British colonial administrator John Yeamans (1611-1674) served as governor of the Province of Carolina and founded the first permanent settlement in April 1670. He imported 200 African slaves from the Barbados to work his plantation, thus inaugurating the slavery in North America which former Confederate Attorney-General George Davis lamented 200 years later.
Davis was an eminent mid-nineteenth-century Wilmington attorney and acclaimed orator. Edward Everett of Massachusetts considered Davis to have “no peer in eloquence and logic.”
John Yeamans Did Not Foresee
“[But] we recall the fact that it was not until after the slave traders of the North had received full value of their human merchandise from their Southern brethren that our neighbors [to the North] began to realize the enormity of the institution.
And yet our people who were impoverished by its downfall would not, if they could, deprive the Negro of his freedom.
With reference to the introduction of slavery into Carolina by the Colonial Governor, Yeamans, from Barbados in 1671, the late, lamented George Davis said:
“This seems to be an announcement of a very commonplace fact: but it was the little cloud no bigger than a man’s hand. It was the most portentous event of all our early history. For he carried with him from Barbados his Negro slaves; and that was the first introduction of African slavery into Carolina.
If, as he sat by the camp-fire in that lonely Southern wilderness, he could have gazed with prophetic vision down the vista a two hundred years, and seen the stormy and tragic end of that of which he was then so quietly inaugurating the beginning, must he not have exclaimed with Ophelia, as she beheld the wreck of her heart’s young love: “ ‘O, woe is me! To have seen what I have seen, see what I see’ “!
(Tales and Traditions of the Lower Cape Fear, James Sprunt, LeGwin Brothers Printers, 1896)