Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

a

they never can be raised to an equality with the whites, and enjoy all the liberty and rights to which they have a just elaim; or have all the encouragements and motives to make improvements of every kind, which are desirable. But if they were removed to Africa this evil would cease, and they would enjoy all desirable equality and liberty, and live in a climate which is peculiarly suited to their constitution. And they would be under advantages to set an example of industry, and the best manner of cultivating the land, of civil life, of morality and religion, which would tend to gain the attention of the inhabitants of that country, and persuade them to receive instruction and embrace the gospel.

These United States are able to be at the expense of prosecuting such a plan, of which these hints are some of the outlines. And is not this the best way that can be taken to compensate the blacks, both in America and Africa, for the injuries they have received by the slave trade and slavery, and that which righteousness and benevolence must dictate? And even selfishness will be pleased with such a plan as this, and excite to exertions to carry it into effect, when the advantages of it to the public and to individuals are well considered and realized. This will gradually draw off all the blacks in New England, and even in the Middle and Southern States, as fast as they can be set free, by which this nation will be delivered from that which, in the view of every discerning man, is a great calamity, and inconsistent with the good of society, and is now really a great injury to most of the white inhabitants, especially in the Southern States.

And by the increase and flourishing of such a plantation of free people in Africa, where all the tropical fruits and productions and the articles which we fetch from the West Indies may be raised in great abundance, by proper cultivation, and many other useful things procured, a commerce may take place and be maintained between those settlements and the United States of America, which will be of very great and increasing advantage to both.

And this will have the greatest tendency wholly to abolish the abominable trade in human flesh, and will certainly effect it, if all other attempts prove unsuccessful.

That such a plan is practicable, is evident from the experiment which has lately been made in forming a settlement of blacks at Sierra Leone. Above a thousand blacks were transported from Nova Scotia to that place last year, who, by the assistance of a small number of whites and supplies from England, have formed a town and plantation, which, by the latest accounts, is now in a flourishing condition, the inhabitants living in peace and amity with the neighboring nations, and with a promising prospect of being a great advantage to them, by teaching them to cultivate their lands and civilizing them, and showing them the advantages of peace and of industry, and trade in the productions of their country, and spreading the knowledge of Christianity among them. This will gradually put an end to the slave trade and to slavery in that part of the continent. And from this settlement there is a rational prospect of a commerce in the productions of that climate with Britain, which will be so profitable as more than to compensate the latter for all the expense of forming and carrying it on, and will be greatly advantageous to both nations.

There is reason to believe that a settlement may be made by the blacks now in the United States in some part of Africa, either on the River Sierra Leone or in some other place, which will be as advantageous to those who shall settle there and to the adjacent nations as this which has been mentioned, and with much less expense, and which will be a greater benefit to this nation than that may be to Britain.

Are there not, then, motives sufficient to induce the legislature of this nation to enter upon and prosecute this design, to form a plan and execute it, as wisdom shall direct? And is there not reason to think that it would meet with general approbation? But, if this cannot be, may not this be effected by the societies in these states who are formed with a design to promote the best good of the Africans ? Would not this be answering the end of their institution in the best way that can be devised, and in imitation of that which has been formed in Great Britain for the same purpose ?

Is there not reason to believe that, if such a plan was well digested and properly laid before the public, and urged, with the reasons which offer, and a company or committee formed to conduct the affair, there might be a sum collected sufficient to carry it into effect ?

The general court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts did, some time ago, make a resolve to the following purpose: That when a place can be found in Africa where the blacks in that state may settle to their advantage, they would furnish them with shipping and provisions sufficient to transport them there, and with arms sufficient to defend them, and farming utensils sufficient to cultivate their lands. If all the states in the Union, or most of them, would take the same measure, such a design might be soon and easily carried into execution. Nothing appears to be wanting but a proper, most reasonable zeal in so good a cause.

THE SLAVE TRADE AND SLAVERY.*

When the public or any part of the community are taking those measures, or going into that practice, which may issue in ruin, and most certainly will, unless reformed, he who foresees the approaching evil cannot act a benevolent or faithful part unless he gives warning of the danger, and does his utmost to reform and save his fellow-citizens, even though he should hereby incur the displeasure and resentment of a number of individuals. In this view, Crito asks the candid attention of the public to what he has to say on the following interesting and important subject.

Some, perhaps, will not choose to read any further, but drop this paper with a degree of uneasy disgust, when they are told the subject to which their attention is asked is the African slave trade, which has been practised, and in which numbers in these United States are now actually engaged. So much has been published within a few years past on this subject, describing the fertile country of Africa, and the case and happiness which the natives of that land enjoy, and might enjoy to a much greater degree, were it not for their own ignorance and folly, and the unhappy influence which the Europeans and Americans have had among them, inducing them to make war upon each other, and by various methods to captivate and kidnap their brethren and neighbors, and sell them into the most abject and perpetual slavery, - and at the same time giving a well-authenticated history of this commerce in the human species, pointing out the injustice, inhumanity, and barbarous cruelty of this trade, from beginning to end, until the poor Africans are fixed in a state of the most cruel bondage, in which, without hope, they linger out a wretched life, and then leave their posterity, if they are so unhappy as to have any, in the same miserable state, so much has been lately published, I say, on these subjects, that it is needless particularly to discuss them here. It is sufficient to refer the inquisitive to

.

Originally published in the Providence Gazette and Country Journal. – Ed. VOL. II.

52

[ocr errors]

the following books, viz., several Tracts, collected and published by the late Anthony Benezet, of Philadelphia; “ A Dialogue concerning the Slavery of the Africans," lately reprinted at New York by order of the society there for promoting the manumission of slaves, and protecting such of them as have been, or may be, liberated; and especially “ An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, particularly the Africans," by Thomas Clarkson, which was honored with the first prize in the University of Cambridge for the year 1785. If the African slave trade, and the consequent slavery of the negroes in the West Indies and in the United States of America, be an open and gross violation of the rights of mankind, a most unrighteous, inhuman, and cruel practice, which has been the occasion of the death of millions, and of violently forcing millions of others from their dear, native country, and their most tender and desirable connections, and of bringing them to a land of slavery, where they have not a friend to pity and relieve them, but are doomed to cruel bondage, without hope of redress, till kind death shall release them, as is represented, and seems to be abundantly proved, in the abovementioned publications and many others, a conviction of which is fast spreading among all ranks of men in Europe and Amer. ica, then the following terrible consequence, which may well make all shudder and tremble who realize it, forces itself upon us, viz., all who have had any hand in this iniquitous business, whether more directly or indirectly, have used their influence to promote it, or have consented to it, or even connived at it, and have not opposed it by all proper exertions of which they have been capable, — all these are, in a greater or less degree, chargeable with the injuries and miseries which mil. lions have suffered, and are suffering, in consequence of this trade, and are guilty of the blood of millions who have lost their lives by this traffic of the human species. Not only the merchants who have been engaged in this trade, and for the sake of gain have sacrificed the liberty and happiness, yea, the lives of millions of their fellow-men, and the captains and men who have been tempted by the love of money to engage in this cruel work, to buy, and sell, and butcher men, and the slaveholders of every description, are guilty of shedding rivers of blood, but all the legislatures who have authorized, encouraged, or even neglected to suppress it to the utmost of their power, and all the individuals in private stations who have in any way aided in this business, consented to it, or have not opposed it to the utmost of their ability, have a share in this guilt. It is, therefore, become a national sin, and a sin of the first magnitude — a sin which righteous Heaven has never saffered to pass unpunished in this world. For the truth of this assertion we may appeal to history, both sacred and profane.

We will leave the inhabitants of Britain and other European nations who have been, and still are, engaged in the slave trade, to answer for themselves, and consider this subject as it more immediately concerns the United States of America.

Hundreds of thousands of slaves have been imported into these states, many thousands are now in slavery here, and many more thousands have been brought from Africa by the inhabitants of these states, and sold in the West Indies, where slavery is attended with cruelty and horror beyond description. And who can reckon up the numbers who have lost their lives and been really murdered by this trade, or have a full conception of the sufferings and distresses of body and mind which have been the attendants and effects of it? All this blood which has been shed constantly cries to Heaven; and all the bitter sighs, and groans, and tears of these injured, distressed, helpless poor have entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts, and are calling and waiting for the day of vengeance. The inhabitants of Rhode Island, especially those of Newport, have had by far the greater share in this traffic of all these United States. This trade in the human species has been the first wheel of commerce in Newport, on which every other movement in business has chiefly depended. That town has been built up, and flourished in times past, at the expense of the blood, the liberty, and happiness of the poor Africans; and the inhabitants have lived on this, and by it have gotten most of their wealth and riches. If a bitter woe is pronounced on “ him who buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong," (Jer. xxii. 13,) “to him who buildeth a

, 6 town by blood, and establisheth a city by iniquity,” (Hab. ii. 12,) “ to the bloody city,” (Ezek. xxiv. 6,) what a heavy, dreadful woe hangs over the heads of all those whose hands are defiled by the blood of the Africans, especially the inhabitants of that state, and of that town, who have had a distinguished share in this unrighteous, bloody commerce! All this and more follows as a necessary consequence, which it is presumed none will dispute, on supposition the before-mentioned publications give, in any measure, a just representation of the slave trade and the consequent slavery of the Africans, and unless thousands and millions of all ranks, and of the most disinterested, and many of them men of the best, abilities and character for knowledge, uprightness, and benevolence, and who are under the greatest advantages to know the truth and judge right of this matter, both in Europe and America, – unless all those are grossly deluded.

« ForrigeFortsæt »