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Title: Africa and the American Flag
Author: Foote, Andrew H. (Andrew Hull)
Language: English
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 The Great Work on Russia.

 Fifth Edition now ready.



 One neat volume 12mo., pp. 328, well printed. Price $1, cloth.

 CONTENTS.--Preface.--Introduction.--Czarism: its historical
 origin.--The Czar Nicholas.--The Organization of the Government.--The
 Army and Navy.--The Nobility.--The Clergy.--The Bourgeoisie.--The
 Cossacks.--The Real People, the Peasantry.--The Rights of
 Aliens and Strangers.--The Commoner.--Emancipation.--Manifest
 Destiny.--Appendix.--The Amazons.--The Fourteen Classes of the Russian
 Public Service; or, the Tschins.--The Political Testament of Peter the
 Great.--Extract from an Old Chronicle.

 Notices of the Press.

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 New Copyright Works, Adapted for Popular Reading.




 COMMISSION, DURING THE YEARS 1850, ’51, ’52, and ’53.

  _United States Commissioner during that period_.

In 2 vols. 8vo, of nearly 600 pages each, printed with large type and
on extra fine paper, to be illustrated with nearly 100 wood-cuts,
sixteen tinted lithographs and a beautiful map, engraved on steel, of
the extensive regions traversed. Price, $5.




 _Lieutenant Commanding the U. S. Brig Porpoise, on the Coast of Africa,

 With tinted lithographic illustrations. One volume 12mo.




 With numerous illustrations. One vol. 12mo, cloth.




 One vol. 12mo, cloth.




 One vol. 12mo, paper cover or cloth.




 One vol. 12mo, paper cover or cloth.

 [Illustration] “Excels in interest, and is quite equal in its
 delineation of character to The Wide, Wide World.”




 With several illustrations. One vol. 12mo, cloth.


  _F. E. Forbes, delt._               _Lith. of Sarony & Co. N. Y._







  U. S. NAVY,


  A. D. 1850-1851.

  D. APPLETON & CO., 346 & 348 BROADWAY,


  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854,
  In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for
  the Southern District of New York.




  This Volume is Dedicated,








  Subject and Arrangement--Area of Cruising-Ground--Distribution
  of Subjects.                                                        13


  Discoveries by French and Portuguese along the Coast--Cape of
  Good Hope--Results.                                                 17


  Pirates--Davis, Roberts, and others--British Cruisers--Slave-Trade
  systematized--Guineamen--“Horrors of the Middle
  Passage”.                                                           20


  Physical Geography--Climate--Geology--Zoology--Botany.              31


  African Nations--Distribution of Races--Arts--Manners and
  Character--Superstitions--Treatment of the Dead--Regard for the
  Spirits of the Departed--Witchcraft--Ordeal--Military
  Force--Amazons--Cannibalism.                                        46


  Productions--Gums--Oils--Cotton--Dye-Stuffs.                        65


  European Colonies--Portuguese--Remaining Influence of the
  Portuguese--Slave Factories--English Colonies--Treaties with the
  Native Chiefs--Influence of Sierra Leone--Destruction of
  Barracoons--Influence of England--Chiefs on the Coast--Ashantee--King
  of Dahomey.                                                         71


  Dahomey--Slavish Subjection of the People--Dependence of the King on
  the Slave-Trade--Exhibition of Human Skulls--Annual Human
  Sacrifices--Lagos--The Changes of Three Centuries.                  85


  State of the Coast prior to the Foundation of Liberia--Native
  Tribes--Customs and Policy--Power of the Folgias--Kroomen,
  &c.--Conflicts.                                                     94


  General Views on the Establishment of Colonies--Penal Colonies--Views
  of the People of the United States in reference to African
  Colonies--State of Slavery at the Revolutionary War--Negroes who
  joined the English--Disposal of them by Great Britain--Early Movements
  with respect to African Colonies--Plan matured by Dr.
  Finley--Formation of the American Colonization Society.            101


  Foundation of the American Colony--Early Agents--Mills, Burgess, Bacon
  and others--U. S. Sloop-of-War “Cyane”--Arrival at the Island of
  Sherboro--Disposal of Recaptured Slaves by the U. S.
  Government--Fever--Slavers Captured--U. S. Schooner “Shark”--Sherboro
  partially abandoned--U. S. Schooner “Alligator”--Selection and
  Settlement of Cape Mesurado--Capt. Stockton--Dr. Ayres--King
  Peter--Arguments with the Natives--Conflicts--Dr. Ayres made
  Prisoner--King Boatswain--Completion of the Purchase.              110


  Ashmun--Necessity of Defence--Fortifications--Assaults--Arrival of
  Major Laing--Condition of the Colonies--Sloops-of-War “Cyane” and
  “John Adams”--King Boatswain as a Slaver--Misconduct of the
  Emigrants--Disinterestedness of Ashmun--U. S. Schooner
  “Porpoise”--Captain Skinner--Rev. R. R. Gurley--Purchase of Territory
  on the St. Paul’s River--Attack on Tradetown--Piracies--U. S. Schooner
  “Shark”--Sloop-of-War “Ontario”--Death of Ashmun--His Character by
  Rev. Dr. Bacon.                                                    123


  Lot Carey--Dr. Randall--Establishment of the Liberia Herald--Wars
  with the Deys--Sloop-of-War “John Adams”--Difficulties of the
  Government--Condition of the Settlers.                             141


  The Commonwealth of Liberia--Thomas H. Buchanan--Views of different
  Parties--Detached Condition of the Colony--Necessity of
  Union--Establishment of a Commonwealth--Use of the American Flag in
  the Slave-Trade--“Euphrates”--Sloop “Campbell”--Slavers at
  Bassa--Expedition against them--Conflict--Gallinas.                148


  Buchanan’s Administration continued--Death of King Boatswain--War
  with Gaytumba--Attack on Heddington--Expedition of Buchanan
  against Gaytumba--Death of Buchanan--His Character.                159


  Roberts governor--Difficulties with English Traders--Position of
  Liberia in respect to England--Case of the “John Seyes”--Official
  Correspondence of Everett and Upshur--Trouble on the
  Coast--Reflections.                                                166


  Roberts’ Administration--Efforts in Reference to English
  Traders--Internal Condition of Liberia--Insubordination--Treaties with
  the native Kings--Expedition to the Interior--Causes leading to a
  Declaration of Independence.                                       173


  Independence of Liberia proclaimed and acknowledged by Great Britain,
  France, Belgium, Prussia, and Brazil--Treaties with England and
  France--Expedition against New Cesters--U. S. Sloop-of-War
  “Yorktown”--English and French Cruisers--Disturbances among the
  native Chiefs--Financial Troubles--Recurring Difficulty with
  English Traders--Boombo, Will Buckle, Grando, King Boyer.          180


  Condition of Liberia as a Nation--Aspect of Liberia to a
  Visitor--Character of Monrovia--Soil, Productions and
  Labor--Harbor--Condition of the People compared with that of their
  Race in the United States--Schools.                                192


  Maryland in Liberia--Cape Palmas--Hall and Russwurm--Chastisement
  of the Natives at Berebee by the U. S. Squadron--Line of
  Packets--Proposal of Independence--Illustrations of the
  Colonization Scheme--Christian Missions.                           200


  Renewal of Piracy and the Slave-Trade at the close of the European
  War--British Squadron--Treaties with the Natives--Origin of
  Barracoons--Use of the American Flag in the Slave-Trade--Official
  Correspondence on the Subject--Condition of Slaves on board of the
  Slave-Vessels--Case of the “_Veloz Passageira_”--French Squadron.  213


  United States Squadron--Treaty of Washington.                      232


  Case of the “Mary Carver,” seized by the Natives--Measures of the
  Squadron in consequence--Destruction of Towns--Letter from U. S. Brig
  “Truxton” in relation to a captured Slaver.                        235


  Capture of the Slave-Barque “Pons”--Slaves landed at Monrovia--Capture
  of the Slave-equipped Vessels “Panther,” “Robert Wilson,”
  “Chancellor,” &c.--Letter from the “Jamestown” in reference to
  Liberia--Affair with the Natives near Cape Palmas--Seizure and
  Condemnation of the Slaver “H. N. Gambrill”.                       243


  Cruise of the “Perry”--Instructions--Dispatched to the South
  Coast--Benguela--Case of a Slaver which had changed her Nationality
  captured by an English Cruiser--St. Paul de Loanda--Abuse of the
  American Flag--Want of a Consul on the South Coast--Correspondence
  with British Officers in relation to Slavers under the American
  Flag--The Barque “Navarre”--Treaty with Portugal--Abatement of
  Custom-House Duties--Cruising off Ambriz--An Arrangement made with the
  British Commodore for the Joint Cruising of the “Perry” and Steamer
  “Cyclops”--Co-operation with the British Squadron for the Suppression
  of the Slave-Trade--Fitting out of American Slavers in Brazil.     254


  American Brigantine “Louisa Beaton” suspected--Correspondence with the
  Commander of the Southern Division of the British Squadron--Boat
  Cruising--Currents--Rollers on the
  Coast--Trade-Winds--Climate--Prince’s Island--Madame Fereira.      272


  Return to the Southern Coast--Capture of the American Slave-Ship
  “Martha”--Claim to Brazilian Nationality--Letters found on board
  illustrative of the Slave-Trade--Loanda--French, English, and
  Portuguese Cruisers--Congo River--Boarding Foreign Merchant
  Vessels--Capture of the “Volusia” by a British Cruiser--She claims
  American Nationality--The Meeting of the Commodores at
  Loanda--Discussions in relation to Interference with Vessels
  ostensibly American--Seizure of the American Brigantine
  “Chatsworth,”--Claims by the Master of the “Volusia”.              285


  Another Cruise--Chatsworth again--Visit to the Queen near
  Ambrizette--Seizure of the American Brigantine “Louisa Beaton” by a
  British Cruiser--Correspondence--Proposal of Remuneration from the
  Captors--Seizure of the “Chatsworth” as a Slaver--Italian
  Supercargo--Master of the “Louisa Beaton”.                         306


  Prohibition of Visits to Vessels at
  Loanda--Correspondence--Restrictions removed--St. Helena--Appearance
  of the Island--Reception--Correspondence with the
  Chief-Justice--Departure.                                          324


  Return to Loanda--“Cyclops” leaves the Coast--Hon. Captain
  Hastings--Discussion with the British Commodore in reference to the
  Visit at St. Helena--Commodore Fanshawe--Arrival at Monrovia--British
  Cruiser ashore--Arrival at Porto Praya--Wreck of a Hamburgh Ship.  336


  Return to the South Coast--Comparative Courses and Length of
  Passage--Country at the Mouth of the Congo--Correspondence with the
  British Commodore--State of the Slave-Trade--Communication to the
  Hydrographical Department--Elephants’ Bay--Crew on Shore--Zebras.  344


  The Condition of the Slave-Trade--Want of suitable Cruisers--Health
  of the Vessel--Navy Spirit-ration--Portuguese Commodore--French
  Commodore--Loanda--Letter from Sir George Jackson, British
  Commissioner, on the State of the Slave-Trade--Return to Porto
  Praya.                                                             357


  Island of Madeira--Porto Grande, Cape Verde Islands--Interference
  of the British Consul with the “Louisa Beaton”--Porto
  Praya--Brazilian Brigantine seized by the Authorities--Arrival
  at New York.                                                       369


  Conclusion--Necessity of Squadrons for Protection of Commerce and
  Citizens abroad--Fever in Brazil, West Indies, and United
  States--Influence of Recaptured Slaves returning to the different
  regions of their own Country--Commercial Relations with Africa.    379


  _as represented by Contouror Horizontal Planes_.

  _J.J. Adamson, del._                    _Lith. of Sarony & Co. N. Y._]






On the 28th of November, 1849, the U. S. brig “Perry” sailed for the
west coast of Africa, to join the American squadron there stationed.

A treaty with Great Britain, signed at Washington in the year 1842,
stipulates that each nation shall maintain on the coast of Africa,
a force of naval vessels “of suitable numbers and description, to
carry in all not less than eighty guns, to enforce separately and
respectively, the laws, rights, and obligations of each of the two
countries, for the suppression of the slave-trade.”

Although this stipulation was limited to the term of five years
from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty,
“and afterwards until one or the other party shall signify a wish
to terminate it;” the United States have continued to maintain a
squadron on that coast for the protection of its commerce, and for the
suppression of the slave-trade, so far as it might be carried on in
American vessels, or by American citizens.

To illustrate the importance of this squadron, the relations which
its operations bear to American interests, and to the rights of the
American flag; its effects upon the condition of Africa in checking
crime, and preparing the way for the introduction of peace, prosperity,
and civilization, is the primary object of this work.

A general view of the continent of Africa, comprising the past and
present condition of its inhabitants; slavery in Africa and its foreign
slave-trade; the piracies upon the coast before it was guarded and
protected by naval squadrons; the geological structure of the country;
its natural history, languages, and people; and the progress of
colonization by the negro race returning to their own land with the
light of religion, of sound policy, and of modern arts, will also be
introduced as subjects appropriate to the general design.

If a chart of the Atlantic is spread out, and a line drawn from the
Cape Verde Islands towards the southeastern coast of Brazil; if we
then pass to the Cape of Good Hope and draw another from that point by
the island of St. Helena, crossing the former north of the equator,
the great tracks of commerce will be traced. Vessels outward bound
follow the track towards the South American shore, and the homeward
bound are found on the other. Thus vessels often meet in the centre of
the Atlantic; and the crossing of these lines off the projecting shores
of central Africa renders the coasts of that region of great naval

The wide triangular space of sea between the homeward bound line and
the retiring African seaboard around the Gulf of Guinea, constituted
the area on which the vigilance of the squadron was to be exercised.
Here is the region of crime, suffering, cruelty and death, from the
slave-trade; and here has been at different ages, when the police
of the sea happened to be little cared for, the scene of the worst
piracies which have ever disgraced human nature.

Vessels running out from the African coast fall here and there into
these lines traced on the chart, or sometimes cross them. No one can
tell what they contain from the graceful hull, well-proportioned masts,
neatly trimmed yards, and gallant bearing of the vessel. This deceitful
beauty may conceal wrong, violence, and crime--the theft of living
men, the foulness and corruption of the steaming slave-deck, and the
charnel-house of wretchedness and despair.

It is difficult in looking over the ship’s side to conceive the
transparency of the sea. The reflection of the blue sky in these
tropic regions colors it like an opaque sapphire, till some fish
startles one by suddenly appearing far beneath, seeming to carry
daylight down with him into the depths below. One is then reminded
that the vessel is suspended over a transparent abyss. There for ages
has sunk the dark-skinned sufferer from “the horrors of the middle
passage,” carrying that ghastly daylight down with him, to rest until
“the sea shall give up its dead,” and the slaver and his merchant come
from their places to be confronted with their victim.

The relation of the western nations to these shores present themselves
under three phases, which claim more or less attention in order to a
full understanding of the subject. These are,

 I. Period of Discovery, Piracy and Slaving.

 II. Period of Colonizing.

 III. Period of Naval Cruising.



The French of Normandy contested with the Portuguese the honor of
first venturing into the Gulf of Guinea. It was, however, nearly a
hundred years from the time when the latter first embarked in these
discoveries, until, in 1487, they reached the Cape of Good Hope.
For about eight centuries the Mohammedan in the interior had been
shaping out an influence for himself by proselyting and commerce.
The Portuguese discoverer met this influence on the African shores.
The Venetians held a sort of partnership with the Mohammedans in the
trade of the East: Portugal had then taken scarcely any share in the
brilliant and exciting politics of the Levant; her vocation was to
the seas of the West, but in that direction she was advancing to an
overwhelming triumph over her Eastern competitor.

On the 3d of May, 1487, a boat left one of two small high-sterned
vessels, of less tonnage than an ordinary river sloop of the present
day, and landed a few weather-beaten men on a low island of rocks, on
which they proceeded to erect a cross. The sand which rustled across
their footsteps, the sigh of the west wind among the waxberry bushes,
and the croakings of the penguins as they waddled off,--these were
the voices which hailed the opening of a new era for the world; for
Bartholomew Diaz had then passed the southern point of Africa, and was
listening to the surf of the Antarctic Sea.

This enterprising navigator had sailed from Lisbon in August, 1486,
and seems to have reached Sierra Parda, north of the Orange River, in
time to catch the last of the strong southeasterly winds, prevailing
during the summer months on the southern coast of Africa, in the region
of the Cape. He stood to the southwest, in vessels little calculated
for holding a wind, and at length reached the region of the prevailing
southwest winds. Then standing to the eastward he passed the Cape
of Good Hope, of which he was in search, and bearing away to the
northward, after running a distance of four hundred miles, brought up
at the island of St. Croix above referred to. Coasting along on his
return, the Cape was doubled, and named _Cabo Tormentoso_, or the Cape
of Storms. The King of Portugal, on the discoverer’s return, gave it
the more promising name of _Cabo de buen Speranza_, or Cape of Good

Africa thus fell into the grasp of Europe. Trade flowed with a full
stream into this new channel. Portugal conquered and settled its
shores. Missionaries accompanied the Portuguese discoverers and
conquerors to various parts of Africa, where the Portuguese dominion
had been established, and for long periods influenced the condition of
the country.



The second period is that of villany. More Africans seem to have been
bought and sold, at all times of the world’s history, than of any
other race of mankind. The early navigators were offered slaves as
merchandise. It is not easy to conceive that the few which they then
carried away, could serve any other purpose than to gratify curiosity,
or add to the ostentatious greatness of kings and noblemen. It was the
demands of the west which rendered this iniquity a trade. Every thing
which could debase a man was thrust upon Africa from every shore. The
old military skill of Europe raised on almost every accessible point
embattled fortresses, which now picturesquely line the Gulf of Guinea.
In the space between Cape Palmas and the Calabar River, there are to be
counted, in the old charts, forts and factories by hundreds.

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were especially the era of
woe to the African people. Crime against them on the part of European
nations, had become gross in cruelty and universal in extent. From
the Cape of Good Hope to the Mediterranean, in respect to their lands
or their persons, the European was seizing, slaying and enslaving. The
mischief perpetrated by the white man, was the source of mischief to
its author. The west coast became the haunt and nursery of pirates.
In fact, the same class of men were the navigators of the pirate and
the slaver; and sailors had little hesitation in betraying their own
vessels occasionally into the hands of the buccaneer. Slave-trading
afforded a pretext which covered all the preparations for robbery. The
whole civilized world had begun to share in this guilt and in this

In 1692, a solitary Scotchman was found at Cape Mesurado, living among
the negroes. He had reached the coast in a vessel, of which a man named
Herbert had gotten possession in one of the American colonies, and had
run off with on a buccaneering cruise; a mutiny and fight resulted
in the death of most of the officers and crew. The vessel drifted on
shore, and bilged in the heavy surf at Cape Mesurado.

The higher ranks of society in Christendom were then most grossly
corrupt, and had a leading share in these crimes. There arrived at
Barbadoes in 1694, a vessel from New England, which might then have
been called a _clipper_, mounting twenty small guns. A company of
merchants of the island bought her, and fitted her out ostensibly as
a slaver, bound to the island of Madagascar; but in reality for the
purpose of pirating on the India merchantmen trading to the Red Sea.
They induced Russell, the governor of the island, to join them in the
adventure, and to give the ship an official character, so far as he was
authorized to do so by his colonial commission.

A “sea solicitor” of this order, named Conklyn, arrived in 1719 at
Sierra Leone in a state of great destitution, bringing with him
twenty-five of the greatest villains that could be culled from the
crews of two or three piratical vessels on the coast. A mutiny had
taken place in one of these, on account of the chief’s assuming
something of the character and habits of a gentleman, and Conklyn,
after a severe contention, had left with his desperate associates.
Had he remained, he might have become chief in command, as a second
mutiny broke out soon after his departure, in which the chief was
overpowered, placed on board one of the prize vessels, and never heard
of afterwards. The pirates under a new commander followed Conklyn to
Sierra Leone. They found there this worthy gentleman, rich, and in
command of a fine ship with eighty men.

Davis, the notorious pirate, soon joined him with a well-armed ship
manned with one hundred and fifty men. Here was collected as fruitful
a nest of villany as the world ever saw. They plundered and captured
whatever came in their course. These vessels, with other pirates, soon
destroyed more than one hundred trading vessels on the African coast.
England entered into a kind of compromise, previously to sending a
squadron against them, by offering pardon to all who should present
themselves to the governor of any of her colonies before the first of
July, 1719. This was equivalent to offering themselves to serve in
the war which had commenced against Spain, or exchanging one kind of
brigandage for another, by privateering against the Spanish commerce.
But from the accounts of their prisoners very few of them could read,
and thus the proclamation was almost a dead letter.

In 1720, Roberts, a hero of the same class, anchored in Sierra Leone,
and sent a message to Plunket, the commander of the English fort, with
a request for some gold dust and ammunition. The commander of the fort
replied that he had no gold dust for them, but that he would serve
them with a good allowance of shot if they ventured within the range
of his guns; whereupon Roberts opened his fire upon the fort. Plunket
soon expended all his ammunition, and abandoned his position. Being
made prisoner he was taken before Roberts: the pirate assailed the
poor commander with the most outrageous execrations for his audacity
in resisting him. To his astonishment Plunket retorted upon him with
oaths and execrations yet more tremendous. This was quite to the taste
of the scoundrels around them, who, with shouts of laughter, told their
captain that he was only second best at that business, and Plunket, in
consideration of his victory, was allowed to escape with life.

In 1721, England dispatched two men-of-war to the Gulf of Guinea for
the purpose of exterminating the pirates who had there reached a
formidable degree of power, and sometimes, as in the instance noted
above, assailed the establishments on shore. They found that Roberts
was in command of a squadron of three vessels, with about four hundred
men under his command, and had been particularly active and successful
in outrage. After cruising about the northern coast, and learning that
Roberts had plundered many vessels, and that sailors were flocking to
him from all quarters, they found him on the evening of the third of
February, anchored with his three vessels in the bay north of Cape

When entering the bay, light enough remained to let them see that they
had caught the miscreants in their lair. Closing in with the land the
cruisers quietly ran in and anchored close aboard the outer vessel
belonging to the pirates. Having ascertained the character of the
visitors, the pirate slipped his cables, and proceeded to make sail,
but was boarded and secured just as the rapid blackness of a tropical
night buried every thing in obscurity. Every sound was watched during
the darkness of the night, with scarcely the hope that the other two
pirates would not take advantage of it to make their escape; but the
short gray dawn showed them still at their anchors. The cruisers
getting under way and closing in with the pirates produced no movement
on their part, and some scheme of cunning or desperate resistance was
prepared for. They had in fact made a draft from one vessel to man the
other fully for defence. Into this vessel the smaller of the cruisers,
the _Swallow_, threw her broadside, which was feebly returned. A
grape-shot in the head had killed Roberts. This and the slaughter of
the cruiser’s fire prepared the way for the boarders, without much
further resistance, to take possession of the pirate. The third vessel
was easily captured.

The cruisers suffered no loss in the fight, but had been fatally
reduced by sickness. The larger vessel, the _Weymouth_, which left
England with a crew of two hundred and forty men, had previously been
reduced so greatly as scarcely to be able to weigh her anchors; and,
although recruited often from merchant vessels, landed but one hundred
and eighty men in England. This rendered the charge of their prisoners
somewhat hazardous, and taking them as far as Cape Coast Castle, they
there executed such justice as the place could afford, or the demerits
of their prey deserved. A great number of them ornamented the shore on
gibbets--the well-known signs of civilization in that era--as long as
the climate and the vultures would permit them to hang.

Consequent on these events such order was established as circumstances
would admit, or rather the progress of maritime intercourse and naval
power put an end to the system of daring and regulated piracy by which
the tropical shores of Africa and the West Indies had been laid waste.
This, however, was slight relief for Africa. It was to secure and
systematize trade that piracy had been suppressed, and the slave-trade
became accordingly cruelly and murderously systematic.

The question what nation should be most enriched by the guilty traffic
was a subject of diplomacy. England secured the greater share of the
criminality and of the profit, by gaining from her other competitors
the right by contract to supply the colonies of Spain with negroes.

Men forget what they ought not to forget; and however startling,
disgusting, and oppressive to the mind of man the horrors are which
characterized that trade, it is well that since they did exist the
memory of them should not perish. It is a fearfully dark chapter in the
history of the world, but although terrific it has its value. It is
more worthy of being remembered than the historical routine of wars,
defeats, or victories; for it is more illustrative of man’s proper
history, and of a strange era in that history. The evidence taken by
the Committee of the English House of Lords in 1850, has again thrust
the subject into daylight.

The slave-trade is now carried on by comparatively small and
ill-found vessels, watched by the cruisers incessantly. They are
therefore induced, at any risk of loss by death, to crowd and pack
their cargoes, so that a successful voyage may compensate for many
captures. In olden times, there were vessels fitted expressly for
the purpose--large Indiamen or whalers. It has been objected to
the employment of squadrons to exterminate that trade, that their
interference has increased its enormity. This, however, is doing honor
to the old Guineamen, such as they by no means deserve. It is, in fact,
an inference in favor of human nature, implying that a man who has
impunity and leisure to do evil, cannot, in the nature of things, be so
dreadfully heartless in doing it, as those in whose track the avenger
follows to seize and punish. The fact, however, does not justify this
surmise in favor of impunity and leisure. If ever there was any thing
on earth which, for revolting, filthy, heartless atrocity, might
make the devil wonder and hell recognize its own likeness, then it
was on any one of the decks of an old slaver. The sordid cupidity of
the older, as it is meaner, was also more callous than the hurried
ruffianism of the present age. In fact, a slaver now has but one deck;
in the last century they had two or three. Any one of the decks of the
larger vessels was rather worse, if this could be, than the single deck
of the brigs and schooners now employed in the trade. Then, the number
of decks rendered the suffocating and pestilential hold a scene of
unparalleled wretchedness. Here are some instances of this, collected
from evidence taken by the British House of Commons in 1792.

James Morley, gunner of the _Medway_, states: “He has seen them under
great difficulty of breathing; the women, particularly, often got upon
the beams, where the gratings are often raised with banisters, about
four feet above the combings, to give air, but they are generally
driven down, because they take the air from the rest. He has known rice
held in the mouths of sea-sick slaves until they were almost strangled;
he has seen the surgeon’s mate force the panniken between their teeth,
and throw the medicine over them, so that not half of it went into
their mouths--the poor wretches wallowing in their blood, hardly having
life, and this with blows of the cat.”


 _F. E. Forbes, delt._

  _Lith. of Sarony & Co. N. Y._


Dr. Thomas Trotter, surgeon of the _Brookes_, says: “He has seen the
slaves drawing their breath with all those laborious and anxious
efforts for life which are observed in expiring animals, subjected,
by experiment, to foul air, or in the exhausted receiver of an
air-pump; has also seen them when the tarpaulins have inadvertently
been thrown over the gratings, attempting to heave them up, crying
out ‘kickeraboo! kickeraboo!’ i. e., _We are dying_. On removing the
tarpaulin and gratings, they would fly to the hatchways with all the
signs of terror and dread of suffocation; many whom he has seen in
a dying state, have recovered by being brought on the deck; others,
were irrevocably lost by suffocation, having had no previous signs of

In regard to the _Garland’s_ voyage, 1788, the testimony is: “Some of
the diseased were obliged to be kept on deck. The slaves, both when
ill and well, were frequently forced to eat against their inclination;
were whipped with a cat if they refused. The parts on which their
shackles are fastened, are often excoriated by the violent exercise
they are forced to take, and of this they made many grievous complaints
to him. Fell in with the _Hero_, Wilson, which had lost, he thinks,
three hundred and sixty slaves by death; he is certain more than half
of her cargo; learnt this from the surgeon; they had died mostly of
the smallpox; surgeon also told him, that when removed from one place
to another, they left marks of their skin and blood upon the deck, and
that it was the most horrid sight he had ever seen.”

The annexed sketch represents the lower deck of a Guineaman, when
the trade was under systematic regulations. The slaves were obliged
to lie on their backs, and were shackled by their ankles, the left of
one being fettered close to the right of the next; so that the whole
number in one line formed a single living chain. When one died, the
body remained during the night, or during bad weather, secured to the
two between whom he was. The height between decks was so little, that
a man of ordinary size could hardly sit upright. During good weather,
a gang of slaves was taken on the spar-deck, and there remained for a
short time. In bad weather, when the hatches were closed, death from
suffocation would necessarily occur. It can, therefore, easily be
understood, that the athletic strangled the weaker intentionally, in
order to procure more space, and that, when striving to get near some
aperture affording air to breathe, many would be injured or killed in
the struggle.

Such were “the horrors of the middle passage.”



Before proceeding to the colonizing era, it will be requisite to
present an estimate of the value and importance of the African
continent in relation to the rest of the world. This requires some
preliminary notice of the physical condition of its territories, and
the character and distribution of the tribes possessing them. Africa
has not yet yielded to science the results which may be expected from
it. Courage and hardihood, rather than knowledge and skill, have,
from the circumstances of the case, been the characteristics of its
successful explorers. We have, therefore, wonderful incidents and
loose descriptions, without the accurate observation and statement of
circumstances which can render them useful.

The vast radiator formed by the sun beating vertically on the plains of
tropical Africa, heats and expands the air, and thus constitutes a sort
of central trough into which gravitation brings compensating currents,
by producing a lateral sliding inwards of the great trade-wind streams.
Thus, as a general rule, winds which would normally diverge from the
shores are drawn in towards them. They have been gathering moisture
in their progress, and when pressed upwards, as they expand under
the vertical sun, lose their heat in the upper regions, let go their
moisture, and spread over the interior terraces and mountains a sheet
of heavily depositing cloud. This constitutes the rainy season, which
necessarily, from the causes producing it, accompanies the sun in its
apparent oscillations across the equator.

The Gulf of Guinea has in its own bosom a system of hurricanes and
squalls, of which little is known but their existence and their danger.
A description of them, of rather an old date, specifies as a fact that
they begin by the appearance of a small mass of clouds in the zenith,
which widens and extends till the canopy covers the horizon. Now if
this were true of any given spot, it would indicate that the hurricane
always began there. The appearance of a patch of cloud in the zenith
could be true of only one place out of all those which the hurricane
influenced. If it is meant that _wherever_ the phenomenon originated,
_there_ a mass of cloud gradually formed in the zenith, this would
be a most important particular in regard to the proximate cause of
the phenomenon, for it would mark a rapid direction upwards of the
atmosphere at that spot as the first observable incident of the series.
That the movements produced would subsequently become whirling or
circumvolant, is a mechanical necessity. But the force of the movement
ought not to be strongest at the place where the mischief had its

The squalls, with high towering clouds, which rise like a wall on the
horizon, involve the same principles as to the formation of the vapor,
and are easily explicable. They are not necessarily connected with
circular hurricanes; but the principles of their formation may modify
the intensity of the blasts in a circumvolant tornado. Since in the
Gulf of Guinea they come from the eastward, it is to be inferred that
they are ripples or undulations in an air current. In regard to all of
this, it is necessary to speak doubtfully, for there is a great lack of
accurate and detailed observation on these points.

Its position and physical characteristics give to this continent
great influence over the rest of the earth. Africa, America, and
Australia have nearly similar relations to the great oceans interposed
respectively between them. Against the eastern sides of these regions
are carried from the ocean those strange, furious whirlings in the
shallow film of the earth’s atmosphere, which constitute hurricanes.
It is evident that these oceans are mainly the channels in which the
surface winds move, which are drawn from colder regions towards the
equator. The shores are the banks of these air streams. The return
currents above flow over every thing. They are thus prevalent in
the interior, so that the climatic conditions there are different
from those on the seaboard. These circumstances in the southern
extra-tropical regions are accompanied by corresponding differences in
the character of the vegetable world.

These winds are sometimes drawn aside across the coast
line--constituting the Mediterranean sirocco, and the African
harmattan. Vessels far off at sea, sailing to the northward, are
covered or stained on the weather side of their rigging (that next to
the African coast), with a fine light-yellow powder. A reddish-brown
dust sometimes tinges the sails and rigging. An instance of this
occurred on board the “Perry” on her outward bound passage, when five
hundred miles from the African coast.

The science of Ehrenberg has been searching amid the microscopic
organisms contained in these substances, for tokens of their origin.
In the red material he finds forms betraying not an African, but an
American source, presumed to be in the great plains of the Amazon and
Orinoco. This suggests new views of the meteorology of the world; but
the theories founded on it, are not clear of mechanical difficulties.

If we stand on almost any shore of the world as it exists at present,
and consider the character of the land surface on the one hand, and
of the ocean bottom on the other, we shall see that a very great
difference in the nature of the beach line would be produced by a
depression of the land towards the ocean, or by an elevation of it from
the deep. The sea in its action on the bottom fills up hollows and
obliterates precipices; but a land surface is worn into ravines and
valleys. Hence a depression, so that the waters overflowed the land,
would admit them into its recesses, and river courses, and winding
gulleys--forming bays, islands, and secure harbors. Whereas elevation
would bring up from the bottom its sand-banks and plains, forming an
extent of slightly winding and unsheltered shore. The character of
a coast will therefore depend very greatly upon its former history,
before it became fixed. We have this contrast in the eastern and
western sides of the Adriatic, or in the western and eastern sides of
the British islands. These circumstances are to some degree controlled
by the effects of partial volcanoes, or of powerful winds and currents.
But on the whole, it may generally be inferred that a long unbroken
shore indicates that the last change on the land level was one of
elevation; while a coast penetrated, broken, and defended by islands
has received its conformation from being stopped in the process of

The coast of Africa has over almost its whole circuit, that unbroken
or slightly indented outline which would arise from upheaval. The only
conspicuous exception to this, is in the eastern region, neighboring on
the Mozambique Channel, where the Portuguese and the Arab possess the
advantage, so rare in Africa, of having at their command convenient and
sheltered harbors. There are centres of partial volcanic agency in the
islands of the Atlantic, north of the equator, and in the distant spots
settled by Europeans outside of Madagascar; but this action has not,
as in the Mediterranean or Archipelago, modified the character of the
continental shore. It is not known that there exists any active volcano
on the continent.

Africa, therefore, if it could be seen on a great model of the world,
would offer little, comparatively, that was varied in outline or in
aspect. There would be great tawny deserts, with scanty specks of dusky
green, or threads of sombre verdure tracing out its scant and temporary
streams. There would be forests concealing or embracing the mouths
of rivers, with brown mountains here and there penetrating through
them, but rarely presenting a lofty wall to the sea. Interior plains
would show some glittering lakes, begirt by the jungle which they
create. But it is a land nearly devoid of winter, either temporary or
permanent. Only one or two specks, near the mouth of the Red Sea, and a
short beaded line of the chain of Atlas, would throw abroad the silver
splendor of perpetual snow. It is the great want of Africa, that so few
mountains have on their heads these supplies for summer streams.

The sea-shore is generally low, except as influenced by Atlas, or the
Abyssinian ranges, or the mountains of the southern extremity. There
is, not uncommonly, a flat swampy plain, bordering on the sea, where
the rivers push out their deltas, or form lagoons by their conflict
with the fierce surge upon the shore. Generally at varying distances,
there occur falls or rapids in the great rivers, showing that they
are descending from interior plains of considerable elevation. The
central regions seem, in fact, to form two, or perhaps three great
elevated plateaux or terraced plains, having waters collected in
their depressions, and joined by necks; such as are the prairies of
Illinois, between the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi, or the llanos
of South America between its great rivers. The southern one of these
African plains approaches close to the Atlantic near the Orange River.
Starting there at the height of three thousand feet, it proceeds round
the sources of the river, and spreads centrally along by the lately
visited, but long known lakes north of the tropic. The equinoctial
portion of it is probably drained by the Zambeze and the Zaire, flowing
in opposite directions. It appears to be continuous as a neck westward
of Kilmandjaro, the probable source of the Nile; till it spreads out
into the vast space extending from Cape Verde to Suez, including in it
the Niger and the Nile, the great desert, and the collections of waters
forming Lake Tzad, and such others as there may be towards Fitre.

The mountains inclosing these spaces form a nearly continuous wall
along the eastern side of Africa. The snows of Atlas form small
streams, trickling down north and south; and, in the latter case,
struggling almost in vain with the tropical heats, in short courses,
towards the Desert of Sahara.

There are found separate groups of mountains, forming for the continent
a broken margin on the west. There may also be an important one
situated centrally between Lake Tzad and the Congo; but there appears
no probability of a transverse chain, stretching continuously across
this region, as has hitherto had a place on maps, under the title of
the “Mountains of the Moon.”

No geological changes, except those due to the elevation of the oldest
formations, appear to have taken place extensively in this continent.
The shores of the Gulf of Guinea, and of the eastern regions, abound
with gold, suggesting that their interior is not covered by modern
rocks. The two extremities at Egypt and Cape of Good Hope, have been
depressed to receive secondary and tertiary deposits. There may be
other such instances; but the continent seems, during a time, even
geologically long, to have formed a great compact mass of land, bearing
the same relations as now to the rest of the world.

The valleys and precipices of South Africa have been shaped by the
mighty currents which circulate round the promontory of the Cape; and
the flat summit of Table Mountain, at the height of three thousand
six hundred feet, is a rocky reef, worn and fretted into strange
projections by the surge, which the southeasters brought against it,
when it was at the level of the sea.

The present state of organized life in Africa tells the same tale. It
indicates a land never connected with polar regions, nor subjected to
great variations of temperature. Our continent, America, is a land
of extremes of temperature. Corresponding to that condition, it is a
land characterized by plants, the leaves of which ripen and fall, so
that vegetation has a pause, waiting for the breath of spring. All the
plants of southern Africa are evergreens. The large browsing animals,
such as the elephant and rhinoceros, which cannot stoop to gather
grass, find continuous subsistence in the continuous foliage of shrubs.
America abounds with stags or deer--animals having deciduous horns or
antlers. Southern Africa has none, but is rich in species of antelopes,
which have true or permanent horns, and which nowhere sustain great
variations of heat and cold. Its fossil plants correspond apparently in
character to those which the country now bears.

Its fossil zoology offers very peculiar and interesting provinces of
ancient life. These have been in positions not greatly unconformable
to those of similar phenomena even now. Great inland fresh-water
seas have abounded with new and strange types of organization, in
character and office analogous to the amphibious forms occurring with
profusion in similar localities of the present interior. These, and
representatives of the secondary formations, rest chiefly on the old
Silurian and Devonian series, the upheaving of which seems to have
given the continent its place and outline. Coal is found at Natal, near
the Mozambique Channel, but not hitherto known to be of value.

Africa still offers, and will long continue to offer, the most
promising field of botanical discovery. Much novelty certainly remains
to be elicited there, but it is very dilatory in finding its way
abroad. Natal is the region most likely to be sedulously explored
for some time. Vegetable ivory has been brought thence, and elastic,
hard, useful timber abounds. Much lumber of good and varied character
is taken to Europe from the western regions of the continent; but so
greatly has scientific inquiry been repelled by the deadly climate,
that even the species affording it are unknown, or doubtfully guessed

The vegetation of the south is brilliant, but not greatly useful. It
affords the type of that which covers the mountains, receding towards
the northeast, until they reach perpetual snow near the equator. That
which is of a more tropical character, stretches round their bases
and through their valleys, with its profusion of palms, creepers, and
dye-woods. These hereafter will form the commercial wealth of the
country, affording oil, india-rubber, dye-stuffs, and other useful

The wild animals of Africa belong to plains and to loose thickets,
rather than to timbered forests. There is a gradation in the height
of the head, among the larger quadrupeds, which indicates the sort of
country and of vegetation suitable to them.

The musket, with its “villanous saltpetre,” in the hands of barbarians
is everywhere expelling from the earth its bulkier creatures, so that
the elephant is disappearing, and ivory will become scarce. Fear tames
the wildest nature; even the lion is timid when he has to face the
musket. The dull ox has learned a lesson with regard to him; for when
the kingly brute prowls round an unyoked wagon resting at night, and
his growl or smell makes the oxen shake and struggle with terror, they
are quieted by the discharge of firearms.

When Europeans first visited the shores of Africa, they were astonished
at the tameness and abundance of unchecked animal life. The shallow
bays and river lagoons were full of gigantic creatures; seals were
found in great numbers, but of all animals these seem the most readily
extirpated. The multitudes which covered the reefs of South Africa are
nearly gone, and they seem to be no longer met with on the northern
shores of the continent. The manatee, or sea-cow, and the hippopotamus,
frequented the mouths of rivers, and were killed and eaten by the
natives. They had never tamed and used the elephant: that this might
have been done is inferred from the use of these animals by the
Carthaginians. But as the Carthaginian territory was not African in
the strict sense of the term, it may be doubted whether their species
was that of Central Africa. This latter species is a larger, less
intelligent looking, and probably a more stubborn creature than the
Asiatic. The roundness of their foreheads and the size of their ears
give them a duller and more brutal look; the magnitude of their tusks,
and the occurrence of these formidable weapons in the female as well
as in the male, are accommodated to the necessity of conflict with the
lion, and indicate a wilder nature.

Lions of several species, abundance of panthers, cats, genets, and
hyenas of many forms, mainly constitute the carnivorous province,
having, as is suitable to the climate, a high proportion of the hyena
form, or devourers of the dead. A foot of a pongo, or large ape,
“as large as that of a man, and covered with hair an inch long,”
astonished one of the earliest navigators. This animal, which indicates
a zoological relationship to the Malayan islands, is known to afford
the nearest approach to the human form. The monkey structure on the
east coast of Africa tends to pass into the nocturnal or Lemurine forms
of Madagascar, where the occurrence of an insulated Malayan language
confirms the relationship indicated above.

The plains with bushy verdure nourish the ostrich and many species of
bustards over the whole continent. Among the creatures which range
far are the lammergeyer, or bearded eagle of the Alps, and the brown
owl of Europe, extending to the extremity of the south. Among the
parrots and the smaller birds, congregating species abound, forming a
sort of arboreal villages, or joint-stock lodging-houses. Sometimes
hundreds of such dwellings are under one thatch, the entrances being
below. The weaving birds suspend their bottle-shaped habitations at
the extremities of limber branches, where they wave in the wind. This
affords security from monkeys and snakes; but they retain the instinct
of forming them so when there is no danger from either the one or the

Reptiles abound in Africa. The Pythons (or Boas) are formidable. Of
the species of serpents probably between one-fourth and one-fifth are
poisonous; but every thing relating to them in the central regions
requires to be ascertained. The Natal crocodile is smaller than the
Egyptian, but is greatly dreaded.

The following instance of its ferocity occurred to the Rev. J. A.
Butler, missionary, in crossing the Umkomazi River, in February, 1853.
“When about two-thirds of the way across, his horse suddenly kicked and
plunged as if to disengage himself from the rider, and the next moment
a crocodile seized Mr. Butler’s thigh with his horrible jaws. The river
at this place is about one hundred and fifty yards wide, if measured
at right angles to the current; but from the place we entered to the
place we go out, the distance is three times as great. The water at
high tide, and when the river is not swollen, is from four to eight or
ten feet deep. On each side the banks are skirted with high grass and
reeds. Mr. Butler, when he felt the sharp teeth of the crocodile, clung
to the mane of his horse with a death hold. Instantly he was dragged
from the saddle, and both he and the horse were floundering in the
water, often dragged entirely under, and rapidly going down the stream.
At first the crocodile drew them again to the middle of the river, but
at last the horse gained shallow water, and approached the shore. As
soon as he was within reach natives ran to his assistance, and beat off
the crocodile with spears and clubs. Mr. Butler was pierced with five
deep gashes, and had lost much blood.”

[1] The author acknowledges his indebtedness for liberal and valuable
contributions on the subject of Physical Geography, Geology, &c.,
to the Rev. Dr. Adamson, for twenty years a resident at the Cape of
Good Hope, and government director and professor in the South African
college. He wishes also to express his obligations for frequent
suggestions from the same source on scientific subjects, during the
preparation of this work.



Whence came the African races, and how did they get where they are?
These are questions not easily answered, and are such as might have
been put with the same hesitation, and in view of the same puzzling
circumstances, three thousand years ago. On the monuments of Thebes,
in Upper Egypt, of the times of Thothmes III., three varieties of the
African form of man are distinctly portrayed. There is the ruling race
of Egypt, red-skinned and massy-browed. There are captives not unlike
them, but of a paler color, with their hair tinged blue; and there is
the negro, bearing his tribute of skins, living animals, and ivory;
with the white eyeball, reclining forehead, woolly hair, and other
normal characteristics of his type.

Provided that these representations are correct, and that the colors
have not changed, the Egyptian has been greatly modified as to his
tint of skin; whether we consider them as represented by the Copts,
or the Fellahs of that country at present, the former bearing clearer
traces of the more ancient form. The population of Africa, as it is at
present, seems to be chiefly derivable from the other two races. There
are, however, circumstances difficult to reconcile, in the present
state of our knowledge, with any hypothesis as to the dispersion of man.

Southern and equatorial Africa includes tribes speaking dialects of two
widely-spread tongues. One of them, the Zingian, or the Zambezan, is
properly distinguished by the excess to which it carries repetition of
certain signs of thought, giving to inflections a character different
from what they exhibit in any other language. This tongue, however,
bears, in other respects, a strong relationship to the many, but,
perhaps, not mutually dissimilar dialects, of northern Africa. It may
be considered as the form of speech belonging to the true or most
normally developed African race.

The other of these two tongues offers also circumstances of peculiar
interest. We may consider it, first, as it is found in use by the
Hottentot or Bushman race, of South Africa. It has even among them
regular and well-constructed forms of inflection, and as distinguishing
it from the negro dialects, it has the sexual form of gender, or
that which arises from the poetical or personifying view of all
objects--considering them as endowed with life, and dividing them into
males and females. In this respect it is analogous to the Galla, the
Abyssinian, and the Coptic. Nay, at this distant extremity of Africa,
not only is the form of gender thus the same with that of the people
who raised the wonderful monuments of Egypt, but that monumental tongue
has its signs of gender, or the terminations indicating that relation,
identical with those of the Hottentot race.

We have, therefore, the evidence of a race of men, striking through
the other darker ones, on perhaps nearly a central line, from one end
of the continent to the other. The poor despised Bushman, forming for
himself, with sticks and grass, a lair among the low-spreading branches
of a protea, or nestling at sunset in a shallow hole, amid the warm
sand of the desert, with wife and little ones like a covey of birds,
sheltered by some ragged sheepskins from the dew of the clear sky, has
an ancestral and mental relationship to the builder of the pyramids and
the colossal temples of Egypt, and to the artists who adorned them. He
looks on nature with a like eye, and stereotypes in his language the
same conclusions derived from it. He has in his words vivified external
things, as they did, according to that form which, in our more logical
tongues, we name poetical metaphor. The _sun_--“Soorees”--is to him
a female, the productive mother of all organic life; and rivers, as
Kuis-eep, Gar-eep, are endowed with masculine activity and strength.

To this scattered family of man, which ought properly to be called
the _Ethiopic_ race, as distinguished from the negro, may probably
be ascribed the fierce invasions from the centre, eastward and
westward, under the names of Galla Giagas, and other appellations,
which occasionally convulsed both sides of Africa; and, perhaps, by
intermixture of races, gave occasion to much of the diversity found
among native tribes, in disposition, manners, and language. The
localities occupied by it have become insulated through the intrusion
of the negro. Its southern division, or the Hottentot tribes, were
being pressed off into an angle, and apparently in the process of
extinction or absorption by the Zambezan Kaffirs from the north and
east, when Europeans met and rolled them away into a small corner of

Egypt was evidently the artery through which population poured into
the broad expanse of Africa. That the progenitors of the negro race
first entered there, and that another race followed subsequently, is
one mode of disposing of the question, which, however, only removes its
difficulties a little farther back.

This supposition is unnecessary. Any number of human families living
together, comprises varieties of constitution, affording a source from
which, by the force of external circumstances, the extreme variations
may be educed. If we examine critically the representations of the
oldest inhabitants of Egypt, we shall see in the form of man which they
exhibit, a combination of characteristics, or a provision for breaking
into varieties corresponding to the conditions of external nature in
the interior regions.

The dissatisfied, the turbulent, the defeated and the criminal would
in these earliest times be thrown off from a settled community in
Egypt, to penetrate into the southern and western regions. They would
generally die there. Many ages of such attempts might pass before those
individuals reached the marshes of the great central plateau, whose
constitutions suited that position. Many of them, moreover, would die
childless. Early death to the adult, and certain death to the immature,
would sweep families off, as the streams bounding from southern Atlas
intrude on the desert, and perish there. The many immigrants to whom
all external things were adverse would be constantly weeded out; so it
would be for generation after generation, until the few remained, whom
heat, exposure, toil, marsh vapor, and fever left as an assorted and
acclimated root of new nations.

Such seems to have been the process in Africa by which a declension of
our nature took place from Egypt in two directions; one through the
central plains down to the marshes of the Gaboon or the Congo river,
where the aberrant peculiarities of the negro seem most developed; and
the other along the mountains, by the Nile and the Zambeze, until the
Ethiopian sank into the Hottentot.

The sea does not deal kindly with Africa, for it wastes or guards the
shores with an almost unconquerable surf. Tides are small, and rivers
not safely penetrable. The ocean offered to the negro nothing but a
little food, procured with some trouble and much danger. Hence ocean
commerce was unknown to them. Only in the smallest and most wretched
canoes did they venture forth to catch a few fish. If strangers sought
for regions of prosperity, riches, or powerful government, their
views were directed to the interior. Benin, in 1484, confessed its
subordination to a great internal sovereign, who only gave responses
from behind a curtain, or permitted one of his feet to be visible
to his dependents, as a mark of gracious favor. It was European
commerce in gold and slaves, received for the coveted goods and arms
they bought, which ultimately gave these monarchs an interest in the

Cruelty and oppression were everywhere, as they still are. It is
not easy for us to conceive how a living man can be moulded to the
unhesitating submission in which a negro subject lives, so that it
should be to him a satisfaction to live and die, or suffer or rejoice,
just as his sovereign wills. It can be accounted for only from the
prevalence and the desolating fury of wars, which rendered perfect
uniformity of will and movement indispensable for existence. It is
not so easy to offer any probable reason for the eagerness to share
in cruelty which glows in a negro’s bosom. Its appalling character
consisted rather in the amount of bloodshed which gratified the negro,
than in the studious prolongation of pain. He offers in this respect a
contrast to the cold, demoniac vengeance of the North American Indian.
Superstition probably excused or justified to him some of his worst
practices. Human sacrifices have been common everywhere. There was no
scruple at cruelty when it was convenient. The mouths of the victims
were gagged by knives run through their cheeks; and captives among the
southern tribes were beaten with clubs in order to prevent resistance,
or “to take away their strength,” as the natives expressed it, that
they might be more easily hurried to the “hill of death,” or authorized
place of execution.

The negro arts are respectable, and would have been more so had not
disturbance and waste come with the slave-trade. They weave coarse
narrow cloths, and dye them. They work in wood and metals. The gold
chains obtained at Wydah, of native manufacture, are well wrought.
Nothing can be more correctly formed for its purpose than the small
barbed lancet-looking point of a Bushman’s arrow. Those who shave their
heads or beards have a neat, small razor, double-edged, or shaped like
a shovel. Arts improve from the coast towards the northeast.

Their normal form of a house is round, with a conical roof. The
pastoral people of the south have it of a beehive form, covered with
mats; the material is rods and flags. If the whole negro nations,
however, were swept away, there would not remain a monument on the face
of their continent to tell that such a race of men had occupied it.

One curious relation to external nature seems to have prevailed
throughout all Africa, consisting in a special reverence, among
different tribes, for certain selected objects. From one of these
objects the tribe frequently derives its national appellation: if it is
a living thing, they avoid killing it or using it as food. Serpents,
particularly the gigantic pythons or boas, are everywhere reverenced.
Some traces of adoration offered to the sun have been met with on the
west coast; but, generally speaking, the superstitions of Africa are
far less intellectual. These and many of their other practices have a
common characteristic in the disappearance of all trace of their origin
among the tribes observing them. To all inquiries they have the answer
ready, that their fathers did so. There is in this, however, no great
assurance of real antiquity, for tradition extends but a short way back.

A reliance on grisgris, or amulets, worn about the person, belongs to
Africa, perhaps from very ancient ages. Egypt was probably its source:
a kind of literary character has been given to it by the Mohammedans.
Throughout inland central Africa, sentences written on scraps of paper
or parchment have a marketable value. An impostor or devotee may
gain authority and profit in this way. As we pass southward we find
this superstition sinking lower and lower in debasement: men there
really cover or load themselves with all kinds of trumpery, and have
a real and hearty confidence in bones, buttons, scraps, or almost any
conceivable thing, as a security against any conceivable evil. The
Kroomen, even, with their purser’s names, of _Jack Crowbar_, _Head
Man_, and _Flying-Jib_, _Bottle of Beer_, _Pea Soup_, _Poor Fellow_,
_Prince Will_, and others, taken on board the “Perry,” in Monrovia,
were found now and then with their sharks’, tigers’ and panthers’
teeth, and small shells, on their ankles and wrists; although most of
these people, from contact with the Liberians, have seen the folly of
this practice, and dispensed with their charms.

The Africans also have stationary _fetishes_, consisting in sacred
places and sacred things. They have practices to inspire terror, or
gain reverence in respect to which it is somewhat difficult to decide
whether the actors in them are impostors or sincere. Idols in the forms
of men, rude and frightful enough, are among these fetishes, but it
cannot be said that idolatry of this kind prevails extensively in the

In two respects they look towards the invisible: they dread a
superhuman power, and they fear and worship it as being a measureless
source of evil. It is scarcely correct to call this Devil-worship, for
this is a title of contrast, presuming that there has been a choice of
the evil in preference to the good. The fact in their case seems to
be, that good in will, or good in action, are ideas foreign to their
minds. Selfishness cannot be more intense, nor more exclusive of all
kindness and generosity or charitable affection, than it is generally
found among these barbarians. The inconceivableness of such motives to
action has often been found a strong obstacle to the influence of the
Christian missionary. They can worship nothing good, because they have
no expectation of good from any thing powerful. They have mysterious
words or mutterings, equivalent to what we term incantations, which
is the meaning of the Portuguese word from which originated the term

The other reference of their intellect to invisible things consists in
acknowledging the continued existence of the dead, and paying reverence
to the spirits of their forefathers. This leads to great cruelty.
Men of rank at their death are presumed to require attendance, and
be gratified with companionship. This event, therefore, produces the
murder of wives and slaves, to afford them suitable escort and service
in the other world. From the strange mixture of the material and
spiritual common to men in that barbarian condition, the bodies or the
blood of the slain appear to be the essentials of these requirements.
Thus, also, the utmost horror is felt at decapitation, or at the
severing of limbs from the body after death. It is revenge, as much
as desire to perpetuate the remembrance of victory, which makes them
eager for the skulls and jaw-bones of their enemies, so that in a
royal metropolis, walls, and floors, and thrones, and walking-sticks,
are everywhere lowering with the hollow eyes of the dead. These sad,
bare and whitened emblems of mortality and revenge present a curious
and startling spectacle, cresting and festooning the red clay walls of
Kumassi, the Ashantee capital.

Such belief leads to strange vagaries in practice. They sympathize with
the departed, as subject still to common wants and ruled by common
affections. A negro man of Tahou would show his regard for the desires
of the dead by sitting patiently to hold a spread umbrella over the
head of a corpse. The dead man’s mouth, too, was stuffed with rice and
fowl, and in cold weather a fire was kept burning in the hut for the
benefit of their deceased friend. They consulted his love of ornament,
also, for the top of his head and his brow were stained red, his nose
and cheeks yellow, and the lower jaw white; and fantastic figures of
different colors were daubed over his black body.

Dingaan, the Zulu chief, was exceedingly fond of ornament. He used
to boast that the Zulus were the only people who understood dress.
Sometimes he came forward painted with all kinds of stripes and
crosses, in a very bizarre style. The people took all this gravely,
saying that “he was king and could do what he pleased,” and they
were content with his taste. It is this unreflecting character which
astounds us in savages. They never made it a question whether the
garniture of the king or of the corpse had any thing unsuitable.

All along the coasts, from the equator to the north of the Gulf of
Guinea, they did not eat without throwing a portion on the ground for
those who had died. Sometimes they dug a small hole for these purposes,
or they had one in the hut, and into it they poured what they thought
would be acceptable. They conceived that they had sensible evidence of
the inclinations of the dead. In lifting up or carrying a corpse on
their shoulders, men may not attend to the exact direction of their own
muscular movements or those of their associates. There are necessarily
shocks, jolts and struggles, from the movements of their associates.
People will, in some cases, pull different ways when hustled together.
All these unconscious movements, not unlike the “table turnings” of the
present era, were taken as expressive of the will of the dead man, as
to how and whither he was to be carried.

Their belief, as we have seen, influenced their life: it was earnest
and heartfelt. When the king of Wydah, in 1694, heard that Smith, the
chief of the English factory, was dangerously ill with fever, he sent
his fetishman to aid in the recovery. The priest went to the sick man,
and solemnly announced that he came to save him. He then marched to the
white man’s burial-ground with a provision of brandy, oil, and rice,
and made a loud oration to those that slept there. “O you dead white
people, you wish to have Smith among you; but our king likes him, and
it is not his will to let him go to be among you.” Passing on to the
grave of Wyburn, the founder of the factory, he addressed him, “You,
captain of all the whites who are here! Smith’s sickness is a piece of
your work. You want his company, for he is a good man; but our king
does not want to lose him, and you can’t have him yet.” Then digging
a hole over the grave, he poured into it the articles which he had
brought, and told him that if he needed these things, he gave them
with good-will, but he must not expect to get Smith. The factor died,
notwithstanding. The ideas here are not very dissimilar to those of the
old Greeks.

It is remarkable, however, that in tracing this negro race along the
continent towards the south, we find these notions and practices to
fade away, and at last disappear. Southeast of the desert, along the
Orange River, there is scarcely a trace of them.

The dread of witchcraft prevails universally. In general, the
occurrence of disease is ascribed to this source. In the north
they fear a supernatural influence; in the south this is traced
to no superhuman origin, but is conceived to be a power which any
one may possess and exercise. Among these tribes, the man presumed
to be guilty of this crime is a public enemy (as were the witches
occasionally found among our own venerated pious, and public-spirited
puritan forefathers--a blemish in their character due to the general
ignorance of the age), to be removed if possible, as a lion, tiger, or
pestilence would be annihilated. Even the force of civilized law, when
introduced among them, has not saved a man under this stigma from being
secretly murdered by the terrified people. It has yielded only to the
enlightening influence of Christian missionaries.

These delusions are often rendered the support of tyranny by the
chiefs, for the property of the accused is confiscated. Scenes sad
and horrible are exhibited as the consequence of a chief’s illness.
In order to force a discovery of the means employed, and to get the
witchcraft counteracted, some native, who is generally rich enough to
be worth plundering, is seized and tortured, until, as an old author
expresses it, “he dies, or the chief recovers.” They extend the horror
of the infliction, by calling in the aid of vermin life, destined in
nature to devour corruption, by scattering handfuls of ants over the
scorched skin and quivering flesh of their victim.

Generally among the Guinea negroes, the ordeal employed to detect this
crime, is to compel the accused to drink a decoction of sassy-wood.
This may be rendered harmless or destructive, according to the object
of the fetishman. It is oftener his purpose to destroy than to save,
and great cruelty has in almost all cases been found to accompany the

Plunder is the reward of the soldier. In the central regions this was
increased by the sale of captives. Captives of both sexes were the
chief’s property. Thus the warriors looked to the acquisition of wives
from the chief, as the recompense of successful wars. They announced
this as their aim in their preparatory songs. The chief was, therefore,
to them the source of every thing. Their whole thought responded to his
movements, and sympathized with his greatness and success.

Women in Africa are everywhere slaves, or the slaves of slaves. The
burdens of agricultural labor fall on them. When a chief is announced
as having hundreds or thousands of wives, it signifies really that he
has so many female slaves. There does not appear to be any tribe in
Africa, in which it is not the rule of society, that a man may have
as many such wives as he can procure. The number is of course, except
in the case of the supreme chief, but few. The female retinue of a
sovereign partakes everywhere of the reverence due to its head. The
chief and his household are a kind of divinity to the people. His name
is the seal of their oath. The possibility of his dying must never
be expressed, nor the name of death uttered in his presence. Names
of things appearing to interfere with the sacredness of his, must be
changed. His women must not be met or looked at.

In war, as long as success depends alone on individual prowess,
the strong and athletic only can be successful soldiers. Where the
weapons, rather than the person are the source of power, docility and
endurance are qualities more valuable than strength. In these the
weaker sex, in savage life, surpasses the other; hence women have
appeared in the world as soldiers. It was probably the introduction of
the arrow, killing at a distance, as superior in effect and safety to
the rude clubs and spears of earlier conflict, which originated the
Amazons of old history. The same fact is resulting in Africa from the
introduction of the musket. Females thus armed were found, commonly as
royal guards, in the beginning of the last century. The practice still
continues in the central regions.

In Dahomey a considerable proportion of the national troops consists
of armed and disciplined females. They are known as being royal
women, strictly and watchfully kept from any communication with men,
and seem to have been trained, through discipline and the force of
co-operation, to the accomplishment of enterprises, from which the
tumultuous warriors of a native army would shrink. A late English
author (Duncan) says, “I have seen them, all well armed, and generally
fine, strong, healthy women, and doubtless capable of enduring great
fatigue. They seem to use the long Danish musket with as much ease as
one of our grenadiers does his firelock, but not of course with the
same quickness, as they are not trained to any particular exercise; but
on receiving the word, make an attack like a pack of hounds, with great
swiftness. Of course they would be useless against disciplined troops,
if at all approaching to the same numbers. Still their appearance
is more martial than the generality of the men, and if undertaking
a campaign, I should prefer the female to the male soldiers of this

The same author thus describes a field review of these Amazons, which
he witnessed: “I was conducted to a large space of broken ground,
where fourteen days had been occupied in erecting three immense prickly
piles of green bush. These three clumps or piles, of a sort of strong
brier or thorn, armed with the most dangerous prickles, were placed in
line, occupying about four hundred yards, leaving only a narrow passage
between them, sufficient merely to distinguish each clump appointed to
each regiment. These piles were about seventy feet wide and eight feet
high. Upon examining them, I could not persuade myself that any human
being without boots or shoes would, under any circumstances, attempt
to pass over so dangerous a collection of the most efficiently armed
plants I had ever seen.”

The Amazons wear a blue striped cotton surtout, manufactured by the
natives, and a pair of trowsers falling just below the knee. The
cartridge-box is girded around the loins.

The drums and trumpets soon announced the approach of three or four
thousand Amazons. “The Apadomey soldiers (female) made their appearance
at about two hundred yards from, or in front of, the first pile, where
they halted with shouldered arms. In a few seconds the word for attack
was given, and a rush was made towards the pile with a speed beyond
conception, and in less than one minute the whole body had passed
over this immense pile, and had taken the supposed town. Each of the
other piles was passed with the same rapidity, at intervals of twenty
minutes.” “When a person is killed in battle, the skin is taken from
the head, and kept as a trophy of valor. I counted seven hundred scalps
pass in this manner. The captains of each corps (female), in passing,
again presented themselves before his majesty, and received the king’s
approval of their conduct.” These heroines, however, say that they are
no longer women, but men.

The people of Ashantee and Dahomey are considerably in advance of
those on the coast. They cultivate the soil extensively, manufacture
cotton cloth, and build comparatively good houses. They have musical
instruments, which, if rude, are loud enough. Their drums and horns add
to the stateliness of their ceremonies. Of such exhibitions they are
very fond, and consider it a national honor if they can render them
impressive to strangers. The Dahomeans are about one hundred miles in
the interior, west of the Niger.

Necessity has occasionally driven some of the southern tribes to
adopt the practice of cannibalism. There it has ever excited horror
and disgust. Those who have practised it are distinguished by an
appellation setting them apart from other men. Among some of the
central tribes it has prevailed rather, however, in all appearance,
from superstitious motives, or as an exhibition of triumphant revenge,
than in the revolting form which it assumes among some of the
Polynesian islanders.



The trade of Africa for an almost indefinite time must consist of the
materials for manufactures.

The fact that old formations reposing on granite, or distorted by it,
form a large proportion of its geological surface, indicates that
useful metals will probably be found in abundance. In comparing it with
California and Australia as to the probability of finding deposits of
the more valuable metals, two circumstances of great importance must
be kept in view. These countries were possessed by natives who had no
domesticated animals, and therefore were not called upon to exercise
over the soil the same inquisitive inspection for herbage and water as
were required from the races among the mountains and deserts of Africa,
so that the chances of finding any thing were not the same.

The other circumstance is, that metals were comparatively little
known to the aborigines of California, and not at all to those of
New Holland, so that discoveries of the kind would neither be sought
for, nor reckoned of much value when they occurred. On the other
hand, metals of all kinds have during indefinite eras been regarded
as of high importance, and have been used in various ways by the
African nations. Copper, and some alloys of it, seem to be used for
ornaments throughout the whole south. These are smelted from the ores
by the natives. They also manufacture their own iron. Their desires,
therefore, and their necessities, and their arts, render it probable
that no deposits of metals exist, except such as require scientific
skill to discover, and mechanical resources to procure.

Gold is not in this predicament. Wherever it occurs in abundance, it
has been collected by elemental waste from disintegrated rocks, and is
mixed with gravel and alluvial matters in those portions where men of
nomadic habits, and familiar with metal ornaments, would most readily
meet and appropriate it. Some, probably a great proportion, of the gold
of ancient Egypt, was got by a laborious process of grinding, on which
their wretched captives were employed. This would not have been the
case if the metal had been found plentifully throughout the extensive
regions with which they were acquainted.

An addition to the metallic riches of the world from Africa, is
therefore to be looked for in the discovery of deep-seated mines,
if there are any, and in better modes of working those which exist,
particularly the alluvial deposits of gold along the northern shores
of the Gulf of Guinea and the shores of the Mozambique Channel. The
present export of gold from all Africa, probably amounts to about two
millions of dollars per annum.

The vegetable articles of export are of great value. Cotton may be
produced in unlimited abundance. The African dye-stuffs are already
recognized as extensive and valuable articles of commerce. Indigo is
used extensively by the natives. When we recollect that the vast trade
of Bengal in this article has been created within the memory of men
still living, and that India possesses no natural advantages beyond
those of Africa, we may infer what a profusion of wealth might be
poured rapidly over Africa by peace and good government.

Gums, of various kinds, constitute a branch of trade which may
be considered as only commencing. The extensive employment of
india-rubber, and the knowledge of gutta-percha, are only a few years
old. Africa gives promise of a large supply of such articles. Its
caoutchouc has already been introduced into the arts.[2] It may be
long before the natural sources of supply found in its marshy forests
can be exhausted. Be that as it may; when men are induced, as perhaps
they soon will be, to substitute regular cultivation for the wild and
more irregular modes of procuring articles which are becoming every
day of more essential importance, Africa may take a great share in the
means adopted to supply them.

Palm-oil has become pre-eminently an object of attention. The modes of
procuring it are very rude and wasteful. The palm-nuts are generally
left for a day or two, heaped together in a hole dug in the ground.
They are then trodden by the women, till they form a greasy pulp; out
of this the oil is rudely strained through their fingers, or water is
run into the hole to float the oil, and it is skimmed off with their
hands into a calabash. In Benin they employ the better mode of boiling
it off. The oil occurs in a kind of pulp surrounding the seed, as is
the case with the eatable part of the common date; it is evident,
therefore, that more suitable modes of producing it may be put in

What may be done in the production of sugar and coffee, no man can
tell. James Macqueen, who has, during great part of his life, devoted
his attention to the condition and interests of Africa, gave evidence
before a committee of the British House of Peers, in 1850, to the
following effect: “There is scarcely any tropical production known in
the world, which does not come to perfection in Africa. There are many
productions which are peculiarly her own. The dye-stuffs and dye-woods
are superior to any which are known in any other quarter of the world,
inasmuch as they resist both acids and light, things which we know
no other dye-stuffs, from any other parts of the world, can resist.
Then there is the article of sugar, that can be produced in every
part of Africa to an unlimited extent. There is cotton also, above
all things--cotton of a quality so fine; it is finer cotton than any
description of cotton we know of in the world. Common cotton in Africa
I have seen, and had in my possession, which was equal to the finest
quality of American cotton.

“Egyptian cotton is not so good as the cotton away to the south; but
the cotton produced in the southern parts of Africa is peculiarly
fine. Africa is a most extraordinary country. In the eastern horn of
Africa, which you think to be a desolate wilderness, there is the
finest country, and the finest climate I know. I know of none in South
America equal to the climate of the country in the northeastern horn
of Africa. It is a very elevated country; and on the upper regions
you have all the fruits, and flowers, and grain of Europe growing;
and in the valleys you have the finest fruits of the torrid zone. The
whole country is covered with myrrh and frankincense; it is covered
with flocks and herds; it produces abundance of the finest grain. Near
Brasa, for instance, on the river Webbe, you can purchase as much
fine wheat for a dollar as will serve a man for a year. All kinds of
European grain flourish there. In Enarea and Kaffa, the whole country
is covered with coffee; it is the original country of the coffee. You
can purchase an ass’s load (200 lbs.) of coffee in the berry for about
a dollar. The greater portion of the coffee that we receive from Mocha,
is actually African coffee, produced in that part.”

[2] The Rev. J. Leighton Wilson, who was a missionary of the American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, at Cape Palmas and at
the Gaboon River for more than twenty years, first called attention
to a vine, or creeper, as affording india-rubber. It is now collected
from this plant in the Gaboon district; and two or three cargoes have
already been shipped to this country, with a prospect of its becoming
a lucrative article of trade. We may look to intelligent missionaries,
like Mr. Wilson, for securing such benefits to traffic and art, as well
as to science and literature. We are glad to learn that he contemplates
an extended work on Africa, which will no doubt be highly acceptable to
the public.



The Portuguese commercial discoverers having succeeded those of France,
and founded trading establishments on the coast of Africa, were
driven from the sea-shore by the rivalry and power of the Dutch and
the English, about the year 1604. They retired into the interior, and
commingled with the negroes. From their intermarriages arose a race of
mulattoes, who have long exercised considerable influence. As early as
1667, this influence had become detrimental to commerce and discovery.
They closed against others the entrances to the great region of more
elevated lands, and carried on trade, without rivals, from Benin to
Senegambia, over two thousand miles. They had generally little chapels
near their houses, and spared no pains to make proselytes.

How much might these men have done for the good of Africa and the
progress of the world! Following their lines of commerce, and cresting
the high lands, which feed, with rains and rivulets, the Gambia and
the Niger, as well as the streams by which they dwell, they might
have saved two centuries of doubt and hazardous attempts, and much
sacrifice of good and talented men. They might earlier have let in
Christian civilization to repel the Moslem and redeem the negro.
Portuguese influence is gone, and has left the world little reason to
regret its extinction. On the rising and almost impervious forest-lands
which are at the distance of from twenty to fifty miles back from the
coast, these Portuguese mulattoes are still found, watching for their
monopoly, with the same jealous exclusiveness as of old. These forests
thus inhabited, form, at present, a serious obstacle to the extension
of the influence of Liberia. An enterprising people, however, occupying
the great tracts of cleared lands along the coast, which constitute
the actual territories of the republic, will, with the progress of
the settlements, and the increase of their power, soon be enabled,
notwithstanding the short navigable distance of the rivers, to open
communication with the far interior.

The Portuguese founded cities and missions. A more extensive authority
was gained by them over great and populous regions, both on the eastern
and western shores, than has been attained by any other people. The
title of “Lord of Guinea” was fairly claimed for the King of Portugal,
by the establishment of this sovereign’s supremacy over various native
kingdoms. But Portugal wanted the light and strength of a nation--a
righteous and intelligent policy.

The establishments on the east coast now scarcely keep their ground,
ever shrinking before the barbarian and the Arab. St. Paul de Loando,
on the southwest coast, is shrivelled down from its former greatness.
Both regions have rich capabilities; both might have extended a useful
influence, until they met and embraced in the centre, uniting these
vast regions with the great movements of human progress; but they clung
to the slave-trade, and its curse has clung to them.

They misunderstood human nature, and overlooked its high destiny. Of
the Spaniards and Portuguese concerned in slaving, Captain Dunlop, of
the British Navy, long attached to the English squadron on the African
coast, says: “They speak of the African as a brute, who is only fit to
be made a slave of, and say that it is quite chimerical and absurd in
us to attempt to put down the trade, or to defend men who were only
born to be slaves.”

Other nations only founded slave factories. Every thing peculiar to
this influence was bad. Compared with the ounces of gold and tusks
of ivory which drew the cupidity of early navigators, there arose
everywhere a traffic, far more rapid, but it was that of cruelty,
bringing with it vice. Brandy and arms, drunkenness and war, followed
as the remuneration of rapine and slaving. The gross vices of Europe
added to the mischief. Legitimate trade, which might have flourished
for centuries, withered; and the rank which the white man held among
the natives, made him a source of wide corruption. Little good could
come out of the state of society in Europe during the last century, for
little good was in it. This state of things has improved.

The three nations whose interference seems likely to have a conspicuous
effect upon the interests of Africa in the future, are _France_,
_England_, and the _United States_.

France will have all the Mediterranean shore, and the caravan trade
across the deserts. But this will diminish in activity and value, as
the trade of the other shores extends, and as the way across from them
to the interior becomes easier. No great influence can, therefore, be
in this way exercised over the prosperity of the African people.

England holds the south; but the natives around the Cape of Good
Hope are greatly isolated from the interior by deserts and climates
hostile to European life. Democracy has a footing there, inasmuch as
Dutch colonists have retired from under English jurisdiction, and
formed a government for themselves, which has been acknowledged by
England. After suffering, and trial, and privation shall have taught
independence of thought and patriotism, a respectable confederacy of
states may be formed in these regions.

Every effort that is just and suitable, is made to extend English
influence along the shores of negro lands. The expenditure in
endeavoring to extirpate the slave-trade is very great; and great
devotedness and heroism have been seen in attempts to explore the
interior. Both objects are drawing towards completion; but the
permanently beneficial influence of England rests on the establishment
of Sierra Leone and the extended coasting trade, arising from the
semi-monthly line of English steamers which touch there.

England has established twenty-four treaties with native kings,
chiefs, or powers, for the suppression of the slave-trade; seventeen
of these are with chiefs whose territories have fallen under the
influence of the Republic of Liberia and Cape Palmas. The influence
of these governments has now replaced that of England, by sweeping
the slave-trade from their territory of about six hundred miles. The
great proportion of recaptured slaves, chiefly men and boys, who
have been thrown into the population of Sierra Leone, has loaded it
heavily. Of these, altogether not less than sixty thousand have, at
different times, been introduced; yet, with the original colonists--the
Novascotians, Canadians and the Maroons from Jamaica--the whole do not
now extend beyond forty-five thousand; still, Sierra Leone has long
been a focus of good emanations. It embraces a territory small compared
with Liberia. The government is repressive of native energy, on account
of the constant superintendence of white men, and the subordination of
the colony to a distant and negligent government.

One momentous effect of its influence, however, has come permanently
forward, tending to carry rapid improvement widely over the western
regions of Africa. These recaptured slaves, and their descendants, many
of them, are returning to their native lands, elevated in character
by the instruction they have received. Three thousand of them are now
settled among their brethren of the Yoruba tribe, near the mouth of
the Niger, and there, superintended by two or three missionaries, are
sending abroad, by their influence and example, the light of Divine

Sierra Leone and the naval squadrons have rendered great service to
Liberia. It is perfectly obvious that the colony could not have existed
if left to itself under the old system of pirating and slave-trading.
Those who did not spare European forts, would have had no scruple
at plundering and extinguishing such opponents of their traffic. It
must in justice be admitted, that a fair surrender of what might, in
reality, be considered as conquered territory, has been made by England
to Liberia. The instances of such transactions show a greatly advanced
state of morality in the public dealings of nations, and in this, even,
the African has begun to partake.

Sierra Leone was founded on the 9th of May, 1787, by a party of four
hundred negroes, discharged from the army and navy. They were joined by
twelve hundred from Nova Scotia in 1792.

In 1849, the country around the river Sherboro, intervening between
Sierra Leone and Monrovia, had been carrying on a war for about seven
years, and at length commenced plundering the canoes of the Sierra
Leone people. The acting governor soon brought them to terms. This
vexed the slavers at the Gallinas, who had long been an annoyance to
the Liberian authorities. It was the slavers’ policy to keep up the
excitement and strife, that they might in the mean time drive a brisk
trade unmolested.

The English cruisers at length blockaded the Gallinas. They ascertained
that, notwithstanding the blockade, abundance of goods were received
by the enemy. The mystery was at length solved by discovering that the
slave-traders, through small creeks and lagoons, had received what they
wanted from Sierra Leone. The case was referred to the governor to have
this prevented, and by the governor it was referred to the lawyers.
They shook their wigs solemnly over the complaint, and decided that
nothing within the compass of the law suited the case, and therefore
nobody could interfere.

Captain Dunlop, in command of the cruisers, a good naval diplomatist,
ready in the cause of justice and humanity to make precedents where
none could be found, informed the Sherboro chiefs, that a treaty
existed between them and his government for the suppression of the
slave-trade; and suggested to them the virtue and the profit of seizing
the goods brought from Sierra Leone. The chiefs had the smallest
possible objections which honest men could have, to appropriate the
slavers’ goods to themselves. On the principle of employing a thief in
office for the moral benefit of his companions, this matter was easily
settled. The goods were seized in their transit. It was also stipulated
with these chiefs, that they should stop all trade and intercourse
between their own people and the slave barracoons. Having now no chance
of sending off slaves, and no means of getting any thing from Sierra
Leone or elsewhere, the slavers, established at the Gallinas--regarded
for the present as no man’s land--were obliged to come to terms.

Captain Dunlop landed to receive their surrender. But to spare his own
men in the sickliest season of the year, he applied to a chief for
one hundred and fifty hands; these he obtained, and soon after three
hundred more joined him, and remained for the five or six weeks, while
the affair was being settled. These men behaved as well as disciplined
troops, or rather better, for although among an enemy’s property, there
was no drunkenness or plunder.

An idea of the extent of the slave-establishment may be had from the
fact that sixty foreigners were made prisoners. They hailed from
everywhere, and were sent to Sierra Leone to find passage to Brazil,
Cuba and other places.

The chiefs who had been in partnership with them, found themselves
none the worse for this summary breaking up of the firm. They cleared
off their national debt. In the way of trade they had come under
obligations to this establishment to the extent of seven thousand
slaves, and they found themselves at liberty honestly to “repudiate,”
or rather their obligation was discharged, as slaves were no longer a
lawful tender. The chiefs, however, were required to set at liberty
all slaves collected but not delivered. These amounted to about a
thousand. A preparation was here made for the extension of Liberia, and
afterwards, as will be seen, that government came into possession of
this territory, and thus secured a still greater extent of coast from
the intrusion of the slaver.

English influence is extending by means of factories and agents
all along the coast, from Cape Palmas to the Gaboon (about twelve
hundred miles), for commercial purposes and for the suppression of the
slave-trade. These establishments are supported by the government.
Commissioners proceed from them to enter into negotiations on the
subject of the slave-trade with the powerful chiefs of the interior,
and curious results sometimes occur from the prestige thus gained.

One of the great Ashantee chiefs came over to the English, during
the war in which Sir Charles McCarthy was killed, and retained his
independence on the borders of the two powers. Governor McLean, at Cape
Coast Castle, learnt that this chief had offered human sacrifices as
one of his “customs.” A summons, in a legal form, was dispatched to him
by a native soldier, citing him to appear for trial for this offence.
Agreeably to the summons, he marched to the court in great state,
surrounded by his chiefs and attendants. He was tried, convicted, and
heavily fined. He was then dismissed, with an order to remit the money.
This he immediately did, although there was no force, except moral
supremacy, to constrain him to obey. There has been no slaving at Cape
Coast Castle since the trade was abolished forty years ago.

There are only forty British officers’ and soldiers in all the line of
forts, with one hundred of the West India regiment, and about fifty
native militia-men. The annual expense of the establishments is about
twenty thousand dollars; although, as the government has lately
purchased, for fifty thousand dollars, the Danish forts, the expense
will be materially increased.

The interior is improving. Captain Winniet visited Ashantee in October,
1849. He found on the route large thriving additional villages, as far
as English protection extended. He was received at Kumassi with the
usual display of African music, musketry, and marching. He was led for
a mile and a half through a lane at heads and shoulders, clustered
thick on both sides. There were here and there diverging branches of a
like character, as thick with heads and shoulders; and at the end of
each, a chief sitting in his chair of state. To and by each chief, a
hand was waved as a salutation, until the monarch himself was reached.
He rose, came forward, and, with heavy lumps of gold dangling at his
wrists, exhibited his agility in dancing. When this act of state
ceremony had been properly _done up_, he offered his hand to shake, and
thus completed the etiquette of a reception at court. The houses, with
piazzas projecting to shelter them from the sun--public-rooms in front,
and dwelling-rooms behind, nicely plastered and colored--were greatly

The pleading about the slave-trade was the main business and the main
difficulty; but the nature of such negotiations appears, in its most
impressive aspect, in the case of Dahomey.

This chief professes great devotedness to England. In consequence of
some difficulty, he gave notice to European foreigners, “that he was
not much accustomed to cut off white heads, but if any interfered with
an agent of the English government, he would cut off their heads as
readily as those of his black people.” By murderous incursions against
his neighbors, he seized about nine thousand victims annually. He sold
about three thousand of these directly on his own account, gave the
rest chiefly away to his troops, who sold them: a duty of five dollars
being paid on each slave exported, afforded him altogether a revenue of
about three hundred thousand dollars.

This was a serious matter to argue against. He stated the case
strongly: “The form of my government cannot be suddenly changed without
causing such a revolution as would deprive me of my throne, and
precipitate the kingdom into anarchy.... I am very desirous to acquire
the friendship of England. I and my army are ready, at all times, to
fight the queen’s enemies, and do any thing the English government may
ask of me, except to give up the slave-trade. No other trade is known
to my people. Palm-oil, it is true, is engaging the attention of some
of them, but it is a slow method of making money, and brings only a
very small amount of duties into my coffers. The planting of cotton
and coffee has been suggested, but that is slower still. The trees
have to grow, and I shall probably be in my grave before I reap any
benefit from them; and what am I to do in the mean time? Who will pay
my troops in the mean time? Who will buy arms and clothes for them? Who
will buy dresses for my wives? Who will give me supplies of cowries,
rum, gunpowder and cloth, for my annual ‘customs?’ I hold my power by
the observance of the time-honored customs of my forefathers. I should
forfeit it, and entail on myself a life full of shame, and a death full
of misery, by neglecting them. The slave-trade has been the ruling
principle of my people. It is the source of their glory and wealth.
Their songs celebrate their victories, and the mother lulls the child
to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery. Can I,
by signing such a treaty, change the sentiments of a whole people? It
cannot be!”

The case was a puzzling one for this intelligent, open-hearted, and
ambitious barbarian. He had trained an army of savage heroes, and as
savage heroines, thirsting for distinction and for plunder. This army
cowers at his feet as long as he satiates its appetite for excitement,
rapine and blood. But woe to him if it turn in disappointed fury upon
him! Such is military despotism; perilous to restrain, and perilous to
let loose. Blessed is that people which is clear of it!

There is this strange incident in the affair, that the English power,
which sent an ambassador to plead the case with him in this peaceful
mode, was at the same time covering the sea with cruisers, and lining
the shore with factories, and combining every native influence to
extinguish the sole source from which flowed the security and splendor
of his rule. He knew this, and could offer no moral objection to it,
although complaining of the extent to which it reduced his authority,
and crippled his resources.

The urgency to which the King of Dahomey was subjected, ended, in
1852, in his yielding. England had proposed to pay him some annual sum
for a time, as a partial compensation for the loss of his revenue:
it may therefore be presumed that he is a stipendiary of the British
government; and as the practices given up by him can scarcely, in
any circumstances, be suddenly revived, his interest will retain
him faithful to the engagement. It is a strange, bold, and perilous
undertaking, that he should direct his disciplined army, his hero and
his heroine battalions, to the arts of peace! But to these he and they
must henceforward look as the source of their wealth, security, and

Queen Victoria, it is said, has lately sent the King of Dahomey two
thousand ornamental caps for the Amazon soldiers.



Dalziel, in slave-trading times, shocked the world with details in
reference to Dahomey. Duncan and Forbes have again presented the
picture in the same hues of darkness and of blood. Ghezo is a good king
as things go, and rather particularly good for an African, for whom the
world has done nothing, and who, therefore, cannot be expected to do
much for the world. He has a threatening example before him. His elder
brother is a prisoner, with as much to eat and more to drink than is
good for him--caged up by a crowd of guards, who prevent him from doing
any thing else. He was deposed, and reduced to this state, because his
rule did not suit his subjects.

Ghezo, therefore, has the office of seeing men roll on the earth
before him, and scrape up dust over themselves; of being deafened
by vociferations of his dignity and virtue and glory and honor,
by court poets and parasites, on state occasions; the office of
keeping satisfied, with pay and plunder, the ferocious spirit of
a blood-thirsty people; the office of looking out for some victim
tribe, whom, by craft and violence, they may ruin; and the office of
procuring, catching and buying some scores of human victims, whom he
and his savages murder, at different set seasons, in public.

A good share of this used to be effected by means of the slave-trade.
But that is gone, or nearly so, and with it may go much of the atrocity
of Dahomean public life. Things are yet, however, and may long remain,
in a transition state. He and his people will not suddenly lose their
taste for the excitement of human suffering; and it would be a danger
for which, it is probable, he has not the moral courage, or a result
for which he has no real wish, to bring old national ceremonies to a
sudden pause. But there are circumstances likely to act with effect in
producing the change, which is a matter destined to occur at some time
or other, and to be obtained when it occurs only in one mode; and the
sooner the process is begun, the sooner it will end.


  _F.E. Forbes, delt._      _Lith. of Sarony & Co. N. Y._


As to what it is that higher principles must banish from the world,
Commander Forbes, of the British Navy, in 1850, the latest visitor of
that country who has given an account of it, tells us what he saw.
He says: “There is something fearful in the state of subjection
in which, in outward show, the kings of Dahomey hold their highest
officers; yet, when the system is examined, these prostrations are
merely keeping up of ancient customs. Although no man’s head in Dahomey
can be considered warranted for twenty-four hours, still the great
chief himself would find his tottering if one of these customs was

They were preparing for the ceremony of watering the graves of the
royal ancestors with blood; during which the king also presents some
victims as a royal gift to his people. This merely means that they are
knocked down in public, and their heads cut off, amidst trumpeting, and
clamor, and jesting.

“With much ceremony,” we read, “two large calabashes, containing the
skulls of kings,” conquered by the Dahomeans, “ornamented with copper,
brass, coral, &c., were brought in and placed on the ground. Some
formed the heads of walking-sticks, distaffs; while those of chiefs
and war-men ornamented drums, umbrellas, surmounted standards, and
decorated doorways. They were on all sides in thousands.”

“There was much to disgust the white man in the number of human
skulls and jaw-bones displayed; but can the reader imagine twelve
unfortunate human beings lashed hands and feet, and tied in small
canoes and baskets, dressed in clean white dresses, with a high red
cap, carried on the heads of fellow-men? These, and an alligator and a
cat, were the gift of the monarch to the people--prisoners of war.”...
“When carried round the court, they bore the gaze of their enemies
without shrinking. At the foot of the throne they halted, while the
_Mayo_ presented each with a head (bunch) of cowries, extolling the
munificence of the monarch, who had sent it to them to purchase a last
meal, for to-morrow they must die.”

Again: “But of the fourteen now brought on the platform, we the
unworthy instruments of the Divine will, succeeded in saving the lives
of three. Lashed as we have described before, these sturdy men met the
gaze of their persecutors, with a firmness perfectly astonishing. Not
a sigh was breathed. In all my life I never saw such coolness before,
so near death.... The victims were held high above the heads of their
bearers, and the naked ruffians thus acknowledged the munificence
of their prince.... Having called their names, the nearest one was
divested of his clothes; the foot of the basket placed on the parapet,
when the king gave its upper part an impetus, and the victim fell at
once into the pit beneath. A fall upwards of twelve feet may have
stunned him, and before sense could return, his head was cut off, and
the body thrown to the mob; who, now armed with clubs and branches,
brutally mutilated it and dragged it to a distant pit.” Forbes and his
companion had retired to their seats away from the sight. Two sons
of Da Souza, the notorious slayer, remained to look on.


  _F.E. Forbes, delt._      _Lith. of Sarony & Co. N. Y._


The circumstance most likely to have effect in restraining these
barbarities, is the value which slaves will now bear as the means
of cultivating the ground, and raising exportable produce, to which
alone the monarch and people must look, in the diminished state of the
slave-trade, to furnish means for their expenses. Victims and slaves
will also be more difficult to be procured by warfare, inasmuch as
civilized people have more general access to the country, and will
introduce a better policy, and more powerful defensive means among
the people. Christianity also is adventuring there, and carrying its
peaceful influence and nobler motives with it.

Lagos plundered recaptured slaves returning to their homes. The
authorities deserved no favor. A better man--perhaps a more legitimate
claimant for the royal dignity--was found, and after a severe fight,
in which the British cruisers warmly participated, he was seated on
the throne. A severe blow was given to the slave-trade. Affairs seemed
to be going on smoothly until early in the autumn of 1853, when a
revolution broke out, amidst which the king died, and the country, as
far as is known, remains in confusion.

The present is an interesting period in the history of the world.
Changes are rapid and irrevocable. Circumstances illustrative of
the condition of our race as it has been, are disappearing rapidly.
The future must trust to our philosophic observation, and faithful
testimony, for its knowledge of savage life. The helplessness, and
artlessness, and miserable shifts of barbarism are becoming things
of the past. There is perhaps no region of the earth which is now
altogether beyond the reach of civilized arts. Shells, and flints, and
bows, and clubs, and bone-headed spears are everywhere giving way to
more useful or more formidable implements. Improvements in dress and
tools and furniture will soon be universal. The history of man as he
has been, requires therefore to be written now, while the evidence
illustrative of it has not altogether vanished.

The changes of the last three centuries have, to only a slight degree,
influenced the African races. An inaccessible interior, and a coast
bristling with slave-factories, and bloody with slaving cruelties,
probably account for this. The slight progress made shows the obduracy
of the degradation to be removed, and the difficulty of the first
steps needed for its removal. Wherever the slave-trade or its effects
penetrated, there of course peace vanished, and prosperity became
impossible. This evil affected not only the coast, but spread warfare
to rob the country of its inhabitants, far into the interior regions.
There were tribes, however, uninfluenced by it, and some of these
have gained extensive, although but temporary authority. Yet nowhere
has there been any real civilization. It is singular that these people
should have rested in this unalloyed barbarism for thousands of years,
and that there should have been no native-born advancement, as in
Mexico, or Peru, or China; and no flowing in upon its darkness of any
glimmering of light from the brilliant progress and high illumination
of the outside world. It has been considered worthy of note, that a few
years ago one of the Veys had contrived a cumbrous alphabet to express
the sounds of his language; but it is surely, to an incomparable
degree, more a matter of surprise, that centuries passed away in
communication with Europeans, without such an attempt having been made
by any individual, of so many millions, during so many generations of

The older state of negro society, therefore, still continues. With
the exception of civilized vices, civilized arms, and some amount of
civilized luxuries, life on the African coast, or at no great distance
from it, remains now much the same as the first discoverers found it.

As it was two hundred years ago, the food of the people consists of
rice, maize and millet; or the Asiatic, the American and the African
native grains. A few others, of comparatively little importance, might
be added to these. Many fruits, as bananas, figs and pumpkins, compose
part of their subsistence.

Flesh of all kinds was used abundantly before European arms began
to render game scarce. Fish along the coast, and beside the rivers
and interior lakes, are used, except by some tribes, who regard them
as unclean. The Bushmen south of Elephants’ Bay, reject no kind of
reptile. The snake’s poison arms their weapon, and its body is eaten.
As the poisons used act rapidly, and do not affect the flesh of the
animal, it is devoured without scruple and without danger. Throughout
all the deserts, as in ancient times, the locust, or large winged
grasshopper, is used as an article of food, not nutritive certainly,
but capable of sustaining life. The wings and legs are pulled off, and
the bodies are scorched, in holes heated as ovens, and having the hot
sand hauled over them.

In Dahomey, according to Duncan, there is some improvement in
agriculture, traced to the return from the Brazils of a few who had
been trained as slaves in that empire. This influence, and that of
ideas imported from civilized society, seem to be more prevalent in
Dahomey than elsewhere. The present sovereign has mitigated the laws,
diminished the transit duties, and acted with such judicious kindness
towards tribes who submitted without resistance, that his neighbors,
tired of war and confusion, have willingly, in some instances,
preferred to come under his jurisdiction.

These circumstances, together with the treaty formed by England with
the King of Dahomey, in 1852, for the suppression of the slave-trade,
indicate that a new destiny is opening for the African races. It may
be but rarely that a man of so much intelligence gains power; and the
successor of the present king may suffer matters to decline; but still
great sources of evil are removed, and the people are acquiring a taste
for better practices. Human sacrifices have, to a great extent, been
abolished; and the wants of cultivation will of themselves render human
life of higher value. The two great states of Ashantee and Dahomey, now
both open to missionary influence, are likely to run an emulative race
in the career of improvement.



The lands chosen as the site of the American colony excited attention
in olden times. “Africa would be preferable to Europe,” said the
French navigator Villault in 1667, “if it were all like Cape Mount.”
He launches out with delight on the beauty of the prospects, and the
richness of the country. He says, “There you find oranges, almonds,
melons, pumpkins, _cherries_ and plums,” and the abundance of animals
was so great that the flesh was sold “for almost nothing.” Of the Rio
Junco he remarks, “The banks are adorned with trees and flowers; and
the plains with oranges, citrons and palms in beautiful clumps.” At Rio
Cesters he found a people rigidly honest, who had carefully preserved
the effects of a deceased trader, until a vessel arrived to receive

Another Frenchman, Desmarchais, in the succeeding century was invited
by “King Peter” to form an establishment on the large island at
Cape Mesurado, but he preferred the Cape itself, on account of the
advantages of its position.

The country adjoining Mesurado, although subsequently harassed and
wasted by the slave-trade, had in early times a national history and
policy, containing incidents which illustrate the character of savage
man as displayed in such social arrangements as his dull apprehension
can contrive. This will be apparent from circumstances in its history
during the sixteenth century.

The country was held chiefly by divisions of a great community, known
by the common name of Monoo. The Gallas and the Veys were intruders,
but nearly related. The Mandi, or head of the Monoo, retained reverence
and dignity, but had lost dominion.

The subordinate tribes ranged themselves in rank, according to the
power they possessed, which varied with temporary circumstances. Thus
the Monoo lorded it over the Folgias; the Folgias over the Quojas, and
the Quojas over the Bulams and Kondos.

Their fortresses were square inclosures, surrounded by stout palisades,
driven close together, having four structures somewhat in the form of
bastions, through which, and under their defence, were the entrances
to the place. Two streets in the interior, crossing each other in the
centre, connected these entrances. They had a kind of embrasures or
port-holes in these wooden walls, out of which they threw assagays or
spears and arrows.

Along the eastern bank of the Junco, stretched the lands of the Kharoo
Monoos, the _Kroomen_ so well known to our cruisers of the present
day. The Folgias weakened in warfare had recourse to the sorceries of
a celebrated performer in that line, whose policy in the case savored
very greatly of earthly wisdom. He recommended religious strife as
the best mode of weakening the enemy. They therefore contrived to
excite some “old school and new school” controversy with regard to the
sacredness of a pond held in reverence by the Kroos.

It was a matter of Kroo orthodoxy, that into this pond the great
ancestor and author of their race had descended from heaven, and there
first made his appearance as a man. Hence it was the faith of their
established church to make offerings to the pond in favor of the fish
that dwelt there.

Now it was also an old and ever-to-be-respected law among them, that
no fish should be boiled with the scales on. Amid their career of
victory, the audacious and criminal fact was one day discovered, that
into the sacred pond, the just object of reverence to an enlightened
and religious people, there had been thrown a quantity of fish boiled
in a mode which indicated contempt for every thing praiseworthy and
national, inasmuch as not a scale had been scraped off previously to
their being boiled.

The nation got into a ferment about the fish-scales. From arguments
they went to clubs and spears. Parties accusing and parties accused
defended their lives, in “just and necessary wars,” while the Folgias
looked on until both were weak enough to be conquered. The victors,
however, were generous. Their chief married the sister of Flonikerri,
the leader of the Kroos, and left him in sovereignty over his people.
Flonikerri showed his loyalty by resisting an attack on the Folgias by
the Quabo of the southeast.

In the mean time the great sovereign Mendino, king of the Monoos, had
died; and as negro chiefs are or ought to be immortal, and as no king
can die except by sorcery, his brother Manomassa was accused as having
contrived his death. He drank the sassy-wood, and survived, without
satisfying the people. As the sorcerers proposed to hold a kind of
court of inquiry upon the case, Manomassa, indignant at the charge,
surrendered himself to the care of the “spirits of the dead,” and went
away among the Gala.

There his character gained him the office of chief. But annoyed at
their subsequent caprice, he threw himself upon the generosity of the
Folgias, who employed Flonikerri to reinstate him in his dominion over
the Gala. Flonikerri had in fact become a kind of generalissimo of the
united tribes. He was afterwards employed in subduing the Veys of Cape
Mount; and after various battles, reduced them to offer proof of their
submission. This consisted in each swallowing some drops of blood from
a great number of chickens, which were afterwards boiled; they ate the
flesh, reserving the legs, which were delivered to the conqueror, to be
preserved as a memorial of their fealty.

Flonikerri fell in battle, resisting a revolt of the Galas. Being hard
pressed, he drew a circle round him on the ground, vowing that within
it he would resist or die. Kneeling there he expired under showers of

His brother and successor, Killimanzo, extended the authority of the
tribe by subduing the Quilligas along the Gallinas river. The son of
the latter, Flanseer, extended their conquests to Sierra Leone, crushed
some rebellions, and left a respectable domain under the sway of his
son Flamburi. Then it was that the energy, skill and vices of Europeans
came powerfully into action among the contentions of the natives, until
they rendered war a means of revenue, by making men an article of
merchandise for exportation.

The same language prevailed among all their tribes. The most cultivated
dialect was that of the Folgias, who prided themselves greatly on the
propriety and the elegance of their speech, and on the figurative
illustrations which they threw into it. They retained their supremacy
over the Quojas, notwithstanding the extended dominion of the latter.
This was indicated by the investiture of the chief of the Quojas with
the title of Donda, by the king, or Donda, of the Folgias. The ceremony
bore the character of abasement almost universal among the negro race.
The Quoja aspirant, having approached the Folgia chief in solemn state,
threw himself on the ground, remaining prostrate until the Folgian had
thrown some dust over him. He was then asked the name he chose to bear.
His attendants repeated it aloud. The king of the Folgians pronounced
it, adding the title of Donda; and the whole multitude seized and
shouted it with loud acclamations. He was invested with a bow and
quiver. Mutual presents concluded the ceremony.

State and dignity, of such a character as could be found among savages,
were strictly enforced in these old times. Ambassadors did not enter
a territory until they had received permission, and until an officer
had been sent to conduct them. There were receptions, and reviews, and
stately marchings, trumpetings, drummings, and singing of songs, and
acclamations, and flatteries.

The attendants of the ambassador prostrated themselves. He was only
required to kneel, but, having bent his head in reverence, he wheeled
round to the people, and drew the string of his bow to its full
bent, indicating that he became the king’s soldier and defender.
Then came his oration, which was repeated, sentence by sentence, in
the mouth of the king’s interpreter. The Quojas claimed the credit
of best understanding the proper ceremonies of civil life. How great
is the difference between this population, and the few miserable
slave-hunters, who subsequently ravaged, rather than possessed, these



The views of men in founding colonies, have varied in different ages
of the world. Although, however, some special inducement may have been
pre-eminent at different times, yet a multiplicity of motives have
generally combined in leading to such undertakings. Hannibal found the
municipal cities, or Roman colonies of Italy, the obstacles to his
conquest of the republic. It was with provident anticipation of such
an effect that they were founded. Lima in Peru, and other places in
Brazil and elsewhere, had their origin in similar aims. Differences
in political views have led to the foundation of many colonies; and,
superadded to these, religious considerations have had their influence
in the settlement of some of the early North American colonies.

In the small republics of Greece, the seditious, or the
criminal--sometimes whole classes of men, whose residence was
unsuitable to the general interests--were cast adrift to go where they
chose, probably making a general jail delivery for the time being.

Modern efforts of the kind are, upon the whole, more systematic. A
colony sent for settlement or for subsistence, is purely so. A military
colony is purely military, or, more generally, is nothing else than a
garrison. A colony of criminals is restricted to the criminals. In this
case a new element characterizes the modern system, for the object is
not merely to remove the criminal, but to reform him. England has done
much in this way. It is a great result, that in Australia there are now
powerful communities, rich with the highest elements of civilization;
constituted to a great extent of those who otherwise, as the children
of criminals, would have been born to wretchedness and depravity, to
cells and stripes and brandings and gibbets, as their inheritance.

But such experiments are not capable of indefinite repetition; space is
wanting for them in the world. Nations are now called by the imperious
force of circumstances, or more properly speaking, by the decree of
Providence, to the nobler task of preventing rather than punishing;
of raising society from the pollution of vice rather than curing or
expelling it. This higher effort, which is natural to the spirit
of Christianity, should have accompanied it everywhere. A nation is
responsible for its inhabitants, and ought to master whatever tends to
crime among them. Those whom it sends abroad should be its citizens,
not its reprobates. It owes to the world, that the average amount of
virtue in it accompany its transferred communities, so that the world
does not suffer by the transference. This must be the case when a
race unsuitably placed is, on account of that unsuitableness only,
transported to a location more suitable.

A case which is exceptional in regard to common instances, will be when
the higher and better motives to colonization take precedence of all
others. Such an instance is that of returning the negro race to their
own land. It is exceptional in this respect, that the transfer of that
race to its more suitable locality is mainly an effort of philanthropic
benevolence. Its motives, however, excel in degree, not in kind. The
same inducements which at all times influenced colonizing measures,
have had their place, with more or less force, in these schemes. In
deriving support for them it has been necessary to appeal to every
motive, and seek assistance by every inducement.

The increase of national prosperity, the promotion of national
commerce, the relief of national difficulties, the preservation of
national quiet, have all been urged on the different orders of men
appealed to. It has been shown how all these circumstances would
influence individual interests, while the higher Christian and
philanthropic aims to be fulfilled by these efforts have not been
overlooked. All this is perfectly right; and if right in us, it is also
right in others. It would have been satisfactory if in the two parties,
America and England, in respect to their measures towards African
establishments, there had been more nobleness in their discussions,
less national jealousies in all parties, less of sneering censure of
national ambition, selfishness or grasping policy, while both parties
were in fact making appeals to the very same principles in human
nature, which foster national ambition, or selfishness, or grasping

Although African colonization originated with, and has been sustained
wholly by individuals, in the United States, England has regarded it in
the same light with which this country has looked upon her acquisition
of foreign territory.

There is, however, a high superiority in these schemes of African
colonization, although it be but in degree. The best and holiest
principles were put prominently forward, and men of corresponding
character called forth to direct them. They sought sympathy and aid
from the English African Association, and from the Bible and Missionary
Societies of this land. They were truly efforts of Christianity,
throwing its solid intelligence and earnest affections into action for
the conquest of a continent, by returning the Africans to their home,
and making this conquest a work of faith and labor of love.

The slavery imported and grafted on this country by foreign political
supremacy, when the country was helpless, has been subjected to a trial
never undergone by such an institution in any other part of the world.
An enemy held dominion where slavery existed, and while the masters
were called upon to fight for their own political independence, there
was opportunity for the slave to revolt or escape if such had been his
wish. Those who are not acquainted with the ties uniting the slave
to his master’s household, and the interest he feels in his master’s
welfare, would expect that when a hostile army was present to rescue
and to defend them, the whole slave population would rise with eager
fury to avenge their subjection, or with eager hope to escape from it.
But the historical truth is, that very few indeed of the colored men
of the United States, whether slaves or free, joined the English or
Tory party in the Revolutionary War. Thus the character impressed on
the institution frustrated the recorded expectation of those who forced
this evil upon a reluctant people--that the position and the influence
of the negro in society would forever check republican spirit and keep
the country in dependence.

The small number of colored persons who did join the English produced
no slight difficulty. That small number ought perhaps to have been
easily amalgamated somehow or other with the vast amount of the English
population. That this did not happen, and did not seem possible,
is perfectly evident. Either color, or character, or position, or
something else, which it is for the English people to explain,
prevented this. Many of them were found in the lanes and dens of vice
in London, without the prospect of their ever amalgamating with the
Londoners, and therefore only combining incumbrance, nuisance, and
danger by their presence there.

This condition of things, as is well known, excited the attention and
sympathy of Granville Sharpe, and led to the foundation of the colony
of Sierra Leone, as a refuge for them.

Great Britain found herself hampered on a subsequent occasion with the
charge of a few hundreds of the Maroons, or independent free negroes
of Jamaica. It was known that it would not answer to intermingle them
with the slave population of that island. The public good was found
imperiously to require that they should be removed elsewhere. They
afterwards constituted the most trustworthy portion of the population
of Sierra Leone.

Similar difficulties have pressed with a manifold weight on society in
this country. Jefferson, with other distinguished statesmen, endeavored
to remedy them. Marshall, Clay, Randolph, and others shared in his
anxieties. A suitable location was sought after for the settlement of
the free negroes in the lands of the West. The Portuguese government
was afterwards sounded for the acquisition of some place in South
America. But these schemes were comparatively valueless, for they
wanted the main requisite,--that Africa itself should share in the

When Christian benevolence looked abroad upon the face of the world to
examine its condition and its wants, Africa was seen, dark, gloomy,
and vast and hopeless, with Egyptian darkness upon it,--“darkness that
might be felt,”--while Europe guarded and fought for it as a human
cattle-fold, to be plundered with an extent and atrocity of rapine such
as the world elsewhere had never beheld. Africa, therefore, became the
object of deep interest to the Christian philanthropy of this country,
and all things concurred to bring out some great enterprise for its
benefit and that of the African race in America.

In 1773 slavery was not only common in New England, but the slave-trade
was extensively carried on in Rhode Island and other northern states.
Dr. Hopkins became convinced of the injustice of the traffic, and in
conjunction with Dr. Stiles, afterwards President of Yale College,
made an appeal to the public in behalf of some colored men whom he was
preparing for an African mission. These men were nearly qualified for
proceeding to Africa when the Revolutionary War frustrated the scheme,
which, in its character, was rather missionary than colonial.

Paul Cuffy, a colored man born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, who
had risen to the possession of considerable wealth, and commanded a
vessel of his own, induced about forty colored people to embark in his
vessel for Sierra Leone, where they had every facility for a settlement
afforded them.

Dr. Thornton, of Washington, in 1783, suggested the practical course
of establishing a colony in Africa, and obtained in some of the New
England States the consent of a number of colored persons to accompany
him to that coast. This project failed for want of funds. No better
success attended an application of Mr. Jefferson, as secretary of
state, directed to the Sierra Leone company.

The State of Virginia, in legislative session, 1800-1805, and 1816,
discussed the subject of colonization, and contributed greatly to
prepare the public mind for subsequent action on the subject.

The Rev. Dr. Finley, of New Jersey, matured a plan for the purpose, and
proceeded to Washington, where, after consultation with a few friends,
a meeting was called on the 25th of December, 1816. Henry Clay
presided; Andrew Jackson, William H. Crawford, Dr. Finley, and others,
were elected vice-presidents. The American Colonization Society was
formed with the resolution to be free, and Christian, and national.

There was peace in the world. Society was awakening to a remorseful
consideration of the iniquities which had been practised on the African
race in their own land, and of the condition of its population in this.
The gradual emancipation of slaves, as favored by Jefferson and others
in the early days of the republic, was discussed. But the objects
sought in the formation of the Colonization Society, were the removal
and benefit of the free colored population, together with such slaves
as might have freedom extended to them with the view of settlement in
Africa. And thus the work of forming an African nation in Africa, with
republican feelings, impressions and privileges, and with Christian
truth and Christian civilization, was commenced.



In November, 1819, the Colonization Society appointed the Rev. Messrs.
Samuel J. Mills and Ebenezer Burgess as its agents; with directions to
proceed, by the way of England, to the west coast of Africa, for the
purpose of making inquiries and explorations as to a suitable location
for a settlement. They arrived in Sierra Leone in the month of March
following, and visited all the ports from thence to the island of

At Sherboro, about sixty miles S.S.E. from Sierra Leone, the agents
found a small colony of colored people, settled by John Kizel, a South
Carolina slave, who had joined the English in the Revolutionary War,
and at its close was taken to Nova Scotia, from whence he sailed,
with a number of his countrymen, to the coast of Africa. Here he
became prosperous in trade, built a church, and was preaching to his
countrymen. By Kizel and his people the agents were kindly received.
He expressed the opinion, that the greater part of the people of color
in the United States would ultimately return to Africa. “Africa,” said
Kizel, “is the land of black men, and to Africa they must and will

After the agents had fulfilled their duties, they sailed for the United
States. Mr. Mills died on the passage. In a public discourse, by the
Rev. Dr. Leonard Bacon, of New Haven, Mr. Mills is thus alluded to: “He
wandered on his errands of mercy from city to city; pleading now with
the patriot, for a country growing up to an immensity of power; and
now with the Christian, for a world lying in wickedness. He explored
in person the devastations of the West, and in person he stirred up to
enterprise and to effort the churches of the East. He lived for India
and Hawaii, and died in the service of Africa.” Mr. Burgess gave so
satisfactory a report of his mission, that the society was encouraged
to proceed in its enterprise.

The political friends of colonization, being desirous of affording aid
to the incipient efforts of the society, accomplished their object
through Wm. H. Crawford, one of the vice-presidents, who proposed to
the government, that recaptured slaves should be sent in charge of
an agent to the colonies in Africa. He called the attention of the
government to a number of slaves who had been received in the state of
Georgia, subsequently to the law of Congress, in 1807, prohibiting the
slave-trade. These slaves were to have been sold in payment of expenses
incurred in consequence of their seizure and detention by the state
authorities. The Colonization Society proposed to take them in charge,
and restore them to Africa, provided the government would furnish an
agent for the purpose.

Agreeably to the views of the Colonization Society, and to guard
against an occurrence of a character similar to that in Georgia,
Congress passed an act, on the 3d of March, 1819, by which the
President of the United States was authorized to restore to their
own country, any Africans captured from American or foreign vessels
attempting to introduce them into the United States in violation of
law; and to provide, by the establishment of a suitable agency on the
African coast, for their reception, subsistence and comfort, until
they could return to their relatives, or derive support from their own
exertions. Thus the government became indirectly connected with the

It was determined to make the site of the government agency on the
coast of Africa, that of the colonial agency also; and to incorporate
into the settlement all the blacks delivered by our men-of-war to the
government agent, as soon as the requisite arrangements should be

The Rev. Samuel Bacon received the appointment of both government and
colonial agent, having associated with him John P. Bankson and Dr.
Samuel A. Crozer, the society’s agents; and with eighty emigrants,
sailed on the 6th of February, 1820, for the coast of Africa. The U.
S. sloop-of-war Cyane, also bound to the coast, under orders from the
government, accompanied the emigrant vessel, but parted company after
being a few days at sea. The vessels met at Sierra Leone, whence they
proceeded to the island of Sherboro.

The confidence of the new agents in Kizel was greatly impaired by
finding that he had given impressions of the place where he resided,
which were much too favorable. The fever made its appearance among
the people, who were loud in their complaints of every thing, and
their conduct was any thing but commendable. Many were detected in
petty thefts, falsehoods and mischiefs of a disgraceful nature. About
twenty or twenty-five of the emigrants died. The remainder survived
the acclimating fever, and in a few weeks regained their health. Mr.
Bacon himself fell a victim to it; but to the last his confidence in
the ultimate success of African colonization was unabated. He remarked
that he had seen ninety-five native Africans landed together in
America, who, the first year, were as sickly as these. And regarding
himself, he said: “I came here to die; and any thing better than death,
is better than I expected.” Lieutenant Townsend, one of the officers
of the Cyane, also died of the fever. After this disastrous attempt at
forming a settlement, Sherboro was partially abandoned, and several of
the emigrants were removed to Sierra Leone.

Had timid counsels prevailed, the cause of colonization would have been
no longer prosecuted. But the society determined to persevere, trusting
that experience and the choice of a more salubrious situation would
guard against a repetition of these disasters.

The U. S. sloops-of-war Cyane and John Adams in cruising off the
coast captured five slavers, which were sent to the United States for

In the year following Messrs. Winn and Bacon (brother of the deceased
agent) on the part of the government, and Messrs. Andrews and
Wiltberger by the society, were appointed agents, and proceeded to
Sierra Leone, with forty effective emigrants to recruit the party sent
out the preceding year. In a personal interview with Mr. Wiltberger,
and from some notes communicated by him, the author has derived much
interesting and reliable information relating to the colony during his
agency, extending to the purchase and settlement of Liberia.

The island of Sherboro was wholly abandoned, and the remaining
emigrants removed to Sierra Leone.

In 1822, Dr. Ayres was appointed colonial physician and agent, and
proceeded in the U. S. schooner Shark to Sierra Leone. Soon afterwards
the U. S. schooner Alligator arrived with orders from the government
to co-operate with the agents of the society at Sierra Leone. Captain
Stockton, her commander, with Dr. Ayres and seven of the emigrants,
proceeded on a cruise of exploration down the coast, and on the 12th of
December anchored off Cape Mesurado, in lat. 6° 19´ N., and long. 10°
48´ W.

“That is the spot we ought to have,” said Captain Stockton, pointing to
the high bluff of the cape; “that should be the site of our colony. No
finer spot on the coast.” “And we must have it,” added Dr. Ayres.

They landed without arms, to prove their peaceful intentions, and sent
an express to King Peter for negotiations. The natives collected in
large bodies, until the captain and agent were surrounded without the
means of defence, except a demijohn of whiskey and some tobacco, which
convinced the natives that no hostility was then intended.

King Peter at length appeared, and a long palaver took place, when the
agent informed him that their object was to purchase the cape and
islands at the mouth of the river. He strongly objected to parting with
the cape, saying, “If any white man settle there, King Peter would die,
and his woman cry a plenty.” The agents represented to him the great
advantages in trade, which the proposed settlement would afford to his
people. After receiving a vague promise from the king that he would let
them have the land, the palaver broke up.

On the 14th instant the palaver was renewed at the residence of the
king, whither, as a measure of the last resort, Captain Stockton and
the agent had determined to proceed. The first word the king said was,
“What you want that land for?” This was again explained to him. One of
the men present accused them of taking away the King of Bassa’s son
and killing him; another of being those who had quarrelled with the
Sherboro people. A mulatto fellow also presented himself to Captain
Stockton, and charged him with the capture of a slave-vessel in which
he had served as a seaman. The prospects now looked very gloomy, as
here were two men in the midst of a nation exasperated against them.
But by mixing a little flattery with threatening, Captain Stockton
regained his advantage in the discussion. He explained his connection
with the circumstances, and complained of their constant vacillation
of purpose in reference to the lands. The old king was at length
pacified, and promised to call some more kings, and have a meeting the
following day for the purpose of ceding the lands.

Several palavers of a more amicable nature were afterwards held, and
the kings at last consented to cede a tract of land, receiving as
a compensation goods to the value of about three hundred dollars.
The deed bears on it the marks for signatures of King Peter, King
George, King Zoda, King Long Peter, King Governor, King Jimmy, and the
signatures of Captain Robert F. Stockton and Eli Ayres, M. D.

The tract ceded included Cape Mesurado and the lands forming nearly a
peninsula between the Mesurado and Junk rivers--about thirty-six miles
along the sea-shore, with an average breadth of about two miles.

Captain Stockton then left the coast with the Alligator, placing
Lieutenant Hunter in command of a schooner, who, with Dr. Ayres and
the men, proceeded to Sierra Leone, and brought from thence all the
working men to Cape Mesurado. They disembarked on the smaller of the
two islands amidst the menaces of the natives.

It was ascertained on their arrival that King Peter had been denounced
by many of the kings for having sold the land to a people who would
interfere with the slave-trade, and were hostile to their old customs.
The king was threatened with the loss of his head; and it was decreed
that the new people should be expelled from the country. Dr. Ayres at
length succeeded in checking the opposition of the kings, and restored
apparent tranquillity.

The island on which the colonists first established themselves, was
named Perseverance. It was destitute of wood and water, affording no
shelter except the decayed thatch of a few small huts. Thus exposed in
an insalubrious situation, several of the people were attacked with
intermittent fever. By an arrangement with King George, who claimed
authority over a part of the northern district of the peninsula of
Mesurado, the colonists, on their recovery, were permitted to cross
the river, where they cleared the land, and erected a number of
comparatively comfortable buildings; when, in the temporary absence of
Dr. Ayres, a circumstance occurred which threatened the extinction of
the colony.

A small slaver, prize to an English cruiser, bound to Sierra Leone,
ran into the port for water. During the night she parted her
cable, and drifted on shore, near King George’s Town, not far from
Perseverance Island. Under a prescriptive right, when a vessel was
wrecked, the natives claimed her, and accordingly proceeded to take
possession. The English prize-officer resisted, and after one or two
shots the assailants hastily retreated. The officer learning that
another attack was meditated, sent to the colony for aid. One of the
colonists--temporarily in charge during the absence of the agents
to bring the women and children from Sierra Leone--regardless of the
admonition to avoid “entangling alliances,” and approving “the doctrine
of intervention,” promptly afforded assistance. The second attack was
made, but the colonists and prize-crew, with the help of one or two
rounds of grape and cannister from a brass field-piece on the island,
which was brought to bear on the assailants, soon scattered them, with
the loss of two killed and several wounded. On the following day, they
renewed their assualt with a greater force, and were again repulsed,
but an English sailor and one colonist were killed.

This interference on the part of the colonists, in behalf of the
slave-prize, greatly exasperated the natives; not merely from the loss
of their men and the vessel, but from the apprehension that their most
valued privileges were about being invaded; and especially that the
slave-trade, on which they depended for their gains and supplies, would
be destroyed. The natives, therefore, determined forthwith to extirpate
the colony while in its feeble and defenceless state.

In the mean time, Dr. Ayres, having returned, found the colonists
confined to the island; and as the stores had become nearly exhausted,
and the rainy season was about setting in--superadded to the vindictive
feelings of the natives towards the people--the agents proposed
to re-embark for Sierra Leone, and abandon the new settlement. Mr.
Wiltberger strenuously opposed the agents’ proposal, and, after
ascertaining that the colonists were disposed to remain at Mesurado,
Dr. Ayres cheerfully assented.

The kings then adopted the deceitful policy of pretending to be
conciliated, and inveigled Dr. Ayres into their power. He became their
prisoner, and in that condition appeared to consent to take back the
portion of goods which had been received towards the payment of the
land, but evaded their peremptory order for the immediate removal of
the people, by showing its impossibility, on account of the want of a
vessel for the purpose. They finally gave permission that they might
remain, until he should have made arrangements to leave the country.
In this dilemma, Bă Caiă, a friendly king, at the suggestion of Dr.
Ayres, appealed to King Boatswain,[3] whose power the maritime tribes
well understood, and with whom he was in alliance. King Boatswain
came down to the coast, and by a direct exertion of his authority,
convoked the hostile kings. He also sent for the agents and principal
settlers to appear before him, and explain the nature of their claims,
and present their grievances. The respective allegations of the parties
were heard. King Boatswain decided in favor of the colonists. He said
that the bargain had been fair on both sides, and that he saw no
grounds for rescinding the contract. Turning then to King Peter, he
laconically remarked: “Having sold your country, and accepted payment,
you must take the consequences.... Let the Americans have their lands
immediately. Whoever is not satisfied with my decision, let him tell me
so.” Then turning to the agents: “I promise you protection. If these
people give you further disturbance, send for me; and I swear, if they
oblige me to come again to quiet them, I will do it by taking their
heads from their shoulders, as I did old King George’s, on my last
visit to the coast to settle disputes.”

In this decision both parties acquiesced, whatever their opinion might
have been as to its equity. The settlers immediately resumed their
labors on the grounds near the Cape.

The Dey tribe (King Peter’s) saw that a dangerous enemy had been
introduced among them. King Peter, with whom we must have sympathy,
was impeached, and brought to trial on a charge of having betrayed the
interests of his people, and sold part of the country to strangers. The
accusation was proven; and, for a time, there was reason to believe
that he would be executed for treason.

Soon after King Boatswain had returned to his country, the colony
was again threatened. The agent called another council of kings;
and after some opposition to his claim for the disputed territory,
the whole assembly--amounting to seventeen kings, and thirty-four
half-kings--assented to the settlement; and on the 28th of April, 1822,
formal possession was taken of Cape Mesurado.

Dr. Ayres and Mr. Wiltberger now returned to the United States, the
former to urge the wants of the colony, and the latter from ill health.
Before they left, Elijah Johnson, of New York, one of the colonists,
who had on various occasions distinguished himself, was appointed to
superintend the colony during their absence.

[3] Boatswain was a native of Shebar. In his youth, he served in some
menial capacity on board of an English merchant vessel, where he
acquired the name which he still retains. His personal qualifications
were of the most commanding description. To a stature approaching seven
feet in height, perfectly erect, muscular and finely proportioned; a
countenance noble, intelligent and full of animation, he united great
comprehension and activity of mind; and, what was still more imposing,
a savage loftiness, and even grandeur of sentiment--forming altogether
an assemblage of qualities obviously disproportioned to the actual
sphere of his ambition. He was prodigal of every thing except the means
of increasing the terror of his name. “I give you a bullock,” said
he to an agent of the society, “not to be considered as Boatswain’s
present, but for your breakfast.” To his friend Bă Caiă, he once sent:
“King Boatswain is your friend; he therefore advises you to lose not a
moment in providing yourself plenty of powder and ball; or, in three
days (the least possible time to make the journey), let me see my
fugitive woman again.”



The acting agent of the colony judiciously managed its affairs until
the arrival of Mr. Ashmun and his wife, with thirty-seven emigrants,
part of whom were recaptured slaves, who had been delivered over to
the Colonization Society by the Marshal of Georgia, under the Act
of Congress already noticed. Mr. Ashmun held the appointments of
government and society’s agent. He took a comprehensive view of the
colony. The entire population did not exceed one hundred and thirty, of
whom thirty only were capable of bearing arms. The settlement had no
adequate means of defence. He found no documents defining the limits of
the purchased territory--explaining the state of the negotiations with
the natives, or throwing light on the duties of the agency.

It was now perceived that means, as well as an organized system of
defence were to be originated, while the materials and artificers for
such purposes were wanting. One brass field-piece, five indifferent
iron guns and a number of muskets, ill-supplied with ammunition,
comprised all the means for defence. These were brought from the island
and mounted, and such fortifications as the ability and resources
of the agent could construct were erected. Public stores and more
comfortable houses were also raised. The settlement, except on the
side towards the river, was closely environed with the heavy forest.
This gave an enemy an important advantage. The land around was,
consequently, cleared up with all possible dispatch.

Mr. Ashmun experienced an attack of fever. On the following day his
wife was seized, and soon afterwards died: she thus closed a life of
exemplary faith and devotedness.

It has been observed, that the dread of provoking King Boatswain’s
resentment, led the hostile kings to assume a show of friendship;
but the disguise could not conceal their intentions. The chiefs
attributed the departure of the agents to a want of spirit, and dread
of their power. The arrival of Mr. Ashmun had delayed the execution
of their purpose, of a general attack on the colony; but when the
vessel sailed, early in October, which had brought out the agent and
emigrants, a council of kings determined upon instant hostilities.
King George had abandoned his town early in September, leaving the
Cape in possession of the colonists. This had been regarded by the
natives as the first step of colonial encroachments; if left alone for
a few years, they would master the whole country. The natives refused,
throughout the consultation, to receive any pacific proposals from the

On the 7th of November, Mr. Ashmun, although still suffering from
the effects of fever, examined and strengthened the defences. Picket
guards were posted during the night, and every preparation made for a
vigorous defence. On the 11th the attack was commenced by a force of
eight hundred warriors. The picket, contrary to orders, had left their
station in advance of the weakest point of defence; the native force,
already in motion, followed close in the rear of the picket, and as
soon as the latter had joined the detachment of ten men stationed at
the gun, the enemy, presenting a front, opened their fire, and rushed
forward to seize the post; several fell, and off went the others,
leaving the gun undischarged. This threw the small reserve in the
centre into confusion, and had the enemy followed up their advantage,
victory was certain; but such was their avidity for plunder, that they
fell upon the booty in the outskirts of the town. This disordered
the main body. Mr. Ashmun, who was too ill to move at any distance,
was thus enabled, by the assistance of one of the colonists, Rev.
Lot Carey, to rally the broken forces of the settlers. The brass
field-piece was now brought to bear, and being well served, did good
execution. A few men, commanded by Elijah Johnson, passed round on the
enemy’s flank, which increased their consternation, and soon after the
front of the enemy began to recoil. The colonists now regained the post
which had at first been seized, and instantly brought the long-nine
to bear upon the mass of the enemy; eight hundred men were in a solid
body, and every shot literally spent itself among them. A savage yell
was raised by the enemy, and the colonists were victors.

In this assault the colonists (who numbered thirty-five) had fifteen
killed and wounded. It is impossible to estimate the loss of the
natives, which must have been very great. An earnest but ineffectual
effort was made by the agent to form with the kings a treaty of peace.

Notwithstanding this disastrous result, the natives determined upon
another attack. They collected auxiliaries from all the neighboring
tribes who could be induced to join them. The colonists, on the other
hand, under Ashmun, the agent, were busily engaged in fortifying
themselves for the decisive battle, upon which the fate of the
settlement was suspended. On the 2d of December the enemy attacked
simultaneously the three sides of the fortifications. The colonists
received them with that bravery and determination which the danger of
total destruction in case of defeat was calculated to inspire. The main
body of the enemy being exposed to a galling fire from the battery,
both in front and flank, and the assault on the opposite side of the
town having been repulsed, a general retreat immediately followed, and
the colonists were again victorious.

Mr. Ashmun received three musket-balls through his clothes; three of
the men stationed at one of the guns were dangerously wounded; and
not three rounds of ammunition remained after the action. Had a third
attack been made, the colony must have been conquered; or had the first
attack occurred before the arrival of Mr. Ashmun, it would have been
extirpated. But its foundations were now secured by a firm and lasting

The British colonial schooner Prince Regent, with a prize crew in
charge of Midshipman Gordon, R. N., opportunely arrived, with Major
Laing, the African traveller, on board, by whose influence the kings,
being tired of the war, signed a truce, agreeing to submit all their
differences with the colony to the Governor of Sierra Leone. Midshipman
Gordon and his crew volunteered to assist the colonists, and see
that the truce was preserved inviolate. The Prince Regent furnished
a liberal supply of ammunition. Four weeks after sailing, Midshipman
Gordon and eight of his men had fallen victims to the malaria of this
climate, so inimical to the constitution of white men.

At this period, 1823, the colonists were in a sad condition: their
provisions were nearly consumed, trade exhausted, lands untilled,
houses but partially covered; the rainy season was approaching, and the
people, in many instances, had become indolent and improvident. Captain
Spence, of the Cyane, arrived at the Cape, and proceeded to adopt
efficient measures for the benefit of the colony. He fitted out the
schooner Augusta, under the command of Lieutenant Dashiell, with orders
to cruise near the settlement and render it aid. Dr. Dix, the surgeon
of the Cyane, died of the fever. Upon her leaving the coast, Richard
Seaton, the captain’s clerk, volunteered to remain as an assistant
to Mr. Ashmun. In the course of two or three months he fell a victim
to the fever, and his death was soon followed by that of Lieutenant
Dashiell, of the Augusta. On the homeward-bound passage of the Cyane
forty of the crew died from the effects of the African climate,
superadded to those of the climate of the West Indies, where she had
been cruising previously to proceeding to the African coast.

The slave-trade had received no effectual check. King Boatswain,
although one of the best friends of the colony, partook in no degree
of the views for which it had been established, and at this time
committed an act of great atrocity, in making an attack at night upon
an inoffensive tribe, murdering all the adults and infants, and seizing
upon the boys and girls, in order to fulfil his engagements with a
French slaver.

In the month of May, Dr. Ayres brought a reinforcement of sixty
emigrants. He announced his appointment as the government and colonial
agent. Mr. Ashmun was at the same time informed that a bill drawn
by him to defray expenses for the necessities of the colony had
been dishonored, and that the board of directors of the society had
withdrawn from him all authority except as sub-agent. Very soon after
this, Dr. Ayres was obliged on account of ill health again to leave
for the United States. Had Mr. Ashmun acted under the impressions of
indignation naturally flowing from such treatment, the colony would
have been utterly extinguished. But he was of nobler spirit than to
yield to any such motive, and therefore resolved to remain in this
helpless and disorganized community, sending home at the same time
to the board a proposal that he should receive from them less than
one-third the sum which a man of ordinary diligence might in his
position gain by traffic. This proposal he had made from the most
honorable sense of duty, in order in fact that the people for whom he
had done and suffered so much should not utterly perish. And yet he had
the mortification to learn afterwards that the directors, influenced by
slanderous reports to the detriment of his character, had refused to
sanction this proposal.

At this period a number even of the principal colonists became
disaffected, in consequence of the regulations of the board, requiring
that any emigrant who received rations from the public store, should
contribute two days’ labor in a week on the public works. About twelve
of the colonists not only refused work and threw off all restraint, but
exerted their influence to induce others to follow their example. Soon
after this occurrence Mr. Ashmun published the following notice:

“There are in the colony more than a dozen healthy persons who will
receive no more provisions out of the public store until they earn
them.” On the 19th of December he directed the rations of the offending
party to be stopped. This led to a riotous assembly at the agent’s
house, which endeavored by denunciations to drive him from his purpose;
but finding him inflexible, they then proceeded to the public store,
where the commissary was issuing rations to the colonists, and each one
seized a portion of the provisions and hastened to their homes.

The same day Mr. Ashmun directed a circular to the people, in which
he strongly appealed to their patriotism and conscience. This measure
induced the disaffected to return to their duty. The leader of the
sedition acknowledged his error, and by his subsequent good conduct
fully redeemed his character.

A faithful history of the colony would furnish, at intervals, a dark
shady as well as a sunny side. The friends of the cause are prone to
exaggerate its success, while its enemies regard the colored race,
judging them in their condition when in contact with the whites, to be
incapable of developing the mind and character, which, under their own
independent government, is now manifested.

Early in February, 1824, a vessel arrived, after a short passage, with
one hundred and five emigrants in good condition.

Mr. Ashmun had heard nothing from the board for some time after the
departure of Dr. Ayres; and finding his health beginning to fail,
and that his services had been received with calumny instead of
approbation, he applied to be relieved from the service of the board.
After making this application, he appointed Elijah Johnson to act as
agent during his absence, and proceeded to the Cape Verde Islands in
the hope of recruiting his health, and finding some government vessel
at that place.

The navy department, on application by the society, ordered the U. S.
schooner Porpoise, Lieutenant Commandant Skinner, with the Rev. R.
R. Gurley, to proceed to the coast of Africa. These gentlemen were
appointed by the government and society to examine into the affairs
of the colony, and into the reports in circulation prejudicial to the
agent. The Porpoise reached the Cape Verde Islands soon after Mr.
Ashmun’s arrival there; and he returned with the commissioners to the
colony. As the result of communications received by the board from the
commissioners, Messrs. Skinner and Gurley, a resolution was passed,
completely exonerating Mr. Ashmun from the calumnious charges which had
been made against him, and expressing their cordial approbation of his

The commissioners, on the conclusion of their investigation, deeply
impressed with the zeal and ability of Mr. Ashmun, left him in charge
of the colony as formerly. But previously to the reception of the
report of the commissioners, and of the resolution above noticed,
that body had appointed Dr. John W. Peaco, already selected as the
agent of the government, to be their agent also. On the 25th of April,
after their acquittal of Mr. Ashmun, they modified this resolution by
reappointing him colonial agent, requesting and authorizing Dr. Peaco
to give assistance and support to Mr. Ashmun in the fulfilment of his
duties, and to assume the charge of those duties, in case of “the
absence, inability, or death of Mr. Ashmun.”

At the suggestion of the commissioners, a greater share in the
government of the colony was conferred on the people. The general
consequence of these proceedings was, that comparative tranquillity and
energy prevailed.

Mr. Ashmun had made the important acquisition of the rich tract of
land, afterwards the location of the settlement on the St. Paul’s
River, extending twenty miles into the interior, and of unequalled
fertility. The colony now seemed to be emerging from the difficulties
which often had threatened its very existence. Four day-schools,
in addition to the Sunday-schools, were in operation; two churches
had been erected; a religious influence more generally pervaded the
community; the acclimating fever was becoming less fatal; many of the
colonists preferred the climate to that of the United States; they were
living in comparative comfort. In addition to the rich tract of country
lying on St. Paul’s River, the right of occupancy was obtained at Young
Cesters and Grand Bassa. The adjoining tribes regarded the colonists
so favorably as to desire to come partially under their jurisdiction;
and sixty of their children were adopted as children of the colony. A
Spanish slave-factory, near Monrovia, was destroyed, and the slaves
recaptured and freed by the colonists.

At Tradetown, there were three slave-factories, guarded by two armed
vessels, with crews of thirty men each, besides twenty men, mostly
Spaniards, well armed, on shore. On the 9th of April, the Columbian
man-of-war schooner “San Jacinto,” Captain Chase, arrived at Monrovia,
and offered to co-operate with Mr. Ashmun and Dr. Peaco for the purpose
of breaking up this slave establishment. The offer was accepted; and
Mr. Ashmun, accompanied by Captain Cochran, of the “Indian Chief,”
who gallantly volunteered his services, with two companies of the
colonial militia, embarked in the San Jacinto for Tradetown. There they
fortunately found the Columbian man-of-war-brig “El Vincendor,” Captain
Cottrell, mounting twelve guns; which vessel had, the same afternoon,
captured one of the slave-vessels, the brigantine Teresa. Captain
Cottrell united his forces with the others.

On the following morning, while the vessels covered the landing, they
pulled for the shore, through a passage of not more than five or six
fathoms wide, lined on both sides with rocks, and across which, at
times, the surf broke furiously, endangering the boats and the lives of
the assailants. The boat in which were Mr. Ashmun and Captain Cottrell
was capsized in the surf, and a number of men were thrown upon the
rocks. Nothing daunted, although Mr. Ashmun was badly injured, they
made a dash upon the enemy, which was met by a galling fire from the
Spanish slavers. The colonists and their allies rapidly advanced upon
the town, demolished their slight palisades, and before the enemy had
time to rally behind their defences, forced them to retreat, in great
confusion, into the jungle.

As soon as the colonists found themselves in quiet possession of the
town, Mr. Ashmun demanded from King West the delivery of all the
slaves belonging to the factories. The king was told that if this was
not complied with, not a vestige of Tradetown should be left. On the
same day the Kroomen of King West brought in thirty or forty slaves,
evidently the refuse of those which they held.

The natives, notwithstanding, collected, and, in conjunction with the
Spaniards, continued to rush out occasionally from the jungle and
direct their fire upon the invaders. The surgeon of the San Jacinto
was badly wounded, and several of the colonists slightly. A peaceable
settlement was now impossible. On the 12th, after the recaptured slaves
had been sent on board, the town was fired, and at three o’clock all
were embarked. The explosion of two hundred kegs of powder consummated
the destruction of Tradetown.

The annihilation of Tradetown and of the slave-factories was a severe
blow to the traffic, which was felt as far south as the Bight of Benin.
It convinced the slave-traders that their commerce was insecure,
inasmuch as a powerful enemy to their crimes had gained a permanent
establishment on the coast.

Here is developed an influence for the suppression of the most
atrocious commerce which has ever existed. The writer, however, by no
means concurs in opinion with the zealous friends of colonization,
that the slave-trade can be suppressed on the entire coast of Africa
by Liberia alone. Yet it is an established fact that within her
jurisdiction of six hundred miles of sea-coast and thirty miles inland,
it has been effectually extirpated.

At this period many piratical vessels, well armed, were hovering about
the coast. A brig from Portland, and a schooner from Baltimore, were
robbed of a large amount of specie, by a vessel mounting twelve guns,
manned principally by Spaniards. Scarcely an American merchant vessel
had, for a year or more, been on the coast as low down as 6° North,
without suffering either insult or plunder from these vessels. Mr.
Ashmun then erected a battery for the protection of vessels at anchor,
while he represented to the Secretary of the Navy the necessity of
the constant presence of a man-of-war on the African coast for the
protection of legal commerce.

Five of the most important stations from Cape Mount to Tradetown, one
hundred and fifty miles, now belonged to the colony by purchase or
perpetual lease, and all Europeans were excluded, or attempted to be,
from possessions within their limits. On the 18th of August, Dr. Peaco
was compelled from ill health to return to the United States.

The native chiefs not unfrequently proposed to the colonists to aid
them in their wars, promising as an inducement the whole of the enemy’s
country. This was of course declined, on the ground that the colony
was established for the benefit, and not for the destruction of their
neighbors; and that their military means were sacred to the purpose of
self-defence. The kings were now favorable to the colony, and began to
appreciate the benefits of legal trade.

The U. S. schooner _Shark_, and the U. S. sloop-of-war _Ontario_,
arrived on the coast during the year 1827, and besides affording aid
to the colony, rendered good service towards the suppression of the

A reinforcement of emigrants was received; the school system
reorganized and put in comparatively efficient condition, under the
superintendence of the Rev. G. M’Gill, a colored teacher. The schools
were all taught by colored people: the number of scholars amounted to
two hundred and twenty-seven, of whom forty-five were natives. The
native children belonged to the principal men in the adjoining country.

The Chief of Cape Mount, fifty-two miles N. E. from Cape Mesurado,
entered into stipulations with the colonial government to establish
a large factory for legal trade between it and the interior. The land
north of the St. John’s River, about sixty miles southeast of Cape
Mesurado, was ceded to the colonists. In this extent of territory there
were eight eligible sites, upon which comfortable settlements have been
founded. Four schooners were built. The colony was mainly supported
by its own industry. The life of this industry was, however, rather
in trade and commerce than in agriculture, the fact being overlooked
that men ought to seek in the latter the sources of their prosperity.
Liberia has suffered from the want of steady agricultural effort.
Industry like that of our Puritan fathers in New England, would,
with the Liberian soil and climate, have prevented the recurrence of
difficulty, and produced uninterrupted abundance.

On leaving Liberia, the commander of the “Ontario” permitted eight
of his crew, colored men, to remain, furnishing them with a valuable
collection of seeds, obtained in the Mediterranean and up the
Archipelago. On his arrival in the United States, the captain bore
testimony to the encouraging prospects of the colony, and its salutary
influence over the native tribes.

Mr. Ashmun’s health failing from excessive labors in the administration
of the government, he was seized in July, 1828, with a violent fever,
and having been advised by his surgeon that a return to the United
States afforded the only hope of his recovery, he left Africa on the
twenty-fifth of March, 1828, and reached New Haven, where he died on
the twenty-fifth of August. Of Ashmun it may be said, that he united
the qualities of a hero and statesman. He found the colony on the
brink of extinction: he left it in peace and prosperity. He trained a
people who were unorganized and disunited, to habits of discipline and
self-reliance; and to crown his character, when death approached, he
met it with that unshaken hope of a blissful immortality, which the
true Christian alone can experience.

The remains of this honored martyr to the cause of African colonization
repose in the cemetery at New Haven. At his funeral the Rev. Dr. Bacon,
preaching a sermon from the text, “To what purpose is this waste,” said:

“Who asks to what purpose is this waste? He is not dead to usefulness.
His works still live. The light which he has kindled shall yet cheer
nations unborn. His influence shall never die. What parent would
exchange the memory of such a departed son, for the embrace of any
living one! I would that we could stand together on the promontory
of Cape Mesurado, and see what has been accomplished by those toils
and exposures, which have cost this man his life. Years and ages
hence, when the African mother shall be able to sit with her children
under the shade of her native palm, without trembling in fear of the
man-stealer and murderer, she will speak his name with thankfulness to



From the hands of Mr. Ashmun, the government of the colony devolved
upon the Rev. Lot Carey, whom necessity and the claims of humanity made
a physician and a governor. Such education as he could obtain when
a slave, terminated in his becoming a Baptist preacher. The colony
was more indebted to him than to any other man, except Ashmun, for
its memorable defence in 1822. During the few months of Dr. Carey’s
administration, the affairs of the colony were prosperous. His death
was caused, with that of eight others, by an explosion, while filling
cartridges in the old agency-house. Mr. Waring was elected to supply
the vacancy occasioned by Carey’s decease.

The society appointed Dr. Richard Randall as successor to Ashmun, who,
accompanied by Dr. Mechlin, the colored surgeon, arrived in December,
1828, and assumed the supervision of the colony. Dr. Randall possessed
great firmness of purpose, and benevolence of disposition, superadded
to extensive scientific knowledge. He had been a surgeon in the army,
and afterwards filled the chair of chemistry in Columbia College. But
his death, in four months after his arrival on the coast, deprived the
colonists of his invaluable services. The agency then devolved upon Dr.

In the following year, Dr. Anderson, appointed colonial physician and
assistant agent, arrived with sixty emigrants. An emigrant vessel
brought ninety recaptured slaves. She had sailed, the year previous, in
charge of a captain who made a direct course for Monrovia, instead of
keeping his northing until striking the northeast trades; and, after
being at sea ninety days, was compelled to put back. Dr. Mechlin was
induced, from ill health, to return to the United States, when the
government devolved upon Dr. Anderson, who soon afterwards died, and
A. D. Williams, the vice-agent, temporarily filled the vacancy. The
schools, at this period, were sadly in want of competent teachers,
which were partially supplied on the arrival of five Christian
missionaries from Switzerland. The arrival of two more emigrant vessels
and two missionaries from the United States, had a favorable influence
on the colony.

The _Liberia Herald_, established the year previous, announced
eighteen arrivals and the sailing of fourteen vessels in one month. In
December, it says: “The beach is lined with Liberians of all ages,
from twelve to fifty years, eager in the pursuit of traffic, and in
the acquisition of camwood; and it is astonishing what little time is
necessary to qualify, even the youngest, to drive as hard a bargain as
any roving merchant from the land of steady habits, with his assortment
of tin-ware, nutmegs, books, or dry-goods. Here the simile ends; for
it is to be wished that our Liberians would follow their prototype
in the mother country throughout, and be as careful in keeping as
acquiring. The Liberian is certainly a great man; and, what is more,
by the natives he is considered a white man, though many degrees from
that stand; for to be thought acquainted with the white man’s fashions,
and to be treated as one, are considered as marks of great distinction
among the Bassa and other nations.” The amount of exports had reached
the sum of eighty-nine thousand dollars.

Piracy still continued rife. There was no American squadron then on the
coast. The schooner Mesurado was captured off Cape Mount, and all hands
put to death. But while the native commerce was thus exposed and almost
destroyed, the colony was extending its limits. The petty kings offered
to come under its jurisdiction, on condition that settlers should be
placed upon their lands, and schools established for the benefit of the
native children.

The arrivals of emigrants became more frequent: six hundred being added
to the colony during one year. These suffered comparatively little in
the acclimating process.

In the year 1832, the colonists were again called to take the field
against the Deys and a combination of other tribes. Several slaves
had escaped, and sought protection in the colony; upon which the
settlements at Caldwell and Mills were threatened with destruction.
A brisk action, of half an hour, resulted in favor of the Liberians.
This victory made an impression on the minds of the natives favorable
to the future peace of the settlers. The chiefs who had been conquered
appeared in Monrovia, and signed a treaty of peace, guaranteeing that
traders from the interior should be allowed a free passage through
their territories. The agent received a significant message from his
old friend, King Boatswain, stating, that had he known of the hostility
of the chiefs, it would have been unnecessary for the colonists to have
marched against them.

Captain Voorhees, of the U. S. sloop-of-war _John Adams_, on his
homeward-bound passage from the Mediterranean, in a letter to the
Secretary of the Navy, reported favorably of the condition in which he
found the colony.

In January, 1834, the Rev. J. B. Pinney, as colonial agent, and
Dr. G. P. Todsen, as physician, with nine missionaries, arrived
at Monrovia, and were formally received by the civil and military
officers, and uniform companies. Mr. Pinney, in entering upon the
duties of his office, found many abuses, which he promptly corrected.
He resurveyed the lands; repaired the public buildings; satisfied the
public creditors; and extinguished the jealousy between two tribes
of recaptured Africans, by allowing each to elect its own officers.
After a short and efficient administration, he was compelled, from ill
health, to retire, when the agency devolved on Dr. Skinner.

The Liberia Herald, in 1835, was edited by Hilary Teage, a colored man,
who was one of the small party first settled at Cape Mesurado. Mr.
Teage filled various public offices of trust and emolument. He made an
argument before the General Assembly in a divorce case, in 1851 (when
the Perry was at Monrovia), for beauty of diction and sound logic
seldom surpassed. The August number of the Herald states: “On the 9th
instant, the brig Louisa arrived from Norfolk, Virginia, with forty-six
emigrants, thirty-eight of whom are recaptured Africans, principally,
we believe, from the Nunez and Pargos. They are a strolling people. A
number of their countrymen, and among them some acquaintances, have
found their way to this settlement: they were hailed by their redeemed
brethren with the most extravagant expressions of joy.”

From January to September there were nine arrivals of emigrants, which
produced a great sensation among the native tribes: they gravely came
to the conclusion that rice had given out in America, and suggested
to the colonists to send word for the people to plant more, “or black
man will have no place for set down.” Dr. Skinner, suffering from ill
health, returned to the United States, and the government devolved on
A. D. Williams, the vice-agent.

The revenue from imports had disappeared to an extent which the
vouchers of the disbursing officers did not explain. The editor of the
Herald, after noticing the excitement at that period in the United
States, on the passage of the “Sub-Treasury Law,” quaintly remarked
that “their treasury was all sub.”

In the year 1837, the Mississippi Society established its new
settlement, Greenville, on the Sinoe River. There were, therefore,
at this period in Liberia: Monrovia, under the American Colonization
Society; Bassa Cove, of the New York and Pennsylvania Societies;
Greenville, of the Mississippi Society; and Cape Palmas, of the
Maryland Society. These contained ten or twelve towns, and between four
and five thousand emigrants.

Here was a mass of conflicting or disconnected organizations, with
separate sources of authority, and separate systems of management;
without common head or common spirit. Each colony was isolated amid
encompassing barbarism, and far more likely, if left to itself, to fall
back under the power of that which surrounded it, than to establish
good policy or civilization among any portion of the savage African
communities with which they were brought in contact. It was anticipated
that intercourse and example, and the temptation of profit, would make
them slavers; and it was said that they were so. This, although untrue,
was perhaps only prevented by a change; for it now became evident,
that the existing state of things was unsuitable and dangerous to the
objects contemplated.



Thomas H. Buchanan, afterwards governor of Liberia when it became a
commonwealth, had reached Africa, in 1836, as agent of the New York
and Pennsylvania Societies, and had acquired great experience, in
establishing and superintending, during two years, the settlement at
the Bassa country.

He had thus time to appreciate the condition of things around him,
before he was called to the prominent station which he adorned as
the first governor of the commonwealth. It needed a keen eye to see
light, if any was to be got at all, through the wretched entanglement
of interests, vices, associations, colonies, jurisdictions of natives
and foreigners, which then existed. It needed great tact, and a strong
hand, to bring any thing like order out of such confusion.

The United States had at least three associations at work, besides that
of Maryland, each with its own little colony, established in such
spots as chance seems to have directed. These occupied three districts
of a tolerably definite character. There was the original settlement
at Cape Mesurado, with a wing stretching to the north, so as to rest
on the expanded lagoon at Cape Mount, and another wing dipping into
the Junk River at the south. This was in a measure “the empire state,”
containing Monrovia, the capital, and several agricultural villages
around it; but the Monrovians and their fellow-colonists were not, on
the whole, much given to agricultural pursuits. They were shrewd at
driving a trade, and liked better to compete for some gallons of palm
oil, or sticks of camwood, than to be doing their duty to their fields
and gardens. They had, besides, the politics and the military concerns
of the nation to supervise, and were called upon to adjust claims with
the neighboring settlements. The Bassa Cove villages, constituting the
second district, were settling down and strengthening, after their
visitation of violence and rapacity from the natives. Sinoe, the
third district, with its fine river and rich lands, had received the
settlement at Greenville, then flourishing. These two latter bore a
very ill-defined relation to the older station at Monrovia, and to each
other. There were in the territories claimed by all of them as having
passed justly and by amicable means under their jurisdiction, various
native tribes, with their kings and half kings; sometimes wise enough
to see the advantages offered to them; sometimes pre-eminently wise
in having stipulated, that in return for the territory they gave up,
schools should be provided to teach them “sense,” “book;” sometimes
sorely perplexed by the new state of things, and always sorely tempted
by strong habits, and by people at hand to take advantage of them.

It is to be remarked that between these three settlements there were
two intervals of sea-coast, each about one hundred miles, which were
foreign in regard to the colonies. There were also battle-fields,
where slavers afloat and slavers ashore, with the occasional help of
a pirate, and the countenance of Spain and Portugal, were ready to
resist colonial authority, and even to withstand the opposition which
they might encounter from cruisers and other sources. There were honest
traders, also; that is, those who were honest as things went there,
dropping their anchor everywhere as they could get purchasers for their
rum and gunpowder. Nor had European powers yet made up their minds how
the colonies and their claims were to be treated.

The necessity of union was a clear case to every man, and Buchanan
prepared himself to accomplish it. The Bassa Cove people entertained
sentiments not very conciliatory towards the Monrovians. The
Mississippi people of Sinoe might come under suspicion next, and no
one could imagine how far the evil would extend.

This state of things was clearly understood among the friends of the
American Colonization Society and of the State societies, and the
corrective was applied. A committee, comprising the names of Charles
F. Mercer, Samuel L. Southard, Matthew St. Clair Clark, and Elisha
Whittlesey, met at Washington, and drew up a common constitution for
the colonies. Mr. Whittlesey moved, and the motion was adopted, “That
no white man should become a landholder in Liberia,” and that full
rights of citizenship should be enjoyed by colored men alone. Political
suffrage was extended to all adult males, and slavery was absolutely

This constitution divided the territory into two provinces or counties,
and having been acceded to and acted on by the different colonies,
superseded and abolished the political relations of the separate
establishments to the associations which had preceded it.

The American Colonization Society retained the right to disapprove,
or veto, the acts of the local legislature. This last particular,
as an indication of national dependence, was the characteristic
distinguishing the commonwealth from the republic subsequently

The emancipation of the negroes under the English government was now
taking effect. The United States government were beginning to realize
the expediency of keeping permanently a naval force on the west coast
of Africa; and notwithstanding difficulties and apprehensions resting
gloomily on the future, Governor Buchanan, on landing with the new
constitution, at Monrovia, on the first of April, 1839, seems to have
inaugurated a new era for the African race.

He arrived with a full supply of guns and ammunition, furnished mostly
from the navy department, besides a large quantity of agricultural
implements, and a sugar-mill. The constitution was at once approved by
the Monrovians, and in course of time it was accepted by the entire
three colonies.

A firm stand was taken against the slave-trade, and the governor
succeeded in getting the legislature at Monrovia and the people to back
him in efforts to suppress it. His indignant appeals and strong-handed
measures had their effect in turning the attention of our government
to the use of the American flag in the slave-trade as a protection
from British cruisers. Hear him: “The chief obstacle to the success
of the very active measures pursued by the British government for
the suppression of the slave-trade on the coast, is the _American
flag_. Never was the proud banner of freedom so extensively used by
those pirates upon liberty and humanity as at this season.” He did
not stop at words. An American schooner named the _Euphrates_, which
had been boarded fifteen times, and three times sent to Sierra Leone,
and escaped condemnation on account of her nationality, was brought
into Monrovia by a British cruiser, and instantly seized by Governor
Buchanan, for the purpose of sending her to the United States for
trial, on suspicion of being engaged in the slave-trade.

It may here be remarked that not only this vessel, but the American
sloop “_Campbell_” was also detained, and taken to Governor Buchanan,
under similar circumstances. These proceedings were in direct violation
of our doctrine as to the inviolability of American vessels by
foreign interference; and he had no right to authorize or connive at
English cruisers interfering in any degree with such vessels. These
circumstances, together with the report of Governor Buchanan, that “The
Euphrates is one of a number of vessels, whose names I have forwarded
as engaged in the slave-trade, under American colors,” will show the
extent to which the American flag has been used in the traffic; and to
those who have patriotism and humanity enough to vindicate the rights
of that flag against foreign authority, and resist its prostitution
to the slave-trade, it will conclusively prove the necessity of a
well-appointed American squadron being permanently stationed on the
west coast of Africa.

The Euphrates being placed in the hands of Governor Buchanan, who
had resolved on sending her to the United States for trial, was made
available in a crisis when she proved of singular service as a reformed
criminal against her old trade.

A Spanish slaver had established himself at Little Bassa, within fifty
miles of the capital. The governor prohibited the purchase of slaves,
and ordered the Spaniard off. This he disregarded. An Englishman, in
the character of a legal trader, sided with the Spaniard. The governor,
on Monday, the 22nd of July, dispatched a force of one hundred men
by land to dislodge the slavers and destroy the barracoons. The
respectability, or the safety of the colony, which is the same thing,
in its dealings with the mass of corrupted barbarians with which it was
begirt, required summary measures. Three small schooners were sent down
the coast with ammunition to assist the land force at Little Bassa. A
fresh southerly wind, however, prevented these vessels from reaching
their destination, leaving the land forces in a perilous predicament.
Affairs looked gloomy at Monrovia as the schooners returned, after
beating in vain for sixty hours.

At this juncture the schooner Euphrates, which had been seized as
a slaver, was put in requisition. Being supplied with arms and
ammunition, the governor himself, in three hours after the return of
the vessels, was aboard, and the schooner sailed for the scene of
action. Being a _clipper_, she soon beat down the coast, and anchored
before daylight off Little Bassa. On the morning of the fifth day after
the colonial force had marched, a canoe was sent ashore to ascertain
the state of things. The rapid daybreak showed that there was work
to be done; for as the barracoon, standing in its little patch of
clearance in the forest, became distinguishable, the discharge of
musketry from without, replied to from within, showed plainly that
beleaguering and beleaguered parties, whoever they might be, had
watched through the night, to renew their interrupted strife in the

It was a surprise to both parties, to find a well-known slaver at hand,
and ready to take a part in the fray. The governor learned by the canoe
on its return, that the colonists had seized and were holding the
barracoon against the slavers and the chiefs, with the whole hue and
cry of the country in arms to help them. These naturally hailed the
Euphrates as an ally; and Buchanan foresaw the certainty of a fatal
mistake on the part of his people, in case he should land and attempt
to march up the beach, with the men he had, under the fire which,
without some explanation, would be drawn upon him from the palisades of
the barracoon.

In this emergency, an American sailor volunteered to convey the
necessary intelligence to the besieged. In pulling off in the Kroomen’s
canoe, he necessarily became the object of attention and mistake to
both parties. The besiegers rushed down to meet him with a friendly
greeting, while Elijah Johnson sent a party to intercept him as an
enemy. The sailor’s bearing showed both parties, almost simultaneously,
that they were wrong. The enemy, who had seized him, were charged by
the colonists. A fellow, grasping a knife to stab him, was knocked down
by a shot; the sailor was rescued, and taken into the barracoon.

Buchanan, aware how this would engage the attention of the combatants,
had taken the men with him in the two small boats, and was pulling for
the shore. The governor’s boat capsized in the surf, but with no other
harm than a ducking, he made his way safely to the barracoon. A brisk
fight continued for some time; but, at meridian the day following,
the indefatigable governor had embarked with the goods seized; and he
returned to Monrovia for a fresh supply of ammunition. On his reaching
again the scene of action, the refractory chiefs were persuaded to
submit. With three of the slavers as prisoners, and about a dozen
liberated slaves, he then returned to the capital.

At this period, the Gallinas, at the north of which the Sherboro Island
shuts in the wide mouth of the river of the same name, was a den of
thieves. Cesters, at the south, was not much better. Governor Buchanan
was compelled to lean on the support of the British cruisers. In
fact, it is obvious that Liberia could not have been founded earlier
than it was, except it had been sustained by some such authority, or
directly by that of the United States. An older and firmer condition
of the slave-trade influence would have crushed it in its birth. A
few of the lawless ruffians, with their well-armed vessels, who once
frequented this coast, could easily have done this. For want of an
American squadron, the governor assumed an authority to which he was
not entitled.

Every thing was reduced to a regular mercantile system in carrying on
the slave-trade. We have the schooner “Hugh Boyle,” from New York, with
a crew of nine American citizens, coming to the coast, and having as
passengers a crew of ten “citizens of the world,” or from somewhere
else. She is American, with an American crew and papers, until she gets
her slaves on board; then her American citizens become passengers, and
the “citizens of the world” take their place as the crew, till she gets
her slaves into Cuba.

Governor Buchanan, in one of his dispatches, dated November 6th,
1839, writes: “When at Sierra Leone, I visited a small schooner of
one hundred and twenty tons, which was just brought in, with _four
hundred and twenty-seven_ slaves on board; and of all scenes of misery
I ever saw, this was most overpowering. My cheek tingled with shame
and indignation, when I was told that the same vessel, the _Mary
Cushing_, had come on the coast, and was sailed for some time under
American colors. When taken, the American captain was on board. He had
not arrived when I left Sierra Leone, but the governor, at my instance,
promised to send him down here, and deliver him up to me, to be sent to
the United States. Is there any hope that our government will hang him?”

It is a question whether Buchanan had, as the agent of a private
association, or the agent of the government for recaptured Africans,
any right to seize the goods of British traders, or hold in custody
the persons of Americans. But the governor was a man for the time and
circumstances, as, taking “the responsibility,” he determined to do
right, and let the law of nations look out for itself.



When a frontier rests on a savage territory, a “good look out” must be
kept there, and upon every thing beyond it, as the Hollander watches
his dykes and the sea. Liberia had to watch an early ally and friend
of very equivocal character, already known as King Boatswain. He had
founded a new Rome, like Romulus, of ragamuffins. He had made a kind of
pet of Liberia, and perhaps intended to give up slaving, and take to
better courses. Nothing better, however, came in his way, till all his
courses ended.

The death of Boatswain, whose tribe was of his own creation, was
followed by confusion among them. Gaytumba, an unscrupulous and ready
man, with the assistance of Gotera, succeeded to the chief share of
influence in the tribe. The Deys, from whom the colonial territory had
been purchased, were near neighbors, and most convenient subjects for
the slave-trade. An assault was accordingly made, and many secured.
A small remnant of the tribe took refuge in the colony; and Gaytumba,
not seeing any reason why they should not be caught and sold under
colonial protection, as well as elsewhere, many were seized within the
jurisdiction of the commonwealth.

The northern region was thus black with danger, and the vast woods
which surrounded the settlements on the St. Paul’s, became suspicious
as a wild, unknown source of difficulty. There was uneasy watchfulness
for months; and such preparations as circumstances would admit, were
made for resistance. The storm fell on Heddington, a village at the
extreme north of the settlements.

A messenger sent to negotiate had been seized and put to death, and no
mercy was to be expected. All hands were on the alert. Twenty muskets,
which had been provided for the settlement, were prudently kept by the
missionary, Mr. Brown, ready loaded in the upper story of his house,
which had around it a fence of pickets. Two carpenters were at the
time inmates of the dwelling: their names deserve record, for they,
Zion Harris and Demery, constituted, with the missionary, the entire
force at the point of approach. Suddenly, in the morning before the men
began their work, they heard the yelling and crashing of three or four
hundred savages through the bushes.

This was Gaytumba’s tribe: Gotera was at their head, bringing with him
a pot to cook the missionary for his next repast. Harris and Demery
placed themselves quietly at the fence, confronting the negroes as
they came straggling in a mass, expecting no resistance, and exposing
themselves amid the low green leaves of a cassada patch. The two men
fired into the thickest of them, and Mr. Brown commenced a destructive
slaughter with his muskets overhead. As the mass heaved backwards and
forwards, a furious return of musketry, arrows, and spears was made.
Gotera, with some skill, disentangled himself with a band of resolute
men, broke through the pickets at one end, and came upon Harris,
standing defenceless, with his musket just discharged. He toned to
grasp a hatchet, as a last resource, but fortunately caught a musket,
which a wounded colonist, in running for shelter, had placed against
the pickets, and lodged its contents in Gotera’s breast. The death
of their chief was the signal for a general retreat. But ashamed and
indignant at not having secured the dead body, they attempted by a rush
to recover it, and were again and again driven back, till they utterly
despaired, and disappeared. This strange episode of war lasted an hour
and twenty minutes.

The forest recovered its suspicious character from the prowling and
threatening of the enemy spread through it; and there were reports of
the gathering of more distant tribes to join Gaytumba, to make the
work of destruction sure by an overwhelming rush upon the settlements.

The governor, full of warlike foresight, saw the remedy for this
state of things; and, after screwing up the courage of his people,
he planned an expedition against Gaytumba in his own den. For this
purpose, a force of two hundred effective men, with a field-piece and
a body of followers, assembled at Millsburg, on the St. Paul’s River.
About thirty miles from this, by the air line, in the swampy depths
of the forest, was the point aimed at. Many careful arrangements were
necessary to baffle spies, and keep the disaffected at bay during this
desperate incursion, which the governor was about to make into the
heart of the enemy’s country. The fine conception had this redeeming
characteristic, that it was quite beyond the enemy’s understanding.

The force left Millsburg on Friday, 27th of March. Swamps and thickets
soon obliged him to leave the gun behind. Through heavy rains, drenched
and weary, they made their way, without any other resistance, to a
bivouac in an old deserted town. Starting at daylight next morning,
they forced their way through flooded streams and ponds, “in mud up to
their knees, and water up to the waist.” After a halt at ten o’clock,
and three hours’ march subsequently, they learnt that the enemy had
become aware of their movements, and was watching them. About six
miles from their destination, after floundering through the mud of a
deep ravine, followed by a weary pull up a long hill, a sharp turn
brought them in front of a rude barricade of felled trees. A fire
of musketry from it brought to the ground Captain Snetter, of the
riflemen, who was in advance of his men. The men made a dash on the
enemy so suddenly that soon nobody was in front of them. The line moved
on without stopping, and met only a straggling fire here and there, as
they threaded their narrow path through the bushes in single file. A
few men were wounded in this disheartening march. At length those in
advance came to a halt before the fortress, and the rear closed up.
There the line was extended, and the party advanced in two divisions.
The place was a kind of square, palisaded inclosure, having outside
cleared patches here and there, intermingled with clumps of brush.

The assailants were received with a sharp fire from swivels and
muskets, which was warmly returned. Buchanan ordered Roberts (the
present president) to lead a reserved company round from the left, so
as to take in reverse the face attacked. This so confounded Gaytumba’s
garrison that they retreated, leaving every thing behind. The hungry
colonists became their successors at the simmering cooking-pots.
So rapid had the onslaught been, that the second division did not
reach in time to take a hand in it. The operation was thus completely
successful, with the ultimate loss of only two men.

The place was burnt, and a lesson given, which established beyond all
future challenge, the power of civilization on that coast. The banks
of the St. Paul’s River, with its graceful meanderings, palm-covered
islands, and glorious basin spreading round into the eastward expanse
of the interior, were secured for the habitations of peace and

Great and corresponding energy was displayed by Buchanan in civil
concerns. The legislature passed an act that every district should
have a free school. Rules and regulations were established for the
treatment of apprentices, or recaptured Africans not able to take
care of themselves. Provision was made for paupers in the erection of
almshouses, with schools of manual labor attached. The great point
was, that the people had begun to be the government; and there, among
colored men, it was shown that human nature has capacity for its
highest ends on earth, and that there is no difficulty or mystery in
governing society, which men of common sense and common honesty cannot

Buchanan died in harness. Drenching, travelling and over-exertion,
brought on a fever when far from the means of relief. He expired on
the 3d of September, 1841, in the government house at Bassa. Then
and there was a remarkable man withdrawn from the work of the world.
Ever through his administration he illustrated the motto of his heart:
“The work is God’s to which I go, and is worthy of all sacrifice.” The
narrative already given is his _character_ and his eulogium. His deeds
need no explanatory words--they have a voice to tell their own tale.

The blow given to King Boatswain’s successor, Gaytumba, nearly
obliterated the predatory horde which he had collected: they were
scarcely heard of afterwards. A small portion of them seem to have
migrated northwards, so as to hang on the skirts of more settled
tribes, and carry on still, to a small extent, the practice of
slaving and murder, to which they had been accustomed. The Fishmen
tribe still continued to raise some disturbance. Certain points on
the sea-coast gave great uneasiness; these points were the haunts of
slavers. Merchant traders, at least some of them, came peddling along,
establishing temporary factories for the disposal of their goods, and
not unfrequently having an understanding with the slavers for their
mutual benefit.



Transactions growing out of the circumstances above mentioned,
became of very grave importance. The rights of different nations to
trade on that coast had been contested in war, and settled in peace,
for centuries. The long Napoleonic wars had thrown possessions and
commerce, all along the coast, into the hands of England; and in
restoring forts and factories to different nations, the intention
seems to have been, to let every thing, with the exception of the
slave-trade, revert to its old fashion. At existing factories, parties
were allowed to conduct their trade in their own way, and to exercise
whatever competing influence they could gain with the native powers to
forward their purposes. Comparatively few of the old establishments
were preserved. Everywhere else the coast had become free to all
traders; it being understood that no one was entitled to use measures
of force to the injury of others.

If a private company of merchants in France, for instance, had taken
possession of a part of the coast, driven off other traders, or seized
and confiscated their goods, because they refused to pay such duties
as the company chose to levy, the matter undoubtedly would have led
to national complaint, and to correspondence between governments. If
France disavowed all concern in these transactions, reparation would
have been sought for by force. Governor Buchanan’s zeal therefore
sometimes outran his discretion, in the outcry he made against the
English Government, for resisting his interferences with their
subjects, when these men were acting on practices of very venerable
antiquity, or making arrangements with the natives identical with those
which he, as the Agent of the American Colonization Society, was making.

Edina, in the Bassa country, for instance, had been the resort of
vessels of all nations. Private factories, for trading in ivory, palm
oil, &c., were there in 1826: such places were assumed to be open
ground, on which the same might occur again, or were common property.
Such had been the case on almost every point occupied by the Liberian
Government: hence the levying of duties and the establishment of
monopolies were resisted by English traders.

England was bound to defend the property of her subjects, or to
compensate them for the loss of it, if this occurred through the
neglect of the government. And it no doubt appeared very strange to
Great Britain, that an association of Americans should claim a right to
profit by duties levied on her vessels, when there was no government
responsible for their acts.

From the feeling to which these transactions had given rise, it
was inferred that something in the shape of reprisals was intended
by the seizure of the “John Seyes,” a colonial schooner. But this
ground was abandoned, by admitting the vessel to trial before the
vice-admiralty court, at Sierra Leone, on suspicion of being engaged in
the slave-trade. Of this there does not appear to have been evidence
justifying even a shadow of suspicion. As the vessel and cargo were,
by these proceedings, really lost to their proprietor, the whole case
offers only the most revolting features of injustice and oppression.
There was then no American squadron on the coast of Africa, to look
after such interests.

This case, and many others, were in reality very hard and perplexing.
The Liberian was virtually of no country. His government, in the eyes
of national law, was no government. This was an evil and threatening
state of things. The colonial authorities could not do right without
hazard. For it was right to extend their jurisdiction, and regulate
trade, and substitute fixed duties for the old irregular systems of
presents or bribes to the chiefs. But they had not political law on
their side. They had the advantage, however, of a good era in the
world’s history.

Mr. Everett, the American Minister to England, on this subject had
said, in his note to Lord Aberdeen, 30th of December, 1843: “The
undersigned greatly fears, that if the right of the settlement to act
as an independent political community, and as such to enforce the laws
necessary to its existence and prosperity, be denied by Her Majesty’s
government; and if the naval force of Great Britain be employed in
protecting individual traders in violation of these laws, the effort
will be to aim a fatal blow at its very existence.”

The British government seemed to consider that a political community
could not act as independent, which neither was in fact, nor professed
to be, independent; and also supposed that it could hardly answer to
its people for acknowledging a right not claimed on a foundation of
fact. But the Lords of the Admiralty gave orders to the Commodore of
the squadron on the coast, for the cruisers off Liberia “to avoid
involving themselves in contentions with the local authorities of
the Liberian settlements upon points of uncertain legality;” and
added, “great caution is recommended to be observed in the degree of
protection granted to British residents, lest, in maintaining the
supposed rights of these residents, the equal or superior rights of
others should be violated.”

Mr. Upshur, Secretary of State, in his correspondence, announced
that the American government regarded Liberia “as occupying a
peculiar position, and as possessing peculiar claims to the friendly
consideration of all Christian powers.” There was found afterwards
little difficulty in treating the matter, when put in this light.

In the mean time, circumstances looked very disheartening, when the
government was committed to the hands of Joseph J. Roberts; for upon
the decision of this question with England depended the stability and
progress of the colonies. If they could not control their own shores,
intercept evil, repulse wrong, and foster good; if they could not
expel the contrabandist, secure the native chiefs from being bribed to
slaving and all kinds of evil, there was an end to their progress.

Looking to the interior concerns, however, there was much that was
promising. Civilization, with its peace, intelligence and high aims,
was rooted in Africa. The living energy of republicanism was there.
Christianity, in various influential forms, was among the people.
Education was advancing, and institutions for public good coming into
operation. Governor Buchanan had, among his last efforts, addressed an
audience in the Lyceum at Monrovia.

Schools were supporting themselves among the colonists, although, when
established for the benefit of the natives, they were maintained by
missionary associations in the United States. Native hereditary enmity
and faction were yielding perceptibly, in all directions, to the gentle
efficacy of Christian example. All this constituted a great result.

The physical, material and political resources, or agencies, were
small. A few men, in a distant land, had taken up the subject
of African colonization amidst the sectional strifes, political
controversies and gigantic enterprises of a mighty nation, and held
fast to it. A few, of pre-eminent generosity, surrendered their slaves,
or wealth, or personal endeavors, to forward it. No one could stand on
Cape Mesurado, and see the intermingled churches and houses; the broad
expanses of interior waters, bordered by residences, and see a people
elevated far, very far, to say the least, above those of their color in
other parts of the world, without the consciousness that a great work
was begun. To meet everywhere the dark-browed men of Africa, solely the
governors of it all, indicated a great fact in the history of the negro

Other movements among men were falling into a correspondence with
these proceedings. A great awakening in regard to Africa was pervading
Europe. The Niger expedition had entered “the valley and shadow of
death,” which extends its fatal circle round the white man as he
penetrates among the wide lagoons, the luxuriant verdure, and sunny
slopes of Africa. The world regarded it as a calamity, when the fatal
consequence of this attempt came to light. Men were willing to continue
the sacrifice of life and treasure, if any prospect of success should
be seen. All entrances, north, south, east and west, were anxiously
scrutinized to see if a safe access could be found leading into the
land of mystery.

The trade with the west coast was becoming the object of keen
competition. England had for years had her full share, and was grasping
for more; France was straining every nerve, by purchase and otherwise,
as of old, to establish herself commercially there; while the United
States were sending their adventurous traders to pick up what the
change in Africa would develop. Something like an earnest cordial
determination was evinced to abolish the slave-trade, and substitute
for it the pursuits of true and beneficial commerce.



The election of Roberts, a colored man, as governor of the commonwealth
of Liberia, totally separated and individualized the African race as
the managers of local affairs, and made, as to internal concerns, all
things their own. He attempted to root out the interlopers, with energy
more patriotic than potent, and stood up strongly for the rights of
his community. He purchased, negotiated, threatened; and in every way
did his best to accomplish the object. It was soon seen, however, that
the termination of Liberian progress as a dependent commonwealth had
arrived, and that a change was indispensable.

Liberia was, after all, as to its physical means, only a few thousands
of enlightened and determined men, amidst an ocean of barbarism. All
the emigrants were by no means among the enlightened. Some curious
practical difficulties occurred in any political co-operation with
their American brethren. A gang of hard-headed fellows seemed to
think that it was rather a joke, a kind of playing at government,
meaning nothing serious; therefore their respect and obedience to the
constituted authorities were very limited.

It should never be forgotten, that no change could be greater than that
to which these men were subjected, in coming from countries where no
power, authority, or public respect, could ever rest on their race, to
a country where colored men might exercise dominion, enact laws and
enforce them, and by their personal qualities exact and attain eminence
and respect. The best possible laws are only for the best state of
society, and men must grow to them; otherwise they are only like a
giant’s helmet on a child’s head--more a burden than a defence.

The Liberians had no laws admitting of imprisonment for debt. There
is no harm in this, where a man has to borrow before he can become a
debtor. But the case is not so easily settled, when roguery is the
source of debt. A man who is fined when he has nothing to pay, laughs
at the judge. So it happened in Liberia, to the embarrassment of the
better class of men.

Governor Roberts had to keep an eye on grog-selling and grog-drinking.
From the style of his reflections, he gives fair promise of becoming a
strong advocate of the “Maine law.” There was no small number of cases
of idleness, obstinacy and heedlessness of the future; very natural to
men whose independence of station was of very recent date, and whose
independence of character was yet to come. The more credit is therefore
due to the firm, industrious and upright, stationed on the threshold of
this vast, dark continent, with its fury and its vice ready to burst
out upon them.

The governor’s resources, never very great, were called for to regulate
the intercourse between civilization and barbarism; and he found
that the high moral influence of a few hundred men around him, was a
tower of strength in dealing with the savage. All the kings of the
northern and western districts were induced to assemble in convention
in the early part of 1843, at King Bromley’s town, to settle their
great disputes of long standing, and to draw up a set of rules and
regulations for their future guidance. This was a great step gained: a
moral victory over the furious enormities of savage life.

The kings asked the countenance and advice of the colony, acknowledging
fully its jurisdiction over them. King Ballasada, however, sent his
respectful compliments, with a petition that he might be allowed to cut
the throat of King Gogomina, if opportunity offered; or might at least
have the pleasure of shooting some of his people, because the said
Gogomina had killed six of Ballasada’s “boys.” Information, however,
was given by Governor Roberts to King Ballasada, that the time had
passed for such summary proceedings, but that the matter of shooting
the six boys should be inquired into by the governor himself. Gogomina
thereupon produced the six “boys” alive, and sent them home.

Much interest now began to be manifested to learn something of the
interior. It was not known whither the wide valleys of the rivers
might lead, or what they might contain. It was ascertained that there
were the Mandingoes and other noted people somewhere beyond the deep
forests, with whom communication had been held, and with whom it might
be held again. The natives on a line northeast, as far as the Niger,
were entirely unknown: little was really ascertained, except that the
Niger was there. They knew that there were jealous tribes interposing,
who stopped all commercial intercourse that did not pass through their
own bloody and avaricious hands.

The governor, relying on the reputation for power and good faith which
the colony had acquired, resolved to head in person an expedition of
exploration along the St. Paul’s River. Taking a small number of men
with him, he proceeded up the river, visited the camwood country, about
seventy miles inland, and found the forests greatly wasted, and the
main source of supply at that time one hundred miles farther back.
Kings were visited and relieved of their fears, although not of their
wonder, that “the governor should be at that distance from home without
engaging in war.” The party had left the canoe, and after a circuit
round to the eastward, they reached “Captain Sam’s” town, one hundred
and twenty miles east of Monrovia.

Several kings met with the president in his excursion, with whom a
conversation was held, “on the subject of trade, the course and extent
of the river, native wars, religion, &c.” One, “who was seated in
state, on a sofa of raised earth, gave us a hearty shake of the hand,
and said he was glad to see us;” adding, “this country be your country,
all this people be your countryman, you be first king.” This king
was informed by the president, “that he and his people must agree to
abandon the slave-trade, to discontinue the use of sassywood, engage
in no war except by permission of the colonial government.” On one
occasion, “Ballasada, the principal war-man of the Golah tribe, made
his appearance; he entered the gate of the barricade, at the head
of some twenty or thirty armed warriors, with drums beating, horns
blowing, dressed in a large robe, and stepping with all the majesty
of a great monarch.” At Yando’s town, arrangements were made for
establishing a school. At Gelby, one of the missionaries preached to a
large congregation--the king with most of his people being present. The
audience was attentive, and, with the king, gave “a nod of the head at
almost every word uttered by the interpreter.”

At “Captain Sam’s town,” a place of great trade, they met three
strangers from different tribes, anxious to have a question settled,
viz.: “whether, if they carried their produce to the American
settlement for sale, the colonists would beat them, take their property
away, and put them in jail.” Their intermediate friends had persuaded
them that such would be the case, and consequently had themselves, in
the mean time, become their agents, and plundered them at discretion.
They had, at that time, brought a considerable quantity of produce for
sale, and some of them had been kept waiting for many months. All this
was fully cleared up to their satisfaction, and great extension of
trade was promised. The governor says: “I have travelled considerably
in the United States, but have never seen anywhere a more beautiful
country than the one passed through, well timbered and watered, and the
soil, I venture to assert, equal to any in the world.”

President Roberts, at Monrovia, in 1850, stated to the writer, that in
the interior, ore was found so pure as to be capable of being beaten
into malleable iron, without the process of smelting.

Treaties were formed with all the kings, and sundry fractions of kings;
introducing everywhere peace and facilities for commerce. It may be
presumed, therefore, that now the tidings are circulating through the
depths of the interior, that peace has come from the west; and that
an African people has returned to bless their old dark continent with
light and truth.



For the main evils with which Liberia was oppressed, independence was
the only remedy. We have seen the nature and extent of these evils,
in her equivocal position in the view of several European powers, and
especially in that of the English nation. The measures necessary to
carry out this great purpose were received with universal sympathy.

Individuals from all sections of our own country, bearing on them
the imperial character of their nation, had transmitted it by the
dark-skinned race, to vivify with liberty and self-government, the
great slave-land of the world. This was perhaps an honor higher than
they aimed at. The few judicious leading men of Liberia saw the
necessity of making the experiment. The outlines of a constitution, as
far as that already existing needed modification, were borrowed from
that of the United States. A declaration of independence was drawn up
and proclaimed; and on the 24th day of August, 1847, the flag of the
Republic of Liberia was displayed.

Roberts, whose state of pupilage had been passed under the master
mind of Buchanan, was, as might be expected, elected President of
the Republic. England, France, Prussia, Belgium and Brazil have
successively acknowledged the independence of Liberia. A liberal
treaty of amity and commerce, based upon the equality of rights of
the two nations, was entered into between England and Liberia. The
ministry were probably led to the conclusion by the president’s visit,
that trade, regulated by the laws of a compact nation, was likely to
become far more advantageous than the bribing, cheating and plundering
that had occurred, with kings and half kings, and some European
subjects; and had in view the increased power of the government for the
suppression of the slave-trade.

The president arrived in Liberia on the 1st of February, 1849, in her
majesty’s steam frigate Amazon, and was saluted by her with 21 guns
on landing. Other appropriate ceremonies were observed; soon after
this, England presented the republic with a man-of-war schooner, with
armament and stores complete.

France entered afterwards into a commercial treaty with Liberia, and
furnished a large quantity of arms. Subsequent assurances from the
European powers, indicate their interest in the prosperity of the
African republic.

On the 22d of February, 1849, the French flag steam frigate Penelope,
accompanied by another cruiser, arrived at Monrovia. On the following
day, the commander, with the officers and two hundred men, landed for
the purpose of saluting the flag of the republic. They were received
by three uniform companies of Monrovia, in front of Colonel Yates’s
residence; where three field-pieces from the French frigate had been
placed. The procession was then formed and moved up Broad-street to
the president’s house, where the flag-staff, bearing the Liberian
colors, was standing. A salute of twenty-one guns was fired from the
field-pieces, which was repeated by the French cruisers, and returned
by the Liberian guns. Refreshments were provided for the men, and the
officers dined with the president.

In the month of March following, several English and French cruisers
placed themselves at the disposal of President Roberts, for an
expedition against the slavers who had established themselves at
New Cesters. Arrangements had previously been made with some of the
chiefs in that quarter, for the surrender of their lands and for the
incorporation of their people, on the usual terms, with the Liberian
republic. But a portion of the chiefs and people had been allured to
the support of the slavers, and force was required to dislodge them.

Roberts embarked four hundred men in the cruisers, and, accompanied by
the U. S. sloop-of-war “Yorktown,” proceeded to the scene of action.
Here were foreign cruisers, transporting the troops of an African
republic to make a descent upon a European slave establishment; such
establishments as Europe had for centuries sustained on the African
coast. A novel sight, certainly, to the leader of the enemy, who was a

The landing was covered by the cruisers, and a well-directed shell from
the French steamer, bursting over the heads of the natives, cleared
the way for the troops to form and march upon the barracoon, with now
and then a harmless shot from the jungle. Foreseeing the result of a
conflict, the Spaniard fired his buildings, mounted his horse, sought
safety in flight, and his rabble dispersed. The establishment was
strengthened by a thick clay-wall, capable of offering a respectable
resistance. Thirty slaves were liberated. The fort was destroyed. New
Cesters was _annexed_, and the troops returned to Monrovia.

An infectious impulse to disturbance, seems to have come from a
fruitful source in the northern interior. For about thirty years, a war
had been prevailing between revolted slaves and the chiefs, along the
Gallinas River. These lingering hostilities afforded facilities for
securing a good supply of slaves for exportation, which was probably
the cause why the slave-trade held on so pertinaciously at the mouth of
this river. Treachery, for a time, enforced quiet. The chiefs of the
oppressors inveigled the leaders of the insurgents to a conference, and
massacred them. Manna, who seems to have had a long familiarity with
crime, directed this exploit.

President Roberts, when in England (1848), dining on one occasion
with the Prussian Ambassador, the subject of purchasing the Gallinas
territory was discussed. Lord Ashley and Mr. Gurney being present,
pledged one thousand pounds, half the amount required to secure
the territory. Benevolent individuals in the United States, also
contributed for the same purpose. Possession was afterwards obtained
of the Gallinas for the sum of nine thousand dollars. The price
demanded was large, as the chiefs were aware that annexation to Liberia
would forever cut off the lucrative slave-trade. Commissioners were
appointed to settle the difficulties in the interior, open the trade
in camwood, palm-oil and ivory, and furnish the people with the means
of instruction in the art of agriculture. It is, however, doubtful
whether the influence of the republic is sufficient to control the wars
which have been so long raging in the interior. By the annexation
of this territory, and in May, 1852, of the Cassa territory, Liberia
practically extends its dominion, exterminating the slave-trade from
Cape Lahou, eastward of Cape Palmas, to Sierra Leone, a distance of
about six hundred miles of sea-coast.

The financial burdens of the government were a matter of no little
anxiety. The money for the purchase of the Gallinas had been
munificently contributed by Mr. Gurney and other individuals from
abroad, but still there was that “national blessing--a national debt.”
The expedition against New Cesters was, doubtless, a great event in the
history of Liberia. There was glory, which is not without its practical
use; and there was gratification in the honor of having been aided, or
accompanied in such an effort, by the naval forces of great nations.
But glory and gratification have their disadvantages also. Very keenly
did the leading men of Liberia look to the fact that there were heavy
bills to be paid. The payment of a few thousand dollars was a serious
affair. They wisely concluded, however, that they were following the
ways of Providence in incorporating New Cesters and the Gallinas into
their family. And the results have justified their proceedings.

On the 15th of February, 1850, the Secretary of State, in compliance
with a resolution of the Senate of the United States, transmitted a
report of the Rev. R. R. Gurley, who had a short time previously been
sent out by the government to obtain information in respect to Liberia.
This report contains a full account of the people, the government and
the territory.

The long-standing difficulty with the British traders was brought
to a crisis, by a prosecution in the Liberian courts. An appeal was
made to the British commodore. Mr. Hansen, the British consul, a
native African, who had been liberally educated in the United States,
warmly espoused the cause of the traders. These circumstances induced
the president, in May, 1852, to revisit England, where matters were
satisfactorily arranged. He extended his visit to France, and was there
received with attentions due to his station.

The elements of society in Liberia were not all elements of peace.
Native tribes, long hostile, had submitted to union. They had promised
to be very friendly, and met very lovingly together, which they no
doubt considered very strange, and perhaps, for a time, found very
pleasant. We should have been inclined to think this very strange,
if it had continued. When old nature, old habits and old enmities
recovered their strength, it required a firm hand, and one pretty well
armed, too, to keep order among them. Nor did the means available
always attain this end. Dissension could not be overcome without force
and punishment.

In 1850, the Veys, Deys, and Golahs had roused up their perennial
quarrel about their rights and territories. A portion of them were wise
enough to apply to the government to appoint a commission to settle the
difficulties among them. Others took the larger liberty of attempting
to settle matters in their own way. The excitement prevailed during the
president’s absence. In March, 1853, he proceeded, with two hundred
troops, to the northward of Little Cape Mount, and, after a suitable
demonstration, brought the chief offender, having the appropriate name
of Boombo, to await trial at Monrovia; he was convicted, fined and
sentenced to imprisonment for two years.

In November, 1850, the people of Timbo brought in a complaint against
“Will Buckle,” who was at the head of a gang of rogues, murdering and
robbing with impunity. They asked the protection of the government, and
to be received within its jurisdiction, and that Will Buckle might feel
the strong arm of the law.

But an outbreak at Bassa Cove, under a chief named Grando, threatened
to be the grand affair of the time. He was a shrewd, cunning
subject. The president gave him a lecture. To all of it “he listened
attentively, and with seeming penitence readily admitted the error of
his course and the wrongs he had been guilty of, and promised never
again,” &c., &c. The president, however, found, as is usual in such
cases, that Grando was much the same after the lecture as before. “I
had scarcely left the country,” says the president, “before his evil
genius got the better of him.” And the fact turned out to be, that his
“evil genius” very nearly got the better of everybody else.

He established himself, with his people, beside a new settlement near
Bassa Cove. This was exposing his penitence to too strong a temptation.
He cultivated the most friendly terms with the settlers; and when he
had sufficiently disarmed suspicion, he rose upon the settlement, on
the 15th of November, 1851, murdered nine of the inhabitants, carried
off what he could get, and took to the “bush.”

Grando had taken measures to excite a considerable insurrection of
confederated tribes in that region, and returned to the attack with
rather a serious force, estimated at one thousand men. The assailants
fought with unreflecting fierceness, as the negro does when excited,
paying no attention to the artillery which opened upon them. But they
made no impression on the place. Roberts proceeded to Bassa Cove in
the U. S. sloop-of-war “Dale,” accompanied by a reinforcement in the
Liberian schooner “Lark,” and prevented a third attack.

In March, 1852, Grando and his confederate, Boyer, were again arranging
combinations among the tribes in the “bush.” The “evil genius”
complained of had contrived to bring the traders again on the stage,
with their perplexing complaints about imposts and monopolies. One of
these traders seems to have been instigating the disturbance.

These circumstances brought on the most extensive and most trying
military campaign in which the Liberian forces have yet been engaged.
It was estimated that the confederates had in the field about five
thousand men. They were well supplied with ammunition, and had some
artillery, and were employing their time in constructing formidable
defences. To meet them, Roberts had about five hundred colonists, and
the same number of natives. With these, on the 6th of January, 1852, he
marched upon the enemy. A breastwork, terminating the passage through
a swamp, was occupied by three times the number of its assailants.
After an action of an hour and a half, this position was forced, and
the enemy driven through a piece of difficult forest ground. After some
resistance here, they were dislodged and chased to Grando’s palisaded
town. This they set on fire, and then retreated to Boyer, occupying the
left bank of the New Cess river, to dispute the passage.

From this position Boyer was dislodged by the hostility of the chiefs
around him, who did not join in the revolt. He retreated within the
barricades of his own town. Here he had some artillery. On the 15th,
Roberts came with his whole force upon this place. A fierce fight of
nearly two hours took place, which resulted in the capture of the town.
The loss of the enemy was considerable. The Liberians had six killed
and twenty-five wounded.

Grando’s allies soon discovered that they were in the wrong. Boyer
fell into the same train of repentance. Grando’s authority altogether
expired in 1853. His own people held a council, whether they should
not deliver him up to the president. This was opposed by the old men
as contrary to custom. They made him prisoner, however. Boyer would,
by no persuasion, be induced to put himself within the grasp of the
president. He was also playing his tricks upon other people. Having
in July, 1853, induced a Spanish slaver to advance him a considerable
sum in doubloons, and a quantity of goods, he suddenly became strongly
_anti-slavery_ in his views, and sent a request to the president, and
to the British steam cruiser “Pluto,” to look out for the slaver, which
vessel had cleared for the Gallinas, grounded in the river, and was
afterwards destroyed.

Boyer himself and another worthy by the name of Cain, who joined
Grando in these disturbances, keep the Liberians on the alert, but seem
gradually spreading a net for themselves, and it is to be anticipated
that ere long they may be found as companions with Boombo in his



Notwithstanding the heterogeneous population of Liberia, a commendable
degree of order, quiet and comparative prosperity prevails. With such
men as President Roberts, Chief-Justice Benedict, Major-General Lewis,
Vice-President Williams, and many other prominent persons in office
and in the walks of civil life, the government and society present an
aspect altogether more favorable than a visitor, judging them from the
race when in contact with a white population, is prepared to find. The
country is theirs--they are lords of the soil; and in intercourse with
them, it is soon observed that they are free from that oppressive sense
of inferiority which distinguish the colored people of this country. A
visit to Monrovia is always agreeable to the African cruiser.

Monrovia, the capital, is situated immediately in the rear of the
bold promontory of Cape Mesurado, which rises to the altitude of 250
feet. The highest part of the town is eighty feet above the level of
the sea. The place is laid out with as much regularity as the location
will admit. Broadway is the main or principal street, running nearly at
right angles with the sea. Besides this, there are twelve or fifteen
more. The town contains not far from two thousand inhabitants. Many of
the houses are substantially built of brick or of stone, and several
of them are handsomely furnished. The humidity of the climate has
greatly impaired the wooden buildings. The State-House, public stores,
and the new academy are solid, substantial buildings, appropriate to
their uses. There are five churches, and these are well attended. The
schools will compare favorably with the former district schools in this
country, which is not saying much in their favor.

The soil in the vicinity of the rocky peninsula of Mesurado is
generally sandy and comparatively unproductive, except where there
are alluvial deposits along the margin of the streams or creeks. The
lands on the banks of the rivers--of the St. Paul’s, for instance, four
or five miles north of Monrovia--are very rich, of loamy clay soil,
equalling in fertility the high lands of Brazil, or any other part
of the world. Here more care is devoted to the culture of sugar, and
increasing attention is given to agriculture. These lands readily sell
at from forty to fifty dollars per acre. A fork of this river flows
in a southeasterly direction, and unites with the Mesurado River at
its mouth. This fork is called Stockton’s Creek, in honor of Commodore
Stockton. The largest rivers of Liberia are navigable only about twelve
or fifteen miles before coming to the Rapids.

As the country becomes settled, and the character of its diseases
better understood, the acclimating fever is less dreaded. In fact, it
now rarely proves fatal. This having been passed through, the colored
emigrants enjoy far better health than they did in most parts of the
United States. The statistics, as President Roberts stated, show some
three per cent smaller number of deaths than in the New England States
and Canada among the same class of population. The thermometer seldom
rises higher than 85°, nor falls lower than 70°.

The productions of the soil are varied and abundant,--capable of
sustaining an immense population. The want of agricultural industry,
rather than the incapacity of the country to yield richly the fruits
of the earth, has been the difficulty with the Liberians. With
well-directed labor, of one-half the amount required among the farmers
of the United States, a large surplus of the earth’s productions,
over the demands of home consumption, might be gathered. The country
certainly possesses elements of great prosperity.

“A bill for the improvement of rivers and harbors” should be forthwith
passed by the Liberian legislature. A country exporting articles
annually amounting to the sum of eight hundred thousand dollars, and
this on the increase, might make an appropriation to render landing
safe from the ducking in the surf to which one is now exposed. Sharks,
in great abundance, are playing about the bars of the rivers, eagerly
watching the boats and canoes for their prey. Dr. Prout, a Liberian
senator, and several others, have been capsized in boats and fallen
victims to these sea-tigers.

A full and very interesting description of the geography, climate,
productions and diseases of Africa has been published by Dr. J. W.
Lugenbeel, late colonial physician, and the last white man who was
United States agent in Africa.

In devising measures for the benefit of Liberia, one thing was
pre-eminently to be kept in view, which was, that the people be
prevented from sinking back to become mere Africans. It is believed
that this danger was wholly past under the energetic administration
of Buchanan, to whom too much praise cannot be awarded. He infused
life and spirit into the nation, and brought out such men as Roberts
and others, in whose hands we believe the republic is safe. A large
majority of the emigrants having been slaves, and dependent on the
will and dictation of others, many of them are thereby rendered in a
measure incapable of that self-reliance which secures early success in
an enterprise of this kind.

Slaves do not work like freemen. The question, then, arises--Is this
the case because they are slaves, or because they are negroes? Those
who have been emancipated in the British territories have hitherto
cast no favorable light on this inquiry. They do not now work as they
did when compelled to work, although they are free. Neither do the
Sicilians, Neapolitans, or Portuguese work as men work elsewhere. There
are no men freer than the slavers, who steal children and sell them,
in order that they themselves may live in vicious idleness. It is the
freeman’s intelligence and his higher motives of action, which produce
his virtues.

The slave-trade being extirpated within the boundaries of Liberia,
and the natives brought under new influences, the necessity produced
for new kinds of labor has become favorable to the improvement of the
African. There is now the will and ability of the native population to
work in the fields. The low rate of remuneration which they require,
favors the employment of capital, but keeps wages for common labor very
low. It is of no use to urge upon colonists to employ their own people
in preference to natives, when the former want eighty cents a day and
the latter only twenty-five. These things must take their natural
course. The increase of capital must be waited for ere wages can rise.
But it all tells strongly in favor of settlers securing grants of land,
and becomes a great inducement for colored men emigrating to Liberia
who have some little capital of their own.

It is in Liberia alone that the colored man can find freedom and the
incentives to higher motives of action, which are conducive to virtue.
There these sources of good are found in abundance for his race. In
this country he can gain the intelligence of the free population, but
is excluded from the vivifying motives of the freeman. In Liberia
he has both. Means are needed to sustain this condition of things.
The first of these is religion, which to a great degree, pervades
the community there: it is true that some of the lower forms of a
vivid conception of spiritual things characterize the people; but far
preferable is this, to the tendency of the age elsewhere--towards
attempting to bring within the scope of human reason the higher
mysteries of faith. The second is the school, which keeps both
intelligence and aspiration alive, and nurtures both. Roberts is aware
of this, and keeps it before the people. They will transfer, therefore,
what the United States alone exemplifies, and what is vitally important
to free governments, namely, a system of free public education in the
common schools; such a system is that of the _graded schools_ in many
parts of our country, far surpassing most of the select schools, where
a thorough education may be freely obtained by all the children of the

Liberia contains a population exceeding one hundred and fifty thousand
inhabitants; not more than one-twentieth of this number are American
colonists. Its growth has been gradual and healthy. The government,
from its successful administration by blacks alone, for more than
six years, appears to be firmly established. The country is now in a
condition to receive as many emigrants as the United States can send.
To the colored man who regards the highest interest of his children;
to young men of activity and enterprise, Liberia affords the strongest

We would not join in any attempt to crush the aspirations of any
class of men in this country. But it is an actual fact, whatever
may be thought of it, that here the colored man has never risen to
that position, which every one should occupy among his fellows. For
suppose the wishes of the philanthropist towards him to be fully
accomplished,--secure him his political rights; unfetter him in body
and intellect; cultivate him in taste even; then while nominally free,
he is still in bondage; for freedom must also be the prerogative of the
white, as well as of the black man; and the white man must likewise be
left free to form his most intimate social relations; and he is not,
and never has been disposed, in this country, to unite himself with
a caste, marked by so broad a distinction as exists between the two
races. The testimony on these two points of those who have had abundant
advantages for observation, has been uniform and conclusive. For the
colored man himself then, for his children, Liberia is an open city of
refuge. He there may become a freeman not only in name, but a freeman
in deed and in truth.

Liberia has strong claims upon Christian aid and sympathy. Its
present and prospective commercial advantages to our country, will
far counterbalance the amount appropriated by private benevolence in
planting and aiding the colony and the republic. Its independence
ought to be acknowledged by the United States. This, according to
the opinion of President Roberts, would not imply the necessity of
diplomatic correspondence, while the moral and political effects,
would be beneficial to both parties. England, by early acknowledging
the independence of Liberia, and cultivating a good understanding with
its government and people, has greatly subserved her own commercial
interest, while responding to the call of British philanthropy.



The Maryland Colonization Society resolved to establish a colony at
Cape Palmas. Dr. James Hall, their agent, secured the consent of the
chiefs to cede the required territory, without employing the wretched
medium of rum. These kings, to their credit, have retained sensible
names of their own, redolent of good taste and patriotism, being
Parmah, Weah Boleo, and Baphro. As has ever been done by all wise
people on that coast, a fort was expeditiously erected, overlooking
in a peremptory way the native villages and the anchorage; since it
is not, for a time at least, safe to trust in such affairs to the
conscience of the natives.

Cape Palmas is well suited for such an establishment; the climate is as
good as any in tropical Africa. The Cape itself is a small elevation or
insulated hill, sloping down towards the continent, into the general
expanse of wooded plain or forest; this, to the north and east of the
Cape, stretches out into a wide fertile flat, the waters of which drain
towards the long line of sea-beach, receiving the heavy surf of the
equatorial Atlantic. The surf throws a long bulwark of sand along the
mouths of the fresh-water streams, and checks them in a lagoon of ten
miles in length, by about a quarter of a mile in breadth. This water is
fresh or brackish, according as either element gains the mastery, and
serves the natives as a precious and fruitful fish-pond.

Of this region, a tract extending about twenty miles along the
sea-shore, and as much inland, was, by purchase, brought under the
jurisdiction of the Maryland Society. Provision was made for retaining
the resident natives on the lands they cultivated. Here, in the month
of February, 1834, the Maryland Colonization Society attached itself to
Africa, by landing fifty-three emigrants from that State.

Their temporary dwellings were soon put up; and their fortifications
erected near to populous towns crowded with natives supplied with
fire-arms and ready to use them. Vessels continued to arrive, bringing
more settlers to their shores. In 1836, an additional tract of country,
east of the Cape, was procured; extending the colonial territories
along the broad, rapid stream of the Cavally, to the distance of thirty
miles from its mouth. In succeeding years new settlers arrived to
occupy the lands so acquired; yet all these acquisitive proceedings
gave rise to scarcely any noticeable opposition. A little blustering
occurred on the part of one chief, who attempted to monopolize the
selling of rice to the colonists when in want; but a kind and resolute
firmness removed the difficulty. Scarcely, in fact, does an instance
occur in history, of an administration so uniformly successful in the
operations for which it was established; and, whatever the future may
offer to equal it, nothing certainly in the past has a higher claim for
sympathy, than these efforts of Maryland for the benefit of her colored

With the same wisdom which had characterized the previous measures
of the society, in 1837 Mr. Russwurm, a colored man, was appointed
governor of the colony. He fulfilled the expectations formed of him.
Thus one step was judiciously taken, to disengage the colored men of
Africa from dependence on foreign management.

Considering, however, that Cape Palmas has been colonized from a slave
state alone, and that the government has been retained in the hands
of the state society, it is scarcely to be expected that the same
vigor and activity should be found in its internal operations, or the
same amount of influence exercised over the surrounding natives, as
has been manifested in Liberia. Notwithstanding this, the beneficial
influence of this colony also, on the surrounding natives, has been
considerable. Six kings, of their own accord, applied to Governor
Russwurm, and ceded their territories, that they might be incorporated
with the colony. Every treaty contained an absolute prohibition of the

Cape Palmas colony, then, may be considered as now extending from the
confines of her elder sister at the river Jarraway, as far to the
eastward as Cape Lahou. The inland boundary may be anywhere, as the
future shall settle it. The cultivated or cleared land extends parallel
to the coast, over distances varying from twenty-five to fifty miles.
Here comes on the dark verdure of forest, undulating over the rising
lands which lead to the mountains, or whatever they may be, which feed
the rivers. These streams act as lines of communication. But here also
the old Portuguese influence has aimed at a monopoly of trade. Some
explorations have disclosed the fact that there are powerful tribes in
these lands, who, in spite of an obstacle of this kind, will soon be
brought within the commercial influence of the colony.

This line of coast has at many points been a frequent haunt of slavers,
and the atrocities due to native superstition have been shocking, and
rendered more villanous by European trade. Commodore Perry, in 1843,
as will be seen in the notice of squadrons, did justice on some of
their villages, convicted of murder and robbery of an American vessel.
The officers delivered several of the natives from torture under
the accusations of sorcery. To control such fierce materials into
quietness, or melt them to Christian brotherhood, will require much
grace from Providence, and much kind and patient dealing from men.

In carrying out the objects of the colony, an effort was made by the
Maryland Colonization Society, which seemed in its nature singularly
promising. This consisted in establishing a joint-stock trading
company, or line of packets for carrying out emigrants and returning
with produce. It was expected that the colored people of the state
would, to some considerable extent, invest capital in shares. With
these expectations the “Liberia Packet” was launched in 1846, and made
many voyages. It was found necessary to increase the size of vessels
thus employed. But these operations were checked by the wreck of the
“Ralph Cross.” It was also found that comparatively little interest in
this undertaking was awakened among the colored population, or that
they had not the means for investment in it, as only about one-eighth
of the whole amount of stock was held by them. It is, however, an
incident of value in the history of Africa, that through facilities
thus afforded, many emigrants revisited this country for short periods,
and thus established a return line of intercourse, inquiry, or
business, which binds Africa more strongly to this land.

A movement for the elevation of the colony into an independent state,
has been made by the people at Cape Palmas, and a commission has
visited this country to make arrangements for the purpose. That there
be full political independence granted to this people, is requisite,
as an element of the great achievement now going on. This contemplates
something far higher than creating merely a refuge for black men, or
sticking on a patch of colored America on the coast of Africa like an
ill-assorted graft, for which the old stock is none the better. Liberia
is the restoration of the African in his highest intellectual condition
to that country in which his condition had become the most degraded.
The question is to be settled whether that condition can be retained,
or so improved that he may keep pace with the rest of the world.

It is a necessary element in this proceeding that he be self-governing.
It is to the establishment of this point that all men look to decide
the dispute, whether negro races are to remain forever degraded or
not. Time and patience, however, and much kind watchfulness, may be
required before this experiment be deemed conclusive. Let many failures
be anticipated ere a certain result is secured. Let no higher claims be
made on the negro than on other races. Would a colony of Frenchmen,
Spaniards, Portuguese, Sicilians, if left to themselves, offer a fairer
prospect of success than Liberia now offers? Few persons would have
confidence in the stability of republican institutions among these
races, if so placed.

Let then the black man be judged fairly, and not presumed to have
become all at once and by miracle, of a higher order than old historic
nations, through many generations of whom the political organization
of the world has been slowly developing itself. There will be among
them men who are covetous, or men who are tyrannical, or men who would
sacrifice the public interests or any others to their own: men who
would now go into the slave-trade if they could, or rob hen-roosts, or
intrigue for office, or pick pockets, rather than trouble their heads
or their hands with more honorable occupations. It should be remembered
by visitors that such things will be found in Liberia; not because men
are black, but because men are men.

It should not be forgotten that the experiment in respect to this race
is essentially a new one. The nonsense about Hannibal, and Terence,
and Cyprian, and Augustine, being negro Africans, should have been out
of the heads of people long ago. A woolly-headed, flat-nosed African,
in ancient times, would have created as great a sensation at the head
of an army, or in the chair of a professor, as it would now in the
United States or in England. These men were Asiatics or Europeans,
rather than Africans: the Great Desert being properly the northern
boundary of the African race. The African has never reached in fact,
until the settlement of Liberia, a higher rank than a king of Dahomey,
or the inventor of the last fashionable grisgris to prevent the devil
from stealing sugar-plums. No philosopher among them has caught sight
of the mysteries of nature; no poet has illustrated heaven, or earth,
or the life of man; no statesman has done any thing to lighten or
brighten the links of human policy. In fact, if all that negroes of all
generations have ever done, were to be obliterated from recollection
forever, the world would lose no great truth, no profitable art, no
exemplary form of life. The loss of all that is African would offer no
memorable deduction from any thing but the earth’s black catalogue of
crimes. Africa is guilty of the slavery under which she suffered; for
her people made it, as well as suffered it.

The great experiment, therefore, is as to the effect of instruction
given to such a race from a higher one. It has had its success, and
promises more. But many patient endeavors must still be used. The
heroism of the missionary is still needed. Such men as Mills, Ashmun,
Wilson, and Bishop Payne, will be required to give energy to this work
in various forms. But there will be henceforth, it is to be hoped, less
demand for the exposure of American life. There should be found in the
colored people of the United States, with whom the climate agrees, the
source of supply for African missions, till, in a few years, Liberia
itself send them forth, with words of life to their brethren throughout
the length and breadth of the continent.

Like all sinful men, the African needs faith. But you must dig deeper
in him, before you find any thing to plant it on. The grain of
mustard-seed meets a very hard soil there, and the thorns are deep. It
is a conquest to get him to believe that there is any virtue in man.
They have never had a Socrates, to talk wisdom to them; nor a Cyrus,
who was not a slave-merchant; nor a Pythagoras, to teach that kindness
was a virtue. Hence the difficulty which the Christian missionary has
had with them, has been to satisfy their minds as to the miraculous
phenomenon of there being a good man. It has been always found that
there was many a consultation among their sages as to the peculiar
trade or purpose the missionary might have in view, in coming as he
came; and very generally the more good they saw, the more evil they
suspected. The first thing which, in most instances, opened their eyes,
has been in his inculcating peace; for they saw no fees coming to him
for it, and of course no looking out for plunder.

The civilized world, as well as the savage, need the example of the
missionary. The true courage of faith is a blessing to mankind. Besides
his devotion to the highest interests of men, the world also owes much
to the educated and enlightened missionary, who has not only greatly
contributed to the cause of science and literature, but has often been
the means of developing the commercial resources of the countries
where he has been stationed. Women, with their own peculiar heroism,
which consists in fearless tenderness and patience, have also shared
in this work of faith. Mrs. Judson is seen wandering through a Burman
village teaching the people, with a sick child in her arms, while her
husband lies in prison. And Mrs. Wilson, highly cultivated and refined,
sacrificing her property, and surrendering a position in the best
society of the country, is found teaching negro children in the dull
and fetid atmosphere of African schools. This is true heroism, such as
the gospel alone can inspire.

Christianity has, with watchful kindness, been seeking to penetrate
Africa from various points of the coast. Abyssinia has long professed
the Christian faith, although in a corrupt form. Its church, and
that of Egypt, must soon fall under the influence of the line of
communication through the Red Sea. English missionaries are at
Zanzibar, and have brought to light, by their explorations in the
interior, the group of mountains which raise their snowy heads south of
the equator in that neighborhood. Missionaries from the same country
are also to be found at Sierra Leone and in the Bight of Benin. From
the extremity of the continent they have, in conjunction with those of
five other nations, been penetrating all the interior of the southern

The United States have also missionaries at four or five points.
There are those of the Liberian republic, Cape Palmas, and the Mendi
mission. In these places different denominations work kindly and
earnestly together. The first obvious sign of their presence is peace.
Nowhere in the world was this more needed, or more welcome, than in
the regions north and east of Liberia, where men, for many years, had
had to fight for their own persons, that they might remain their own,
and not be sold. Every thing, as might be expected, had fallen into
utter confusion. Tribes of historic character were in fragments; towns
depopulated, cultivation suspended, and the small knots of families
which kept together, were perishing. “The women and children,” says
Mr. Thompson, “were often obliged to go out in search of berries and
fruits to keep themselves from starving.” To this country, which lies
along the sources of the Sierra Leone and the Gallinas rivers on the
northern confines of Liberia, the captives on board the _Amistad_ had
gone in 1842. But such was the confusion in that quarter, that it was
not until 1851, that the missionary found it practicable to commence
his efforts for peace. They told Mr. Thompson, “that no one but a white
man could have brought it about;” and that “they had long been praying
to God to send a white man to stop the war.”

The Gaboon mission, since its disturbance by the French in 1844, has
been re-established, and has experienced courteous treatment at the
hands of the French authorities. This mission occupies the important
position at which the great southern nation and language come in
contact with the more energetic men of the equatorial region, and at
which great light is likely to be thrown on their relations. The French
also have a mission at the Gaboon.

The mission to the Zulus, in the healthy region at the southern end
of the Mozambique Channel, was at one time divided between the two
branches of that tribe; but in consequence of wars, was afterwards
united and established in the colony of Natal. The commercial crisis in
the United States in 1837, led to the proposal that this mission should
be abandoned. But its influence had been so beneficial, that the Cape
colonists and their government proposed to take measures to support
it. Circumstances, however, enabled the American Board to decline
this proposal, and they continue their operations. An effort is being
made by this mission to unite all similarly engaged, in a common and
uniform mode of treating the language of the south.

The Portuguese have missions, both on the east and west side of the

Commander Forbes, R. N., says: “In all the countries which have given
up the traffic in their fellow-men, the preaching of the Gospel and the
spread of education have most materially assisted the effects of the
coercive measures of our squadron.”



It was the cessation of the last great European war, which assembled
the matured villany of the world on the African coast to re-establish
the slave-trade. This traffic had been suspended during the latter
years of the contest, as England and the United States had abolished
it, and the former was strong enough at sea to prevent other European
powers from engaging in it. In fact, she had swept almost the whole
European marine from the ocean. The treaties formed at the peace, left
Europe to the strife between anarchy and despotism; and gave up the
coast of Africa to the slave-trade and piracy.

Every evil and every fear which have harassed the world since that
time, seem to be the retributions of an indignant Providence. Let
it not be imagined that these dealings of justice with men are at an
end. What could atone for giving up the coasts of a whole continent
to be ravaged by the slave-ships of France, Spain, and Portugal?
What compensation for this vicious and deadly scourge has Africa yet
received? The cruising, suffering, sickness, deaths and expenses of
nearly half a century have not remedied the crime of signing these
treaties. The ambassador, minister, or whoever he was, that signed
them, bears a load of guilt, such as few mortal men have assumed.

England set about remedying this in a more commendable spirit, as soon
as the years of free and unrestricted crime, which she had really
granted to these nations, were run out. During about twenty years
subsequently, when treaties with these powers had granted mutual right
of search and capture, three hundred vessels were seized, having
slaves on board. But during the latter part of this period, more than
one hundred thousand half-dead negroes were annually landed from
slave-vessels in Cuba and Brazil.

In 1839 the corrective was more stringently applied. Permission had
then, or soon after, been wrung from different slave-trading powers,
to capture vessels outward-bound for Africa, when fitted for the
slave-trade, as well as after they had taken in their cargoes. The
treaties provided that vessels equipped for the traffic might be
captured, so as to prevent the crime. A slaver was thus to be taken,
because she was a slaver; just as it is better to shoot the wolf before
he has killed the sheep than afterwards. If a vessel, therefore, was
found on the African coast with slave-irons, water in sufficient
quantity for a slave-cargo, with a slave-deck laid for packing
slaves--somewhat as the carcases of sheep and pigs in a railway train,
with the exception of the fresh air--she was seized and condemned
before committing the overt act. Under this arrangement, with a
rigorous squadron, double the number of captures were made, during the
next ten years, as compared with the previous twenty.

Seeing, then, that, as before noticed, one thousand and seventy
slave-vessels were captured, and of the slaves who were not dead,
a great proportion were landed at Sierra Leone, and that the whole
population of that colony, although established for nearly sixty years,
does not amount to more than forty-five thousand souls, young and old,
it may be conceived what a fearful waste of life has arisen even from

The efforts of this squadron were conjoined with those of France and
the United States. The former had withdrawn from the treaty stipulating
the right of search, and sent a squadron of her own to prevent French
vessels from engaging in the slave-trade; and the United States, which
never has surrendered, and never will surrender, the inviolability
of her own flag to a foreign power, guaranteed, in 1842, to keep a
squadron on the coast. These, together with other subsidiary means, had
reduced the export of slaves in 1849 to about thirty-seven thousand,
from one hundred and five thousand. And since that period the trade
has lessened, until in Brazil, the greater slave-mart, it has become
almost extinct; although at times it has been earned on briskly with
the island of Cuba.

The subsidiary means alluded to arose out of the presence of the
squadrons, and would have had no effect without them. They consist in
arrangements, on the part of England, with some of the native powers,
to join in checking the evil, and substitute legal trade, and in
the conversion of the old slave-factories and forts into positions
defensive against their former purpose.

These measures have also prepared the way for the establishment of
Christian missions, as well as permitted to legitimate traffic its
full development. Missions and the slave-trade have an inverse ratio
between them as to their progress. When the one dwindles, the other
grows. Although it was no ostensible purpose of the squadron to forward
missions, yet the presence of cruisers has been essential to their
establishment and success.

Trade of all kinds was originally an adjunct to the slave-trade.
Cargoes were to be sold where they could find a purchaser. Gold, ivory,
dye-stuffs and pepper were the articles procured on the coast. All of
these are from exhaustible sources. The great vegetable productions
of the country, constituting heavy cargoes, have but lately come into
the course of commerce. Hunting and roaming about supplied the former
articles of commerce. The heavier articles now in demand require
more industry with the hands, and a settled life. Trade thus becomes
inconsistent with slavery, and hostile to it; and the more so as it
becomes more dependent on the collection of oil, ground-nuts, and
other products of agriculture. Covering the coast now with trading
establishments, excludes the slaver. The efforts of the squadrons were
necessary to carry out this proceeding, for commerce needed to be
protected against the piracies of the slaver afloat and the ravages of
the slaver on shore.

Exposure to capture gave origin to the barracoons. A slaver could
no longer leisurely dispose of her cargo, at different points, in
return for slaves who happened to be there. The crime now required
concealment and rapidity. Wholesale dealers on shore had to collect
victims sufficient for a cargo to be taken on board at a moment’s
notice. This required that the slaver should arrive at the station,
with arrangements previously made with the slave-factor, ready to “take
in;” or that she should bring over a cargo of goods in payment for the

In the case of falling in with British cruisers, an American slaver
was inviolate, on presenting her register, or sea-letter, as a proof
of nationality, and could not be searched or detained. But the risk
of falling in with American cruisers, especially if co-operating
with the British, led to the disguise of legal trading; with a cargo
corresponding to the manifest, and all the ship’s papers in form. An
instance of this occurred, as will be seen, in the capture of the
second slaver by the “Perry.”

The American flag, in these ways, became deeply involved in the slave
traffic. How far this acted injuriously to the interests of Africa, is
seen in the complaints of Buchanan and Roberts, and in the reports of
our ministers and consuls, and of those of the English, at Brazil. In
1849, the British consul at Rio, in his public correspondence, says:
“One of the most notorious slave-dealers in this capital, when speaking
of the employment of American vessels in the slave-trade, said, a few
days ago: ‘I am worried by the Americans, who insist upon my hiring
their vessels for slave-trade.’”

Of this there is also abundant and distressing evidence from our own
diplomatic officers. Besides a lengthy correspondence from a preceding
minister near the court of Brazil, the President of the United States
transmitted a report from the Secretary of State, in December, 1850, to
the Senate of the United States, with documents relating to the African
slave-trade. A resolution had previously passed the Senate, calling
upon the Executive for this information.

In these documents it is stated that “the number of American vessels
which, since the 1st of July, 1844, until the 1st of October
last (1849), sailed for the coast of Africa from this city, is
ninety-three.... Of these vessels, all, except five, have been sold and
delivered on the coast of Africa, and have been engaged in bringing
over slaves, and many of them have been captured with slaves on
board.... This pretended sale takes place at the moment when the slaves
are ready to be shipped; the American captain and his crew going on
shore, as the slaves are coming off, while the Portuguese or Italian
_passengers_, who came out from Rio in her, all at once became the
master and crew of the vessel. Those of the American crew who do not
die of coast-fever, get back as they can, many of them being compelled
to come over in slave-vessels, in order to get back at all. There is
evidence in the records of the consulate, of slaves having started
two or three times from the shore, and the master and crew from their
vessel in their boat, carrying with them the flag and ship’s papers;
when, the parties becoming frightened, both retroceded; the slaves were
returned to the shore, and the American master and crew again went
on board the vessel. The stars and stripes were again hoisted over
her, and kept flying until the cause of the alarm (an English cruiser)
departed from the coast, and the embarkation was safely effected.”

On the other hand, we have the following notice from Brazil: “As in
former years, the slave-dealers have derived the greatest assistance
and protection for their criminal purposes, from the use of the
American flag, I am happy to add that these lawless and unprincipled
traders are at present deprived of this valuable protection, by a late
determination of the American naval commander-in-chief on this station,
who has caused three vessels, illegally using the flag of the United
States, and which were destined for African voyages, to be seized on
their leaving this harbor. This proceeding has caused considerable
alarm and embarrassment to the slave-dealers; and, should it be
continued, will be a severe blow to all slave-trading interests.”

Mr. Tod, the American Minister at the court of Brazil, in a letter to
the Secretary of State, says: “As my predecessors had already done,
I have, from time to time, called the attention of our government to
the necessity of enacting a stringent law, having in view the entire
withdrawal of our vessels and citizens from this illegal commerce; and
after so much has been already written upon the subject, it may be
deemed a work of supererogation to discuss it further. The interests
at stake, however, are of so high a character, the integrity of
our flag and the cause of humanity being at once involved in their
consideration, I cannot refrain from bringing the topic afresh to the
notice of my government, in the hope that the President may esteem it
of such importance as to be laid before Congress, and that even at this
late day, legislative action may be secured.”

In this communication, a quotation is made from Mr. Proffit, one of
the preceding ministers, to the Secretary of State, February, 1844,
in which he says: “I regret to say this, but it is a fact not to be
disguised or denied, that the slave-trade is almost entirely carried
on under our flag, in American-built vessels, sold to slave-traders
here, chartered for the coast of Africa, and there sold, or sold
here--delivered on the coast. And, indeed, the scandalous traffic could
not be carried on to any great extent, were it not for the use made
of our flag, and the facilities given for the chartering of American
vessels, to carry to the coast of Africa the outfit for the trade, and
the material for purchasing slaves.”

Mr. Wise, the American Minister, in his dispatch of February 15th,
1845, said to Mr. Calhoun:

“It is not to be denied, and I boldly assert it, that the
administration of the imperial government of Brazil, is forcibly
constrained by its influences, and is deeply inculpated in its guilt.
With that it would, at first sight, seem the United States have nothing
to do; but an intimate and full knowledge of the subject informs
us, that the only mode of carrying on that trade between Africa and
Brazil, at present, involves our laws and our moral responsibilities,
as directly and fully as it does those of this country itself. Our
flag alone gives requisite protection against the right of visit,
search, and seizure; and our citizens, in all the characters of owners,
consignees, of agents, and of masters and crews of our vessels,
are concerned in the business, and partake of the profits of the
African slave-trade, to and from the ports of Brazil, as fully as the
Brazilians themselves, and others in conjunction with whom they carry
it on. In fact, without the aid of our own citizens and our flag, it
could not be carried on with success at all.”

To exhibit the state of the slave-trade prior to the equipment treaty
in 1840, we have the following instances from parliamentary papers, and
other British authority:

“La Jeune Estelle, being chased by a British vessel, inclosed twelve
negroes in casks, and threw them overboard.”

“M. Oiseau, commander of _Le Louis_, a French vessel, in completing
his cargo at Calaba, thrust the slaves into a narrow space _three feet
high_, and closed the hatches. Next morning fifty were found dead.
Oiseau coolly went ashore to purchase others to supply their place.”

The following extract is from a report by Captain Hayes to the
Admiralty, of a representation made to him respecting one of these
vessels in 1832:

“The master having a large cargo of these human beings _chained
together_, with more humanity than his fellows, permitted some of them
to come on deck, _but still chained together_, for the benefit of
the air, when they immediately commenced jumping overboard, hand in
hand, and drowning in couples; and (continued the person relating the
circumstance) without any cause whatever. Now these people were just
brought from a situation between decks, and to which they knew they
must return, where the scalding perspiration was running from one to
the other.... And men dying by their side, with full in their view,
living and dead bodies chained together; and the living, in addition
to all their other torments, laboring under the most famishing thirst
(being in very few instances allowed more than a pint of water a day);
and let it not be forgotten that these unfortunate people had just been
torn from their country, their families, their all! Men dragged from
their wives, women from their husbands and children, girls from their
mothers, and boys from their fathers; and yet in this man’s eye (for
heart and soul he could have none), there was no cause whatever for
jumping overboard and drowning. This, in truth, is a rough picture,
but it is not highly colored. The _men are chained in pairs_, and as a
proof they are intended so to remain to the end of the voyage, _their
fetters are not locked, but riveted by the blacksmith_; and as deaths
are frequently occurring, _living men are often for a length of time
confined to dead bodies_: the living man cannot be released till the
blacksmith has performed the operation of cutting the clinch of the
rivet with his chisel; and I have now an officer on board the Dryad,
who, on examining one of these slave-vessels, found _not only living
men chained to dead bodies, but the latter in a putrid state_.”[4]

In the notorious Spanish slaver, the _Veloz Passageira_, captured with
five hundred and fifty-six slaves, after a severe action, the captain
made the slaves assist to work the guns against their own deliverers.
Five were killed and one desperately wounded.

“This _Veloz Passageira_ had acquired so atrocious a reputation, that
it became an object with our commanders to make a special search for
her. Captain Arabin, of the _North Star_, having information on his
homeward voyage that she would cross his course near the equator,
made preparations to attack her, though the _North Star_ was of much
inferior strength. Dr. Walsh, who was coming home in the British
vessel, relates, that at breakfast, while the conversation was turning
on the chances of meeting with the slaver, a midshipman entered the
cabin, and said, in a hurried manner, that a sail was visible to the
northwest. All rushed on deck, and setting their glasses, distinctly
saw a large ship of three masts, apparently crossing their way. In
about an hour she tacked, as if not liking their appearance, and
stood away before the wind. The English captain gave chase. Escape
seemed impracticable. The breeze freshened, her hull became distinctly
visible, and she was now ascertained to be a slaver. She doubled,
however, in all directions, and seemed to change her course each moment
to avoid her pursuers. Five guns were successively fired, and the
English union-flag hoisted, but without effect; and the wind now dying
away, the _North Star_ began to drop astern. We kept a sharp look-out,
with intense interest, leaning over the netting, and silently handing
the glass to one another, as if a word spoken would impede our way.
Thus closed the night. When morning dawned we saw her, like a speck
on the horizon, standing due north. The breeze increased, and again
the British captain gained on the slaver. Again long shots were sent
after her, but she only crowded more sail to escape. At twelve we were
entirely within gunshot, and one of our long bow guns was again fired
at her. It struck the water along side, and then for the first time she
showed a disposition to stop. While we were preparing a second, she
hove to, and in a short time we were alongside of her, after a most
interesting chase of thirty hours; during which we ran three hundred

After all she was not the ship for which Captain Arabin had been
looking out, but she was full of slaves. “Behind her foremast was an
enormous gun, turning on a broad circle of iron, and _enabling her
to act as a pirate if her slaving speculation had failed_. She had
taken in on the coast of Africa five hundred and sixty-two slaves, and
had been out seventeen days, during which she had thrown overboard

“The slaves were all inclosed under grated hatchways between decks. The
space was so low that they sat between each other’s legs, and stowed
so close together that there was no possibility of their lying down or
at all changing their position, by night or day. As they belonged to,
or were shipped on account of, different individuals, they were all
branded like sheep, with the owners’ marks, of different forms. These
were impressed under their hearts, or on their arms, and as the mate
informed me, with perfect indifference, “burnt with the red-hot iron.”
Over the hatchways stood a ferocious-looking fellow, with a scourge
of many-twisted thongs in his hand, who was the slave-driver of the
ship; and whenever he heard the slightest noise below, he shook it over
them, and seemed eager to exercise it. I was quite pleased to take
this hateful badge out of his hand; and I have kept it ever since as a
horrid memorial of the reality, should I ever be disposed to forget the
scene I witnessed.

“As soon as the poor creatures saw us looking down at them, their
dark and melancholy visages brightened up. They perceived something
of sympathy and kindness in our looks, which they had not been
accustomed to; and feeling instinctively that we were friends, they
immediately began to shout and clap their hands. One or two had picked
up a few Portuguese words, and cried out, Viva! viva! The women were
particularly excited. They all held up their arms, and when we bent
down and shook hands with them, they could not contain their delight:
they endeavored to scramble up on their knees, stretching up to kiss
our hands, and we understood they knew we were coming to liberate them.
Some, however, hung their heads in apparently hopeless dejection;
some were greatly emaciated, and some, particularly children, seemed
dying. But the circumstance which struck us most forcibly was, how it
was possible for such a number of human beings to exist, packed up and
wedged together as tight as they could cram, in low cells, three feet
high, the greater part of which, except that immediately under the
grated hatchways, were shut out from light and air; and this, when the
thermometer, exposed to open sky, was standing in the shade on our deck
at 89°. The space between decks, divided into two compartments, was
three feet three inches high; the size of one was 16 feet by 18, and
of the other 40 by 21; into the first were crammed the women and the
girls, into the second the men and boys. Two hundred and twenty-six
fellow-creatures were thus thrust into one space of 288 square feet,
and three hundred and thirty into another space of 800 square feet,
giving the _whole an average of 23 inches; and to each of the women not
more than 13 inches_. We also found manacles and fetters of different
kinds; but it appeared that they all had been taken off before we
boarded. The heat of these horrid places was so great, and the odor so
offensive, that it was quite impossible to enter them, even had there
been room. They were measured as above when the slaves had left them.
The officers insisted that the poor suffering creatures should be
admitted on deck, to get air and water.... On looking into the places
where they had been crammed, there were found some children next the
sides of the ship, in the places most remote from air and light; they
were lying nearly in a torpid state, after the rest had turned out. The
little creatures seemed indifferent as to life or death; and when they
were carried on deck, many of them could not stand. After enjoying, for
a short time, the unusual luxury of air, some water was brought; it
was then that the extent of their sufferings was exposed in a fearful
manner. They all rushed like maniacs towards it. No entreaties, or
threats, or blows could restrain them; they shrieked, and struggled
and fought with one another, for a drop of this precious liquid, as if
they grew rabid at the sight of it. There is nothing which slaves, in
the mid-passage, suffer from so much as want of water. It is sometimes
usual to take out casks filled with sea-water as ballast, and when
the slaves are received on board, to start the casks and refill them
with fresh. On one occasion, a ship from Bahia neglected to change the
contents of the casks, and on the mid-passage found, to their horror,
that they were filled with nothing but salt-water. _All the slaves on
board perished._”

At the time of this seizure, Brazil was precluded from the slave-trade
north of the equator; but the period had not arrived when, by treaty,
the southern trade was to be extinguished. “The captain of this slaver
was provided with papers, which exhibited an apparent conformity to
the law, and which, false as they may have been, yet could in no way
be absolutely disproved. The accounts of the slaves themselves, who
stated they had _originally_ come from parts of Africa _north_ of the
line--the course which the slaver was steering--her flight from the
English cruiser--were circumstances raising suspicion the most violent;
but the reader will be not a little disappointed to learn, that, with
all this, the case was deemed too doubtful, in point of legal proof,
to bear out a legal detention; and the slaver therefore, after nine
hours of close investigation, was finally set at liberty, and suffered
to proceed.... It was dark when we separated, and the last parting
sounds we heard from the unhallowed ship, were the cries and shrieks of
slaves, suffering under some bodily infliction.”--_Walsh_, vol. ii. pp.

The question arises, ought not humanity to have overcome all these
considerations, and led to the deliverance of the victims? If one death
in such circumstances had occurred, ought not a sense of justice to
have led to the detention of the slaver, and the conveyance of the
captain to his own government, to be tried for murder?

The traders of France were nearly in the same position with those
of the United States, and there was the same necessity for guarding
against the abuse of their flag. Before proceeding to the proper
history of the American squadron in its efforts for the great purposes
it had in view, it may be advisable briefly to notice that France, in
1845, had formed with England a treaty under which both parties engaged
to keep a squadron of not less than twenty-six cruisers on the coast.
The number was afterwards, by a separate agreement, reduced on the
part of France to twelve vessels.

The reasons for this, and the few captures made by French vessels,
apply as well to the American cruisers, and account for the nature of
the stipulation in the treaty of Washington, that the United States
should only employ on the African coast a squadron of eighty guns.
These two nations have not, as England has, the right by treaty with
other powers, to interfere with any vessels except their own. Hence the
captures made by English cruisers necessarily outnumbered greatly the
captures made by both the other powers.

The duty of the American and French squadron was in fact restrictive
in respect to their own citizens alone; and while indispensable for
the general success of these operations, they could not exhibit any
thing like the same amount of result in captures, whatever might be
the zeal and activity of the cruisers. Several slavers, however, have
been captured by this squadron; and its presence has restrained the
employment of the French flag in that traffic.

[4] Parliamentary papers, presented 1832, B., pp. 170, 171.



There has been noted in the history of Liberia, prior to the
establishment of the commonwealth, the occasional arrival of American
men-of-war on the west coast of Africa. But an organized squadron was
not established until the year 1843.

The question as to the effects arising from the abuse of the American
flag was brought into discussion in 1842, between American and British
diplomatists. Great Britain had to acknowledge, as the slave-trade
by the United States had only been declared piracy in a municipal
sense, that although a vessel was fully equipped for the trade, or
even had slaves on board, if American, she was in no sense amenable to
British cruisers. It, however, leaves the question unsettled, How is
a vessel to be ascertained to be American? The plea that any vessel,
hoisting any flag, is thereby secured against all interference in
all circumstances, never can be seriously offered as a principle of
national law. Neither the United States nor any other power has ever
acted on a dogma of this breadth. The United States do not claim that
their flag shall give immunity to those who are not American; for such
a claim would render it a cover to piracy and to acts of the greatest
atrocity. But any vessel which hoists the American flag, claims to be
American, and therefore while she may be boarded and examined by an
American cruiser, this right is not conceded to a foreign cruiser;
for the flag is prima facie evidence, although not conclusive proof
of nationality; and if such vessel be really American, the boarding
officer will be regarded in the light of a trespasser, and the vessel
will have all the protection which that flag supplies. If, on the other
hand, the vessel prove not to be American, the flag illegally worn
will afford her no protection. Therefore a foreign officer boarding
a vessel under the flag of the United States, does it upon his own
responsibility for all consequences.

These principles have been carried out in the co-operation and joint
cruising with British vessels, as will hereafter be seen, with
occasional exceptions of blustering and blundering, when American
cruisers were absent. This state of things, however, sometimes produces
a strange dilemma. The brig “Lawrence,” which was really American, was
captured and condemned by an English admiralty court, as a slaver, all
of which was contrary to national rights. But it was made out that she
was a slaver, and although the master protested, he found himself
helpless. The vessel was justly condemned as a slaver, but condemned by
the wrong party, which had no legal jurisdiction over her. The master
was a pirate if he fell into the hands of American authorities, and
thus was debarred all claim for redress.

There is no doubt that many such cases occurred, and would again on the
withdrawal of the squadron. This, therefore, gave a kind of impunity
to the British cruisers, in violating the rights of the American flag,
and kept things in an unsound state. The only remedy for it, was in the
permanent establishment of an American squadron on the coast.

Dr. Hall, the agent in the Maryland colony at Cape Palmas says, “No
stronger incentive could be given to the commission of these outrageous
acts on the part of the British cruisers, than the course pursued by
the United States government, in declaring the slave-trade piracy, and
then taking no effective steps to prevent its prosecution under their
own flag!” Again: “If our force is not increased, and we continue to
disregard the prostitution of our flag, annoyances to our merchantmen
will more frequently occur. We shall no longer receive the protection
of British cruisers, which has ever been rendered to American vessels,
and without which the whole coast would be lined with robbers and



The treaty of Washington in 1842, settled and defined matters clearly
and honorably, both to the United States and Great Britain; and
agreeably to the treaty, the African squadron was established in the
year following, under the command of Commodore Matthew C. Perry,
consisting of the flag-ship Macedonian, the sloop-of-war Saratoga, the
sloop-of-war Decatur, and the brig Porpoise. The squadron selected its
rendezvous at Porto Praya, St. Jago, one of the Cape Verde Islands, in
lat. 14° 54’ N. and long. 23° 30’ W.

One of the first acts of this squadron was the chastisement of the
natives for an outrage on American commerce.

The people of Little Berebee, eastward of Cape Palmas, had some time
previously murdered the captain and crew of the American brig “Mary
Carver.” This occurrence of itself establishes one point, which is
the necessity of having cruisers on such a coast. The safety of
commerce and the general welfare of the world are promoted by inspiring
wrong-doers with wholesome terror.

On two occasions, towns have been captured, and in one instance a town
fired, by our squadrons on the coast of Sumatra, for similar atrocities
on our merchant vessels. But the impression is soon forgotten, and
the necessity for punishment occurs again. Now it may be expedient
to act thus at a distance, and trust only to occasional proofs of
just severity; but when wrong is ever ready to arise, it would be
better that the means of correction were at hand; for in this way is
the wrong-doing most readily prevented. Such, therefore, is the best
arrangement for all parties.

In a country so near as Africa, and with which the United States is
so closely connected, the duty of preventing evil by the presence of
power, is imperative; otherwise we at once jeopardize our citizens, and
lead the savage into crime.

The commodore, with the frigate Macedonian, the Saratoga, and Decatur,
proceeded to Cape Palmas. Such was then the tendency to warfare, that
the saluting was misinterpreted as the commencement of a fight, and
brought down a hostile tribe to share in the conflict or the spoils.
These natives attacked the post called Fort Tubman, eastward of Cape
Palmas, and suffered some loss in being driven off.

The squadron then proceeded to Berebee. Having landed a force of
about two hundred men, and called together the chiefs and head
men, some palavering, and a great deal of lying on the part of the
natives, took place. They had really prepared for a conflict, which on
their attempting to run off, took place. In the melée, the king was
unintentionally killed, eight or ten more suffered, and the palisades
and houses were burnt.

Landings took place afterwards at towns along the coast, which had
shared in the crime and in the spoils. A few straggling shots were
fired from the shores and from the woods, but without causing any loss.
The stockades and dwelling-places were committed to the flames.

Four towns were burnt, containing “from fifty to one hundred houses
each, neatly built with wicker-work, and thatched with palmetto....
It was the commodore’s orders to destroy property, but spare life.”
This was right; but we have the reflection that the penalties may not
fall altogether upon the guilty, and that in every point of view the
prevention of such murderous outrages as here met punishment, is, when
it can be done by a show of authority, better than such retaliation.

Humanity gained in other respects by this chastisement. The capricious
hostilities of the natives against the Maryland colony were checked,
and their appetite for plunder brought under wholesome correction,
while missionaries were secured against their violence. A native
also who was being tortured, under a senseless accusation of causing
sickness in a chief, was rescued. All treaties by which the colonies
consent to the incorporation of the natives, stipulate that this
atrocity shall cease. The thinking men among the natives feel no
repugnance in giving it up. It is well that the colonial and native
authorities be sustained in counteracting the furious superstition of
the mob, by the power of solemn obligation.

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of the American Colonization
Society, February 3d, 1844, from J. N. Lewis, acting Colonial Secretary
of Liberia, it is remarked, “Some months ago the Porpoise sent home
the American brigantine Uncas, under very suspicious circumstances.
There can be no doubt but that her intention was to take from the
coast a cargo of slaves. Still I am under the impression that your
courts will acquit her. I am informed that a bill is before Congress
making it criminal for vessels under the American flag to sell goods
at slave-factories. If such a bill pass the Houses, the slave-traders
will be much injured, as they get their principal supplies from vessels
bearing the flag of your country.... Your flag is used to protect the
slavers from interference by British vessels of war while they are
landing their cargoes; and when the slaves are put on board they throw
overboard, or otherwise destroy, the ‘stars and stripes,’ and depend
upon the swiftness of their sailing to escape capture by a British

The squadron was actively employed, cruising over the entire extent
of the slave-coast, rendering aid and protection to legal commerce,
and checking the slave-trade carried on in American vessels. It
was relieved in 1845 by the arrival of Commodore Skinner, with the
sloops-of-war Jamestown, Yorktown, and Preble, and the brig Truxton.

The commander of the Decatur, on his return to the United States, in
a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Massachusetts Colonization
Society, alluding to the object of the Society, says that he cannot but
view it “as one of the most interesting and important that can claim
the attention and sympathy of the Christian and philanthropist at the
present day: besides, that in a political and national point of view,
it is, I think, well worthy the study of our ablest statesmen, and the
fostering aid of government, in consideration of the present and future
prosperity of our agricultural, manufacturing and commercial interests.
For were Africa, as she is now, to be struck out of existence, all
these interests would feel it a calamity; but were a requisition now
made for only a single garment for each individual of the myriads of
the African race, it would probably require the energies of the whole
world for at least five years to come to supply it.”

A letter from an officer of the Truxton, off Sierra Leone, dated March
29th, 1845, says: “Here we are in tow of Her Britannic Majesty’s
steamer Ardent, with an American schooner, our prize, and a Spanish
brigantine, prize to the steamer, captured in the Rio Pongas, one
hundred miles to the northward. We had good information when we left
Monrovia, that there was a vessel in the Pongas, waiting a cargo; and
on our arrival off the river, finding an English man-of-war steamer,
arrangements were made to send a combined boat expedition, to make
captures for both vessels.” The American boats were in charge of
Lieutenant Blunt.

“On coming in sight, our little schooner ran up American colors, to
protect herself from any suspicion, when our boats, after running along
side of her, produced the stripes and stars, much to the astonishment
of those on board. She proved to be the Spitfire, of New Orleans, and
ran a cargo of slaves from the same place last year. Of only about one
hundred tons; but though of so small a size she stowed three hundred
and forty-six negroes, and landed near Matanzas, Cuba, three hundred
and thirty-nine.

“Between her decks, where the slaves are packed, there is not room
enough for a man to sit, unless inclining his head forward: their food,
half a pint of rice per day, with, one pint of water. No one can
imagine the sufferings of slaves on their passage across, unless the
conveyances in which they are taken are examined. Our friend had none
on board, but his cargo of three hundred were ready in a barracoon,
waiting a good opportunity to start. A good hearty negro costs but
twenty dollars, or thereabouts, and is purchased for rum, powder,
tobacco, cloth, &c. They bring from three to four hundred dollars in
Cuba. The English are doing every thing in their power to prevent the
slave-trade; and keep a force of thirty vessels on this coast, all
actively cruising. The British boats also brought down a prize; and the
steamer is at this moment towing the Truxton, the Truxton’s prize, and
her own, at the rate of six miles an hour.

“It is extremely difficult to get up these rivers to the places where
the slavers lie. The whole coast is intersected by innumerable rivers,
with branches pouring into them from every quarter, and communicating
with each other by narrow, circuitous and very numerous creeks,
bordered on each side with impenetrable thickets of mangroves. In these
creeks, almost concealed by the trees, the vessels lie, and often elude
the strictest search. But when they have taken on board their living
cargo, and are getting out to sea, the British are very apt to seize
them, except, alas! when they are _protected by the banner of the
United States_.”

The Sierra Leone Watchman, of February 19th, adds, that “the
slave-traders at Shebar and in the river Gallinas had been much
emboldened by the prosecution of Captain Denham, in England, for his
summary destruction of sundry barracoons, and openly asserted their
determination to seek redress in the English courts, if they were again
molested in their operations.”



On the 30th of November, the Yorktown, Commander Bell, captured the
American bark “Pons,” off Kabenda, on the south coast, with eight
hundred and ninety-six slaves on board. This vessel had been at Kabenda
about twenty days before, during which she had been closely watched
by the British cruiser “Cygnet.” The Cygnet, leaving one morning,
the master of the Pons, James Berry, immediately gave up the ship
to Gallano, the Portuguese master. During the day, so expeditious
had they been, that water and provisions were received on board, and
nine hundred and three slaves were embarked; and at eight o’clock
the same evening, the Pons was under way. Instead of standing out to
sea, she kept in with the coast during the night; and in the morning
discovering the British cruiser, furled sails, and drifted so close to
the shore that the negroes came down to the beach in hopes of her being
wrecked. She thus eluded detection. When clear of the Cygnet, she stood
out to sea, and two days afterwards was captured by the Yorktown.

Commander Bell says: “The captain took us for an English man-of-war,
and hoisted the American colors; and no doubt had papers to
correspond.” These he threw overboard. “As soon as the slaves were
recaptured, they gave a shout that could have been heard a mile.”

During the night eighteen of the slaves had died, and one jumped
overboard. The master accounted for the number dying from the necessity
of his sending below all the slaves on deck, and closing the hatches,
when he fell in with the Yorktown, in order to escape detection. Ought
not every such death to be regarded as murder?

Commander Bell says: “The vessel has no slave-deck, and upwards of
eight hundred and fifty were piled, almost in bulk, on water-casks
below. As the ship appeared to be less than three hundred and fifty
tons, it seemed impossible that one-half could have lived to cross the
Atlantic. About two hundred filled up the spar-deck alone when they
were permitted to come up from below; and yet the captain assured me
that it was his intention to have taken _four hundred more_ on board,
if he could have spared the time.

“The stench from below was so great that it was impossible to stand
more than a few minutes near the hatchways. Our men who went below from
curiosity, were forced up sick in a few minutes: then all the hatches
were off. What must have been the sufferings of those poor wretches,
when the hatches were closed! I am informed that very often in these
cases, the stronger will strangle the weaker; and this was probably
the reason why so many died, or rather were found dead the morning
after the capture. None but an eye-witness can form a conception of the
horrors these poor creatures must endure in their transit across the

“I regret to say, that most of this misery is produced by our own
countrymen. They furnish the means of conveyance in spite of existing
enactments; and although there are strong circumstances against Berry,
the late master of the Pons, sufficient to induce me to detain him, if
I should meet him, I fear neither he nor his employers can be reached
by our present laws.”

In this letter to the Secretary of the Navy, Commander Bell further
adds: “For twenty days did Berry wait in the roadstead of Kabenda,
protected by the flag of his country, yet closely watched by a foreign
man-of-war, who was certain of his intention: but the instant that
cruiser is compelled to withdraw for a few hours, he springs at the
opportunity of enriching himself and owners, and disgracing the flag
which had protected him.”

The prize “Pons” was taken to Monrovia. There the slaves were landed,
and gave the people a practical exhibition of the trade by which
their ancestors had been torn from their homes. In the fourteen days
intervening between the capture and arrival of the vessel at Monrovia,
one hundred and fifty had died.

“The slaves,” says the Monrovia Herald of December 28th, “were much
emaciated, and so debilitated that many of them found difficulty in
getting out of the boats. Such a spectacle of misery and wretchedness,
inflicted by a lawless and ferocious cupidity, so excited our people,
that it became unsafe for the captain of the slaver, who had come to
look on, to remain on the beach. Eight slaves died in harbor before
they were landed, and the bodies were thrown overboard.”

The slaves, who were from eight to thirty years of age, came starved
and thirsting from on board. Caution was required in giving them food.
“When it was supposed that the danger of depletion was over, water was
poured into a long canoe, into which they plunged like hungry pigs into
a trough--the stronger faring the best.”

Still, the kindness of human nature had not altogether been obliterated
by length and intensity of suffering. Two boys, brothers, had found
beside them a younger boy of the same tribe, who was ill. They
contrived to nestle together on the deck, under such shelter as the
cover of the long-boat offered them--a place where the pigs, if they
are small enough, are generally stowed. There they made a bed of some
oakum for their dying companion, and placed a piece of old canvas under
his head. Night and day one was always awake to watch him. Hardship
rendered their care fruitless: the night after the vessel anchored he
died, and was thrown overboard.

The recaptured were apprenticed out, and kindly cared for by the
Liberians. Several of them were found, when the Perry visited Monrovia,
to have become members of churches, and others were attending

Several empty slavers were captured by the squadron about this
period; they are thus noticed by the National Intelligencer:--“It is
remarkable that within the same week, should have arrived in our ports
as prizes to the American squadron, for having been engaged in the
slave-trade--the Pons, above mentioned, captured by the Yorktown; the
Panther, a prize of the same vessel, which arrived at Charleston on
Monday; and the Robert Wilson, a prize to the sloop-of-war Jamestown,
which reached Charleston on Thursday.”

In 1846, the sloop-of-war Marion, brigs Dolphin and Boxer, with the
flag-ship United States, Commodore Read, constituted the squadron.

Sixty miles of additional sea-coast territory had been purchased
by Governor Roberts, from the natives. The influence of traders,
of the slave-trade, and even of England being thrown in the way of
obtaining possession of the purchased territory, Governor Roberts made
application to the commodore, that one of the vessels of the squadron
might cruise for several weeks within the limited territory, for the
purpose of facilitating negotiation. The Dolphin was assigned this
service; her commander offered General Lewis, the agent, a passage to
such points as he wished to visit, and otherwise rendered service as
circumstances required.

The Dolphin was lying at Cape Mount, watching the suspicious American
bark “Chancellor,” which was trading with a slave-dealer named
Canot. The British cruiser “Favorite” was stationed off the Cape,
and suggested to the chiefs, that as they were in treaty with his
government for the suppression of the slave-trade, and as Canot was on
their territory making preparations for slaving, they were bound to
destroy his establishment. The chiefs accordingly burnt his premises,
containing a large amount of goods he had shipped at New York. Canot
having been by no means secure in conscience, had left with his family
and taken up his residence in Monrovia.

The Dolphin proceeded to Porto Praya for stores, and the Chancellor
was watched in the mean time by the British cruisers at the Cape and
at the Gallinas. Among the traverses worked by the slave-traders, the
practice had been adopted, to fill canoes with slaves and send them
off the coast, to be picked up by vessels in search of a cargo, which,
from the blockade, could not reach the shore. In one instance, fifty of
these were found in a single canoe, and taken by a British cruiser. On
the return of the Dolphin, the Chancellor was seized by Commander Pope
as a prize, on the ground of having a slave-deck laid, and water-casks
with rice on board sufficient for a slave cargo, and sent to the United
States for adjudication.

The commodore, after having cruised along the entire extent of the
slave-coast, rendering such service as American interests required, was
relieved, in 1847, by the sloop-of-war Jamestown, Commodore Bolton. The
frigate United States then proceeded to the Mediterranean station, to
complete her cruise.

The commander of the Jamestown writes, in relation to Monrovia, “It
was indeed to me a novel and interesting sight, although a southern
man, to look upon these emancipated slaves legislating for themselves,
and discussing freely, if not ably, the principles of human rights,
on the very continent, and perhaps the very spot, where some of
their ancestors were sold into slavery.... Liberia, I think, is now
safe, and may be left after a while to stand alone. Would it not be
advisable, then, for the Colonization Society to turn its attention
to some other portion of the coast, and extend the area of Christian
and philanthropic efforts to bettering the condition of the colored
people of our country, by sowing on other parts of the coast some of
the good seed which has produced so bountifully on the free soil of
Liberia.... In no part of the world have I met with a more orderly,
sober, religious and moral community than is to be found at Monrovia.
On the Sabbath, it is truly a joyful sound to hear hymns of praise
offered up to Him who doth promise, ‘where two or three are gathered
together in His name, there He is in the midst of them;’ and a pleasure
to observe how very general the attendance upon divine worship is
among these people. I believe every man and woman in Monrovia, of
any respectability, is a member of the church. If you take a family
dinner with the President (and his hospitable door is always open
to strangers), a blessing is asked upon the good things before you
set to. Take a dinner at Colonel Hicks’s (who, by the way, keeps one
of the very nicest tables), and ‘mine host,’ with his shiny, black,
intelligent face, will ask a blessing on the tempting viands set before

This may be considered a fair type of the views of persons generally
who visit Liberia, judging the people comparatively. Our estimate
of them ought not to be conformed to the standard of an American

The squadron confined mostly to the north coast, rendered such services
as the commerce of the United States and the interest of its citizens
required, and checked the perversion of the flag to the continuance of
the slave-trade. The year following, the commodore was relieved by the
Yorktown, bearing the broad pendant of Commodore Cooper, and with the
flag-ship proceeded to the Mediterranean.

Commodore Cooper soon after assuming the command, suffering from
ill-health, returned to the United States, and the African squadron was
assigned to Commodore Gregory, who sailed in the summer of 1849, in the
U. S. sloop-of-war Portsmouth. It consisted of the sloops-of-war John
Adams, Dale, Yorktown, and the brigs Bainbridge, Porpoise and Perry.
Three or four slavers were captured, the entire slave-coast closely
examined, and such services rendered to our commercial interests as
were required.

In 1851, Commodore Lavallette, with the Germantown, relieved Commodore
Gregory. He made an active cruise, capturing one or two suspected
slavers, and otherwise carrying out the views of the government in the
establishment of the squadron. At the expiration of two years, the
frigate Constitution arrived, bearing the broad pendant of Commodore
Mayo, who now commands the squadron, consisting of the sloops-of-war
Marion and Dale, with the brig Perry.

In visiting Cape Palmas in the summer of 1853, one of the
unintelligible quarrels common to the coast was then raging between
the Barbo people and their neighbors along the Cavally. Interfering
to settle the matter was by no means acceptable. When the commodore
proposed going on shore for the purpose, the proposal was met by an
intimation to go away, or they would cut off his head. The launch was
sent off well manned, with a howitzer. The natives assembled with a
show of resistance, but a shot being thrown among them, brought the
belligerents to terms. They apologized, and promised to reconcile their
enmities, and took the oath of friendship.

The American schooner N. H. Gambrill, of Baltimore, attempting to
re-awaken the small remains of slaving off the river Congo, was seized
by the frigate Constitution on the 3d of December, arrived in New York
in charge of a prize-officer, and on the 30th of January, 1854, was
condemned in the U. S. Circuit Court, for having been engaged in the

Considering that we have had no steamers on the coast, and the number
of vessels being small, the squadron has been efficient in fulfilling
its duties. Its appearance alone had great influence. It showed a
determination in our government to share in the naval charge of these
vast seas and shores. Our country thus became present, as it were, in
power to repress, and if need be, by punishment to avenge outrages on
our citizens or their property. It checked, by important captures,
the desecration of the American flag, and has had an essential agency
towards removing the guilt of the slave-trade from the world. Had we
no squadron on the African coast, American vessels would with impunity
pursue the iniquitous traffic; our commerce would be exposed, and our
citizens subject to outrage. The nature of the proceedings of this
squadron, the circumstances of its experience, and the effect of its
operations, will be more clearly apparent in the subsequent detail of
the proceedings of the U. S. brig “Perry,” during the years 1850-1851.
The following chapters will comprise a synopsis of these proceedings,
and a compilation from the correspondence in relation to them.



On the 21st of December, 1849, the “Perry” arrived at the Cape Verde
Islands, and was reported to the commodore of the American squadron. On
the 9th of the succeeding month a communication was received from the
commodore intimating his intention to dispatch the vessel immediately
on a cruise south of the equator: stating, that he should leave the
commander to the exercise of his own judgment in general matters; but
as an object of the first consequence, called his attention to the
observance of every means calculated to preserve and insure the health
of his crew. He had been counselled by the experience of the fleet
surgeon and others, that it was absolutely necessary for white persons
to avoid exposure to the heat of the day, and to the night air on
shore, and always when at anchor to lie at a sufficient distance from
the shore to avoid its deleterious effects. Besides these precautions,
cleanliness of ship and persons, constant ventilation, proper food
and clothing, sufficiency of water, and good discipline, had hitherto
produced the happiest results, and no doubt would continue to do so. A
number of Kroomen sufficient to man two boats, were to be furnished at
Monrovia, which would relieve the crew ordinarily from the hazards of
that duty. The officers and men should not be permitted to visit the
shore unnecessarily; or at all, when they could not, with certainty,
return at any moment. Care was to be observed in procuring good
wholesome water, and in such abundance as to insure at all times, if
possible, a full allowance to the crew; and also to furnish them with
fresh provisions and vegetables, whenever the opportunity offered.

A record of all vessels boarded, with a report according to the form
furnished, was required.

The commander was reminded of the disposition of the government to
cultivate and maintain the most friendly intercourse with all other
nations or people, and was directed to govern himself accordingly.

The commodore also directed the commander of the Perry, when that
vessel should be in all respects ready for sea, to proceed direct
to Monrovia, where he would meet the U. S. sloop-of-war Yorktown;
the commander of which had been instructed to fill up the Perry
with provisions, furnish sixteen Kroomen, and to render all needful
assistance required to expedite her movements. Making no unnecessary
delay at Monrovia, the commander of the Perry was to proceed thence on
the cruise, the limits of which would extend to the lat. of Cape St.
Mary’s, 13° south.

It was recommended, that from Monrovia he should proceed off from the
coast, keeping well to the westward, until crossing the equator and
reaching the southern limits of the cruising-ground, for the purpose
of avoiding the prevailing winds and currents, which, south of the
line, would be adverse to progress in-shore, but favorable to a close
examination, on the return northward.

The object of the cruise was to protect the lawful commerce of the
United States, and, under the laws of the United States, to prevent
the flag and citizens of the United States from being engaged in the
slave-trade; and to carry out, in good faith, the treaty stipulations
between the United States and England.

After reaching the southern point of destination, or nearly so, the
vessel was to cruise along the coast, examining the principal points,
or slave-stations; such as the Salinas, Benguela, Loanda, Ambriz, River
Congo, and intermediate places, back towards Monrovia: the commander
acting in all cases according to the best of his judgment, upon the
information he might obtain, and circumstances that might present
themselves; taking care, in no case, to exceed the instructions of the
Hon. Secretary of the Navy, furnished for his guidance.

Should British cruisers be met, he might act in concert with them, so
far as the instructions permitted.

It was further noticed, that a number of suspected American vessels had
been hovering on the coast, between Cape St. Mary’s and Cape Lopez,
and that some of them had left the coast with slaves. Vessels clearly
liable to capture and not provided with cargoes, might be sent directly
to the United States. All captives found on board were to be landed at

The Perry left the Cape Verde Islands on the day in which her orders
were issued, and arrived at Monrovia on the 20th. She there received
provisions from the Yorktown, and sixteen Kroomen from the shore.
Having exchanged salutes and visits of ceremony, she sailed on her
southern cruise, and arrived at St. Philip de Benguela, after a passage
of forty-one days, having, during the interval, boarded three legal
traders. This passage was made on the port tack by standing to the
southward and westward, into the southeast trades. But the passage from
the north to the south coast should, in all cases, be made in-shore on
the starboard tack; as will be explained, hereafter, during the third
cruise of the Perry.

At Benguela, which is a Portuguese settlement, next in importance
to St. Paul de Loanda, although now much dilapidated, and where the
slave-trade has been carried on to a great extent, the customary
exchange of a national salute and official visits was duly observed.

The commander ascertained, on his arrival, that the American merchant
vessels were subject to greater restrictions than probably would have
been the case had a man-of-war occasionally made her appearance in that
quarter. He therefore intimated to the governor that our cruisers, in
future, would visit that part of the coast more frequently than they
had done for the last few years.

Information was received, that five days previous to the arrival of
the Perry, an English cruiser had captured, near this place, a brig,
with eight hundred slaves on board. In this case, it appeared that the
vessel came from Rio de Janeiro, under American colors and papers,
with an American captain and crew; and had been, when on the coast,
transferred to a Brazilian captain and crew, the Americans having gone
on shore with the papers. The captured slaver was sent to the Island
of St. Helena for adjudication.

After remaining three days at Benguela, where neither fresh water nor
provisions could be procured, the Perry weighed anchor and ran down the
coast, examining all intermediate points, and boarding several vessels
during the passage to Loanda. This city is the capital of Loango, and
the most flourishing of the Portuguese establishments on the African

In a letter announcing the arrival of the vessel, and her reception
by the authorities, the Navy Department was informed that an English
steamer had arrived, having recently captured a slaver, the barque
Navarre, which had sailed from Rio de Janeiro to St. Catharine’s, where
she had fitted up for a slave cargo, and received a Brazilian captain
and crew. When boarded by the English steamer, the slaver had American
colors flying; and on being told by the commander that her papers were
forged, and yet that he could not search the vessel, but must send her
to an American cruiser, the captain then ordered the American colors to
be hauled down, and the Brazilian to be hoisted, declaring that she was
Brazilian property, sent the Brazilian captain and crew on deck, and
gave up the vessel.

The commander of the Perry also informed the Navy Department that, soon
after his arrival at Loanda, he had received from various sources
information of the abuse of the American flag in connection with the
slave-trade; and inclosed copies of letters and papers addressed to him
by the British commissioner, and the commander of an English cruiser,
which gave authentic information on the subject.

He suggested that as the legitimate commerce of the United States
exceeded that of Great Britain and France, on the coast south of
the equator, and the American flag had been used to cover the most
extensive slave-trade, it would seem that the presence of one or two
men-of-war, and the appointment of a consul, or some public functionary
at that place, were desirable.

He noticed that the depôt of stores at Porto Praya was so far
removed, that a vessel could barely reach the southern point of the
slave-stations before she was compelled, for want of provisions, to
return and replenish. A consul or storekeeper there might, as is the
case with the English or French, supply that division of the squadron,
and thus a force might constantly be kept on that side of the equator,
where, until the arrival of the Perry, there had been no American
man-of-war for a period of two years.

It had been intimated to him, as he further stated, by Americans, that
if the U. S. government were aware of the atrocities committed under
its flag, it might be induced to take some measures for preventing
the sale of American vessels on the African coast, as in nearly every
instance the vessel had been sold for the purpose of engaging in the
slave-trade. But if that should be regarded as too great a check upon
the commercial interests of the United States, such sale, if made on
that coast, might be duly notified to the proposed consul or agent,
that the vessel should be known as having changed her nationality.

All information showing the number of American vessels and American
citizens engaged in the slave-trade being regarded as desirable,
interviews on the subject were held not only with the Americans engaged
in mercantile pursuits, but with others, from whom reliable information
could be derived. A list of American vessels, which had been on
the coast during the preceding year, was procured. Many of these
vessels came from Rio and adjoining ports, with two sets of papers. A
sea-letter had been granted by the consul in good faith, according to
law, on the sale of a vessel in a foreign port; the cargo corresponded
with the manifest; the consular certificate, crew list, port clearance,
and all papers were in form. Several of these vessels, after
discharging their cargoes, changed their flag; the American captain
and crew, with flag and papers, leaving the vessel, and she instantly
becoming invested with Spanish, Portuguese, or Brazilian nationality.[5]

By this arrangement, as the United States never has consented, and
never ought to consent, even on the African coast, to grant to Great
Britain, or any other power, the right of search, a slaver, when
falling in with an American cruiser, would be prepared to elude search
and capture by the display of a foreign ensign and papers, even had she
slaves on board. And on the other hand, she might the same day fall
in with a British cruiser, and by displaying her flag, and presenting
the register or sea-letter, vindicate her American nationality. This
illustrates the importance of men-of-war, belonging to each nation,
cruising in company for the detection of slavers.

Great Britain being in treaty with Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Sardinia
and other powers, the proposed mode of co-operation would lead to
the detection of slavers under almost any nationality except that of
France, which government has an efficient squadron of steamers and
sailing vessels on the coast, fully prepared to vindicate her own

In reference to vessels ostensibly American, which had been engaged
in the slave-trade, a British officer, on the 21st of March, 1850, in
a letter inclosing a list of American vessels which had been boarded
by the cruiser under his command, stated that all these vessels had
afterwards taken slaves from the coast; and with the exception of the
“Lucy Ann,”[7] captured with five hundred slaves on board by a British
steamer, had escaped. The registers, or sea-letters, of these vessels
appeared to be genuine; and he being unable to detect any inaccuracies
in their papers, his duty to the American flag had ceased. The vessels
in his list had been boarded by himself; but the senior officer of the
division was referred to, “who could give a list of many more, all of
which would have been good prizes to an officer having the right of
search;” for he was well assured that they went over to that coast,
fully fitted and equipped for the slave-trade.

He expressed a regret that the pleasure of making acquaintance with the
commander of the Perry had only fallen to his lot at a moment when the
term of his service on the western coast of Africa had expired; but was
satisfied that not only on the part of the senior officer commanding
the southern division, but also of his brother officers still remaining
in service on the coast, the most cordial co-operation would be
afforded in the suppression of the slave-trade.

The British commissioner, of the mixed commission under the treaty
between Great Britain and Portugal for the suppression of the African
slave-trade, also furnished a list of suspected slavers which had
claimed American nationality.

On the 25th of March, the commander requested the English captain to
give him a detailed account of the circumstances attending the capture
of the barque Navarre, by her B. M. steamer Fire Fly.

He asked for this information, as the Navarre was boarded when under
American colors, although displaying Brazilian colors when captured.

In reply, the English captain informed him that the slave barque
Navarre, seized under the Brazilian flag, on the 19th instant,
had the American ensign flying at the time she was boarded. The
boarding-officer having doubts of her nationality, in consequence of
her papers not appearing to be regular, he himself, although ill at the
time, considered it his duty to go on board, when, being convinced that
her papers were false, he informed the person calling himself master
of her, that it was his duty to send him to the American squadron,
or in the event of not falling in with them, to New York. The master
immediately went on deck and ordered the mate to haul down the American
ensign--to throw it overboard--and to hoist their proper colors. The
American ensign was hauled down and thrown overboard by the mate, who
immediately hoisted the Brazilian ensign. A man then came on deck from
below, saying that he was captain of the vessel; that she was Brazilian
property, and fully fitted for the slave-trade; which the person who
first appeared acknowledged, stating that he himself was a Brazilian
subject. Having obtained this from them in writing, the person who
first called himself captain having signed it, and having had the
signing of the document witnessed by two officers, he opened her
hatches, found all the Brazilian crew below, slave-deck laid, water
filled, provisions for the slaves, and slave-shackles.

At this period the agent of a large and respectable commercial house
in Salem, Massachusetts, established at Loanda, submitted to the
commander of the Perry a copy of the treaty between the United States
and Portugal, together with a letter from the Secretary of State, and
a paper from an officer of the Treasury Department, exhibiting the
commercial rights of the United States under said treaty.

The agent claimed that agreeably to the treaty, a portion of the duties
were to be remitted when a vessel arrived direct from the United
States; which claim had not been acknowledged at Loanda, on the ground
that the vessels were in the habit of touching at the native ports,
while the agent insisted that as these ports were not recognized as
within the jurisdiction of a civilized government, the Portuguese
provincial authorities had not faithfully observed the treaty

The subject was referred to the Government.

After remaining a week in Loanda, making proper repairs on the vessel,
and refreshing the crew, the Perry ran down the coast to the northward,
for the purpose of cruising off Ambriz, a noted slave-station, under
native authority, with several factories for legal trade. Arriving at
this station the following morning, three English steam cruisers were
in sight. The second lieutenant of the Perry was sent to call on the
commanding officer of the southern division of the British squadron,
who soon afterwards called on board the American cruiser in person.

In a letter, dated the 24th of March, the British commanding officer
informed the commander of the Perry, that it afforded him great pleasure
to witness the presence of a United States vessel on the southwest
coast of Africa, to be employed in co-operation with British vessels in
the suppression of the slave-trade. And he therefore took the liberty
to transmit, by the officer of the Perry, kindly sent to wait upon him,
two documents connected with Brazilian slave-vessels, which had lately
come over to that coast, displaying the American ensign, and presenting
to the English boarding-officer (as they had proven) fraudulent
American papers.

He assured him, that in the necessary examination of these papers,
every respect had been paid to the American flag, and the visit made in
strict accordance with the treaty between the United States of America
and Great Britain; and that it was not until the different vessels
had voluntarily hauled down their ensigns and destroyed their papers,
stating at the same time that they were Brazilians, that possession
was taken of them. He intimated that a letter--a copy of which was
inclosed--had been addressed to him by a lieutenant of the “Cyclops,”
who had conducted to the Island of St. Helena one of the prizes, on
board of which were two American seamen, and that this letter would
give some idea of the plan pursued by parties in Brazil, to equip and
man Brazilian slave-vessels.

The inclosed letter, above referred to, stated that American seamen
were often enticed on board of slavers, without knowing their real
character until it was too late to leave them. And that the owner of
a lodging-house in Rio, where two or three sailors were boarding,
offered, on one occasion, to get them a ship bound to the United
States, which, at the time, was loading at Vittoria--a harbor to the
northward of Cape Frio. They agreed to ship; and, after receiving
their advance, proceeded in a small steamer outside the harbor of Rio,
when they were transferred to a schooner, in company with a number
of Brazilians; and, in a few days, reached Vittoria. On joining the
slaver, which was named “Pilot,” they discovered her true character,
but were not allowed to go on shore; and were promised, on their
arrival in Africa, a good reward, with the option of returning in the
vessel, or having their passage found in another. It was affirmed
that these men had never seen the American consul; and the crew-list,
register and other papers, were forgeries. Also that the owner of the
Pilot was a Brazilian, and esteemed one of the richest men in the
empire. Two slave-steamers were owned by him; and it was said that he
had boasted that not a week passed that he had not had a full cargo
of slaves landed on the coast. He then owned seven or eight vessels,
sailing under the American flag, which he had bought in Rio, and
whose papers were all forgeries. One of the vessels belonging to the
rich Brazil merchant, and sailing alternately under the American and
Brazilian flag, had made nine clear voyages; and on the last voyage,
before she was captured, the American captain had landed at Ambriz,
with part of his crew, his flag and papers; and then the vessel shipped
one thousand slaves.

An American was the consignee of these vessels, bearing his country’s
flag. He obtained for them masters, crews, flag and papers; and
received for his agency a percentage on all slaves landed from the

During the month when the Pilot was equipped at Vittoria, two other
slavers were also fitting out for the slave-trade, under the American
flag; viz., the “Casco” and the “Snow.” The former was afterwards
captured, with four hundred and fifty slaves, by the English steamer
“Pluto;” the other entered the harbor of Rio under Brazilian colors,
having landed her slaves outside.

The Pilot made the African coast near Benguela; and afterwards
anchored at Bahia Longa, where, there being no slaves ready for
shipment--as eight hundred had been, a few days previously, shipped in
a two-topsail schooner--she was ordered, by the slave-agents, to remain
at sea for ten days. On making the land at the expiration of that time,
the English steamers Fire Fly, Star, and Pluto, being at Ambriz, she
was again ordered to sea for ten days; when, on anchoring at the latter
place, she was captured by the English steamer Cyclops. She was to have
shipped twelve hundred slaves, who had been for some time ready for
a slave-steamer--then so strictly blockaded at Santos by the English
steamer Hydra, as to prevent her leaving port.

Such was the information contained in this letter.

During this correspondence with the British officers, the Perry was
cruising off Ambriz, in company with a part of the British squadron,
for the purpose of boarding and searching all American vessels
suspected of being engaged in the slave-trade, on that part of the

After cruising for several days, the commander-in-chief of the British
naval forces, bearing his pendant at the main of the steam-frigate
Centaur, appeared in the offing. The Perry hauled up her courses, and
saluted him with thirteen guns, which were duly returned. An official
call was made on the commodore, and an arrangement settled for the
joint cruising of the Perry and steamer Cyclops.

This cruising had continued for a week or more, when the arrival
of the U. S. sloop-of-war John Adams constituted her commander the
senior American officer south of the equator; he, accordingly, while
in company, relieved the Perry of the correspondence with the British

A short time after the arrival of the Adams, it became necessary for
her to visit Loanda, when the Perry was again left with the Cyclops,
cruising off Ambriz.

[5] The papers of the second slaver captured by the Perry were in form,
excepting the crew list, which showed but one American on board, who
was master of the vessel. And in a letter of instructions from the
reputed owner, he was required to leave whenever the Italian supercargo
directed him to do so. This shows how readily the nationality of a
vessel may be changed.

[6] The master of the first slaver captured by the Perry, stated that
had he not supposed she was an English cruiser, he would have been
prepared with a foreign flag, and otherwise, to have eluded search
and capture; and that on a former occasion he had been boarded by an
English cruiser, when, to use his own expression, he “bluffed off John
Bull with that flag;” referring to the American ensign.

[7] The “Lucy Ann,” when captured, was boarded fifty or sixty miles
to leeward, or north of Loanda. She had an American flag flying,
although her papers had been deposited in the consul’s office at Rio.
The English boarding-officer, who was not allowed to see any papers,
suspecting her character, prolonged his visit for some time. As he was
about leaving the vessel, a cry or stifled groan was heard issuing
from the hold. The main hatches were apparently forced up from below,
although a boat was placed over them, and the heads of many people
appeared. Five hundred and forty-seven slaves were found in the hold,
almost in a state of suffocation. The master then hauled down the
American flag, declared the vessel to be Brazilian, and gave her up.



On the 13th of April, the American brigantine Louisa Beaton, which a
few days previously had been boarded, examined, and proven to be a
legal trader, ran out of Ambriz under American colors. One or two of
the officers who had been on shore, on their return in the evening,
reported that it was rumored that the Louisa Beaton had shipped and
escaped with a cargo of slaves.

That vessel had then made a good offing, and was out of sight. Acting
under the impression of the report thus conveyed, an armed boat, in
charge of the second lieutenant and junior passed midshipman, was
dispatched on each beam, and with the Perry stood out to sea, in the
hope of overhauling the chase. At daylight, being out of sight of the
land, and no sail visible, the boats were picked up, and the vessel
stood in towards Ambriz.

During the succeeding day, on joining company with the Cyclops, the
second lieutenant was sent with a message to her commander, requesting
that he might remain on board, and that the Cyclops would steam out
to sea, on a southwest course, with a view of overhauling the Louisa
Beaton, and ascertaining if there was any foundation for this charge
against her.

The proposition was readily complied with; and after running forty
miles off the land, and no sail being seen, the steamer rejoined the

A letter from the commanding officer of the British division was
received, dated April 15th, containing information to the following
effect: that he had the pleasure of receiving the intelligence, which
the commander of the Perry had kindly sent him by the lieutenant,
informing him that a report had been circulated, that the American
brigantine Louisa Beaton, which vessel was lying at Ambriz, in company
with the British and American cruisers, on the 7th instant, had shipped
a cargo of negroes. He had observed the Louisa Beaton weigh from Ambriz
on the evening of the 12th instant, and pass close to the stern of the
Perry, with her colors flying; and at sunset she was observed by him,
close in with the land. He also sighted her next morning, and continued
to see her until the evening, apparently working in-shore to the

As the wind had been exceedingly light all night, he thought it
possible that the steamer might overtake her, and accordingly
proposed to the lieutenant of the Perry to accompany him, and watch
the proceedings of the vessel, in case they should discover her. The
lieutenant having acceded to this proposal, he steamed to the westward
for nearly forty miles, but saw nothing of her; and was of opinion,
that the report affecting the character of the Louisa Beaton was not
_then_ correct, and that when intelligence next arrived from Loanda,
she would be found to have reached that place.

But he believed it very probable that she had been disposed of by sale,
in consequence of the slave-dealers not having been successful, as they
had effected the embarkation of only two cargoes of negroes that year
(1850), and therefore all the vessels that could be procured, no matter
at what expense, would be eagerly sought after. But, as he had heard
that there was no water at Ambriz, he had supposed it possible that
arrangements were making for the Louisa Beaton’s cargo to be discharged
at Loanda; whence, after having procured the necessary articles and
fitments required, she would probably return to Ambriz for the negroes.
He remarked that this would be no new occurrence, as many American
vessels had been disposed of in a similar manner, and escaped with
cargoes of Africans, since he had been stationed on the coast.

Had no American man-of-war been present on the 12th instant, when
the Louisa Beaton left Ambriz, he should have considered it his duty
(from there having been observed, whilst in company with her on the
7th instant, a large quantity of plank, sufficient for a slave-deck,
on her upper deck, together with water-casks, which would have created
suspicion) to have visited her, and satisfied himself that her
nationality had not been changed, by _sale_, at Ambriz; not taking it
for granted, that the flag displayed by any vessel is a sufficient
evidence of her nationality.

He added, that as it was probable that he might not meet the John
Adams previous to the Perry’s leaving the coast for Porto Praya,
the commander of the Perry would oblige him, by forwarding a copy
of that letter to his senior officer, for the information of the
commander-in-chief of the American squadron, as it would be his duty to
lay it before the British commander-in-chief, in the sincere hope that
some arrangement would be made by those officers to put a stop to that
nefarious system on the southwest coast of Africa.

A boat had been dispatched from the Perry to Loanda, which found the
Louisa Beaton, still offering no cause of suspicion, lying in that port.

On the 17th of April, the commander of the Perry informed the British
commanding officer that he had received and forwarded the above letter,
agreeably to his request; intimating at the same time that he had
boarded the Louisa Beaton at sea, several days before her arrival,
and found her to be a legal American trader--a character which she
sustained while at anchor with the several men-of-war at Ambriz; and
that he had no reason, after an absence of three days, to suppose
that she could, in the mean time, have fitted for a slave cargo; and
therefore did not consider it to be his duty again to board her; that
he was happy to inform him that the report of the Louisa Beaton’s
having taken slaves at Ambriz, was untrue; and that she was then at St.
Paul de Loanda.

In relation to the British commander “not taking it for granted, that
the flag displayed by any vessel is a sufficient evidence of her
nationality,” the commander of the Perry remarked that the flag which a
vessel wears is _primâ facie_, although it is not conclusive proof of
nationality. It is a mere emblem, which loses its true character when
it is worn by those who have no right to it. On the other hand, those
who lawfully display the flag of the United States, will have all the
protection which it supplies. Therefore, when a foreign cruiser boards
a vessel under this flag, she will do it upon her own responsibility.

On the 19th of April, the British commander acknowledged the receipt of
the communication of the 17th instant, in reply to his of the 15th, in
which he expressed himself glad to learn that the report of the Louisa
Beaton’s having shipped a cargo of slaves at Ambriz, was incorrect; but
as vessels were disposed to change their nationality, and escape with
slaves, “in so very short a period of time as a few hours,” he would
respectfully suggest the necessity of keeping a strict watch over the
movements of the Louisa Beaton, should she appear again on that part of
the coast.

Two armed boats were at this time frequently dispatched from the Perry
a long distance in chase of vessels, when the winds were too light to
enable her to overhaul them.

On one occasion, these boats had been in chase of a vessel for ten
hours, and encountered, a few minutes before overhauling her, a violent
squall of wind and rain. When the squall had passed over, after
night-fall, the strange vessel was, for a moment, descried within
long-gun shot of the Perry. A thirty-two pound shot was thrown astern
of her, and, quite suddenly, the fog again enveloped her, and she
became invisible.

On the return of the boats which had succeeded in boarding the chase,
the commander regretted to learn that the strange vessel was a
Portuguese man-of-war. In the year following, when falling in with her
at Benguela, he availed himself of an early opportunity to apologize
for having fired, as this had been done under the impression that the
vessel was a merchantman; and for the purpose of bringing her to, in
order to ascertain her character.

The John Adams, after a short stay at Loanda, again appeared off
Ambriz, and resumed her cruising. The Perry’s provisions had now become
nearly exhausted; and she was ordered by the John Adams to proceed to
the north coast with dispatches to the commodore.

The land along the southern African coast, from lat. 7° south,
extending to Benguela, and even to the Cape of Good Hope, is more
elevated than the coast to the northward towards the equator. Long
ranges of high bluff may be seen, extending, in some cases, from twenty
to thirty miles. A short distance to leeward, or north, of Ambriz, is
a remarkable range of hills, with heavy blocks of granite around them,
resembling, at a distance, a small village. The “granite pillar,” which
shoots up in the air, towering above the surrounding blocks like a
church-spire, is a good landmark to the cruisers off Ambriz. They often
find themselves at daylight, after beating, during the night, to the
southward, drifted down abreast of it by the northerly current.

The natives along this coast, unlike those of northern Guinea, who
are bold, energetic and effective, comparatively, when muscular force
is required, are marked by very opposite traits; softness, pliancy
and flexibility, distinguish their moral and mental character. They
are mostly below the middle stature, living in villages, in rude,
rush-thatched huts; subsisting principally upon fish, and the plantain,
which is the African bread-fruit tree.

These people present some of the lowest forms of humanity.

The temperature of both the air and water within southern intertropical
Africa, averages, during the months of August and September, 72°, and
off Benguela, on one occasion, early in July, the air temperature was
as low as 60°, while in the month of February, the thermometer seldom
reaches a higher point than 82°.

It is known that the southeast trade-winds prevail in the Atlantic
ocean, between the African and American continents, south of the
equator to the tropic of Capricorn, and the northeast trade to
the southward of the tropic of Cancer. It is of course generally
understood, that the sun heats the equatorial regions to a higher
temperature than is found anywhere else, and that the air over these
regions is consequently expanded and rendered lighter than that which
envelops the regions at a distance. This causes the whole mantle of
air round the earth, for a short distance near the equator, to be
displaced and thrown upwards (like the draft of a chimney), by the
cooler and heavier air rushing in, in steadfast and continuous streams,
from the north and south. The earth’s revolution carries every thing
on its surface somewhat against these air-currents in their progress,
so that they appear to sweep aslant along the earth and sea, coming
from northeast and southeast. In consequence of the greater amount of
heated land being in the northern hemisphere, its peculiar wind, or the
northeast trade, is narrower; while the other, the southeast trade,
blowing from the greater expanse of the Southern Ocean, is broader. The
latter, therefore, sometimes extends considerably beyond, or north of
the equinoctial line. Thus the winds over all the Gulf of Guinea are
generally from the south.

The coast of Africa, both north and south of the equator, greatly
modifies the force and direction of the winds. On the southern coast
the wind blows lightly, in a sea-breeze from the southwest. But at
the distance of one hundred miles from the land, it begins gradually
to veer round, as it connects itself with the S. E. trades. A line
drawn on the chart, from the southern tropic, in 5° east to the lat.
of 5° south, may be regarded as the eastern boundary of the southeast
trade-winds. Hence a vessel, as in the case of the Perry, on her first
passage to the southern coast, when in 10° south and 20° west, on going
about and standing for the African coast by the wind, although she
at first will not be able to head higher than N. E., will gradually
come up to the eastward as the wind veers to the southward; until
it gradually hauls as far as S. W., and even W. S. W.--enabling her
to fetch Benguela in 12° 34´ south lat., although on going about she
headed no higher than Prince’s Island in 1° 20´ north lat.

On the entire intertropical coast of Africa, it may be said that there
are but two seasons, the rainy season and the dry season.

On the southern coast, the rainy season commences in November, and
continues until April, although the rains are neither as frequent nor
as heavy as on the northern coast, where they commence in May and
continue through the month of November.

The months of March and April are the most unhealthy seasons on the
southern coast, arising probably from the exhalations of the earth,
which are not dispelled by the light sea-breezes prevailing at this

The climate of the south coast, especially from 6° south towards the
Cape of Good Hope, is more healthy than on the north coast. As evidence
of this, Europeans are found in comparatively great numbers in Loanda
and Benguela, in the enjoyment of tolerable health.

There is a northerly current running along the southern coast of
Africa, at the average rate of one mile per hour, until it is met by
the Congo River, in 6° south; where the impetuous stream of that great
river breaks up this northerly current and forms one, of two miles per
hour, in the direction of N. W., until it meets with the equatorial
current in 2° or 3° south. The Congo will be more particularly noticed
in speaking of the third southern cruise of the Perry.

The rollers on the coast are very heavy. And the breaking of the
tremendous surf along the shore can often be heard at night, the
distance of twenty miles from the land, reminding one of the sound of
Niagara, in the vicinity of that mighty cataract.

But having in this part of the work (compilation of the correspondence)
to treat more of ships, sailors and letters, than of the climate, the
shore, and its inhabitants, it is time to recur to the Perry,--now
squared away before the wind, with studding-sails set below and aloft,
bound to Porto Praya, via Prince’s Island and Monrovia, in search of
the commander-in-chief of the squadron.

There are so many graphic descriptions before the public, in sea novels
and naval journals, of life in a man-of-war, that it may well suffice
here to remark--that a small vessel, uncomfortable quarters, salt
provisions, myriads of cockroaches, an occasional tornado and deluge of
rain, were ills that naval life duly encountered during the five days’
passage to Prince’s Island.

On the 27th of April the Perry arrived, and to the great gratification
of officers and men, the broad pendant of the commodore was descried at
the main of the U. S. sloop-of-war “Portsmouth.”

The U. S. brig “Bainbridge” was also at anchor in West Bay.

Prince’s Island is ten miles in length from north to south, and five
miles in breadth. In places, it is considerably elevated, presenting,
in its grotesque shafts and projecting figures curiously formed, an
exceedingly picturesque appearance.

The natives are mostly black, and slaves; although a few colored people
are seen of a mixed race--Portuguese and African.

The island is well wooded, and the soil rich; and if cultivated
properly, would yield abundantly. Farina is extensively manufactured.

Madame Fereira, a Portuguese lady, long resident on the island, has
no little repute for her hospitality to African cruisers. Her taste
in living here as she does, is no more singular than that of the
late clever, eccentric and distinguished Lady Hester Stanhope, who
established herself near Sidon. Madame Fereira, it is said, on a late
visit to Europe, with abundant means for enjoyment in a civilized state
of society, was ill at ease until the time arrived for her return to
this barbarian isle. She is ever ready, at a reasonable price, to
furnish the cruisers with wood, fresh provisions and vegetables; and
is never indisposed to take a hand at whist, or entertain foreigners in
any other way, agreeable to their fancy.

Vessels frequently touch at Prince’s Island for the purpose of
obtaining fresh water, which, running down from the mountains in
copious streams, is of a far better quality than can be procured on the

On the arrival of the Perry, in a letter dated the 27th of April,
the commander announced to the commodore the fulfilment of his
instructions. The cruise had been extended to one hundred and seven
days, of which eighty had been spent at sea, and the remainder at
anchor, at different points of the coast.

The reply of the commodore contained his full approbation of the course
pursued, stating in addition, that it was a matter of great importance
to keep one of the squadron upon the southern coast; and not having
provisions sufficient to enable him to proceed thither, and as the
John Adams, having nearly expended her stock, would soon be compelled
to return to Porto Praya, he therefore directed the commander of the
Perry to make requisitions upon the flag-ship for as full a supply
of provisions as could conveniently be stowed, and prepare again for
immediate service on the southern coast.



On the 6th of May, orders were given to the commander of the Perry, to
proceed thence, with all practicable dispatch, to the southern coast;
and to communicate with the commander of the John Adams as soon as
possible. In case that vessel should have left the coast before the
arrival of the Perry, her commander would proceed to cruise under
former orders, and the instructions of the government.

It appeared to the commodore, in the correspondence had with some of
the British officers, that in certain cases where they had boarded
vessels under the flag of the United States, not having the right of
search, threats had been used of detaining and sending them to the
United States squadron. This he remarked was improper, and must not be
admitted, or any understanding had with them authorizing such acts;
adding, in substance, that if they chose to detain suspicious vessels,
they must do it upon their own responsibility, without our assent or
connivance. Refusing to the British government the right of search,
our government has commanded us to prevent vessels and citizens of
the United States from engaging in the slave-trade. These duties we
must perform to the best of our ability, and we have no right to ask
or receive the aid of a foreign power. “It is desirable to cultivate
and preserve the good understanding which now exists between the two
services; and should any differences arise, care must be taken that the
discussions are temperate and respectful. You have full authority to
act in concert with the British forces within the scope of our orders
and duty.”

On the same day, the Perry again sailed for the south coast, and after
boarding several vessels, which proved to be legal traders, a _slaver_
was captured, and made the subject of a communication, dated June 7th,


  _Lith. of Sarony & Co. N. Y._


“off Ambria June 6ᵗʰ 1850”--]

In this it was stated to the commodore, that the Perry, agreeably to
his orders, had made the best of her way for Ambriz, and arrived
off that place on the 5th instant. It was there reported that the John
Adams was probably at Loanda; and accordingly a course was shaped for
that port. But on the 6th instant, at three o’clock in the afternoon,
a large ship with two tiers of painted ports was made to windward,
standing in for the land towards Ambriz. At four o’clock the chase
was overhauled, having the name “Martha, New York,” registered on her
stern. The Perry had no colors flying. The ship, when in range of the
guns, hoisted the American ensign, shortened sail, and backed her
main-topsail. The first lieutenant, Mr. Rush, was sent to board her. As
he was rounding her stern, the people on board observed, by the uniform
of the boarding-officer, that the vessel was an American cruiser. The
ship then hauled down the American, and hoisted Brazilian colors.
The officer went on board, and asked for papers and other proofs of
nationality. The captain denied having papers, log, or any thing else.
At this time something was thrown overboard, when another boat was
sent from the Perry, and picked up the writing-desk of the captain,
containing sundry papers and letters, identifying the captain as an
American citizen; also indicating the owner of three-fifths of the
vessel to be an American merchant, resident in Rio de Janeiro. After
obtaining satisfactory proof that the ship Martha was a slaver, she was
seized as a prize.

The captain at length admitted that the ship was fully equipped for
the slave-trade. There were found on board the vessel, one hundred and
seventy-six casks filled with water, containing from one hundred to one
hundred and fifty gallons each; one hundred and fifty-barrels of farina
for slave-food; several sacks of beans; slave-deck laid; four iron
boilers for cooking slave-provisions; iron bars, with the necessary
wood-work, for securing slaves to the deck; four hundred spoons for
feeding them; between thirty and forty muskets, and a written agreement
between the owner and captain, with the receipt of the owner for two
thousand milreis.

There being thirty-five persons on board this prize, many of whom were
foreigners, it was deemed necessary to send a force of twenty-five men,
with the first and second lieutenants, that the prize might be safely
conducted to New York, for which place she took her departure that

Soon after the Martha was discovered, she passed within hailing
distance of an American brig, several miles ahead of the Perry, and
asked the name of the cruiser astern; on being told, the captain, in
despair, threw his trumpet on deck. But on a moment’s reflection, as
he afterwards stated, he concluded, notwithstanding, that she must
be an English cruiser, not only from her appearance, but from the
knowledge that the Perry had left for Porto Praya, and could not
in the mean time have returned to that part of the coast. Therefore
finding, when within gun-shot of the vessel, that he could not escape,
and must show his colors, ran up the American ensign, intending under
his nationality to avoid search and capture. The boarding-officer was
received at the gangway by a Brazilian captain, who strongly insisted
that the vessel was Brazilian property. But the officer, agreeably
to an order received on leaving the Perry, to hold the ship to the
nationality first indicated by her colors, proceeded in the search.
In the mean time, the American captain, notwithstanding his guise as
a sailor, being identified by another officer, was sent on board the
Perry. He claimed that the vessel could not lawfully be subjected to
search by an American man-of-war, while under Brazilian colors. But,
on being informed that he would be seized as a pirate for sailing
without papers, even were he not a slaver, he admitted that she was on
a slaving voyage; adding, that, had he not fallen in with the Perry,
he would, during the night, have shipped eighteen hundred slaves, and
before daylight in the morning, been clear of the coast.

Possession was immediately taken of the Martha, her crew put in irons,
and both American and Brazilian captains, together with three or four
cabin passengers (probably slave-agents), were given to understand
that they would be similarly served, in case of the slightest evidence
of insubordination. The accounts of the prize crew were transferred,
the vessel provisioned, and in twenty-four hours after her capture, the
vessels exchanged three cheers, and the Martha bore away for New York.

She was condemned in the U. S. District Court. The captain was admitted
to bail for the sum of five thousand dollars, which was afterwards
reduced to three thousand: he then escaped justice by its forfeiture.
The American mate was sentenced to the Penitentiary for the term of two
years; and the foreigners, who had been sent to the United States on
account of the moral effect, being regarded as beyond our jurisdiction,
were discharged.

The writing-desk thrown overboard from the Martha, soon after she was
boarded, contained sundry papers, making curious revelations of the
agency of some American citizens engaged in the slave-trade. These
papers implicated a number of persons, who are little suspected of
ever having participated in such a diabolical traffic. A citizen of
New York, then on the African coast, in a letter to the captain of the
Martha, says: “The French barque will be here in a few days, and, as
yet, the agent has no instructions as to her taking _ebony_ [negroes,
slaves].... From the Rio papers which I have seen, I infer that
business is pretty brisk at that place.... It is thought here that
the brig Susan would bring a good price, as she had water on board....
C., an American merchant, has sold the Flood, and she was put under
Brazilian colors, and gone around the Cape. The name of the brigantine
in which B. came passenger was the Sotind; she was, as we are told,
formerly the United States brig Boxer.” Other letters found with this,
stated: “The barque Ann Richardson, and brig Susan, were both sent home
by a United States cruiser. The Independence cleared for Paraguay;
several of the American vessels were cleared, and had sailed for
Montevideo, &c., in ballast, and as I suppose bound niggerly; but where
in hell they are is the big business of the matter. The sailors, as
yet, have not been near me. I shall give myself no trouble about them.
I have seen them at a distance. I am told that they are all well, but
they look like death itself. V. Z. tells me they have wished a hundred
times in his presence, that they had gone in the ship; for my part,
I wish they were in hell, Texas, or some other nice place. B. only
came down here to ‘take in,’ but was driven off by one of the English
cruisers; he and his nigger crew were under deck, out of sight, when
visited by the cruiser.”[8]

After parting company with the Martha, the Perry proceeded to Loanda,
and found English, French and Portuguese men-of-war in port. The John
Adams, having exhausted her provisions, had sailed for the north coast,
after having had the good fortune _to capture a slaver_. The British
commissioner called aboard, and offered his congratulations on the
capture of the Martha, remarking that she was the largest slaver that
had been on the coast for many years; and the effect of sending all
hands found in her to the United States, would prove a severe blow to
the iniquitous traffic. The British cruisers, after the capture of a
vessel, were in the practice of landing the slave-crews, except when
they are British subjects, at some point on the coast. This is believed
to be required by the governments with which Great Britain has formed

At the expiration of a few days, the Perry proceeded on a cruise down
the coast, towards the Congo River, encountering successively the
British steamers Cyclops, Rattler, and Pluto. All vessels seen were
boarded, and proved to be legal traders. Several days were spent
between Ambriz and the Congo; and, learning from the Pluto--stationed
off the mouth of the Congo River--that no vessels had, for a long
time, appeared in that quarter, an idea, previously entertained, of
proceeding up the river, was abandoned. The Perry was then worked up
the coast towards Benguela.

Among the many incidents occurring:--On one occasion, at three o’clock
in the morning, when the character of the vessels could not be
discerned, a sail suddenly appeared, when, as usual on making a vessel
at night, the battery was ordered to be cleared away, and the men sent
to the guns. The stranger fired a musket, which was instantly returned.
Subsequent explanations between the commanders of the cruisers were
given, that the first fire was made without the knowledge of the
character of the vessel; and the latter was made to repel the former,
and to show the character of the vessel.

On boarding traders, the masters, in one or two instances, when sailing
under a foreign flag, had requested the boarding-officer to search,
and, after ascertaining her real character, to endorse the register.
This elicited the following order to the boarding-officer:

“If a vessel hoists the American flag; is of American build; has
her name and place of ownership in the United States registered on
her stern; or if she has but part of these indications of American
nationality, you will, on boarding, ask for her papers, which papers
you will examine and retain, if she excites suspicion of being a
slaver, until you have searched sufficiently to satisfy yourself of
her real character. Should the vessel be American, and doubts exist
of her real character, you will bring her to this vessel; or, if it
can be done more expeditiously, you will dispatch one of your boats;
communicating such information as will enable the commander to give
specific directions, or in person to visit the suspected vessel.

“If the strange vessel be a foreigner, you will, on ascertaining the
fact, leave her; declining, even at the request of the captain, to
search the vessel, or to endorse her character,--as it must always be
borne in mind, that our government does not permit the detention and
search of American vessels by foreign cruisers; and, consequently, is
scrupulous in observing towards the vessels of other nations, the same
line of conduct which she exacts from foreign cruisers towards her own

After cruising several days off the southern point designated in her
orders, the Perry ran into Benguela. Spending a day in that place, she
proceeded down the coast to the northward, occasionally falling in
with British cruisers and legal traders. On meeting the Cyclops, the
British commanding officer, in a letter, dated the 16th of July, stated
to the commander of the Perry, that he “hastened to transmit, for his
information, the following extract from a report just received from
the commander of Her Britannic Majesty’s steam-sloop ‘Rattler,’ with
copies of two other documents, transmitted by the same officer; and
trusted that the same would be deemed satisfactory, as far as American
interests were concerned.”

The extract gave the information, that on the 2nd of July, Her
Majesty’s steam-sloop Rattler captured the Brazilian brigantine
“Volusia,” of one hundred and ninety tons, a crew of seven men, and
fully equipped for the slave-trade, with false papers, and sailing
under the American flag; that the crew had been landed at Kabenda, and
that the vessel had been sent to St. Helena for adjudication; and that
he also inclosed certified declarations from the master, supercargo and
chief mate, stating the vessel to be bona fide Brazilian property; that
they had no protest to offer, and that themselves and crew landed at
Kabenda of their own free will and consent.

On the following day, the commander of the Perry, in reply to the above
communication, stated that, as the brigantine in question had first
displayed American colors, he wished all information which could be
furnished him in relation to the character of the papers found on
board; the reason for supposing them to be false, and the disposition
made of them. Also, if there was a person on board, apparently an
American, representing himself, in the first instance, as the captain;
and if the vessel was declared to be Brazilian on first being boarded,
or not until after her capture had been decided upon, and announced to
the parties in charge.

In reply to this letter, on the 23d of July, the commanding officer of
the British division stated that he would make known its purport to
the commander who had captured the Volusia, and call upon that officer
to answer the questions contained in the communication of the 17th
instant, and hoped to transmit his reply prior to the Perry’s departure
for the north coast.

After cruising for several days in company with the English men-of-war,
the vessel proceeded to Loanda, for the purpose of meeting the
commodore. Arriving at that place, and leaving Ambriz without any
guardianship for the morals of American traders, an order was
transmitted to the acting first-lieutenant, to proceed with the launch
on a cruise off Ambriz; and in boarding, searching, and in case of
detaining suspected vessels, to be governed by the instructions
therewith furnished him.

On the 5th of August, the British commissioner brought off intelligence
that the American commodore was signalled off the harbor. The British
commodore was at this date, also, to have rendezvoused at Loanda, that
the subject-matter of correspondence between the officers of the two
services, might be laid before their respective commanders-in-chief.

On the arrival of the American commodore, the Perry was reported, in
a communication dated August the 5th, inclosing letters and papers,
giving detailed information of occurrences since leaving Prince’s
Island, under orders of the 6th of May; also sundry documents from the
commander of the British southern division, in relation to the capture
of the slave-equipped brigantine Volusia; adding, that this case being
similar to a number already the subjects of correspondence, he had
requested further information, which the British commander of the
division would probably communicate in a few days.

The letter to the commodore also stated, that our commercial
intercourse with the provincial government of Portugal, and the natives
of the coast, had been uninterrupted. The question arising in regard to
the treaty with Portugal, whether a vessel by touching and discharging
part of the cargo at a native port, is still exempt from payment of
one-third of the duties on the remaining portion of the cargo, as
guaranteed by treaty, when coming direct from the United States, had
been submitted to our government.

On the 15th of August the Cyclops arrived at Loanda, with the commander
of the British southern division on board, who, in a letter dated the
12th of August, stated, that agreeably to the promise made on the 23rd
ultimo, of furnishing the details from the commander who had captured
the Volusia, he now furnished the particulars of that capture, which
he trusted would prove satisfactory. He also gave information that the
British commander-in-chief was then on the south coast, to whom all
further reference must be made for additional information, in case it
should be required. The reply from the officer who had captured the
Volusia stated, that he had boarded her on the 2nd of July off the
Congo River. She had the American ensign flying, and on the production
of documents, purporting to be her papers, he at once discovered the
register to be false: it was written on foolscap paper, with the
original signature erased; her other papers were likewise forgeries.
He therefore immediately detained her. They had been presented to him
by the ostensible master, apparently an American, but calling himself
a Brazilian, and claiming the protection of that empire. The register
and muster-roll were destroyed by the master; the remainder of the
records were sent in her to St. Helena, for adjudication. The British
commander further stated, that on discovering the Volusia’s papers to
be false, her master immediately hauled down the ensign, and called
from below the remainder of the crew, twelve in number, all Brazilians.

In a letter dated the 15th of August, the above communications were
acknowledged, and the British commander informed that the American
commander-in-chief was also on the south coast: that all official
documents must be submitted to him, and that the reply of the 12th
instant, with its inclosure, had been forwarded accordingly.

The British commodore soon arrived at Loanda, and after an exchange of
salutes, an interview of three hours between the two commodores took
place. The captures of the Navarre, Volusia, and other vessels, with
cases of interference with vessels claiming American nationality, were
fully and freely discussed. The British commodore claimed that the
vessels in question, were wholly, or in part Brazilian; adding, that
had they been known clearly as American, no British officer would have
presumed to capture, or interfere with them. The American commodore
argued from documents and other testimony, that _bonâ fide_ American
vessels had been interfered with, and whether engaged in legal or
illegal trade, they were in no sense amenable to British cruisers; the
United States had made them responsible to the American government
alone--subject to search and capture by American cruisers, on good
grounds of suspicion and evidence of being engaged in the slave-trade;
which trade the United States had declared to be piracy in a municipal
sense--this offence not being piracy by the laws of nations: adding, in
case of slavers, “we choose to punish our own rascals in our own way.”
Several discussions, at which the commander of the Perry was present,
subsequently took place, without any definite results, or at least
while that vessel remained at Loanda. These discussions were afterwards
continued. In the commodores, both nations were represented by men of
ability, capable of appreciating, expressing and enforcing the views of
their respective governments.

Every person interested in upholding the rights of humanity, or
concerned in the progress of Africa, will sympathize with the capture
and deliverance of a wretched cargo of African slaves from the grasp
of a slaver, irrespective of his nationality. But it is contrary to
national honor and national interests, that the right of capture should
be entrusted to the hands of any foreign authority. In a commercial
point of view, if this were granted, legal traders would be molested,
and American commerce suffer materially from a power which keeps afloat
a force of armed vessels, more than four times the number of the
commissioned men-of-war of the United States. The deck of an American
vessel under its flag, is the territory of the United States, and no
other authority but that of the United States must ever be allowed to
exercise jurisdiction over it. Hence is apparent the importance of a
well-appointed United States squadron on the west coast of Africa.

On the 18th of August, the captain of an English cruiser entered
the harbor with his boat, leaving the vessel outside, bringing the
information that a suspected American trader was at Ambriz. The captain
stated that he had boarded her, supposing she might be a Brazilian, but
on ascertaining her nationality, had left her, and proceeded to Loanda,
for the purpose of communicating what had transpired.

On receiving this information, the commodore ordered the Perry to
proceed to Ambriz and search the vessel, and in case she was suspected
of being engaged in the slave-trade, to bring her to Loanda. In
the mean time a lieutenant who was about leaving the squadron as
bearer of dispatches to the Government, volunteered his services to
take the launch and proceed immediately to Ambriz, as the Perry had
sails to bend, and make other preparations previous to leaving. The
launch was dispatched, and in five hours afterwards the Perry sailed.
Arriving on the following morning within twelve miles of Ambriz, the
commander, accompanied by the purser and the surgeon, who volunteered
their services, pulled for the suspected vessel, which proved to be
the American brigantine “Chatsworth,” of Baltimore. The lieutenant,
with his launch’s crew, was on board. He had secured the papers and
commenced the search. After taking the dimensions of the vessel, which
corresponded to those noted in the register, examining and comparing
the cargo with the manifest, scrutinizing the crew list, consular
certificate, port clearance, and other papers on board, possession was
taken of the Chatsworth, and the boarding-officer directed to proceed
with her, in company with the Perry, to Loanda.

Both vessels having arrived, a letter to the following purport was
addressed to the commodore: “One hundred bags of farina, a large
quantity of plank, sufficient to lay a slave-deck, casks and barrels
of spirits, in sufficient quantity to contain water for a large
slave-cargo, jerked beef, and other articles, were found on board the
Chatsworth. These articles, and others on board, corresponded generally
with the manifest, which paper was drawn up in the Portuguese language.
A paper with the consular seal, authorizing the shipment of the crew,
all foreigners, was also made out in the Portuguese language. In the
register, the vessel was called a brig, instead of a brigantine. A
letter of instructions from the reputed owner, a citizen of Baltimore,
directed the American captain to leave the vessel whenever he should
be directed to do so by the Italian supercargo. These, together with
the report that the vessel on her last voyage had shipped a cargo of
slaves, and her now being at the most notorious slave-station on the
coast, impressed the commander of the Perry so strongly with the belief
that the Chatsworth was a slaver, that he considered it his duty to
direct the boarding-officer to take her in charge, and proceed in
company with the Perry to Loanda, that the case might undergo a more
critical examination by the commander-in-chief.”

The commodore, after visiting the Chatsworth in person, although
morally certain she was a slaver, yet as the evidence which would be
required in the United States Courts essential to her condemnation,
was wanting, conceived it to be his duty to order the commander of the
Perry to surrender the charge of that vessel, and return all the papers
to her master, and withdraw his guard from her.

The captain of the Volusia now suddenly made his appearance at Loanda,
having in his possession the sea-letter which the British commander
who had captured him called a register, written on a sheet of foolscap
paper, which from misapprehension he erroneously stated was destroyed
by the master. This new matter was introduced in the discussion
between the two commodores. The captain of the Volusia claimed that
his vessel was _bonâ fide_ American, stating that the sea-letter
in his possession was conclusive evidence to that effect. No other
subject than that of the nationality of the vessel, while treating
upon this matter with an English officer, could be introduced. The
sea-letter was laid before the commanders. This document bore all the
marks of a genuine paper, except in having the word “signed” occurring
before the consul’s signature, and partially erased. This seemed to
indicate that it had been made out as a copy, and, if genuine, the
consul had afterwards signed it as an original paper. The consular seal
was impressed, and several other documents, duly sealed and properly
certified, were attached, bearing strong evidence that the document was

The British commodore argued that the erasure of the word “signed,”
even if it did not invalidate the document, gave good ground for the
suspicion that the document was a forgery; and she being engaged in the
slave-trade, the officer who captured her regarded the claim first set
forth to American nationality as groundless.

The American commodore could not permit the character of the vessel to
be assigned as a reason for her capture, and confined the discussion
to the papers constituting the nationality of the vessel. He regarded
the consular seal as genuine, and believed that, if the paper had been
a forgery, care would have been taken to have had it drawn up without
any erasure, or the word “signed.”

The discussion in relation to the Volusia and the Navarre, was renewed
with the Chief-Justice and Judge of the Admiralty Court, soon after the
arrival of the Perry at the island of St. Helena.

[8] The following letter from Viscount Palmerston to Sir H. L. Bulwer,
then British Minister at Washington, appears in the Parliamentary
Papers of 1851. LVI. Part I.

  “FOREIGN OFFICE, _November 18, 1850_.

“SIR,--I herewith transmit to you, for your information, a copy of a
dispatch from the commodore in command of H. M. squadron on the west
coast of Africa, respecting the circumstances under which the ship
Martha was captured, on the 6th of June (1850) last, fully equipped for
the slave-trade, by the U. S. brig-of-war Perry, and sent to the United
States for trial.

“I have to instruct you to furnish me with a full report of the
proceedings which may take place in this case before the courts of law
in the United States.




The commodore, on the 24th of August, intimated that it had been his
intention to relieve the Perry from the incessant duties which had been
imposed upon her, but regretted that he could not then accomplish it
without leaving American interests in that quarter unprotected, and
that the commander would therefore be pleased to prepare for further
service on the southern coast, with the assurance of being relieved as
soon as practicable.

Orders were issued by the commodore to resume cruising upon the
southern coast, as before, and to visit such localities as might best
insure the successful accomplishment of the purposes in view.

Authority was given to extend the cruise as far as the island of St.
Helena, and to remain there a sufficient length of time to refresh
the crew; and, after cruising until the twentieth of November, then to
proceed to Porto Praya, touching at Monrovia, if it was thought proper.

The orders being largely discretionary, and the Chatsworth still in
port, and suspected of the intention of shipping a cargo of slaves at
Ambriz, the Perry sailed, the day on which her orders were received,
without giving any intimation as to her cruising-ground. When outside
of the harbor, the vessel was hauled on a wind to the southward, as if
bound up the coast, and continued beating until out of sight of the
vessels in the harbor. She was then kept away to the northward, making
a course for Ambriz, in anticipation of the Chatsworth’s soon sailing
for that place.

The cruising with the English men-of-war was resumed. A few days after
leaving Loanda, when trying the sailing qualities of the vessel with a
British cruiser, a sail was reported, standing down the land towards
Ambriz. Chase was immediately made, and, on coming within gun-shot,
a gun was fired to bring the vessel to. She hoisted American colors,
but continued on her course. Another gun, throwing a thirty-two pound
shot across her bows, brought the Chatsworth to. She was then boarded,
and again searched, without finding any additional proof against the
vessel’s character.

After remaining a day or two off Ambriz, the Perry proceeded to
Ambrizette, a short distance to the northward, leaving one of
the ship’s boats in charge of an officer, with orders to remain
sufficiently near the Chatsworth, and, in case she received water-casks
on board, or any article required to equip a slave-vessel, to detain
her until the return of the Perry.

When the vessel had reached her destination, the commander conceived it
to be a good opportunity to forward the interests of American commerce,
by paying a visit of conciliation to the queen of that region. Though
warned by the British officers that the natives were hostile to all
persons engaged in suppressing the lucrative trade in slaves, he
resolved to avail himself of the invitation of the resident American
factor, and proceed to the royal residence. Two other officers of the
vessel, the agent, and several of the gig’s Kroomen, accompanied him.
On their way, a great number of Her Majesty’s loyal subjects--dressed
chiefly in the costume of their own black skins--formed the escort.
“All hands,” however, were not in the native sables exclusively, for
several, of more aristocratic claims, sported a piece of calico print,
of glaring colors, over one shoulder. The village, when first seen,
resembled a group of brown haystacks; the largest of these, as a
palace, sheltered the royal presence. The court etiquette brought the
mob of gentlemen and ladies of the escort, with and without costume,
down upon their knees, in expectation of Her Majesty’s appearance.
A little withered old woman then stepped out, having, in addition to
the native costume, an old red silk cloak, drawn tight around her
throat, and so worn as to make her look like a loose umbrella, with two
handles. She then squatted on the ground. Her prime minister aspired
to be higher than African in his costume, by hanging on his long,
thin person, an old full-dress French navy uniform-coat, dispensing
with other material articles of clothing, except a short pair of
white trowsers. The officers being seated in front, the kneeling
hedge of three or four hundred black woolly heads closed behind
them,--impregnating the air with their own peculiar aroma--their greasy
faces upturned in humble reverence--hands joined, palm to palm, ready
to applaud Her Majesty’s gracious wisdom when they heard it,--the
conference began. The interpreter introduced the officers, and their
business, and, in the name of the commander, expressed their friendly
feelings towards Her Majesty and her people; advising her to encourage
trade with the American merchants in gums, copper and the products of
the country, instead of selling her people as slaves, or conniving at
the sale in other tribes, for the purpose of procuring goods. This
speech having the honor of being directed to the royal ears, was
greeted, according to etiquette, with clap, clap, clap, from all the
ready hands of all the gentlemen in waiting, who were using their
knees as supports in Her Majesty’s royal presence. The prime minister,
from the inside of the French coat, then responded--that Her Majesty
had great reason to complain of the conduct of cruisers’ boats on the
coast, for they were in the habit of chasing the fishermen, and firing
to bring them to, and taking their fish, which were the principal
support of the people, without making an equivalent return. Whereupon,
clap, clap, clap, went the hands again. Her Majesty was assured, in
reply, that such had never been, and never would be the case, in regard
to the boats of American cruisers, and that her complaints would be
made known to those officers who had the power and the disposition
to remove all such cause of grievance. The chorus of clap, clap,
clap, again at this answer concluded the ceremony. The prime minister
followed the return escort at some distance, and took occasion, at
parting on the beach, to intimate that there were certain other marks
of friendly respect common at courts, and marking the usages of
polished nations. He gave no hints about gold snuff-boxes, as might
be suitable in the barbarian courts of Europe; but intimated that his
friends visiting Her Majesty, in such instances, thought _his_ humble
services worthy of two bottles of rum. Compliance with this amiable
custom was declared to be wholly impracticable, as the spirit-room
casks of the Perry had been filled only with pure (or impure) water,
instead of whisky, during the cruise.


  _Lith. of Sarony & Co. N. Y._


In communicating to the government, in a more official form, the object
and incidents of the visit to the queen near Ambrizette, reference
was made to a powerful king, residing ten miles in the interior of
Ambriz, and the intention of making him a visit was announced. But the
seizure of the Louisa Beaton by a British cruiser, on her return to the
coast, and the impression made upon the natives by the capture of the
Chatsworth as a slaver, not only occupied the intervening time before
leaving for St. Helena, but rendered inland excursions by no means

On returning towards Ambriz, soon after making the land, the steamer
Cyclops, with another British cruiser, was observed; and also the
Chatsworth, with an American brigantine lying near her. A boat from
the Cyclops, with an English officer, pulled out several miles, while
the Perry was in the offing, bringing a packet of letters and papers
marked as usual, “On Her Britannic Majesty’s Service.” These papers
were accompanied by a private note from the British commander of
the division, expressing great regret at the occurrence, which was
officially noticed in the accompanying papers, and the earnest desire
to repair the wrong.

The official papers were dated September the ninth, and contained
statements relating to the _chasing_, _boarding_ and _detention_
of the American brigantine Louisa Beaton, on the seventh and eighth

The particulars of the seizure of the vessel were given in a letter
from the commander of the English cruiser Dolphin, directed to the
British commander of the division, as follows: “I have the honor to
inform you, that at daylight on the 7th instant, being about seventy
miles off the land, a sail was observed on the lee bow, whilst Her
Majesty’s brigantine, under my command, was steering to the eastward.
I made all possible sail in chase: the chase was observed making more
sail and keeping away. Owing to light winds, I was unable to overtake
her before 0h. 30m. A. M. When close to her and no sail shortened,
I directed a signal gun to be fired abeam, and hailed the chase to
shorten sail and heave to. Chase asserted he could not, and requested
leave to pass to leeward; saying, if we wanted to board him, we had
better make haste about it, and that ‘we might fire and be damned.’

“I directed another gun to be fired across her bows, when she
immediately shortened sail and hove to: it being night, no colors were
observed flying on board the chase, nor was I aware of her character.

“I was proceeding myself to board her, when she bore up again, with
the apparent intention of escaping. I was therefore again compelled to
hoist the boat up and to close her under sail. I reached the chase on
the second attempt, and found her to be the American brigantine Louisa
Beaton. The master produced an American register, with a transfer of
masters: this gave rise to a doubt of the authenticity of the paper,
and on requesting further information, the master refused to give me
any, and declined showing me his port clearance, crew list, or log-book.

“The lieutenant who accompanied me identified the mate as having
been in charge of the slave-brig Lucy Ann, captured by Her Majesty’s
steam-sloop Rattler. Under these suspicious circumstances, I considered
it my duty, as the Louisa Beaton was bound to Ambriz, to place an
officer and crew on board of her, so as to confer with an American
officer, or yourself, before allowing her, if a legal trader, to
proceed on her voyage.”

The British commander of the division, in his letter, stated, that
immediately on the arrival of the vessels, he proceeded with the
commander of the Dolphin and the lieutenant of the Rattler to the
brigantine Louisa Beaton. Her master then presented the register, and
also the transfer of masters made in Rio, in consequence of the death
of the former master, but refused to show any other documents.

On examining the register, and having met the vessel before on that
coast, he decided that the Louisa Beaton’s nationality was perfect;
but that the conduct pursued by her master, in withholding documents
that should have been produced on boarding, had led to the unfortunate
detention of the vessel.

The British commander further stated, that he informed the master of
the Louisa Beaton that he would immediately order his vessel to be
released, and that on falling in with the commander of the Perry, all
due inquiry into the matter for his satisfaction should be made; but
that the master positively refused to take charge again, stating that
he would immediately abandon the vessel on the Dolphin’s crew quitting
her; and, further, requested that the vessel might be brought before
the American commander.

That, as much valuable property might be sacrificed should the master
carry his threat into execution, he proceeded in search of the Perry,
that the case might be brought under consideration while the Dolphin
was present; and on arriving at Ambriz, the cutter of the Perry was
found in charge of one of her officers.

On the following morning, as he stated, accompanied by the officer
in charge of the Perry’s cutter, and the commander of the Dolphin,
he proceeded to the Louisa Beaton, and informed her master that the
detention of his vessel arose from the refusal, on his part, to
show the proper documents to the boarding-officer, authorizing him
to navigate the vessel in those seas; and from his mate having been
identified by one of the Dolphin’s officers, as having been captured
in charge of a vessel having on board five hundred and forty-seven
slaves, which attempted to evade search and capture by displaying the
American ensign; as well as from his own suspicious maneuvering in the
chase. But as he was persuaded that the Louisa Beaton was an American
vessel, and her papers good, although a most important document was
wanting, namely, the _sea-letter_, usually given by consular officers
to legal traders after the _transfer of masters_, he should direct the
commander of the Dolphin to resign the charge of the Louisa Beaton,
which was accordingly done; and, that on meeting the commander of the
Perry, he would lay the case before him; and was ready, if he demanded
it, to give any remuneration or satisfaction, on the part of the
commander of the Dolphin, for the unfortunate detention of the Louisa
Beaton, whether engaged _in legal or illegal trade_, that the master
might in fairness demand, and the commander of the Perry approve.

After expressing great regret at the occurrence, the British commander
stated that he was requested by the captain of the Dolphin to assure
the commander of the Perry, that no disrespect was intended to the flag
of the United States, or even interference, on his part, with traders
of America, be they legal or illegal; but the stubbornness of the
master, and the identifying of one of his mates as having been captured
in a Brazilian vessel, trying to evade detection by the display of the
American flag, had led to the mistake.

A postscript to the letter added, “I beg to state that the hatches of
the Louisa Beaton have not been opened, nor the vessel or crew in any
way examined.”

On the Perry’s reaching the anchorage, the Louisa Beaton was examined.
The affidavit of the master, which differs not materially from the
statements of the British officers, was taken. A letter by the
commander of the Perry was then addressed to the British officer,
stating, that he had in person visited the Louisa Beaton, conferred
with her master, taken his affidavit, examined her papers, and
found her to be in all respects a legal American trader. That the
_sea-letter_ which had been referred to, as being usually given by
consular officers, was only required when the vessel changes owners,
and not, as in the present case, on the appointment of a new master.
The paper given by the consul authorizing the appointment of the
present master, was, with the remainder of the vessel’s papers,
strictly in form.

The commander also stated that he respectfully declined being a party
concerned in any arrangement of a pecuniary nature, as satisfaction to
the master of the Louisa Beaton, for the detention and seizure of his
vessel, and if such arrangement was made between the British officers
and the master of the Louisa Beaton, it would be his duty to give the
information to his government.

The commander added, that the government of the United States did
not acknowledge a right in any other nation to visit and detain the
vessels of American citizens engaged in commerce: that whenever a
foreign cruiser should venture to board a vessel under the flag of
the United States, she would do it upon her own responsibility for
all consequences: that if the vessel so boarded should prove to be
American, the injured party would be left to such redress, either in
the tribunals of England, or by an appeal to his own country, as the
nature of the case might require.

He also stated that he had carefully considered all the points in the
several communications which the commander of the British division had
sent him, in relation to the seizure of the Louisa Beaton, and he must
unqualifiedly pronounce the seizure and detention of that vessel wholly
unauthorized by the circumstances, and contrary both to the letter
and the spirit of the eighth article of the treaty of Washington; and
that it became his duty to make a full report of the case, accompanied
with the communications which the British commander had forwarded,
together with the affidavit of the master of the Louisa Beaton, to the
government of the United States.

This letter closed the correspondence.[9]

The British commander-in-chief then accompanied the commander of the
Perry to the Louisa Beaton, and there wholly disavowed the act of the
commander of the Dolphin, stating, in the name of that officer, that
he begged pardon of the master, and that he would do any thing in his
power to repair the wrong; adding, “I could say no more, if I had
knocked you down.”

The Louisa Beaton was then delivered over to the charge of her own
master, and the officer of the cutter took his station alongside of the

On the 11th of September this brigantine was seized as a slaver. During
the correspondence with the British officers in relation to the Louisa
Beaton, an order was given to the officer of the cutter, to prevent the
Chatsworth from landing the remaining part of her cargo. The master
immediately called on board the Perry, with the complaint, that his
vessel had been seized on a former occasion, and afterwards released by
the commodore, with the endorsement of her nationality on the log-book.
Since then she had been repeatedly searched, and now was prevented from
disposing of her cargo; he wished, therefore, that a definite decision
might be made. A decision was made by the instant seizure of the vessel.

Information from the master of the Louisa Beaton, that the owner of the
Chatsworth had in Rio acknowledged to him that the vessel had shipped
a cargo of slaves on her last voyage, and was then proceeding to the
coast for a similar purpose--superadded to her suspicious movements,
and the importance of breaking up this line of ostensible traders, but
real slavers, running between the coasts of Brazil and Africa--were the
reasons leading to this decision.

On announcing the decision to the master of the Chatsworth, a prize
crew was immediately sent on board and took charge of the vessel. The
master and supercargo then drew up a protest, challenging the act as
illegal, and claiming the sum of fifteen thousand dollars for damages.
The supercargo, on presenting this protest, remarked that the United
States Court would certainly release the vessel; and the _proçuro_ of
the owner, with other parties interested, would then look to the captor
for the amount of damages awarded. The commander replied, that he fully
appreciated the pecuniary responsibility attached to this proceeding.

The master of the Louisa Beaton, soon after the supercargo of the
Chatsworth had presented the protest, went on shore for the purpose
of having an interview with him, and not coming off at the time
specified, apprehensions were entertained that the slave-factors had
revenged themselves for his additional information--leading to the
seizure of the Chatsworth. At nine o’clock in the evening, three boats
were manned and armed, containing thirty officers and men,--leaving the
Perry in charge of one of the lieutenants. When two of the boats had
left the vessel, and the third was in readiness to follow, the master
of the Louisa Beaton made his appearance, stating that his reception on
shore had been any thing but pacific. Had the apprehensions entertained
proved correct, it was the intention to have landed and taken
possession of the town; and then to have marched out to the barracoons,
liberated the slaves, and made, at least for the time being, “free
soil” of that section of country.

In a letter to the commodore, dated September 14th, information was
given to the following purport:

“Inclosed are affidavits, with other papers and letters, in relation
to the seizure of the American brigantine Chatsworth. This has been an
exceedingly complicated case, as relating to a slaver with two sets
of papers, passing alternately under different nationalities, eluding
detection from papers being in form, and trading with an assorted cargo.

“The Chatsworth has been twice boarded and searched by the commander,
and on leaving for a short cruise off Ambrizette, a boat was dispatched
with orders to watch her movements during the absence of the Perry. On
returning from Ambrizette, additional evidence of her being a slaver
was procured. Since then the affidavits of the master of the Chatsworth
and the mate of the Louisa Beaton have been obtained, leading to
further developments, until the guilt of the vessel, as will be seen by
the accompanying papers, is placed beyond all question.”

The Italian supercargo, having landed most of the cargo, and his
business being in a state requiring his presence, was permitted to go
on shore, with the assurance that he would return when a signal was
made. He afterwards came within hail of the Chatsworth, and finding
that such strong proofs against the vessel were obtained, he declined
going on board, acknowledging to the master of the Louisa Beaton that
he had brought over Brazilian papers.

The crew of the Chatsworth being foreigners, and not wishing to be sent
to the United States, were landed at Ambriz, where it was reported that
the barracoons contained four thousand slaves, ready for shipment;
and where, it was said, the capture of the Chatsworth, as far as the
American flag was concerned, would give a severe and an unexpected blow
to the slave-trade.

After several unsuccessful attempts to induce the supercargo of the
Chatsworth to come off to that vessel, a note in French was received
from him, stating that he was “an Italian, and as such could not be
owner of the American brig Chatsworth, which had been seized, it was
true, but unjustly, and against the laws of all civilized nations. That
the owner of the said brig would know how to defend his property, and
in case the judgment should not prove favorable, the one who had been
the cause of it would always bear the remorse of having ruined his

After making the necessary preliminary arrangements, the master, with a
midshipman and ten men, was placed in charge of the Chatsworth; and on
the 14th of September, the following order was sent to the commanding
officer of the prize: “You will proceed to Baltimore, and there report
yourself to the commander of the naval station, and to the Secretary
of the Navy. You will be prepared, on your arrival, to deliver up the
vessel to the United States marshal, the papers to the judge of the
United States District Court, and be ready to act in the case of the
Chatsworth as your orders and circumstances may require.

“It is advisable that you should stand as far to the westward, at
least, as the longitude of St. Helena, and when in the calm latitudes
make a direct north course, shaping the course for your destined port
in a higher latitude, where the winds are more reliable.”

On the following morning the three vessels stood out to sea--the Perry
and Louisa Beaton bound to Loanda, and the Chatsworth bearing away for
the United States. The crew had now become much reduced in numbers, and
of the two lieutenants, master, and four passed midshipmen, originally
ordered to the vessel, there remained but two passed midshipmen, acting
lieutenants on board.

After a protracted trial, the Chatsworth was at length condemned as a
slaver, in the U. S. District Court of Maryland.

[9] This correspondence, with much of that which is to be referred to
hereafter, with the British officers, has been published more at length
in the “Blue Book,” or Parliamentary Papers, of 1851.



Soon after arriving at Loanda, it was ascertained that the masters of
merchant-traders were forbidden to visit one another on board their
respective vessels, without express permission from the authorities.
This regulation was even extended to men-of-war officers in their visit
to merchant vessels of their own nation. An application was made to the
authorities, remonstrating against this regulation being applied to
the United States officers; and assurances were given which led to the
conclusion that the regulation had been rescinded.

Soon afterwards a letter to the collector, dated the 17th of September,
stated that the commander of the Perry, in company with the purser,
had that evening pulled alongside of the Louisa Beaton, and much to
his surprise, especially after the assurance of the collector that no
objection would in future be raised against the United States naval
officers visiting the merchant vessels of their own nation, the
custom-house officers informed him that he could not be admitted on
board: they went on board, however, but did not go below, not wishing
to involve the vessel in difficulty.

The report of this circumstance was accompanied with the remark,
that it was the first time that an objection had been raised to the
commander’s visiting a merchant vessel belonging to his own nation in
a foreign port; and this had been done after the assurance had been
given, that in future no obstacles should be in the way of American
officers visiting American ships in Loanda.

In reply to this letter, the collector stated that he had shown, on a
former occasion, that his department could give no right to officers
of men-of-war to visit merchant vessels of their own nation when in
port, under the protection of the Portuguese flag and nation. But in
view of the friendly relations existing between Portugal and the United
States, and being impressed with the belief that these visits would be
made in a social, friendly character, rather than with indifference and
disrespect to the authorities of that province, he would forward, and
virtually had forwarded already, the orders, that in all cases, when
American men-of-war are at anchor, no obstacle should be thrown in the
way of their officers boarding American vessels.

He further stated, that the objections of the guards to the commander
boarding the Louisa Beaton, was the result of their ignorance of his
orders, permitting visits from American vessels of war; but concluded
that the opposition encountered could not have been great, as the
commander himself had confessed that he had really boarded the said

On the 19th of September, the Perry sailed for the island of St.
Helena. Soon after leaving port, a vessel was seen dead to windward,
hull and courses down. After a somewhat exciting chase of forty-two
hours, the stranger was overhauled, and proved to be a Portuguese
regular trader between the Brazil and the African coast.

Several days before reaching St. Helena, the trades had so greatly
freshened, together with thick, squally weather, that double-reefed
topsails, with single-reefed courses, were all the sail the vessel
could bear.

On the morning of the 11th of October, a glimpse of the island was
caught for a few minutes. Two misty spires of rock seemed to rise up in
the horizon--notched off from a ridge extended between them--the centre
being Diana’s peak, twenty-seven hundred feet in height. The vessel was
soon again enveloped in thick squalls of rain, but the bearings of the
island had been secured, and a course made for the point to be doubled.
After running the estimated distance to the land, the fog again lifted,
presenting the formidable island of St. Helena close aboard, and in
a moment all was obscured again. But the point had been doubled, and
soon afterwards the Perry was anchored, unseeing and unseen.


  _Lith. of Sarony & Co. N. Y._


The sails were furled, the decks cleared up, when the whole scene
started out of obscurity. St. Helena was in full view. A salute of
twenty-one guns was fired, and promptly responded to, gun for gun, from
the bristling batteries above.

Under the vast, rugged buttresses of rock--serrated with gaps between
them, like the surviving parapets of a gigantic fortress, the mass of
which had sunk beneath the sea--the vessel seemed shrunk to a mere
speck; and close under these mural precipices, rising to the height of
two thousand feet, she had, in worse than darkness, crept along within
hearing of the surf.

On either bow, when anchored, were the two stupendous, square-faced
bluffs, between which, liked a ruined embrasure, yawned the ravine
containing Jamestown. High and distant against the sky, was frowning
a battery of heavy guns, looking down upon the decks; and beyond the
valley, the road zigzagged along the nine hundred feet of steep-faced,
ladder hill. Green thickets were creeping up the valleys; and plains of
verdant turf here and there overlapped the precipices.

Subsequently, on an inland excursion, were seen the fantastic forms of
Lot and his wife, more than fourteen hundred feet in height; and black
pillars, or shafts of basaltic columns, standing high amid the snowy
foam of the surf. Patches of luxuriant vegetation were suddenly broken
by astounding chasms, such as the “Devil’s Punch Bowl.”

This striking and majestic scenery, on an island ten miles in length
and six in breadth, arises from its great height and its volcanic
configuration. The occurrence of small oceanic deposits high up on
its plains, indicates fits of elevation ere it reached its present
altitude. The _Yam-flowers_ (the _sobriquet_ of the island ladies) need
not, however, fear that the joke of travellers will prove a reality, by
the island again being drawn under water like a turtle’s head.

Visits were received from the chief-justice, the commandant and
officers of the garrison. Invitations were sent to dine “with the
mess.” The American consul, and many of the inhabitants, joined in
extending unbounded hospitality to the officers, which was duly
appreciated by African cruisers. A collation to their hospitable
friends, on the quarterdeck of the Perry, was also partaken of by the
officers of a British cruiser, which, on leaving the island, ran across
the stern of the vessel, gave three cheers, and dipped her colors.
The proprietor of Longwood, once the prison of Napoleon, received the
officers and their friends at a pic-nic, when a visit was made to that
secluded spot, so suggestive of interesting associations. Every means
was used to leave a sense of grateful remembrance on the minds of the
visitors to the island.

One watch of the crew were constantly on shore, in search of health and

A short time previously to leaving Loanda, information being
received from the American consul at Rio, that the barque Navarre,
and brigantine Volusia, already noticed, had been furnished with
sea-letters as American vessels, steps were taken to ascertain from
the vice-admiralty court, in St. Helena, the circumstances attending
their trial and condemnation. Calls were made on several officers of
the court for that purpose. Failing thus to obtain the information
unofficially, a letter was drawn up and sent to the chief-justice, who
was also the judge of the admiralty court. After the judge had read the
letter, he held, with the commander of the Perry, a conversation of
more than an hour, in reference to its contents. During this interview,
the judge announced that he could not communicate, officially, the
information solicited. An opportunity, however, was offered to look
over the record of the proceedings. Circumstances did not seem to
justify the acceptance of this proposal. It was then intimated to the
commander that the letter of request would be sent to Lord Palmerston;
and, in return, intimation was also given that a copy of the letter
would be transmitted to the Secretary of the Navy at Washington.

The social intercourse between the parties, during this interview, was
of the most agreeable character.

In the same letter to the judge of the admiralty court, that contained
the above-mentioned request for documents relating to the case of the
Navarre, the commander of the Perry stated that he was informed by the
American consul that the Navarre was sold in Rio to a citizen of the
United States; that a sea-letter was granted by the consul; that the
papers were regular and true; that the owner was master, and that the
American crew were shipped in the consul’s office.

The commander also stated, that information from other sources had
been received, that the Navarre proceeded to the coast of Africa, and
when near Benguela was boarded by H. B. Majesty’s brig Water-Witch,
and after a close examination of her papers was permitted to pass.
The captain of the Navarre, after having intimated his intention to
the officer of the Water-Witch, of going into Benguela, declined
doing so on learning that the Perry was there, assigning to his crew
as the reason, that the Perry would take him prisoner; and at night
accordingly bore up and ran down towards Ambriz. The captain also
stated to a part of the crew, that _the officer of the Water-Witch_
had advised him to give up the vessel to _him_, as the Perry would
certainly take his vessel, and send him home, whereas _he_ would only
take his vessel, and let him land and go free.

On reaching Ambriz, with the American flag flying, the Navarre was
boarded by the commander of H. M. steam-sloop Fire-Fly, who, on
examining the papers given by the consul, and passed by the commander
of the Water-Witch as being in form, _pronounced them false_. The
captain of the Navarre was threatened with being taken to the American
squadron, or to New York; and fearing worse consequences in case he
should fall into the hands of the American cruisers, preferred giving
up his vessel, _bonâ fide_ American, to a British officer. Under
these circumstances, he signed a paper that the vessel was Brazilian
property, and he himself a Brazilian subject. The mate was ordered to
haul down the American and hoist the Brazilian colors; in doing which
the American crew attempted to stop him, when the English armed sailors
interfered, and struck one of the American crew on the head.

The Fire-Fly arrived at Loanda a few days after the capture of the
Navarre, and the representations of her commander induced the commander
of the Perry to believe that the Navarre was Brazilian property,
and captured with false American papers; which papers having been
destroyed, no evidence of her nationality remained but the statement
of the commander of the Fire-Fly. This statement, being made by a
British officer, was deemed sufficient, until subsequent information
led to the conclusion, that the Navarre was an American vessel, and
whether engaged in _legal or illegal trade_, the course pursued towards
her by the commanders of the Water-Witch and the Fire-Fly, was wholly
unauthorized; and her subsequent capture by the commander of the
Fire-Fly, was in direct violation of the treaty of Washington.

After this statement was drawn up, the Water-Witch being in St. Helena,
it was shown to her commander.

A statement in relation to the capture and condemnation of the Volusia,
was also forwarded to the chief-justice: stating, upon the authority of
the American consul at Rio, that she had a sea-letter, and was strictly
an American vessel, bought by an American citizen in Rio de Janeiro.

In reply to this application for a copy of the proceedings of the
Admiralty Court in relation to the Navarre, the chief-justice, in a
letter to the commander of the Perry, stated that he was not aware of
any American vessel having been condemned in the Vice-Admiralty Court
of that colony.

It was true that a barque called the Navarre had been condemned in
the court, which might or might not have been American; but the
circumstances under which the case was presented to the court, were
such as to induce the court to conclude that the Navarre was at the
time of seizure not entitled to the protection of any state or nation.

With respect to the commander’s request that he should be furnished
with a copy of the affidavits in the case, the judge regretted to
state, that with every disposition to comply with his wishes, so far
as regards the proceedings of the court, yet as the statement of
the commander not only reflected upon the conduct of the officers
concerned in the seizure, but involved questions not falling within the
province of the court, he did not feel justified in giving any special
directions in reference to the application.

Similar reasons were assigned for not furnishing a copy of the
affidavits in the case of the Volusia.

In a letter to the commodore, dated October 19th, information was given
substantially as follows:

“A few days previously to leaving the coast of Africa, a letter was
received from the American consul at Rio, in reply to a communication
from the commander of the John Adams, and directed to that office,
or to the commander of any U. S. ship-of-war. This letter inclosed
a paper containing minutes from the records in the consulate in
relation to several American vessels, and among them the barque Navarre
and brigantine Volusia were named, as having been furnished with
sea-letters as American vessels. These vessels were seized on the
coast of Africa, and condemned in this admiralty court, as vessels of
unknown nationality.

“Availing himself of the permission to extend the cruise as far as this
island, and coming into possession of papers identifying the American
nationality of the Navarre and Volusia, the commander regarded it
to be his duty to obtain all information in reference to the course
pursued by British authorities towards these vessels for the purpose of
submitting it to the Government.

“The commander called on the queen’s proctor of the Vice-Admiralty
Court, requesting a copy of the affidavits in the instances of the
Navarre and Volusia. The proctor stated that the registrar of the court
would probably furnish them. The registrar declined doing it without
the sanction of the judge, and the judge declined for reasons alleged
in the inclosed correspondence.

“The proctor, soon afterwards, placed a packet of papers in the hands
of the commander of the Perry, containing the affidavits in question,
and requested him to forward them to the British commodore. The proctor
suggested to the commander that he might look over the papers. This was
declined, on the ground that when the request was made for permission
to examine them, unofficially, it was denied, and since having made
the request officially for a copy of the papers, they could not now
be received and examined at St. Helena, except in an official form.
It was then intimated that the intention was to have the papers sent
unofficially to the British commodore, that he might show them, if
requested to do so, to the American officers.”



The Perry, after ten days’ acquaintance and intercourse with many
exceedingly kind and hospitable friends, reluctantly sailed for the
African coast, and after a passage of ten days, beat up inside of the
reef forming the harbor, guided by the signal-lights of the men-of-war,
and anchored at Loanda. The following morning, salutes were exchanged
with the French commodore, whose broad pendant was flying at the main
of a fine steam-frigate. To the Secretary of the Navy it was announced
that no suspicious American vessel had been on the south coast since
the capture of the Chatsworth.

After remaining two days in Loanda, cruising was renewed, in company
with the Cyclops, off Ambriz. Soon afterwards the Cyclops was ordered
to England. The commanding officer of the southern division was now
about taking his leave of the coast. The Hon. Captain Hastings (since
deceased), brother to the Earl of Huntington, was an officer of great
merit, and a man of noble qualities. He was ever kind and attentive to
the wants of his crew. He possessed great moral integrity of character,
and sound religious principles. Notwithstanding the protracted
correspondence, often involving delicate points and perplexing
questions, the social friendly intercourse between the two commanders
in the different services had not for a moment been interrupted. On
parting the two vessels exchanged three hearty cheers.

The Perry beat up to the southward as far as Benguela, and looking into
the harbor, without anchoring, proceeded to run down the coast to the
northward. On approaching a Portuguese man-of-war, that vessel fired a
blank cartridge from a small gun. It being daylight, and the character
of both cruisers easily discernible, the object of the fire could not
be conceived. A thirty-two pound shot was immediately thrown across the
cruiser’s bows. She then hauled down her colors, but soon afterwards
hoisted them. A boat was sent for an explanation. The officer was
assured that the Perry, in coming bows on, had been mistaken for a
Portuguese brig, of which the cruiser was in search.

On reaching Loanda, although no vessel had arrived to relieve the
Perry, yet, as her provisions were nearly exhausted, preparations
were made to leave the north coast. The day before sailing, November
29th, a letter addressed to the commander of any U. S. vessel-of-war,
was left in charge of the commercial agent of the Salem House. After
recapitulating the occurrences of the last cruise, the letter stated
that the correspondence with the collector had secured to our merchant
vessels more consideration than formerly from the custom-house; and
gave information that cruisers were often met at night, and that,
therefore, the Perry had always four muskets and the two bow-guns ready
for service at a moment’s warning. A list of signals, established
between the two commodores, was inclosed. It was stated that Ambriz was
considered the best cruising-ground; although the Perry had three times
run up to Benguela, and once as far as Elephant Bay, having deemed it
advisable to show the vessel on the entire line of coast.

It was also stated that landing the Chatsworth’s crew at Ambriz having
been regarded as prejudicial to the interests of the American factory,
the agent had been informed that no more slave-crews would be landed at
that place; and that it was believed that there were then no American
vessels, with the exception of three or four legal traders, on the
south coast. Although it was rumored that several vessels, fitted
for the slave-trade, had gone round the Cape of Good Hope into the
Mozambique Channel.

On the following day, the Perry sailed for the north coast. Off Ambriz
a visit was made to the British flag steam-frigate. The cases of the
Navarre and Volusia, together with other instances of interference
with the American flag, were discussed with the British commodore.
The copies of the affidavits, brought from St. Helena, were examined,
from which, with other information in the commander’s possession, it
clearly appeared that, when the Navarre was first boarded off Benguela
by the officer of the Water-Witch, her papers were found to be in form,
and she was passed accordingly. When boarded by the Fire-Fly, a few
days afterwards, the commander of that vessel declared her papers to
be forgeries, and they were destroyed. The prize-officer, sent from
the Fire-Fly to St. Helena in charge of the vessel, testified in the
admiralty court, that he had no knowledge of the Navarre’s papers. The
commodore acknowledged that in the case of the Navarre there appeared,
at least, some discrepancies in the different statements. Full reports,
embracing these points, were made to the American commodore.

The social intercourse with the commander-in-chief had always been of
the most agreeable character. Commodore Fanshawe, C. B., was Aid to the
Queen,--a man of distinguished professional abilities, and of great
moral worth. He is now the admiral in command of the British naval
forces in the West Indies, and on the north coast of America.

The commodore expressed his determination, while doing all in his power
for the suppression of the slave-trade, not to interfere, in the least
degree, with American vessels; and in cases of actual interference,
attributed it, in a measure, to the want of judgment and discretion,
now and then to be found among the number of twenty captains; adding,
“with your extensive commerce, you ought to have more cruisers where
we are so strong.” He expressed his readiness to render assistance to
American vessels in distress, as exemplified in having sent a vessel to
the United States, which had lost her master and crew by the African
fever; and in the fact that an American vessel, aground in the Congo
River, had been towed off by one of his steamers. The master of this
vessel refused to state his object in going up the river, which was
afterwards explained by his shipping, and escaping with a cargo of

After parting with the commodore, the Perry filled away for the north
coast; chased and boarded an English barque, bound to St. Helena; also
boarded an American barque, which, a few days previously, had been
struck by lightning. This vessel had eight hundred kegs of powder on
board; her spars and rigging were much damaged.

The passage to Monrovia occupied fourteen days. The U. S. brig Porpoise
had arrived on the coast, and was lying in the harbor of Monrovia. The
General Assembly was in session, and the debates on the subject of
resurveying the lands in one section of the country, were creditable to
the speakers.

A few days after the arrival of the Perry, it being learned that
the British steam-cruiser Flamer was ashore near Gray’s Point, a
correspondence took place with President Roberts, which will furnish
some idea of the character of the president, as well as the means which
Monrovia is capable of affording for assistance in such cases.

In this correspondence, the commander informed the president that he
was about proceeding with the Perry to offer assistance to the Flamer;
and suggested that the cases of fever among the crew should be removed
to Monrovia, rather than remain subject to the discomfort of their
present situation. He proposed, in case the president concurred in
opinion, and accommodations could be furnished, to offer the services
of the Perry in transporting the sick to Monrovia. The president,
in reply, fully concurred, and recommended, by all means, that the
sufferers should be immediately brought to Monrovia, where the best of
accommodations would be supplied. He also sent his respects to the
commander of the steamer, assuring him that he was exceedingly anxious
to render all aid in his power.

On arriving at Gray’s Point, the proffered assistance was declined,
as one British cruiser had just arrived, and another was momentarily
expected, which would transport the sick and suffering to Sierra Leone.

The Perry then proceeded to Porto Praya, and on the 8th of January,
1851, after one year’s service on the south coast, reported to the
commander-in-chief. Soon afterwards, the commodore was informed that a
large Hamburgh ship, with a cargo exceeding in value the sum of three
hundred thousand dollars, had been wrecked at night on the island of
Mayo--forming one of the group of the Cape Verdes. The Perry proceeded
to Mayo, for the purpose of rendering the wrecked ship all assistance
in her power. The commander called on the American vice-consul, who
was an intelligent, dignified black man, holding the offices of mayor
and military commandant, superadded to that of vice-consul. It was
found that the ship and most of her cargo had proved a total loss. The
passengers and crew had escaped with their lives. Among the passengers
was a clever young governess, going out to Santiago, in Chili: she
proceeded to Porto Praya, where her losses were fully compensated by
the contributions of the officers of the squadron. After rendering all
possible assistance to the wrecked vessel and sufferers, the Perry
returned to Porto Praya, and made preparations for a third southern
cruise. A first lieutenant and one midshipman were ordered to the
vessel, to supply, in part, the vacancies occasioned by sending home
officers in charge of captured slavers.



On the 19th of February, the vessel having been reported ready for
sea, the commodore issued orders to proceed on a cruise south of the
equator, under former orders and instructions, stopping at Monrovia
and at the island of St. Helena; and returning to Porto Praya when
provisions should be exhausted.

The vessel sailed at daylight on the following morning, and after a
passage of eight days, during which she had a long chase after an
English brig, arrived at Monrovia. Five days were spent in wooding and
watering ship. On Sunday, a colored Rev. Dr. of Divinity in the Baptist
church, preached to a large congregation, giving his own rendering of
the text from the original Greek. The effort was perhaps unusually
elaborate, in consideration of several officers forming part of the

In running down the coast, a great number of canoes, filled with
natives--_sans culottes_ and _sans chemises_--pulled off to the vessel.
By one of these, a note addressed to the missionaries was sent into
Cape Palmas, expressing regret that orders to the south coast prevented
the vessel from touching either at the Cape or at the Gaboon River.

The former passage to the south coast had been made on the port tack,
by standing out into the southeast trades, and forty-one days had
expired on reaching Benguela. This passage was made on the starboard
tack, in-shore, and occupied but twenty-two days to Ambriz--a run of
four days from Benguela. The great advantages of the in-shore passage
will be made manifest in a letter hereafter to be referred to. Greater
alternations of weather, pleasant and squally, with now and then a
strong tornado, occur in-shore; but a good look-out will enable a
man-of-war to encounter all these with safety. Besides a number of
legal traders, on the passage down, several British cruisers were
boarded, who reported the slave-trade as being exceedingly dull.

Three days were spent in Loanda, and then cruising for the same length
of time, with the new commander of the British southern division, was
resumed off Ambriz. Thence the vessel proceeded down the coast towards
the Congo River, where the new commander of the steamer Fire-Fly
boarded the Perry, when at a distance of four miles from his own
vessel. Passed the Congo, after encountering a tornado.

This river is more than two leagues broad at its mouth. At the distance
of eight or ten miles seaward, in a northwesterly direction, the water
preserves its freshness; and at the distance of fifty and even sixty
miles, it has a black tinge. Here are often seen small islands floating
seaward, formed of fibrous roots, bamboo, rushes and long grass, and
covered with birds. The banks of the Congo are lined with low mangrove
bushes, with clumps of a taller species interspersed, growing to the
height of sixty and seventy feet. Palm-trees, and others of a smaller
growth, are seen with a rich and beautiful foliage. In going up the
river, the southern shore, where there is plenty of water close in
with the land, should be kept aboard. The current is so strong--often
running six miles an hour off Shark’s Point--that an exceedingly fresh
sea-breeze is necessary in order to stem the stream. The greatest
strength of this current, however, is superficial, not extending more
than six or eight feet in depth. The Congo, like all rivers in Africa,
except the Nile, is navigable but a short distance before reaching the
rapids. The great central regions being probably not less than three
thousand feet in altitude above the sea, these rapids are formed by a
sudden depression of the surface of the country towards the sea, or by
a bed of hard rocks stretching across the basin of the river.

The slave-trade has been extensively pursued in the Congo. A British
steam-cruiser, for many years, has been stationed off its mouth, making
many captures. Under American nationality, however, several vessels
have entered, taken in a cargo of slaves and escaped. The natives, near
the mouth of the river, have been rendered treacherous and cruel by the
slave-trade; but a short distance in the interior, they are represented
as being civil and inoffensive, disposed to trade in elephants’-teeth
and palm-oil.

After crossing the Congo, the Perry communicated with Kabenda, and the
day following anchored at Loango, in company with the British cruiser
stationed off that point. The British commodore arriving the next day,
a letter was addressed to him, dated April 4th, asking whether any
suspected vessels had been seen on the south coast, by the cruisers
under his command, since the capture of the Chatsworth, on the 11th of
September, 1850; also requesting that he would express his views of the
present state of the slave-trade on the southern coast of Africa.

In reply, the British commodore made the following communication:

“I beg to acquaint you that the only report I have received of a
suspected vessel, under American colors, having been seen on the
south coast since the date you have named, was from H. M. steam-sloop
Rattler, of a schooner showing American colors having approached the
coast near Old Benguela Head; which vessel, when Commander Cumming
landed subsequently, was reported to him, by the people on shore, to
have shipped slaves near that place.

“Your inquiry applies only to the south coast; but it will not
be irrelevant to the general subject and object for which we are
co-operating, if I add that the schooner Bridgeton, of Philadelphia,
under the American flag, was visited by Her Majesty’s steam-sloop
Prometheus, off Lagos, on the 22d of August, under circumstances
causing much suspicion, but with papers which did not warrant
her seizure by a British officer; and that I have since received
information from Her Britannic Majesty’s consul at Bahia, that the same
vessel landed three hundred slaves there in October.

“I also take this opportunity of bringing under your notice another
American vessel, which I observed at Sierra Leone under the American
flag; and which was reported to me, by the authorities there, as being
to all appearance a legal trader, with correct papers, but whose real
character and ultimate object I have since had much reason to doubt.

“I inclose a copy of the formal entry of this vessel, ‘The Jasper,’
at the port of Sierra Leone, from which you will observe that her
cargo was shipped at the Havana; and that in the manifest are shooks
and heads of water-casks, and that she had on board three passengers:
these passengers were _Spaniards_. The Jasper staid a short time at
Sierra Leone, disposed of some trifles of her cargo for cash, and left
for Monrovia. On proceeding a few days afterwards in the Centaur (the
flag-ship) to that place, I found that she had disposed of more of
her cargo there, also for cash, and was reported to have proceeded to
the leeward coast; and I learned from the best authority, that of the
passengers, one was recognized as being a Spanish slave-dealer who
had been expelled from Tradetown, in 1849, by President Roberts, and
that the others were a Spanish merchant, captain and supercargo; and
that the American captain had spoken of his position as being very

“On the second subject, my view of the present state of the slave-trade
on the south coast: It is formed on my own observations of the line of
coast from Cape St. Paul’s to this port, and from the reports which I
have received from the captains of the divisions, and the commanders
of the cruisers under my orders, as well as from other well-informed
persons on whom I can rely, that it has never been in a more depressed
state, a state almost amounting to suppression; and that this arises
from the active exertions of Her Majesty’s squadron on both sides of
the Atlantic, and the cordial co-operation which has been established
between the cruisers of Great Britain and the United States on this
coast, to carry out the intention of the Washington treaty; and
latterly from the new measures of the Brazilian government.

“Factories have been broken up at Lagos, in the Congo, and at Ambriz;
although of this I need hardly speak, because your own observation
during the past year must satisfy you of the present state of
depression there.

“The commencement of last year was marked by an unusual number of
captures by Her Majesty’s cruisers, both in the bights and on the south
coast, and also by those by the cruisers of the United States. This
year, the capture of only one vessel equipped in the bights, and one
with slaves (a transferred Sardinian), on the south coast, have been
reported to me--a striking proof of my view.

“The desperate measures also adopted by the slave-dealers in the last
few months to get rid of their slaves by the employment of small
vessels, formerly engaged in the legal and coasting trade, as marked by
the capture of several (named) slavers, prove the difficulty to which
they have been driven.

“The barracoons, however, along the whole line of coast, are still
reported to me to contain a great number of slaves, to ship whom, I
have little doubt further attempts will be made.

“Most satisfactory, on the whole, as this state of things may be
considered, still I hope it will not lead to any immediate relaxation
either of our efforts or of our co-operation; but that a vigilance will
be observed for a time sufficient to enable a legal trade to replace
the uprooted slave-traffic, and to disperse the machinery (I may say)
of the merchants connected with it, and prevent any resumption of it by

Leaving Loango with a fresh supply of monkeys and parrots, the Perry
retraced her course to the southward, and on reaching the Congo,
crossed that river in a few hours, close at its mouth, showing this
to be practicable, and altogether preferable to standing off to
the westward for that purpose. After crossing the river, the first
lieutenant, Mr. Porter, who had seen much service in other vessels
on the coast, was requested to draw up a letter addressed to the
commander, containing the following information, which, after having
been endorsed as fully according with experience and observation on
board the Perry, was forwarded to Lieutenant Maury, in charge of the
National Observatory, under the impression that it might be available
in the hydrographical department. It has since been published in
“Maury’s Sailing Directions.”

“In the season of February, March, April and May, there is no
difficulty in making the passage from Porto Praya to Ambriz in thirty
days, provided the run from Porto Praya takes not more than eight days.

“The direct route, and that which approaches the great circle, leads
along the coast, touching the outer soundings of St. Ann’s Shoals,
thence to half Cape Mount, to allow for a current when steering for
Monrovia. From there, follow the coast along with land and sea breezes,
assisted by the current, until you arrive at Cape Palmas. Keep on the
starboard tack, notwithstanding the wind may head you in-shore (the
land-breezes will carry you off), and as the wind permits, haul up for
2° west longitude. Cross the equator here if convenient, but I would
not go to the westward of it. You will encounter westerly currents from
thirty to fifty miles a day. In the vicinity of Prince’s Island, the
southwest wind is always strong. In the latitude of about 1° 30´ north
there is a current: should it not be practicable to weather the island
of St. Thomas, stand in, approach the coast, and you will meet with
north winds to carry you directly down the coast.

“Our vessels, after arriving at Cape Palmas, have generally gone upon
the port tack, because the wind carried them towards the coast or
Gulf of Guinea, and seemed to favor them for the port tack the most,
which, on the contrary, although slowly veering towards the southeast,
was hauling more ahead, and leading them off into a current, which,
under a heavy press of sail, it is impossible to work against. The
consequences were, that they had to go upon the starboard tack, and
retrace the ground gone over. On the starboard tack, as you proceed
easterly, the action of the wind is the reverse, and it allows you to
pursue the great circle course.

“It employed one man-of-war eighty odd days to Kabenda, a port
two hundred miles nearer than Ambriz, to which port (Ambriz) from
Monrovia, in this vessel (the Perry), we went in twenty-three days;
making thirty-one from Porto Praya. Another vessel was occupied ten
to Monrovia, and forty-six to Ambriz, by the way of Prince’s Island,
about ten of which was lost in working to the south of Cape Palmas. In
standing to the eastward, north of the equator, the current is with
you--south of the equator, it is adverse.

“The practice along the coast in this vessel (the Perry), was to keep
near enough to the land to have the advantage of a land and sea breeze,
and to drop a kedge whenever it fell calm, or we were unable to stem
the current. Upon this part of the coast, near the Congo, the lead-line
does not always show the direction of the current which affects the
vessel. On the bottom there is a current in an opposite direction from
that on the surface; therefore, before dropping the kedge, the better
way is to lower a boat and anchor her, which will show the drift of
the vessel. Between Ambriz and the Congo I have seen the under-current
so strong to the southeast as to carry a twenty-four pound lead off the
bottom, while the vessel was riding to a strong southwest current; but
the under-current is the stronger.

“In crossing the Congo, I would always suggest crossing close at its
mouth, night or day. Going north, with the wind W. N. W., steer N.
N. E. with a five or six knot breeze. When you strike soundings on
the other side, you will have made about a N. ½ E. course in the
distance of nine miles, by log from 11½ fathoms off Shark’s Point.
The current out of the river sets west about two knots the hour. With
the land-breeze it is equally convenient, and may be crossed in two
hours. In coming from the north, with Kabenda bearing N. E. in thirteen
fathoms, or from the latitude of 5° 48’, wind southwest, a S. S. E.
course will carry you over in four hours, outside of Point Padron; and
by keeping along shore the current will assist you in going to the
north. Vessels which cross to seaward, from latitude of 5° 45’ south,
and 9° west longitude, are generally six days or more to Ambriz: by the
former method it occupied us (the Perry) only two days.”

The vessel then proceeded to Loanda, and after remaining one day in
port, beat up the coast as far as Elephants’ Bay, in 13° 14’ south
latitude, communicated with four British cruisers, anchored _en route_
in Benguela, and there supplied a British cruiser with masts, plank
and oars, for repairing a bilged launch. During a walk on shore, a
Portuguese merchant was met, who spoke of the slave-trade being in a
languishing state. On calling at his house, a yard in the rear was
observed, capable of accommodating some three or four hundred slaves.
On entering Elephants’ Bay in a fresh breeze, the vessel was brought
down to her double-reefed topsails.

Elephants’ Bay may be termed the confines of the Great Southern Desert,
and the limit of the African fever. A very few wretched inhabitants,
subsisting by fishing, are found along the shores. None were seen
during the Perry’s visit. The soil is sandy and barren, and rains very
scanty, seldom occurring more than once or twice during the year. The
climate is exceedingly invigorating. The crew were permitted to haul
the seine, and take a run on shore. A brackish spring was found, and
around it were many tracks of wild animals. Several of the men, armed
with muskets, while strolling a few miles from the shore, started up
a drove of zebras, but were unsuccessful in their attempts to capture
even a single prize.

The day after arriving in this bay, while one watch of the men were
exercising the big guns at target-firing, and the other watch on shore
familiarizing themselves with the use of small-arms, a large barque
was discovered in the offing; and not conceiving any other object
than that of slaving to be the business of a vessel on that desert
coast, a signal-gun was fired, and the comet hoisted for “all hands”
to repair on board. The Perry was soon off under full sail in chase of
the stranger. As night closed in, and the sea-breeze became light, two
boats, in charge of the first and second lieutenants, were dispatched
in the chase; the vessel and boats occasionally throwing up a rocket
and burning a blue light to indicate their relative positions. The
strange vessel was at length brought to, and boarded. She proved to be
a Portuguese barque in search of ochil for dyeing purposes.



After parting company with the Portuguese vessel, the Perry ran down to
Loanda, from whence a letter, dated the 17th of April, was addressed
to a gentleman in a prominent station at Washington, communicating in
effect the following views and information:

“The slave-trade has received an effectual check within the past year.
Only one suspected American vessel has been seen on the south coast,
since the capture of the Chatsworth.

“In a letter from Sir George Jackson, British commissioner at Loanda,
addressed to Lord Palmerston, which was shown to the commander of the
Perry, it is stated that the present state of the slave-trade arises
from the activity of British cruisers, the co-operation of part of
the American squadron on the southern coast within the year, and
its capture of two or three slavers bearing the flag of that nation,
together with the measures adopted by the Brazilian government; and
also that it may be said that the trade on this southern coast is now
confined to a few vessels bearing the Sardinian flag.

“The British commander-in-chief has expressed himself equally sanguine
as to the state of the trade; and is of the opinion that the continued
presence of our vessels, in co-operation with the English, will tend to
depress, if not effectually break up the traffic.

“The impression was entertained previously to joining this squadron,
that the orders of our government--giving such narrow latitude to the
commanders--superadded to the difficulty of getting a slaver condemned
in the United States courts, that had not slaves actually on board,
were almost insuperable obstacles to the American squadron’s effecting
any thing of consequence towards the suppression of this iniquitous
traffic, or even preventing the use of our flag in the trade. But
observation and experience have entirely changed these views, and
led to the conclusion that if even the commodore had a small-sized
steamer--which is here wanted more than on any other station--in
which he might visit the cruisers at points along the line of the
slave-coast, that we should no more hear of a slaver using the American
flag, than we do now of his using the British flag. Notwithstanding
our legal commerce here exceeds that of Great Britain or France, yet
the United States have not had, for a period of more than two years
previous to the arrival of this vessel, an American man-of-war, an
American consul, or a public functionary of any kind, on the southern
coast of Africa. In consequence, the slave-trade has been boldly
carried on under the American flag, while American legal traders have
been annoyed, both by the interferences of foreign cruisers at sea, and
custom-house restrictions and exactions in port.

“Checked as the slave-trade is for the time being, if vigilant cruising
were to be relaxed, or the coast left without a man-of-war, this trade
would soon revive; and even if with Brazil it should be suppressed,
then with Cuba it would break out, with greater virulence than ever, in
the Bight of Benin. Hence the importance of well-appointed cruisers for
its suppression, to say nothing of their agency in the vindication of
our commercial rights in the protection of legal traders.

“Eight smaller vessels, carrying the same number of guns, two of which
should be steamers, would not add materially to the expense, as coal
at Loanda may be purchased at ten dollars the ton, while they would
prove much more efficient than the vessels composing the present
squadron. These cruisers might each be assigned two hundred miles of
the slave-coast, having their provisions replenished by a store-ship
and flag-steamer; and once during the cruise--which should never
exceed twenty months--run into the trades, or to St. Helena, for the
purpose of recruiting the health of officers and men. The health of the
squadron under the present sanitary regulations, is as good as that
on any other station. This vessel, although in constant and active
service, with her boats, after cruising for the last sixteen months,
has not had a death on board. The Perry has served out no grog; and if
Congress would only do the navy in general the kindness to abolish the
whisky ration, which is ‘evil, and only evil, and that continually,’
all men-of-war, in health, comfort, morals, discipline and efficiency,
would be benefited. The climate has been urged as an objection to the
continuance of the squadron. This, as has been shown, is a groundless
objection; and were it not, it is an unmilitary objection, as the navy
is bound to perform all service, irrespective of danger to health and
life, which the honor and interests of the country require. It would
be a reflection on the chivalry of the service, to suppose that the
African squadron could not be well officered. Withdraw the squadrons on
the coast of Africa, and not only would Liberia suffer materially, but
the legal trade in ivory, gum-copal, palm-oil, copper and caoutchouc,
now in process of development along the line of coast, would soon be
broken up, and the entire coast handed over to the tender mercies of
piratical slave-traders.”

Portuguese, English and French men-of-war were lying at Loanda. The
Portuguese commodore had been uniformly attentive and courteous in
official and social intercourse. The navy-yard was freely offered
for the service of the vessel. One evening, on falling in with the
commodore at sea, the Perry beat to quarters; and the first intimation
given of the character of the vessel she met, was by the flag-ship
running across her stern, and playing “Hail Columbia.” In the last
interview, the commodore alluded to our correspondence with the British
officers, and expressed his gratification at the results. The French
commodore was an intelligent, active officer, whose squadron had made
several captures. He often expressed the wish that the Perry would
visit his friends, the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson and Mr. Bushnell, at
the Gaboon Mission, whom he regarded as being, in all respects, highly
creditable representatives of American benevolence and culture. The
character of the intercourse with the British commissioner may be
inferred from a letter to be introduced hereafter. The attentions of
the British consul, and in particular his politeness in furnishing
news and information from England, were highly appreciated. The agent
of the large and respectable house in Salem, Massachusetts, extended a
liberal hospitality to the American officers. The governor-general of
the province of Angola was a distinguished general in the Portuguese
service, and supported great state. He offered, in the complimentary
style of his country, the palace and its contents to the officers of
the Perry. Salutes had been exchanged with the garrison and all the
commodores on the station. The attentions extended to a small cruiser,
were the tribute paid to the only representative of a great and highly
respected nation.

Loanda, with its seventeen thousand inhabitants, numerous
fortifications, palace, churches and cathedral, its houses, many
being of stone, spacious and substantial, standing as it does on
an eminence, presents an impressive appearance, reminding one of a
somewhat dilapidated Italian city; while the frequent passing of a
palanquin, supported by two stout negroes, in which the movement is
agreeably undulating, recalls the eastern luxury of locomotion. But the
wealth and prosperity of Loanda have been dependent on the slave-trade.
In the year eighteen hundred and forty-eight, the amount of goods
entered for the legal trade, amounted to about ninety thousand dollars;
and at the same time, there were smuggled goods for the purposes
of the slave-trade, amounting to the sum of eight hundred thousand

On the 17th of May, the Perry took final leave of St. Paul de Loanda,
leaving a letter addressed to the commander of any U. S. cruiser on the
coast, and receiving from the British commissioner, a letter expressing
his views on the subject of the slave-trade, and of the agencies in
operation for its suppression. After cruising a day or two off Ambriz,
she bid adieu to the south African coast, and made all sail for the
island of St. Helena.

The letter addressed to the commander of any U. S. cruiser, was to the
following purport:

“Nothing has occurred to interrupt the cordial and harmonious
co-operation with the British men-of-war, during the present cruise on
the southern coast.

“The agent of the American House at Loanda asserts, that the presence
of our cruisers has had a salutary effect upon his interests. Formerly
there were many vexatious detentions in the clearance of vessels,
prohibitions of visiting vessels, &c., which are now removed. Having no
consul on the coast, he says that the interests of the House are liable
to be jeopardized on frivolous pretexts, in case that a man-of-war is
known to be withdrawn for any length of time.”

The letter of Sir George Jackson, the commissioner, received on leaving
Loanda, says:

“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the
7th instant, in which, referring to my official position and long
residence here, you request my opinion on the past and present state
of the slave-trade, and of the measures respectively adopted for its

“From the time I left your magnificent and interesting country, I have
been mostly engaged as H. M. commissioner in the mixed courts at Sierra
Leone, Rio de Janeiro, and for the last five years nearly, at this
place; but in all that long period, the present is the first occasion
when I could have answered your inquiry with any satisfaction. When you
did me the honor of calling upon me, on your first arrival here, in
March, 1850, I welcomed you with those feelings of pleasure, which the
recollection of kindnesses received in your country will ever excite in
my breast at the sight of an American; but I was far from anticipating
those benefits, in a public point of view, in a cause in which we both
take so deep an interest, which, I am happy to say, have resulted from
your appearance, and that of other vessels of the U.S. Navy, on this
coast, which soon followed you. During the four years preceding your
arrival, I did not see, and scarcely heard of one single American
officer on this station. The Marion and the Boxer did, indeed, if I
recollect right, anchor once or twice in this harbor, but they made no
stay in these parts. What was the consequence?

“The treaty of Washington proved almost a dead letter, as regarded
one of the contracting parties. And the abuse of the American flag
became too notorious, in promoting and abetting the slave-trade, to
make it necessary for me to refer further to it--more particularly in
addressing one who, himself, witnessed that abuse when at its height.

“The zeal and activity displayed by yourself and brother officers,
and the seizures which were the results of them, at once changed the
face of things. The actual loss which the traffic has sustained, and
still more the dread of those further losses which they anticipated,
on seeing the U. S. squadron prepared to confront them at those very
haunts to which they had been accustomed to repair with impunity,
and determined to vindicate the honor of their insulted flag, which
they had too long been allowed to prostitute, struck terror into
those miscreants on both sides of the Atlantic. And from the date
of those very opportune captures, not a vessel illicitly assuming
American colors has been seen on the coast; and, as it was upon the
abuse of that flag, aided by the facility which the system of granting
sea-letters afforded, that the slave-traders have mainly relied for
the prosecution of their nefarious traffic, the suppression of that
abuse by the joint exertions of Her Majesty’s squadron with that of
the United States, has given a blow to the slave-trade which, combined
with the change of policy on that subject on the part of the Brazilian
government, will, I hope and believe, go far, if not to extinguish it
altogether, at least very materially to circumscribe its operations.

“The effect of what I have above stated has, as you know, for some time
past, shown itself very sensibly at this place: money is exceedingly
scarce--slaves hardly find purchasers. Failures of men who have
hitherto figured as among the chief merchants of this city, have
already occurred, and others are anticipated, and a general want of
confidence prevails.

“We must not, however, allow ourselves to be deceived either by our own
too sanguine expectations, or the interested representations of others.
The enemy is only defeated, not subdued; on the slightest relaxation
on our part, he would rally, and the work would have to be commenced
_de novo_. Nor, I should say, from my knowledge of the Brazils, must
we reckon too confidently on the continuance of the measures which the
Imperial Government appears now to be adopting. Giving the present
administration every credit for sincerity and good intentions, we must
not shut our eyes to the proofs, which have hitherto been so frequent
and so overwhelming, of the power of the slave-trade interest in
that country. We must act as if we still wanted the advantage of her
co-operation; and in this view it is, that I cannot too forcibly insist
on the absolute necessity of the continuation of our naval exertions,
which, so far from being diminished, ought as far as possible, I
conceive, to be still further increased, till this hideous hydra shall
be finally and forever destroyed. Then when its last head shall be
cut off, colonization, which till then, like other plans, can only be
regarded as auxiliary to the great work, may step in and prosper, and
commerce, dipping her wings in the gall of the slain monster, shall
rise triumphant.

“It would not be becoming in me, in addressing an American citizen, to
do more than to testify to the mischiefs occasioned by the system I
have already alluded to, of granting sea-letters; but I should hope,
upon due investigation it would be found very practicable to deny such
letters to vessels sailing to the coast of Africa, without at all
interfering with the interest or freedom of licit trade.

“I have thus, very imperfectly, I fear, complied with your
request--purposely abstaining from a detailed recapitulation of those
occurrences which, if they took place in these parts, you have yourself
been an eye-witness to; or with which, if they happened in a more
remote quarter, you have had opportunities of being made acquainted,
from better sources than I can command.

“I cannot, however, quit this subject without indulging in a feeling
of gratification, if not of exultation, at the singular coincidence,
or rather, I should say, contrast, between my present employment, and
that which occupied me for four years in the United States.

“I was then associated with your distinguished countryman, Langdon
Cheeves, engaged in appraising the value of human beings like
ourselves--regarded as mere goods and chattels. I have been since that
time chiefly occupied in restoring that same unhappy class to freedom
and to their natural rights, and in giving effect to that increasing
and disinterested perseverance in this righteous cause, on the part of
my government and country, which will form one of the brightest pages
in its history. Glad am I to think that the United States are disposed
to join heart and hand with Great Britain in so blessed an undertaking;
and oh, that I could hear my _ci-devant_ and much respected colleague
sympathize with me in this feeling, and know that his powerful voice
and energies were exerted in the same cause!”

The run of the Perry to St. Helena occupied eight days. On approaching
the island it was distinctly seen at the distance of sixty-four miles.
After making a short, but an exceedingly interesting visit, the vessel
sailed, making a passage of nine days to Monrovia; and from thence
proceeded to Porto Praya, arriving on the 30th of June.

[10] Parliamentary reports, 1850. H. L. evidence.



More than eighteen months had elapsed since the arrival of the vessel
on the coast; and orders from the Navy Department, to proceed to the
United States, were believed to be waiting at Porto Praya. No such
orders, however, were received. But instructions had been issued by
the new commodore, who had sailed a few days previously, either to
remain at Porto Praya, or proceed to the island of Madeira. The latter
alternative was adopted; and seven weeks were as agreeably spent in
Madeira, as was consistent with our disappointment in proceeding to
this genial climate, instead of returning home, for the purpose of
recruiting health and strength, enfeebled by long service on the
African coast. A portion of the crew were daily on shore for the sake
of relaxation and enjoyment.

The princely hospitality of the American consul, Mr. March, in opening
his splendid mansion to the American officers, and at all times
receiving them at his table, is worthy of grateful acknowledgment.
Several English and Portuguese families extended a generous
hospitality to the officers; and the intercourse with Lord and Lady
Newborough, whose steam yacht was lying in port, contributed much to
the satisfaction with which the time was spent at Madeira. The noble
party dipped their colors three times, on separating, which was duly

On returning to the Cape Verde Islands, a brisk gale from the eastward
induced the Perry to run into Porto Grande, St. Vincent’s Island, which
is the largest and most commodious harbor in the group.

The master of an American vessel, when calling on board, in company
with the consul, communicated a report that the American brigantine
Louisa Beaton, a few months previously, had been denounced by the
British consul to the governor-general of these islands, as a vessel
engaged in the slave-trade. The American consul had heard the report,
but being informed that the information was communicated _unofficially_
to the governor-general, had taken no action in the case. The
commander of the Perry, with the consul, then called on the collector
of the port, and after learning the facts, addressed, on the 29th of
September, a letter to the collector, requesting official information
in reference to the agency that the British consul had had in inducing
the governor-general of the Cape Verde Islands to direct a search to
be made of the Louisa Beaton, on suspicion of her being engaged in the

The collector, in reply, stated that the governor-general had not
ordered any survey or visit on board the Louisa Beaton, but had
directed him to state what was true in regard to the aforesaid vessel
suspected of being employed in the slave-trade; as a representation
had been made to his Excellency, by the consul for her British Majesty
for these islands, in which the consul stated his belief that the said
brig had on board irons, pots, and all other utensils and preparations
necessary for that traffic; and also that he knew of a load of slaves
being already bargained for, for the said vessel.

A letter of the same day’s date was then addressed to her British
Majesty’s consul, stating that the commander was credibly informed
that, during the month of May he had denounced the Louisa Beaton to the
governor-general, on suspicion of her being engaged in the slave-trade,
and requested him to state by what authority he made the denunciation;
also, the grounds upon which his suspicions of the illegal character of
the vessel were founded.

In reply, on the same day, the British consul stated that it was upon
the very best authority that could be given; but he regretted that it
was not in his power to name his authority. But that the character
and former proceedings of the Louisa Beaton were quite sufficient to
be referred to, to show that her proceedings were even then strongly

In a letter to the British consul, of the same day’s date, the
commander informed him that he regretted that the consul did not
feel at liberty to disclose the authority upon which he had acted in
denouncing the American brigantine Louisa Beaton, for it had been
with the hope that he would in a measure be able to relieve himself
of an act of interference in a matter in which he, the consul, had
no concern, that chiefly induced the commander to address him.
As, however, he had failed to assign any reason for that act of
interference with a vessel belonging to the United States, it had
become a duty to apprise him that the government of the United States
would not permit an officer of any other government to interfere,
officially or otherwise, with any vessel entitled to wear their flag;
and that he had to suggest to the consul, that hereafter, should he
have any cause to suspect any such vessel sailing in violation of
a municipal law of the United States, he would content himself by
giving information of the fact to some officer or agent of the United
States: that such officer or agent would at all times be found near his

The commander further stated that he might then, with propriety,
dismiss the subject, but that justice to the owners of the Louisa
Beaton required him further to state, that the consul’s information,
come from what source it might, of the Louisa Beaton’s being engaged in
the slave-trade, was not entitled to any credit. And in reference to
“the character and former proceedings of that vessel,” the commander
would inform him, that the British officer commanding the southern
division of Her Majesty’s squadron had disavowed to him, in September,
eighteen hundred and fifty, the act of boarding and detaining the said
brigantine Louisa Beaton by another British cruiser; and also had
proposed a pecuniary remuneration for the satisfaction of the master
of the said vessel; in reference to which the commander declined any
agency, deeming it rather to be his duty to report the matter, which
was accordingly done, to the government of the United States. And
further, that in the month of June, eighteen hundred and fifty-one, he
had himself examined the Louisa Beaton, at the island of St. Helena,
and that at the date of his communication to the governor-general
affecting her character, she was a legal trader.

On the day following, as the Perry was about leaving Porto Grande, a
letter was received from the British consul, in which he remarked,
that he must be permitted to say, that he could not acknowledge the
right of the American commander to question his conduct in the
slightest degree; that when he gave a reply to the commander’s first
letter, it was a mere act of courtesy upon his part; and that the
language and bearing evinced in the last letter which he had received,
compelled him to inform the commander that he declined any further
correspondence, but to remark, that he should continue the course he
had hitherto pursued, in denouncing all slave-vessels that came in his
way, and should not fail to lay a copy of the correspondence before Her
Majesty’s government.

The Perry anchored in Porto Praya on the following day; and a
letter was immediately addressed to the commodore, which furnished
information of the occurrences at Porto Grande. The commander added,
that in his interview, in company with the American consul, with the
collector of the port, the collector had read to him a letter from the
governor-general of the islands, from which it was evident that the
Louisa Beaton had been denounced by the British consul. A copy of the
governor-general’s letter having been requested, it was refused; but
when it was intimated that he ought to have informed our consul of
the action of the British consul in the case, and that the relations
between the United States and Portugal were of a character which should
lead him to communicate, promptly, any action or information given by a
foreign officer, bearing upon American vessels or American interests;
the collector replied to this that he would, if officially requested,
communicate the required information. This was accordingly done.

It was further stated, that, pending the correspondence, the British
mail steam-packet arrived, with the Hon. David Tod, late American
minister at the court of Brazil, on board, to whom the matter of the
British consul’s interference was referred for counsel; and that the
minister approved the course pursued, remarking that it was a case of
unwarrantable interference on the part of a foreign officer, which, on
our part, demanded prompt notice.

While lying in Porto Praya, a suspicious-looking brigantine, under
Brazilian colors, appeared off the harbor. The hull, rigging,
maneuvering, and the number of men on board, indicated her to be a
slaver. In a letter to the commodore, the agency of the Perry in the
capture of this vessel was explained in the following terms.

“On the 13th instant, a brigantine arrived in this port, under
Brazilian colors. A boat was dispatched from the Perry to ascertain
(without boarding, as the custom-house boat had not visited her) where
she was from, where bound, and what news she had to communicate. She
reported Brazilian nationality, last from Trinidad de Cuba, with
sand-ballast. As soon as the vessel had anchored the custom-house
boat pulled alongside to pay the usual visit, but, without boarding
her, proceeded to the Perry, when the officer stated that the said
brigantine had the small-pox on board, and had been placed in
quarantine. A request was then made from the authorities on shore,
not to permit her to leave the port previous to the settlement of her
bills for the provisions which were to be furnished. The commander
deeming it rather a duty to ascertain the real character of the vessel,
than to act as a police for the authorities, communicated his doubts
of her having the small-pox on board, intimating that the report was
probably a _ruse_ for the purpose of avoiding an examination, as he
strongly suspected her of being a slaver, and requested that the Perry
might board the vessel. This was declined, as she was in quarantine.
It was then suggested to the officer to pull under the bows of the
vessel, take her papers, and submit them to a critical examination,
which might give a clue to her real character. This was done; and the
papers were found too informal to entitle her to the protection of any
state or nation. She was then boarded by the governor and collector,
who, finding no small-pox on board, requested the commander of the
Perry to furnish an officer, with a gang of men, to assist in making a
thorough search of the vessel. This request was complied with, in the
full understanding that she was under Portuguese jurisdiction, and that
the search was to be made under the direction of the collector, as
a matter of accommodation, in the light of rendering assistance to a
foreign service.

“After completing the search, which confirmed the suspicions of the
vessel’s character, the first-lieutenant of the Perry, at the request
of the collector, was directed to take the slaver to the inner harbor,
and to unbend her sails.”

The commodore not arriving at Porto Praya, the Perry ran up to Porto
Grande, and, on the twenty-second day of October, a copy of the
correspondence with the British consul, in reference to the Louisa
Beaton, was forwarded to the Navy Department, at Washington.

After her return to Porto Praya, to wait the arrival of the squadron,
on the eleventh of November, the John Adams made her appearance, and
was followed, on the succeeding day, by the flag-ship. The commodore
had received triplicate orders to send the Perry to the United States.
The proceedings of the vessel, during her absence from the squadron,
were approved by the commodore; and on the fifteenth day of December
she stood out of the harbor, homeward bound, exchanging three cheers
successively with the Porpoise, the John Adams, and the Germantown.

On arriving at New York, and reporting the vessel, a letter, dated
December 26th, was received from the Secretary of the Navy, of which
the following is the concluding paragraph: “The Department tenders its
congratulations upon your safe return to your country and friends,
after an active cruise on the coast of Africa; during which, your
course has met the approbation of the Department.”



Where a nation has commerce, it has a dwelling-place--a scene of action
and of traffic on the sea. It ought to find its government there also.
The people have a right to be protected, and the government is bound to
enforce that right wherever they go. If they visit foreign countries,
they have a right to just treatment. The traveller--the merchant--the
missionary--the person of whatever character, if an American citizen,
can demand justice. The sea is no foreign territory. Where a merchant
vessel bears its country’s flag, it covers its country’s territory.
Government is instituted to be watchful for the interests and safety
of its citizens. A navy is the organ through which it acts. People on
shore see nothing of this kind of governmental protection. There is
there no marching and drumming, or clearing the streets with horsemen
or footmen, or feathers and trumpets. It is the merchant who is most
directly benefited by naval protection; and yet all classes share
in its advantages. The planter and the manufacturer are interested
in safe and free commerce; our citizens generally avow that they are
also interested, by the sensitiveness with which the rights of our
flag are regarded. It is more politic to prevent wrong than to punish
it; therefore we have police in our streets, and locks on our doors.
The shores of civilized governments are the mutual boundaries of
nations. Our government is disposed to show itself there, for there
are its people, and there are their interests. The shores of savage
lands are our confines with savages. Just as forts are required on
the frontiers of the Camanches or Utahs, so are they at Ambriz or
Sumatra. Cruisers are the nation’s fortresses abroad, employed for
the benefit of her citizens, and the security of their commerce. It
would be discreditable, as well as unsafe, to trust to a foreign power
to keep down piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, or in the West Indies
and in the China seas. As commerce extends, so does the necessity
of its supervision and defence extend. The navy therefore requires
augmentation, and for the reasons assigned in the late report of the
Head of that Department, it may be inferred that it will have it, in
reorganized and greatly improved efficiency.

On this subject, the following are extracts, in substance, from a
lecture delivered on the evening of February 3d, 1854, before the New
York Mercantile Library Association, by the Hon. Mr. Stanton, of
Tennessee, the chairman of the judiciary committee of the U. S. House
of Representatives, and for a long time chairman of the naval committee
of that body:

“A strong naval power is the best promoter of commerce, and hence men
engaged in commercial pursuits, cannot but feel an interest in the
history of the rise and progress of that navy, to which the successes
of their business undertakings are principally due. At a very early
period, navies became an indispensable power in war. The later
invention of ordnance, and the still more recent application of steam
as a motive power to ships of war, render it at present a question of
some difficulty, to predict the extent to which naval military power
may hereafter arrive.

“What we have to do in times of peace, is to maintain our naval
force in the highest state of efficiency of which it is capable, and
ready to enter upon action at a moment’s warning. With the lessons
of the British war before us, it cannot be possible that the recent
experiments of Lieutenant Dahlgren at Washington, and the discoveries
which have resulted from them, will fail to prove of high practical
service. But with all our appliances or discoveries in this regard,
we cannot conceal from ourselves the fact, that we are behind other
nations in all that concerns the structure of our ships.

“We must have machinery and all proper appliances, as well as the raw
materials, for the construction of a naval power when required. We
must have independent establishments on both sides of the continent,
to protect our Pacific as well as our Atlantic coasts, which should be
connected by a railroad stretching across the breadth of the country.
The requirements of commerce, and the advances which it has been
making in increasing the facilities for navigation, will force us into
improvements in our naval power, in order to uphold our commerce.

“It may be safely presumed, that at the present state of our affairs, a
moderate and efficient navy would be a great civilizing power; it would
hover around the path of our ships, and by the very exhibition of its
power suppress all attempts to molest them in their mission of peace
and brotherhood across the seas. But in addition to this, our navy is
even now aiding strenuously in the march of geographical discovery, and
in enlarging our stock of scientific knowledge, and our familiarity
with the facts of physical philosophy. When we consider the character
of our institutions--when we consider that our great interests lie
in the paths of peace--we must be impressed with the fact, that
the contributions to science, and the civilizing influences of our
navy, are one of the most powerful means by which we can uphold our
interests, and carry out our institutions to the fullest development
of which they are capable.

“Under all circumstances and all disadvantages, the navy has never, at
any period of our history, failed to do honor to itself, and to shed
lustre on the American character. From the Revolutionary war down to
the late conquest of Mexico, in every case in which its co-operation
was at all possible, it has given proofs of activity and power equal to
the proud and commanding position we are to occupy among the nations
of the earth. We have opportunities to supply the service with the
means of moral and physical progress, to free it from the shackles of
old forms, and suffer it to clothe itself with the panoply of modern
science, and to be identified with the spread of civilization and
enlightenment over the world. It will continue to be our pride and our
boast, the worthy representative upon the ocean, of the genius, the
skill, and the enterprise of our people--of the boundless resources of
our growing country--of the power, and grandeur, and glory, as well as
the justice and humanity of our free institutions.”

The legislatures of some states, the reports of some auxiliary
colonization societies, the speeches of some distinguished senators
and representatives in congress, the addresses of some colonization
agents, have represented the great sacrifice of life and treasure in
“unsuccessful efforts,” by the African squadron, for the extermination
of the slave-trade, and proposed to withdraw it. Whereas, it has
been shown that the African squadrons, instead of being useless,
have rendered _essential service_. For much as colonization has
accomplished, and effectual as Liberia is in suppressing the
slave-traffic within her own jurisdiction, these means and these
results have been established and secured by the presence and
protection of the naval squadrons of Great Britain, France and the
United States. And had no such assistance been rendered, the entire
coast, where we now see legal trade and advancing civilization, would
have been at this day, in spite of any efforts to colonize, or to
establish legal commerce, the scene of unchecked, lawless slave-trade

Strange and frightful maladies have been engendered by the cruelties
perpetrated within the hold of a slaver. If any disease affecting the
human constitution were brought there, we may be sure that it would be
nursed into mortal vigor in these receptacles of filth, corruption and
despair. Crews have been known to die by the fruit of their own crime,
and leave ships almost helpless. They have carried the scourge with
them. The coast fever of Africa, bad enough where it has its birth,
came in these vessels, and has assumed perhaps a permanent abode in
the western regions of the world. No fairer sky or healthier climate
were there on earth, than in the beautiful bay, and amid the grand and
picturesque scenery of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. But it became a haunt
of slavers, and the dead of Africa floated on the glittering waters,
and were tumbled upon the sands of its harbor. The shipping found, in
the hot summer of 1849, that death had come with the slavers. Thirty
or forty vessels were lying idly at their anchors, for their crews had
mostly perished. The pestilence swept along the coast of that empire
with fearful malignity.

Cuba for the same crime met the same retribution. Cargoes of slaves
were landed to die, and brought the source of their mortality ashore,
vigorous and deadly. The fever settled there in the beginning of 1853,
and came to our country, as summer approached, in merchant vessels from
the West Indies. At New Orleans, Mobile, and other places it spread
desolation, over which the country mourned. Let it be remembered that
it is never even safe to disregard crime.

Civilized governments are now very generally united in measures for
the suppression of the slave-trade. The coast of Africa itself is
rapidly closing against it. The American and English colonies secure
a vast extent of sea-coast against its revival. Christian missions,
at many points, are inculcating the doctrines of divine truth, which,
by its power upon the hearts of men, is the antagonist to such cruel

The increase of commerce, and the advance of Christian civilization,
will undoubtedly, at no distant date, render a naval force for the
suppression of the African slave-trade unnecessary; but no power having
extensive commerce ought ever to overlook the necessity of a naval
force on that coast. The Secretary of the Navy, it is to be hoped, has,
in his recent report, settled the question as to the continuance of the
African squadron.

The increasing influence of Liberia and Cape Palmas will prove a
powerful protection to their colored brethren everywhere. “With them
Sierra Leone will unite in feeling and purposes. Their policy will
always be the same. It must necessarily happen that a close political
relationship in interests and feelings will unite them all in one
system of action. Their policy will be that of uncompromising hostility
to the slave-trade.

There are two aspects of this question well worthy of consideration:

The Liberians are freemen, recognized as having their proper standing
among the nations of the world. The people of Sierra Leone are
Englishmen, having the legal rights of that kingdom. Therefore, seizing
the citizens of either the one or the other community in time of peace,
and carrying them captive to be sold, amounts to the greatest crime
which can be committed on the ocean.

Now as this may be surmised in the case of all slavers on that coast,
the guilt of the slaver in the eye of national law becomes greater than
before; and the peril greater. It may be presumed that if a case were
established against any slave cargo, that it contained one of either
of the above-mentioned description of persons, the consequences to the
slavers, whatever their nation might be, would be much more serious
than has hitherto been the case.

But a principle of higher justice ought long ago to have been kept in
view, and acted upon. Let the caitiff have his “pound of flesh,” but
“not one drop of blood.” If a man throttles another, or suffocates
him for want of air, or stows eight hundred people in a ship’s hold,
where he knows that one or two hundred in the “middle passage” will
necessarily die, every such death is a _murder_, and each man aboard of
such vessel who has any agency in procuring or forwarding this cargo,
is a _murderer_. It has therefore been contrary to justice, that the
perpetrators of such crimes should have been dismissed with impunity
when captured. Such considerations ought to weigh with men in the

There has been already a commencement of a coasting trade, conducted
by colored men. There is a Liberian man-of-war schooner, the “Lark,”
Lieutenant-Commanding Cooper; and the English, after furnishing
the schooner, have proffered the assistance of her navy officers to
instruct the young aspirants of the republic, in the art of sailing the
cruiser, and in the science of naval warfare. Captain Cooper will not
take exception at the remark, that it is “the day of small things” with
the Liberian navy. But his flag bears the star of hope to a vigorous
young naval power.

A returning of recaptured slaves, instructed and civilized, to the
lands which gave them birth, has taken place. Some hundreds passed
by Lagos, and were assailed and plundered. Some hundreds passed by
Badagry, and were welcomed with kind treatment. The one occurrence
reminded them of African darkness, obduracy and crime; the other of
the softening and elevating effects which Christianity strives to
introduce. They have gone to establish Christian churches, and have
established them there. Such things we are sure have been reported
far in the interior, and Christianity now stands contrasted with
Mohammedanism, as being the deliverer, while the latter is still
the enslaver. The report must also have gone over the whole broad
intertropical continent, that Christian nations have joined together
for African deliverance; and that for purposes so high the race of
Africa has returned from the west, and by imitation of western policy
and religion, is establishing a restorative influence on their own

There has thus been presented a view of Africa and of its progress,
as far as its condition and advancement have had any relation to our
country and its flag. How far its growth in civilization has been
dependent on the efforts of America has been illustrated; and how
essentially the naval interference of the United States has contributed
to this end, has been made evident. It cannot escape notice that this
progress must in the future depend on the same means and the same
efforts. Our own national interests, being those of a commercial
people, require the presence of a squadron. Under its protection
commerce is secure, and is daily increasing in extent and value.

It is impossible to say how lucrative this commerce may ultimately
become. That the whole African coast should assume the aspect of
Liberia, is perhaps not an unreasonable expectation. That Liberia will
continue to grow in wealth and influence, is not improbable. There is
intelligence among its people, and wisdom and energy in its councils.
There is no reason to believe that this will not continue. Its position
makes it an agricultural community. Other lands must afford its
manufactures and its traders. There will, therefore, ever be on its
shores a fair field for American enterprise.

The reduction, or annihilation of the slave-trade, is opening the whole
of these vast regions to science and legal commerce. Let America
take her right share in them. It is throwing wide the portals of the
continent for the entrance of Christian civilization. Let our country
exert its full proportion of this influence; and thus recompense to
Africa the wrongs inflicted upon her people, in which hitherto all
nations have participated.


Transcriber’s Notes

In a few places, obviously missing punctuation has been added.

Page 158: “some time under Amercan” changed to “some time under

Page 182: “bearing the the Liberian” changed to “bearing the Liberian”


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