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Jun 15, 2019 - Black Slaveowners, Historical Accuracy, Slavery in Africa    Comments Off on “Each Side Knew Human Bondage”

“Each Side Knew Human Bondage”

At the time of Columbus’s exploration in 1492, slavery in West Africa was common. The dominant Songhay, Ghana and Mali empires waged war against each other, enslaved those captured, and exacted slave tributes from their weaker neighbors. When the first Europeans ventured down Africa’s western coast, they found these tribes of substantial military power who were not to be threatened.

Each Side Knew Human Bondage

“The Africans, like other people throughout the world, had practiced slavery since prehistoric times. They took prisoners of war and forced them into domestic service, as they did to their criminals. A Dutchman describing Guinea in the sixteenth century wrote:

“The Kings of the Townes have many Slaves, which they buy and sell, and get much by them; and to be briefe, in those Countries there are men to be hired to worke or goe of any errand for money, but such as are Slaves and Captives, which are to spend their days in Slaverie.”

In Dahomey, one of the kingdoms, the ruler owned plantations run by overseers, who were expected to derive the maximum return from the estates. The slave laborers were inhumanly driven . . . a group of people known as the Nupe conquered and enslaved the more primitive tribes of northern Nigeria and set them to agricultural labor. The Ashanti used slaves in systematic agriculture and imposed a tribute of 2,000 slaves annually on one defeated tribe.

In Africa’s medieval states people conquered in wartime were treated as the feudal vassals had been. Historian Basil Davidson points out: “In the Songhay region of the fifteenth century along the Middle Niger, “slaves” from the non-Muslim peoples of the forest verge were extensively used in agriculture . . . “

A follower of the great Songhay ruler Askia Muhammud, [African scholar Mahmud] Kati wrote that when the emperor took the throne in 1493, he inherited 24 tribes of vassals. As time passed, the difference in status between the free man and the “slave” became less clear . . . [with] the decisive factor [being] the widening gap between the nobility and the rest of the people. All were subjected to the rulers to feudal arrangements by mutual duties and obligations. It was a system that varied from place to place . . . but it was essentially a tribal feudalism, and in some parts of Africa it still persists.

From their coastal forts . . . the Europeans conducted peaceful trade with the Africans. Each side had goods that the other wanted. Each side knew human bondage. The medieval Europeans sold slaves even of their own faith or nation, as did the Africans. Neither continent was a stranger to the slave trade. Both sides had long accepted it, and both sides joined in practicing it.”

(Slavery, A World History, Milton Meltzer, Da Capo Press, 1993, excerpts Slavery II, pp. 17-23)

The Greatest Slave Carriers of America

New England rum and Yankee notions were exchanged for African slaves as Boston and Newport rivaled each other for slave trade prominence in the early 1700s. Annually, about 1800 hogsheads of rum were traded to African tribes for their slaves, and this left little for consumption in the colony.

From this profitable trade in human merchandise, “an opulent and aristocratic society” developed in Newport; Col. Thomas Hazard of Narragansett and Mr. Downs of Bristol “were names that loomed large in the commercial and social registers of that day. Their fortunes were accumulated from the slave trade.”

It is worth noting that had there been no transatlantic slave trade carried on by the British and New Englanders, the American South would have had no peculiar institution.

Greatest Slave Carriers of America

“The growth of Negro slavery in New England was slow during the seventeenth century. In 1680, there were only 20 slaves in Connecticut, two of whom had been christened. In 1676, Massachusetts had 200 slaves . . . in 1700 Governor Dudley placed the number at 550, four hundred of whom were in Boston.

In 1730, New Hampshire boasted of but thirty slaves. The Eighteenth Century, however, saw the rise of the New England colonies as the greatest slave-carriers of America. Quick to see the unprofitableness of the Negro slaves as a laborer in such an environment, when the price of a slave was greater than the labor returned, the ingenious Yankee soon found a market in the West Indies for slaves, exchanged for rum, sugar and molasses on the Guinea Coast.

Massachusetts early assumed a commanding position in this trade. The ports of Boston and Salem prospered especially. Their merchants carried on a “brisk trade to Guinea” for many years, marketing most of their slaves in the West Indies.

Peter Faneuil, whose “whole lineage in held in peculiar honor” in Boston, was typical of the many comfortable fortunes amassed from the profits of this traffic. The name Jolley Bachelor, which was carried by one of his ships engaged in the slave trade, typifies the spirit of the time in regard to this profitable business.

As opulence increased, the number of slaves grew proportionately. In 1735, there were 2,600 Negroes in Massachusetts; in 1764 the number had increased to 5,779. In 1742, Boston alone had 1,514 slaves and free Negroes, the number having almost quadrupled in about forty years.

[In 1696] the brigantine Sunflower arrived at Newport with forty-five slaves. Most of them were sold there at thirty to thirty-five pounds a head; the rest were taken to Boston for disposal.

Subsequently, however, the slave trade of Rhode Island outstripped that of Massachusetts. Governor Wood, early in the Eighteenth Century, reported that the colony had one hundred and twenty vessels employed in the trade. Newport rivaled Boston as New England’s premier seaport. It had twenty or thirty stills going full blast to supply rum for the African trade.”

(Slave-Holding in New England and Its Awakening, Lorenzo J. Greene; Journal of Negro History, Vol. XIII, Number 4, October 1928, Carter G. Woodson, editor, excerpts pp. 495-497)

Inheritors of Britain’s Colonial Labor System

After the British themselves, New Englanders were responsible for populating the colonies with slaves purchased from African tribes, and the invention of Massachusetts tinkerer Eli Whitney in 1793 sent demand for slaves and cotton soaring.

With the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800, New England Federalists unhappy with the new political supremacy of Virginia called upon the North “to combine to protect the commercial interests against the vicious slave-holding democrats of the South.” Thus began the descent into war between the sections.

Inheritors of Britain’s Colonial Labor System

“Slavery was disappearing from the North. The rector of the Swedish churches in America told the American Philosophical Society that the introduction of “mechanism” in the Southern States would eliminate the need of slaves; but the invention of the cotton gin led to the opposite result.

Defenders of slavery declared it was a necessary evil that would eventually cure itself. The slaveholder could not be held guilty of crime because slavery as a very common thing is due to the state of society, for which the slaveholder is not responsible. Slavery in America is preferable to liberty in Africa because the slave gets better care and acquires the Christian religion.

In fact, the underlying reasons for importing slaves is to further the Christian religion. Respectably opponents, generally in New England, questioned the argument that slavery is a curse of society, not of the individual. It is no more valid, they said, than the notion of drunkenness and adultery are not delinquencies of the individual. The greatest evil is that the slaves will eventually outnumber the whites, and this must lead either to the most horrible event, intermarriage, or the destruction of the whites.

For the most part, the critics looked for remedies in the abolition of the slave trade, the growth of voluntary manumission, and even the growth of trade and commerce with Africa in the manner pictured by [economist James] Swan. It was agreed that pecuniary considerations were the most important barrier to voluntary manumission, but the slaveholder was told to trust to the Lord for his recompense.

The general attitude was best expressed by the Baptist clergyman Samuel Jones of Philadelphia. The slave trade is abominable; the possession of slaves is not profitable except in the newly settled regions where the costs of labor are very high. But the slave owners are innocent inheritors of the institution and not obliged to free their slaves, “at least not until they have been fully reimbursed the full amount of their cost on equitable principles.”

(The Economic Mind in American Civilization: 1606-1865, Joseph Dorfman, Viking Press, 1946, excerpts pp. 280-282)

Apr 28, 2019 - Black Slaveowners, Historical Accuracy, Slavery in Africa    Comments Off on Moslem Slave Trade Dominance in Africa

Moslem Slave Trade Dominance in Africa

When Europeans traders first encountered Africa at the end of the Fifteenth century, the slave trade in West Africa was already in the experienced hands of Moslem slave traders. Through Islamic jihads during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, new Moslem states were created in West Africa “which in turn promoted enslavement on a larger scale.” The Moslems were also the dominant slave traders in North and East Africa, easily dwarfing the Europeans entering the trade.

Moslem Slave Trade Dominance in Africa

“Slavery was not unique to Africa or Africans, but was in fact common on every inhabited continent for thousands of years. As recently as the eighteenth century, it existed in Eastern Europe, and it continued to exist in the Middle East after the Second World War. What was unusual about the Africa was the magnitude of the trade in human beings within recent centuries.

[One end of the slavery spectrum in Africa] included brutal subjugation and using slaves as human sacrifices. In some parts of Africa, such as Egypt, the Sudan and Zanzibar, Africans were in fact plantation slaves on a large scale. Even where they were not plantation slaves, however, they often nevertheless lived separately from the free population, rather than in the kinds of paternalistic domestic living arrangements that existed elsewhere. In these other non-domestic occupations, mortality rates could be very high, as in Tanganyika and Zaire.

The proportions of slaves in the general population varied, ranging from a minority to a majority, even in a given region, such as the Sudan or Nigeria. Most African slaves remained in Africa – indeed, those captured in the Sudan remained in the Sudan and those captured in Nigeria remained in Nigeria – but the numbers exported were still enormous.

The magnitude of the slave exports from Africa are particularly striking in view of the relatively thin population of the continent then, as now.

The Arabs took more women than men, partly to fill the harems of the Ottoman Empire and other Islamic lands, so that the societies left in the African savanna tended to have an excess of men and children.

The Atlantic slave trade took more men than women, using slaves principally for plantation labor, so that the West African societies from which slaves were taken had an excess of women and children.

In both places the resulting sex imbalance in African societies led to a revision of traditional sex roles, including an increase in polygamy in West Africa.

Inland tribes were such as the Ibo were regularly raided by their more powerful coastal neighbors and the captives led away to be sold as slaves. European merchants who came to buy slaves in West Africa were confined by rulers in these countries to a few coastal ports, where Africans could bring slaves and trade as a cartel, in order to get higher prices.”

(Conquests and Cultures: An International History, Thomas Sowell, Basic Books, 1998, excerpts pp. 109-111)

Emancipator and Confederate Naval Officer

The Wilmington Journal editorialized on 25 September 1863 that: “It is a curious fact, for those who maintain the civil war in America is founded upon the slave question, that [John Newland Maffitt] should be the very man who has distinguished himself actively against the slave trade.”

Maffitt, born of Irish parents at sea on the Atlantic on 22 February 1819, was said to be “born to command a ship.” He was “cultivated and gentlemanly,” blessed with a magnetic personality, and his seagoing exploits during the war are legendary.

The slave ship Echo noted below was originally built and registered in Baltimore in 1845 as the Putnam, for the New York City merchants Everett and Brown. The latter sold the ship in 1857 to “New York slave traders.”

New York City at the time “proved to be an ideal port for launching illegal slave voyages at this time: it boasted an abundance of available vessels and seafarers, it was overseen by overstretched and often corrupt port officials, and it even offered a legitimate trade in West African palm oil that could serve as a legitimate cover for illegal human trafficking.”

The newly purchased Putnam was sent on its first slaving voyage in 1857, the first of fifteen to leave New York City docks in that year alone.

Emancipator and Confederate Naval Officer

“Maffitt had captured a beautiful clipper named Echo, originally from Baltimore. It had a crew of eighteen, several of whom were Americans. It carried – stowed in a false lower deck only forty-four inches high – some three hundred African slaves. They were separated by sex and almost entirely naked. Maffitt ordered [two officers with a prize crew] to sail the Echo to Charleston to be turned over to the US marshal for disposition in court.

From orders dated 11 June 1859, he learned his new command was to be the USS Crusader [to be used] again cruising for slavers. (His earlier capture of the Echo had touched off great interest in the enterprise and led to a series of captures by other US naval vessels).

[On May 23rd, 1860] off the northern coast of Cuba [Maffitt stopped and boarded a suspicious square-rigger flying a French flag]. At this moment, hundreds of blacks broke open the hatches and, with a great shout, swarmed on board. When they saw the American flag over the Crusader, they became frantic with joy. The men danced, shouted, and climbed into the rigging. The women’s behavior was quite different. Totally nude, and some with babies in their arms, they withdrew to sit upon the deck, silent tears of appreciation in their eyes.

The crew of the slaver . . . stated their ship had no name, but it subsequently was found to be the bark Bogota out of New York. The cargo master spoke English and “might be taken for a Yankee galvanized into a Frenchman or Spaniard, as circumstances might dictate.”

Maffitt escorted the Bogota to Key West. The blacks, between four and five hundred of them, had been on passage in the Bogota for forty-five days from Ouida, a slave trading base in the People’s Republic of Benin (Kingdom of Dahomey). They, like many others, had been prisoners of war sold by the king.

At Key West, the blacks joined others who had been recaptured by the navy. Buildings had been erected to house them at Whitehead Point. At the time, there were some fourteen hundred Africans in the complex awaiting government disposition.”

(High Seas Confederate: The Life and Times of John Newland Maffitt, Royce Shingleton, University of South Carolina Press, 1994, excerpts pp. 26-30)

Apr 22, 2019 - Black Slaveowners, Slavery in Africa, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on The Portuguese Slave Traffic

The Portuguese Slave Traffic

The Portuguese began the transatlantic slave trade during the Fifteenth century when it was able to expand to overseas and reach Africa. There they found an already active Arab slave traffic and African chieftains eager to sell captive men, women and children to buyers.

The Portuguese Slave Traffic

“The slave-trade is still extensively carried on in the Portuguese settlements on the East Coast of Africa. The Portuguese Government, which is bound by treaty to suppress it, is generally reticent on the subject, and as we have had no Consul at Mozambique, the capital of those extensive settlements, since 1858, it is on rare occasions that the veil which covers that dark part of Africa is lifted.

The principal traffic in the Mozambique Channel still is the slave-trade, and probably the principal market beyond the sea, Madagascar. The Portuguese ministers allege that the oversea traffic cannot be large, because the seizure of their vessels is rare.

But the traffic is carried on in Arab dhows [and under the Arab flag], and when seizures take place the Portuguese escape the stigma. The following passage from the evidence of Captain Sullivan, before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, shows the working of the affair:

“Another reason why the fact of the Portuguese sharing in this slave-trade . . . they have recently adopted, the title of “free Negroes” for the slaves . . . Ask any of the ten thousand Negroes that crowd the streets of Mozambique where they come from, and the reply is the same as that of the slaves captured on board of the dhows – stolen, dragged from their homes and families, sold and bought, sold and bought again, and brought from the markets on the mainland to this place, where they are worse off than they were before.”

The Blue-Book of 1873 contains the following remarks in a paper by Captain Elton to Sir Bartle Frere:

“About Christmas 1870, a gang of about one hundred women and children were brought down from the Shire by a native chief to the town of Quiliman for sale. I arrived there from Mozambique about the 10th of January 1871, when the matter was openly talked about, and I saw a number of recently-purchased slaves.”

(The Lost Continent, or Slavery and the Slave Trade in Africa, 1875, Joseph Cooper, Longmans, Green Company, 1875, excerpts pp. 25-26)

Mar 31, 2019 - Black Slaveowners, Emancipation, Historical Accuracy, New England's Slave Trade, Slavery in Africa, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Perpetuating Slavery on Mauritius

Perpetuating Slavery on Mauritius

The Dutch, French and British established state-sanctioned organizations to purchase and carry already-enslaved Africans to work their colonies. In the British American colonies and after 1789, New England was the unofficial seat of the transatlantic slave trade and profited greatly to the extent that the region’s economic prosperity was built upon that trade.

When the Mauritius planters saw the British end the slave traffic in 1834, they began importing coolies from Ceylon and India to replace the Africans.

Perpetuating Slavery on Mauritius

“Mauritius was discovered by the Portuguese in 1505 and continued in their possession until 1598, when it was ceded to the Dutch, who gave it the name by which it is now known. The Dutch finally abandoned it in 1710 when the island was taken over by the French.

Under the French, the island was considerably developed, especially during the second half of the eighteenth century, and this new step, as the majority saw it, necessitated the introduction of [African] slavery. During the Napoleonic Wars, Mauritius was captured by England and was formally ceded by France in 1814.

The significance of the Negroes in Mauritius, however, dates from the year 1723 when the East India Company of France, in order to promote agriculture in the Island, sanctioned the introduction of slaves, whom they sold to the inhabitants at a certain fixed price.

The slave trade, at this period, was principally in the hands of those pirates who had formed a settlement at Nossibe (Nosse Ibrahim) on the northeast coast of Madagascar . . . they excited a war between the tribes of the interior and those inhabiting the seacoast, and purchased the prisoners made by both for the purpose of conveying them for sale to Bourbon or Mauritius.

If the prisoners thus obtained proved insufficient to the demands of the slave market, a descent was made on some part of the Island, a village was surrounded, and its younger and more vigorous inhabitants were borne off to a state of perpetual slavery.

[Of] every five Negroes embarked at Madagascar, not more than two were found fit for service in Mauritius. The rest either stifled beneath the hatches, starved themselves to death, died of putrid fever, became the food of sharks, fled to the mountains, or fell beneath the driver’s lash.

[Mauritius Colonial Governor] Mahe de Labourdounais was not the founder of slavery. The institution preceded his arrival. Slavery existed in Mauritius even under the Dutch regime. From first to last Mauritius has been the tomb of more than a million of Africans. Many became fugitives . . . in order to check the fugitive slaves, Labourdounais employed their countrymen against them, and formed a mounted police who protected the colonists from their incursions.

The first attempt to emancipate the slaves was made by the leaders of the French Revolution, who, while they professed to discard Christianity as a revelation from God, deduced the equality of all men before God from the principle of natural reason.

The prohibition of slavery was rendered null and void by the planters of Mauritius and the members of the local government, all of whom were slaveholders and opposed any change.”

(The Negroes in Mauritius, A.F. Fokeer, Journal of Negro History, April 1922, Volume VII, No. 2, excerpts pp. 197-201)

“An American Business”

In 1821, after sailing to the proposed site of the colony at Cape Mesurado, present-day Monrovia, Lt. Robert Stockton and Reverend Eli Ayers journeyed twenty miles inland to “convince the most powerful of the native leaders, “King Peter,” to discuss terms to sell the land.

The Africans objected to the intruders and accused them of “kidnapping Africans,” and “destroying the slave trade” – the first was the African tribe’s primary business, the second the African tribe did not want to happen.

Americans were trying to eliminate the slave trade from Africa and provide repatriation for Africans freed in the US – but working against these humanitarian efforts were an increasingly complex slave trade, New England-built slave ships and cotton mills (the latter made profitable by Massachusetts inventor Eli Whitney’s invention), and New York merchants and banks hungry for profits. It is noteworthy that none of the slave ships sailed under the Confederate Battle Flag.

“An American Business”

“[In] mid-1799 Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott wrote the customs collector at Boston that “Captain Decatur of the Navy during his late cruise . . . near Cuba, met with the brig Dolphin of Boston, William White [the] Master, with 140 to 150 slaves for sale [and] procured on the coast of Africa.”

Wolcott directed the collector to “take requisite measures to enforce the law.”

And, in April 1800, the Secretary of the Navy passed along to the treasury secretary a short list, sent along by Captain Bainbridge of the USS Norfolk, of suspected slavers who recently returned from Cuban waters to Philadelphia.

With the enactment of the 1800 statute, the Navy immediately began seizing suspected slavers and sending them in for adjudication. The first three were captured in the space of a month. The sloop Betsey of Boston takes the honor of being the first slave-trading vessel captured by the US Navy.

Meanwhile, other factors encouraged the trade, among them the wide use of the cotton gin and the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The former vastly increased production, and the latter moved the slave economy westward to new lands.

[After the war of 1812] the slave trade became logistically complex. The selected American-registered vessel was chartered in Cuba or Brazil by a slave dealer and sailed to Britain or elsewhere to load a cargo particularly suited for the African coast trade: cheap muskets, rum, etc.

[Often] the vessel needed to hover off the coast while the agents ashore gathered the human cargo . . . And once the Africans were gathered and the night was dark, canoes were loaded with the slaves and rowed from shore to ship. Then the ship was “sold” on the spot and became Spanish, Portuguese or Brazilian . . . [and] made passage back to the Western Hemisphere with the slave cargo.

Thus, given fast, American-built vessels; immunity from search; and growing profits, the trade was becoming an “American business.” Though it should be kept in mind that the major markets in this era were Brazil and Cuba, and rarely were slave cargoes brought directly to the United States.

By all accounts the last half of the 1830s marked a quickening of the slave trade, particularly to Cuba, fed by high prices and minimum interference from American cruisers.

The British Mixed Commission at Havana reported the arrival of 240 illegal slavers during the years 1836 through 1839, fifty-eight of which were under American colors. And it was reported that a New York mercantile house had taken in $240,000 in profits on the trade in the space of fourteen months, and that slaves had brought ten times their purchase price at Havana in the same period.”

(African Squadron: The US Navy and the Slave Trade, 1842-1861, Donald L. Canney, Potomac Books, 2006, excerpts pp. 2-4; 21-23)

The Slave Trade

The lack of historical perspective today supports the mistaken belief that the American South somehow introduced and perpetuated African slavery in North America, and that the Confederate Battle Flag somehow represents this gross inhumanity.

The truth is not difficult to find, and it is that a Portuguese ship brought the first African to North America, and well after the Spanish had brought them, already enslaved by their African brethren, to the islands of the Caribbean – the latter done after it was found that the local Indians they had enslaved for work died off too quickly.

The British fostered the rise and perpetuation of African slavery in America as a colonial labor system – and African chieftains supplied their needs with captured men, women and children.

The New Englanders quickly followed the British example and became preeminent slavers in their own right, with the economic base of that region founded on slave trade profits, and the later mills of Massachusetts dependent upon slave-produced cotton for profitability.

The American South no more fought to preserve slavery than did the American Colonies after Lord Dunmore’s infamous emancipation proclamation of 1775; nor was the United States fighting for the preservation of slavery after Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane issued his own emancipation proclamation in 1814.

The American South fought for political independence from a North which had lost its moorings to the Constitution of 1789 which held the States together. The South had remained faithful to that document, and departed that federation to maintain its political liberty. The North prosecuted a devastating war to prevent that political liberty, “freed” the slaves which they themselves had helped securely fasten upon the South, and converted them into a dependable voting bloc with which to maintain political hegemony over formerly free States.

The Slave Trade

“In the library of the State College at Raleigh, N.C., there is a notable book of some three hundred and fifty pages and forty-nine illustrations – the fifteenth publication of the Marine Research Society, of Salem, Mass., and published in Vermont – the title being: “Slave Ships and Slaving.”

The introduction is written by a British navy officer, and the text is by George F. Dow.

Within ten years after the discovery of America the Spaniards began to transport Africans to work in their possessions, and all the maritime nations of Europe followed their example; and during the next two hundred and fifty years the English transported twice as many as all other countries put together. They began in Queen Elizabeth’s time, kept it up in the next reign, and, in 1662, the Duke of York undertook to transport to the British Colonies three thousand slaves every year. Ten years later the King himself became interested and, under contract, England got from Spain the exclusive right to supply the Spanish colonies [with African slaves]; and the King of England and the King of Spain each received one-fourth of the profits.

Between 1680 and 1688 England had two hundred and forty-nine slave ships; from 1713, for twenty years, 15,000 slaves were annually brought to America. In 1786, England brought over 97,000 slaves. During eleven years, 1783-1793, Liverpool owned eight hundred and seventy eight vessels in this trade, and imported many thousands of slaves in the West Indies. They were worth some 15,000,000 pounds of that period; equal to about $150,000,000 now [1930].

While Liverpool was the chief port for this trade, Bristol was a close second. Then, over here, New England was not slow. Massachusetts started in 1638. However, Rhode Island became the rival of Liverpool. Ten pages on this volume are devoted to the operations in Rhode Island. There nearly everyone was interested.

In 1750, “Rum was the chief manufacture of New England. About 15,000 hogsheads of molasses were annually converted into rum in Massachusetts alone. The number of stills in operation was almost beyond belief. In Newport there were no less than twenty-two.” With rum they purchased Negroes in Africa; these were exchanged for molasses in the Caribbean Islands and South America, and the molasses was brought to the New England stills; and so the profitable business was carried on in a circle to an extent beyond ordinary imagination!

It was the very basis of New England’s prosperity. At Newport, Bristol and Providence [Rhode Island], some of the most respectable and wealthy merchants were engaged in the trade. Even preachers and philanthropists were advocates. “One elder, whose ventures in slaving had usually turned out well, always returned thanks on the Sunday following the arrival of a slaver that the Africans could enjoy the blessing of a Gospel dispensation.”

The Southern colonies had no ships, nor any molasses. They were not in the trade. However, the British Slaving Company, in which the King of England was a partner was in duty-bound to supply the needs of the colonies as particularly required by Good Queen Anne. The Colonies were forbidden to manufacture, and their products were required to be shipped to England, where they were exchanged for British goods. So the more slaves making products, the more goods the Colonies bought in England.

At length Virginia forbade any more importation [of Africans] but the King annulled that Virginia law. In Jefferson’s draught of the Declaration of Independence he denounced the King most severely for annulling these prohibitions. However, in 1774, importations were forbidden by the people of North and South Carolina, and there were no importations until 1803, when South Carolina opened her ports for four years.

Great Britain abolished the [slave] trade in 1807, just as the Congress of the United States did. After a few years, other countries followed our example: Spain in 1820, Portugal in 1830; but the trade between Portuguese Africa and Brazil did not cease until Brazil, in 1888, put a stop to it. That this volume has been prepared by the Marine Research Society, of Salem, Mass., speaks well for New England, and it should be in every library of the South.”

(The Slave Trade, Capt. S.A. Ashe, Confederate Veteran, December 1930, pg. 457)

The Economic Custom of Slavery

To find those responsible for African slavery and its perpetuation, one must first look to the African tribes themselves who enslaved their brethren captured in warfare, and sold many to Europeans in search of cheap labor for their colonies. Next would be King Ferdinand of Spain, who in the early 1500s had already had deported substantial sections of Jews and Moors from his realm as well as approving slaving expeditions for Caribbean Indians to work his colonies. It was also Ferdinand who granted licenses for those carrying slaves to the Americas. This begs the question: had African slaves not been eventually carried to North America in the bottoms of British and New England slave ships, would North and South still have separated into two countries for the same pecuniary reasons, but without the lame New England excuse of slavery being the cause of war?

The Economic Custom of Slavery

“It is strange that it should never have come into the head of philosopher or philanthropist to ascertain the causes of the revival of slavery by all the modern nations of Europe which have engaged in colonization. Political economists were bound to make this inquiry; for without it their science is incomplete at the very foundation; for slavery is a question of labor, “the original purchase of all things.”

Philanthropists, however, have treated it as a moral and religious question, attributing slavery to all times and places, but especially in modern America, to the wickedness of the human heart. [The immediate cause of slavery] is not a wicked or infernal spirit. Neither communities nor individuals keep slaves in order to indulge in oppression and cruelty.

Those British colonies – and they are many – which would get slaves tomorrow if we would let them, are not more wicked than we are: they are only placed in circumstances which induce us to long for the possession of slaves notwithstanding the objections to it.

They are not moral, but economic circumstances: they relate not to vice and virtue, but to production. They are the circumstances, in which one man finds it difficult or impossible to get other men to work under his direction for wages. They are the circumstances . . . which stand in the way of combination and constancy of labor, for which all civilized nations, in a certain stage of their advance from barbarism, have endeavored to counteract, and have in some measure counteracted, by means of some kind of slavery.

Slavery is a make-shift for hiring . . . [and is] on the whole much more costly than the labor of hired freemen; and slavery is also full of moral and political evils, from which the method of hired labor is exempt. [But] when slavery is adopted, there is no choice: it is adopted because at the time and under the circumstances there is no other way of getting laborers to work with constancy and in combination.

It happens wherever population is scanty in proportion to land [and has] never existed in very populous countries, and has gradually ceased in the countries where whose population has gradually increased to the point of density. Of plentifulness of labor for hire, the cause is dearness of land: cheapness of land is the cause of scarcity of labor for hire.

The ancient Greeks were themselves colonists, the occupiers of a new territory, in which for a time every freeman could obtain as much land as he desired: for a time they needed slaves; and the custom of slavery was established.

The Romans, it the early stages of their history, were robbers of land, and had more land than they could cultivate without slaves: it was partly because of slavery that they at last grew to be so populous at Rome as to no longer need slavery, but to ask for an agrarian law.”

(Origin of Slavery in the New World, 1765-1860, Gibbon Wakefield; Chapter XV, The Economics of Slavery; Selections From the Economic History of the United States, Guy Stevens Callender, excerpts pp. 742-745)

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