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William Clark, commissioner
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To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in
Congress assembled :
The memorial of the representatives of the religious society of Friends,: commonly called Quakers, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, &c., RESPECTFULLY REPRESENTS: .
That your memorialists are induced, by apprehension of religious duty: and regard for the present and future welfare of our common country, to solicit ihe aitention of Congress to an evil of great and appalling magnitude, in which we have reason to believe that many of our citizens are deeply involved.
We are encouraged to hope that our application will be judged worthy of serious consideration, from the circumstance that the President of the United States, at the opening of the present session, called the attention of your body to the same subject. We allude to the African slavetrade.
We are fully aware that this traffic is prohibited by the laws of nearly all the govern inents in the civilized world whose subjects or citizens have ever been engaged in its prosecution ; and that the two most active and exten-. sive maritime nations on the globe have denounced it as piratical, and prescribed, for those who may be found employed in it, the awful punishment. of death; yet the information which we have obtained, from various sources of unquestionable authenticity, has led to the sorrowful conviction, that this iniquitous commerce has, for several years past, been prosecuted to a greater extent, and in a manner more destructive to its victims, than it ever was before.
Under all the difficulties attendant upon this inquiry, and with ample ala' lowance for all the questionable cases, an estimate, founded chiefly on official documents, leads to the conclusion, that no fewer than a hundred and fifty thousand African slaves are annually landed on the coasts of Brazil, Cuba, and Porto Rico. A large number is known to be carried into Texas ; Globe Ofice.
and we have reason to apprehend that many are also introduced into the United States.
It is needless to expatiate upon the scenes of havoc and desolation from which this commerce is supplied; the sanguinary conflicts, the midnight conflagrations, and the toilsome, march through inhospitable deserts and under a burning sun, must be familiar to the mind of every person who is conversant with the history of the slavetrade. From the concurrent testimony of numerous witnesses, we are warranted in the conclusion, that the number who perish by fatigue, famine, and the sword, considerably exceeds the number who reach the coast alive.
T'he diseases generated in the holds of the slaveships, while the traffic was tolerated, are well known to have given to the march of death more than ten times its usual speed. But the circumstances under which it is now prosecuted have greatly increased the horrors and mortality of the middle passages. The ships engaged in it are constructed for rapid sailing. Hence the space allotted to the slaves is more limited now than before the prohibitory laws were enacted. Other causes, sufficiently obvious, aug. ment the suffering and mortality attendant upon the passage across the Atlantic. A comparison, founded upon a considerable collection of ascertained cases, appears to support the conclusion, that rather more than one. fourth of the number embarked on the African coast perish before they reach the place of their destination in the western world. Connecting this conclusion with the estimate already given of those who perish in procuring the slaves actually disembarked, we are brought to the dreadful conviction, that the African continent is annually despoiled, by means of the slavetrade, of from four to five hundred thousand of its inhabitants; or considerably upward of a thousand a day.
If we could believe that this desolating traffic was carried on exclusively by foreigners, it might still be worthy of consideration, whether the influence of the United States with the other governments of the world ought not to be exerted toward arresting or mitigating so enormous an evil. But we have sorrowful evidence that a large part is prosecuted under the protection of the American flag; and that American citizens and American capital are deeply engaged in it. It is an undeniable fact, that numerous vessels are built in the United States and sent to Cuba and ports in the Cape de Verd islands, where a sale, real or pretended, is effected to a foreigner; and a few foreigners are taken on board, the American officers still retaining their places. With this mixed crew the vessel proceeds, under the American flag, to the African coast. If visited by a British cruiser, the American character is assumed as an efficient protection ; but, in case one of our national vessels fall in their way, the foreigners figure as the crew and the Ameri. cans take the character of passengers. The flag of the United States being found the most efficient protection, is generally displayed until the slaves are embarked, when it disappears and that of Spain or Portugal usually takes its place. It is even said that the American flag has been used to cover this nefarious traffic, in its preparatory stages, in cases where neither the vessel nor crew had any claim to the American character, • If the transfer to foreigners of ships built in the United States, by Amer. ican citizens, equipped and prepared in all respects for the African slave. trade, should even be proved to be real bonafide sales, still such transactions must be cousidered as deeply participating in the criminality of that horrid traffic. 'Trading with known pirates, furnishing them with stores,