Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/238

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
222
SLAVERY


King Ferdinand ordered a number of Africans to be sent to that colony for the working of the mines.

Before this time Columbus had proposed an exchange of his Carib prisoners as slaves against live stock to be furnished to Haiti by Spanish merchants. He actually sent home, in 1494, above 500 Indian prisoners taken in wars with the caciques, who, he suggested, might be sold as slaves at Seville. But, after a royal order had been issued for their sale, Queen Isabella, interested by what she had heard of the gentle and hospitable character of the natives and of their docility, procured a letter to be written to Bishop Fonseca, the superintendent of Indian affairs, suspending the order until inquiry should be made into the causes for which they had been made prisoners, and into the lawfulness of their sale. Theologians differed on the latter question, and Isabella directed that these Indians should be sent back to their native country.

Bartolome de las Casas, the celebrated bishop of Chiapa, accompanied Ovando to Haiti, and was a witness of the cruelties from which the Indians suffered under his administra- tion. He came to Spain in 1517 to obtain measures in their favour, and he then made the suggestion to Charles that each Spanish resident in Haiti should have licence to import a dozen negro slaves. Las Casas, in his Historia de las Indias (lib. iii. cap. 101), confesses the error into which he thus fell. Other good men appear to have given similar advice about the same time, and, as has been shown, the practice was not absolutely new; indeed the young king had in 1516, whilst still in Flanders, granted licences to his courtiers for the importation of negroes into the colonies, though Jimenes, as regent of Castile, by a decree of the same year forbade the practice. The suggestion of Las Casas was no doubt made on the ground that the negroes could, better than the Indians, bear the labour in the mines, which was rapidly exhausting the numbers of the latter.[1] He has sometimes on this plea been exonerated from all censure; but, though entitled to honour for the zeal which he showed on behalf of the natives, he must bear the blame for his violation or neglect of moral principle. His advice was unfortunately adopted. " Charles," says Robertson, " granted a patent to one of his Flemish favourites, containing an exclusive right " of supplying 4000 negroes annually to Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and Porto Rico. " The favourite sold his patent to some Genoese merchants for 25,000 ducats"; these merchants obtained the slaves from the Portuguese; and thus was first systematized the slave trade between Africa and America.

The first Englishman who engaged in the traffic was Sir John Hawkins (q.v.). The English slave traders were at first altogether England. occupied in supplying the Spanish settlements. Indeed the reign of Elizabeth passed without any English colony having been permanently established in America. But in 1620 a Dutch ship from the coast of Guinea visited Jamestown in Virginia, and sold a part of her cargo of negroes to the tobacco-planters. This was the first beginning of slavery in British America; the number of negroes was afterwards continually increased — though apparently at first slowly — by importation, and the field-labour was more and more performed by servile hands, so that in 1790 the state of Virginia contained 200,000 negroes.
The African trade of England was long in the hands of exclusive

companies; but by an act of the first year of William and Mary it became free and open to all subjects of the crown. The African Company, however, continued to exist, and obtained from time to time large parliamentary grants. By the treaty of Utrecht the asiento,[2] or contract for supplying the Spanish colonies with 4800 negroes annually, which had previously passed from the Dutch to the French, was transferred to Great Britain; an English company was to enjoy the monopoly for a period of thirty years from 1st May 1713. But the contract came to an end in 1739, when the complaints of the English merchants on one side and of the Spanish officials on the other rose to such a height that Philip V. declared his determination to revoke the asiento, and Sir Robert Walpole was forced by popular feeling into war with Spain. Between 1680 and 1700 about 140,000 negroes were exported by the African Company, and 160,000 more by private adventurers, making a total of 300,000. Between 1700 and the end of 1786 as many as 610,000 were trans- ported to Jamaica alone, which had been an English possession since 1655. Bryan Edwards estimated the total import into all the British colonies of America and the West Indies from 1680 to 1786 at 2,130,000, being an annual average of 30,095. The British slave trade reached its utmost extension shortly before the War of American Independence. It was then carried on principally from Liverpool, but also from London, Bristol and Lancaster: the entire number of slave ships sailing from those ports was 19? and in them space was provided for the transport of 47,146 negroes. During the war the number decreased, but on its termination the trade immediately revived. When Edwards wrote (1791), the number of European factories on the coasts of Africa was 40: of these 14 were English, 3 French, 15 Dutch, 4 Portuguese and 4 Danish. As correct a notion as can be obtained of the numbers annually exported from the continent about the year 1790 by traders of the several European

countries engaged in the traffic is supplied by the following statement:—"By the British, 38,000; by the French, 20,000; by the Dutch, 4000; by the Danes, 2000; by the Portuguese, 10,000; total 74.000;" Thus more than half the trade was in British hands.
The hunting of human beings to make them slaves was greatly

aggravated by the demand of the European colonies. The native chiefs engaged in forays, sometimes even on their own subjects.for the purpose of procuring slaves to be exchanged Effects of the slave trade. for Western commodities. They often set fire to a village the save by night and captured the inhabitants when trying to trade - escape. Thus all that was shocking in the barbarism of Africa was multiplied and intensified by this foreign stimulation. Exclusive of the slaves who died before they sailed from Africa, 12½ % were lost during their passage to the West Indies; at Jamaica 4^ % died whilst in the harbours or before the sale and one-third more in the "seasoning." Thus, out of every lot of 100 shipped from Africa 17. died in about 9 weeks, and not more than 50 lived to be effective labourers in the islands. The circumstances of their subsequent life on the plantations were not favourable to the increase of 'their numbers In Jamaica there were in 1690,40,000; from that year till 1820 there were impprted 800,000; yet at the latter date there were only

340,000 in the island. One cause which prevented the natural increase of population was the inequality in the numbers of the sexes in Jamaica aldne there was in 1789 an excess of 30,000 males.

Movement against the Slave Trade.— When the nature of the slave trade began to be understood by the public, all that was best in England was adverse to it. Among those who denounced it— besides some whose names are now England. little known, but are recorded in the pages of Clarkspn— were Baxter, Sir Richard Steele (in Inkle, and Yarico), the poets Southern (in Oroonoko), Pope, Thomson, Shenstone, Dyer, Savage and above all Cowper (see his Charity, and Task, bk. 3), Thomas Day (author of Sandford and Merton), Sterne, Warburton, Hutcheson, Beattie, John Wesley, Whitfield, Adam Smith, Millar, Robertson, Dr Johnson, Paley, Gregory, Gilbert Wakefield, Bishop Porteus, Dean Tucker. The question of the legal existence of slavery in Great Britain and Ireland was raised in consequence of an opinion given in 1729 by Yorke and, Talbot, attorney-general and solicitor-general at the time, to the effect that a slave by coming into those countries from the West Indies did not become free, and might be compelled by his master to return to the plantations. Chief-Justice Holt had expressed, a contrary opinion; and the matter was brought to,, a final issue by Granville Sharp in the case of the negro Somerset! Jt was decided by Lord Mansfield, in the name of the whole bench, on the 22nd of June 1772, that as soon as a slave set his foot on the soil of the British islands he became free. In 1776 it was moved in the House of Commons by David Hartley, son of the author of Observations on Man, that; "the slave trade was contrary to the laws of God and the rights of men"; but this motion— the first which was made on the subject— failed.

The first persons in England who took united practical action against the slave trade were the Quakers, following the expression of sentiment which had emanated so early as 1671 from their founder George Fox. In 1727 they declared it to be " not a commendable or allowed" practice; in 1761 they excluded from their society all who should be found concerned in it, and issued appeals to their members and the public against the system. In 1783 there was formed among them, an association " for the relief and liberation of the negro slaves in the West

  1. The Spaniards, in the space of fifteen years subsequent to the discovery of the West Indies, had, as Robertson mentions, reduced the natives of Haiti irom a million to 60,000.
  2. The Spaniards were prevented from forming establishments on the African coast by the Bull of Demarcation (" Inter caetera ") of Pope Alexander VI. (1493), which forbade their acquiring territory to the east of the meridian line of 100 m. west of the Azores. They could therefore supply their American possessions with slaves only by contracts with other powers.