Imagens das páginas

told men that they were enemies of the cross of Christ, told them weeping. And then, too, imaginative minds often dream so confidently and delightfully of heaven, that, oh, it is hard to spoil their fine visions. But one thought should make the preacher faithful. It may be hereafter, in case of disappointment, as we know that it is here,

Chords which vibrate sweetest pleasure
Thrill the deepest notes of wo!




AFRICAN SLAVERY was introduced into Europe by the Spanish Moors, who had acquired from the Mohammedans of the North of Africa the practice of holding slaves. In this practice, they were soon joined by the native Spaniards. In the year 1500, permission was granted by the court of Spain to transport to the South American colonies, negro slaves, natives of Spain. Thus slavery was introduced into America. The excessive burdens imposed upon the Indians by their Spanish conquerors, at an early period arrested the attention of the philanthropists of that time. Among these, Bartholomew de Las Casas was conspicuous. He was a native of Seville, and with other clergymen, accompanied Columbus in his second voyage to Hispaniola. In 1516, Cardinal Ximenes, then regent of Castile, designated four persons, with unlimited power to regulate all judicial proceedings in the colonies. Las Casas was appointed to accompany them, with the title of Protector of the Indians. The first act of their authority was to set at liberty all the Indians who had been granted to Spanish courtiers, or to any individual not residing in America. A general alarm was excited among the colonists; and after mature consideration, the superintendents became convinced that the plans of Las Casas were impracticable, and that it was necessary that the Indians

should remain in subjection to their Spanish masters. Soon after, Las Casas proposed to Charles V. the expediency of importing slaves directly from Africa into the warm climates of the colonies, in order to relieve the burdens of the Indians. In an evil hour, Charles listened to the proposal, though Ximenes saw and denounced the glaring inconsistency of benefiting one race by kidnapping another. In 1517, a Flemish favorite of Charles V., having obtained an exclusive right of importing 4,000 negroes annually to the islands of Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica, and Porto Rico, sold it for 25,000 ducats to some Genoese merchants, who first brought into a regular form the commerce for slaves between Africa and America.

The Girst Englishman who was concerned in this nefarious traffic, was Sir John Hawkins, who afterwards attained so much celebrity as an admiral of the British navy. His father, an expert seaman, having made several voyages to Guinea, Brazil, and the West Indies, acquired considerable knowledge of those countries, and left for his son copious journals of his voyages and observations. In these papers, he described the soil of America as endowed with extraordinary fertility, but utterly neglected from the want of cultivators. Europeans were represented as unequal to the toil of agriculture in so sultry a climate, while the Africans were described as peculiarly adapted to this employment. Hawkins immediately deduced from these remarks the project of transporting Africans into the western world, formed a plan for the execution of his design, and laid it before some of his opulent neighbors. A subscription was immediately completed by Sir Lionel Ducket, Sir Thomas Lodge, Sir William Winter, and others, who at once perceived the lucrative promise of the trade. Hawkins reached Sierra Leone in 1562, and began his commerce. While trafficking with the natives, he took occasion to give them an inviting description of the country to which he was bound, contrasting the fertility of its soil, with the barrenness and poverty of Africa. The simple natives were ensnared by his flattering promises, and three hundred of them consented to embark for Hispaniola. On the night before they embarked, they were attacked by a hostile tribe; and Hawkins, hastening with his crew to their assistance, repulsed the assailants, and carried a number of them as prisoners on board his vessel. On the next day, he set sail, and during the passage, treated the


negroes who had voluntarily accompanied him in a different manner from his prisoners of war. On his arrival at Hispaniola, he disposed of the whole cargo to great advantage, and endeavored to inculcate on the purchasers the same distinction in the treatment of them which he had himself observed. But he was now unable to limit the consequences of his perfidy. The Spaniards considered all the Africans as slaves of the same condition, and treated them all alike. The success of Hawkins excited universal interest in England. At first, the nation was shocked with the inhuman aspect of the trade. Queen Elizabeth sent for Hawkins, and declared to him “that if any of the Africans were carried away without their own consent, it would be detestable, and would call down the vengeance of Heaven upon the undertakers." Hawkins assured her that in no expedition in which he should have the command, should any of the natives be carried away without their own consent, except prisoners of war. He declared that he considered it an act of humanity to transport men from a state of heathenism to the enjoyment of the blessings of civilized society, and of the Christian religion. The queen appeared to be satisfied with his statements, and dismissed him with the assurance, that while he and his associates acted with humanity and justice, they should enjoy her protection. In his next voyage, he met with an English ship of war, which joined itself to the expedition, and accompanied him to the coast of Africa. The natives had now become reserved and jealous of his designs. The crew of the ship of war, observing the hesitation of the Africans, began to deride the gentle methods of proceeding which Hawkins had adopted, and were not able to perceive the moral difference between calm treachery and undisguised violence. Hawkins cited the instructions of the queen and the dictates of conscience in vain. His men, after several unsuccessful attacks, in which many of them lost their lives, completed their cargo.* Hawkins was rewarded, on his return, for the supposed benefit which he had conferred on his country, by the addition of a crest to his coat of arms, consisting of “a demi-Moor, proper, bound with a cord,”—a fit emblem. In his third expedition, having attempted to carry on a contraband trade with the Spaniards, his small fleet was attacked by an overpowering force, and

[ocr errors]

Grahame's History of the United States of North America, vol. i. p. 22.

nearly destroyed. After undergoing great hardships, he reached home in January, 1568.

In 1620, a Dutch ship, from the coast of Guinea, having sailed up James river, in Virginia, sold a part of her cargo of negroes, about twenty in number, to the planters.* These were the first slaves introduced into the territory of the United States. The apology which probably misled the understandings of the purchasers was this—the negroes who were first brought to Virginia, were enslaved before they came, and by the purchase of the colonists were delivered from the hold of a slave-ship and the cruelty of the Dutch. When slaves were neither numerous nor formidable, they appear to have been kindly treated, and their masters perhaps intended to emancipate them at some convenient season. The laws, however, which were enacted before the close of the century, were oppressive and sanguinary. It seems that Indians were also enslaved. By an act passed in 1679, for the better encouragement of soldiers, it was declared that " what Indian prisoners should be taken in a war in which the colony was then engaged, should be free purchase to the soldiers taking them.” In 1682, it was enacted, that “ all servants brought into Virginia by sea or land, not being Christians, whether negroes, Moors, mulattoes or Indians, except Turks and Moors in amity with Great Britain, and all Indians which should thereafter be sold by neighboring Indians, or any other trafficking with us, as slaves, should be slaves to all intents and purposes.” These acts, so far as the Indians were concerned, were virtually repealed in 1691. Together with many solemn denunciations and penal enactments against "travelling on the Sabbath, profane cursing, or profanely getting drunk,” it was enacted that a slave committing a capital crime should be tried by commissioners named by the governor, without the intervention of a jury, and that the death of a slave occasioned by the correction of a master should not be accounted felony, “ since it cannot be presumed,” says the act, “ that prepensed malice, which alone makes murder felony, should induce any man to destroy his own estate.”

Slavery seems to have been established in Maryland from its earliest colonization. An act of the assembly of 1639, describes the people to consist of all Christian inhabitants,

* Beverley's History of Virginia.

slaves only excepted. This is the more remarkable as that State was settled by Roman Catholics, who, for the sake of their faith, had incurred exile from their native country. The unlawfulness of slavery had been solemnly declared by the pontiff, whom the papists regard as the head of their church. Pope Leo the tenth said, that “not only the Christian religion, but nature herself cried out against a state of slavery.” In 1663, the following act was passed. “ All negroes or other slaves within the province, and all negroes and other slaves to be hereafter imported into the province, shall serve durante vita ; and all children born of any negro or other slave, shall be slaves as their fathers were for the term of their lives." Slavery was introduced into the Carolinas in the autumn of 1665, by Sir John Yeamens, who came from Barbadoes with a number of emigrants, and settled on the southern bank of the Cape Fear river. In the constitution which was framed by the celebrated John Locke, and which consisted of one hundred and twenty ponderous articles, it was declared that “every freeman of Carolina, possesses absolute power and authority over his negro slaves, of what opinion or religion soever." This singular regulation has little apology, for there were no negroes in the province at this time, nor long after, except the few whom Yeamens had brought from Barbadoes. In 1723, the population of South Carolina amounted to 33,000, including 18,000 slaves. The demand for slaves was increased by the increasing cultivation of rice, which was thought too laborious for European constitutions; and the slave-ships of Great Britain encouraged the demand by the readiness with which they supplied it.* In the patent granted to the proprietors of Georgia, by George II. it was declared that “all persons born within the said province, and their children and posterity, are free denizens as if they had been born in any of his majesty's dominions.” In January, 1735, it was ordered by the king in council, that no person under any pretence whatever, should hire, keep, lodge, board, or employ a negro, except on special leave of the trustees. A compliance with these regulations was rendered very difficult by the proximity of South Carolina and Florida, in both which territories slavery was allowed. In 1747, though slavery was not formally introduced, yet the spirit of the prohibition had been

* Grahame, vol. i. page 178.

« AnteriorContinuar »