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the choice of the people, three have been selected from the slave states, where, according to Mr. Stephen, the exercise of despotic power, the long administration of an iron system, and the contagion of local habits and prejudices, extinguish humanity and convert men into brutes. p. 55. .
This circumstance-a very extraordinary one, certainly, if Mr. Stephen's remark be well founded, may perhaps be better accounted for by another writer, whose authority is entitled to fully as much respect. • Masters of slaves,' says Mr. Burke, ' are by far the most proud and jealous of their • freedom. Freedom is to them not only an enjoy'ment, but a kind of rank and privilege. Not seeing there, that freedom, as in countries where it is a common blessing, and broad and general as the air, may be joined with much abject toil, with great misery, with all the exterior of servitude, liberty looks among them like something that is more noble and liberal. Such were all the ancient commonwealths; such were our 'Gothic ancestors; such in our days were the • Poles; and such will be all masters of slaves, * who are not slaves themselves. In them haughti
ness combines with the spirit of freedom, fortifies it, and renders it invincible.'
in the United
Speaking of General Washington's benevolence, State of Slavery an opportunity is taken to say, 'he well knew the States. 'true nature and effect of that state (slavery); but ' in a country where it is generally far milder than
' in our colonies, so much so, as to consist with a : very rapid increase of population —. p. 73. Now that the slaves are increasing in the state of Virginia, and have as yet decreased in the island of Jamaica, may be true, and is to be accounted for by causes which will be afterwards noticed ; but whether slavery is milder in the former than in the latter, let the reader judge from the following facts. There slaves are sold without any regard to the separation of families; there a regular traffic in slaves is carried on; dealers, as I have witnessed, traverse the country, and purchase them, and thousands are annually shipped from the port of Norfolk in Virginia, to cultivate sugar on the fertile but sickly swamps in Louisiana. There also banishment is the condition of manumission: a master can give freedom to a slave, only upon condition of expelling him from the state. What would be said of such a law in Jamaica ?
As another instance of the American laws being far milder than those of the British West India colonies, I quote the following section of the law of South Carolina ‘for the better regulation of free negroes and persons of colour.'
• And be it further enacted, That if any vessel shall come into any port or harbour of this state, from any other state or foreign port, having on board any free negroes or persons of colour, as cooks, stewards, mariners, or in other employment on board of the said vessel, such free negroes or persons of colour shall be liable to be seized and confined in gaol, until the said vessel shall clear out and depart from this State : and that
when the said vessel is ready to sail, the captain of the said vessel shall be bound to carry away the said free negro or free person of colour, and to pay the expences of his detention; and in case of his neglect or refusal so to do, he shall be liable to be indicted, and on conviction thereof, shall be fined in a sum not less than one thousand dollars, and imprisoned not less than two months; and such free negroes or persons of colour shall be deemed and taken as absolute slaves, and sold in conformity to the provisions of the act passed the 20th day of December, 1820.
Another section of the act prohibits any free negro or person of colour, who shall leave the state, from returning thereto.
Such is the state of slavery in the most ancient slave colonies established by Britain, and such the opinion there entertained of a free coloured population; an opinion, founded on experience, however much at variance with that of those benevolent enthusiasts in England, who have acquired such an influence in the council of the nation; and whose errors have endangered the existence of possessions, for which Buonaparte sighed, with Europe prostrate at his feet. Ships, colonies, and commerce, he well knew had enabled England to contend with him; these he promised to France as a reward of her exertions; these England is now sacrificing at the shrine of misguided enthusiasm.
Treating of the sale of slaves, an affecting pic- Removal of ture is drawn by our author, of the extreme cruelty of removing them from the barren Bahama islands to a more fertile soil. p. 81, 82. To such removals
Slaves from one island to apother.
I believe they are no longer subject; home and country are dear to all, and there is something exceedingly painful in contemplating a people compelled to abandon them by whatever circumstances: yet this hardship, described with so much feeling, was not peculiar to the slaves. How many of the poor Irish, possessing a land proverbial for its fertility, would at the present moment consider it the greatest blessing to be removed in families, and put down in New Holland or Canada ? And surely it will not be said that they are less attached to their homes than the oppressed slaves, who, according to Mr. Stephen, • are driven like beasts, worked beyond their
strength, stinted of necessary food, and thus ' have their days shortened.' p. 82. Few endearments can home possess to the wretched being who has found in it nothing but labour, and hunger, and oppression, even to the shortening of his miserable existence! yet, such are the contradictions necessary to support false theories, that in order to give to the removal of a negro all the distress and anguish of the most cruel banishment, it is necessary to suppose him leaving for ever a home where he enjoyed every comfort and happiness, while in the same breath we are assured no such comforts fall to his lot. God forbid that Mr. Stephen's account of their state and situation were correct! but if it were, it is clear their removal from one home to another could be no such terrible aggravation of their sufferings.
* Rule X. — The slave may be mortgaged, demised, and Leasing out of
Slaves. settled for any particular estate or estates in possession, remainder, or reversion.' p. 84.
Much stress is laid upon this as the cause of great injury to the slaves. Speaking of the leasing out of negroes, Mr. S. says, “I never saw in any of these leases covenants stipulating for adequate allowances of food or other necessaries to the slaves, or for limiting their work in point ' of time or otherwise, or for restraining excesses in punishment. I believe no leases can be produced with any such stipulations, though the ' lessors of course have counterparts and are ‘almost always resident here. Such omissions * are instructive.' p. 87. Of course the meaning of this last sentence is, they are instructive,' as shewing that no attention is paid to the preservation or protection of the slaves. In reply to this, it might be sufficient to observe, that as respects Jamaica, and I presume it is the same in the other islands, the law expressly regulates the allowances of food and time of labour, and guards against excess of punishment. It does not leave points of such vital importance to be regulated by contracts between individuals. But we have our author's own authority, that individuals take the most effectual means to ensure the observance of those regulations, and the proper treatment of their slaves. • True it is,' says he, the lessor gene
rally endeavours to guard against such abuses, * or rather to secure himself against loss, when