospels, prove the
unity we seek to establish.

But there are a few who would admit the unity of mankind, and still
insist that the Negro does not belong to the human family. It is so
preposterous, that one has a keen sense of humiliation in the assured
consciousness that he goes rather low to meet the enemies of God's
poor; but it can certainly do no harm to meet them with the
everlasting truth.

In the Gospel of Luke we read this remarkable historical statement:
"And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian,
coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he
might bear it after Jesus."[10] By referring to the map, the reader
will observe that Cyrene is in Libya, on the north coast of Africa.
All the commentators we have been able to consult, on the passage
quoted below, agree that this man Simon was a Negro,--a black man.
John Melville produced a very remarkable sermon from this passage.[11]
And many of the most celebrated pictures of "The Crucifixion," in
Europe, represent this Cyrenian as black, and give him a very
prominent place in the most tragic scene ever witnessed on this earth.
In the Acts of the Apostles we have a very full and interesting
account of the conversion and immersion of the Ethiopian eunuch, "a
man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace, Queen of
the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come
to Jerusalem for to worship."[12] Here, again, we find that all the
commentators agree as to the nationality of the eunuch: he was a
Negro; and, by implication, the passage quoted leads us to the belief
that the Ethiopians were a numerous and wealthy people. Candace was
the queen that made war against Augustus Cæsar twenty years before
Christ, and, though not victorious, secured an honorable peace.[13]
She reigned in Upper Egypt,--up the Nile,--and lived at Meroe, that
ancient city, the very cradle of Egyptian civilization.[14]

     "In the time of our Saviour (and indeed from that time
     forward), by Ethiopia was meant, in a general sense, the
     countries south of Egypt, then but imperfectly known; of one
     of which that Candace was queen whose eunuch was baptized by
     Philip. Mr. Bruce, on his return from Abyssinia, found in
     latitude 16° 38' a place called Chendi, where the reigning
     sovereign was then a queen; and where a tradition existed
     that a woman, by name Hendaque (which comes as near as
     possible to the Greek name [Greek: Chandakê]), once governed
     all that country. Near this place are extensive ruins,
     consisting of broken pedestals and obelisks, which Bruce
     conjectures to be those of Meroe, the capital of the African
     Ethiopia, which is described by Herodotus as a great city in
     his time, namely, four hundred years before Christ; and
     where, separated from the rest of the world by almost
     impassable deserts, and enriched by the commercial
     expeditions of their travelling brethren, the Cushites
     continued to cultivate, so late as the first century of the
     Christian era, some portions of those arts and sciences to
     which the settlers in the cities had always more or less
     devoted themselves."[15]

But a few writers have asserted, and striven to prove, that the
Egyptians and Ethiopians are quite a different people from the Negro.
Jeremiah seems to have understood that these people about whom we have
been writing were Negroes,--we mean black. "Can the Ethiopian," asks
the prophet, "change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" The prophet
was as thoroughly aware that the Ethiopian was black, as that the
leopard had spots; and Luther's German has for the word "Ethiopia,"
"Negro-land,"--the country of the blacks.[16] The word "Ethiop" in
the Greek literally means "sunburn."

That these Ethiopians were black, we have, in addition to the valuable
testimony of Jeremiah, the scholarly evidence of Herodotus, Homer,
Josephus, Eusebius, Strabo, and others.

It will be necessary for us to use the term "Cush" farther along in
this discussion: so we call attention at this time to the fact, that
the Cushites, so frequently referred to in the Scriptures, are the
same as the Ethiopians.

Driven from unscriptural and untenable ground on the unity of the
races of mankind, the enemies of the Negro, falling back in confusion,
intrench themselves in the curse of Canaan. "And Noah awoke from his
wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said,
Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his
brethren."[17] This passage was the leading theme of the defenders of
slavery in the pulpit for many years. Bishop Hopkins says,--

     "The heartless irreverence which Ham, the father of Canaan,
     displayed toward his eminent parent, whose piety had just
     saved him from the Deluge, presented the immediate
     _occasion_ for this remarkable prophecy; but the actual
     _fulfilment_ was reserved for his posterity after they had
     lost the knowledge of God, and become utterly polluted by
     the abominations of heathen idolatry. The Almighty,
     foreseeing this total degradation of the race, ordained them
     to servitude or slavery under the descendants of Shem and
     Japheth, doubtless because _he judged it to be their fittest
     condition_. And all history proves how accurately the
     prediction has been accomplished, even to the present

Now, the first thing to be done by those who adopt this view is, to
prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Noah was inspired to pronounce
this prophecy. Noah _had_ been, as a rule, a righteous man. For more
than a hundred years he had lifted up his voice against the growing
wickedness of the world. His fidelity to the cause of God was
unquestioned; and for his faith and correct living, he and his entire
household were saved from the Deluge. But after his miraculous
deliverance from the destruction that overcame the old world, his
entire character is changed. There is not a single passage to show us
that he continued his avocation as a preacher. He became a husbandman;
he kept a vineyard; and, more than all, he drank of the wine and got
drunk! Awaking from a state of inebriation, he knew that Ham had
beheld his nakedness and "told his two brethren." But "Shem and
Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and
went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their
faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness."[19]
It is quite natural to suppose, that, humiliated and chagrined at his
sinful conduct, and angered at the behavior of his son and grandson,
Ham and Canaan, Noah expressed his disapprobation of Canaan. It was
_his_ desire, on the impulse of the moment, that Canaan should suffer
a humiliation somewhat commensurate with his offence; and, on the
other hand, it was appropriate that he should commend the conduct of
his other sons, who sought to hide their father's shame. And all this
was done without any inspiration. He simply expressed himself as a
fallible man.

Bishop Hopkins, however, is pleased to call this a "prophecy." In
order to prophesy, in the scriptural meaning of the word, a man must
have the divine unction, and must be moved by the Holy Ghost; and, in
addition to this, it should be said, that a true prophecy always comes
to pass,--is sure of fulfilment. Noah was not inspired when he
pronounced his curse against Canaan, for the sufficient reason that it
was not fulfilled. He was not speaking in the spirit of prophecy when
he blessed Shem and Japheth, for the good reason that their
descendants have often been in bondage. Now, if these words of Noah
were prophetic, were inspired of God, we would naturally expect to
find _all of Canaan's descendants in bondage_, and all of Shem's out
of bondage,--free! If this prophecy--granting this point to the
learned bishop for argument's sake--has not been fulfilled, then we
conclude one of two things; namely, these are not the words of God, or
they have not been fulfilled. But they were not the words of prophecy,
and consequently never had any divine authority. It was Canaan upon
whom Noah pronounced the curse: and Canaan was the son of Ham; and
Ham, it is said, is the progenitor of the Negro race. The Canaanites
were not bondmen, but freemen,--powerful tribes when the Hebrews
invaded their country; and from the Canaanites descended the bold and
intelligent Carthaginians, as is admitted by the majority of writers
on this subject. From Ham proceeded the Egyptians, Libyans, the
Phutim, and the Cushim or Ethiopians, who, colonizing the African
side of the Red Sea, subsequently extended themselves indefinitely to
the west and south of that great continent. Egypt was called Chemia,
or the country of Ham; and it has been thought that the Egyptian's
deity, Hammon or Ammon, was a deification of Ham.[20] The
Carthaginians were successful in numerous wars against the sturdy
Romans. So in this, as in many other instances, the prophecy of Noah

Following the chapter containing the prophecy of Noah, the historian
records the genealogy of the descendants of Ham and Canaan. We will
quote the entire account that we may be assisted to the truth.

     "And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and
     Canaan; and the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah,
     and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba and
     Dedan. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in
     the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore
     it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the
     Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech,
     and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that
     land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city
     Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah:
     the same is a great city. And Mizraim begat Ludim, and
     Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, and Pathrusim, and
     Casluhim (out of whom came Philistim), and Caphtorim. And
     Canaan begat Sidon his first-born, and Heth, and the
     Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, and the
     Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, and the Arvadite,
     and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the
     families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the border of
     the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto
     Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah,
     and Zeboim, even unto Lasha. These are the sons of Ham,
     after their families, after their tongues, in their
     countries, and in their nations."[21]

Here is a very minute account of the family of Ham, who it is said was
to share the fate of his son Canaan, and a clear account of the
children of Canaan. "Nimrod," says the record, "began to be a mighty
one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord.... And the
beginning of his kingdom," etc. We find that Cush was the oldest son
of Ham, and the father of Nimrod the "mighty one in the earth," whose
"kingdom" was so extensive. He founded the Babylonian empire, and was
the father of the founder of the city of Nineveh, one of the grandest
cities of the ancient world. These wonderful achievements were of the
children of Cush, the ancestor of the Negroes. It is fair to suppose
that this line of Ham's posterity was not lacking in powers necessary
to found cities and kingdoms, and maintain government.

Thus far we have been enabled to see, according to the Bible record,
that the posterity of Canaan did not go into bondage; that it was a
powerful people, both in point of numbers and wealth; and, from the
number and character of the cities it built, we infer that it was an
intellectual posterity. We conclude that thus far there is no
evidence, from a biblical standpoint, that Noah's prophecy was
fulfilled. But, notwithstanding the absence of scriptural proof as to
the bondage of the children of Canaan, the venerable Dr. Mede says,
"There never has been a son of Ham who has shaken a sceptre over the
head of Japheth. Shem has subdued Japheth, and Japheth has subdued
Shem; but Ham has never subdued either." The doctor is either
falsifying the facts of history, or is ignorant of history. The
Hebrews were in bondage in Egypt for centuries. Egypt was peopled by
Misraim, the second son of Ham. Who were the Shemites? They were
Hebrews! The Shemites were in slavery to the Hamites. Melchizedek,
whose name was expressive of his character,--_king of righteousness_
(or a righteous king), was a worthy priest of the most high God; and
Abimelech, whose name imports _parental king_, pleaded the integrity
of his heart and the righteousness of his nation before God, and his
plea was admitted. Yet both these personages appear to have been
Canaanites."[22] Melchizedek and Abimelech were Canaanites, and the
most sacred and honorable characters in Old-Testament history. It was
Abraham, a Shemite, who, meeting Melchizedek, a Canaanite, gave him a
tenth of all his spoils. It was Nimrod, a Cushite, who "went to Asher,
and built Nineveh," after subduing the Shemites, So it seems very
plain that Noah's prophecy did not come true in every respect, and
that it was not the word of God. "And God blessed Noah and his
sons."[23] God pronounces his blessing upon this entire family, and
enjoins upon them to "be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the
earth." Afterwards Noah seeks to abrogate the blessing of God by his
"cursed be Canaan." But this was only the bitter expression of a
drunken and humiliated parent lacking divine authority. No doubt he
and his other two sons conformed their conduct to the spirit of the
curse pronounced, and treated the Hamites accordingly. The scholarly
Dr. William Jones[24] says that Ham was the youngest son of Noah; that
he had four sons, Cush, Misraim, Phut, and Canaan; and that they
peopled Africa and part of Asia.[25] The Hamites were the offspring of
Noah, and one of the three great families that have peopled the


[1] Gen. i. 27.

[2] Gen. ii. 7.

[3] Gen. ii. 15.

[4] Gen. i. 28.

[5] Gen. vi. 5_sq._

[6] Encycl. of Geo., p. 255.

[7] If the Apostle Paul had asserted that all men resembled each other
in the color of their skin and the texture of their hair, or even in
their physiological make-up, he would have been at war with
observation and critical investigation. But, having announced a
wonderful truth in reference to the unity of the human race as based
upon one blood, science comes to his support, and through the
microscope reveals the corpuscles of the blood, and shows that the
globule is the same in all human blood.

[8] Deut. xxxii. 8, 9: "When the Most High divided to the nations
their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the
bounds of the people according to the number of the children of
Israel. For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his

[9] Rom. v. 12, 14-21.

[10] Luke xxiii, 26: Acts vi. 9, also second chapter, tenth verse.
Matthew records the same fact in the twenty-seventh chapter,
thirty-second verse. "And at they came out, they found a man of
Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross."

[11] See Melville's Sermons.

[12] Acts viii. 27.

[13] Pliny says the Ethiopian government subsisted for several
generations in the hands of queens whose name was _Candace_.

[14] See Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon.

[15] Jones's Biblical Cyclopædia, p. 311.

[16] The term Ethiope was anciently given to all those whose color was
darkened by the sun.--_Smyth's Unity of the Human Races_, chap. i. p.

[17] Gen. ix. 24, 25. See also the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh

[18] Bible Views of Slavery, p. 7.

[19] Gen. ix. 23.

[20] Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride. See also Dr. Morton, and
Ethnological Journal, 4th No p. 172.

[21] Gen. x. 6-20.

[22] Dr. Bush.

[23] Gen. ix. I.

[24] Jones's Biblical Cyclopædia, p. 393. Ps. lxxviii. 51.

[25] Ps. cv. 23.

[26] If Noah's utterance were to be regarded as a prophecy, it applied
only to the Canaanites, the descendants of Canaan, Noah's grandson.
Nothing is said in reference to any person but Canaan in the supposed




There seems to be a great deal of ignorance and confusion in the use
of the word "Negro;"[27] and about as much trouble attends the proper
classification of the inhabitants of Africa. In the preceding chapter
we endeavored to prove, not that Ham and Canaan were the progenitors
of the Negro races,--for that is admitted by the most consistent
enemies of the blacks,--but that the human race is _one_, and that
Noah's curse was not a divine prophecy.

The term "Negro" seems to be applied chiefly to the dark and
woolly-haired people who inhabit Western Africa. But the Negro is to
be found also in Eastern Africa.[28] Zonaras says, "Chus is the person
from whom the Cuseans are derived. They are the same people as the
Ethiopians." This view is corroborated by Josephus.[29] Apuleius, and
Eusebius. The Hebrew term "Cush" is translated Ethiopia by the
Septuagint, Vulgate, and by almost all other versions, ancient and
modern, as well as by the English version. "It is not, therefore, to
be doubted that the term '_Cushim_' has by the interpretation of all
ages been translated by 'Ethiopians,' because they were also known by
their black color, and their transmigrations, which were easy and
frequent."[30] But while it is a fact, supported by both sacred and
profane history, that the terms "Cush" and "Ethiopian" were used
interchangeably, there seems to be no lack of proof that the same
terms were applied frequently to a people who were not Negroes. It
should be remembered, moreover, that there were nations who were
black, and yet were not Negroes. And the only distinction amongst all
these people, who are branches of the Hamitic family, is the texture
of the hair. "But it is _equally_ certain, as we have seen, that the
term 'Cushite' is applied in Scripture to other branches of the same
family; as, for instance, to the Midianites, from whom Moses selected
his wife, and who could not have been Negroes. The term 'Cushite,'
therefore, is used in Scripture as denoting nations who were not
black, or in any respect Negroes, and also countries south of Egypt,
whose inhabitants were Negroes; and yet both races are declared to be
the descendants of Cush, the son of Ham. Even in Ezekiel's day the
interior African nations were not of one race; for he represents Cush,
Phut, Lud, and Chub, as either themselves constituting, or as being
amalgamated with, 'a mingled people' (Ezek. xxx. 5); 'that is to say,'
says Faber, 'it was a nation of Negroes who are represented as very
numerous,--_all_ the mingled people.'"[31]

The term "Ethiopia" was anciently given to all those whose color was
darkened by the sun. Herodotus, therefore, distinguishes the Eastern
Ethiopians who had straight hair, from the Western Ethiopians who had
curly or woolly hair.[32]. They are a twofold people, lying extended
in a long tract from the rising to the setting sun."[33]

The conclusion is patent. The words "Ethiopia" and "Cush" were used
always to describe a black people, or the country where such a people
lived. The term "Negro," from the Latin "_niger_" and the French
"_noir_," means black; and consequently is a modern term, with all the
original meaning of Cush and Ethiopia, with a single exception. We
called attention above to the fact that all Ethiopians were not of the
pure Negro type, but were nevertheless a branch of the original
Hamitic family from whence sprang all the dark races. The term "Negro"
is now used to designate the people, who, in addition to their dark
complexion, have curly or woolly hair. It is in this connection that
we shall use the term in this work.[34]

Africa, the home of the indigenous dark races, in a geographic and
ethnographic sense, is the most wonderful country in the world It is
thoroughly tropical. It has an area in English square miles of
11,556,600, with a population of 192,520,000 souls. It lies between
the latitudes of 38° north and 35° south; and is, strictly speaking,
an enormous peninsula, attached to Asia by the Isthmus of Suez. The
most northern point is the cape, situated a little to the west of Cabo
Blanco, and opposite Sicily, which lies in latitude 37° 20' 40" north,
longitude 9° 41' east. Its southernmost point is Cabo d'Agulhas, in
34° 49' 15" south; the distance between these two points being 4,330
geographical, or about 5,000 English miles. The westernmost point is
Cabo Verde, in longitude 17° 33' west; its easternmost, Cape
Jerdaffun, in longitude 51° 21' east, latitude 10° 25' north, the
distance between the two points being about the same as its length.
The western coasts are washed by the Atlantic, the northern by the
Mediterranean, and the eastern by the Indian Ocean. The shape of this
"dark continent" is likened to a triangle or to an Oval. It is rich in
oils, ivory, gold, and precious timber. It has beautiful lakes and
mighty rivers, that are the insoluble problems of the present times.

Of the antiquity of the Negro there can be no doubt. He is known as
thoroughly to history as any of the other families of men. He appears
at the first dawn of history, and has continued down to the present
time. The scholarly Gliddon says, that "the hieroglyphical designation
of 'KeSH,' exclusively applied to _African_ races as distinct from the
Egyptian, has been found by Lepsius as far back as the monuments of
the sixth dynasty, 3000 B.C. But the great influx of Negro and Mulatto
races into Egypt as captives dated from the twelfth dynasty; when,
about the twenty-second century, B.C., Pharaoh SESOUR-TASEN extended
his conquests up the Nile far into Nigritia. After the eighteenth
dynasty the monuments come down to the third century, A.D., without
one single instance in the Pharaonic or Ptolemaic periods that Negro
labor was ever directed to any agricultural or utilitarian
objects."[35] The Negro was found in great numbers with the Sukim,
Thut, Lubin, and other African nations, who formed the strength of the
army of the king of Egypt, Shishak, when he came against Rehoboam in
the year 971 B.C.; and in his tomb, opened in 1849, there were found
among his depicted army the exact representation of the genuine Negro
race, both in color, hair, and physiognomy. Negroes are also
represented in Egyptian paintings as connected with the military
campaigns of the eighteenth dynasty. They formed a part of the army of
Ibrahim Pacha, and were prized as gallant soldiers at Moncha and in
South Arabia.[36] And Herodotus assures us that Negroes were found in
the armies of Sesostris and Xerxes; and, at the present time, they are
no inconsiderable part of the standing army of Egypt.[37] Herodotus
states that eighteen of the Egyptian kings were Ethiopians.[38]

It is quite remarkable to hear a writer like John P. Jeffries, who
evidently is not very friendly in his criticisms of the Negro, make
such a positive declaration as the following:--

     "Every rational mind must, therefore, readily conclude that
     the African race has been in existence, as a distinct
     people, over four thousand two hundred years; and how long
     before that period is a matter of conjecture only, there
     being no reliable data upon which to predicate any reliable

It is difficult to find a writer on ethnology, ethnography, or
Egyptology, who doubts the antiquity of the Negroes as a distinct
people. Dr. John C. Nott of Mobile, Ala., a Southern man in the widest
meaning, in his "Types of Mankind," while he tries to make his book
acceptable to Southern slaveholders, strongly maintains the antiquity
of the Negro.

     "Ethnological science, then, possesses not only the
     authoritative testimonies of Lepsius and Birch in proof of
     the existence of Negro races during the twenty-fourth
     century, B.C., but, the same fact being conceded by all
     living Egyptologists, we may hence infer that these
     Nigritian types were contemporary with the earliest

In 1829 there was a remarkable Theban tomb opened by Mr. Wilkinson,
and in 1840 it was carefully examined by Harris and Gliddon. There is
a most wonderful collection of Negro scenes in it. Of one of these
scenes even Dr. Nott says,--

     "A Negress, apparently a princess, arrives at Thebes, drawn
     in a plaustrum by a pair of humped oxen, the driver and
     groom being red-colored Egyptians, and, one might almost
     infer, eunuchs. Following her are multitudes of Negroes and
     Nubians, bringing tribute from the upper country, as well as
     black slaves of both sexes and all ages, among which are
     some _red_ children, whose _fathers_ were Egyptians. The
     cause of her advent seems to have been to make offerings in
     the tomb of a 'royal son of KeS_h_--Amunoph,' who may have
     been her husband."[41]

It is rather strange that the feelings of Dr. Nott toward the Negro
were so far mollified as to allow him to make a statement that
destroys his heretofore specious reasoning about the political and
social status of the Negro. He admits the antiquity of the Negro; but
makes a special effort to place him in a servile state at all times,
and to present him as a vanquished vassal before Ramses III. and other
Egyptian kings. He sees no change in the Negro's condition, except
that in slavery he is better fed and clothed than in his native home.
But, nevertheless, the Negress of whom he makes mention, and the
entire picture in the Theban tomb, put down the learned doctor's
argument. Here is a Negro princess with Egyptian driver and groom,
with a large army of attendants, going on a long journey to the tomb
of her royal husband!

There is little room here to question the political and social
conditions of the Negroes.[42] They either had enjoyed a long and
peaceful rule, or by their valor in offensive warfare had won
honorable place by conquest. And the fact that black slaves are
mentioned does not in any sense invalidate the historical
trustworthiness of the pictures found in this Theban tomb; for
Wilkinson says, in reference to the condition of society at this

     "It is evident that both white and black slaves were
     employed as servants; they attended on the guests when
     invited to the house of their master; and, from their being
     in the families of priests as well as of the military
     chiefs, we may infer that they were purchased with money,
     and that the right of possessing slaves was not confined to
     those who had taken them in war. The traffic in slaves was
     tolerated by the Egyptians; and it is reasonable to suppose
     that many persons were engaged ... in bringing them to Egypt
     for public sale, independent of those who were sent as part
     of the tribute, and who were probably, at first, the
     property of the monarch; nor did any difficulty occur to the
     Ishmaelites in the purchase of Joseph from his brethren, nor
     in his subsequent sale to Potiphar on arriving in Egypt."

So we find that slavery was not, at this time, confined to any
particular race of people. This Negro princess was as liable to
purchase white as black slaves; and doubtless some were taken in
successful wars with other nations, while others were purchased as

But we have further evidence to offer in favor of the antiquity of the
Negro. In Japan, and in many other parts of the East, there are to be
found stupendous and magnificent temples, that are hoary with age. It
is almost impossible to determine the antiquity of some of them, in
which the idols are exact representations of woolly-haired Negroes,
although the inhabitants of those countries to-day have straight hair.
Among the Japanese, black is considered a color of good omen. In the
temples of Siam we find the idols fashioned like unto Negroes.[43]
Osiris, one of the principal deities of the Egyptians, is frequently
represented as black.[44] Bubastis, also, the Diana of Greece, and a
member of the great Egyptian Triad, is now on exhibition in the
British Museum, sculptured in black basalt silting figure.[45] Among
the Hindus, Kali, the consort of Siva, one of their great Triad;
Crishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu; and Vishnu also himself,
the second of the Trimerti or Hindu Triad, are represented of a black
color.[46] Dr. Morton says,--

     "The Sphinx may have been the shrine of the Negro population
     of Egypt, who, as a people, were unquestionably under our
     average size. Three million Buddhists in Asia represent
     their chief deity, Buddha, with Negro features and hair.
     There are two other images of Buddha, one at Ceylon and the
     other at Calanee, of which Lieut. Mahoney says, 'Both these
     statues agree in having crisped hair and long, pendent

And the learned and indefatigable Hamilton Smith says,--

     "In the plains of India are Nagpoor, and a ruined city
     without name at the gates of Benares (perhaps the real Kasi
     of tradition), once adorned with statues of a woolly-haired

Now, these substantial and indisputable traces of the march of the
Negro races through Japan and Asia lead us to conclude that the Negro
race antedates all profane history. And while the great body of the
Negro races have been located geographically in Africa, they have
been, in no small sense, a cosmopolitan people. Their wanderings may
be traced from the rising to the setting sun.

     "The remains of architecture and sculpture in India seem to
     prove an early connection between that country and
     Africa.... The Pyramids of Egypt, the colossal statues
     described by Pausanias and others, the Sphinx, and the
     Hermes Canis, which last bears a strong resemblance to the
     Varaha Avatar, indicate the style of the same indefatigable
     workmen who formed the vast excavations of Canarah, the
     various temples and images of Buddha, and the idols which
     are continually dug up at Gaya or in its vicinity. These and
     other indubitable facts may induce no ill-grounded opinion,
     that Ethiopia and Hindustan were peopled or colonized by the
     same extraordinary race; in confirmation of which it may be
     added, that the mountaineers of Bengal and Benhar can hardly
     be distinguished in some of their features, particularly in
     their lips and noses, from the modern Abyssinians."[49]

There is little room for speculation here to the candid searcher after
truth. The evidence accumulates as we pursue our investigations.
Monuments and temples, sepulchred stones and pyramids, rise up to
declare the antiquity of the Negro races. Hamilton Smith, after
careful and critical investigation, reaches the conclusion, that the
Negro type of man was the most ancient, and the indigenous race of
Asia, as far north as the lower range of the Himalaya Mountains, and
presents at length many curious facts which cannot, he believes, be
otherwise explained.

     "In this view, the first migrations of the Negro stock,
     coasting westward by catamarans, or in wretched canoes, and
     skirting South-western Asia, may synchronize with the
     earliest appearance of the Negro tribes of Eastern Africa,
     and just precede the more mixed races, which, like the
     Ethiopians of Asia, passed the Red Sea at the Straits of
     Bab-el-Mandeb, ascended the Nile, or crossed that river to
     the west."[50]

Taking the whole southern portion of Asia westward to Arabia, this
conjecture--which likewise was a conclusion drawn, after patient
research, by the late Sir T. Stanford Raffles--accounts, more
satisfactorily than any other, for the Oriental habits, ideas,
traditions, and words which can be traced among several of the present
African tribes and in the South-Sea Islands. Traces of this black race
are still found along the Himalaya range from the Indus to Indo-China,
and the Malay peninsula, and in a mixed form all through the southern
states to Ceylon.[51]

But it is unnecessary to multiply evidence in proof of the antiquity
of the Negro. His presence in this world was coetaneous with the other
families of mankind: here he has toiled with a varied fortune; and
here under God--_his_ God--he will, in the process of time, work out
all the sublime problems connected with his future as a man and a

There are various opinions rife as to the cause of color and texture
of hair in the Negro. The generally accepted theory years ago was,
that the curse of Cain rested upon this race; while others saw in the
dark skin of the Negro the curse of Noah pronounced against Canaan.
These two explanations were comforting to that class who claimed that
they had a right to buy and sell the Negro; and of whom the Saviour
said, "For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay
them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with
one of their fingers."[52] But science has, of later years, attempted
a solution of this problem. Peter Barrère, in his treatise on the
subject, takes the ground that the bile in the human system has much
to do with the color of the skin.[53] This theory, however, has drawn
the fire of a number of European scholars, who have combated it with
more zeal than skill. It is said that the spinal and brain matter are
of a dark, ashy color; and by careful examination it is proven that
the blood of Ethiopians is black. These facts would seem to clothe
this theory with at least a shadow of plausibility. But the opinion of
Aristotle, Strabo, Alexander, and Blumenbach is, that the climate,
temperature, and mode of life, have more to do with giving color than
any thing else. This is certainly true among animals and plants. There
are many instances on record where dogs and wolves, etc., have turned
white in winter, and then assumed a different color in the spring. If
you start at the north and move south, you will find, at first, that
the flowers are very white and delicate; but, as you move toward the
tropics, they begin to take on deeper and richer hues until they run
into almost endless varieties. Guyot argues on the other side of the
question to account for the intellectual diversity of the races of

     "While all the types of animals and of plants go on
     decreasing in perfection, from the equatorial to the polar
     regions, in proportion to the temperatures, man presents to
     our view his purest, his most perfect type, at the very
     centre of the temperate continents,--at the centre of Asia,
     Europe, in the regions of Iran, of Armenia, and of the
     Caucasus; and, departing from this geographical centre in
     the three grand directions of the lands, the types gradually
     lose the beauty of their forms, in proportion to their
     distance, even to the extreme points of the southern
     continents, where we find the most deformed and degenerate
     races, and the lowest in the scale of humanity."[54]

The learned professor seeks to carry out his famous geographical
argument, and, with great skill and labor, weaves his theory of the
influence of climate upon the brain and character of man. But while no
scholar would presume to combat the theory that plants take on the
most gorgeous hues as one nears the equator, and that the races of
mankind take on a darker color in their march toward the equator,
certainly no student of Oriental history will assent to the
unsupported doctrine, that the intensity of the climate of tropical
countries affects the intellectual status of races. If any one be so
prejudiced as to doubt this, let him turn to "Asiatic Researches," and
learn that the dark races have made some of the most invaluable
contributions to science, literature, civil-engineering, art, and
architecture that the world has yet known. Here we find the cradle of
civilization, ancient and remote.

Even changes and differences in color are to be noted in almost every

     "As we go westward we observe the light color predominating
     over the dark; and then, again, when we come within the
     influence of damp from the sea-air, we find the shade
     deepened into the general blackness of the coast

The artisan and farm-laborer may become exceedingly dark from
exposure, and the sailor is frequently so affected by the weather that
it is next to impossible to tell his nationality.

     "It is well known that the Biscayan women are a shining
     white, the inhabitants of Granada on the contrary dark, to
     such an extent, that, in this region, the pictures of the
     blessed Virgin and other saints are painted of the same

The same writer calls attention to the fact, that the people on the
Cordilleras, who live under the mountains towards the west, and are,
therefore, exposed to the Pacific Ocean, are quite, or nearly, as fair
in complexion as the Europeans; whereas, on the contrary, the
inhabitants of the opposite side, exposed to the burning sun and
scorching winds, are copper-colored. Of this theory of climateric
influence we shall say more farther on.

It is held by some eminent physicians in Europe and America, that the
color of the skin depends upon substances external to the _cutis
vera_. Outside of the _cutis_ are certain layers of a substance
various in consistence, and scarcely perceptible: here is the home and
seat of color; and these may be regarded as secretions from the
vessels of the _cutis_. The dark color of the Negro principally
depends on the substance interposed between the true skin and the
scarf-skin. This substance presents different appearances: and it is
described sometimes as a sort of organized network or reticular
tissue; at others, as a mere mucous or slimy layer; and it is odd that
these somewhat incompatible ideas are both conveyed by the term
_reticulum mucosum_ given to the intermediate portion of the skin by
its orignal discoverer, Malpighi. There is, no doubt, something
plausible in all the theories advanced as to the color and hair of the
Negro; but it is verily all speculation. One theory is about as
valuable as another.

Nine hundred years before Christ the poet Homer, speaking of the death
of Memnon, killed at the siege of Troy, says, "He was received by his
Ethiopians." This is the first use of the word Ethiopia in the Greek;
and it is derived from the roots [Greek: aithô], "to burn," and
[Greek: ôps], "face." It is safe to assume, that, when God dispersed
the sons of Noah, he fixed the "bounds of their habitation," and,
that, from the earth and sky the various races have secured their
civilization. He sent the different nations into separate parts of the
earth. He gave to each its racial peculiarities, and adaptability for
the climate into which it went. He gave color, language, and
civilization; and, when by wisdom we fail to interpret his inscrutable
ways, it is pleasant to know that "he worketh all things after the
counsel of his own mind."


[27] Edward W. Blyden, LL.D., of Liberia, says, "Supposing that this
term was originally used as a phrase of contempt, is it not with us to
elevate it? How often has it not happened that names originally given
in reproach have been afterwards adopted as a title of honor by those
against whom it was used?--Methodists, Quakers, etc. But as a proof
that no unfavorable signification attached to the word when first
employed, I may mention, that, long before the slave-trade began,
travellers found the blacks on the coast of Africa preferring to be
called Negroes" (see Purchas' Pilgrimage ...). And in all the
pre-slavetrade literature the word was spelled with a capital _N_. It
was the slavery of the blacks which afterwards degraded the term. To
say that the name was invented to degrade the race, some of whose
members were reduced to slavery, is to be guilty of what in grammar is
called a _hysteron proteron_. The disgrace became attached to the name
in consequence of slavery; and what we propose to do is, now that
slavery is abolished, to restore it to its original place and
legitimate use, and therefore to restore the capital _N_."

[28] Prichard, vol. ii. p. 44.

[29] Josephus, Antiq., lib. 2, chap. 6.

[30] Poole.

[31] Smyth's Unity Human Races, chap. II, p. 41.

[32] Herodotus, vii., 69, 70. Ancient Univ. Hist., vol. xviii. pp.
254, 255.

[33] Strabo, vol. I. p. 60.

[34] It is not wise, to say the least, for intelligent Negroes in
America to seek to drop the word "Negro." It is a good, strong, and
healthy word, and ought to live. It should be covered with glory: let
Negroes do it.

[35] Journal of Ethnology, No. 7, p. 310.

[36] Pickering's Races of Men, pp. 185-89.

[37] Burckhardt's Travels, p. 341.

[38] Euterpe, lib. 6.

[39] Jeffries's Nat. Hist. of Human Race, p. 315.

[40] Types of Mankind, p. 259.

[41] Types of Mankind, p. 262.

[42] Even in Africa it is found that Negroes possess great culture.
Speaking of Sego, the capital of Bambara, Mr. Park says: "The view of
this extensive city, the numerous, canoes upon the river, the crowded
population, and the cultivated state of the surrounding country,
formed altogether a prospect of civilization and magnificence which I
little expected to find in the bosom of Africa." See Park's Travels,
chap. ii.

Mr. Park also adds, that the population of this city, Sego, is about
thirty thousand. It had mosques, and even ferries were busy conveying
men and horses over the Niger.

[43] See Ambassades Mémorables de la Companie des Indes orientales des
Provinces Unies vers les Empereurs du Japan, Amst., 1680; and

[44] Wilkinson's Egypt, vol. iii. p. 340.

[45] Coleman's Mythology of the Hindus, p. 91. Dr. William Jones, vol.
iii., p. 377.

[46] Asiatic Researches, vol. vi. pp. 436-448.

[47] Heber's Narrative, vol. i. p. 254.

[48] Nat. Hist. of the Human Species, pp. 209, 214, 217.

[49] Asiatic Researches, vol. i. p 427. Also Sir William Jones, vol.
iii. 3d disc.

[50] Nat. Hist. Human Species, p. 126.

[51] Prichard, pp. 188-219.

[52] Matt. xxiii. 4.

[53] Discours sur la cause physicale de la couleur des nègres.

[54] Earth and Man. Lecture x. pp. 254, 255.

[55] Blumenbach, p. 107.




It is fair to presume that God gave all the races of mankind
civilization to start with. We infer this from the known character of
the Creator. Before Romulus founded Rome, before Homer sang, when
Greece was in its infancy, and the world quite young, "hoary Meroe"
was the chief city of the Negroes along the Nile. Its private and
public buildings, its markets and public squares, its colossal walls
and stupendous gates, its gorgeous chariots and alert footmen, its
inventive genius and ripe scholarship, made it the cradle of
civilization, and the mother of art. It was the queenly city of
Ethiopia,--for it was founded by colonies of Negroes. Through its open
gates long and ceaseless caravans, laden with gold, silver, ivory,
frankincense, and palm-oil, poured the riches of Africa into the
capacious lap of the city. The learning of this people, embalmed in
the immortal hieroglyphic, flowed adown the Nile, and, like spray,
spread over the delta of that time-honored stream, on by the beautiful
and venerable city of Thebes,--the city of a hundred gates, another
monument to Negro genius and civilization, and more ancient than the
cities of the Delta,--until Greece and Rome stood transfixed before
the ancient glory of Ethiopia! Homeric mythology borrowed its very
essence from Negro hieroglyphics; Egypt borrowed her light from the
venerable Negroes up the Nile. Greece went to school to the Egyptians,
and Rome turned to Greece for law and the science of warfare. England
dug down into Rome twenty centuries to learn to build and plant, to
establish a government, and maintain it. Thus the flow of civilization
has been from the East--the place of light--to the West; from the
Oriental to the Occidental. (God fixed the mountains east and west in

     "Tradition universally represents the earliest men
     descending, it is true, from the high table-lands of this
     continent; but it is in the low and fertile plains lying at
     their feet, with which we are already acquainted, that they
     unite themselves for the first time in natural bodies, in
     tribes, with fixed habitations, devoting themselves to
     husbandry, building cities, cultivating the arts,--in a
     word, forming well-regulated societies. The traditions of
     the Chinese place the first progenitors of that people on
     the high table-land, whence the great rivers flow: they mike
     them advance, station by station as far as the shores of the
     ocean. The people of the Brahmins come down from the regions
     of the Hindo-Khu, and from Cashmere, into the plains of the
     Indus and the Ganges; Assyria and Bactriana receive their
     inhabitants from the table-lands of Armenia and Persia.

     "These alluvial plains, watered by their twin rivers, were
     better formed than all other countries of the globe to
     render the first steps of man, an infant still, easy in the
     career of civilized life. A rich soil, on which overflowing
     rivers spread every year a fruitful loam, as in Egypt, and
     one where the plough is almost useless, so movable and so
     easily tilled is it, a warm climate, finally, secure to the
     inhabitants of these fortunate regions plentiful harvests in
     return for light labor. Nevertheless, the conflict with the
     river itself and with the desert,--which, on the banks of
     the Euphrates, as on those of the Nile and the Indus, is
     ever threatening to invade the cultivated lands,--the
     necessity of irrigation, the inconstancy of the seasons,
     keep forethought alive, and give birth to the useful arts
     and to the sciences of observation. The abundance of
     resources, the absence of every obstacle, of all separation
     between the different parts of these vast plains, allow the
     aggregation of a great number of men upon one and the same
     space, and facilitate the formation of those mighty
     primitive states which amaze us by the grandeur of their

     "Each of them finds upon its own soil all that is necessary
     for a brilliant exhibition of its resources. We see those
     nations come rapidly forward, and reach in the remotest
     antiquity a degree of culture of which the temples and the
     monuments of Egypt and of India, and the recently discovered
     palaces of Nineveh are living and glorious witnesses.

     "Great nations, then, are separately formed in each of these
     areas, circumscribed by nature within natural limits. Each
     has its religion, its social principles, its civilization
     severally. But nature, as we have seen, has separated them;
     little intercourse is established between them; the social
     principle on which they are founded is exhausted by the very
     formation of the social state they enjoy, and is never
     renewed. A common life is wanting to them: they do not
     reciprocally share with each other their riches. With them
     movement is stopped: every thing becomes stable and tends to
     remain stationary.

     "Meantime, in spite of the peculiar seal impressed on each
     of these Oriental nations by the natural conditions in the
     midst of which they live, they have, nevertheless some grand
     characteristics common to all, some family traits that
     betray the nature of the continent and the period of human
     progress to which they belong, making them known on the one
     side as Asiatic, and on the other side as primitive."[56]

Is it asked what caused the decline of all this glory of the primitive
Negro? why this people lost their position in the world's history?
Idolatry! Sin![57]

Centuries have flown apace, tribes have perished, cities have risen
and fallen, and even empires, whose boast was their duration, have
crumbled, while Thebes and Meroe stood. And it is a remarkable fact,
that the people who built those cities are less mortal than their
handiwork. Notwithstanding their degradation, their woes and wrongs,
the perils of the forest and dangers of the desert, this remarkable
people have not been blotted out. They still live, and are multiplying
in the earth. Certainly they have been preserved for some wise
purpose, in the future to be unfolded.

But, again, what was the cause of the Negro's fall from his high state
of civilization? It was forgetfulness of God, idolatry! "Righteousness
exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people."

The Negro tribes of Africa are as widely separated by mental, moral,
physical, and social qualities as the Irish, Huns, Copts, and Druids
are. Their location on the Dark Continent, their surroundings, and the
amount of light that has come to them from the outside world, are the
thermometer of their civilization. It is as manifestly improper to
call all Africans Negroes as to call, Americans Indians.

     "The Negro nations of Africa differ widely as to their
     manner of life and their characters, both of mind and body,
     in different parts of that continent, according as they have
     existed under different moral and physical conditions.
     Foreign culture, though not of a high degree, has been
     introduced among the population of some regions; while from
     others it has been shut out by almost impenetrable barriers,
     beyond which the aboriginal people remain secluded amid
     their mountains and forests, in a state of instinctive
     existence,--a state from which, history informs us, that
     human races have hardly emerged, until moved by some impulse
     from without. Neither Phoenician nor Roman culture seems to
     have penetrated into Africa beyond the Atlantic region and
     the desert. The activity and enthusiasm of the propagators
     of Islam have reached farther. In the fertile low countries
     beyond the Sahara, watered by rivers which descend northward
     from the central highlands, Africa has contained for
     centuries several Negro empires, originally founded by
     Mohammedans. The Negroes of this part of Africa are people
     of a very different description from the black pagan
     nations farther towards the South. They have adopted many of
     the arts of civilized society, and have subjected themselves
     to governments and political institutions. They practise
     agriculture, and have learned the necessary, and even some
     of the ornamental, arts of life, and dwell in towns of
     considerable extent; many of which are said to contain ten
     thousand, and even thirty thousand inhabitants,--a
     circumstance which implies a considerable advancement in
     industry and the resources of subsistence. All these
     improvements were introduced into the interior of Africa
     three or four centuries ago; and we have historical
     testimony, that in the region where trade and agriculture
     now prevail the population consisted, previous to the
     introduction of Islam, of savages as wild and fierce as the
     natives farther towards the south, whither the missionaries
     of that religion have never penetrated. It hence appears
     that human society has not been in all parts of Africa
     stationary and unprogressive from age to age. The first
     impulse to civilization was late in reaching the interior of
     that continent, owing to local circumstances which are
     easily understood; but, when it had once taken place, an
     improvement has resulted which is, perhaps, proportional to
     the early progress of human culture in other more favored
     regions of the world."[58]

But in our examination of African tribes we shall not confine
ourselves to that class of people known as Negroes, but call attention
to other tribes as well. And while, in this country, all persons with
a visible admixture of Negro blood in them are considered Negroes, it
is technically incorrect. For the real Negro was not the sole subject
sold into slavery: very many of the noblest types of mankind in Africa
have, through the uncertainties of war, found their way to the horrors
of the middle passage, and finally to the rice and cotton fields of
the Carolinas and Virginias. So, in speaking of the race in this
country, in subsequent chapters, I shall refer to them as _colored
people_ or _Negroes_.


[56] Earth and Man, pp. 300-302.

[57] It is a remarkable fact, that the absence of salt in the food of
the Eastern nations, especially the dark nations or races, has been
very deleterious. An African child will eat salt by the handful, and,
once tasting it, will cry for it. The ocean is the womb of nature; and
the Creator has wisely designed salt as the savor of life, the
preservative element in human food.

[58] Physical History of Mankind, vol. ii. pp. 45, 46.







The vast territory stretching from the Volta River on the west to the
Niger in the Gulf of Benin on the east, the Atlantic Ocean on the
south, and the Kong Mountains on the north, embraces the three
powerful Negro kingdoms of Benin, Dahomey, and Yoruba. From this
country, more than from any other part of Africa, were the people sold
into American slavery. Two or three hundred years ago there were
several very powerful Negro empires in Western Africa. They had social
and political government, and were certainly a very orderly people.
But in 1485 Alfonso de Aviro, a Portuguese, discovered Benin, the most
easterly province; and as an almost immediate result the slave-trade
was begun. It is rather strange, too, in the face of the fact, that,
when De Aviro returned to the court of Portugal, an ambassador from
the Negro king of Benin accompanied him for the purpose of requesting
the presence of Christian missionaries among this people. Portugal
became interested, and despatched Fernando Po to the Gulf of Benin;
who, after discovering the island that bears his name, ascended the
Benin River to Gaton, where he located a Portuguese colony. The Romish
Church lifted her standard here. The brothers of the Society of Jesus,
if they did not convert the king, certainly had him in a humor to
bring all of his regal powers to bear upon his subjects to turn them
into the Catholic Church. He actually took the contract to turn his
subjects over to this Church! But this shrewd savage did not agree to
undertake this herculean task for nothing. He wanted a white wife. He
told the missionaries that he would deliver his subjects to
Christianity for a white wife, and they agreed to furnish her. Some
priests were sent to the Island of St. Thomas to hunt the wife. This
island had, even at that early day, a considerable white population. A
strong appeal was made to the sisters there to consider this matter as
a duty to the holy Church. It was set forth as a missionary
enterprise. After some contemplation, one of the sisters agreed to
accept the hand of the Negro king. It was a noble act, and one for
which she should have been canonized, but we believe never was.

The Portuguese continued to come. Gaton grew. The missionary worked
with a will. Attention was given to agriculture and commerce. But the
climate was wretched. Sickness and death swept the Portuguese as the
fiery breath of tropical lightning. They lost their influence over the
people. They established the slave-trade, but the Church and slave-pen
would not agree. The inhuman treatment they bestowed upon the people
gave rise to the gravest suspicions as to the sincerity of the
missionaries. History gives us the sum total of a religious effort
that was not of God. There isn't a trace of Roman Catholicism in that
country, and the last state of that people is worse than the former.

The slave-trade turned the heads of the natives. Their cruel and
hardened hearts assented to the crime of man-stealing. They turned
aside from agricultural pursuits. They left their fish-nets on the
seashore, their cattle uncared for, their villages neglected, and went
forth to battle against their weaker neighbors. They sold their
prisoners of war to slave-dealers on the coast, who gave them rum and
tobacco as an exceeding great reward. When war failed to give from its
bloody and remorseless jaws the victims for whom a ready market
awaited, they turned to duplicity, treachery, and cruelty. "And men's
worst enemies were those of their own household." The person
suspicioned of witchcraft was speedily found guilty, and adjudged to
slavery. The guilty and the innocent often shared the same fate. The
thief, the adulterer, and the aged were seized by the rapacity that
pervaded the people, and were hurled into the hell of slavery.

Now, as a result of this condition of affairs, the population was
depleted, the people grew indolent and vicious, and finally the empire
was rent with political feuds. Two provinces was the result. One still
bore the name of Benin, the other was called Waree. The capital of the
former contains about 38,000 inhabitants, and the chief town and
island of Waree only contain about 16,000 of a population.

Finally England was moved to a suppression of the slave-trade at this
point. The ocean is very calm along this coast, which enabled her
fleets to run down slave-vessels and make prizes of them. This had a
salutary influence upon the natives. Peace and quietness came as
angels. A spirit of thrift possessed the people. They turned to the
cultivation of the fields and to commercial pursuits. On the river
Bonny, and along other streams, large and flourishing palm-oil marts
sprang up; and a score or more of vessels are needed to export the
single article of palm-oil. The morals of the people are not what they
ought to be; but they have, on the whole, made wonderful improvement
during the last fifty years.


This nation is flanked by Ashantee on the west, and Yoruba on the
east; running from the seacoast on the south to the Kong mountains on
the north. It is one hundred and eighty miles in width, by two hundred
in breadth. Whydah is the principal town on the seacoast. The story
runs, that, about two hundred and seventy-five years ago, Tacudons,
chief of the Foys, carried a siege against the city of Abomey. He made
a solemn vow to the gods, that, if they aided him in pushing the city
to capitulate, he would build a palace in honor of the victory. He
succeeded. He laid the foundations of his palace, and then upon them
ripped open the bowels of Da. He called the building _Da-Omi_, which
meant Da's belly. He took the title of King of Dahomey, which has
remained until the present time. The neighboring tribes, proud and
ambitious, overran the country, and swept Whydah and adjacent places
with the torch and spear. Many whites fell into their hands as
prisoners; all of whom were treated with great consideration, save the
English governor of the above-named town. They put him to death,
because, as they charged, he had incited and excited the people of
Dahomey to resist their king.

This is a remarkable people. They are as cruel as they are cunning.
The entire population is converted into an army: even women are
soldiers. Whole regiments of women are to be found in the army of the
king of Dahomey, and they are the best foot-regiments in the kingdom.
They are drilled at stated periods, are officered, and well
disciplined. The army is so large, and is so constantly employed in
predatory raids upon neighboring tribes, that the consuming element is
greater than the producing. The object of these raids was threefold:
to get slaves for human sacrifices, to pour the blood of the victims
on the graves of their ancestors yearly, and to secure human skulls to
pave the court of the king and to ornament the walls about the palace!
After a successful war, the captives are brought to the capital of the
kingdom. A large platform is erected in the great market space,
encircled by a parapet about three feet high. The platform blazes with
rich clothes, elaborate umbrellas, and all the evidences of kingly
wealth and splendor, as well as the spoils taken in battle. The king
occupies a seat in the centre of the platform, attended by his
imperturbable wives. The captives, rum, tobacco, and cowries are now
ready to be thrown to the surging mob below. They have fought
gallantly, and now clamor for their reward. "Feed us, king!" they cry,
"feed us, king! for we are hungry!" and as the poor captives are
tossed to the mob they are despatched without ceremony!

But let us turn from this bloody and barbarous scene. The king is the
most absolute despot in the world. He is heir-at-law to all his
subjects. He is regarded as a demigod. It is unlawful to indicate that
the king eats, sleeps, or drinks. No one is allowed to approach him,
except his nobles, who at a court levee disrobe themselves of all
their elegant garments, and, prostrate upon the ground, they crawl
into his royal presence. The whole people are the cringing
lickspittles of the nobles in turn. Every private in the army is
ambitious to please the king by valor. The king is literally monarch
of all he surveys. He is proprietor of the land, and has at his
disposal every thing animate or inanimate in his kingdom. He has about
three thousand wives.[59] Every man who would marry must buy his
spouse from the king; and, while the system of polygamy obtains
everywhere throughout the kingdom, the subject must have care not to
secure so many wives that it would appear that he is attempting to
rival the king. The robust women are consigned to the military
service. But the real condition of woman in this kingdom is slavery of
the vilest type. She owns nothing. She is always in the market, and
lives in a state of constant dread of being sold. When the king dies,
a large number of his wives are sacrificed upon his grave. This fact
inspires them to take good care of him! In case of death, the king's
brother, then his nephew, and so on, take the throne. An inauguration
generally lasts six days, during which time hundreds of human lives
are sacrificed in honor of the new monarch.

The code of Dahomey is very severe. Witchcraft is punished with death;
and in this regard stalwart old Massachusetts borrowed from the
barbarian. Adultery is punished by slavery or sudden death. Thieves
are also sold into slavery. Treason and cowardice and murder are
punished by death. The civil code is as complicated as the criminal is
severe. Over every village, is a Caboceer, equivalent to our mayor. He
can convene a court by prostrating himself and kissing the ground. The
court convenes, tries and condemns the criminal. If it be a death
sentence, he is delivered to a man called the Milgan, or equivalent to
our sheriff, who is the ranking officer in the state. If the criminal
is sentenced to slavery, he is delivered to the Mayo, who is second in
rank to the Milgan, or about like our turnkey or jailer. All sentences
must be referred to the king for his approval; and all executions take
place at the capital, where notice is given of the same by a public
crier in the market-places.

The revenue system of this kingdom is oppressive. The majority of
slaves taken in war are the property of the king. A tax is levied on
each person or slave exported from the kingdom. In relation to
domestic commerce, a tax is levied on every article of food and
clothing. A custom-service is organized, and the tax-collectors are
shrewd and exacting.

The religion of the people is idolatry and fetich, or superstition.
They have large houses where they worship snakes; and so great is
their reverence for the reptile, that, if any one kills one that has
escaped, he is punished with death. But, above their wild and
superstitious notions, there is an ever-present consciousness of a
Supreme Being. They seldom mention the name of God, and then with fear
and trembling.

     "The worship of God in the absurd symbol of the lower
     animals I do not wish to defend: but it is all that these
     poor savages can do; and is not that less impious than to
     speak of the Deity with blasphemous familiarity, as our
     illiterate preachers often do?"[60]

But this people are not in a hopeless condition of degradation.

     "The Wesleyan Missionary Society of England have had a
     mission-station at Badagry for some years, and not without
     some important and encouraging tokens of success.... The
     king, it is thought, is more favorable to Christian missions
     now than he formerly was."[61]

And we say Amen!


This kingdom extends from the seacoast to the river Niger, by which it
is separated from the kingdom of Nufi. It contains more territory than
either Benin or Dahomey. Its principal seaport is Lagos. For many
years it was a great slave-mart, and only gave up the traffic under
the deadly presence of English guns. Its facilities for the trade were
great. Portuguese and Spanish slave-traders took up their abode here,
and, teaching the natives the use of fire-arms, made a stubborn stand
for their lucrative enterprise; but in 1852 the slave-trade was
stopped, and the slavers driven from the seacoast. The place came
under the English flag; and, as a result, social order and business
enterprise have been restored and quickened. The slave-trade wrought
great havoc among this people. It is now about fifty-five years since
a few weak and fainting tribes, decimated by the slave-trade, fled to
Ogun, a stream seventy-five miles from the coast, where they took
refuge in a cavern. In the course of time they were joined by other
tribes that fled before the scourge of slave-hunters. Their common
danger gave them a commonality of interests. They were, at first,
reduced to very great want. They lived for a long time on berries,
herbs, roots, and such articles of food as nature furnished without
money and without price; but, leagued together to defend their common
rights, they grew bold, and began to spread out around their
hiding-place, and engage in agriculture. Homes and villages began to
rise, and the desert to blossom as the rose. They finally chose a
leader,--a wise and judicious man by the name of Shodeke; and one
hundred and thirty towns were united under one government. In 1853,
less than a generation, a feeble people had grown to be nearly one
hundred thousand (100,000); and Abeokuta, named for their cave,
contains at present nearly three hundred thousand souls.

In 1839 some colored men from Sierra Leone, desirous of engaging in
trade, purchased a small vessel, and called at Lagos and Badagry. They
had been slaves in this country, and had been taken to Sierra Leone,
where they had received a Christian education. Their visit, therefore,
was attended with no ordinary interest. They recognized many of their
friends and kindred, and were agreeably surprised at the wonderful
change that had taken place in so short a time. They returned to
Sierra Leone, only to inspire their neighbors with a zeal for
commercial and missionary enterprise. Within three years, five hundred
of the best colored people of Sierra Leone set out for Lagos and
Badagry on the seacoast, and then moved overland to Abeokuta, where
they intended to make their home. In this company of noble men were
merchants, mechanics, physicians, school-teachers, and clergymen.
Their people had fought for deliverance from physical bondage: these
brave missionaries had come to deliver them from intellectual and
spiritual bondage. The people of Abeokuta gave the missionaries a
hearty welcome. The colony received new blood and energy.
School-buildings and churches rose on every hand. Commerce was
revived, and even agriculture received more skilful attention. Peace
and and plenty began to abound. Every thing wore a sunny smile, and
many tribes were bound together by the golden cords of civilization,
and sang their _Te Deum_ together. Far-away England caught their songs
of peace, and sent them agricultural implements, machinery, and
Christian ministers and teachers. So, that, nowhere on the continent
of Africa is there to be found so many renewed households, so many
reclaimed tribes, such substantial results of a vigorous, Christian

The forces that quickened the inhabitants of Abeokuta were not all
objective, exoteric: there were subjective and inherent forces
at work in the hearts of the people. They were capable of
civilization,--longed for it; and the first blaze of light from
without aroused their slumbering forces, and showed them the broad and
ascending road that led to the heights of freedom and usefulness. That
they sought this road with surprising alacrity, we have the most
abundant evidence. Nor did all the leaders come from abroad. Adgai, in
the Yoruba language, but Crowther, in English, was a native of this
country. In 1822 he was sold into slavery at the port of Badagry. The
vessel that was to bear him away to the "land of chains and stocks"
was captured by a British man-of-war, and taken to Sierra Leone. Here
he came under the influence of Christian teachers. He proved to be one
of the best pupils in his school. He received a classical education,
fitted for the ministry, and then hastened back to his native country
to carry the gospel of peace. It is rather remarkable, but he found
his mother and several sisters still "in the gall of bitterness and in
the bonds of iniquity." The son and brother became their spiritual
teacher, and, ere long, had the great satisfaction of seeing them
"clothed, in their right mind, and sitting at the feet of Jesus." His
influence has been almost boundless. A man of magnificent physical
proportions,--tall, a straight body mounted by a ponderous head,
shapely, with a kind eye, benevolent face, a rich cadence in his
voice,--the "black Bishop" Crowther is a princely looking man, who
would attract the attention of cultivated people anywhere. He is a man
of eminent piety, broad scholarship, and good works. He has translated
the Bible into the Yoruba language, founded schools, and directed the
energies of his people with a matchless zeal. His beautiful and
beneficent life is an argument in favor of the possibilities of Negro
manhood so long injured by the dehumanizing influences of slavery.
Others have caught the inspiration that has made Bishop Crowther's
life "as terrible as an army with banners" to the enemies of Christ
and humanity, and are working to dissipate the darkness of that land
of night.


[59] The king of Dahomey is limited to 3,333 wives! It is hardly fair
to suppose that his majesty feels cramped under the ungenerous act
that limits the number of his wives.

[60] Savage Africa, p. 51.

[61] Western Africa, p. 207.




The kingdom of Ashantee lies between the Kong Mountains and the vast
country of the Fantis. The country occupied by the Ashantees was, at
the first, very small; but by a series of brilliant conquests they
finally secured a territory of three hundred square miles. One of
their most renowned kings, Osai Tutu, during the last century, added
to Ashantee by conquest the kingdoms of Sarem, Buntuku, Warsaw,
Denkera, and Axim. Very little is known as to the origin of the
Ashantees. They were discovered in the early part of the eighteenth
century in the great valley between the Kong Mountains and the river
Niger, from whence they were driven by the Moors and Mohammedan
Negroes. They exchanged the bow for fire-arms, and soon became a
warlike people. Osai Tutu led in a desperate engagement against the
king of Denkera, in which the latter was slain, his army was put to
rout, and large quantities of booty fell into the hands of the
victorious Ashantees. The king of Axim unwittingly united his forces
to those of the discomforted Denkera, and, drawing the Ashantees into
battle again, sustained heavy losses, and was put to flight. He was
compelled to accept the most exacting conditions of peace, to pay the
king of the Ashantees four thousand ounces of gold to defray the
expenses of the war, and have his territory made tributary to the
conqueror. In a subsequent battle Osai Tutu was surprised and killed.
His courtiers and wives were made prisoners, with much goods. This
enraged the Ashantees, and they reeked vengeance on the heads of the
inhabitants of Kromanti, who laid the disastrous ambuscade. They
failed, however, to recover the body of their slain king; but many of
his attendants were retaken, and numerous enemies, whom they
sacrificed to the manes of their dead king at Kumasi.

After the death of the noble Osai Tutu, dissensions arose among his
followers. The tribes and kingdoms he had bound to his victorious
chariot-wheels began to assert their independence. His life-work began
to crumble. Disorder ran riot; and, after a few ambitious leaders were
convinced that the throne of Ashantee demanded brains and courage,
they cheerfully made way for the coronation of Osai Opoko, brother to
the late king. He was equal to the existing state of affairs. He
proved himself a statesman, a soldier, and a wise ruler. He organized
his army, and took the field in person against the revolting tribes.
He reconquered all the lost provinces. He defeated his most valorous
foe, the king of Gaman, after driving him into the Kong Mountains.
When his jealous underlings sought his overthrow by conspiracy, he
conquered them by an appeal to arms. His rule was attended by the most
lasting and beneficent results. He died in 1742, and was succeeded by
his brother, Osai Akwasi.

The fame and military prowess of the kings of the Ashantees were borne
on every passing breeze, and told by every fleeing fugitive. The whole
country was astounded by the marvellous achievements of this people,
and not a little envy was felt among adjoining nations. The king of
Dahomey especially felt like humiliating this people in battle. This
spirit finally manifested itself in feuds, charges, complaints, and,
laterally, by actual hostilities. The king of Dahomey felt that he had
but one rival, the king of Ashantee. He felt quite sure of victory on
account of the size, spirit, and discipline of his army. It was idle
at this time, and was ordered to the Ashantee border. The first
engagement took place near the Volta. The king of Dahomey had
succeeded in securing an alliance with the armies of Kawaku and
Bourony, but the valor and skill of the Ashantees were too much for
the invading armies. If King Akwasi had simply maintained his
defensive position, his victory would have been lasting; but,
overjoyed at his success, he unwittingly pursued the enemy beyond the
Volta, and carried war into the kingdom of Dahomey. Troops fight with
great desperation in their own country. The Ashantee army was struck
on its exposed flanks, its splendid companies of Caboceers went down
before the intrepid Amazons. Back to the Volta, the boundary line
between the two empires, fled the routed Ashantees. Akwasi received a
mortal wound, from which he died in 1752, when his nephew, Osai
Kudjoh, succeeded to the throne.

Three brothers had held the sceptre over this empire, but now it
passed to another generation. The new king was worthy of his
illustrious family. After the days of mourning for his royal uncle
were ended, before he ascended the throne, several provinces revolted.
He at once took the field, subdued his recalcitrant subjects, and made
them pay a heavy tribute. He won other provinces by conquest, and awed
the neighboring tribes until an unobstructed way was open to his
invincible army across the country to Cape Palmas. His fame grew with
each military manoeuvre, and each passing year witnessed new triumphs.
Fawning followed envy in the heart of the king of Dahomey; and a large
embassy was despatched to the powerful Kudjoh, congratulating him upon
his military achievements, and seeking a friendly alliance between the
two governments. Peace was now restored; and the armies of Ashantee
very largely melted into agricultural communities, and great
prosperity came. But King Kudjoh was growing old in the service of his
people; and, as he could no longer give his personal attention to
public affairs, dissensions arose in some of the remote provinces.
With impaired vision and feeble health he, nevertheless, put an army
into the field to punish the insubordinate tribes; but before
operations began he died. His grandson, Osai Kwamina, was designated
as legal successor to the throne in 1781. He took a solemn vow that he
would not enter the palace until he secured the heads of Akombroh and
Afosee, whom he knew had excited and incited the people to rebellion
against his grandfather. His vengeance was swift and complete. The
heads of the rebel leaders were long kept at Juntas as highly prized
relics of the reign of King Kwamina. His reign was brief, however. He
was deposed for attempting to introduce the Mohammedan religion into
the kingdom. Osai Apoko was crowned as his successor in 1797. The
Gaman and Kongo armies attached themselves to the declining fortunes
of the deposed king, and gave battle for his lost crown. It was a lost
cause. The new king could wield his sword as well as wear a crown. He
died of a painful sickness, and was succeeded by his son, Osai Tutu
Kwamina, in 1800.

The new king was quite youthful,--only seventeen; but he inherited
splendid qualities from a race of excellent rulers. He re-organized
his armies, and early won a reputation for courage, sagacity, and
excellent ability, extraordinary in one so young. He inherited a
bitter feeling against the Mohammedans, and made up his mind to
chastise two of their chiefs, Ghofan and Ghobago, and make the
territory of Banna tributary to Ashantee. He invaded their country,
and burned their capital. In an engagement fought at Kaha, the entire
Moslem army was defeated and captured. The king of Ghofan was wounded
and made prisoner, and died in the camp of the Ashantee army. Two more
provinces were bound to the throne of Kwamina; and we submit that this
is an historical anomaly, in that a pagan people subdued an army that
emblazoned its banner with the faith of _the one God_!

The Ashantee empire had reached the zenith of its glory. Its flag
waved in triumph from the Volta to Bossumpea, and the Kong Mountains
had echoed the exploits of the veterans that formed the strength of
its army. The repose that even this uncivilized people longed for was
denied them by a most unfortunate incident.

Asim was a province tributary to the Ashantee empire. Two of the
chiefs of Asim became insubordinate, gave offence to the king, and
then fled into the country of the Fantis, one of the most numerous and
powerful tribes on the Gold Coast. The Fantis promised the fugitives
armed protection. There was no extradition treaty in those days. The
king despatched friendly messengers, who were instructed to set forth
the faults of the offending subjects, and to request their return. The
request was contemptuously denied, and the messengers subjected to a
painful death. The king of Ashantee invaded the country of the enemy,
and defeated the united forces of Fanti and Asim. He again made them
an offer of peace, and was led to believe it would be accepted. But
the routed army was gathering strength for another battle, although
Chibbu and Apontee had indicated to the king that the conditions of
peace were agreeable. The king sent an embassy to learn when a formal
submission would take place; and they, also, were put to death. King
Osai Tutu Kwamina took "_the great oath_," and vowed that he would
never return from the seat of war or enter his capital without the
heads of the rebellious chiefs. The Ashantee army shared the desperate
feelings of their leader; and a war was begun, which for cruelty and
carnage has no equal in the annals of the world's history. Pastoral
communities, hamlets, villages, and towns were swept by the red waves
of remorseless warfare. There was no mercy in battle: there were no
prisoners taken by day, save to be spared for a painful death at
nightfall. Their groans, mingling with the shouts of the victors, made
the darkness doubly hideous; and the blood of the vanquished army, but
a short distance removed, ran cold at the thoughts of the probable
fate that waited them on the morrow. Old men and old women, young men
and young women, the rollicking children whose light hearts knew no
touch of sorrow, as well as the innocent babes clinging to the
agitated bosoms of their mothers,--unable to distinguish between
friend or foe,--felt the cruel stroke of war. All were driven to an
inhospitable grave in the place where the fateful hand of war made
them its victims, or perished in the sullen waters of the Volta. For
nearly a hundred miles "the smoke of their torment" mounted the skies.
Nothing was left in the rear of the Ashantee army, not even cattle or
buildings. Pursued by a fleet-footed and impartial disaster, the
fainting Fantis and their terrified allies turned their faces toward
the seacoast. And why? Perhaps this fleeing army had a sort of
superstitious belief that the sea might help them. Then, again, they
knew that there were many English on the Gold Coast; that they had
forts and troops. They trusted, also, that the young king of the
Ashantees would not follow his enemy under the British flag and guns.
They were mistaken. The two revolting chiefs took refuge in the fort
at Anamabo. On came the intrepid king, thundering at the very gates of
the English fort. The village was swept with the hot breath of battle.
Thousands perished before this invincible army. The English soldiers
poured hot shot and musketry into the columns of the advancing army;
but on they marched to victory with an impurturbable air, worthy of
"_the old guard_" under Ney at Waterloo. Preparations were completed
for blowing up the walls of the fort; and it would have been but a few
hours until the king of Ashantee would have taken the governor's
chair, had not the English capitulated. During the negotiations one of
the offending chiefs made good his escape to a little village called
Cape Coast; but the other was delivered up, and, having been taken
back to Kumasi, was tortured to death. Twelve thousand persons fell in
the engagement at Anamabo, and thousands of lives were lost in other
engagements. This took place in 1807.

In 1811 the king of Ashantee sent an array to Elmina to protect his
subjects against predatory bands of Fantis. Three or four battles were
fought, and were invariably won by the Ashantee troops.

Barbarians have about as long memories as civilized races. They are a
kind-hearted people, but very dangerous and ugly when they are led to
feel that they have been injured. "_The great oath_" means a great
deal; and the king was not happy in the thought that one of the
insolent chiefs had found refuge in the town of Cape Coast, which was
in the Fanti country. So in 1817 he invaded this country, and called
at Cape Coast, and reduced the place to the condition of a siege. The
English authorities saw the Fantis dying under their eyes, and paid
the fine imposed by the King of Ashantee, rather than bury the dead
inhabitants of the beleaguered town. The Ashantees retired.

England began to notice the Ashantees. They had proven themselves to
be a most heroic, intelligent, and aggressive people. The Fantis lay
stretched between them and the seacoast. The frequent invasion of this
country, for corrective purposes as the Ashantees believed, very
seriously interrupted the trade of the coast; and England began to
feel it. The English had been defeated once in an attempt to assist
the Fantis, and now thought it wise to turn attention to a pacific
policy, looking toward the establishment of amicable relations between
the Ashantees and themselves. There had never been any unpleasant
relations between the two governments, except in the instance named.
The Ashantees rather felt very kindly toward England, and for
prudential and commercial reasons desired to treat the authorities at
the coast with great consideration. They knew that the English gave
them a market for their gold, and an opportunity to purchase
manufactured articles that they needed. But the Fantis, right under
the English flag, receiving a rent for the ground on which the English
had their fort and government buildings, grew so intolerably abusive
towards their neighbors, the Ashantees, that the British saw nothing
before them but interminable war. It was their desire to avoid it if
possible. Accordingly, they sent an embassy to the king of the
Ashantees, consisting of Gov. James, of the fort at Akra, a Mr.
Bowdich, nephew to the governor-in-chief at Cape Coast, a Mr.
Hutchinson, and the surgeon of the English settlement, Dr. Teddlie.
Mr. Bowdich headed the embassy to the royal court, where they were
kindly received. A treaty was made. The rent that the Fantis had been
receiving for ground occupied by the English--four ounces of gold per
month--was to be paid to the king of Ashantee, as his by right of
conquest. Diplomatic relations were to be established between the two
governments, and Mr. Hutchinson was to remain at Kumasi as the British
resident minister. He was charged with the carrying out of so much of
the treaty as related to his government. The treaty was at once
forwarded to the home government, and Mr. Dupuis was appointed consul
of his Majesty's government to the court of Ashantee. A policy was
outlined that meant the opening up of commerce with the distant
provinces of the Ashantee empire along the Kong Mountains. In those
days it took a long time to sail from England to the Gold Coast in
Western Africa; and before Consul Dupuis reached the coast, the king
of Ashantee was engaged in a war with the king of Gaman. The Ashantee
army was routed. The news of the disaster was hailed by the Fantis on
the coast with the most boisterous and public demonstrations. This
gave the king of Ashantee offence. The British authorities were quite
passive about the conduct of the Fantis, although by solemn treaty
they had become responsible for their deportment. The Fantis grew very
insulting and offensive towards the Ashantees. The king of the latter
called the attention of the authorities at the Cape to the conduct of
the Fantis, but no official action was taken. In the mean while Mr.
Dupuis was not allowed to proceed on his mission to the capital of the
Ashantees. Affairs began to assume a very threatening attitude; and
only after the most earnest request was he permitted to proceed to the
palace of the king of Ashantee. He received a hearty welcome at the
court, and was entertained with the most lavish kindness. After long
and painstaking consideration, a treaty was decided upon that was
mutually agreeable; but the self-conceited and swaggering insolence of
the British authorities on the coast put it into the waste-basket. The
commander of the British squadron put himself in harmony with the
local authorities, and refused to give Consul Dupuis transportation to
England for the commissioners of the Ashantee government, whom he had
brought to the coast with the intention of taking to London with him.

A war-cloud was gathering. Dupuis saw it. He sent word to the king of
Ashantee to remember his oath, and refrain from hostilities until he
could communicate with the British government. The treaty stipulated
for the recognition, by the British authorities, of the authority of
the Ashantee king over the Fantis. Only those immediately around the
fort were subject to English law, and then not to an extent to exempt
them from tax imposed by the Ashantee authorities.

In the midst of these complications, Parliament, by a special act,
abolished the charter of the African Company. This put all its forts,
arsenals, and stations under the direct control of the crown. Sir
Charles McCarthy was made governor-general of the British possessions
on the Gold Coast, and took up his head-quarters at Cape Coast in
March, 1822. Two months had passed now since Dupuis had sailed for
England; and not a syllable had reached the king's messenger, who, all
this time, had waited to hear from England. The country was in an
unsettled state. Gov, McCarthy was not equal to the situation. He fell
an easy prey to the fawning and lying Fantis. They received him as the
champion of their declining fortunes, and did every thing in their
power to give him an unfriendly opinion of the Ashantees. The king of
the Ashantees began to lose faith in the British. His faithful
messenger returned from the coast bearing no friendly tidings. The
king withdrew his troops from the seacoast, and began to put his army
upon a good war-footing. When all was in readiness a Negro sergeant in
the British service was seized, and put to a torturous death. This was
a signal for the grand opening. Of course the British were bound to
demand redress. Sir Charles McCarthy was informed by some Fantis
scouts that the king of Ashantee, at the head of his army, was
marching for Cape Coast. Sir Charles rallied his forces, and went
forth to give him battle. His object was to fight the king at a
distance from the cape, and thus prevent him from devastating the
entire country as in former wars. Sir Charles McCarthy was a brave
man, and worthy of old England; but in this instance his courage was
foolhardy. He crossed the Prah River to meet a wily and desperate foe.
His troops were the worthless natives, hastily gathered, and were
intoxicated with the hope of deliverance from Ashantee rule. He should
have waited for the trained troops of Major Chisholm. This was his
fatal mistake. His pickets felt the enemy early in the morning of the
21st of January, 1824. A lively skirmish followed. In a short time the
clamorous war-horns of the advancing Ashantees were heard, and a
general engagement came on. The first fighting began along a shallow
stream. The Ashantees came up with the courage and measured tread of
a well-disciplined army. They made a well-directed charge to gain the
opposite bank of the stream, but were repulsed by an admirable bayonet
charge from Sir Charles's troops. The Ashantees then crossed the
stream above and below the British army, and fell with such
desperation upon its exposed and naked flanks, that it was bent into
the shape of a letter A, and hurled back toward Cape Coast in dismay.
Wounded and exhausted, toward evening Sir Charles fled from his
exposed position to the troops of his allies under the command of the
king of Denkera. He concentrated his artillery upon the heaviest
columns of the enemy; but still they came undaunted, bearing down upon
the centre like an avalanche. Sir Charles made an attempt to retreat
with his staff, but met instant death at the hands of the Ashantees.
His head was removed from the body and sent to Kumasi. His heart was
eaten by the chiefs of the army that they might imbibe his courage,
while his flesh was dried and issued in small rations among the
line-officers for the same purpose. His bones were kept at the capital
of the Ashantee kingdom as national fetiches.[62]

Major Chisholm and Capt. Laing, learning of the disaster that had
well-nigh swallowed up Sir Charles's army, retreated to Cape Coast.
There were about thirty thousand troops remaining, but they were so
terrified at the disaster of the day that they could not be induced to
make a stand against the gallant Ashantees. The king of Ashantee,
instead of following the routed army to the gates of Cape Coast, where
he could have dealt it a death-blow, offered the English conditions of
peace. Capt. Ricketts met the Ashantee messengers at Elmina, and heard
from them the friendly messages of the king. The Ashantees only wanted
the British to surrender Kudjoh Chibbu of the province of Denkera; but
this fugitive from the Ashantee king, while negotiations were pending,
resolved to rally the allied armies and make a bold stroke. He crossed
the Prah at the head of a considerable force, and fell upon the
Ashantee army in its camp. The English were charmed by this bold
stroke, and sent a reserve force; but the whole army was again
defeated by the Ashantees, and came back to Cape Coast in complete

The Ashantee army were at the gates of the town. Col. Southerland
arrived with re-enforcements, but was beaten into the fort by the
unyielding courage of the attacking force. A new king, Osai Ockote,
arrived with fresh troops, and won the confidence of the army by
marching right under the British guns, and hissing defiance into the
face of the foe. The conflict that followed was severe, and
destructive to both life and property. All the native and British
forces were compelled to retire to the fort; while the Ashantee
troops, inspired by the dashing bearing of their new king, closed in
around them like tongues of steel. The invading army was not daunted
by the belching cannon that cut away battalion after battalion. On
they pressed for revenge and victory. The screams of fainting women
and terrified children, the groans of the dying, and the bitter
imprecations of desperate combatants,--a mingling medley,--swelled the
great diapason of noisy battle. The eyes of the beleaguered were
turned toward the setting sun, whose enormous disk was leaning against
the far-away mountains, and casting his red and vermilion over the
dusky faces of dead Ashantees and Fantis; and, imparting a momentary
beauty to the features of the dead white men who fell so far away from
home and friends, he sank to rest. There was a sad, far-off look in
the eye of the impatient sailor who kept his lonely watch on the
vessel that lay at rest on the sea. Night was wished for, prayed for,
yearned for. It came at last, and threw its broad sable pinions over
the dead, the dying, and the living. Hostilities were to be renewed in
the morning; but the small-pox broke out among the soldiers, and the
king of Ashantee retired.

Sir Neill Campbell was appointed governor-general at Cape Coast. One
of his first acts was to call for all the chiefs of the Fantis, and
give them to understand that hostilities between themselves and the
king of Ashantee must stop. He then required Osai Ockoto to deposit
four thousand ounces of gold ($72,000), as a bond to keep the peace.
In case he provoked hostilities, the seventy-two thousand dollars were
to be used to purchase ammunition with which to chastise him. In 1831
the king was obliged to send two of his royal family, Kwanta Missah,
his own son, and Ansah, the son of the late king, to be held as
hostages. These boys were sent to England, where they were educated,
but are now residents of Ashantee.

Warsaw and Denkera, interior provinces, were lost to the Ashantee
empire; but, nevertheless, it still remains one of the most powerful
Negro empires of Western Africa.

The king of Ashantee has a fair government. His power is well-nigh
absolute. He has a House of Lords, who have a check-power. Coomassi is
the famous city of gold, situated in the centre of the empire. The
communication through to the seacoast is unobstructed; and it is
rather remarkable that the Ashantees are the only nation in Africa,
who, living in the interior, have direct communication with the
Caucasian. They have felt the somewhat elevating influence of
Mohammedanism, and are not unconscious of the benefits derived by the
literature and contact of the outside world. They are a remarkable
people: brave, generous, industrious, and mentally capable. The day is
not distant when the Ashantee kingdom will be won to the Saviour, and
its inhabitants brought under the beneficent influences of Christian


[62] The following telegram shocks the civilized world. It serves
notice on the Christians of the civilized world, that, in a large
missionary sense, they have come far short of their duty to the
"nations beyond," who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

     "MASSACRE OF MAIDENS. LONDON, NOV. 10, 1881.--Advices from
     Cape Coast Castle report that the king of Ashantee killed
     two hundred young girls for the purpose of using their blood
     for mixing mortar for repair of one of the state buildings.
     The report of the massacre was received from a refugee
     chosen for one of the victims. Such wholesale massacres are
     known to be a custom with the king."--_Cinn. Commercial._




If the reader will turn to a map of Africa, the Mountains of the
Moon[63] will be found to run right through the centre of that
continent. They divide Africa into two almost equal parts. In a
dialectic sense, also, Africa is divided. The Mountains of the Moon,
running east and west, seem to be nature's dividing line between two
distinct peoples. North of these wonderful mountains the languages are
numerous and quite distinct, and lacking affinity. For centuries these
tribes have lived in the same latitude, under the same climatic
influences, and yet, without a written standard, have preserved the
idiomatic coloring of their tribal language without corruption. Thus
they have eluded the fate that has overtaken all other races who
without a written language, living together by the laws of affinity,
sooner or later have found one medium of speech as inevitable as

But coming south of the Mountains of the Moon, until we reach the Cape
of Good Hope, there is to be found one great family. Nor is the
difference between the northern and southern tribes only linguistic.
The physiological difference between these people is great. They range
in color from the dead black up to pure white, and from the dwarfs on
the banks of the Casemanche to the tall and giant-like Vei tribe of
Cape Mount.

     "The Fans which inhabit the mountain terraces are altogether
     of a different complexion from the seacoast tribes. Their
     hair is longer: that of the women hangs down in long braids
     to their shoulders, while the men have tolerably long
     two-pointed beards. It would be impossible to find such long
     hair among the coast tribes, even in a single instance.

     "In the low, swampy land at the mouth of the Congo, one
     meets with typical Negroes; and there again, as one reaches
     a higher soil, one finds a different class of people.

     "The Angolese resemble the Fula. They are scarcely ever
     black. Their hands and feet are exquisitely small; and in
     every way they form a contrast with the slaves of the
     Portuguese, who, brought for the most part from the Congo,
     are brutal and debased.

     "I have divided Africa into three grand types,--the
     Ethiopian, the intermediate, and the Negro. In the same
     manner the Negro may be divided into three sub-classes:--

     "The bronze-colored class: gracefully formed, with
     effeminate features, small hands and feet, long fingers,
     intelligent minds, courteous and polished manners. Such are
     the Mpongwe of the Gaboon, the Angolese, the Fanti of the
     Gold Coast, and most probably the Haoussa of the Niger, a
     tribe with which I am not acquainted.

     "The black-skinned class: athletic shapes, rude manners,
     less intelligence, but always with some good faculties,
     thicker lips, broader noses, but seldom prognathous to any
     great degree. Such are the Wollof, the Kru-men, the Benga of
     Corisco, and the Cabinda of Lower Guinea, who hire
     themselves out as sailors in the Congo and in Angola
     precisely as do the Kru-men of North Guinea.

     "Lastly, the typical Negroes: an exceptional race even among
     the Negroes, whose disgusting type it is not necessary to
     re-describe. They are found chiefly along the coast between
     the Casemanche and Sierra Leone, between Lagos and the
     Cameroons, in the Congo swamps, and in certain swampy plains
     and mountain-hollows of the interior."[64]

That climate has much to do with physical and mental character, we
will not have to prove to any great extent. It is a fact as well
established as any principle in pathology. Dr. Joseph Brown says,--

     "It is observed that the natives of marshy districts who
     permanently reside in them lose their whole bodily and
     mental constitution, contaminated by the poison they inhale.
     Their aspect is sallow and prematurely senile, so that
     children are often wrinkled, their muscles flaccid, their
     hair lank, and frequently pale, the abdomen tumid, the
     stature stunted, and the intellectual and moral character
     low and degraded. They rarely attain what in more wholesome
     regions would be considered old age. In the marshy districts
     of certain countries,--for example, Egypt, Georgia, and
     Virginia,--the extreme term of life is stated to be forty in
     the latter place.... In portions of Brittany which adjoin
     the Loire, the extreme duration of life is fifty, at which
     age the inhabitant wears the aspect of eighty in a healthier
     district. It is remarked that the inferior animals, and even
     vegetables, partake of the general deprivation; they are
     stunted and short-lived."

In his "Ashango Land," Paul B. du Chaillu devotes a large part of his
fifteenth chapter to the Obongos, or Dwarfs. Nearly all African
explorers and travellers have been much amazed at the diversity of
color and stature among the tribes they met. This diversity in
physical and mental character owes its existence to the diversity and
perversity of African climate.

The Negro, who is but a fraction of the countless indigenous races of
Africa, has been carried down to his low estate by the invincible
forces of nature. Along the ancient volcanic tracts are to be found
the Libyan race, with a tawny complexion, features quite Caucasian,
and long black hair. On the sandstones are to be found an intermediate
type, darker somewhat than their progenitors, lips thick, and nostrils
wide at the base. Then comes the Negro down in the alluvia, with dark
skin, woolly hair, and prognathous development.

     "The Negro forms an exceptional race in Africa. He inhabits
     that immense tract of marshy land which lies between the
     mountains and the sea, from Senegal to Benguela, and the low
     lands of the eastern side in the same manner. He is found in
     the parts about Lake Tchad, in Sennaar, along the marshy
     banks of rivers, and in several isolated spots besides."[65]

The true Negro inhabits Northern Africa. When his country, of which we
know absolutely nothing, has been crowded, the nomadic portion of the
population has poured itself over the mountain terraces, and,
descending into the swamps, has become degraded in body and mind.

Technically speaking, we do not believe the Negro is a distinct

     "It is certain that the woolly hair, the prognathous
     development, and the deep black skin of the typical Negro,
     are not peculiar to the African continent."[66]

The Negro is found in the low, marshy, and malarious districts. We
think the Negro is produced in a descending scale. The African who
moves from the mountain regions down into the miasmatic districts may
be observed to lose his stature, his complexion, his hair, and his
intellectual vigor: he finally becomes the Negro. Pathologically
considered, he is weak, sickly, and short-lived. His legs are slender
and almost calf-less: the head is developed in the direction of the
passions, while the whole form is destitute of symmetry.

     "It will be understood that the typical Negroes, with whom
     the slavers are supplied, represent the dangerous, the
     destitute, and diseased classes of African society. They may
     be compared to those which in England fill our jails, our
     workhouses, and our hospitals. So far from being equal to
     us, the polished inhabitants of Europe, as some ignorant
     people suppose, they are immeasurably below the Africans

     "The typical Negro is the true savage of Africa; and I must
     paint the deformed anatomy of his mind, as I have already
     done that of his body.

     "The typical Negroes dwell in petty tribes, where all are
     equal except the women, who are slaves; where property is
     common, and where, consequently, there is no property at
     all; where one may recognize the Utopia of philosophers, and
     observe the saddest and basest spectacles which humanity can

     "The typical Negro, unrestrained by moral laws, spends his
     days in sloth, his nights in debauchery. He smokes hashish
     till he stupefies his senses or falls into convulsions; he
     drinks palm-wine till he brings on a loathsome disease; he
     abuses children, stabs the poor brute of a woman whose hands
     keep him from starvation, and makes a trade of his own
     offspring. He swallows up his youth in premature vice; he
     lingers through a manhood of disease, and his tardy death is
     hastened by those who no longer care to find him food.... If
     you wish to know what they have been, and to what we may
     restore them, look at the portraits which have been
     preserved of the ancient Egyptians: and in those delicate
     and voluptuous forms; in those round, soft features; in
     those long, almond-shaped, half-closed, languishing eyes; in
     those full pouting lips, large smiling mouths, and
     complexions of a warm and copper-colored tint,--you will
     recognize the true African type, the women-men of the Old
     World, of which the Negroes are the base, the depraved

But the Negro is not beyond the influences of civilization and
Christianization. Hundreds of thousands have perished in the cruel
swamps of Africa; hundreds of thousands have been devoured by wild
beasts of the forests; hundreds of thousands have perished before the
steady and murderous columns of stronger tribes; hundreds of thousands
have perished from fever, small-pox, and cutaneous diseases; hundreds
of thousands have been sold into slavery; hundreds of thousands have
perished in the "middle-passage;" hundreds of thousands have been
landed in this New World in the West: and yet hundreds of thousands
are still swarming in the low and marshy lands of Western Africa. Poor
as this material is, out of it we have made, here in the United
States, six million citizens; and out of this cast-away material of
Africa, God has raised up many children.

To the candid student of ethnography, it must be conclusive that the
Negro is but the most degraded and disfigured type of the primeval
African. And still, with all his interminable woes and wrongs, the
Negro on the west coast of Africa, in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as
well as in the southern part of the United States, shows that
centuries of savagehood and slavery have not drained him of all the
elements of his manhood. History furnishes us with abundant and
specific evidence of his capacity to civilize and Christianize. We
shall speak of this at length in a subsequent chapter.


[63] See Keith Johnson's Map of Africa, 1863.

[64] Savage Africa, pp. 403, 404.

[65] Savage Africa, p. 400.

[66] Savage Africa, p. 412.

[67] Savage Africa, p. 430.




All the tribes on the continent of Africa are under, to a greater or
less degree, the patriarchal form of government. It is usual for
writers on Africa to speak of "kingdoms" and "empires;" but these
kingdoms are called so more by compliment than with any desire to
convey the real meaning that we get when the empire of Germany or
kingdom of Spain is spoken of. The patriarchal government is the most
ancient in Africa. It is true that great kingdoms have risen in
Africa; but they were the result of devastating wars rather than the
creation of political genius or governmental wisdom.

     "Pangola is the child or vassal of Mpende. Sandia and Mpende
     are the only independent chiefs from Kebrabasa to Zumbo, and
     belong to the tribe Manganja. The country north of the
     mountains, here in sight from the Zambesi, is called Senga,
     and its inhabitants Asenga or Basenga; but all appear to be
     of the same family as the rest of the Manganja and Maravi.
     Formerly all the Manganja were united under the government
     of their great chief, Undi, whose empire extended from Lake
     Shirwa to the River Loangwa; but after Undi's death it fell
     to pieces, and a large portion of it on the Zambesi was
     absorbed by their powerful Southern neighbors, the Bamjai.
     This has been the inevitable fate of every African empire
     from time immemorial. A chief of more than ordinary ability
     arises, and, subduing all his less powerful neighbors,
     founds a kingdom, which he governs more or less wisely till
     he dies. His successor, not having the talents of the
     conqueror, cannot retain the dominion, and some of the abler
     under-chiefs set up for themselves; and, in a few years, the
     remembrance only of the empire remains. This, which may be
     considered as the normal state of African society, gives
     rise to frequent and desolating wars, and the people long in
     vain for a power able to make all dwell in peace. In this
     light a European colony would be considered by the natives
     as an inestimable boon to inter-tropical Africa. Thousands
     of industrious natives would gladly settle around it, and
     engage in that peaceful pursuit of agriculture and trade of
     which they are so fond; and, undistracted by wars or rumors
     of wars, might listen to the purifying and ennobling truths
     of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Manganja on the Zambesi,
     like their countrymen on the Shire, are fond of agriculture;
     and, in addition to the usual varieties of food, cultivate
     tobacco and cotton in quantities more than equal to their
     wants. To the question, 'Would they work for Europeans?' an
     affirmative answer may be given; if the Europeans belong to
     the class which can pay a reasonable price for labor, and
     not to that of adventurers who want employment for
     themselves. All were particularly well clothed from Sandia's
     to Pangola's; and it was noticed that all the cloth was of
     native manufacture, the product of their own looms. In Senga
     a great deal of iron is obtained from the ore, and
     manufactured very cleverly."[68]

The above is a fair description of the internecine wars that have been
carried on between the tribes in Africa, back "to a time whereof the
memory of man runneth not to the contrary." In a preceding chapter we
gave quite an extended account of four Negro empires. We call
attention here to the villages of these people, and shall allow
writers who have paid much attention to this subject to give their
impressions. Speaking of a village of the Aviia tribe called Mandji,
Du Chaillu says,--

     "It was the dirtiest village I had yet seen in Africa, and
     the inhabitants appeared to me of a degraded class of
     Negroes. The shape and arrangement of the village were quite
     different from any thing I had seen before. The place was in
     the form of a quadrangle, with an open space in the middle
     not more than ten yards square; and the huts, arranged in a
     continuous row on two sides, were not more than eight feet
     high from the ground to the roof. The doors were only four
     feet high, and of about the same width, with sticks placed
     across on the inside, one above the other, to bar the
     entrance. The place for the fire was in the middle of the
     principal room, on each side of which was a little dark
     chamber; and on the floor was an _orala_, or stage, to smoke
     meat upon. In the middle of the yard was a hole dug in the
     ground for the reception of offal, from which a disgusting
     smell arose, the wretched inhabitants being too lazy or
     obtuse to guard against this by covering it with earth.

     "The houses were built of a framework of poles, covered with
     the bark of trees, and roofed with leaves. In the middle of
     the village stood the public shed, or palaver-house,--a kind
     of town-hall found in almost all West-African villages. A
     large fire was burning in it, on the ground; and at one end
     of the shed stood a huge wooden idol, painted red and white,
     and rudely fashioned in the shape of a woman. The shed was
     the largest building in the village, for it was ten feet
     high, and measured fifteen feet by ten. It is the habit of
     the lazy negroes of these interior villages--at least, the
     men--to spend almost the whole day lying down under the
     palaver-shed, feeding their morbid imaginations with tales
     of witchcraft, and smoking their _condoquais_."

But all the villages of these poor children of the desert are not so
untidy as the one described above. There is a wide difference in the
sanitary laws governing these villages.

     "The Ishogo villages are large. Indeed, what most strikes
     the traveller in coming from the seacoast to this inland
     country, is the large size, neatness, and beauty of the
     villages. They generally have about one hundred and fifty or
     one hundred and sixty huts, arranged in streets, which are
     very broad and kept remarkably clean. Each house has a door
     of wood which is painted in fanciful designs with red,
     white, and black. One pattern struck me as simple and
     effective; it was a number of black spots margined with
     white, painted in regular rows on a red ground. But my
     readers must not run away with the idea that the doors are
     like those of the houses of civilized people; they are
     seldom more than two feet and a half high. The door of my
     house was just twenty-seven inches high. It is fortunate
     that I am a short man, otherwise it would have been hard
     exercise to go in and out of my lodgings. The planks of
     which the doors are made are cut with great labor by native
     axes out of trunks of trees, one trunk seldom yielding more
     than one good plank. My hut, an average-sized dwelling, was
     twenty feet long and eight feet broad. It was divided into
     three rooms or compartments, the middle one, into which the
     door opened, being a little larger than the other two....
     Mokenga is a beautiful village, containing about one hundred
     and sixty houses; they were the largest dwellings I had yet
     seen on the journey. The village was surrounded by a dense
     grove of plantain-trees, many of which had to be supported
     by poles, on account of the weight of the enormous bunches
     of plantains they bore. Little groves of lime-trees were
     scattered everywhere, and the limes, like so much golden
     fruit, looked beautiful amidst the dark foliage that
     surrounded them. Tall, towering palm-trees were scattered
     here and there. Above and behind the village was the dark
     green forest. The street was the broadest I ever saw in
     Africa; one part of it was about one hundred yards broad,
     and not a blade of grass could be seen in it. The _Sycobii_
     were building their nests everywhere, and made a deafening
     noise, for there were thousands and thousands of these
     little sociable birds."[69]

The construction of houses in villages in Africa is almost uniform, as
far as our studies have led us.[70] Or, rather, we ought to modify
this statement by saying there are but two plans of construction. One
is where the houses are erected on the rectilinear, the other is where
they are built on the circular plan. In the more warlike tribes the
latter plan prevails. The hillsides and elevated places near the
timber are sought as desirable locations for villages. The plan of
architecture is simple. The diameter is first considered, and
generally varies from ten to fifteen feet. A circle is drawn in the
ground, and then long flexible sticks are driven into the earth. The
builder, standing inside of the circle, binds the sticks together at
the top; where they are secured together by the use of the
"monkey-rope," a thick vine that stretches itself in great profusion
from tree to tree in that country. Now, the reader can imagine a large
umbrella with the handle broken off even with the ribs when closed up,
and without any cloth,--nothing but the ribs left. Now open it, and
place it on the ground before you, and you have a fair idea of the hut
up to the present time. A reed thatching is laid over the frame, and
secured firmly by parallel lashings about fifteen inches apart. The
door is made last by cutting a hole in the side of the hut facing
toward the centre of the contemplated circle of huts.[71] The door is
about eighteen inches in height, and just wide enough to admit the
body of the owner. The sharp points, after the cutting, are guarded by
plaited twigs. The door is made of quite a number of stout sticks
driven into the ground at equal distances apart, through which, in and
out, are woven pliant sticks. When this is accomplished, the maker
cuts off the irregular ends to make it fit the door, and removes it to
its place. Screens are often used inside to keep out the wind: they
are made so as to be placed in whatever position the wind is blowing.
Some of these houses are built with great care, and those with domed
roofs are elaborately decorated inside with beads of various sizes and

The furniture consists of a few mats, several baskets, a milk-pail, a
number of earthen pots, a bundle of assagais, and a few other weapons
of war. Next, to guard against the perils of the rainy season, a ditch
about two feet in width and of equal depth is made about the new
dwelling. Now multiply this hut by five hundred, preserving the
circle, and you have the village. The _palaver-house_, or place for
public debates, is situated in the centre of the circle of huts. Among
the northern and southern tribes, a fence is built around their
villages, when they are called "kraals." The space immediately outside
of the fence is cleared, so as to put an enemy at a disadvantage in an
attack upon the village. Among the agricultural tribes, as, for
example, the Kaffirs, they drive their cattle into the kraal, and for
the young build pens.

The other method of building villages is to have one long street, with
a row of houses on each side, rectangular in shape. They are about
twenty-five or thirty feet in length, and about twelve to fifteen feet
in width. Six or eight posts are used to join the material of the
sides to. The roofs are flat. Three rooms are allowed to each house.
The two end rooms are larger than the centre one, where the door opens
out into the street. Sometimes these rooms are plastered, but it is
seldom; and then it is in the case of the well-to-do class.[72]

We said, at the beginning of this chapter, that the government in
Africa was largely patriarchal; and yet we have called attention to
four great kingdoms. There is no contradiction here, although there
may seem to be; for even kings are chosen by ballot, and a sort of a
house of lords has a veto power over royal edicts.

     "Among the tribes which I visited in my explorations I found
     but one form of government, which may be called the
     patriarchal. There is not sufficient national unity in any
     of the tribes to give occasion for such a despotism as
     prevails in Dahomey, and in other of the African
     nationalities. I found the tribes of equatorial Africa
     greatly dispersed, and, in general, no bond of union between
     parts of the same tribe. A tribe is divided up into numerous
     _clans_, and these again into numberless little villages,
     each of which last possesses an independent chief. The
     villages are scattered; are often moved for death or
     witchcraft, as I have already explained in the narrative;
     and not infrequently are engaged in war with each other.

     "The chieftainship is, to a certain extent, hereditary, the
     right of succession vesting in the brother of the reigning
     chief or king. The people, however, and particularly the
     elders of the village, have a veto power, and can, for
     sufficient cause, deprive the lineal heir of his succession,
     and put in over him some one thought of more worth. In such
     cases the question is put to the vote of the village; and,
     where parties are equally divided as to strength, there
     ensue sometimes long and serious palavers before all can
     unite in a choice. The chief is mostly a man of great
     influence prior to his accession, and generally an old man
     when he gains power.

     "His authority, though greater than one would think, judging
     from the little personal deference paid to him, is final
     only in matters of every-day use. In cases of importance,
     such as war, or any important removal, the elders of the
     village meet together and deliberate in the presence of the
     whole population, which last finally decide the question.

     "The elders, who possess other authority, and are always in
     the counsels of the chief, are the oldest members of
     important families in the village. Respect is paid to them
     on account of their years, but more from a certain regard
     for 'family,' which the African has very strongly wherever I
     have known him. These families form the aristocracy."[73]

Here are democracy and aristocracy blended somewhat. The king's power
seems to be in deciding everyday affairs, while the weighty matters
which affect the whole tribe are decided by the elders and the people.
Mr. Reade says of such government,--

     "Among these equatorial tribes the government is
     patriarchal, which is almost equivalent to saying that there
     is no government at all. The tribes are divided into clans.
     Each clan inhabits a separate village, or group of villages;
     and at the head of each is a patriarch, the parody of a
     king. They are distinguished from the others by the
     grass-woven cap which they wear on their heads, and by the
     staff which they carry in their hands. They are always rich
     and aged: therefore they are venerated; but, though they can
     exert influence, they cannot wield power; they can advise,
     but they cannot command. In some instances, as in that of
     Quenqueza, King of the Rembo, the title and empty honors of
     royalty are bestowed upon the most influential patriarch in
     a district. This is a vestige of higher civilization and of
     ancient empire which disappears as one descends among the
     lower tribes."[74]

     "The African form of government is patriarchal, and,
     according to the temperament of the chief, despotic, or
     guided by the counsel of the elders of the tribe. Reverence
     for loyalty sometimes leads the mass of the people to submit
     to great cruelty, and even murder, at the hands of a despot
     or madman; but, on the whole, the rule is mild; and the same
     remark applies in a degree to their religion."[75]

When a new king is elected, he has first to repair to the pontiff's
house, who--apropos of priests--is more important than the king
himself. The king prostrates himself, and, with loud cries, entreats
the favor of this high priest. At first the old man inside, with a
gruff voice, orders him away, says he cannot be annoyed; but the king
enumerates the presents he has brought him, and finally the door
opens, and the priest appears, clad in white, a looking-glass on his
breast, and long white feathers in his head. The king is sprinkled,
covered with dust, walked over, and then, finally, the priest lies
upon him. He has to swear that he will obey, etc.; and then he is
allowed to go to the coronation. Then follow days and nights of
feasting, and, among some tribes, human sacrifices.

The right of succession is generally kept on the male side of the
family. The crown passes from brother to brother, from uncle to
nephew, from cousin to cousin. Where there are no brothers, the son
takes the sceptre. In all our studies on Africa, we have found only
two women reigning. A woman by the name of Shinga ascended the throne
of the Congo empire in 1640. She rebelled against the ceremonies,
sought to be introduced by Portuguese Catholic priests, who incited
her nephew to treason. Defeated in several pitched battles, she fled
into the Jaga country, where she was crowned with much success. In
1646 she won her throne again, and concluded an honorable peace with
the Portuguese. The other queen was the bloodthirsty Tembandumba of
the Jagas. She was of Arab blood, and a cannibal by practice. She
fought many battles, achieved great victories, flirted with beautiful
young savages, and finally was poisoned.

The African is not altogether without law.

     "Justice appears, upon the whole, to be pretty fairly
     administered among the Makololo. A headman took some beads
     and a blanket from one of his men who had been with us; the
     matter was brought before the chief; and he immediately
     ordered the goods to be restored, and decreed, moreover,
     that no headman should take the property of the men who had
     returned. In theory all the goods brought back belonged to
     the chief; the men laid them at his feet, and made a formal
     offer of them all: he looked at the articles, and told the
     men to keep them. This is almost invariably the case. Tuba
     Mokoro, however, fearing lest Sekeletu might take a fancy to
     some of his best goods, exhibited only a few of his old and
     least valuable acquisitions. Masakasa had little to show: he
     had committed some breach of native law in one of the
     villages on the way, and paid a heavy fine rather than have
     the matter brought to the doctor's ears. Each carrier is
     entitled to a portion of the goods in his bundle, though
     purchased by the chief's ivory; and they never hesitate to
     claim their rights; but no wages can be demanded from the
     chief if he fails to respond to the first application."[76]

We have found considerable civil and criminal law among the different
tribes. We gave an account of the civil and criminal code of Dahomey
in the chapter on that empire. In the Congo country all civil suits
are brought before a judge. He sits on a mat under a large tree, and
patiently hears the arguments _pro_ and _con_. His decisions are
final. There is no higher court, and hence no appeal. The criminal
cases are brought before the _Chitomé_, or priest. He keeps a sacred
fire burning in his house that is never suffered to go out. He is
supported by the lavish and delicate gifts of the people, and is held
to be sacred. No one is allowed to approach his house except on the
most urgent business. He never dies, so say the people. When he is
seriously sick his legal successor steals quietly into his house, and
beats his brains out, or strangles him to death. It is his duty to
hear all criminal cases, and to this end he makes a periodical circuit
among the tribe. Murder, treason, adultery, killing the escaped
snakes from the fetich-house,--and often stealing,--are punished by
death, or by being sold into slavery. A girl who loses her standing,
disgraces her family by an immoral act, is banished from the tribe.
And in case of seduction the man is tied up and flogged. In case of
adultery a large sum of money must be paid. If the guilty one is
unable to pay the fine, then death or slavery is the penalty.

     "Adultery is regarded by the Africans as a kind of theft. It
     is a vice, therefore, and so common that one might write a
     Decameron of native tales like those of Boccaccio. And what
     in Boccaccio is more poignant and more vicious than this
     song of the Benga, which I have often heard them sing, young
     men and women together, when no old men were present?--

       'The old men young girls married.
       The young girls made the old men fools;
       For they love to kiss the young men in the dark,
       Or beneath the green leaves of the plantain-tree.
       The old men then threatened the young men,
       And said, "You make us look like fools;
       But we will stab you with our knives till your blood runs forth!"
       "Oh, stab us, stab us!" cried the young men gladly,
       "_For then your wives will fasten up our wounds_."'"[77]

The laws of marriage among many tribes are very wholesome and
elevating. When the age of puberty arrives, it is the custom in many
tribes for the elderly women, who style themselves _Negemba_, to go
into the forest, and prepare for the initiation of the _igonji_, or
novice. They clear a large space, build a fire, which is kept burning
for three days. They take the young woman into the fetich-house,--a
new one for this ceremony,--where they go through some ordeal, that,
thus far, has never been understood by men. When a young man wants a
wife, there are two things necessary; viz., he must secure her
consent, and then buy her. The apparent necessary element in African
courtship is not a thing to be deprecated by the contracting parties.
On the other hand, it is the _sine qua non_ of matrimony. It is proof
positive when a suitor gives cattle for his sweetheart, first, that he
is wealthy; and, second, that he greatly values the lady he fain would
make his bride. He first seeks the favor of the girl's parents. If she
have none, then her next of kin, as in Israel in the days of Boaz. For
it is a law among many tribes, that a young girl shall never be
without a guardian. When the relatives are favorably impressed with
the suitor, they are at great pains to sound his praise in the
presence of the girl; who, after a while, consents to see him. The
news is conveyed to him by a friend or relative of the girl. The
suitor takes a bath, rubs his body with palm-oil, dons his best armor,
and with beating heart and proud stride hastens to the presence of the
fastidious charmer. She does not speak. He sits down, rises, turns
around, runs, and goes through many exercises to show her that he is
sound and healthy. The girl retires, and the anxious suitor receives
the warm congratulations of the spectators on his noble bearing. The
fair lady conveys her assent to the waiting lover, and the village
rings with shouts of gladness. Next come the preliminary matters
before the wedding. Marriage among most African tribes is a coetaneous
contract. The bride is delivered when the price is paid by the
bridegroom. No goods, no wife. Then follow the wedding and feasting,
firing of guns, blowing of horns, music, and dancing.[78]

Polygamy is almost universal in Africa, and poor woman is the greater
sufferer from the accursed system. It is not enough that she is
drained of her beauty and strength by the savage passions of man: she
is the merest abject slave everywhere. The young women are beautiful,
but it is only for a brief season: it soon passes like the fragile
rose into the ashes of premature old age. In Dahomey she is a soldier;
in Kaffir-land she tends the herds, and builds houses; and in Congo
without her industry man would starve. Everywhere man's cruel hand is
against her. Everywhere she is the slave of his unholy passions.[79]

It is a mistaken notion that has obtained for many years, that the
Negro in Africa is physically the most loathsome of all mankind. True,
the Negro has been deformed by degradation and abuse; but this is not
his normal condition. We have seen native Africans who were jet black,
woolly-haired, and yet possessing fine teeth, beautiful features,
tall, graceful, and athletic.

     "In reference to the status of the Africans among the
     nations of the earth, we have seen nothing to justify the
     notion that they are of a different 'breed' or 'species'
     from the most civilized. The African is a man with every
     attribute of human kind. Centuries of barbarism have had
     the same deteriorating effects on Africans as Prichard
     describes them to have had on certain of the Irish who were
     driven, some generations back, to the hills in Ulster and
     Connaught; and these depressing influences have had such
     moral and physical effects on some tribes, that ages
     probably will be required to undo what ages have done. This
     degradation, however, would hardly be given as a reason for
     holding any race in bondage, unless the advocate had sunk
     morally to the same low state. Apart from the frightful loss
     of life in the process by which, it is pretended, the
     Negroes are better provided for than in a state of liberty
     in their own country, it is this very system that
     perpetuates, if not causes, the unhappy condition with which
     the comparative comfort of some of them in slavery is

     "Ethnologists reckon the African as by no means the lowest
     of the human family. He is nearly as strong physically as
     the European; and, as a race, is wonderfully persistent
     among the nations of the earth. Neither the diseases nor the
     ardent spirits which proved so fatal to North-American
     Indians, South-Sea Islanders, and Australians, seem capable
     of annihilating the Negroes. Even when subjected to that
     system so destructive to human life, by which they are torn
     from their native soil, they spring up irrepressibly, and
     darken half the new continent. They are gifted by nature
     with physical strength capable of withstanding the sorest
     privations, and a lightheartedness which, as a sort of
     compensation, enables them to make the best of the worst
     situations. It is like that power which the human frame
     possesses of withstanding heat, and to an extent which we
     should never have known, had not an adventurous surgeon gone
     into an oven, and burnt his fingers with his own watch. The
     Africans have wonderfully borne up under unnatural
     conditions that would have proved fatal to most races.

     "It is remarkable that the power of resistance under
     calamity, or, as some would say, adaptation for a life of
     servitude, is peculiar only to certain tribes on the
     continent of Africa. Climate cannot be made to account for
     the fact that many would pine in a state of slavery, or
     voluntarily perish. No Krooman can be converted into a
     slave, and yet he is an inhabitant of the low, unhealthy
     west coast; nor can any of the Zulu or Kaffir tribes be
     reduced to bondage, though all these live on comparatively
     elevated regions. We have heard it stated by men familiar
     with some of the Kaffirs, that a blow, given even in play by
     a European, must be returned. A love of liberty is
     observable in all who have the Zulu blood, as the Makololo,
     the Watuta, and probably the Masai. But blood does not
     explain the fact. A beautiful Barotse woman at NHLe, on
     refusing to marry a man whom she did not like, was in a pet
     given by the headman to some Mambari slave-traders from
     Benguela. Seeing her fate, she seized one of their spears,
     and, stabbing herself, fell down dead."[80]

Dr. David Livingstone is certainly entitled to our utmost confidence
in all matters that he writes about. Mr. Archibald Forbes says he has
seen Africans dead upon the field of battle that would measure nine
feet, and it was only a few months ago that we had the privilege of
seeing a Zulu who was eight feet and eleven inches in height. As to
the beauty of the Negro, nearly all African travellers agree.

     "But if the women of Africa are brutal, the men of Africa
     are feminine. Their faces are smooth; their breasts are
     frequently as full as those of European women; their voices
     are never gruff or deep; their fingers are long; and they
     can be very proud of their rosy nails. While the women are
     nearly always ill-shaped after their girlhood, the men have
     gracefully moulded limbs, and always after a feminine
     type,--the arms rounded, the legs elegantly formed, without
     too much muscular development, and the feet delicate and

     "When I first went ashore on Africa, viz., at Bathurst, I
     thought all the men who passed me, covered in their long
     robes, were women, till I saw one of the latter sex, and was
     thereby disenchanted.

     "While no African's face ever yet reminded me of a man whom
     I had known in England, I saw again and again faces which
     reminded me of women; and on one occasion, in Angola, being
     about to chastise a _carregadore_, he sank on his knees as I
     raised my stick, clasped his hands, and looked up
     imploringly toward me,--was so like a young lady I had once
     felt an affection for, that, in spite of myself, I flung the
     stick away, fearing to commit a sacrilege.

     "Ladies on reading this will open their eyes, and suppose
     that either I have very bad taste, or that I am writing
     fiction. But I can assure them that among the Angolas, and
     the Mpongwe, and the Mandingoes, and the Fula, I have seen
     men whose form and features would disgrace no
     petticoats,--not even satin ones at a drawing-room.

     "While the women are stupid, sulky, and phlegmatic, the men
     are vivacious, timid, inquisitive, and garrulous beyond
     belief. They make excellent domestic servants, are cleanly,
     and even tedious in the nicety with which they arrange
     dishes on a table or clothes on a bed. They have also their
     friendships after the manner of woman, embracing one
     another, sleeping on the same mat, telling one another their
     secrets, betraying them, and getting terribly jealous of one
     another (from pecuniary motives) when they happen to serve
     the same master.

     "They have none of that austerity, that reserve, that
     pertinacity, that perseverance, that strong-headed stubborn
     determination, or that ferocious courage, which are the
     common attributes of our sex. They have, on the other hand,
     that delicate tact, that intuition, that nervous
     imagination, that quick perception of character, which have
     become the proverbial characteristics of cultivated women.
     They know how to render themselves impenetrable; and if they
     desire to be perfidious, they wear a mask which few eyes can
     see through, while at the same time a certain sameness of
     purpose models their character in similar moulds. Their
     nature is an enigma: but solve it, and you have solved the
     race. They are inordinately vain: they buy looking-glasses;
     they will pass hours at their toilet, in which their wives
     must act as _femmes de chambre_; they will spend all their
     money on ornaments and dress, in which they can display a
     charming taste. They are fond of music, of dancing, and are
     not insensible to the beauties of nature. They are indolent,
     and have little ambition except to be admired and well
     spoken of. They are so sensitive that a harsh word will
     rankle in then hearts, and make them unhappy for a length of
     time; and they will strip themselves to pay the _grills_ for
     their flattery, and to escape their satire. Though naturally
     timid, and loath to shed blood, they witness without horror
     the most revolting spectacles which their religion
     sanctions; and, though awed by us their superiors, a real
     injury will transform their natures, and they will take a
     speedy and merciless revenge.

     "According to popular belief, the Africans are treacherous
     and hostile. The fact is, that all Africans are supposed to
     be Negroes, and that which is criminal is ever associated
     with that which is hideous. But, with the exception of some
     Mohammedan tribes toward the north, one may travel all over
     Africa without risking one's life. They may detain you, they
     may rob you, if you are rich; they may insult you, and
     refuse to let you enter their country, if you are poor: but
     your life is always safe till you sacrifice it by some

     "In ancient times the blacks were known to be so gentle to
     strangers that many believed that the gods sprang from them.
     Homer sings of the Ocean, father of the gods; and says that,
     when Jupiter wishes to take a holiday, he visits the sea,
     and goes to the banquets of the blacks,--a people humble,
     courteous, and devout."[81]

We have quoted thus extensively from Mr. Reade because he has given a
fair account of the peoples he met. He is a good writer, but sometimes
gets real funny!

It is a fact that all uncivilized races are warlike. The tribes of
Africa are a vast standing army. Fighting seems to be their
employment. We went into this matter of armies so thoroughly in the
fourth chapter that we shall not have much to say here. The bow and
arrow, the spear and assagai were the primitive weapons of African
warriors; but they have learned the use of fire-arms within the last
quarter of a century. The shield and assagai are not, however, done
away with. The young Prince Napoleon, whose dreadful death the reader
may recall, was slain by an assagai. These armies are officered,
disciplined, and drilled to great perfection, as the French and
English troops have abundant reason to know.

     "The Zulu tribes are remarkable for being the only people in
     that part of Africa who have practised war in an European
     sense of the word. The other tribes are very good at bush
     fighting, and are exceedingly crafty at taking an enemy
     unawares, and coming on him before he is prepared for them.
     Guerilla warfare is, in fact, their only mode of waging
     battle; and, as is necessarily the case in such warfare,
     more depends on the exertion of individual combatants than
     on the scientific combinations of masses. But the Zulu tribe
     have, since the time of Dhaka, the great inventor of
     military tactics, carried on war in a manner approaching the
     notions of civilization.

     "Their men are organized into regiments, each subdivided
     into companies, and each commanded by its own chief, or
     colonel; while the king, as commanding general, leads his
     forces to war, disposes them in battle-array, and personally
     directs their movements. They give an enemy notice that they
     are about to match against him, and boldly meet him in the
     open field. There is a military etiquette about them which
     some of our own people have been slow to understand. They
     once sent a message to the English commander that they would
     'come and breakfast with him.' He thought it was only a
     joke, and was very much surprised when the Kaffirs, true to
     their promise, came pouring like a torrent over the hills,
     leaving him barely time to get his men under arms before the
     dark enemies arrived."[82]

And there are some legends told about African wars that would put the
"Arabian Nights" to the blush.[83]

In Africa, as in districts of Germany and Holland, woman is burdened
with agricultural duties. The soil of Africa is very rich,[84] and
consequently Nature furnishes her untutored children with much
spontaneous vegetation. It is a rather remarkable fact, that the
average African warrior thinks it a degradation for him to engage in
agriculture. He will fell trees, and help move a village, but _will
not_ go into the field to work. The women--generally the married
ones--do the gardening. They carry the seed on their heads in a large
basket, a hoe on their shoulder, and a baby slung on the back. They
scatter the seed over the ground, and then break up the earth to the
depth of three or four inches.

     "Four or five gardens are often to be seen round a kraal,
     each situated so as to suit some particular plant. Various
     kinds of crops are cultivated by the Kaffirs, the principal
     being maize, millet, pumpkins, and a kind of spurious
     sugar-cane in great use throughout Southern Africa, and
     popularly known by the name of 'sweet-reed.' The two former
     constitute, however, the necessaries of life, the latter
     belonging rather to the class of luxuries. The maize, or, as
     it is popularly called when the pods are severed from the
     stem, 'mealies,' is the very staff of life to a Kaffir; as
     it is from the mealies that is made the thick porridge on
     which the Kaffir chiefly lives. If a European hires a
     Kaffir, whether as guide, servant, or hunter, he is obliged
     to supply him with a stipulated quantity of food, of which
     the maize forms the chief ingredient. Indeed, so long as the
     native of Southern Africa can get plenty of porridge and
     sour milk, he is perfectly satisfied with his lot. When
     ripe, the ears of maize are removed from the stem, the leafy
     envelope is stripped off, and they are hung in pairs over
     sticks until they are dry enough to be taken to the

The cattle are cared for by the men, and women are not allowed to
engage in the hunt for wild animals. The cattle among the mountain and
sandstone tribes are of a fine stock, but those of the tribes in the
alluvia, like their owners, are small and sickly.

The African pays more attention to his weapons of offensive warfare
than he does to his wives; but in many instances he is quite skilful
in the handicrafts.

     "The Ishogo people are noted throughout the neighboring
     tribes for the superior quality and fineness of the
     _bongos_, or pieces of grass-cloth, which they manufacture.
     They are industrious and skilful weavers. In walking down
     the main street of Mokenga, a number of _ouandjas_, or
     houses without walls are seen, each containing four or five
     looms, with the weavers seated before them weaving the
     cloth. In the middle of the floor of the _ouandjay_ a
     wood-fire is seen burning; and the weavers, as you pass by,
     are sure to be seen smoking their pipes, and chatting to one
     another whilst going on with their work. The weavers are all
     men, and it is men also who stitch the _bongos_ together to
     make _denguis_ or robes of them; the stitches are not very
     close together, nor is the thread very fine, but the work is
     very neat and regular, and the needles are of their own
     manufacture. The _bongos_ are very often striped, and
     sometimes made even in check patterns; this is done by their
     dyeing some of the threads of the warp, or of both warp and
     woof, with various simple colors; the dyes are all made of
     decoctions of different kinds of wood, except for black,
     when a kind of iron ore is used. The _bongos_ are employed
     as money in this put of Africa. Although called grass-cloth
     by me, the material is not made of grass, but of the
     delicate and firm cuticle of palm leaflets, stripped off in
     a dexterous manner with the fingers."[86]

Nearly all his mechanical genius seems to be exhausted in the
perfection of his implements of war, and Dr. Livingstone is of the
opinion, that when a certain perfection in the arts is reached, the
natives pause. This, we think, is owing to their far remove from other
nations. Livingstone says,--

     "The races of this continent seem to have advanced to a
     certain point and no farther; their progress in the arts of
     working iron and copper, in pottery, basket-making,
     spinning, weaving, making nets, fish-hooks, spears, axes,
     knives, needles, and other things, whether originally
     invented by this people or communicated by another
     instructor, appears to have remained in the same rude state
     for a great number of centuries. This apparent stagnation of
     mind in certain nations we cannot understand, but, since we
     have in the latter ages of the world made what we consider
     great progress in the arts, we have unconsciously got into
     the way of speaking of some other races in much the same
     tone as that used by the Celestials in the Flowery Land.
     These same Chinese anticipated us in several most important
     discoveries, by as many centuries as we may have preceded
     others. In the knowledge of the properties of the magnet,
     the composition of gunpowder, the invention of printing, the
     manufacture of porcelain, of silk, and in the progress of
     literature, they were before us. But then the power of
     making further discoveries was arrested, and a stagnation of
     the intellect prevented their advancing in the path of
     improvement or invention."

Mr. Wood says,--

     "The natives of Southern Africa are wonderful proficients in
     forging iron; and, indeed, a decided capability for the
     blacksmith's art seems to be inherent in the natives of
     Africa, from north to south, and from east to west. None of
     the tribes can do very much with the iron, but the little
     which they require is worked in perfection. As in the case
     with all uncivilized beings, the whole treasures of the art
     are lavished on their weapons; and so, if we wish to see
     what an African savage can do with iron, we must look at his
     spears, knives, and arrows--the latter, indeed, being but
     spears in miniature."

The blacksmith, then, is a person of some consequence in his village.
He gives shape and point to the weapons by which game is to be secured
and battles won. All seek his favor.

     "Among the Kaffirs, a blacksmith is a man of considerable
     importance, and is much respected by the tribe. He will not
     profane the mystery of his craft by allowing uninitiated
     eyes to inspect his various processes, and therefore carries
     on his operations at some distance from the kraal. His first
     care is to prepare the bellows. The form which he uses
     prevails over a very large portion of Africa, and is seen,
     with some few modifications, even among the many islands of
     Polynesia. It consists of two leathern sacks, at the upper
     end of which is a handle. To the lower end of each sack is
     attached the hollow horns of some animal, that of the cow or
     eland being most commonly used; and when the bags are
     alternately inflated and compressed, the air passes out
     through the two horns.

     "Of course the heat of the fire would destroy the horns if
     they were allowed to come in contact with it; and they are
     therefore inserted, not into the fire, but into an
     earthenware tube which communicates with the fire. The use
     of valves is unknown; but as the two horns do not open into
     the fire, but into the tube, the fire is not drawn into the
     bellows as would otherwise be the case. This arrangement,
     however, causes considerable waste of air, so that the
     bellows-blower is obliged to work much harder than would be
     the case if he were provided with an instrument that could
     conduct the blast directly to its destination. The ancient
     Egyptians used a bellows of precisely similar construction,
     except that they did not work them entirely by hand. They
     stood with one foot on each sack, and blew the fire by
     alternately pressing on them with the feet, and raising them
     by means of a cord fastened to their upper ends.

     "When the blacksmith is about to set to work, he digs a hole
     in the ground, in which the fire is placed; and then sinks
     the earthenware tube in a sloping direction, so that the
     lower end opens at the bottom of the hole, while the upper
     end projects above the level of the ground. The two horns
     are next inserted into the upper end of the earthenware
     tube; and the bellows are then fastened in their places, so
     that the sacks are conveniently disposed for the hands of
     the operator, who sits between them. A charcoal-fire is then
     laid in the hole, and is soon brought to a powerful heat by
     means of the bellows. A larger stone serves the purpose of
     an anvil, and a smaller stone does duty for a hammer.
     Sometimes the hammer is made of a conical piece of iron, but
     in most cases a stone is considered sufficient. The rough
     work of hammering the iron into shape is generally done by
     the chief blacksmith's assistants, of whom he has several,
     all of whom will pound away at the iron in regular
     succession. The shaping and finishing the article is
     reserved by the smith for himself. The other tools are few
     and simple, and consist of punches and rude pinchers made of
     two rods of iron.

     "With these instruments the Kaffir smith can cast brass into
     various ornaments, Sometimes he pours it into a cylindrical
     mould, so as to make a bar from which bracelets and similar
     ornaments can be hammered, and sometimes he makes studs and
     knobs by forming their shape in clay moulds."[87]

Verily, the day will come when these warlike tribes shall beat their
spears into pruning-hooks, and their assagais into ploughshares, and
shall learn war no more! The skill and cunning of their artificers
shall be consecrated to the higher and nobler ends of civilization,
and the noise of battle shall die amid the music of a varied


[68] Livingstone's Expedition to the Zambesi, pp. 216, 217.

[69] Ashango Land, pp. 288, 289, 291, 292.

[70] Western Africa, p. 257 _sq._

[71] Through the Dark Continent, vol. i. p. 489.

[72] Uncivilized Races of Men, vol. i. chap, vii.

[73] Equatorial Africa, pp. 377, 378.

[74] Savage Africa, p. 216.

[75] Expedition to Zambesi, pp. 626, 627.

[76] Livingstone's Expedition to the Zambesi, pp. 307, 308.

[77] Savage Africa, p. 219.

[78] See Savage Africa, p. 207. Livingstone's Life-Work, pp. 47, 48.
Uncivilized Races of Men, vol. 1. pp. 71-86; also Du Chaillu and
Denham and Clappterton.

[79] Savage Africa, pp. 424, 425.

[80] Livingstone's Expedition to the Zambesi, pp 625, 626.

[81] Savage Africa, pp 426, 427.

[82] Uncivilized Races of Men, vol. i. p. 94.

[83] Through the Dark Continent, vol. i. p. 344 _sq._; also vol. ii.
pp. 87, 88.

[84] Livingstone's Zambesi, pp. 613-617.

[85] Uncivilized Races of Men, vol. i. p. 146.

[86] Ashango Land, pp 290, 291.

[87] Uncivilized Races of Men, vol. i. pp. 97, 98.




Philologically the inhabitants of Africa are divided into two distinct
families. The dividing line that Nature drew across the continent is
about two degrees north of the equator. Thus far science has not
pushed her investigations into Northern Africa; and, therefore, little
is known of the dialects of that section. But from what travellers
have learned of portions of different tribes that have crossed the
line, and made their way as far as the Cape of Good Hope, we infer,
that, while there are many dialects in that region, they all belong to
one common family. During the Saracen movement, in the second century
of the Christian era, the Arab turned his face toward Central Africa.
Everywhere traces of his language and religion are to be found. He
transformed whole tribes of savages. He built cities, and planted
fields; he tended flocks, and became trader. He poured new blood into
crumbling principalities, and taught the fingers of the untutored
savage to war. His religion, in many places, put out the ineffectual
fires of the fetich-house, and lifted the grovelling thoughts of
idolaters heavenward. His language, like the new juice of the vine,
made its way to the very roots of Negro dialects, and gave them method
and tone. In the song and narrative, in the prayer and precept, of the
heathen, the Arabic comes careering across each sentence, giving
cadence and beauty to all.

On the heels of the Mohammedan followed the Portuguese, the tried and
true servants of Rome, bearing the double swords and keys. Not so
extensive as the Arab, the influence of the Portuguese, nevertheless,
has been quite considerable.

[Transcriber's Note: A breve diacritical mark, a u-shaped symbol above
a letter used to indicate special pronunciation, is found on several
words in the original text. These letters are indicated here by the
coding [)x] for a breve above any letter x. For example, the word
"tonda" with a breve above the letter "o" will appear as "t[)o]nda" in
the following text.]

All along the coast of Northern Guinea, a distance of nearly fifteen
hundred miles,--from Cape Mesurado to the mouth of the Niger,--the
Kree, Grebo, and Basa form one general family, and speak the Mandu
language. On the Ivory Coast another language is spoken between Frisco
and Dick's Cove. It is designated as the Av[)e]kw[)o]m language, and
in its verbal and inflective character is not closely related to the
Mandu. The dialects of Popo, Dahomey, Ashantee, and Akra are
resolvable into a family or language called the _Fantyipin_. All these
dialects, to a greater or less extent, have incorporated many foreign
words,--Dutch, French, Spanish, English, Portuguese, and even many
words from Madagascar. The language of the Gold and Ivory Coasts we
find much fuller than those on the Grain Coast. Wherever commerce or
mechanical enterprise imparts a quickening touch, we find the
vocabulary of the African amplified. Susceptible, apt, and cunning,
the coast tribes, on account of their intercourse with the outside
world, have been greatly changed. We are sorry that the change has not
always been for the better. Uncivilized sailors, and brainless and
heartless speculators, have sown the rankest seeds of an effete
Caucasian civilization in the hearts of the unsuspecting Africans.
These poor people have learned to cheat, lie, steal; are capable of
remarkable diplomacy and treachery; have learned well the art of
flattery and extreme cruelty. Mr. Wilson says,--

     "The Sooahelee, or Swahere language, spoken by the
     aboriginal inhabitants of Zanzibar, is very nearly allied to
     the Mpongwe, which is spoken on the western coast in very
     nearly the same parallel of latitude. _One-fifth of the
     words of these two dialects are either the same, or so
     nearly so that they may easily be traced to the same root_."

The Italics are our own. The above was written just a quarter of a
century ago.

     "The language of Uyanzi seemed to us to be a mixture of
     almost all Central African dialects. Our great stock of
     native words, in all dialects, proved of immense use to me;
     and in three days I discovered, after classifying and
     comparing the words heard from the Wy-anzi with other
     African words, that I was tolerably proficient, at least for
     all practical purposes, in the Kiyanzi dialect."[88]

Mr. Stanley wrote the above in Africa in March, 1877. It was but a
repetition of the experiences of Drs. Livingstone and Kirk, that,
while the dialects west and south-west of the Mountains of the Moon
are numerous, and apparently distinct, they are referable to one
common parent. The Swahere language has held its place from the
beginning. Closely allied to the Mpongwe, it is certainly one of great
strength and beauty.

     "This great family of languages--if the Mpongwe dialect may
     be taken as a specimen--is remarkable for its beauty,
     elegance, and perfectly philosophical arrangements, as well
     as for its almost indefinite expansibility. In these
     respects it not only differs essentially and radically from
     all the dialects north of the Mountains of the Moon, but
     they are such as may well challenge a comparison with any
     known language in the world."[89]

The dialects of Northern Africa are rough, irregular in structure, and
unpleasant to the ear. The Mpongwe we are inclined to regard as the
best of all the dialects we have examined. It is spoken, with but
slight variations, among the Mpongwe, Ayomba, Oroungou, Rembo, Camma,
Ogobay, Anenga, and Ngaloi tribes. A careful examination of several
other dialects leads us to suspect that they, too, sustain a distant
relationship to the Mpongwe.

Next to this remarkable language comes the Bakalai, with its numerous
dialectic offspring, scattered amongst the following tribes: the
Balengue, Mebenga, Bapoukow, Kombe, Mbiki, Mbousha, Mbondemo, Mbisho,
Shekiani, Apingi, Evili, with other tribes of the interior.

The two families of languages we have just mentioned--the Mpongwe and
the Bakalai--are distinguished for their system and grammatical
structure. It is surprising that these unwritten languages should hold
their place among roving, barbarous tribes through so many years. In
the Mpongwe language and its dialects, the liquid and semi-vowel _r_
is rolled with a fulness and richness harmonious to the ear. The
Bakalai and its branches have no _r_; and it is no less true that all
tribes that exclude this letter from their dialects are warlike,
nomadic, and much inferior to the tribes that use it freely.

The Mpongwe language is spoken on each side of the Gabun, at Cape
Lopez, and at Cape St. Catharin in Southern Guinea; the Mandingo,
between Senegal and the Gambia; and the Grebo language, in and about
Cape Palmas. It is about twelve hundred miles from Gabun to Cape
Palmas, about two thousand miles from Gabun to Senegambia, and about
six hundred miles from Cape Palmas to Gambia. It is fair to presume
that these tribes are sufficiently distant from each other to be
called strangers. An examination of their languages may not fail to

It has been remarked somewhere, that a people's homes are the surest
indications of the degree of civilization they have attained. It is
certainly true, that deportment has much to do with the polish of
language. The disposition, temperament, and morals of a people who
have no written language go far toward giving their language its
leading characteristics. The Grebo people are a well-made, quick, and
commanding-looking people. In their intercourse with one another,
however, they are unpolished, of sudden temper, and revengeful
disposition.[90] Their language is consequently _monosyllabic_. A
great proportion of Grebo words are of the character indicated. A few
verbs will illustrate. _Kba_, carry; _la_, kill; _ya_, bring; _mu_,
go; _wa_, walk; _ni_, do; and so on. This is true of objects, or
nouns. _Ge_, farm; _bro_, earth; _w[)e]nh_, sun; _tu_, tree; _gi_,
leopard; _na_, fire; _yi_, eye; _bo_, leg; _lu_, head; _nu_, rain;
_kai_, house. The Grebo people seem to have no idea of syllabication.
They do not punctuate; but, speaking with the rapidity with which they
move, run their words together until a whole sentence might be taken
for one word. If any thing has angered a Grebo he will say, "_E ya mu
kra wudi_;" being interpreted, "It has raised a great bone in my
throat." But he says it so quickly that he pronounces it in this
manner, _yamukroure_. There are phrases in this language that are
beyond the ability of a foreigner to pronounce. It has no
contractions, and often changes the first and second person of the
personal pronoun, and the first and second person plural, by lowering
or pitching the voice. The orthography remains the same, though the
significations of those words are radically different.

The Mpongwe language is largely polysyllabic. It is burdened with
personal pronouns, and its adjectives have numerous changes in
addition to their degrees of comparison. We find no inflections to
suggest case or gender. The adjective _mpolo_, which means "large,"
carries seven or eight forms. While it is impossible to tell whether a
noun is masculine, feminine, or neuter, they use one adjective for all
four declensions, changing its form to suit each.

The following form of declensions will serve to impart a clearer idea
of the arbitrary changes in the use of the adjective:

  First Declension.  (Singular, _nyare mpolu_, a large cow.
                     (Plural, _inyare impolu_, large cows.

  Second Declension. (Singular, _egara evolu_, a large chest.
                     (Plural, _gara volu_, large chests.

  Third Declension.  (Singular, _idâmbe ivolu_, a large sheep.
                     (Plural, _idâmbe ampolu_, large sheep.

  Fourth Declension. (Singular, _omamba ompolu_, a large snake.
                     (Plural, _imamba impolu_, large snakes.[91]

We presume it would be a difficult task for a Mpongwe to explain the
arbitrary law by which such changes are made. And yet he is as uniform
and strict in his obedience to this law as if it were written out in
an Mpongwe grammar, and taught in every village.

His verb has four moods; viz., indicative, imperative, conditional,
and subjunctive. The auxiliary particle gives the indicative mood its
grammatical being. The imperative is formed from the present of the
indicative by changing its initial consonant into its reciprocal
consonant as follows:--

  _tonda_, to love.
  _ronda_, love thou.
  _denda_, to do.
  _lenda_, do thou.

The conditional mood has a form of its own; but the conjunctive
particles are used as auxiliaries at the same time, and different
conjunctive particles are used with different tenses. The subjunctive,
having but one form, in a sentence where there are two verbs is used
as the second verb.[92] So by the use of the auxiliary particles the
verb can form the infinitive and potential mood. The Mpongwe verb
carries four tenses,--present, past or historical, perfect past, and
future. Upon the principle of alliteration the perfect past tense,
representing an action as completed, is formed from the present tense
by prefixing _a_, and by changing _a_-final into _i_: for example,
_t[)o]nda_, "to love;" _at[)o]ndi_, "did love." The past or historical
tense is derived from the imperative by prefixing _a_, and by changing
_a_-final into _i_. Thus _r[)o]nda_, "love;" _ar[)o]ndi_, "have
loved." The future tense is constructed by the aid of the auxiliary
particle _be_, as follows: _mi be t[)o]nda_," I am going to love."

We have not been able to find a Mandingo grammar, except Mr.
MacBrair's, which is, as far as we know, the only one in existence.
We have had but little opportunity to study the structure of that
language. But what scanty material we have at hand leads us to the
conclusion that it is quite loosely put together. The saving element
in its verb is the minuteness with which it defines the time of an
action. The causative form is made by the use of a suffix. It does not
use the verb "to go" or "come" in order to express a future tense.
Numerous particles are used in the substantive verb sense. The
Mandingo language is rather smooth. The letters _v_ and _z_ are not in
it. About one-fifth of the verbs and nouns commence with vowels, and
the noun always terminates in the letter _o_.

Here is a wide and interesting field for philologists: it should be

The African's nature is as sunny as the climate he lives in. He is not
brutal, as many advocates of slavery have asserted. It is the
unanimous testimony of all explorers of, and travellers through, the
Dark Continent, that the element of gentleness predominates among the
more considerable tribes; that they have a keen sense of the
beautiful, and are susceptible of whatever culture is brought within
their reach. The Negro nature is not sluggish, but joyous and
vivacious. In his songs he celebrates victories, and laughs at death
with the complacency of the Greek Stoics.

  "Rich man and poor fellow, all men must die:
  Bodies are only shadows. Why should I be sad?"[93]

He can be deeply wrought upon by acts of kindness; and bears a
friendship to those who show him favor, worthy of a better state of
society. When Henry M. Stanley (God bless him! noble, brave soul!) was
about emerging from the Dark Continent, he made a halt at Kabinda
before he ended his miraculous journey at Zanzibar on the Pacific
Ocean. He had been accompanied in his perilous journey by
stout-hearted, brave, and faithful natives. Their mission almost
completed, they began to sink into that listlessness which is often
the precursor of death. They had been true to their master, and were
now ready to die as bravely as they had lived. Read Mr. Stanley's
account without emotion if you can:--

     "'Do you wish to see Zanzibar, boys?' I asked.

     "'Ah, it is far. Nay, speak not, master. We shall never see
     it,' they replied.

     "'But you will die if you go on in this way. Wake up--shake
     yourselves--show yourselves to be men.'

     "'Can a man contend with God? Who fears death? Let us die
     undisturbed, and be at rest forever,' they answered.

     "Brave, faithful, loyal souls! They were, poor fellows,
     surrendering themselves to the benumbing influences of a
     listlessness and fatal indifference to life! Four of them
     died in consequence of this strange malady at Loanda, three
     more on board her Majesty's ship Industry, and one woman
     breathed her last the day after we arrived at Zanzibar. But
     in their sad death they had one consolation, in the words
     which they kept constantly repeating to themselves--

     "'We have brought our master to the great sea, and he has
     seen his white brothers. La il Allah, il Allah! There is no
     God but God!' they said--and died.

     "It is not without an overwhelming sense of grief, a choking
     in the throat, and swimming eyes, that I write of those
     days; for my memory is still busy with the worth and virtues
     of the dead. In a thousand fields of incident, adventure,
     and bitter trials, they had proved their stanch heroism and
     their fortitude; they had lived and endured nobly. I
     remember the enthusiasm with which they responded to my
     appeals; I remember their bold bearing during the darkest
     days; I remember the Spartan pluck, the indomitable courage,
     with which they suffered in the days of our adversity. Their
     voices again loyally answer me, and again I hear them
     address each other upon the necessity of standing by the
     'master.' Their boat-song, which contained sentiments
     similar to the following:--

       'The pale-faced stranger, lonely here,
       In cities afar, where his name is dear,
       Your Arab truth and strength shall show;
       He trusts in us, row, Arabs, row'--

     despite all the sounds which now surround me, still charms
     my listening ear.[94] ...

     "They were sweet and sad moments, those of parting. What a
     long, long, and true friendship was here sundered! Through
     what strange vicissitudes of life had they not followed me!
     What wild and varied scenes had we not seen together! What a
     noble fidelity these untutored souls had exhibited! The
     chiefs were those who had followed me to Ujiji in 1871; they
     had been witnesses of the joy of Livingstone at the sight of
     me; they were the men to whom I intrusted the safe-guard of
     Livingstone on his last and fatal journey, who had mourned
     by his corpse at Muilala, and borne the illustrious dead to
     the Indian Ocean.

     "And in a flood of sudden recollection, all the stormy
     period here ended rushed in upon my mind; the whole panorama
     of danger and tempest through which these gallant fellows
     had so stanchly stood by me--these gallant fellows now
     parting from me. Rapidly, as in some apocalyptic vision,
     every scene of strife with Man and Nature, through which
     these poor men and women had borne me company, and solaced
     me by the simple sympathy of common suffering, came
     hurrying across my memory; for each face before me was
     associated with some adventure or some peril, reminded me of
     some triumph or of some loss. What a wild, weird retrospect
     it was,--that mind's flash over the troubled past! so like a
     troublous dream!

     "And for years and years to come, in many homes in Zanzibar,
     there will be told the great story of our journey, and the
     actors in it will be heroes among their kilt and kin. For me
     too they are heroes, these poor, ignorant children of
     Africa, for, from the first deadly struggle in savage Ituru
     to the last staggering rush into Embomma, they had rallied
     to my voice like veterans, and in the hour of need they had
     never failed me. And thus, aided by their willing hands and
     by their loyal hearts, the expedition had been successful,
     and the three great problems of the Dark Continent's
     geography had been fairly settled."[95]

How many times we have read this marvellous narrative of Stanley's
march through the Dark Continent, we do not know; but we do know that
every time we have read it with tears and emotion, have blessed the
noble Stanley, and thanked God for the grand character of his black
followers! There is no romance equal to these two volumes. The trip
was one awful tragedy from beginning to end, and the immortal deeds of
his untutored guards are worthy of the famous _Light Brigade_.

On the fourth day of August, 1877, Henry M. Stanley arrived at the
village of Nsanda on his way to the ocean. He had in his command one
hundred and fifteen souls. Foot-sore, travel-soiled, and hungry, his
people sank down exhausted. He tried to buy food from the natives; but
they, with an indifference that was painful, told them to wait until
market-day. A foraging party scoured the district for food, but found
none. Starvation was imminent. The feeble travellers lay upon the
ground in the camp, with death pictured on their dusky features.
Stanley called his boat-captains to his tent, and explained the
situation. He knew that he was within a few days march of Embomma, and
that here were located one Englishman, one Frenchman, one Spaniard,
and one Portuguese. He told the captains that he had addressed a
letter to these persons for aid; and that resolute, swift, and
courageous volunteers were needed to go for the relief,--without which
the whole camp would be transformed into a common graveyard. We will
now quote from Mr. Stanley again in proof of the noble nature of the

     "The response was not long coming; for Uledi sprang up and
     said, 'O master, don't talk more! I am ready now. See, I
     will only buckle on my belt, and I shall start at once, and
     nothing will stop me. I will follow on the track like a

     "'And I am one,' said Kachéché. 'Leave us alone, master. If
     there are white men at Embomma, we will find them out. We
     will walk and walk, and when we cannot walk we will crawl.'

     "'Leave off talking men,' said Muini Pembé, 'and allow
     others to speak, won't you? Hear me, my master. I am your
     servant. I will outwalk the two. I will carry the letter,
     and plant it before the eyes of the white men.'

     "'I will go too, sir,' said Robert.

     "'Good! It is just as I should wish it; but, Robert, you
     cannot follow these three men. You will break down, my boy.'

     "'Oh, we will carry him if he breaks down,' said Uledi.
     'Won't we, Kachéché?"

     "'_Inshallah_!' responded Kachéché decisively. 'We must have
     Robert along with us, otherwise the white men won't
     understand us.'"

What wonderful devotion! What sublime self-forgetfulness! The world
has wept over such stories as Bianca and Héloise, and has built
monuments that will stand,--

    "_While Fame her record keeps,
    Or Homer paints the hallowed spot
    Where Valor proudly sleeps_,"--

and yet these black heroes are unremembered. "I will follow the track
like a leopard," gives but a faint idea of the strong will of Uledi;
and Kachéché's brave words are endowed with all the attributes of that
heroic _abandon_ with which a devoted general hurls the last fragment
of wasting strength against a stubborn enemy. And besides, there is
something so tender in these words that they seem to melt the heart.
"We will walk and walk, and when we cannot walk we will crawl!" We
have never read but one story that approaches this narrative of Mr.
Stanley, and that was the tender devotion of Ruth to her
mother-in-law. We read it in the Hebrew to Dr. O.S. Stearns of Newton,
Mass.; and confess that, though it has been many years since, the
blessed impression still remains, and our confidence in humanity is
strengthened thereby.

Here are a few white men in the wilds of Africa, surrounded by the
uncivilized children of the desert. They have money and valuable
instruments, a large variety of gewgaws that possessed the power of
charming the fancy of the average savage; and therefore the whites
would have been a tempting prey to the blacks. But not a hair of their
head was harmed. The white men had geographical fame to encourage them
in the struggle,--friends and loved ones far away beyond the
beautiful blue sea. These poor savages had nothing to steady their
purposes save a paltry sum of money as day-wages,--no home, no
friends; and yet they were as loyal as if a throne were awaiting them.
No, no! nothing waited on their heroic devotion to a magnificent cause
but a lonely death when they had brought the "master" to the sea. When
their stomachs, pinched by hunger; when their limbs, stiff from
travel; when their eyes, dim with the mists of death; when every vital
force was slain by an heroic ambition to serve the great Stanley; when
the fires of endeavor were burnt to feeble embers,--then, and only
then, would these faithful Negroes fail in the fulfilment of their
mission, so full of peril, and yet so grateful to them, because it was
in the line of _duty_.

Cicero urged virtue as necessary to effective oratory. The great
majority of Negroes in Africa are both orators and logicians. A people
who have such noble qualities as this race seems to possess has, as a
logical necessity, the poetic element in a large degree.

In speaking of Negro poetry, we shall do so under three different
heads; viz., the _Epic_, _Idyllic_, _Religious_, or miscellaneous.

_The epic poetry_ of Africa, so far as known, is certainly worthy of
careful study. The child must babble before it can talk, and all
barbarians have a sense of the sublime in speech. Mr. Taine, in his
"History of English Literature," speaking of early Saxon poetry,

     "One poem nearly whole, and two or three fragments, are all
     that remain of this lay-poetry of England. The rest of the
     pagan current, German and barbarian, was arrested or
     overwhelmed, first by the influx of the Christian religion,
     then by the conquest of the Norman-French. But what remains
     more than suffices to show the strange and powerful poetic
     genius of the race, and to exhibit beforehand the flower in
     the bud.

     "If there has ever been anywhere a deep and serious poetic
     sentiment, it is here. They do not speak: they sing, or
     rather they shout. Each little verse is an acclamation,
     which breaks forth like a growl; their strong breasts heave
     with a groan of anger or enthusiasm, and a vehement or
     indistinct phrase or expression rises suddenly, almost in
     spite of them, to their lips. There is no art, no natural
     talent, for describing, singly and in order, the different
     parts of an object or an event. The fifty rays of light
     which every phenomenon emits in succession to a regular and
     well-directed intellect, come to them at once in a glowing
     and confused mass, disabling them by their force and
     convergence. Listen to their genuine war-chants, unchecked
     and violent, as became their terrible voices! To this day,
     at this distance of time, separated as they are by manners,
     speech, ten centuries, we seem to hear them still."[96]

This glowing description of the poetry of the primitive and hardy
Saxon gives the reader an excellent idea of the vigorous, earnest, and
gorgeous effusions of the African. Panda was king of the Kaffirs. He
was considered quite a great warrior. It took a great many
_isi-bongas_ to describe his virtues. His chief _isi-bongas_ was
"O-Elephant." This was chosen to describe his strength and greatness.
Mr. Wood gives an account of the song in honor of Panda:--

       "1. Thou brother of the Tchaks, _considerate forder_,
       2. A _swallow which fled in the sky_;
       3. A swallow with a whiskered breast;
       4. Whose cattle was ever in so huddled a crowd,
       5. They stumble for room when they ran.
       6. Thou false adorer of the valor of another,
       7. That valor thou tookest at the battle of Makonko.
       8. Of the stock of N'dabazita, _ramrod of brass_,
       9. _Survivor alone of all other rods_;
       10. Others they broke and left this in the soot,
       11. Thinking to burn at some rainy cold day.
       12. _Thigh of the bullock of Inkakavini_,
       13. Always delicious if only 'tis roasted,
       14. It will always be tasteless if boiled.
       15. The woman from Mankeba is delighted;
       16. She has seen the leopards of Jama,
       17. Fighting together between the Makonko.
       18. He passed between the Jutuma and Ihliza,
       19. The Celestial who thundered between the Makonko.
       20. I praisethee, O King! son of Jokwane, the son of Undaba,
       21. The merciless opponent of every conspiracy.
       22. Thou art an _elephant_, an _elephant_, an _elephant_.
       23. All glory to thee, thou _monarch who art black_."

     "The first _isi-bonga_, in line 1, alludes to the ingenuity
     with which Panda succeeded in crossing the river so as to
     escape out of the district where Dingan exercised authority.
     In the second line, 'swallow which fled in the sky' is
     another allusion to the secrecy with which he managed his
     flight, which left no more track than the passage of a
     swallow through the air. Lines 4 and 5 allude to the wealth,
     i.e., the abundance of cattle, possessed by Panda. Line 6
     asserts that Panda was too humble minded, and thought more
     of the power of Dingan than it deserved; while line 7 offers
     as proof of this assertion, that, when they came to fight,
     Panda conquered Dingan. Lines 8 to 11 all relate to the
     custom of seasoning sticks by hanging them over the
     fireplaces in Kaffir huts. Line 14 alludes to the fact that
     meat is very seldom roasted by the Kaffirs, but is almost
     invariably boiled, or rather stewed, in closed vessels. In
     line 15 the 'woman from Mankebe' is Panda's favorite wife.
     In line 19 'The Celestial' alludes to the name of the great
     Zulu tribe over which Panda reigned; the word 'Zulu' meaning
     celestial, and having much the same import as the same word
     when employed by the Chinese to denote their origin. Line 21
     refers to the attempts of Panda's rivals to dethrone him,
     and the ingenious manner in which he contrived to defeat
     their plans by forming judicious alliances."

There is a daring insolence, morbid vanity, and huge description in
this song of Panda, that make one feel like admitting that the sable
bard did his work of flattery quite cleverly. It should not be
forgotten by the reader, that, in the translation of these songs, much
is lost of their original beauty and perspicuity. The following song
was composed to celebrate the war triumphs of Dinga, and is, withal,
exciting, and possessed of good movement. It is, in some instances,
much like the one quoted above:--

    "Thou needy offspring of Umpikazi,
    Eyer of the cattle of men;
    Bird of Maube, fleet as a bullet,
    Sleek, erect, of beautiful parts;
    Thy cattle like the comb of the bees;
    O head too large, too huddled to move;
    Devourer of Moselekatze, son of Machobana;
    Devourer of 'Swazi, son of Sobuza;
    Breaker of the gates of Machobana;
    Devourer of Gundave of Machobana;
    A monster in size, of mighty power;
    Devourer of Ungwati of ancient race;
    Devourer of the kingly Uomape;
    Like heaven above, raining and shining."

The poet has seen fit to refer to the early life of his hero, to call
attention to his boundless riches, and, finally, to celebrate his war
achievements. It is highly descriptive, and in the Kaffir language is
quite beautiful.

Tchaka sings a song himself, the ambitious sentiments of which would
have been worthy of Alexander the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte. He had
carried victory on his spear throughout all Kaffir-land. Everywhere
the tribes had bowed their submissive necks to his yoke; everywhere he
was hailed as king. But out of employment he was not happy. He sighed
for more tribes to conquer, and thus delivered himself:--

    "Thou hast finished, finished the nations!
    Where will you go out to battle now?
    Hey! where will you go out to battle now?
    Thou hast conquered kings!
    Where are you going to battle now?
    Thou hast finished, finished the nations!
    Where are you going to battle now?
    Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!
    Where are you going to battle now?"

There is really something modern in this deep lament of the noble

The following war song of the Wollof, though it lacks the sonorous and
metrical elements of real poetry, contains true military
aggressiveness, mixed with the theology of the fatalist.


     "I go in front. I fear not death. I am not afraid. If I die,
     I will take my blood to bathe my head.

     "The man who fears nothing marches always in front, and is
     never hit by the murderous ball. The coward hides himself
     behind a bush, and is killed.

     "Go to the battle. It is not lead that kills. It is Fate
     which strikes us, and which makes us die."

Mr. Reade says of the musicians he met up the Senegal,--

     "There are three classes of these public minstrels,--1,
     those who play such vulgar instruments as the flute and
     drum; 2, those who play on the ballafond, which is the
     marimba of Angola and South America, and on the harp; 3,
     those who sing the legends and battle-songs of their
     country, or who improvise satires or panegyrics. This last
     class are dreaded, though despised. They are richly rewarded
     in their lifetime, but after death they are not even given a
     decent burial. If they were buried in the ground, it would
     become barren; if in the river, the water would be poisoned,
     and the fish would die: so they are buried in hollow trees.

_The idyllic poetry_ of Africa is very beautiful in its gorgeous
native dress. It requires some knowledge of their mythology in order
to thoroughly understand all their figures of speech. The following
song is descriptive of the white man, and is the production of a

    "_In the blue palace of the deep sea
    Dwells a strange creature:
    His skin as white as salt;
    His hair long and tangled as the sea-weed.
    He is more great than the princes of the earth;
    He is clothed with the skins of fishes,--
    Fishes more beautiful than birds.
    His house is built of brass rods;
    His garden is a forest of tobacco.
    On his soil white beads are scattered
    Like sand-grains on the seashore._"

The following idyl, extemporized by one of Stanley's black soldiers,
on the occasion of reaching Lake Nyanza, possesses more energy of
movement, perspicuity of style, and warm, glowing imagery, than any
song of its character we have yet met with from the lips of unlettered
Negroes. It is certainly a noble song of triumph. It swells as it
rises in its mission of praise. It breathes the same victorious air of
the song of Miriam: "_Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed
gloriously; the horse and the rider hath he thrown into the sea_." And
in the last verse the child-nature of the singer riots like "The May
Queen" of Tennyson.


    "Sing, O friends, sing; the journey is ended:
    Sing aloud, O friends; sing to the great Nyanza.
    Sing all, sing loud, O friends, sing to the great sea;
    Give your last look to the lands behind, and then turn to the sea.

    Long time ago you left your lands,
    Your wives and children, your brothers and your friends;
    Tell me, have you seen a sea like this
    Since you left the great salt sea?


    Then sing, O friends! sing; the journey is ended:
    Sing aloud, O friend! sing to this great sea.

    This sea is fresh, is good and sweet;
    Your sea is salt, and bad, unfit to drink.
    This sea is like wine to drink for thirsty men;
    The salt sea--bah! it makes men sick.

    Lift up your heads, O men, and gaze around;
    Try if you can see its end.
    See, it stretches moons away,
    This great, sweet, fresh-water sea.

    We come from Usukuma land,
    The land of pastures, cattle, sheep and goats,
    The land of braves, warriors, and strong men,
    And, lo! this is the far-known Usukuma sea.

    Ye friends, ye scorned at us in other days.
    Ah, ha! Wangwana. What say ye now?
    Ye have seen the land, its pastures and its herds,
    Ye now see the far-known Usukuma sea.
    Kaduma's land is just below;
    He is rich in cattle, sheep, and goats.
    The Msungu is rich in cloth and beads;
    His hand is open, and his heart is free.

    To-morrow the Msungu must make us strong
    With meat and beer, wine and grain.
    We shall dance and play the livelong day,
    And eat and drink, and sing and play."

_The religious and miscellaneous poetry_ is not of the highest order.
One of the most remarkable men of the Kaffir tribe was Sicana, a
powerful chief and a Christian. He was a poet, and composed hymns,
which he repeated to his people till they could retain them upon their
memories. The following is a specimen of his poetical abilities, and
which the people are still accustomed to sing to a low monotonous

    "Ulin guba inkulu siambata tina
    Ulodali bom' unadali pezula,
    Umdala undala idala izula,
    Yebinza inquinquis zixeliela.
    UTIKA umkula gozizuline,
    Yebinza inquinquis nozilimele.
    Umze uakonana subiziele,
    Umkokeli ua sikokeli tina,
    Uenza infama zenza go bomi;
    Imali inkula subiziele,
    Wena wena q'aba inyaniza,
    Wena wena kaka linyaniza,
    Wena wena klati linyaniza;
    Invena inh'inani subiziele,
    Ugaze laku ziman' heba wena,
    Usanhla zaku ziman' heba wena,
    Umkokili ua, sikokeli tina:
    Ulodali bom' uadali pezula,
    Umdala uadala idala izula."


    "Mantle of comfort! God of love!
      The Ancient One on high!
    Who guides the firmament above,
      The heavens, and starry sky;

    Creator, Ruler, Mighty One;
      The only Good, All-wise,--
    To him, the great eternal God,
      Our fervent prayers arise.

    Giver of life, we call on him,
      On his high throne above,
    Our Rock of refuge still to be,
      Of safety and of love;

    Our trusty shield, our sure defence,
      Our leader, still to be:
    We call upon our pitying God,
      Who makes the blind to see.

    We supplicate the Holy Lamb
      Whose blood for us was shed,
    Whose feet were pierced for guilty man,
      Whose hands for us have bled;

    Even our God who gave us life,
      From heaven, his throne above,
    The great Creator of the world,
      Father, and God of love."

When any person is sick, the priests and devout people consult their
favorite spirits. At Goumbi, in Equatorial Africa, this ceremony is
quite frequent. Once upon a time the king fell sick. Quengueza was the
name of the afflicted monarch. Ilogo was a favorite spirit who
inhabited the moon. The time to invoke the favor of this spirit is
during the full moon. The moon, in the language of Equatorial Africa,
is Ogouayli. Well, the people gathered in front of the king's house,
and began the ceremony, which consisted chiefly in singing the
following song:--

    "_Ilogo, we ask thee!
    Tell who has bewitched the king!

    Ilogo, we ask thee,
    What shall we do to cure the king?

    The forests are thine, Ilogo!
    The rivers are thine, Ilogo!

    The moon is thine!
    O moon! O moon! O moon!
    Thou art the house of Ilogo!
    Shall the king die? Ilogo!
    O Ilogo! O moon! O moon!_"[97]

In African caravans or processions, there is a man chosen to go in
front and sing, brandishing a stick somewhat after the manner of our
band-masters. The song is rather an indifferent howl, with little or
no relevancy. It is a position much sought after, and affords abundant
opportunity for the display of the voice. Such a person feels the
dignity of the position. The following is a sample:--

    "_Shove him on!
    But is he a good man?
    No, I think he's a stingy fellow;
    Shove him on!
    Let him drop in the road, then.
    No, he has a big stick:
    Shove him on!
    Oh, matta-bicho! matta-bicho!
    Who will give me matta-bicho_?"

Of this song Mr. Reade says,--

     "_Matta-bicho_ is a bunda compound meaning _kill-worm_; the
     natives supposing that their entrails are tormented by a
     small worm, which it is necessary to kill with raw spirits.
     From the frequency of their demand, it would seem to be the
     worm that ever gnaws, and that their thirst is the fire
     which is never quenched."

The Griot, as we have already mentioned, sings for money. He is a most
accomplished parasite and flatterer. He makes a study of the art. Here
is one of his songs gotten up for the occasion.


     "The man who had not feared to pass the seas through a love
     of study and of science heard of the poor Griot. He had him
     summoned. He made him sing songs which made the echoes of
     the Bornou mountains, covered with palm-trees, ring louder
     and louder as the sounds flew over the summits of the trees.


     "The songs touched the heart of the great white man, and the
     dew of his magnificence fell upon the Griot's head. Oh! how
     can he sing the wonderful deeds of the Toubab? His voice and
     his breath would not be strong enough to sing that theme. He
     must be silent, and let the lion of the forest sing his
     battles and his victories.


     "Fatimata heard the songs of the Griot. She heard, too, the
     deeds which the Toubab had accomplished. She sighed, and
     covered her head with her robe. Then she turned to her young
     lover, and she said, 'Go to the wars; let the flying ball
     kill thee: for Fatimata loves thee no longer. The white man
     fills her thoughts.'"

The most beautiful nursery song ever sung by any mother, in any
language, may be heard in the Balengi county, in Central Africa. There
is wonderful tenderness in it,--tenderness that would melt the
coldest heart. It reveals a bright spot in the heart-life of this

    "_Why dost than weep, my child?
    The sky is bright; the sun is shining: why dost than weep?
    Go to thy father: he loves thee; go, tell him why thou weepest.
    What! thou weepest still! Thy father loves thee; I caress thee:
        yet still thou art sad.
    Tell me then, my child, why dost thou weep?_"

It is not so very remarkable, when we give the matter thought, that
the African mother should be so affectionate and devoted in her
relations to her children. The diabolical system of polygamy has but
this one feeble apology to offer in Africa. The wives of one man may
quarrel, but the children always find loving maternal arms ready to
shelter their heads against the wrath of an indifferent and cruel
father. The mother settles all the disputes of the children, and cares
for them with a zeal and tenderness that would be real beautiful in
many American mothers; and, in return, the children are very noble in
their relations to their mothers. "Curse me, but do not speak ill of
my mother," is a saying in vogue throughout nearly all Africa. The old
are venerated, and when they become sick they are abandoned to die

It is not our purpose to describe the religions and superstitions of
Africa.[99] To do this would occupy a book. The world knows that this
poor people are idolatrous,--"_bow down to wood and stone_." They do
not worship the true God, nor conform their lives unto the teachings
of the Saviour. They worship snakes, the sun, moon, and stars, trees,
and water-courses. But the bloody human sacrifice which they make is
the most revolting feature of their spiritual degradation. Dr.
Prichard has gone into this subject more thoroughly than our time or
space will allow.

     "Nowhere can the ancient African religion be studied better
     than in the kingdom of Congo. Christianity in Abyssinia, and
     Mohammedanism in Northern Guinea, have become so mingled
     with pagan rites as to render it extremely difficult to
     distinguish between them.

     "The inhabitants of Congo, whom I take as a true type of the
     tribes of Southern Guinea generally, and of Southern Central
     Africa, believe in a supreme Creator, and in a host of
     lesser divinities. These last they represent by images; each
     has its temple, its priests, and its days of sacrifice, as
     among the Greeks and Romans."[100]

The false religions of Africa are but the lonely and feeble reaching
out of the human soul after the true God.


[88] Stanley's Through the Dark Continent, vol. ii. pp. 320, 321; see,
also, pp. 3, 78, 123, 245, 414.

[89] Western Africa, p. 455.

[90] Western Africa, p. 456.

[91] Western Africa, p. 470.

[92] Equatorial Africa, p. 531.

[93] Savage Africa, p. 212.

[94] Through the Dark Continent, vol. ii. pp, 470, 471.

[95] Through the Dark Continent, vol. ii. pp. 482, 483.

[96] History of English Literature, vol i. pp. 48. 49.

[97] Equatorial Africa, pp. 448, 449.

[98] On the intellectual faculties of the Negro, see Prichard, third
ed., 1837, vol. ii. p. 346, sect. iii. Peschel's Races of Men, p. 462,
_sq._, especially Blumenbach's Life and Works, p. 305, _sq_ Western
Africa, p. 379,--all of chap. xi.

[99] See Prichard, fourth ed., 1841, vol. 1. p. 197, sect. v. Moffat's
Southern Africa; Uncivilized Races of Men, vol 1. pp. 183-219.

[100] Savage Africa, p. 287, _sq._




Sierra Leone was discovered and named by Piedro de Cintra. It is a
peninsula, about thirty miles in length by about twenty-five in
breadth, and is situated 8° and 30' north latitude, and is about
13-1/2° west longitude. Its topography is rather queer. On the south
and west its mountains bathe their feet in the Atlantic Ocean, and on
the east and north its boundaries are washed by the river and bay of
Sierra Leone. A range of mountains, co-extensive with the
peninsula,--forming its backbone,--rises between the bay of Sierra
Leone and the Atlantic Ocean, from two to three thousand feet in
altitude. Its outlines are as severe as Egyptian architecture, and the
landscape view from east or west is charming beyond the power of
description. Freetown is the capital, with about twenty thousand
inhabitants, situated on the south side of Sierra Leone River, and
hugged in by an amphitheatre of beautiful hills and majestic

     "On the side of the hill [says Mr. Reed] which rises behind
     the town is a charming scene, which I will attempt to
     describe. You have seen a rural hamlet, where each cottage
     is half concealed by its own garden. Now convert your linden
     into graceful palm, your apples into oranges, your
     gooseberry-bushes into bananas, your thrush which sings in
     its wicker cage into a gray parrot whistling on a rail; ...
     sprinkle this with strange and powerful perfumes; place in
     the west a sun flaming among golden clouds in a
     prussian-blue sea, dotted with white sails; imagine those
     mysterious and unknown sounds, those breathings of the
     earth-soul, with which the warm night of Africa rises into
     life,--and then you will realize one of those moments of
     poetry which reward poor travellers for long days and nights
     of naked solitude."[101]

In 1772 Lord Mansfield delivered his celebrated opinion on the case of
the Negro man Sommersett, whose master, having abandoned him in a
sick condition, afterwards sought to reclaim him. The decision was to
the effect that no man, white or black, could set foot on British soil
and remain a slave. The case was brought at the instance of Mr.
Granville Sharp. The decision created universal comment. Many Negroes
in New England, who had found shelter under the British flag on
account of the proclamation of Sir Henry Clinton, went to England.
Free Negroes from other parts--Jamaica, St. Thomas, and San
Domingo--hastened to breathe the free air of the British metropolis.
Many came to want, and wandered about the streets of London, strangers
in a strange land. Granville Sharp, a man of great humanity, was
deeply affected by the sad condition of these people. He consulted
with Dr. Smeathman, who had spent considerable time in Africa; and
they conceived the plan of transporting them to the west coast of
Africa, to form a colony.[102] The matter was agitated in London by
the friends of the blacks, and finally the government began to be
interested. A district of about twenty square miles was purchased by
the government of Naimbanna, king of Sierra Leone, on which to locate
the proposed colony. About four hundred Negroes and sixty white
persons, the greater portion of the latter being "women of the
town,"[103] were embarked on "The Nautilus," Capt. Thompson, and
landed at Sierra Leone on the 9th of May, 1787. The climate was
severe, the sanitary condition of the place vile, and the habits of
the people immoral. The African fever, with its black death-stroke,
reaped a harvest; while the irregularities and indolence of the
majority of the colonists, added to the deeds of plunder perpetrated
by predatory bands of savages, reduced the number of the colonists to
about sixty-four souls in 1791.

The dreadful news of the fate of the colony was borne to the
philanthropists in England. But their faith in colonization stood as
unblanched before the revelation as the Iron Duke at Waterloo. An
association was formed under the name of "St. George's Bay," but
afterwards took the name of the "Sierra Leone Company," with a capital
stock of one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, with such
humanitarians as Granville Sharp, Thornton, Wilberforce, and Clarkson
among its directors. The object of the company was to push forward the
work of colonization. One hundred Europeans landed at Sierra Leone in
the month of February, 1792, and were followed in March by eleven
hundred and thirty-one Negroes. A large number of them had served in
the British army during the Revolutionary War in America, and,
accepting the offer of the British Government, took land in this
colony as a reward for services performed in the army. Another fever
did its hateful work; and fifty or sixty Europeans, and many blacks,
fell under its parching and consuming touch.[104] Jealous feuds rent
the survivors, and idleness palsied every nerve of industry in the
colony. In 1794 a French squadron besieged the place, and the people
sustained a loss of about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Once
more an effort was made to revive the place, and get its drowsy
energies aroused in the discharge of necessary duties. Some little
good began to show itself; but it was only the tender bud of promise,
and was soon trampled under the remorseless heel of five hundred and
fifty insurrectionary maroons from Jamaica and Nova Scotia.

The indifferent character of the colonists, and the hurtful touch of
the climate, had almost discouraged the friends of the movement in
England. It was now the year 1800. This vineyard planted by good men
yielded "nothing but leaves." No industry had been developed, no
substantial improvement had been made, and the future was veiled in
harassing doubts and fears. The money of the company had almost all
been expended. The company barely had the signs of organic life in it,
but the light of a beautiful Christian faith had not gone out across
the sea in stalwart old England. The founders of the colony believed
that good management would make the enterprise succeed: so they looked
about for a master hand to guide the affair. On the 8th of August,
1807, the colony was surrendered into the hands of the Crown, and was
made an English colony. During the same year in which this transfer
was made, Parliament declared the slave-trade piracy; and a naval
squadron was stationed along the coast for the purpose of suppressing
it. At the first, many colored people of good circumstances, feeling
that they would be safe under the English flag, moved from the United
States to Sierra Leone. But the chief source of supply of population
was the captured slaves, who were always unloaded at this place. When
the English Government took charge of Sierra Leone, the population was
2,000, the majority of whom were from the West Indies or Nova Scotia.
In 1811 it was nearly 5,000; in 1820 it was 12,000; it 1833 it was
30,000; in 1835 it was 35,000; in 1844 it was 40,000; in 1869 it was
55,374, with but 129 white men. On the 31st of March, 1827, the slaves
that had been captured and liberated by the English squadron numbered
11,878; of which there were 4,701 males above, and 1,875 under,
fourteen years of age. There were 2,717 females above, and 1,517
under, the age of fourteen, besides 1,068 persons who settled in
Freetown, working in the timber-trade.

With the dreadful scourge of slavery driven from the sea, the sanitary
condition of the place greatly improved; and with a vigorous policy of
order and education enforced, Sierra Leone began to bloom and blossom
as a rose. When the slaver disappeared, the merchant-vessel came on
her peaceful mission of commerce.

The annual trade-returns presented to Parliament show that the
declared value of British and Irish produce and manufactures exported
to the West Coast of Africa, arranged in periods of five years each,
has been as follows:--


  1846-50 .  .  . £2,773,408; or a yearly average of £554,681
  1851-55 .  .  .  4,314,752;  "     "        "       862,950
  1856-60 .  .  .  5,582,941;  "     "        "     1,116,588
  1861-63 .  .  .  4,216,045;  "     "        "     1,405,348


The same trade-returns show that the imports of African produce from
the West Coast into Great Britain have been as follows. The "official
value" is given before 1856, after that date the "computed real value"
is given.

  Official value, 1851-55  .   .   .  £4,154,725; average, £830,945
  Computed real value, 1856-60 .   .   9,376,251;    "    1,875,250
     "      "     "    1861-63 .   .   5,284,611;    "    1,761,537

The value of African produce has decreased during the last few years
in consequence of the discovery of the petroleum or rock-oil in
America. In 1864 between four and five thousand bales of cotton were
shipped to England.

It is to be borne in mind, that under the system which existed when
Sierra Leone, the Gambia, and Gold Coast settlements were maintained
for the promotion of the slave-trade, the lawful commerce was only
£20,000 annually, and that now the amount of tonnage employed in
carrying legal merchandise is greater than was ever engaged in
carrying slaves.[105] W. Winwood Reade visited Sierra Leone during the
Rebellion in America; but, being somewhat prejudiced against the
Negro, we do not expect any thing remarkably friendly. But we quote
from him the view he took of the people he met there:--

     "The inhabitants of the colony may be divided into four

     "First, The street-venders, who cry cassada-cakes, palm-oil,
     pepper, pieces of beef, under such names, as _agedee_,
     _aballa_, _akalaray_, and which are therefore as
     unintelligible as the street-cries of London. This is the
     costermonger type.

     "Second, The small market-people, who live in frame houses,
     sell nails, fish-hooks, tape, thread, ribbons, etc., and who
     work at handicrafts in a small way.

     "Third, The shopkeepers, who inhabit frame houses on stone
     foundations, and within which one may see a sprinkling of
     mahogany, a small library of religious books, and an almost
     English atmosphere of comfort.

     "Lastly, The liberated Africans of the highest grade, who
     occupy two-story stone houses enclosed all around by
     spacious piazzas, the rooms furnished with gaudy richness;
     and the whole their own property, being built from the
     proceeds of their ... thrift."

When England abolished the slave-trade on the West Coast of Africa,
Christianity arose with healing in her wings. Until slavery was
abolished in this colony, missionary enterprises were abortive; but
when the curse was put under the iron heel of British prohibition, the
Lord did greatly bless the efforts of the missionary. The Episcopal
Church--"the Church of England"--was the first on the ground in 1808;
but it was some years before any great results were obtained. In 1832
this Church had 638 communicants, 294 candidates for baptism, 684
sabbath-school pupils, and 1,388 children in day-schools. This Church
carried its missionary work beyond its borders to the tribes that were
"sitting in darkness;" and in 1850 had built 54 seminaries and
schools, had 6,600 pupils, 2,183 communicants, and 7,500 attendants on
public worship. It is pleasant to record that out of 61 teachers, 56
_were native Africans!_ In 1865 there were sixteen missionary
societies along the West Coast of Africa. Seven were American, six
English, two German, and one West-Indian. These societies maintained
104 European or American missionaries, had 110 mission-stations,
13,000 scholars, 236 schools, 19,000 registered communicants;
representing a Christian population of 60,000 souls.

The Wesleyan Methodists began their work in 1811; and in 1831 they had
two missionaries, 294 members in their churches, and 160 pupils in
school. They extended their missions westward to the Gambia, and
eastward toward Cape Coast Castle, Badagry, Abbeokuta, and Kumasi; and
in this connection, in 1850, had 44 houses of worship, 13
out-stations, 42 day-schools, 97 teachers, 4,500 pupils in day and
sabbath schools, 6,000 communicants, 560 on probation, and 14,600 in
attendance on public worship. In 1850 the population of Sierra Leone
was 45,000; of which 36,000 were Christians, against 1,734

Sierra Leone represents the most extensive composite population in the
world for its size. About one hundred different tribe are represented,
with as many different languages or dialects. Bishop Vida, under
direction of the British Parliament, gave special attention to this
matter, and found not less than one hundred and fifty-one distinct
languages, besides several dialects spoken in Sierra Leone. They were
arranged under twenty-six groups, and yet fifty-four are unclassified
that are distinct as German and French. "God makes the wrath of man to
praise him, and the remainder thereof he will restrain." Through these
numerous languages, poor benighted Africa will yet hear the gospel.

Some years ago Dr. Ferguson, who was once governor of the Sierra Leone
colony, and himself a colored man, wrote and an extended account of
the situation there, which was widely circulated in England and
America at the time. It is so manifestly just and temperate in tone,
so graphic and minute in description, that we reproduce it _in

     "1. Those most recently arrived are to be found occupying
     mud houses and small patches of ground in the neighborhood
     of one or other of the villages (the villages are about
     twenty in number, placed in different parts of the colony,
     grouped in three classes or districts; names, mountain,
     river, and sea districts.) The majority remain in their
     locations as agriculturists; but several go to reside in the
     neighborhood of Freetown, looking out for work as laborers,
     farm-servants, servant to carry wood and water, grooms,
     house-servants, etc.; others cultivate vegetables, rear
     poultry and pigs, and supply eggs, for the Sierra Leone
     market. Great numbers are found offering for sale in the
     public market and elsewhere a vast quantity of cooked edible
     substances--rice, corn and cassava cakes; heterogeneous
     compounds of rice and corn-flower, yams, cassava, palm-oil,
     pepper, pieces of beef, mucilaginous vegetables, etc.,
     etc., under names quite unintelligible to a stranger, such
     as _aagedee_, _aballa_, _akalaray_, _cabona_, etc., etc.,
     cries which are shouted along the streets of Freetown from
     morn till night. These, the lowest grade of liberated
     Africans, are a harmless and well-disposed people; there is
     no poverty among them, nor begging; their habits are frugal
     and industrious; their anxiety to possess money is
     remarkable: but their energies are allowed to run riot and
     be wasted from the want of knowledge requisite to direct
     them in proper channels.

     "2. Persons of grade higher than those last described are to
     be found occupying frame houses: they drive a petty trade in
     the market, where they expose for sale nails, fish-hooks,
     door-hinges, tape, thread, ribbons, needles, pins, etc. Many
     of this grade also look out for the arrival of canoes from
     the country laden with oranges, _kolas_, sheep, bullocks,
     fowls, rice, etc., purchase the whole cargo at once at the
     water-side, and derive considerable profit from selling such
     articles by retail in the market and over the town. Many of
     this grade are also occupied in curing and drying fish, an
     article which always sells well in the market, and is in
     great request by people at a distance from the water-side,
     and in the interior of the country. A vast number of this
     grade are tailors, straw-hat makers, shoemakers, cobblers,
     blacksmiths, carpenters, masons, etc. Respectable men of
     this grade meet with ready mercantile credits amounting from
     twenty pounds to sixty pounds; and the class is very

     "3. Persons of grade higher than that last mentioned are
     found occupying frame houses reared on a stone foundation of
     from six to ten feet in height. These houses are very
     comfortable; they are painted outside and in; have piazzas
     in front and rear, and many of them all round; a
     considerable sprinkling of mahogany furniture of European
     workmanship is to be found in them; several books are to be
     seen lying about, chiefly of a religious character; and a
     general air of domestic comfort pervades the whole, which,
     perhaps more than any thing else, bears evidence of the
     advanced state of intelligence at which they have arrived.
     This grade is nearly altogether occupied in shopkeeping,
     hawking, and other mercantile pursuits. At sales of prize
     goods, public auctions, and every other place affording a
     probability of cheap bargains, they are to be seen in great
     numbers, where they club together in numbers of from three
     to six, seven, or more, to purchase large lots or unbroken
     bales. And the scrupulous honesty with which the subdivision
     of the goods is afterwards made cannot be evidenced more
     thoroughly than this: that, common as such transactions are,
     they have never yet been known to become the subject of
     controversy or litigation. The principal streets of
     Freetown, as well as the approaches to the town, are lined
     on each side by an almost continuous range of booths and
     stalls, among which almost every article of merchandise is
     offered for sale, and very commonly at a cheaper rate than
     similar articles are sold in the shops of the merchants.

     "Two rates of profit are recognized in the mercantile
     transactions of the European merchants; namely, a wholesale
     and retail profit, the former varying from thirty to fifty
     per cent, the latter from fifty to one hundred per cent. The
     working of the retail trade in the hands of Europeans
     requires a considerable outlay in the shape of shop-rent,
     shopkeepers' and clerks' wages, etc. The liberated Africans
     were not slow in observing nor in seizing on the advantages
     which their peculiar position held out for the successful
     prosecution of the retail trade.

     "Clubbing together, as before observed, and holding ready
     money in their hands the merchants are naturally anxious to
     execute for them considerable orders on such unexceptionable
     terms of payment while, on the other hand, the liberated
     Africans, seeing clearly their advantage, insist most
     pertinaciously on the lowest possible percentage of
     wholesale profit.

     "Having thus become possessed of the goods at the lowest
     possible ready-money rate, then subsequent transactions are
     not closed with the expense of shop-rents, shopkeepers' and
     clerks' wages and subsistence, etc., etc., expenses
     unavoidable to Europeans. They are therefore enabled at once
     to undersell the European retail merchants, and to secure a
     handsome profit to themselves; a consummation the more
     easily attained, aided as it is by the extreme simplicity
     and abstemiousness of their mode of living, which contrast
     so favorably for them with the expensive and almost
     necessary luxuries of European life. Many of this grade
     possess huge canoes, with which they trade in the upper part
     of the river, along shore, and in the neighbouring rivers,
     bringing down rice, palm-oil, cam-wood, ivory, hides, etc.,
     etc., in exchange for British manufactures. They are all in
     easy circumstances, readily obtaining mercantile credits
     from sixty pounds to two hundred pounds. Persons of this and
     the grade next to be mentioned evince great anxiety to
     become possessed of houses and lots in old Freetown. These
     lots are desirable because of their proximity to the
     market-place and the great thoroughfares, and also for the
     superior advantages which they allow for the establishment
     of their darling object,--'a retail store.' Property of this
     description has of late years become much enhanced in value,
     and its value is still increasing solely from the annually
     increasing numbers and prosperity of this and the next
     grade. The town-lots originally granted to the Nova-Scotian
     settlers and the Maroons are, year after year, being offered
     for sale by public auction, and in every case liberated
     Africans are the purchasers. A striking instance of their
     desire to possess property of this description, and of its
     increasing value, came under my immediate notice a few
     months ago.

     "The gentlemen of the Church Missionary Society having been
     for some time looking about in quest of a lot on which to
     erect a new chapel, a lot suitable for the purpose was at
     length offered for sale by public auction, and at a meeting
     of the society's local committee, it was resolved, in order
     to secure the purchase of the property in question, to offer
     as high as sixty pounds. The clergyman delegated for this
     purpose, at my recommendation, resolved, on his own
     responsibility, to offer, if necessary, as high as seventy
     pounds; but to the surprise and mortification of us all, the
     lot was knocked down at upward of ninety pounds, and a
     liberated African was the purchaser. He stated very kindly
     that if he had known the society were desirous of purchasing
     the lot he would not have opposed them; he nevertheless
     manifested no desire of transferring to them the purchase,
     and even refused an advance of ten pounds on his bargain.

     "4. Persons of the highest grade of liberated Africans
     occupy comfortable two story stone houses, enclosed all
     round with spacious piazzas. These houses are their own
     property and are built from the proceeds of their own
     industry. In several of them are to be seen mahogany chairs,
     tables, sofas, and four-post bedsteads, pier-glasses,
     floor-cloths, and other articles indicative of domestic
     comfort and accumulating wealth.

     "Persons of this grade, like those last described, are
     almost wholly engaged in mercantile pursuits. Their
     transactions, however, are of greater magnitude and value,
     and their business is carried on with an external appearance
     of respectability commensurate with then superior pecuniary
     means: thus, instead of exposing their wares for sale in
     booths or stalls by the wayside, they are to be found in
     neatly fitted-up shops on the ground-floors of their stone
     dwelling houses.

     "Many individual members of this grade have realized very
     considerable sums of money,--sums which, to a person not
     cognizant of the fact, would appear to be incredible. From
     the studied manner in which individuals conceal their
     pecuniary circumstances from the world, it is difficult to
     obtain a correct knowledge of the wealth of the class
     generally. The devices to which they have recourse in
     conducting a bargain are often exceedingly ingenious; and to
     be reputed rich might materially interfere with their
     success on such occasions. There is nothing more common than
     to hear a plea of poverty set up and most pertinaciously
     urged, in extenuation of the terms of a purchase, by persons
     whose outward condition, comfortable well-furnished houses,
     and large mercantile credits, indicate any thing but

     "There are circumstances, however, the knowledge of which
     they cannot conceal, and which go far to exhibit pretty
     clearly the actual state of matters: such as, _First_, the
     facility with which they raise large sums of cash prompt' at
     public auctions. _Second_, the winding up of the estates of
     deceased persons. (Peter Newland, a liberated African, died
     a short time before I left the colony: and his estate
     realized, in houses, merchandise, and cash, upward of
     fifteen hundred pounds.) _Third_, the extent of their
     mercantile credits. I am well acquainted with an individual
     of this grade who is much courted and caressed by every
     European merchant in the colony, who has transactions in
     trade with all of them, and whose name, shortly before my
     departure from the colony, stood on the debtor side of the
     books of one of the principal merchants to the amount of
     nineteen hundred pounds, to which sum it had been reduced
     from three thousand pounds during the preceding two months.
     A highly respectable female has now, and has had for several
     years, the government contract for the supplying of fresh
     beef to the troops and the naval squadron; and I have not
     heard that on a single occasion there has been cause of
     complaint for negligence or non-fulfilment of the terms of
     the contract. _Fourth_, many of them at the present moment
     have their children being educated in England at their own
     expense. There is at Sierra Leone a very fine regiment of
     colonial militia, more than eight-tenths of which are
     liberated Africans. The amount of property which they have
     acquired is ample guaranty for their loyalty, should that
     ever be called in question. They turn out with great
     alacrity and cheerfulness on all occasions for periodical
     drill. But perhaps the most interesting point of view in
     which the liberated Africans are to be seen, and that which
     will render their moral condition most intelligible to those
     at a distance, is where they sit at the Quarter Sessions as
     petty, grand, and special jurors. They constitute a
     considerable part of the jury at every session, and I have
     repeatedly heard the highest legal authority in the colony
     express his satisfaction with their decisions."

But this account was written at the early sunrise of civilization in
Sierra Leone. Now civilization is at its noonday tide, and the hopes
of the most sanguine friends of the liberated Negro have been more
than realized. How grateful this renewed spot on the edge of the Dark
Continent would be to the weary and battle-dimmed vision of
Wilberforce, Sharp, and other friends of the colony! And if they still
lived, beholding the wonderful results, would they not gladly say,
"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy
word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared
before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and
the glory of thy people Israel"?


[101] Savage Africa, p. 25.

[102] Précis sur l'Établissement des Colonies de Sierra Léona et de
Boulama, etc. Par C.B. Wadström, pp. 3-28.

[103] Wadström Essay on Colonization, p. 220.

[104] This led to the sending of 119 whites, along with a governor, as
counsellors, physicians, soldiers, clerks, overseers, artificers,
settlers, and servants. Of this company 57 died within the year, 22
returned, and 40 remained. See Wadström, pp. 121, _sq._

[105] See Livingstone's Zambesi, pp. 633, 634.




That section of country on the West Coast of Africa known as Liberia,
extending from Cape Palmas to Cape Mount, is about three hundred miles
coastwise. Along this line there are six colonies of Colored people,
the majority of the original settlers being from the United States.
The settlements are Cape Palmas, Cape Mesurado, Cape Mount, River
Junk, Basa, and Sinon. The distance between them varies from
thirty-five to one hundred miles, and the only means of communication
is the coast-vessels. Cape Palmas, though we include it under the
general title of Liberia, was founded by a company of intelligent
Colored people from Maryland. This movement was started by the
indefatigable J.H.B. Latrobe and Mr. Harper of the Maryland
Colonization Society. This society purchased at Cape Palmas a
territory of about twenty square miles, in which there was at that
time--more than a half-century ago--a population of about four
thousand souls. Within two years from the time of the first purchase,
this enterprising society held deeds from friendly proprietors for
eight hundred square miles, embracing the dominions of nine kings, who
bound themselves to the colonists in friendly alliance. This territory
spread over both banks of the Cavally River, and from the ocean to the
town of Netea, which is thirty miles from the mouth of the river. In
the immediate vicinity of Cape Palmas,--say within an area of twenty
miles,--there was a native population of twenty-five thousand. Were we
to go toward the interior from the Cape about forty-five or fifty
miles, we should find a population of at least seventy thousand
natives, the majority of whom we are sure are anxious to enjoy the
blessings of education, trade, civilization, and Christianity. The
country about Cape Palmas is very beautiful and fertile. The cape
extends out into the sea nearly a mile, the highest place being about
one hundred and twenty-five feet. Looking from the beach, the ground
rises gradually until its distant heights are crowned with heavy,
luxuriant foliage and dense forest timber. And to plant this colony
the Maryland Legislature appropriated the sum of two hundred thousand
dollars! And the colony has done worthily, has grown rapidly, and at
present enjoys all the blessings of a Christian community. Not many
years ago it declared its independence.

But Liberia, in the proper use of the term, is applied to all the
settlements along the West Coast of Africa that were founded by
Colored people from the United States. It is the most beautiful spot
on the entire coast. The view is charming in approaching this country,
Rev. Charles Rockwell says,--

     "One is struck with the dark green hue which the rank and
     luxuriant growth of forest and of field everywhere presents.
     In this it respect it strongly resembles in appearance the
     dark forests of evergreens which line a portion of the coast
     of Eastern Virginia ... At different points there are capes
     or promontories rising from thirty to forty to one or two
     hundred feet above the level of the sea; while at other
     places the land, though somewhatuneven, has not, near the
     sea, any considerable hills. In some places near the mouths
     of the rivers are thickly wooded marshes; but on entering
     the interior of the country the ground gradually rises, the
     streams become rapid, and at the distance of twenty miles or
     more from the sea, hills, and beyond them mountains, are
     often met with."

The physical, social, and political bondage of the Colored people in
America before the war was most discouraging. They were mobbed in the
North, and sold in the South. It was not enough that they were
isolated and neglected in the Northern States: they were proscribed by
the organic law of legislatures, and afflicted by the most burning
personal indignities. They had a few friends; but even their
benevolent acts were often hampered by law, and strangled by
caste-prejudice. Following the plans of Granville Sharp and William
Wilberforce, Liberia was founded as a refuge to all Colored men who
would avail themselves of its blessings.

Colonization societies sprang into being in many States, and large
sums of money were contributed to carry out the objects of these
organizations. Quite a controversy arose inside of anti-slavery
societies, and much feeling was evinced; but the men who believed
colonization to be the solution of the slavery question went forward
without wavering or doubting. In March, 1820, the first emigrants
sailed for Africa, being eighty-six in number; and in January, 1822,
founded the town of Monrovia, named for President Monroe. Rev. Samuel
J. Mills, while in college in 1806, was moved by the Holy Spirit to
turn his face toward Africa as a missionary. His zeal for missionary
labor touched the hearts of Judson, Newell, Nott, Hall, and Rice, who
went to mission-fields in the East as early as 1812.[106] The American
Colonization Society secured the services of the Rev. Samuel J. Mills
and Rev. Ebenezer Burgess to locate the colony at Monrovia. Mr. Mills
found an early, watery grave; but the report of Mr. Burgess gave the
society great hope, and the work was carried forward.

The first ten years witnessed the struggles of a noble band of Colored
people, who were seeking a new home on the edge of a continent given
over to the idolatry of the heathen. The funds of the society were not
as large as the nature and scope of the work demanded. Emigrants went
slowly, not averaging more than 170 per annum,--only 1,232 in ten
years: but the average from the first of January, 1848, to the last of
December, 1852, was 540 yearly; and, in the single year of 1853, 782
emigrants arrived at Monrovia. In 1855 the population of Monrovia and
Cape Palmas had reached about 8,000.

Going south from Monrovia for about one hundred miles, and inland
about twenty, the country was inhabited by the Bassa tribe and its
branches; numbering about 130,000 souls, and speaking a common
language. "They were peaceful, domestic, and industrious; and, after
fully supplying their own wants, furnish a large surplus of rice, oil,
cattle, and other articles of common use, for exportation."[107] This
tribe, like the Veis, of whom we shall make mention subsequently, have
reduced their language to a written system. The New Testament has been
translated into their language by a missionary, and they have had the
gospel these many years in their own tongue.

The "Greybo language," spoken in and about Cape Palmas, has been
reduced to a written form; and twenty thousand copies of eleven
different works have been printed and distributed. There are about
seventy-five thousand natives within fifty miles of Cape Palmas; and,
as a rule, they desire to avail themselves of the blessings of
civilization. The Veis occupy about fifty miles of seacoast; extending
from Gallinas River, one hundred miles north of Monrovia, and
extending south to Grand Mount. Their territory runs back from the
seacoast about thirty miles, and they are about sixteen thousand

This was a grand place to found a Negro state,--a _missionary
republic_, as Dr. Christy terms it. When the republic rose, the
better, wealthier class of free Colored people from the United States
embarked for Liberia. Clergymen, physicians, merchants, mechanics, and
school-teachers turned their faces toward the new republic, with an
earnest desire to do something for themselves and race; and history
justifies the hopes and players of all sincere friends of Liberia.
Unfortunately, at the first, many white men were more anxious to get
the Negro out of the country than to have him do well when out; and,
in many instances, some unworthy Colored people got transportation to
Liberia, of whom Americans were rid, but of whom Liberians could not
boast. But the law of the survival of the fittest carried the rubbish
to the bottom. The republic grew and expanded in every direction. From
year to year new blood and fresh energy were poured into the social
and business life of the people; and England, America, and other
powers acknowledged the republic by sending resident ministers there.

The servants of Christ saw, at the earliest moment of the conception
to build a black government in Africa, that the banner of the cross
must wave over the new colony, if good were to be expected. The
Methodist Church, with characteristic zeal and aggressiveness, sent
with the first colonists several members of their denomination and two
"local preachers;" and in March, 1833, the Rev. Melville B. Cox, an
ordained minister of this church, landed at Monrovia. The mission
experienced many severe trials; but the good people who had it in
charge held on with great tenacity until the darkness began to give
away before the light of the gospel. Nor did the Board of the
Methodist Missionary Society in America lose faith. They appropriated
for this mission, in 1851, $22,000; in 1852, $26,000; in 1853,
$32,957; and in 1854, $32,957. In the report of the board of managers
for 1851, the following encouraging statement occurs:--

     "All eyes are now turned toward this new republic on the
     western coast of Africa as the star of hope to the colored
     people both bond and free, in the United States. The
     republic is establishing and extending itself; and its
     Christian population is in direct contact with the natives,
     both Pagans and Mohammedans. Thus the republic has,
     indirectly, a powerful missionary influence, and its moral
     and religious condition is a matter of grave concern to the
     Church. Hence the Protestant Christian missions in Liberia
     are essential to the stability and prosperity of the
     republic, and the stability and prosperity of the republic
     are necessary to the protection and action of the missions.
     It will thus appear that the Christian education of the
     people is the legitimate work of the missions."

At this time (1851) they had an annual Conference, with three
districts, with as many presiding elders, whose duty it was to visit
all the churches and schools in their circuit. The Conference had 21
members, all of whom were colored men. The churches contained 1,301
members, of whom 115 were on probation, and 116 were natives. There
were 20 week-day schools, with 839 pupils, 50 of whom were natives.
Then there Were seven schools among the natives, with 127 faithful

Bishop Scott, of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, was, by order of his Conference, sent on an official visit to
Liberia. He spent more than two months among the missions, and
returned in 1853 much gratified with the results garnered in that
distant field.

     "The government of the republic of Liberia, which is formed
     on the model of our own, and is wholly in the hands of
     colored men, seems to be exceedingly well administered. I
     never saw so orderly a people. I saw but one intoxicated
     colonist while in the country, and I heard not one profane
     word. The sabbath is kept with singular strictness, and the
     churches crowded with attentive and orderly

The above is certainly re-assuring, and had its due influence among
Christian people at the time it appeared. At an anniversary meeting of
the Methodist Church, held in Cincinnati, O., in the same year, 1853,
Bishop Ames gave utterance to sentiments in regard to the character of
the government of Liberia that quite shocked some pro-slavery people
who held "_hired pews_" in the Methodist Church. His utterances were
as brave as they were complimentary.

     "Nations reared under religious and political restraint are
     not capable of self-government, while those who enjoy only
     partially these advantages have set an example of such
     capability. We have in illustration of this a
     well-authenticated historical fact: we refer to the colored
     people of this country, who, though they have grown up under
     the most unfavorable circumstances, were enabled to succeed
     in establishing a sound republican government in Africa.
     They have given the most clear and indubitable evidence of
     their capability of self-government, and in this respect
     have shown a higher grade of manhood than the polished
     Frenchman himself."[109]

The Presbyterian Board of Missions sent Rev. J.B. Pinny into the field
in 1833. In 1837, missions were established among the natives, and
were blessed with very good results. In 1850 there were, under the
management of this denomination, three congregations, with 116
members, two ordained ministers, and a flourishing sabbath school. A
high-school was brought into existence in 1852, with a white
gentleman, the Rev D.A. Wilson, as its principal. It was afterward
raised into a college, and was always crowded.

The American Protestant-Episcopal Church raised its missionary
standard in Liberia in 1836. The Rev John Payne was at the head of
this enterprise, assisted by six other clergymen, until 1850, when he
was consecrated missionary bishop for Africa. He was a white gentleman
of marked piety, rare scholarship, and large executive ability. The
station at Monrovia was under the care of the Rev. Alexander Crummell,
an educated and eloquent preacher of the Negro race. There was an
excellent training-school for religious and secular teachers; there
are several boarding-schools for natives, with an average attendance
of a hundred; and up to 1850 more than a thousand persons had been
brought into fellowship with this church.

The Foreign Missionary Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in
1845 turned its attention to this fruitful field. In 1855, ten years
after they began work, they had 19 religious and secular teachers, 11
day-schools, 400 pupils, and 484 members in their churches. There were
13 mission-stations, and all the teachers were colored men.

We have said, a few pages back in this chapter, that the Methodist
Church was first on the field when the colony of Liberia was founded.
We should have said _one_ of the first; because we find, in "Gammell's
History of the American Baptist Missions," that the Baptists were in
this colony as missionaries in 1822, that under the direction of the
Revs. Lot Carey and Collin Teage, two intelligent Colored Baptists, a
church was founded. Mr. Carey was a man of most exemplary character.
He had received an education in Virginia, where he had resided as a
freeman for some years, having purchased his freedom by his personal
efforts, and where also he was ordained in 1821.

     "In September, 1826, he was unanimously elected vice-agent
     of the colony; and on the return of Mr. Ashmun to the United
     States, in 1828, he was appointed to discharge the duties of
     governor in the interim,--a task which he performed during
     the brief remnant of his life with wisdom, and with credit
     to himself. His death took place in a manner that was
     fearfully sudden and extraordinary. The natives of the
     country had committed depredations upon the property of the
     colony, and were threatening general hostilities. Mr. Carey,
     in his capacity as acting governor, immediately called out
     the military forces of the colony, and commenced vigorous
     measures for repelling the assault and protecting the
     settlements. He was at the magazine, engaged in
     superintending the making of cartridges, when by the
     oversetting of a lamp, a large mass of powder became
     ignited, and produced and explosion which resulted in the
     death of Mr. Carey, and seven others who were engaged with
     him. In this sudden and awful manner perished and
     extraordinary man,--one who in a higher sphere might have
     developed many of the noblest energies of character and who,
     even in the humble capacity of a missionary among his own
     benighted brethren, deserves a prominent place in the list
     of those who have shed lustre upon the African race.

     "At the period of Mr. Carey's death, the church of which he
     was the pastor contained a hundred members, and was in a
     highly flourishing condition. It was committed to the charge
     of Collin Teage, who now returned from Sierra Leone, and of
     Mr. Waring, one of its members, who had lately been ordained
     a minister. The influences which had commenced with the
     indefatigable founder of the mission continued to be felt
     long after he had ceased to live. The church an Monrovia was
     increased to two hundred member; and the power of the gospel
     was manifested in other settlements of the Colonization
     Society, and even among the rude natives of the coast, of
     whom nearly a hundred were converted to Christianity, and
     united with the several churches of the colony."[110]

We regret that statistics on Liberia are not as full as desirable; but
we have found enough to convince us that the cause of religion,
education, and republican government are in safe hands, and on a sure
foundation. There are now more than three thousand and eighteen
hundred children, seven hundred of whom are natives;[111] and in the
day-schools are gathered about two thousand bright and promising

Many noble soldiers of the cross have fallen on this field, where a
desperate battle has been waged between darkness and light, heathenism
and religion, the wooden gods of men and the only true God who made
heaven and earth. Many have been mortally touched by the poisonous
breath of African fever, and, like the sainted Gilbert Haven, have
staggered back to home and friends to die. Few of the white teachers
have been able to remain on the field. During the first thirty years
of missionary effort in the field, the mortality among the white
missionaries was terrible. Up to 1850 the Episcopal Church had
employed twenty white teachers, but only three of them were left. The
rest died, or were driven home by the climate. Of nineteen
missionaries sent out by the Presbyterian Church up to 1850, nine
died, seven returned home, and but three remained. The Methodist
Church sent out thirteen white teachers: six died, six returned home,
and but one remained. Among the colored missionaries the mortality was
reduced to a minimum. Out of thirty-one in the employ of the Methodist
Church, only seven died natural deaths, and fourteen remained in the
service. On this subject of mortality, Bishop Payne says,--

     "It is now very generally admitted, that Africa must be
     evangelized chiefly by her own children. It should be our
     object to prepare them, so far as we may, for their great
     work. And since colonists afford the most advanced material
     for raising up the needed instruments, it becomes us, in
     wise co-operation with Providence, to direct our efforts in
     the most judicious manner to them. To do this, the most
     important points should be occupied, to become in due time
     radiating centres of Christian influence to colonists and

In thirty-three years Liberia gained wonderfully in population, and,
at the breaking-out of the Rebellion in the United States, had about a
hundred thousand souls, besides the three hundred thousand natives in
the vast territory over which her government is recognized. Business
of every kind has grown up. The laws are wholesome; the law-makers
intelligent and upright; the army and navy are creditable, and the
republic is in every sense a grand success. Mr. Wilson says,--

     "Trade is the chosen employment of the great mass of the
     Liberians, and some of them have been decidedly successful
     in this vocation. It consists in the exchange of articles of
     American or European manufacture for the natural products of
     the country; of which palm oil, cam-wood, and ivory are the
     principal articles. Cam-wood is a rich dye-wood, and is
     brought to Monrovia on the shoulders of the natives from a
     great distance. It is worth in the European and American
     markets from sixty to eighty dollars per ton. The ivory of
     this region does not form an important item of commerce.
     Palm-oil is the main article of export, and is procured
     along the seacoast between Monrovia and Cape Palmas. The
     Liberian merchants own a number of small vessels, built by
     themselves, and varying in size from ten or fifteen to forty
     or fifty tons. These are navigated by the Liberian sailors,
     and are constantly engaged in bringing palm-oil to Monrovia,
     from whence it is again shipped in foreign vessels for
     Liverpool or New York. I made inquiry, during a short
     sojourn at this place in 1852 on my way to this country,
     about the amount of property owned by the wealthiest
     merchants of Monrovia, and learned that there were four or
     five who were worth from fifteen thousand to twenty thousand
     dollars, a large number who owned property to the amount of
     ten thousand dollars, and perhaps twelve or fifteen who were
     worth as much as five thousand dollars. The property of some
     of these may have increased materiallv since that time.

     "The settlers along the banks of the St. Paul have given
     more attention to the cultivation of the soil. They raise
     sweet-potatoes, cassava, and plantains, for their own use,
     and also supply the Monrovia market with the same.
     Ground-nuts and arrow-root are also cultivated, but to a
     very limited extent. A few individuals have cultivated the
     sugar cane with success, and have manufactured a
     considerable quantity of excellent sugar and molasses. Some
     attention has been given to the cultivation of the coffee
     tree. It grows luxuriantly, and bears most abundantly. The
     flavor of the coffee is as fine as any in the world; and, if
     the Liberians would give the attention to it they ought, it
     would probably be as highly esteemed as any other in the
     world. It is easily cultivated, and requires little or no
     outlay of capital; and we are surprised that it has not
     already become an article of export. The want of disposition
     to cultivate the soil is, perhaps, the most discouraging
     feature in the prospects of Liberia. Mercantile pursuits are
     followed with zeal and energy, but comparatively few are
     willing to till the ground for the means of subsistence."

Liberia had its first constitution in 1825. It was drawn at the
instance of the Colonization Society in the United States. It set
forth the objects of the colony, defined citizenship, and declared the
objects of the government. It remained in force until 1836. In 1839 a
"Legislative Council" was created, and the constitution amended to
meet the growing wants of the government. In 1847 Liberia declared
herself an independent republic. The first article of the constitution
of 1847 reads as follows:--

     "ARTICLE I. SECTION I. All men are born equally free and
     independent, and among them natural, inherent and
     inalienable rights, are the rights of enjoying and defending
     _life_ and LIBERTY."

This section meant a great deal to a people who had abandoned their
homes in the United States, where a chief justice of the Supreme Court
had declared that "a Negro has no rights which a white man is bound to
respect,"--a country where the Federal Congress had armed every
United-States marshal in all the Northern States with the inhuman and
arbitrary power to apprehend, load with chains, and hurl back into the
hell of slavery, every poor fugitive who sought to find a home in a
professedly free section of "the _land of the free and the home of the
brave_." These brave black pilgrims, who had to leave "the freest land
in the world" in order to get their freedom, did not intend that the
solemn and formal declaration of principles contained in their
constitution should be reduced to a _reductio ad absurdum_, as those
in the American Constitution were by the infamous _Fugitive-slave
Law_. And in section 4 of their constitution they prohibit "the sum of
all villanies"--_slavery_! The article reads:--

     "There shall be no slavery within this republic. Nor shall
     any citizen of this republic, or any person resident
     therein, deal in slaves, either within or without this

They had no measure of _compromise_ by which slavery could be carried
on beyond certain limits "for highly commercial and business interests
of a portion of their fellow-citizens." Liberians might have grown
rich by merely suffering the slave-trade to be carried on among the
natives. The constitution fixed a scale of revenue, and levied a
tariff on all imported articles. A customs-service was introduced, and
many reforms enforced which greatly angered a few avaricious white men
whose profession as _men-stealers_ was abolished by the constitution.
Moreover, there were others who for years had been trading and doing
business along the coast, without paying any duties on the articles
they exported. The new government incurred their hostility.

In April, 1850, the republic of Liberia entered into a treaty with
England, and in article nine of said treaty bound herself to the
suppression of the slave-trade in the following explicit language:--

     "Slavery and the slave-trade being perpetually abolished in
     the republic of Liberia, the republic engages that a law
     shall be passed declaring it to be piracy for any _Liberian
     citizen_ or vessel to be engaged or concerned in the

Notwithstanding the above treaty, the enemies of the republic
circulated the report in England and America that the Liberian
government was secretly engaged in the slave-trade. The friends of
colonization in both countries were greatly alarmed by the rumor, and
sought information in official quarters,--of men on the ground. The
following testimony will show that the charge was malicious:--

     "Capt. Arabian, R.N., in one of his despatches says,
     'Nothing had been done more to suppress the slave-trade in
     this quarter than the constant intercourse of the natives
     with these industrious colonists;' and again, 'Their
     character is exceedingly correct and moral, their minds
     strongly impressed with religious feeling, and their
     domestic habits remarkably neat and comfortable.' 'wherever
     the influence of Liberia extends, the slave trade has been
     abandoned by the natives.'

     "Lieut. Stott, R.N., in a letter to Dr. Hodgkin, dated July,
     1840, says, it (Liberia) promises to be the only successful
     institution on the coast of Africa, keeping in mind its
     objects; viz., 'that of raising the African slave into a
     free man, the extinction of the slave-trade, and the
     religious and moral improvement of Africa;' and adds, 'The
     surrounding Africans are aware of the nature of the colony,
     taking refuge when persecuted by the few neighboring
     slave-traders. The remnant of a tribe has lately fled to and
     settled in the colony on land granted them. Between my two
     visits, a lapse of only a few days, four or five slaves
     sought refuge from their master, who was about to sell, or
     had sold, them to the only slave-factory on the coast. The
     native chiefs in the neighborhood have that respect for the
     colonists that they have made treaties for the abolition of
     the slave trade.'

     "Capt. Irving, R.N., in a letter to Dr. Hodgkin, Aug 3,
     1840, observes, 'You ask me if they aid in the slave-trade?
     I assure you, no! and I am sure the colonists would feel
     themselves much hurt should they know such a question could
     possibly arise in England. In my opinion it is the best and
     safest plan for the extinction of the slave-trade, and the
     civilization of Africa, for it is a well-known fact, that
     wherever their flag flies it is an eye-sore to the

     "Capt. Herbert, R.N.: 'With regard to the present state of
     slave-taking in the colony of Liberia, I have never known
     one instance of a slave being owned or disposed of by a
     colonist. On the contrary, I have known them to render great
     facility to our cruisers in taking vessels engaged in that
     nefarious traffic.'

     "Capt. Dunlop, who had abundant opportunities for becoming
     acquainted with Liberia during the years 1848-50, says, 'I
     am perfectly satisfied no such thing as domestic slavery
     exists in any shape amongst the citizens of the republic.'

     "Commodore Sir Charles Hotham, commander-in-chief of her
     British Majesty's squadron on the western coast of Africa,
     in a letter to the Secretary of the Admiralty, dated April
     7, 1847, and published in the Parliamentary Returns, says,
     'On perusing the correspondence of my predecessors, I found
     a great difference of opinion existing as to the views and
     objects of the settlers; some even accusing the governor of
     lending himself to the slave-trade. After discussing the
     whole subject with officers and others best qualified to
     judge on the matter, I not only satisfied my own mind that
     there is no reasonable cause for such a suspicion, but
     further, that this establishment merits all the support we
     can give it, for it is only through their means that we can
     hope to improve the African race.' Subsequently, in 1849,
     the same officer gave his testimony before the House of
     Lords, in the following language: 'There is no necessity for
     the squadron watching the coast between Sierra Leone and
     Cape Palmas, as the liberian territory intervenes, and there
     the slave-trade has been extinguished.'"[113]

The government was firmly and wisely administered, and its friends
everywhere found occasion for great pleasure in its marked success.
While the government had more than a quarter of a million of natives
under its care, the greatest caution was exercised in dealing with
them legally. The system was not so complicated as our Indian system,
but the duties of the officers in dealing with the uncivilized tribes
were as delicate as those of an Indian agent in the United States.

     "The history of a single case will illustrate the manner in
     which Liberia exerts her influence in preventing the native
     tribes from warring upon each other. The territory of Little
     Cape Mount, Grand Cape Mount, and Gallinas was purchased,
     three or four years since, and added to the Republic. The
     chiefs, by the term of sale, transferred the rights of
     sovereignty and of soil to Liberia, and bound themselves to
     obey her laws. The government of Great Britain had granted
     to Messrs. Hyde, Hodge, & Co., of London, a contract for the
     supply of laborers from the coast of Africa to the planters
     of her West India colonies. This grant was made under the
     rule for the substitution of _apprentices_, to supply the
     lack of labor produced by the emancipation of the slaves.
     The agents of Messrs. Hyde, Hodge, & Co. visited Grand Cape
     Mount, and made an offer of ten dollars per head to the
     chiefs for each person they could supply as _emigrants_ for
     this object. The offer excited the cupidity of some of the
     chiefs; and to procure the emigrants and secure the bounty
     one of them, named Boombo, of Little Cape Mount, resorted to
     war upon several of the surrounding tribes. He laid waste
     the country, burned the towns and villages, captured and
     murdered many of the inhabitants, carried off hundreds of
     others, and robbed several factories in that legion
     belonging to merchants in Liberia. On the 26th of February,
     1853, President Roberts issued his proclamation enjoining a
     strict observance of the law regulating passports, and
     forbidding the sailing of any vessel with emigrants without
     first visiting the port of Monrovia, where each passenger
     should be examined as to his wishes. On the 1st of March the
     president, with two hundred men, sailed for Little Cape
     Mount, arrested Boombo and fifty of his followers, summoned
     a council of the other chiefs at Monrovia for his trial on
     the 14th, and returned home with his prisoners. At the time
     appointed, the trial was held, Boombo was found guilty of
     '_high misdemeanor_' and sentenced 'to make restitution,
     restoration, and reparation of goods stolen, people
     captured, and damages committed: to pay a fine of five
     hundred dollars, and be imprisoned for two years.' When the
     sentence was pronounced, the convict shed tears, regarding
     the ingredient of imprisonment in his sentence to be almost
     intolerable. These rigorous measures, adopted to maintain
     the authority of the government and majesty of the laws,
     have had a salutary influence upon the chiefs. No outbreaks
     have since occurred, and but little apprehension of danger
     for the future is entertained."[114]

The republic did a vast amount of good before the Great Rebellion in
the United States, but since emancipation its population has been fed
by the natives who have been educated and converted to Christianity.
Professor David Christy, the great colonizationist, said in a lecture
delivered in 1855,--

     "If, then, a colony of colored men, beginning with less than
     a hundred, and gradually increasing to nine thousand, has in
     thirty years established an independent republic amidst a
     savage people, destroyed the slave-trade on six hundred
     miles of the African coast, put down the heathen temples in
     one of its largest counties, afforded security to all the
     missions within its limits, and now casts its shield over
     three hundred thousand native inhabitants, what may not be
     done in the next thirty years by colonization and missions
     combined, were sufficient means supplied to call forth all
     their energies?"

The circumstances that led to the founding of the Negro Republic in
the wilds of Africa perished in the fires of civil war. The Negro is
free everywhere; but the republic of Liberia stands, and should stand
until its light shall have penetrated the gloom of Africa, and until
the heathen shall gather to the brightness of its shining. May it
stand through the ages as a Christian Republic, as a faithful
light-house along the dark and trackless sea of African paganism!


[106] Ethiope, p. 197.

[107] Foreign Travel and Life at Sea, vol. ii. p. 359.

[108] Bishop Scott's Letter in the Colonization Herald, October, 1853.

[109] In Methodist Missionary Advocate, 1853.

[110] Gammell's History of the American Baptist Missions, pp. 248,

[111] Edward W. Blyden, L.L.D., president of Liberia College, a West
Indian, is a scholar of marvellous erudition, a writer of rare
abilities, a subtle reasoner, a preacher of charming graces, and one
of the foremost Negroes of the world. He is himself the best argument
in favor of the Negro's capacity for Christian civilization. He ranks
amongst the world's greatest linguists.

[112] Report of Bishop Payne, June 6, 1853.

[113] Colonization Herald, December, 1852.

[114] Ethiope, pp. 207, 208.




The preceding ten chapters are introductory in their nature. We felt
that they were necessary to a history of the Colored race in the
United States. We desired to explain and explode two erroneous
ideas,--the curse of Canaan, and the theory that the Negro is a
distinct species,--that were educated into our white countrymen during
the long and starless night of the bondage of the Negro. It must
appear patent to every honest student of God's word, that the slavery
interpretation of the curse of Canaan is without warrant of Scripture,
and at war with the broad and catholic teachings of the New Testament.
It is a sad commentary on American civilization to find even a few men
like Helper, "Ariel," and the author of "The Adamic Race" still
croaking about the inferiority of the Negro; but it is highly
gratifying to know that they no longer find an audience or readers,
not even in the South. A man never hates his neighbors until he has
injured them. Then, in justification of his unjustifiable conduct, he
uses slander for argument.

During the late war thousands of mouths filled with vituperative wrath
against the colored race were silenced as in the presence of the
heroic deeds of "the despised race," and since the war the obloquy of
the Negro's enemies has been turned into the most fulsome praise.

We stand in line and are in harmony with history and historians
--modern and ancient, sacred and profane--on the subject of the unity
of the human family. There are, however, a few who differ; but their
wild, incoherent, and unscholarly theories deserve the mercy of our

It is our firm conviction, and it is not wholly unsupported by
history, that the Creator gave all the nations arts and sciences.
Where nations have turned aside to idolatry they have lost their
civilization. The Canaanites, Jebusites, Hivites, etc., the
idolatrous[115] nations inhabiting the land of Canaan, were the
descendants of Canaan; and the only charge the Lord brought against
them when he commanded Joshua to exterminate them was, that they were
his enemies[116] in all that that term implies. The sacred record
tells us that they were a warlike, powerful people,[117] living in
walled cities, given to agriculture, and possessing quite a
respectable civilization; but they were idolaters--God's enemies.

It is worthy of emphasis, that the antiquity of the Negro race is
beyond dispute. This is a fact established by the most immutable
historical data, and recorded on the monumental brass and marble of
the Oriental nations of the most remote period of time. The importance
and worth of the Negro have given him a place in all the histories of
Egypt, Greece, and Rome. His position, it is true, in all history up
to the present day, has been accidental, incidental, and collateral;
but it is sufficient to show how he has been regarded in the past by
other nations. His brightest days were when history was an infant;
and, since he early turned from God, he has found the cold face of
hate and the hurtful hand of the Caucasian against him. The Negro type
is the result of degradation. It is nothing more than the lowest
strata of the African race. Pouring over the venerable mountain
terraces, an abundant stream from an abundant and unknown source, into
the malarial districts, the genuine African has gradually degenerated
into the typical Negro. His blood infected with the poison of his low
habitation, his body shrivelled by disease, his intellect veiled in
pagan superstitions, the noblest yearnings of his soul strangled at
birth by the savage passions of a nature abandoned to sensuality,--the
poor Negro of Africa deserves more our pity than our contempt.

It is true that the weaker tribes, or many of the Negroid type, were
the chief source of supply for the slave-market in this country for
many years; but slavery in the United States--a severe ordeal through
which to pass to citizenship and civilization--had the effect of
calling into life many a slumbering and dying attribute in the Negro
nature. The cruel institution drove him from an extreme idolatry to an
extreme religious exercise of his faith in worship. And now that he is
an American citizen,--the condition and circumstances which rendered
his piety appropriate abolished,--he is likely to move over to an
extreme rationalism.

The Negro empires to which we have called attention are an argument
against the theory that he is without government, and his career as a
soldier[118] would not disgrace the uniform of an American soldier.
Brave, swift in execution, terrible in the onslaught, tireless in
energy, obedient to superiors, and clannish to a fault,--the abilities
of these black soldiers are worthy of a good cause.

On the edge of the Dark Continent, Sierra Leone and Liberia have
sprung up as light-houses on a dark and stormy ocean of lost humanity.
Hundreds of thousands of degraded Negroes have been snatched from the
vile swamps, and Christianity has been received and appreciated by
them. These two Negro settlements have solved two problems; viz., the
Negro's ability to administer a government, and the capacity of the
native for the reception of education and Christian civilization. San
Domingo and Jamaica have their lessons too, but it is not our purpose
to write the history of the Colored people of the world. The task may
be undertaken some time in the future, however.

It must be apparent to the interested friends of languishing Africa,
that there are yet two more problems presented for our solution; and
they are certainly difficult of solution. First, we must solve the
problem of African geography; second, we must redeem by the power of
the gospel, with all its attending blessings, the savage tribes of
Africans who have never heard the beautiful song of the angels:
"_Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward
men_." That this work will be done we do not doubt. We have great
faith in the outcome of the missionary work going on now in Africa;
and we are especially encouraged by the wide and kindly interest
awakened on behalf of Africa by the noble life-work of Dr. David
Livingstone, and the thrilling narrative of Mr. Henry M. Stanley.

It is rather remarkable now, in the light of recent events, that we
should have chosen a topic at the close of both our academic and
theological course that we can see now was in line with this work so
near our heart. The first oration was on "The Footsteps of the
Nation," the second was "Early Christianity in Africa." Dr.
Livingstone had just fallen a martyr to the cause of geography, and
the orators and preachers of enlightened Christendom were busy with
the virtues and worth of the dead. It was on the tenth day of June,
1874, that we delivered the last-named oration; and we can, even at
this distance, recall the magnificent audience that greeted it, and
the feeling with which we delivered it. We were the first Colored man
who had ever taken a diploma from that venerable and world-famed
institution (Newton Seminary, Newton Centre, Mass.), and therefore
there was much interest taken in our graduation. We were ordained on
the following evening at Watertown, Mass.; and the original poem
written for the occasion by our pastor, the Rev. Granville S. Abbott,
D.D., contained the following significant verses:--

    "Ethiopia's hands long stretching,
      Mightily have plead with God;
    Plead not vainly: time is fetching
      Answers, as her faith's reward.
          God is faithful,
      Yea, and Amen is his word.

    Countless prayers, so long ascending,
      Have their answer here and now;
    Threads of purpose, wisely meeting
      In an ordination vow.
          Afric brother,
      To thy mission humbly bow."

The only, and we trust sufficient, apology we have to offer to the
reader for mentioning matters personal to the author is, that we are
deeply touched in reading the oration, after many years, in the
original manuscript, preserved by accident. It is fitting that it
should be produced here as bearing upon the subject in hand.




     Africa was one of the first countries to receive
     Christianity. Simon, a Cyrenian, from Africa, bore the cross
     of Jesus for him to Calvary. There was more in that
     singular incident than we are apt to recognize, for the time
     soon came when Africa did indeed take up the Saviour's

     The African, in his gushing love, welcomed the new religion
     to his country and to his heart. He was willing to share its
     persecutions, and endure shame for the cross of Christ.

     Africa became the arena in which theological gladiators met
     in dubious strife. It was the scene of some of the severest
     doctrinal controversies of the early Church. Here men and
     women, devoted to an idea, stood immovable, indomitable as
     the pyramids, against the severest persecution. Her sons
     swelled the noble army of martyrs and confessors. The
     eloquence of their shed blood has been heard through the
     centuries, and pleads the cause of the benighted to-day.

     It was Africa that gave the Christian Church Athanasius and
     Origen, Cyprian, Tertullian, and Augustine, her greatest
     writers and teachers. Athanasius, the missionary of
     monachism to the West, was the indefatigable enemy of
     Arianism, the bold leader of the Catholic party at
     Alexandria, at the early age of thirty (30) elevated to its
     bishopric, one of the most important sees in the East. Ever
     conscientious and bold, the whole Christian Church felt his
     influence, while emperors and kings feared his power. His
     life was stormy, because he loved the truth and taught it in
     all boldness. He hated his own life for the truth's sake. He
     counted all things but loss, that he might gain Christ. He
     was often in perils by false brethren, was driven out into
     the solitary places of the earth,--into the monasteries of
     the Thebaid; and yet he endured as seeing Him who is
     invisible, looking for the reward of the promise, knowing
     that He who promised is faithful.

     Origen was an Alexandrian by birth and culture, an able
     preacher, a forcible writer, and a theologian of great
     learning. His influence while living was great, and was felt
     long after his death.

     In North Africa, Cyprian, the great writer of Church polity,
     a pastor and teacher of rare gifts, was the first bishop to
     lay down his life for the truth's sake. The shadows of
     fifteen centuries rest upon his name; but it is as fadeless
     to-day as when a weeping multitude followed him to his
     martyrdom, and exclaimed, "Let us die with our holy bishop."

     The weary centuries intervene, and yet the student of Church
     polity is fascinated and instructed by the brilliant
     teachings of Cyprian. His bitterest enemies--those who have
     most acrimoniously assailed him--have at length recognized
     in him the qualities of a great writer and teacher; and his
     puissant name, sending its influence along the ages,
     attracts the admiration of the ecclesiastical scholars of
     every generation.

     Tertullian, the leader of the Montanists, fiery, impulsive,
     the strong preacher, the vigorous writer, the bold
     controversialist, organized a sect which survived him,
     though finally disorganized through the influence of
     Augustine, the master theologian of the early Church, indeed
     of the Church universal.

     Other fathers built theological systems that flourished for
     a season; but the system that Augustine established survived
     him, has survived the intervening centuries, and lives

     Africa furnished the first dissenters from an established
     church,--the Donatists. They were the Separatists and
     Puritans of the early Church.

     Their struggle was long, severe, but useless. They were
     condemned, not convinced; discomfited, not subdued; and the
     patient, suffering, indomitable spirit they evinced shows
     what power there is in a little truth held in faith.

     Christianity had reached its zenith in Africa. It was her
     proudest hour. Paganism had been met and conquered. The
     Church had passed through a baptism of blood, and was now
     wholly consecrated to the cause of its Great Head. Here
     Christianity flowered, here it brought forth rich fruit in
     the lives of its tenacious adherents. Here the acorn had
     become the sturdy oak, under which the soldiers of the cross
     pitched their tents. The African Church had triumphed

     But, in the moment of signal victory, the Saracens poured
     into North Africa, and Mohammedanism was established upon
     the ruins of Christianity.

     The religion of Christ was swept from its moorings, the
     saint was transformed into the child of the desert, and
     quiet settlements became bloody fields where brother shed
     brother's blood.

     Glorious and sublime as was the triumph of Christianity in
     North Africa, we must not forget that only a narrow belt of
     that vast country, on the Mediterranean, was reached by
     Christianity. Its western and southern portions are yet
     almost wholly unknown. Her vast deserts, her mighty rivers,
     and her dusky children are yet beyond the reach of
     civilization; and her forests have been the grave of many
     who would explore her interior. To-day England stands by the
     new-made grave of the indomitable Livingstone,--her
     courageous son, who, as a missionary and geographer spent
     his best days and laid down his life in the midst of Africa.

     For nearly three centuries Africa has been robbed of her
     sable sons. For nearly three centuries they have toiled in
     bondage, unrequited, in this youthful republic of the West.
     They have grown from a small company to be an exceedingly
     great people,--five millions in number. No longer chattels,
     they are human beings, no longer bondmen, they are freemen,
     with almost every civil disability removed.

     Their weary feet now press up the mount of science. Their
     darkened intellect now sweeps, unfettered, through the
     realms of learning and culture. With his Saxon brother, the
     African slakes his insatiable thirstings for knowledge at
     the same fountain. In the Bible, he leads not only the one
     unalterable text, "Servants, obey your masters," but also,
     "Ye are all brethren." "God hath made of one blood all
     nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."
     "He is no respecter of persons."

     The Negro in this country has begun to enjoy the blessings
     of a free citizenship. Under the sunny sky of a Christian
     civilization he hears the clarion voices of progress about
     him, urging him onward and upward. From across the ocean,
     out of the jungles of Africa, come the voices of the
     benighted and perishing. Every breeze is freighted with a
     Macedonian call, "Ye men of the African race, come over and
     help us!"

       "Shall we, whose souls are lighted
         By wisdom from on high,--
       Shall we, to men benighted
         The lamp of life deny?"

     God often permits evil on the ground of man's free agency,
     but he does not commit evil.

     The Negro of this country can turn to his Saxon brothers and
     say, as Joseph said to his brethren who wickedly sold him,
     "As for you, ye meant it unto evil but God meant it unto
     good; that we, after learning your arts and sciences, might
     return to Egypt and deliver the rest of our brethren who are
     yet in the house of bondage."

     That day will come! Her chains will be severed by the sword
     of civilization and liberty. Science will penetrate her
     densest forests, and climb her loftiest mountains, and
     discover her richest treasures. The Sun of righteousness,
     and the star of peace shall break upon her sin-clouded
     vision, and smile upon her renewed households The anthem of
     the Redeemer's advent shall float through her forests, and
     be echoed by her mountains. Those dusky children of the
     desert, who now wander and plunder, will settle to quiet
     occupations of industry. Gathering themselves into villages,
     plying the labors of handicraft and agriculture, they will
     become a well disciplined society, instead of being a
     roving, barbarous horde.

     The sabbath bells will summon from scattered cottages
     smiling populations, linked together by friendship, and
     happy in all the sweetness of domestic charities. Thus the
     glory of her latter day shall be greater than at the
     beginning, _and Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto

It is our earnest desire and prayer, that the friends of missions in
all places where God in his providence may send this history will give
the subject of the civilization and Christianization of Africa
prayerful consideration. The best schools the world can afford should
be founded on the West Coast of Africa The native should be educated
at home, and mission stations should be planted under the very shadow
of the idol-houses of the heathen. The best talent and abundant means
have been sent to Siam, China, and Japan. Why not send the best talent
and needful means to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cape Palmas, that
native missionaries may be trained for the outposts of the Lord? There
is not a more promising mission-field in the world than Africa, and
yet our friends in America take so little interest in this work! The
Lord is going to save that Dark Continent, and it behooves his
servants here to honor themselves in doing something to hasten the
completion of this inevitable work! Africa is to be redeemed by the
African, and the white Christians of this country can aid the work by
munificent contributions. Will you do it, brethren? God help you!


[115] Deut. xii. 2, 3, also 30th verse.

[116] Deut. vi. 19.

[117] Deut. vii. 7.

[118] News comes to us from Egypt that Arabi Pacha's best artillerists
are Negro soldiers.

Part II.






Virginia was the mother of slavery as well as "the mother of
Presidents." Unfortunate for her, unfortunate for the other colonies,
and thrice unfortunate for the poor Colored people, who from 1619 to
1863 yielded their liberty, their toil,--unrequited,--their bodies and
intellects to an institution that ground them to powder. No event in
the history of North America has carried with it to its last analysis
such terrible forces. It touched the brightest features of social
life, and they faded under the contact of its poisonous breath. It
affected legislation, local and national; it made and destroyed
statesmen; it prostrated and bullied honest public sentiment; it
strangled the voice of the press, and awed the pulpit into silent
acquiescence; it organized the judiciary of States, and wrote
decisions for judges; it gave States their political being, and
afterwards dragged them by the fore-hair through the stormy sea of
civil war; laid the parricidal fingers of Treason against the fair
throat of Liberty,--and through all time to come no event will be more
sincerely deplored than the introduction of slavery into the colony of
Virginia during the last days of the month of August in the year 1619!

The majority of writers on American history, as well as most histories
on Virginia, from Beverley to Howison, have made a mistake in fixing
the date of the introduction of the first slaves. Mr. Beverley, whose
history of Virginia was printed in London in 1772, is responsible for
the error, in that nearly all subsequent writers--excepting the
laborious and scholarly Bancroft and the erudite Campbell--have
repeated his mistake. Mr. Beverley, speaking of the burgesses having
"met the Governor and Council at James Town in May 1620," adds in a
subsequent paragraph, "In August following a Dutch Man of War landed
twenty Negroes for sale; which were the first of that kind that were
carried into the country."[120] By "August following," we infer that
Beverley would have his readers understand that this was in 1620. But
Burk, Smith, Campbell, and Neill gave 1619 as the date.[121] But we
are persuaded to believe that the first slaves were landed at a still
earlier date. In Capt. John Smith's history, printed in London in
1629, is a mere incidental reference to the introduction of slaves
into Virginia. He mentions, under date of June 25, that the "governor
and councell caused Burgesses to be chosen in all places,"[122] which
is one month later than the occurrence of this event as fixed by
Beverley. Smith speaks of a vessel named "George" as having been "sent
to Newfoundland" for fish, and, having started in May, returned after
a voyage of "seven weeks." In the next sentence he says, "About the
last of August came in a dutch man of warre that sold us twenty
Negars."[123] Might not he have meant "about the end of last August"
came the Dutch man-of-war, etc.? All historians, except two, agree
that these slaves were landed in August, but disagree as to the year.
Capt. Argall, of whom so much complaint was made by the Virginia
Company to Lord Delaware,[124] fitted out the ship "Treasurer" at the
expense of the Earl of Warwick, who sent him "an olde commission of
hostility from the Duke of Savoy against the Spanyards," for a
"filibustering" cruise to the West Indies.[125] And, "after several
acts of hostility committed, and some purchase gotten, she returns to
Virginia at the end of ten months or thereabouts."[126] It was in the
early autumn of 1618,[127] that Capt. Edward (a son of William)
Brewster was sent into banishment by Capt. Argall; and this, we think,
was one of the last, if not _the_ last official act of that arbitrary
governor. It was certainly before this that the ship "Treasurer,"
manned "with the ablest men in the colony," sailed for "the Spanish
dominions in the Western hemisphere." Under date of June 15, 1618,
John Rolfe, speaking of the death of the Indian Powhatan, which took
place in April, says, "Some private differences happened betwixt Capt.
Bruster and Capt. Argall," etc.[128] Capt. John Smith's information,
as secured from Master Rolfe, would lead to the conclusion that the
difficulty which took place between Capt. Edward Brewster and Capt.
Argall occurred in the spring instead of the autumn, as Neill says. If
it be true that "The Treasurer" sailed in the early spring of 1618,
Rolfe's statement as to the time of the strife between Brewster and
Argall would harmonize with the facts in reference to the length of
time the vessel was absent as recorded in Burk's history. But if Neill
is correct as to the time of the quarrel,--for we maintain that it was
about this time that Argall left the colony,--then his statement would
tally with Burk's account of the time the vessel was on the cruise.
If, therefore, she sailed in October, 1618, being absent ten months,
she was due at Jamestown in August, 1619.

But, nevertheless, we are strangely moved to believe that 1618 was the
memorable year of the landing of the first slaves in Virginia. And we
have one strong and reliable authority on our side. Stith, in his
history of Virginia, fixes the date in 1618.[129] On the same page
there is an account of the trial and sentence of Capt. Brewster. The
ship "Treasurer" had evidently left England in the winter of 1618.
When she reached the Virginia colony, she was furnished with a new
crew and abundant supplies for her cruise. Neill says she returned
with booty and "a certain number of negroes." Campbell agrees that it
was some time before the landing of the Dutch man-of-war that "The
Treasurer" returned to Virginia. He says, "She returned to Virginia
after some ten months with her booty, which consisted of captured
negroes, who were not left in Virginia, because Capt. Argall had gone
back to England, but were put on the Earl of Warwick's plantation in
the Somer Islands."[130]

During the last two and one-half centuries the readers of the history
of Virginia have been mislead as to these two vessels, the Dutch
man-of-war and "The Treasurer." The Dutch man-of-war did land the
first slaves; but the ship "Treasurer" was the first to bring them to
this country, in 1618.

When in 1619 the Dutch man-of-war brought the first slaves to
Virginia, Capt. Miles Kendall was deputy-governor. The man-of-war
claimed to sail under commission of the Prince of Orange. Capt.
Kendall gave orders that the vessel should not land in any of his
harbors: but the vessel was without provisions; and the Negroes,
_fourteen_ in number, were tendered for supplies. Capt. Kendall
accepted the slaves, and, in return, furnished the man-of-war with the
coveted provisions. In the mean while Capt. Butler came and assumed
charge of the affairs of the Virginia Company, and dispossessed
Kendall of his slaves, alleging that they were the property of the
Earl of Warwick. He insisted that they were taken from the ship
"Treasurer,"[131] "with which the said Holland man-of-war had
consorted." Chagrined, and wronged by Gov. Butler, Capt. Kendall
hastened back to England to lay his case before the London Company,
and to seek equity. The Earl of Warwick appeared in court, and claimed
the Negroes as his property, as having belonged to his ship, "The
Treasurer." Every thing that would embarrass Kendall was introduced by
the earl. At length, as a final resort, charges were formally
preferred against him, and the matter referred to Butler for decision.
Capt. Kendall did not fail to appreciate the gravity of his case, when
charges were preferred against him in London, and the trial ordered
before the man of whom he asked restitution! The case remained in
_statu quo_ until July, 1622, when the court made a disposition of the
case. Nine of the slaves were to be delivered to Capt. Kendall, "and
the rest to be consigned to the company's use." This decision was
reached by the court after the Earl of Warwick had submitted the case
to the discretion and judicial impartiality of the judges. The court
gave instructions to Capt. Bernard, who was then the governor, to see
that its order was enforced. But while the order of the court was _in
transitu_, Bernard died. The earl, learning of the event, immediately
wrote a letter, representing that the slaves should _not_ be delivered
to Kendall; and an advantage being taken--purely technical--of the
omission of the name of the captain of the Holland man-of-war, Capt.
Kendall never secured his nine slaves.

It should be noted, that while Rolfe, in Capt. Smith's history, fixes
the number of slaves in the Dutch vessel at _twenty_,--as also does
Beverley,--it is rather strange that the Council of Virginia, in 1623,
should state that the commanding officer of the Dutch man-of-war told
Capt. Kendall that "he had fourteen Negroes on board!"[132] Moreover,
it is charged that the slaves taken by "The Treasurer" were divided up
among the sailors; and that they, having been cheated out of their
dues, asked judicial interference.[133] Now, these slaves from "The
Treasurer" "were placed on the Earl of Warwick's lands in Bermudas,
and there kept and detained to his Lordship's use." There are several
things apparent; viz., that there is a mistake between the statement
of the Virginia Council in their declaration of May 7, 1623, about the
number of slaves landed by the man-of-war, and the statements of
Beverley and Smith. And if Stith is to be relied upon as to the slaves
of "The Treasurer" having been taken to the "Earl of Warwick's lands
in Bermudas, and there kept," his lordship's claim to the slaves Capt.
Kendall got from the Dutch man-of-war was not founded in truth or

Whether the number was fourteen or twenty, it is a fact, beyond
historical doubt, that the Colony of Virginia purchased the first
Negroes, and thus opened up the nefarious traffic in human flesh. It
is due to the Virginia Colony to say, that these slaves were forced
upon them; that they were taken in exchange for food given to relieve
the hunger of famishing sailors; that white servitude[134] was common,
and many whites were convicts[135] from England; and the extraordinary
demand for laborers may have deadened the moral sensibilities of the
colonists as to the enormity of the great crime to which they were
parties. Women were sold for wives,[136] and sometimes were
kidnapped[137] in England and sent into the colony. There was nothing
in the moral atmosphere of the colony inimical to the spirit of
bondage that was manifest so early in the history of this people.
England had always held her sceptre over slaves of some character:
villeins in the feudal era, stolen Africans under Elizabeth and under
the house of the Tudors; Caucasian children--whose German blood could
be traced beyond the battle of Hastings--in her mines, factories, and
mills; and vanquished Brahmans in her Eastern possessions. How, then,
could we expect less of these "knights" and "adventurers" who
"degraded the human race by an exclusive respect for the privileged

The institution of slavery once founded, it is rather remarkable that
its growth was so slow. According to the census of Feb. 16, 1624,
there were but twenty-two in the entire colony.[139] There were eleven
at Flourdieu Hundred, three in James City, one on James Island, one on
the plantation opposite James City, four at Warisquoyak, and two at
Elizabeth City. In 1648 the population of Virginia was about fifteen
thousand, with a slave population of three hundred.[140] The cause of
the slow increase of slaves was not due to any colonial prohibition.
The men who were engaged in tearing unoffending Africans from their
native home were some time learning that this colony was at this time
a ready market for their helpless victims. Whatever feeling or
scruple, if such ever existed, the colonists had in reference to the
subject of dealing in the slave-trade, was destroyed at conception by
the golden hopes of large gains. The latitude, the products of the
soil, the demand for labor, the custom of the indenture of white
servants, were abundant reasons why the Negro should be doomed to
bondage for life.

The subjects of slavery were the poor unfortunates that the strong
push to the outer edge of organized African society, where, through
neglect or abuse, they are consigned to the mercy of avarice and
malice. We have already stated that the weaker tribes of Africa are
pushed into the alluvial flats of that continent; where they have
perished in large numbers, or have become the prey of the more
powerful tribes, who consort with slave-hunters. Disease, tribal wars
in Africa, and the merciless greed of slave-hunters, peopled the
colony of Virginia with a class that was expected to till the soil.
African criminals, by an immemorial usage, were sold into slavery as
the highest penalty, save death; and often this was preferred to
bondage. Many such criminals found their way into the colony. To be
bondmen among neighboring tribes at home was dreaded beyond
expression; but to wear chains in a foreign land, to submit to the
dehumanizing treatment of cruel taskmasters, was an ordeal that fanned
into life the last dying ember of manhood and resentment.

The character of the slaves imported, and the pitiable condition of
the white servants, produced rather an anomalous result. "Male
servants, and slaves of both sex" were bound together by the
fellowship of toil. But the distinction "made between them in their
clothes and food"[141] drew a line, not between their social
condition,--for it was the same,--but between their nationality.
First, then, was social estrangement, next legal difference, and last
of all political disagreement and strife. In order to oppress the
weak, and justify the unchristian distinction between God's creatures,
the persons who would bolster themselves into respectability must have
the aid of law. Luther could march fearlessly to the Diet of Worms if
every tile on the houses were a devil; but Macbeth was conquered by
the remembrance of the wrong he had done the virtuous Duncan and the
unoffending Banquo, long before he was slain by Macduff. A guilty
conscience always needs a multitude of subterfuges to guard against
dreaded contingencies. So when the society in the Virginia Colony had
made up its mind that the Negroes in their midst were mere
heathen,[142] they stood ready to punish any member who had the
temerity to cross the line drawn between the races. It was not a
mitigating circumstance that the white servants of the colony who came
into natural contact with the Negroes were "disorderly persons," or
convicts sent to Virginia by an order of the king of England. It was
fixed by public sentiment and law that there should be no relation
between the races. The first prohibition was made "September 17th,
1630." Hugh Davis, a white servant, was publicly flogged "before an
assembly of Negroes and others," for defiling himself with a Negro. It
was also required that he should confess as much on the following

In the winter of 1639, on the 6th of January, during the incumbency of
Sir Francis Wyatt, the General Assembly passed the first prohibition
against Negroes. "All persons," doubtless including fraternizing
Indians, "except Negroes," were required to secure arms and
ammunition, or be subject to a fine, to be imposed by "the Governor
and Council."[144] The records are too scanty, and it is impossible to
judge, at this remote day, what was the real cause of this law. We
have already called attention to the fact that the slaves were but a
mere fraction of the _summa summarum_ of the population. It could not
be that the brave Virginians were afraid of an insurrection! Was it
another reminder that the "Negroes were heathen," and, therefore, not
entitled to the privileges of Christian freemen? It was not the act of
that government, which in its conscious rectitude "can put ten
thousand to flight," but was rather the inexcusable feebleness of a
diseased conscience, that staggers off for refuge "when no man

Mr. Bancroft thinks that the "special tax upon female slaves"[145] was
intended to discourage the traffic. It does not so seem to us. It
seems that the Virginia Assembly was endeavoring to establish friendly
relations with the Dutch and other nations in order to secure "trade."
Tobacco was the chief commodity of the colonists. They intended by the
act[146] of March, 1659, to guarantee the most perfect liberty "to
trade with" them. They required, however, that foreigners should "give
bond and pay the impost of tenn shillings per hogshead laid upon all
tobacco exported to any fforreigne dominions." The same act recites,
that whenever any slaves were sold for tobacco, the amount of imposts
would only be "two shillings per hogshead," which was only the nominal
sum paid by the colonists themselves. This act was passed several
years before the one became a law that is cited by Mr. Bancroft. It
seems that much trouble had been experienced in determining who were
taxable in the colony. It is very clear that the LIV. Act of March,
1662, which Mr. Bancroft thinks was intended to discourage the
importation of slaves by taxing female slaves, seeks only to determine
who shall be taxable. It is a general law, declaring "that _all_ male
persons, of what age soever imported into this country shall be
brought into lysts and be liable to the payment of all taxes, and all
negroes, male and female being imported shall be accompted tythable,
and all Indian servants male or female however procured being adjudged
sixteen years of age shall be likewise tythable from which none shall
be exempted."[147] Beverley says that "the male servants, and slaves
of both sexes," were employed together. It seems that white women were
so scarce as to be greatly respected. But female Negroes and Indians
were taxable; although Indian children, unlike those of Negroes, were
not held as slaves.[148] Under the LIV. Act there is but one class
exempted from tax,--white females, and, we might add, persons under
sixteen years of age.[149] So what Mr. Bancroft mistakes as repressive
legislation against the slave-trade is only an exemption of white
women, and intended to encourage their coming into the colony.

The legal distinction between slaves and servants was, "slaves for
life, and servants for a time."[150] Slavery existed from 1619 until
1662, without any sanction in law. On the 14th of December, 1662, the
foundations of the slave institution were laid in the old law maxim,
"_Partus sequitur ventrum_,"--that the issue of slave mothers should
follow their condition.[151] Two things were accomplished by this act;
viz., slavery received the direct sanction of statutory law, and it
was also made hereditary. On the 6th of March, 1655,--seven years
before the time mentioned above,--an act was passed declaring that all
Indian children brought into the colony by friendly Indians should not
be treated as slaves,[152] but be instructed in the trades.[153] By
implication, then, slavery existed legally at this time; but the act
of 1662 was the first direct law on the subject. In 1670 a question
arose as to whether Indians taken in war were to be servants for a
term of years, or for life. The act passed on the subject is rather
remarkable for the language in which it is couched; showing, as it
does, that it was made to relieve the Indian, and fix the term of the
Negro's bondage beyond a reasonable doubt. "_It is resolved_ and
enacted that all servants not being Christians imported into this
colony by shipping shall be slaves for their lives; but what shall
come by land shall serve, if boyes or girles, until thirty yeares of
age, if men or women twelve yeares and no longer."[154] This
remarkable act was dictated by fear and policy. No doubt the Indian
was as thoroughly despised as the Negro; but the Indian was on his
native soil, and, therefore, was a more dangerous[155] subject.
Instructed by the past, and fearful of the future, the sagacious
colonists declared by this act, that those who "shall come by land"
should not be assigned to servitude for life. While this act was
passed to define the legal status of the Indian, at the same time,
and with equal force, it determines the fate of the Negro who is so
unfortunate as to find his way into the colony. "_All servants not
being Christians imported into this colony by shipping shall be slaves
for their lives_." Thus, in 1670, Virginia, not abhorring
the institution, solemnly declared that "all servants not
christians"--heathen Negroes--coming into her "colony by
shipping"--there was no other way for them to come!--should "_be
slaves for their lives_!"

In 1682 the colony was in a flourishing condition. Opulence generally
makes men tyrannical, and great success in business makes them
unmerciful. Although Indians, in special acts, had not been classed as
slaves, but only accounted "servants for a term of years," the growing
wealth and increasing number of the colonists seemed to justify them
in throwing off the mask. The act of the 3d of October, 1670, defining
who should be slaves, was repealed at the November session of the
General Assembly of 1682. Indians were now made slaves,[156] and
placed upon the same legal footing with the Negroes. The sacred rite
of baptism[157] did not alter the condition of children--Indian or
Negro--when born in slavery. And slavery, as a cruel and inhuman
institution, flourished and magnified with each returning year.

Encouraged by friendly legislation, the Dutch plied the slave-trade
with a zeal equalled only by the enormous gains they reaped from the
planters. It was not enough that faith had been broken with friendly
Indians, and their children doomed by statute to the hell of perpetual
slavery; it was not sufficient that the Indian and Negro were
compelled to serve, unrequited, for their lifetime. On the 4th of
October, 1705, "an act declaring the Negro, Mulatto, and Indian
slaves, within this dominion, to be real estate,"[158] was passed
without a dissenting voice. Before this time they had been denominated
by the courts as chattels: now they were to pass in law as real
estate. There were, however, several provisos to this act. Merchants
coming into the colony with slaves, not sold, were not to be affected
by the act until the slaves had actually passed in a _bonâ-fide_ sale.
Until such time their slaves were contemplated by the law as chattels.
In case a master died without lawful heirs, his slaves did not
escheat, but were regarded as other personal estate or property. Slave
property was liable to be taken in execution for the payment of
debts, and was recoverable by a personal action.[159]

The only apology for enslaving the Negroes we can find in all the
records of this colony is, that they "were heathen." Every statute,
from the first to the last, during the period the colony was under the
control of England, carefully mentions that all persons--Indians and
Negroes--who "are not Christians" are to be slaves. And their
conversion to Christianity afterwards did not release them from their

The act making Indian, Mulatto, and Negro slaves real property, passed
in October, 1705, under the reign of Queen Anne, and by her approved,
was "explained" and "amended" in February, 1727, during the reign of
King George II. Whether the act received its being out of a desire to
prevent fraud, like the "Statutes of Frauds," is beyond finding out.
But it was an act that showed that slavery had grown to be so common
an institution as not to excite human sympathy. And the attempt to
"explain" and "amend" its cruel provisions was but a faint precursor
of the evils that followed. Innumerable lawsuits grew out of the act,
and the courts and barristers held to conflicting interpretations and
constructions. Whether complaints were made to his Majesty, the king,
the records do not relate; or whether he was moved by feelings of
humanity is quite as difficult to understand. But on the 31st of
October, 1751, he issued a proclamation repealing the act declaring
slaves real estate.[161] The proclamation abrogated nine other acts,
and quite threw the colony into confusion.[162] It is to be hoped that
the king was animated by the noblest impulses in repealing one of the
most dehumanizing laws that ever disgraced the government of any
civilized people. The General Assembly, on the 15th of April, 1752,
made an appeal to the king, "humbly" protesting against the
proclamation. The law-makers in the colony were inclined to doubt the
king's prerogative in this matter. They called the attention of his
Majesty to the fact that he had given the "Governor" "full power and
authority with the advice and consent of the council" to make needful
laws; but they failed to realize fully that his Majesty, in
accordance with the proviso contained in the grant of authority made
to the governor and council of the colony, was using his veto. They
recited the causes which induced them to enact the law, recounted the
benefits accruing to his Majesty's subjects from the conversion of
human beings into real property,[163] and closed with a touching
appeal for the retention of the act complained of, so that slaves
"_might not at the same time be real estate in some respects, personal
in others, and bothe in others_!" History does not record that the
brusque old king was at all moved by this earnest appeal and
convincing argument of the Virginia Assembly.

In 1699 the government buildings at James City were destroyed. The
General Assembly, in an attempt to devise means to build a new
Capitol, passed an act on the 11th of April of the aforesaid year,
fixing a "duty on servants and slaves imported"[164] into the colony.
Fifteen shillings was the impost tax levied upon every servant
imported, "not born in England or Wales, and twenty shillings for
every Negro or other slave" thus imported. The revenue arising from
this tax on servants and slaves was to go to the building of a new
Capitol. Every slave-vessel was inspected by a customs-officer. The
commanding officer of the vessel was required to furnish the names and
number of the servants and slaves imported, the place of their birth,
and pay the duty imposed upon each before they were permitted to be
landed. This act was to be in force for the space of "three years from
the publication thereof, and no longer."[165] But, in the summer of
1701, it was continued until the 25th day of December, 1703. The act
was passed as a temporary measure to secure revenue with which to
build the Capitol.[166] Evidently it was not intended to remain a part
of the code of the colony. In 1732 it was revived by an act, the
preamble of which leads us to infer that the home government was not
friendly to its passage. In short, the act is preceded by a prayer for
permission to pass it. Whatever may have been the feeling in England
in reference to levying imposts upon servants and slaves, it is
certain the colonists were in hearty accord with the spirit and letter
of the act. It must be clear to every honest student of history, that
there never was, up to this time, an attempt made to cure the growing
evils of slavery. When a tax was imposed upon slaves imported, the
object in view was the replenishing of the coffers of the colonial
government. In 1734 another act was passed taxing imported slaves,
because it had "been found very easy to the subjects of this colony,
and no ways burthensome to the traders in slaves." The additional
reason for continuing the law was, "that a competent revenue" might be
raised "for preventing or lessening a poll-tax."[167] And in 1738,
this law being "found, by experience, to be an easy expedient for
raising a revenue towards the lessening a pooll-tax, always grievous
to the people of this colony, and is in no way burthensom to the
traders in slaves," it was re-enacted. In every instance, through all
these years, the imposition of a tax on slaves imported into the
colony had but one end in view,--the raising of revenue. In 1699 the
end sought through the taxing of imported slaves was the building of
the Capitol; in 1734 it was to lighten the burden of taxes on the
subjects in the colony; but, in 1740, the object was to get funds to
raise and transport troops in his Majesty's service.[168] The original
duty remained; and an additional levy of five per centum was required
on each slave imported, over and above the twenty shillings required
by previous acts.

In 1742 the tax was continued, because it was "necessary" "to
discharge the public debts."[169] And again, in 1745, it was still
believed to be necessary "for supporting the public expense."[170] The
act, in a legal sense, expired by limitation, but in spirit remained
in full force until revived by the acts of 1752-53.[171] In the spring
of 1755 the General Assembly increased the tax on imported slaves
above the amount previously fixed by law.[172] The duty at this time
was ten per centum on each slave sold into the colony. The same law
was reiterated in 1757,[173] and, when it had expired by limitation,
was revived in 1759, to be in force for "the term of seven years from
thence next following."[174]

Encouraged by the large revenue derived from the tax imposed on
servants and slaves imported into the colony from foreign parts, the
General Assembly stood for the revival of the impost-tax. The act of
1699 required the tax at the hands of "the importer," and from as many
persons as engaged in the slave-trade who were subjects of Great
Britain, and residents of the colony; but the tax at length became a
burden to them. In order to evade the law and escape the tax, they
frequently went into Maryland and the Carolinas, and bought slaves,
ostensibly for their own private use, but really to sell in the local
market. To prevent this, an act was passed imposing a tax of twenty
per centum on all such sales;[175] but there was a great outcry made
against this act. Twenty per centum of the gross amount on each slave,
paid by the person making the purchase, was a burden that planters
bore with ill grace. The question of the reduction of the tax to ten
per centum was vehemently agitated. The argument offered in favor of
the reduction was three-fold; viz., "very burthensom to the fair
purchaser," inimical "to the settlement and improvement of the lands"
in the colony, and a great hinderance to "the importation of slaves,
and thereby lessens the fund arising upon the duties upon
slaves."[176] The reduction was made in May, 1760; and, under
additional pressure, the additional duty on imported slaves to be
"paid by the buyer" was taken off altogether.[177] But in 1766 the
duty on imported slaves was revived;[178] and in 1772 an act was
passed reviving the "additional duty" on "imported slaves, and was
continued in force until the colonies threw off the British yoke in

In all this epoch, from 1619 down to 1775, there is not a scrap of
history to prove that the colony of Virginia ever sought to prohibit
in any manner the importation of slaves. That she encouraged the
traffic, we have abundant testimony; and that she enriched herself by
it, no one can doubt.

During the period of which we have just made mention above, the slaves
in this colony had no political or military rights. As early as
1639,[180] the Assembly _excused_ them from owning or carrying arms;
and in 1705 they were barred by a special act from holding or
exercising "any office, ecclesiastical, civil, or military, or any
place of publick trust or power,"[181] in the colony. If found with a
"gun, sword, club, staff, or other weopon,"[182] they were turned over
to the constable, who was required to administer "twenty lashes on his
or her bare back." There was but one exception made. Where Negro and
Indian slaves lived on the border or the colony, frequently harassed
by predatory bands of hostile Indians, they could bear arms by first
getting written license from their master;[183] but even then they
were kept under surveillance by the whites.

Personal rights, we cannot see that the slaves had any. They were not
allowed to leave the plantation on which they were held as chattel or
real estate, without a written certificate or pass from their master,
which was only granted under the most urgent circumstances.[184] If
they dared lift a hand against any white man, or "Christian" (?) as
they loved to call themselves, they were punished by thirty lashes;
and if a slave dared to resist his master while he was correcting him,
he could be killed; and the master would be guiltless in the eyes of
the law.[185] If a slave remained on another plantation more than four
hours, his master was liable to a fine of two hundred pounds of
tobacco.[186] And if any white person had any commercial dealings with
a slave, he was liable to imprisonment for one month without bail, and
compelled to give security in the sum of ten pounds.[187] If a slave
had earned and owned a horse and buggy, it was lawful to seize
them;[188] and the church-warden was charged with the sale of the
articles. Even with the full permission of his master, if a slave were
found going about the colony trading any articles for his or master's
profit, his master was liable to a fine of ten pounds; which fine went
to the church-warden, for the benefit of the poor of the parish in
which the slave did the trading.[189]

In all the matters of law, civil and criminal, the slave had no
rights. Under an act of 1705, Catholics, Indian and Negro slaves, were
denied the right to appear as "witnesses in any cases whatsoever,"
"not being Christians;"[190] but this was modified somewhat in 1732,
when Negroes, Indians, and Mulattoes were admitted as witnesses in the
trial of slaves.[191] In criminal causes the slave could be arrested,
cast into prison, tried, and condemned, with but one witness against
him, and sentenced without a jury. The solemnity and dignity of "trial
by jury," of which Englishmen love to boast, was not allowed the
criminal slave.[192] And, when a slave was executed, a value was fixed
upon him; and the General Assembly was required to make an
appropriation covering the value of the slave to indemnify the
master.[193] More than five slaves meeting together, "to rebel or make
insurrection" was considered "felony;" and they were liable to
"suffer death, and be utterly excluded the benefit of clergy;"[194]
but, where one slave was guilty of manslaughter in killing another
slave, he was allowed the benefit of clergy.[195] In case of burglary
by a slave, he was not allowed the benefit of the clergy, except "said
breaking, in the case of a freeman, would be burglary."[196] And the
only humane feature in the entire code of the colony was an act passed
in 1772, providing that no slave should be condemned to suffer "unless
four of the judges" before whom he is tried "concur."[197]

The free Negroes of the colony of Virginia were but little removed by
law from their unfortunate brothers in bondage. Their freedom was the
act of individuals, with but one single exception. In 1710 a few
recalcitrant slaves resolved to offer armed resistance to their
masters, whose treatment had driven them to the verge of desperation.
A slave of Robert Ruffin, of Surry County, entered into the plot, but
afterwards revealed it to the masters of the rebellious slaves. As a
reward for his services, the General Assembly, on the 9th of October,
1710, gave him his manumission papers, with the added privilege to
remain in the colony.[198] For the laws of the colony required "that
no negro, mulatto, or indian slaves" should be set free "except for
some meritorious services." The governor and council were to decide
upon the merits of the services, and then grant a license to the
master to set his slave at liberty.[199] If any master presumed to
emancipate a slave without a license granted according to the act of
1723, his slave thus emancipated could be taken up by the
church-warden for the parish in which the master of the slave resided,
and sold "by public outcry." The money accruing from such sale was to
be used for the benefit of the parish.[200] But if a slave were
emancipated according to law, the General Assembly paid the master so
much for him, as in the case of slaves executed by the authorities.
But it was seldom that emancipated persons were permitted to remain in
the colony. By the act of 1699 they were required to leave the colony
within six months after they had secured their liberty, on pain of
having to pay a fine of "ten pounds sterling to the church-wardens of
the parish;" which money was to be used in transporting the liberated
slave out of the country.[201] If slave women came in possession of
their freedom, the law sought them out, and required of them to pay
taxes;[202] a burden from which their white sisters, and even Indian
women, were exempt.

If free Colored persons in the colony ever had the right of franchise,
there is certainly no record of it. We infer, however, from the act of
1723, that previous to that time they had exercised the voting
privilege. For that act declares "that no free negro shall hereafter
have any vote at the election."[203] Perhaps they had had a vote
previous to this time; but it is mere conjecture, unsupported by
historical proof. Being denied the right of suffrage did not shield
them from taxation. All free Negroes, male and female, were compelled
to pay taxes.[204] They contributed to the support of the colonial
government, and yet they had no voice in the government. They
contributed to the building of schoolhouses, but were denied the
blessings of education.

Free Negroes were enlisted in the militia service, but were not
permitted to bear arms. They had to attend the trainings, but were
assigned the most servile duties.[205] They built fortifications,
pitched and struck tents, cooked, drove teams, and in some instances
were employed as musicians. Where free Negroes were acting as
housekeepers, they were allowed to have fire-arms in their
possession;[206] and if they lived on frontier plantations, as we have
made mention already, they were permitted to use arms under the
direction of their employers.

In a moral and religious sense, the slaves of the colony of Virginia
received little or no attention from the Christian Church. All
intercourse was cut off between the races. Intermarrying of whites and
blacks was prohibited by severe laws.[207] And the most common
civilities and amenities of life were frowned down when intended for a
Negro. The plantation was as religious as the Church, and the Church
was as secular as the plantation. The "white christians" hated the
Negro, and the Church bestowed upon him a most bountiful amount of
neglect.[208] Instead of receiving religious instruction from the
clergy, slaves were given to them in part pay for their ministrations
to the whites,--for their "use and encouragement."[209] It was as late
as 1756 before any white minister had the piety and courage to demand
instruction for the slaves.[210] The prohibition against instruction
for these poor degraded vassals is not so much a marvel after all. For
in 1670, when the white population was forty thousand, servants six
thousand, and slaves two thousand, Sir William Berkeley, when inquired
of by the home government as to the condition of education in the
colony, replied:--

     "The same course that is taken in England out of
     towns,--every man according to his ability instructing his
     children. We have forty-eight parishes, and our ministers
     are well paid, and by my consent should be better _if they
     would pray oftener and preach less_. But of all other
     commodities, so of this, _the worst are sent us_, and we had
     few that we could boast of, since the persecution of
     Cromwell's tyranny drove divers worthy men hither. But I
     thank God, _there are no free schools nor printing_, and I
     hope we shall not have these hundred years: for _learning_
     has brought disobedience and heresy and sects into the
     world; and _printing_ has divulged them, and libels against
     the best government. God keep us from both!"[211]

Thus was the entire colony in ignorance and superstition, and it was
the policy of the home government to keep out the light. The
sentiments of Berkeley were applauded in official circles in England,
and most rigorously carried out by his successor who, in 1682, with
the concurrence of the council, put John Buckner under bonds for
introducing the art of printing into the colony.[212] This prohibition
continued until 1733. If the whites of the colony were left in
ignorance, what must have been the mental and moral condition of the
slaves? The ignorance of the whites made them the pliant tools of the
London Company, and the Negroes in turn were compelled to submit to a
condition "of rather rigorous servitude."[213] This treatment has its
reflexive influence on the planters. Men fear most the ghosts of their
sins, and for cruel deeds rather expect and dread "the reward in the
life that now is." So no wonder Dinwiddie wrote the father of Charles
James Fox in 1758: "We dare not venture to part with any of our white
men any distance, as we must have a watchful eye over our negro

In 1648, as we mentioned some pages back, there were about three
hundred slaves in the colony. Slow coming at first, but at length they
began to increase rapidly, so that in fifty years they had increased
one hundred per cent. In 1671 they were two thousand strong, and all,
up to that date, direct from Africa. In 1715 there were twenty-three
thousand slaves against seventy-two thousand whites.[214] By the year
1758 the slave population had increased to the alarming number of over
one hundred thousand, which was a little less than the numerical
strength of the whites.

During this period of a century and a half, slavery took deep root in
the colony of Virginia, and attained unwieldy and alarming
proportions. It had sent its dark death-roots into the fibre and
organism of the political, judicial, social, and religious life of the
people. It was crystallized now into a domestic institution. It
existed in contemplation of legislative enactment, and had high
judicial recognition through the solemn forms of law. The Church had
proclaimed it a "sacred institution," and the clergy had covered it
with the sanction of their ecclesiastical office. There it stood, an
organized system,--the dark problem of the uncertain future: more
terrible to the colonists in its awful, spectral silence during the
years of the Revolution than the victorious guns of the French and
Continental armies, which startled the English lion from his hurtful
hold at the throat of white men's liberties--black men had no country,
no liberty--in this new world in the West. But, like the dead body of
the Roman murderer's victim, slavery was a curse that pursued the
colonists evermore.


[119] News comes to us from Egypt that Arabi Pacha's best artillerists
are Negro soldiers.

[120] R. Beverley's History of Virginia, pp. 35, 36.

[121] See Campbell, p. 144; Burk, vol. i. p. 326.

[122] Smith, vol. ii pp. 38, 39.

[123] Smith's History of Virginia, vol. ii. p. 39.

[124] Virginia Company of London, p. 117, _sq._

[125] Campbell, p. 144.

[126] Burk, vol. I. p. 319.

[127] Neill, p. 120.

[128] Smith, vol. II. p. 37.

[129] There were two vessels, The Treasurer and the Dutch man-of-war;
but the latter, no doubt, put the first slaves ashore.

[130] Campbell, p. 144.

[131] Burk, Appendix, p. 316, Declaration of Virginia Company, 7th
May, 1623.

[132] See Burk, vol. i. p. 326.

[133] Stith, Book III. pp. 153, 154.

[134] Beverley, 235, _sq._

[135] Campbell, 147.

[136] Beverley, p. 248.

[137] Court and Times of James First, ii. p. 108; also, Neill p. 121.

[138] Bancroft, vol. i. p. 468.

[139] Neill, p. 121.

[140] Hist. Tracts, vol. ii. Tract viii.

[141] Beverley, p. 236.

[142] Campbell, p. 145.

[143] Hening, vol. i. p. 146; also p. 552.

[144] Hening, vol. i. p 226.

[145] Bancroft, vol. i. p. 178.

[146] Hening, vol. i. p. 540.

[147] Ibid., vol. ii. p. 84.

[148] Hening, vol. i. p. 396.

[149] Burk, vol. ii. Appendix, p. xxiii.

[150] Beverley, p. 235.

[151] Hening, vol. ii. p. 170; see, also, vol. iii. p. 140.

[152] Beverley, p. 195.

[153] Hening, vol. i. p. 396.

[154] Ibid., vol. ii. p. 283.

[155] Campbell, p. 160; also Bacon's Rebellion.

[156] Hening, vol. ii. pp. 490, 491.

[157] Ibid., vol. ii. p. 260; see, also, vol. iii. p. 460.

[158] Ibid., vol. iii. p. 333.

[159] Hening, vol. iii. pp. 334, 335.

[160] Ibid., vol. iii. p. 448; see, also, vol. v. p. 548.

[161] Hildreth, in his History of the United States, says that the law
making "Negroes, Mulattoes, and Indians" real estate "continued to be
the law so long as Virginia remained a British colony." This is a
mistake, as the reader can see. The law was repealed nearly a quarter
of a century before Virginia ceased to be a British colony.

[162] Hening, vol. v. p. 432, _sq._

[163] Beverley, p. 98.

[164] Hening, vol. iii, pp. 193, 194.

[165] Hening, vol. iii. p. 195.

[166] Burk, vol. ii. Appendix, p. xxii.

[167] Hening, vol. iv. p. 394.

[168] Ibid., vol, v. pp. 92, 93.

[169] Ibid., vol. v. pp. 160, 161.

[170] Ibid., vol. v. pp. 318, 319.

[171] Ibid., vol. vi. pp. 217, 218.

[172] Ibid., vol. vii. p. 466.

[173] Ibid., vol. vii. p. 81.

[174] Ibid., vol. vii. p. 281.

[175] Hening, vol. vii, p. 338.

[176] Ibid., vol. vii. p. 363.

[177] Ibid., vol. vii. p. 383.

[178] Ibid., vol. viii. pp. 190, 191, 237, 336, 337.

[179] Ibid., vol. viii, pp. 530, 532.

[180] Ibid., vol. i. p. 226.

[181] Ibid., vol. iii. p. 251.

[182] Ibid., vol. iii. p. 459; also vol. iv. p. 131, vol. vi. p. 109,
and vol. ii. p. 481.

[183] Hening., vol. vi. p. 110.

[184] Ibid., vol. ii. p. 481.

[185] Ibid., vol. ii p. 270.

[186] Ibid., vol. ii. p. 493.

[187] Ibid., vol. iii, p. 451.

[188] Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 459, 460.

[189] Ibid., vol. viii. p. 360.

[190] Ibid., vol. iii. p. 298.

[191] Ibid., vol. iv. p. 327.

[192] Ibid., vol. iii. p. 103.

[193] Ibid., vol. iii, p. 270, and vol. iv. p. 128.

[194] Hening, vol. iv. p. 126, and vol. vi. p. 104, _sq._

[195] Ibid., vol. viii. p. 139.

[196] Ibid., vol. viii. p. 522.

[197] Ibid., vol. viii. p. 523.

[198] Ibid., vol. viii. pp. 536, 537.

[199] Ibid., vol. iv. p. 132.

[200] Ibid., vol. vi, p. 112.

[201] Hening, vol. iii. pp. 87, 88.

[202] Ibid., vol. ii. p. 267.

[203] Ibid., vol. iv. pp. 133, 134.

[204] Ibid., vol. iv, p. 133.

[205] Ibid., vol. vii. p. 95; and vol. vi. p. 533.

[206] Ibid., vol. iv. p. 131.

[207] Ibid., vol. iii. p. 87.

[208] Campbell, p. 529.

[209] Burk, vol. ii. Appendix, p. xiii.

[210] Foot's Sketches, First Series, p. 291.

[211] Hening, vol. ii. p. 517.

[212] Hening, vol. ii. p. 518.

[213] Campbell, p. 383.

[214] Chalmers's American Colonies, vol. ii. p. 7.





From the settlement of New York by the Dutch in 1609, down to its
conquest by the English in 1664, there is no reliable record of
slavery in that colony. That the institution was coeval with the
Holland government, there can be no historical doubt. During the
half-century that the Holland flag waved over the New Netherlands,
slavery grew to such proportions as to be regarded as a necessary
evil. As early as 1628 the irascible slaves from Angola,[215] Africa,
were the fruitful source of wide-spread public alarm. A newly settled
country demanded a hardy and energetic laboring class. Money was
scarce, the colonists poor, and servants few. The numerous physical
obstructions across the path of material civilization suggested cheap
but efficient labor. White servants were few, and the cost of securing
them from abroad was a great hinderance to their increase. The Dutch
had possessions on the coast of Guinea and in Brazil, and hence they
found it cheap and convenient to import slaves to perform the labor of
the colony.[216]

The early slaves went into the pastoral communities, worked on the
public highways, and served as valets in private families. Their
increase was stealthy, their conduct insubordinate, and their presence
a distressing nightmare to the apprehensive and conscientious.

The West India Company had offered many inducements to its
patroons.[217] And its pledge to furnish the colonists with "as many
blacks as they conveniently could," was scrupulously performed.[218]
In addition to the slaves furnished by the vessels plying between
Brazil and the coast of Guinea, many Spanish and Portuguese prizes
were brought into the Netherlands, where the slaves were made the
chattel property of the company. An urgent and extraordinary demand
for labor, rather than the cruel desire to traffic in human beings,
led the Dutch to encourage the bringing of Negro slaves. Scattered
widely among the whites, treated often with the humanity that
characterized the treatment bestowed upon the white servants, there
was little said about slaves in this period. The majority of them were
employed upon the farms, and led quiet and sober lives. The largest
farm owned by the company was "_cultivated by the blacks_;"[219] and
this fact was recorded as early as the 19th of April, 1638, by "Sir
William Kieft, Director-General of New Netherland." And, although the
references to slaves and slavery in the records of Amsterdam are
incidental, yet it is plainly to be seen that the institution was
purely patriarchal during nearly all the period the Hollanders held
the Netherlands.

Manumission of slaves was not an infrequent event.[220] Sometimes it
was done as a reward for meritorious services, and sometimes it was
prompted by the holy impulses of humanity and justice. The most cruel
thing done, however, in this period, was to hold as slaves in the
service of the company the children of Negroes who were lawfully
manumitted. "All their children already born, or yet to be born,
remained obligated to serve the company as slaves." In cases of
emergency the liberated fathers of these bond children were required
to serve "by water or by land" in the defence of the Holland
government.[221] It is gratifying, however, to find the recorded
indignation of some of the best citizens of the New Netherlands
against the enslaving of the children of free Negroes. It was severely
denounced, as contrary to justice and in "violation of the law of
nature." "How any one born of a free Christian mother" could,
notwithstanding, be a slave, and be obliged to remain such, passed
their comprehension.[222] It was impossible for them to explain it."
And, although "they were treated just like Christians," the moral
sense of the people could not excuse such a flagrant crime against

Director-General Sir William Kieft's unnecessary war, "without the
knowledge, and much less the order, of the XIX., and against the will
of the Commonality there," had thrown the Province into great
confusion. Property was depreciating, and a feeling of insecurity
seized upon the people. Instead of being a source of revenue, New
Netherlands, as shown by the books of the Amsterdam Chamber, had cost
the company, from 1626 to 1644, inclusive, "over five hundred and
fifty thousand guilders, deducting the returns received from there."
It was to be expected that the slaves would share the general feeling
of uneasiness and expectancy. Something had to be done to stay the
panic so imminent among both classes of the colonists, bond and free.
The Bureau of Accounts made certain propositions to the company
calculated to act as a tonic upon the languishing hopes of the people.
After reciting many methods by which the Province was to be
rejuvenated, it was suggested "that it would be wise to permit the
patroons, colonists, and other farmers to import as many Negroes from
the Brazils as they could purchase for cash, to assist them on their
farms; as (it was maintained) these slaves could do more work for
their masters, and were less expensive, than the hired laborers
engaged in Holland, and conveyed to New Netherlands, "_by means of
much money and large promises_."[224]

Nor was the substitution of slave labor for white a temporary
expedient. Again in 1661 a loud call for more slaves was heard.[225]
In the October treaty of the same year, the Dutch yielded to the
seductive offer of the English, "to deliver two or three thousand
hogsheads of tobacco annually ... in return for negroes and
merchandise." At the first the Negro slave was regarded as a cheap
laborer,--a blessing to the Province; but after a while the cupidity
of the English induced the Hollanders to regard the Negro as a
coveted, marketable chattel.

     "In its scheme of political administration, the West-India
     Company exhibited too often a mercantile and selfish spirit;
     and in encouraging commerce in Negro slaves, it established
     an institution which subsisted many generations after its
     authority had ceased."[226]

The Dutch colony was governed by the Dutch and Roman law. The
government was tripartite,--executive, legislative, and judicial,--all
vested in, and exercised by, the governor and council. There seemed to
be but little or no necessity for legislation on the slavery question.
The Negro seemed to be a felt need in the Province, and was regarded
with some consideration by the kind-hearted Hollanders. Benevolent and
social, they desired to see all around them happy. The enfranchised
African might and did obtain a freehold; while the Negro who remained
under an institution of patriarchal simplicity, scarcely knowing he
was in bondage, danced merrily at the best, in "kermis," at Christmas
and Pinckster.[227] There were, doubtless, a few cases where the
slaves received harsh treatment from their masters; but, as a rule,
the jolly Dutch fed and clothed their slaves as well as their white
servants. There were no severe rules to strip the Negroes of their
personal rights,--such as social amusements or public feasts when
their labors had been completed. During this entire period, they went
and came among their class without let or hinderance. They were
married, and given in marriage;[228] they sowed, and, in many
instances, gathered an equitable share of the fruits of their labors.
If there were no schools for them, there were no laws against an
honest attempt to acquire knowledge at seasonable times. The
Hollanders built their government upon the hearthstone, believing it
to be the earthly rock of ages to a nation that would build wisely for
the future. And while it is true that they regarded commerce as the
life-blood of the material existence of a people, they nevertheless
found their inspiration for multifarious duties in the genial sunshine
of the family circle. A nation thus constituted could not habilitate
slavery with all the hideous features it wore in Virginia and
Massachusetts. The slaves could not escape the good influences of the
mild government of the New Netherlands, nor could the Hollanders
withhold the brightness and goodness of their hearts from their
domestic slaves.

On the 27th of August, 1664, New Netherlands fell into the hands of
the English; and the city received a new name,--New York, after the
famous Duke of York. When the English colors were run up over Fort
Amsterdam, it received a new name, "Fort James." In the twenty-four
articles in which the Hollanders surrendered their Province, there is
no direct mention of slaves or slavery. The only clause that might be
construed into a reference to the slaves is as follows: "IV. If any
inhabitant have a mind to remove himself, he shall have a year and six
weeks from this day to remove himself, wife, children, _servants_,
goods, and to dispose of his lands here." There was nothing in the
articles of capitulation hostile to slavery in the colony.

During the reign of Elizabeth, the English government gave its royal
sanction to the slave-traffic. "In 1562 Sir John Hawkins, Sir Lionel
Duchet, Sir Thomas Lodge, and Sir William Winter"--all "honorable
men"--became the authors of the greatest curse that ever afflicted the
earth. Hawkins, assisted by the aforenamed gentlemen, secured a
ship-load of Africans from Sierra Leone, and sold them at Hispaniola.
Many were murdered on the voyage, and cast into the sea. The story of
this atrocity coming to the ears of the queen, she was horrified. She
summoned Hawkins into her presence, in order to rebuke him for his
crime against humanity. He defended his conduct with great skill and
eloquence. He persuaded her Royal Highness that it was an act of
humanity to remove the African from a bad to a better country, from
the influences of idolatry to the influences of Christianity.
Elizabeth afterwards encouraged the slave-trade.

So when New Netherlands became an English colony, slavery received
substantial official encouragement, and the slave became the subject
of colonial legislation.

The first laws under the English Government were issued under the
patent to the Duke of York, on the 1st of March, 1665, and were known
as "the Duke's Laws." It is rather remarkable that they were fashioned
after the famous "Massachusetts Fundamentals," adopted in 1641. These
laws have the following caption: "_Laws collected out of the several
laws now in force in his majesty's American colonies and
plantations._" The first mention of slavery is contained in a section
under the caption of "Bond Slavery."

     "No Christian shall be kept in Bondslavery, villenage, or
     Captivity, Except Such who shall be Judged thereunto by
     Authority, or such as willing have sold or shall sell
     themselves, In which Case a Record of Such servitude shall
     be entered in the Court of Sessions held for that
     Jurisdiction where Such Masters shall Inhabit, provided that
     nothing in the Law Contained shall be to the prejudice of
     Master or Dame who have or shall by any Indenture or
     Covenant take Apprentices for Terme of Years, or other
     Servants for Term of years or Life."[229]

By turning to the first chapter on Massachusetts, the reader will
observe that the above is the Massachusetts law of 1641 with but a
very slight alteration. We find no reference to slavery directly, and
the word slave does not occur in this code at all. Article 7, under
the head of "Capital Laws," reads as follows: "If any person forcibly
stealeth or carrieth away any mankind he shall be put to death."

On the 27th of January, 1683, Col. Thomas Dongan was sent to New York
as its governor, and charged with carrying out a long list of
instructions laid down by his Royal Highness the Duke of York. Gov.
Dongan arrived in New York during the latter part of August; and on
the 13th of September, 1683, the council sitting at Fort James
promulgated an order calling upon the people to elect representatives.
On the 17th October, 1683, the General Assembly met for the first time
at Fort James, in the city of New York. It is a great misfortune that
the journals of both houses are lost. The titles of the Acts passed
have been preserved, and so far we are enabled to fairly judge of the
character of the legislation of the new assembly. On the 1st November,
1683, the Assembly passed "_An Act for naturalizing all those of
foreign nations_ at present inhabiting within this province and
professing Christianity, and for encouragement for others to come and
settle within the same."[230] This law was re-enacted in 1715, and
provided, that "nothing contained in this Act is to be construed to
discharge or set at liberty any servant, bondman or slave, but only to
have relation to such persons as are free at the making hereof."[231]

So the mild system of domestic slavery introduced by the Dutch now
received the sanction of positive British law. Most of the slaves in
the Province of New York, from the time they were first introduced,
down to 1664, had been the property of the West-India Company. As such
they had small plots of land to work for their own benefit, and were
not without hope of emancipation some day. But under the English
government the condition of the slave was clearly defined by law and
one of great hardships. On the 24th of October, 1684, an Act was
passed in which slavery was for the first time regarded as a
legitimate institution in the Province of New York under the English

The slave-trade grew. New York began to feel the necessity of a larger
number of slaves. In 1702 her "most gracious majesty," Queen Anne,
among many instructions to the royal governor, directed that the
people "take especial care, that God Almighty be devoutly and duly
served," and that the "Royal African Company of England" "take
especial care that the said Province may have a constant and
sufficient supply of merchantable Negroes, at moderate rates."[233] It
was a marvellous zeal that led the good queen to build up the Church
of England alongside of the institution of human slavery. It was an
impartial zeal that sought their mutual growth,--the one intended by
our divine Lord to give mankind absolute liberty, the other intended
by man to rob mankind of the great boon of freedom! But with the
sanction of statutory legislation, and the silent acquiescence of the
Church, the foundations of the institution of slavery were firmly laid
in the approving conscience of a selfish public. Dazzled by
prospective riches, and unscrupulous in the methods of accumulations,
the people of the Province of New York clamored for more exacting laws
by which to govern the slaves.[234] Notwithstanding Lord Cornbury had
received the following instructions from the crown, "you shall
endeavor to get a law passed for the restraining of any inhuman
severity ... to find out the best means to facilitate and encourage
the conversion of Negroes and Indians to the Christian religion," the
Colonial Assembly (the same year, 1702) passed severe laws against the
slaves. It was "_An Act for regulating slaves_," but was quite lengthy
and specific. It was deemed "_not lawful to trade with negro slaves_,"
and the violation of this law was followed by fine and imprisonment.
"_Not above three slaves may meet together:_" if they did they were
liable to be whipped by a justice of the peace, or sent to jail. "_A
common whipper to be appointed_," showed that the justices had more
physical exercise than they cared for. "_A slave not to strike a
freeman_," indicated that the slaves in New York as in Virginia were
accounted as heathen. "_Penalty for concealing slaves_," and the
punishment of Negroes for stealing, etc., were rather severe, but only
indicated the temper of the people at that time.[235]

The recommendations to have Negro and Indian slaves baptized gave rise
to considerable discussion and no little alarm. As was shown in the
chapter on Virginia, the proposition to baptize slaves did not meet
with a hearty indorsement from the master-class. The doctrine had
obtained in most of the colonies, that a man was a freeman by virtue
of his membership in a Christian church, and hence eligible to office.
To escape the logic of this position, the dealer in human flesh sought
to bar the door of the Church against the slave. But in 1706 "_An Act
to encourage the baptizing of Negro, Indian, and mulatto slaves_," was
passed in the hope of quieting the public mind on this question.

     "Whereas divers of her Majesty's good Subjects, Inhabitants
     of this Colony, now are, and have been willing that such
     Negroe, Indian, and Mulatto Slaves, who belong to them, and
     desire the same, should be baptized, but are deterred and
     hindered therefrom by reason of a groundless Opinion that
     hath spread itself in this Colony, that by the baptizing of
     such Negro, Indian, or Mulatto Slave, they would become
     Free, and ought to be set at liberty. In order therefore to
     put an end to all such Doubts and scruples as have, or
     hereafter at any time may arise about the same--

     "_Be it enacted, &c._, that the baptizing of a Negro,
     Indian, or Mulatto Slave shall not be any cause or reason
     for the setting them or any of them at liberty.

     "_And be it, &c._, that all and every Negro, Indian, Mulatto
     and Mestee bastard child and children, who is, are, and
     shall be born of any Negro, Indian, or Mestee, shall follow
     the state and condition of the mother and be esteemed,
     reputed, taken and adjudged a slave and slaves to all
     intents and purposes whatsoever.

     "_Provided always, and be it_, &c., That no slave whatsoever
     in this colony shall at any time be admitted as a witness
     for or against any freeman in any case, matter or cause,
     civil or criminal, whatsoever."[236]

So when the door of the Christian Church was opened to the Negro, he
was to appear at the sacred altar with his chains on. Though
emancipated from the bondage of Satan, he nevertheless remained the
abject slave of the Christian colonists. Claiming spiritual kinship
with Christ, the Negro could be sold at the pleasure of his master,
and his family hearthstone trodden down by the slave-dealer. The
humane feature of the system of slavery under the simple Dutch
government, of allowing slaves to acquire an interest in the soil, was
now at an end. The tendency to manumit faithful slaves called forth no
approbation. The colonists grew cold and hard-fisted. They saw not
God's image in the slave,--only so many dollars. There were no strong
men in the pulpits of the colony who dared brave the avaricious spirit
of the times. Not satisfied with colonial legislation, the municipal
government of the city of New York passed, in 1710,[237] an ordinance
forbidding Negroes, Indians, and Mulatto slaves from appearing "in the
streets after nightfall without a lantern with a lighted candle in
it."[238] The year before, a slave-market was erected at the foot of
Wall Street, where slaves of every description were for sale. Negroes,
Indians, and Mulattoes; men, women, and children; the old, the
middle-aged, and the young,--all, as sheep in shambles, were daily
declared the property of the highest cash-bidder. And what of the few
who secured their freedom? Why, the law of 1712 declared that no
Negro, Indian, or Mulatto that shall hereafter be set free "shall hold
any land or real estate, but the same shall escheat."[239] There was,
therefore, but little for the Negro in either state,--bondage or
freedom. There was little in this world to allure him, to encourage
him, to help him. The institution under which he suffered was one huge
sepulchre, and he was buried alive.

The poor grovelling worm turns under the foot of the pedestrian. The
Negro winched under his galling yoke of British colonial oppression.

A misguided zeal and an inordinate desire of conquest had led the
Legislature to appropriate ten thousand pounds sterling toward an
expedition to effect the conquest of Canada. Acadia had just fallen
into the hands of Gov. Francis Nicholson without firing a gun, and the
news had carried the New Yorkers off their feet. "On to Canada!" was
the shibboleth of the adventurous colonists; and the expedition
started. Eight transports, with eight hundred and sixty men, perished
amid the treacherous rocks and angry waters of the St. Lawrence. The
troops that had gone overland returned in chagrin. The city was
wrapped in gloom: the Legislature refused to do any thing further; and
here the dreams of conquest vanished. The city of New York was thrown
on the defensive. The forts were repaired, and every thing put in
readiness for an emergency. Like a sick man the colonists started at
every rumor. On account of bad faith the Iroquois were disposed to

In the feeble condition of the colonial government, the Negro grew
restless. At the first, as previously shown, the slaves were very few,
but now, in 1712, were quite numerous. The Negro, the Quaker, and the
Papist were a trinity of evils that the colonists most dreaded. The
Negro had been badly treated; and an attempt on his part to cast off
the yoke was not improbable, in the mind of the master-class. The
fears of the colonists were at length realized. A Negro riot broke
out. A house was burned, and a number of white persons killed; and,
had it not been for the prompt and efficient aid of the troops, the
city of New York would have been reduced to ashes.

Now, what was the condition of the slaves in the Christian colony of
New York? They had no family relations: for a long time they lived
together by common consent. They had no property, no schools, and,
neglected in life, were abandoned to burial in a common ditch after
death. They dared not lift their hand to strike a Christian or a Jew.
Their testimony was excluded by the courts, and the power of their
masters over their bodies extended sometimes to life and limb. This
condition of affairs yielded its bitter fruit at length.

     "Here we see the effects of that blind and wicked policy
     which induced England to pamper her merchants and increase
     her revenues, by positive instructions to the governours of
     her colonies, strictly enjoining them (for the good of the
     African company, and for the emoluments expected from the
     assiento contract), to fix upon America a vast negro
     population, torn from their homes and brought hither by
     force. New York was at this time filled with negroes; every
     householder who could afford to keep servants, was
     surrounded by blacks, some pampered in indolence, all
     carefully kept in ignorance, and considered, erroneously, as
     creatures whom the white could not do without, yet lived in
     dread of. They were feared, from their numbers, and from a
     consciousness, however stifled, that they were injured and
     might seek revenge or a better condition."[240]

The Negro plot of 1741 furnishes the most interesting and thrilling
chapter in the history of the colony of New York. Unfortunately for
the truth of history, there was but one historian[241] of the affair,
and he an interested judge; and what he has written should be taken
_cum grano salis_. His book was intended to defend the action of the
court that destroyed so many innocent lives, but no man can read it
without being thoroughly convinced that the decision of the court was
both illogical and cruel. There is nothing in this country to equal
it, except it be the burning of the witches at Salem. But in stalwart
old England the Popish Plot in 1679, started by Titus Oates, is the
only occurrence in human history that is so faithfully reproduced by
the Negro plot. Certainly history repeats itself. Sixty-two years of
history stretch between the events. One tragedy is enacted in the
metropolis of the Old World, the other in the metropolis of the New
World. One was instigated by a perjurer and a heretic, the other by an
indentured servant, in all probability from a convict ship. The one
was suggested by the hatred of the Catholics, and the other by hatred
of the Negro. And in both cases the evidence that convicted and
condemned innocent men and women was wrung from the lying lips of
doubtful characters by an overwrought zeal on the part of the legal

Titus Oates, who claimed to have discovered the "_Popish Plot_," was a
man of the most execrable character. He was the son of an Anabaptist,
took orders in the Church, and had been settled in a small living by
the Duke of Norfolk. Indicted for perjury, he effected an escape in a
marvellous manner. While a chaplain in the English navy he was
convicted of practices not fit to be mentioned, and was dismissed from
the service. He next sought communion with the Church of Rome, and
made his way into the Jesuit College of St. Omers. After a brief
residence among the students, he was deputed to perform a confidential
mission to Spain, and, upon his return to St. Omers, was dismissed to
the world on account of his habits, which were very distasteful to
Catholics. He boasted that he had only joined them to get their
secrets. Such a man as this started the cry of the Popish Plot, and
threw all England into a state of consternation. A chemist by the name
of Tongue, on the 12th of August, 1678, had warned the king against a
plot that was directed at his life, etc. But the king did not attach
any importance to the statement until Tongue referred to Titus Oates
as his authority. The latter proved himself a most arrant liar while
on the stand: but the people were in a credulous state of mind, and
Oates became the hero of the hour;[242] and under his wicked influence
many souls were hurried into eternity. Read Hume's account of the
Popish Plot, and then follow the bloody narrative of the Negro plot of
New York, and see how the one resembles the other.

     "Some mysterious design was still suspected in every
     enterprise and profession: arbitrary power and Popery were
     apprehended as the scope of all projects: each breath or
     rumor made the people start with anxiety: their enemies,
     they thought, were in their very bosom, and had gotten
     possession of their sovereign's confidence. While in this
     timorous, jealous disposition, the cry of a _plot_ all on a
     sudden struck their ears: they were wakened from their
     slumber, and like men affrightened and in the dark, took
     every figure for a spectre. The terror of each man became
     the source of terror to another. And a universal panic being
     diffused, reason and argument, and common-sense and common
     humanity, lost all influence over them. From this
     disposition of men's minds we are to account for the
     progress of the _Popish Plot_, and the credit given to it;
     an event which would otherwise appear prodigious and
     altogether inexplicable."[243]

On the 28th of February, 1741, the house of one Robert Hogg, Esq., of
New-York City, a merchant, was robbed of some fine linen, medals,
silver coin, etc. Mr. Hogg's house was situated on the corner of Broad
and Mill Streets, the latter sometimes being called Jew's Alley. The
case was given to the officers of the law to look up.

The population of New-York City was about ten thousand, about two
thousand of whom were slaves. On the 18th of March the chapel in the
fort took fire from some coals carelessly left by an artificer in a
gutter he had been soldering. The roof was of shingles; and a brisk
wind from the south-east started a fire, that was not observed until
it had made great headway. In those times the entire populace usually
turned out to assist in extinguishing fires; but this fire being in
the fort, the fear of an explosion of the magazine somewhat checked
their usual celerity on such occasions. The result was, that all the
government buildings in the fort were destroyed. A militia officer by
the name of Van Horne, carried away by the belief that the fire was
purposely set by the Negroes, caused the beating of the drums and the
posting of the "night watch." And for his vigilance he was nicknamed
"Major Drum." The "Major's" apprehensions, however, were contagious.
The fact that the governor reported the true cause of the fire to the
Legislature had but little influence in dispossessing the people of
their fears of a Negro plot. The next week the chimney of Capt.
Warren's house near the fort took fire, but was saved with but slight
damage. A few days after this the storehouse of a Mr. Van Zandt was
found to be on fire, and it was said at the time to have been
occasioned by the carelessness of a smoker. In about three days after,
two fire alarms were sounded. One was found to be a fire in some hay
in a cow-stable near a Mr. Quick's house. It was soon extinguished.
The other alarm was on account of a fire in the kitchen loft of the
dwelling of a Mr. Thompson. On the next day coals were discovered
under the stables of a Mr. John Murray on Broadway. On the next
morning an alarm called the people to the residence of Sergeant Burns,
near the fort; and in a few hours the dwelling of a Mr. Hilton, near
Fly Market, was found to be on fire. But the flames in both places
were readily extinguished. It was thought that the fire was purposely
set at Mr. Hilton's, as a bundle of tow was found near the premises. A
short time before these strange fires broke out, a Spanish vessel,
partly manned by Spanish Catholic Negroes, had been brought into the
port of New York as a prize. All the crew that were Negroes were
hurried into the Admiralty Court; where they were promptly condemned
to slavery, and an order issued for their sale. The Negroes pleaded
their freedom in another country, but had no counsel to defend them. A
Capt. Sarly purchased one of these Negroes. Now, Capt. Sarly's house
adjoined that of Mr. Hilton's; and so, when the latter's house was
discovered to be on fire, a cry was raised, "The Spanish Negroes! The
Spanish! Take up the Spanish Negroes!" Some persons took it upon
themselves to question Capt. Sarly's Negro about the fires, and it is
said that he behaved in an insolent manner; whereupon he was sent to
jail. A magistrate gave orders to the constables to arrest and
incarcerate the rest of the Spanish Negroes. The magistrates held a
meeting the same day, in the afternoon; and, while they were
deliberating about the matter, another fire broke out in Col.
Phillipes's storehouse. Some of the white people cried "Negro!
Negro!" and "Cuff Phillipes!" Poor Cuff, startled at the cry, ran to
his master's house, from whence he was dragged to jail by an excited
mob. Judge Horsemanden says,--

     "Many people had such terrible apprehensions on this
     occasion that several Negroes (many of whom had assisted to
     put out the fire) who were met in the streets, were hurried
     away to jail; and when they were there they were continued
     some time in confinement before the magistrates could spare
     time to examine into their several cases."[244]

Let the reader return now to the robbery committed in Mr. Hogg's house
on the 28th of February. The officers thought they had traced the
stolen goods to a public house on the North River, kept by a person
named John Hughson. This house had been a place of resort for Negroes;
and it was searched for the articles, but nothing was found. Hughson
had in his service an indentured servant,--a girl of sixteen
years,--named Mary Burton. She intimated to a neighbor that the goods
were concealed in Hughson's house, but that it would be at the expense
of her life to make this fact known. This information was made known
to the sheriff, and he at once apprehended the girl and produced her
before Alderman Banker. This benevolent officer promised the girl her
freedom on the ground that she should tell all she knew about the
missing property. For prudential reasons the Alderman ordered Mary
Burton to be taken to the City Hall, corner Wall and Nassua Streets.
On the 4th of March the justices met at the City Hall. In the mean
while John Hughson and his wife had been arrested for receiving stolen
goods. They were now examined in the presence of Mary Burton. Hughson
admitted that some goods had been brought to his house, produced them,
and turned them over to the court. It appears from the testimony of
the Burton girl that another party, dwelling in the house of the
Hughson's, had taken part in receiving the stolen articles. She was a
girl of bad character, called Margaret Sorubiero, _alias_ Solinburgh,
_alias_ Kerry, but commonly called Peggy Carey. This woman had lived
in the home of the Hughsons for about ten months, but at one time
during this period had remained a short while at the house of John
Rommes, near the new Battery, but had returned to Hughson's again.
The testimony of Mary Burton went to show that a Negro by the name of
Cæsar Varick, but called Quin, on the night in which the burglary was
committed, entered Peggy's room through the window. The next morning
Mary Burton saw "speckled linen" in Peggy's room, and that the man
Varick gave the deponent two pieces of silver. She further testified
that Varick drank two mugs of punch, and bought of Hughson a pair of
stockings, giving him a lump of silver; and that Hughson and his wife
received and hid away the linen.[245] Mr. John Varick (it was spelled
Vaarck then), a baker, the owner of Cæsar, occupied a house near the
new Battery, the kitchen of which adjoined the yard of John Romme's
house. He found some of Robert Hogg's property under his kitchen
floor, and delivered it to the mayor. Upon this revelation Romme fled
to New Jersey, but was subsequently captured at Brunswick. He had
followed shoemaking and tavern-keeping, and was, withal, a very
suspicious character.

Up to this time nothing had been said about a Negro plot. It was
simply a case of burglary. Hughson had admitted receiving certain
articles, and restored them; Mr. Varick had found others, and
delivered them to the mayor.

The reader will remember that the burglary took place on the 28th of
February; that the justices arraigned the Hughsons, Mary Burton, and
Peggy Carey on the 4th of March; that the first fire broke out on the
18th, the second on the 25th, of March, the third on the 1st of April,
and the fourth and fifth on the 4th of April; that on the 5th of April
coals were found disposed so as to burn a haystack, and that the day
following two houses were discovered to be on fire.

On the 11th of April the Common Council met. The following gentlemen
were present: John Cruger, Esq., mayor; the recorder, Daniel
Horsemanden; aldermen, Gerardus Stuyvesant, William Romaine, Simon
Johnson, John Moore, Christopher Banker, John Pintard, John Marshall;
assistants, Henry Bogert, Isaac Stoutenburgh, Philip Minthorne, George
Brinckerhoff, Robert Benson, and Samuel Lawrence. Recorder Horsemanden
suggested to the council that the governor be requested to offer
rewards for the apprehension of the incendiaries and all persons
implicated, and that the city pay the cost, etc. It was accordingly
resolved that the lieutenant-governor be requested to offer a reward
of one hundred pounds current money of the Province to any white
person, and pardon, if concerned; and twenty pounds, freedom, and, if
concerned, pardon to any slave (the master to be paid twenty-five
pounds); and to any free Negro, Mulatto, or Indian, forty-five pounds
and pardon, if concerned. The mayor and the recorder (Horsemanden),
called upon Lieut.-Gov. Clark, and laid the above resolve before him.

The city was now in a state of great excitement. The air was peopled
with the wildest rumors.

On Monday the 13th of April each alderman, assistant, and constable
searched his ward. The militia was called out, and sentries posted at
the cross-streets. While the troops were patrolling the streets, the
aldermen were examining Negroes in reference to the origin of the
fires. Nothing was found. The Negroes denied all knowledge of the
fires or a plot.

On the 21st of April, 1741, the Supreme Court convened.[246] Judges
Frederick Phillipse and Daniel Horsemanden called the _grand jury_.
The members were as follows: Robert Watts, merchant, foreman; Jeremiah
Latouche, Joseph Read, Anthony Rutgers, John M'Evers, John Cruger,
jun., John Merrit, Adoniah Schuyler, Isaac DePeyster, Abraham
Ketteltas, David Provoost, Rene Hett, Henry Beeckman, jun., David van
Horne, George Spencer, Thomas Duncan, and Winant Van Zandt,--all set
down as merchants,--a respectable, intelligent, and influential grand
jury! Judge Phillipse informed the jury that the people "have been put
into many frights and terrors," in regard to the fires; that it was
their duty to use "all lawful means" to discover the guilty parties,
for there was "much room to suspect" that the fires were not
accidental. He told them that there were many persons in jail upon
whom suspicion rested; that arson was felony at common law, even
though the fire is extinguished, or goes out itself; that arson was a
deep crime, and, if the perpetrators were not apprehended and
punished, "who can say he is safe, or where will it end?" The learned
judge then went on to deliver a moral lecture against the wickedness
of selling "penny drams" to Negroes, without the consent of their
masters. In conclusion, he charged the grand jury to present "all
conspiracies, combinations and other offences."

It should be kept in mind that Mary Burton was only a witness in the
burglary case already mentioned. Up to that time there had been no
fires. The fires, and wholesale arrests of innocent Negroes, followed
the robbery. But the grand jury called Mary Burton to testify in
reference to the fires. She refused to be sworn. She was questioned
concerning the fires, but gave no answer. Then the proclamation of the
mayor, offering protection, pardon, freedom, and one hundred pounds,
was read. It had the desired effect. The girl opened her mouth, and
spake all the words that the jury desired. At first she agreed to tell
all she knew about the stolen goods, but would say nothing about the
fires. This declaration led the jury to infer that she could, but
would not say any thing about the fires. After a moral lecture upon
her duty in the matter in the light of eternal reward, and a
reiteration of the proffered reward that then awaited her wise
decision, her memory brightened, and she immediately began to tell
_all_ she knew. She said that a Negro named Prince, belonging to a Mr.
Auboyman, and Prince (Varick) brought the goods, stolen from Mr.
Hogg's house, to the house of her master, and that Hughson, his wife,
and Peggy (Carey) received them; further, that Cæsar, Prince, and
Cuffee (Phillipse) had frequently met at Hughson's tavern, and
discoursed about burning the fort; that they had said they would go
down to the Fly (the east end of the city), and burn the entire place;
and that Hughson and his wife had assented to these insurrectionary
remarks, and promised to assist them. She added, by way of fulness and
emphasis, that when a handful of wretched slaves, seconded by a
miserable and ignorant white tavern-keeper, should have lain the city
in ashes, and murdered eight or nine thousand persons,--then Cæsar
should be governor, Hughson king, and Cuffee supplied with abundant
riches! The loquacious Mary remembered that this intrepid trio had
said, that when they burned the city it would be in the night, so they
could murder the people as they came out of their homes. It should not
be forgotten that _all_ the fires broke out in the daytime!

It is rather remarkable and should be observed, that this wonderful
witness stated that her master, John Hughson, had threatened to poison
her if she told anybody that the stolen goods were in his house; that
all the Negroes swore they would burn her if she told; and that, when
they talked of burning the town during their meetings, there were no
white persons present save her master, mistress, and Peggy Carey.

The credulous Horsemanden tells us that "the evidence of a
conspiracy," not only to burn the city, but also "to destroy and
murder the people," was most "astonishing to the grand jury!" But that
any white person should confederate with slaves in such a wicked and
cruel purpose was astounding beyond measure! And the grand jury was
possessed of the same childlike faith in the ingenious narrative of
the wily Mary. In their report to the judges, they set forth in strong
terms their faith in the statements of the deponent, and required the
presence of Peggy Carey. The extent of the delusion of the judges,
jury, and people may be seen in the fact, that, immediately upon the
report of the jury, the judges summoned the entire bar of the city of
New York to meet them. The following gentlemen responded to the call:
Messrs. Murray, Alexander, Smith, Chambers, Nichols, Lodge, and
Jameson. All the lawyers were present except the attorney-general. By
the act of 1712, "for preventing, suppressing and punishing the
conspiracy and insurrection of negroes and other slaves,"[247] a
justice of the peace could try the refractory slaves at once. But here
was a deep, dark, and bloody plot to burn the city and murder its
inhabitants, in which _white_ persons were implicated. This fact led
the learned judges to conclude it wise and prudent to refer this whole
matter to the Supreme Court. And the generous offer of the _entire_
bar of New-York City to assist, in turns, in every trial, should
remain evermore an indestructible monument to their unselfish devotion
to their city, the existence of which was threatened by less than a
score of ignorant, penniless Negro slaves!

By the testimony of Mary Burton, Peggy Carey stood convicted as one of
the conspirators. She had already languished in jail for more than a
month. The judges thought it advisable to examine her in her cell.
They tried to cajole her into criminating others; but she stoutly
denied all knowledge of the fires, and said "that if she should accuse
anybody of any such thing, she must accuse innocent persons, and wrong
her own soul."

On the 24th of April, Cæsar Varick, Prince Auboyman, John Hughson,
his wife, and Peggy Carey were arraigned for felony, and pleaded not
guilty. Cæsar and Prince were first put on trial. As they did not
challenge the jury, the following gentlemen were sworn: Messrs. Roger
French, John Groesbeck, John Richard, Abraham Kipp, George Witts, John
Thurman, Patrick Jackson, Benjamin Moore, William Hammersley, John
Lashiere, Joshua Sleydall, and John Shurmer. "Guilty!" as charged in
the indictment. They had committed the robbery, so said the jury.

On the 3d of May one Arthur Price, a common thief, was committed to
jail for theft. He occupied a cell next to the notorious Peggy Carey.
In order to bring himself into favor with the judges, he claimed to
have had a conversation with Peggy through the hole in the door. Price
says she told him that "she was afraid of those fellows" (the
Negroes); that if they said any thing in any way involving her she
would hang every one of them; that she did not care to go on the stand
again unless she was called; that when asked if she intended to set
the town on fire she said no; but she knew about the plot; that
Hughson and his wife "were sworn with the rest;" that she was not
afraid of "Prince, Cuff, Cæsar, and Fork's Negro--not Cæsar, but
another," because they "were all true-hearted fellows." This
remarkable conversation was flavored throughout with the vilest
species of profanity. Notwithstanding this interview was between a
common Irish prostitute and a wretched sneak-thief, it had great
weight with the solemn and upright judges.

In the midst of this trial, seven barns were burnt in the town of
Hackinsack. Two Negroes were suspected of the crime, but there was not
the slightest evidence that they were guilty. But one of them said
that he had discharged a gun at the party who set his master's barn on
fire, but did not kill any one. The other one was found loading a gun
with two bullets. This was enough to convict. They were burnt alive at
a stake. This only added fuel to the flame of public excitement in New

On the 6th of May (Wednesday) two more arrests were made,--Hughson's
daughter Sarah, suspected of being a confederate, and Mr. Sleydall's
Negro Jack,--on suspicion of having put fire to Mr. Murray's haystack.
On the same day the judges arraigned the white persons implicated in
the case,--John Hughson, his wife, and Peggy Carey. The jury promptly
found them guilty of "receiving stolen goods." "Peggy Carey," says
Recorder Horsemanden, "seeming to think it high time to do something
to recommend herself to mercy, made a voluntary confession." This
vile, foul-mouthed prostitute takes the stand, and gives a new turn to
the entire affair. She removes the scene of the conspiracy to another
tavern near the new Battery, where John Romme had made a habit of
entertaining, _contrary to law_, Negro slaves. Peggy had seen many
meetings at this place, particularly in December, 1740. At that time
she mentioned the following Negroes as being present: Cuff, Brash,
Curacoa, Cæsar, Patrick, Jack, Cato; but _her_ especial Cæsar Varick
was not implicated! Romme administered an oath to all these Negroes,
and then made a proposition to them; viz., that they should destroy
the fort, burn the town, and bring the spoils to him. He engaged to
divide with them, and take them to a new country, where he would give
them their freedom. Mrs. Romme was present during this conversation;
and, after the Negroes had departed, she and the deponent (Peggy) were
sworn by Romme to eternal secrecy. Mrs. Romme denied swearing to the
conspiracy, but acknowledged that her husband had received stolen
goods, that he sold drams to Negroes who kept game-fowls there; but
that never more than three Negroes came at a time. She absconded in
great fright. It has been mentioned that Peggy Carey had lived at the
tavern of John Romme for a short time, and that articles belonging to
Mr. Hogg had been found under the kitchen floor of the house next to

The judges evidently reasoned that all Negroes would steal, or that
stealing was incident upon or implied by the condition of the slave.
Then Romme kept a "tippling-house," and defied the law by selling
"drams" to Negroes. Now, a man who keeps a "tippling-house" was liable
to encourage a conspiracy.

A full list of the names of the persons implicated by Peggy was handed
to the proper officers, and those wicked persons apprehended. They
were brought before the redoubtable Peggy for identification. She
accused them of being sworn conspirators. They all denied the charge.
Then they were turned over to Mary Burton; and she, evidently
displeased at Peggy's attempt to rival her in the favor of the
powerful judges, testified that she knew them not. But it was vain.
Peggy had the ear of the court, and the terror-stricken company was
locked up in the jail. Alarmed at their helpless situation, the
ignorant Negroes began "to accuse one another, as it would seem, by
way of injuring an enemy and guarding themselves."

Cæsar and Prince, having been tried and convicted of felony, were
sentenced to be hanged. The record says,--

     "Monday, 11th of May. Cæsar and Prince were executed this
     day at the gallows, according to sentence: they died very
     stubbornly, without confessing _any thing about the
     conspiracy_: and denied that _they knew any thing about it
     to the last_. The body of Cæsar was accordingly hung in

On the 13th of May, 1741, a solemn fast was observed; "because many
houses and dwellings had been fired about our ears, without any
discovery of the cause or occasion of them, which had put us into the
utmost consternation." Excitement ran high. Instead of getting any
light on the affair, the plot thickened.

On the 6th of May, Hughson, his wife, and Peggy Carey had been tried
and found guilty, as has already been stated. Sarah Hughson, daughter
of the Hughsons, was in jail. Mary Burton was the heroine of the hour.
Her word was law. Whoever she named was produced in court. The
sneak-thief, Arthur Price, was employed by the judges to perform a
mission that was at once congenial to his tastes and in harmony with
his criminal education. He was sent among the incarcerated Negroes to
administer punch, in the desperate hope of getting more "confessions!"
Next, he was sent to Sarah Hughson to persuade her to accuse her
father and mother of complicity in the conspiracy. He related a
conversation he had with Sarah, but she denied it to his teeth with
great indignation. This vile and criminal method of securing testimony
of a conspiracy never brought the blush to the cheek of a single
officer of the law. "None of these things moved" them. They were
themselves so completely lost in the general din and excitement, were
so thoroughly convinced that a plot existed, and that it was their
duty to prove it in some manner or other,--that they believed every
thing that went to establish the guilt of any one.

Even a feeble-minded boy was arrested, and taken before the grand
jury. He swore that he knew nothing of the plot to burn the town, but
the kind magistrates told him that if he would tell the truth he
should not be hanged. Ignorant as these helpless slaves were, they now
understood "telling the truth" to mean to criminate some one in the
plot, and thus gratify the inordinate hunger of the judges and jury
for testimony relating to a "conspiracy." This Negro imbecile began
his task of telling "what he knew," which was to be rewarded by
allowing him to leave without being hung! He deposed that Quack
desired him to burn the fort; that Cuffee said he would fire one
house, Curacoa Dick another, and so on _ad infinitum_. He was asked by
one of the learned gentlemen, "what the Negroes intended by all this
mischief?" He answered, "To kill all the gentlemen and take their
wives; that one of the fellows already hanged, was to be an officer in
the Long Bridge Company, and the other, in the Fly Company."[249]

On the 25th of May a large number of Negroes were arrested. The boy
referred to above (whose name was Sawney, or Sandy) was called to the
stand again on the 26th, when he grew very talkative. He said that "at
a meeting of Negroes he was called in and frightened into undertaking
to burn the slip Market;" that he witnessed some of the Negroes in
their attempts to burn certain houses; that at the house of one
Comfort, he, with others, was sworn to secrecy and fidelity to each
other; said he was never at either tavern, Hughson's nor Romme's; and
ended his revelations by accusing a woman of setting fire to a house,
and of murdering her child. As usual, after such confessions, more
arrests followed. Quack and Cuffee were tried and convicted of felony,
"for wickedly and maliciously conspiring with others to burn the town
and murder the inhabitants." This was an occasion to draw forth the
eloquence of the attorney-general; and in fervid utterance he pictured
the Negroes as "monsters, devils, etc." A Mr. Rosevelt, the master of
Quack, swore that his slave was home when the fire took place in the
fort; and Mr. Phillipse, Cuffee's master, testified as much for his
servant. But this testimony was not what the magistrates wanted: so
they put a soldier on the stand who swore that Quack _did_ come to the
fort the day of the fire; that his wife lived there, and when he
insisted on going in he (the sentry) knocked him down, but the officer
of the guard passed him in. Lawyer Smith, "whose eloquence had
disfranchised the Jews," was called upon to sum up. He thought too
much favor had been shown the Negroes, in that they had been accorded
a trial as if they were freemen; that the wicked Negroes might have
been proceeded against in a most summary manner; that the Negro
witnesses had been treated with too much consideration; that "the law
requires no oath to be administered to them; and, indeed, it would be
a profanation of it to administer it to a heathen in a legal form;"
that "the monstrous ingratitude of this black tribe is what
exceedingly aggravates their guilt;" that their condition as slaves
was one of happiness and peace; that "they live without care; are
commonly better fed and clothed than the poor of most Christian
countries; they are indeed slaves," continued the eloquent and logical
attorney, "but under the protection of the law: none can hurt them
with impunity; but notwithstanding all the kindness and tenderness
with which they have been treated among us, yet this is the second
attempt of this same kind that this brutish and bloody species of
mankind have made within one age!" Of course the jury knew their duty,
and merely went through the form of going out and coming in
immediately with a verdict of "guilty." The judge sentenced them to be
chained to a stake and burnt to death,--"and the Lord have mercy upon
your poor wretched souls." His Honor told them that "they should be
thankful that their feet were caught in the net; that the mischief had
fallen upon their own pates." He advised them to consider the
tenderness and humanity with which they had been treated; that they
were the most abject wretches, the very outcasts of the nations of the
earth; and, therefore, they should look to their souls, for as to
their bodies, they would be burnt.

These poor fellows were accordingly chained to the stake the next
Sunday; but, before the fuel was lighted, Deputy Sheriff More and Mr.
Rosevelt again questioned Quack and Cuffee, and reduced their
confessions to paper, for they had stoutly protested their innocence
while in court, in hope of being saved they confessed, in substance,
that Hughson contrived to burn the town, and kill the people; that a
company of Negroes voted Quack the proper person to burn the fort,
because his wife lived there; that he did set the chapel on fire with
a lighted stick; that Mary Burton had told the truth, and that she
could implicate many more if she would, etc. All this general lying
was done with the understanding that the confessors were to be
reprieved until the governor could be heard from. But a large crowd
had gathered to witness the burning of these poor Negroes, and they
compelled the sheriff to proceed with the ceremonies. The convicted
slaves were burned.

On the 1st of June the boy Sawney was again put upon the
witness-stand. His testimony led to the arrest of more Negroes. He
charged them with having been sworn to the plot, and with having sharp
penknives with which to kill white men. One Fortune testified that he
never knew of houses where conspirators met, nor did he know Hughson,
but accuses Sawney, and Quack who had been burnt. The next witness was
a Negro girl named Sarah. She was frightened out of her senses. She
foamed at the mouth, uttered the bitterest imprecations, and denied
all knowledge of a conspiracy. But the benevolent gentlemen who
conducted the trial told her that others had said certain things in
proof of the existence of a conspiracy, that the only way to save her
life was to acknowledge that there had been a conspiracy to burn the
town and kill the inhabitants. She then assented to all that was told
her, and thereby implicated quite a number of Negroes; but, when her
testimony was read to her, she again denied all. She was without doubt
a fit subject for an insane-asylum rather than for the witness-stand,
in a cause that involved so many human lives.

It will be remembered that John Hughson, his wife, and daughter had
been in the jail for a long time. He now desired to be called to the
witness-stand. He begged to be sworn, that in the most solemn manner
he might deny all knowledge of the conspiracy, and exculpate his wife
and child. But the modest recorder reminded him of the fact that he
stood convicted as a felon already, that he and his family were doomed
to be hanged, and that, therefore, it would be well for him to
"confess all." He was sent back to jail unheard. Already condemned to
be hung, the upright magistrates had Hughson tried again for
"conspiracy" on the 4th of June! The indictments were three in number:
_First_, that Hughson, his wife, his daughter, and Peggy Carey, with
three Negroes, Cæsar, Prince, and Cuffee, conspired in March last to
set fire to the house in the fort. _Second_, That Quack (already
burnt) did set fire to and burn the house, and that the prisoners,
Hughson, his wife, daughter Sarah, and Peggy, encouraged him so to do.
_Third_, That Cuffee (already burnt) did set fire to Phillipse's
house, and burnt it; and they, the prisoners, procured and encouraged
him so to do. Hughson, his family, and Peggy pleaded not guilty to all
the above indictments. The attorney-general delivered a spirited
address to the jury, which was more forcible than elegant. He
denounced the unlucky Hughson as "infamous, inhuman, an arch-rebel
against God, his king, and his country,--a devil incarnate," etc. He
was ably assisted by eminent counsel for the king,--Joseph Murray,
James Alexander, William Smith, and John Chambers. Mary Burton was
called again. She swore that Negroes used to go to Hughson's at night,
eat and drink, and sometimes buy provisions; that Hughson did swear
the Negroes to secrecy in the plot; that she herself had seen seven or
eight guns and swords, a bag of shot, and a barrel of gunpowder at
Hughson's house; that the prisoner told her he would kill her if she
ever revealed any thing she knew or saw; wanted her to swear like the
rest, offered her silk gowns, and gold rings,--but none of those
tempting things moved the virtuous Mary. Five other witnesses
testified that they heard Quack and Cuffee say to Hughson while in
jail, "This is what you have brought us to." The Hughsons had no
counsel, and but three witnesses. One of them testified that he had
lived in Hughson's tavern about three months during the past winter,
and had never seen Negroes furnished entertainment there. The two
others said that they had never seen any evil in the man nor in his
house, etc.

"William Smith, Esq." now took the floor to sum up. He told the jury
that it was "black and hellish" to burn the town, and then kill them
all; that John Hughson, by his complicity in this crime, had made
himself blacker than the Negroes; that the credit of the witnesses was
good, and that there was nothing left for them to do but to find the
prisoners guilty, as charged in the indictment. The judge charged the
jury, that the evidence against the prisoners "is ample, full, clear,
and satisfactory. They were found guilty in twenty minutes, and on the
8th of June were brought into court to receive sentence. The judge
told them that they were guilty of a terrible crime; that they had not
only made Negroes their equals, but superiors, by waiting upon,
keeping company with, entertaining them with meat, drink, and lodging;
that the most amazing part of their conduct was their part in a plot
to burn the town, and murder the inhabitants,--to have consulted with,
aided, and abetted the "black seed of Cain," was an unheard of
crime,--that although "with uncommon assurance they deny the fact, and
call on God, as a witness of their innocence, He, out of his goodness
and mercy, has confounded them, and proved their guilt, to the
satisfaction of the court and jury." After a further display of
forensic eloquence, the judge sentenced them "to be hanged by the neck
'till dead," on Friday, the 12th of June, 1741.

The Negro girl Sarah, referred to above, who was before the jury on
the 1st of June in such a terrified state of body and mind, was
re-called on the 5th of June. She implicated twenty Negroes, whom she
declared were present at the house of Comfort, whetting their knives,
and avowing that "they would kill white people." On the 6th of June,
Robin, Cæsar, Cook, Cuffee, and Jack, another Cuffee, and Jamaica were
arrested, and put upon trial on the 8th of June. It is a sad fact to
record, even at this distance, that these poor blacks, without
counsel, friends, or money, were tried and convicted upon the evidence
of a poor ignorant, hysterical girl, and the "dying confession" of
Quack and Cuffee, who "confessed" with the understanding that they
should be free! Tried and found guilty on the 8th, without clergy or
time to pray, they were burned at the stake the next day! Only Jack
found favor with the court, and that favor was purchased by perjury.
He was respited until it "was found how well he would deserve further
favor." It was next to impossible to understand him, so two white
gentlemen were secured to act as interpreters. Jack testified to
having seen Negroes at Hughson's tavern; that "when they were eating,
he said they began to talk about setting the houses on fire:" he was
so good as to give the names of about fourteen Negroes whom he heard
say that they would set their masters' houses on fire, and then rush
upon the whites and kill them; that at one of these meetings there
were five or six Spanish Negroes present, whose conversation he could
not understand; that they waited a month and a half for the Spaniards
and French to come, but when they came not, set fire to the fort. As
usual, more victims of these confessors swelled the number already in
the jail; which was, at this time, full to suffocation.

On the 19th of June the lieutenant-governor issued a proclamation of
freedom to all who would "confess and discover" before the 1st of
July. Several Indians were in the prison, charged with conspiracy. The
confessions and discoveries were numerous. Every Negro charged with
being an accomplice of the unfortunate wretches that had already
perished at the stake began to accuse some one else of complicity in
the plot. They all knew of many Negroes who were going to cut the
white people's throats with penknives; and when the town was in flames
they were to "meet at the end of Broadway, next to the fields!" And it
must be recorded, to the everlasting disgrace of the judiciary of New
York, that scores of ignorant, helpless, and innocent Negroes--and a
few white people too--were convicted upon the confessions of the
terror-stricken witnesses! There is not a court to-day in all
enlightened Christendom that would accept as evidence--not even
circumstantial--the incoherent utterances of these Negro "confessors."
And yet an intelligent (?) New-York court thought the evidence "clear
(?), and satisfactory!"

But the end was not yet reached. A new turn was to be given to the
notorious Mary Burton. The reader will remember that she said that
there never were any white persons present when the burning of the
town was the topic of conversation, except her master and mistress and
Peggy Carey. But on the 25th of June the budding Mary accused Rev.
John Ury, a reputed Catholic priest, and a schoolmaster in the town,
and one Campbell, also a school-teacher, of having visited Hughson's
tavern with the conspirators.

On the 26th of June, nine more Negroes were brought before the court
and arraigned. Seven pleaded guilty in the hope of a reprieve: two
were tried and convicted upon the testimony of Mary Burton. Eight more
were arraigned, and pleaded guilty; followed by seven more, some of
whom pleaded guilty, and some not guilty. Thus, in one day, the court
was enabled to dispose of twenty-four persons.

On the 27th of June, one Adam confessed that he knew of the plot, but
said he was enticed into it by Hughson, three years before; that
Hughson told him that he knew a man who could forgive him all his
sins. So between John Hughson's warm rum, and John Ury's ability to
forgive sin, the virtuous Adam found all his scruples overcome; and he
took the oath. A Dr. Hamilton who lodged at Holt's, and the latter
also, are brought into court as accused of being connected with the
plot. It was charged that Holt directed his Negro Joe to set fire to
the play-house at the time he should indicate. At the beginning of the
trial only four white persons were mentioned; but now they began to
multiply, and barrels of powder to increase at a wonderful rate. The
confessions up to this time had been mere repetitions. The arrests
were numerous, and the jail crowded beyond its capacity. The poor
Negroes implicated were glad of an opportunity to "confess" against
some one else, and thereby save their own lives. Recorder Horsemanden
says, "Now many negroes began to squeak, in order to lay hold of the
benefit of the proclamation." He deserves the thanks of humanity for
his frankness! For before the proclamation there were not more than
seventy Negroes in jail; but, within eight days after it was issued,
thirty more frightened slaves were added to the number. And Judge
Horsemanden says, "'Twas difficult to find room for them, nor could we
see any likelihood of stopping the impeachments." The Negroes turned
to accusing white persons, and seven or eight were arrested. The
sanitary condition of the prison now became a subject of grave
concern. The judges and lawyers consulted together, and agreed to
pardon some of the prisoners to make room in the jail. They also
thought it prudent to lump the confessions, and thereby facilitate
their work; but the confessions went on, and the jail filled up again.

The Spanish Negroes taken by an English privateer, and adjudged to
slavery by the admiralty court, were now taken up, tried, convicted,
and sentenced to be hung. Five others received sentence the same day.

The bloody work went on. The poor Negroes in the jail, in a state of
morbid desperation, turned upon each other the blistering tongue of
accusation. They knew that they were accusing each other
innocently,--as many confessed afterwards,--but this was the last
straw that these sinking people could see to catch at, and this they
did involuntarily. "Victims were required; and those who brought them
to the altar of Moloch, purchased their own safety, or, at least,
their lives."

On the 2d of July, one Will was produced before Chief-Justice James
DeLancy. He plead guilty, and was sentenced to be burnt to death on
the 4th of July. On the 6th of July, eleven plead guilty. One Dundee
implicates Dr. Hamilton with Hughson in giving Negroes rum and
swearing them to the plot. A white man by the name of William Nuill
deposed that a Negro--belonging to Edward Kelly, a butcher--named
London swore by God that if he should be arrested and cast into the
jail, he would hang or burn all the Negroes in New York, guilty or not
guilty. On this same day five Negroes were hanged. One of them was
"hung in chains" upon the same gibbet with Hughson. And the Christian
historian says "the town was amused" on account of a report that
Hughson had turned black and the Negro white! The vulgar and sickening
description of the condition of the bodies, in which Mr. Horsemanden
took evident relish, we withhold from the reader. It was rumored that
a Negro doctor had administered poison to the convicts, and hence the
change in the bodies after death.

In addition to the burning of the Negro Will, on the 4th of July, was
the sensation created by his accusing two white soldiers, Kane and
Kelly, with complicity in the conspiracy. Kane was examined the next
day: said that he had never been to the house of John Romme;
acknowledged that he had received a stolen silver spoon, given to his
wife, and sold it to one Van Dype, a silversmith; that he never knew
John Ury, etc. Knowing Mary Burton was brought forward,--as she always
was when the trials began to lag,--and accused Kane. He earnestly
denied the accusation at first, but finally confessed that he was at
Hughson's in reference to the plot on two several occasions, but was
induced to go there "by Corker, Coffin, and Fagan." After his tongue
got limbered up, and his memory refreshed, he criminated Ury. He
implicated Hughson's father and three brothers, Hughson's
mother-in-law, an old fortune-teller, as being parties to the plot as
sworn "to burn, and kill;" that Ury christened some of the Negroes,
and even had the temerity to attempt to proselyte him, Kane; that Ury
asked him if he could read Latin, could he read English; to both
questions he answered no; that the man Coffin read to him, and
descanted upon the benefits of being a Roman Catholic; that they could
forgive sins, and save him from hell; and that if he had not gone away
from their company they might have seduced him to be a Catholic; that
one Conolly, on Governor's Island, admitted that he was "bred up a
priest;" that one Holt, a dancing-master, also knew of the plot; and
then described the mystic ceremony of swearing the plotters. He said,
"There was a black ring made on the floor, about a foot and a half in
diameter; and Hughson bid every one put off the left shoe and put
their toes within the ring; and Mrs. Hughson held a bowl of punch over
their heads, as the Negroes stood around the circle, and Hughson
pronounced the oath above mentioned, (something like a freemason's
oath and penalties,) and every negro severally repeated the oath after
him, and then Hughson's wife fed them with a draught out of the bowl."

This was "new matter," so to speak, and doubtless broke the monotony
of the daily recitals to which their honors had been listening all
summer. Kane was about to deprive Mary Burton of her honors; and, as
he could not write, he made his mark. A peddler named Coffin was
arrested and examined. He denied all knowledge of the plot, never saw
Hughson, never was at his place, saw him for the first time when he
was executed; had never seen Kane but once, and then at Eleanor
Waller's, where they drank beer together. But the court committed him.
Kane and Mary Burton accused Edward Murphy. Kane charged David
Johnson, a hatter, as one of the conspirators; while Mary Burton
accuses Andrew Ryase, "little Holt," the dancing-master, John Earl,
and seventeen soldiers,--all of whom were cast into prison.

On the 16th of July nine Negroes were arraigned: four plead guilty,
two were sentenced to be burnt, and the others to be hanged. On the
next day seven Negroes plead guilty. One John Schultz came forward,
and made a deposition that perhaps had some little influence on the
court and the community at large. He swore that a Negro man slave,
named Cambridge, belonging to Christopher Codwise, Esq., did on the
9th of June, 1741, confess to the deponent, in the presence of Codwise
and Richard Baker, that the confession he had made before Messrs.
Lodge and Nichols was entirely false; viz., that he had confessed
himself guilty of participating in the conspiracy; had accused a Negro
named Cajoe through fear; that he had heard some Negroes talking
together in the jail, and saying that if they did not confess they
would be hanged; that what he said about Horsefield Cæsar was a lie;
that he had never known in what section of the town Hughson lived, nor
did he remember ever hearing his name, until it had become the town
talk that Hughson was concerned in a plot to burn the town and murder
the inhabitants.

This did not in the least abate the zeal of Mary Burton and William
Kane. They went on in their work of accusing white people and Negroes,
receiving the approving smiles of the magistrates. Mary Burton says
that John Earl, who lived in Broadway, used to come to Hughson's with
ten soldiers at a time; that these white men were to command the Negro
companies; that John Ury used to be present; and that a man near the
Mayor's Market, who kept a shop where she (Mary Burton) got rum from,
a doctor, by nationality a Scotchman, who lived by the Slip, and
another dancing-master, named Corry, used to meet with the
conspirators at Hughson's tavern.

On the 14th of July, John Ury was examined, and denied ever having
been at Hughson's, or knowing any thing about the conspiracy; said he
never saw any of the Hughsons, nor did he know Peggy Carey. But
William Kane, the soldier, insisted that Ury did visit the house of
Hughson. Ury was again committed. On the next day eight persons were
tried and convicted upon the evidence of Kane and Mary Burton. The
jail was filling up again, and the benevolent magistrates pardoned
fourteen Negroes. Then they turned their judicial minds to the case of
William Kane _vs_. John Ury. First, he was charged with having
counselled, procured, and incited a Negro slave, Quack, to burn the
king's house in the fort: to which he pleaded not guilty. Second, that
being a priest, made by the authority of the pretended See of Rome, he
had come into the Province and city of New York after the time limited
by law against Jesuits and Popish priests, passed in the eleventh year
of William III., and had remained for the space of seven months; that
he had announced himself to be an ecclesiastical person, made and
ordained by the authority of the See of Rome; and that he had appeared
so to be by celebrating masses and granting absolution, etc. To these
charges Ury pleaded not guilty, and requested a copy of the
indictments, but was only allowed a copy of the second; and pen, ink,
and paper grudgingly granted him. His private journal was seized, and
a portion of its contents used as evidence against him. The following
was furnished to the grand jury:--

     "Arrived at Philadelphia the 17th of February, 1738. At
     Ludinum, 5th March.--To Philadelphia, 29th April.--Began
     school at Burlington, 18th June. Omilta Jacobus
     Atherthwaite, 27th July.--Came to school at Burlington, 23d
     January, 1740.--Saw ----, 7th May.--At five went to
     Burlington, to Piercy, the madman.--Went to Philadelphia,
     19th May.--Went to Burlington, 18th June.--At six in the
     evening to Penefack, to Joseph Ashton.--Began school at
     Dublin under Charles Hastie, at eight pounds a year, 31st
     July, ---- , 15th October, ---- , 27th ditto.--Came to John Croker
     (at the Fighting Cocks), New York, 2d November.--I boarded
     gratis with him, 7th November,--Natura Johannis Pool, 26th
     December.--I began to teach with John Campbell, 6th April,
     1741.--Baptized Timothy Ryan, born 18th April, 1740, son of
     John Ryan and Mary Ryan, 18th May.--Pater Confessor Butler,
     two Anni, no sacramentum non confessio."[250]

On the 21st of July, Sarah Hughson, who had been respited, was put on
the witness-stand again. There were some legal errors in the
indictments against Ury, and his trial was postponed until the next
term; but he was arraigned on a new indictment. The energies of the
jury and judges received new life. Here was a man who was a
Catholic,--or had been a Catholic,--and the spirit of religious
intolerance asserted itself. Sarah Hughson remembered having seen Ury
at her father's house on several occasions; had seen him make a ring
with chalk on the floor, make all the Negroes stand around it, while
he himself would stand in the middle, with a cross, and swear the
Negroes. This was also "new matter:" nothing of this kind was
mentioned in the first confession. But this was not all. She had seen
Ury preach to the Negroes, forgive their sins, and baptize some of
them! She said that Ury wanted her to confess to him, and that Peggy
confessed to him in French.

On the 24th of July, Elias Desbroses, confectioner, being called,
swore that Ury had come to his shop with one Webb, a carpenter, and
inquired for sugar-bits, or wafers, and asked him "whether a minister
had not his wafers of him? or, whether that paste, which the deponent
showed him, was not made of the same ingredients as the Luthern
minister's?" or words to that effect: the deponent told Ury that if he
desired such things a joiner would make him a mould; and that when he
asked him whether he had a congregation, Ury "waived giving him an

On the 27th of July, Mr. Webb, the carpenter, was called to the
witness-stand and testified as follows: That he had met Ury at John
Croker's (at the Fighting Cocks), where he became acquainted with him;
that he had heard him read Latin and English so admirably that he
employed him to teach his child; that finding out that he was a
school-teacher, he invited him to board at his house without charge;
that he understood from him that he was a non-juring minister, had
written a book that had drawn the fire of the Church, was charged with
treason, and driven out of England, sustaining the loss of "a living"
worth fifty pounds a year; that on religious matters the deponent
could not always comprehend him; that the accused said Negroes were
only fit for slaves, and to put them above that condition was to
invite them to cut your throats. The observing Horsemanden was so much
pleased with the above declaration, that he gives Ury credit in a
footnote for understanding the dispositions of Negroes![251] Farther
on Mr. Webb says, that, after one Campbell removed to Hughson's, Ury
went thither, and so did the deponent on three different times, and
heard him read prayers after the manner of the Church of England; but
in the prayer for the king he only mentioned "our sovereign lord the
King," and not "King George." He said that Ury pleaded against
drunkenness, debauchery, and Deists; that he admonished every one to
keep his own minister; that when the third sermon was delivered one
Mr. Hildreth was present, when Ury found fault with certain doctrines,
insisted that good works as well as faith were necessary to salvation;
that he announced that on a certain evening he would preach from the
text, "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it; and whosoever sins ye remit, they are
remitted, and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained."

The judges, delighted with this flavor added to the usually dry
proceedings, thought they had better call Sarah Hughson; that if she
were grateful for her freedom she would furnish the testimony their
honors desired. Sarah was accordingly called. She is recommended for
mercy. She is, of course, to say what is put in her mouth, to give
testimony such as the court desires. So the fate of the poor
schoolmaster was placed in the keeping of the fateful Sarah.

On the 28th of July another grand jury was sworn, and, like the old
one, was composed of merchants. The following persons composed it:
Joseph Robinson, James Livingston, Hermanus Rutgers, jun., Charles
LeRoux, Abraham Boelen, Peter Rutgers, Jacobus Roosevelt, John
Auboyneau, Stephen Van Courtlandt, jun., Abraham Lynsen, Gerardus
Duyckinck, John Provost, Henry Lane, jun., Henry Cuyler, John
Roosevelt, Abraham DePeyster, Edward Hicks, Joseph Ryall, Peter
Schuyler, and Peter Jay.[252]

Sarah Hughson had been pardoned. John Ury was brought into court, when
he challenged some of the jury. William Hammersley, Gerardus Beekman,
John Shurmur, Sidney Breese, Daniel Shatford, Thomas Behenna, Peter
Fresneau, Thomas Willett, John Breese, John Hastier, James Tucker, and
Brandt Schuyler were sworn to try him. Barring formalities, he was
arraigned upon the old indictment; viz., felony, in inciting and
exciting the Negro slave Quack to set fire to the governor's house.
The king's counsel were the attorney-general, Richard Bradley, and
Messrs. Murray, Alexander, Smith, and Chambers. Poor Ury had no
counsel, no sympathizers. The attorney-general, in an opening speech
to the jury, said that certain evidence was to be produced showing
that the prisoner at the bar was guilty as charged in the indictment;
that he had a letter that he desired to read to them, which had been
sent to Lieut.-Gov. Clark, written by Gen. Oglethorpe ("the visionary
Lycurgus of Georgia"), bearing date of the 16th of May. The following
is a choice passage from the letter referred to:--

     "Some intelligence I had of a villanous design of a very
     extraordinary nature, and if true very important, viz., that
     the Spaniards had employed emissaries to burn all the
     magazines and considerable towns in the English North
     America, and thereby to prevent the subsisting of the great
     expedition and fleet in the West Indies; and for this
     purpose many priests were employed, who pretended to be
     physicians, dancing-masters, and other such kinds of
     occupations, and under that pretence to get admittance and
     confidence in families."[253]

The burden of his effort was the wickedness of Popery and the
Roman-Catholic Church. The first witness called was the irrepressible
Mary Burton. She began by rehearsing the old story of setting fire to
the houses: but this time she varied it somewhat; it was not the fort
that was to be burnt first, but Croker's, near a coffee-house, by the
long bridge. She remembered the ring drawn with chalk, saw things in
it that looked like rats (the good Horsemanden throws a flood of light
upon this otherwise dark passage by telling his reader that it was the
Negroes' black toes!); that she peeped in once and saw a black thing
like a child, and Ury with a book in his hand, and at this moment she
let a silver spoon drop, and Ury chased her, and would have caught
her, had she not fallen into a bucket of water, and thus marvellously
escaped! But the rule was to send this curious Mary to bed when any
thing of an unusual nature was going on. Ury asked her some questions.

     "_Prisoner_.--You say you have seen me several times at
     Hughson's, what clothes did I usually wear?

     "_Mary Burton_.--I cannot tell what clothes you wore

     "_Prisoner._--That is strange, and know me so well?"

She then says several kinds, but particularly, or chiefly, a
riding-coat, and often a brown coat, trimmed with black.

     "_Prisoner_.--I never wore such a coat. What time of the day
     did I used to come to Hughson's?

     "_M. Burton_.--You used chiefly to come in the night-time,
     and when I have been going to bed I have seen you undressing
     in Peggy's room, as if you were to lie there; but I cannot
     say that you did, for you were always gone before I was up
     in the morning.

     "_Prisoner_.--What room was I in when I called Mary, and you
     came up, as you said?

     "_M. Burton_.--In the great room, up stairs.

     "_Prisoner_.--What answer did the Negroes make, when I
     offered to forgive them their sins, as you said?

     "_M. Burton_.--I don't remember."[254]

William Kane, the soldier, took the stand. He was very bold to answer
all of Ury's questions. He saw him baptize a child, could forgive
sins, and wanted to convert him! Sarah Hughson was next called, but
Ury objected to her because she had been convicted. The judge informed
him that she had been pardoned, and was, therefore, competent as a
witness. Judge Horsemanden was careful to produce newspaper scraps to
prove that the court of France had endeavored to create and excite
revolts and insurrections in the English colonies, and ended by
telling a pathetic story about an Irish schoolmaster in Ulster County
who drank the health of the king of Spain![255] This had great weight
with the jury, no doubt. Poor Ury, convicted upon the evidence of
three notorious liars, without counsel, was left to defend himself. He
addressed the jury in an earnest and intelligent manner. He showed
where the evidence clashed; that the charges were not in harmony with
his previous character, the silence of Quack and others already
executed. He showed that Mr. Campbell took possession of the house
that Hughson had occupied, on the 1st of May; that at that time
Hughson and his wife were in jail, and Sarah in the house; that Sarah
abused Campbell, and that he reproved her for the foul language she
used; and that this furnished her with an additional motive to accuse
him; that he never knew Hughson or any of the family. Mr. John Croker
testified that Ury never kept company with Negroes, nor did he receive
them at Croker's house up to the 1st of May, for all the plotting was
done before that date; that he was a quiet, pious preacher, and an
excellent schoolmaster; that he taught Webb's child, and always
declared himself a non-juring clergyman of the Church of England. But
the fatal revelation of this friend of Ury's was, that Webb made him a
desk; and the jury thought they saw in it an altar for a Catholic
priest! That was enough. The attorney-general told the jury that the
prisoner was a Romish priest, and then proceeded to prove the
exceeding sinfulness of that Church. Acknowledging the paucity of the
evidence intended to prove him a priest, the learned gentleman
hastened to dilate upon all the dark deeds of Rome, and thereby
poisoned the minds of the jury against the unfortunate Ury. He was
found guilty, and on the 29th of August, 1741, was hanged, professing
his innocence, and submitting cheerfully to a cruel and unjust death
as a servant of the Lord.[256]

The trials of the Negroes had continued, but were somewhat
overshadowed by that of the reputed Catholic priest. On the 18th of
July seven Negroes were hanged, including a Negro doctor named Harry.
On the 23d of July a number of white persons were fined for keeping
disorderly houses,--entertaining Negroes; while nine Negroes were, the
same day, released from jail on account of a lack of evidence! On the
15th of August a Spanish Negro was hanged. On the 31st of August,
Corry (the dancing-master), Ryan, Kelly, and Coffin--all white
persons--were dismissed because no one prosecuted; while the reader
must have observed that the evidence against them was quite as strong
as that offered against any of the persons executed, by the lying trio
Burton, Kane, and Sarah. But Mr. Smith the historian gives the correct
reason why these trials came to such a sudden end.

     "The whole summer was spent in the prosecutions; every new
     trial led to further accusations: a coincidence of slight
     circumstances, was magnified by the general terror into
     violent presumptions; tales collected without doors,
     mingling with the proofs given at the bar, poisoned the
     minds of the jurors; and the sanguinary spirit of the day
     suffered no check till Mary, the capital informer,
     bewildered by frequent examinations and suggestions, lost
     her first impressions, and began to touch characters, which
     malice itself did not dare to suspect."[257]

The 24th of September was solemnly set apart for public thanksgiving
for the escape of the citizens from destruction!

As we have already said, this "Negro plot" has but one parallel in the
history of civilization. It had its origin in a diseased public
conscience, inflamed by religious bigotry, accelerated by hired liars,
and consummated in the blind and bloody action of a court and jury who
imagined themselves sitting over a powder-magazine. That a robbery
took place, there was abundant evidence in the finding of some of the
articles, and the admissions of Hughson and others; but there was not
a syllable of competent evidence to show that there was an organized
plot. And the time came, after the city had gotten back to its
accustomed quietness, that the most sincere believers in the "Negro
plot" were converted to the opinion that the zeal of the magistrates
had not been "according to knowledge." For they could not have failed
to remember that the Negroes were considered heathen, and, therefore,
not sworn by the court; that they were not allowed counsel; that the
evidence was indirect, contradictory, and malicious, while the trials
were hasty and unfair. From the 11th of May to the 29th of August, one
hundred and fifty-four Negroes were cast into prison; fourteen of whom
were burnt, eighteen hanged, seventy-one transported, and the
remainder pardoned. During the same space of time twenty-four whites
were committed to prison; four of whom were executed, and the
remainder discharged. The number arrested was one hundred and
seventy-eight, thirty-six executed, and seventy-one transported! What
a terrible tragedy committed in the name of law and Christian
government! Mary Burton, the Judas Iscariot of the period, received
her hundred pounds as the price of the blood she had caused to be
shed; and the curtain fell upon one of the most tragic events in all
the history of New York or of the civilized world.[258]

The legislature turned its attention to additional legislation upon
the slavery question. Severe laws were passed against the Negroes.
Their personal rights were curtailed until their condition was but
little removed from that of the brute creation. We have gone over the
voluminous records of the Province of New York, and have not found a
single act calculated to ameliorate the condition of the slave.[259]
He was hated, mistrusted, and feared. Nothing was done, of a friendly
character, for the slave in the Province of New York, until
threatening dangers from without taught the colonists the importance
of husbanding all their resources. The war between the British
colonies in North America and the mother country gave the Negro an
opportunity to level, by desperate valor, a mountain of prejudice, and
wipe out with his blood the dark stain of 1741. History says he did


[215] Brodhead's History of New York, vol. i. p. 184.

[216] O'Callaghan's History of New Netherlands, pp. 384, 385.

[217] Brodhead, vol. i. p. 194.

[218] Ibid, vol. i. pp. 196, 197.

[219] Dunlap's History of New York, vol. i. p, 58.

[220] O'Callaghan, p. 385.

[221] Van Tienhoven.

[222] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 441; also Hol. Doc., III. p. 351.

[223] Annals of Albany, vol. ii. pp. 55-60.

[224] O'Callaghan, p. 353. N.Y. Col. Docs., vol. ii, pp. 368, 369.

[225] Brodhead, vol. i. p. 697.

[226] Brodhead, vol. i. p. 746.

[227] Ibid., vol. i. p. 748.

[228] Valentine's Manual for 1861, pp. 640-664.

[229] New York Hist. Coll., vol. i. pp. 322, 323.

[230] Journals of Legislative Council, vol. i. p xii.

[231] Bradford's Laws, p. 125.

[232] Journals, etc., N.Y., vol. i. p. xiii.

[233] Dunlap's Hist, of N.Y., vol. i. p. 260,

[234] Booth's Hist, of N.Y., vol. i. p, 270-272.

[235] On the 22nd of March, 1680, the following proclamation was
issued: "Whereas, several inhabitants within this city have and doe
dayly harbour, entertain and countenance Indian and neger slaves in
their houses, and to them sell and deliver wine, rum, and other strong
liquors, for which they receive money or goods which by the said
Indian and negro slaves is pilfered, purloyned, and stolen from their
several masters, by which the publick peace is broken, and the damage
of the master is produced, etc., therefore they are prohibited, etc.;
and if neger or Indian slave make application for these forbidden
articles, immediate information is to be given to his master or to the
mayor or oldest alderman."--DUNLAP, vol. ii. Appendix, p. cxxviii.

[236] Bradford Laws, p. 81.

[237] The ordinance referred to was re-enacted on the 22d of April,
1731, and reads as follows: "No Negro, Mulatto, or Indian slave, above
the age of fourteen, shall presume to appear in any of the streets, or
in any other place of this city on the south side of Fresh Water, in
the night time, above an hour after sunset, without a lanthorn and
candle in it (unless in company with his owner or some white belonging
to the family). Penalty, the watch-house that night; next day, prison,
until the owner pays 4_s_, and before discharge, the slave to be
whipped not exceeding forty lashes."--DUNLAP, vol. ii. Appendix, p.

[238] Booth, vol. i. p. 271.

[239] Hurd's Bondage and Freedom, vol. i. p. 281.

[240] Dunlap, vol. i. p. 323.

[241] Judge Daniel Horsemanden.

[242] Hume, vol. vi. pp. 171-212.

[243] Ibid., vol. vi. p. 171.

[244] Horsemanden's Negro Plot, p. 29.

[245] As far back as 1684 the following was passed against the
entertainment of slaves: "No person to countenance or entertain any
negro or Indian slave, or sell or deliver to them any strong liquor,
without liberty from his master, or receive from them any money or
goods; but, upon any offer made by a slave, to reveal the same to the
owner, or to the mayor, under penalty of £5."--DUNLAP, vol.
ii. Appendix, p. cxxxiii.

[246] Horsemanden's Negro Plot, p. 33.

[247] Bradford's Laws, pp. 141-144.

[248] Horsemanden's Negro Plot, p. 60.

[249] The city of Now York was divided into parts at that time, and
comprised two militia districts.

[250] Dunlap, vol. i. p. 344.

[251] Horsemanden's Negro Plot, p. 284.

[252] Horsemanden's Negro Plot, p. 286.

[253] Colonial Hist. of N.Y., vol. vi. p. 199.

[254] Horsemanden's Negro Plot, pp. 292, 293.

[255] Ibid., pp. 298, 299, note.

[256] Horsemanden's Negro Plot, pp. 221, 222.

[257] Smith's Hist. of N.Y., vol. ii. pp. 59, 60.

[258] "On the 6th of March, 1742, the following order was passed by
the Common Council: 'Ordered, that the indentures of Mary Burton be
delivered up to her, and that she be discharged from the remainder of
her servitude, and three pounds paid her, to provide necessary
clothing.' The Common Council had purchased her indentures from her
master, and had kept her and them, until this time."--DUNLAP,
vol. ii. Appendix, p. clxvii.

[259] "On the 17th of November, 1767, a bill was brought into the
House of Assembly "to prevent the unnatural and unwarrantable custom
of enslaving mankind, and the importation of slaves into this
province." It was changed into an act "for laying an impost on Negroes
imported." This could not pass the governor and council; and it was
afterward known that Benning I. Wentworth, the governor of New
Hampshire, had received instructions not to pass any law "imposing
duties on negroes imported into that province." Hutchinson of
Massachusetts had similar instructions. The governor and his Majesty's
council knew this at the time.





Had the men who gave the colony of Massachusetts its political being
and Revolutionary fame known that the Negro--so early introduced into
the colony as a slave--would have been in the future Republic for
years the insoluble problem, and at last the subject of so great and
grave economic and political concern, they would have committed to the
jealous keeping of the chroniclers of their times the records for
which the historian of the Negro seeks so vainly in this period.
Stolen as he was from his tropical home; consigned to a servitude at
war with man's intellectual and spiritual, as well as with his
physical, nature; the very lowest of God's creation, in the estimation
of the Roundheads of New England; a stranger in a strange land,--the
poor Negro of Massachusetts found no place in the sympathy or history
of the Puritan,--Christians whose deeds and memory have been embalmed
in song and story, and given to an immortality equalled only by the
indestructibility of the English language. The records of the most
remote period of colonial history have preserved a silence on the
question of Negro slavery as ominous as it is conspicuous. What data
there are concerning the introduction of slavery are fragmentary,
uncertain, and unsatisfactory, to say the least. There is but one work
bearing the luminous stamp of historical trustworthiness, and which
turns a flood of light on the dark records of the darker crime of
human slavery in Massachusetts. And we are sure it is as complete as
the ripe scholarship, patient research, and fair and fearless spirit
of its author, could make it.[260]

The earliest mention of the presence of Negroes in Massachusetts is in
connection with an account of some Indians who were frightened at a
Colored man who had lost his way in the tangled path of the forest.
The Indians, it seems, were "worse scared than hurt, who seeing a
blackamore in the top of a tree looking out for his way which he had
lost, surmised he was _Abamacho_, or the devil; deeming all devils
that are blacker than themselves: and being near to the plantation,
they posted to the English, and entreated their aid to conjure this
devil to his own place, who finding him to be a poor wandering
blackamore, conducted him to his master."[261] This was in 1633. It is
circumstantial evidence of a twofold nature; i.e., it proves that
there were Negroes in the colony at a date much earlier than can be
fixed by reliable data, and that the Negroes were slaves. It is a fair
presumption that this "wandering blackamore" who was conducted "to his
_master_" was not the only Negro slave in the colony. Slaves generally
come in large numbers, and consequently there must have been quite a
number at this time.

Negro slavery in Massachusetts was the safety-valve to the pent-up
vengeance of the Pequod Indians. Slavery would have been established
in Massachusetts, even if there had been no Indians to punish by war,
captivity, and duplicity. Encouraged by the British authorities,
avarice and gain would have quieted the consciences of Puritan
slave-holders. But the Pequod war was the early and urgent occasion
for the founding of slavery under the foster care of a _free church
and free government_! As the Pequod Indians would "not endure the
yoke," would not remain "as servants,"[262] they were sent to
Bermudas[263] and exchanged for Negroes,[264] with the hope that the
latter would "endure the yoke" more patiently. The first importation
of slaves from Barbados, secured in exchange for Indians, was made in
1637, the first year of the Pequod war, and was doubtless kept up for
many years.

But in the following year we have the most positive evidence that New
England had actually engaged in the slave-trade.

     "Mr. Pierce, in the Salem ship, the Desire, returned from
     the West Indies after seven months. He had been at
     Providence, and brought some cotton, and tobacco, and
     negroes, &c., from thence, and salt from Tertugos.... Dry
     fish and strong liquors are the only commodities for those
     parts. He met there two men-of-war, sent forth by the lords,
     &c., of Providence with letters of mart, who had taken
     divers prizes from the Spaniard and many negroes."[265]

"The Desire" was built at Marblehead in 1636;[266] was of one hundred
and twenty tons, and perhaps one of the first built in the colony.
There is no positive proof that "The Mayflower," after landing the
holy Pilgrim Fathers, was fitted out for a slave-cruise! But there is
no evidence to destroy the belief that "The Desire" was built for the
slave-trade. Within a few years from the time of the building of "The
Desire," there were quite a number of Negro slaves in Massachusetts.
"John Josselyn, Gen't" in his "Two Voyages to New England," made in
"1638, 1663," and printed for the first time in 1674,[267] gives an
account of an attempt to breed slaves in Massachusetts.

     "The Second of _October_, (1639) about 9 of the clock in the
     morning, Mr. _Maverick's_ Negro woman came to my chamber
     window, and in her own Countrey language and tune sang very
     loud and shril, going out to her, she used a great deal of
     respect towards me, and willingly would have expressed her
     grief in _English_; but I apprehended it by her countenance
     and deportment, whereupon I repaired to my host, to learn of
     him the cause, and resolved to entreat him in her behalf,
     for that I understood before, that she had been a Queen in
     her own Countrey, and observed a very humble and dutiful
     garb used towards her by another Negro who was her maid. Mr.
     _Maverick_ was desirous to have a breed of Negroes, and
     therefore seeing she would not yield by persuasions to
     company with a Negro young man he had in his house; he
     commanded him will'd she nill'd she to go to bed to her,
     which was no sooner done but she kickt him out again, this
     she took in high disdain beyond her slavery, and this was
     the cause of her grief."[268]

It would appear, at first blush, that slavery was an individual
speculation in the colony; but the voyage of the ship "Desire" was
evidently made with a view of securing Negro slaves for sale. Josselyn
says, in 1627, that the English colony on the Island of Barbados had
"in a short time increased to twenty thousand, besides Negroes."[269]
And in 1637 he says that the New Englanders "sent the male children of
Pequets to the Bermudus."[270] It is quite likely that many
individuals of large means and estates had a few Negro slaves quite
early,--perhaps earlier than we have any record; but as a public
enterprise in which the colony was interested, slavery began as early
as 1638. "It will be observed," says Dr. Moore, "that this first
entrance into the slave-trade was not a private, individual
speculation. It was the enterprise of the authorities of the colony.
And on the 13th of March, 1639, it was ordered by the General Court
"that 3_l_ 8_s_ should be paid Lieftenant Davenport for the present,
for charge disbursed for the slaves, which, when they have earned it,
hee is to repay it back againe." The marginal note is "Lieft.
Davenport to keep ye slaves." (Mass. Rec. i. 253.[271]) So there can
be no doubt as to the permanent establishment of the institution of
slavery as early as 1639, while before that date the institution
existed in a patriarchal condition. But there isn't the least fragment
of history to sustain the haphazard statement of Emory Washburn, that
slavery existed in Massachusetts "from the time Maverick was found
dwelling on Noddle's Island in 1630."[272] We are sure this assertion
lacks the authority of historical data. It is one thing for a
historian to think certain events happened at a particular time, but
it is quite another thing to be able to cite reliable authority in
proof of the assertion.[273] But no doubt Mr. Washburn relies upon Mr.
Palfrey, who refers his reader to Mr. Josselyn. Palfrey says, "Before
Winthrop's arrival, there were two negro slaves in Massachusetts, held
by Mr. Maverick, on Noddle's Island."[274] Josselyn gives the only
account we have of the slaves on Noddle's Island. The incident that
gave rise to this scrap of history occurred on the 2d of October,
1639. Winthrop was chosen governor in the year 1637.[275] It was in
this year, on the 26th of February, that the slave-ship "Desire"
landed a cargo of Negroes in the colony. Now, if Mr. Palfrey relies
upon Josselyn for the historical trustworthiness of his statement that
there were two Negroes in Massachusetts before Winthrop arrived, he
has made a mistake. There is no proof for the assertion. That there
were three Negroes on Noddle's Island, we have the authority of
Josselyn, but nothing more. And if the Negro queen who kicked
Josselyn's man out of bed had been as long in the island as Palfrey
and Washburn indicate, she would have been able to explain her grief
to Josselyn in English. We have no doubt but what Mr. Maverick got his
slaves from the ship "Desire" in 1638, the same year Winthrop was
inaugurated governor.

In Massachusetts, as in the other colonies, slavery made its way into
individual families first; thence into communities, where it was
clothed with the garment of usage and custom;[276] and, finally, men
longing to enjoy the fruit of unrequited labor gave it the sanction of
statutory law. There was not so great a demand for slaves in
Massachusetts as in the Southern States; and yet they had their uses
in a domestic way, and were, consequently, sought after. As early as
1641 Massachusetts adopted a body of fundamental laws. The
magistrates,[277] armed with authority from the crown of Great
Britain, had long exercised a power which well-nigh trenched upon the
personal rights of the people. The latter desired a revision of the
laws, and such modifications of the power and discretion of the
magistrates as would be in sympathy with the spirit of personal
liberty that pervaded the minds of the colonists. But while the people
sought to wrest an arbitrary power from the unwilling hands of their
judges, they found no pity in their hearts for the poor Negroes in
their midst, who, having served as slaves because of their numerical
weakness and the passive silence of justice, were now to become the
legal and statutory vassals--for their life-time--of a liberty-loving
and liberty-seeking people! In the famous "Body of Liberties" is to be
found the first statute establishing slavery in the United States. It
is as follows:--

     "It is ordered by this court, and the authority thereof;
     that there shall never be any bond slavery, villainage or
     captivity amongst us, unless it be lawful captives taken in
     just wars, as willingly sell themselves or are sold to us,
     and such shall have the liberties and christian usage which
     the law of God established in Israel concerning such persons
     doth morally require; provided this exempts none from
     servitude, who shall be judged thereto by authority."[278]

We have omitted the old spelling, but none of the words, as they
appeared in the original manuscript. There isn't the shadow of a doubt
but what this law has been preserved inviolate.[279]

There has been considerable discussion about the real bearing of this
statute. Many zealous historians, in discussing it, have betrayed more
zeal for the good name of the Commonwealth than for the truth of
history. Able lawyers--and some of them still survive--have
maintained, with a greater show of learning than of facts, that this
statute abolished slavery in Massachusetts. But, on the other hand,
there are countless lawyers who pronounce it a plain and unmistakable
law, "creating and establishing slavery." An examination of the
statute will help the reader to a clear understanding of it. To begin
with, this law received its being from the existent _fact_ of slavery
in the colony. From the practice of a few holding Negroes as slaves,
it became general and prodigious. Its presence in society called for
lawful regulations concerning it. While it is solemnly declared "that
there shall never be any bond slavery, villianage, or captivity" in
the colony, there were three provisos; viz., "lawful captives taken in
just wares," those who would "sell themselves or are sold to us," and
such as "shall be judged thereto by authority." Under the foregoing
conditions slavery was plainly established in Massachusetts. The "just
wares" were the wars against the Pequod Indians. That these were made
prisoners and slaves, we have the universal testimony of all writers
on the history of Massachusetts. Just what class of people would "sell
themselves" into slavery we are at a loss to know! We can, however,
understand the meaning of the words, "or are sold to us." This was an
open door for the traffic in human beings; for it made it lawful for
to sell slaves to the colonists, and lawful for the latter to
purchase them. Those who were "judged thereto by authority" were those
in slavery already and such as should come into the colony by

This statute is wide enough to drive a load of hay through. It is not
the work of a novice, but the labored and skilful product of great law

     "The law must be interpreted in the light of contemporaneous
     facts of history. At the time it was made (1641), what had
     its authors to provide for?

     "1. Indian slaves--their captives taken in war.

     "2. Negro slaves--their own importations of 'strangers,'
     obtained by purchase or exchange.

     "3. Criminals--condemned to slavery as a punishment for

     "In this light, and only in this light, is their legislation
     intelligible and consistent. It is very true that the code
     of which this law is a part 'exhibits throughout the hand of
     the practised lawyer, familiar with the principles and
     securities of English Liberty;' but who had ever heard, at
     that time, of the 'common-law rights' of Indians and
     Negroes, or anybody else but Englishmen?

     "Thus stood the statute through the whole colonial period,
     and it was never expressly repealed. Based on the Mosaic
     code, it is an absolute recognition of slavery as a
     legitimate status, and of the right of one man to sell
     himself as well as that of another man to buy him. It
     sanctions the slave-trade, and the perpetual bondage of
     Indians and Negroes, their children and their children's
     children, and entitles Massachusetts to precedence over any
     and all the other colonies in similar legislation. It
     anticipates by many years any thing of the sort to be found
     in the statutes of Virginia, or Maryland, or South Carolina,
     and nothing like it is to be found in the contemporary codes
     of her sister colonies in New England."[280]

The subject had been carefully weighed; and, lacking authority for
legalizing a crime against man, the Mosaic code was cited, and in
accordance with its _humane_ provisions, slaves were to be treated.
But it was _authority_ for slavery that the cunning lawyer who drew
the statute was seeking, and not precedents to determine the kind of
treatment to be bestowed upon the slave. Under it "human slavery
existed for nearly a century and a half without serious
challenge;"[281] and here, as well as in Virginia, it received the
sanction of the Church and courts. It grew with its growth, and
strengthened with its strength; until, as an organic institution, it
had many defenders and few apologists.[282]

     "This article gives express sanction to the slave-trade, and
     the practice of holding Negroes and Indians in perpetual
     bondage, anticipating by many years any thing of the sort
     to be found in the statutes of Virginia or Maryland."[283]

And it is rather strange, in the light of this plain statute
establishing and legalizing the purchase of slaves, that Mr.
Washburn's statement, unsustained, should receive the public
indorsement of so learned a body as the Massachusetts Historical

     "But, after all [says Mr. Washburn], the laws on this
     subject, as well as the practice of the government, were
     inconsistent and anomalous, indicating clearly, that whether
     Colony or Province, so far as it felt free to follow its own
     inclinations, uncontrolled by the action of the mother
     country, Massachusetts was hostile to slavery as an

No doubt Massachusetts was "inconsistent" in seeking liberty for her
white citizens while forging legal chains for the Negro. And how far
the colony "felt free to follow its own inclinations" Chief-Justice
Parsons declares from the bench. Says that eminent jurist,--

     "Slavery was introduced into this country [Massachusetts]
     soon after its first settlement, and was tolerated until the
     ratification of the present Constitution--of 1780."[285]

So here we find an eminent authority declaring that slavery followed
hard upon the heels of the Pilgrim Fathers, "and was tolerated" until
1780. Massachusetts "felt free" to tear from the iron grasp of the
imperious magistrates the liberties of the people, but doubtless felt
not "free" enough to blot out "the crime and folly of an evil time."
And yet for years lawyers and clergymen, orators and statesmen,
historians and critics, have stubbornly maintained, that, while
slavery did creep into the colony, and did exist, it was "not probably
by force of any law, for none such is found or known to

Slavery having been firmly established in Massachusetts, the next step
was to make it hereditary. This was done under the sanction of the
highest and most solemn forms of the courts of law. It is not our
purpose to give this subject the attention it merits, in this place;
but in a subsequent chapter it will receive due attention. We will,
however, say in passing, that it was the opinion of many lawyers in
the last century, some of whom served upon the bench in Massachusetts,
that children followed the condition of their mothers. Chief-Justice
Parsons held that "the issue of the female slave, according to the
maxim of the civil law, was the property of her master." And,
subsequently, Chief-Justice Parker rendered the following opinion:--

     "The practice was ... to consider such issue as slaves, and
     the property of the master of the parents, liable to be sold
     and transferred like other chattels, and as assets in the
     hands of executors and administrators.... We think there is
     no doubt that, at any period of our history, the issue of a
     slave husband and a free wife would have been declared free.
     His children, if the issue of a marriage with a slave,
     would, immediately on their birth, become the property of
     his master, or of the master of the female slave."[287]

This decision is strengthened by the statement of Kendall in reference
to the wide-spread desire of Negro slaves to secure free Indian wives,
in order to insure the freedom of their children. He says,--

     "While slavery was supposed to be maintainable by law in
     Massachusetts, there was a particular temptation to Negroes
     for taking Indian wives, the children of Indian women being
     acknowledged to be free."[288]

We refer the reader, with perfect confidence, to our friend Dr. George
H. Moore, who, in his treatment of this particular feature of slavery
in Massachusetts, has, with great research, put down a number of
zealous friends of the colony who have denied, with great emphasis,
that any child was ever born into slavery there. Neither the opinion
of Chief-Justice Dana, nor the naked and barren assertions of
historians Palfrey, Sumner, and Washburn,--great though the men
were,--can dispose of the _historical reality of hereditary slavery in
Massachusetts_, down to the adoption of the Constitution of 1780.

The General Court of Massachusetts issued an order in 1645[289] for
the return of certain kidnapped or stolen Negroes to their native
country. It has been variously commented upon by historians and
orators. The story runs, that a number of ships, plying between
New-England seaport towns and Madeira and the Canaries, made it their
custom to call on the coast of Guinea "to trade for negroes." Thus
secured, they were disposed of in the slave-markets of Barbadoes and
the West Indies. The New-England slave-market did not demand a large
supply. Situated on a cold, bleak, and almost sterile coast,
Massachusetts lacked the conditions to make slave-trading as lucrative
as the Southern States; but, nevertheless, she disposed of quite a
number, as the reader will observe when we examine the first census. A
ship from the town of Boston consorted with "some Londoners" with the
object of gaining slaves. Mr. Bancroft[290] says that "upon the Lord's
day, invited the natives aboard one of their ships," and then made
prisoners of such as came; which is not mentioned by Hildreth.[291]
The latter writer says, that "on pretence of some quarrel with the
natives," landed a small cannon called a "murderer," attacked the
village on Sunday; and having burned the village, and killed many,
made a few prisoners. Several of these prisoners fell to the Boston
ship. On account of a disagreement between the captain and under
officers of the ship, as well as the owners, the story of the above
affair was detailed before a Boston court. Richard Saltonstall was one
of the magistrates before whom the case was tried. He was moved by the
recital of the cruel wrong done the Africans, and therefore
presented a petition to the court, charging the captain and
mate with the threefold crime of "murder," "man-stealing," and

It seems that by the Fundamental Laws, adopted by the people in 1641,
the first two offences were punishable by death, and all of them
"capitall, by the law of God." The court doubted its jurisdiction over
crimes committed on the distant coast of Guinea. But article
ninety-one of "The Body of Liberties" determined who were lawful
slaves,--those who sold themselves or were sold, "lawful captives
taken in just wares," and those "judged thereto by authority." Had the
unfortunate Negroes been purchased, there was no law in Massachusetts
to free them from their owners; but having been kidnapped, unlawfully
obtained, the court felt that it was its plain duty to bear witness
against the "sin of man-stealing." For, in the laws adopted in 1641,
among the "Capital Laws," at the latter part of article ninety-four is
the following: "If any man stealeth a man, or mankind, he shall surely
be put to death."[293] There is a marginal reference to Exod. xxi. 16.
Dr. Moore does not refer to this in his elaborate discussion of
statute on "bond slavery." And Winthrop says that the magistrates
decided that the Negroes, "having been procured not honestly by
purchase, but by the unlawful act of kidnaping," should be returned to
their native country. That there was a criminal code in the colony,
there can be no doubt; but we have searched for it in vain.
Hildreth[294] says it was printed in 1649, but that there is now no
copy extant.

The court issued an order about the return of the kidnapped Negroes,
which we will give in full, on account of its historical value, and
because of the difference of opinion concerning it.

     "The general court conceiving themselves bound by the first
     opportunity to bear witness against the heinous, and crying
     sin of man-stealing, as also to prescribe such timely
     redress for what is past, and such a law for the future, as
     may sufficiently deter all others belonging to us to have to
     do in such vile and odious courses, justly abhorred of all
     good and just men, do order that the negro interpreter with
     others unlawfully taken, be by the first opportunity at the
     charge of the country for the present, sent to his native
     country (Guinea) and a letter with him of the indignation of
     the court thereabouts, and justice thereof, desiring our
     honored governor would please put this order in

This "protest against man-stealing" has adorned and flavored many an
oration on the "position of Massachusetts" on the slavery question. It
has been brought out "to point a moral and adorn a tale" by the proud
friends of the Commonwealth; but the law quoted above against
"man-stealing," the language of the "protest," the statute on "bond
servitude," and the practices of the colonists for many years
afterwards, prove that many have gloried, but not according to the
truth.[296] When it came to the question of damages, the court said:
"For the negars (they being none of his, _but stolen_) we thinke meete
to allow nothing."[297]

So the decision of the court was based upon law,--the prohibition
against "man-stealing." And it should not be forgotten that many of
the laws of the colony were modelled after the Mosaic code. It is
referred to, apologetically, in the statute of 1641; and no careful
student can fail to read between the lines the desire there expressed
to refer to the Old Testament as authority for slavery. Now, slaves
were purchased by Abraham, and the New-England "doctors of the law"
were unwilling to have slaves stolen when they could be bought[298] so
easily. Dr. Moore says, in reference to the decision,--

     "In all the proceedings of the General Court on this
     occasion, there is not a trace of anti-slavery opinion or
     sentiment, still less of anti-slavery legislation; though
     both have been repeatedly claimed for the honor of the

And Dr. Moore is not alone in his opinion; for Mr. Hildreth says this
case "in which Saltonstall was concerned has been magnified by too
precipitate an admiration into a protest on the part of Massachusetts
against the African slave-trade. So far, however, from any such
protest being made, at the very birth of the foreign commerce of New
England the African slave-trade became a regular business."[300] There
is now, therefore, no room to doubt but what the decision was rendered
on a technical point of law, and not inspired by an anti-slavery

As an institution, slavery had at first a stunted growth in
Massachusetts, and did not increase its victims to any great extent
until near the close of the seventeenth century. But when it did begin
a perceptible growth, it made rapid and prodigious strides. In 1676
there were about two hundred slaves in the colony, and they were
chiefly from Guinea and Madagascar.[301] In 1680 Gov. Bradstreet, in
compliance with a request made by the home government, said that the
slave-trade was not carried on to any great extent. They were
introduced in small lots, and brought from ten to forty pounds apiece.
He thought the entire number in the colony would not reach more than
one hundred and twenty-five. Few were born in the colony, and none had
been baptized up to that time.[302] The year 1700 witnessed an
unprecedented growth in the slave-trade. From the 24th of January,
1698, to the 25th of December, 1707,[303] two hundred Negroes were
imported into the colony,--quite as many as in the previous sixty
years. In 1708 Gov. Dudley's report to the board of trade fixed the
number of Negroes at five hundred and fifty, and suggested that they
were not so desirable as white servants, who could be used in the
army, and in time of peace turn their attention to planting. The
prohibition against the Negro politically and in a military sense, in
that section of the country, made him almost valueless to the colonial
government struggling for deliverance from the cruel laws of the
mother country. The white servant could join the "minute-men," plough
with his gun on his back, go to the church, and, having received the
blessing of the parish minister, could hasten to battle with the proud
and almost boastful feelings of a Christian freeman! But the Negro,
bond and free, was excluded from all these sacred privileges. Wronged,
robbed of his freedom,--the heritage of all human kind,--he was
suspicioned and contemned for desiring that great boon. On the 17th of
February, 1720, Gov. Shute placed the number of slaves--including a
few Indians--in Massachusetts at two thousand. During the same year
thirty-seven males and sixteen females were imported into the
colony.[304] We are unable to discover whether these were counted in
the enumeration furnished by Gov. Shute or not. We are inclined to
think they were included. In 1735 there were two thousand six
hundred[305] bond and free in the colony; and within the next
seventeen years the Negro population of Boston alone reached

In 1754 the colonial government found it necessary to establish a
system of taxation. Gov. Shirley was required to inform the House of
Representatives as to the different kinds of taxable property. And
from a clause in his message, Nov. 19, 1754, on the one hundred and
nineteenth page of the Journal, we infer two things; viz., that slaves
were chattels or real estate, and, therefore, taxable. The governor
says, "There is one part of the Estate, viz., the Negro slaves, which
I am at a loss how to come at the knowledge of, without your
assistance." In accordance with the request for assistance on this
matter, the Legislature instructed the assessors of each town and
district within the colony to secure a correct list of all Negro
slaves, male and female, from sixteen years old and upwards, to be
deposited in the office of the secretary of state.[307] The result of
this enumeration was rather surprising; as it fixed the Negro
population at 4,489,--quite an increase over the last enumeration.
Again, in 1764-65, another census of the Negroes was taken; and they
were found to be 5,779.

Here, as in Virginia, an impost tax was imposed upon all Negro slaves
imported into the colony. We will quote section 3 of the Act of
October, 1705, requiring duty upon imported Negroes; because many are
disposed to discredit some historical statements about slavery in

     "SECT. 3. And be it further enacted by the authority
     aforesaid, that from and after the first day of May, in the
     year one thousand seven hundred and six, every master of
     ship or vessel, merchant or other person, importing or
     bringing into this province any negroe or negroes, male or
     female, of what age soever, shall enter their number, names
     and sex in the impost office; and the master shall insert
     the same in the manifest of his lading, and shall pay to the
     commissioner and receiver of the impost, four pounds per
     head for every such negro, male or female; and as well the
     master, as the ship or vessel wherein they are brought,
     shall be security for payment of the said duty; and both or
     either of them shall stand charged in the law therefor to
     the commissioner, who may deny to grant a clearing for such
     ship or vessel, until payment be made, or may recover the
     same of the master, at the commissioner's election, by
     action of debt, bill, plaint or information in any of her
     majesty's courts of record within this province."[308]

A fine of eight pounds was imposed upon any person refusing or
neglecting to make a proper entry of each slave imported, in the
"Impost Office." If a Negro died within six weeks after his arrival, a
drawback was allowed. If any slave was sold again into another
Province or plantation within a year after his arrival, a drawback was
allowed to the person who paid the impost duty. A subsequent and more
stringent law shows that there was no desire to abate the traffic. In
August, 1712, a law was passed "prohibiting the importation or
bringing into the province any Indian servants or slaves;"[309] but it
was only intended as a check upon the introduction of the Tuscaroras
and other "revengeful" Indians from South Carolina.[310] Desperate
Indians and insubordinate Negroes were the occasion of grave fears on
the part of the colonists.[311] Many Indians had been cruelly dealt
with in war; in peace, enslaved and wronged beyond their power of
endurance. Their stoical nature led them to the performance of
desperate deeds. There is kinship in suffering. There is an unspoken
language in sorrow that binds hearts in the indissoluble fellowship of
resolve. Whatever natural and national differences existed between the
Indian and the Negro--one from the bleak coasts of New England, the
other from the tropical coast of Guinea--were lost in the commonality
of degradation and interest. The more heroic spirits of both races
began to grow restive under the yoke. The colonists were not slow to
observe this, and hence this law was to act as a restraint upon and
against "their rebellion and hostilities." And the reader should
understand that it was not an anti-slavery measure. It was not
"hostile to slavery" as a system: it was but the precaution of a
guilty and ever-gnawing public conscience.

Slavery grew. There was no legal obstacle in its way. It had the
sanction of the law, as we have already shown, and what was better
still, the sympathy of public sentiment. The traffic in slaves appears
to have been more an object in Boston than at any period before or
since. For a time dealers had no hesitation in advertising them for
sale in their own names. At length a very few who advertised would
refer purchasers to "inquire of the printer, and know further."[312]
This was in 1727, fifteen years after the afore-mentioned Act became a
law, and which many apologists would interpret as a specific and
direct prohibition against slavery; but there is no reason for such a
perversion of so plain an Act.

Slavery in Massachusetts, as elsewhere, in self-defence had to claim
as one of its necessary and fundamental principles, that the slave was
either _naturally_ inferior to the other races, or that, by some
fundamentally inherent law in the institution itself, the master was
justified in placing the lowest possible estimate upon his slave
property. "Property" implied absolute control over the thing
possessed. It carried in its broad meaning the awful fact, not alone
of ownership, but of the supremacy of the will of the owner. Mr.
Addison says,--

     "What color of excuse can there be for the contempt with
     which we treat this part of our species, that we should not
     put them upon the common foot of humanity, that we should
     only _set an insignificant fine upon the man who murders
     them_; nay, that we should, as much as in us lies, cut them
     off from the prospect of happiness in another world, as well
     as in this, and deny them that which we look upon as the
     proper means for obtaining it?"[313]

None whatever! And yet the Puritans put the Negro slaves in their
colony on a level with "horses and hogs." Let the intelligent American
of to-day read the following remarkable note from Judge Sewall's
diary, and then confess that facts are stranger than fiction.

     "1716. I essayed June 22, to prevent Indians and Negroes
     being rated with Horses and Hogs; but could not prevail.
     Col. Thaxter bro't it back, and gave as a reason of y'r
     Nonagreement, They were just going to make a new

It had been sent to the deputies, and was by them rejected, and then
returned to the judge by Col. Thaxter. The House was "just going to
make a New Valuation" of the property in the colony, and hence did
not care to exclude slaves from the list of chattels,[315] in which
they had always been placed.

     "In 1718, all Indian, Negro, and Mulatto servants for life
     were estimated as other Personal Estate--viz.: Each male
     servant _for life_ above fourteen years of age, at fifteen
     pounds value; each female servant for life, above fourteen
     years of age, at ten pounds value. The assessor might make
     abatement for cause of age or infirmity. Indian, Negro, and
     Mulatto Male servants _for a term of years_ were to be
     numbered and rated as other Polls, and not as Personal
     Estate. In 1726, the assessors were required to estimate
     Indian, Negro, and Mulatto servants proportionably as other
     Personal Estate, according to their sound judgment and
     discretion. In 1727, the rule of 1718 was restored, but
     during one year only, for in 1728 the law was the same as
     that of 1726; and so it probably remained, including all
     such servants, as well for term of years as for life, in the
     ratable estates. We have seen the supply-bills for 1736,
     1738, 1739, and 1740, in which this feature is the same.

     "And thus they continued to be rated with horses, oxen,
     cows, goats, sheep, and swine, until after the commencement
     of the War of the Revolution.[316]

On the 22d of April, 1728, the following notice appeared in a Boston

     "Two very likely Negro girls. Enquire two doors from the
     Brick Meetinghouse in Middle-street. At which place is to be
     sold women's stays, children's good callamanco
     stiffened-boddy'd coats, and childrens' stays of all sorts,
     and women's hoop-coats; all at very reasonable rates."[317]

So the "likely Negro girls" were mixed up in the sale of "women's
stays" and "hoop-coats"! It was bad enough to "rate Negroes with
Horses and Hogs," but to sell them with second-hand clothing was an
incident in which is to be seen the low depth to which slavery had
carried the Negro by its cruel weight. A human being could be sold
like a cast-off garment, and pass without a bill of sale.[318] The
announcement that a "likely Negro woman about nineteen years and a
child about six months of age _to be sold together or apart_"[319] did
not shock the Christian sensibilities of the people of Massachusetts.
A babe six months old could be torn from the withered and famishing
bosom of the young mother, and sold with other articles of
merchandise. How bitter and how cruel was such a separation,
mothers[320] only can know; and how completely lost a community and
government are that regard with complacency a hardship so diabolical,
the Christians of America must be able to judge.

The Church has done many cruel things in the name of Christianity. In
the dark ages it filled the minds of its disciples with fear, and
their bodies with the pains of penance. It burned Michael Servetus,
and it strangled the scientific opinions of Galileo. And in stalwart
old Massachusetts it thought it was doing God's service in denying the
Negro slave the right of Christian baptism."

     "The famous French _Code Noir_ of 1685 obliged every planter
     to have his Negroes baptized, and properly instructed in the
     doctrines and duties of Christianity. Nor was this the only
     important and humane provision of that celebrated statute,
     to which we may seek in vain for any parallel in British
     Colonial legislation."[321]

On the 25th of October, 1727, Matthias Plant[322] wrote, in answer to
certain questions put to him by "the secretary of the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel," as follows:--

     "6. Negro slaves, one of them is desirous of baptism, but
     _denied by her master_, a woman of wonderful sense, and
     prudent in matters, of equal knowledge in Religion with most
     of her sex, far exceeding any of her own nation that ever
     yet I heard of."[323]

It was nothing to her master that she was "desirous of baptism," "of
wonderful sense," "prudent in matters," and "of equal knowledge in
religion with most of her sex!" She was a Negro slave, and as such was
denied the blessings of the Christian Church.

     "The system of personal servitude was fast disappearing from
     Western Europe, where the idea had obtained that it was
     inconsistent with Christian duty for Christians to hold
     Christians as slaves. But this charity did not extend to
     heathen and infidels. The same system of morality which held
     the possessions of unbelievers as lawful spoils of war,
     delivered over their persons also to the condition of
     servitude. Hence, in America, the slavery of the Indians,
     and presently of Negroes, whom experience proved to be much
     more capable of enduring the hardships of that

And those who were so fortunate as to secure baptism were not freed
thereby.[325] In Massachusetts no Negro ever had the courage to seek
his freedom through this door, and, therefore, there was no necessity
for legislation there to define the question, but in the Southern
colonies the law declared that baptism did not secure the liberty of
the subject. As early as 1631 a law was passed admitting no man to the
rights of "freemen" who was not a member of some church within the
limits of the jurisdiction of the colony.[326] The blessings of a
"freeman" were reserved for church-members only. Negroes were not
admitted to the church, and, therefore, were denied the rights of a
freeman.[327] Even the mother country had no bowels of compassion for
the Negro. In 1677 the English courts held that a Negro slave was

     "That, being usually bought and sold among merchants as
     merchandise, and _also being infidels_, there might be a
     property in them sufficient to maintain trover."[328]

So as "infidels" the Negro slaves of Massachusetts were deprived of
rights and duties belonging to a member of the Church and State.

     "Zealous for religion as the colonists were, very little
     effort was made to convert the Negroes, owing partly, at
     least, to a prevalent opinion that neither Christian
     brotherhood nor the law of England would justify the holding
     Christians as slaves. Nor could repeated colonial
     enactments to the contrary entirely root out this idea, for
     it was not supposed that a colonial statute could set aside
     the law of England."[329]

But the deeper reason the colonists had for excluding slaves from
baptism, and hence citizenship, was twofold; viz., to keep in harmony
with the Mosaic code in reference to "strangers" and "Gentiles," and
to keep the door of the Church shut in the face of the slave; because
to open it to him was to emancipate him in course of time. Religious
and secular knowledge were not favorable to slavery. The colonists
turned to the narrow, national spirit of the Old Testament, rather
than to the broad and catholic spirit of the New Testament, for
authority to withhold the mercies of the Christian religion from the
Negro slaves in their midst.

The rigorous system of domestic slavery established in the colony of
Massachusetts bore its bitter fruit in due season. It was impossible
to exclude the slaves from the privileges of the Church and State
without inflicting a moral injury upon the holy marriage relation. In
the contemplation of the law the slave was a chattel, an article of
merchandise. The custom of separating parent and child, husband and
wife, was very clear proof that the marriage relation was either
positively ignored by the institution of slavery, or grossly violated
under the slightest pretext. All well-organized society or government
rests upon this sacred relation. But slavery, with lecherous grasp and
avaricious greed, trailed the immaculate robes of marriage in the
moral filth of the traffic in human beings. True, there never was any
prohibition against the marriage of one slave to another slave,--for
they _tried_ to breed slaves in Massachusetts!--but there never was
any law encouraging the lawful union of slaves until after the
Revolutionary War, in 1786. We rather infer from the following in the
Act of October, 1705, that the marriage relation among slaves had been
left entirely to the caprices of the master.

     "And no master shall unreasonably deny marriage to his Negro
     with one of the same nation; any law, usage or custom to the
     contrary notwithstanding."[330]

We have not been able to discover "any law" positively prohibiting
marriage among slaves; but there was a custom denying marriage to the
Negro, that at length received the weight of positive law. Mr. Palfrey

     "From the reverence entertained by the fathers of New
     England for the nuptial tie, it is safe to infer that slave
     husbands and wives were never separated."[331]

We have searched faithfully to find the slightest justification for
this inference of Mr. Palfrey, but have not found it. There is not a
line in any newspaper of the colony, until 1710, that indicates the
concern of the people in the lawful union of slaves. And there was no
legislation upon the subject until 1786, when an "Act for the orderly
Solemnization of Marriage" passed. That Negro slaves were united in
marriage, there is abundant evidence, but not many in this period. It
was almost a useless ceremony when "the customs and usages" of slavery
separated them at the convenience of the owner. The master's power
over his slaves was almost absolute. If he wanted to sell the children
and keep the parents, his decision was not subject to any court of
law. It was final. If he wanted to sell the wife of his slave man into
the rice-fields of the Carolinas or into the West India Islands, the
tears of the husband only exasperated the master. "The fathers of New
England" had _no_ reverence for the "nuptial tie" among their slaves,
and, therefore, tore slave families asunder without the least
compunction of conscience. "Negro children were considered an
incumbrance in a family, and, when weaned, were given away like
puppies," says the famous Dr. Belknap. But after the Act of 1705;
"their banns were published like those of white persons;" and public
sentiment began to undergo a change on the subject. The following
Negro marriage was prepared by the Rev. Samuel Phillips of Andover.
His ministry did not commence until 1710; and, therefore, this
marriage was prepared subsequent to that date. He realized the need of
something, and acted accordingly.

     "You, Bob, do now, in ye Presence of God and these
     Witnesses, Take Sally to be your wife;

     "Promising, that so far as shall be consistent with ye
     Relation which you now Sustain as a servant, you will
     Perform ye Part of an Husband towards her: And in
     particular, as you shall have ye Opportunity & Ability, you
     will take proper Care of her in Sickness and Health, in
     Prosperity & Adversity;

     "And that you will be True & Faithful to her, and will
     Cleave to her only, so long as God, in his Providence,
     shall continue your and her abode in Such Place (or Places)
     as that you can conveniently come together.--Do You thus

     "You, Sally, do now, in ye Presence of God, and these
     Witnesses, Take Bob to be your Husband;

     "Promising, that so far as your present Relation as a
     Servant shall admit, you will Perform the Part of a Wife
     towards him: and in particular,

     "You Promise that you will Love him; And that as you shall
     have the Opportunity & Ability, you will take a proper Care
     of him in Sickness and Health; in Prosperity and Adversity:

     "And you will cleave to him only, so long as God, in his
     Providence, shall continue his & your Abode in such Place
     (or Places) as that you can come together.--Do you thus
     Promise? I then, agreeable to your Request, and with ye
     Consent of your Masters & Mistresses, do Declare that you
     have License given you to be conversant and familiar
     together as Husband and Wife, so long as God shall continue
     your Places of Abode as aforesaid; And so long as you Shall
     behave yourselves as it becometh servants to doe:

     "For you must both of you bear in mind that you remain
     still, as really and truly as ever, your Master's Property,
     and therefore it will be justly expected, both by God and
     Man, that you behave and conduct yourselves as Obedient and
     faithful Servants towards your respective Masters &
     Mistresses for the Time being:

     "And finally, I exhort and Charge you to beware lest you
     give place to the Devil, so as to take occasion from the
     license now given you, to be lifted up with Pride, and
     thereby fall under the Displeasure, not of Man only, but of
     God also; for it is written, that God resisteth the Proud
     but giveth Grace to the humble.

     "I shall now conclude with Prayer for you, that you may
     become good Christians, and that you may be enabled to
     conduct as such; and in particular, that you may have Grace
     to behave suitably towards each Other, as also dutifully
     towards your Masters & Mistresses, Not with Eye Service as
     Men pleasers, ye Servants of Christ doing ye Will of God
     from ye heart, &c.

                                   ["ENDORSED] NEGRO MARRIAGE."[332]

Where a likely Negro woman was courted by the slave of another owner,
and wanted to marry, she was sold, as a matter of humanity, "with her
wearing apparel" to the owner of the man. "A Bill of Sale of a Negro
Woman Servant in Boston in 1724, recites that 'Whereas Scipio, of
Boston aforesaid, Free Negro Man and Laborer, proposes Marriage to
Margaret, the Negro Woman Servant of the said Dorcas Marshall [a Widow
Lady of Boston]: Now to the Intent that the said Intended Marriage may
take Effect, and that the said Scipio may Enjoy the said Margaret
without any Interruption,' etc., she is duly sold, with her apparel,
for Fifty Pounds."[333] Within the next twenty years the Governor and
his Council found public opinion so modified on the question of
marriage among the blacks, that they granted a Negro a divorce on
account of his wife's adultery with a white man. But in Quincy's
Reports, page 30, note, quoted by Dr. Moore, in 1758 the following
rather loose decision is recorded: that the child of a female slave
never married according to any of the forms prescribed by the laws of
this land, by another slave, who "had kept her company with her
master's consent," was not a bastard.

The Act of 1705 forbade any "christian" from marrying a Negro, and
imposed a fine of fifty pounds upon any clergyman who should join a
Negro and "christian" in marriage. It stood as the law of the
Commonwealth until 1843, when it was repealed by an "Act relating to
Marriage between Individuals of Certain Races."

As to the political rights of the Negro, it should be borne in mind,
that, as he was excluded from the right of Christian baptism, hence
from the Church; and as "only church-members enjoyed the rights of
freemen, it is clear that the Negro was not admitted to the exercise
of the duties of a freeman.[334] Admitting that there were instances
where Negroes received the rite of baptism, it was so well understood
as not entitling them to freedom or political rights, that it was
never questioned during this entire period. Free Negroes were but
little better off than the slaves. While they might be regarded as
owning their own labor, political rights and ecclesiastical privileges
were withheld from them.

     "They became the objects of a suspicious legislation, which
     deprived them of most of the rights of freemen, and reduced
     them to a social position very similar, in many respects, to
     that which inveterate prejudice in many parts of Europe has
     fixed upon the Jews."

Though nominally free, they did not come under the head of
"Christians." Neither freedom, nor baptism in the Church, could free
them from the race-malice of the whites, that followed them like the
fleet-footed "Furies." There were special regulations for free
Negroes. The Act of 1703, forbidding slaves from being out at night
after the hour of nine o'clock, extended to free Negroes.[335] In 1707
an Act was passed "regulating of free negroes."[336] It recites that
"free negroes and mulattos, able of body, and fit for labor, who are
not charged with trainings, watches, and other services,"[337] shall
perform service equivalent to militia training. They were under the
charge of the officer in command of the military company belonging to
the district where they resided. They did fatigue-duty. And the only
time, that, by law, the Negro was admitted to the trainings, was
between 1652 and 1656. But there is no evidence that the Negroes took
advantage of the law. Public sentiment is more potent than law. In
May, 1656, the law of 1652, admitting Negroes to the trainings, was

     "For the better ordering and settling of severall cases in
     the military companyes within this jurisdiction, which, upon
     experience, are found either wanting or inconvenient, it is
     ordered and declared by this Court and the authoritie
     thereof, that henceforth no negroes or Indians, although
     servants to the English, shal be armed or permitted to
     trayne, and y't no other person shall be exempted from
     trayning but such as some law doth priveledge."[338]

And Gov. Bradstreet, in his report to the "Committee for Trade," made
in May, 1680, says,--

     "We account all generally from Sixteen to Sixty that are
     healthfull and strong bodys, both House-holders and Servants
     fit to beare Armes, _except Negroes_ and _slaves_, whom wee
     arme not."[339]

The law of 1707--which is the merest copy of the Virginia law on the
same subject--requires free Negroes to answer fire-alarms with the
company belonging to their respective precincts. They were not allowed
to entertain slave friends at their houses, without the permission of
the owner of the slaves. To all prohibitions there was affixed severe
fines in large sums of money. In case of a failure to pay these fines,
the delinquent was sent to the House of Correction; where, under
severe discipline, he was constrained to work out his fine at the rate
of one shilling per day! If a Negro "presume to smite or strike any
person of the English, or other Christian nation," he was publicly
flogged by the justice before whom tried, at the discretion of that

During this period the social condition of the Negroes, bond and
free, was very deplorable. The early records of the town of Boston
preserve the fact that one Thomas Deane, in the year 1661, was
prohibited from employing a Negro in the manufacture of hoops, under a
penalty of twenty shillings; for what reason is not stated.[340] No
churches or schools, no books or teachers, they were left to the gloom
and vain imaginations of their own fettered intellects. John Eliot
"had long lamented it with a Bleeding and Burning Passion, that the
English used their Negroes but as their Horses or their Oxen, and that
so little care was taken about their immortal souls; he looked upon it
as a Prodigy, that any wearing the _Name_ of _Christians_ should so
much have the _Heart_ of _Devils_ in them, as to prevent and hinder
the Instruction of the poor _Blackamores_, and confine the souls of
their miserable Slaves to a _Destroying Ignorance_, merely for fear of
thereby losing the Benefit of their Vassalage; but now he made a
motion to the _English_ within two or three Miles of him, that at such
a time and place they would send their _Negroes_ once a week unto him:
For he would then _Catechise_ them, and _Enlighten_ them, to the
utmost of his power in things of their Everlasting Peace; however, he
did not live to make much progress in this undertaking."[341] The few
faint voices of encouragement, that once in a great while reached them
from the pulpit[342] and forum, were as strange music, mellowed and
sweetened by the distance. The free and slave Negroes were separated
by law, were not allowed to communicate together to any great extent.
They were not allowed in numbers greater than three, and then, if not
in the service of some white person, were liable to be arrested, and
sent to the House of Correction.

     "The slave was the property of his master as much as his ox
     or his horse; _he had no civil rights_ but that of
     protection from cruelty; he could acquire no property nor
     dispose of any[343] without the consent of his master.... We
     think he had not the capacity to communicate a civil
     relation to his children, which he did not enjoy himself,
     except as the property of his master."[344]

With but small means the free Negroes of the colony were unable to
secure many comforts in their homes. They were hated and dreaded more
than their brethren in bondage. They could judge, by contrast, of the
abasing influences of slavery. They were only nominally free; because
they were taxed[345] without representation,--had no voice in the
colonial government.

But, notwithstanding the obscure and neglected condition of the free
Negroes, some of them by their industry, frugality, and aptitude won a
place in the confidence and esteem of the more humane of the white
population. Owning their own time, many of the free Negroes applied
themselves to the acquisition of knowledge. Phillis Wheatley, though
nominally a slave for some years, stood at the head of the
intellectual Negroes of this period. She was brought from Africa to
the Boston slave-market, where, in 1761, she was purchased by a
benevolent white lady by the name of Mrs. John Wheatley. She was
naked, save a piece of dirty carpet about her loins, was delicate of
constitution, and much fatigued from a rough sea-voyage. Touched by
her modest demeanor and intelligent countenance, Mrs. Wheatley chose
her from a large company of slaves. It was her intention to teach her
the duties of an ordinary domestic; but clean clothing and wholesome
diet effected such a radical change in the child for the better, that
Mrs. Wheatley changed her plans, and began to give her private
instruction. Eager for learning, apt in acquiring, though only eight
years old, she greatly surprised and pleased her mistress. Placed
under the instruction of Mrs. Wheatley's daughter, Phillis learned the
English language sufficiently well as to be able to read the most
difficult portions of the Bible with ease and accuracy. This she
accomplished in less than a year and a half. She readily mastered the
art of writing; and within four years from the time she landed in the
slave-market in Boston, she was able to carry on an extensive
correspondence on a variety of topics.

Her ripening intellectual faculties attracted the attention of the
refined and educated people of Boston, many of whom sought her society
at the home of the Wheatleys. It should be remembered, that this
period did not witness general culture among the masses of white
people, and certainly no facilities for the education of Negroes. And
yet some cultivated white persons gave Phillis encouragement, loaned
her books, and called her out on matters of a literary character.
Having acquired the principles of an English education, she turned her
attention to the study of the Latin language,[346] and was able to do
well in it. Encouraged by her success, she translated one of Ovid's
tales. The translation was considered so admirable that it was
published in Boston by some of her friends. On reaching England it was
republished, and called forth the praise of many of the reviews.

Her manners were modest and refined. Her nature was sensitive
and affectionate. She early gave signs of a deep spiritual
experience,[347] which gave tone and character to all her efforts in
composition and poetry. There was a charming vein of gratitude in all
her private conversations and public utterances, which her owners did
not fail to recognize and appreciate. Her only distinct recollection
of her native home was, that every morning early _her mother poured
out water before the rising sun_. Her growing intelligence and keen
appreciation of the blessings of civilization overreached mere animal
grief at the separation from her mother. And as she knew more of the
word of God, she became more deeply interested in the condition of her

At the age of twenty her master emancipated her. Naturally delicate,
the severe climate of New England, and her constant application to
study, began to show on her health. Her friend and mother, for such
she proved herself to be, Mrs. Wheatley, solicitous about her health,
called in eminent medical counsel, who prescribed a sea-voyage. A son
of Mrs. Wheatley was about to visit England on mercantile business,
and therefore took Phillis with him. For the previous six years she
had cultivated her taste for poetry; and, at this time, her reputation
was quite well established. She had corresponded with persons in
England in social circles, and was not a stranger to the English. She
was heartily welcomed by the leaders of the society of the British
metropolis, and treated with great consideration. Under all the trying
circumstances of high social life, among the nobility and rarest
literary genius of London, this redeemed child of the desert, coupled
to a beautiful modesty the extraordinary powers of an incomparable
conversationalist. She carried London by storm. Thoughtful people
praised her; titled people dined her; and the press extolled the name
of Phillis Wheatley, the African poetess.

Prevailed upon by admiring friends, in 1773[348] she gave her poems to
the world. They were published in London in a small octavo volume of
about one hundred and twenty pages, comprising thirty-nine pieces. It
was dedicated to the Countess of Huntingdon, with a picture of the
poetess, and a letter of recommendation signed by the governor and
lieutenant-governor, with many other "respectable citizens of Boston."

       *       *       *       *       *


     As it has been repeatedly suggested to the publisher, by
     persons who have seen the manuscript, that numbers would be
     ready to suspect they were not really the writings of
     PHILLIS, he has procured the following attestation,
     from the most respectable characters in _Boston_, that none
     might have the least ground for disputing their _Original_.

     We, whose Names are under-written, do assure the World, that
     the Poems specified in the following page were (as we verily
     believe) written by PHILLIS, a young Negro Girl,
     who was, but a few Years since, brought, an uncultivated
     Barbarian, from _Africa_, and has ever since been, and now
     is, under the disadvantage of serving as a Slave in a family
     in this town. She has been examined by some of the best
     judges, and is thought qualified to write them.

                         _His Excellency_, THOMAS HUTCHINSON, _Governor_.
                         _The Hon_. ANDREW OLIVER, _Lieutenant Governor_.

            _Hon_. Thomas Hubbard, | _Rev_. Charles Chauncy,
            _Hon_. John Erving,    | _Rev_. Mather Byles,
            _Hon_. James Pitts,    | _Rev_. Ed Pemberton,
            _Hon_. Harrison Gray,  | _Rev_. Andrew Elliot,
            _Hon_. James Bowdoin,  | _Rev_. Samuel Cooper,
            John Hancock, _Esq_.   | _Rev_. Samuel Mather,
            Joseph Green, _Esq_.   | _Rev_. John Moorhead,
            Richard Cary, _Esq_.   | _Mr_. John Wheatley, her master.

       *       *       *       *       *

The volume has passed through several English and American editions,
and is to be found in all first-class libraries in the country. Mrs.
Wheatley sickened, and grieved daily after Phillis. A picture of her
little ward, sent from England, adorned her bedroom; and she pointed
it out to visiting friends with all the sincere pride of a mother. On
one occasion she exclaimed to a friend, "See! Look at my Phillis! Does
she not seem as though she would speak to me?" Getting no better, she
sent a loving request to Phillis to come to her at as early a moment
as possible. With a deep sense of gratitude to Mrs. Wheatley for
countless blessings bestowed upon her, Phillis hastened to return to
Boston. She found her friend and benefactor just living, and shortly
had the mournful satisfaction of closing her sightless eyes. The
husband and daughter followed the wife and mother quickly to the
grave. Young Mr. Wheatley married, and settled in England. Phillis was
alone in the world.

     "She soon after received an offer of marriage from a
     respectable colored man, of Boston. The name of this
     individual was _John_ Peters.[349] He kept a grocery in
     Court Street, and was a man of handsome person. He wore a
     wig, carried a cane, and quite acted out '_the gentleman_.'
     In an evil hour, he was accepted; and, though he was a man
     of talents and information,--writing with fluency and
     propriety, and, at one period, reading law,--he proved
     utterly unworthy of the distinguished woman who honored him
     by her alliance."

Her married life was brief. She was the mother of one child, that died
early. Ignorant of the duties of domestic life, courted and flattered
by the cultivated, Peters's jealousy was at length turned into harsh
treatment. Tenderly raised, and of a delicate constitution,
Phillis soon went into decline, and died Dec. 5, 1784, in the
thirty-first[350] year of her life, greatly beloved and sincerely
mourned by all whose good fortune it had been to know of her high
mental endowments and blameless Christian life.

Her influence upon the rapidly growing anti-slavery sentiment of
Massachusetts was considerable. The friends of humanity took pleasure
in pointing to her marvellous achievements, as an evidence of what the
Negro could do under favorable circumstances. From a state of nudity
in a slave-market, a stranger to the English language, this young
African girl had won her way over the rough path of learning; had
conquered the spirit of caste in the best society of conservative old
Boston; had brought two continents to her feet in admiration and
amazement at the rare poetical accomplishments of a child of

She addressed a poem to Gen. Washington that pleased the old warrior
very much. We have never seen it, though we have searched diligently.
Mr. Sparks says of it,--

     "I have not been able to find, among Washington's papers the
     letter and poem addressed to him. They have doubtless been
     lost. From the circumstance of her invoking the muse in his
     praise, and from the tenor of some of her printed pieces,
     particularly one addressed to King George seven years
     before, in which she compliments him on the repeal of the
     Stamp Act, it may be inferred, that she was a Whig in
     politics after the American way of thinking; and it might be
     curious to see in what manner she would eulogize liberty and
     the rights of man, while herself, nominally at least, in

Gen. Washington, in a letter to Joseph Reed, bearing date of the 10th
of February, 1776, from Cambridge, refers to the letter and poem as

     "I recollect nothing else worth giving you the trouble of,
     unless you can be amused by reading a letter and poem
     addressed to me by Miss Phillis Wheatley. In searching over
     a parcel of papers the other day, in order to destroy such
     as were useless, I brought it to light again. At first, with
     a view of doing justice to her poetical genius, I had a
     great mind to publish the poem; but not knowing whether it
     might not be considered rather as a mark of my own vanity,
     than as a compliment to her, I laid it aside,[353] till I
     came across it again in the manner just mentioned."[354]

This gives the world an "inside" view of the brave old general's
opinion of the poem and poetess, but the "outside" view, as expressed
to Phil's, is worthy of reproduction at this point.

     CAMBRIDGE, 28 February, 1776.

     MISS PHILLIS,--Your favor of the 26th of October did not
     reach my hands, till the middle of December. Time enough,
     you will say, to have given an answer ere this. Granted. But
     a variety of important occurrences, continually interposing
     to distract the mind and withdraw the attention, I hope will
     apologize for the delay, and plead my excuse for the seeming
     but not real neglect. I thank you most sincerely for your
     polite notice of me, in the elegant lines you enclosed; and
     however undeserving I may be of such encomium and panegyric,
     the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your
     poetical talents; in honor of which, and as a tribute justly
     due to you, I would have published the poem, had I not been
     apprehensive, that, while I only meant to give the world
     this new instance of your genius, I might have incurred the
     imputation of vanity. This, and nothing else, determined me
     not to give it place in the public prints.

     If you should ever come to Cambridge, or near head-quarters,
     I shall be happy to see a person so favored by the Muses,
     and to whom nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her

     I am, with great respect, your obedient, humble servant,

                                        GEORGE WASHINGTON.[355]

This letter is a handsome compliment to the poetess, and does honor to
both the head and heart of the general. His modesty, so
characteristic, has deprived history of its dues. But it is consoling
to know that the sentiments of the poem found a response in the
patriotic heart of the _first soldier of the Revolution, and the
Father of his Country_!

While Phillis Wheatley stands out as one of the most distinguished
characters of this period, and who, as a Colored person, had no equal,
yet she was not the only individual of her race of intellect and
character. A Negro boy from Africa was purchased by a Mr. Slocum, who
resided near New Bedford, Mass. After he acquired the language, he
turned his thoughts to freedom, and in a few years, by working beyond
the hours he devoted to his master, was enabled to buy himself from
his master. He married an Indian woman named Ruth Moses, and settled
at Cutterhunker, in the Elizabeth Islands, near New Bedford. In a few
years, through industry and frugality, John Cuffe--the name he took as
a freeman--was enabled to purchase a good farm of one hundred (100)
acres. Every year recorded new achievements, until John Cuffe had a
wide reputation for wealth, honesty, and intelligence. He applied
himself to books, and secured, as the ripe fruit of his studious
habits, a fair business education. Both himself and wife were
Christian believers; and to lives of industry and increasing secular
knowledge, they added that higher knowledge which makes alive to
"everlasting life." Ten children were born unto them,--four boys and
six girls. One of the boys, Paul Cuffe, became one of the most
distinguished men of color Massachusetts has produced. The reader will
be introduced to him in the proper place in the history. John Cuffe
died in 1745, leaving behind, in addition to considerable property, a
good name, which is of great price.[356]

Richard Dalton, Esq., of Boston, owned a Negro boy whom he taught to
read any Greek writer without hesitancy. Mr. Dalton was afflicted with
weak eyes; and his fondness for the classics would not allow him to
forego the pleasure of them, and hence his Negro boy Cæsar was
instructed in the Greek.[357] "The Boston Chronicle" of Sept. 21,
1769, contains the following advertisement: "To be sold, a Likely
Little negroe boy, who _can speak the French language_, and very fit
for a Valet."

With increasing evidence of the Negro's capacity for mental
improvement, and fitness for the duties and blessings of a freeman,
and the growing insolence and rigorous policy of the mother country,
came a wonderful change in the colony. The Negroes were emboldened to
ask for and claim rights as British subjects, and the more humane
element among the whites saw in a relaxation of the severe treatment
of the blacks security and immunity in war. But anti-slavery sentiment
in Massachusetts was not born of a genuine desire to put down a wicked
and cruel traffic in human beings. Two things operated in favor of
humane treatment of the slaves,--an impending war, and the decision of
Lord Mansfield in the Sommersett case. The English government was
yearly increasing the burdens of the colonists. The country was young,
its resources little known. The people were largely engaged in
agricultural pursuits. There were no tariff laws encouraging or
protecting the labor or skill of the people. Civil war seemed
inevitable. Thoughtful men began to consider the question as to which
party the Negroes of the colony would contribute their strength. It
was no idle question to determine whether the Negroes were Tories or
Whigs. As early as 1750 the questions as to the legality of holding
Negroes in slavery in British colonies began to be discussed in
England and New England. "What, precisely, the English law might be on
the subject of slavery, still remained a subject of doubt."[358] Lord
Holt held that slavery was a condition unknown to English law,--that
the being in England was evidence of freedom. This embarrassed
New-England planters in taking their slaves to England. The planters
banded for their common cause, and secured the written opinion of
Yorke and Talbot, attorney and solicitor general of England. They held
that slaves _could_ be held in England as well as in America; that
baptism did not confer freedom: and the opinion stood as sound law for
nearly a half-century.[359] The men in England who lived on the money
wrung from the slave-trade, the members of the Royal African Company,
came to the rescue of the institution of slavery. In order to maintain
it by law in the American colonies, it had to be recognized in
England. The people of Massachusetts took a lively interest in the
question. In 1761, at a meeting "in the old court-house," James
Otis,[360] in a speech against the "writs of assistance," struck a
popular chord on the questions of "The Rights of the Colonies,"
afterwards published (1764) by order of the Legislature. He took the
broad ground, "that the colonists, black and white, born here, are
free-born British subjects and entitled to all the essential rights of
such."[361] In 1766 Nathaniel Appleton and James Swan distinguished
themselves in their defence of the doctrines of "liberty for all." It
became the general topic of discussion in private and public, and
country lyceums and college societies took it up as a subject of
forensic disputation.[362] In the month of May, 1766, the
representatives of the people were instructed to advocate the total
abolition of slavery. And on the 16th of March, 1767, a resolution was
offered to see whether the instructions should be adhered to, and was
unanimously carried in the affirmative. But it should be remembered
that British troops were in the colony, in the streets of Boston. The
mutterings of the distant thunder of revolution could be heard. Public
sentiment was greatly tempered toward the Negroes. On the 31st of May,
1609, the House of Representatives of Massachusetts resolved against
the presence of troops, and besought the governor to remove them. His
Excellency disclaimed any power under the circumstances to interfere.
The House denounced a standing army in time of peace, without the
consent of the General Court, as "without precedent, and
unconstitutional."[363] In 1769 one of the courts of Massachusetts
gave a decision friendly to a slave, who was the plaintiff. This
stimulated the Negroes to an exertion for freedom. The entire colony
was in a feverish state of excitement. An anonymous Tory writer
reproached Bostonians for desiring freedom when they themselves
enslaved others.

     "'What!' cries our good people here, 'Negro slaves in
     Boston! It cannot be.' It is nevertheless true. For though
     the Bostonians have grounded their rebellion on the
     'immutable laws of nature,' yet, notwithstanding their
     resolves about freedom in their Town-meetings, they actually
     have in town 2,000 Negro slaves."[364]

These trying and exasperating circumstances were but the friendly
precursors of a spirit of universal liberty.

In England the decision of Lord Mansfield in the Sommersett[365] case
had encouraged the conscientious few who championed the cause of the
slave. Charles Stewart, Esq., of Boston, Mass., had taken to London
with him his Negro slave, James Sommersett. The Negro was seized with
a sickness in the British metropolis, and was thereupon abandoned by
his master. He afterwards regained his health, and secured employment.
His master, learning of his whereabouts, had him arrested, and placed
in confinement on board the vessel "Ann and Mary," Capt. John Knowls,
commander, then lying in the Thames, but soon to sail for Jamaica,
where Sommersett was to be sold.

     "On the 3rd of Dec., 1771, affidavits were made by Thomas
     Walklin, Elizabeth Cade, and John Marlow, that James
     Sommersett, a Negro, was confined in irons on board a ship
     called the _Ann_ and _Mary_, John Knowls commander, lying in
     the Thames, and bound for Jamaica. Lord Mansfield, upon the
     prayer of the above subscribers, allowed a writ of _habeas
     corpus_, requiring the return of the body of Sommersett
     before his lordship with an explanation of the cause of his
     detention. On the 9th of Dec., Capt. Knowls produced the
     body of Sommersett in Court. Lord Mansfield, after a
     preliminary examination, referred the matter to the Court of
     King's Bench, and, therefore, took sureties, and bound
     Sommersett over 'till 'the 2nd day of the next Hillary
     term.' At the time appointed the defendant with counsel, the
     reputed master of the Negro man Sommersett, and Capt. John
     Knowls, appeared before the court. Capt. Knowls recited the
     reasons that led him to detain Sommersett: whereupon the
     counsel for the latter asked for time in which to prepare an
     argument against the return. Lord Mansfield gave them until
     the 7th of February. At the time appointed Mr. Sergeant Davy
     and Mr. Sergeant Glynn argued against the return, and had
     further argument 'postponed' till Easter term,' when Mr.
     Mansfield, Mr. Alleyne, and Mr. Hargrave argued on the same
     side. 'The only question before us is whether the cause on
     the return is sufficient. If it is, the Negro must be
     remanded; if it is not, he must be discharged. The return
     states that the slave departed and refused to serve,
     whereupon he was kept to be sold abroad. So high an act of
     dominion must be recognized by the law of the country where
     it is used. The power of a master over his slave has been
     exceedingly different in different countries. The state of
     slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being
     introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by
     positive law, which preserves its force long after the
     reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was
     created is erased from memory. It is so odious that nothing
     can be suffered to support it but positive law. Whatever
     inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I
     cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of
     England, and therefore the black must be discharged.'"

The influence of this decision was wide-spread, and hurtful to slavery
in the British colonies in North America. It poured new life into the
expiring hopes of the Negroes, and furnished a rule of law for the
advocates of "freedom for all." It raised a question of law in all the
colonies as to whether the colonial governments could pass an Act
legalizing that which was "contrary to English law."[366]

Notwithstanding the general and generous impulse for liberty, the
indissoluble ties of avarice, and the greed for the unearned gains of
the slave-trade, made public men conservate to conserve the interests
of those directly interested in the inhuman traffic.

     "In an age when the interests of trade guided legislation,
     this branch of commerce possessed paramount attractions. Not
     a statesman exposed its enormities; and, if Richard Baxter
     echoed the opinions of Puritan Massachusetts, if Southern
     drew tears by the tragic tale of Oronooko, if Steele
     awakened a throb of indignation by the story of Inkle and
     Yarico, if Savage and Shenstone pointed their feeble
     couplets with the wrongs of 'Afric's sable children,' if the
     Irish metaphysician Hutcheson, struggling for a higher
     system of morals,--justly stigmatized the traffic; yet no
     public opinion lifted its voice against it. English ships,
     fitted out in English cities, under the special favor of the
     royal family, of the ministry, and of parliament, stole from
     Africa, in the years from 1700 to 1750, probably a million
     and a half of souls, of whom one-eighth were buried in the
     Atlantic, victims of the passage; and yet in England no
     general indignation rebuked the enormity; for the public
     opinion of the age was obedient to materialism."[367]

Humane masters who desired to emancipate their slaves were embarrassed
by a statute unfriendly to manumission. The Act of 1703[368] deterred
many persons from emancipating their slaves on account of its unjust
and hard requirements. And under it quite a deal of litigation arose.
It required every master who desired to liberate his slave, before
doing so, to furnish a bond to the treasurer of the town or place in
which he resided, in a sum not less than fifty pounds.[369] This was
to indemnify the town or place in case the Negro slave thus
emancipated should, through lameness or sickness, become a charge. In
case a master failed to furnish such security, his emancipated slaves
were still contemplated by the law as in bondage, "notwithstanding any
manumission or instrument of freedom to them made or given." Judge
Sewall, in a letter to John Adams, cites a case in point.

     "A man, by will, gives his Negro his liberty, and leaves him
     a legacy. The executor consents that the Negro shall be
     free, but refuseth to give bond to the selectmen to
     indemnify the town against any charge for his support in
     case he should become poor (without which, by the province
     law, he is not manumitted), or to pay him the legacy.

     _Query_. Can he recover the legacy, and how?

     I have just observed that in your last you desire me to say
     something towards discouraging you from removing to
     Providence; and you say, any thing will do. At present, I
     only say, you will do well enough where you are. I will
     explain myself, and add something further, in some future
     letter. I have not time to enlarge now, for which I believe
     you will not be inconsolably grieved. So, to put you out of
     pain, your hearty friend,

                                        JONATHAN SEWALL."[370]

Mr. Adams replied as follows:--

     "Now. _En mesure le manner_. The testator intended plainly
     that his negro should have his liberty and a legacy;
     therefore the law will presume that he intended his executor
     should do all that without which he could have neither. That
     this indemnification was not in the testator's mind, cannot
     be proved from the will any more than it could be proved, in
     the first case above, that the testator did not know a fee
     simple would pass a will without the word heirs; nor than,
     in the second case, that the devise of a trust, that might
     continue forever, would convey a fee-simple without the like
     words. I take it, therefore, that the executor of this will
     is, by implication, obliged to give bonds to the town
     treasurer, and, in his refusal, is a wrongdoer; and I cannot
     think he ought to be allowed to take advantage of his own
     wrong, so much as to allege this want of an indemnification
     to evade an action of the case brought for the legacy by the
     negro himself.

     But why may not the negro bring a special action of the case
     against the executor, setting forth the will, the devise of
     freedom and a legacy, and then the necessity of
     indemnification by the province law, and then a refusal to
     indemnify, and, of consequence, to set free and to pay the

     Perhaps the negro is free at common law by the devise. Now,
     the province law seems to have been made only to oblige the
     master to maintain his manumitted slave, and not to declare
     a manumission in the master's lifetime, or at his death,
     void. Should a master give his negro his freedom, under his
     hand and seal, without giving bond to the town, and should
     afterwards repent and endeavor to recall the negro into
     servitude, would not that instrument be a sufficient
     discharge against the master?"[371]

It is pleaded in extenuation of this Act, that it was passed to put a
stop to the very prevalent habit of emancipating old and decrepit
Negroes after there was no more service in them. If this be true, it
reveals a practice more cruel than slavery itself.

In 1702 the representatives of the town of Boston were "desired to
promote the encouraging the bringing of White servants and to put a
period to Negroes being slaves."[372] This was not an anti-slavery
measure, as some have wrongly supposed.[373] It was not a resolution
or an Act: it was simply a request; and one that the "Representatives"
did not grant for nearly a century afterwards.

     "In 1718, a committee of both Houses prepared a bill
     entitled 'An Act for the Encouraging the Importation of
     White Male Servants, and the preventing the Clandestine
     bringing in of Negroes and Molattoes.'"

It was read in Council a first time on the 16th of June, and "sent
down recommended" to the House; where it was also read a first time on
the same day. The next day it was read a second time, and, "on the
question for a third reading, decided in the negative."[374] In 1706
an argument or "Computation that the Importation of Negroes is not so
profitable as that of White Servants," was published in Boston.[375]
It throws a flood of light upon the Act mentioned above, and shows
that the motives that inspired the people who wanted a period put to
the holding of Negroes as slaves were grossly material and selfish. It
was the first published article on the subject, and is worthy of
reproduction in full. It is reprinted from "The Boston News-Letter,"
No. 112, June 10, 1706, in the New-York Historical Society.

     "By last Year's Bill of Mortality for the Town of _Boston_,
     in _Number 100 News-Letter_, we are furnished with a List of
     44 Negroes dead last year, which being computed one with
     another at 30_l._ per Head, amounts to the Sum of One
     Thousand three hundred and Twenty Pounds, of which we would
     make this Remark: That the Importing of Negroes into this or
     the Neighboring Provinces is not so beneficial either to the
     Crown or Country, as White Servants would be.

     "For Negroes do not carry Arms to defend the Country as
     Whites do.

     "Negroes are generally Eye-Servants, great Thieves, much
     addicted to Stealing, Lying and Purloining.

     "They do not People our Country as Whites would do whereby
     we should be strengthened against an Enemy.

     "By Encouraging the Importing of White Men Servants,
     allowing somewhat to the Importer, most Husbandmen in the
     Country might be furnished with Servants for 8, 9, or 10_l._
     a Head, who are not able to launch out 40 or 50_l._ for a
     Negro the now common Price.

     "A Man then might buy a White Man Servant we suppose for
     10_l._ to serve 4 years, and Boys for the same price to
     Serve 6, 8, or 10 years; If a White Servant die, the Loss
     exceeds not 10_l._ but if a Negro dies, 'tis a very great
     loss to the Husbandman; Three years Interest of the price of
     the Negro, will near upon if not altogether purchase a White
     Man Servant.

     "If necessity call for it, that the Husbandman must fit out
     a Man against the Enemy; if he has a Negro he cannot send
     him, but if he has a White Servant, 'twill answer the end,
     and perhaps save his son at home.

     "Were Merchants and Masters Encouraged as already said to
     bring in Men Servants, there needed not be such Complaint
     against Superiors Impressing our Children to the War, there
     would then be Men enough to be had without Impressing.

     "The bringing in of such Servants would much enrich this
     Province, because Husbandmen would not only be able far
     better to manure what Lands are already under Improvement,
     but would also improve a great deal more that now lyes waste
     under Woods, and enable this Province to set about raising
     of Naval Stores, which would be greatly advantageous to the
     Crown of England, and this Province.

     "For the raising of Hemp here, so as to make Sail-cloth and
     Cordage to furnish but our own shipping, would hinder the
     Importing it, and save a considerable sum in a year to make
     Returns for which we now do, and in time might be
     capacitated to furnish England not only with Sail-cloth and
     Cordage, but likewise with Pitch, Tar, Hemp, and other
     Stores which they are now obliged to purchase in Foreign

     "Suppose the Government here should allow Forty Shillings
     per head for five years, to such as should Import every of
     these years 100 White Men Servants, and each to serve 4
     years, the cost would be but 200_l._ a year, and a 1000_l._
     for the 5 years. The first 100 Servants, being free the 4th
     year they serve the 5th for Wages, and the 6th there is 100
     that goes out into the Woods, and settles a 100 Families to
     Strengthen and Baracado us from the Indians, and also a 100
     Families more every year successively.

     "And here you see that in one year the Town of Boston has
     lost 1320_l._ by 44 Negroes, which is also a loss to the
     Country in general, and for a less loss (if it may
     improperly be so called) for a 1000_l._ the Country may have
     500 Men in 5 years time for the 44 Negroes dead in one year.

     "A certain person within these 6 years had two Negroes dead
     computed both at 60_l._ which would have procured him six
     white Servants at 10_l._ per head to have Served 24 years,
     at 4 years apiece, without running such a great risque, and
     the Whites would have strengthened the Country, that Negroes
     do not.

     "'Twould do well that none of those Servants be liable to be
     Impressed during their Service of Agreement at their first

     "That such Servants being Sold or Transported out of this
     Province during the time of their Service, the Person that
     buys them be liable to pay 3_l._ into the Treasury."

Comment would be superfluous. It is only necessary for the reader to
note that there is not a humane sentiment in the entire article.

But universal liberty was not without her votaries. All had not bowed
the knee to Baal. The earliest friend of the Indian and the Negro was
the scholarly, pious, and benevolent Samuel Sewall, at one time one of
the judges of the Superior Court of Massachusetts, and afterwards the
chief justice. He hated slavery with a righteous hatred, and early
raised his voice and used his pen against it. He contributed the first
article against slavery printed in the colony. It appeared as a tract,
on the 24th of June, 1700, and was "Printed by Bartholomew Green and
John Allen." It is withal the most remarkable document of its kind we
ever saw. It is reproduced here to show the reader what a learned
Christian judge thought of slavery one hundred and eighty-two years


     "By the Hon'ble JUDGE SEWALL in New England.

     "FORASMUCH _as_ LIBERTY _is in real value next unto Life;
     None ought to part with it themselves, or deprive others of
     it, but upon most mature consideration._

     "The Numerousness of Slaves at this Day in the Province, and
     the Uneasiness of them under their Slavery, hath put many
     upon thinking whether the Foundation of it be firmly and
     well laid; so as to sustain the Vast Weight that is built
     upon it. It is most certain that all Men, as they are the
     Sons of _Adam_, are Co-heirs, and have equal Right unto
     Liberty, and all other outward Comforts of Life. GOD _hath
     given the Earth [with all its commodities] unto the Sons of
     Adam, Psal., 115, 16. And hath made of one Blood all Nations
     of Men, for to dwell on all the face of the Earth, and hath
     determined the Times before appointed, and the bounds of
     their Habitation: That they should seek the Lord. Forasmuch
     then as we are the Offspring of_ GOD, &c. _Acts, 17, 26, 27,
     29_. Now, although the Title given by the last ADAM doth
     infinitely better Men's Estates, respecting GOD and
     themselves; and grants them a most beneficial and inviolable
     Lease under the Broad Seal of Heaven, who were before only
     Tenants at Will; yet through the Indulgence of GOD to our
     First Parents after the Fall, the outward Estate of all and
     every of their Children, remains the same as to one another.
     So that Originally, and Naturally, there is no such thing as
     Slavery. _Joseph_ was rightfully no more a slave to his
     Brethren, than they were to him; and they had no more
     Authority to _Sell_ him, than they had to _Slay_ him. And if
     _they_ had nothing to do to sell him; the _Ishmaelites_
     bargaining with them, and paying down Twenty pieces of
     Silver, could not make a Title. Neither could _Potiphar_
     have any better Interest in him than the _Ishmaelites_ had.
     _Gen. 37, 20, 27, 28_. For he that shall in this case plead
     _Alteration of Property_, seems to have forfeited a great
     part of his own claim to Humanity. There is no proportion
     between Twenty Pieces of Silver and LIBERTY. The Commodity
     itself is the Claimer. If _Arabian_ Gold be imported in any
     quantities, most are afraid to meddle with it, though they
     might have it at easy rates; lest it should have been
     wrongfully taken from the Owners, it should kindle a fire to
     the Consumption of their whole Estate. 'Tis pity there
     should be more Caution used in buying a Horse, or a little
     lifeless dust, than there is in purchasing Men and Women:
     Whereas they are the Offspring of GOD, and their Liberty is,

                    ... _Auro pretiofior Omni._

     "And seeing GOD hath said, _He that Stealeth a Man, and
     Selleth him, or if he be found in his Hand, he shall surely
     be put to Death._ Exod. 21, 16. This Law being of
     Everlasting Equity, wherein Man-Stealing is ranked among the
     most atrocious of Capital Crimes: What louder Cry can there
     be made of that Celebrated Warning

                    _Caveat Emptor!_

     "And all things considered, it would conduce more to the
     Welfare of the Province, to have White Servants for a Term
     of Years, than to have Slaves for Life. Few can endure to
     hear of a Negro's being made free; and indeed they can
     seldom use their Freedom well; yet their continual aspiring
     after their forbidden Liberty, renders them Unwilling
     Servants. And there is such a disparity in their Conditions,
     Colour, and Hair, that they can never embody with us, & grow
     up in orderly Families, to the Peopling of the Land; but
     still remain in our Body Politick as a kind of extravasat
     Blood. As many Negro Men as there are among us, so many
     empty Places are there in our Train Bands, and the places
     taken up of Men that might make Husbands for our Daughters.
     And the Sons and Daughters of _New England_ would become
     more like _Jacob_ and _Rachel_, if this Slavery were thrust
     quite out of Doors. Moreover it is too well known what
     Temptations Masters are under, to connive at the
     Fornication of their Slaves; lest they should be obliged to
     find them Wives, or pay their Fines. It seems to be
     practically pleaded that they might be lawless; 'tis thought
     much of, that the Law should have satisfaction for their
     Thefts, and other Immoralities; by which means, _Holiness to
     the Lord_ is more rarely engraven upon this sort of
     Servitude. It is likewise most lamentable to think, how in
     taking Negroes out of _Africa_, and selling of them here,
     That which GOD has joined together, Men do boldly rend
     asunder; Men from their Country, Husbands from their Wives,
     Parents from their Children. How horrible is the
     Uncleanness, Mortality, if not Murder, that the Ships are
     guilty of that bring great Crowds of these miserable Men and
     Women. Methinks when we are bemoaning the barbarous Usage of
     our Friends and Kinsfolk in _Africa_, it might not be
     unreasonable to enquire whether we are not culpable in
     forcing the _Africans_ to become Slaves amongst ourselves.
     And it may be a question whether all the Benefit received by
     _Negro_ Slaves will balance the Accompt of Cash laid out
     upon them; and for the Redemption of our own enslaved
     Friends out of _Africa_. Besides all the Persons and Estates
     that have perished there.

     "Obj. 1. _These Blackamores are of the Posterity of Cham,
     and therefore are under the Curse of Slavery_. Gen. 9, 25,
     26, 27.

     "_Ans._ Of all Offices, one would not beg this; viz.
     Uncall'd for, to be an Executioner of the Vindictive Wrath
     of God; the extent and duration of which is to us uncertain.
     If this ever was a Commission; How do we know but that it is
     long since out of Date? Many have found it to their Cost,
     that a Prophetical Denunciation of Judgment against a Person
     or People, would not warrant them to inflict that evil. If
     it would, _Hazael_ might justify himself in all he did
     against his master, and the _Israelites_ from _2 Kings 8,
     10, 12_.

     "But it is possible that by cursory reading, this Text may
     have been mistaken. For _Canaan_ is the Person Cursed three
     times over, without the mentioning of _Cham_. Good
     Expositors suppose the Curse entailed on him, and that this
     Prophesie was accomplished in the Extirpation of the
     _Canaanites_, and in the Servitude of the _Gibeonites. Vide
     Pareum_. Whereas the Blackmores are not descended of
     _Canaan_, but of Cush. Psal. 68, 31. _Princes shall come out
     of Egypt_ [Mizraim]. _Ethiopia_ [Cush] _shall soon stretch
     out her hands unto God_. Under which Names, all _Africa_ may
     be comprehended; and their Promised Conversion ought to be
     prayed for. _Jer. 13, 23. Can the Ethiopian change his
     Skin?_ This shows that Black Men are the Posterity of
     _Cush_. Who time out of mind have been distinguished by
     their Colour. And for want of the true, _Ovid_ assigns a
     fabulous cause of it.

       _Sanguine tum credunt in corpora summa vocato
       Æthiopum populos nigrum traxisse colorem_.    Metamorph. lib. 2.

     "Obj. 2. _The_ Nigers _are brought out of a Pagan Country,
     into places where the Gospel is preached_.

     "_Ans._ Evil must not be done, that good may come of it. The
     extraordinary and comprehensive Benefit accruing to the
     Church of God, and to _Joseph_ personally, did not rectify
     his Brethren's Sale of him.

     "Obj. 3. _The Africans have Wars one with another: Our Ships
     bring lawful Captives taken in those wars_.

     "_Answ._ For aught is known, their Wars are much such as
     were between _Jacob's_ Sons and their Brother _Joseph_. If
     they be between Town and Town; Provincial or National: Every
     War is upon one side Unjust. An Unlawful War can't make
     lawful Captives. And by receiving, we are in danger to
     promote, and partake in their Barbarous Cruelties. I am
     sure, if some Gentlemen should go down to the _Brewsters_ to
     take the Air, and Fish: And a stronger Party from _Hull_
     should surprise them, and sell them for Slaves to a Ship
     outward bound; they would think themselves unjustly dealt
     with; both by Sellers and Buyers. And yet 'tis to be feared,
     we have no other Kind of Title to our _Nigers. Therefore all
     things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you
     even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets._
     Matt. 7, 12.

     "Obj. 4. Abraham _had Servants bought with his money and
     born in his House._

     "_Ans._ Until the Circumstances of _Abraham's_ purchase be
     recorded, no Argument can be drawn from it. In the mean
     time, Charity obliges us to conclude, that He knew it was
     lawful and good.

     "It is Observable that the _Israelites_ were strictly
     forbidden the buying or selling one another for Slaves.
     _Levit. 25. 39. 46. Jer. 34, 8-22_. And GOD gaged His
     Blessing in lieu of any loss they might conceit they
     suffered thereby, _Deut._ 15. 18. And since the partition
     Wall is broken down, inordinate Self-love should likewise be
     demolished. GOD expects that Christians should be of a more
     Ingenuous and benign frame of Spirit. Christians should
     carry it to all the World, as the _Israelites_ were to carry
     it one towards another. And for Men obstinately to persist
     in holding their Neighbours and Brethren under the Rigor of
     perpetual Bondage, seems to be no proper way of gaining
     Assurance that God has given them Spiritual Freedom. Our
     Blessed Saviour has altered the Measures of the ancient Love
     Song, and set it to a most Excellent New Tune, which all
     ought to be ambitious of Learning. _Matt. 5. 43. 44_. _John
     13. 34_. These _Ethiopians_, as black as they are, seeing
     they are the Sons and Daughters of the First _Adam_, the
     Brethren and Sisters of the Last ADAM, and the Offspring of
     GOD; They ought to be treated with a Respect agreeable.

     "_Servitus perfecta voluntaria, inter Christianum &
     Christianum, ex parte servi patientis saepe est licita, quia
     est necessaria; sed ex parte domini agentis, & procurando &
     exercendo, vix potest esse licita; quia non convenit regulæ
     illi generali; Quaecunque volueritis ut faciant vobis
     homines, ita & vos facite eis. Matt. 7, 12._

     "_Perfecta servitus paenae, non potest jure locum habere,
     nisi ex delicto gravi quod ultimum supplicium aliquo modo
     meretur: quia Libertas ex naturali æstimatione proxime
     accedit ad vitam ipsam, & eidem a multis præferri solet._

     "Ames. Cas. Confc. Lib. 5. Cap. 23. Thes. 2. 3."

Judge Sewall's attack on slavery created no little stir in Boston; and
the next year, 1701, Judge John Saffin, an associate of Judge Sewall,
answered it in quite a lengthy paper.[376] Having furnished Judge
Sewall's paper, it is proper that Judge Saffin's reply should likewise
have a place here.


     "A Brief and Candid Answer to a late Printed Sheet,
     _Entituled_, The Selling of Joseph.

     "THAT Honourable and Learned Gentleman, the Author of a
     Sheet, Entituled, _The Selling of Joseph, A_ Memorial, seems
     from thence to draw this conclusion, that because the Sons
     of _Jacob_ did very ill in selling their Brother _Joseph_ to
     the _Ishmaelites_, who were Heathens, therefore it is
     utterly unlawful to Buy and Sell Negroes, though among
     Christians; which Conclusion I presume is not well drawn
     from the Premises, nor is the case parallel; for it was
     unlawful for the _Israelites_ to Sell their Brethren upon
     any account, or pretence whatsoever during life. But it was
     not unlawful for the Seed of _Abraham_ to have Bond men, and
     Bond women either born in their House, or bought with their
     Money, as it is written of _Abraham, Gen. 14. 14._ & 21. 10.
     & _Exod. 21. 16._ & _Levit. 25. 44. 45. 46 v._ After the
     giving of the law: And in _Josh. 9. 23._ That famous Example
     of the _Gibeonites_ is a sufficient proof where there no

     "To speak a little to the Gentlemans first Assertion: _That
     none ought to part with their Liberty themselves, or deprive
     others of it but upon mature consideration_; a prudent
     exception, in which he grants, that upon some consideration
     a man may be deprived of his Liberty. And then presently in
     his next Position or Assertion he denies it, _viz.: It is
     most certain, that all men as they are the Sons of_ Adam
     _are Coheirs, and have equal right to Liberty, and all other
     Comforts of Life_, which he would prove out of _Psal. 115.
     16_. _The Earth hath he given to the Children of Men_. True,
     but what is all this to the purpose, to prove that all men
     have equal right to Liberty, and all outward comforts of
     this life; which Position seems to invert the Order that God
     hath set in the World, who hath Ordained different degrees
     and orders of men, some to be High and Honourable, some to
     be Low and Despicable; some to be Monarchs, Kings, Princes
     and Governours, Masters and Commanders, others to be
     Subjects, and to be Commanded; Servants of sundry sorts and
     degrees, bound to obey; yea, some to be born Slaves, and so
     to remain during their lives, as hath been proved. Otherwise
     there would be a meer parity among men, contrary to that of
     the Apostle, I. _Cor. 12 from the 13 to the 26 verse_, where
     he sets forth (by way of comparison) the different sorts and
     offices of the Members of the Body, indigitating that they
     are all of use, but not equal, and of Like dignity. So God
     hath set different Orders and Degrees of Men in the World,
     both in Church and Common weal. Now, if this Position of
     parity should be true, it would then follow that the
     ordinary Course of Divine Providence of God in the World
     should be wrong, and unjust, (which we must not dare to
     think, much less to affirm) and all the sacred Rules,
     Precepts and Commands of the Almighty which he hath given
     the Sons of Men to observe and keep in their respective
     Places, Orders and Degrees, would be to no purpose; which
     unaccountably derogate from the Divine Wisdom of the most
     High, who hath made nothing in vain, but hath Holy Ends in
     all his Dispensations to the Children of men.

     "In the next place, this worthy Gentleman makes a large
     Discourse concerning the Utility and Conveniency to keep the
     one, and inconveniency of the other; respecting white and
     black Servants, which conduceth most to the welfare and
     benefit of this Province: which he concludes to be white
     men, who are in many respects to be preferred before Blacks;
     who doubts that? doth it therefore follow, that it is
     altogether unlawful for Christians to buy and keep Negro
     Servants (for this is the thesis) but that those that have
     them ought in Conscience to set them free, and so lose all
     the money they cost (for we must not live in any known sin)
     this seems to be his opinion; but it is a Question whether
     it ever was the Gentleman's practice? But if he could
     perswade the General Assembly to make an Act, That all that
     have Negroes, and do set them free, shall be Reimbursed out
     of the Publick Treasury, and that there shall be no more
     Negroes brought into the country; 'tis probable there would
     be more of his opinion; yet he would find it a hard task to
     bring the Country to consent thereto; for then the Negroes
     must be all sent out of the Country, or else the remedy
     would be worse than the disease; and it is to be feared that
     those Negroes that are free, if there be not some strict
     course taken with them by Authority, they will be a plague
     to this Country.

     "_Again_, If it should be unlawful to deprive them that are
     lawful Captives, or Bondmen of their Liberty for Life being
     Heathens; it seems to be more unlawful to deprive our
     Brethren, of our own or other Christian Nations of the
     Liberty, (though but for a time) by binding them to Serve
     some Seven, Ten, Fifteen, and some Twenty Years, which oft
     times proves for their whole Life, as many have been; which
     in effect is the same in Nature, though different in the
     time, yet this was allow'd among the _Jews_ by the Law of
     God; and is the constant practice of our own and other
     Christian Nations in the World: the which our Author by his
     Dogmatical Assertions doth condem as Irreligious; which is
     Diametrically contrary to the Rules and Precepts which God
     hath given the diversity of men to observe in their
     respective Stations, Callings, and Conditions of Life, as
     hath been observed.

     "And to illustrate his Assertion our Author brings in by way
     of Comparison the Law of God against man Stealing, on pain
     of Death: Intimating thereby, that Buying and Selling of
     Negro's is a breach of that Law, and so deserves Death: A
     severe Sentence: But herein he begs the Question with a
     _Caveat Emptor_. For, in that very Chapter there is a
     Dispensation to the People of _Israel_, to have Bond men,
     Women and Children, even of their own Nation in some case;
     and Rules given therein to be observed concerning them;
     Verse the 4_th_. And in the before cited place, _Levit 25.
     44, 45, 46_. Though the _Israelites_ were forbidden
     (ordinarily) to make Bond men and Women of their own Nation,
     but of Strangers they might: the words run thus, verse 44.
     _Both thy Bond men, and thy Bond maids which thou shall have
     shall be of the Heathen, that are round about you: of them
     shall you Buy Bond men and Bond maids, &c_. See also, I
     _Cor. 12, 13_. Whether we be Bond or Free, which shows that
     in the times of the New Testament, there were Bond men also,

     "_In fine_, The sum of this long Haurange, is no other, than
     to compare the Buying and Selling of Negro's unto the
     Stealing of Men, and the Selling of _Joseph_ by his
     Brethren, which bears no proportion therewith, nor is there
     any congruiety therein, as appears by the foregoing Texts.

     "Our Author doth further proceed to answer some Objections
     of his own framing, which he supposes some might raise.

     "Object. 1. _That these Blackamores are of the Posterity of_
     Cham, _and therefore under the Curse of Slavery. Gen. 9. 25,
     26, 27._ The which the Gentleman seems to deny, saying,
     _they ware the Seed of Canaan that were Cursed, &c._

     "_Answ._ Whether they were so or not, we shall not dispute:
     this may suffice, that not only the seed of _Cham_ or
     _Canaan_, but any lawful Captives of other Heathen Nations
     may be made Bond men as hath been proved.

     "Obj. 2. _That the Negroes are brought out of Pagan
     Countreys into places where the Gospel is preached._ To
     which he Replies, _that we must not doe Evil that Good may
     come of it_.

     "_Ans._ To which we answer, That it is no Evil thing to
     bring them out of their own Heathenish Country, where they
     may have the knowledge of the True God, be Converted and
     Eternally saved.

     "Obj. 3. _The_ Affricans _have Wars one with another_; our
     Ships bring lawful Captives taken in those Wars.

     "To which our Author answers Conjecturally, and Doubtfully,
     _for aught we know_, that which may or may not be; which is
     insignificant, and proves nothing. He also compares the
     Negroes Wars, one Nation with another, with the Wars between
     _Joseph_ and his Brethren. But where doth he read of any
     such War? We read indeed of a Domestick Quarrel they had
     with him, they envyed and hated _Joseph_; but by what is
     Recorded, he was meerly passive and meek as a Lamb. This
     Gentleman farther adds, _That there is not any War but is
     unjust on one side, &c._ Be it so, what doth that signify:
     We read of lawful Captives taken in the Wars, and lawful to
     be Bought and Sold without contracting the guilt of the
     _Agressors_; for which we have the example of _Abraham_
     before quoted; but if we must stay while both parties
     Warring are in the right, there would be no lawful Captives
     at all to be Bought; which seems to be rediculous to
     imagine, and contrary to the tenour of Scripture, and all
     Humane Histories on that subject.

     "Obj. 4. _Abraham had Servants bought with his Money, and
     born in his House. Gen. 14. 14._ To which our worthy Author
     answers, _until the Circumstances of Abraham's purchase be
     recorded, no Argument can be drawn from it_.

     "_Ans._ To which we Reply, this is also Dogmatical, and
     proves nothing. He farther adds, _In the mean time Charity
     Obliges us to conclude, that he knew it was lawful and
     good_. Here the gentleman yields the case; for if we are in
     Charity bound to believe _Abrahams_ practice, in buying and
     keeping _Slaves_ in his house to be lawful and good: then it
     follows, that our Imitation of him in this his Moral Action,
     is as warrantable as that of his Faith; _who is the Father
     of all them that believe. Rom. 4. 16._

     "In the close all, Our Author Quotes two more places of
     Scripture, _viz., Levit. 25. 46_, and _Jer. 34._ from the 8.
     to the 22. _v_. To prove that the people of Israel were
     strictly forbidden the Buying and Selling one another for
     _Slaves_: who questions that? and what is that to the case
     in hand? What a strange piece of Logick is this? 'Tis
     unlawful for Christians to Buy and Sell one another for
     slaves. _Ergo_, It is unlawful to Buy and Sell Negroes that
     are lawful Captiv'd Heathens.

     "And after a Serious Exhortation to us all to Love one
     another according to the Command of Christ _Math. 5, 43,
     44_. This worthy Gentleman concludes with this Assertion,
     _That these Ethiopians as Black as they are, seeing they are
     the Sons and Daughters of the first_ Adam; _the Brethren and
     Sisters of the Second_ Adam, _and the Offspring of God; we
     ought to treat them with a respect agreeable_.

     "_Ans._ We grant it for a certain and undeniable verity,
     That all Mankind are the Sons and Daughters of _Adam_, and
     the Creatures of God: But it doth not therefore follow that
     we are bound to love and respect all men alike; this under
     favour we must take leave to deny, we ought in charity, if
     we see our Neighbour in want, to relieve them in a regular
     way, but we are not bound to give them so much of our
     Estates, as to make them equal with ourselves, because they
     are our Brethren, the Sons of _Adam_, no, not our own
     natural Kinsmen: We are Exhorted _to do good unto all, but
     especially to them who are of the Household of Faith, Gal.
     6. 10_. And we are to love, honour and respect all men
     according to the gift of God that is in them. I may love my
     Servant well, but my Son better; Charity begins at home, it
     would be a violation of common prudence, and a breach of
     good manners, to treat a Prince like a Peasant. And this
     worthy Gentleman would deem himself much neglected, if we
     should show him no more Defference than to an ordinary
     Porter: And therefore these florid expressions, the Sons and
     Daughters of the First _Adam_, the Brethren and Sisters of
     the Second _Adam_, and the Offspring of God, seem to be
     misapplied to import and insinuate, that we ought to tender
     Pagan Negroes with all love, kindness, and equal respect as
     to the best of men.

     "By all which it doth evidently appear both by Scripture and
     Reason, the practice of the People of God in all Ages, both
     before and after the giving of the Law, and in the times of
     the Gospel, that there were Bond men, Women and Children
     commonly kept by holy and good men, and improved in Service;
     and therefore by the Command of God, _Lev. 25, 44_, and
     their venerable Example, we may keep Bond men, and use them
     in our Service still; yet with all candour, moderation and
     Christian prudence, according to their state and condition
     consonant to the Word of God."

Judge Sewall had dealt slavery a severe blow, and opened up an
agitation on the subject that was felt during the entire Revolutionary
struggle. He became the great apostle of liberty, the father of the
anti-slavery movement in the colony. He was the bold and stern John
the Baptist of that period, "the voice of one crying in the
wilderness" of bondage, to prepare the way for freedom.

The Quakers, or Friends as they were called, were perhaps the earliest
friends of the slaves, but, like Joseph of Arimathæa, were "secretly"
so, for fear of the "Puritans." But they early recorded their
disapprobation of slavery as follows:--

     _26th day of y'e 9th mo. 1716._

     "An epistle from the last Quarterly Meeting was read in
     this, and y'e matter referred to this meeting, viz., whether
     it is agreeable to truth for friends to purchase slaves and
     keep them term of liffe, was considered, and y'e sense and
     judgment of this meeting is, that it is not agreeable to
     truth for friends to purchase slaves and hold them term of

     "Nathaniel Starbuck, jun'r is to draw out this meeting's
     judgment concerning friends not buying slaves and keeping
     them term of liffe, and send it to the next Quarterly
     Meeting, and to sign it in y'e meeting's behalf."[377]

Considering the prejudice and persecution that pursued this good
people, their testimony against slavery is very remarkable. In 1729-30
Elihu Coleman of Nantucket, a minister of the society of Friends,
wrote a book against slavery, published in 1733, entitled, "_A
Testimony against that Anti-Christian Practice of_ MAKING SLAVES
OF MEN.[378] It was well written, and the truth fearlessly told
for the conservative, self-seeking period he lived in. He says,--

     "I am not unthoughtful of the ferment or stir that such
     discourse as this may make among some, who (like Demetrius
     of old) may say, by this craft we have our wealth, which
     caused the people to cry out with one voice, great is Diana
     of the Ephesians, whom all Asia and the world worship."

He examined and refuted the arguments put forth in defence of slavery,
charged slaveholders with idleness, and contended that slavery was the
mother of vice, at war with the laws of nature and of God. Others
caught the spirit of reform, and the agitation movement gained
recruits and strength every year. Felt says, "1765. Pamphlets and
newspapers discuss the subjects of slavery with increasing zeal." The
colonists were aroused. Men were taking one side or the other of a
question of great magnitude. In 1767 an anonymous tract of twenty
octavo pages against slavery made its appearance in Boston. It was
written by Nathaniel Appleton, a co-worker with Otis, and an advanced
thinker on the subject of emancipation. It was in the form of a letter
addressed to a friend, and was entitled, "Considerations on Slavery."
The Rev. Samuel Webster Salisbury published on the 2d of March, 1769,
"An Earnest Address to my Country on Slavery." He opened his article
with an argument showing the inconsistency of a Christian people
holding slaves, pictured the evil results of slavery, and then

     "What then is to be done? Done! for God's sake break every
     yoke and let these oppressed ones _go free without
     delay_--let them taste the sweets of that _liberty_, which
     we so highly prize, and are so earnestly supplicating God
     and man to grant us: nay, which we claim as the natural
     right of every man. Let me beseech my countrymen to put on
     bowels of compassion for these their _brethren_ (for so I
     must call them,) yea, let me beseech you for your own sake
     and for God's sake, _to break every yoke_ and let the
     oppressed go free."[379]

Begun among the members of the bar and the pulpit, the common folk at
length felt a lively interest in the subject of emancipation. An
occasional burst of homely, vigorous eloquence from the pulpit on the
duties of the hour inflamed the conscience of the pew with a noble
zeal for a righteous cause. The afflatus of liberty sat upon the
people as cloven tongues. Every village, town, and city had its
orators whose only theme was emancipation. "The pulpit and the press
were not silent, and sermons and essays in behalf of the enslaved
Africans were continually making their appearance." The public
conscience was being rapidly educated, and from the hills of Berkshire
to the waters of Massachusetts Bay the fires of liberty were burning.


[260] George H. Moore, LL.D., for many years librarian of the New-York
Historical Society, but at present the efficient superintendent of the
Lenox Library, in his "Notes on the History of Slavery in
Massachusetts," has summoned nearly all the orators and historians of
Massachusetts to the bar of history. He leaves them open to one of
three charges, viz., evading the truth, ignorance of it, or falsifying
the record. And in addition to this work, which is authority, his
"Additional Notes" glow with an energy and perspicuity of style which
lead me to conclude that Dr. Moore works admirably under the spur, and
that his refined sarcasm, unanswerable logic, and critical accuracy
give him undisputed place amongst the ablest writers of our times.

[261] Wood's New-England Prospect, 1634, p. 77.

[262] Slavery in Mass., p. 7.

[263] Ibid., pp. 4, 5, and 6.

[264] Elliott's New-England Hist., pp. 167-205.

[265] Winthrop's Journal, Feb. 26, 1638, vol. i. p. 254; see, also,
Felt, vol. ii. p. 230.

[266] Dr. Moore backs his statement as to the time The Desire was
built by quoting from Winthrop, vol. i. p. 193. But there is a mistake
somewhere as to the correct date. Winthrop says she was built in 1636;
but I find in Mr. Drake's "Founders of New England," pp. 31, 32, this
entry: "More (June) XXth, 1635. In the Desire de Lond. Pearce, and
bond for New Eng. p'r cert, fro ij Justices of Peace and ministers of
All Saints lionian in Northampton." If she sailed in 1635, she must
have been built earlier.

[267] Dr. George H. Moore says Josselyn's Voyages were printed in
1664. This is an error. They were not published until ten years later,
in 1674. In 1833 the Massachusetts Historical Society printed the work
in the third volume and third series of their collection.

[268] Josselyn, p. 28.

[269] Ibid., p. 250.

[270] Ibid., p. 258.

[271] Slavery in Mass., p. 9.

[272] Mass. Hist Coll., vol. iv. 4th Series, p. 333, _sq._

[273] Mr. Bancroft (Centenary Edition, vol. i. p. 137) says, "The
earliest importation of Negro slaves into New England was made in
1637, from Providence Isle, in the Salem ship Desire." But Winthrop
(vol. i. p. 254, under date of the 26th of February, 1638) says, "The
Desire returned from the West Indies after seven months." He also
states (ibid., p. 193) that The Desire was "built at Marblehead in
1636." But this may or may not be true according to the old method of
keeping time.

[274] Palfrey's Hist. of N.E., vol. ii. p. 30, note.

[275] Josselyn, p. 257.

[276] Elliott's New-England Hist., vol. ii. pp. 57, 58.

[277] Hildreth, vol. i, p. 270, _sq_.

[278] Ancient Charters and Laws of Mass., pp. 52, 23.

[279] Slavery in Mass., p. 13, note.

[280] Slavery in Mass., pp. 18, 19.

[281] Ibid., p. 12.

[282] Elliott's New-England Hist., vol. i. p. 383.

[283] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 278.

[284] Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. iv. 4th Series, p. 334.

[285] Quoted by Dr. Moore, p. 20.

[286] Commonwealth _vs_. Aves, 18 Pickering, p. 208.

[287] Andover _vs_. Canton, Mass. Reports, 551, 552, quoted by Dr.

[288] Kendall's Travels, vol. ii. p. 179.

[289] The following note, if it refers to the kidnapped Negroes, gives
an earlier date,--"29th May, 1644. Mr. Blackleach his petition about
the Mores was consented to, to be committed to the eld'rs, to enforme
us of the mind of God herein, & then further to consider it."--_Mass.
Records_, vol. ii. p. 67.

[290] Bancroft, Centennial edition, vol. i. p. 137.

[291] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 282.

[292] The petition is rather a remarkable paper, and is printed below.
It is evident that the judge was in earnest. And yet the court, while
admitting the petition, tried the case on only one ground,

     _To the honored general court._

     The oath I took this yeare att my enterance upon the place
     of assistante was to this effect: That I would truly
     endeavour the advancement of the gospell and the good of the
     people of this plantation (to the best of my skill)
     dispencing justice equally and impartially (according to the
     laws of God and this land) in all cases wherein I act by
     virtue of my place. I conceive myself called by virtue of my
     place to act (according to this oath) in the case concerning
     the negers taken by captain Smith and Mr. Keser; wherein it
     is apparent that Mr. Keser gave chace to certaine negers;
     and upon the same day tooke divers of them; and at another
     time killed others; and burned one of their townes. Omitting
     several misdemeanours, which accompanied these acts above
     mentioned, I conceive the acts themselves to bee directly
     contrary to these following laws (all of which are capitall
     by the word of God; and two of them by the lawes of this

     The act (or acts) of murder (whether by force or fraude) are
     expressly contrary both to the law of God, and the law of
     this country.

     The act of stealing negers, or taking them by force (Whether
     it be considered as theft or robbery) is (as I conceive)
     expressly contrary, both to the law of God, and the law of
     this country.

     _The act of chaceing the negers (as aforesayde) upon the
     sabbath day (being a servile worke and such as cannot be
     considered under any other heade) is expressly capitall by
     the law of God._

     These acts and outrages being committed where there was noe
     civill government, which might call them to accompt, and the
     persons, by whom they were committed beeing of our
     jurisdiction, I conceive this court to bee the ministers of
     God in this case, and therefore my humble request is that
     the severall offenders may be imprisoned by the order of
     this court, and brought into their deserved censure in
     convenient time; and this I humbly crave that soe the sinn
     they have committed may be upon their own heads, and not
     upon ourselves (as otherwise it will.)

                              Yrs in all christean observance,
                                        Richard Saltonstall.

     The house of deputs thinke meete that this petition shall be
     granted, and desire our honored magistrats concurrence

                                                       Edward Rawson.
                              --Coffin's _Newbury_, pp. 335, 336.

[293] Laws Camb., 1675, p. 15.

[294] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 368.

[295] Coffin, p. 335.

[296] Drake (p. 288) says, "This act, however, was afterwards repealed
or disregarded."

[297] Mass. Records, vol ii. p 129.

[298] Moore, Appendix, 251, _sq._

[299] Slavery in Mass., p. 30.

[300] Hildreth, vol. i. p, 282.

[301] Slavery in Mass., p. 49. See, also, Drake's Boston, p. 441,

[302] Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. viii. 3d Series, p. 337.

[303] Slavery in Mass., p. 50.

[304] Coll. Amer. Stat. Asso., vol. i. p. 586.

[305] Douglass's British Settlements, vol. i. p. 531.

[306] Drake, p. 714. I cannot understand how Dr. Moore gets 1,514
slaves in Boston in 1742, except from Douglass. His "1742" should read
1752, and his "1,514" slaves should read 1,541 slaves.

[307] "There is a curious illustration of 'the way of putting it' in
Massachusetts, in Mr. Felt's account of this 'census of slaves,' in
the Collections of the American Statistical Association, vol. i. p,
208. He says that the General Court passed this order 'for the purpose
of having an accurate account of slaves in our Commonwealth, _as a
subject in which the people were becoming much interested, relative to
the cause of liberty!_" There is not a particle of authority for this
suggestion--such a motive for their action never existed anywhere but
in the imagination of the writer himself!"--_Slavery in Mass_., p. 51,

[308] Ancient Charters and Laws of Mass., p. 748.

[309] Ibid.

[310] Slavery in Mass., p. 61.

[311] Hildreth, vol. ii. pp. 269, 270.

[312] Drake's Boston, p. 574.

[313] Spectator, No. 215, Nov. 6, 1711.

[314] Slavery in Mass., p. 64.

[315] "In the inventory of the estate of Samuel Morgaridge, who died
in 1754, I find,

    'Item, three negroes   £133, 6_s._, 8_d._
    Item, flax              £12, 2_s._, 8.'

"In the inventory of Henry Rolfe's estate, taken in April, 1711, I
find the following, namely,

    'Fifteen sheep, old and young   £3, 15_s._
    An old gun                           2
    An old Negroe man               10   0
                                   £13   7_s._'"
                                   --COFFIN, p. 188.

[316] Slavery in Mass., pp. 64, 65.

[317] Drake, 583, note.

[318] Here is a sample of the sales of those days: "In 1716, Rice
Edwards, of Newbury, shipwright, sells to Edmund Greenleaf 'my whole
personal estate with all my goods and chattels as also _one negro
man_, one cow, three pigs with timber, plank, and boards."--COFFIN, p.

[319] New-England Weekly Journal, No. 267, May 1, 1732.

[320] A child one year and a half old--a nursing child sold from the
bosom of its mother!--and _for life!_--COFFIN, p. 337.

[321] Slavery in Mass., p. 96. Note.

[322] Eight years after this, on the 22d of June, 1735, Mr. Plant
records in his diary: "I wrote Mr. Salmon of Barbadoes to send me a
Negro." (Coffin, p. 338.) It doesn't appear that the reverend
gentleman was opposed to slavery!

[323] Note quoted by Dr. Moore, p. 58.

[324] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 44.

[325] "For they tell the Negroes, that they must believe in Christ,
and receive the Christian faith, and that they must receive the
sacrament, and be baptized, and so they do; but still they keep them
slaves for all this."--MACY'S _Hist. of Nantucket_, pp. 280,

[326] Ancient Charters and Laws of Mass., p. 117.

[327] Mr. Palfrey relies upon a single reference in Winthrop for the
historical trustworthiness of his statement that a Negro slave could
be a member of the church. He thinks, however, that this "presents a
curious question," and wisely reasons as follows: "As a church-member,
he was eligible to the political franchise, and, if he should be
actually invested with it, he would have a part in making laws to
govern his master,--laws with which his master, if a non-communicant,
would have had no concern except to obey them. But it is improbable
that the Court would have made a slave--while a slave--a member of the
Company, though he were a communicant.--PALFREY, vol. ii. p.
30. Note.

[328] Butts _vs_. Penny, 2 Lev., p. 201; 3 Kib., p. 785.

[329] Hildreth, vol. ii. p. 426.

[330] Ancient Charters and Laws of Mass., p. 748.

[331] Palfrey, vol. ii. p. 30. Note.

[332] Hist. Mag., vol. v., 2d Series, by Dr. G.H. Moore.

[333] Slavery in Mass., p. 57, note.

[334] I use the term freeman, because the colony being under the
English crown, there were no citizens. All were British subjects.

[335] Ancient Charters and Laws of Mass., p. 746.

[336] Ibid., p. 386.

[337] Mr. Palfrey is disposed to hang a very weighty matter on a very
slender thread of authority. He says, "In the list of men capable of
bearing arms, at Plymouth, in 1643, occurs the name of 'Abraham
Pearse, the Black-moore,' from which we infer ... that Negroes were
not dispensed from military service in that colony" (History of New
England, vol. ii. p. 30, note). This single case is borne down by the
laws and usages of the colonists on this subject. Negroes as a class
were absolutely excluded from the military service, from the
commencement of the colony down to the war with Great Britain.

[338] Slavery in Mass., Appendix, p. 243.

[339] Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., vol. viii. 3d Series, p. 336.

[340] Lyman's Report, 1822.

[341] Mather's Magnalia, Book III., p. 207. Compare also p. 209.

[342] Elliott's New-England Hist., vol. ii. p. 165.

[343] Mr. Palfrey comes again with his single and exceptional case,
asking us to infer a rule therefrom. See History of New England, note,
p. 30.

[344] Chief-Justice Parker, in Andover vs. Canton, 13 Mass. p. 550.

[345] Slavery in Mass., p. 62.

[346] Mott's Sketches, p. 17.

[347] At the early age of sixteen, in the year 1770, Phillis was
baptized into the membership of the society worshipping in the "Old
South Meeting-House." The gifted, eloquent, and noble Dr. Sewall was
the pastor. This was an exception to the rule, that slaves were not
baptized into the Church.

[348] All writers I have seen on this subject--and I think I have seen
all--leave the impression that Miss Wheatley's poems were first
published in London. This is not true. The first published poems from
her pen were issued in Boston in 1770. But it was a mere pamphlet
edition, and has long since perished.

[349] All the historians but Sparks omit the given name of Peters. It
was John.

[350] The date usually given for her death is 1780, while her age is
fixed at twenty-six. The best authority gives the dates above, and I
think they are correct.

[351] "Her correspondence was sought, and it extended to persons of
distinction even in England, among whom may be named the Countess of
Huntingdon, Whitefield, and the Earl of Dartmouth."--SPARKS'S
_Washington_, vol. iii. p. 298, note.

[352] Sparks's Washington, vol iii. p. 299, note.

[353] This destroys the last hope I have nursed for nearly six years
that the poem might yet come to light. Somehow I had overlooked this

[354] Sparks's Washington, vol iii. p. 288.

[355] Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 297, 298.

[356] Armistead's A Tribute to the Negro, pp. 460, 461.

[357] Douglass, vol. ii. p. 345, note.

[358] Hildreth, vol. ii. p. 426.

[359] Pearce _vs._ Lisle, Ambler, 76.

[360] It may sound strangely in the ears of some friends and admirers
of the gifted John Adams to hear now, after the lapse of many years,
what he had to say of the position Otis took. His mild views on
slavery were as deserving of scrutiny as those of the elder Quincy.
Mr. Adams says: "Nor were the poor negroes forgotten. Not a Quaker in
Philadelphia, or Mr. Jefferson, of Virginia, ever asserted the rights
of negroes in stronger terms. Young as I was, and ignorant as I was, I
shuddered at the doctrine he taught; and I have all my lifetime
shuddered, and still shudder, at the consequences that may be drawn
from such premises. Shall we say, that the rights of masters and
servants clash, and can be decided only by force? I adore the idea of
gradual abolitions! But who shall decide how fast or how slowly these
abolitions shall be made?"

[361] Hildreth, vol. ii. pp. 564, 565.

[362] Coffin says, "In October of 1773, an action was brought against
Richard Greenleaf, of Newburyport, by Cæsar [Hendrick], a colored man,
whom he claimed as his slave, for holding him in bondage. He laid the
damages at fifty pounds. The council for the plaintiff, in whose favor
the jury brought in their verdict and awarded him eighteen pounds'
damages and costs, was John Lowell, Esq., afterward Judge Lowell. This
case excited much interest, as it was the first, if not the only one
of the kind, that ever occurred in the county."

[363] Hildreth, vol. ii, pp. 550, 551.

[364] Drake, p. 729, note.

[365] I use the English spelling,--Sommersett.

[366] Hildreth, vol. ii. p. 567.

[367] Bancroft, 12th ed. vol. iii. p. 412.

[368] Ancient Charters and Laws of Mass., pp. 745, 746.

[369] The following is from Felt's Salem, vol. ii. pp. 415, 416, and
illustrates the manner in which the law was complied with: "1713. Ann,
relict of Governor Bradstreet, frees Hannah, a negro servant. 1717,
Dec. 21. William and Samuel Upton, of this town, liberate Thomas, who
has faithfully served their father, John Upton, of Reading. They give
security to the treasurer, that they will meet all charges, which may
accrue against the said black man. 1721, May 27. Elizur Keyser does
the same for his servant, Cato, after four years more, and then the
latter was to receive two suits of clothes.... 1758, June 5. The heirs
of John Turner, having freed two servants, Titus and Rebeckah, give
bonds to the selectmen, that they shall be no public charge."

[370] John Adams's Works, vol. i. p. 51.

[371] Adams's Works, vol. i. p. 55.

[372] Drake, p. 525.

[373] The late Senator Sumner, in a speech delivered on the 28th of
June, 1854, refers to this as "the earliest testimony from any
official body against negro slavery." Even the weight of the senator's
assertion cannot resist the facts of history. The "resolve"
instructing the "representatives" was never carried; but, on the
contrary, the next Act was the law of 1703 restricting manumission!

[374] Journal H. of R., 15, 16. General Court Records, x. 282.

[375] Slavery in Mass., p. 106.

[376] It was thought to be lost for some years, until Dr. George H.
Moore secured a copy from George Brinley, Esq., of Hartford, Conn.,
and reproduced it in his Notes.

[377] History of Nantucket, p. 281.

[378] Coffin, p. 338; also History of Nantucket, pp. 279, 280.

[379] Coffin, p. 338.





The time to urge legislation on the slavery question had come.
Cultivated at the first as a private enterprise, then fostered as a
patriarchal institution, slavery had grown to such gigantic
proportions as to be regarded as an unwieldy evil, and subversive of
the political stability of the colony. Men winked at the "day of its
small things," and it grew. Little legislation was required to
regulate it, and it began to take root in the social and political
life of the people. The necessities for legislation in favor of
slavery increased. Every year witnessed the enactment of laws more
severe, until they appeared as scars upon the body of the laws of the
colony. To erase these scars was the duty of the hour.

It was now 1755. More than a half-century of agitation and discussion
had prepared the people for definite action. Manumission and petition
were the first methods against slavery. On the 10th of March, 1755,
the town of Salem instructed their representative, Timothy Pickering,
to petition the General Court against the importation of slaves.[380]
The town of Worcester, in June, 1765, instructed their representative
to "use his influence to obtain a law to put an end to that
unchristian and impolitic practice of making slaves of the human
species, and that he give his vote for none to serve in His Majesty's
Council, who will use their influence against such a law."[381] The
people of Boston, in the month of May, 1766, instructed their
representatives as follows:--

     "And for the total abolishing of slavery among us, that you
     move for a law to prohibit the importation and the
     purchasing of slaves for the future."[382]

And in the following year, 1767, on the 16th of March, the question
was put as to whether the town should adhere to its previous
instructions in favor of the suppression of the slave-trade, and
passed in the affirmative. Nearly all the towns, especially those
along the coast, those accessible by mails and newspapers, had
recorded their vote, in some shape or other, against slavery. The
pressure for legislation on the subject was great. The country members
of the Legislature were almost a unit in favor of the passage of a
bill prohibiting the further importation of slaves. The opposition
came from the larger towns, but the opposers were awed by the
determined bearing of the enemies of the slave-trade. The scholarship,
wealth, and piety of the colony were steadily ranging to the side of

On the 13th of March, 1767, a bill was introduced in the House of
Representatives "to prevent the _unwarrantable and unlawful_ Practice
or Custom of inslaving Mankind in this Province, and the importation
of slaves into the same."[383] It was read the first time, when a
dilatory motion was offered that the bill lie over to the next
session, which was decided in the negative. An amendment was offered
to the bill, limiting it "to a certain time," which was carried; and
the bill made a special order for a second reading on the following
day. It was accordingly read on the 14th, when a motion was made to
defer it for a third reading to the next "May session." The friends of
the bill voted down this dilatory motion, and had the bill made the
special order of the following Monday,--it now being Saturday. On
Sunday there must have been considerable lobbying done, as can be seen
by the vote taken on Monday. After it was read, and the debate was
concluded, it was "_Ordered that the Matter subside_, and that Capt.
Sheaffe, Col. Richmond, and Col. Bourne, be a Committee to bring in a
Bill for laying a Duty of Impost on slaves importing into this
Province."[384] This was a compromise, that, as will be seen
subsequently, impaired the chances of positive and wholesome
legislation against slavery. The original bill dealt a double blow:
it struck at the slave-trade in the Province, and levelled the
institution already in existence. But some secret influences were set
in operation, that are forever hidden from the searching eye of
history; and the friends of liberty were bullied or cheated. There was
no need of a bill imposing an impost tax on slaves imported, for such
a law had been in existence for more than a half-century. If the tax
were not heavy enough, it could have been increased by an amendment of
a dozen lines. On the 17th the substitute was brought in by the
special committee appointed by the Speaker the previous day. The rules
requiring bills to be read on three several days were suspended, the
bill ordered to a first and second reading, and then made the special
order for eleven o'clock on the next day, Wednesday, the 18th. The
motion to lie on the table until the "next May" was defeated. An
amendment was then offered to limit the life of the bill to one year,
which was carried, and the bill recommitted. On the afternoon of the
same day it was read a third time, and placed on its passage with the
amendment. It passed, was ordered engrossed, and was "sent up by Col.
Bowers, Col. Gerrish, Col. Leonard, Capt. Thayer, and Col. Richmond."
On the 19th of March it was read a first time in the council. On the
20th it was read a second time, and passed to be engrossed "as taken
into a new draft." When it reached the House for concurrence, in the
afternoon of the same day, it was "Read and unanimously non-concurred,
and the House adhere to their own vote, sent up for concurrence."[385]

Massachusetts has gloried much and long in this Act to prohibit "the
Custom of enslaving mankind;" but her silver-tongued orators and
profound statesmen have never possessed the courage to tell the plain
truth about its complete failure. From the first it was harassed by
dilatory motions and amendments directed to its life; and the
substitute, imposing an impost tax on imported slaves for one year,
showed plainly that the friends of the original bill had been driven
from their high ground. It was like applying for the position of a
major-general, and then accepting the place of a corporal. It was as
though they had asked for a fish, and accepted a serpent instead. It
seriously lamed the cause of emancipation. It filled the slaves with
gloom, and their friends with apprehension. On the other hand, those
who profited by barter in flesh and blood laughed secretly to
themselves at the abortive attempt of the anti-slavery friends to call
a halt on the trade. They took courage. For ten weary years the voices
lifted for the freedom of the slave were few, faint, and far between.
The bill itself has been lost. What its subject-matter was, is left to
uncertain and unsatisfactory conjecture. All we know is from the title
just quoted. But it was, nevertheless, the only direct measure offered
in the Provincial Legislature against slavery during the entire
colonial period, and came nearest to passage of any. But "a miss is as
good as a mile!"

It was now the spring season of 1771. Ten years had flown, and no one
in all the Province of Massachusetts had had the courage to attempt
legislation friendly to the slave. The scenes of the preceding year
were fresh in the minds of the inhabitants of Boston. The blood of the
martyrs to liberty was crying from the ground. The "red coats" of the
British exasperated the people. The mailed hand, the remorseless steel
finger, of English military power was at the throat of the rights of
the people. The colony was gasping for independent political life. A
terrible struggle for liberty was imminent. The colonists were about
to contend for all that men hold dear,--their wives, their children,
their homes, and their country. But while they were panting for an
untrammelled existence, to plant a free nation on the shores of North
America, they were robbing Africa every year of her sable children,
and condemning them to a bondage more cruel than political
subjugation. This glaring inconsistency imparted to reflecting persons
a new impulse toward anti-slavery legislation.

In the spring of 1771 the subject of suppressing the slave-trade was
again introduced into the Legislature. On the 12th of April a bill
"_To prevent the Importation of slaves from Africa_" was introduced,
and read the first time, and, upon the question "When shall the bill
be read again?" was ordered to a second reading on the day following
at ten o'clock. Accordingly, on the 13th, the bill was read a second
time, and postponed till the following Tuesday morning. On the 16th it
was recommitted. On the 19th of the same month a "Bill to prevent the
Importation of Negro slaves into this Province" was read a first time,
and ordered to a second reading "to-morrow at eleven o'clock." On the
following day it was read a second time, and made the special order
for three o'clock on the following Monday. On the 22d, Monday, it was
read a third time, and placed upon its passage and engrossed. On the
24th it passed the House. When it reached the Council James Otis
proposed an amendment, and a motion prevailed that the bill lie upon
the table. But it was taken from the table, and the amendment of Otis
was concurred in by the House. It passed the Council in the latter
part of April, but failed to receive the signature of the governor, on
the ground that he was "not authorized by Parliament."[386] The same
reason for refusing his signature was set up by Gen. Gage. Thus the
bill failed. Gov. Hutchinson gave his reasons to Lord Hillsborough,
secretary of state for the colonies. The governor thought himself
restrained by "instructions" to colonial governors "from assenting to
any laws of a new and unusual nature." In addition to the foregoing,
his Excellency doubted the lawfulness of the legislation to which the
"scruple upon the minds of the people in many parts of the province"
would lead them; and that he had suggested the propriety of
transmitting the bill to England to learn "his Majesty's pleasure"
thereabouts. Upon these reasons Dr. Moore comments as follows:--

     "These are interesting and important suggestions. It is
     apparent that at this time there was no special instruction
     to the royal governor of Massachusetts, forbidding his
     approval of acts against the slave-trade. Hutchinson
     evidently doubted the genuineness of the 'chief motive'
     which was alleged to be the inspiration of the bill, the
     'meerly moral' scruple against slavery; but his reasonings
     furnish a striking illustration of the changes which were
     going on in public opinion, and the gradual softening of the
     harsher features of slavery under their influence. The
     non-importation agreement throughout the Colonies, by which
     America was trying to thwart the commercial selfishness of
     her rapacious Mother, had rendered the provincial viceroys
     peculiarly sensitive to the slightest manifestation of a
     disposition to approach the sacred precincts of those
     prerogatives by which King and Parliament assumed to bind
     their distant dependencies: and the 'spirit of
     non-importation' which Massachusetts had imperfectly learned
     from New York was equally offensive to them, whether it
     interfered with their cherished 'trade with Africa,' or
     their favorite monopolies elsewhere."

Discouraged by the failure of the House and General Court to pass
measures hostile to the slave-trade, the people in the outlying towns
began to instruct their representatives, in unmistakable language, to
urge the enactment of repressive legislation on this subject. At a
town meeting in Salem on the 18th of May, 1773,[387] the
representatives were instructed to prevent, by appropriate
legislation, the further importation of slaves into the colony, as
"repugnant to the natural rights of mankind, and highly prejudicial to
the Province." On the very next day, May 19, 1773, at a similar
meeting in the town of Leicester, the people gave among other
instructions to Thomas Denny, their representative, the following on
the question of slavery:--

     "And, as we have the highest regard for (so as even to
     revere the name of) liberty, we cannot behold but with the
     greatest abhorrence any of our fellow-creatures in a state
     of slavery.

     "Therefore we strictly enjoin you to use your utmost
     influence that a stop maybe put to the slave-trade by the
     inhabitants of this Province; which, we apprehend, may be
     effected by one of these two ways: either by laying a heavy
     duty on every negro imported or brought from Africa or
     elsewhere into this Province; or by making a law, that every
     negro brought or imported as aforesaid should be a free man
     or woman as soon as they come within the jurisdiction of it;
     and that every negro child that shall be born in said
     government after the enacting such law should be free at the
     same age that the children of white people are; and, from
     the time of their birth till they are capable of earning
     their living, to be maintained by the town in which they are
     born, or at the expense of the Province, as shall appear
     most reasonable.

     "Thus, by enacting such a law, in process of time will the
     blacks become free; or, if the Honorable House of
     Representatives shall think of a more eligible method, we
     shall be heartily glad of it. But whether you can justly
     take away or free a negro from his master, who fairly
     purchased him, and (although illegally; for such is the
     purchase of any person against their consent unless it be
     for a capital offence) which the custom of this country has
     justified him in, we shall not determine; but hope that
     unerring Wisdom will direct you in this and all your other
     important undertakings."[388]

Medford instructed the representative to "use his utmost influence to
have a final period put to that most cruel, inhuman and unchristian
practice, the slave-trade." At a town meeting the people of Sandwich
voted, on the 18th of May, 1773, "that our representative is
instructed to endeavor to have an Act passed by the Court, to prevent
the importation of _slaves_ into this country, and that all children
that shall be born of such Africans as are now slaves among us, shall,
after such Act, be free at 21 yrs. of age."[389]

This completes the list of towns that gave instructions to their
representatives, as far as the record goes. But there doubtless were
others; as the towns were close together, and as the "spirit of
liberty was rife in the land."

The Negroes did not endure the yoke without complaint. Having waited
long and patiently for the dawn of freedom in the colony in vain, a
spirit of unrest seized them. They grew sullen and desperate. The
local government started, like a sick man, at every imaginary sound,
and charged all disorders to the Negroes. If a fire broke out, the
"Negroes did it,"--in fact, the Negroes, who were not one-sixth of the
population, were continually committing depreciations against the
whites! On the 13th of April, 1723, Lieut.-Gov. Dummer issued a
proclamation against the Negroes, which contained the following

     "Whereas, within some short time past, many fires have broke
     out within the town of Boston, and divers buildings have
     thereby been consumed: which fires have been designedly and
     industriously kindled by some villanous and desperate
     negroes, or other dissolute people, as appears by the
     confession of some of them (who have been examined by the
     authority), and many concurring circumstances; and it being
     vehemently suspected that they have entered into a
     combination to burn and destroy the town, I have therefore
     thought fit, with the advice of his Majesty's council, to
     issue forth this proclamation," etc.

On Sunday, the 18th of April, 1723, the Rev. Joseph Sewall preached a
sermon suggested "by the late fires y't have broke out in Boston,
supposed to be purposely set by y'e negroes." The town was greatly
exercised. Everybody regarded the Negroes with distrust. Special
measures were demanded to insure the safety of the town. The selectmen
of Boston passed "nineteen articles" for the regulation of the
Negroes. The watch of the town was increased, and the military called
out at the sound of every fire-alarm "to keep the slaves from breaking
out"! In August, 1730, a Negro was charged with burning a house in
Malden; which threw the entire community into a panic. In 1755 two
Negro slaves were put to death for poisoning their master, John Codman
of Charlestown. One was hanged, and the other burned to death. In 1766
all slaves who showed any disposition to be free were "transported and
exchanged for small negroes."[390] In 1768 Capt. John Willson, of the
Fifty-ninth Regiment, was accused of exciting the slaves against their
masters; assuring them that the soldiers had come to procure their
freedom, and that, "with their assistance, they should be able to
drive the Liberty Boys to the Devil." The following letter from Mrs.
John Adams to her husband, dated at the Boston Garrison, 22d
September, 1774, gives a fair idea of the condition of the public
pulse, and her pronounced views against slavery.

     "There has been in town a conspiracy of the negroes. At
     present it is kept pretty private, and was discovered by one
     who endeavored to dissuade them from it. He being threatened
     with his life, applied to Justice Quincy for protection.
     They conducted in this way, got an Irishman to draw up a
     petition to the Governor [Gage], telling him they would
     fight for him provided he would arm them, and engage to
     liberate them if he conquered. And it is said that he
     attended so much to it, as to consult Percy upon it, and one
     Lieutenant Small has been very busy and active. There is but
     little said, and what steps they will take in consequence of
     it I know not. I wish most sincerely there was not a slave
     in the province; it always appeared a most iniquitous scheme
     to me to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and
     plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as
     we have. You know my mind upon this subject."[391]

The Negroes of Massachusetts were not mere passive observers of the
benevolent conduct of their white friends. They were actively
interested in the agitation going on in their behalf. Here, as in no
other colony, the Negroes showed themselves equal to the emergencies
that arose, and capable of appreciating the opportunities to strike
for their own rights. The Negroes in the colony at length struck a
blow for their liberty. And it was not the wild, indiscriminate blow
of Turner, nor the military measure of Gabriel; not the remorseless
logic of bludgeon and torch,--but the sober, sensible efforts of _men_
and _women_ who believed their condition abnormal, and slavery
prejudicial to the largest growth of the human intellect. The
eloquence of Otis, the impassioned appeals of Sewall, and the zeal of
Eliot had rallied the languishing energies of the Negroes, and charged
their hearts with the divine passion for liberty. They had learned to
spell out the letters of freedom, and the meaning of the word had
quite ravished their fainting souls. They had heard that the royal
charter declared all the colonists British subjects; they had devoured
the arguments of their white friends, and were now prepared to act on
their own behalf. The slaves of Greece and Rome, it is true,
petitioned the authorities for a relaxation of the severe laws that
crushed their manhood; but they were captives from other nations,
noted for government and a knowledge of the science of warfare. But it
was left to the Negroes of Massachusetts to force their way into
counts created only for white men, and win their cause!

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, 1766, John Adams makes the following record in
his diary:--

     "5. Wednesday. Attended Court; heard the trial of an action
     of trespass, brought by a mulatto woman, for damages, for
     restraining her of her liberty. This is called suing for
     liberty; the first action that ever I knew of the sort,
     though I have heard there have been many."[392]

So as early as 1766 Mr. Adams records a case of "suing for liberty;"
and though it was the first he had known of, nevertheless, he had
"heard there have been many." _How_ many of these cases were in
Massachusetts it cannot be said with certainty, but there were "many."
The case to which Mr. Adams makes reference was no doubt that of Jenny
Slew _vs._ John Whipple, jun., cited by Dr. Moore. It being the
earliest case mentioned anywhere in the records of the colony, great
interest attaches to it.

     "JENNY SLEW of Ipswich in the County of Essex, spinster,
     Pltff., agst. JOHN WHIPPLE, Jun., of said Ipswich Gentleman,
     Deft., in a Plea of Trespass that the said John on the 29th
     day of January, A.D. 1762, at Ipswich aforesaid with force
     and arms took her the said Jenny, held and kept her in
     servitude as a slave in his service, and has restrained her
     of her liberty from that time to the fifth of March last
     without any lawful right & authority so to do and did her
     other injuries against the peace & to the damage of said
     Jenny Slew as she saith the sum of twenty-five pounds. This
     action was first brought at last March Court at Ipswich when
     & where the parties appeared & the case was continued by
     order of Court to the then next term when and where the
     Pltff appeared & the said John Whipple Jun, came by Edmund
     Trowbridge, Esq. his attorney & defended when he said that
     there is no such person in nature as Jenny Slew of Ipswich
     aforesaid, Spinster, & this the said John was ready to
     verify wherefore the writ should be abated & he prayed
     judgment accordingly which plea was overruled by the Court
     and afterwards the said John by the said Edmund made a
     motion to the Court & praying that another person might
     endorse the writ & be subject to cost if any should finally
     be for the Court but the Court rejected the motion and then
     Deft. saving his plea in abatement aforesaid said that he is
     not guilty as the plaintiff contends, & thereof put himself
     on the Country, & then the cause was continued to this term,
     and now the Pltff. reserving to herself the liberty of
     joining issue on the Deft's plea aforesaid in the appeal
     says that the defendant's plea aforesaid is an insufficient
     answer to the Plaintiff's declaration aforesaid and by law
     she is not held to reply thereto & she is ready to verify
     wherefore for want of a sufficient answer to the Plaintiff's
     declaration aforesaid she prays judgment for her damages &
     costs & the defendant consenting to the waiving of the
     demurrer on the appeal said his plea aforesaid is good &
     because the Pltff refuses to reply thereto He prays judgment
     for his cost. It is considered by the Court that the
     defendant's plea in chief aforesaid is good & that the said
     John Whipple recover of the said Jenny Slew costs tax at the
     Pltff appealed to the next Superior Court of Judicature to
     be holden for this County & entered into recognizance with
     sureties as the law directs for prosecuting her appeal to
     effect." _Records of the Inferior Court of C.C.P., Vol_.--,
     (_Sept._ 1760 _to July_ 1766), _page_ 502.

     "JENNY SLEW of Ipswich, in the County of Essex, Spinster,
     Appellant, versus JOHN WHIPPLE, Jr. of said Ipswich,
     Gentleman Appellee from the judgment of an Inferior Court of
     Common Pleas held at Newburyport within and for the County
     of Essex on the last Tuesday of September 1765 when and
     where the appellant was plaint., and the appellee was
     defendant in a plea of trespass, for that the said John upon
     the 29th day of January, A.D. 1762, at Ipswich aforesaid
     with force and arms took her the said Jenny held & kept her
     in servitude as a slave in his service & has restrained her
     of her liberty from that time to the fifth of March 1765
     without any lawful right or authority so to do & did other
     injuries against the Peace & to the damage of the said Jenny
     Slew, as she saith, the sum of twenty-five pounds, at which
     Inferior Court, judgment was rendered upon the demurrer then
     that the said John Whipple recover against the said Jenny
     Slew costs. This appeal was brought forward at the Superior
     Court of Judicature &c., holden at Salem, within & for the
     County of Essex on the first Tuesday of last November, from
     whence it was continued to the last term of this Court for
     this County by consent & so from thence unto this Court, and
     now both parties appeared & the demurrer aforesaid being
     waived by consent & issue joined upon the plea tendered at
     said Inferior Court & on file. The case after full hearing
     was committed to a jury sworn according to law to try the
     same who returned their verdict therein upon oath, that is
     to say, they find for appellant reversion of the former
     judgment four pounds money damage & costs. It's therefore
     considered by the Court, that the former judgment be
     reversed & that the said Slew recover against the said
     Whipple the sum of four pounds lawful money of this Province
     damage & costs taxed 9_l._ 9_s._ 6_d._

     "Exon. issued 4 Dec. 1766." _Records of the Superior Court
     of Judicature_ (_vol._ 1766-7), _page_ 175.

The next of the "freedom cases," in chronological order, was the case
of Newport _vs._ Billing, and was doubtless the one in which John
Adams was engaged in the latter part of September, 1768.[393] It was
begun in the Inferior Court, where the decision was against the slave,
Amos Newport. The plaintiff took an appeal to the highest court in the
colony; and that court gave as its solemn opinion, "that the said Amos
[Newport] was not a freeman, as he alleged, but the proper slave of
the said Joseph [Billing]."[394] It should not be lost sight of, that
not only the Fundamental laws of 1641, but the highest court in
Massachusetts, held, as late as 1768, that there was property in man!

The case of James _vs._ Lechmere is the one "which has been for more
than half a century the grand _cheval de bataille_ of the champions of
the historic fame of Massachusetts."[395] Richard Lechmere resided in
Cambridge, and held to servitude for life a Negro named "James." On
the 2d of May, 1769, this slave began an action in the Inferior Court
of Common Pleas. The action was "in trespass for assault and battery,
and imprisoning and holding the plaintiff in servitude from April 11,
1758, to the date of the writ." The judgment of the Inferior Court was
adverse to the slave; but on the 31st of October, 1769, the Superior
Court of Suffolk had the case settled by compromise. A long line of
worthies in Massachusetts have pointed with pride to this decision as
the legal destruction of slavery in that State. But it "_is shown by
the records and files of Court to have been brought up from the
Inferior Court by sham demurrer, and, after one or two continuances,
settled by the parties_."[396] The truth of history demands that the
facts be given to the world. It will not be pleasant for the people of
Massachusetts to have this delusion torn from their affectionate
embrace. It was but a mere historical chimera, that ought not to have
survived a single day; and, strangely enough, it has existed until the
present time among many intelligent people. This case has been cited
for the last hundred years as having settled the question of bond
servitude in Massachusetts, when the fact is, there was no decision in
this instance! And the claim that Richard Lechmere's slave James was
adjudged free "upon the same grounds, substantially, as those upon
which Lord Mansfield discharged Sommersett," is absurd and
baseless.[397] For on the 27th of April, 1785 (thirteen years after
the famous decision), Lord Mansfield himself said, in reference to the
Sommersett case, "that his decision went no farther than that the
master cannot by force compel the slave to go out of the kingdom."
Thirty-five years of suffering and degradation remained for the
Africans after the decision of Lord Mansfield. His lordship's decision
was rendered on the 22d of June, 1772; and in 1807, thirty-five years
afterwards, the British government abolished the slave-trade. And
then, after twenty-seven years more of reflection, slavery was
abolished in English possessions. _So, sixty-two years after Lord
Mansfield's decision, England emancipated her slaves!_ It took only
two generations for the people to get rid of slavery under the British
flag. How true, then, that "facts are stranger than fiction"!

In 1770 John Swain of Nantucket brought suit against Elisha Folger,
captain of the vessel "Friendship," for allowing a Mr. Roth to receive
on board his ship a Negro boy named "Boston," and for the recovery of
the slave. This was a jury-trial in the Court of Common Pleas. The
jury brought in a verdict in favor of the slave, and he was
"manumitted by the magistrates." John Swain took an appeal from the
decision of the Nantucket Court to the Supreme Court of Boston, but
never prosecuted it.[398] In 1770, in Hanover, Plymouth County, a
Negro asked his master to grant him his freedom as _his right_. The
master refused; and the Negro, with assistance of counsel, succeeded
in obtaining his liberty.[399]

     "In October of 1773, an action was brought against Richard
     Greenleaf, of Newburyport, by Cæsar [Hendrick,] a colored
     man, whom he claimed as his slave, for holding him in
     bondage. He laid the damages at fifty pounds. The counsel
     for the plaintiff, in whose favor the jury brought in their
     verdict and awarded him eighteen pounds damages and costs,
     was John Lowell, esquire, afterward judge Lowell. This case
     excited much interest, as it was the first, if not the only
     one of the kind, that ever occurred in the county."[400]

This case is mentioned in full by Mr. Dane in his "Abridgment and
Digest of American Law," vol. ii. p. 426.

In the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, in the county of Essex, July
term in 1774, a Negro slave of one Caleb Dodge of Beverly brought an
action against his master for restraining his liberty. The jury gave a
verdict in favor of the Negro, on the ground that there was "no law of
the Province to hold a man to serve for life."[401] This is the only
decision we have been able to find based upon such a reason. The jury
may have reached this conclusion from a knowledge of the provisions of
the charter of the colony; or they may have found a verdict in
accordance with the charge of the court. The following significant
language in the charter of the colony could not have escaped the

     "That all and every of the subjects of us, our heirs and
     successors, which go to and inhabit within our said province
     and territory, and every of their children which shall
     happen to be born there, or on the seas in going thither, or
     returning from thence, shall have and enjoy all liberties
     and immunities of free and natural subjects within the
     dominions of us, our heirs and successors, to all intents,
     constructions, and purposes whatsoever, as if they and every
     of them were born within our realm of England."

The Rev. Dr. Belknap, speaking of these cases which John Adams speaks
of as "suing for liberty," gives an idea of the line of argument used
by the Negroes:--

     "On the part of the blacks it was pleaded, that the royal
     charter expressly declared all persons born or residing in
     the province, to be as free as the King's subjects in Great
     Britain; that by the laws of England, no man could be
     deprived of his liberty but by the judgment of his peers;
     that the laws of the province respecting an evil existing,
     and attempting to mitigate or regulate it, did not authorize
     it; and, on some occasions, the plea was, that though the
     slavery of the parents be admitted, yet no disability of
     that kind could descend to children."[402]

The argument pursued by the masters was,--

     "The pleas on the part of the masters were, that the negroes
     were purchased in open market, and bills of sale were
     produced in evidence; that the laws of the province
     recognized slavery as existing in it, by declaring that no
     person should manumit his slave without giving bond for his

It is well that posterity should know the motives that inspired judges
and juries to grant these Negroes their prayer for liberty.

     "In 1773, etc., some slaves did recover against their
     masters; but these cases are no evidence that there could
     not be slaves in the Province, for sometimes masters
     permitted their slaves to recover, to get clear of
     maintaining them as _paupers_ when old and infirm; the
     effect, as then generally understood, of a judgment against
     the master on this point of slavery; hence, a very feeble
     defence was often made by the masters, especially when sued
     by the old or infirm slaves, as the masters could not even
     manumit their slaves, without indemnifying their towns
     against their maintenance, as town paupers."

And Chief-Justice Parsons, in the case of Winchendon _vs._ Hatfield,
in error, says,--

     "Several negroes, born in this country of imported slaves
     demanded their freedom of their masters by suit at law, and
     obtained it by a judgment of court. The defence of the
     master was feebly made, for such was the temper of the
     times, that a restless discontented slave was worth little;
     and when his freedom was obtained in a course of legal
     proceedings, the master was not holden for his future
     support, if he became poor."

Thus did the slaves of Massachusetts fill their mouths with arguments,
and go before the courts. The majority of them, aged and infirm, were
allowed to gain their cause in order that their masters might be
relieved from supporting their old age. The more intelligent, and,
consequently, the more determined ones, were allowed to have their
freedom from prudential reasons, more keenly felt than frankly
expressed by their masters. In some instances, however, noble,
high-minded Christians, on the bench and on juries, were led to their
conclusions by broad ideas of justice and humanity. But the spirit of
the age was cold and materialistic. With but a very few exceptions,
the most selfish and constrained motives conspired to loose the chains
of the bondmen in the colony.

The slaves were not slow to see that the colonists were in a frame of
mind to be persuaded on the question of emancipation. Their feelings
were at white heat in anticipation of the Revolutionary struggle, and
the slaves thought it time to strike out a few sparks of sympathy.

On the 25th of June, 1773, a petition was presented to the House of
Representatives, and read before that body during the afternoon
session. It was the petition "of Felix Holbrook, and others, Negroes,
praying that they may be liberated from a state of Bondage, and made
Freemen of this Community, and that this Court would give and grant to
them some part of the unimproved Lands belonging to the Province, for
a settlement, or relieve them in such other Way as shall seem good and
wise upon the Whole." After its reading, a motion prevailed to refer
it to a select committee for consideration, with leave to report at
any time. It was therefore "ordered, that Mr. Hancock, Mr. Greenleaf,
Mr. Adams, Capt. Dix, Mr. Pain, Capt. Heath, and Mr. Pickering
consider this Petition, and report what may be proper to be
done."[404] It was a remarkably strong committee. There were the
patriotic Hancock, the scholarly Greenleaf, the philosophic Pickering,
and the eloquent Samuel Adams. It was natural that the Negro
petitioners should have expected something. Three days after the
committee was appointed, on the 28th of June, they recommended "that
the further Consideration of the Petition be referred till next
session." The report was adopted, and the petition laid over until the
"_next session_."[405]

But the slaves did not lose heart. They found encouragement among a
few noble spirits, and so were ready to urge the Legislature to a
consideration of their petition at the next session, in the winter of
1774. The following letter shows that they were anxious and earnest.


     "BOSTON, Jan'y. 8, 1774.


     As the General Assembly will undoubtedly meet on the 26th of
     this month, the Negroes whose petition lies on file, and is
     referred for consideration, are very solicitous for the
     Event of it, and having been informed that you intended to
     consider it at your leisure Hours in the Recess of the
     Court, they earnestly wish you would compleat a Plan for
     their Relief. And in the meantime, if it be not too much
     Trouble, they ask it as a favor that you would by a Letter
     enable me to communicate to them the general outlines of
     your Design. I am, with sincere regard," etc.[406]

It is rather remarkable, that on the afternoon of the first day of the
session,--Jan. 26, 1774,--the "Petition of a number of Negro Men,
which was entered on the Journal of the 25th of June last, and
referred for Consideration to this session," was "read again, together
with a Memorial of the same Petitioners, and _Ordered_, that Mr.
Speaker, Mr. Pickering, Mr. Hancock, Mr. Adams, Mr. Phillips, Mr.
Pain, and Mr. Greenleaf consider the same, and report."[407] The
public feeling on the matter was aroused. It was considered as
important as, if not more important than, any measure before the

The committee were out until March, considering what was best to do
about the petition. On the 2d of March, 1774, they reported to the
House "a Bill to prevent the Importation of Negroes and others as
slaves into this Province," when it was read a first time. On the 3d
of March it was read a second time in the morning session; in the
afternoon session, read a third time, and passed to be engrossed. It
was then sent up to the Council to be concurred in, by Col. Gerrish,
Col. Thayer, Col. Bowers, Mr. Pickering and Col. Bacon.[408] On the
next day the bill "passed in Council with Amendments,"[409] and was
returned to the House. On the 5th of March the House agreed to concur
in Council amendments, and on the 7th of March passed the bill as
amended. On the day following it was placed upon its passage in the
Council, and carried. It was then sent down to the governor to receive
his signature, in order to become the law of the Province. That
official's approval was withheld, and the reason given was, "the
secretary said (on returning the approved bills) that his Excellency
had not had time to consider the other Bills that had been laid before

It is quite fortunate that the bill was preserved;[411] for it is now,
in the certain light of a better civilization, a document of great
historic value.


     "AN ACT to prevent the importation of Negroes or
     other Persons as Slaves into this Province, and the
     purchasing them within the same, _and for making provision
     for relief of the children of such as are already subjected
     to slavery Negroes Mulattoes & Indians born within this

     "WHEREAS the Importation of Persons as Slaves into
     this Province has been found detrimental to the interest of
     his Majesty's subjects therein; And it being apprehended
     that the abolition thereof will be beneficial to the

     "_Be it therefore Enacted_ by the Governor Council and House
     of Representatives that whoever shall after the Tenth Day of
     April next import or bring into this Province by Land or
     Water any Negro or other Person or Persons whether Male or
     Female as a Slave or Slaves shall for each and every such
     Person so imported or brought into this Province forfeit and
     pay the sum of one hundred Pounds to be recovered by
     presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury and when so
     recovered to be to his Majesty for the use of this
     Government or by action of debt in any of his Majesty's
     Courts of Record and in case of such recovery the one moiety
     thereof to be to his majesty for the use of this Government
     the other moiety to the Person or Persons who shall sue for
     the same.

     "_And be it further Enacted_ that from and after the Tenth
     Day of April next any Person or Persons that shall purchase
     any Negro or other Person or Persons as a Slave or Slaves
     imported or brought into this Province as aforesaid shall
     forfeit and pay for every Negro or other Person so purchased
     Fifty Pounds to be recovered and disposed of in the same way
     and manner as before directed.

     "_And be it further Enacted_ that every Person, concerned in
     importing or bringing into this Province, or purchasing any
     such Negro or other Person or Persons as aforesaid within
     the same; who shall be unable, or refuse, to pay the
     Penalties or forfeitures ordered by this Act; shall for
     every such offence suffer Twelve months' imprisonment
     without Bail or mainprise.

     "_Provided_ allways that nothing in this act contained shall
     extend to subject to the Penalties aforesaid the Masters,
     Mariners, Owners or Freighters of any such Vessel or
     Vessels, as before the said Tenth Day of April next shall
     have sailed from any Port or Ports in this Province, for any
     Port or Ports not within this Government, for importing or
     bringing into this Province any Negro or other Person or
     Persons as Slaves who in the prosecution of the same voyage
     may be imported or brought into the same. _Provided_ he
     shall not offer them or any of them for sale.

     "_Provided_ also that this act shall not be construed to
     extend to any such Person or Persons, occasionally hereafter
     coming to reside within this Province, or passing thro' the
     same, who may bring such Negro or other Person or Persons as
     necessary servants into this Province provided that the stay
     or residence of such Person or Persons shall not exceed
     Twelve months or that such Person or Persons within said
     time send such Negro or other Person or Persons out of this
     Province there to be and remain, and also that during said
     Residence such Negro or other Person or Persons shall not be
     sold or alienated within the same.

     "[Transcriber's Note: Inverted A appears here.] _And be it
     further Enacted and declared that nothing in this act
     contained shall extend or be construed to extend for
     retaining or holding in perpetual servitude any Negro or
     other Person or Persons now inslaved within this Province
     but that every such Negro or other Person or Persons shall
     be intituled to all the Benefits such Negro or other Person
     or Persons might by Law have been intituled to, in case this
     act had not been made_.

     "In the House of Representatives March 2, 1774. Read a first
     & second Time. March 3, 1774. Read a third Time & passed to
     be engrossed. Sent up for concurrence.

                                        T. CUSHING, _Spkr._

     "In Council March 3, 1774. Read a first time. 4. Read a
     second Time and passed in Concurrence to be Engrossed with
     the Amendment at [Transcriber's Note: Inverted A appears
     here.] dele the whole Clause. Sent down for concurrence.

                                        THOS. FLUCKER, _Secry._

     "In the House of Representatives March 4, 1774. Read and

                                        T. CUSHING, _Spkr._"

Like all other measures for the suppression of the slave-trade, this
bill failed to become a law. If Massachusetts desired to free herself
from this twofold cross of woe,--even if her great jurists could trace
the law that justified the abolition of the curse, in the pages of the
royal charter,--were not the British governors of the Province but
conserving the corporation interests of the home government and the
members of the Royal African Company? By the Treaty of Utrecht,
England had agreed to furnish the Spanish West Indies with Negroes
for the space of thirty years. She had aided all her colonies to
establish slavery, and had sent her navies to guard the vessels that
robbed Africa of five hundred thousand souls annually.[412] This was
the cruel work of England. For all her sacrifices in the war, the
millions of treasure she had spent, the blood of her children so
prodigally shed, with the glories of Blenheim, of Ramillies, of
Oudenarde and Malplaquet, England found her consolation and reward in
seizing and enjoying, as the lion's share of results of the grand
alliance against the Bourbons, the exclusive right for thirty years of
selling African slaves to the Spanish West Indies and the coast of
America![413] Why _should_ Gov. Hutchinson sign a bill that was
intended to choke the channel of a commerce in human souls that was so
near the heart of the British throne?

Gov. Hutchinson was gone, and Gen. Gage was now governor. He convened
the General Court at Salem, in June, 1774. On the 10th of June the
same bill that Gov. Hutchinson had refused to sign was introduced,
with a few immaterial changes, and pushed to a third reading, and
engrossed the same day. It was called up on the 16th of June, and
passed. It was sent up to the Council, where it was read a third time,
and concurred in. But the next day the General Court was dissolved!
And over the grave of this, the last attempt at legislation to
suppress the slave-trade in Massachusetts, was written: "_Not to have
been consented_ to by the governor"!

These repeated efforts at anti-slavery legislation were strategic and
politic. The gentlemen who hurried those bills through the House and
Council, almost regardless of rules, knew that the royal governors
would never affix their signatures to them. But the colonists, having
put themselves on record, could appeal to the considerate judgment of
the impatient Negroes; while the refusal of the royal governors to
give the bills the force of law did much to drive the Negroes to the
standard of the colonists. In the long night of darkness that was
drawing its sable curtains about the colonial government, the loyalty
of the Negroes was the lonely but certain star that threw its peerless
light upon the pathway of the child of England so soon to be forced to
lift its parricidal hand against its rapacious and cruel mother.


[380] Felt, vol. ii. p. 416.

[381] Newspaper Literature, vol. i. p. 31.

[382] Lyman's Report, quoted by Dr. Moore.

[383] House Journal, p. 387.

[384] Ibid.

[385] House Journals; see, also, Gen. Court Records, May, 1763, to
May, 1767, p. 485.

[386] Slavery in Mass., pp. 131, 132.

[387] Felt, vol. ii. pp. 416, 417.

[388] Hist. of Leicester, pp. 442, 443.

[389] Freeman's Hist. of Cape Cod, vol. ii. pp. 114, 115.

[390] Boston Gazette, Aug. 17, 1761.

[391] Letters of Mrs. Adams, p. 20.

[392] Adams's Works, vol. ii. p. 200.

[393] Adams's Works, vol. ii, p. 213.

[394] Records, 1768, fol., p. 284.

[395] This is the case referred to by the late Charles Sumner in his
famous speech in answer to Senator Butler of South Carolina; see also
Slavery in Mass., p. 115, 116; Washburn's Judicial Hist. of Mass., p.
202; Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., 1863-64, p. 322.

[396] Records, 1769, fol. p. 196. Gray in Quincy's Reports, p. 30,
note, quoted by Dr. Moore.

[397] Slavery in Mass., pp. 115, 116, note.

[398] Lyman's Report, 1822.

[399] Slavery in Mass., p. 118.

[400] Hist. of Newbury, p. 339.

[401] The Watchman's Alarm, p. 28, note; also Slavery in Mass., p.

[402] Mass. Hist Soc. Coll., vol. iv. 1st Series, pp. 202, 203.

[403] Hildreth, vol. ii. p. 564.

[404] House Journal, p. 85, quoted by Dr. Moore.

[405] House Journal, p. 94.

[406] Slavery in Mass., p. 136.

[407] House Journal, p. 104.

[408] House Journal p. 224.

[409] Ibid., p. 226.

[410] House Journal, Gen Court Records, xxx. pp. 248, 264; also,
Slavery in Mass, p. 137.

[411] Mass. Archives, Domestic Relations, 1643-1774, vol. ix. p. 457.

[412] Ethiope, p. 12.

[413] Bolingbroke, pp. 346-348.




     REPLIES.--THE LAWS OF 1723, 1729, 1752.--RIGHTS OF

Up to the 20th of June, 1630, the territory that at present
constitutes the State of Maryland was included within the limits of
the colony of Virginia. During that period the laws of Virginia
obtained throughout the entire territory.

In 1637[414] the first assembly of the colony of Maryland agreed upon
a number of bills, but they never became laws. The list is left, but
nothing more. The nearest and earliest attempt at legislation on the
slavery question to be found is a bill that was introduced "_for
punishment of ill servants_." During the earlier years of the
existence of slavery in Virginia, the term "servant" was applied to
Negroes as well as to white persons. The legal distinction between
slaves and servants was, "servants for a term of years,"--white
persons; and "servants for life,"--Negroes. In the first place, there
can be no doubt but what Negro slaves were a part of the population of
this colony from its organization;[415] and, in the second place, the
above-mentioned bill of 1637 for the "_punishment of ill servants_"
was intended, doubtless, to apply to Negro servants, or slaves. So
few were they in number, that they were seldom referred to as
"slaves." They were "servants;" and that appellation dropped out only
when the growth of slavery as an institution, and the necessity of
specific legal distinction, made the Negro the only person that was
suited to the condition of absolute property.

In 1638 there was a list of bills that reached a second reading, but
never passed. There was one bill "_for the liberties of the people_,"
that declared "all Christian inhabitants (slaves only excepted) to
have and enjoy all such rights, liberties, immunities, privileges and
free customs, within this province, as any natural born subject of
England hath or ought to have or enjoy in the realm of England, by
force or virtue of the common law or statute law of England, saving in
such cases as the same are or may be altered or changed by the laws
and ordinances of this province."[416] There is but one mention made
of "slaves" in the above Act, but in none of the other Acts of 1638.
There are certain features of the Act worthy of special consideration.
The reader should keep the facts before him, that by the laws of
England no Christian could be held in slavery; that in the Provincial
governments the laws were made to conform with those of the home
government; that, in specifying the rights of the colonists, the
Provincial assemblies limited the immunities and privileges conferred
by the Magna Charta upon British subjects, to Christians; that Negroes
were considered heathen, and, therefore, denied the blessings of the
Church and State; that even where Negro slaves were baptized, it was
held by the courts in the colonies, and was the law-opinion of the
solicitor-general of Great Britain, that they were not _ipso facto_
free;[417] and that, where Negroes were free, they had no rights in
the Church or State. So, while this law of 1638 did not say that
Negroes _should_ be slaves, in designating those who were to enjoy the
rights of freemen, it excludes the Negro, and thereby fixes his
condition as a slave by implication. If he were not named as a
freeman, it was the intention of the law-makers that he should remain
a bondman,--the exception to an established rule of law.[418]

In subsequent Acts reference was made to "servants," "fugitives,"
"runaways," etc.; but the first statute in this colony establishing
slavery was passed in 1663. It was "_An Act concerning negroes and
other slaves_." It enacts section one:--

     "All negroes or other slaves within the province, and all
     negroes and other slaves to be hereafter imported into the
     province, shall serve _durante vita_; and all children born
     of any negro or other slave, shall be slaves as their
     fathers were for the term of their lives."

Section two:--

     "And forasmuch as divers freeborn _English_ women, forgetful
     of their free condition, and to the disgrace of our nation,
     do intermarry with negro slaves, by which also divers suits
     may arise, touching the issue of such women, and a great
     damage doth befall the master of such negroes, for
     preservation whereof for deterring such free-born women from
     such shameful matches, _be it enacted_, &c.: That whatsoever
     free-born woman shall intermarry with any slave, from and
     after the last day of the present assembly, shall serve the
     master of such slave during the life of her husband; and
     that all the issue of such free-born women, so married,
     shall be slaves as their fathers were."

Section three:--

     "And be it further enacted, that all the issues of
     _English_, or other free-born women, that have already
     married negroes, shall serve the master of their parents,
     till they be thirty years of age and no longer."[419]

Section one is the most positive and sweeping statute we have ever
seen on slavery. It fixes the term of servitude for the longest time
man can claim,--the period of his earthly existence,--and dooms the
children to a service from which they were to find discharge only in
death. Section two was called into being on account of the
intermarriage of white women with slaves. Many of these women had been
indentured as servants to pay their passage to this country, some had
been sent as convicts, while still others had been apprenticed for a
term of years. Some of them, however, were very worthy persons. No
little confusion attended the fixing of the legal status of the issue
of such marriages; and it was to deter Englishwomen from such
alliances, and to determine the status of the children before the
courts, that this section was passed. Section three was clearly an _ex
post facto_ law: but the public sentiment of the colony was reflected
in it; and it stood, and was re-enacted in 1676.

Like Virginia, the colony of Maryland found the soil rich, and the
cultivation of tobacco a profitable enterprise. The country was new,
and the physical obstructions in the way of civilization numerous and
formidable. Of course all could not pursue the one path that led to
agriculture. Mechanic and trade folk were in great demand. Laborers
were scarce, and the few that could be obtained commanded high wages.
The Negro slave's labor could be made as cheap as his master's
conscience and heart were small. Cheaper labor became the cry on every
hand, and the Negro was the desire of nearly all white men in the
colony.[420] In 1671 the Legislature passed "_An Act encouraging the
importation of negroes and slaves into_" the colony, which was
followed by another and similar Act in 1692. Two motives inspired the
colony to build up the slave-trade; viz., to have more laborers, and
to get something for nothing. And, as soon as Maryland was known to be
a good market for slaves, the traffic increased with wonderful
rapidity. Slaves soon became the bone and sinew of the working-force
of the colony. They were used to till the fields, to fell the forests,
to assist mechanics, and to handle light crafts along the
water-courses. They were to be found in all homes of opulence and
refinement; and, unfortunately, their presence in such large numbers
did much to lower honorable labor in the estimation of the whites, and
to enervate women in the best white society. While the colonists
persuaded themselves that slavery was an institution indispensable to
the colony, its evil effects soon became apparent. It were impossible
to engage the colony in the slave-trade, and escape the bad results of
such an inhuman enterprise. It made men cruel and avaricious.

It was the motion of individuals to have legislative encouragement
tendered the venders of human flesh and blood; but the time came when
the government of the colony saw that an impost tax upon the slaves
imported into the colony would not impair the trade, while it would
aid the government very materially. In 1696 "_An Act laying an
imposition on negroes, slaves and while persons imported_" into the
colony was passed. It is plain from the reading of the caption of the
above bill, that it was intended to reach three classes of persons;
viz., Negro servants, Negro slaves, and white servants. The word
"imported" means such persons as could not pay their passage, and were
therefore indentured to the master of the vessel. When they arrived,
their time was hired out, if they were free, for a term of years, at
so much per year;[421] but if they were slaves the buyer had to pay
all claims against this species of property before he could acquire a
fee simple in the slave. Some historians have too frequently
misinterpreted the motive and aim of the colonial Legislatures in
imposing an impost tax upon Negroes and other servants imported into
their midst. The fact that the law applied to white persons does not
aid in an interpretation that would credit the makers of the act with
feelings of humanity. A people who could buy and sell wives did not
hesitate to see in the indentured white servants property that ought
to be taxed. Why not? These white servants represented so many dollars
invested, or so many years of labor in prospect! So all persons
imported into the colony of Maryland, "Negroes, slaves, and white
persons," were taxed as any other marketable article. A swift and
remorseless civilization against the stolid forces of nature made men
indiscriminate and cruel in their impulses to obtain. Public sentiment
had been formulated into law: the law contemplated "servants and
slaves" as chattel property; and the political economists of the
Province saw in this species of property rich gains for the
government. It was condition, circumstances, that made the servant or
slave; but at length it was nationality, color.

When, on the threshold of the eighteenth century, "white indentured"
servants were rapidly ceasing to exist under color or sanction of law,
religious bigotry and ecclesiastical intolerance joined hands with the
supporters of Negro slavery in a crusade[422] against the Irish
Catholics. In 1704 the Legislature passed "_An Act imposing three
pence per gallon on rum and wine, brandy and spirits, and twenty
shillings per poll for negroes, for raising a supply to defray the
public charge of this province, and twenty shillings, per poll, on
Irish servants, to prevent the importing too great a number of Irish
papist into this province_." Although this Act was intended to remain
on the statute-books only three years, its life was prolonged by a
supplemental Act, and it disgraced the colony for twenty-one years. As
in New York, so here, the government regarded the slave and Papist
with feelings of hatred and fear. The former was only suited to a
condition of perpetual bondage, the latter to be ostracized and driven
out from before the face of the exclusive Protestants of that period.
Both were cruelly treated; one on account of his face, the other on
account of his faith.

     "Unfortunately for the professors of the Catholic religion,
     by the force of circumstances which it is not necessary to
     detail, their religious persuasions became identified, in
     the public mind, with opposition to the principles of the
     revolution. Their political disfranchisement was the
     consequence. Charles Calvert, the deposed proprietary,
     shared the common fate of his Catholic brethren. Sustained
     and protected by the crown in the enjoyment of his mere
     private rights, the general jealousy of Catholic power
     denied him the government of the province."[423]

A knowledge of the antecedents of the master-class will aid the reader
to a more accurate conception of the character of the institution of
slavery in the colony of Maryland.

It is not very pleasing for the student of history at this time to
remember that the British colonies in North America received into
their early life the worst poison of European society,--the criminal
element. From the first the practice of transporting convicts into the
colonies obtained. And, during the reign of George I., statutes were
passed "authorizing transportation as a commutation punishment for
clergyable felonies." These convicts were transported by private
shippers, and then sold into the colony; and thus it became a gainful
enterprise. From 1700 until 1760 this nefarious and pestiferous
traffic greatly increased. At length it became, as already indicated,
the subject of a special impost tax. Three or four hundred convicts
were imported into the colony annually, and the people began to
complain.[424] In "The Maryland Gazette" of the 30th of July, 1767, a
writer attempted to show that the convict element was not to be
despised, but was rather a desirable addition to the Province. He

     "I suppose that for these last thirty years, communibus
     annis, there have been at least 600 convicts per year
     imported into this province: and these have probably gone
     into 400 families."

After answering some objections to their importation because of the
contagious diseases likely to be communicated by them, he further

     "This makes at least 400 to one, that they do no injury to
     the country in the way complained of: and the people's
     continuing to buy and receive them so constantly, shows
     plainly the general sense of the country about the matter;
     notwithstanding a few gentlemen seem so angry that convicts
     are imported here at all, and would, if they could, by
     spreading this terror, prevent the people's buying them. I
     confess I am one, says he, who think a young country cannot
     be settled, cultivated, and improved, without people of some
     sort: and that it is much better for the country to receive
     convicts than slaves. The wicked and bad amongst them, that
     come into this province, mostly run away to the northward;
     mix with their people, and pass for honest men: whilst those
     more innocent, and who came for very small offences, serve
     their times out here, behave well, and become useful

This attempt to justify the _convict trade_ elicited two able and
spirited replies over the signatures of "Philanthropos" and "C.D."
appearing in "Green's Gazette" of 20th of August, 1767, in which the
writer of the first article is handled "with the gloves off."

     "His remarks [says Philanthropos] remind me of the
     observation of a great philosopher, who alleges that there
     is a certain race of men of so selfish a cast, that they
     would even set a neighbour's house on fire, for the
     convenience of roasting an egg at the blaze. That these are
     not the reveries of fanciful speculatists, the author now
     under consideration is in a great measure a proof; for who,
     but a man swayed with the most sordid selfishness, would
     endeavor to disarm the people of all caution against such
     imminent danger, lest their just apprehensions should
     interfere with his little schemes of profit? And who but
     such a man would appear publicly as an advocate for the
     importation of felons, the scourings of jails, and the
     abandoned outcasts of the British nation, as a mode in any
     sort eligible for peopling a young country?"

In another part of his reply he remarks,--

     "In confining the indignation because of their importation
     to a few, and representing that the general sense of the
     people is in favor of this vile importation, he is guilty of
     the most shameful misrepresentation and the grossest
     calumny upon the whole province. What opinion must our
     mother country, and our sister colonies, entertain of our
     virtue, when they see it confidently asserted in the
     Maryland Gazette, that we are fond of peopling our country
     with the most abandoned profligates in the universe? Is this
     the way to purge ourselves from that false and bitter
     reproach, so commonly thrown upon us, _that we are the
     descendants of convicts?_ As far as it has lain in my way to
     be acquainted with the general sentiments of the people upon
     this subject, I solemnly declare, that the most discerning
     and judicious amongst them esteem it the greatest grievance
     imposed upon us by our mother country."

The writer felt that a young country could not be settled "without
people of some sort," and that it was better to secure "convicts than
slaves." Upon what grounds precisely this defender of buying convict
labor based his conclusion that he would rather have "convicts than
slaves" is not known. It could not have been that he believed the
convicts of England more industrious or skilful than Negro slaves? Or,
had he theoretical objections to slavery as a permanent institution?
Perhaps the writer had himself graduated from the criminal class! But
there were gentlemen who differed with him, and couched their
objections to the convict system of importation in very vigorous
English. On the 20th of August, 1767, two articles appeared in
"Greene's Gazette." Says one of these writers,--

     "For who, but a man swayed with the most sordid selfishness,
     would endeavor to disarm the people of all caution against
     such imminent danger, lest their just apprehensions should
     interfere with his little schemes of profit? And who but
     such a man would appear publicly as an advocate for the
     importation of felons, the scourings of jails, and the
     abandoned outcasts of the British nation, as a mode in any
     sort eligible for peopling a young country?"

There can be no doubt but that many of the convicts thus imported,
having served out their time, in a brief season became slave-drivers
and slave-owners. With hearts reduced to flinty hardness in the fires
of unrestrained passions, the convict element, as it became absorbed
in the great free white population of the Province,[425] created a
most positive sentiment in favor of a cruel code for the government of
the Negro slave. There were two motives that inspired the ex-convict
to cruelty to the Negro: to divert attention from himself, and to
persuade himself, in his doubting mind, that the Negro was inferior to
him by _nature_. It was, no doubt, a great undertaking; but the
findings of such a court must have been comforting to an anxious
conscience! The result can be judged. Maryland made a slave-code,
which, for cruelty and general inhumanity, has no equal in the
South.[426] The Maryland laws of 1715 contained, in chapter
forty-four, an act with one hundred and thirty-five sections relating
to Negro slaves. A most rigorous pass-system was established. By
section six, no Negro or other servant was allowed to leave the county
without a pass under the seal of the county in which their master
resided; for which pass the slave or other servant was compelled to
pay ten pounds of tobacco, or one shilling in money. If such persons
were apprehended, a justice of the peace could impose such fines and
inflict such punishment as were fixed by the law applying to runaways.
By the Act of 1723, chapter fifteen, under the caption of "_An Act to
prevent the tumultuous meeting and other irregularities of negroes and
other slaves_," the severity of the laws was increased tenfold.
According to section four, a Negro or other slave who had the temerity
to strike a white person, was to have his ears "_cropt on order of a
Justice_." Section six denies slaves the right of possession of
property: they could not own cattle. Section seven gave authority to
any white man to kill a Negro who resisted an attempt to arrest him;
and by a supplemental Act of 1751, chapter fourteen, the owner of a
slave thus killed was to be paid out of the public treasury. In 1729
an Act was passed providing, that upon the conviction of certain
crimes, Negroes and other slaves shall be not only hanged, but the
body should be quartered, and exposed to public view. When slaves grew
old and infirm in the service of their masters, and the latter were
inspired by a desire to compliment the faithfulness of their servants
by emancipation, the law came in and forbade manumission by the "last
will or testament," or the making free in any way of Negro slaves. It
was a temporary Act, passed in 1752, void of every element of
humanity; and yet it stood as the law of the colony for twenty long

In 1748 the Negro population of Maryland was thirty-six thousand, and
still rapidly increasing.

     "By a 'very accurate census,' taken this year, this was
     found to be the number of white inhabitants in Maryland:--

       |         |  FREE. | SERVANTS. | CONVICTS. | TOTAL.  |
       |Men      | 24,058 |   3,576   |   1,507   |  29,141 |
       |Women    | 23,521 |   1,824   |     386   |  25,731 |
       |Boys     | 26,637 |   1,048   |      67   |  27,752 |
       |Girls    | 24,141 |     422   |      21   |  24,584 |
       |         | 98,357 |   6,870   |   1,981   | 107,208 |

     "By the same account the total number of mulattoes in
     Maryland amounted to 3,592; and the total number of Negroes,
     to 42,764. Pres. Stiles' MS. It was reckoned (say the
     authors of Univ. Hist.), that above 2,000 Negro slaves were
     annually imported into Maryland."[427]

In 1756 the blacks had increased to 46,225, and in 1761 to 49,675.
There was nothing in the laws to prohibit the instruction of Negroes,
and yet no one dared to brave public sentiment on that point. The
churches gave no attention or care to the slaves. During the first
half or three-quarters of a century there was an indiscriminate
mingling and marrying among the Negroes and white servants; and,
although this was forbidden by rigid statutes, it went on to a
considerable extent. The half-breed, or Mulatto, population
increased;[428] and so did the number of free Negroes. The contact of
these two elements--of slaves and convicts--was neither prudent nor
healthy. The Negroes suffered from the touch of the moral contagion of
this effete matter driven out of European society. Courted as rather
agreeable companions by the convicts at first, the Negro slaves were
at length treated worse by the ex-convicts than by the most
intelligent and opulent slave-dealers in all the Province. And with no
rights in the courts, incompetent to hold an office of any kind, the
free Negroes were in almost as disagreeable a situation as the slaves.

From the founding of the colony of Maryland in 1632 down to the
Revolutionary War, there is no record left us that any effort was ever
made to cure the most glaring evils of slavery. For the Negro this was
one long, starless night of oppression and outrage. No siren's voice
whispered to him of a distant future, propitious and gracious to
hearts almost insensible to a throb of joy, to minds unconscious of
the feeblest rays of light. Being _absolute_ property, it was the
right of the master to say how much food, or what quantity of
clothing, his slave should have. There were no rules by which a slave
could claim the privilege of ceasing from labor at the close of the
day. No, the master had the same right to work his slaves after
nightfall as to drive his horse morning, noon, and night. Poor
clothes, rough and scanty diet, wretched quarters, overworked,
neglected in body and mind, the Negroes of Maryland had a sore lot.

The Revolution was nearing. Public attention was largely occupied with
the Stamp Act and preparations for hostilities. The Negro was left to
toil on; and, while at this time there was no legislation sought for
slavery, there was nothing done that could be considered hostile to
the institution. The Negroes hailed the mutterings of the distant
thunders of revolution as the precursor of a new era to them. It did
furnish an opportunity for them in Maryland to prove themselves
patriots and brave soldiers. And how far their influence went to
mollify public sentiment concerning them, will be considered in its
appropriate place. Suffice it now to say, that cruel and hurtful,
unjust and immoral, as the institution of slavery was, it had not
robbed the Negro of a lofty conception of the fundamental principles
that inspired white men to resist the arrogance of England; nor did it
impair his enthusiasm in the cause that gave birth to a new republic
amid the shock of embattled arms.


[414] Dr. Abiel Holmes, in his American Annals, vol. ii. p. 5, says,
"Maryland now contained about thirty-six thousand persons, of white
men from sixteen years of age and upwards, and negroes male, and
female from sixteen to sixty." I infer from this statement that
slavery was in existence in Maryland in 1634; and I cannot find any
thing in history to lead me to doubt but that slavery was born with
the colony.

[415] Cabinet Cyclopædia, vol. i. p. 61.

[416] See Bacon's Laws, also Holmes's Annals, vol. i. p. 250.

[417] The following appeared in the Plantation Laws, printed in London
in 1705: "Where any negro or slave, being in servitude or bondage, is
or shall become Christian, and receive the sacrament of baptism, the
same shall not nor ought not to be deemed, adjudged or construed to be
a manumission or freeing of any such negro or slave, or his or her
issue, from their servitude or bondage, but that notwithstanding they
shall at all times hereafter be and remain in servitude and bondage as
they were before baptism, any opinion, matter or thing to the contrary

[418] McSherry's Hist. of Maryland, p. 86.

[419] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. p. 249.

[420] McMahon's Hist. of Maryland, vol. i. p. 274.

[421] The following form was used for a long time in Maryland for
binding out a servant.

     This Indenture _made the ---- day of ---- in the ---- yeere
     of our Soveraigne Lord King_ Charles,_&c betweene ---- of
     the one party_, and ---- on the _other party_, Witnesseth,
     _that the said ---- doth hereby covenant promise, and grant,
     to and with the said ---- his Executors and Assignes, to
     serve him from the day of the date hereof, untill his first
     and next arrivall in_ Maryland: _and after for and during
     the tearme of ---- yeeres, in such service and imployment,
     as the said ---- or his assignee shall there imploy him,
     according to the custome of the Countrey in the like kind.
     In consideration whereof, the said ---- doth promise and
     grant, to and with the said ---- to pay for his passing, and
     to find him with Meat, Drinke, Apparell and Lodging, with
     other necessaries during the said terme; and at the end of
     the said terme, to give him one whole yeeres provision of
     Corne, and fifty acres of Land, according to the order of
     the countrey. In witnesse whereof, the said ---- hath
     hereunto put his hand and seate, the day and yeere above

     Sealed and delivered in the presence of ----

                    --_Relation of the state of Maryland_, pp. 62, 63.

[422] Modern Traveller, vol. i. pp. 122, 123.

[423] McMahon's Maryland, vol. i. p. 278.

[424] 1st Pitkin's United States, p. 133.

[425] McMahone says of this convict element: "The pride of this age
revolts at the idea of going back to such as these, for the roots of a
genealogical tree; and they, whose delight it would be, to trace their
blood through many generations of stupid, sluggish, imbecile
ancestors, with no claim to merit but the name they carry down, will
even submit to be called '_novi homines_,' if a convict stand in the
line of ancestry."

[426] With perhaps the single exception of South Carolina, of which
the reader will learn more farther on.

[427] American Annals.

[428] Dr. Holmes says, "The total number of mulattoes in Maryland
amounted to 3,592," in 1755.





Anterior to the year 1638, the territory now occupied by the State of
Delaware was settled in part by Swedes and Danes. It has been recorded
of them that they early declared that it was "not lawful to buy and
keep slaves."[429] But the Dutch claimed the territory. When New
Netherlands was ceded to the Duke of York, Delaware was occupied by
his representatives. On the 24th of August, 1682, the Duke transferred
that territory to William Penn.[430] But in 1703 Penn surrendered the
old form of government, and gave the Delaware counties the privilege
of a separate administration under the _Charter of Privileges_.
Delaware inaugurated a legislature, but remained under the Council and
Governor of Pennsylvania. But slavery made its appearance on the
Delaware as early as 1636.[431]

     "At this early period there appears to have been slavery on
     the Delaware. As one Coinclisse was 'condemned, on the 3d of
     February, to serve the company with the blacks on South
     River for wounding a soldier at Fort Amsterdam. He was also
     to pay a fine to the fiscal, and damages to the wounded
     soldier.' On the 22d, a witness testifying in the case of
     Governor Van Twiller, (the governor of New Neitherlands
     before Kieft,) who was charged with neglect and
     mismanagement of the company's affairs, said that 'he had
     in his custody for Van Twiller, at Fort Hope and Nassau,
     twenty-four to thirty goats, and that _three negroes bought
     by the director_ in 1636, were since employed in his private
     service.' Thus it will be seen that slavery was introduced
     on the Delaware as early as 1636, though probably not in
     this State, as the Dutch at that time had no settlement

And on the 15th of September, 1657, complaint was made that Peter
Alricks had "used the company's oxen and negroes;" thus showing that
there were quite a number of Negroes in the colony at the time
mentioned. In September, 1661, there was a meeting between Calvert,
D'Hinoyossa, Peter Alricks, and two Indian chiefs, to negotiate terms
of peace. At this meeting the Marylanders agreed to furnish the Dutch
annually three thousand hogsheads of tobacco, provided the Dutch would
"supply them with negroes and other commodities."[433] Negroes were
numerous, and an intercolonial traffic in slaves was established.

The first legislation on the slavery question in the colony of
Delaware was had in 1721. "_An Act for the trial of Negroes_" provided
that two justices and six freeholders should have full power to try
"negro and mulatto slaves" for heinous offences. In case slaves were
executed, the Assembly paid the owner two-thirds the value of such
slave. It forbade convocations of slaves, and made it a misdemeanor to
carry arms. During the same year an Act was passed punishing adultery
and fornication. In case of children of a white woman by a slave, the
county court bound them out until they were thirty-one years of age.
In 1739 the Legislature passed an Act for the better regulation of
servants and slaves, consisting of sixteen articles. It provided that
no indentured servant should be sold into another government without
the approval of at least one justice. Such servant could not be
assigned over except before a justice. If a person manumitted a slave,
good security was required: if he failed to do this, the manumission
was of no avail. If free Negroes did not care for their children, they
were liable to be bound out. In 1767 the Legislature passed another
Act restraining manumission. It recites:--

     "SECTION 2. _And be it enacted by the honorable John Penn,
     esq. with his Majesty's royal approbation, Lieutenant
     Governor and Commander in Chief of the counties of
     New-Castle, Kent and Sussex, upon Delaware, and province of
     Pennsylvania, under the honorable Thomas Penn and Richard
     Penn, esquires, true and absolute proprietaries of the said
     counties and province, by and with the advice and consent of
     the Representatives of the freemen of the said counties, in
     General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same_,
     That if any master or mistress shall, by will or otherwise,
     discharge or set free any Mulatto or Negro slave or slaves;
     he or she, or his or her executors or administrators, at the
     next respective County Court of Quarter Sessions, shall
     enter into a recognizance with sufficient sureties, to be
     taken in the name of the Treasurer of the said county for
     the time being, in the sum of Sixty Pounds for each slave so
     set free, to indemnify the county from any charge they or
     any of them may be unto the same, in case of such Negro or
     Mulattoe's being sick, or otherwise rendered incapable to
     support him or herself; and that until such recognizance be
     given, no such Negro or Mulatto shall be deemed free."[434]

The remainder of the slave code in this colony was like unto those of
the other colonies, and therefore need not be described. Negroes had
no rights, ecclesiastical or political. They had no property, nor
could they communicate a relation of any character. They had no
religious or secular training, and none of the blessings of home life.
Goaded to the performance of the most severe tasks, their only audible
reply was an occasional growl. It sent a feeling of terror through
their inhuman masters, and occasioned them many ugly dreams.


[429] Dr. Stevens in his History of Georgia, vol. i. p. 288, says, "In
the Swedish and German colony, which Gustavus Adolphus planted in
Delaware, and which in many points resembled the plans of the
Trustees, negro servitude was disallowed." But he gives no authority,
I regret.

[430] See Laws of Delaware, vol. i. Appendix, pp. 1-4.

[431] Albany Records, vol. ii, p. 10.

[432] Vincent's History of Delaware, p. 159.

[433] Ibid., p. 381.

[434] Laws of Delaware, vol. i. p. 436.





Although the colony of Connecticut was founded between the years 1631
and 1636, there are to be found no reliable data by which to fix the
time of the introduction of slavery there.[435] Like the serpent's
entrance into the Garden of Eden, slavery entered into this colony
stealthily; and its power for evil was discovered only when it had
become a formidable social and political element. Vessels from the
West Coast of Africa, from the West Indies, and from Barbadoes, landed
Negroes for sale in Connecticut during the early years of its
settlement. And for many years slavery existed here, without sanction
of law, it is true, but perforce of custom. Negroes were bought as
laborers and domestics, and it was a long time before their number
called for special legislation. But, like a cancer, slavery grew until
there was not a single colony in North America that could boast of its
ability to check the dreadful curse. When the first slaves were
introduced into this colony, can never be known; but, that there were
Negro slaves from the beginning, we have the strongest historical
presumption. For nearly two decades there was no reference made to
slavery in the records of the colony.

In 1680 "the Committee for Trade and Foreign Plantations" addressed to
the governors of the North-American plantations or colonies a series
of questions. Among the twenty-seven questions put to Gov. Leete of
Connecticut, were two referring to Negroes. The questions were as

     "17. What number of English, Scotch, Irish or Forreigners
     have (for these seaven yeares last past, or any other space
     of time) come yearly to plant and inhabit within your
     Corporation. And also, what Blacks and Slaves have been
     brought in within the said time, and att what rates?

     "18. What number of Whites, Blacks or Mulattos have been
     born and christened, for these seaven yeares last past, or
     any other space of time, for as many yeares as you are able
     to state on account of?"[436]

To these the governor replied as follows:--

     "17. _Answ_. For English, Scotts and Irish, there are so few
     come in that we cannot give a certain acco't. Som yeares
     come none; sometimes, a famaly or two, in a year. And for
     Blacks, there comes sometimes 3 or 4 in a year from
     Barbadoes; and they are sold usually at the rate of 22'li. a
     piece, sometimes more and sometimes less, according as men
     can agree with the master of vessells, or merchants that
     bring them hither.

     "18. _Answ_. We can give no acco't. of the perfect number of
     either born; but fewe blacks; and but two blacks christened,
     as we know of."[437]

It is evident that the number of slaves was not great at this time,
and that they were few and far between. The sullen and ofttimes
revengeful spirit of the Indians had its effect upon the few Negro
slaves in the colony. Sometimes they were badly treated by their
masters, and occasionally they would run away. The country was new,
the settlements scattered; and slavery as an institution, at this time
and in this colony, in its infancy. The spirit of insubordination
among the slave population seemed to call aloud for legislative
restriction. In October, 1690, the Legislature passed the following

     "Whereas many persons of this Colony doe for their necessary
     use purchase negroe seruants, and often times the sayd
     seruants run away to the great wronge, damage and
     disapoyntment of their masters and owners, for prevention of
     which for [221] the future, as much as || may be, it is
     ordered by this Court that Whateuer negroe or negroes shall
     hereafter, at any time, be fownd wandring out of the towne
     bownds or place to which they doe belong, without a ticket
     or pass from the authority, or their masters or owners,
     shall be stopt and secured by any of the inhabitants, or
     such as shall meet with them, and brought before the next
     authority to be examined and returned to their owners, who
     shall sattisfy for the charge if any be; and all ferrymen
     within this Colony are hereby required not to suffer any
     negroe without such certificate, to pass over their ferry by
     assisting them therein, upon the penalty of twenty
     shillings, to be payd as a fine to the county treasury, and
     to be leuyed upon theire estates for non-payment in way of
     distresse by warrant from any one Assistant or Com'r. This
     order to be observed as to vagrant and susspected persons
     fownd wandring from town to town, hauveing no passes; such
     to be seized for examination and farther disspose by the
     authority; and if any negroes are free and for themselves,
     travelling without such ticket or certificate, they to bear
     the charge themselves of their takeing up."[438]

The general air of complaint that pervades the above bill leads to the
conclusion that it was required by an alarming state of affairs. The
pass-system was a copy from the laws of the older colonies where
slavery had long existed. By implication free Negroes had to secure
from the proper authorities a certificate of freedom; and the bill
required them to carry it, or pay the cost of arrest.

One of the most palpable evidences of the humanity of the Connecticut
government was the following act passed in May, 1702:--

     "Whereas it is observed that some persons in this Colonie
     having purchased Negro or Malatta Servants or Slaves, after
     they have spent the pricipall part of their time and
     strength in their masters service, doe sett them at liberty,
     and the said slaves not being able to provide necessaries
     for themselves may become a charge and burthen to the towns
     where they have served: for prevention whereof,

     "It is ordered and enacted by this Court and the authority
     thereof: That every person in this Colonie that now is or
     hereafter shall be owner of a negro or mulatta servant or
     slave, and after some time of his or her being taken into
     imployment in his or her service, shall sett such servant or
     slave at liberty to provide for him or herselfe, if
     afterwards such servant or slave shall come to want, every
     such servant shall be relieved at the onely cost and charge
     of the person in whose service he or she was last reteined
     or taken, and by whome sett at liberty, or at the onely cost
     and charge of his or her heirs, executors or administrators,
     any law, usage or custome to the contrary

Massachusetts had acted and did act very cowardly about this matter.
But Connecticut showed great wisdom and humanity in making a just and
equitable provision for such poor and decrepit slaves as might find
themselves turned out to charity after a long life of unrequited
toil. Slavery was in itself "the sum of all villanies,"--the blackest
curse that ever scourged the earth. To buy and sell human beings; to
tear from the famishing breast of the mother her speechless child; to
separate the husband from the wife of his heart; to wring riches from
the unpaid toil of human beings; to tear down the family altar, and
let lecherous beasts, who claim the name of "Christian," run over
defenceless womanhood as swine over God's altar!--is there any thing
worse, do you ask? Yes! To work a human being from youth to old age,
to appropriate the labor of that being exclusively, to rob it of the
blessings of this life, to poison every domestic charity, to fetter
the intellect by the power of fatal ignorance, to withhold the
privileges of the gospel of love; and then, when the hollow cough
comes under an inclement sky, when the shadows slant, when the hand
trembles, when the gait is shuffling, when the ear is deaf, the eye
dim, when desire faileth,--then to turn that human being out to die is
by far the profoundest crime man can be guilty of in his dealings with
mankind! And slavery had so hardened men's hearts, that the above act
was found to be necessary to teach the alphabet of human kindness. No
wonder human forbearance was strained to its greatest tension when
masters, thus liberating their slaves, assumed the lofty air of
humanitarians who had actually done a noble act in manumitting a

In 1708 the General Court was called upon to legislate against the
commercial communion that had gone on between the slaves and free
persons in an unrestricted manner for a long time. Slaves would often
steal articles of household furniture, wares, clothing, etc., and sell
them to white persons. And, in order to destroy the ready market this
wide-spread kleptomania found, an Act was passed making it a
misdemeanor for a free person to purchase any article from slaves. It
is rather an interesting law, and is quoted in full.

     "Whereas divers rude and evil minded persons for the sake of
     filthie lucre do frequently receive from Indians, malattoes
     and negro servants, money and goods stolen or obteined by
     other indirect and unlawful means, thereby incouraging such
     servants to steal from their masters and others: for redress

     [35] _Be it enacted by the Governour, Council and
     Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the
     authoritie of the same_, That every free person whomsoever,
     which shall presume either openly or privately to buy or
     receive of or from any Indian, molato or negro servant or
     slave, any goods, money, merchandize, wares, or provisions,
     without order from the master or mistress of such servant
     or slave, every person so offending and being thereof
     convicted, shall be sentenced to restore all such money,
     goods, wares, merchandizes, or provisions, unto the partie
     injured, in specie, (if not altered,) and also forfeit to
     the partie double the value thereof over and above, or
     treble the value where the same are disposed of or made
     away. And if the person so offending be unable, or shall not
     make restitution as awarded, then to be openly whipt with so
     many stripes (not exceeding twentie,) as the court or
     justices that have cognizance of such offence shall order,
     or make satisfaction by service. And the Indian, negro, or
     molatto servant or slave, of or from whom such goods, money,
     wares, merchandizes or provisions shall be received or
     bought, if it appear to be stolen, or that shall steal any
     money, goods, or chattells, and be thereof convicted,
     although the buyer or receiver be not found, shall be
     punished by whipping not exceeding thirtie stripes, and the
     money, goods or chattels shall be restored to the partie
     injured, if it be found. And every assistant and justice of
     peace in the countie where such offence is committed, is
     hereby authorized to hear and determine all offences against
     this law, provided the damage exceed not the sum of fortie

On the same day another act was passed, charging that as Mulatto and
Negro slaves had become numerous in parts of the colony, destined to
become insubordinate, abusive of white people, etc., and is as

     "And whereas negro and molatto servants or slaves are become
     numerous in some parts of this Colonie, and are very apt to
     be turbulent, and often quarrelling with white people to the
     great disturbance of the peace:

     "_It is therefore ordered and enacted by the Governour,
     Council and Representatives, in General Court assembled, and
     by the authoritie of the same_, That if any negro or malatto
     servant or slave disturb the peace, or shall offer to strike
     any white person, and be thereof convicted, such negro or
     malatto servant or slave shall be punished by whipping, at
     the discretion of the court, assistant or justice of the
     peace that shall have cognizance thereof, not exceeding
     thirtie stripes for one offence."[441]

In 1711 the General Court of Connecticut Colony signally distinguished
itself by the passage of an act in harmony with that of 1702. It was
found that indentured servants as well as slaves had been made the
victims of the cruel policy of turning slaves and servants out into
the world without means of support after they had become helpless, or
had served out their time. This class of human beings had been cast
aside, like a squeezed lemon, to be trodden under the foot of men. The
humane and thoughtful men of the colony demanded a remedy at law, and
it came in the following admirable bill:--

     "An Act relating to Slaves, and such in particular as shall
     happen to become Servants for Time.

     "_It is ordered and enacted by the Governour, Council and
     Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the
     authority of the same_, That all slaves set at liberty by
     their owners, and all negro, malatto, or Spanish Indians,
     who are servants to masters for time, in case they come to
     want, after they shall be so set at liberty, or the time of
     their said service be expired, shall be relieved by such
     owners or masters respectively, their heirs, executors, or
     administrators; and upon their, or either of their refusal
     so to do, the said slaves and servants shall be relieved by
     the selectmen of the towns to which they belong, and the
     said selectmen shall recover of the said owners or masters,
     their heirs, executors, or administrators, all the charge
     and cost they were at for such relief, in the usual manner
     as in the case of any other debts."[442]

In 1723 an Act was passed regulating the social conduct, and
restricting the personal rights, of slaves. The slaves were quite
numerous at this time, and hence the colonists deemed it proper to
secure repressive legislation. It is strange how anticipatory the
colonies were during the zenith of the slavery institution! They were
always expecting something of the slaves. No doubt they thought that
it would be but the normal action of goaded humanity if the slaves
should rise and cut their masters' throats. The colonists lived in
mortal dread of their slaves, and the character of the legislation was
but the thermometer of their fear. This Act was a slight indication of
the unrest of the people of this colony on the slavery question:--


     "_Be it enacted by the Governour, Council and
     Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the
     authority of the same_, That from and after the publication
     of this act, if any negro or Indian servant or slave shall
     be found abroad from home in the night season, after nine of
     the clock, without special order from his or their master or
     mistress, it shall be lawful for any person or persons to
     apprehend and secure such negro or Indian servant or slave
     so offending, and him or them bring before the next
     assistant or justice of peace; which assistant or justice of
     peace shall have full power to pass sentence upon such negro
     or Indian servant or slave so offending, and order him or
     them to be publickly whipt on his or their naked body, not
     exceeding ten stripes, and pay cost of court, except his or
     their master or mistress shall redeem them by paying a fine
     not exceeding twenty shillings.

     "_And it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid_, That
     if any such negro or Indian servant or slave as abovesaid
     shall have entertainment in any house after nine of the
     clock as aforesaid, except to do any business they may be
     sent upon, the head of the family that entertaineth or
     tolerates them in his or their house, or any the
     dependencies thereof, and being convicted thereof before any
     one assistant or justice of the peace, who shall have power
     to hear and determine the same, shall forfeit the sum of
     twenty shillings, one-half to the complainer and the other
     half to the treasury of the town where the offence is
     committed; any law or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.
     And that it shall be the duty of the several grand-jurors
     and constables and tything-men, to make diligent enquiry
     into and present of all breaches of this act."[443]

The laws regulating slavery in the colony of Connecticut, up to this
time, had stood, and been faithfully enforced. There had been a few
infractions of the law, but the guilty had been punished. And in
addition to statutory regulation of slaves, the refractory ones were
often summoned to the bar of public opinion and dealt with summarily.
Individual owners of slaves felt themselves at liberty to use the
utmost discretion in dealing with this species of their property. So
on every hand the slave found himself scrutinized, suspicioned,
feared, hated, and hounded by the entire community of whites who were
by law a perpetual _posse comitatus_. The result of too great
vigilance and severe censorship was positive and alarming. It made the
slave desperate. It intoxicated him with a malice that would brook no
restraint. It is said that the use of vigorous adjectives and strong
English is a relief to one in moments of trial. But even this was
denied the oppressed slaves in Connecticut; for in May, 1730, a bill
was passed punishing them for using strong language.


     "_Be it enacted by the Governour, Council and
     Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the
     authority of the same_, That if any Negro, Indian or Molatto
     slave shall utter, publish and speak such words of any
     person that would by law be actionable if the same were
     uttered, published or spoken by any free person of any
     other, such Negro, Indian or Molatto slave, being thereof
     convicted before any one assistant or justice of the peace,
     (who are hereby impowred to hear and determine the same,)
     shall be punished by whipping, at the discretion of the
     assistant or justice before whom the tryal is, (respect
     being had to the circumstances of the case,) not exceeding
     forty stripes. And the said slave, so convict, shall be sold
     to defray all charges arising thereby, unless the same be by
     his or their master or mistress paid and answered, &c."[444]

The above act is the most remarkable document in this period of its
kind. And yet there are two noticeable features in it: viz., the
slave is to be proceeded against the same as if he were a free person;
and he was to be entitled to offer evidence, enter his plea, and
otherwise defend himself against the charge. This was more than was
allowed in any of the other colonies.

On the 9th of September, 1730, Gov. J. Talcott, in a letter to the
"Board of Trade," said that there were "about 700 Indian and Negro
slaves" in the colony. The most of these were Negro slaves. For on the
8th of July, 1715, a proclamation was issued by the governor against
the importation of Indians;[445] and on the 13th of October, 1715, a
bill was passed "_prohibiting the Importation or bringing into_" the
colony any Indian slaves. It was an exact copy of the Act of May,
1712, passed in the colony of Massachusetts.

The colony of Connecticut never established slavery by direct statute;
but in adopting a code which was ordered by the General Court of
Hartford to be "copied by the secretary into the book of public
records," it gave the institution legal sanction. This code was signed
on the 5th of September, 1646. It recognized the lawfulness of Indian
and Negro slavery. This was done under the confederacy of the "United
Colonies of New England."[446] For some reason the part of the code
recognizing slavery is omitted from the revised laws of 1715. In this
colony, as in Massachusetts, only members of the church, "and living
within the jurisdiction," could be admitted to the rights of freemen.
In 1715 an Act was passed requiring persons who desired to become
"freemen of this corporation," to secure a certificate from the
selectmen that they were "persons of quiet and peaceable behavior and
civil conversation, of the age of twenty-one years, and freeholders."
This provision excluded all free Negroes. It was impossible for one to
secure such a certificate. Public sentiment alone would have frowned
upon such an innovation upon the customs and manners of the Puritans.
On the 17th of May, 1660, the following Act was passed: "It is ordered
by this court, that neither Indian nor negar serv'ts shall be required
to traine, watch or ward in the Collo:"[447]

To determine the status of the Negro here, this Act was necessary. He
might be free, own his own labor; but if the law excluded him from the
periodical musters and trainings, from the church and civil duties,
his freedom was a mere _misnomer_. It is difficult to define the
rights of a free Negro in this colony. He was restricted in his
relations with the slaves, and in his intercourse with white people
was regarded with suspicion. If he had, in point of law, the right to
purchase property, the general prejudice that confronted him on every
hand made his warmest friends judiciously conservative. There were no
provisions made for his intellectual or spiritual growth. He was
regarded by both the religious and civil government, under which he
lived, as a heathen. Even his accidental conversion could not change
his condition, nor mollify the feelings of the white Christians (?)
about him. Like the wild animal, he was possessed with the barest
privilege of getting something to eat. Beyond this he had nothing.
Everywhere he turned, he felt the withering glance of a suspicious
people. Prejudice and prescriptive legislation cast their dark shadows
on his daily path; and the conscious superiority of the whites
consigned him to the severest drudgery for his daily bread. The
recollection of the past was distressing, the trials and burdens of
the present were almost unbearable, while the future was one shapeless
horror to him.

Perhaps the lowly and submissive acquiescence of the Negroes, bond and
free, had a salutary effect upon the public mind. There is something
awfully grand in an heroic endurance of undeserved pain. The white
Christians married, and were given in marriage; they sowed and
gathered rich harvests; they bought and built happy homes; beautiful
children were born unto them; they built magnificent churches, and
worshipped the true God: the present was joyous, and the future
peopled with sublime anticipation. The contrast of these two peoples
in their wide-apart conditions must have made men reflective. And
added to this came the loud thunders of the Revolution. Connecticut
had her orators, and they touched the public heart with the glowing
coals of patriotic resolve. They felt the insecurity of their own
liberties, and were now willing to pronounce in favor of the liberty
of the Negroes. The inconsistency of asking for freedom, praying for
freedom, fighting for freedom, and dying for freedom, when they
themselves held thousands of human beings in bondage the most cruel
the world ever knew, helped the cause of the slave. In 1762 the Negro
population of this colony was four thousand five hundred and
ninety.[448] Public sentiment was aroused on the slavery question;
and in October, 1774, the following prohibition was directed at

     "_Act against importation of slaves_--"No Indian, negro, or
     mulatto slave shall at any time hereafter be brought or
     imported into this State, by sea or land, from any place or
     places whatsoever, to be disposed of, left or sold, within
     this State."[449]

The above bill was brief, but pointed; and showed that Connecticut was
the only one of the New-England colonies that had the honesty and
courage to legislate against slavery. And the patriotism and
incomparable valor of the Negro soldiers of Connecticut, who proudly
followed the Continental flag through the fires of the Revolutionary
War, proved that they were worthy of the humane sentiment that
demanded the Act of 1774.


[435] In the Capital Laws of Connecticut, passed on the 1st of
December, 1642, the tenth law reads as follows. "10. If any man
stealeth a man or mankind, he shall be put to death. Ex. 21 16." But
this was the law in Massachusetts, and yet slavery existed there for
one hundred and forty-three (143) years.

[436] Conn. Col. Recs., 1678-89, p. 293.

[437] Ibid., p. 298.

[438] Conn Col Recs., 1689-1706, p. 40

[439] Ibid. 1689-1706, pp. 375, 376.

[440] Conn. Col. Recs., 1706-16, p. 52.

[441] Ibid., pp 51, 53.

[442] Conn. Col. Recs., 1706-16, p. 233.

[443] Conn. Col. Recs., 1717-25, pp. 390, 391.

[444] Ibid., 1726-35, p. 290.

[445] Conn. Col. Recs., 1706-16, pp. 515, 516.

[446] Hazard, State Papers, vol. ii. pp. 1-6.

[447] Conn. Col. Recs., vol. i. p. 349.

[448] Pres. Stiles's MSS.

[449] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. pp. 272, 273.




     1730 AND 1774.

Individual Negroes were held in bondage in Rhode Island from the time
of the formation of the colonial government there, in May, 1647, down
to the close of the eighteenth century. Like her sister colonies, she
early took the poison of the slave-traffic into her commercial life,
and found it a most difficult political task to rid herself of it. The
institution of slavery was never established by statute in this
colony; but it was so firmly rooted five years after the establishment
of the government, that it required the positive and explicit
prohibition of law to destroy it. On the 19th of May, 1652, the
General Court passed the following Act against slavery. It is the
earliest positive prohibition against slavery in the records of modern

     "Whereas, there is a common course practiced amongst English
     men to buy negers, to that end they may have them for
     service or slaves forever; for the preventinge of such
     practices among us, let it be ordered, that no blacke
     mankind or white being forced by covenant bond, or
     otherwise, to serve any man or his assighnes longer than ten
     yeares, or until they come to bee twentie-four yeares of
     age, if they bee taken in under fourteen, from the time of
     their cominge within the liberties of this Collonie. And at
     the end or terme of ten yeares to sett them free, as the
     manner is with the English servants. And that man that will
     not let them goe free, or shall sell them away elsewhere, to
     that end that they may bee enslaved to others for a long
     time, hee or they shall forfeit to the Collonie forty

The above law was admirable, but there was lacking the public
sentiment to give it practical force in the colony. It was never
repealed, and yet slavery flourished under it for a century and a
half. Mr. Bancroft says, "The law was not enforced, but the principle
lived among the people."[451] No doubt the principle lived among the
people; but, practically, they did but little towards emancipating
their slaves until the Revolutionary War cloud broke over their homes.
There is more in the statement Mr. Bancroft makes than the casual
reader is likely to discern.

The men who founded Rhode Island, or Providence Plantation as it was
called early, were of the highest type of Christian gentlemen. They
held advanced ideas on civil government and religious liberty. They
realized, to the full, the enormity of the sinfulness of slavery; but
while they hesitated to strike down what many men pronounced a
necessary social evil, it grew to be an institution that governed more
than it could be governed. The institution was established. Slaves
were upon the farms, in the towns, and in the families, of those who
could afford to buy them. The population of the colony was small; and
to manumit the slaves in whom much money was invested, or to suddenly
cut off the supply from without, was more than the colonists felt able
to perform. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.

For a half-century there was nothing done by the General Court to
check or suppress the slave-trade, though the Act of 1652 remained the
law of the colony. The trade was not extensive. No vessels from Africa
touched at Newport or Providence. The source of supply was Barbadoes;
and, occasionally, some came by land from other colonies. Little was
said for or against slavery during this period. It was a question
difficult to handle. The sentiment against it was almost unanimous. It
was an evil; but how to get rid of it, was the most important thing to
be considered. During this period of perplexity, there was an ominous
silence on slavery. The conservatism of the colonists produced the
opposite in the Negro population. They began to think and talk about
their "rights." The Act of 1652 had begun to bear fruit. At the
expiration of ten years' service, slaves began to demand their
freedom-papers. This set the entire Negro class in a state of
expectancy. Their eagerness for liberty was interpreted by the more
timid among the whites as the signal for disorder. A demand was made
for legislation that would curtail the personal liberties of the
Negroes in the evenings. It is well to produce the Act of Jan. 4,
1703, that the reader may see the similarity of the laws passed in the
New-England colonies against Negroes:--

     "An Act to restrict negroes and Indians for walking in
     unseasonable times in the night, and at other times not

     "Voted, Be it enacted by this Assembly and the authority
     thereof, and it is hereby enacted, If any negroes or
     Indians, either freemen, servants, or slaves, do walk in the
     streets of the town of Newport, of any other town in this
     Collony, after nine of the clock of the night, without a
     certificate from their masters, or some English person of
     said family with them, or some lawfull excuse for the same,
     that it shall be lawfull for any person to take them up and
     deliver them to a Constable, to be secured, or see them
     secured, till the next morning, and then to be brought
     before some Justice of the Peace in said town, to be dealt
     withall, according to the recited Act, which said Justice
     shall cause said person or persons so offending, to be
     whipped at the publick whipping post in said town, not
     exceeding fifteen stripes upon their naked backs, except
     their incorrigible behavior require more. And all free
     negroes and free Indians to be under the same penalty,
     without a lawful excuse for their so being found walking in
     the streets after such unseasonable time of night.

     "And be it further enacted, All and every house keeper,
     within said town or towns or Collony, that shall entertain
     men's servants, either negroes or Indians, without leave of
     their masters or to whom they do belong, after said set time
     of the night before mentioned, and being convicted of the
     same before any one Justice of the Peace, he or they shall
     pay for each his defect five shillings in money, to be for
     the use of the poor in the town where the person lives; and
     if refused to be paid down, to be taken by distraint by a
     warrant to any one Constable, in said town; any Act to the
     contrary notwithstanding."[452]

It is rather remarkable that this Act should prohibit free Negroes and
free Indians from walking the streets after nine o'clock. In this
particular this bill had no equal in any of the other colonies. This
act seemed to be aimed with remarkable precision at the Negroes as a
class, both bond and free. The influence of free Negroes upon the
slaves had not been in harmony with the condition of the latter; and
the above Act was intended as a reminder, in part, to free Negroes
and Indians. It went to show that there was but little meaning in the
word "free," when placed before a Negro's name. No such restriction
could have been placed upon the personal rights of a white colonist;
for, under the democratical government of the colony, a subject was
greater than the government. No law could stand that was inimical to
his rights as a freeman. But the free Negro had no remedy at law. He
was literally between two conditions, bondage and freedom.

Attention has been called to the fact, that the Act of 1652 was never
enforced. In April, 1708, an Act, laying an impost-tax upon slaves
imported into the colony, was passed which really gave legal sanction
to the slave-trade.[453] The following is the Act referred to:--

     "And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that
     whereas, by an act of Assembly, in February last past,
     concerning the importing negroes, one article of said act,
     expressing that three pounds money shall be paid into the
     treasury for each negro imported into this colony; but upon
     exporting such negro in time limited in said act, said three
     pounds were to be drawn out of the treasury again by the

     "It is hereby enacted, that said sum for the future, shall
     not be drawn out, but there continued for the use in said
     act expressed; any act to the contrary,

The Act referred to as having passed "in February last past," cannot
be found.[455] But, from the one quoted above, it is to be inferred
that two objects were aimed at, viz.: First, under the codes of
Massachusetts and Virginia, a drawback was allowed to an importer of a
Negro who exported him within a stated time: the Rhode-Island Act of
"February" had allowed importers this privilege. Second,
notwithstanding the loud-sounding Act of 1652, this colony was not
only willing to levy an impost-tax upon all slaves imported, but, in
her greed for "blood money," even denied the importer the mean
privilege, in exporting his slave, of drawing his rebate! The
consistency of Rhode Island must have been a jewel that the other
colonies did not covet.

The last section of the Act of 1703 was directed against "house
keepers," who were to be fined for entertaining Negro or Indian
slaves after nine o'clock. In 1708 another Act was passed,
supplemental to the one of 1703, and added stripes as a penalty for
non-payment of fines. Many white persons in the larger towns had grown
rather friendly towards the slaves; and, even where they did not speak
out in public against the enslavement of human beings, their hearts
led them to the performance of many little deeds of kindness. They
discovered many noble attributes in the Negro character, and were not
backward in expressing their admiration. When summoned before a
justice, and fined for entertaining Negroes after nine o'clock, they
paid the penalty with a willingness and alacrity that alarmed the
slave-holding caste. This was regarded as treason. Some could not pay
the fine, and, hence, went free. The new Act intended to remedy this.
It was as follows:--

     "An Act to prevent the entertainment of Negroes, &c.

     "Whereas, there is a law in this colony to suppress any
     persons from entertaining of negro slaves or Indian servants
     that are not their own, in their houses, or unlawfully
     letting them have strong drink, whereby they were damnified,
     such persons were to pay a fine of five shillings, and so by
     that means go unpunished, there being no provision made [of]
     what corporeal punishment they should have, if they have not
     wherewith to pay:

     "Therefore, it is now enacted, that any such delinquent that
     shall so offend, if he or she shall not have or procure the
     sum of ten shillings for each defect, to be paid down before
     the authority before whom he or she hath been legally
     convicted, he or she shall be by order of said authority,
     publicly whipped upon their naked back, not exceeding ten
     stripes; any act to the contrary, notwithstanding. "[456]

It is certain that what little anti-slavery sentiment there was in the
British colonies in North America during the first century of their
existence received no encouragement from Parliament. From the
beginning, the plantations in this new world in the West were regarded
as the hotbeds in which slavery would thrive, and bring forth abundant
fruit, to the great gain of the English government. All the
appointments made by the crown were expected to be in harmony with the
plans to be carried out in the colonies. From the settlement of
Jamestown down to the breaking out of the war, and the signing of the
Declaration of Independence, not a single one of the royal governors
ever suffered his sense of duty to the crowned heads to be warped by
local views on "the right of slavery." The Board of Trade was
untiring in its attention to the colonies. And no subject occupied
greater space in the correspondence of that colossal institution than
slavery. The following circular letter, addressed to the governors of
the colonies, is worthy of reproduction here, rather than in the
Appendix. It is a magnificent window, that lets the light in upon a
dark subject. It gives a very fair idea of the profound concern that
the home government had in foreign and domestic slavery.


     "APRIL 17, 1708.

     "Sir: Some time since, the Queen was pleased to refer to us
     a petition relating to the trade of Africa, upon which we
     have heard what the Royal African Company, and the separate
     traders had to offer; and having otherwise informed
     ourselves, in the best manner we could, of the present state
     of that trade, we laid the same before Her Majesty. The
     consideration of that trade came afterwards into the house
     of commons, and a copy of our report was laid before the
     house; but the session being then too far spent to enter
     upon a matter of so great weight, and other business
     intervening, no progress was made therein. However, it being
     absolutely necessary that a trade so beneficial to the
     kingdom should be carried on to the greatest advantage,
     there is no doubt but the consideration thereof will come
     early before the Parliament at their next meeting; and as
     the well supplying of the plantations and colonies with
     sufficient numbers of negroes at reasonable prices, is in
     our opinion the chief point to be considered in regard to
     that trade, and as hitherto we have not been able to know
     how they have been supplied by the company, or by separate
     traders, otherwise than according to the respective accounts
     given by them, which for the most part are founded upon
     calculations made from their exports on one side and the
     other, and do differ so very much, that no certain judgment
     can be made upon those accounts.

     "Wherefore, that we may be able at the next meeting of the
     Parliament to lay before both houses when required, an exact
     and authentic state of that trade, particularly in regard to
     the several plantations and colonies: we do hereby desire
     and strictly require you, that upon the receipt hereof, you
     do inform yourself from the proper officers or otherwise, in
     the best manner you can, what number of negroes have been
     yearly imported directly from Africa into Jamaica, since the
     24th of June, 1698, to the 25th of December, 1707, and at
     what rate per head they have been sold each year, one with
     another, distinguishing the numbers that have been imported
     on account of the Royal African Company, and those which
     have been imported by separate traders; as likewise the
     rates at which such negroes have been sold by the company
     and by separate traders. We must recommend it to your care
     to be as exact and diligent therein as possibly you can, and
     with the first opportunity to transmit to us such accounts
     as aforesaid, that they may arrive here in due time, as also
     duplicates by the first conveyance.

     "And that we may be the better able to make a true judgment
     of the present settlement of that trade, we must further
     recommend it to you to confer with some of the principal
     planters and inhabitants within your government touching
     that matter, and to let us know how the negro trade was
     carried on, and the island of Jamaica supplied with negroes
     till the year 1698, when that trade was laid open by act of
     Parliament; how it has been carried on, and negroes supplied
     since that time, or in what manner they think the said trade
     may best be managed for the benefit of the plantations.

     "We further desire you will inform us what number of ships,
     if any, are employed from Jamaica to the coast of Africa in
     the negro trade, and how many separate traders are concerned

     "Lastly, whatever accounts you shall from time to time send
     us touching these matters of the negro trade, we desire that
     the same may be distinct, and not intermixed with other
     matters; and that for the time to come, you do transmit to
     us the like half yearly accounts of negroes, by whom
     imported and at what rates sold; the first of such
     subsequent accounts, to begin from Christmas, 1707, to which
     time those now demanded, are to be given. So we bid you
     heartily farewell,

                    "Your very loving friends,
                                        PH. MEADOWS,
                                        I. PULTENEY,
                                        R. MONCKTON.

     "P.S. We expect the best account you can give us, with that
     expedition which the shortness of the time requires.

     "Memorandum. This letter, mutatis mutandis, was writ to the
     Governors of Barbadoes, the Leeward Islands, Bermuda, New
     York, New Jersey, Maryland, the President of the Council of
     Virginia, the Governor of New Hampshire and the
     Massachusetts Bay, the Deputy Governor of Pennsylvania, the
     Lords proprietors of Carolina, the Governors and Companies
     of Connecticut and Rhode Island."[457]

The good Queen of England was interested in the traffic in human
beings; and although the House of Commons was too busy to give
attention to "a matter of so great weight," the "Board of Trade" felt
that it was "absolutely necessary that a trade so beneficial to the
kingdom should be carried on to the greatest advantage." England never
gave out a more cruel document than the above circular letter. To read
it now, under the glaring light of the nineteenth century, will almost
cause the English-speaking people of the world to doubt even "the
truth of history." Slavery did not exist at sufferance. It was a crime
against the weak, ignorant, and degraded children of Africa,
systematically perpetrated by an organized Christian government,
backed by an army that grasped the farthest bounds of civilization,
and a navy that overshadowed the oceans.

The reply of the governor of Rhode Island was not as encouraging as
their lordships could have wished.


     "May it please your Lordships: In obedience to your
     Lordships' commands of the 15th of April last, to the trade
     of Africa.

     "We, having inspected into the books of Her Majesty's
     custom, and informed ourselves from the proper officers
     thereof, by strict inquiry, can lay before your Lordships no
     other account of that trade than the following, viz:

     "1. That from the 24th of June, 1698, to the 25th of
     December, 1707, we have not had any negroes imported into
     this colony from the coast of Africa, neither on the account
     of the Royal African Company, or by any of the separate

     "2. That on the 30th day of May, 1696, arrived at this port
     from the coast of Africa, the brigantine Seaflower, Thomas
     Windsor, master, having on board her forty-seven negroes,
     fourteen of which he disposed of in this colony, for betwixt
     £30 and £35 per head; the rest he transported by land for
     Boston, where his owners lived.

     "3. That on the 10th of August, the 19th and 28th of
     October, in the year 1700, sailed from this port three
     vessels, directly for the coast of Africa; the two former
     were sloops, the one commanded by Nicho's Hillgroue, the
     other by Jacob Bill; the last a ship, commanded by Edwin
     Carter, who was part owner of the said three vessels, in
     company with Thomas Bruster, and John Bates, merchants, of
     Barbadoes, and separate traders from thence to the coast of
     Africa; the said three vessels arriving safe to Barbadoes
     from the coast of Africa, where they made the disposition of
     their negroes.

     "4. That we have never had any vessels from the coast of
     Africa to this colony, nor any trade there, the brigantine
     above mentioned, excepted.

     "5. That the whole and only supply of negroes to this
     colony, is from the island of Barbadoes; from whence is
     imported one year with another, betwixt twenty and thirty;
     and if those arrive well and sound, the general price is
     from £30 to £40 per head.

     "According to your Lordships' desire, we have advised with
     the chiefest of our planters, and find but small
     encouragement for that trade to this colony; since by the
     best computation we can make, there would not be disposed in
     this colony above twenty or thirty at the most, annually,
     the reasons of which are chiefly to be attributed to the
     general dislike our planters have for them, by reason of
     then turbulent and unruly tempers.

     "And that most of our planters that are able and willing to
     purchase any of them, are supplied by the offspring of those
     they have already, which increase daily; and that the
     inclination of our people in general, is to employ white
     servants before Negroes.

     "Thus we have given our Lordships a true and faithful
     account of what hath occurred, relating to the trade of
     Africa from this colony; and if, for the future, our trade
     should be extended to those parts, we shall not fail
     transmitting accounts thereof according to your Lordships'
     orders, and that at all times, be ready to show ourselves,

                    "Your Lordships' obedient servant,
                              "SAMUEL CRANSTON, _Governor_.

     "NEWPORT, ON RHODE ISLAND, December 5, 1708."[458]

So in nine years there had been no Negro slaves imported into the
colony; that in 1696 fourteen had been sold to the colonists for
between thirty pounds and thirty-five pounds apiece; that this was the
only time a vessel direct from the coast of Africa had touched in this
colony; that the supply of Negro slaves came from Barbadoes, and that
the colonists who would purchase slaves were supplied by the offspring
of those already in the plantation; and that the colonists preferred
white servants to black slaves. The best that can be said of Gov.
Cranston's letter is, it was very respectful in tone. The following
table was one of the enclosures of the letter. It is given in full on
account of its general interest:--

     "A list of the number of freemen and militia, with the
     servants, white and black, in the respective towns; as also
     the number of inhabitants in Her Majesty's colony of Rhode
     Island, &c., December the 5th, 1708.

     |             |       |        |         |         |   TOTAL   |
     |             |       |        |SERVANTS.|SERVANTS.|INHABITANTS|
     | Newport     |   190 |    358 |   20    |   220   |    2,203  |
     | Providence  |   241 |    283 |    6    |     7   |    1,446  |
     | Portsmouth  |    98 |    104 |    8    |    40   |      628  |
     | Warwick     |    80 |     95 |    4    |    10   |      480  |
     | Westerly    |    95 |    100 |    5    |    20   |      570  |
     | New Shoreham|    38 |     47 |   --    |     6   |      208  |
     | Kingstown   |   200 |    282 |   --    |    85   |    1,200  |
     | Jamestown   |    33 |     28 |    9    |    32   |      206  |
     | Greenwich   |    40 |     65 |    3    |     6   |      240  |
     |   Total     | 1,015 |  1,362 |   56    |   426   |    7,181  |

     "It is to be understood that all men within this colony,
     from the age of sixteen to the age of sixty years, are of
     the militia, so that all freemen above and under said ages
     are inclusive in the abovesaid number of the militia.

     "As to the increase or decrease of the inhabitants within
     five years last past, we are not capable to give an exact
     account, by reason there was no list ever taken before this
     (the militia excepted), which hath increased since the 14th
     of February, 1704-5 (at which time a list was returned to
     your Lordships), the number of 287.

                                        "SAMUEL CRANSTON, _Governor_.

     "NEWPORT, ON RHODE ISLAND, December the 5th, 1708."[459]

The Board of Trade replied to Gov. Cranston, under date of "Whitehall,
January 16th, 1709-10.," saying they should be glad to hear from him
"in regard to Negroes," etc.[460]

The letter of inquiry from the Board of Trade imparted to
slave-dealers an air of importance and respectability. The institution
was not near so bad as it had been thought to be; the royal family
were interested in its growth; it was a gainful enterprise; and, more
than all, as a matter touching the conscience, the Bible and universal
practice had sanctified the institution. To attempt to repeal the Act
of 1652 would have been an occasion unwisely furnished for
anti-slavery men to use to a good purpose. The bill was a dead letter,
and its enemies concluded to let it remain on the statute-book of the

The experiment of levying an impost-tax upon Negro slaves imported
into the colony had proved an enriching success. After 1709 the
slave-trade became rather brisk. As the population increased, public
improvements became necessary,--there were new public buildings in
demand, roads to be repaired, bridges to be built, and the poor and
afflicted to be provided for. To do all this, taxes had to be levied
upon the freeholders. A happy thought struck the leaders of the
government. If men _would_ import slaves, and the freemen of the
colony _would_ buy them, they should pay a tax as a penalty for their
sin.[461] And the people easily accommodated their views to the state
of the public treasury.

Attention has been called already to the impost Act of 1708. On the
27th of February, 1712, the General Assembly passed "_An Act for
preventing clandestine importations and exportations of passengers,
or negroes, or Indian slaves into or out of this colony_," etc. The
Act is quite lengthy. It required masters of vessels to report to the
governor the names and number of all passengers landed into the
colony, and not to carry away any person without a pass or permission
from the governor, upon pain of a fine of fifty pounds current money
of New England. Persons desiring to leave the colony had to give
public notice for ten days in the most public place in the colony; and
it specifies the duties of naval officers, and closes with the
following in reference to Negro slaves, calling attention to the
impost Act of 1708.--

     "It was then and there enacted, that for all negroes
     imported into this colony, there shall be £3 current money,
     of New England, paid into the general treasury of this
     colony for each negro, by the owner or importer of said
     negro; reference being had unto the said act will more fully

     "But were laid under no obligation by the said act, to give
     an account to the Governor what negroes they did import,
     whereby the good intentions of said act were wholly
     frustrated and brought to no effect, and by the
     clandestinely hiding and conveying said negroes out of the
     town into the country, where they lie concealed:

     "For the prevention of which for the future, it is hereby
     enacted by the authority aforesaid, that from and after the
     publication of this act, all masters of vessels that shall
     come into the harbor of Newport, or into any port of this
     government, that hath imported any negroes or Indian slaves,
     shall, before he puts on shore in any port of this
     government, or in the town of Newport, any negroes or Indian
     slaves, or suffers any negroes or Indian slaves to be put on
     shore by any person whatsoever, from on board his said
     vessel, deliver unto the naval officer in the town of
     Newport, a fair manifest under his hand, which shall specify
     the full number of negroes and Indian slaves he hath
     imported in his said vessel, of what sex, with their names,
     the names of their owners, or of those they are consigned
     to; to the truth of which manifest so given in, the said
     master shall give his corporal oath, or solemn engagement
     unto the said naval officer, who is hereby empowered to
     administer the same unto him, which said manifest being duly
     sworn unto, the said naval officer shall make a fair entry
     thereof in a book, which shall be prepared for that use,
     whereunto the said mister shall set his hand....

     "And when the said master hath delivered his said manifest
     and sworn to it, as abovesaid, and before he hath landed on
     shore, or suffer to be landed, any negroes or Indian slaves
     as aforesaid, he, the said master, shall pay to the naval
     officer the sum of £3 current money, of New England, for
     each negro; and the sum of forty shillings of the like money
     for each Indian that shall be by him imported into this
     colony, or that shall be brought into this colony in the
     vessel whereof he is master.

     "But if he hath not ready money to pay down, as aforesaid,
     he shall then give unto the said naval officer a bill, as
     the law directs, to pay unto him the full sum above
     mentioned, for each and every negro and Indian imported as
     above said, which bill shall run payable in ten days from
     the entering the manifest as above said; and if at the end
     of the ten days, the said master shall refuse to pay the
     full contents of his bill, that then the said naval officer
     shall deliver the said bill unto the Governor, or in his
     absence, to the next officer of the peace, as aforesaid who
     shall immediately proceed with the said master in the manner
     above said, by committing of him to Her Majesty's jail,
     where he shall remain without bail or mainprize, until he
     hath paid unto the naval officer, for the use of this
     colony, double the sum specified in his said bill, and all
     charges that shall accrue thereby; which money shall be paid
     out by the said naval officer, as the General Assembly of
     this colony shall order the same.

     "And it is further enacted, that the naval officer who now
     is, and who ever shall be for the future put into said
     office, shall at his entering into the said office, take his
     engagement to the faithful performance of the above said
     acts. And for his encouragement, shall have such fees as are
     hereafter mentioned at the end of this act.

     "And for the more effectual putting in execution those acts,
     and that none may plead ignorance:

     "It is enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all masters
     of vessels trading to this government, shall give bond, with
     sufficient surety in the naval office, for the sum of £50,
     current money of New England."[462]

We have omitted a large portion of the bill, because of its length;
but have quoted sufficient to give an excellent idea of the marvellous
caution taken by the good Christians of Rhode Island to get every cent
due them on account of the slave trade, which their prohibition did
not prohibit. It was a carefully drawn bill for those days.

The diligence of the public officers in the seaport town of Newport
was richly rewarded. The slave-trade now had the sanction and
regulation of colonial law. The demand for Negro laborers was not
affected in the least, while traders did not turn aside on account of
three pounds per head tax upon every slave sold into Rhode Island. On
the 5th of July, 1715, the General Assembly appropriated a portion of
the fund derived from the impost-tax on imported Negroes to repairing
the streets; and then strengthened and amplified the original law on
impost-duties, etc. The following is the Act:--

     "This Assembly, taking into consideration that Newport is
     the metropolitan town in this colony, and that all the
     courts of judicature within this colony are held there; and
     also, that it is the chief market town in the government;
     and that it hath very miry streets, especially that leading
     from the ferry, or landing place, up to the colony house, so
     that the members of the courts are very much discommoded
     therewith, and is a great hindrance to the transporting of
     provisions, &c., in and out of the said towns, to the great
     loss of the inhabitants thereof:--

     "Therefore, be it enacted by this present Assembly, and by
     the authority thereof it is enacted, that the sum of £289
     17s. 3d., now lying in the naval officer's hand, (being
     duties paid to this colony for importing of slaves), shall
     be, and is hereby granted to the town of Newport, towards
     paving the streets of Newport, from the ferry place, up to
     the colony house, in said Newport; to be improved by their
     directors, such as they shall, at their quarter meetings
     appoint for the same.

     "And whereas, there was an act of Assembly, made at Newport
     in the year 1701-2, for the better preventing of fraud, and
     cozen, in paying the duties for importing of negro and
     Indian slaves into this colony, and the same being found in
     some clauses deficient, for the effecting of the full intent
     and purpose thereof:--

     "Therefore, it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid,
     that every master of ship, or vessel, merchant or other
     person or persons, importing or bringing into this colony
     any negro slave or slaves of what age soever, shall enter
     their number, names, and sex in the naval office; and the
     master shall insert the same in the manifest of his lading,
     and shall pay to the naval officer in Newport, £3 per head,
     for the use of this colony, for every negro, male or female,
     so imported, or brought in. And every such master, merchant,
     or other person, refusing or neglecting to pay the said duty
     within ten days after they are brought ashore in said
     colony, then the said naval officer, on knowledge thereof,
     shall enter an action and sue [for] the recovery of the
     same, against him or them, in an action of debt, in any of
     His Majesty's courts of record, within this colony.

     "And if any master of ship or vessel, merchant or others,
     shall refuse or neglect to make entry, as aforesaid, of all
     negroes imported in such ship or vessel, or be convicted of
     not entering the full number, such master, merchant, or
     other person, shall forfeit and pay the sum of £6, for every
     one that he shall refuse or neglect to make entry, of one
     moiety thereof to His Majesty, for and towards the support
     of the government of this colony; and the other moiety to
     him or them that shall inform or sue for the same; to be
     recovered by the naval officer in manner as above said.

     "And also, all persons that shall bring any negro or negroes
     into this colony, from any of His Majesty's provinces
     adjoining, shall in like manner enter the number, names and
     sex, of all such negroes, in the above said office, under
     the penalty of the like forfeiture, as above said, and to be
     recovered in like manner by the naval officer, and shall pay
     into the said office within the time above limited, the like
     sum of £3 per head; and for default of payment, the same to
     be recovered by the naval officer in like manner as

     "Provided always, that if any gentleman, who is not a
     resident in this colony, and shall pass through any part
     thereof, with a waiting man or men with him, and doth not
     reside in this colony six months, then such waiting men
     shall be free from the above said duty; the said gentleman
     giving his solemn engagement, that they are not for sale;
     any act or acts, clause or clauses of acts, to the contrary
     hereof, in any ways, notwithstanding.

     "Provided, that none of the clauses in the aforesaid act,
     shall extend to any masters or vessels, who import negroes
     into this colony, directly from the coast of Africa.

     "And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that
     the money raised by the impost of negroes, as aforesaid,
     shall be disposed of as followeth, viz.:

     "The one moiety of the said impost money to be for the use
     of the town of Newport, to be disposed of by the said town
     towards paving the streets of said town, and for no other
     use whatsoever, for and during the full time of seven years
     from the publication of this act, and that £60 of said
     impost money be for, and towards the erecting of a
     substantial bridge over Potowomut river, at or near the
     house of Ezekiel Hunt, in East Greenwich, and to no other
     use whatsoever.

     "And that Major Thomas Frye and Capt. John Eldredge be the
     persons appointed to order and oversee the building of said
     bridge, and to render an account thereof, to the Assembly,
     and the said Major Frye and Capt. Eldredge to be paid for
     their trouble and pains, out of the remaining part of said
     impost money, and the remainder of said impost money to be
     disposed of as the Assembly shall from time to time see

And in October, 1717, the following order passed the assembly:--

     "It is ordered by this Assembly, that the naval officer pay
     out of the impost money on slaves, £100, to the overseer
     that oversees the paving of the streets of Newport, to be
     improved for paying the charges of paving said

The fund accruing from the impost-duty on slaves was regarded with
great favor everywhere, especially in Newport. It had cleaned her
streets and lightened the burdens of taxation which rested so
grievously upon the freeholders. There was no voice lifted against the
iniquitous traffic, and the conscience of the colony was at rest. In
June, 1729, the following Act was passed:--

     "An Act disposing of the money raised in this colony on
     importing negro slaves into this colony.

     "Forasmuch as there is an act of Assembly made in this
     colony the 27th day of February, A.D. 1711, laying a duty of
     £3 per head on all slaves imported into this colony, as is
     in said act is expressed; and several things of a public
     nature requiring a fund to be set apart for carrying them

     "Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, and by the
     authority of the same it is enacted and declared, that
     henceforward all monies that shall be raised in this colony
     by the aforesaid account, on any slaves imported into this
     colony, shall be employed, the one moiety thereof for the
     use of the town of Newport, towards paving and amending the
     streets thereof, and the other moiety, for, and towards the
     support, repairing and mending the great bridges on the
     main, in the country roads, and for no other use whatsoever;
     any thing in the aforesaid act to the contrary, in anywise

It is wonderful how potential the influence of money is upon mankind.
The sentiments of the good people had been scattered to the winds; and
they had found a panacea for the violated convictions of the wrong of
slavery in the reduction of their taxes, new bridges, and cleansed
streets. Conscience had been bribed into acquiescence, and the
iniquity thrived. There were those who still endeavored to escape the
vigilance of the naval officers, and save the three pounds on each
slave. But the diligence and liberality of the authorities were not to
be outdone by the skulking stinginess of Negro-smugglers. On the 18th
of June, 1723, the General Assembly passed the following order:--

     "Voted, that Mr. Daniel Updike, the attorney general, be,
     and he hereby is ordered, appointed and empowered to gather
     in the money due to this colony, for the importation of
     negroes, and to prosecute, sue and implead such person or
     persons as shall refuse to pay the same; and that he be
     allowed five shillings per head, for every slave that shall
     be hereafter imported into this colony, out of the impost
     money; and that he be also allowed ten per cent. more for
     all such money as he shall recover of the outstanding debts;
     and in all respects to have the like power as was given to
     the naval officer by the former act."[466]

The above illustrates the spirit of the times. There was a mania for
this impost-tax upon stolen Negroes, and the law was to be enforced
against all who sought to evade its requirements. But the Assembly had
a delicate sense of equity, as well as an inexorable opinion of the
precise demands of the law in its letter and spirit. On the 19th of
June, 1716, the following was passed:--

     "It is ordered by this Assembly, that the duty of two
     sucking slaves imported into this colony by Col. James
     Vaughan, of Barbadoes, be remitted to the said James

It was not below the dignity of the Legislature of the colony of Rhode
Island to pass a bill of relief for Col. Vaughan, and refund to him
the six pounds he had paid to land his two sucking Negro baby slaves!
In June, 1731, the naval officer, James Cranston, called the attention
of the Assembly to the case of one Mr. Royall,--who had imported
forty-five Negroes into the colony, and after a short time sold
sixteen of them into the Province of Massachusetts Bay, where there
was also an impost-tax,--and asked directions. The Assembly replied as

     "Upon consideration whereof, it is voted and ordered, that
     the duty to this colony of the said sixteen negroes
     transported into the Massachusetts Bay, as aforesaid, be
     taken off and remitted; but that he collect the duty of the
     other twenty-nine."[468]

But the zeal of the colony in seeking the enforcement of the
impost-law created a strong influence against it from without; and by
order of the king the entire law was repealed in May, 1732.[469]

The cruel practice of manumitting aged and helpless slaves became so
general in this plantation, that the General Assembly passed a law
regulating it, in February, 1728. It was borrowed very largely from a
similar law in Massachusetts, and reads as follows:--

     "An Act relating to freeing mulatto and negro slaves.

     "Forasmuch, as great charge, trouble and inconveniences have
     arisen to the inhabitants of divers towns in this colony, by
     the manumitting and setting free mulatto and negro slaves;
     for remedying whereof, for the future,--

     "Be it enacted by the General Assembly of this colony, and
     by the authority of the same it is enacted, that no mulatto
     or negro slave, shall be hereafter manumitted, discharged or
     set free, or at liberty, until sufficient security be given
     to the town treasurer of the town or place where such person
     dwells, in a valuable sum of not less than £100, to secure
     and indemnify the town or place from all charge for, or
     about such mulatto or negro, to be manumitted and set at
     liberty, in case he or she by sickness, lameness or
     otherwise, be rendered incapable to support him or herself.

     "And no mulatto or negro hereafter manumitted, shall be
     deemed or accounted free, for whom security shall not be
     given as aforesaid, but shall be the proper charge of their
     respective masters or mistresses, in case they should stand
     in need of relief and support; notwithstanding any
     manumission or instrument of freedom to them made and given;
     and shall be liable at all times to be put forth to service
     by the justices of the peace, or wardens of the town."[470]

It is very remarkable that there were no lawyers to challenge the
legality of such laws as the above, which found their way into the
statute books of all the New-England colonies. There could he no
conditional emancipation. If a slave were set at liberty, why he was
free, and, if he afterwards became a pauper, was entitled to the same
care as a white freeman. But it is not difficult to see that the
status of a free Negro was difficult of definition. When the Negro
slave grew old and infirm, his master no longer cared for him, and the
public was protected against him by law. Death was his most beneficent

In October, 1743, a widow lady named Comfort Taylor, of Bristol
County, Massachusetts Bay, sued and obtained judgment against a Negro
named Cuff Borden for two hundred pounds, and cost of suit "for a
grievous trespass." Cuff was a slave. An ordinary execution would have
gone against his person: he would have been imprisoned, and nothing
more. In view of this condition of affairs, Mrs. Taylor petitioned the
General Assembly of Rhode Island, praying that authority be granted
the sheriff to sell Cuff, as other property, to satisfy the judgment.
The Assembly granted her prayer as follows:--

     "Upon consideration whereof, it is voted and resolved, that
     the sheriff of the said county of Newport, when he shall
     receive the execution against the said negro Cuff, be, and
     he is hereby fully empowered to sell said negro Cuff as
     other personal estate: and after the fine of £20 be paid
     into the general treasury, and all other charges deducted
     out of the price of said negro, the remainder to be
     appropriated in said satisfying said execution."[471]

This case goes to show that in Rhode Island Negro slaves were rated,
at law, as chattel property, and could be taken in execution to
satisfy debts as other personal property.

A great many slaves availed themselves of frequent opportunities of
going away in privateers and other vessels. With but little before
them in this life, they were even willing to risk being sold into
slavery at some other place, that they might experience a change. They
made excellent seamen, and were greatly desired by masters of vessels.
This went on for a long time. The loss to the colony was great; and
the General Assembly passed the subjoined bill as a check to the
stampede that had become quite general:--


     "Whereas, it frequently happens that the commanders of
     privateers, and masters of other vessels, do carry off
     slaves that are the property of inhabitants of this colony,
     and that without the privity or consent of their masters or
     mistresses; and whereas, there is no law of this colony for
     remedying so great an evil,--

     "Be it therefore enacted by this General Assembly, and by
     the authority of the same, it is enacted, that from and
     after the publication of this act, if any commander of a
     private man of war, or master of a merchant ship or other
     vessel, shall knowingly carry away from, or out of this
     colony, a slave or slaves, the property of any inhabitant
     thereof, the commander of such privateer, or the master of
     the said merchant ship or vessel, shall pay, as a fine, the
     sum of £500, to be recovered by the general treasurer of
     this colony for the time being, by bill, plaint, or
     information in any court of record within this colony.

     "And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that
     the owner or owners of any slave or slaves that may be
     carried away, as aforesaid, shall have a right of action
     against the commander of the said privateer, or master of
     the said merchant ship or vessel, or against the owner or
     owners of the same, in which the said slave or slaves is, or
     are carried away, and by the said action or suit, recover of
     him or them, double damages.

     "And whereas, disputes may arise respecting the knowledge
     that the owner or owners, commanders or masters of the said
     private men of war, merchant ships or vessels may have of
     any slave or slaves being on board a privateer, or merchant
     ship or vessel,--

     "Be it therefore further enacted, and by the authority
     aforesaid, it is enacted, that when any owner or owners of
     any slave or slaves in this colony, shall suspect that a
     slave or slaves, to him, her or them belonging, is, or are,
     on board any private man of war, or merchant ship or vessel,
     the owner or owners of such slave or slaves may make
     application, either to the owner or owners, or to the
     commander or master of the said ship or vessel, before its
     sailing, and inform him or them thereof, which being done in
     the presence of one or more substantial witness or
     witnesses, the said information or application shall amount
     to, and be construed, deemed and taken to be a full proof of
     his or their knowledge thereof, provided, the said slave or
     slaves shall go in any such ship or vessel.

     "And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that
     if the owner or owners of any slave or slaves in this
     colony, or any other person or persons, legally authorized
     by the owner or owners of a slave or slaves, shall attempt
     to go on board any privateer, or a merchant ship or vessel,
     to search for his, her or their slave or slaves, and the
     commander or master of such ship or vessel, or other officer
     or officers on board the same, in the absence of the
     commander or master, shall refuse to permit such owner or
     owners of a slave or slaves, or other person or persons,
     authorized, as aforesaid, to go on board and search for the
     slave or slaves by him, her or them missed, or found absent,
     such refusal shall be deemed, construed, and taken to be
     full proof that the owner or owners, commander or master of
     the said privateer or other ship or vessel, hath, or have a
     real knowledge that such slave or slaves is, or are on

     "And this act shall be forthwith published, and therefrom
     have, and take force and effect, in and throughout this

     "Accordingly the said act was published by the beat of drum,
     on the 17th day of June, 1757, a few minutes before noon, by

                                        "THO. WARD, Secretary."[472]

The education of the Negro slave in this colony was thought to be
inimical to the best interests of the master class. Ignorance was the
_sine qua non_ of slavery. The civil government and ecclesiastical
establishment ground him, body and spirit, as between "the upper and
nether millstones." But the Negro was a good listener, and was not
unconscious of what was going on around him. He was neither blind nor

The fires of the Revolutionary struggle began to melt the frozen
feelings of the colonists towards the slaves. When they began to feel
the British lion clutching at the throat of their own liberties, the
bondage of the Negro stared them in the face. They knew the Negro's
power of endurance, his personal courage, his admirable promptitude in
the performance of difficult tasks, and his desperate spirit when
pressed too sharply. The thought of such an ally for the English army,
such an element in their rear, was louder in their souls than the roar
of the enemy's guns. The act of June, 1774, shows how deeply the
people felt on the subject.


     Whereas, the inhabitants of America are generally engaged in
     the preservation of their own rights and liberties, among
     which, that of personal freedom must be considered as the
     greatest; as those who are desirous of enjoying all the
     advantages of liberty themselves, should be willing to
     extend personal liberty to others;--

     "Therefore, be it enacted by this General Assembly, and by
     the authority thereof it is enacted, that for the future, no
     negro or mulatto slave shall be brought into this colony;
     and in case any slave shall hereafter be brought in, he or
     she shall be, and are hereby, rendered immediately free, so
     far as respects personal freedom, and the enjoyment of
     private property, in the same manner as the native Indians.

     "Provided, nevertheless, that this law shall not extend to
     servants of persons travelling through this colony, who are
     not inhabitants thereof, and who carry them out with them,
     when they leave the same.

     "Provided, also, that nothing in this act shall extend, or
     be deemed to extend, to any negro or mulatto slave,
     belonging to any inhabitant of either of the British
     colonies, islands or plantations, who shall come into this
     colony, with an intention to settle or reside, for a number
     of years, therein; but such negro or mulatto, so brought
     into this colony, by such person inclining to settle or
     reside therein, shall be, and remain, in the same situation,
     and subject in like manner to their master or mistress, as
     they were in the colony or plantation from whence they

     "Provided, nevertheless, that if any person, so coming into
     this colony, to settle or reside, as aforesaid, shall
     afterwards remove out of the same, such person shall be
     obliged to carry all such negro or mulatto slaves, as also
     all such as shall be born from them, out of the colony with
     them. "Provided, also, that nothing in this act shall
     extend, or be deemed to extend, to any negro or mulatto
     slave brought from the coast of Africa, into the West
     Indies, on board any vessel belonging to this colony, and
     which negro or mulatto slave could not be disposed of in the
     West Indies, but shall be brought into this colony.

     "Provided, that the owner of such negro or mulatto slave
     give bond to the general treasurer of the said colony,
     within ten days after such arrival in the sum of £100,
     lawful money, for each and every such negro or mulatto slave
     so brought in, that such negro or mulatto slave shall be
     exported out of the colony, within one year from the date of
     such bond; if such negro or mulatto be alive, and in a
     condition to be removed.

     "Provided, also, that nothing in this act shall extend, or
     be deemed to extend, to any negro or mulatto slave that may
     be on board any vessel belonging to this colony, now at sea,
     in her present voyage."[473]

In 1730 the population of Rhode Island was, whites, 15,302; Indians,
985; Negroes, 1,648; total, 17,935. In 1749 there were 28,439 whites,
and 3,077 Negroes. Indians were not given this year. In 1756 the
whites numbered 35,939, the Negroes 4,697. In 1774 Rhode Island
contained 9,439 families, Newport had 9,209 inhabitants. The whites in
the entire colony numbered 54,435, the Negroes, 3,761, and the
Indians, 1,482.[474] It will be observed that the Negro population
fell off between the years 1749 and 1774. It is accounted for by the
fact mentioned before,--that many ran away on ships that came into the

The Negroes received better treatment at this time than at any other
period during the existence of the colony. There was a general
relaxation of the severe laws that had been so rigidly enforced. They
took great interest in public meetings, devoured with avidity every
scrap of news regarding the movements of the Tory forces, listened
with rapt attention to the patriotic conversations of their masters,
and when the storm-cloud of war broke were as eager to fight for the
independence of North America as their masters.


[450] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. i. p. 243.

[451] Bancroft, vol. i. 5th ed. p. 175.

[452] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. iii. pp. 492, 493.

[453] There is no law making the manufacturing of whiskey legal in the
United States; and yet the United-States government makes laws to
regulate the business, and collects a revenue from it. It exists by
and with the consent of the government, and, in a sense, is legal.

[454] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. iv. p. 34.

[455] I have searched diligently for the Act of February, among the
Rhode-Island Collections and Records, but have not found it. It was
evidently more comprehensive than the above Act.

[456] R.I. Col. Recs., vol iv. p. 50.

[457] R.I. Col. Recs, vol. iv. pp. 53, 54.

[458] R.I. Coll. Recs., vol. iv. pp. 54, 55.

[459] R.I. Col. Recs., vol iv. p. 59.

[460] J. Carter Brown's Manuscripts, vol. viii. Nos. 506, 512.

[461] It was a specious sort of reasoning. I learn that the bank over
on the corner is to be robbed to-night at twelve o'clock. Shall I go
and rob it at ten o'clock; because, if I do not do so, another person
will, two hours later?

[462] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. iv. pp. 133-135.

[463] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. iv. pp. 191-193.

[464] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. iv p. 225.

[465] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. iv. pp. 423, 424.

[466] Ibid., p. 330.

[467] Ibid., vol. iv. p. 209.

[468] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. iv. p. 454.

[469] Ibid., vol. iv. p. 471.

[470] Ibid., vol. iv. pp. 415, 416.

[471] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. v. pp. 72, 73.

[472] R.I. Col. Recs., vol vi. pp. 64, 65.

[473] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. vii. pp. 251, 252.

[474] American Annals, vol ii. pp. 107,155, 156, 184, and 265.





The colony of New Jersey passed into the control of the English in
1664; and the first grant of political powers, upon which the
government was erected, was conveyed by the Duke of York to Berkeley
and Carteret during the same year. In the "Proprietary Articles of
Concession," the words _servants, slaves, and Christian servants_
occur. It was the intention of the colonists to draw a distinction
between "_servants for a term of years_," and "_servants for life_,"
between white servants and black slaves, between Christians and

When slavery was introduced into Jersey is not known.[475] There is no
doubt but that it made its appearance there almost as early as in New
Netherlands. The Dutch, the Quakers, and the English held slaves. But
the system was milder here than in any of the other colonies. The
Negroes were scattered among the families of the whites, and were
treated with great humanity. Legislation on the subject of slavery did
not begin until the middle of the eighteenth century, and it was not
severe. Before this time, say three-quarters of a century, a few Acts
had been passed calculated to protect the slave element from the sin
of intoxication. In 1675 an Act passed, imposing fines and punishments
upon any white person who should transport, harbor, or entertain
"apprentices, servants, or slaves." It was perfectly natural that the
Negroes should be of a nomadic disposition. They had no homes, no
wives, no children,--nothing to attach them to a locality. Those who
resided near the seacoast watched, with unflagging interest, the
coming and going of the mysterious white-winged vessels. They hung
upon the storied lips of every fugitive, and dreamed of lands afar
where they might find that liberty for which their souls thirsted as
the hart for the water-brook. Far from their native country, without
the blessings of the Church, or the warmth of substantial friendship,
they fell into a listless condition, a somnolence that led them to
stagger against some of the regulations of the Province. Their
wandering was not inspired by any subjective, inherent, generic evil:
it was but the tossing of a weary, distressed mind under the dreadful
influences of a hateful dream. And what little there is in the early
records of the colony of New Jersey is at once a compliment to the
humanity of the master, and the docility of the slave.

In 1676 the colony was divided into East and West Jersey, with
separate governments. The laws of East Jersey, promulgated in 1682,
contained laws prohibiting the entertaining of fugitive servants, or
trading with Negroes. The law respecting fugitive servants was
intended to destroy the hopes of runaways in the entertainment they so
frequently obtained at the hands of benevolent Quakers and other
enemies of "indenture" and slavery. The law-makers acted upon the
presumption, that as the Negro had no property, did not own himself,
he could not sell any article of his own. All slaves who attempted to
dispose of any article were regarded with suspicion. The law made it a
misdemeanor for a free person to purchase any thing from a slave, and
hence cut off a source of revenue to the more industrious slaves, who
by their frugality often prepared something for sale.

In 1694 "_an Act concerning slaves_" was passed by the Legislature of
East Jersey. It provided, among other things, for the trial of
"_negroes and other slaves, for felonies punishable with death, by a
jury of twelve persons before three justices of the peace; for theft,
before two justices; the punishment by whipping_." Here was the
grandest evidence of the high character of the white population in
East Jersey. In every other colony in North America the Negro was
denied the right of "trial by jury," so sacred to Englishmen. In
Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut,--in all the
colonies,--the Negro went into court convicted, went out convicted,
and was executed, upon the frailest evidence imaginable. But here in
Jersey the only example of justice was shown toward the Negro in North
America. "Trial by jury" implied the right to be sworn, and give
competent testimony. A Negro slave, when on trial for his life, was
accorded the privilege of being tried by twelve honest white colonists
before _three_ justices of the peace. This was in striking contrast
with the conduct of the colony of New York, where Negroes were
arrested upon the incoherent accusations of dissolute whites and
terrified blacks. It gave the Negroes a new and an anomalous position
in the New World. It banished the cruel theory of Virginia, New York,
and Connecticut, that the Negro was a pagan, and therefore should not
be sworn in courts of justice, and threw open a wide door for his
entrance into a more hopeful state than he had, up to that time, dared
to anticipate. It allowed him to infer that his life was a little more
than that of the brute that perisheth; that he could not be dragged by
malice through the forms of a trial, without jury, witness, counsel,
or friend, to an ignominious death, that was to be regretted only by
his master, and his regrets to be solaced by the Legislature paying
"the price;" that the law regarded him as a man, whose life was too
dear to be committed to the disposition of irascible men, whose
prejudices could be mollified only in extreme cruelty or cold-blooded
murder. It had much to do toward elevating the character of the Negro
in New Jersey. It first fired his heart with the noble impulse of
gratitude, and then led him to _hope_. And how much that little word
means! It causes the soul to spread its white pinions to every
favoring breeze, and hasten on to a propitious future. And then the
fact that Negroes had rights acknowledged by the statutes, and
respectfully accorded them by the courts, had its due influence upon
the white colonists. The men, or class of men, who have rights not
challenged, command the respect of others. The fact clothes them with
dignity as with a garment. And then, by the inevitable logic of the
position of the courts of East Jersey, the colonists were led to the
conclusion that the Negroes among them had other rights. And, as it
has been said already, they received better treatment here than in any
other colony in the country.

In West Jersey happily the word "slave" was omitted from the laws.
Only servants and runaway servants were mentioned, and the selling of
rum to Negroes and Indians was strictly forbidden.

The fear of insurrection among Indians and Negroes was general
throughout all of the colonies. One a savage, and the other untutored,
they knew but two manifestations,--gratitude and revenge. It was
deemed a wise precaution to keep these unfortunate people as far
removed from the exciting influences of rum as possible. Chapter
twenty-three of a law passed in West Jersey in 1676, providing for
publicity in judicial proceedings, concludes as follows:--

     "That all and every person and persons inhabiting the said
     province, shall, as far as in us lies, be free from
     oppression and slavery."[476]

In 1702 the proprietors of East and West Jersey surrendered their
rights of government to the queen. The Province was immediately placed
with New York, and the government committed to the hands of Lord
Cornbury.[477] In 1704 "_An Act for regulating negroe, Indian and
mulatto slaves within the province of New Jersey_," was introduced,
but was tabled and disallowed. The Negroes had just cause for the
fears they entertained as to legislation directed at the few rights
they had enjoyed under the Jersey government. Their fellow-servants
over in New York had suffered under severe laws, and at that time had
no privilege in which they could rejoice. In 1713 the following law
was passed:--

     "_An act for regulating slaves._ (1 Nev. L., c. 10.) Sect.
     1. Against trading with slaves. 2. For arrest of slaves
     being without pass. 3. Negro belonging to another province,
     not having license, to be whipped and committed to jail. 4.
     Punishment of slaves for crimes to be by three or more
     justices of the peace, with five of the principal
     freeholders, without a grand jury; seven agreeing, shall
     give judgment. 5. Method in such causes more particularly
     described. Provides that 'the evidence of Indian, negro, or
     mulatto slaves shall be admitted and allowed on trials of
     such slaves, on all causes criminal.' 6. Owner may demand a
     jury. 7, 8. Compensation to owners for death of slave. 9. A
     slave for attempting to ravish any white woman, or presuming
     'to assault or strike any free man or woman professing
     Christianity,' any two justices have discretionary powers
     to inflict corporal punishment, not extending to life or
     limb. 10. Slaves, for stealing, to be whipped. 11. Penalties
     on justices, &c., neglecting duty. 12. Punishment for
     concealing, harboring, or entertaining slaves of others. 13.
     Provides that no Negro, Indian, or mulatto that shall
     thereafter be made free, shall hold any real estate in his
     own right, in fee simple or fee tail. 14. 'And whereas it is
     found by experience that free Negroes are an idle, slothful
     people, and prove very often a charge to the place where
     they are,' enacts that owners manumitting, shall give
     security, &c."[478]

Nearly all the humane features of the Jersey laws were supplanted by
severe prohibitions, requirements, and penalties. The trial by jury
was construed to mean that one Negro's testimony was good against
another Negro in a trial for a felony, allowing the owner of the slave
to demand a jury. Humane masters were denied the right to emancipate
their slaves, and the latter were prohibited from owning real property
in fee simple or fee tail. Having stripped the Negro of the few rights
he possessed, the General Court, during the same year, went on to
reduce him to absolute property, and levied an impost-tax of ten
pounds upon every Negro imported into the colony, to remain in force
for seven years.

In 1754 an Act provided, that in the borough of Elizabeth any white
servant or servants, slave or slaves, which shall "be brought before
the Mayor, &c., by their masters or other inhabitant of the Borough,
for any misdemeanor rude or disorderly behavior, may be committed to
the workhouse to hard labor and receive correction not exceeding
thirty lashes."[479] This Act was purely local in character, and
indiscriminate in its application to every class of servants. It was
nothing more than a police regulation, and as such was a wholesome

In 1768 the General Court passed _An Act to regulate the trial of
slaves for murder and other crimes and to repeal so much of an act,
&c_. Sections one and two provided for the trial of slaves by the
ordinary higher criminal courts. Section three provided that the
expenses incurred in the execution of slaves should be levied upon all
the owners of able-bodied slaves in the county, by order of the
justices presiding at the trial. Section four repealed sections four,
five, six, and seven of the Act of 1713. This was significant. It
portended a better feeling toward the Negroes, and illumined the dark
horizon of slavery with the distant light of hope. A strong feeling
in favor of better treatment for Negro slaves made itself manifest at
this time. When the Quaker found the prejudice against himself
subsiding, he turned, like a good Samaritan, to pour the wine of human
sympathy into the lacerated feelings of the Negro. Private instruction
was given to them in many parts of Jersey. The gospel was expounded to
them in its beauty and simplicity, and produced its good fruit in
better lives.

The next year, 1769, a mercenary spirit inspired and secured the
passage of another Act levying a tax upon imported slaves, and
requiring persons manumitting slaves to give better securities. It

     "Whereas duties on the importation of negroes in several of
     the neighboring colonies hath, on experience, been found
     beneficial in the introduction of sober industrious
     foreigners, to settle under his Majesty's allegiance, and
     the promoting a spirit of industry among the inhabitants in
     general, in order therefore to promote the same good designs
     in this government and that such as purchase slaves may
     contribute some equitable proportion of the public

How an impost-tax upon imported slaves would be "beneficial in the
introduction of sober industrious foreigners," is not easily
perceived; and how it would promote "a spirit of industry among the
inhabitants in general," is a problem most difficult of solution. But
these were the lofty reasons that inspired the General Court to seek
to fill the coffers of the Province with money drawn from the
slave-lottery, where human beings were raffled off to the highest
bidders in the colony. The cautious language in which the Act was
couched indicated the sensitive state of the public conscience on
slavery at that time. They were afraid to tell the truth. They did not
dare to say to the people: We propose to repair the streets of your
towns, the public roads, and lighten the burden of taxation, by saying
to men-stealers, we will allow you to sell your cargoes of slaves into
this colony provided you share the spoils of your superlative crime!
No, they had to tell the people that the introduction of Negro slaves,
upon whom there was a tax, would entice sober and industrious white
people to come among them, and would quicken the entire Province with
a spirit of thrift never before witnessed!

In 1760 the Negro was ruled out of the militia establishment upon a
condition. The law provided against the enlistment of any "_young man
under the age of twenty-one years, or any slaves who are so for terms
of life, or apprentices_," without leave of their masters. This was
the mildest prohibition against the entrance of the slave into the
militia service in any of the colonies. There is nothing said about
the employment of the free Negroes in this service; and it is fair to
suppose, in view of the mild character of the laws, that they were not
excluded. In settlements where the German and Quaker elements
predominated, the Negro found that his "lines had fallen unto him in
pleasant places, and that he had a goodly heritage." In the coast
towns, and in the great centres of population, the white people were
of a poorer class. Many were adventurers, cruel and unscrupulous in
their methods. The speed with which the people sought to obtain a
competency wore the finer edges of their feeling to the coarse grain
of selfishness; and they not only drew themselves up into the
miserable rags of their own selfish aggrandizements as far as all
competitors were concerned, but regarded slavery with imperturbable

In 1738 the population of the Jerseys was, whites, 43,388; blacks,
3,981. In 1745 the whites numbered 56,797, and the blacks,


[475] It is unfortunate that there is no good history of New Jersey.
The records of the Historical Society of that State are not
conveniently printed, nor valuable in colonial data.

[476] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. p. 283.

[477] The following were the instructions his lordship received,
concerning the treatment of Negro slaves: "You shall endeavour to get
a law past for the restraining of any inhuman severity, which by ill
masters or overseers may be used towards their Christian servants and
their slaves, and that provision be made therein that the wilfull
killing of Indians and negroes may be punished with death, and that a
fit penalty be emposed for the maiming of them."--_Freedom and
Bondage_, vol. i. p. 280, note.

[478] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. p. 284.

[479] Hurd, vol. i. p. 285.

[480] Hurd, vol. i. p 285.

[481] American Annals, vol. ii. pp. 127, 143.





The Carolinas received two different charters from the crown of Great
Britain. The first was witnessed by the king at Westminster, March 24,
1663; the second, June 30, 1665. The last charter was surrendered to
the king by seven of the eight proprietors on the 25th July, 1729. The
government became regal; and the Province was immediately divided into
North and South Carolina by an order of the British Council, and the
boundaries between the two governments fixed.

There were Negro slaves in the Carolinas from the earliest days of
their existence. The era of slavery legislation began about the year
1690. The first Act for the "_Better Ordering of Slaves_" was "read
three times and passed, and ratified in open Parliament, the seventh
day of February, Anno Domini, 1690." It bore the signatures of Seth
Sothell, G. Muschamp, John Beresford, and John Harris. It contained
fifteen articles of the severest character. On the 7th of June, 1712,
the first positive law establishing slavery passed, and was
signed.[482] The entire Act embraced thirty-five sections. Section
one is quoted in full because of the interest that centres in it in
connection with the problem of slavery legislation in the colonies.

     "1. _Be it therefore enacted_, by his Excellency, William,
     Lord Craven, Palatine, and the rest of the true and absolute
     Lords and Proprietors of this Province, by and with the
     advice and consent of the rest of the members of the General
     Assembly, now met at Charlestown, for the South-west part of
     this Province, and by the authority of the same, That all
     negroes, mulatoes, mustizoes or Indians, which at any time
     heretofore have been sold, or now are held or taken to be,
     or hereafter shall be bought and sold for slaves, are hereby
     declared slaves; and they, and their children, are hereby
     made and declared slaves, to all intents and purposes;
     excepting all such negroes, mulatoes, mustizoes or Indians,
     which heretofore have been, or hereafter shall be, for some
     particular merit, made and declared free, either by the
     Governor and council of this Province, pursuant to any Act
     or law of this Province, or by their respective owners or
     masters; and also, excepting all such negroes, mulatoes,
     mustizoes or Indians, as can prove they ought not to be sold
     for slaves. And in case any negro, mulatoe, mustizoe or
     Indian, doth lay claim to his or her freedom upon all or any
     of the said accounts, the same shall be finally heard and
     determined by the Governor and council of this

The above section was re-enacted into another law, containing
forty-three sections, passed on the 23d of February, 1722. Virginia
declared that children should follow the condition of their mothers,
but never passed a law in any respect like unto this most remarkable
Act. South Carolina has the unenviable reputation of being the only
colony in North America where by positive statute the Negro was doomed
to perpetual bondage.[484] On the 10th of May, 1740, an act regulating
slaves, containing fifty sections, recites:--

     "Whereas, in his Majesty's plantations in America, slavery
     his been introduced and allowed, and the people commonly
     called negroes, Indians, mulattoes and mustizoes, have been
     deemed absolute slaves, and the subjects of property in the
     hands of particular persons, the extent of whose power over
     such slaves ought to be settled and limited by positive
     laws, so that the slave may be kept in due subjection and
     obedience, and the owners and other persons having the care
     and government of slaves may be restrained from exercising
     too great rigour and cruelty over them, and that the public
     peace and order of this Province may be preserved: We pray
     your most sacred Majesty that it may be enacted."[485]

The first section of this Act was made more elaborate than any other
law previously passed. It bore all the marks of ripe scholarship and
profound law learning. The first section is produced here:--

     "1. _And be it enacted_, by the honorable William Bull,
     Esquire, Lieutenant Governor and Commander-in-chief, by and
     with the advice and consent of his Majesty's honorable
     Council, and the Commons House of Assembly of this Province,
     and by the authority of the same, That all negroes and
     Indians, (free Indians in amity with this government, and
     negroes, mulattoes and mustizoes, who are now free,
     excepted,) mulattoes or mustizoes who now are, or shall
     hereafter be, in this Province, and all their issue and
     offspring, born or to be born, shall be, and they are hereby
     declared to be, and remain forever hereafter, absolute
     slaves, and shall follow the condition of the mother, and
     shall be deemed, held, taken, reputed and adjudged in law,
     to be chattels personal, in the hands of their owners and
     possessors, and their executors, administrators and assigns,
     to all intents, constructions and purposes whatsoever;
     _provided always_, that if any negro, Indian, mulatto or
     mustizo, shall claim his or her freedom, it shall and may be
     lawful for such negro, Indian, mulatto or mustizo, or any
     person or persons whatsoever, on his or her behalf, to apply
     to the justices of his Majesty's court of common pleas, by
     petition or motion, either during the sitting of the said
     court, or before any of the justices of the same court, at
     any time in the vacation; and the said court, or any of the
     justices thereof, shall, and they are hereby fully impowered
     to, admit any person so applying to be guardian for any
     negro, Indian, mulatto or mustizo, claiming his, her or
     their freedom; and such guardians shall be enabled, entitled
     and capable in law, to bring an action of trespass in the
     nature of ravishment of ward, against any person who shall
     claim property in, or who shall be in possession of, any
     such negro, Indian, mulatto or mustizo; and the defendant
     shall and may plead the general issue on such action
     brought, and the special matter may and shall be given in
     evidence, and upon a general or special verdict found,
     judgment shall be given according to the very right of the
     cause, without having any regard to any defect in the
     proceedings, either in form or substance; and if judgment
     shall be given for the plaintiff, a special entry shall be
     made, declaring that the ward of the plaintiff is free, and
     the jury shall assess damages which the plaintiff's ward
     hath sustained, and the court shall give judgment, and award
     execution, against the defendant for such damage, with full
     costs of suit; but in case judgment shall be given for the
     defendant, the said court is hereby fully impowered to
     inflict such corporal punishment, not extending to life or
     limb, on the ward of the plaintiff, as they, in their
     discretion, shall think fit; _provided always_, that in any
     action or suit to be brought in pursuance of the direction
     of this Act, the burthen of the proof shall lay on the
     plaintiff, and it shall be always presumed that every negro,
     Indian, mulatto and mustizo, is a slave, unless the contrary
     can be made appear, the Indians in amity with this
     government excepted, in which case the burthen of the proof
     shall lye on the defendant; _provided also_, that nothing in
     this Act shall be construed to hinder or restrain any other
     court of law or equity in this Province, from determining
     the property of slaves, or their right of freedom, which
     now have cognizance or jurisdiction of the same, when the
     same shall happen to come in judgment before such courts, or
     any of them, always taking this Act for their direction

The entire slave population of this Province was regarded as _chattel
property, absolutely_. They could be seized in execution as in the
case of other property, but not, however, if there were other chattels
available. In case of "burglary, robbery, burning of houses, killing
or stealing of any meat or other cattle, or other petty injuries, as
maiming one of the other, stealing of fowls, provisions, or such like
trespass or injuries," a justice of the peace was to be informed. He
issued a warrant for the arrest of the offender or offenders, and
summoned all competent witnesses. After examination, if found guilty,
the offender or offenders were committed to jail. The justice then
notified the justice next to him to be associated with him in the
trial. He had the authority to fix the day and hour of the trial, to
summon witness, and "three discreet and sufficient freeholders." The
justices then swore the "freeholders," and, after they had tried the
case, had the authority to pronounce the sentence of death, "or such
other punishment" as they felt meet to fix. "The solemnity of a jury"
was never accorded to slaves. "Three freeholders" could dispose of
human life in such cases, and no one could hinder.[487] The confession
of the accused slave, and the testimony of another slave, were "held
for good and convincing evidence in all petty larcenies or trespasses
not exceeding forty shillings." In the case of a Negro on trial for
his life, "the oath of Christian evidence" was required, or the
"positive evidence of two Negroes or slaves," in order to convict.

The increase of slaves was almost phenomenal. The rice-trade had grown
to enormous proportions. The physical obstruction gave away rapidly
before the incessant and stupendous efforts of Negro laborers. The
colonists held out most flattering inducements to Englishmen to
emigrate into the Province. The home government applauded the zeal and
executive abilities of the local authorities. Attention was called to
the necessity of legislation for the government of the vast Negro
population in the colony. The code of South Carolina was without an
example among the civilized governments of modern times. It was
unlawful for any free person to inhabit or trade with Negroes.[488]
Slaves could not leave the plantation on which they were owned, except
in livery, or armed with a pass, signed by their master, containing
the name of the possessor. For a violation of this regulation they
were whipped on the naked back. No man was allowed to conduct a
"plantation, cow-pen or stock," that shall be six miles distant from
his usual place of abode, and wherein six Negroes were employed,
without one or more white persons were residing on the place.[489]
Negro slaves found on another plantation than the one to which they
belonged, "on the Lord's Day, fast days, or holy-days," even though
they could produce passes, were seized and whipped. If a slave were
found "keeping any horse, horses, or neat cattle," any white man, by
warrant, could seize the animals, and sell them through the
church-wardens; and the money arising from such sale was devoted to
the poor of the parish in which said presumptuous slaves resided. If
more than seven slaves were found travelling on the highway, except
accompanied by a white man, it was lawful for any white man to
apprehend each and every one of such slaves, and administer twenty
lashes upon their bare back. No slave was allowed to hire out his
time. Some owners of slaves were poor, and, their slaves being trusty
and industrious, permitted them to go out and get whatever work they
could, with the understanding that the master was to have the wages.
An Act was passed in 1735, forbidding such transactions, and fining
the persons who hired slaves who had no written certificate from their
masters setting forth the terms upon which the work was to be done. No
slave could hire a house or plantation. No amount of industry could
make him an exception to the general rule. If he toiled faithfully for
years, amassed a fortune for his master, earned quite a competence for
himself during the odd moments he caught from a busy life, and then,
with acknowledged character and business tact, he sought to hire a
plantation or buy a house, the law came in, and pronounced it a
misdemeanor, for which both purchaser and seller had to pay in fines,
stripes, and imprisonment. A slave could not keep in his own name, or
that of his master, any kind of a house of entertainment. He was even
prohibited by law from selling corn or rice in the Province. The
penalty was a fine of forty shillings, and the forfeiture of the
articles for sale. They could not keep a boat or canoe.

The cruelties of the code are without a parallel, as applied to the
correction of Negro slaves.

     "If any negro or Indian slave [says the act of Feb. 7, 1690]
     shall offer any violence, by stricking or the like, to any
     white person, he shall for the first offence be severely
     whipped by the constable, by order of any justice of peace;
     and for the second offence, by like order, shall be severely
     whipped, his or her nose slit, and face burnt in some place;
     and for the third offence, to be left to two justices and
     three sufficient freeholders, to inflict death, or any other
     punishment, according to their discretion."

As the penalties for the smallest breach of the slave-code grew more
severe, the slaves grew more restless and agitated. Sometimes under
great fear they would run away for a short time, in the hope that
their irate masters would relent. But this, instead of helping,
hindered and injured the cause of the slaves. Angered at the conduct
of their slaves, the master element, having their representatives on
the floor of the Assembly, secured the passage of the following brutal

     "That every slave of above sixteen years of age, that shall
     run away from his master, mistress or overseer, and shall so
     continue for the space of twenty days at one time, shall, by
     his master, mistress, overseer or head of the family's
     procurement, for the first offence, be publicly and severely
     whipped, not exceeding forty lashes; and in case the master,
     mistress, overseer, or head of the family, shall neglect to
     inflict such punishment of whipping, upon any negro or slave
     that shall so run away, for the space of ten days, upon
     complaint made thereof, within one month, by any person
     whatsoever, to any justice of the peace, the said justice of
     the peace shall, by his warrant directed to the constable,
     order the said negro or slave to be publicly and severely
     whipped, the charges of such whipping, not exceeding twenty
     shillings, to be borne by the person neglecting to have such
     runaway negro whipped, as before directed by this Act. And
     in case such negro or slave shall run away a second time,
     and shall so continue for the space of twenty days, he or
     she, so offending, shall be branded with the letter R, on
     the right cheek. And in case the master, mistress, overseer,
     or head of the family, shall neglect to inflict the
     punishment upon such slave running away the second time, the
     person so neglecting shall forfeit the sum of ten pounds,
     and upon any complaint made by any person, within one month,
     to any justice of the peace, of the neglect of so punishing
     any slave for running away the second time, such justice
     shall order the constable to inflict the same punishment
     upon such slave, or cause the same to be done, the charges
     thereof, not exceeding thirty shillings, to be borne by the
     person neglecting to have the punishment inflicted. And in
     case such negro or slave shall run away the third time, and
     shall so continue for the space of thirty days, he or she,
     so offending, for the third offence, shall be severely
     whipped, not exceeding forty lashes, and shall have one of
     his ears cut off; and in case the master, mistress, overseer
     or head of the family, shall neglect to inflict the
     punishment upon such slave running away the third time, the
     person so neglecting shall forfeit the sum of twenty pounds,
     and upon any complaint made by any person, within two
     months, to any justice of the peace, of the neglect of the
     so punishing any slave for running away the third time, the
     said justice shall order the constable to inflict the same
     punishment upon such slave, or cause the same to be done,
     the charges thereof, not exceeding forty shillings, to be
     borne by the person neglecting to have the punishment
     inflicted. And in case such male negro or slave shall run
     away the fourth time, and shall so continue for the space of
     thirty days, he, so offending, for the fourth offence, by
     order or procurement of the master, mistress, overseer or
     head of the family, shall be gelt; and in case the negro or
     slave that shall be gelt, shall die, by reason of his
     gelding, and without any neglect of the person that shall
     order the same, the owner of the negro or slave so dying,
     shall be paid for him, out of the public treasury. And if a
     female slave shall run away the fourth time, then she shall,
     by order of her master, mistress or overseer, be severely
     whipped, and be branded on the left cheek with the letter R,
     and her left ear cut off. And if the owner, if in this
     Province, or in case of his absence, if his agent, factor or
     attorney, that hath the charge of the negro or slave, by
     this Act required to be gelt, whipped, branded and the ear
     cut off, for the fourth time of running away, shall neglect
     to have the same done and executed, accordingly as the same
     is ordered by this Act, for the space of twenty days after
     such slave is in his or their custody, that then such owner
     shall lose his property to the said slave, to him or them
     that will sue for the same, by information, at any time
     within six months, in the court of common pleas in this
     Province. And every person who shall so recover a slave by
     information, for the reasons aforesaid, shall, within twenty
     days after such recovery, inflict such punishment upon such
     slave as his former owner or head of a family ought to have
     done, and for neglect of which he lost his property to the
     said slave, or for neglect thereof shall forfeit fifty
     pounds; and in case any negro slave so recovered by
     information, and gelt, shall die, in such case, the slave so
     dying shall not be paid for out of the public treasury. And
     in case any negro or slave shall run away the fifth time,
     and shall so continue by the space of thirty days at one
     time, such slave shall be tried before two justices of the
     peace and three freeholders, as before directed by this Act
     in case of murder, and being by them declared guilty of the
     offence, it shall be lawful for them to order the cord of
     one of the slave's legs to be cut off above the heel, or
     else to pronounce sentence of death upon the slave, at the
     discretion of the said justices; and any judgment given
     after the first offence, shall be sufficient conviction to
     bring the offenders within the penalty for the second
     offence; and after the second, within the penalty of the
     third; and so for the inflicting the rest of the

If any slave attempted to run away from his or her master, and go out
of the Province, he or she could be tried before two justices and
three freeholders, and sentenced to suffer a most cruel death. If it
could be proved that any Negro, free or slave, had endeavored to
persuade or entice any other Negro to run off out of the Province,
upon conviction he was punished with forty lashes, and branded on the
forehead with a red hot iron, "that the mark thereof may remain." If a
white man met a slave, and demanded of him to show his ticket, and the
slave refused, the law empowered the white man "to beat, maim, or
assault; and if such Negro or slave" could not "be taken, to kill
him," if he would not "shew his ticket."

The cruel and barbarous code of the slave-power in South Carolina
produced, in course of time, a re-action in the opposite direction.
The large latitude that the law gave to white people in their dealings
with the hapless slaves made them careless and extravagant in the use
of their authority. It educated them into a brood of tyrants. They did
not care any more for the life of a Negro slave than for the crawling
worm in their path. Many white men who owned no slaves poured forth
their wrathful invectives and cruel blows upon the heads of innocent
Negroes with the slightest pretext. They pushed, jostled, crowded, and
kicked the Negro on every occasion. The young whites early took their
lessons in abusing God's poor and helpless children; while an overseer
was prized more for his brutal powers--to curse, beat, and
torture--than for any ability he chanced to possess for business
management. The press and pulpit had contemplated this state of
affairs until they, too, were the willing abettors in the most cruel
system of bondage that history has recorded. But no man wants his
horse driven to death, if it is a beast. No one cares to have every
man that passes kick his dog, even if it is not the best dog in the
community. It is _his_ dog, and that makes all the difference in the
world. The men who did the most cruel things to the slaves they found
in their daily path were, as a rule, without slaves or any other kind
of property. They used their authority unsparingly. Common-sense
taught the planters that better treatment of the slaves meant better
work, and increased profits for themselves. A small value was finally
placed upon a slave's life,--fifty pounds. Fifty pounds paid into the
public treasury by a man who, "of wantonness, or only of
bloody-mindedness, or cruel intention," had killed "a negro or other
slave of his own," was enough to appease the public mind, and atone
for a cold-blooded murder! If he killed another man's slave, the law
demanded that he pay fifty pounds current money into the public
treasury, and the full price of the slave to the owner, but was "not
to be liable to any other punishment or forfeiture for the same."[491]
The law just referred to, passed in 1712, was re-enacted in 1722. One
change was made in it: i.e., if a white servant, having no property,
killed a slave, three justices could bind him over to the master whose
slave he killed to serve him for five years. This law had a wholesome
effect upon irresponsible white men, who often presumed upon their
nationality, having neither brains, money, nor social standing, to
punish slaves.

In 1740, May 10, the following Act became a law, showing that there
had been a wonderful change in public sentiment rejecting the
treatment of slaves:--

     "XXXVII. And _whereas_, cruelty is not only highly
     unbecoming those who profess themselves christians but is
     odious in the eyes of all men who have any sense of virtue
     or humanity; therefore, to restrain and prevent barbarity
     being exercised towards slaves, _Be it enacted_ by the
     authority aforesaid, That if any person or persons
     whosoever, shall wilfully murder his own slave, or the slave
     of any other person every such person shall, upon conviction
     thereof, forfeit and pay the sum of seven hundred pounds
     current money, and shall be rendered, and is hereby declared
     altogether and forever incapable of holding, exercising,
     enjoying or receiving the profits of any office, place or
     employment, civil or military, within this Province: And in
     case any such person shall not be able to pay the penalty
     and forfeitures hereby inflicted and imposed, every such
     person shall be sent to any of the frontier garrisons of
     this Province, or committed to the work house in
     Charlestown, there to remain for the space of seven years,
     and to serve or to be kept at hard labor. And in case the
     slave murdered shall be the property of any other person
     than the offender, the pay usually allowed by the public to
     the soldiers of such garrison, or the profits of the labor
     of the offender, if committed to the work house in
     Charlestown shall be paid to the owner of the slave
     murdered. And if any person shall, on a sudden heat of
     passion, or by undue correction, kill his own slave, or the
     slave of any other person, he shall forfeit the sum of three
     hundred and fifty pounds, current money. And in case any
     person or persons shall wilfully cut out the tongue, put out
     the eye, castrate, or cruelly scald, burn, or deprive any
     slave of any limb or member, or shall inflict any other
     cruel punishment, other than by whipping or beating with a
     horse-whip, cow-skin, switch or small stick or by putting
     irons on, or confining or imprisoning such slave, every such
     person shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of one
     hundred pounds, current money."[492]

It may be said truthfully that the slaves in the colony of South
Carolina were accorded treatment as good as that bestowed upon
horses, in 1750. But their social condition was most deplorable. The
law positively forbid the instruction of slaves, and the penalty was
"one hundred pounds current money." For a few years Saturday afternoon
had been allowed them as a day of recreation, but as early as 1690 it
was forbidden by statute. In the same year an Act was passed declaring
that slaves should "have convenient clothes, once every year; and that
no slave" should "be free by becoming a christian,[493] but as to
payments of debts" were "deemed and taken as all other goods and
chattels." Their houses were searched every fortnight "for runaway
slaves" and "stolen goods." Druggists were not allowed to employ a
Negro to handle medicines, upon pain of forfeiting twenty pounds
current money for every such offence. Negroes were not allowed to
practise medicine, nor administer drugs of any kind, except by the
direction of some white person. Any gathering of Negroes could be
broken up at the discretion of a justice living in the district where
the meeting was in session.

Poor clothing and insufficient food bred wide-spread discontent among
the slaves, and attracted public attention.[494] Many masters
endeavored to get on as cheaply as possible in providing for their
slaves. In 1732 the Legislature passed an Act empowering two justices
of the peace to inquire as to the treatment of slaves on the several
plantations; and if any master neglected his slaves in food and
raiment, he was liable to a fine of not more than fifty shillings. In
May, 1740, an Act was passed requiring masters to see to it that their
slaves were not overworked. The time set for them to work, was "from
the 25th day of March to the 25th day of September," not "more than
fifteen hours in four-and-twenty;" and "from the 25th day of September
to the 25th day of March," not "more than fourteen hours in

The history of the impost-tax on slaves imported into the Province of
South Carolina is the history of organized greed, ambition, and
extortion. Many were the gold sovereigns that were turned into the
official coffers at Charleston! With a magnificent harbor, and a
genial climate, no city in the South could rival it as a slave-market.
With an abundant supply from without, and a steady demand from within,
the officials at Charleston felt assured that high impost-duties could
not interfere with the slave-trade; while the city would be a great
gainer by the traffic, both mediately and immediately.

Sudden and destructive insurrections were the safety-valves to the
institution of slavery. A race long and cruelly enslaved may endure
the yoke patiently for a season: but like the sudden gathering of the
summer clouds, the pelting rain, the vivid, blinding lightning, the
deep, hoarse thundering, it will assert itself some day; and then it
is indeed a day of judgment to the task-masters! The Negroes in South
Carolina endured a most cruel treatment for a long time; and, when
"the day of their wrath" came, they scarcely knew it themselves, much
less the whites. Florida was in the possession of the Spaniards. Its
governor had sent out spies into Georgia and South Carolina, who held
out very flattering inducements to the Negroes to desert their masters
and go to Florida. Moreover, there was a Negro regiment in the Spanish
service, whose officers were from their own race. Many slaves had made
good their escape, and joined this regiment. It was allowed the same
uniform and pay as the Spanish soldiers had. The colony of South
Carolina was fearing an enemy from without, while behold their worst
enemy was at their doors! In 1740 some Negroes assembled themselves
together at a town called Stone, and made an attack upon two young
men, who were guarding a warehouse, and killed them. They seized the
arms and ammunition, effected an organization by electing one of their
number captain; and, with boisterous drums and flying banners, they
marched off "like a disciplined company." They entered the house of
one Mr. Godfrey, slew him, his wife, and child, and then fired his
dwelling. They next took up their march towards Jacksonburgh, and
plundered and burnt the houses of Sacheveral, Nash, Spry, and others.
They killed all the white people they found, and recruited their ranks
from the Negroes they met. Gov. Bull was "returning to Charleston from
the southward, met them, and, observing them armed, quickly rode out
of their way."[495] In a march of twelve miles, they had wrought a
work of great destruction. News reached Wiltown, and the militia were
called out. The Negro insurrectionists were intoxicated with their
triumph, and drunk from rum they had taken from the houses they had
plundered. They halted in an open field to sing and dance; and, during
their hilarity, Capt. Bee, at the head of the troops of the district,
fell upon them, and, having killed several, captured all who did not
make their escape in the woods.

The Province was thrown into intense excitement. The Legislature
called attention to the insurrection,[496] and declared legal some
very questionable and summary acts. In 1743 the people had not
recovered from the fright they received from the insurrection. On the
7th of May, 1743, an Act was passed requiring every white male
inhabitant, who resorted "to any church or any other public place of
divine worship, within" the Province to "carry with him a gun or a
pair of horse pistols, in good order and fit for service, with at
least six charges of gun-powder and ball," upon pain of paying "twenty

As there was a law against teaching slaves to read and write, there
were no educated preachers. If a Negro desired to preach to his
fellow-slaves, he had to secure written permission from his master.
While Negroes were sometimes baptized into the communion of the
Church,--usually the Episcopal Church,--they were allowed only in the
gallery, or organ-loft, of white congregations, in small numbers. No
clergyman ventured to break unto this benighted people the bread of
life. They were abandoned to the superstitions and religious
fanaticisms incident to their condition.

In 1704 an Act was passed "_for raising and enlisting such slaves as
shalt be thought serviceable to this Province in time of Alarms_." It
required, within thirty days after the publication of the Act, that
the commanders of military organizations throughout the Province
should appoint "five freeholders," "sober and discreet men," who were
to make a complete list of all the able-bodied slaves in their
respective districts. Three of them were competent to decide upon the
qualifications of a slave. After the completion of the list, the
freeholders mentioned above notified the owners to appear before them
upon a certain day, and show cause why their slaves should not be
chosen for the service of the colony. The slaves were then enlisted,
and their masters charged with the duty of arming them "with a
serviceable lance, hatchet or gun, with sufficient amunition and
hatchets, according to the conveniency of the said owners, to appear
under the colours of the respective captains, in their several
divisions, throughout" the Province, for the performance of such
"public service" as required. If an owner refused to equip or permit
his slave to respond to alarms, he was fined five pounds for each
neglect, which was to be paid to the captain of the company to which
the slave belonged. If a slave were killed by the enemy "in the line
of duty," the owner of such slave was paid out of the public treasury
such sum of money as three freeholders, under oath, should award. The
Negroes did admirably; and four years later, on the 24th of April,
1708, the Legislature re-enacted the bill making them militia-men. The
last Act contained ten sections, and bears evidence of the pleasure
the whites took in the employment of Negroes as their defenders. If a
Negro were taken prisoner by the enemy, and effected his escape back
into the Province, he was emancipated. And if a Negro captured and
killed an enemy, he was emancipated, but if wounded himself, was set
free at the public expense. If he deserted to the enemy, his master
was paid for his loss.

Few slaves were manumitted. The law required that masters who
emancipated their slaves should make provisions for transporting them
out of the Province. If they were found in the Province twelve months
after they were set free, the manumission was considered void, except
approved by the Legislature.

From 1754 till 1776 there was little legislation on the subject of
slavery. The pressure from without made men conservative about
slavery, and radical on the question of the rights and liberties of
the colonies. The threatening war between England and her provincial
dependencies made men humane and patriotic; and during these years of
anxiety and excitement, the weary slaves breathed a better atmosphere,
and enjoyed the rare sensation of confidence and benevolence.


[482] An eminent lawyer, chief justice of the Supreme Court of the
State of ----, and a warm personal friend of mine, recently said to
me, during an afternoon stroll, that he never knew that slavery was
ever established by statute in any of the British colonies in North

[483] Statutes of S.C., vol. vii. p. 352.

[484] Virginia made slavery statutory as did other colonies, but we
have no statute so explicit as the above. But slavery was slavery in
all the colonies, cruel and hurtful.

[485] Statutes of S.C., vol. vii. p. 397.

[486] Statutes of S.C., vol. vii. pp. 397, 398.

[487] Ibid., vol. vii. pp. 343, 344.

[488] This Act, passed on the 16th of March, 1696, was made
"perpetual" on the 12th of December, 1712. It remained throughout the
entire period. See Statutes of S.C., vol. ii, p. 598.

[489] Statutes of S.C., vol. vii. p. 363.

[490] Statutes of S.C., vol. vii. pp. 359, 360.

[491] Statutes of S.C., vol. vii. 363.

[492] Ibid., vol vii. pp. 410. 411.

[493] The following is the Act of the 7th of June, 1690. "XXXIV Since
charity, and the christian religion, which we profess, obliges us to
wish well to the souls of all men, and that religion may not be made a
pretence to alter any man's property and right, and that no person may
neglect to baptize their negroes or slaves, or suffer them to be
baptized, for fear that thereby they should be manumitted and set
free, Be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, that it
shall be, and is hereby declared, lawful for any negro or Indian
slave, or any other slave or slaves whatsoever, to receive and profess
the christian faith, and be thereinto baptized; but that
notwithstanding such slave or slaves shall receive and profess the
Christian religion, and be baptized, he or they shall not thereby be
manumitted or set free, or his or their owner, master or mistress lose
his or their civil right, property, and authority over such slave or
slaves, but that the slave or slaves, with respect to his servitude
shall remain and continue in the same state and condition that he or
they was in before the making of this act."--_Statutes of S.C._, vol.
vii. pp 364, 365.

[494] In 1740 an Act was passed requiring masters to provide
"sufficient clothing" for their slaves.

[495] Hist. S.C. and Georgia, vol. ii. p. 73.

[496] Statutes of S.C., vol. vii. p. 416.





The geographical situation of North Carolina was favorable to the

Through the genius of Shaftesbury, and the subtle cunning of John
Locke, Carolina received, and for a time adopted, the most remarkable
constitution ever submitted to any people in any age of the world. The
whole affair was an insult to humanity, and in its fundamental
elements bore the palpable evidences of the cruel conclusions of an
exclusive philosophy. "No elective franchise could be conferred upon a
freehold of less than fifty acres," while all executive power was
vested in the proprietors themselves. Seven courts were controlled by
forty-two counsellors, twenty-eight of whom held their places through
the gracious favor of the proprietary and "the nobility." Trial by
jury was concluded by the opinions of the majority.

     "The instinct of aristocracy dreads the moral power of a
     proprietary yeomanry; the perpetual degradation of the
     cultivators of the soil was enacted. The leet-men, or
     tenants, holding ten acres of land at a fixed rent, were not
     only destitute of political franchises, but were adscripts
     to the soil, 'under the jurisdiction of their lord, without
     appeal;' and it was added, 'all the children of leet-men
     shall be leet-men, and so to all generations.'"[497]

The men who formed the rank and file of the yeomanry of the colony of
North Carolina were ill prepared for a government launched upon the
immense scale of the Locke Constitution. The hopes and fears, the
feuds and debates, the vexatious and insoluble problems, of the
political science of government which had clouded the sky of the most
astute and ambitous statesmen of Europe, were dumped into this
remarkable instrument. The distance between the people and the
nobility was sought to be made illimitable, and the right to govern
was based upon permanent property conditions. Hereditary wealth was to
go arm in arm with political power.

The constitution was signed on the 21st of July, 1669, and William
Sayle was commissioned as governor. The legislative career of the
Province began in the fall of the same year; and history must record
that it was one of the most remarkable and startling North America
ever witnessed. The portions of the constitution which refer to the
institution of slavery are as follows:--

     "97th. But since the natives of that place, who will be
     concerned in our plantation, are utterly strangers to
     Christianity, whose idolatry, ignorance or mistake, gives us
     no right to expel or use them ill; and those who remove from
     other parts to plant there, will unavoidably be of different
     opinions, concerning matters of religion, the liberty
     whereof they will expect to have allowed them, and it will
     not be reasonable for us on this account to keep them out;
     that civil peace may be obtained amidst diversity of
     opinions, and our agreement and compact with all men, may be
     duly and faithfully observed; the violation whereof, upon
     what pretence soever, cannot be without great offence to
     Almighty God, and great scandal to the true religion which
     we profess; and also that Jews, Heathens and other
     dissenters from the purity of the Christian religion, may
     not be scared and kept at a distance from it, but by having
     an opportunity of acquainting themselves with the truth and
     reasonableness of its doctrines, and the peaceableness and
     inoffensiveness of its professors, may by good usage and
     persuasion, and all those convincing methods of gentleness
     and meekness, suitable to the rules and design of the
     gospel, be won over to embrace, and unfeignedly receive the
     truth; therefore any seven or more persons agreeing in any
     religion, shall constitute a church or profession, to which
     they shall give some name, to distinguish it from others....

     "101st. No person above seventeen years of age, shall have
     any benefit or protection of the law, or be capable of any
     place of profit or honor, who is not a member of some church
     or profession, having his name recorded in some one, and but
     one religious record, at once....

     "107th. Since charity obliges us to wish well to the souls
     of all men, and religion ought to alter nothing in any man's
     civil estate or right, it shall be lawful for slaves as well
     as others, to enter themselves and be of what church or
     profession any of them shall think best, and thereof be as
     fully members as any freemen. But yet no slave shall hereby
     be exempted from that civil dominion his master hath over
     him, but be in all things in the same state and condition he
     was in before....

     "110th. Every freeman of Carolina, shall have absolute
     power and authority over his negro slaves, of what opinion
     or religion soever."[498]

Though the Locke Constitution was adopted by the proprietaries, March
1, 1669, it may be doubted whether it ever had the force of law, as it
was never ratified by the local Legislature. Article one hundred and
ten, granting absolute power and authority to a master over his Negro
slave, is without a parallel in the legislation of the colonies. And
while the slave might enter the Christian Church, and his humanity
thereby be recognized, it was strangely inconsistent to place his life
at the disposal of brutal masters, who "neither feared God nor
regarded man."

The Negro slaves in North Carolina occupied the paradoxical position
of being eligible to membership in the Christian Church, and the
absolute property of their white brothers. In the second draught of
the constitution, signed in March, 1670, against the eloquent protest
of John Locke, the section on religion was amended so as, while
tolerating every religious creed, to declare "the Church Of England"
the only true Orthodox Church, and the national religion of the
Province. This, in the face of the fact that the great majority of all
the Christians who flocked to the New World were dissenters,
separatists, and nonconformists, can only be explained in the light of
the burning zeal of the Church of England to out-Herod Herod,--to
carry the Negroes into the communion of the State church for political
purposes. It was the most sordid motive that impelled the churchmen to
open the church to the slave. His membership did not change his
condition, nor secure him immunity from the barbarous treatment the
institution of slavery bestowed upon its helpless victims.

In the eyes of the law the Negro, being _absolute property_, had no
rights, except those temporarily delegated by the master; and he acted
in the relation of an agent. Negro slaves were not allowed "to raise
horses, cattle or hogs;" and if any stock were found in their
possession six months after the passage of the Act of 1741, they were
to be seized by the sheriff of the county, and sold by the
church-wardens of the parish. The profits arising from such sales
went, one half to the parish, the other half to the informer.[499] A
slave was not suffered to go off of the plantation where he was
appointed to live, without a pass signed by his master or the
overseer. There was an exception made in the case of Negroes wearing
liveries. Negro slaves were not allowed the use of fire-arms or other
weapons, except they were armed with a certificate from their master
granting the coveted permission. If they hunted with arms, not having
a certificate, any Christian could apprehend them, seize the weapons,
deliver the slave to the first justice of the peace; who was
authorized to administer, without ceremony, twenty lashes upon his or
her bare hack, and send him or her home. The master had to pay the
cost of arrest and punishment. The one exception to this law was, that
one Negro on each plantation or in each district could carry a gun to
shoot game for his master and protect stock, etc.; but his certificate
was to be in his possession all the time. If a Negro went from the
plantation on which he resided, to another plantation or place, he was
required by statute to travel in the most generally frequented road.
If caught in another road, not much travelled, except in the company
of a white man, it was lawful for the man who owned the land through
which he was passing to seize him, and administer not more than forty
lashes. If Negroes visited each other in the night season,--the only
time they could visit,--the ones who were found on another plantation
than their master's were punished with lashes on their naked back, not
exceeding forty; while the Negroes who had furnished the entertainment
received twenty lashes for their hospitality. In case any slave, who
had not been properly fed and clothed by his master, was convicted of
stealing cattle, hogs, or corn from another man, an action of trespass
could be maintained against the master in the general or county court,
and damages recovered.[500]

Here, as in the other colonies, the greatest enemy of the colonists
was an accusing conscience. The people started at every breath of
rumor, and always imagined their slaves conspiring to cut their
throats. There was nothing in the observed character of the slaves to
justify the wide-spread consternation that filled the public mind. Nor
was there any occasion to warrant the passage of the Act of 1741,
respecting conspiracies among slaves. It is a remarkable document, and
is produced here.

     "XLVII. _And be it further enacted by the authority
     aforesaid_, That if any number of negroes or other slaves,
     that is to say, three, or more, shall, at any time
     hereafter, consult, advise or conspire to rebel or make
     insurrection, or shall plot or conspire the murder of any
     person or persons whatsoever, every such consulting,
     plotting or conspiring, shall be adjudged and deemed felony;
     and the slave or slaves convicted thereof, in manner herein
     after directed, shall suffer death.

     "XLVIII. _And be it further enacted by the authority
     aforesaid_,'That every slave committing such offence, or any
     other crime or misdemeanor, shall forthwith be committed by
     any justice of the peace, to the common jail of the county
     within which the said offence shall be committed, there to
     be safely kept; and that the sheriff of such county, upon
     such commitment, shall forthwith certify the same to any
     Justice in the commission for the said court for the time
     being, resident in the county, who is thereupon required and
     directed to issue a summons for two or more Justices of the
     said court, and four freeholders, such as shall have slaves
     in the said county, which said three Justices and four
     freeholders, owners of slaves, are hereby impowered and
     required upon oath, to try all manner of crimes and
     offences, that shall be committed by any slave or slaves, at
     the court house of the county, and to take for evidence, the
     confession of the offender, the oath of one or more credible
     witnesses, or such testimony of negroes, mulattoes or
     Indians, bond or free, with pregnant circumstances, as to
     them shall seem convincing, without the solemnity of a jury;
     and the offender being then found guilty, to pass such
     judgment upon such offender, according to their discretion,
     as the nature of the crime or offence shall require; and on
     such judgment, to award execution.

     "XLIX. _Provided always, and be it enacted_, That it shall
     and may be lawful for each and every Justice, being in the
     commission of the peace for the county where any slave or
     slaves shall be tried, by virtue of this act, (who is owner
     of slaves) to sit upon such trial, and act as a member of
     such court though he or they be not summoned thereto;
     anything herein before contained to the contrary, in any
     wise, notwithstanding.

     "L. And to the end such negro, mulatto or Indian, bond or
     free, not being christians, as shall hereafter be produced
     as an evidence on the trial of any slave or slaves, for
     capital or other crimes, may be under the greater obligation
     to declare the truth; _Be it further enacted_, There where
     any such negro, mulatto or Indian, bond or free, shall, upon
     due proof made, or pregnant circumstances, appearing before
     any county court within this government, be found to have
     given a false testimony, every such offender shall, without
     further trial, be ordered, by the said court, to have one
     ear nailed to the pillory, and there stand for the space of
     one hour, and the said ear to be cut off, and thereafter the
     other ear nailed in like manner, and cut off, at the
     expiration of one other hour: and moreover, to order every
     such offender thirty-nine lashes, well laid on, on his or
     her bare back, at the common whipping post.

     "LI. _And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid_,
     That at every such trial of slaves committing capital or
     other offences, the first person in commission sitting on
     such trial, shall, before the examination of every negro,
     mulatto or Indian, not being a christian, charge such to
     declare the truth.

     "LII. _Provided always, and it is hereby intended_, That the
     master, owner or overseer of any slave, to be arraigned and
     tried by virtue of this act, may appear at the trial, and
     make what just defence he can for such slave or slave; so
     that such defence do not relate to any formality in the
     proceeding on the trial."[501]

The manner of conducting the trials of Negroes charged with felony or
misdemeanor was rather peculiar. Upon one or more white persons'
testimony, or the evidence of Negroes and Indians, bond or free, the
unfortunate defendant, "without the solemnity of a jury," before three
justices and four freeholders, could be hurried through a trial,
convicted, sentenced to die a dreadful death, and then be executed
without the officiating presence of a minister of the gospel.

The unprecedented discretion allowed to masters in the government led
to the most tragic results. Men were not only reckless of the lives of
their own slaves, but violent toward those belonging to others. If a
Negro showed the least independence in conversation with a white man,
he could be murdered in cold blood; and it was only a case of a
contumacious slave getting his dues. But men became so prodigal in the
exercise of this authority that the public became alarmed, and the
Legislature called a halt on the master-class. At first the
Legislature paid for the slaves who were destroyed by the consuming
wrath of ill-natured whites, but finally allowed an action to lie
against the persons who killed a slave. This had a tendency to reduce
the number of murdered slaves; but the fateful clause in the Locke
Constitution had educated a voracious appetite for blood, and the
extremest cruel treatment continued without abatement.

The free Negro population was very small in this colony. The following
act on manumission differs so widely from the law on this point in the
other colonies, that it is given as an illustration of the severe
character of the legislation of North Carolina against the
emancipation of Negroes.

     "LVI. _And be it further enacted by the authority
     aforesaid, _That no Negro or mulatto slaves shall be set
     free, upon any pretence whatsoever, except for meritorious
     services, to be adjudged and allowed of by the county court,
     and Licence thereupon first had and obtained: and that where
     any slave shall be set free by his or her master or owner,
     otherwise than is herein before directed, it shall and may
     be lawful for the church-wardens of the parish wherein such
     negro, mulatto or Indian, shall be found, at the expiration
     of six months, next alter his or her being set free, and
     they are hereby authorized and required, to take up and sell
     the said negro, mulatto or Indian, as a slave, at the next
     court to be held for the said county, at public vendue: and
     the monies arising by such sale, shall be applied to the use
     of the parish, by the vestry thereof: and if any negro,
     mulatto or Indian slave, set free otherwise than is herein
     directed, shall depart this province, within six months next
     after his or her freedom, and shall afterwards return into
     this government, it shall and may be lawful for the
     churchwardens of the parish where such negro or mulatto
     shall be found, at the expiration of one month, next after
     his or her return into this government to take up such negro
     or mulatto, and sell him or them, as slaves, at the next
     court to be held for the county, at public vendue; and the
     monies arising thereby, to be applied, by the vestry, to the
     use of the parish, as aforesaid."[502]

The free Negroes were badly treated. They were not allowed any
communion with the slaves. A free Negro man was not allowed to marry a
white woman, nor even a Negro slave woman without the consent of her
master. If he formed an alliance with a white woman, her offspring
were bound out, or sold by the church-wardens, until they obtained
their majority.[503] If the white woman were an indentured servant,
she was constrained to serve an additional year. If she were a free
woman, she was sold for two years by the church-wardens. Free Negroes
were greatly despised and shunned by both slaves and white people.

As a conspicuous proof of the glaring hypocrisy of the "nobility,"
who, in the constitution, threw open the door of the Church to the
Negro, it should be said, that, during the period from the founding of
the Province down to the colonial war, no attempt was ever made,
through the ecclesiastical establishment, to dissipate the dark clouds
of ignorance that enveloped the Negro's mind. They were left in a
state of ignorance and crime. The gravest social evils were winked at
by masters, whose lecherous examples were the occasion for the most
grievous offending of the slaves. The Mulattoes and other free Negroes
were taxed. They had no place in the militia, nor could they claim the
meanest rights of the humblest "leetman."


[497] Bancroft, vol. ii., 5th ed. p. 148.

[498] Statutes of S.C., vol. i. pp. 53-55.

[499] Public Acts of N.C., vol. i. p. 64.

[500] This is an instance of humanity in the North-Carolina code
worthy of special note. It stands as the only instance of justice
toward the over-worked and under-fed slaves of the colony.

[501] Public Acts of N.C., p.65.

[502] Public Acts of N.C., p. 66.

[503] The Act of 1741 says, "until 31 years of age."





Anterior to the year 1679, the provincial government of Massachusetts
exercised authority over the territory that now comprises the State of
New Hampshire. It is not at all improbable, then, that slavery existed
in this colony from the beginning of its organic existence. As early
as 1683 it was set upon by the authorities as a wicked and hateful
institution. On the 14th of March, 1684, the governor of New Hampshire
assumed the responsibility of releasing a Negro slave from bondage.
The record of the fact is thus preserved:--

     "_The governor tould Mr. Jaffery's negro hee might goe from
     his master, hee would clere him under hande and sele, so the
     fello no more attends his master's consernes._"[504]

It may be inferred from the above, that the royal governor of the
Province felt the pressure of public sentiment on the question of
anti-slavery. While this colony copied its criminal code from
Massachusetts, its people seemed to be rather select, and, on the
question of human rights, far in advance of the people of
Massachusetts. The twelfth article was: "If any man stealeth mankind
he shall be put to death or otherwise grievously punished." The entire
code--the first one--was rejected in England as "fanatical and
absurd."[505] It was the desire of this new and feeble colony to
throw every obstacle in the way of any legal recognition of slavery.
The governors of all the colonies received instruction in regard to
the question of slavery, but the governor of New Hampshire had
received an order from the crown to have the tax on imported slaves
removed. The royal instructions, dated June 30, 1761, were as

     "You are not to give your assent to, or pass any law
     imposing duties on negroes imported into New

New Hampshire never passed any law establishing slavery, but in 1714
enacted several laws regulating the conduct of servants. One was _An
Act to prevent disorder in the night_:--

     "Whereas great disorders, insolencies, and burglaries are
     ofttimes raised and committed in the night time by Indian,
     negro and mulatto servants and slaves, to the disquiet and
     hurt of her Majesty's good subjects, for the prevention
     whereof _Be it_, &c.--that no Indian, negro or mulatto
     servant or slave may presume to be absent from the families
     where they respectively belong, or be found abroad in the
     night time after nine o'clock; unless it be upon errand for
     their respective masters."[507]

The instructions against the importation of slaves were in harmony
with the feelings of the great majority of the people. They felt that
slavery would be a hinderance rather than a help to them, and in the
selection of servants chose white ones. If the custom of holding men
in bondage had become a part of the institutions of Massachusetts,--so
like a cancer that it could not be removed without endangering the
political and commercial life of the colony,--the good people of New
Hampshire, acting in the light of experience, resolved, upon the
threshold of their provincial life, to oppose the introduction of
slaves into their midst. The first result was, that they learned quite
early that they could get on without slaves; and, second, the traders
in human flesh discovered that there was no demand for slaves in New
Hampshire. Even nature fought against the crime; and Negroes were
found to be poorly suited to the climate, and, of course, were an
expensive luxury in that colony.

But, nevertheless, there were slaves in New Hampshire. The majority of
them had gone in during the time the colony was a part of the
territory of Massachusetts. They had been purchased by men who
regarded them as indispensable to them. They had lived long in many
families; children had been born unto them, and in many instances they
were warmly attached to their owners. But all masters were not alike.
Some treated their servants and slaves cruelly. The neglect in some
cases was worse than stripes or over-work. Some were poorly clad and
scantily fed; and, thus exposed to the inclemency of the severe
climate, many were precipitated into premature graves. Even white and
Indian servants shared this harsh treatment. The Indians endured
greater hardships than the Negroes. They were more lofty in their
tone, more sensitive in their feelings, more revengeful in their
disposition. They were both hated and feared, and the public sentiment
against them was very pronounced. A law, passed in 1714, forbid their
importation into the colony under a heavy penalty.

In 1718 it was found necessary to pass a law to check the severe
treatment inflicted upon servants and slaves. _An Act for restraining
inhuman severities_ recited,--

     "Fort the prevention and restraining of inhuman severities
     which by evil masters or overseers, may be used towards
     their Christian servants, that from and after the
     publication hereof, if any man smite out the eye or tooth of
     his man servant or maid servant, or otherwise maim or
     disfigure them much, unless it be by mere casualty, he shall
     let him or her go free from his service, and shall allow
     such further recompense as the court of quarter sessions
     shall adjudge him. 2. That if any person or persons whatever
     in this province shall wilfully kill his Indian or negroe
     servant or servants he shall be punished with death."[508]

There were slaves in New Hampshire down to the breaking-out of the war
in the colonies, but they were only slaves in name. Few in number,
widely scattered, they felt themselves closely identified with the
interests of the colonists.


[504] Belknap's Hist. of N.H., vol. i. p. 333.

[505] Hildreth, vol. i. p. 501.

[506] Gordon's Hist. of Am. Rev., vol. v. Letter 2.

[507] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. p. 266.

[508] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. p. 267.





Long before there was an organized government in Pennsylvania, the
Swedes and Dutch had planted settlements on the western bank of the
Delaware River. But the English crown claimed the soil; and the
governor of New York, under patent from the Duke of York, sought to
exercise jurisdiction over the territory. On the 11th of July, 1681,
"Conditions and Concessions were agreed upon by William Penn,
Proprietary," and the persons who were "adventurers and purchasers in
the same province." Provision was made for the punishment of persons
who should injure Indians, and that the planter injured by them should
"not be his own judge upon the Indian." All controversies arising
between the whites and the Indians were to be settled by a council of
twelve persons,--six white men and six Indians.

The first laws for the government of the colony were agreed upon in
England, and in 1682 went into effect. Provision was made for the
registering of all servants, their full names, amount of wages paid,
and the time when they received their remuneration. It was strictly
required that servants should not be kept beyond the time of their
indenture, should be kindly treated, and the customary outfit
furnished at the time of their freedom.

The baneful custom of enslaving Negroes had spread through every
settlement in North America, and was even "tolerated in Pennsylvania
under the specious pretence of the religious instruction of the
slave."[509] In 1688 Francis Daniel Pastorius draughted a memorial
against slavery, which was adopted by the Germantown Friends, and by
them sent up to the Monthly Meeting, and thence to the Yearly Meeting
at Philadelphia.[510] The original document was found by Nathan Kite
of Philadelphia in 1844.[511] It was a remarkable document, and the
first protest against slavery issued by any religious body in America.
Speaking of the slaves, Pastorius asks, "Have not these negroes as
much right to fight for their freedom as you have to keep them
slaves?" He believed the time would come,--

    "When, from the gallery to the farthest seat,
    Slave and slave-owner shall no longer meet,
    But all sit equal at the Master's feet."

He regarded the "buying, selling, and holding men in slavery, as
inconsistent with the Christian religion." When his memorial came
before the Yearly Meeting for action, it confessed itself "unprepared
to act," and voted it "not proper then to give a positive judgment in
the case." In 1696 the Yearly Meeting pronounced against the further
importation of slaves, and adopted measures looking toward their moral
improvement. George Keith, catching the holy inspiration of humanity,
with a considerable following, denounced the institution of slavery
"as contrary to the religion of Christ, the rights of man, and sound
reason and policy."[512]

While these efforts were, to a certain extent, abortive, yet,
nevertheless, the Society of the Friends made regulations for the
better treatment of the enslaved Negroes. The sentiment thus created
went far toward deterring the better class of citizens from purchasing
slaves. To his broad and lofty sentiments of humanity, the pious
William Penn sought to add the force of positive law. The published
views of George Fox, given at Barbadoes in 1671, in his "Gospel Family
Order, being a short discourse concerning the ordering of Families,
both of Whites, Blacks, and Indians," had a salutary effect upon the
mind of Penn. In 1700 he proposed to the Council "_the necessitie of
a law [among others] about ye marriages of negroes_." The bill was
referred to a joint committee of both houses, and they brought in a
bill "_for regulating Negroes in their Morals and Marriages_ &c." It
reached a second reading, and was lost.[513] Penn regarded the
teaching of Negroes the sanctity of the marriage relation as of the
greatest importance to the colony, and the surest means of promoting
pure morals. Upon what grounds it was rejected is not known. He
presented, at the same session of the Assembly, another bill, which
provided "_for the better regulation of servants in this province and
territories_." He desired the government of slaves to be prescribed
and regulated by law, rather than by the capricious whims of masters.
No servant was to be sold out of the Province without giving his
consent, nor could he be assigned over except before a justice of the
peace. It provided for a regular allowance to servants at the
expiration of their time, and required them to serve five days extra
for every day's absence from their master without the latter's assent.
A penalty was fixed for concealing runaway slaves, and a reward
offered for apprehending them. No free person was allowed to deal with
servants, and justices and sheriffs were to be punished for neglecting
their duties in the premises.

In case a Negro was guilty of murder, he was tried by two justices,
appointed by the governor, before six freeholders. The manner of
procedure was prescribed, and the nature of the sentence and
acquittal. Negroes were not allowed to carry a gun or other weapons.
Not more than four were allowed together, upon pain of a severe
flogging. An Act for raising revenue was passed, and a duty upon
imported slaves was levied, in 1710. In 1711-12, an Act was passed
"_to prevent the importation of negroes and Indians_" into the
Province. A general petition for the emancipation of slaves by law was
presented to the Legislature during this same year; but the wise
law-makers replied, that "it was neither just nor convenient to set
them at liberty." The bill passed on the 7th of June, 1712, but was
disapproved by Great Britain, and was accordingly repealed by an Act
of Queen Anne, Feb. 20, 1713. In 1714 and 1717, Acts were passed to
check the importation of slaves. But the English government, instead
of being touched by the philanthropic endeavors of the people of
Pennsylvania, was seeking, for purposes of commercial trade and gain,
to darken the continent with the victims of its avarice.

Negroes had no political rights in the Province. Free Negroes were
prohibited from entertaining Negro or Indian slaves, or trading with
them. Masters were required, when manumitting slaves, to furnish
security, as in the other colonies. Marriages between the races were
forbidden. Negroes were not allowed to be abroad after nine o'clock at

In 1773 the Assembly passed "_An Act making perpetual the Act
entitled, An Act for laying a duty on negroes and mulatto slaves_,"
etc., and added ten pounds to the duty. The colonists did much to
check the vile and inhuman traffic; but, having once obtained a hold,
it did eat like a canker. It threw its dark shadow over personal and
collective interests, and poisoned the springs of human kindness in
many hearts. It was not alone hurtful to the slave: it transformed and
blackened character everywhere, and fascinated those who were anxious
for riches beyond the power of moral discernment. Here, however, as in
New Jersey, the Negro found the Quaker his practical friend; and his
upper and better life received the pruning advice, refining and
elevating influence, of a godly people. But intelligence in the slave
was an occasion of offending, and prepared him to realize his
deplorable situation. So to enlighten him was to excite in him a deep
desire for liberty, and, not unlikely, a feeling of revenge toward his
enslavers. So there was really danger in the method the guileless
Friends adopted to ameliorate the condition of the slaves.

When England began to breathe out threatenings against her
contumacious dependencies in North America, the people of Pennsylvania
began to reflect upon the probable outrages their Negroes would, in
all probability, commit. They inferred that the Negroes would be their
enemy because they were their slaves. This was the equitable findings
of a guilty conscience. They did not dare expect less than the
revengeful hate of the beings they had laid the yoke of bondage upon;
and verily they found themselves with "fears within, and fightings


[509] Gordon's History of Penn., p. 114.

[510] Whittier's Penn. Pilgrim, p. viii.

[511] The memorial referred to was printed _in extenso_ in The Friend,
vol. xviii. No 16.

[512] Minutes of Yearly Meeting, Watson's MS. Coll. Bettle's notices
of N.S. Minutes, Penn. Hist. Soc.

[513] Colonial Rec., vol. i. pp. 598, 606. See also _Votes_ of
Assembly, vol. i. pp. 120-122.





Georgia was once included in the territory of Carolina, and extended
from the Savannah to the St. John's River. A corporate body, under the
title of "The Trustees for establishing the Colony of Georgia," was
created by charter, bearing date of June 9, 1732. The life of their
trust was for the space of twenty-one years. The rules by which the
trustees sought to manage the infant were rather novel; but as a
discussion of them would be irrelevant, mention can be made only of
that part which related to slavery. Georgia was the last colony--the
thirteenth--planted in North America by the English government.
Special interest centred in it for several reasons, that will be
explained farther on.

The trustees ruled out slavery altogether. Gen. John Oglethorpe, a
brilliant young English officer of gentle blood, the first governor of
the colony, was identified with "the Royal African Company, which
alone had the right of planting forts and trading on the coast of
Africa." He said that "slavery is against the gospel, as well as the
fundamental law of England. We refused, as trustees, to make a law
permitting such a horrid crime." Another of the trustees, in a sermon
preached on Sunday, Feb. 17, 1734, at St. George's Church, Hanover
Square, London, declared, "Slavery, the misfortune, if not the
dishonor, of other plantations, is absolutely proscribed. Let avarice
defend it as it will, there is an honest reluctance in humanity
against buying and selling, and regarding those of our own species as
our wealth and possessions." Beautiful sentiments! Eloquent testimony
against the crime of the ages! At first blush the student of history
is apt to praise the sublime motives of the "trustees," in placing a
restriction against the slave-trade. But the declaration of principles
quoted above is not borne out by the facts of history. On this point
Dr. Stevens, the historian of Georgia, observes, "Yet in the official
publications of that body [the trustees], its inhibition is based only
on political and prudential, and not on humane and liberal grounds,
and even Oglethorpe owned a plantation and negroes near Parachucla in
South Carolina, about forty miles above Savannah."[514] To this
reliable opinion is added:--

     "The introduction of slaves was prohibited to the colony of
     Georgia for some years, not from motives of humanity, but
     for the reason it was encouraged elsewhere, to wit: the
     interest of the mother country. It was a favorite idea with
     the 'mother country,' to make _Georgia_ a protecting blanket
     for the Carolinas, against the Spanish settlements south of
     her, and the principal Indian tribes to the west; to do
     this, a strong settlement of white men was sought to be
     built up, whose arms and interests would defend her northern
     plantations. The introduction of slaves was held to be
     unfavorable to this scheme, and hence its prohibition.
     During the time of the prohibition, Oglethorpe himself was a
     slave holder in Carolina."[515]

The reasons that led the trustees to prohibit slavery in the colony
are put thus tersely.--

     "1st. Its expense: which the poor emigrant would be entirely
     unable to sustain, either in the first cost of a negro, or
     his subsequent keeping. 2d. Because it would induce idleness
     and render labour degrading. 3d. Because the settlers, being
     freeholders of only fifty-acre lots, requiring but one or
     two extra hands for their cultivation, the German servants
     would be a third more profitable than the blacks. Upon the
     last original design I have mentioned, in planting this
     colony, they also based an argument against their admission,
     viz., that the cultivation of silk and wine, demanding skill
     and nicety, rather than strength and endurance of fatigue,
     the whites were better calculated for such labour than the
     negroes. These were the prominent arguments, drawn from the
     various considerations of internal and external policy,
     which influenced the Trustees in making this prohibition.
     Many of them, however, had but a temporary bearing, none
     stood the test of experience."[516]

It is clear, then, that the founders of the colony of Georgia were not
moved by the noblest impulses to prohibit slavery within their
jurisdiction. In the chapter on South Carolina, attention was called
to the influence of the Spanish troops in Florida on the recalcitrant
Negroes in the Carolinas, the Negro regiment with subalterns from
their own class, and the work of Spanish emissaries among the slaves.
The home government thought it wise to build up Georgia out of white
men, who could develop its resources, and bear arms in defence of
British possessions along an extensive border exposed to a pestiferous
foe. But the Board of Trade soon found this an impracticable scheme,
and the colonists themselves began to clamor "for the use of
negroes."[517] The first petition for the introduction and use of
Negro slaves was offered to the trustees in 1735. This prayer was
promptly and positively denied, and for fifteen years they refused to
grant all requests for the use of Negroes. They adhered to their
prohibition in letter and spirit. Whenever and wherever Negroes were
found in the colony, they were sold back into Carolina. In the month
of December, 1738, a petition, addressed to the trustees, including
nearly all the names of the foremost colonists, set forth the
distressing condition into which affairs had drifted under the
enforcement of the prohibition, and declared that "the use of negroes,
with proper limitations, which, if granted, would both occasion great
numbers of white people to come here, and also to render us capable to
subsist ourselves, by raising provisions upon our lands, until we
could make some produce fit for export, in some measure to balance our
importations." But instead of securing a favorable hearing, the
petition drew the fire of the friends of the prohibition against the
use of Negroes. On the 3d of January, 1739, a petition to the trustees
combating the arguments of the above-mentioned petition, and urging
them to remain firm, was issued at Darien. This was followed by
another one, issued from Ebenezer on the 13th of March, in favor of
the position occupied by the trustees. A great many Scotch and German
people had settled in the colony; and, familiar with the arts of
husbandry, they became the ardent supporters of the trustees. James
Habersham, the "_dear fellow-traveller_," of Whitefield, exclaimed,--

     "I once thought, it was unlawful to keep negro slaves, but I
     am now induced to think God may have a higher end in
     permitting them to be brought to this Christian country,
     than merely to support their masters. Many of the poor
     slaves in America have already been made freemen of the
     heavenly Jerusalem, and possibly a time may come when many
     thousands may embrace the gospel, and thereby be brought
     into the glorious liberty of the children of God. These, and
     other considerations, appear to plead strongly for a limited
     use of negroes; for, while we can buy provisions in Carolina
     cheaper than we can here, no one will be induced to plant

But the trustees stood firm against the subtle cunning of the
politicians, and the eloquent pleadings of avarice.

On the 7th October, 1741, a large meeting was held at Savannah, and a
petition drawn, in which the land-holders and settlers presented their
grievances to the English authorities in London. On the 26th of March,
1742, Mr. Thomas Stephens, armed with the memorial, as the agent of
the memorialists, sailed for London. While the document ostensibly set
forth their wish for a definition of "the tenure of the lands," really
the burden of the prayer was for "_Negroes_." He presented the
memorial to the king, and his Majesty referred it to a committee of
the "Lords of Council for Plantation Affairs." This committee
transferred a copy of the memorial to the trustees, with a request for
their answer. About this time Stephens presented a petition to
Parliament, in which he charged the trustees with direliction of duty,
improper use of the public funds, abuse of their authority, and
numerous other sins against the public welfare. It created a genuine
sensation. The House resolved to go into a "committee of the whole,"
to consider the petitions and the answer of the trustees. The answer
of the trustees was drawn by the able pen of the Earl of Egmont, and
by them warmly approved on the 3d of May, and three days later was
read to the House of Commons. A motion prevailed "that the petitions
do lie upon the table," for the perusal of the members, for the space
of one week. At the expiration of the time fixed, Stephens appeared,
and all the petitions of the people of Georgia to the trustees in
reference to "the tenure of lands," and for "the use of negroes," were
laid before the honorable body. In the committee of the whole the
affairs of the colony were thoroughly investigated; and, after a few
days session, Mr. Carew reported a set of resolutions, being the sense
of the committee after due deliberation upon the matters before

     "That the province of Georgia, in America, by reason of its
     situation, may be an useful barrier to the British provinces
     on the continent of America against the French and
     Spaniards, and Indian nations in their interests; that the
     ports and harbors within the said province may be a good
     security to the trade and navigation of this kingdom, that
     the said province, by reason of the fertility of the soil,
     the healthfulness of the climate, and the convenience of the
     rivers, is a proper place for establishing a settlement, and
     may contribute greatly to the increasing trade of this
     kingdom; that it is very necessary and advantageous to this
     nation that the colony of Georgia should be preserved and
     supported; that it will be an advantage to the colony of
     Georgia to permit the importation of rum into the said
     colony from any of the British colonies; that the petition
     of Thomas Stephens contains false, scandalous and malicious
     charges, tending to asperse the characters of the Trustees
     for Establishing the Colony of Georgia, in America."

When the resolution making the importation of rum lawful reached a
vote, it was amended by adding, "As also the use of negroes, who may
be employed there with advantage to the colony, under proper
regulations and restrictions." It was lost by a majority of nine
votes. A resolution prevailed calling Thomas Stephens to the bar of
the House, "to be reprimanded on his knees by Mr. Speaker," for his
offence against the trustees.

On the next day Stephens, upon his bended knees at the bar of the
House of Commons, before the assembled statesmen of Great Britain, was
publicly reprimanded by the speaker, and discharged after paying his
fees. Thus ended the attempt of the people of the colony of Georgia to
secure permission, over the heads of the trustees, to introduce slaves
into their service.

The dark tide of slavery influence was dashing against the borders of
the colony. The people were discouraged. Business was stagnated.
Internal dissatisfaction and factional strife wore hard upon the
spirit of a people trying to build up and develop a new country. Then
the predatory incursions of the Spaniards, and the threatening
attitude of the Indians, unnerved the entire Province. In this state
of affairs white servants grew insolent and insubordinate. Those whose
term of service expired refused to work. In this dilemma many persons
boldly put the rule of the trustees under foot, and hired Negroes from
the Carolinas. At length the trustees became aware of the clandestine
importation of Negroes into the colony, and thereupon gave the
magistrates a severe reproval. On the 2d of October, 1747, they
received the following reply:--

     "We are afraid, sir, from what you have wrote in relation to
     negroes, that he Honourable Trustees have been misinformed
     as to our conduct relating thereto; for we can with great
     assurance assert, that this Board has always acted an
     uniform part in discouraging the use of negroes in this
     colony, well knowing it to be disagreeable to the Trustees,
     as well as contrary to an act existing for the prohibition
     of them, and always give it in charge to those whom we had
     put in possession of lands, not to attempt the introduction
     or use of negroes. But notwithstanding our great caution,
     some people from Carolina, soon after settling lands on the
     Little Ogeechee, found means of bringing and employing a few
     negroes on the said lands, some time before it was
     discovered to us, upon which they thought it high time to
     withdraw them, for fear of being seized, and soon after
     withdrew themselves and families out of the colony, which
     appeals to us at present to be the resolution of divers

It was charged that the law-officers knew of the presence of Negroes
in Georgia; that their standing and constant toast was, "_the
one thing needful_" (Negroes); and that they themselves had
surreptitiously aided in the procurement of Negroes for the colony.
The supporters of the colonists grew less powerful as the struggle
went forward. The most active grew taciturn and conservative. The
advocates of Negro labor became bolder, and more acrimonious in
debate; and at length the champions of exclusive white labor shrank
into silence, appalled at the desperation of then opponents. The Rev.
Martin Bolzius, one of the most active supporters of the trustees,
wrote those gentlemen on May 3, 1748:--

     "Things being now in such a melancholy state, I must humbly
     beseech your honors, not to regard any more our of our
     friend's petitions against negroes."

The Rev. George Whitefield and James Habersham used their utmost
influence upon the trustees to obtain a modification of the
prohibition against "the use of negroes." On the 6th of December,
1748, Rev. Whitefield, speaking of a plantation and Negroes he had
purchased, wrote the trustees:--

     "Upwards of five thousand pounds have been expended in that
     undertaking, and yet very little proficiency made in the
     cultivation of my tract of land, and that entirely owing to
     the necessity I lay under of making use of white hands. Had
     a negro been allowed, I should now have had a sufficiency to
     support a great many orphans, without expending above half
     the sum which has been laid out. An unwillingness to let so
     good a design drop, and having a rational conviction that it
     must necessarily, if some other method was not fixed upon to
     prevent it--these two considerations, honoured gentlemen,
     prevailed on me about two years ago, through the bounty of
     my good friends, to purchase a plantation in South Carolina,
     where negroes are allowed. Blessed be God, this plantation
     has succeeded; and though at present I have only eight
     working hands, yet in all probability there will be more
     raised in one year, and with a quarter the expense, than has
     been produced at Bethesda for several years last past. This
     confirms me in the opinion I have entertained for a long
     time, that _Georgia never can or will be a flourishing
     province without negroes are allowed_."[519]

The sentiment in favor of the importation of Negro slaves had become
well-nigh unanimous. The trustees began to waver. On the 10th of
January, 1749, another petition was presented to the trustees. It was
carefully drawn, and set forth the restrictions under which slaves
should be introduced. On the 16th of May following, it was read to the
trustees; and they resolved to have it "presented to His Majesty in
council." They also asked that the prohibition against the
introduction of Negroes, passed in "1735, be repealed." The Earl of
Shaftesbury, at the head of a special committee, draughted a bill
repealing the prohibition. On the 26th of October, 1749, a large and
influential committee of twenty-seven drew up and signed a petition
urging the immediate introduction of slavery, with certain
limitations. The paper was duly attested, and returned to the
trustees. The opposition to the introduction of slavery into the
colony of Georgia had been conquered; and, after a long and bitter
struggle, slavery was firmly and legally established in this the last
Province of the English in the Western world. The colonists were

The charter under which the trustees acted expired by limitation in
1752, and a new form of government was established under the Board of
Trade. The royal commission appointed a governor and council. One of
the first ordinances enacted by them was one whereby "all offences
committed by slaves were to be tried by a single justice, without a
jury, who was to award execution, and, in capital cases, to set a
value on the slave, to be paid out of the public treasury." At the
first session of the Assembly in 1755, a law was passed "_for the
regulation and government of slaves_." In 1765 an Act was passed
establishing a pass system, and the rest of the legislation in respect
to slaves was a copy of the laws of South Carolina.

The history of slavery in Georgia during this period is unparalleled
and incomparably interesting. It illustrates the power of the
institution, and shows that there was no Province sufficiently
independent of its influence so as to expel it from its jurisdiction.
Like the Angel of Death that passed through Egypt, there was no colony
that it did not smite with its dark and destroying pinions. The
dearest, the sublimest, interests of humanity were prostrated by its
defiling touch. It shut out the sunlight of human kindness; it paled
the fires of hope; it arrested the development of the branches of
men's better natures, and peopled their lower being with base and
consuming desires; it placed the "_Golden Rule_" under the unholy heel
of time-servers and self-seekers; it made the Church as secular as the
Change, and the latter as pious as the former: it was a gigantic
system, at war with the civilization of the Roundheads and Puritans,
and an intolerable burden to a people who desired to build a new
nation in this New World in the West.


[514] Stephens's Journal, vol. iii. p. 281.

[515] Freedom and Bondage, vol. i. p. 310, note.

[516] Stevens's Hist. of Georgia, vol. i. p. 289.

[517] Bancroft, vol. iii. 12th ed. p. 427.

[518] Stevens's Hist. of Georgia, vol. i. p. 307.

[519] Whitefield's Works, vol. ii. pp. 90, 105, 208.

Part III.





     "Many black soldiers were in the service during all stages
     of the war."--SPARKS.


The policy of arming the Negroes early claimed the anxious
consideration of the leaders of the colonial army during the American
Revolution. England had been crowding her American plantations with
slaves at a fearful rate; and, when hostilities actually began, it
was difficult to tell whether the American army or the ministerial
army would be able to secure the Negroes as allies. In 1715 the royal
governors of the colonies gave the Board of Trade the number of the
Negroes in their respective colonies. The slave population was as

                            NEGROES. |                        NEGROES.
  New Hampshire                  150 |Maryland                   9,500
  Massachusetts                2,000 |Virginia                  23,000
  Rhode Island                   500 |North Carolina             3,700
  Connecticut                  1,500 |South Carolina            10,500
  New York                     4,000 |                          ------
  New Jersey                   1,500 |    Total                 58,850
  Pennsylvania and Delaware    2,500 |

Sixty years afterwards, when the Revolution had begun, the slave
population of the thirteen colonies was as follows:--

                            NEGROES. |                        NEGROES.
  Massachusetts                3,500 |Maryland                  80,000
  Rhode Island                 4,373 |Virginia                 165,000
  Connecticut                  5,000 |North Carolina            75,000
  New Hampshire                  629 |South Carolina           110,000
  New York                    15,000 |Georgia                   16,000
  New Jersey                   7,600 |                         -------
  Pennsylvania                10,000 |    Total                501,102
  Delaware                     9,000 |

Such a host of beings was not to be despised in a great military
struggle. Regarded as a neutral element that could be used simply to
feed an army, to perform fatigue duty, and build fortifications, the
Negro population was the object of fawning favors of the white
colonists. In the NON-IMPORTATION COVENANT, passed by the Continental
Congress at Philadelphia, on the 24th of October, 1774, the second
resolve indicated the feeling of the representatives of the people on
the question of the slave-trade:--

     "2. We will neither import nor purchase, any slave imported
     after the first day of December next; after which time, we
     will wholly discontinue the slave-trade, and will neither be
     concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor
     sell our commodities or manufactures to those who are
     concerned in it."[520]

It, with the entire covenant, received the signatures of all the
delegates from the twelve colonies.[521] The delegates from the
Southern colonies were greatly distressed concerning the probable
attitude of the slave element. They knew that if that ignorant mass of
humanity were inflamed by some act of strategy of the enemy, they
might sweep their homes and families from the face of the earth. The
cruelties of the slave-code, the harsh treatment of Negro slaves, the
lack of confidence in the whites everywhere manifested among the
blacks,--as so many horrid dreams, harassed the minds of slaveholders
by day and by night. They did not even possess the courage to ask the
slaves to remain silent and passive during the struggle between
England and themselves. The sentiment that adorned the speeches of
orators, and graced the writings of the colonists, during this period,
was "the equality of the rights of all men." And yet the slaves who
bore their chains under their eyes, who were denied the commonest
rights of humanity, who were rated as chattels and real property, were
living witnesses to the insincerity and inconsistency of this
declaration. But it is a remarkable fact, that all the Southern
colonies, in addition to the action of their delegates, ratified the
Non-Importation Covenant. The Maryland Convention on the 8th of
December, 1774; South Carolina Provincial Congress on the 11th
January, 1775; Virginia Convention on the 22d March, 1775; North
Carolina Provincial Congress on the 23d of August, 1775; Delaware
Assembly on the 25th of March, 1775 (refused by Gov. John Penn); and
Georgia,--passed the following resolves thereabouts:--

     "1. _Resolved_, That this Congress will adopt, and carry
     into execution, all and singular the measures and
     recommendations of the late Continental Congress.

     "4. _Resolved_, That we will neither import or [nor]
     purchase any slave imported from Africa or elsewhere after
     this date."

Meetings were numerous and spirited throughout the colonies, in which,
by resolutions, the people expressed their sentiments in reference to
the mother country. On the 18th of July, 1774, at a meeting held in
Fairfax Court-House, Virginia, a series of twenty-four resolutions
was presented by George Washington, chairman of the committee on
resolutions, three of which were directed against slavery.

     "17 _Resolved_. That it is the opinion of this meeting,
     that, during our present difficulties and distress, no
     slaves ought to be imported into any of the British colonies
     on this continent; and we take this opportunity of declaring
     our most earnest wishes to see an entire stop for ever put
     to such a wicked, cruel, and unnatural trade....

     "21. _Resolved_, That it is the opinion of this meeting,
     that this and the other associating colonies should break
     off all trade, intercourse, and dealings with that colony,
     province, or town, which shall decline, or refuse to agree
     to, the plan which shall be adopted by the General

     "24. _Resolved_, That George Washington and Charles
     Broadwater, lately elected our representatives to serve in
     the General Assembly, be appointed to attend the Convention
     at Williamsburg on the first day of August next, and present
     these resolves, as the sense of the people of this county
     upon the measures proper to be taken in the present alarming
     and dangerous situation of America."

Mr. Sparks comments upon the resolutions as follows:--

     "The draught, from which the resolves are printed, I find
     among Washington's papers, in the handwriting of George
     Mason, by whom they were probably drawn up; yet, as they
     were adopted by the Committee of which Washington was
     chairman, and reported by him as moderator of the meeting,
     they may be presumed to express his opinions, formed on a
     perfect knowledge of the subject, and after cool
     deliberation. This may indeed be inferred from his letter to
     Mr. Bryan Fairfax, in which he intimates a doubt only as to
     the article favoring the idea of a further petition to the
     king. He was opposed to such a step, believing enough had
     been done in this way already; but he yielded the point in
     tenderness to the more wavering resolution of his

     "These resolves are framed with much care and ability, and
     exhibit the question then at issue, and the state of public
     feeling, in a manner so clear and forcible as to give them a
     special claim to a place in the present work, in addition to
     the circumstance of their being the matured views of
     Washington at the outset of the great Revolutionary struggle
     in which he was to act so conspicuous a part....

     "Such were the opinions of Washington, and his associates in
     Virginia, at the beginning of the Revolutionary contest. The
     seventeenth resolve merits attention, from the pointed
     manner in which it condemns the slave trade."[522]

Dr. Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Dean Woodward, dated April 10,
1773, says,--

     "I have since had the satisfaction to learn that a
     disposition to abolish slavery prevails in North America,
     that many of the Pennsylvanians have set their slaves at
     liberty; and that even the Virginia Assembly have petitioned
     the king for permission to make a law for preventing the
     importation of more into that Colony. This request, however,
     will probably not be granted as their former laws of that
     kind have always been repealed, and as the interest of a few
     merchants here has more weight with Government than that of
     thousands at a distance."[523]

Virginia gave early and positive proof that she was in earnest on the
question of non-importation. One John Brown, a merchant of Norfolk,
broke the rules of the colony by purchasing imported slaves, and was
severely rebuked in the following article:--


     "'COMMITTEE CHAMBER, NORFOLK, March 6, 1775

     "'Trusting to your sure resentment against the enemies of
     your country, we, the committee, elected by ballot for the
     Borough of Norfolk, hold up for your just indignation Mr.
     John Brown, merchant of this place.

     "'On Thursday, the 2d of March, this committee were informed
     of the arrival of the brig Fanny, Capt. Watson, with a
     number of slaves for Mr. Brown: and, upon inquiry, it
     appeared they were shipped from Jamaica as his property, and
     on his account; that he had taken great pains to conceal
     their arrival from the knowledge of the committee; and that
     the shipper of the slaves, Mr. Brown's correspondent, and
     the captain of the vessel, were all fully apprised of the
     Continental prohibition against that article.

     "'From the whole of this transaction, therefore, we, the
     committee for Norfolk Borough, do give it as our unanimous
     opinion, that the said John Brown, has wilfully and
     perversely violated the Continental Association to which he
     had with his own hand subscribed obedience, and that,
     agreeable to the eleventh article, we are bound forthwith to
     publish the truth of the case, to the end that all such foes
     to the rights of British America may be publicly known and
     universally contemned as the enemies of American liberty,
     and that every person may henceforth break off all dealings
     with him.'"

And the first delegation from Virginia to Congress in August, 1774,
had instructions as follows, drawn by Thomas Jefferson:--

     "For the most trifling reasons, and sometimes for no
     conceivable reason at all, his Majesty has rejected laws of
     the most salutary tendency. _The abolition of domestic
     slavery is the great object of desire in those Colonies,
     where it was, unhappily, introduced in their infant state.
     But, previous to the enfranchisement of the slaves we have,
     it is necessary to exclude all further importations from
     Africa._ Yet our repeated attempts to effect this by
     prohibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to a
     prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his Majesty's
     negative; thus preferring the immediate advantages of a few
     British corsairs to the lasting interests of the American
     States, and to the rights of human nature, deeply wounded by
     this infamous practice."[524]

It is scarcely necessary to mention the fact, that there were several
very cogent passages in the first draught of the Declaration of
Independence that were finally omitted. The one most pertinent to this
history is here given:--

     "He has waged cruel war against human nature itself,
     violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the
     persons of a distant people who never offended him;
     captivating and carrying them into slavery in another
     hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their
     transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the
     opprobrium of _Infidel_ powers, is the warfare of the
     _Christian_ king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a
     market where _men_ should be bought and sold, he has
     prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative
     attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.
     And, that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of
     distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to
     rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which
     he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he
     also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed
     against the _liberties_ of one people with crimes which he
     urges them to commit against the _lives_ of another.[525]

The solicitude concerning the slavery question was not so great in the
Northern colonies. The slaves were not so numerous as in the Carolinas
and other Southern colonies. The severe treatment of slaves had been
greatly modified, the spirit of masters toward them more gentle and
conciliatory, and the public sentiment concerning them more humane.
Public discussion of the Negro question, however, was cautiously
avoided. The failure of attempted legislation friendly to the slaves
had discouraged their friends, while the critical situation of public
affairs made the supporters of slavery less aggressive. On the 25th of
October, 1774, an effort was made in the Provincial Congress of
Massachusetts to re-open the discussion, but it failed. The record of
the attempt is as follows:--

     "Mr. Wheeler brought into Congress a letter directed to
     Doct. Appleton, purporting the propriety, that while we are
     attempting to free ourselves from our present
     embarrassments, and preserve ourselves from slavery, that we
     also take into consideration the state and circumstances of
     the negro slaves in this province. The same was read, and it
     was moved that a committee be appointed to take the same
     into consideration. After some debate thereon, the question
     was put, whether the matter now subside, and it passed in
     the affirmative."[526]

Thus ended the attempt to call the attention of the people's
representatives to the inconsistency of their doctrine and practice on
the question of the equality of human rights. Further agitation of the
question, followed by the defeat of just measures in the interest of
the slaves, was deemed by many as dangerous to the colony. The
discussions were watched by the Negroes with a lively interest; and
failure led them to regard the colonists as their enemies, and greatly
embittered them. Then it was difficult to determine just what would be
wisest to do for the enslaved in this colony. The situation was
critical: a bold, clear-headed, loyal-hearted man was needed.

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, 1750, "The Boston Gazette, or Weekly Journal,"
contained the following advertisement:--

     "Ran-away from his master _William Brown_ of _Framingham_,
     on the 30th of _Sept_. last, a Molatto Fellow, about 27
     Years of Age, named _Crispas_, 5 Feet 2 Inches high, short
     curl'd Hair, his Knees nearer together than common; had on a
     light colour'd Bear-skin Coat, plain brown Fustian Jacket,
     or brown all-Wool one, new Buckskin Breeches, blue Yarn
     Stockings, and a checked woolen Shirt.

     "Whoever shall take up said Run-away, and convey him to his
     abovesaid Master, shall have _ten Pounds_, old Tenor Reward,
     and all necessary Charges paid. And all Masters of Vessels
     and others, are hereby cautioned against concealing or
     carrying off said Servant on Penalty of the Law. _Boston,
     October 2, 1750_."

During the month of November,--the 13th and 20th,--a similar
advertisement appeared in the same paper; showing that the "Molatto
Fellow" had not returned to his master.

Twenty years later "Crispas's" name once more appeared in the journals
of Boston. This time he was not advertised as a runaway slave, nor was
there reward offered for his apprehension. His soul and body were
beyond the cruel touch of master; the press had paused to announce his
apotheosis, and to write the name of the Negro patriot, soldier, and
martyr to the ripening cause of the American Revolution, in fadeless
letters of gold,--CRISPUS ATTUCKS!

On March 5, 1770, occurred the Boston Massacre; and, while it was not
the real commencement of the Revolutionary struggle, it was the bloody
drama that opened the most eventful and thrilling chapter in American
history. The colonists had endured, with obsequious humility, the
oppressive acts of Britain, the swaggering insolence of the
ministerial troops, and the sneers of her hired minions. The
aggressive and daring men had found themselves hampered by the
conservative views of a large class of colonists, who feared lest some
one should take a step not exactly according to the law. But while the
"wise and prudent" were deliberating upon a legal method of action,
there were those, who, "made of sterner stuff," reasoned right to the
conclusion, that they had rights as colonists that ought to be
respected. That there was cause for just indignation on the part of
the people towards the British soldiers, there is no doubt. But there
is reason to question the time and manner of the assault made by the
citizens. Doubtless they had "a zeal, but not according to knowledge."
There is no record to controvert the fact of the leadership of Crispus
Attucks. A manly-looking fellow, six feet two inches in height, he was
a commanding figure among the irate colonists. His enthusiasm for the
threatened interests of the Province, his loyalty to the teachings of
Otis, and his willingness to sacrifice for the cause of equal rights,
endowed him with a courage, which, if tempered with better judgment,
would have made him a military hero in his day. But consumed by the
sacred fires of patriotism, that lighted his path to glory, his career
of usefulness ended at the beginning. John Adams, as the counsel for
the soldiers, thought that the patriots Crispus Attucks led were a
"rabble of saucy boys, negroes, mulattoes, &c.," who could not
restrain their emotion. Attucks led the charge with the shout, "The
way to get rid of these soldiers is to attack the main-guard; strike
at the root: this is the nest." A shower of missiles was answered by
the discharge of the guns of Capt. Preston's company. The exposed and
commanding person of the intrepid Attucks went down before the
murderous fire. Samuel Gray and Jonas Caldwell were also killed, while
Patrick Carr and Samuel Maverick were mortally wounded.

The scene that followed beggared description. The people ran from
their homes and places of business into the streets, white with rage.
The bells rang out the alarm of danger. The bodies of Attucks and
Caldwell were carried into Faneuil Hall, where their strange faces
were viewed by the largest gathering of people ever before witnessed.
Maverick was buried from his mother's house in Union Street, and Gray
from his brother's residence in Royal Exchange Lane. But Attucks and
Caldwell, strangers in the city, without relatives, were buried from
Faneuil Hall, so justly called "_the Cradle of Liberty_." The four
hearses formed a junction in King Street; and from thence the
procession moved in columns six deep, with a long line of coaches
containing the first citizens of Boston. The obsequies were witnessed
by a very large and respectful concourse of people. The bodies were
deposited in one grave, over which a stone was placed bearing this

    "Long as in Freedom's cause the wise contend,
    Dear to your country shall your fame extend;
    While to the world the lettered stone shall tell
    Where Caldwell, Attucks, Gray and Maverick fell."

Who was Crispus Attucks? A Negro whose soul, galling under the
destroying influence of slavery, went forth a freeman, went forth not
only to fight for _his_ liberty, but to give his life as an offering
upon the altar of _American liberty_. He was not a madcap, as some
would have the world believe. He was not ignorant of the issues
between the American colonies and the English government, between the
freemen of the colony and the dictatorial governors. Where he was
during the twenty years from 1750 to 1770, is not known; but doubtless
in Boston, where he had heard the fiery eloquence of Otis, the
convincing arguments of Sewall, and the tender pleadings of Belknap.
He had learned to spell out the fundamental principles that should
govern well-regulated communities and states; and, having come to the
rapturous consciousness of his freedom in fee simple, the brightest
crown God places upon mortal man, he felt himself neighbor and friend.
His patriotism was not a mere spasm produced by sudden and exciting
circumstances. It was an education; and knowledge comes from
experience; and the experience of this black hero was not of a single
day. Some time before the memorable 5th of March, Crispus addressed
the following spirited letter to the Tory governor of the Province:--

     "TO THOMAS HUTCHINSON: _Sir_,--You will hear from us with
     astonishment. You ought to hear from us with horror. You are
     chargeable before God and man, with our blood. The soldiers
     were but passive instruments, mere machines; neither moral
     nor voluntary agents in our destruction, more than the
     leaden pellets with which we were wounded. You was a free
     agent. You acted, coolly, deliberately, with all that
     premeditated malice, not against us in particular, but
     against the people in general, which, in the sight of the
     law, is an ingredient in the composition of murder. You will
     hear further from us hereafter. Crispus Attucks."[527]

This was the declaration of war. It was fulfilled. The world has heard
from him; and, more, the English-speaking world will never forget the
noble daring and excusable rashness of Attucks in the holy cause of
liberty! Eighteen centuries before he was saluted by death and kissed
by immortality, another Negro bore the cross of Christ to Calvary for
him. And when the colonists were staggering wearily under their cross
of woe, a Negro came to the front, and bore that cross to the victory
of glorious martyrdom!

And the people did not agree with John Adams that Attucks led "a
motley rabble," but a band of patriots. Their evidence of the belief
they entertained was to be found in the annual commemoration of the
"5th of March," when orators, in measured sentences and impassioned
eloquence, praised the hero-dead. In March, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren,
who a few months later, as Gen. Warren, made Bunker Hill the shrine of
New-England patriotism, was the orator. On the question of human
liberty, he said,--

     "That personal freedom is the natural right of every man,
     and that property, or an exclusive right to dispose of what
     he has honestly acquired by his own labor, necessarily
     arises therefrom, are truths which common sense has placed
     beyond the reach of contradiction. And no man, or body of
     men, can, without being guilty of flagrant injustice, claim
     a right to dispose of the persons or acquisitions of any
     other man, or body of men, unless it can be proved that such
     a right has arisen from some compact between the parties, in
     which it has been explicitly and freely granted."

These noble sentiments were sealed by his blood at Bunker Hill, on the
17th of June, 1775, and are the amulet that will protect his fame from
the corroding touch of centuries of time

The free Negroes of the Northern colonies responded to the call "_to
arms_" that rang from the placid waters of Massachusetts Bay to the
verdant hills of Berkshire, and from Lake Champlain to the upper
waters of the Hudson. Every Northern colony had its Negro troops, not
as separate organizations,--save the black regiment of Rhode
Island,--but scattered throughout all of the white organizations of
the army. At the first none but free Negroes were received into the
army; but before peace came Negroes were not only admitted, they were
purchased, and sent into the war, with an offer of freedom and fifty
dollars bounty at the close of their service. On the 29th of May,
1775, the "_Committee of Safety_" for the Province of Massachusetts
passed the following resolve against the enlistment of Negro slaves
as soldiers:--

     "Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, as the
     contest now between Great Britain and the colonies respects
     the liberties and privileges of the latter, which the
     colonies are determined to maintain, that the admission of
     any persons, as soldiers, into the army now raising, but
     only such as are freemen, will be inconsistent with the
     principles that are to be supported, and reflect dishonor on
     this colony, and that no slaves be admitted into this army
     upon any consideration whatever."[528]

On Tuesday, the 6th of June, 1775, "A resolve of the committee of
safety, relative to the [admission] of slaves into the army was read,
and ordered to lie on the table for further consideration."[529] But
this was but another evidence of the cold, conservative spirit of
Massachusetts on the question of other people's rights.

The Continental army was in bad shape. Its arms and clothing, its
discipline and efficiency, were at such a low state as to create the
gravest apprehensions and deepest solicitude. Gen. George Washington
took command of the army in and around Boston, on the 3d of July,
1775, and threw his energies into the work of organization. On the
10th of July he issued instructions to the recruiting-officers of
Massachusetts Bay, in which he forbade the enlistment of any "negro,"
or "any Person who is not an American born, unless such Person has a
Wife and Family and is a settled resident in this Country."[530] But,
nevertheless, it is a curious fact, as Mr. Bancroft says, "the roll of
the army at Cambridge had from its first formation borne the names of
men of color." "Free negroes stood in the ranks by the side of white
men. In the beginning of the war they had entered the provincial army;
the first general order which was issued by Ward, had required a
return, among other things, of the 'complexion' of the soldiers; and
black men like others were retained in the service after the troops
were adopted by the continent." There is no room to doubt. Negroes
were in the army from first to last, but were there in contravention
of law and positive prohibition.[531]

On the 29th of September, 1775, a spirited debate occurred in the
Continental Congress, over the draught of a letter to Gen. Washington,
reported by Lynch, Lee, and Adams. Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina
moved that the commander-in-chief be instructed to discharge all
slaves and free Negroes in his army. The Southern delegates supported
him earnestly, but his motion was defeated. Public attention was
called to the question, and at length the officers of the army debated
it. The following minute of a meeting held at Cambridge preserves and
reveals the sentiment of the general officers of the army on the

     "At a council of war, held at head-quarters, October 8th,
     1775, present: His Excellency, General Washington;
     Major-Generals Ward, Lee, and Putnam Brigadier-Generals
     Thomas, Spencer, Heath, Sullivan, Greene, and Gates--the
     question was proposed:

     "'Whether it will be advisable to enlist any negroes in the
     new army? or whether there be a distinction between such as
     are slaves and those who are free?'

     "It was agreed unanimously to reject all slaves; and, by a
     great majority, to reject negroes altogether."

Ten days later, Oct. 18, 1775, a committee of conference met at
Cambridge, consisting of Dr. Franklin, Benjamin Harrison, and Thomas
Lynch, who conferred with Gen. Washington, the deputy-governors of
Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the Committee of the Council of
Massachusetts Bay. The object of the conference was the renovation and
improvement of the army. On the 23d of October, the employment of
Negroes as soldiers came before the conference for action, as

     "Ought not negroes to be excluded from the new enlistment,
     especially such as are slaves? all were thought improper by
     the council of officers."

     "_Agreed_ that they be rejected altogether"

In his General Orders, issued from headquarters on the 12th of
November, 1775, Washington said,--

     "Neither negroes, boys unable to bear arms, nor old men
     unfit to endure the fatigues of the campaign, are to be

But the general repaired this mistake the following month. Lord
Dunmore had issued a proclamation declaring "all indented servants,
negroes, or others (appertaining to rebels) free." Fearing lest many
Negroes should join the ministerial army, in General Orders, 30th
December, Washington wrote:--

     "As the General is informed that numbers of free negroes are
     desirous of enlisting he gives leave to the recruiting
     officers to entertain them, and promises to lay the matter
     before the Congress, who, he doubts not, will approve of

Lord Dunmore's proclamation is here given:--

     "_By his Excellency the Right Honorable_ JOHN, _Earl of_
     DUNMORE, _his Majesty's Lieutenant and Governor-General of
     the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, and Vice-Admiral of the


     "As I have ever entertained hopes that an accommodation
     might have taken place between _Great Britain_ and this
     Colony, without being compelled by my duty to this most
     disagreeable but now absolutely necessary step, rendered so
     by a body of armed men, unlawfully assembled, firing on his
     Majesty's tenders; and the formation of an army, and that
     army now on their march to attack his Majesty's troops, and
     destroy the well-disposed subject of this Colony: To defeat
     such treasonable purposes, and that all such traitors and
     their abettors may be brought to justice, and that the peace
     and good order of this Colony may be again restored, which
     the ordinary course of the civil law is unable to effect, I
     have thought fit to issue this my Proclamation; hereby
     declaring, that until the aforesaid good purposes can be
     obtained, I do, in virtue of the power and authority to me
     given by his Majesty, determine to execute martial law, and
     cause the same to be executed, throughout this Colony. And,
     to the end that peace and good order may the sooner be
     restored, I do require every person capable of bearing arms
     to resort to his Majesty's standard, or be looked upon as
     traitors to his Majesty's Crown and Government, and thereby
     become liable to the penalty the law inflicts upon such
     offences,--such as forfeiture of life, confiscation of
     lands, &c., &c. And I do hereby further declare all indented
     servants, negroes, or others (appertaining to Rebels,) free,
     that are able and willing to bear arms, they joining his
     Majesty's troops, as soon as may be, for the more speedily
     reducing this Colony to a proper sense of their duty to his
     Majesty's crown and dignity. I do further order and require
     all his Majesty's liege subjects to retain their quit-rents,
     or any other taxes due, or that may become due, in their own
     custody, till such time as peace may be again restored to
     this at present most unhappy country, or demanded of them,
     for their former salutary purposes, by officers properly
     authorized to receive the same.

     "Given under my hand, on board the Ship _William_, off
     _Norfolk_, the seventh day of November, in the sixteenth
     year of his Majesty's reign.


                         "_God save the King!_"[533]

On account of this, on the 31st of December, Gen. Washington wrote the
President of Congress as follows:--

     "It has been represented to me, that the free negroes, who
     have served in this army, are very much dissatisfied at
     being discarded. As it is to be apprehended, that they may
     seek employ in the ministerial army, I have presumed to
     depart from the resolution respecting them, and have given
     license for their being enlisted. If this is disapproved of
     by Congress, I will put a stop to it."[534]

This letter was referred to a committee consisting of Messrs. Wythe,
Adams, and Wilson. On the 16th of January, 1776, they made the
following report:--

     "That the free negroes who have served faithfully in the
     army at Cambridge may be re-enlist--therein, but no

This action on the part of Congress had reference to the army around
Boston, but it called forth loud and bitter criticism from the
officers of the army at the South. In a letter to John Adams, dated
Oct. 24, 1775, Gen. Thomas indicated that there was some feeling even
before the action of Congress was secured. He says,--

     "I am sorry to hear that any prejudices should take place in
     any Southern colony, with respect to the troops raised in
     this. I am certain the insinuations you mention are
     injurious, if we consider with what precipitation we were
     obliged to collect an army. In the regiments at Roxbury, the
     privates are equal to any that I served with in the last
     war; very few old men, and in the ranks very few boys. Our
     fifers are many of them boys. We have some negroes; but I
     look on them, in general, equally serviceable with other men
     for fatigue; and, in action, many of them have proved
     themselves brave.

     "I would avoid all reflection, or any thing that may tend to
     give umbrage; but there is in this army from the southward a
     number called riflemen, who are as indifferent men as I
     ever served with. These privates are mutinous, and often
     deserting to the enemy; unwilling for duty of any kind;
     exceedingly vicious; and, I think, the army here would be as
     well without as with them. But to do justice to their
     officers, they are, some of them, likely men."

The Dunmore proclamation was working great mischief in the Southern
colonies. The Southern colonists were largely engaged in planting,
and, as they were Tories, did not rush to arms with the celerity that
characterized the Northern colonists. At an early moment in the
struggle, the famous Rev. Dr. Hopkins of Rhode Island wrote the
following pertinent extract:--

     "God is so ordering it in his providence, that it seems
     absolutely necessary something should speedily be done with
     respect to the slaves among us, in order to our safety, and
     to prevent their turning against us in out present struggle,
     in order to get their liberty. Our oppressors have planned
     to gain the blacks, and induce them to take up arms against
     us, by promising them liberty on this condition; and this
     plan they are prosecuting to the utmost of their power, by
     which means they have persuaded numbers to join them. And
     should we attempt to restrain them by force and severity,
     keeping a strict guard over them, and punishing them
     severely who shall be detected in attempting to join our
     opposers, this will only be making bad worse, and serve to
     render our inconsistence, oppression, and cruelty more
     criminal, perspicuous, and shocking, and bring down the
     righteous vengeance of Heaven on our heads. The only way
     pointed out to prevent this threatening evil is to set the
     blacks at liberty ourselves by some public acts and laws,
     and then give them proper encouragement to labor, or take
     arms in the defence of the American cause, as they shall
     choose. This would at once be doing them some degree of
     justice, and defeating our enemies in the scheme that they
     are prosecuting."[536]

On Sunday, the 24th of September, 1775, John Adams recorded the
following conversation, that goes to show that Lord Dunmore's policy
was well matured:--

     "In the evening, Mr. Bullock and Mr. Houston, two gentlemen
     from Georgia, came into our room, and smoked and chatted the
     whole evening. Houston and Adams disputed the whole time in
     good humor. They are both dabs at disputation, I think.
     Houston, a lawyer by trade, is one of course, and Adams is
     not a whit less addicted to it than the lawyers. The
     question was, whether all America was not in a state of war,
     and whether we ought to confine ourselves to act upon the
     defensive only? He was for acting offensively, next spring
     or this fall, if the petition was rejected or neglected. If
     it was not answered, and favorably answered, he would be for
     acting against Britain and Britons, as, in open war, against
     French and Frenchmen; fit privateers, and take their ships
     anywhere. These gentlemen give a melancholy account of the
     State of Georgia and South Carolina. They say that if one
     thousand regular troops should land in Georgia, and their
     commander be provided with arms and clothes enough, and
     proclaim freedom to all the negroes who would join his camp,
     twenty thousand negroes would join it from the two Provinces
     in a fortnight. The negroes have a wonderful art of
     communicating intelligence among themselves; it will run
     several hundreds of miles in a week or fortnight. They say,
     their only security is this; that all the king's friends,
     and tools of government, have large plantations, and
     property in negroes; so that the slaves of the Tories would
     be lost, as well as those of the Whigs."[537]

The Negroes in Virginia sought the standards of the ministerial army,
and the greatest consternation prevailed among the planters. On the
27th of November, 1775, Edmund Pendleton wrote to Richard Lee that the
slaves were daily flocking to the British army.

     "The Governour, hearing of this, marched out with three
     hundred and fifty soldiers, Tories and slaves, to Kemp's
     Landing, and after setting up his standard, and issuing his
     proclamation, declaring all persons Rebels who took up arms
     for the country, and inviting all slaves, servants, and
     apprentices to come to him and receive arms, he proceeded to
     intercept Hutchings and his party, upon whom he came by
     surprise, but received, it seems, so warm a fire, that the
     ragamuffins gave way. They were, however, rallied on
     discovering that two companies of our militia gave way; and
     left Hutchings and Dr. Reid with a volunteer company, who
     maintained their ground bravely till they were overcome by
     numbers, and took shelter in a swamp. The slaves were sent
     in pursuit of them; and one of Col. Hutchings's own, with
     another, found him. On their approach, he discharged his
     pistol at his slave, but missed him; and was taken by them,
     after receiving a wound in his face with a sword. The number
     taken or killed, on either side, is not ascertained. It is
     said the Governour went to Dr. Reid's shop, and, after
     taking the medicines and dressings necessary for his wounded
     men, broke all the others to pieces. Letters mention that
     slaves flock to him in abundance; but I hope it is

But the dark stream of Negroes that had set in toward the English
troops, where they were promised the privilege of bearing arms and
their freedom, could not easily be stayed. The proclamation of Dunmore
received the criticism of the press, and the Negroes were appealed to
and urged to stand by their "true friends." A Williamsburg paper,
printed on the 23d of November, 1775, contained the following
well-written plea:--


     "The second class of people for whose sake a few remarks
     upon this proclamation seem necessary is the Negroes. They
     have been flattered with their freedom, if they be able to
     bear arms, and will speedily join Lord Dunmore's troops. To
     none, then, is freedom promised, but to such as are able to
     do Lord Dunmore service. The aged, the infirm, the women and
     children, are still to remain the property of their
     masters,--of masters who will be provoked to severity,
     should part of their slaves desert them. Lord Dunmore's
     declaration, therefore, is a cruel declaration to the
     Negroes. He does not pretend to make it out of any
     tenderness to them, but solely upon his own account; and,
     should it meet with success, it leaves by far the greater
     number at the mercy of an enraged and injured people. But
     should there be any amongst the Negroes weak enough to
     believe that Lord Dunmore intends to do them a kindness, and
     wicked enough to provoke the fury of the Americans against
     their defenceless fathers and mothers, their wives, their
     women and children, let them only consider the difficulty of
     effecting their escape, and what they must expect to suffer
     if they fall into the hands of the Americans. Let them
     further consider what must be their fate should the English
     prove conquerors. If we can judge of the future from the
     past, it will not be much mended. Long have the Americans,
     moved by compassion and actuated by sound policy, endeavored
     to stop the progress of slavery. Our Assemblies have
     repeatedly passed acts, laying heavy duties upon imported
     Negroes; by which they meant altogether to prevent the
     horrid traffick. But their humane intentions have been as
     often frustrated by the cruelty and covetousness of a set of
     English merchants, who prevailed upon the King to repeal our
     kind and merciful acts, little, indeed, to the credit of his
     humanity. Can it, then, be supposed that the Negroes will be
     better used by the English, who have always encouraged and
     upheld this slavery, than by their present masters, who pity
     their condition; who wish, in general, to make it as easy
     and comfortable as possible; _and who would, were it in
     their power, or were they permitted, not only prevent any
     more Negroes from losing their freedom, but restore it to
     such as have already unhappily lost it?_ No: the ends of
     Lord Dunmore and his party being answered, they will either
     give up the offending Negroes to the rigor of the laws they
     have broken, or sell them in the West Indies, where every
     year they sell many thousands of their miserable brethren,
     to perish either by the inclemency of weather or the cruelty
     of barbarous masters. Be not then, ye Negroes, tempted by
     this proclamation to ruin yourselves. I have given you a
     faithful view of what you are to expect; and declare before
     God, in doing it, I have considered your welfare, as well as
     that of the country. Whether you will profit by my advice, I
     cannot tell; but this I know, that, whether we suffer or
     not, if _you_ desert us, _you_ most certainly will."[539]

But the Negroes had been demoralized, and it required an extraordinary
effort to quiet them. On the 13th of December, the Virginia Convention
put forth an answer to the proclamation of Lord Dunmore. On the 14th
of December a proclamation was issued "offering pardon to such slaves
as shall return to their duty within ten days after the publication
thereof." The following; was their declaration:--

     "_By the Representatives of the People of the Colony and
     Dominion of Virginia, assembled in General Convention_,


     "Whereas Lord Dunmore, by his Proclamation dated on board
     the ship 'William,' off Norfolk, the seventh day of
     November, 1775, hath offered freedom to such able-bodied
     slaves as are willing to join him, and take up arms against
     the good people of this Colony, giving thereby encouragement
     to a general insurrection, which may induce a necessity of
     inflicting the severest punishments upon those unhappy
     people, already deluded by his base and insidious arts, and
     whereas, by an act of the General Assembly now in force in
     this Colony, it is enacted, that all negro or other slaves,
     conspiring to rebel or make insurrection, shall suffer
     death, and be excluded all benefit of clergy;--we think it
     proper to declare, that all slaves who have been or shall be
     seduced, by his Lordship's Proclamation, or other arts, to
     desert their masters' service, and take up arms against the
     inhabitants of this Colony, shall be liable to such
     punishment as shall hereafter be directed by the General
     Convention. And to the end that all such who have taken this
     unlawful and wicked step may return in safety to their duty,
     and escape the punishment due to their crimes, we hereby
     promise pardon to them, they surrendering themselves to
     Colonel William Woodford or any other commander of our
     troops, and not appearing in arms after the publication
     hereof. And we do further earnestly recommend it to all
     humane and benevolent persons in this Colony to explain and
     make known this our offer of mercy to those unfortunate

Gen. Washington was not long in observing the effects of the Dunmore
proclamation. He began to fully realize the condition of affairs at
the South, and on Dec. 15 wrote Joseph Reed as follows:--

     "If the Virginians are wise, that arch-traitor to the rights
     of humanity, Lord Dunmore, should be instantly crushed, if
     it takes the force of the whole army to do it; otherwise,
     like a snow-ball in rolling, his army will get size, some
     through fear, some through promises, and some through
     inclination, joining his standard but that which renders the
     measure indispensably necessary is the negroes; for, if he
     gets formidable, numbers of them will be tempted to join who
     will be afraid to do it without."[541]

The slaves themselves were not incapable of perceiving the cunning of
Lord Dunmore. England had forced slavery upon the colonists against
their protest, had given instructions to the royal governors
concerning the increase of the traffic, and therefore could not be
more their friends than the colonists. The number that went over to
the enemy grew smaller all the while, and finally the British were
totally discouraged in this regard. Lord Dunmore was unwilling to
acknowledge the real cause of his failure to secure black recruits,
and so he charged it to the fever.


                                        30th March, 1776

       *       *       *       *       *

     "Your Lordship will observe by my letter, No. 34, that I
     have been endeavouring to raise two regiments here--one of
     white people, the other of black. The former goes on very
     slowly, but the latter very well, and would have been in
     great forwardness, had not a fever crept in amongst them,
     which earned off a great many very fine fellows."

                                        VIRGINIA, June 26, 1776.

     "I am extremely sorry to inform your Lordship, that that
     fever, of which I informed you in my letter No. 1, has
     proved a very malignant one, and has carried off an
     incredible number of our people, especially the blacks. Had
     it not been for this horrid disorder, I am satisfied I
     should have had two thousand blacks, with whom I should have
     had no doubt of penetrating into the heart of this

While the colonists felt, as Dr. Hopkins had written, that something
ought to be done toward securing the services of the Negroes, yet
their representatives were not disposed to legislate the Negro into
the army. He was there, and still a conservative policy was pursued
respecting him. Some bold officers took it upon themselves to receive
Negroes as soldiers. Gen. Greene, in a letter to Gen. Washington,
called attention to the raising of a Negro regiment on Staten Island.

     July 21, 1776, two o'clock.

     "SIR; Colonel Hand reports seven large ships are coming up
     from the Hook to the Narrows.

     "A negro belonging to one Strickler, at Gravesend was taken
     prisoner (as he says) last Sunday at Coney Island.
     Yesterday he made his escape, and was taken prisoner by the
     rifle-guard. He reports eight hundred negroes collected on
     Staten Island, this day to be formed into a regiment.

     "I am your Excellency's most obedient, humble servant,

                                        "N. GREENE.

     "_To his Excellency_ GEN. WASHINGTON, _Headquarters, New

To the evidence already produced as to the indiscriminate employment
of Negroes as soldiers in the American army, the observations of a
foreign officer are added. Under date of the 23d of October, 1777, a
Hessian officer wrote:[544]--

     "From here to Springfield, there are few habitations which
     have not a negro family dwelling in a small house near by.
     The negroes are here as fruitful as other cattle. The young
     ones are well foddered, especially while they are still
     calves. Slavery is, moreover, very gainful. The negro is to
     be considered just as the bond-servant of a peasant. The
     negress does all the coarse work of the house, and the
     little black young ones wait on the little white young ones.
     _The negro can take the field, instead of his master; and
     therefore no regiment is to be seen in which there are not
     negroes in abundance: and among them there, are able-bodied,
     strong, and brave fellows_. Here, too, there are many
     families of free negroes, who live in good houses, have
     property, and live just like the rest of the

In the month of May, 1777, the Legislature of Connecticut sought to
secure some action on the subject of the employment of Negroes as

     "In May, 1777, the General Assembly of Connecticut appointed
     a Committee 'to take into consideration the state and
     condition of the negro and mulatto slaves in this State, and
     what may be done for their emancipation.' This Committee, in
     a report presented at the same session (signed by the
     chairman, the Hon. Matthew Griswold of Lyme), recommended--

     "'That the effective negro and mulatto slaves be allowed to
     enlist with the Continental battalions now raising in this
     State, under the following regulations and restrictions;
     viz., that all such negro and mulatto slaves as can procure,
     either by bounty, hire, or in any other way, such a sum to
     be paid to their masters as such negro or mulatto shall be
     judged to be reasonably worth by the selectmen of the town
     where such negro or mulatto belongs, shall be allowed to
     enlist into either of said battalions, and shall thereupon
     be, de facto, _free and emancipated_; and that the master of
     such negro or mulutto shall be exempted from the support and
     maintenance of such negro or mulatto, in case such negro or
     mulatto shall hereafter become unable to support and
     maintain himself.

     "'And that, in case any such negro or mulatto slave shall be
     disposed to enlist into either of said battalions during the
     [war], he shall be allowed so to do: and such negro or
     mulatto shall be appraised by the selectmen of the town to
     which he belongs, and his master shall be allowed to receive
     the bounty to which such slave may be entitled and also
     one-half of the annual wages of such slave during the time
     he shall continue in said service; provided, however, that
     said master shall not be allowed to receive such part of
     said wages after he shall have received so much as amounts,
     together with the bounty, to the sum at which he was

In the lower house the report was put over to the next session, but
when it reached the upper house it was rejected.

     "You will see by the Report of Committee, May, 1777, that
     General Varnum's plan for the enlistment of slaves had been
     anticipated in Connecticut; with this difference, that Rhode
     Island _adopted_ it, while Connecticut did _not._

     "The two States reached nearly the same _results_ by
     different methods. The unanimous declaration of the officers
     at Cambridge, in the winter of 1775, _against_ the
     enlistment of slaves,--confirmed by the Committee of
     Congress,--had some weight, I think, with the Connecticut
     Assembly, so far as the formal enactment of a law
     _authorized_ such enlistments was in question. At the same
     time, Washington's license to _continue_ the enlistment of
     negroes was regarded as a rule of action both by the
     selectmen in making up, and by the State Government in
     accepting, the quota of the towns. The process of
     draughting, in Connecticut, was briefly this: The
     able-bodied men, in each town, were divided into 'classes:'
     and each class was required to furnish one or more men, as
     the town's quota required, to answer a draught. Now, the
     Assembly, at the same session at which the proposition for
     enlisting slaves was rejected (May, 1777), passed an act
     providing that any _two_ men belonging to this State, 'who
     should procure an able-bodied soldier or recruit to enlist
     into either of the Continental battalions to be raised from
     this State,' should themselves be exempted from draught
     during the continuance of such enlistment. Of recruits or
     draughted men thus furnished, neither the selectmen nor
     commanding officers questioned the _color_ or the civil
     _status_: white and black, bond and free, if 'able-bodied,'
     went on the roll together, accepted as the representatives
     of their 'class,' or as substitutes for their employers. At
     the next session (October, 1777), an act was passed which
     gave more direct encouragement to the enlistment of slaves.
     By this existing law, the master who emancipated a slave was
     not released from the liability to provide for his support.
     This law was now so amended, as to authorize the selectmen
     of any town, on the application of the master,--after
     'inquiry into the age, abilities, circumstances, and
     character' of the servant or slave, and being satisfied
     'that it was likely to be consistent with his real
     advantage, and that it was probable that he would be able to
     support himself,'--to grant liberty for his emancipation,
     and to discharge the master 'from any charge or cost which
     may be occasioned by maintaining or supporting the servant
     or slave made free as aforesaid.' This enactment enabled the
     selectmen to offer an additional inducement to enlistment
     for making up the quota of the town. The slave (or servant
     for term of years) might receive his freedom; the master
     might secure exemption from draught, and a discharge from
     future liabilities, to which he must otherwise have been
     subjected. In point of fact, some hundreds of blacks--slaves
     and freemen--were enlisted, from time to time, in the
     regiments of the State troops and of the Connecticut line.
     _How_ many, it is impossible to tell: for, from first to
     last, the company or regimental rolls indicate _no
     distinctions_ of color. The _name_ is the only guide, and,
     in turning over the rolls of the Connecticut line, the
     frequent recurrence of names which were exclusively
     appropriated to negroes and slaves, shows how considerable
     was their proportion of the material of the Connecticut
     army; while such surnames as 'Liberty.' 'Freeman,'
     'Freedom,' &c, by scores, indicate with what anticipations,
     and under what inducements, they entered the service.

     As to the efficiency of the service they rendered, I can say
     nothing from the records, except what is to be gleaned from
     scattered files such as one of the petitions I send you. So
     far as my acquaintance extends, almost every family has its
     traditions of the good and faithful service of a black
     servant or slave, who was killed in battle, or served
     through the war, and came home to tell stories of hard
     fighting, and draw his pension. In my own native town,--not
     a large one,--I remember five such pensioners, three of
     whom, I believe, had been slaves, and, in fact, _were_
     slaves to the day of their death; for (and this explains the
     uniform action of the General Assembly on petitions for
     emancipation) neither the towns nor the State were inclined
     to exonerate the master, at a time when slavery was becoming
     unprofitable, from the obligation to provide for the old age
     of his slave."[546]

Gen. Varnum, a brave and intelligent officer from Rhode Island, early
urged the employment of Negro soldiers. He communicated his views to
Gen. Washington, and he referred the correspondence to the governor of
Rhode Island.


     HEADQUARTERS, 2d January, 1778

     SIR:--Enclosed you will receive a copy of a letter from
     General Varnum to me, upon the means which might be adopted
     for completing the Rhode Island troops to their full
     proportion in the Continental army. I have nothing to say in
     addition to what I wrote the 29th of the last month on this
     important subject, but to desire that you will give the
     officers employed in this business all the assistance in
     your power.

                    I am with great respect, sir,
                         Your most obedient servant,
                                   G. WASHINGTON.

     "To GOVERNOR COOKE."[547]

The letter of Gen. Varnum to Gen. Washington, in reference to the
employment of Negroes as soldiers, is as follows:--


     "CAMP, January 2d, 1778.

     "SIR:--The two battalions from the State of Rhode Island
     being small, and there being a necessity of the state's
     furnishing an additional number to make up their proportion
     in the Continental army; the field officers have represented
     to me the propriety of making one temporary battalion from
     the two, so that one entire corps of officers may repair to
     Rhode Island, in order to receive and prepare the recruits
     for the field. It is imagined that a battalion of negroes
     can be easily raised there. Should that measure be adopted,
     or recruits obtained upon any other principle, the service
     will be advanced. The field officers who go upon this
     command, are Colonel Greene, Lieutenant Colonel Olney, and
     Major Ward; seven captains, twelve lieutenants, six ensigns,
     one paymaster, one surgeon and mates, one adjutant and one

                    "I am your Excellency's most obedient servant,
                                                    "J.M. VARNUM.


Gov. Cooke wrote Gen. Washington as follows:--

     "PROVIDENCE, January 19th, 1778.

     "SIR:--Since we had the honor of addressing Your Excellency
     by Mr. Thompson, we received your favor of the 2d of January
     current, enclosing a proposition of Gen. Varnum's for
     raising a battalion of negroes.

     "We in our letter of the 15th current, of which we send a
     duplicate, have fully represented our present circumstances,
     and the many difficulties we labor under, in respect to our
     filling up the Continental battalions. In addition thereto,
     will observe, that we have now in the state's service within
     the government, two battalions of infantry, and a regiment
     of artillery who are enlisted to serve until the 16th day of
     March next; and the General Assembly have ordered two
     battalions of infantry, and a regiment of artillery, to be
     raised, to serve until the 16th of March, 1779. So that we
     have raised and kept in the field, more than the proportion
     of men assigned us by Congress.

     "The General Assembly of this state are to convene
     themselves on the second Monday of February next, when your
     letters will be laid before them, and their determination
     respecting the same, will be immediately transmitted to Your

                              "I have the honor to be, &c.,
                                        "NICHOLAS COOKE.

     "TO GEN. WASHINGTON."[549]

The governor laid the above letters before the General Assembly, at
their February session; and the following act was passed:--

     "Whereas, for the preservation of the rights and liberties
     of the United States, it is necessary that the whole powers
     of government should be exerted in recruiting the
     Continental battalions; and whereas, His Excellency Gen.
     Washington hath enclosed to this state a proposal made to
     him by Brigadier General Varnum, to enlist into the two
     battalions, raising by this state, such slaves as should be
     willing to enter into the service; and whereas, history
     affords us frequent precedents of the wisest, the freest,
     and bravest nations having liberated their slaves, and
     enlisted them as soldiers to fight in defence of their
     country; and also whereas, the enemy, with a great force,
     have taken possession of the capital, and of a greater part
     of this state; and this state is obliged to raise a very
     considerable number of troops for its own immediate defence,
     whereby it is in a manner rendered impossible for this state
     to furnish recruits for the said two battalions, without
     adopting the said measure so recommended.

     "It is voted and resolved, that every able-bodied negro,
     mulatto, or Indian man slave, in this state, may enlist into
     either of the said two battalions, to serve during the
     continuance of the present war with Great Britain.

     "That every slave, so enlisting, shall be entitled to, and
     receive, all the bounties, wages, and encouragements,
     allowed by the Continental Congress, to any soldier
     enlisting into their service.

     "It is further voted and resolved, that every slave, so
     enlisting, shall, upon his passing muster before Col.
     Christopher Greene, be immediately discharged from the
     service of his master or mistress, and be absolutely FREE,
     as though he had never been encumbered with any kind of
     servitude or slavery.

     "And in case such slave shall, by sickness or otherwise, be
     rendered unable to maintain himself, he shall not be
     chargeable to his master or mistress; but shall be supported
     at the expense of the state.

     "And whereas, slaves have been, by the laws, deemed the
     property of their owners, and therefore compensation ought
     to be made to the owners for the loss of their service,--

     "It is further voted and resolved, that there be allowed,
     and paid by this state, to the owner, for every such slave
     so enlisting, a sum according to his worth; at a price not
     exceeding £120 for the most valuable slave; and in
     proportion for a slave of less value.

     "Provided, the owner of said slave shall deliver up to the
     officer, who shall enlist him, the clothes of the said
     slave; or otherwise he shall not be entitled to said sum.

     "And for settling and ascertaining the value of such

     "It is further voted and resolved, that a committee of five
     be appointed, to wit:

     "One from each county; any three of whom, to be a quorum, to
     examine the slaves who shall be so enlisted, after they
     shall have passed muster, and to set a price upon each slave
     according to his value, as aforesaid.

     "It is further voted and resolved, that upon any ablebodied
     negro, mulatto, or Indian slave, enlisting as aforesaid, the
     officer who shall so enlist him, after he shall have passed
     muster, as aforesaid, shall deliver a certificate thereof,
     to the master or mistress of said negro, mulatto, or Indian
     slave; which shall discharge him from the service of his
     said master or mistress, as aforesaid.

     "It is further voted and resolved, that the committee who
     shall estimate the value of any slave, as aforesaid, shall
     give a certificate of the sum at which he may be valued, to
     the owner of said slave; and the general treasurer of this
     state is hereby empowered and directed to give unto the said
     owner of the said slave, his promissory note, as treasurer,
     as aforesaid, for the sum of money at which he shall be
     valued, as aforesaid, payable on demand, with interest at
     the rate of six per cent. per annum; and that said notes,
     which shall be so given, shall be paid with the money which
     is due to this state, and is expected from Congress; the
     money which has been borrowed out of the general treasury,
     by this Assembly, being first re-placed."[550]

This measure met with some opposition, but it was too weak to effect
any thing. The best thing the minority could do was to enter a written


     "We, the subscribers, beg leave to dissent from the vote of
     the lower house, ordering a regiment of negroes to be raised
     for the Continental service, for the following reasons,

     "1st. Because, in our opinion, there is not a sufficient
     number of negroes in the state, who would have an
     inclination to enlist, and would pass muster, to constitute
     a regiment; and raising several companies of blacks, would
     not answer the purposes intended; and therefore the attempt
     to constitute said regiment would prove abortive, and be a
     fruitless expense to the state.

     "2d. The raising such a regiment, upon the footing proposed,
     would suggest an idea and produce an opinion in the world,
     that the state had purchased a band of slaves to be employed
     in the defence of the rights and liberties of our country,
     which is wholly inconsistent with those principles of
     liberty and constitutional government, for which we are so
     ardently contending; and would be looked upon by the
     neighboring states in a contemptible point of view, and not
     equal to their troops; and they would therefore be unwilling
     that we should have credit for them, as for an equal number
     of white troops; and would also give occasion to our enemies
     to suspect that we are not able to procure our own people to
     oppose them in the field; and to retort upon us the same
     kind of ridicule we so liberally bestowed upon them, on
     account of Dunmore's regiment of blacks; or possibly might
     suggest to them the idea of employing black regiments
     against us.

     "3d. The expense of purchasing and enlisting said regiment,
     in the manner proposed, will vastly exceed the expenses of
     raising an equal number of white men; and at the same time
     will not have the like good effect.

     "4th. Great difficulties and uneasiness will arise in
     purchasing the negroes from their masters; and many of the
     masters will not be satisfied with any prices allowed.

                          "JOHN NORTHUP,       GEORGE PIERCE,
                          "JAMES BABCOK, JR.,  SYLVESTER GARDNER,
                          "OTHNIEL GORTON,     SAMUEL BABCOCK."[551]

Upon the passage of the Act, Gov. Cooke hastened to notify Gen.
Washington of the success of the project.

     "PROVIDENCE, February 23d, 1778.

     "SIR:--I have been favored with your Excellency's letter of
     the [3d instant,][552] enclosing a proposal made to you by
     General Varnum, for recruiting the two Continental
     battalions raised by this state.

     "I laid the letter before the General Assembly at their
     session, on the second Monday in this month; who,
     considering the pressing necessity of filling up the
     Continental army, and the peculiarly difficult circumstances
     of this state, which rendered it in a manner impossible to
     recruit our battalions in any other way, adopted the

     "Liberty is given to every effective slave to enter the
     service during the war; and upon his passing muster, he is
     absolutely made free, and entitled to all the wages,
     bounties and encouragements given by Congress to any soldier
     enlisting into their service. The masters are allowed at the
     rate of £120, for the most valuable slave; and in proportion
     to those of less value.

     "The number of slaves in this state is not great; but it is
     generally thought that three hundred, and upwards, will be

     "I am, with great respect, sir,

                    "Your Excellency's most obedient, humble servant,
                                        "NICHOLAS COOKE.

     "TO GEN. WASHINGTON."[553]

Where masters had slaves in the army, they were paid an annual
interest on the appraised value of the slaves, out of the public
treasury, until the end of the military service of such slaves.[554]
If owners presented certificates from the committee appointed to
appraise enlisted Negroes, they were paid in part or in full in
"Continental loan-office certificates."[555]

The reader will remember, that it has been already shown that Negroes,
both bond and free, were excluded from the militia of Massachusetts;
and, furthermore, that both the Committee of Safety and the Provincial
Congress had opposed the enlistment of Negroes. The first move in the
colony to secure legal enlistments and separate organizations of
Colored troops was a communication to the General Assembly of
Massachusetts, 3d of April, 1778.

     "_To the Honorable Council, and House of Representatives,
     Boston, or at Roxbury._

     "HONORED GENTLEMEN,--At the opening of this campaign, our
     forces should be all ready, well equipped with arms and
     ammunition, with clothing sufficient to stand them through
     the campaign, their wages to be paid monthly, so as not to
     give the soldiery so much reason of complaint as it is the
     general cry from the soldiery amongst whom I am connected.

     "We have accounts of large re-enforcements a-coming over
     this spring against us; and we are not so strong this
     spring, I think, as we were last. Great numbers have
     deserted; numbers have died, besides what is sick, and
     incapable of duty, or bearing arms in the field.

     "I think it is highly necessary that some new augmentation
     should be added to the army this summer,--all the
     re-enforcements that can possibly be obtained. For now is
     the time to exert ourselves or never; for, if the enemy can
     get no further hold this campaign than they now possess, we
     [have] no need to fear much from them hereafter.

     "A re-enforcement can quick be raised of two or three
     hundred men. Will your honors grant the liberty, and give me
     the command of the party? And what I refer to is negroes. We
     have divers of them in our service, mixed with white men.
     But I think it would be more proper to raise a body by
     themselves, than to have them intermixed with the white men;
     and their ambition would entirely be to outdo the white men
     in every measure that the fortune of war calls a soldier to
     endure. And I could rely with dependence upon them in the
     field of battle, or to any post that I was sent to defend
     with them; and they would think themselves happy could they
     gain their freedom by bearing a part of subduing the enemy
     that is invading our land, and clear a peaceful inheritance
     for their masters, and posterity yet to come, that they are
     now slaves to.

     "The method that I would point out to your Honors in raising
     a detachment of negroes;--that a company should consist of a
     hundred, including commissioned officers; and that the
     commissioned officers should be white, and consist of one
     captain, one captain-lieutenant, two second lieutenants; the
     orderly sergeant white; and that there should be three
     sergeants black, four corporals black, two drums and two
     fifes black, and eighty-four rank and file. These should
     engage to serve till the end of the war, and then be free
     men. And I doubt not, that no gentleman that is a friend to
     his country will disapprove of this plan, or be against his
     negroes enlisting into the service to maintain the cause of
     freedom, and suppress the worse than savage enemies of our

     "I beg your Honors to grant me the liberty of raising one
     company, if no more. It will be far better than to fill up
     our battalions with runaways and deserters from Gen.
     Burgoyne's army, who, after receiving clothing and the
     bounty, in general make it their business to desert from us.
     In the lieu thereof, if they are [of] a mind to serve in
     America, let them supply the families of those gentlemen
     where those negroes belong that should engage.

     "I rest, relying on your Honor's wisdom in this matter, as
     it will be a quick way of having a re-enforcement to join
     the grand army, or to act in any other place that occasion
     shall require; and I will give my faith and assurance that I
     will act upon honor and fidelity, should I take the command
     of such a party as I have been describing.

     "So I rest till your Honors shall call me; and am your very
     humble and obedient servant,

                                        "THOMAS KENCH,

     "In Col. Craft's Regiment of Artillery, now on Castle

     "CASTLE ISLAND, April 3, 1778."

A few days later he addressed another letter to the same body.

     "_To the Honorable Council in Boston._

     "The letter I wrote before I heard of the disturbance with
     Col. Seares, Mr. Spear, and a number of other gentlemen,
     concerning the freedom of negroes, in Congress Street. It is
     a pity that riots should be committed on the occasion, as it
     is justifiable that negroes should have their freedom, and
     none amongst us be held as slaves, as freedom and liberty is
     the grand controversy that we are contending for; and I
     trust, under the smiles of Divine Providence, we shall
     obtain it, if all our minds can be united; and putting the
     negroes into the service will prevent much uneasiness, and
     give more satisfaction to those that are offended at the
     thoughts of their servants being free.

     "I will not enlarge, for fear I should give offence; but
     subscribe myself

                    "Your faithful servant,
                                        "THOMAS KENCH.

     "CASTLE ISLAND, April 7, 1778."[556]

On the 11th of April the first letter was referred to a joint
committee, with instructions "to consider the same, and report." On
the 17th of April, "a resolution of the General Assembly of Rhode
Island for enlisting Negroes in the public service" was referred to
the same committee. In the Militia Act of 1775, the exceptions were,
"Negroes, Indians, and mulattoes." By the act of May, 1776, providing
for the re-enforcement of the American army, it was declared that,
"Indians, negroes, and mulattoes, shall not be held to take up arms or
procure any person to do it in their room." By another act, passed
Nov. 14, 1776, looking toward the improvement of the army, "Negroes,
Indians, and mulattoes" were excluded. During the year 1776 an order
was issued for taking the census of all males above sixteen, but
excepted "Negroes, Indians, and mulattoes." But after some reverses to
the American army, Massachusetts passed a resolve on Jan. 6, 1777,
"for raising every seventh man to complete our quota," "without any
exceptions, save the people called Quakers." This was the nearest
Massachusetts ever got toward recognizing Negroes as soldiers. And on
the 5th of March, 1778, Benjamin Goddard, for the selectmen, Committee
of Safety, and militia officers of the town of Grafton, protested
against the enlistment of the Negroes in his town.

It is not remarkable, in view of such a history, that Massachusetts
should have hesitated to follow the advice of Thomas Kench. On the
28th of April, 1778, a law was draughted following closely the
Rhode-Island Act. But no separate organization was ordered; and,
hence, the Negroes served in white organizations till the close of the
American Revolution.

There is nothing in the records of Virginia to show that there was
ever any legal employment of Negroes as soldiers; but, from the
following, it is evident that free Negroes _did_ serve, and that there
was no prohibition against them, providing they showed their
certificates of freedom:--

     "And whereas several negro slaves have deserted from their
     masters, and under pretence of being free men have enlisted
     as soldiers: For prevention whereof, _Be it enacted_, that
     it shall not be lawful for any recruiting officer within
     this commonwealth to enlist any negro or mulatto into the
     service of this or either of the United States, until such
     negro or mulatto shall produce a certificate from some
     justice of the peace for the county wherein he resides that
     he is a free man."[557]

Maryland employed Negroes as soldiers, and sent them into regiments
with white soldiers. John Cadwalder of Annapolis, wrote Gen.
Washington on the 5th of June, 1781, in reference to Negro soldiers,
as follows:--

     "We have resolved to raise, immediately, seven hundred and
     fifty negroes, to be incorporated with the other troops; and
     a bill is now almost completed."[558]

The legislature of New York, on the 20th of March, 1781, passed the
following Act, providing for the raising of two regiments of blacks:--

     "SECT. 6.--And be it further enacted by the authority
     aforesaid, that any person who shall deliver one or more of
     his or her able-bodied male slaves to any warrant officer,
     as afore said, to serve in either of the said regiments or
     independent corps, and produce a certificate thereof,
     signed by any person authorized to muster and receive the
     men to be raised by virtue of this act, and produce such
     certificate to the Surveyor-General, shall, for every male
     slave so entered and mustered as aforesaid, be entitled to
     the location and grant of one right, in manner as in and by
     this act is directed; and shall be, and hereby is,
     discharged from any future maintenance of such slave, any
     law to the contrary notwithstanding: And such slave so
     entered as aforesaid, who shall serve for the term of three
     years or until regularly discharged, shall, immediately
     after such service or discharge, be, and is hereby declared
     to be, a free man of this State."[559]

The theatre of the war was now transferred from the Eastern to the
Middle and Southern colonies. Massachusetts alone had furnished, and
placed in the field, 67,907 men; while all the colonies south of
Pennsylvania, put together, had furnished but 50,493,--or 8,414 _less_
than the single colony of Massachusetts.[560] It was a difficult task
to get the whites to enlist at the South. Up to 1779, nearly all the
Negro soldiers had been confined to the New-England colonies. The
enemy soon found out that the Southern colonies were poorly protected,
and thither he moved. The Hon. Henry Laurens of South Carolina, an
intelligent and observing patriot, wrote Gen. Washington on the 16th
of March, 1779, concerning the situation at the South:--

     "Our affairs [he wrote] in the Southern department are more
     favorable than we had considered them a few days ago;
     nevertheless, the country is greatly distressed, and will be
     more so unless further reinforcements are sent to its
     relief. Had we arms for three thousand such black men as I
     could select in Carolina, I should have no doubt of success
     in driving the British out of Georgia, and subduing East
     Florida, before the end of July."[561]

Gen. Washington sent the following conservative reply:--

     "The policy of our arming slaves is in my opinion a moot
     point, unless the enemy set the example. For, should we
     begin to form battalions of them, I have not the smallest
     doubt, if the war is to be prosecuted, of their following us
     in it, and justifying the measure upon our own ground. The
     contest then must be, who can arm fastest. And where are our
     arms? Besides, I am not clear that a discrimination will not
     render slavery more irksome to those who remain in it. Most
     of the good and evil things in this life are judged of by
     comparison; and I fear a comparison in this case will be
     productive of much discontent in those, who are held in
     servitude. But, as this is a subject that has never employed
     much of my thoughts, these are no more than the first crude
     ideas that have struck me upon the occasion."[562]

The gifted and accomplished Alexander Hamilton, a member of
Washington's military family, was deeply interested in the plan
suggested by the Hon. Henry Laurens, whose son was on Washington's
staff. Col. John Laurens was the bearer of the following remarkable
letter from Hamilton to John Jay, President of Congress.

     "HEADQUARTERS, March 14, 1779.

     "To JOHN JAY.

     "DEAR SIR,--Col. Laurens who will have the honor of
     delivering you this letter, is on his way to South Carolina,
     on a project which I think, in the present situation of
     affairs there, is a very good one, and deserves every kind
     of support and encouragement. This is, to raise two, three,
     or four battalions of negroes, with the assistance of the
     government of the State, by contributions from the owners in
     proportion to the number they possess. If you should think
     proper to enter upon the subject with him, he will give you
     a detail of his plan. He wishes to have it recommended by
     Congress to the State: and, as an inducement, that they
     should engage to take those battalions into Continental pay.

     "It appears to me, that an expedient of this kind, in the
     present state of Southern affairs, is the most rational that
     can be adopted, and promises very important advantages.
     Indeed, I hardly see how a sufficient force can be collected
     in that quarter without it; and the enemy's operations there
     are growing infinitely more serious and formidable. I have
     not the least doubt that the negroes will make very
     excellent soldiers with proper management; and I will
     venture to pronounce, that they cannot be put into better
     hands than those of Mr. Laurens. He has all the zeal,
     intelligence, enterprise, and every other qualification,
     necessary to succeed in such an undertaking. It is a maxim
     with some great military judges, that, with sensible
     officers, soldiers can hardly be too stupid; and, on this
     principle, it is thought that the Russians would make the
     best troops in the world, it they were under other officers
     than their own. The King of Prussia is among the number who
     maintain this doctrine; and has a very emphatic saying on
     the occasion, which I do not exactly recollect. I mention
     this because I hear it frequently objected to the scheme of
     embodying negroes, that they are too stupid to make
     soldiers. This is so far from appearing to me a valid
     objection, that I think their want of cultivation (for their
     natural faculties are probably as good as ours), joined to
     that habit of subordination which they acquire from a life
     of servitude, will make them sooner become soldiers than our
     white inhabitants. Let officers be men of sense and
     sentiment; and the nearer the soldiers approach to machines,
     perhaps the better.

     "I foresee that this project will have to combat much
     opposition from prejudice and self-interest. The contempt we
     have been taught to entertain for the blacks makes us fancy
     many things that are founded neither in reason nor
     experience; and an unwillingness to part with property of so
     valuable a kind will furnish a thousand arguments to show
     the impracticability or pernicious tendency of a scheme
     which requires such a sacrifice. But it should be
     considered, that, if we do not make use of them in this way,
     the enemy probably will; and that the best way to
     counteract the temptations they will hold out will be to
     offer them ourselves. An essential part of the plan is to
     give them their freedom with their muskets. This will secure
     their fidelity, animate their courage, and, I believe, will
     have a good influence upon those who remain, by opening a
     door to their emancipation. This circumstance, I confess,
     has no small weight in inducing me to wish the success of
     the project, for the dictates of humanity, and true policy,
     equally interest me in favor of this unfortunate class of

                    "With the truest respect and esteem,
                         "I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,
                                        "ALEX. HAMILTON."[563]

The condition of the Southern States became a matter of Congressional
solicitude. The letter of Col. Hamilton was referred to a special
committee on the 29th of March, 1779. It was represented that South
Carolina especially was in great danger. The white population was
small; and, while there were some in the militia service, it was
thought necessary to keep as large a number of whites at home as
possible. The fear of insurrection, the desertion[564] of Negroes to
the enemy, and the exposed condition of her border, intensified the
anxiety of the people. The only remedy seemed to lie in the employment
of the more fiery spirits among the Negroes as the defenders of the
rights and interests of the colonists. Congress rather hesitated to
act,--it was thought that that body lacked the authority to order the
enlistment of Negroes in the States,--and therefore recommended to
"the states of South Carolina and Georgia, if they shall think the
same expedient, to take measures immediately for raising three
thousand able-bodied negroes." After some consideration the following
plan was recommended by the special committee, and adopted:--

     "IN CONGRESS, March 29, 1779.

     "The Committee, consisting of Mr. Burke, Mr. Laurens, Mr.
     Armstrong, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Dyer, appointed to take into
     consideration the circumstances of the Southern States, and
     the ways and means for their safety and defence, report,--

       *       *       *       *       *

     "That the State of South Carolina, as represented by the
     delegates of the said State and by Mr. Huger, who has come
     hither at the request of the Governor of the said State, on
     purpose to explain the particular circumstances thereof, is
     unable to make any effectual efforts with militia, by reason
     of the great proportion of citizens necessary to remain at
     home to prevent insurrections among the negroes, and to
     prevent the desertion of them to the enemy.

     "That the state of the country, and the great numbers of
     those people among them, expose the inhabitants to great
     danger from the endeavors of the enemy to excite them either
     to revolt or desert.

     "That it is suggested by the delegates of the said State and
     by Mr. Huger, that a force might be raised in the said State
     from among the negroes, which would not only be formidable
     to the enemy from their numbers, and the discipline of which
     they would very readily admit, but would also lessen the
     danger from revolts and desertions, by detaching the most
     vigorous and enterprising from among the negroes.

     "That, as this measure may involve inconveniences peculiarly
     affecting the States of South Carolina and Georgia, the
     Committee are of the opinion that the same should be
     submitted to the governing powers of the said States; and if
     the said powers shall judge it expedient to raise such a
     force, that the United States ought to defray the expense
     thereof: whereupon,

     "Resolved, That it be recommended to the States of South
     Carolina and Georgia, if they shall think the same
     expedient, to take measures immediately for raising three
     thousand able-bodied negroes.

     "That the said negroes be formed into separate corps, as
     battalions, according to the arrangements adopted for the
     main army, to be commanded by white commissioned and
     non-commissioned officers.

     "That the commissioned officers be appointed by the said

     "That the non-commissioned officers may, if the said States
     respectively shall think proper, be taken from among the
     non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Continental
     battalions of the said States respectively.

     "That the Governors of the said States, together with the
     commanding officer of the Southern army, be empowered to
     incorporate the several Continental battalions of their
     States with each other respectively, agreeably to the
     arrangement of the army, as established by the resolutions
     of May 27, 1778; and to appoint such of the supernumerary
     officers to command the said negroes as shall choose to go
     into that service.

     "Resolved, That Congress will make provision for paying the
     proprietors of such negroes as shall be enlisted for the
     service of the United States during the war a full
     compensation for the property, at a rate not exceeding one
     thousand dollars for each active, able bodied negro man of
     standard size, not exceeding thirty-five years of age, who
     shall be so enlisted and pass muster.

     "That no pay or bounty be allowed to the said negroes, but
     that they be clothed and subsisted at the expense of the
     United States.

     "That every negro who shall well and faithfully serve as a
     soldier to the end of the present war, and shall then return
     his arms, be emancipated, and receive the sum of fifty

Congress supplemented the foregoing measure by commissioning young
Col. Laurens to carry forward the important work suggested. The
gallant young officer was indeed worthy of the following

     "Whereas John Laurens, Esq., who has heretofore acted as
     aide-de-camp to the Commander-in-chief, is desirous of
     repairing to South Carolina, with a design to assist in
     defence of the Southern States;--

     "_Resolved_, That a commission of lieutenant-colonel be
     granted to the said John Laurens, Esq."[566]

He repaired to South Carolina, and threw all his energies into his
noble mission. That the people did not co-operate with him, is
evidenced in the following extract from a letter he subsequently wrote
to Col. Hamilton:--

     "Ternant will relate to you how many violent struggles I
     have had between duty and inclination,--how much my heart
     was with you, while I appeared to be most actively employed
     here. But it appears to me, that I should be inexcusable in
     the light of a citizen, if I did not continue my utmost
     efforts for carrying the plan of the black levies into
     execution, while there remain the smallest hopes of

The enemy was not slow in discovering the division of sentiment among
the colonists as to the policy of employing Negroes as soldiers. And
the suspicions of Gen. Washington, indicated to Henry Laurens, in a
letter already quoted, were not groundless. On the 30th of June, 1779,
Sir Henry Clinton issued a proclamation to the Negroes. It first
appeared in "The Royal Gazette" of New York, on the 3d of July, 1779.

     "By his Excellency Sir HENRY CLINTON, K.B. General and
     Commander-in-chief of all his Majesty's Forces within the
     Colonies laying on the Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to
     West-Florida, inclusive, &c., &c., &.


     "Whereas the enemy have adopted a practice of enrolling
     NEGROES among their Troops, I do hereby give notice That all
     NEGROES taken in arms, or upon any military Duty, shall be
     purchased for [_the public service at_] a stated Price; the
     money to be paid to the Captors.

     "But I do most strictly forbid any Person to sell or claim
     Right over any NEGROE, the property of a Rebel, who may take
     Refuge with any part of this Army: And I do promise to every
     NEGROE who shall desert the Rebel Standard, full security to
     follow within these Lines, any Occupation which he shall
     think proper.

     "Given under my Hand, at Head-Quarters, PHILLIPSBURGH, the
     30th day of June, 1779.

                                        "H. CLINTON.

     "By his Excellency's command,

                                        "JOHN SMITH, _Secretary_."

The proclamation had effect. Many Negroes, weary of the hesitancy of
the colonists respecting acceptance of their services, joined the
ministerial army. On the 14th of February, 1780, Col. Laurens wrote
Gen. Washington, from Charleston, S.C., as follows:--

     "Private accounts say that General Prevost is left to
     command at Savannah; that his troops consist of the Hessians
     and Loyalists that were there before, re-enforced by a corps
     of blacks and a detachment of savages. It is generally
     reported that Sir Henry Clinton commands the present

Lord Cornwallis also issued a proclamation, offering protection to all
Negroes who should seek his command. But the treatment he gave them,
as narrated by Mr. Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Gordon, a few years
after the war, was extremely cruel, to say the least.

     "Lord Cornwallis destroyed all my growing crops of corn and
     tobacco; he burned all my barns, containing the same
     articles of the last year, having first taken what corn he
     wanted; he used, as was to be expected, all my stock of
     cattle, sheep, and hogs, for the sustenance of his army, and
     carried off all the horses capable of service; of those too
     young for service he cut the throats; and he burned all the
     fences on the plantation, so as to leave it an absolute
     waste. _He carried off also about thirty slaves. Had this
     been to give them freedom, he would have done right_; but it
     was to consign them to inevitable death from the small-pox
     and putrid fever, then raging in his camp. This I knew
     afterwards to be the fate of twenty-seven of them. I never
     had news of the remaining three, but presume they shared the
     same fate. When I say that Lord Cornwallis did all this, I
     do not mean that he carried about the torch in his own
     hands, but that it was all done under his eye; the situation
     of the house, in which he was, commanding a view of every
     part of the plantation, so that he must have seen every
     fire. I relate these things on my own knowledge, in a great
     degree, as I was on the ground soon after he left it. He
     treated the rest of the neighborhood somewhat in the same
     style, but not with that spirit of total extermination with
     which he seemed to rage over my possessions. Wherever he
     went, the dwelling-houses were plundered of every thing
     which could be carried off. Lord Cornwallis's character in
     England would forbid the belief that he shared in the
     plunder; but that his table was served with the plate thus
     pillaged from private houses, can be proved by many hundred
     eye-witnesses. From an estimate I made at that time, on the
     best information I could collect, I suppose _the State of
     Virginia lost, under Lord Cornwallis's hand, that year,
     about thirty thousand slaves; and that, of these,
     twenty-seven thousand died of the small-pox and camp-fever,
     and the rest were partly sent to the West Indies and
     exchanged for rum, sugar, coffee, and fruit; and partly sent
     to New York, from whence they went, at the peace, either to
     Nova Scotia or to England. From this last place, I believe,
     they have been lately sent to Africa._ History will never
     relate the horrors committed by the British Army in the
     Southern States of America."[569]

Col. Laurens was called from the South, and despatched to France on an
important mission in 1780. But the effort to raise Negro troops in the
South was not abandoned.

On the 13th of March, 1780, Gen. Lincoln, in a letter to Gov. Rutledge
of South Carolina, dated at Charleston, urged the importance of
raising a Negro regiment at once. He wrote,--

     "Give me leave to add once more, that I think the measure of
     raising a black corps a necessary one; that I have great
     reason to believe, if permission is given for it, that many
     men would soon be obtained. I have repeatedly urged this
     matter, not only because Congress have recommended it, and
     because it thereby becomes my duty to attempt to have it
     executed, but because my own mind suggests the utility and
     importance of the measure, as the safety of the town makes
     it necessary."

James Madison saw in the emancipation and arming of the Negroes the
only solution of the vexatious Southern problem. On the 20th of
November, 1780, he wrote Joseph Jones as follows:--

     "Yours of the 18th came yesterday. I am glad to find the
     Legislature persist in their resolution to recruit their
     line of the army for the war; though, without deciding on
     the expediency of the mode under their consideration, would
     it not be as well to liberate and make soldiers at once of
     the blacks themselves, as to make them instruments for
     enlisting white soldiers? It would certainly be more
     consonant with the principles of liberty, which ought never
     to be lost sight of in a contest for liberty: and, with
     white officers and a majority of white soldiers, no
     imaginable danger could be feared from themselves, as there
     certainly could be none from the effect of the example on
     those who should remain in bondage; experience having shown
     that a freedman immediately loses all attachment and
     sympathy with his former fellow-slaves."[570]

The struggle went on between Tory and Whig, between traitor and
patriot, between selfishness and the spirit of noble consecration to
the righteous cause of the Americans. Gen. Greene wrote from North
Carolina on the 28th of February, 1781, to Gen. Washington as

     "The enemy have ordered two regiments of negroes to be
     immediately embodied, and are drafting a great proportion of
     the young men of that State [South Carolina], to serve
     during the war."[571]

Upon his return to America, Col. Laurens again espoused his favorite
and cherished plan of securing black levies for the South. But
surrounded and hindered by the enemies of the country he so dearly
loved, and for the honor and preservation of which he gladly gave his
young life, his plans were unsuccessful. In two letters to Gen.
Washington, a few months before he fell fighting for his country, he
gave an account of the trials that beset his path, which he felt led
to honorable duty. The first bore date of May 19, 1782.

     "The plan which brought me to this country was urged with
     all the zeal which the subject inspired, both in our Privy
     Council and Assembly; but the single voice of reason was
     drowned by the howlings of a triple-headed monster, in which
     prejudice, avarice, and pusillanimity were united. It was
     some degree of consolation to me, however, to perceive that
     truth and philosophy had gained some ground; the suffrages
     in favor of the measure being twice as numerous as on a
     former occasion. Some hopes have been lately given me from
     Georgia; but I fear, when the question is put, we shall be
     outvoted there with as much disparity as we have been in
     this country.

     "I earnestly desire to be where any active plans are likely
     to be executed, and to be near your Excellency on all
     occasions in which my services can be acceptable. The
     pursuit of an object which, I confess, is a favorite one
     with me, because I always regarded the interests of this
     country and those of the Union as intimately connected with
     it, has detached me more than once from your family; but
     those sentiments of veneration and attachment with which
     your Excellency has inspired me, keep me always near you,
     with the sincerest and most zealous wishes for a continuance
     of your happiness and glory."[572]

The second was dated June 12, 1782, and breathes a despondent air:--

     "The approaching session of the Georgia Legislature, and the
     encouragement given me by Governor Howley, who has a
     decisive influence in the counsels of that country, induce
     me to remain in this quarter for the purpose of taking new
     measures on the subject of our black levies. The arrival of
     Colonel Baylor, whose seniority entitles him to the command
     of the light troops, affords me ample leisure for pursuing
     the business in person; and I shall do it with all the
     tenacity of a man making a last effort on so interesting an

Washington's reply showed that he, too, had lost faith in the
patriotism of the citizens of the South to a great degree. He wrote
his faithful friend:--

     "I must confess that I am not at all astonished at the
     failure of your plan. That spirit of freedom, which, at the
     commencement of this contest, would have gladly sacrificed
     every thing to the attainment of its object, has long since
     subsided, and every selfish passion has taken its place. It
     is not the public but private interest which influences the
     generality of mankind; nor can the Americans any longer
     boast an exception. Under these circumstances, it would
     rather have been surprising if you had succeeded; nor will
     you, I fear, have better success in Georgia."[574]

Although the effort of the Legislature of Connecticut to authorize the
enlistment of Negroes in 1777 had failed, many Negroes, as has been
shown, served in regiments from that State; and a Negro company was
organized. When white officers refused to serve in it, the gallant
David Humphreys volunteered his services, and became the captain.

     "In November, 1782, he was, by resolution of Congress,
     commissioned as a Lieutenant-Colonel, with order that his
     commission should bear date from the 23d of June, 1780, when
     he received his appointment as aide-de-camp to the
     Commander-in-chief. He had, when in active service, given
     the sanction of his name and influence in the establishment
     of a company of colored infantry, attached to Meigs',
     afterwards Butler's, regiment, in the Connecticut line. He
     continued to be the nominal captain of that company until
     the establishment of peace."[575]

The following was the roster of his company:--

                          DAVID HUMPHREYS.


       Jack Arabus,     Brister Baker,    John Ball,
       John Cleveland,  Cæsar Bagdon,     John McLean,
       Phineas Strong,  Gamaliel Terry,   Jesse Vose,
       Ned Fields,      Lent Munson,      Daniel Bradley,
       Isaac Higgins,   Heman Rogers,     Sharp Camp,
       Lewis Martin,    Job Cæsar,        Jo Otis.
       Cæsar Chapman,   John Rogers,      James Dinah,
       Peter Mix,       Ned Freedom,      Solomon Sowtice,
       Philo Freeman,   Ezekiel Tupham,   Peter Freeman,
       Hector Williams, Tom Freeman,      Cato Wilbrow,
       Juba Freeman,    Congo Zado,       Cuff Freeman,
       Cato Robinson,   Peter Gibbs,      Juba Dyer,
       Prince George,   Prince Johnson,   Andrew Jack,
       Prince Crosbee,  Alex. Judd,       Peter Morando,
       Shubael Johnson, Pomp Liberty,     Peter Lion,
       Tim Cæsar,       Cuff Liberty,     Sampson Cuff,
       Jack Little,     Pomp Cyrus,       Dick Freedom,
       Bill Sowers,     Harry Williams,   Pomp McCuff."[576]
       Dick Violet,     Sharp Rogers,

But notwithstanding the persistent and bitter opposition to the
employment of slaves, from the earliest hours of the Revolutionary War
till its close, Negroes, bond and free, were in all branches of the
service. It is to be regretted that the exact number cannot be known.
Adjutant-Gen. Scammell made the following official return of Negro
soldiers in the main army, under Washington's immediate command, two
months after the battle of Monmouth; but the Rhode-Island regiment,
the Connecticut, New York, and New-Hampshire troops are not mentioned.
Incomplete as it is, it is nevertheless official, and therefore
correct as far as it goes.


  | North Carolina  .  |    42    |     10     |     6     |   58   |
  | Woodford    .   .  |    36    |      3     |     1     |   40   |
  | Muhlenburg  .   .  |    64    |     26     |     8     |   98   |
  | Smallwood   .   .  |    20    |      3     |     1     |   24   |
  | 2d Maryland .   .  |    43    |     15     |     2     |   60   |
  | Wayne   .   .   .  |     2    |     --     |    --     |    2   |
  | 2d Pennsylvania .  |   [33]   |     [1]    |    [1]    |  [35]  |
  | Clinton .   .   .  |    33    |      2     |     4     |   39   |
  | Parsons .   .   .  |   117    |     12     |    19     |  148   |
  | Huntington  .   .  |    56    |      2     |     4     |   62   |
  | Nixon   .   .   .  |    26    |     --     |     1     |   27   |
  | Patterson   .   .  |    64    |     13     |    12     |   89   |
  | Late Learned    .  |    34    |      4     |     8     |   46   |
  | Poor.   .   .   .  |    16    |      7     |     4     |   27   |
  |       Total .   .  |   586    |     98     |    71     |  755   |
                                ALEX. SCAMMELL, _Adj.-Gen._[577]

It is gratifying to record the fact, that the Negro was enrolled as a
soldier in the war of the American Revolution. What he did will be
recorded in the following chapter.


[520] Journal of the Continental Congress.

[521] The Hon. Peter Force, in an article to The National
Intelligencer, Jan. 16 and 18, 1855, says: "Southern colonies, jointly
with all the others, and separately each for itself, did agree to
prohibit the importation of slaves, voluntarily and in good faith."
Georgia was not represented in this Congress, and, therefore, could
not sign.

[522] Sparks's Washington, vol. ii. pp. 488-495.

[523] Sparks's Franklin, vol. viii, p. 42.

[524] Jefferson's Works, vol. i. p. 135.

[525] Ibid., pp. 23,24.

[526] Journals of the Provincial Congress of Mass., p. 29.

[527] Adams's Works, vol. ii. p. 322.

[528] Journals of the Provincial Congress of Mass., p. 553.

[529] Ibid., p. 302.

[530] The following is a copy of Gen. Gates's order to

     "You are not to enlist any deserter from the Ministerial
     Army, or any stroller, negro, or vagabond, or person
     suspected of being an enemy to the liberty of America, nor
     any under eighteen years of age.

     "As the cause is the best that can engage men of courage and
     principle to take up arms, so it is expected that none but
     such will be accepted by the recruiting officer. The pay,
     provision, &c., being so ample, it is not doubted but that
     the officers sent upon this service will, without delay,
     complete their respective corps, and march the men forthwith
     to camp.

     "You are not to enlist any person who is not an American
     born, unless such person has a wife and family, and is a
     settled resident in this country. The persons you enlist
     must be provided with good and complete arms."

     --MOORE'S _Diary of the American Revolution_, vol. i. p.

[531] The Provincial Congress of South Carolina, Nov 20, 1775, passed
the following resolve:--"On motion,_Resolved_, That the colonels of
the several regiments of militia throughout the Colony have leave to
enroll such a number of able male slaves, to be employed as pioneers
and laborers, as public exigencies may require; and that a daily pay
of seven shillings and sixpence be allowed for the service of each
such slave while actually employed."

--_American Archives_, 4th Series, vol. iv p. 6.

[532] Sparks's Washington, vol. iii. p. 155, note.

[533] Force's American Archives, 4th Series, vol. iii. p. 1,385.

[534] Spark's Washington, vol. iii. p. 218.

[535] Journals of Congress, vol ii. p. 26.

[536] Hopkins's Works, vol. ii. p. 584.

[537] Works of John Adams, vol. ii p. 428.

[538] Force's American Archives, 4th Series, vol. iv. p. 202.

[539] Force's American Archives, 4th Series, vol. iii. p. 1,387.

[540] Force's American Archives, 4th Series, vol. iv. pp. 84, 85.

[541] Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, vol. i. p. 135.

[542] Force's American Archives, 5th Series, vol. ii. pp 160, 162.

[543] Force's American Archives, 5th Series, vol. i p. 486.

[544] During a few months of study in New-York City, I came across the
above in the library of the N.Y. Hist. Soc.

[545] Schloezer's Briefwechsel, vol. iv. p. 365.

[546] An Historical Research (Livermore), pp. 114-116.

[547] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. viii. p. 640.

[548] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. viii. p. 641.

[549] Ibid., vol. viii. p. 524.

[550] R.I. Col. Recs., vol viii. pp. 358-360.

[551] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. viii. p. 361.

[552] This is evidently a mistake, as Washington's letter was dated
Jan. 2, as the reader will see.

[553] R.I. Col. Recs., vol. viii. p. 526.

[554] Ibid., p. 376.

[555] Ibid., p. 465.

[556] MSS. Archives of Mass., vol. cxcix. pp. 80, 84.

[557] Hening, vol. ix. 280.

[558] Sparks's Correspondence of the American Revolution, vol. iii. p.

[559] Laws of the State of New York, chap. xxxiii. (March 20, 1781,
4th Session).

[560] The American Loyalist, p. 30, second edition.

[561] Sparks's Washington, vol. vi p. 204, note.

[562] Ibid., vol. vi. p. 204.

[563] Life of John Jay, by William Jay, vol. II. pp. 31, 32.

[564] Ramsay, the historian of South Carolina says, "It has been
computed by good judges, that, between 1775 and 1783, the State of
South Carolina lost twenty-five thousand negroes."

[565] Secret Journals of Congress, vol. i. pp. 107-110.

[566] Journals of Congress, vol. v. p. 123.

[567] Works of Hamilton, vol. i. pp. 114, 115.

[568] Sparks's Correspondence of the American Revolution, vol. ii. p.

[569] Jefferson's Works, vol ii. p. 426.

[570] Madison Papers, p. 68.

[571] Sparks's Correspondence of the American Revolution, vol. iii. p.

[572] Sparks's Correspondence of the American Revolution, vol. iii. p.

[573] Ibid., p. 515.

[574] Sparks's Washington, vol. viii. pp. 322, 323.

[575] Biographical Sketch in "The National Portrait Gallery of
Distinguished Americans."

[576] Colored Patriots of the Revolution, p. 134.

[577] This return was discovered by the indefatigable Dr. George H.
Moore. It is the only document of the kind in existence.





As soldiers the Negroes went far beyond the most liberal expectations
of their stanchest friends. Associated with white men, many of whom
were superior gentlemen, and nearly all of whom were brave and
enthusiastic, the Negro soldiers of the American army became worthy of
the cause they fought to sustain. Col. Alexander Hamilton had said,
"_their natural faculties are as good as ours_;" and the assertion was
supported by their splendid behavior on all the battle-fields of the
Revolution. Endowed by nature with a poetic element, faithful to
trusts, abiding in friendships, bound by the golden threads of
attachment to places and persons, enthusiastic in personal endeavor,
sentimental and chivalric, they made hardy and intrepid soldiers. The
daring, boisterous enthusiasm with which they sprang to arms disarmed
racial prejudice of its sting, and made friends of foes.

Their cheerfulness in camp, their celerity in the performance of
fatigue-duty, their patient endurance of heat and cold, hunger and
thirst, and their bold efficiency in battle, made them welcome
companions everywhere they went. The officers who frowned at their
presence in the army at first, early learned, from experience, that
they were the equals of any troops in the army for severe service in
camp, and excellent fighting in the field.

The battle of Bunker Hill was one of the earliest and most important
of the Revolution. Negro soldiers were in the action of the 17th of
June, 1775, and nobly did their duty. Speaking of this engagement,
Bancroft says,--

     "Nor should history forget to record that, as in the army at
     Cambridge, so also in this gallant band, the free negroes of
     the colony had their representatives."[578]

Two Negro soldiers especially distinguished themselves, and rendered
the cause of the colonists great service. Major Pitcairn was a gallant
officer of the British marines. He led the charge against the redoubt,
crying exultingly, "The day is ours!" His sudden appearance and his
commanding air at first startled the men immediately before him. They
neither answered nor fired, probably not being exactly certain what
was next to be done. At this critical moment, a Negro soldier stepped
forward, and, aiming his musket directly at the major's bosom, blew
him through.[579] Who was this intrepid black soldier, who at a
critical moment stepped to the front, and with certain aim brought
down the incarnate enemy of the colonists? What was his name, and
whence came he to battle? His name was Peter Salem, a private in Col
Nixon's regiment of the Continental Army.

     "He was born in Framingham [Massachusetts], and was held as
     a slave, probably until he joined the army: whereby, if not
     before, he became free. ... Peter served faithfully as a
     soldier, during the war."[580]

Perhaps Salem was then a slave: probably he thought of the chains and
stripes from whence he had come, of the liberty to be purchased in the
ordeals of war, and felt i