Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/364

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356 . Southern Historical Society Papers.

The Wanderer was built in New York in 1856 or 1857, by Joseph G. Bayless, for a Mr. J. T. Johnson, a wealthy member of the New York Yacht Club. Shortly after the Wanderer was launched from the ways of Bayless's ship-yard, Johnson sold it to a Captain W. C. Corrie, who retained possession of the yacht until about 1859. It was about this time that Charles A. L. Lamar, of Savannah, Ga., a young man of high social position, and a member of one of the wealthiest and most aristocratic of Southern families (being a rela- tive of L. Q. C. Lamar, Secretary of the Interior under Cleveland), decided to try the experiment of bringing a cargo of slaves from the west coast of Africa, landing them at some point on the southern coast of the United States.

Lamar, a daring and adventurous young fellow, was tempted to undertake this risky enterprise, by the enormous profits awaiting those who succeeded in landing a cargo of negroes in America, without attracting the attention of the courts and officers. Slavery had been outlawed for nearly half a century, and such was the vigi- lance of the British. French and American war vessels in patrolling the West African coast, and in running down suspicion-looking craft, that few other than the most daring, not to say foolhardy, cared to assume the risk of a slave voyage.

During the ten years preceding this event, the rapidly decreasing number of slave captains, used to leave the west coast with some 500 to 800 negroes, whom they purchased at prices ranging from $5 to $20 per head, paying for them in cloth, pot-metal muskets, rum, etc. Each trip they regarded as their last, for there was no telling what minute they would be run down, and, as a result of this ever present danger, they endeavored to gain a fortune in one voyage.

Every foot of space on the slave ship was crammed to suffocation with human flesh, and that instrument of torture, the "slave deck," was rigged up amid-ships, into which they packed the negroes like sardines in a box. Out of every 800 negroes they counted upon losing one-fourth. But, even with this loss they were certain, in the event they reached the Brazilian or Cuban coasts in safety, of a ready sale of the cargo at prices ranging from $200 to $500 per head. From this it is easy to form an idea of the profits realized in the African slave trade.

Having thus decided, Lamar took into his confidence Captain A. C. McGee, of Columbus, Ga. ; Mr. Richard Dickerson, of Rich- mond, Va., and Captain Egbert Farnum, a former mail rider and In-dian fighter. Proceeding to New York they purchased the Wan-