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Title: A caution to Great Britain and her colonies
Author: Benezet, Anthony
Language: English
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                            _GREAT BRITAIN_
                             HER COLONIES,
                                  IN A
                          SHORT REPRESENTATION
                                 OF THE
                        CALAMITOUS STATE of the
                            ENSLAVED NEGROES
                                 IN THE
                           BRITISH DOMINIONS.

                             A NEW EDITION.

                            BY ANT. BENEZET.

                PHILADELPHIA Printed: LONDON Reprinted
                  and Sold by JAMES PHILLIPS, in
                  GEORGE-YARD, LOMBARD-STREET. 1784.

                            A CAUTION, &c.

At a time when the general rights and liberties of mankind, and the
preservation of those valuable privileges transmitted to us from our
ancestors, are become so much the subjects of universal consideration;
can it be an inquiry indifferent to any, how many of those who
distinguish themselves as the Advocates of Liberty, remain insensible
and inattentive to the treatment of thousands and tens of thousands of
our fellow men, who, from motives of avarice, and the inexorable decree
of tyrant custom, are at this very time kept in the most deplorable
state of Slavery, in many parts of the _British_ Dominions?

The intent of publishing the following sheets, is more fully to
make known the aggravated iniquity attending the practice of the
Slave-Trade; whereby many thousands of our fellow-creatures, as free
as ourselves by nature, and equally with us the subjects of Christ’s
redeeming Grace, are yearly brought into inextricable and barbarous
bondage; and many, very many, to miserable and untimely ends.

The Truth of this lamentable Complaint is so obvious to persons of
candour, under whose notice it hath fallen, that several have lately
published their sentiments thereon, as a matter which calls for the
most serious consideration of all who are concerned for the civil or
religious welfare of their Country. How an evil of so deep a dye, hath
so long, not only passed uninterrupted by those in Power, but hath even
had their Countenance, is indeed surprising; and charity would suppose,
must in a great measure have arisen from this, that many persons in
government, both of the Clergy and Laity, in whose power it hath been
to put a stop to the Trade, have been unacquainted with the corrupt
motives which gives life to it, and with the groans, the dying groans,
which daily ascend to God, the common Father of mankind, from the
broken hearts of those his deeply oppressed creatures: otherwise the
powers of the earth would not, I think I may venture to say could not,
have so long authorized a practice so inconsistent with every idea of
liberty and justice, which, as the learned _James Foster_ says, _Bids
that God, which is the God and Father of the_ Gentiles, _unconverted
to_ Christianity, _most daring and bold defiance; and spurns at all
the principles both of natural and revealed Religion_.

Much might justly be said of the temporal evils which attend this
practice, as it is destructive of the welfare of human society, and
of the peace and prosperity of every country, in proportion as it
prevails. It might be also shewn, that it destroys the bonds of natural
affection and interest, whereby mankind in general are united; that it
introduces idleness, discourages marriage, corrupts the youth, ruins
and debauches morals, excites continual apprehensions of dangers, and
frequent alarms, to which the Whites are necessarily exposed from so
great an increase of a People, that, by their Bondage and Oppressions,
become natural enemies, yet, at the same time, are filling the places
and eating the bread of those who would be the Support and Security
of the Country. But as these and many more reflections of the same
kind, may occur to a considerate mind, I shall only endeavour to
shew, from the nature of the Trade, the plenty which _Guinea_ affords
to its inhabitants, the barbarous Treatment of the Negroes, and the
Observations made thereon by Authors of note, that it is inconsistent
with the plainest Precepts of the Gospel, the dictates of reason, and
every common sentiment of humanity.

In an Account of the _European_ Settlements in _America_, printed
in _London_, 1757, the Author, speaking on this Subject, says: ‘The
Negroes in our Colonies endure a Slavery more complete, and attended
with far worse circumstances than what any people in their condition
suffer in any other part of the world, or have suffered in any other
period of time: Proofs of this are not wanting. The prodigious waste
which we experience in this unhappy part of our Species, is a full
and melancholy Evidence of this Truth. The Island of _Barbadoes_ (the
Negroes upon which do not amount to eighty thousand) notwithstanding
all the means which they use to encrease them by Propagation, and that
the Climate is in every respect (except that of being more wholesome)
exactly resembling the Climate from whence they come; notwithstanding
all this, _Barbadoes_ lies under a necessity of an annual recruit
of five thousand slaves, to keep up the stock at the number I have
mentioned. This prodigious failure, which is at least in the same
proportion in all our Islands, shews demonstratively that some uncommon
and unsupportable Hardship lies upon the Negroes, which wears them
down in such a surprising manner; and this, I imagine, is principally
the excessive labour which they undergo.’ In an Account of part of
_North-America_, published by _Thomas Jeffery_, printed 1761, speaking
of the usage the Negroes receive in the _West-India_ Islands, he thus
expresses himself: ‘It is impossible for a human heart to reflect
upon the servitude of these dregs of mankind, without in some measure
feeling for their misery, which ends but with their lives.——Nothing
can be more wretched than the condition of this People. One would
imagine, they were framed to be the disgrace of the human species:
banished from their Country, and deprived of that blessing, Liberty, on
which all other nations set the greatest value, they are in a manner
reduced to the condition of beasts of burden. In general a few roots,
potatoes especially, are their food; and two rags, which neither screen
them from the heat of the day, nor the extraordinary coolness of the
night, all their covering; their sleep very short; their labour almost
continual; they receive no wages, but have twenty lashes for the
smallest fault.’

A considerate young person, who was lately in one of our _West-India_
Islands, where he observed the miserable situation of the Negroes,
makes the following remarks: ‘I meet with daily exercise, to see the
treatment which these miserable wretches meet with from their masters,
with but few exceptions. They whip them most unmercifully, on small
occasions; they beat them with thick Clubs, and you will see their
Bodies all whaled and scarred: in short, they seem to set no other
value on their lives than as they cost them so much money; and are not
retrained from killing them, when angry, by a worthier consideration
than that they lose so much. They act as though they did not look upon
them as a race of human creatures, who have reason, and remembrance
of misfortunes; but as beasts, like oxen, who are stubborn, hardy and
senseless, fit for burdens, and designed to bear them. They will not
allow them to have any claim to human privileges, or scarce, indeed,
to be regarded as the work of God. Though it was consistent with the
justice of our Maker to pronounce the sentence on our common parent,
and through him on all succeeding generations, _That he and they
should eat their bread by the sweat of their brow_; yet does it not
stand recorded by the same Eternal Truth, _That the Labourer is worthy
of his Hire_? It cannot be allowed in natural justice, that there
should be a servitude without condition: A cruel endless servitude. It
cannot be reconcileable to natural justice, that whole nations, nay,
whole continents of men, should be devoted to do the drudgery of life
for others, be dragged away from their attachments of relations and
societies, and made to serve the appetites and pleasures of a race of
men, whose superiority has been obtained by an illegal force.’

A particular account of the treatment these unhappy _Africans_ receive
in the _West-Indies_ was lately published, which, even by those who,
blinded by interest, seek excuses for the Trade, and endeavour to
palliate the cruelty exercised upon them, is allowed to be a true,
though rather too favourable representation of the usage they receive,
which is as follows, _viz._ ‘The iniquity of the Slave-trade is greatly
aggravated by the inhumanity with which the Negroes are treated in the
Plantations, as well with respect to food and clothing, as from the
unreasonable labour which is commonly exacted from them. To which may
be added the cruel chastisements they frequently suffer, without any
other bounds than the will and wrath of their hard task-masters. In
_Barbadoes_, and some other of the Islands, six pints of _Indian_ corn
and three herrings are reckoned a full weeks allowance for a working
slave, and in the System of Geography it is said, _That in_ Jamaica
_the owners of the Negroe-slaves, set aside for each a parcel of
ground, and allow them_ Sundays _to manure it, the produce of which_,
with sometimes a few herrings, or other salt-fish, _is all that is
allowed for their support_. Their allowance for clothing in the Islands
is seldom more than six yards of osenbrigs each year: And in the more
northern Colonies, where the piercing westerly winds are long and
sensibly felt, these poor _Africans_ suffer much for want of sufficient
clothing, indeed some have none till they are able to pay for it by
their labour. The time that the Negroes work in the _West-Indies_,
is from day-break till noon; then again from two o’clock till dusk:
(during which time they are attended by overseers, who severely scourge
those who appear to them dilatory) and before they are suffered to
go to their quarters, they have still something to do, as collecting
of herbage for the horses, gathering fuel for the boilers, _etc._ so
that it is often half past twelve before they can get home, when they
have scarce time to grind and boil their _Indian_ corn; whereby it
often happens that they are called again to labour before they can
satisfy their Hunger. And here no delay or excuse will avail, for if
they are not in the Field immediately upon the usual notice, they must
expect to feel the Overseer’s Lash. In crop-time (which lasts many
months) they are obliged (by turns) to work most of the night in the
boiling-house. Thus their Owners, from a desire of making the greatest
gain by the labour of their slaves, lay heavy Burdens on them, and yet
feed and clothe them very sparingly, and some scarce feed or clothe
them at all, so that the poor creatures are obliged to shift for their
living in the best manner they can, which occasions their being often
killed in the neighbouring lands, stealing potatoes, or other food, to
satisfy their hunger. And if they take any thing from the plantation
they belong to, though under such pressing want, their owners will
correct them severely, for taking a little of what they have so hardly
laboured for, whilst they themselves riot in the greatest luxury and
excess.—It is a matter of astonishment, how a people, who, as a nation,
are looked upon as generous and humane, and so much value themselves
for their uncommon sense of the Benefit of Liberty, can live in the
practice of such extreme oppression and inhumanity, without seeing the
inconsistency of such conduct, and without feeling great Remorse: Nor
is it less amazing to hear these men calmly making calculations about
the strength and lives of their fellow-men; in _Jamaica_, if six in
ten, of the new imported Negroes survive the seasoning, it is looked
upon as a gaining purchase: And in most of the other plantations,
if the Negroes live eight or nine years, their labour is reckoned a
sufficient compensation for their cost.——If calculations of this sort
were made upon the strength and labour of beasts of burden, it would
not appear so strange; but even then a merciful man would certainly
use his beast with more mercy than is usually shewn to the poor
Negroes.—Will not the groans of this deeply afflicted and oppressed
people reach Heaven, and when the cup of iniquity is full, must not
the inevitable consequence be pouring forth of the judgments of God
upon their oppressors. But, alas! is it not too manifest that this
oppression has already long been the object of the divine displeasure;
for what heavier judgment, what greater calamity can befall any people,
than to become a prey to that hardness of heart, that forgetfulness of
God, and insensibility to every religious impression; as well as that
general depravation of manners, which so much prevails in the Colonies,
in proportion as they have more or less enriched themselves, at the
expence of the blood and bondage of the Negroes.’

The situation of the Negroes in our Southern provinces on the
Continent, is also feelingly set forth by _George Whitfield_, in a
Letter from _Georgia_, to the Inhabitants of _Maryland_, _Virginia_,
_North_ and _South-Carolina_, printed in the Year 1739, of which the
following is an extract: ‘As I lately passed through your provinces,
in my way hither, I was sensibly touched with a fellow-feeling of the
miseries of the poor Negroes. Whether it be lawful for _Christians_
to buy slaves, and thereby encourage the Nations from whom they are
bought, to be at perpetual war with each other, I shall not take upon
me to determine; sure I am, it is sinful, when bought, to use them as
bad, nay worse than as though they were brutes; and whatever particular
exception there may be, (as I would charitably hope there are some)
I fear the generality of you, that own Negroes, are liable to such a
charge; for your slaves, I believe, work as hard, if not harder, than
the horses whereon you ride. These, after they have done their work,
are fed and taken proper care of; but many Negroes, when wearied with
labour, in your plantations, have been obliged to grind their own corn,
after they return home. Your dogs are caressed and fondled at your
table; but your slaves, who are frequently stiled dogs or beasts, have
not an equal privilege; they are scarce permitted to pick up the crumbs
which fall from their master’s table.—Not to mention what numbers have
been given up to the inhuman usage of cruel task-masters, who, by
their unrelenting scourges, have ploughed their backs, and made long
furrows, and at length brought them even to death. When passing along,
I have viewed your plantations cleared and cultivated, many spacious
houses built, and the owners of them faring sumptuously every day, my
blood has frequently almost run cold within me, to consider how many
of your slaves had neither convenient food to eat, or proper raiment
to put on, notwithstanding most of the comforts you enjoy were solely
owing to their indefatigable labours.—The Scripture says, _Thou shalt
not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn_. Does God take care
for oxen? and will he not take care of the Negroes also? undoubtedly
he will.—Go to now ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that
shall come upon you: Behold the provision of the poor Negroes, who
have reaped down your fields, which is by you denied them, crieth; and
the cries of them which reaped, are entered into the ears of the Lord
of Sabbath. We have a remarkable instance of God’s taking cognizance
of, and avenging the quarrel of poor slaves, 2 Sam. xxi. 1. _There was
a famine in the days of_ David _three years, year after year; and_
David _enquired of the Lord: And the Lord answered, It is for_ Saul,
_and for his bloody house, because he slew the_ Gibeonites. Two things
are here very remarkable: First, These _Gibeonites_ were only hewers
of wood and drawers of water, or in other words, slaves like yours.
Secondly, That this plague was sent by God many years after the injury,
the cause of the plague, was committed. And for what end were this and
such like examples recorded in holy Scriptures? without doubt, for our
learning.—For God is the same to-day as he was yesterday, and will
continue the same for ever. He does not reject the prayer of the poor
and destitute; nor disregard the cry of the meanest Negro. The blood
of them spilt for these many years in your respective provinces will
ascend up to heaven against you.’

Some who have only seen Negroes in an abject state of slavery,
broken-spirited and dejected, knowing nothing of their situation
in their native country, may apprehend, that they are naturally
insensible of the benefits of Liberty, being destitute and miserable
in every respect, and that our suffering them to live amongst us (as
the _Gibeonites_ of old were permitted to live with the _Israelites_)
though even on more oppressive terms, is to them a favour; but these
are certainly erroneous opinions, with respect to far the greatest part
of them: Although it is highly probable that in a country which is more
than three thousand miles in extent from north to south, and as much
from east to west, there will be barren parts, and many inhabitants
more uncivilized and barbarous than others; as is the case in all other
countries: yet, from the most authentic accounts, the inhabitants of
_Guinea_ appear, generally speaking, to be an industrious, humane,
sociable people, whose capacities are naturally as enlarged, and as
open to improvement, as those of the _Europeans_; and that their
Country is fruitful, and in many places well improved, abounding in
cattle, grain and fruits. And as the earth yields all the year round
a fresh supply of food, and but little clothing is requisite, by
reason of the continual warmth of the climate; the necessaries of life
are much easier procured in most parts of _Africa_, than in our more
northern climes. This is confirmed by many authors of note, who have
resided there; among others, _M. Adanson_, in his account of _Goree_
and _Senegal_, in the year 1754, says, ‘Which way soever I turned my
eyes on this pleasant spot, I beheld a perfect image of pure nature;
an agreeable solitude, bounded on every side by charming landscapes,
the rural situation of cottages in the midst of trees; the ease and
indolence of the Negroes reclined under the shade of their spreading
foliage; the simplicity of their dress and manners; the whole revived
in my mind the idea of our first parents, and I seemed to contemplate
the world in its primitive state: They are, generally speaking, very
good-natured, sociable and obliging. I was not a little pleased with
this my first reception; it convinced me, that there ought to be a
considerable abatement made in the accounts I had read and heard every
where of the savage character of the _Africans_. I observed, both in
Negroes and Moors, great humanity and sociableness, which gave me
strong hopes, that I should be very safe amongst them, and meet with
the success I desired, in my inquiries after the curiosities of the

_William Bosman_, a principal Factor for the _Dutch_, who resided
sixteen years in _Guinea_, speaking of the natives of that part where
he then was, says, ‘They are generally a good sort of people, honest
in their dealings;’ others he describes as ‘being generally friendly
to strangers, of a mild conversation, affable, and easy to be overcome
with reason.’ He adds, ‘That some Negroes, who have had an agreeable
education, have manifested a brightness of understanding equal to any
of us.’ Speaking of the fruitfulness of the country, he says, ‘It was
very populous, plentifully provided with corn, potatoes and fruit,
which grew close to each other; in some places a foot-path is the only
ground that is not covered with them; the Negroes leaving no place,
which is thought fertile, uncultivated; and immediately after they
have reaped, they are sure to sow again.’ Other parts he describes,
as ‘being full of towns and villages; the soil very rich, and so well
cultivated, as to look like an entire garden, abounding in rice, corn,
oxen, and poultry, and the inhabitants laborious.’

_William Smith_, who was sent by the _African_ Company to visit their
settlements on the coast of _Guinea_, in the year 1726, gives much
the same account of the country of _Delmina_ and _Cape Corse_, &c. for
beauty and goodness, and adds, ‘The more you come downward towards
that part, called _Slave-Coast_, the more delightful and rich the
soil appears.’ Speaking of their disposition, he says, ‘They were a
civil, good-natured people, industrious to the last degree. It is easy
to perceive what happy memories they are blessed with, and how great
progress they would make in the sciences, in case their genius was
cultivated with study.’ He adds, from the information he received of
one of the Factors, who had resided ten years in that country, ‘That
the discerning natives account it their greatest unhappiness, that they
were ever visited by the _Europeans_.—That the _Christians_ introduced
the traffick of Slaves; and that before our coming they lived in peace.’

_Andrew Brue_, a principal man in the _French_ Factory, in the account
he gives of the great river _Senegal_, which runs many hundred miles up
the country, tells his readers, ‘The farther you go from the Sea, the
country on the river seems more fruitful and well improved. It abounds
in _Guinea_ and _Indian_ corn, rice, pulse, tobacco, and indigo. Here
are vast meadows, which feed large herds of great and small cattle;
poultry are numerous, as well as wild fowl.’ The same Author, in his
travels to the south of the river _Gambia_, expresses his surprize,
‘to see the land so well cultivated; scarce a spot lay unimproved; the
low grounds, divided by small canals, were all sowed with rice; the
higher ground planted with _Indian_ corn, millet, and peas of different
sorts: beef and mutton very cheap, as well as all other necessaries
of life.’ The account this Author gives of the disposition of the
natives, is, ‘That they are generally good-natured and civil, and may
be brought to any thing by fair and soft means.’ _Artus_, speaking of
the same people, says, ‘They are a sincere, inoffensive people, and do
no injustice either to one another or strangers.’

From these Accounts, both of the good Disposition of the Natives, and
the Fruitfulness of most parts of _Guinea_, which are confirmed by
many other Authors, it may well be concluded, that their acquaintance
with the _Europeans_ would have been a happiness to them, had those
last not only borne the name, but indeed been influenced by the Spirit
of _Christianity_; but, alas! how hath the Conduct of the Whites
contradicted the Precepts and Example of Christ? Instead of promoting
the End of his Coming, by preaching the Gospel of Peace and Good-will
to Man, they have, by their practices, contributed to enflame every
noxious passion of corrupt nature in the Negroes; they have incited
them to make war one upon another, and for this purpose have furnished
them with prodigious quantities of ammunition and arms, whereby they
have been hurried into confusion, bloodshed, and all the extremities
of temporal misery, which must necessarily beget in their minds such a
general detestation and scorn of the _Christian_ name, as may deeply
affect, if not wholly preclude, their belief of the great Truths of
our holy Religion. Thus an insatiable desire of gain hath become
the principal and moving cause of the most abominable and dreadful
scene, that was perhaps ever acted upon the face of the earth; even
the power of their Kings hath been made subservient to answer this
wicked purpose, instead of being Protectors of their people, these
Rulers, allured by the tempting bait laid before them by the _European_
Factors, _&c._ have invaded the Liberties of their unhappy subjects,
and are become their Oppressors.

Divers accounts have already appeared in print, declarative of the
shocking wickedness with which this Trade is carried on; these may not
have fallen into the hands of some of my readers, I shall, therefore,
for their information, select a few of the most remarkable instances
that I have met with, shewing the method by which the Trade is commonly
managed all along the _African_ coast.

_Francis Moor_, Factor to the _African_ Company, on the river _Gambia_,
relates, ‘That when the King of _Barsalli_ wants goods, _&c._ he sends
a messenger to the _English_ Governor at _James_’s Fort, to desire he
would send up a sloop with a cargo of goods; which (says the author)
the Governor never fails to do: Against the time the vessel arrives,
the King plunders some of his enemies towns, selling the people for
such goods as he wants.—If he is not at war with any neighbouring King,
he falls upon one of his own towns, and makes bold to sell his own
miserable subjects.’

_N. Brue_, in his account of the Trade, _&c._ writes, ‘That having
received a quantity of goods, he wrote to the King of the country, That
if he had a sufficient number of slaves, he was ready to trade with
him. This Prince (says that author) as well as other Negroe Monarchs,
has always a sure way of supplying his deficiencies by selling his
own subjects.—The King had recourse to this method, by seizing three
hundred of his own people, and sent word to _Brue_, that he had the
slaves ready to deliver for the goods.’

The Misery and Bloodshed, consequent to the Slave-trade, is amply
set forth by the following extracts of two voyages to the coast of
_Guinea_ for slaves. The first in a vessel from _Liverpool_, taken
_verbatim_ from the original manuscript of the Surgeon’s journal, _viz._

‘SESTRO, _December_ the 29th, 1724. No trade to-day, though many
Traders come on board; they inform us, that the people are gone to war
within land, and will bring prisoners enough in two or three days: in
hopes of which we stay.

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

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

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

The second relation, also taken from the original manuscript journal of
a person of credit, who went Surgeon on the same account in a vessel
from _New-York_ to the coast of _Guinea_, about nineteen years past, is
as follows, _viz._

‘Being on the coast at a place called _Basalia_, the Commander of the
vessel, according to custom, sent a person on shore with a present
to the King, acquainting him with his arrival, and letting him know,
they wanted a cargo of slaves. The King promised to furnish them
with slaves; and in order to do it, set out to go to war against
his enemies, designing also to surprize some town, and take all the
people prisoners: Some time after, the King sent them word, he had
not yet met with the desired success, having been twice repulsed, in
attempting to break up two towns; but that he still hoped to procure
a number of slaves for them; and in this design he persisted till he
met his enemies in the field, where a battle was fought, which lasted
three days; during which time the engagement was so bloody, that four
thousand five hundred men were slain on the spot.’ The person, that
wrote the account, beheld the bodies as they lay on the field of
battle. ‘Think (says he in his journal) what a pitiable sight it was,
to see the widows weeping over their lost husbands, orphans deploring
the loss of their fathers, _&c._ _&c._’

Those who are acquainted with the Trade agree, that many Negroes
on the sea-coast, who have been corrupted by their intercourse and
converse with the _European_ Factors, have learnt to stick at no act
of cruelty for gain. These make it a practice to steal abundance of
little Blacks of both sexes, when found on the roads or in the fields,
where their parents keep them all day to watch the corn, _&c._ Some
authors say, the Negroe Factors go six or seven hundred miles up the
country with goods, bought from the _Europeans_, where markets of men
are kept in the same manner as those of beasts with us. When the poor
slaves, whether brought from far or near, come to the sea-shore, they
are stripped naked, and strictly examined by the _European_ Surgeons,
both men and women, without the least distinction or modesty; those
which are approved as good, are marked with a red-hot iron with the
ship’s mark; after which they are put on board the vessels, the men
being shackled with irons two and two together. Reader, bring the
matter home, and consider whether any situation in life can be more
completely miserable than that of those distressed captives. When we
reflect, that each individual of this number had some tender attachment
which was broken by this cruel separation; some parent or wife, who
had not an opportunity of mingling tears in a parting embrace; perhaps
some infant or aged parent whom his labour was to feed and vigilance
protect; themselves under the dreadful apprehension of an unknown
perpetual slavery; pent up within the narrow confines of a vessel,
sometimes six or seven hundred together, where they lie as close as
possible. Under these complicated distresses they are often reduced to
a state of desperation, wherein many have leaped into the sea, and have
kept themselves under water till they were drowned; others have starved
themselves to death, for the prevention whereof some masters of vessels
have cut off the legs and arms of a number of those poor desperate
creatures, to terrify the rest. Great numbers have also frequently been
killed, and some deliberately put to death under the greatest torture,
when they have attempted to rise, in order to free themselves from
their present misery, and the slavery designed them. An instance of
the last kind appears particularly in an account given by the master
of a vessel, who brought a cargo of slaves to _Barbadoes_; indeed
it appears so irreconcileable to the common dictates of humanity,
that one would doubt the truth of it, had it not been related by a
serious person of undoubted credit, who had it from the captain’s own
mouth. Upon an inquiry, What had been the success of his voyage? he
answered, ‘That he had found it a difficult matter to set the negroes
a fighting with each other, in order to procure the number he wanted;
but that when he had obtained this end, and had got his vessel filled
with slaves, a new difficulty arose from their refusal to take food;
those desperate creatures chusing rather to die with hunger, than to
be carried from their native country.’ Upon a farther inquiry, by what
means he had prevailed upon them to forego this desperate resolution?
he answered, ‘That he obliged all the negroes to come upon deck, where
they persisted in their resolution of not taking food, he caused his
sailors to lay hold upon one of the most obstinate, and chopt the poor
creature into small pieces, forcing some of the others to eat a part
of the mangled body; withal swearing to the survivors, that he would
use them all, one after the other, in the same manner, if they did not
consent to eat.’ This horrid execution he applauded as a good act, it
having had the desired effect, in bringing them to take food.

A similar case is mentioned in _Astley_’s Collection of Voyages, by
_John Atkins_, Surgeon on board Admiral _Ogle_’s squadron, ‘Of one
_Harding_, mailer of a vessel, in which several of the men-slaves,
and a woman-slave, had attempted to rise, in order to recover their
liberty; some of whom the master, of his own authority, sentenced to
cruel death; making them first eat the heart and liver of one of those
he killed. The woman he hoisted by the thumbs; whipped and slashed with
knives before the other slaves, till she died.’

As detestable and shocking as this may appear to such, whose hearts
are not yet hardened by the practice of that cruelty, which the love
of wealth, by degrees, introduceth into the human mind; it will not
be strange to those who have been concerned or employed in the Trade.
Now here arises a necessary query to those who hold the balance and
sword of justice; and who must account to God for the use they have
made of it. _Since our English law is so truly valuable for its
justice, how can they overlook these barbarous deaths of the unhappy
Africans without trial, or due proof of their being guilty, of crimes
adequate to their punishment? Why are those masters of vessels, (who
are often not the most tender and considerate of men) thus suffered to
be the sovereign arbiters of the lives of the miserable Negroes, and
allowed, with impunity, thus to destroy, may I not say, murder their
fellow-creatures, and that by means so cruel as cannot be even related
but with shame and horror?_

When the vessels arrive at their destined port in the Colonies, the
poor Negroes are to be disposed of to the planters; and here they are
again exposed naked, without any distinction of sexes, to the brutal
examination of their purchasers; and this, it may well be judged is
to many of them another occasion of deep distress, especially to
the females. Add to this, that near connections must now again be
separated, to go with their several purchasers: In this melancholy
scene Mothers are seen hanging over their Daughters, be-dewing their
naked breasts with tears, and Daughters clinging to their Parents; not
knowing what new stage of distress must follow their separation, or if
ever they shall meet again: And here what sympathy, what commiseration
are they to expect? why indeed, if they will not separate as readily
as their owners think proper, the whipper is called for, and the lash
exercised upon their naked bodies, till obliged to part.

Can any human heart, that retains a fellow-feeling for the Sufferings
of mankind, be unconcerned at relations of such grievous affliction,
to which this oppressed part of our Species are subjected: God gave to
man dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air,
and over the cattle, _&c._ but imposed no involuntary subjection of one
man to another.

The Truth of this Position has of late been clearly set forth by
persons of reputation and ability, particularly _George Wallis_, in his
System of the Laws of _Scotland_, whose sentiments are so worthy the
notice of all considerate persons, that I shall here repeat a part of
what he has not long since published, concerning the _African_ Trade,
_viz._ ‘If this Trade admits of a moral or a rational justification,
every crime, even the most atrocious, may be justified: Government was
instituted for the good of mankind. Kings, Princes, Governors, are not
proprietors of those who are subjected to their authority, they have
not a right to make them miserable. On the contrary, their authority is
vested in them, that they may by the just exercise of it, promote the
Happiness of their people: Of course, they have not a right to dispose
of their Liberty, and to sell them for slaves: Besides, no man has a
right to acquire or to purchase them; men and their Liberty, are not
either saleable or purchaseable: One therefore has no body but himself
to blame, in case he shall find himself deprived of a man, whom he
thought he had, by buying for a price, made his own; for he dealt
in a Trade which was illicit, and was prohibited by the most obvious
dictates of humanity. For these reasons, every one of those unfortunate
men, who are pretended to be slaves, has a right to be declared free,
for he never lost his Liberty, he could not lose it; his Prince had no
power to dispose of him: of course the sale was void. This right he
carries about with him, and is entitled every where to get it declared.
As soon, therefore, as he comes into a country, in which the Judges are
not forgetful of their own humanity, it is their duty to remember that
he is a man, and to declare him to be free.—This is the Law of Nature,
which is obligatory on all men, at all times, and in all places.—Would
not any of us, who should be snatched by Pirates from his native land,
think himself cruelly abused, and at all times intitled to be free?
Have not these unfortunate _Africans_, who meet with the same cruel
fate, the same right? are not they men as well as we? and have they
not the same sensibility? Let us not, therefore, defend or support an
usage, which is contrary to all the Laws of Humanity.’

_Francis Hutchinson_, also in his System of Moral Philosophy, speaking
on the subject of Slavery, says, ‘He who detains another by force in
slavery, is always bound to prove his title. The Slave sold or carried
away into a distant country, must not be obliged to prove a negative,
that he never forfeited his Liberty. The violent possessor must, in
all cases, shew his title, especially where the old proprietor is well
known. In this case each man is the original proprietor of his own
Liberty: The proof of his losing it must be incumbent on those, who
deprived him of it by force. Strange, (says the same author) that in
any nation, where a sense of Liberty prevails, where the _Christian_
religion is professed, custom and high prospect of gain can so stupify
the consciences of men, and all sense of natural justice, that they
can hear such computation made about the value of their fellow-men and
their Liberty, without abhorrence and indignation.’

The noted Baron _Montesquieu_ gives it, as his opinion, in his _Spirit
of Laws_, page 348, ‘That nothing more assimilates a man to a beast
than living amongst freemen, himself a slave; such people as these
are the natural enemies of society, and their number must always be

The Author of a pamphlet, lately printed in _London_, entituled, _An
Essay in Vindication of the continental Colonies of_ America, writes,
‘That the bondage we have imposed on the _Africans_, is absolutely
repugnant to justice. That it is highly inconsistent with civil
policy: First, as it tends to suppress all improvements in arts and
sciences; without which it is morally impossible that any nation
should be happy or powerful. Secondly, as it may deprave the minds of
the freemen; steeling their hearts against the laudable feelings of
virtue and humanity. And, lastly, as it endangers the community by the
destructive effects of civil commotions: need I add to these (says that
author) what every heart, which is not callous to all tender feelings,
will readily suggest; that it is shocking to humanity, violative of
every generous sentiment, abhorrent utterly from the _Christian_
Religion: for, as _Montesquieu_ very justly observes, _We must suppose
them not to be men, or a suspicion would follow that we ourselves are
not_ Christians.——There cannot be a more dangerous maxim, than that
necessity is a plea for injustice. For who shall fix the degree of this
necessity? What villain so atrocious, who may not urge this excuse? or,
as _Milton_ has happily expressed it,

    ‘————————————————————————_And with necessity,
     The tyrant’s plea, excuse his dev’lish deed._

‘That our Colonies want people, is a very weak argument for so inhuman
a violation of justice.—Shall a civilized, a _Christian_ nation
encourage Slavery, because the barbarous, savage, lawless _African_
hath done it? Monstrous thought! To what end do we profess a religion
whose dictates we so flagrantly violate? Wherefore have we that pattern
of goodness and humanity, if we refuse to follow it? How long shall we
continue a practice, which policy rejects, justice condemns, and piety
dissuades? Shall the _Americans_ persist in a conduct, which cannot
be justified; or persevere in oppression from which their hearts must
recoil? If the barbarous _Africans_ shall continue to enslave each
other, let the dæmon slavery remain among them, that their crime may
include its own punishment. Let not _Christians_, by administering to
their wickedness, confess their religion to be a useless refinement,
their profession vain, and themselves as inhuman as the savages they

_James Foster_, in _his Discourses on Natural Religion and Social
Virtue_, also shews his just indignation at this wicked practice, which
he declares to be _a criminal and outrageous violation of the natural
right of mankind_. At page 156, 2d vol. he says, ‘Should we have read
concerning the _Greeks_ or _Romans_ of old, that they traded, with
view to make slaves of their own species, whom they certainly knew
that this would involve in schemes of blood and murder, of destroying
or enslaving each other, that they even fomented wars, and engaged
whole nations and tribes in open hostilities, for their own private
advantage; that they had no detestation of the violence and cruelty,
but only feared the ill success of their inhuman enterprises; that
they carried men like themselves, their brethren, and the offspring of
the same common parent, to be sold like beasts of prey, or beasts of
burden, and put them to the same reproachful trial of their soundness,
strength and capacity for greater bodily service; that quite forgetting
and renouncing the original dignity of human nature, communicated to
all, they treated them with more severity and ruder discipline, than
even the ox or the ass, who are void of understanding.—Should we not,
if this had been the case, have naturally been led to despise all their
pretended refinements of morality; and to have concluded, that as they
were not nations destitute of politeness, they must have been _entire
Strangers to Virtue and Benevolence_?

‘But, notwithstanding this, we ourselves (who profess to be
_Christians_, and boast of the peculiar advantage we enjoy, by means
of an express revelation of our duty from Heaven) are in effect, these
very untaught and rude _Heathen_ countries. With all our superior
light, we instil into those, whom we call savage and barbarous, the
most despicable opinion of human nature. We, to the utmost of our
power, weaken and dissolve the universal tie, that binds and unites
mankind. We practise what we should exclaim against, as the utmost
excess of cruelty and tyranny, if nations of the world, differing in
colour and form of government from ourselves, were so possessed of
empire, as to be able to reduce us to a state of unmerited and brutish
servitude. Of consequence, we sacrifice our reason, our humanity, our
_Christianity_, to an unnatural sordid gain. We teach other nations
to despise and trample under foot, all the obligations of social
virtue. We take the most effectual method to prevent the propagation
of the Gospel, by representing it as a scheme of power and barbarous
oppression, and an enemy to the natural privileges and rights of men.

‘Perhaps all that I have now offered, may be of very little weight to
restrain this enormity, this aggravated iniquity. However, I shall
still have the satisfaction, of having entered my private protest
against a practice which, in my opinion, _bids that God, who is the God
and Father of the_ Gentiles _unconverted to_ Christianity, _most daring
and bold defiance, and spurns at all the principles both of natural and
revealed Religion_.’

How the _British_ nation first came to be concerned in a practice, by
which the rights and liberties of mankind are so violently infringed,
and which is so opposite to the apprehensions _Englishmen_ have always
had of what natural justice requires, is indeed surprising. It was
about the year 1563, in the reign of Queen _Elizabeth_, that the
_English_ first engaged in the _Guinea_ Trade; when it appears, from
an account in _Hill_’s Naval History, page 293, That when Captain
_Hawkins_ returned from his first voyage to _Africa_, that generous
spirited Princess, attentive to the interest of her subjects, sent
for the Commander, to whom she expressed her concern lest any of the
_African_ Negroes should be carried off without their free consent,
_declaring it would be detestable, and call down the vengeance of
Heaven upon the undertakers_. Captain _Hawkins_ promised to comply with
the Queen’s injunction: nevertheless, we find in the account, given
in the same History, of _Hawkins_’s second voyage, the author using
these remarkable words, _Here began the horrid practice of forcing the_
Africans _into slavery_.

_Labat_, a _Roman_ Missionary, in his account of the Isles of
_America_, at page 114, of the 4th vol. mentions, that _Lewis_ the
13th, Father to the present _French_ King’s Grandfather, was extremely
uneasy at a Law by which all the Negroes of his Colonies were to be
made slaves; but it being strongly urged to him, as the readiest means
for their Conversion to _Christianity_, he acquiesced therewith.

And although we have not many accounts of the impressions which this
piratical invasion of the rights of mankind gave to serious minded
people, when first engaged in; yet it did not escape the notice of
some, who might be esteemed in a peculiar manner as watchmen in their
day to the different societies of _Christians_ whereunto they belonged.
_Richard Baxter_, an eminent preacher amongst the _Nonconformists_,
in the last century, well known and particularly esteemed by most of
the serious _Presbyterians_ and _Independents_, in his _Christian_
Directory, mostly wrote about an hundred Years ago, fully shews his
detestation of this practice in the following words: ‘Do you not mark
how God hath followed you with plagues? And may not conscience tell
you, that it is for your inhumanity to the souls and bodies of men?—To
go as pirates and catch up poor Negroes, or people of another land,
that never forfeited Life or Liberty, and to make them Slaves and sell
them, is one of the worst kind of Thievery in the world; and such
persons are to be taken for the common Enemies of mankind; and they
that buy them, and use them as beasts, for their meer commodity, and
betray, or destroy, or neglect their souls, are fitter to be called
devils than _Christians_. It is an heinous sin to buy them, unless it
be in charity to deliver them.——Undoubtedly they are presently bound
to deliver them; because by right the man is his own; therefore no man
else can have a just title to him.’

We also find _George Fox_, a man of exemplary piety, who was the
principal instrument in gathering the religious society of people
called _Quakers_, expressing his concern and fellow-feeling for the
bondage of the Negroes: In a discourse taken from his mouth, in
_Barbadoes_, in the Year 1671, says, ‘Consider with yourselves, if
you were in the same condition as the Blacks are,—who came strangers
to you, and were sold to you as slaves. I say, if this should be the
condition of you or yours, you would think it hard measure: Yea, and
very great bondage and cruelty. And, therefore, consider seriously of
this, and do you for and to them, as you would willingly have them,
or any other to do unto you, were you in the like slavish condition;
and bring them to know the Lord Christ.’ And in his journal, page 431,
speaking of the Advice he gave his friends at _Barbadoes_, he says, ‘I
desired also, that they would cause their Overseers to deal mildly and
gently with their Negroes, and not to use cruelty towards them, as the
manner of some had been; and that after certain years of servitude they
should make them free.’

In a book printed in _Leverpool_, called _The Leverpool
Memorandum-book_, which contains, among other things, an account of
the Trade of that port, there is an exact list of the vessels employed
in the _Guinea_ Trade, and of the number of Slaves imported in each
vessel, by which it appears, that in the year 1753, the number imported
to _America_, by vessels belonging to that port, amounted to upwards
of Thirty Thousand; and from the number of Vessels employed by the
_African_ Company in _London_ and _Bristol_, we may, with some degree
of certainty conclude, there is, at least, One Hundred Thousand Negroes
purchased and brought on board our ships yearly from the coast of
_Africa_, on their account. This is confirmed in _Anderson_’s History
of Trade and Commerce, printed in 1764, where it is said, at page 68
of the Appendix, ‘That _England_ supplies her _American_ Colonies with
Negro-slaves, amounting in number to above One Hundred Thousand every
year.’ When the vessels are full freighted with slaves, they set out
for our plantations in _America_, and may be two or three months on the
voyage, during which time, from the filth and stench that is among
them, distempers frequently break out, which carry off a great many,
a fifth, a fourth, yea, sometimes a third of them; so that taking all
the slaves together that are brought on board our ships yearly, one
may reasonably suppose, that at least ten thousand of them die on the
voyage. And in a printed account of the State of the Negroes in our
plantations, it is supposed that a fourth part, more or less, die at
the different Islands, in what is called the seasoning. Hence it may
be presumed, that, at a moderate computation of the slaves, who are
purchased by our _African_ merchants in a year, near thirty thousand
die upon the voyage and in the seasoning. Add to this, the prodigious
number who are killed in the incursions and intestine wars, by which
the Negroes procure the number of slaves wanted to load the vessels.
How dreadful then is this Slave-Trade, whereby so many thousands of
our fellow-creatures, free by nature, endued with the same rational
faculties, and called to be heirs of the same salvation with us, lose
their lives, and are truly, and properly speaking, murdered every year!
For it is not necessary, in order to convict a man of murder, to make
it appear, that he had an intention to commit murder. Whoever does, by
unjust force or violence, deprive another of his Liberty; and, while
he has him in his power, reduces him, by cruel treatment, to such a
condition as evidently endangers his life, and the event occasions his
death, is actually guilty of murder. It is no less shocking to read the
accounts given by Sir _Hans Sloane_, and others, of the inhuman and
unmerciful treatment those Blacks meet with, who survive the seasoning
in the Islands, often for transgressions, to which the punishment they
receive bears no proportion. ‘And the horrid executions, which are
frequently made there upon discovery of the plots laid by the Blacks,
for the recovery of their liberty; of some they break the bones, whilst
alive, on a wheel; others they burn or rather roast to death; others
they starve to death, with a loaf hanging before their mouths.’ Thus
they are brought to expire, with frightful agonies, in the most horrid
tortures. For negligence only they are unmercifully whipped, till their
backs are raw, and then pepper and salt is scattered on the wounds to
heighten the pain, and prevent mortification. Is it not a cause of
much sorrow and lamentation, that so many poor creatures should be
thus racked with excruciating tortures, for crimes which often their
tormentors have occasioned? Must not even the common feelings of human
nature have suffered some grievous change in those men, to be capable
of such horrid cruelty towards their fellow-men? If they deserve death,
ought not their judges, in the death decreed them, always to remember
that these their hapless fellow-creatures are men, and themselves
professing _Christians_? The _Mosaic_ law teaches us our duty in
these cases, in the merciful provision it made in the punishment of
transgressors, _Deuter._ xxv. 2. _And it shall be, if the wicked man
be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down,
and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain
number; Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed._ And the reason
rendered is out of respect to human nature, _viz. Lest if he should
exceed, and beat him above these, with many stripes, then thy Brother
should seem vile unto thee. Britons_ boast themselves to be a generous,
humane people, who have a true sense of the importance of Liberty; but
is this a true character, whilst that barbarous, savage Slave-Trade,
with all its attendant horrors, receives countenance and protection
from the Legislature, whereby so many Thousand lives are yearly
sacrificed? Do we indeed believe the truths declared in the Gospel? Are
we persuaded that the threatenings, as well as the promises therein
contained, will have their accomplishment? If indeed we do, must we not
tremble to think what a load of guilt lies upon our Nation generally,
and individually so far as we in any degree abet or countenance this
aggravated iniquity?

We have a memorable Instance in history, which may be fruitful of
Instruction, if timely and properly applied; it is a quotation made by
Sir _John Temple_, in his history of the _Irish_ rebellion, being an
observation out of _Giraldus Cambrensis_, a noted author, who lived
about six hundred years ago, concerning the causes of the prosperity
of the _English_ undertakings in _Ireland_, when they conquered that
Island, he saith, ‘That a synod, or council of the Clergy, being then
assembled at _Armagh_, and that point fully debated, it was unanimously
agreed, that the sins of the people were the occasion of that heavy
judgment then falling upon their nation; and that especially their
buying of _Englishmen_ from merchants and pirates, and detaining them
under a most miserable hard bondage, had caused the Lord, by way of
just retaliation, to leave them to be reduced, by the _English_, to
the same state of slavery. Whereupon they made a publick act in that
council, that all the _English_ held in captivity throughout the whole
land, should be presently restored to their former Liberty.’

I shall now conclude with an extract from an address of a late author
to the merchants, and others, who are concerned in carrying on the
_Guinea_ Trade; which also, in a great measure, is applicable to
others, who, for the love of gain, are in any way concerned in
promoting or maintaining the captivity of the Negroes.

‘As the business, you are publickly carrying on before the world, has
a bad aspect, and you are sensible most men make objection against
it, you ought to justify it to the world, upon principles of reason,
equity, and humanity; to make it appear, that it is no unjust invasion
of the persons, or encroachments on the rights of men; or for ever to
lay it aside.—But laying aside the resentment of men, which is but of
little or no moment, in comparison with that of the Almighty, think
of a future reckoning: consider how you shall come off in the great
and awful Day of account. You now heap up riches and live in pleasure;
but, oh! what will you do in the end thereof? and that is not far off:
what, if death should seize upon you, and hurry you out of this world,
under all that load of blood-guiltiness that now lies upon your fouls?
The gospel expresly declares, that thieves and murderers shall not
inherit the kingdom of God. Consider, that at the same time, and by
the same means, you now treasure up worldly riches, you are treasuring
up to yourselves wrath, against the day of wrath, and vengeance that
shall come upon the workers of iniquity, unless prevented by a timely

‘And what greater iniquity, what crime that is more heinous, that
carries in it more complicated guilt, can you name than that, in the
habitual, deliberate practice of which you now live? How can you lift
up your guilty eyes to heaven? How can you pray for mercy to him that
made you, or hope for any favour from him that formed you, while you go
on thus grosly and openly to dishonour him, in debasing and destroying
the noblest workmanship of his hands in this lower world? He is the
Father of men; and do you think he will not resent such treatment of
his offspring, whom he hath so loved, as to give his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him, might not perish, but have everlasting
life? This love of God to man, revealed in the gospel, is a great
aggravation of your guilt; for if God so loved us, we ought also to
love one another. _You remember the fate of the Servant, who took hold
of his fellow-servant, who was in his debt, by the throat, and cast him
into prison_: Think then, and tremble to think, what will be your fate,
who take your fellow-servants by the throat, that owe you not a penny,
and make them prisoners for life.

‘Give yourselves leave to reflect impartially upon, and consider the
nature of, this Man-Trade, which, if you do, your hearts must needs
relent, if you have not lost all sense of humanity, all pity and
companion towards those of your own kind, to think what calamities,
what havock and destruction among them, you have been the authors of
for filthy lucre’s sake. God grant you may be sensible of your guilt,
and repent in time!’


                 BOOKS Printed and Sold by J. PHILLIPS,
                      George-Yard, Lombard-Street.

Sugar Colonies. By J. RAMSAY, Vicar of Teston in Kent, who resided many
Years in the West-Indies. In One Volume, Octavo. Price 5s. bound, or
4s. in Boards.

HISTORICAL ACCOUNT of GUINEA, its Situation, Produce, and the general
Disposition of its Inhabitants. With an Inquiry into the RISE and
PROGRESS of the SLAVE TRADE, its Nature and lamentable Effects. Also
a Republication of the Sentiments of several Authors of Note on this
interesting Subject: Particularly an Extract of a Treatise written by
6d. stitched.

THOUGHTS on the SLAVERY of the NEGROES. Price 4d.

                         Transcriber’s Notes:

 - Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).
 - Blank pages have been removed.
 - A few obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected,
   otherwise archaic and inconsistent spellings have been left alone.

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