Documenting the American South Logo

Thoughts upon Slavery:
Electronic Edition.

Wesley, John, 1703-1791

Funding from the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition
supported the electronic publication of this title.

Text scanned (OCR), Images scanned, and Text encoded by Jill Kuhn
First edition, 1999
ca. 125K
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

No Copyright in US

Source Description:

Thoughts Upon Slavery
John Wesley, A. M.
83 p.
LONDON, PRINTED: Re-printed in PHILADELPHIA, with notes, and sold by JOSEPH CRUKSHANK.

This pamphlet was bound as a part of the following collection:
A Collection of Religious Tracts
48, 36, 12, 83, [1], 8 p.
Printed by JOSEPH CRUKSHANK, in Third-street, opposite the Work-house.
1773 [i.e., 1778?]
Call number BR55 .C6 no. 4 (Rare Book Collection, UNC-CH)

        The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South.
        All footnotes are inserted at the point of reference within paragraphs.
        Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
        The long s, which was used routinely in eighteenth-century English printing, but which looks like an f to today's reader, has been printed as an s in the text of this electronic edition.
        All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
        All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as " and " respectively.
        All em dashes are encoded as --
        Indentation in lines has not been preserved.
        Running titles have not been preserved.
        Catchwords on every page of the original have not been preserved.
        Spell-check and verification made against printed text using Author/Editor (SoftQuad) and Microsoft Word spell check programs.

Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998

LC Subject Headings:




GENESIS, Chap. iv,
And the Lord said--What hast thou done? The voice of
thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.

Re-printed in PHILADELPHIA, with notes,

Page 3



         BY slavery I mean domestic slavery, or that of a servant to a master. A late ingenious writer well observes, "The variety of forms in which slavery appears, makes it almost impossible to convey a just notion of it, by way of definition. There are however certain properties which have accompanied slavery in most places, whereby it is easily distinguished from that mild domestic service which obtains in our own country*."

        * See Mr. Hargrave's plea for Somerset the negro.

        2. Slavery imports an obligation of perpetual service, an obligation which only

Page 4

the consent of the master can dissolve. Neither in some countries can the master himself dissolve it without the consent of judges appointed by law. It generally gives the master an arbitrary power of any correction not affecting life or limb.--Sometimes even these are exposed to his will: or protected only by a fine, or some slight punishment, too insiconderable to restrain a master of an harsh temper. It creates an incapacity of acquiring anything, except for the master's benefit. It allows the master to alienate the slave, in the same manner as his cows and horses. Lastly, it descends in its full extent from parent to child, even to the latest generation.

        The beginning of this may be dated from the remotest period, of which we have an account in history. It commenced in the barbarous state of society, and in process of time spread into all nations. It prevailed particularly among the Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, and the antient Germans: And was transmitted by them, to the various kingdoms and states, which arose out of the ruins of the Roman empire. But after christianity prevailed, it gradually fell into decline in almost all parts of Europe. This great change began in Spain, about the end of the eighth century:

Page 5

And was become general in most other kingdoms of Europe, before the middle of the fourteenth.

        4. From this time slavery was nearly extinct, till the commencement of the fifteenth century, when the discovery of America, and of the western and eastern coasts of Africa, gave occasion to the revival of it. It took its rise from the Portuguese, who to supply the Spaniards with men, to cultivate their new possessions in America, procured negroes from Africa, whom they sold for slaves to the American Spaniards. This began in the year 1508, when they imported the first negroes into Hispaniola. In 1540 Charles the fifth, then king of Spain, determined to put an end to negro-slavery: Giving positive orders, That all the negro slaves in the Spanish dominions should be set free. And this was accordingly done by Lagasea, whom he sent and impowered to free them all, on condition of continuing to labour for their masters. But soon after Lagasea returned to Spain, slavery returned and flourished as before. Afterwards other nations, as they acquired possessions in America, followed the examples of the Spaniards; and slavery has now taken deep root in most of our American colonies.

Page 6


        Such is the nature of slavery: Such the beginning of negro-slavery in America. But some may desire to know, what kind of country it is, from which the negroes are brought? What sort of men, of what temper and behaviour are they in their own country? And in what manner they are generally procured, carried to, and treated in America?

        1. And first, What kind of country is that from whence they are brought? Is it so remarkably horrid, dreary and barren, that it is a kindness to deliver them out of it? I believe many have apprehended so: But it is an entire mistake, if we may give credit to those who have lived many years therein, and could have no motive to misrepresent it.

        2. That part of Africa whence the negroes are brought, commonly known by the name of Guinea, extends along the the coast, in the whole, between three and four thousand miles. From the river Senegal, (seventeen degrees north of the line) to Cape Sierra Leona, it contains seven hundred miles. Thence it runs eastward about fifteen hundred miles, including the Grain-Coast, the Ivory-Coast, the Gold-Coast, and the Slave-Coast, with the large kingdom of Benin. From thence it runs southward, about twelve hundred miles, and

Page 7

contains the kingdoms of Congo and Angola.

        3. Concerning the first, the Senegal-Coast, Mons. Brue, who lived there sixteen years, after describing its fruitfulness near the sea, says, "The farther you go from the sea, the more fruitful and well-improved is the country, abounding in pulse, Indian corn, and various fruits. Here are vast meadows, which feed large herds of great and small cattle. And the villages which lie thick, shew the country is well peopled." And again: "I was surprized, to see the land so well cultivated; scarce a spot lay un-improved: The low lands divided by small canals, were all sowed with rice: The higher grounds were planted with Indian corn, and peas of different sorts. Their beef is excellent; poultry plenty and very cheap, as are all the necessaries of life."

        4. As to the Grain and Ivory Coast, we learn from eye witnesses, that the soil is in general fertile, producing abundance of rice and roots. Indigo and cotton thrive without cultivation.--Fish is in great plenty; the flocks and herds are numerous, and the trees loaded with fruit.

        5. The Gold-Coast and Slave-Coast, all who have seen it agree, is exceeding fruitful and pleasant, producing vast quantities

Page 8

of rice and other grain, plenty of fruit and roots, palm-wine, and oil, and fish in great abundance, with much tame and wild cattle. The very same account is given us of the soil and produce of the kingdoms of Benin, Congo and Angola--From all which it appears, That Guinea in general, far from being an horrid, dreary, barren country, is one of the most fruitful, as well as the most pleasant countries in the known world. It is said indeed to be unhealthy. And so it is to strangers, but perfectly healthy to the native inhabitants.

        6. Such is the country from which the negroes are brought. We come next to enquire, What sort of men they are, of what temper and behaviour, not in our plantations, but in their native country. And here likewise the surest way is to take our account from eye and ear witnesses. Now those who have lived in the Senegal country observe, it is inhabited by three nations, the Jaloss, Fulis, and Mandingos. The king of the Jaloss has under him several ministers, who assist in the exercise of justice. The chief justice goes in circuit through all his dominions, to hear complaints and determine controversies. And the viceroy goes with him, to inspect the behaviour of the Alkadi, or Governor

Page 9

of each village. The Fulis are a numerous people; the soil of their country represented as rich, affording large harvests, and the people laborious and good farmers: Of some of these Fuli blacks who dwelt on the river Gambia, William Moor the English factor gives a very favourable account.--He says, they are governed by their chief men, who rule with much moderation. Few of them will drink any thing stronger than water, being strict Mahometans. The government is easy, because the people are of a good and quiet disposition; and so well instructed in what is right, that a man who wrongs another is the abomination of all.--They desire no more land than they use, which they cultivate with great care and industry: If any of them are known to be made slaves by the white men they all join to redeem them. They not only support all that are old, or blind, or lame among themselves; but have frequently supplied the necessities of the Mandingos, when they were distrest by famine.

        7. The Mandingos, says Mons. Brue, are rigid Mahometans, drinking neither wine nor brandy. They are industrious and laborious, keeping their ground well cultivated, and breeding a good flock of cattle. Every town has a governor, and he

Page 10

appoints the labour of the people. The men work the ground designed for corn; the women and girls, the rice-ground.--He afterwards divides the corn and rice among them: And decides all quarrels if any arise. All the Mahometan negroes constantly go to public prayers thrice a day: there being a priest in every village, who regularly calls them together: Some authors say it is surprizing to see the attention and reverence which they observe during their worship.--These three nations practise several trades; they have smiths, sadlers, potters and weavers. And they are very ingenious at their several occupations.--Their smiths not only make all the instruments of iron, which they have occasion to use, but likewise work many things neatly in gold and silver. It is chiefly the women and children who weave fine cotton cloth, which they dye blue and black.

        8. It was of these parts of Guinea, that Mons. Adanson, correspondent of the royal academy of sciences at Paris from 1749 to 1753, gives the following account, both as to the country and people. "Which way soever I turned my eyes, I beheld a perfect image of pure nature: An agreeable solitude, bounded on every side by a charming landscape; the rural situation

Page 11

of cottages, in the midst of trees; the ease and quietness of the negroes, reclined under the shade of the spreading foliage, with 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 my very first reception, and it fully convinced me, that there ought to be a considerable abatement made, in the accounts we have of the savage character of the Africans." He adds, "It is amazing that an illiterate people should reason so pertinently concerning the heavenly bodies. There is no doubt, but that with proper instruments, they would become excellent astronomers."

        9. The inhabitants of the Grain and Ivory-Coast are represented by those that deal with them, as sensible, courteous, and the fairest traders on the coasts of Guinea. They rarely drink to excess: If any do, they are severely punished by the king's order. They are seldom troubled with war: If a difference happen between two nations, they commony end the dispute amicably.

        The inhabitants of the Gold and Slave-Coast likewise, when they are not artfully

Page 12

incensed against each other, live in great union and friendship, being generally well-tempered, civil, tractable, and ready to help any that need it. In particular, the natives of the kingdom of Whidah are civil, kind, and obliging to strangers.--And they are the most gentleman-like of all the negroes, abounding in good manners towards each other. The inferiors pay great respect to their superiors:--So wives to their husbands, children to their parents. And they are remarkably industrious: All are constantly employ'd; the men in agriculture, the women in spinning and weaving cotton.

        10. The Gold and Slave-Coasts are divided into several districts, some governed by kings, others by the principal men, who take care each of their own town or village, and prevent or appease tumults.--They punish murder and adultery severely; very frequently with death.--Theft and robbery are punished by a fine proportionable to the goods that were taken. All the natives of this coast, though heathens, believe there is one GOD, the author of them and all things. They appear likewise to have a confused apprehension of a future state. And accordingly every town and village has a place of public worship.--It is remarkable that

Page 13

they have no beggars among them: Such is the care of the chief men, in every city and village, to provide some easy labour, even for the old and weak. Some are employ'd in blowing the smiths bellows; others in pressing palm-oil; others in grinding of colours. If they are too weak even for this, they sell provisions in the market.

        11. The accounts we have of the natives of the kingdom of Benin is, that they are a reasonable and good-natured people, sincere and inoffensive, and do no injustice either to one another or to strangers.--They are civil and courteous: If you make them a present, they endeavour to repay it double. And if they are trusted, till the ship returns next year, they are sure honestly to pay the whole debt.--Theft is punished among them, although not with the same severity as murder. If a man and woman of any quality, are taken in adultery, they are certain to be put to death, and their bodies thrown on a dunghill, and left a prey to wild beasts. They are punctually just and honest in their dealings; and are also very charitable: The king and the great lords taking care to employ all that are capable of any work. And those that are utterly helpless they keep for GOD'S sake; so that here also are

Page 14

no beggars. The inhabitants of Congo and Angola are generally a quiet people. They discover a good understanding, and behave in a friendly manner to strangers, being of a mild temper and an affable carriage.--Upon the whole therefore the negroes who inhabit the coast of Africa, from the river Senegal to the southern bounds of Angola, are so far from being the stupid, senseless, brutish, lazy barbarians, the fierce, cruel, perfidious savages they have been described, that on the contrary, they are represented by them who had no motive to flatter them, as remarkably sensible, considering the few advantages they have for improving their understanding:--As very industrious, perhaps more so than any other natives of so warm a climate.--As fair, just and honest in their dealings, unless where whitemen have taught them to be otherwise:--And as far more mild, friendly and kind to strangers, than any of our forefathers were. Our forefathers! Where shall we find at this day, among the fair-faced natives of Europe, a nation generally practicing the justice, mercy, and truth, which are related of these poor black Africans? Suppose the preceding accounts are true, (which I see no reason or pretence to doubt of) and we may

Page 15

leave England and France, to seek genuine honesty in Benin, Congo, or Angola.


         We have now seen, what kind of country it is, from which the negroes are brought: And what sort of men (even whitemen being the judges) they were in their own country. Enquire we, Thirdly, In what manner are they generally procured, carried to, and treated in America.

        1. First. In what manner are they procured? Part of them by fraud. Captains of ships from time to time, have invited negroes to come on board, and then carried them away. But far more have been procured by force. The christians landing upon their coasts, seized as many as they found, men, women and children, and transported them to America. It was about 1551, that the English began trading to Guinea: At first, for gold and elephants teeth, but soon after, for men. In 1566, Sir John Hawkins sailed with two ships to Cape Verd, where he sent eighty men on shore to catch negroes. But the natives flying, they fell farther down, and there set the men on shore, "to burn their towns and take the inhabitants." But they met with such resistance, that they had seven men killed, and took but ten negroes. So they went still farther down,

Page 16

till having taken enough, they proceeded to the West-Indies, and sold them*.

        *Here it may be well to give a particular account of that transaction in the very words in which it is transmitted to us by early historians, as it is a clear proof, that it was solely from a desire of gain that the English first undertook to seize and bring the unhappy Africans from their native country; and is a clear and positive refutation of those false arguments frequently advanced in vindication of the slave trade, viz. That the first purchase of negro slaves by the English, was from motives of compassion, with views of saving the lives of some of those blacks who being taken prisoners in battle, would, if not thus purchased, have been sacrificed to the revenge of their conquerors: but this plea is manifestly false; from all the accounts we have of the disposition of the negroes in those early times, they appear to have been an innocent people, gentle and easy in their nature, rather averse to war, as is the general disposition of the natives of these warm climates; till being corrupted by an intercourse with the Europeans, and stimulated by the excessive use of spirituous liquors, they were induced to join them in their cruel depradations against their unhappy countrymen. The account given of that transaction by Thomas Lediard in his naval history, at page 141, is in the following words:

        "That Sir John Hawkins in his several voyages to the Canary Islands, understanding that negroes were a very good commodity in Hispaniola, (then settling by the Spaniards) and that they were easy to be had in great numbers on the coast of Guinea. Having opened his mind to his friends, he soon found adventurers for his undertaking; amongst whom were Sir Lionel Docket, Sir Thomas Lodge, and others: and having fitted out three small vessels, manned only with 100 men, he departed from the coast of England in October 1562, and sailed first to Teneriffe, where he took in several refreshments; from thence to the coast of Guinea, where he got in possession, partly by the sword, and by other means, upwards of three hundred of the natives, besides several commodities which that country afforded: with this booty he set sail for the island of Hispaniola in the West-Indies; where he disposed of his negroes. Two years after, he went another voyage on the coast of Guinea; there he staid several days at the island Sabula, where every day they took some of the inhabitants; burning and ravaging their towns: when having compleated their number of negroes, they set sail for the West-Indies."

Page 17

        2. It was some time before the Europeans found a more compendious way of procuring African slaves, by prevailing upon them to make war upon each other, and to sell their prisoners.--Till then they seldom had any wars: But were in general quiet and peaceable. But the white men first taught them drunkenness and avarice, and then hired them to sell one another. Nay, by this means, even their kings are induced to sell their own subjects.

Page 18

So Mr. Moore (factor of the African company in 1730) informs us, "When the king of Barsalli wants goods or brandy, he sends to the English governor at James' fort, who immediately sends a sloop.--Against the time it arrives, he plunders some of his neighbours towns, selling the people for the goods he wants. At other times he falls upon one of his own towns, and makes bold to sell his own subjects." So Mons. Brue says, "I wrote to the king (not the same) "if he had a sufficient number of slaves I would treat with him. He seized three hundred of his own people, and sent word, he was ready to deliver them for the goods." He adds, "Some of the natives are always ready" (when well paid) "to surprize and carry off their own countrymen. They come at night without noise, and if they find any lone cottage, surround it and carry off all the people."--Barbot, (another French factor) says, "Many of the slaves sold by the negroes are prisoners of war, or taken in the incursions they make into their enemy's territories.--Others are stolen. Abundance of little blacks of both sexes, are stolen away by their neighbours, when found abroad on the road, or in the woods, or else in the corn-fields, at the time of year when their parents keep

Page 19

them there all day to scare away the devouring birds." That their own parents sell them, is utterly false:

        3. To set the manner wherein Negroes are procured in a yet stronger light, it will suffice to give an extract of two voyages to Guinea on this account. The first is taken verbatim from the original manuscript of the Surgeon's Journal.

        "SESTRO, Dec. 29, 1724. No trade to day, though many traders came on board. They informed 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: So that to-morrow we expect slaves off.

         "The 31st. Fair weather: but no trading yet. We see each night towns burning. But we hear, many of the Sestro men are killed by the inland Negroes: So that we fear this war will be unsuccessful.

         "The 2d. of 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 hundred houses.) "So that we find their enemies are too hard

Page 20

for them at present, and consequently our trade spoiled here. Therefore about seven o'clock we weighed anchor, to proceed lower down."

        4. The second extract taken from the journal of a Surgeon, who went from New-York on the same trade, is as follows.

        "The Commander of the vessel sent to acquaint the king, that he wanted a cargo of slaves. The king, promised to furnish him, and in order to it, set out, designing to surprize some town, and make all the people prisoners. Some time after, the king sent him word, he had not yet met with the desired success: Having attempted to break up two towns, but having been twice repulsed: But that he still hoped to procure the number of slaves. In this design he persisted, till he met his enemies in the field. A battle was fought, which lasted three days. And the engagement was so bloody, that four thousand five hundred men were slain upon the spot."

Such is the manner wherein the Negroes are procured! Thus the christians preach the gospel to the heathens!

        5. Thus they are procured. But in what numbers and in what manner are they carried to America?--Mr. Anderson in his History of trade and commerce,

Page 21

observes, "England supplies her American colonies with Negro slaves, amounting in number to about an hundred thousand every year." That is, so many are taken on board our ships; but at least ten thousand of them die in the voyage: About a fourth part more die at the different Islands, in what is called the Seasoning. So that at an average, in the passage and seasoning together, thirty thousand die: That is, properly are murdered. O earth, O Sea, cover not thou their blood!

        6. When they are brought down to the shore in order to be sold, our surgeons thoroughly examine them, and that quite naked, women and men, without any distinction: Those that are approved are set on one side. In the mean time a burning iron, with the arms or name of the Company, lies in the fire, with which they are marked on the breast. Before they are put into the ships, their masters strip them of all they have on their backs: So that they come on board stark naked, women as well as men. It is common for several hundreds of them to be put on board one vessel; where they are stowed together in as little room, as it is possible for them to be crowded. It is easy to suppose what a condition they must

Page 22

soon be in, between heat, thirst, and stench of various kinds. So that it is no wonder, so many should die in the passage; but rather, that any survive it.*

        *Thomas Philips in his account of a voyage he made to Guinea, and from thence to Barbadoes, with a cargo of slaves relates, "That they took seven hundred slaves on board. When they were brought in the vessel, the men were all put in irons, two and two shackled together, to prevent their mutinying or swimming ashore. The negroes, he says, are so loath to leave their own country, that they have often leapt out of the canoe, boat and ship, into the seas, and kept under water until they were drowned, to avoid being taken up, and saved by the boats which pursue them."--They had about twelve negroes who willingly drowned themselves; others starved themselves to death-- Philips was advised to cut off the legs and arms of some to terrify the rest; (as other captains had done) but this he refused to do: From the time of his taking the negroes on board, to his arrival at Barbadoes, no less than three hundred and twenty died of various diseases: Which the author says, "was to their great regret, after enduring much misery and stench, so long, among a parcel of creatures nastier than swine: No gold-finder, says Philips, can suffer such noisome drudgery as they do who carry negroes, having no respite from their afflictions so long as any of their slaves are alive." How unreasonable was it in Philips, thus to reflect on negroes; could such a number be crowded together in so warm a climate, even if they had all been healthy, without being extremely offensive: How much more when so many lay sick, dead and dying. He speaks of the English people's great sufferings by nastiness, stench, &c. but he forgets the sufferings of the poor blacks, which must have been incomparably greater than their's; not to mention the painful sorrow, and anxiety of mind these distressed creatures must have laboured under.

Page 23

        7. When the vessels arrive at their destined port, the Negroes are again exposed naked, to the eyes of all that flock together, and the examination of their purchasers: Then they are separated to the plantations of their several masters, to see each other no more. Here you may see mothers hanging over their daughters, bedewing their naked breasts with tears, and daughters clinging to their parents, till the whipper soon obliges them to part. And what can be more wretched than the condition they then enter upon? Banished from their country, from their friends and relations for ever, from every comfort of life, they are reduced to a state scarce any way preferable to that of beasts of burthen. In general a few roots, not of the nicest kind, usually yams or potatoes, are their

Page 24

food, and two rags, that neither screen them from the heat of the day, nor the cold of the night their covering. Their sleep is very short, their labour continual, and frequently above their strength; so that death sets many of them at liberty, before they have lived out half their days. The time they work in the West Indies, is from day break to noon, and from two o'clock till dark: During which time they are attended by overseers, who, if they think them dilatory, or think any thing no so well done as it should be, whip them most unmercifully, so that you may see their bodies long after whealed and scarred usually from the shoulders to the waist. And before they are suffered to go to their quarters, they have commonly something to do, as collecting herbage for the horses, or gathering fewel for the boilers. So that it is often past twelve, before they can get home. Hence if their food was not prepared, they are sometimes called to labour again, before they can satisfy their hunger. And no excuse will avail. If they are not in the field immediately, they must expect to feel the lash. Did the Creator intend, that the noblest creatures in the visible world, should live such a life as this!

Page 25

        "Are these thy glorious works, Parent of Good?"

        8. As to the punishments inflicted on them, says Sir Hans Sloan, "They frequently geld them, or chop off half a foot: After they are whipped till they are raw all over, some put pepper and salt upon them: Some drop melted wax upon their skin. Others cut off their ears, and constrain them to broil and eat them. "For Rebellion," (that is, asserting their native Liberty, which they have as much right to as the air they breathe) "they fasten them down to the ground with crooked sticks on every limb, and then applying fire by degrees, to the feet and hands, they burn them gradually upward to the head."*

        * Sir Hans Sloan after describing the severe tortures practiced on the negroes, sums up the pains they are made to suffer under the terms of exquisite and extravagant.

         Now must not the reasonable and humane nature of those who order these dreadful tortures, as well as those who execute them, be changed into devilish, who can thus put their fellow creatures to such extravagant, such exquisite torment? And for what? Often, even for that which their tormentors themselves would have done if in their situation. If thro' the exertion of barbarous and unjust laws, the natural attendant on slavery, these our hapless fellow men are doomed to die, yet in their deaths, let it at least be remembered that they are men. We hear with horror and detestation of some such execution in the inquisitions and under some tyrannic governments; but these inhumanities are certainly contrary to the genius and disposition of the British nation, and quite abhorent of its laws, which do not allow of tortures either in punishment, or to extort confessions. Sir I Dalrymple in his memoirs says that the Parliament in the declaration of right asserted, that pitying and respecting humane nature, no cruel and unusual punishment should be inflicted.

         How Britons can so readily admit of a change in their disposition and sentiments, as to practice in America what they abhor and detested in Britain, can be accounted for on no other principle, but as being the natural effect of slave-keeping, which as the celebrated Montesquieu observes, "insensibly accustoms those who are in the practice of it, to want all moral virtues, to become haughty, hasty, hard hearted, passionate, voluptuous and cruel. The evil attendant on the condition of the poor slaves will end with their lives, and the merciful father of the family of mankind will doubtless look on their deep affliction, and where their hearts are thereby humbled, requite them good in another state of existence for their sufferings in this: but with respect to their lordly oppressors, this horrible abuse of their fellow men, will doubtless extend its baneful influence even into the regions of eternity. It is surprising that the thoughtful people, where slavery prevails, should so little advert to its dreadful consequent effects to themselves and families, particularly on the necessity they are in of sending away their offspring from under their own paternal care, in very early life, lest their tender minds should be corrupted, and every noble and generous sentiments eradicated by the oppression and cruelty they are daily witnesses of.--That parents should be thus incapacitated and deprived of the opportunity and satisfaction of forming the minds of their offspring to virtue and happiness, but that this most sacred and delightful trust must be left to the care of the hireling and the stranger, must to every tender thinking parent, appear an evil of so afflictive a nature, and so contrary to the divine order, that no human advantage can compensate for.

         The author of the history of Jamaica, wrote about the year 1740, in his account of the sufferings of the negroes, says, The people of that island have indeed the severest ways of punishing; no country exceeds them in a barbarous treatment of their slaves, or in the cruel methods by which they are put to death. After confirming what is before said he adds, "They starve them to death, with a loaf hanging over their mouths. I have seen these unfortunate wretches gnaw the flesh off their shoulders, and expire in all the frightful agonies of one under the most horrible tortures. He adds, I incline to touch the hardship which these poor creatures suffer in the tenderest manner, from a particular regard which I have to many of their masters; but I cannot conceal their sad circumstances entirely: the most trivial error is punished with terrible whipping. I have seen some of them treated in that cruel manner, for no other reason but to satisfy the brutish pleasure of an overseer, who has their punishment mostly at his discretion. I have seen their bodies all in a gore of blood, the skin torn off their backs with the cruel whip, beaten pepper and salt rubbed in the wounds, and a large slick of sealing-wax dropped leisurely upon them. It is no wonder, (adds this author) if the horrid pain of such inhuman tortures incline them to rebel." The same author gives us extracts of some of the laws of Jamaica relating to the punishment of slaves, taken as he says, from a general collection of the plantation laws, the printed statutes, or the secretary's office, viz.

         "If any slave by punishment from his owner for running away, or other offence, suffer in life or limb, none shall be liable to the law for the same; but whoever shall kill a slave out of wilfulness, wantonness, or bloody mindedness, shall suffer three months imprisonment, and pay fifty pounds to the owner of the slave. If the party so offending be a servant, he or she shall have on the bare back thirty-nine lashes, and also (after the expiration of the term with his or her master or mistress) shall serve the owner of the deceased slave the full term of four years. If any person kill a slave stealing or running away, or found at night out of his owner's ground, road, or common path, such person shall not be subject to any damage or action for the same.

         "Those that go out in parties to reduce the negroes, shall receive from the treasurer for every rebellious negro that shall be killed, bringing in his head to any justice, forty pounds; for every negro taken and brought in alive, and not maimed, ten pounds, to be paid by the owner, who is hereby obliged under the penalty of fifty pounds, to transport such slave so taken; and in case the owner cannot be found, then the treasurer shall pay the ten pounds, receive the slave, sell and transport him, and retain the produce to be employed in the said service,"

        The following advertisement was taken from one of the North-Carolina news papers.

        "Run-away last November, from the subscriber, a negro fellow named Zeb, about 36 years of age, about 5 feet 8 inches high, a very good cooper by trade, &c.--As he is outlawed, I will pay twenty pounds proclamation money out of what the act of the assembly allows in such cases, to any person who shall produce his head severed from his body, and five pounds proclamation money if brought home alive."



         An advertisement of the same kind was printed in London, in the general evening-post, Jan 1, 1774, said to be taken from the Williamsburgh gazette, where after describing the negro, the master adds, "The said fellow is outlawed, and I will give ten pounds reward for his head severed from his body, or forty shillings if brought alive." As strange as such publications may appear to such whose hearts as are not hardened by the practice of slavery, yet I am informed advertisements of this kind are frequent in the southern colonies.

         It is alleged by the planters in excuse for these unnatural, these monstrous cruelties, that the greatest severity, the most cruel punishments, are absolutely necessary for the management of slaves, on account of those train of vices which slavery necessarily introduces. A late author remarks how shocking it is to think that those unhappy victims must from the nature of the thing become dangerous and refractory, in proportion to the greatness and generosity of their minds.

         Can there 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 expresses it--

                         --And with necessity
                         The tyrant's plea, excuse his dev'lish deed.

        How many thousands and tens of thousands has this dev'lish plea of necessity brought to a cruel and untimely end? What account will in future states of existence, be given to the father of the family of mankind, for the lives of so many of our fellow men so inhumanly murdered. A particular instance of the destruction of human beings, under the pretence of necessity, is related by captain Cook, in his voyage round the world, in company with messieurs Banks and Solander, in the year 1768, being at Rio Janiero, one, if not the principal town of Brazil; he relates, page 29, "That the inhabitants, who are very numerous, consists of Portuguese, Negroes, and Indians. The township of Rio Janiero, which he was told was but a small part of the province, is said to contain thirty-seven thousand white people, and six hundred and twenty-nine thousand blacks, many of whom are free, in the proportion of seventeen to one."

         Page 34. (he tellsus[) ]"The riches of the place consists chiefly in the mines; that much gold is brought from these mines, but at an expence of life that must strike every man, to whom custom has not made it familiar, with horror. No less than forty thousand Negroes are annually imported on the king's account to dig in the mines; and (he adds) we are credibly informed, that the last year but one before we arrived here, this number fell so short, probably from some epidemic disease, that twenty thousand more were draughted from the town of Rio Janiero."

Page 26

        9. But will not the laws made in the Plantations, prevent or redress all cruelty and Oppression? We will take but a

Page 27

few of those Laws for a specimen, and them let any man judge.

        In order to rivet the chain of slavery, the law of Virginia ordains, "That no

Page 28

slave shall be set free, under any pretence whatever, except for some meritorious services, to be adjudged and allowed by the governor and council: And that where

Page 29

any slave shall be set free by his owner, otherwise than is herein directed, the church-wardens of the parish wherein such negro shall reside for the space of

Page 30

one month are hereby authorized and required, to take up and sell the said negro, by public outcry."

        Will not these Law-givers take effectual care, to prevent cruelty and oppression?

Page 31

        The law of Jamaica ordains, "Every slave that shall run away, and continue absent from his master twelve months, shall be deemed rebellious:" And by another

Page 32

law, fifty pounds are allowed, to those who kill or bring in alive a rebellious slave." So their law treats these poor men with as little ceremony and consideration, as if they were merely brute beasts! But the innocent blood which is shed in consequence of such a detestable law, must call for vengeance on the murderous abettors and actors of such deliberate wickedness.

        11. But the law of Barbadoes exceeds even this. "If any negro under punishment, by his master, or his order, for running away, or any other crime or misdemeanor, shall suffer in life or member, no person whatever shall be liable to any fine therefore. But if any man of WANTONNESS, or only of BLOODY-MINDEDNESS OR CRUEL INTENTION, wilfully kill a negro of his own" (Now observe the severe punishment!) "He shall pay into the public treasury fifteen pounds sterling! And not be liable to any other punishment or forfeiture for the same!"

Page 33

        Nearly allied to this is the law of Virginia: "After proclamation is issued against slaves that run away, it is lawful for any person whatsoever to KILL AND DESTROY such slaves, by SUCH WAYS AND MEANS AS HE SHALL THINK FIT.

        We have seen already some of the ways and means which have been thought fit on such occasions. And many more might be mentioned. One gentleman, when I was abroad thought fit to roast his slave alive! But if the most natural act of "running away" from intolerable tyranny, deserves such relentless severity, what punishment have these law-makers to expect hereafter, on account of their own enormous offences?


         1. This is the plain, un-aggravated matter of fact. Such is the manner wherein our African slaves are procured: Such is the manner wherein they are removed from their native land, and wherein they are treated in our Plantations. I would now enquire, whether these things can be defended, on the principles of even heathen honesty? Whether they can be reconciled (setting the Bible out of the question) with any degree of either justice or mercy.

        2. The grand plea is, "They are authorized by law." But can law, human law, change the nature of things? Can

Page 34

it turn darkness into light, or evil into good? By no means. Notwithstanding ten thousand laws, right is right, and wrong is wrong still. There must still remain an essential difference between justice and injustice, cruelty and mercy. So that I still ask, Who can reconcile this treatment of the negroes, first and last, with either mercy or justice.

        Where is the justice of inflicting the severest evils, on those who have done us no wrong? Of depriving those that never injured us in word or deed, of every comfort of life? Of tearing them from their native country, and depriving them of liberty itself? To which an Angolan, has the same natural right as an Englishman, and on which he sets as high a value? Yea where is the justice of taking away the lives of innocent, inoffensive men? Murdering thousands of them in their own land, by the hands of their own countrymen: Many thousands, year after year, on shipboard, and then casting them like dung into the sea! And tens of thousands in that cruel slavery, to which they are so unjustly reduced?

        3. But waving, for the present, all other considerations, I strike at the root of this complicated villainy. I absolutely deny all slave-holding to be consistent

Page 35

with any degree of even natural justice.

        I cannot place this in a clearer light, than that great ornament of his profession, judge Blackstone has already done. Part of his words are as follows:

        "The three origins of the right of slavery assigned by Justinian, are all built upon false foundations. 1. Slavery is said to arise from captivity in war. The conqueror having a right to the life of his captive, if he spares that, has then a right to deal with him as he pleases. But this is untrue, if taken generally, That by the law of nations, a man has a right to kill his enemy. He has only a right to kill him in particular cases in cases of absolute necessity for self-defence. And it is plain, this absolute necessity did not subsist, since he did not kill him, but made him prisoner. War itself is justifiable only on principles of self-preservation. Therefore it gives us no right over prisoners, but to hinder their hurting us by confining them. Much less can it give a right to torture, or kill, or even to enslave an enemy when the war is over. Since therefore the right of making our prisoners slaves, depends on a supposed right of slaughter, that foundation failing, the consequence which is drawn from it must fail likewise."

Page 36

        "It is said, Secondly, slavery may begin, by one man's selling himself to another. And it is true, a man may sell himself to work for another: But he cannot sell himself to be a slave, as above defined. Every sale implies an equivalent given to the seller, in lieu of what he transfers to the buyer. But what equivalent can be given for life or liberty? His property likewise, with the very price which he seems to receive, devolves ipso facto to his master, the instant he becomes his slave: In this case therefore the buyer gives nothing, and the seller receives nothing. Of what validity then can a sale be, which destroys the very principle upon which all sales are founded?"

        "We are told, Thirdly, that men may be born slaves, by being the children of slaves. But this being built on the two former rights, must fall together with them. If neither captivity, nor contract can by the plain law of nature and reason, reduce the parent to a state of slavery, much less can they reduce the offspring." It clearly follows, that all slavery is as irreconcileable to justice as to mercy.

        4. That slave-holding is utterly inconsistent with mercy, is almost too plain to need a proof. Indeed it is said, "That these negroes being prisoners of war, our

Page 37

captains and factors buy them merely to save them from being put to death. And is not this mercy?" I answer, 1. Did Sir John Hawkins, and many others, seize upon men, women and children, who were at peace in their own fields or houses, merely to save them from death? 2. Was it to save them from death, that they knock'd out the brains of those they could not bring away? 3. Who occasioned and fomented those wars, wherein these poor creatures were taken prisoners? Who excited them by money, by drink, by every possible means, to fall upon one another? Was it not themselves? They know in their own conscience it was, if they have any conscience left. But 4. To bring the matter to a short issue. Can they say before GOD, That they ever took a single voyage, or bought a single negro from this motive? They cannot. They well know, to get money, not to save lives, was the whole and sole spring of their motions.

        But if this manner of Procuring and treating negroes is not consistent either with mercy or justice, yet there is a plea for it which every man of business will acknowledge to be quite sufficient. Fifty years ago, one meeting an eminent statesman in the lobby of the house of commons,

Page 38

said, "You have been long talking about justice and equity. Pray which is this bill? Equity or justice?" He answered, very short, and plain, "D--n justice: It is necessity." Here also the slave-holder fixes his foot: Here he rests the strength of his cause. "If it is not quite right, yet it must be so: There is an absolute necessity for it. It is necessary we should procure slaves: And when we have procured them, it is necessary to use them with severity, considering their stupidity, stubbornness and wickedness."

        I answer, You stumble at the threshold: I deny that villany is ever necessary. It is impossible that it should ever be necessary, for any reasonable creature to violate all the laws of justice, mercy and truth. No circumstances can make it necessary for a man to burst in sunder all the ties of humanity. It can never be necessary for a rational being to sink himself below a brute. A man can be under no necessity, of degrading himself into a wolf. The absurdity of the supposition is so glaring, that one would wonder any one can help seeing it.

        6. This in general, But to be more particular, I ask, 1. What is necessary? And, secondly. To what end? It may be be answered, "The whole method now

Page 39

used by the original purchasers of negroes, is necessary to the furnishing our colonies yearly with an hundred thousand slaves." I grant, this is necessary to that end. But how is that end necessary? How will you prove it necessary, that one hundred, that one of those slaves should be procured? "Why, it is necessary to my gaining an hundred thousand pounds." Perhaps so: But how is this necessary? It is very possible you might be both a better and an happier man, if you had not a quarter of it. I deny that your gaining one thousand is necessary, either to your present or eternal happiness. "But however you must allow, these slaves are necessary for the cultivation of our islands: inasmuch as white men are not able to labour in hot climates*."

        * It is not proposed to remove the negroes from labouring in the several provinces and islands where they are now employed; in order to employ white men in their stead, what is proposed, is only to prevent any farther import of negroes, except those who may come voluntarily and in a free condition; and to fall upon such just regulations and proper encouragement with respect to those already amongst us, that from dangerous grudging slaves, they may become willing heartened labourers, who having an interest in the peace and welfare of the country, will be parties in its strength and support. But whilst deficiencies by the death of the labouring slaves can be so easily made up by the continual fresh imports from Guinea, and the planters find it cheaper to make new purchases than to raise the children, or spare and cherish the parents of those already in their service, little amendment can be expected in the hardship they are put to, and the cruelties exercised upon them. Surely the number already in our colonies and islands, which on a calculation made four or five years past, was between eight and nine hundred thousand since yearly imported: all these, with their increase, if well used, would certainly be sufficient to perform all necessary labour.

         If an end was put to the import of negroes, and the odious and cruel distinction of master and slaves, with all its attendant horrors should cease, many labouring people from Europe, who are now discouraged from an apprehension of being put on a level with slaves, would probably be willing to come over and engage in the service.

         John Miller, professor of law at Glasgow, in his late observation concerning distinction of ranks in society, observes, "That the slavery established in our colonies is an object of great importance, and is attended with difficulties which cannot be easily removed. It has been thought that the management of our plantations requires a labour in which free men would not be willing to engage, and which the white people are from their constitution incapable of performing. How far this opinion is well founded according to the present manner of labouring in that part of the world, seems difficult to determine, as it has never been properly examined by those who are in a condition to ascertain the facts in question. But there is ground to believe, that the institution of slavery is the chief circumstance that has prevented those contrivances to shorten and facilitate the more laborious employments of the people, which takes place in other countries, where freedom has been introduced. With regard to the planting of sugar, experiments have been made in some of the islands, from which it appears, that in some species of cultivation, cattle might be employed with advantage, and that the number of slaves might be greatly diminished. But these experiments have been little regarded, in opposition to the former usage, and in opposition to a lucrative branch of trade which these innovations would in a great measure destroy. At any rate, the interest of our colonies seems to demand, that the negroes should be better treated, and even that they should be raised to a better condition.--The author of a late elegant account of our American settlements, has proposed, that small wages should be given them, as an encouragement to industry. If this measure were once begun, it is probable that the master would soon find the utility of pushing it to a greater extent. Nothing can appear more astonishing than the little attention that has hitherto been paid to any improvement of this nature, after the good effects of them have been so fully illustrated in the case of the villains in Europe. At the same time, it affords a curious spectacle to observe, that the same people who talk in so high a strain of political liberty, and who consider the privilege of imposing their own taxes, as one of the unalienable rights of mankind, should make no scruple of reducing a great proportion of the inhabitants into circumstances by which they are not only deprived of property, but almost of every right whatsoever. Fortune, perhaps never produced a situation more calculated to ridicule a grave and even a liberal hypothesis, or to show how little the conduct of man is at bottom directed by any philosophical principles."

         We have accounts from England of some regulations that have taken place in the Spanish colonies, which do the Spaniards much honour, and are certainly worthy of our imitation; they are to the following effect:--"As soon as a slave is landed, his name, price, &c. are registered in a public register, and the master is obliged by law, to allow him one working day in every week to himself, besides sundays: so that if the slave chuses to work for his master on that day, he receives the wages of a freeman for it; and whatever he gains by his labour on that day, is so secured to him by law, that the master cannot deprive him of it. As soon as the slave is able to purchase another working day, the master is obliged to sell it to him at a proportionable price, viz. one fifth part of his original cost, and so likewise the remaining four days at the same rate, as soon as the slave is able to redeem them; after which he is absolutely free." This is such encouragement to industry, that even the most indolent would be tempted to exert themselves. Men who have thus worked out their freedom, are inured to the labour of the country, and are certainly the most useful subjects that a colony can acquire.

I answer, 1. It were better
Page 40

that all those islands should remain uncultivated for ever, yea, it were more desirable that they were all together sunk in the depth of the sea, than that they should be cultivated at so high a price, as the violation of justice, mercy, and truth. But, Secondly, the supposition on which

Page 41

you ground your argument is false. For white men, even Englishmen, are well able to labour in hot climates: provided they are temperate both in meat and drink, and that they inure themselves to it by degrees. I speak no more than I know by experience. It appears from the thermometer,

Page 42

that the summer heat in Georgia, is frequently equal to that in Barbadoes, yea to that under the line. And yet I and my family, (eight in number) did employ all our spare time there, in felling of trees and clearing of ground, as hard labour as any negro need be employed in. The German family likewise, forty in number,

Page 43

were employed in all manner of labour. And this was so far from impairing our health, that we all continued perfectly well, while the idle ones all around us, were swept away as with a pestilence. It is not true therefore that white men are not able to labour, even in hot climates, full well as black. But if they were not, it would be better that none should

Page 44

labour there, that the work should be left undone, than that myriads of innocent men should be murdered, and myriads more dragged into the basest slavery.

        7. "But the furnishing us with slaves is necessary, for the trade, and wealth, and glory of our nation:" Here are several mistakes. For 1. Wealth is not necessary to the glory of any nation; but wisdom, virtue, justice, mercy, generosity, public spirit, love of our country. These are necessary to the real glory of a nation; but abundance of wealth is not. Men of understanding allow, that the glory of England was full as high, in Queen Elizabeth's time as it is now: Although our riches and trade were then as much smaller, as our virtue was greater*.

        * We are told in Hill's naval history, page 239, That when captain Hawkins returned from his first voyage to Africa, he was sent for by Queen Elizabeth, who expressed her concern to him, 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, but acted quite contrary to his promise, which occasioned that author to remark, "That here began the horrid practice of forcing the Africans into slavery, an injustice and barbarity which so sure as there is vengeance in heaven for the worst of crimes, will sometime be the destruction of all who act, or who encourage it."

        Geraldus Cambrensis, a noted author who lived about six hundred years past, in his observations concerning the causes of the prosperity of the English undertakings in Ireland, when they conquered that island, tells us, "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 fallen upon their nation; and that especially their buying of Englishmen from merchants and pirates, and detaining them under 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 public act in that council, that all the English held in captivity throughout the whole land should be presently restored to their former liberty."

Page 45

Secondly, it is not clear, that we should have either less money or trade, (only less of that detestable trade of man-stealing) if there was not a negro in all our islands, or in all English America. It is demonstrable, white men, inured to it by degrees can work as well as them: And they would do it, were negroes out of the way, and proper encouragement given them. However, Thirdly, I come back to the same point; better no trade, than trade procured by villany. It is far better to have

Page 46

no wealth, than to gain wealth, at the expence of virtue. Better is honest poverty, than all the riches brought by the tears, and sweat, and blood of our fellow-creatures.

        8. "However this be, it is necessary when we have slaves, to use them with severity." What, to whip them for every petty offence, till they are all in gore blood? To take that opportunity, of rubbing pepper and salt into their raw flesh? To drop burning sealing wax upon their skin? To castrate them? To cut off half their foot with an axe? To hang them on gibbets, that they may die by inches, with heat, hunger, and thirst? To pin them down to the ground, and then burn them by degrees, from the feet, to the head? To roast them alive? When did a Turk or a Heathen find it necessary to use a fellow-creature thus?

        I pray, to what end is this usage necessary? "Why, to prevent their running away: And to keep them constantly to their labour, that they might not idle away their time. So miserably stupid is this race of men, yea, so stubborn, and so wicked." Allowing them to be as stupid as you say, to whom is that stupidity owing? Without question it lies altogether at the door of their inhuman masters:

Page 47

Who give them no means, no opportunity of improving their understanding: And indeed leave them no motive, either from hope or fear, to attempt any such thing. They were no way remarkable for stupidity, while they remained in their own country: The inhabitants of Africa where they have equal motives and equal means of improvement, are not inferior to the inhabitants of Europe: To some of them they are greatly superior. Impartially survey in their own country, the natives of Benin and the natives of Lapland. Compare, (setting prejudice aside) the Samoeids and the Angolans. And on which side does the advantage lie, in point of understanding? Certainly the African is in no respect inferior to the European.--Their stupidity therefore in our plantations is not natural; otherwise than it is the natural effect of their condition.--Consequently it is not their fault, but your's: You must answer for it, before GOD and man.

        9. "But their stupidity is not the only reason of our treating them with severity. For it is hard to say, which is the greatest, This, or their stubbornness and wickedness."--It may be so:--But do not these, as well as the other, lie at your door? Are not stubbornness, cunning, pilfering, and

Page 48

divers other vices, the natural, necessary fruits of slavery? Is not this an observation which has been made, in every age and nation.--And what means have you used to remove this stubbornness? Have you tried what mildness and gentleness would do? I knew one that did: That had prudence and patience to make the experiment: Mr. Hugh Bryan, who then lived on the borders of South-Carolina--And what was the effect? Why, that all his negroes (And he had no small number of them) loved and reverenced him as a father, and chearfully obeyed him out of love. Yea, they were more afraid of a frown from him, than of many blows from an overseer. And what pains have you taken, what method have you used, to reclaim them from their wickedness? Have you carefully taught them, that there is a GOD, a wise, powerful, merciful Being, the Creator and Governor of Heaven and Earth? That he has appointed a day wherein he will judge the world, will take an account of all our thoughts, words and actions? That in the day he will reward every child of man according to his works: That "then the righteous shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world: And the wicked shall be cast into everlasting

Page 49

fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." If you have not done this, if you have taken no pains or thought about the matter, can you wonder at their wickedness? What wonder, if they should cut your throat? And if they did, whom could you thank for it, but yourself? You first acted the villain in making them slaves, (whether you stole them or bought them.) You kept them stupid and wicked, by cutting them off from all apportunities of improving either in knowledge or virtue: And now you assign their want of wisdom and goodness as the reason for using them worse than brute beasts!


         1. It remains only, to make a little application, of the preceding observations.--But to whom should that application be made? That may bear a question. Should we address ourselves to the public at large? What effect can this have? It may inflame the world against the guilty, but is not likely to remove the guilt. Should we appeal to the English nation in general? This also is striking wide: And is never likely to procure any redress, for the sore evil we complain of.--As little would it in all probability avail, to apply to the parliament. So many things, which seem of greater importance lie before them that

Page 50

they are not likely to attend to this. I therefore add a few words to those who are more immediately concerned, whether captains, merchants or planters.

        2. And, first, to the captains employed in this trade. Most of you know, the country of Guinea: Several parts of it at least, between the river Senegal and the kingdom of Angola. Perhaps now, by your means, part of it is become a dreary uncultivated wilderness, the inhabitants being all murdered or carried away, so that there are none left to till the ground. But you well know, how populous, how fruitful, how pleasant it was a few years ago. You know the people were not stupid, not wanting in sense, considering the few means of improvement they enjoyed. Neither did you find them savage, fierce, cruel, treacherous, or unkind to strangers. On the contrary, they were in most parts a sensible and ingenious people. They were kind and friendly, courteous and obliging, and remarkably fair and just in their dealings. Such are the men whom you hire their own countrymen, to tear away from this lovely country; part by stealth, part by force, part made captives in those wars, which you raise or foment on purpose. You have seen them torn away, children from

Page 51

their parents, parents from their children: Husbands from their wives, wives from their beloved husbands, brethren and sisters from each other. You have dragged them who had never done you any wrong, perhaps in chains, from their native shore. You have forced them into your ships like an herd of swine, them who had souls immortal as your own: (Only some of them have leaped into the sea, and resolutely stayed under water, till they could suffer no more from you.) You have stowed them together as close as ever they could lie, without any regard either to decency or convenience.--And when many of them had been poisoned by foul air, or had sunk under various hardships, you have seen their remains delivered to the deep, till the sea should give up his dead. You have carried the survivors into the vilest slavery, never to end but with life: Such slavery as is not found among the Turks at Algiers, no, nor among the heathens in America.

        3. May I speak plainly to you? I must. Love constrains me: Love to you, as well as to those you are concerned with.

        Is there a GOD? you know there is. Is He a just GOD? Then there must be a state of retribution: A state wherein the just GOD will reward every man according to

Page 52

his works. Then what reward will he render to you? O think betimes! Before you drop into eternity! Think now, He shall have judgment without mercy, that shewed no mercy.

        Are you a man? Then you should have an human heart. But have you indeed? What is your heart made of? Is there no such principle as compassion there? Do you never feel another's pain? Have you no sympathy? No sense of human woe? No pity for the miserable? When you saw the flowing eyes, the heaving breasts, the bleeding sides and tortured limbs of your fellow-creatures, was you a stone, or a brute? Did you look upon them with the eyes of a tiger? When you squeezed the agonizing creatures down in the ship, or when you threw their poor mangled remains into the sea, had you no relenting? Did not one tear drop from your eye, one sigh escape from your breast? Do you feel no relenting now? If you do not, you must go on, till the measure of your iniquities is full. Then will the great GOD deal with you, as you have dealt with them, and require all their blood at your hands. And at that day it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you! But if your heart does relent, though in a small degree, know it is a call from

Page 53

the GOD of love. And to day, if you hear his voice, harden not your heart.--To day resolve, GOD being your helper, to escape for your life.--Regard not money! All that a man hath will he give for his life? Whatever you lose, lose not your soul: nothing can countervail that loss. Immediately quit the horrid trade: At all events, be an honest man.

        4. This equally concerns every merchant, who is engaged in the slave-trade. It is you that induce the African villain, to sell his countrymen; and in order thereto, to steal, rob, murder men, women and children without number: By enabling the English villain to pay him for so doing; whom you over pay for his execrable labour. It is your money, that is the spring of all, that impowers him to go on: So that whatever he or the African does in this matter, it is all your act and deed. And is your conscience quite reconciled to this? Does it never reproach you at all? Has gold entirely blinded your eyes, and stupefied your heart? Can you see, can you feel no harm therein? Is it doing as you would be done to? Make the case your own. "Master, (said a slave at Liverpool to the merchant that owned him) "what if some of my countrymen were to come here, and take away my mistress, and master

Page 54

Tommy, and master Billy, and carry them into our country, and make them slaves, how would you like it?" His answer was worthy of a man: "I will never buy a slave more while I live." O let his resolution be yours! Have no more any part in this detestable business. Instantly leave it to those unfeeling wretches, "Who laugh at human nature and compassion!" Be you a man! Not a wolf, a devourer of the human species! Be merciful, that you may obtain mercy!

        5. And this equally concerns every gentleman that has an estate in our American plantations: Yea all slave-holders of whatever rank and degree; seeing men-buyers are exactly on a level with men-stealers. Indeed you say, "I pay honestly for my goods: and I am not concerned to know how they are come by." Nay, but you are: You are deeply concerned, to know they are honestly come by. Otherwise you are partaker with a thief, and are not a jot honester than him. But you know, they are not honestly come by: You know they are procured by means, nothing near so innocent as picking of pockets, house-breaking, or robbery upon the highway. You know they are procured by a deliberate series of more complicated villainy, of fraud, robbery and

Page 55

murder) than was ever practiced either by Mahometans or Pagans: in particular by murders, of all kinds; by the blood of the innocent poured upon the ground like water. Now it is your money that pays the merchant, and thro' him the captain, and the African butchers. You therefore are guilty, yea, principally guilty, of all these frauds, robberies and murders. You are the spring that puts all the rest in motion: they would not stir a step without you:--Therefore the blood of all these wretches, who die before their time, whether in their country, or elsewhere lies upon your head. The blood of thy brother, (for, whether thou wilt believe it or no, such he is in the sight of him that made him) crieth against thee from the earth, from the ship, and from the waters. O, whatever it costs, put a stop to its cry before it be too late. Instantly, at any price, were it the half of your goods, deliver thyself from blood-guiltiness! Thy hands, thy bed, thy furniture, thy house, thy lands are at present stained with blood. Surely it is enough; accumulate no more guilt; spill no more blood of the innocent! Do not hire another to shed blood: Do not pay him for doing it! Whether you are a christian or no, shew yourself a man; be not more savage than a lion or a bear!

Page 56

        6. Perhaps you will say, "I do not buy any negroes: I only use those left me by my father."--So far is well; but is it enough to satisfy your own conscience? Had your father, have you, has any man living, a right to use another as a slave? It cannot be, even setting revelation aside. It cannot be, that either war, or contract, can give any man such a property in another as he has in sheep and oxen. Much less is it possible, that any child of man, should ever be born a slave. Liberty is the right of every human creature, as soon as he breathes the vital air. And no human law can deprive him of that right, which he derives from the law of nature.

        If therefore you have any regard to justice, (to say nothing of mercy, nor of the revealed law of GOD) render unto all their due. Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature. Let none serve you but by his own act and deed, by his own voluntary choice.--Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion! Be gentle towards men. And see that you invariably do unto every one, as you would he should do unto you.

        7. O thou GOD of love, thou who art loving to every man, and whose mercy is over all thy works: Thou who art the

Page 57

father of the spirits of all flesh, and who art rich in mercy unto all: Thou who hast mingled of one blood, all the nations upon earth: Have compassion upon these outcasts of men, who are trodden down as dung upon the earth! Arise and help these that have no helper, whose blood is spilt upon the ground like water! Are not these also the work of thine own hands, the purchase of thy Son's blood? Stir them up to cry unto thee in the land of their captivity; and let their complaint come up before thee; let it enter into thy ears! Make even those that lead them away captive to pity them, and turn their captivity as the rivers in the south. O burst thou all their chains in sunder; more especially the chains of their sins: Thou, Saviour of all, make them free, that they may be free indeed!

                         The servile progeny of Ham
                         Seize as the purchase of thy blood!
                         Let all the heathen know thy name:
                         From idols to the living GOD
                         The dark Americans convert,
                         And shine in every pagan heart!


Page 58

        SIMILAR causes will produce similar effects; the dreadful consequence of slavery is the same amongst every people and in every nation where it prevails: this truth is verified in the following accounts of the inhuman treatment the negroes met with both from the Hollanders and the French.

        The first is taken from the late writings of Edward Bancroft, an English physician, who resided some years in that part of America, called Dutch Guiana, which includes the several settlements of Surinam, Barbices, Demarara, &c. The insensibility with which this author relates and vindicates the cruelties and indignities exercised, by the Dutch, on the miserable Africans, shew that the advantage accruing to him from the labour of the slaves, as well as his connection with their oppressors, had its usual and natural effects, in obscuring his understanding, and hardning his heart against the dictates of reason and humanity.

Page 59

        The French author appears to have been in a very different situation; he was an officer belonging to the troops quartered in the island Mauritis, now called The Isle of France, who not reaping any advantage from the labour of the slaves, nor having any dependence on the planters, his mind remained so unprejudiced, that the dictates of reason and tender feelings of humanity, had free liberty to exert themselves.

        Doctor Bancroft, whilst he is giving his readers a genuine relation of the prodigious oppression and cruelty exercised on the negroes, advances such arguments in defence of the practice of slavery, as are, indeed, a dishonour to reason, and shocking to humanity. He tells us,

        "That the labour of the country is almost wholly performed by negroes--that they are kept at a submissive and humble distance, by severity of discipline," which he is so hardened as to say, "not only contributes to the safety of the white inhabitants, but even the happiness of the slaves, because, adds he, the impossibility of attaining is ever found to destroy the desire of enjoyment, and rigid treatment, by annihilating every hope of liberty, renders the slaves content with the enjoyment of slavery."--

Page 60

He acknowledges,

        "That the negroes are indeed spurred to industry by the whip of correction, which is ever at their heels, and not sparingly exercised; but, that there is no medium: either the minds of the slaves must be depressed by abject slavery, or the lives of the masters are in imminent danger: For this reason (he says) they have been oppressed by many humiliating penalties and distinctions. The evidence of slaves relating to white persons are of no validity. An attempt to strike a white inhabitant is punished with death. Their masters or overseers have not only the power of inflicting corporal punishment, but are in some measure allowed to exercise a right over their lives, since the putting a negro to death is attended only with a pecuniary punishment. In which situation, he confesses, they are subject to many complicated species of misery, exposed to the tyranny of the imperious, and lust of the libidinous; and to an incessant toil which will have no period but with their lives."

Thus this author thro' the whole of his reasoning, manifestly shews the depraving effect which the sight and practice of those hard and cruel measures which are attendant on
Page 61

slavery, has upon the heart and reason of men, otherwise of good judgment.--Hence, he adds,

        "That tho' this treatment has the appearance of cruelty, and cannot be reconciled to the principles of justice and equity, yet many things which are repugnant to humanity, may be excused on account of their necessity and for self-preservation."

--Speaking of the provision made for the negroes in food and clothing, he says,

        "The expence of maintaining them in this climate is very trifling--they are assigned a piece of ground, from this the slave is supplied with a sufficient stock for his sustenance; on which however he is not allowed to labour but only on sundays; receiving from his master a weekly allowance of dried fish to the amount of a pound and an half; which is all that his master contributes towards his food. The females receive the same treatment, and the drink of both is nothing but water: yet from this water and vegetables, with a morsel of dried fish, these people derive sufficient nutriment to sustain the hardest labour in the most enervating climate. The cloathing of the negroes (who work in the fields) is scarce sufficient to answer the demands of

Page 62

modesty. If any of them have either shirts, breeches, or petticoats, they are the produce of their private industry, as their masters furnish only a piece of coarse blue or brown linen, which is applied to the middle, in both sexes, and a blanket with which the slave covers himself at night; sleeping on boards only."

        The account given by the French officer of the disposition of the blacks, and the treatment they received from his countrymen on the island Mauritius, is as affecting as the former, tho' apparently wrote from a different motive and in a quite different spirit. He informs us, that the slaves who are employed in the cultivation of that island, are brought chiefly from the island Madagascar, situate about two hundred leagues distance.

        "That these black men, whose features bear a nearer similitude to the Europeans than the negroes of Guinea, are handy, intelligent, and sensible of honour; In their own country they apply themselves to many little handicrafts with great industry; they are passionately fond of dancing and music; their instrument is a kind of bow, to which a calibash is fixed; from which they draw a soft kind of harmony, accompanied with songs of their

Page 63

own composition. Love is always the subject. The girls dance to the song of their lovers; the spectators beat time.--These poor people in their own country are extremely hospitable: when a black in Madagascar is on his journey, he goes into the first house that suits his exigency, and tho' unknown, the family share their provisions with him. He is neither asked whence he comes or whither he goes: it is the custom of the country. With such arts and such manners these black people are brought to the island Mauritius to labour for the whites. They are set on shore quite naked, except a rag that covers their loins; the men are ranged on one side and the women on the other, with their little children, who cling about their mother thro' fear. The planter examines the whole, and purchases such as suits him. Brothers, sisters, friends, lovers, are separated; they take leave of each other with tears, and depart for the plantation. These blacks are naturally of a joyous temper; but after some years of slavery they grow melancholy.--The treatment they receive from their masters is rigorous; at day break, three cracks of the whip are the signal that calls them to work: each slave appears in the plantation with their mattock; here they work almost

Page 64

naked in the heat of the sun. For the least neglect they are bound hand and feet on a ladder; their commander armed with a postillions whip stands over them, and gives them on their naked posteriors fifty, an hundred, or two hundred lashes. Every lash brings off the skin. The poor wretch covered with blood, is let loose, and dragged back to his work. Some of these miserable creatures on being thus chastised, are not able to sit down for a month after. The women are punished in the same manner. There is a law made by the French king in their favour, called the black code: this law ordains that at each punishment they shall receive no more than thirty lashes; that they shall not be obliged to work on sundays; that they shall have their provision weekly, and their shirts yearly: but this law is not observed. Sometimes when they grow old, they are turned adrift to get their living as they can. One day I saw one of them who was nothing but skin and bone cutting flesh from a dead horse to eat. It appeared to be one skeleton devouring another.--They have occasionally the consolation of religion proposed to them, and are from time to time baptised. They are told that they are made brethren of the

Page 65

whites, and shall go to heaven; but they hardly know how to believe the Europeans should conduct them to heaven, whilst they are, they say, the cause of all their sufferings on earth.--They frequently refuse us, say they, necessary meat and cloaths, and beat us cruelly without reason: of this I have seen many instances. A slave, almost white, threw herself one day at my feet; her mistress made her rise early and watch late: if she chanced to sleep, she rubbed her mouth with ordure: and if she did not lick her lips, she commanded her to be whipt; she begged of me to solicit her pardon, which she obtained. Sometimes the masters of these wretches grant such request, and within two days double their punishment, reckoning in tale of lashes what they had professedly forgiven. A counsellor of whom some blacks had complained to the governor, assured me, that tho' they were exempted from punishment that day, the next he would have them slead from head to foot.--In short, when those wretched creatures can no longer support their condition, they sink into despair. Some of them put a period to their lives by poison or a halter: others throw themselves into some petty boat, without sails, without compass, without provision: in this manner

Page 66

they hazard a passage of two hundred leagues to return to the island of Madagascar, from whence they were brought. I have known them land there, be retaken and returned to their masters. In general they take refuge in the woods where they are hunted by detachments of soldiers, negroes, and dogs. Planters there are who make on such occasions a party of pleasure. They are attacked with the spear, like wild beasts. When they cannot be reached this way they are shot. Their heads are cut off and carried in triumph to town on the end of a pole. This is what I have seen almost weekly--I have seen them hanged and broke alive, they went to their punishment with pleasure and supported it without complaint. I have seen a woman throw herself voluntarily from the ladder. They cry that in another world they shall find a happier life, and that the father of mankind is not so unjust as man--I have daily beheld men and women whipt in the manner before described for having broken a pot, or forgot to shut a gate, their bloody limbs afterwards rubbed with vinegar and salt to heal them.--I have seen them in the excess of their anguish unable to cry any longer.--I have seen them

Page 67

bite the cannon on which they were bound.--I sicken at the recital of these horrors.--My eyes ach with feeling them--My ears with hearing them. Here I see poor negro women bending o'er their spades, their naked children bound upon their backs: Miserable creatures that tremble as they pass before me.--Sometimes I hear the sound of their drum, but more frequently the sound of whips cracking in the air like the report of a pistol; and the heart rending cries of mercy, master mercy.--If the unfortunate creatures would complain that the laws in their favour are not observed to whom can they complain; their judges are often their greatest tyrants (witness the counsellor before mentioned) It is alleged that without this severity, it is impossible to manage the slaves, you must have punishments and pains, iron collars with braces, whips, blocks to bind them by the foot, and chains to go round their necks. They must in short be treated like beasts, that the whites may live like men. Can we wonder at reasoning like this? "Where there is injustice in the principle, there must be inhumanity in the consequence.

Page 68

        I am mortified when I think that those philosophers, who have shewn so much fortitude in their attacks of moral and religious abuses, have not mentioned the poor negroes--They turn from the view of their misfortunes, they talk of the massacre of the Mexicans by the Spaniards, as if that crime were not the guilt of their own days; a guilt in which half Europe is concerned. Is it a greater crime at once to assassinate a people who differ from us in opinion, than to hold in living torments, a race of men who labour for the gratification of our palates and appetites, our internal and external luxuries?"

        If it is alleged in answer to these narratives, that such cruelties may indeed be practiced by the Hollanders and French, but that they are seldom used amongst the English, to this it may, with truth, be replied, that tho' different circumstances may occasion a variation of conduct in different places, yet there is in effect but little difference; wherever slavery is practiced, and an unlawful desire of gain prevails, it will have its natural effect, it will harden the heart, and induce to the use of hard and cruel measures, to obtain the end proposed. Its

Page 69

generally thought that the Hollanders exercise a greater degree of rigour and cruelty towards their slaves, than the English. Nevertheless our nation is in some cases said to exceed the former. An instance of this is related by Captain Cook before mentioned, who on his return in his voyage round the world, at page 797. when at the Island St. Helena's, belonging to the English, tells us,

        "that the negro-slaves are very numerous in that island.--That they appear to be a miserable race, worn out by excessive labour, and partly by ill usage, of which they frequently complain."

he adds, I am very sorry to say,

        "that instances of wanton cruelty are much more frequent among my country-men here, than among the Dutch, who are, and perhaps not without reason, generally reproached with want of humanity, at Batavia and the Cape."

        The foregoing accounts of the cruel usage the miserable Africans find, with little variation in all places and amongst every people where slavery prevails, will doubtless be grevious to such who feel for the cause of humanity and justice. Nor is it to be expected that there will be any amendment, whilst the defficiencies which happen by deaths, can so

Page 70

easily be made up by fresh imports, and the lives of the miserable negroes are left to the caprice and passion of their owners, or their overseers, more especially as these last generally expect favour from their masters, in proportion to the sugar, &c. they cause to be made, without any check from the laws, which rather countenance the murder of the slaves, if done, or said to be "done by way of chastisement." And even when it is publickly known that the death of a slave has been occasioned thro' "bloody mindedness or wanton cruelty;" yet agreeable to the prevailing opinion, that the spirits of the slaves must be kept down by the most humiliating distinctions, and severity of discipline; the prosecution of such murders is discouraged, indeed great difficulties would attend those who would attempt it, as it is seldom that any white person is present when such murder is committed, except the overseer or his dependants; and that the evidence of negroes is of no validity against the whites. Hence the lives of the poor slaves are in every respect, in a very precarious situation, subject to the passion and rage of those who have the rule over them, and the spilling of their blood unnoticed by those who ought to

Page 71

protect them; nevertheless, it is not hid from the all-seeing eye of God, and will doubtless remain, tho' a covered, yet accumulated store of divine displeasure against the perpetrators of it.

        And here it may not be improper to lay before the reader a few instances from the many, very many, which might be given of the shocking cruelties exercised on the miserable negroes, being a striking instance of the dreadful insensibility which the habit of hard and cruel measures will gradually introduce in the human heart.

        The first instance was related by a person who furnished the compiler with the advertisement from North-Carolina, viz. That whilst he was there a negro woman flying into the woods, probably from ill usage, was pursued by the overseer, who having met with her, after cruelly beating her, fastened her to his horse, so to drag rather than lead her; that before he reached the house she was a dead corpse. Such usage of a fellow-creature appeared most unnatural and cruel to the relater; but what most surprized him was, to find that this poor creature's life being taken away in so brutal a manner, made no impression on the minds of the people; it raised no

Page 72

indignation against the murderer, or commiseration for the unhappy victim; they seemed quite hardened to such scenes. He heard but one person take any manner of notice of the matter.

        Another instance fell under the immediate notice of a person of credit, when in the island of Jamaica, now residing in this city. Hearing a grievous cry, he went to the place from whence it came, where he saw a young negro woman of about eighteen years of age, swung by her hands, with heavy weights at her feet, and a man lashing her naked body with a hard whip; making pauses from time to time, and flinging pickle or salt and water on the wounds, the whip had made. The sight was so horrible, that he turned from it and came home. Sometime after, looking out, he saw this same young woman carried dead on a board: She had been cruelly whipped to death; neither did he observe that this pitious spectacle drew the concern or hardly attention of the people.

        A third instance happened in Charles-Town, in the presence of a person now residing there. A vessel had taken in a number of slaves, on the coast of Guinea, amongst these was a man, who probably

Page 73

from the dignity of his situation in his own country, or from some other cause, did not shew such submission as the ship's people expected and require of slaves. They attempted to tie him with ropes, but that not answering their purpose, they confined him in irons, and otherwise so tormented him during their passage from Guinea, in order to bring down his spirit, that when they arrived at Charles-Town, he was in so weak a condition as to be scarce able to walk to the place of sale, but as he was urged on with the whip. When the slaves returned in the evening, this man remaining unsold, was forced along with the rest towards the vessel, he walked on for a while, till he came to the market-place, where he fell; but the whip being exercised upon him, he rose, and going on a little farther dropt down dead. The relater, a person of credit, saw the transaction, and exclaimed against the barbarity; but no notice was taken, either judicially or otherwise; he was dragged along and flung into the sea, to be devoured by the sharks.

        The last instance I shall mention, happened in Carolina, on board a vessel with slaves from Guinea, related by a person lately in this city from thence. It

Page 74

seems the poor negroes had let in a persuasion from a fire appearing on the shore, that the white people proposed to put them to death; this made them unwilling to leave the ship: However they were all made to comply except one man, who had taken so strong hold of some part of the ship, that the sailors were not able to loose him. This raised the anger of the captain to so great a degree, that he struck the poor fellow so hard a blow, with something like a handspike, as broke both his arms, whereby the captain looking upon the fellow as disabled and unfit for sale, gave him another blow on the head, which caused his brains to fly about the vessel.

        "We know, says a late respectable author, that the negroes (employed in our plantations) are purchased from their princes in Guinea, who pretend to have a right to dispose of them, and that they are like other commodities, transported by the merchants, who have brought them into America, in order to be exposed to sale. If this trade admits of a moral or a rational justification, every crime, even the most atrocious, may be justified. Government

Page 75

was instituted for the good of mankind; kings, prince, governors, are not proprietors of those who are subject 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 purchase them: Men and their liberty are not either saleable or purchaseable.--No one, therefore, has any 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 to be free, for he has never lost his liberty; he could not lose it; his prince had no power to dispose of him. Of course the sale was ipso jure void. This right he carries about with him, and is entitled every where to get declared. As soon, therefore, as he comes into a country in which the judges are not forgetful

Page 76

of their own humanity, it is their duty to remember that he is a man, and to declare him to be free. I know it has been said, that questions concerning the state of persons ought to be determined by the law of the country to which they belong; and that, therefore, one who would be declared to be a slave in America, ought, in case he should happen to be imported into Britain, to be adjudged according to the law of America to be a slave; a doctrine, than which nothing can be more barbarous. Ought the judges of any country, out of respect to the law of another, to shew no respect to their kind and to humanity. Out of respect to a law, which is in no sort obligatory upon them, ought they to disregard the law of nature, which is obligatory on all men at all times, and in all places: Are any laws so binding as the eternal laws of justice? It is doubtful, whether a judge ought to pay greater regard to them, than to those arbitrary and inhuman usages which prevail in a distant land? Aye, but our colonies would be ruined, if slavery was abolished. Be it so; would it not from thence follow, that the bulk of mankind ought to be abused, that our pockets may be filled with money, or our mouths with

Page 77

delicacies? The purses of highwaymen would be empty in case robberies were totally abolished; but have men a right to acquire money by going out to the highway? Have men a right to acquire it by rendering their fellow creatures miserable? Is it lawful to abuse mankind, that the avarice, the vanity, or the passion of a few may be gratified? No! There is such a thing as justice, to which the most sacred regard is due. It ought to be inviolably observed. Have not these unhappy men a better right to their liberty and to their happiness, than our American merchants have to the profits which they make by torturing their kind? Let therefore our colonies be ruined, but let us not render so many men miserables. 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?"

        "But it is false, that either we, or our colonies would be ruined by the abolition of slavery. It might occasion a stagnation of business for a short time. Every great alteration produces that effect: Because

Page 78

mankind cannot on a sudden, find ways of disposing of themselves and of their affairs: But it would produce many happy effects. It is the slavery which is permitted in America that has hindered it from becoming so populous, as it would otherwise have done. Let the negroes free, and in a few generations, this vast and fertile continent, would be crowded with inhabitants; learning, arts, and every thing would flourish amongst them: Instead of being inhabited by wild beasts, and by savages, it would be peopled by philosophers, and by men." Prins. law of Scotl.

        "He who detains another by force in slavery, is always bound to prove his title. The slave sold or carried 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 upon those who deprive him of it by force." Syst. mor. phil.

        "Long and serious reflections upon the nature and consequences of slavery have

Page 79

convinced me, that it is a violation both of justice and religion; that it is dangerous to the safety of the community in which it prevails; that is it destructive to the growth of arts and sciences; and lastly, that it produces a numerous and very fatal train of vices, both in the slave, and in his master.--Freedom is unquestionably the birth right of all mankind; Africans as well as Europeans: to keep the former in a state of slavery, is a constant violation of that right, and therefore also of justice.--The British merchants obtains the negroes form Africa, by violence, artifice, and treachery, with a few trinkets to prompt those unfortunate people, to enslave one another, by force or stratagem. Purchase them, indeed they may, under the authority of an act of the British parliament. An act entailing upon the Africans (with whom we are not at war, and over whom a British parliament could not of right assume even a shadow of authority) the dreadful curse of perpetual slavery, upon them and their children forever. There cannot be in nature, there is not in all history, an influence in which every right of men is more flagrantly violated." Lee's Add.

Page 80

EXTRACT of a Sermon preached by the Bishop of Gloucester, before the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at their anniversary meeting, on the 21st of February, 1766.

        FROM the free-savages I now come (the last point I propose to consider) to the savages in bonds. By these I mean the vast multitudes yearly stolen from the opposite continent, and sacrificed by the colonists to their great idol, the GOD OF GAIN. But what then, say these sincere worshippers of Mammon, they are our own property, which we offer up. Gracious God! to talk (as in herds of cattle) of property in rational creatures! creatures endowed with all our faculties, possessing all our qualities but that of colour; our brethren both by nature and grace, shocks all the feelings of humanity, and the dictates of common sense. But, alas! what is there in the infinite abuses of society which does not shock them? Yet nothing is more certain in itself, and apparent to all, than that the infamous traffic for slaves directly infringes both divine and human law. Nature created man free; and grace invites him to assert his freedom. In excuse of

Page 81

this violation, it hath been pretended, that though indeed these miserable outcasts of humanity be torn from their homes and native country by fraud and violence, yet they thereby become the happier, and their condition the more eligible. But who are YOU, who pretend to judge of another man's happiness? That state, which each man, under the guidance of his maker, forms for himself; and not one man for another. To know what constitutes mine or your happiness, is the sole prerogative of him who created us, and cast us in so various and different moulds. Did your slaves ever complain to you of their unhappiness amidst their native woods and desarts? Or, rather, let me ask, did they ever cease complaining of their condition under you their lordly masters? Where they see, indeed, the accommodations of civil life, but see them all pass to others, themselves, unbefitted by them. Be so gracious then, ye petty tyrants over human freedom, to let your slaves judge for themselves, what it is which makes their own happiness. And then see whether they do not place it in the return to their own country, rather than in the contemplation of your grandeur, of which

Page 82

their misery makes so large a part. A return so passionately longed for, that despairing of happiness here, that is, of escaping the chains of their cruel task masters, they console themselves with feigning it to be the gracious reward of heaven in their future state; which I do not find their haughty masters have as yet concerned themselves to invade. The less hardy indeed wait for this felicity till overwearied nature sets them free; but the more resolved have recourse even to self-violence, to force a speedier passage.

        But it will be still urged, that though what is called human happiness be of so fantastic a nature, that each man's imagination creates it for himself, yet human misery is more substantial and uniform throughout all the tribes of mankind. Now, from the worst of human miseries, the savage Africans by these forced emigrations, are intirely secured, such as the being perpetually hunted down like beasts of prey or profit, by their more savage and powerful neighbors--In truth, a blessed change!--from being hunted to being caught. But who are they that have set on foot this general HUNTING? Are they not

Page 83

these very civilized violators of humanity themselves? Who tempt the weak appetites, and provoke the wild passions of the fiercer savages to prey upon the rest."