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N publishing a fourth edition of this work, it seems right to ad- 
art to the attempts which have been made to discredit some of 
js statements, especially those of Mr. Cooper and Mr. Meabry. 
iothing however has yet appeared which throws any doubt on the 
>rrectness of their representations ; on the contrary, their truth has 
i^n only the more firmly established by the discussions which have 
ken place. Indeed, were the whole of their testimony expunged, the 
lain facts of the case, as proved by them, would stand established be- 
nd contradiction in the pages of Dr. Williamson and Mr. Stewart *, 
en if no use were made of the vast mass of preceding evidence on the 
ibject, which has been left untouched j or of the recent admissions 
id concessions of the Colonists on which we shall not now enter. To 
<; testimony, however, of Dr. Williamson and of Mr. Stewart, we ate 
it aware that any exception has been taken, although no one has 
Jurtrayed some of the main evils of Colonial bondage ift more 
Vid colours than they have done f. It is not Very obvious, there- 
See his recent work, entitled *' Past and Present State of Jamaica." 
For Dr. Williamson's testimony we must refer to the following sheets. Mr. 
Mart's work not having appeared when this pamphlet was first published, it may 
Wight to insert in this place a few extracts from it, which, notwithstanding the au- 
*''» general tenderness for the West Indian System, fully corroborate those &tate- 
I A 2 

fore, what would be gained to the cause of Slavery by depreciatit 
the character of one or two witnesses, even if that purpose could !. 
attained, while their statements remained fully substantiated by. 
variety of unimpeached and irrefragable testimony. 

It has been erroneously asserted, that the object of the prese; 
work has been to vilify the Colonists. Very far from it. Its sii- 
pie object has been to describe the system which it is their misft- 
tune to administer ; and the reference to particular cases, whii, 
we regret to find, has given~ pain to individuals, though it seerrl 
unavoidable *, was merely incidental. Least of all was it intendl 
to wound the feelings of men, who, like the proprietors of Georgia fd 
Bushy Park, appear to have been endeavouring to mitigate the e s 
of Slavery. It was on this very account that their estates were - 
garded as furnishing the least exceptionable exemplifications of e 
radically vicious nature of the system. 

With respect to Mr. Hibbert in particular, both we and !| 
Cooper were anxious to convey to our readers the impression off 

ments which have most excited the indignant feelings of the Colonists; We all: 
to the account given of the -moral condition of the population. On this point m 
is the testimony of Mr. Stewart, who quitted Jamaica only in 1821 ? 

M Every unmarried white man, and of every class, has his black or his hrownjtj 
tress, with whom he lives openly." Stewart's View, p. 173. 

" But the most striking proof of the low estimate of moral and religious obligOli 
here, is the fact, that the man who lives in open adultery, — that is, who keejlus 
brown or black mistress, in the very face of his wife and family, and of the conu- 
nity, has generally as, much outward respect shown him, and is as much countered, 
visited, and received into company, especially if he be a man of some weight arin 
fluence in the community, as if he had been guilty of no breach of decency, or 
liction of moral duty. " lb. p. 174, 

f In the towns, a more genteel society is to be found than on the plantations Jiu 

the state of morals is much the same ; — and, as to the respect had to religion, I Vill 
be sufficient to say, that, with very few exceptions, the congregations in the chi hs» 

consist usually of a few white ladies, and a respectable proportion of free peoioi 

colour, and blacks." lb. p. 182. 

Much might be extracted to the same effect. The fact of night-work also isjidsl 

clearly though incidentally established by Mr. Stewart.— See pp. 189, 190ani! 

pp. 230, 231. 

• We are here placed in a difficult dilemma : if we state the evils of t! V 

stem only generally, we are accused of asserting falsehoods, unsupported by evinjf 

and, from their generality, incapable of being disproved. If, thus pressed, wep'^ 

to particularize, the witnesses we produce have then to endure all the obloquy tiicJ 

prejudice arid resentment can pour out upon them. 

speet we felt for his humane and benevolent efforts to lighten the 
labour and promote the well-being of his slaves. In addition to the 
strong testimony which is borne on this point in the body of the 
work (p. 35 — 37) , Mr. Cooper has desired us to add that Mr. Hibbert 
gave permission to have all the cane-holes on the estate dug by 
jobbing gangs, and to hire additional assistance for other objects, 
when necessary ; and that he was in the habit of occasionally send- 
ing out two or three articles of dress of a superior kind as a present 
to his slaves. But, still, do not all these circumstances, so highly 
honourable to this gentleman, strengthen our case ? If even un- 
der so benevolent a proprietor, placed at a distance of 6000 miles 
from the objects of his care, Negro Slavery be such as it has been 
shown to be, what must it be in ordinary cases ; and especially in 
those numerous instances, where the proprietor is in distressed cir- 
cumstances, or the possession of the estate is litigated ? And what 
must it be in those instances, which no one affects to deny must 
sometimes at least occur, where one man of harsh dispositions, vio- 
lent passions, and immoral conduct, possesses the sole and uncon- 
trolled dominion over hundreds of unfortunate slaves ? 

In the general views, therefore, which we have given of colonial 
bondage, we can discover nothing which we are called upon, after 
the most mature consideration of all that has been alleged against 
them, to retract or to extenuate. On the contrary, we have been 
only the more completely confirmed in those views by all which has 
since* 'transpired on the subject. Indeed their general correctness 
seems to require no other confirmation than a reference to the re- 
solutions which, with the express concurrence of the West Indian 
body in this country, were, during the last session, proposed by 
Mr. Canning, and unanimously adopted by Parliament ; and to the 
measures which, in pursuance of those resolutions, have since been 
taken by His Majesty's Government. 

We have been told, in particular, that we have been unjust to- 
wards the Colonists, in not giving them more credit for the efforts 
they have made for the religious and moral improvement of their 


slaves. We have ever entertained the highest respect for those co- 
lonists, (and their number, we have no doubt, is now increasing) 
who, emancipating themselves from prevailing prejudices, have en- 
deavoured to elevate their slaves in the scale of being, by communi- 
cating to them the knowledge of Christianity. But it was impossi- 
ble to conceal that hitherto the neglect of this obvious duty had been 
but too general, and that the instances of a contrary kind were com- 
paratively rare, as well as for the most part recent. Had we 
been inclined, however, to have made Some concessions on this 
point, we should have been withheld by the marked hostility to the 
labours of Missionaries, in the religious instruction of the slaves, 
which has lately appeared in the spirit and conduct of the colonists 
of Demerara, and Barbadoes ; so perfectly consistent with the ex- 
treme inattention to this object recently developed in the official 
papers laid before Parliament, and still more pointedly in a most 
valuable and interesting pamphlet by Sir George Rose, who is him- 
self a hereditary West Indian proprietor- The statements of Mr. 
Barham, another hereditary West Indian Proprietor, upon this 
point, are equally conclusive. The measures now in progress, we 
trust, may ere long, enable us to exhibit a more cheering state of 


The Negro Slavery of the United States illustrated fay a Review of 

the Travels of Hall and Fearon 1—24 

Testimony of Birkbeck. ,. , 24 

Remarks of the Edinburgh Review 28 

Comparison of the Increase of Slaves in the United States and 

in Jamaica 30 

General Remark9 . 31 

Th« Negro Slavery of the West Indies, especially in Jamaica 33 — 914 

Evidence of the Rev. Thomas Cooper 36 

State of Morals and Religion 41 

General Treatment 46 

Emancipation » 51 

Miscellaneous Observations ....... 53 

Evidence of John Williamson, M.D. 55 

State of Morals and Religion 56 

General Treatment 59 

Miscellaneous Observations 65 

Evidence of Mr. Meabry 66 

Evidence of the Royal Gazette of Jamaica 6S 

Concluding Reflections , J6 

Meliorating Laws . . . . . 76 

Driving System 80 

Power of Punishment 80 

Testimony of Slaves 82 

Slaves treated as Chattels 83 

Presumption of Slavery arising from Colour ,84 

Impediments to Manumission , 85 

Moral Condition 87 

Conclusion ; ,• 89 


$ic. 8tc 


1 HE object of the present publication is to furnish to the public 
a plain, authentic, and unvarnished picture of Negro Slavery, not 
as it may have existed at some antecedent period of time, but as it 
exists at the present moment, both in the United States of Ame- 
rica, and in the European Colonies of the West Indies, which have 
been peopled by imported Africans. We shall begin with the 
j United States. 


The real nature of Negro slavery, as it exists in the United States, 
at the present moment, cannot be better exhibited than by repub- 
lishing an article which made its appearance not long since in a 
monthly periodical work. It is a review of two volumes of Travels 
which had recently been published in this country; the one entitled 
• l Travels in Canada and the United States," by Lieut. Francis Hall j 
arid the other, " Sketches of America," by Mr. Fearon. The ar- 
ticle is as follows : — 

In undertaking the review of the works of Lieutenant Hall and 
VIr. Fearon, we have no intention to amuse our readers with a de- 
icription of American scenery, or to communicate information on 
he politics or statistics of the United States. Neither is it our 
>bject to discuss the much-agitated question of the advantages of 


emigrating to that land of large promise, and, as some allege, of 
lean performance. We mean to devote the present article to the 
consideration of a single, feature in the picture of American society 
given by our authors, and on which, as it stands revealed to us in 
these volumes in all its deformity, we are anxious to fix the regards 
of our readers. We allude to the negro slavery which pervades 
a great part of the United States. 

The most copious view both of the legal and actual condition of 
the slave, as it exists in the United States, is to be found in the 
work of Mr. Hall. It is true, as this intelligent writer observes, 
that information on their actual state, whether in law or fact, is 
little attainable bv a cursory traveller. The planter, of course, will 
not present himself for examination, with his memorandum book of 
the stripes and tortures he has inflicted, and of the groans which 
have followed. If he affords any information at all on the subject, 
it passes through a doublv distorted medium. As a planter, he is 
interested in concealing the evils, and still more the enormities, of 
Negro servitude ; while, as an American, he is naturally anxious to 
vindicate the national character in the eyes of a foreigner. Add to 
this, that the testimony of the slave himself would gain no credit 
from the enemies to his freedom ; whilst it is almost impossible 
that the passing traveller, or the occasional guest, should himself 
witness much of the practical operation of a system, the most odious 
and frightful part of which is necessarily withdrawn from the public 
eye. In general, therefore, the traveller has it only in his power to 
delineate such broad outlines as are incapable of concealment, leav- 
ing them to be filled np by means of those fair inductions which, on 
the admitted principles of human nature, we are authorized to draw 
from the undisputed facts of the case. And this is all which Mr. 
Hall, or indeed Mr. Fearon, professes to do. 

The law by which Slaves, and even free Men of Colour, are go 
verned in the Carolinas — and Mr. Hall believes that the same or a 
similar code prevails in all the slave states — is a provincial act 
passed in 1740, and made perpetual in 1/83. It begins with an 
enactment justly and feelingly stigmatized by our author as a "heart 
chilling declaration." It is as follows : " Whereas, in His Majesty's 
plantations, &c. slavery has been allowed, be it enacted, that all 
Negroes, Mulattoes, &c. who are or shall hereafter be in this pro- 
vince, and all their issue and offspring, born and to be born, shall 

be, and are hereby declared to be, and shall remain for ever here- 
after, absolute slaves." 

A clause follows, from which Mr. Hall tells us, and we can well 
credit his report, that e< the most iniquitous oppressions are at this 
day deduced." " It shall always be presumed that every 

PEAR *." Hall, p. 422. 

The ninth clause gives to two justices of the peace and five free- 
holders, who most probably are always slave owners, the power of 
trying slaves even for capital offences, and of carrying their sentence 
into effect without any reference, which we can discover, to a higher 
tribunal ; and this court (subject, as it would seem, to no revisal, 
and with whose decisions not even the mercy of the governor can in 
most cases interfere, no report of its proceedings being made to 
him), may inflict such manner of death f " as they shall judge will 
be most effectual to deter others from offending in like manner." 
Before this tribunal, so formed, the evidence of all free Negroes and 
of any slave, is taken against a slave, " without oath J." 

The thirty-fourth clause forbids any master from suffering a slave 
to traffic on his own account §. 

The thirty-seventh clause, observes Mr. Hall, presents an exqui- 
site specimen of legislative cant and cruelty. It declares " cruelty " 
to be " not only highly unbecoming those who profess themselves 
Christians, but odious in the eyes of all men who have any sense 
of virtue and humanity." It therefore enacts, that " to restrain 
and prevent barbarity from being exercised towards slaves," "any 
person wilfully murdering a slave shall forfeit 700/. currency," that 
is 100/. sterling ; "and that, if any person shall on a sudden heat 

* This appalling principle, we lament to say, is also still the universal rule of law 
throiighout the whole of our West-Indian possessions. The clumsy attempt which 
has recently been made in Jamaica, to modify, by means of a process de homine re- 
plegiando, its cruel consequences, only serve to establish the opprobrious fact more 

f Fortunately for humanity, the feelings manifested by the British public during 
the last thirty years have led to the abolition, in our own colonies, of the cruel modes 
of inflicting death which were previously in common use there. Capital punishments 
are now confined to hanging. 

\ Such, in general, and with slight and unessential modifications, is also the con- 
stitution of the slave courts in our own colonies. 

§ In our West Indies, this restriction is for the most part confined to such articles 
as form the subjects of the traffic of masters, as sugar, coffee, cotton, cocoa, &c. &c. 

B 2 

and passion, or by undue correction, kill his own slave, or the slave 
of another person, he shall forfeit 350/. currency," or 50/. sterling. 

The thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth clauses are conceived in a si- 
milar spirit. Fourteen pounds (we are not told whether this be 
currency or sterling, but it matters little,) is the penalty for " cut- 
ting out the tongue, dismembering, and other tortures inflicted by 
any other instrument than a horsewhip, cowskin, or small stick." 
There is, it is true, a semblance of humanity in the provision which 
follows, and which enacts, that the master of a slave shall be pre- 
sumed guilty when his slave is maimed or cruelly beaten ; but the 
whole effect of the clause is destroyed by ordering, that if he should 
not be able to clear himself of the imputation "by evidence," he 
may clear himself of it, "by making oath to the contrary." 
This is holding out a premium for perjury. 

By the forty-third clause, any White man meeting above seven 
slaves on a high road together, shall and may whip each of 


by the forty-fifth clause a penalty of 100/. currency is inflicted for 
the crime of teaching a slave to write. 

It would be difficult to account for the wanton and superfluous- 
barbarity which is exhibited in these and similar enactments, if we 
were not to resort, for an explanation of the phenomenon, to the 
powerful operation, in the breast of masters, of that basest and most 
eruel of all passions — fear. In this view of the subject, Mr. Hall 
seems to concur ; for he thus closes bis account of the slave laws of 
Carolina :— 

" Such is the code by which Christians govern Christians : nor 
is it, in any point, a dead letter. The fears of the proprietors are 
tremblingly alive, and racked with the dread of an insurrection, in 
which they must expect the measure they have meted. A military 
police is constantly kept up in Charleston ; and every Man of Co- 
lour, whether slave or free, found in the streets after dark, without 
a pass, is taken up and punished*." Hall, p. 424. 

But we have scarcely occasion to resort to this principle, in order 
to account for the practical atrocities of the slave system. The 

* Mr. Birkbeck, in his " Notes on America," speaks in strong terms of the perpetual 
state of apprehension in which the planters of Virginia appeared to live,, lest their 
slaves should rise against them. 

very existence of absolute slavery cy. the one hand, and of unre- 
stricted power on the other, implies them. 

" He," observes Mr. Hall afterwards, " must be a very sanguine 
enthusiast in favour of human nature, who believes that the Negro, 
thus protected by the laws, will be very tenderly cherished by his 
master*. The uncontrolled will of the most virtuous individual 
would be a fearful thing to live under ; but the brutal passions of 
the sordid, the cruel, and the ignorant, scourges which might well 
'appall the guilty and confound the free,' are the rule by which at 
least nine-tenths of the slave population are governed. If, so go- 
verned, they are mildly and justly governed, we must admit the 
constant operation in their favour of a miracle strong enough to 
invert the whole moral order of nature. To render tigers granivo* 
rous would be comparatively easy. 

" It is not impossible, but that the house servants and personal 
domestics of humane and enlightened masters may be in a condition 
not in every respect much worse than that of persons filling the 
same station in European -countries ; but it is not from the good 
fortune of this minute portion we can deduce a fair estimate of the 
condition of the many. It is on the plantations, and principally, 
perhaps, among the petty proprietors, the work of torture goes on. 
An occasional instance of atrocity sometimes meets the public eye, 
and sheds a lurid light upon a region '• where hope never conies,"* 
Hall, pp. 426, 427. 

Mr. Hall then states some particulars in the mode of treating 
slaves, which he asserts to be matters of public notoriety, admitting 
of no dispute, and therefore affording an undeniable foundation on 
which to discuss the question of their physical enjoyments. Their 
huts are miserable in the last degree, built of unsquared trunks of 
pine trees, so ill put together that, during the night, the fire shines 
through them as through wire lanterns. And he states it as no 
slight addition to their toil, to be obliged to cut and fetch wood to 
warm this miserable dwelling, pervious as it is to every blast, and 
to have their night's rest perpetually broken by the necessity of 
keeping up fires to temper the coldf. The furniture of these huts 

* " The Abolitionists are charged with an affectation of philanthropy, because 
they think Black men have the same feelings with White ; but it is the very sobriety 
of reason, to ascribe to planters the virtues of angels." 

f Slaves in the West Indies will, of course, suffer less from eold than those in 

consists of a few gourds and wooden utensils, and as for bedding, a 
Negro is supposed to require none. The accommodation to which 
even the master who is reputed humane and equitable considers his 
slaves to be entitled, is this wretched cabin with a single blanket. 
The usual clothing of the plantation slaves, Mr. Hall observed 
"almost invariably to be ragged and miserable in the extreme." 
Their food consists of rice and Indian meal, with a little dried fish, 
and is, " in fact, the result of a calculation of the cheapest nutriment 
on which human life can be supported." (p. 429.) 

" I have heard indeed," continues this enlightened traveller, "of 
the many luxuries the Negro might enjoy were he not too indolent; 
of the poultry and vegetables he might raise round his hut ; but his 
unconquerable idleness masters all other feelings. I have seldom 
heard an argument against the Negroes that was not double-edged. 
If they are, indeed, so indolent by nature that even a regard for 
their own comforts proves insufficient to rouse them to exertion, 
with what colour can it be asserted that they feel it no misfortune 
to be compelled to daily labour for another ? Is the sound of the 
whip so very exhilarating that it dispels at once indolence and suf- 
fering ? ButT admit the fact of their indolence. The human mind 
fits itself to its situation, and to the demands which are made upon 
its energies. Cut off hope for the future and freedom for the pre- 
sent ; superadd a due pressure of bodily suffering and personal de- 
gradation ; and you have a slave, who, of whatever zone, nation, or 
complexion, will be, what the poor African is, torpid, debased, and 
lowered beneath the standard of humanity. 

" To inquire if, so circumstanced, he is happy, would be a ques- 
tion idly ridiculous, except that the affirmative is not only gravely 
maintained, but constitutes an essential moral prop of the whole 
slave system. Neither they who affirm, nor they who deny, pre- 
tend to any talisman by which the feelings of the heart may be set 
in open day ; but if general reasoning be resorted to, since pain and 
pleasure are found to be the necessary result of the operation of cer- 
tain accidents on the human constitution, the aggregate of our sen- 
sations (that is, our happiness or misery) must be allowed to depend 
on the number and combination of these accidents. ' If you prick 
us, do we not bleed ? If you tickle us, do we not laugh ? If you poi- 
son us, do we not die ? ' 

"Should there be any unknown, principle in the Negro's con- 

stitutiou which enables him to convert natural effects into their con- 
traries, and so despise contingencies whether of good or evil, he 
may pride himself in having over-past the glory both of saints and 
stoics; but the fact would no more justify his oppressors, than did 
the stubborn endurance of Epictetus the barbarity of his master, 
who broke his leg. It would be too much, first to inflict a cruelty, 
and then to take credit for the patience with which it is supported : 
but the fact itself is, in this case, more than doubtful. That to a 
certain point the feelings of the slave grow callous under bondage, 
may be conceded : this is the mercy of Nature : but that they are 
wholly extinguished by suffering, is contradicted by facts of too 
palpable evidence ; one of which is, that it is no uncommon thing 
for Negroes to commit suicide. This I heard from a gentleman of 
Charleston ; and I have since met with the still more unexception- 
able testimony of a friend to the slave trade. 

"Dr. Williamson, in his c Medical and Miscellaneous Observa- 
tions relative to the West India Islands,' observes : ' Negroes anti- 
cipate that they will, upon death removing them from that country, 
be restored to their native land, and enjoy their friends' society in a 
future state. The ill-disposed to their masters will sometimes be 
guilty of suicide ; or by a resolute determination resort to dirt-eating, 
and thence produce disease, and at length death.' (i. 93.) This is 
the kind of man who, should he ever hear of the death of Cato, would 
call it the result of e an ill disposition towards his master, Caesar.' 

" I remember to have once heard a person assert, from his own 
experience, that a cargo of Africans expressed great pleasure on 
finding themselves made slaves, on their arrival in America. A 
further explanation, however, removed the seeming improbability 
of this anecdote. They imagined they had been purchased for the 
purpose of being eaten, and therefore rejoiced in their ignorance, 
when they discovered they were only to be held in bondage." Hall, 
pp. 429—432. 

It is impossible to resist the force of this reasoning. It may be 
evaded by sophistry, or opposed by selfishness, or questioned by pre- 
judice or ignorance, but its truth and justice will be self-evident to 
the mind of every intelligent and candid observer. The consider- 
ation of this terrific subject very naturally leads our ingenious author 
to inquire how it has happened that " slavery and slave dealing," 
though exhibiting little either in speculation or practice, which is 

calculated to convince the judgement or captivate the affections, 
should have found advocates, not merely among slave-traders and 
slave-holders, but among men of cultivated, and apparently liberal, 
minds. Without any natural symphathy with cruelty, and without 
any interest in the question, they still defend these hideous prac- 
tices, as if they were worthy of being embraced and cherished for 
the sake of their own native loveliness. Many of them would shud- 
der at inflicting on b single fellow-creature a particle of the priva- 
tions and sufferings, which they nevertheless uphold in argument 
as fit (i to be the portion and daily bread of thousands." We shall, 
at present, abstain from entering on this extensive and inviting 
chapter in the history of the human mind, and content ourselves 
with noticing Mr. Hall's explanation of the fact which has so justly 
surprised him. He refers it to the influence of authority, to preju- 
dice, or to an inaptitude to investigate any Subject beyond the line 
of their ordinary occupations. 

" As such persons scarcely affect to reason, or inquire, it is diffi- 
cult to discover on what grounds they rest their opinions : the few 
who pretend to speak from experience, have seldom more to urge 
than the experience of good West India dinners; and how can any 
thing be wrong where people dine so wall ? The many, who have 
made up their minds by mere dint of not thinking on the matter, 
take fast hold upon some one of the many bold falsehoods, or skil- 
ful sophisms, with which those interested in the traffic are ever 
ready to furnish such as find it troublesome, or fancy it unsafe, to 
use their own understandings; — as for instance — * Negro slaves are 
better off than the poorer classes in many European countries. 
They are quite contented with their situation, except vvben per- 
verted by their pretended friends. It is the proprietor's interest 
to use them well, arid therefore he does use them well. Or, The 
abolitionists are methodists, jacobins, or enthusiasts, and therefore 
unfit to be trusted with reforms of any kind : besides, slavery has 
existed time out of mind, and why is the present generation to pretend 
to more wisdom and humanity than their forefathers?' Their very 
good nature leads them to disbelieve most of the cruelties they hear 
related as connected with the slave system; or should the evidence 
of particular facts occasionally overpower their prejudice, they 
readily admit, that as Negroes are constitutionally different from 
White men, they require a different treatment; so that what may 


seem harsh to us, and would in fact be harsh to people of our com- 
plexion, is no more to them than a salubrious regimen. Such ad- 
vocates, however contemptible as logicians, are of great numerical 
importance. They constitute the standing army of corruption in 
all shapes ; are always to be found among the supporters of power, 
and may be depended on as the steady friends of whatever is esta- 
blished. To the efforts of the enlightened few, they oppose the 
inert resistance of impassive matter ; a resistance which gains re- 
spect by seeming disinterested, and remains unassailable, because^ 
like the tortoise, it presents no vital point of attack, Self-interest 
takes the field with better armour, and more enterprise ; but the 
combat would be short-lived, did he not, after each discomfiture, 
find refuge within the shell of his simple ally/' Hall, pp. 4 1 7 — 4 1 9. 
In the United States, indeed, as Mr. Hall admits, the influence 
of these causes is less powerful than in Europe. In America, few 
can be uninformed of the actual condition of the slaves ; and as 
they are accustomed thoroughly to discuss all public questions, the 
case of the Black population has a better chance of being at least 
understood by them than by us. Accordingly, in some of the old 
States, and in all which have recently been admitted into the Union, 
slavery has been formerly excluded from their constitution. The 
whole of the Eastern and a great part of the Central States, and 
many enlightened individuals even in the Southern provinces, par- 
ticularly the Quakers, are declared enemies of the system of slavery. 
It is true, that, for the most part, they oppose it rather as a great 
political evil, than as a violation of the eternal obligation of huma- 
nity and justice ; nevertheless, its extent is in this way gradually 
narrowing. With them there is no dispute, nor, indeed, ean there 
be, respecting the opprobrious and humiliating facts of the case. 
With us, on the contrary, the only persons who, in general, have 
an opportunity of viewing with their own eyes the state of colonial 
bondage, are persons interested in upholding it. And they are in- 
duced by tenderness for their own reputation, as well as by the 
strong feeling of interest, and, we may add, by pride, to throw a 
veil over the enormities of the system, and to resist every attempt 
to withdraw it. The advantage which America possesses in this 
important respect, would encourage a hope of the eventual extinc- 
tion of this evil at no very distant period, at least, at an earlier pe- 
riod than it would be reasonable to expect it in our own colonial 


possessions, but for another circumstance on which Mr. Hall, in- 
cidentally, but feelingly, touches, and which must have a powerful 
influence in perpetuating the miseries of slavery in the United 
States ; we mean, the force of habit. Let any one consider, for 
a moment, the different sensations with which an individual who 
had never witnessed the infliction of a wound, and a practised 
surgeon, would regard the amputation of a limb ; — or the disgust 
which would be excited in an inhabitant of some splendid mansion 
in Grosvenor Square, on being admitted, for the first time, to the 
occupancy of an apartment in the Borough Compter or Bristol Jail, 
as compared with the feelings of some old offender who was familiar 
with all the filth and abominations of the place. A similar diffe- 
rence will be found to exist in the feelings of the man who has a 
near view of slavery for the first time, and of him whose eye has 
become familiar with its horrors, or has, perhaps, been accustomed 
to them from infancy. It cannot be expected that a person born 
and educated in Carolina, or in Jamaica, should be shocked by 
those parts of the slave system, which, if viewed by a person of 1 1 
common sensibility for the first time, would fill him with disgust 
and horror. In one respect, therefore, we are more advantage- 5 
ously situated in this country than in America for judging accu- • 
rately of the effects of the slave system. The natural feelings which 
they are calculated to excite are less blunted by familiarity. These 
remarks are illustrated by what Mr. Hail tells us of the impression 
he received, when, in travelling southward from Philadelphia, he 
first entered the slave States. 

" The houses, universally shaded with large virandas, seem to 
give notice of a southern climate j the huts round them, open to 
the elements, and void of every intention of comfort, tell a less 
pleasing tale : they inform the traveller he has entered upon a land 
of masters and slaves, and he beholds the scene marred with 
wretched dwellings and wretched faces. The eye, which for the 
first time looks on a slave, feels a painful impression : he is one 
for whom the laws of humanity are reversed, who has known 
nothing of society but its injustice, nothing of his fellow-man but 
his hardened, undisguised, atrocious selfishness. The cowering 
humility, the expressions of servile respect, with which the Negro 
approaches the White man, strike on the senses, not like the 
courtesy of the French and Italian peasant, giving a grace to Po- 


verty, but with the chilling indication of a crushed spirit : the 
sound of the lash is in his accents of submission j and the eye which 
shrinks from mine, caught its fear from that of the task-master. 
Habit steels us to all things; and it is not to be expected that 
objects, constantly present, should continue to excite the same 
sensations which they cause when looked upon for the first time, — 
and this, perhaps, is one reason why so much cruelty has been 
tolerated in the world : but whosoever should look on a slave for 
the first time in his life, with the same indifferent gaze he would 
bestow on any casual object, may triumph in the good fortune 
through which he was born free, but in his heart he is a slave, 
and, as a moral being, degraded infinitely below the Negro, in 
whose soul the light of freedom has been extinguished, not by his 
own insensibility, but by the tyranny of others. Did the miserable 
condition of the Negro leave him mind for reflection, he might 
laugh in his chains to see how slavery has stricken the land with 
ugliness. The smiling villages, and happy population of the 
Eastern and Central States, give place to the splendid equipages 
of a few planters, and a wretched Negro population, crawling 
among filthy hovels — for villages (after crossing the Susquehanna) 
there are scarcely any ; there are only plantations : the very name 
speaks volumes." Hall, pp. 318—320. 

Let us observe, on the other hand, the effect produced by the 
force of habit on the moral feelings of a respectable individual, 
Mr. Duff ; a person residing in a remote valley in the state of Vir- 
ginia, whom Mr. Hall describes as an excellent specimen of the 
best part of his neighbours. He was remarkably temperate ; never 
uttered an immoral expression ; and his disposition seemed in a 
high degree friendly and benevolent. 

" Yet, mark," observes our author, " the withering effect of 
slavery on the moral feelings ! he was talking of the different ways 
men had in that part of the country of making money. * Some/ 
said he, e purchase droves of hogs, oxen, or horses, in one part 
of the Union, and drive them for sale to another ; and some buy 
Negroes in the same way, and drive them, chained together, to 
different markets : I expect two gentlemen here this evening with 
a drove.' I expressed my horror of such traffic : he civilly assented 
to my observation, but plainly without any similar feeling, and 


spoke of the gentleman he expected as if they were just as * ho- 
nourable men' as any other fair dealers in the community : luckily 
I was not cursed with their company. I never chanced to fall in 
with one of these human droves ; but 1 borrow from a pleasing 
little work, written by a Virginian, and entitled ' Letters from 
Virginia,' the following description which he gives, in the character 
of a foreigner newly landed at Norfolk : — 

(i l I took the boat this morning, and crossed the ferry over to 
Portsmouth, the small town which I told you is opposite to this 
place. It was court day, and a large crowd of people was gathered 
about the door of the court-house. I had hardly got upon the 
steps to look in, when my ears were assailed by the voice of singing ; 
and turning round to discover from what quarter it came, I saw a 
group of about thirty Negroes, of different sizes and ages, follow- 
ing a rough-looking White man, who sat carelessly lolling in his 
sulky. They had just turned round the corner, and were coming 
up the main street to pass by the spot where I stood, on their 
way out of town. As they came nearer, I saw some of them loaded 
with chains to prevent their escape ; while others had hold of each 
other's hands, strongly grasped, as if to support themselves in 
their affliction. I particularly noticed a poor mother, with an 
infant sucking at her breast as she walked along, while two small 
children had hold of her apron on either side, almost running to 
keep up with the rest. They came along singing a little wild 
hymn, of sweet and mournful melody, flying, by a divine instinct 
of the heart, to the consolation of religion, the last refuge of the 
unhappy, to support them in their distress. The sulky now 
stopped before the tavern, at a little distance beyond the court- 
house, and the driver got out. " My dear sir," said I to a person 
who stood near me, " can you tell me what these poor people 
have been doing ? what is their crime ? and what is to be their 
punishment }" " O," said he, " it is nothing at all, but a parcel 
of Negroes sold to Carolina ; and that man is their driver, who has 
bought them." " But what have they done, that they should be 
sold into banishment J" " Done !" said he : " nothing at all that 
I know of : their masters wanted money, I suppose, and these 
drivers give good prices." Here the driver, having supplied him- 
self with brandy, and his horse with water (the poor Negroes of 


course wanted nothing), stepped into his chair again, cracked his 
whip and drove on, while the miserable exiles followed in funeral 
procession behind him.' " Hall, pp. 357 — 360. 

The view which Mr. Hall has given of the slavery of the United 
States is substantially confirmed by Mr. Fearon, who states " the 
treatment of the Negroes throughout these states" to be " as vil- 
lainous as can well be imagined." (p. 268.) He has given us a 
transcript of some of the provisions of a law, not an ancient and 
now obsolete law, but a law passed by the city council of New 
Orleans, the capital of Louisiana, on the 17th day of October 1817, 
for the government of the slave population. 

By this law, any slave found occupying, or sleeping in, any 
house, out-house, building, or inclosure, not his owner's or im- 
mediate employer's, without a ticket from such owner or employer, 
expressly describing the place, and specifying the time for which 
the license is granted, shall be committed to gaol by any officer of 
police, or any other White person, there to receive twenty lashes, 
on a warrant from the mayor or justice of the peace, unless his 
owner or master shall previously pay five dollars for him, with all 

The sixth clause of this Act confines assemblies of slaves for 
dancing or other merriment exclusively to Sundays, and to such 
open and public places as the mayor shall appoint ; such assemblies 
not to continue later than sun-set : every violation of the rule to be 
punished with ten to twenty-five lashes, besides being liable to the 
penalties of the preceding clause. 

The four following clauses, which we give entire, will sufficiently 
satisfy our readers of the humanity of this modern Code Noir. 

(i No person giving a ball to Free People of Colour shall, on any 
pretext, admit or suffer to be admitted to said ball any slave, on 
penalty of a fine from ten to fifty dollars ; and any slave admitted 
to any such ball shall receive fifteen lashes. 

" Every slave, except such as may be blind or infirm, who shall 
walk in any street or open place with a cane, club, or other stick, 
shall be carried to the police gaol, where he shall receive twenty- 
five lashes, and shall moreover forfeit every such cane, club, or 
other stick, to any White person seizing the same; and every slave 
carrying any arms whatever, shall be punished in the manner pre= 
scribed bv the Black Code of this State. 


" If any slave shall be guilty of whooping or hallooing any where 
in the city or suburbs, or of making any clamorous noise, or of 
singing aloud any indecent song, he or she shall, for each and every 
such offence, receive at the police gaol, on a warrant from the 
mayor, or any justice of peace, the number of twenty lashes or 
stripes ; and if any such offence be committed on board any vessel, 
the master or commander thereof shall forfeit and pay a sum of 
twenty dollars for each and every such offence. 

" Every slave who shall be guilty of disrespect towards any 
White person, or shall insult any Free person, shall receive thirty 
lashes, upon an order from the mayor, or justice cf the peace." 
Fearon, pp. 277, 278. 

If the subject were not too serious for mirth, there is something 
perfectly ludicrous in these legislative enactments. They are only 
to be explained on the principle to which we have already referred. 
We are familiar in private life with the strange effects which often 
proceed from terror when it has once taken full possession of the 
mind; the laughable exaggerations and irrational expedients to 
which it leads. Here, however, its unrestrained influence com- 
promises the comfort and happiness of whole communities,, and 
that not for a passing moment, but for ages, and throughout the 
miserable succession of generations yet unborn. 

A practical proof of the wretchedness and degradation, to which 
this unhappy class of our fellow- creatures is reduced, is exhibited, 
we are told, at " every tavern" in the slave states ; where, Mr. 
Hall informs us, advertisements are seen posted for runaway slaves. 
" The barbarous phraseology in which they were drawn up some- 
times amused" him ; but he was more frequently disgusted with 
" the ferocious spirit of revenge" they too plainly expressed. Aft 
incident, which we quote from Mr. Fearon, speaks the same painful 
truth still more strongly. The scene is laid at Lawes' hotel at 
Middletown, in the state of Kentucky. 

" A few minutes before dinner, my attention was excited by the 
piteous cries of a human voice accompanied with the loud cracking 
of a whip. Following the sound, I found that it issued from aJog- 
barn, the door of which was fastened. Peeping through the logs, 
I perceived the bar-keeper of the tavern, together with a stout 

man, more than six feet high, who was called colonel , 

and a Negro boy about 14 years of age, stript naked, receiving 


I the lashes of these monsters, who relieved each other in the use of 
a horsewhip ; the poor boy fell down upon bis knees several times, 
begging and praying that they would not kill him, and that he 
would do any thing they liked; this produced no cessation in their 
exercise. At length Mr. Lawes, the master of the hotel, arrived, 
told the valiant colonel and his humane employer, the bar keeper, 
to desist, and that the boy's refusal to cut wood was in obedience 

to his (Mr. L.'s) directions. Colonel said, that ' he did 

not know what the Niggar had done, but that the bar-keeper re- 
quested his assistance to whip Caesar ; of course he lent him a hand, 
being no more than he should expect Mr. Lawes to do for him 
under similar circumstances.' At table Mr. Lawes said, that he 
had not been so vexed for seven years. This expression gave me 
pleasure, and also afforded me, as I thought, an opportunity to 
reprobate the general system of slavery ; but not one voice joined 
with mine : each gave vent in the following language to the super- 
abundant quantity of the milk of human kindness, wilh which their 

, breasts were overflowing : — 

" e I guess he deserved all he got.' 

" e It would have been of small account if the Niggar had been 
whipt to death.' 

" ' 1 always serve my Niggars. that way : there is nothing else so 
good for them.' 

" It appeared that this boy was the property of a regular slave- 

i dealer, who was then absent at Natchez with a cargo. Mr. Lawes' 
humanity fell lamentably in my estimation when he stated, ' that 

■ whipping Niggars, if they were his own, was perfectly right, and 
they always deserved it; but what made him mad was, that the 
boy was left under his care by a friend, and he did not like to have 
a friend's property injured.' 

" There is in this instance of the treatment of a Negro, nothing 
that in this State is at all singular ; and much as I condemned 
New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, when in those sections, I must 
now give them the character of enlightened humanity, compared 
with this State, in which such conduct as that I have described, is 
tolerated and approved." Fearon, pp. 239 — 241. 

The following relation, however, of Mr. Hall, is of a still more 
affecting description. It is an account which he has given us of 


the trial and execution of a Negro, that took place during his stay 
in Charleston, South Carolina. 

"A man died on board a merchant ship, apparently in conse- 
quence of poison mixed with the dinner served up to the ship's 
company. The cabin-boy and cook were suspected, because they 
were, from their occupations, the only persons on board who did 
not partake of the mess, the effects of which began to appear as 
soon as it was tasted. As the offence was committed on the high 
seas, the cook, though a Negro, became entitled to the benefit of a 
jury, and, with the cabin-boy, was put on his trial. The boy, a 
fine-looking lad, and wholly unabashed by his situation, was readily 
acquitted. The Negro's turn was next. He was a man of low 
stature, ill-shapen, and with a countenance singularly disgusting. 
The proofs against him were, first, that he was cook ; so who else 
could have poisoned the mess? It was indeed overlooked, that 
two of the crew had absconded since the ship came into port. 
Secondly, he had been heard to utter expressions of ill-humour 
before he went on board : that part of the evidence indeed was 
suppressed which went to explain these expressions. The real proof, 
however, was written in his skin, and in the uncouth lines of his 
countenance. He was found guilty. 

" Mr. Crafts, junior, a gentleman of the Charleston bar, who, 
from motives of humanity, had undertaken his defence, did not 
think a man ought to die for his colour, albeit it was the custom of 
the country; and moved in consequence for a new trial, on the 
ground of partial and insufficient evidence; but the Judge, who had 
urged his condemnation with a vindictive earnestness, intrenched 
himself in forms, and found the law gave him no power in favour of 
mercy. He then forwarded a representation of the case to the 
President, through one of the senators of the State; but the senator 
ridiculed the idea of interesting himself for the life of a Negro, who 
was therefore left to his cell and the hangman. In this situation 
he did not, however, forsake himself; and it was now, when pre- 
judice and persecution had spent their last arrow on him, that he 
seemed to put on his proper nature, to vindicate not only his inno- 
cence, but the moral equality of his race, and those mental energies 
which the White man's pride would deny to the shape of his head 
and the woolliness of his hair. Maintaining the most undeviating 


tranquillity, he conversed with ease and cheerfulness, whenever his 
benevolent counsel, who continued his kind attentions to the last, 
visited his cell. I was present on one of these occasions, and ob- 
served his tone and manner, neither sullen nor desperate, but quiet 
and resigned, suggesting whatever occurred to him on the circum- 
stances of his own case, with as much calmness as if he had been 
, uninterested in the event; yet as if he deemed it a duty to omit 
i none of the means placed within his reach for vindicating his inno- 
! cence. He had constantly attended the exhortations of a Me- 
| thodist preacher, who, for conscience sake, visited ' those who 
were in prison;' and, having thus strengthened his spirit with 
I religion, on the morning of his execution, breakfasted, as usual, 
heartily ; but before he was led out, he requested permission to 
address a few words of advice to the companions of his captivity. 
' I have observed much in them/ he added, ' which requires to be 
amended, and the advice of a man in my situation may be re- 
j spected/ A circle was accordingly formed in his cell, in the midst 
of which he seated himself, and addressed them at some length, 
| with a sober and collected earnestness of manner, on the pro- 
fligacy which he had noted in their behaviour, while they had been 
fellow-prisoners ; recommending to them the rules of conduct 
prescribed by that religion in which he now found his support and 

('■ Certainly, if we regard the quality and condition of the actors 
only, there is an infinite distance betwixt this scene and the parting 
| of Socrates with his disciples: should we, however, put away from 
our thoughts such differences as are merely accidental, and seize 
that point of coincidence which is most interesting and important; 
i namely, the triumph of mental energy over the most clinging 
I weaknesses of our nature, the Negro will not appear wholly un- 
worthy of a comparison with the sage of Athens. The latter occu- 
pied an exalted station in the public eye ; though persecuted even 
'unto death and ignominy by a band of triumphant despots, he 
I was surrounded in his last moments by his faithful friends and dis- 
iciples, to whose talents and affection he might safely trust the 
i vindication of his fame, and the unsullied whiteness of his memory : 
■ he knew that his hour of glory must come, and that it would not pass 
away. The Negro had none of these aids: he was a man friendless 
and despised; the sympathies of society were locked up against 



him ; he was to atone for an odious crime by an ignominious 
death ; the consciousness of his innocence was confined to his own 
bosom, there probably to sleep for ever ; to the rest of mankind 
he was a wretched criminal, an object, perhaps, of contempt and 
detestation, even to the guilty companions of his prison-house ; he 
had no philosophy with which to reason down those natural mis- 
givings, which may be supposed to precede the violent dissolution 
of life and body; he could make no appeal to posterity to reverse 
an unjust judgement. To have borne all this patiently would have 
been much ; he bore it heroically. 

" Having ended his discourse, he was conducted to the scaffold, 
where having calmly surveyed the crowds collected to witness his 
fate, he requested leave to address them. Having obtained per- 
mission, he stept firmly to the edge of the scaffold, and having 
commanded silence by his gestures. ( You are come,' said he, f to 
be spectators of my sufferings ; you are mistaken, there is not a 
person in this crowd but suffers more than I do. I am cheerful an/l 
contented, for I am innocent.' He then observed, that he truly 
forgave all those who had taken any part in his condemnation, and 
believed that they had acted conscientiously from the evidence 
before them ; and disclaimed all idea of imputing guilt to any one. 
He then turned to his counsel, who, with feelings which honoured 
humanity, had attended him to the scaffold : ' To you, Sir,' said he, 
{ I am indeed most grateful ; had you been my son, you could not 
have acted by me more kindly :' and observing his tears, he continued, 
' This, Sir, distresses me beyond any thing I have felt yet ; I 
entreat you will feel no distress on my account, I am happy.', 
Then praying to Heaven to reward his benevolence, he took 
leave of him, and signified his readiness to die, but requested he 
might be excused from having his eyes and hands bandaged; 
wishing, with an excusable pride, to give this final proof of his 
unshaken firmness : he, however, submitted on this point to the 
representations of the sheriff, and died without the quivering of a 

" The spectators, who had been drawn together, partly by idle 
curiosity, and partly by a detestation of his supposed crime, retired 
witl) tears for his fate, and execrations on his murderers." Hall, 
pp. 433— 438. 

We might fairly challenge the writers of romance to rival this 


story in the depth of interest. We should only weaken its effect by 
any comments of our own. 

The depressed and degraded condition of the Negro slave is com- 
municated, as might be expected, by an almost infallible contagion, 
to the whole of the free Black and Coloured population of the 
United States. Nor are even those parts of the Union called, by 
way of distinction, Free States, in which slavery is abolished by law, 
exempt from this charge. The curse of slavery pursues the de- 
scendants of slaves to the latest generation. So long as the slight- 
est tinge of African blood can be discovered to flow in their veins, 
however professedly liberal the institutions of any particular state 
may chance to be, the sentence of civil disability and degradation 
continues in force. There exists, as Mr. Fcaron well expresses it, 
in all these states, not excepting any, " a penal law deeply written 
in the minds of the whole White population, which subjects their 
Coloured fellow-citizens to unconditional contumely and never- 
ceasing insult. No respectability, however unquestionable; no 
' property, however large ; no character, however unblemished, will 
gain a man, whose body is, in American estimation, cursed with 
even a twentieth portion of the blood of his African ancestry, ad- 
; mission into society. They are considered as mere Pariahs, as out- 
1 casts and vagrants on the face of the earth." These persons, though 
, many of them are possessed of the rights of citizenship, it would 
be little to say, are not admitted to the exercise of their civil fran- 
chises ; they are not admitted to a participation of the same reli- 
gious privileges. We are told by the Abbe du Bois, in his account 
! of the Hindoos, as well as by Dr. C. Buchanan, in his Christian 
Researches, that the transcendent greatness of Juggernaut levels all 
distinctions among his votaries ; and that Bramins and Soodras 
are, in his presence, melted down into one common state of pro- 
stration and abasement. In Christian America, the case is diffe- 
rent.. The god whom they worship is not the God who is " no re- 
specter of persons," and who " hath made of one blood all nations 
of men." Even in Philadelphia and New York, there are " Afri- 
can churches" appropriated to " those native Americans who are 
Black, or have any shade of colour darker than White." Though 
nominally citizens, they " are not admitted into the churches which 
are visited by Whites." (p. 167-) In perfect conformity with this 
spirit, observes Mr. Fearon, is the fact that, in New York, the most 

x c 2 


degraded White will not walk the street with a Negro ; so that al- 
though New York is a free state, it is so only on parchment, the Black 
and Coloured Americans heing practically and politically slaves ; 
thus showing, that " the laws of the mind are, after all, infinitely 
more strong and more effective than those of the statute book." 
p. 61. 

The following anecdote will throw some further light on this 
subject :- — ^ 

" Soon after landing at New York," says Mr. Fearon, " I called 
at a hair-dresser's in Broadway, nearly opposite the city-hall. The 
man in the shop was a Negro. He had nearly finished'with me, 
when a Black man, very respectably dressed, came into the shop, 
and sat down. The barber inquired if he wanted the proprietor or 
his boss (master), as he termed him, who was also a Black; the 
answer was in the negative, but that he wished to have his hair ; 
cut. My man turned upon his heel, and, with the greatest con- 
tempt, muttered in a tone of proud importance, * We do not cut j 
Coloured men here, Sir.' The poor fellow walked out without re- 
plying, exhibiting in his countenance confusion, humiliation, and 
mortification. I immediately requested, that if the refusal was on 
account of my being present, he might be called back. The hair- 
dresser was astonished : ' You cannot be in earnest, Sir,' he said. 
I assured him that I was so, and that I was much concerned in wit- 
nessing the refusal from no other cause than that his skin was of a 
darker tinge than my own. He stopped the motion of his seissars: it. 
and after a pause of some seconds, in which his eyes were fixed upon, 
my face, he said, * Why, I guess as how, Sir, what you say is mighty | 
elegant, and you're an elegant man ; but I guess you are not of 
these parts. '—r- ( I am from England,' said I, ' where we have nei- 
ther so cheap nor so enlightened a Government as yours, but we 
have no slaves.' — c Aye, I guessed you were not raised here : you . 
salt-water people are mighty grand to Coloured people ; you areja 
not so proud, and I guess you have more to be proud of: now I 
reckon you do not know that my boss would not have a single ugly 
or clever gentleman come to his store, if he cut Coloured men : 
now my boss, I guess, ordered me to turn out every Coloured man 
from the store right away; and if I did not, he would send me off 
slick ; for the slimmest gentleman in York would not come to his 
store if Coloured men were let in. But you know all that, Sir, I 


guess, without my telling you : you are an elegant gentleman too, 
Sir.' I assured him that i was ignorant of the fact which he stated ; 
but which, from the earnestness of his manner, I concluded must 
be true." pp. 58, 59. 

" At the dinner table I commenced a relation of this occurrence 
to three American gentlemen, one of whom was a doctor, the others 
were in the law : they were men of education and of liberal opinions. 
When I arrived at the point of the Black being turned out, they 
exclaimed, c Aye, right, perfectly right : I would never go to a bar- 
ber's where a Coloured man was cut !' Observe, these gentlemen 
were not from the south ; they are residents of New York, and I 
believe were born there." Fearon, p. 60. 

But let us listen to the testimony of Mr. Hall on the same subject. 
He is speaking of Carolina. There, he says, the condition of a free 
Man of Colour is, in fact, scarcely preferable to that of a slave. 

" Subjected to the same mode of trial, exposed to the same jea- 
lous surveillance, carefully excluded from all the rights and privileges 
of citizenship, and surrounded by every kind of snares, both legal 
and illegal, his freedom seems but a mockery superadded to oppres- 
sion. The statute declares, that every Man of Colour shall be pre- 
sumed a slave : every newspaper is a commentary on the injustice 
and barbarity of this enactment ; every day Men of Colour are ad- 
vertised as taken up on suspicion of being slaves : they are com- 
mitted to jail, and, if no owner appears, are sold to pay expenses. 
But the direct operation of the law is not all the free Man of Colour 
has to dread. 

<l The humane exertions of some gentlemen of the Charleston 
bar have lately brought to light a singular system for kidnapping 
free Negroes, and selling them as slaves into Kentucky, or any state 
at a distance from their connections. The agents were a justice of 
the peace, a constable, and a slave- dealer. 

u The process was as simple as unblushing villainy could devise. 
A victim having been selected, one of the firm applied to the Jus- 
tice, upon a sham charge of assault, or similar offence, for a writ, 
which was immediately issued and served by the constable, and the 
Negro conveyed to prison. Here, without friends or money, he is 
to await his trial for some unknown crime charged against him by 
some unknown accuser : no wonder if, in this desolate condition, 
his spirits sink, and his fears anticipate the worst : the constable 


now appears, exaggerates the dangers of his situation ; explains 
how small is his chance of being liberated, even if innocent, by 
reason of the amount of the jail fees and other legal expenses ; but 
he knows a worthy man who is interested in his behalf, and will do 
what is necessary to procure his freedom, upon no harder condition 
than an engagement to serve him for a certain number of years. It 
may be supposed, the Negro is persuaded ; c influenced, perhaps, 
(as the counsel for the defendants observed on the trial.) by the 
charms of a country life.' The worthy slave-dealer now ap- 
pears on the stage. The indenture of bondage is ratified in pre- 
sence of the worthy magistrate and constable, who share the 
price of blood, and the victim is hurried on ship-board to be seen 
no more. 

"This traffic had been long carried on, when humanity disco- 
vered and exposed it in a court of justice : but since, by the pre- 
sent law, there is no such offence as man-stealing, it could be pu- 
nished as false imprisonment only. Should not, however, the 
shame of discovery produce a. stronger impression on the parties 
engaged in this iniquitous traffic, than can be expected from theii 
depraved habits, it is more than probable it will continue to be car- 
ried on with keener and perhaps more atrocious dexterity than be- 
fore." Hall, pp. 424 — 426. 

Let it not, however, be supposed that the Black and Colourec 
race alone experience the pernicious consequences of the prevalent 
of slavery. The curse has reached beyond them, and the mora 
debasement which it has engendered in the minds of the chief ac 
tors in this drama of guilt and" blood — in the minds of the master 
of slaves, furnishes a striking comment on that passage of Hoi 
Writ ; "They shall eat of the fruit of their own wav, and be fillei 
with their own devices." Is it possible for any serious mind tfl 
read the following extracts without acknowledging the righteou 
government and retributive justice of the Almighty ? 

"The existence of slavery in the United States has a most visibl 
effect upon the national character. It necessarily brutalizes tb 
minds of the southern and western inhabitants ; it lowers, indeec 
the tone of humane and correct feeling throughout the Union 
and imperceptibly contributes to the existence of that great diffc 
rence which here exists between theory and practice." Fearoi 
pp. 378, 379. 


Mr. Hall gives his opinion upon the subject somewhat more, at 
length : — 

" It is impossible to consider the character of the Southern 
States., without again adverting to the pernicious effects of slavery. 

" Land cultivated by slaves requires a considerable capital, and 
will therefore be divided among a small number of proprietors. 
Experience, too, shows that the quantity of labour performed by 
slaves is much below that of an equal number of free cultivators : 
the number of persons deriving support from the soil will conse- 
quently be less ; but the loss is not in quantity only, the quality is 
proportionably deteriorated. He who commands the sweat of 
others, will be little inclined to toil himself* ; the inclination will 
diminish with the necessity. The fact is so consonant with this re- 
mark, that in the southern states, the fisheries, and all branches of 
active exertion, fall into the hands of the New Englanders : so 
much so, that the city of Charleston is supplied with fish by smacks 
from Marble-head and Boston. Climate might be supposed to have 
a partial influence in producing this effect, were not such individuals 
as are compelled by the nature of their occupations to rely much on 
their own efforts found no ways inferior, in attainments and appli- 
cation, to the same description of persons in the more temperate 
portions of the Union. Nay, have not almost all the sultriest re- 
gions of the globe been alternately the seats of sloth and enter-, 
prise ? 

" The same distribution of property which renders labour unne- 
cessary to its proprietor, is no less fatal to his mental improvement. 
Experience informs us, that means and leisure are less powerful ex- 
citements to study than the spur of necessity, and the hope of profit. 
Information will be first sought, that it may be useful ; it will af- 
terwards be pursued for the pleasure of the acquisition only. The 
planter has, therefore, been ever reckoned amongst the least en- 
lightened members of society j But, says a proverb, those whom the 
devil finds idle he sets about his own work. Dissipation must be 
always the resource of the unoccupied and ill-instructed. 

" If the political effects of slavery are pernicious to the citizen, 
its moral effects are still more fatal to the man. ' There must doubt- 

* " c Of the proprietors of slaves, a very small proportion, indeed, arc ever Been to 
labour.' " Jefferson's Notes, p. 241. * - 


less' (says Mr. Jefferson) 'be an unhappy influence on the manners 
of the people, produced by the existence of slavery among us. The 
whole commerce between master and ^lave is a perpetual exercise 
of the most boisterous passions ; the most unremitting despotism 
on the one part, and degrading submission on the other. Our 
children see this, and learn to imitate it, for man is an imitative 
animal. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the linea- 
ments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, 
gives loose to the worst of passions ; and thus nursed, educated, and 
daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious 
peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his 
morals and manners undepraved by such circumstances.' Notes, 
p. 241. 

" We know the time of prodigies is past, and that natural effects 
will follow their causes. The manners of the lower classes in the 
Southern States are brutal and depraved *. Those of the upper, 
corrupted bv power, are frequently arrogant and assuming : unused 
to restraint or contradiction of any kind, they are necessarily quar- 
relsome j and in their quarrels, the native ferocity of their hearts 
breaks out. Duelling is not only in general vogue and fashion, but 
is practised with circumstances of peculiar vindictiveness. It is 
usual when two persons have agreed to fight, for each to go out re- 
gularly and practise at a mark, in the presence of their friends, du- 
ring the interval which precedes their meeting : one of the parties, 
therefore, commonly falls. 

" Did the whole of the above causes operate with undiminished 
influence, the result would be horrihle ; but there are several cir- 
cumstances continually working in mitigation of those evils." Hall, 
pp. 457, 460. 

The testimony which we have here adduced, has received the 
most decisive confirmation from another, and, it will be thought by 
some, a less suspicious, quarter. Mr. Morris Birkbeck, both in his 
■" Notes on a Journey in America," and in his " Letters from the 
Illinois," appears to have laboured to convey to his countrymen a 
favourable impression, not only of the United States as a scene of 

* " The stage-drivers, for instance, are more inhuman, and much inferior in de- 
cency of behaviour, to the Negroes, who are sometimes employed in the same capa- 
city ; so that it seems not improbable, that the effects of slavery, upon the lower orders 
at least, ,are more debasing to the governing class, than to the governed." 


profitable enterprise, but of the general character and manners of 
its inhabitants. But what is his representation of the nature of 
slavery, and its effects on the moral and intellectual qualities of the 
American poputation ? Let the friends and advocates of our slave- 
system, and a above all, let our members of Parliament, who may be 
called to revise that system, weigh it well. It is replete with consi- 
derations of momentous import. The passage will be found in Birk- 
beck's " Notes," p. 20. 

"May 10. I saw two female slaves and their children sold by 
auction in the street ; an incident of common occurrence here, 
though horrifying to myself and many other strangers. I could 
hardly bear to see them handled and examined like cattle ; and 
when I heard their sobs, and saw the big tears roll down their cheeks 
at the thoughts of being separated, I could not refrain from weeping 
with them. In selling these unhappy beings, little regard is had to 
the parting of the nearest relations. Virginia prides itself on the 
comparative mildness of its treatment of the slaves ; and, in fact, 
they increase in numbers, many being annually supplied from this 
State to those further south, where the treatment is said to be much 
more severe. There are regular dealers who buy them up, and 
drive them in gangs, chained together, to a southern market. I 
am informed, that few weeks pass without some of them being 
marched through this place. A traveller told me, that he saw, two 
weeks ago, one hundred and twenty sold by auction in the streets 
of Richmond ; and that they filled the air with their lamentations. 
" It has also been confidently alleged, that the condition of slaves 
in Virginia, under the mild treatment they are said to experience, 
is preferable to that of our English labourers. I know and lament 
the degrading state of dependent poverty to which the latter have 
been gradually reduced by the operation of laws originally designed 
for their comfort and protection. I know also that many slaves 
pass their lives in comparative ease, and seem to be unconscious of 
their bonds, and that the most wretched of our paupers might envy 
- the allotment of the happy Negro. This is not, however, institut- 
ing a fair comparison, to bring the opposite extremes of the two 
classes into competition. Let us take a view of some particulars 
whieh operate generally. 

" In England, exertion is not the result of personal fear; in Vir- 
ginia, it is the prevailing stimulus. 


" The slave is punished for mere indolence, at the discretion of 
an overseer : the peasant is only punished by the law, when guilty 
of a crime. 

" In England, the labourer and his employer are equal in the eye 
of the law : here the law affords the slave no protection, unless a 
White man gives testimony in his favour, 

' f Here, any White man may insult a Black with impunity ; whi!st 
the English peasant, should he receive a blow from his employer, 
might and would return it with interest, and afterwards have his 
remedy at law for the aggression. 

" The testimony of a peasant weighs as much as that of a lord in 
a court of justice ', but the testimony of a slave is never admitted at 
all in a case where a White man is opposed to him. 

" A few weeks ago, in the streets of Richmond, a friend of mine 
saw a White boy wantonly throw quick-lime in the face of a Negro- 
man. The man shook the lime from his jacket, and some of it ac- 
cidentally reached the eyes of the young brute. This casual reta- 
liation excited the resentment of the brother of the boy, who com- 
plained to the slave's owner, and actually had him punished with 
thirty lashes. This would not have happened to an English peasant. 

'i T must, however, do this justice to the slave-master of Virginia : 
it was not from him that I ever heard a defence of slavery ;. some 
extenuation, oa the score of expediency or necessity, is the utmost 
range now taken by that description of reasoners, who in former 
times would have attempted to support the principle as well as the 

" Perhaps it is in its depraving influence on the moral sense off 
loth slave and master, that slavery is most deplorable. Brutal i 
cruelty, iv e may hope, is a rare and transient mischief; hut the 
degr-adation of soul is universal. 

6i All America is noiv suffering in morals, through the baneful 
influence of Negro-slavery, partially tolerated^ corrupting justice 
at the very source. 

16 Slavery," he says in another place, " that broadest, foulest 
blot which still prevails over so large a portion of the United States^ , 
will circumscribe my choice within narrow limits; for if political 
liberty be so precious, that to obtain it I can forgo the well-earned 
comforts of an English home, it must not be to degrade and corrupt 
my children by the practice of slave -keeping. This curse has taken 


fast hold of Kentucky, Tenessee, and all the new States to the 

Such is the delineation of Negro- slavery, as it exists in the United 
States, .which has been given by three independent and impartial 
eye-witnesses. A writer in a contemporary Review, not remarkable 
for partiality to British in preference to trans-Atlantic policy, on 
contemplating the picture, expresses his keen indignation in terms 
which do him the highest honour. " The great curse of America, 5 * 
he observes, i( is the institution of slavery, of itself far more than 
the foulest blot upon their national character, and an evil which 
counterbalances all the excisemen, licensers, and tax-gatherers of 
England. No virtuous man ought to trust his own character, or 
the character of his children, to the demoralizing effects produced 
by commanding slaves. Justice, gentleness, pity, and humility, 
soon give way before them. Conscience suspends its functions. 
The love of command, the impatience of restraint, get the better 
of every other feeling; and cruelty has no other limit than fear. 
That such feelings and such practices should exist among men who 
know the value of liberty, and profess to understand its principles, 
is the consummation of wickedness. Every American who loves 
his country should dedicate his whole life, and every faculty of his 
soul, to efface the foul stain from its character. If nations rank 
according to their wisdom and their virtue, what right has the 
American, a scourger and murderer of slaves, to compare himself 
with the least and lowest of the European nations ? much more of 
this great and humane country, where the greatest lord dares not 
lay a finger upon the meanest peasant ? Whr< is freedom, where 
all are not free ; where the greatest of God's blessings is limited, 
with impious caprice, to the colour of the body ? And these are the 
men who taunt the English with their corrupt Parliament, with 
their buying and selling votes. Let the world judge which is the 
most liable to censure; — we who, in the midst of our rottenness, 
have torn off the manacles of slaves all over the world ; or they who, 
with their idle purity and useless perfection, have remained mute 
and careless, while groans echoed and chains clanked round the 
very walls of their spotless Congress. We wish well to America, 
we rejoice in her prosperity, and are delighted to resist the absurd 
impertinence with which the character of her people is often treated 
in this country: but the existence of slavery in America is anatro- 


cious C7ime } nith which no measures can he kept, for which her 
situation affords no sort of apology, which makes liberty itself dis- 
trusted, and the boast of it disgusting." Edinburgh Review, 
No. LXI. pp. 146—148. 

This is just and spirited. Every reproach which the passage 
contains applies to the United States with an accuracy which admits 
of no cavil, and with a force which cannot be resisted. May it pro- 
duce its due effect on the population of that rising empire! And 
may they be induced, while thev vet may, to avert from themselves, 
by repentance and reformation, the judgements which, if the word 
of God be true, must sooner or later overtake such cruel and im- 
pious oppression ! " Tlve people of the land have used oppression, 
and have vexed the poor and needy, yea they have oppressed the 
stranger wrongfully. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation 
upon them : I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. 
Their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the 
Lord God." Ezek. xxii. 29. 

There is, however, one circumstance in the extract we have given 
from the Edinburgh Review, which has not a little surprised us: 
we mean, that the reviewershould have chosen to place Great Britain 
in contrast with the United States on this occasion. We know not 
whether the writer intended that this part of his observations should 
be understood ironically. If so, he has failed of his aim. At the 
same time we admit, that a more severe and biting satire on this 
country could hardly be imagined than he has in effect conveyed by 
thus bringing her forward to darken the shade which he has thrown 
over the internal pr.liey of America. In this view, every syllable he 
has uttered is wormwood and gall. Let our readers look back to 
the extract ; and as they cast their eye over it a second time, let 
them substitute Great Britain for America, and then say whether 
every expression of vituperation, every term of reprobation and dis- 
gust, may not be applied with at least equal force and equal justice to 
the one country as to the other. Is the institution of slavery less a 
curse in Great Britain than in America? Is there something so pe- 
culiar in the moral atmosphere of a British colony, that the "justice, 
gentleness, pity, and humility," which wither elsewhere under the 
influence, of slavery, should there flourish ; that conscience should 
there retain its dominion, aiid prevent all the hideous effects so well 
described ns the inevitable result of unmeasured despotism ? — Is 


"the valuevof liberty " less known, and are "its principles" less 
understood in England than in America ? Are " the feelings and 
practices " involved in our system of colonial bondage less opposed 
to those principles, or are they less " the consummation of wicked- 
ness," because they exist under the sanction of the British Govern- 
ment, rather than under that of the United States ? Is it less the 
duty of every Englishman than of " every American, who loves 
his country, to dedicate his whole life, and every facility of his 
soul, to efface this foul stain from its character P" In " this great 
and humane country" are there " no scourgers of slaves?" Can 
we forget that " all are not free with us ?" Or has the enfranchise- 
ment of our colonial bondsmen indeed taken place ? And are those 
laws at length abrogated in the British colonies, which, ii with im- 
pious caprice, limit the greatest of God's blessings to the colour of 
the bodv ? " We have done much, it is true, to effect the universal 
abolition of the Slave-trade ; but what single legislative measure 
have we, as a nation, yet adopted, not merely for "' tearing off the 
manacles " of our Black and Coloured fellow- subjects in the colo- 
nies, but for lightening the chains of their servitude, for protecting 
them against oppression, for raising them in the scale of being ? 
The pathos of a few occasional speeches, the barren generalities of 
an address to the Crown, the printing of reams of barbarous enact- 
ments, or horrid recitals, or studied apologies for slavery, will not 
fulfill the obligations we are under to these wretched outcasts. It 
may be true, that their groans do not echo, nor their chains clank, 
around the walls of our Parliament, as around those of Congress ; 
but how many owners of slaves may be reckoned in the two branches 
of our legislature, whose voice, during the last thirty years, may 
possibly have assisted in preventing either the echo of the groan, 
or the clank of the chain, from reaching our ears ? But it has been 
beyond the power of the loudest clamours either of interest or pre- 
judice to drown them entirely : and the stifled sigh, the Suppressed 
but imploring murmur, have only pierced the deeper into the heart, 
on escount of the distance from which they have been wafted, and 
the efforts made to obstruct their passage. But whether the British 
Parliament catch the sound, or not, it has entered, doubtless, " into 
the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth." And if it be true, as we do most 
conscientiously believe it to be, that " the existence of slavery in 
America is an atrocious crime with which no measures can he kept," 


is it possible for us to contemplate its existence within the British 
dominions in a less fearful light ? 

But we shall be told, that the slavery existing in our West Indian 
colonies differs materially in many respects from that which prevails 
in the United States. We do not mean to deny this. We believe 
that, in one or two particulars, the comparison might prove favour- 
able to our own colonies. The slaves suffer less from cold in the 
West Indies than in America; and we do not mean to affirm that 
they are excluded from places of worship, however infrequently they 
may, in point of fact, attend them. In all the grand and essential 
points of personal comfort, however, the balance turns greatly on 
the other side. In America, they are in general more abundantly 
supplied with food. The labour of the field is there, too, for the 
most part, of a lighter kind than on sugar plantations. Task work 
is also more prevalent in America than in the West Indies, where 
labour is usually performed by gangs under the immediate impulse 
of the lash. Besides which, the Black and Coloured population 
have a readier access to the means of religious instruction in Ame- 
rica than in our colonies*. 

Our main purpose, in the present review, has been, by exhi- 
biting a series of facts, to fix the value of certain general principles 
which apply to the state of Negro slavery in all parts of the 
civilized world, and to demonstrate that, in its leading character- 
istics, and more prominent tendencies and effects, it is, when 
uncontrolled by some external influence which shall make the 
emancipation of the slave the ultimate end of its regulations, the 
same revolting institution, whether administered by Spaniards or 
Portuguese, Frenchmen or Dutchmen, Englishmen or Americans. 

* That the treatment of the slaves in the British colonies must be much more op- 
pressive than it is even in the United States, would seem to be established beyond 
controversy by the following comparative statement of the Negro population of Ja- 
maica and of the United States, in the years 1790 and 1820. 

In 1790, the number of slaves in Jamaica is stated by Bryan Edwards at 250,000, 
which, however, he considered under-rated. 

In 1810, from calculations founded on the Reports of the Assembly of Jamaica, 
they must have been about 320,000.— In 1817 they were rated, on what was affirmed 
to be a more accurate census, at 345,252, being an addition of only 95,252 in the 
whole of that period; and yet from the year 1787 to the period of the Abolition of 
the slave-trade in 1808, 188,785 appear to have been added by importation from 
Africa to the stock in that island, though the commencement of that importation is 



The slavery of the African race, indeed, as it exists-in the domi- 
nions' of these nations, is accompanied by circumstances of degra- 
dation peculiar to itself, arising from the colour of the unhappy 
subjects of it. Still the tendency to abuse the power with which 
domestic slavery, under any form, necessarily invests the master, 
is a principle which rests not on any modern discoveries, but which 
comes to us upheld by the historical records of every succeeding 
age. The only hope which can be indulged of effectually counter- 
acting this tendency, is from the vigilant intervention of some 
authority superior to that of the master, untainted with his preju- 
dices, and uninfluenced by his selfish views. In the colonies of 
Spain, for example, where theGovernment has exercised the entire 
power of legislation, more has been done to alleviate the hardships 
of Negro slavery, and to pave the way for its gradual extinction, 
than in the colonies of any other nation. In the British colonies, 
en the other hand, as 'well as in the United States of America, 
where the makers of the laws are also the masters of the slaves, 

four years prior to ] 791 ; yet this will probably be counterbalanced by the admitted 
inaccuracy of the returns in 1791. 

In the year 1790, the slave population of the whole of the United States 
was - - - - - - - 676,696 

f In the year 1800 it was - - - - - - 894,444 

In -- 1810 - -•..'- - - . 1,191,364 

In - 1820 - - - - - . . - - 1,531,431 

The natural increase would have appeared to be considerably greater, if 174,142 had 
not been added to the free Blacks during that period, about 100,000 of them by manu- 
mission. — We see that between 1790 and 1 800 the rate of increase was 28^ per cent. 
Between 1800 and 1810 - - - - , 33^ per cent. 

And between 1810 and 1820 - - ,_ _ 28 J per cent. 

The small difference in the increase from 1800 to 1810 must be attributed to the 
partial importation from Africa during a short part of that period ; but this will be 
far more than counterbalanced by the number manumitted. 

In 1790, then, Jamaica had a slave population of above - - 250,000 

In 1817, and in 1820, (the number will probably be found nearly the 
same in both years,) - - - - - _ 345,252 

In 1790, the United States' slave population was - - 676,696 

In 1820, ditto ditto - r - - 1,531,431 

If a system not more rigorous than the American system had been pursued in 
Jamaica, the population of that island ought to have been in the year 1820, 565,775. 
With 188,785 added by importation, still the population of Jamaica falls 220.523 
short of what it ought to have been, making a difference altogether of 409,308. The 
bare statement of such a waste of human life, such a cruel counteraction of the uni- 
versal tendency of mankind to increase, renders all comment superfluous. 


the legal constitution of slavery has been written in characters of 
blood, and hung round with all those attributes of cruelty and 
revenge which jealousy, contempt, and terror could suggest. If 
in our own colonies, since the agitation of the Slave-trade contro- 
versy, the barbarous rigour of their earlier statute-books has been 
in some respects softened, may we not fairly ascribe the change 
to the influence of public opinion at home, operating on the fears 
of the masters of slaves, and forcing them to the reluctant adop- 
tion of enactments less revolting in their terms, and which, from 
their apparently humane bearing, might have the effect of averting- 
the dreaded intervention of the imperial legislature ? But if this 
view of the subject be correct, and in whatever degree it is so, the 
written law will be apt to fail of its effect, and to be at variance 
with the general practice, unless a very vigilant and efficient su- 
perintendence over its execution shall be exercised by the supreme 
authorities of the State. Hence arises the strong moral obligation 
of parliamentary interference for the protection of the servile popu- 
lation in our colonies, for restraining and punishing the abuse of 
the master's power, and for gradually but effectually putting an 
end to slavery itself. And although slavery, in existing circum- 
stances, cannot, perhaps, be eradicated but by cautious and pro- 
gressive measures, yet surely by means of judicious regulations, 
vigorously executed and vigilantly enforced, it might be divested 
in the interval of at least a part of its malignity. 

Let it not, however, be supposed that we mean to prefer against 
the West Indians, a^ a body, any charge of extraordinary crimi- 
nality, or to intimate that they are peculiar objects - of public 
reprehension. It is not so much they who are in fault, as the 
system with which they are, in many, perhaps in most, cases, . 
involuntarily connected. I't is their misfortune to have been born, 
perhaps, in a slave colony, and to have been familiarized with the 
view of slavery from the moment of their birth. It would be to 
exact from such persons something more than we are entitled to 
look for, something more than is consistent with the ordinary 
phenomena of human nature, were we, in their case, to regard as 
a mark of singular depravity or inhumanity the circumstance of 
their differing, in their feeling's and habits of thinking on this sub- 
ject, from those who have been more favourably situated for form- 
ing a correct judgement. This is a consideration, however, which, 


though it may disarm the seventy of censure, and claim for such 
individuals the exercise of the utmost candour and charity, does in 
no degree alter the duty of the British parliament and the British 
public. If " the existence of slavery," as it now exists in our 
colonies, be, to use the forcible language of the Edinburgh Re- 
viewer, " an atrocious crime," then " every Englishman who loves 
his country should dedicate his whole life, and every faculty of his 
soul, to efface this foul stain from its character," as speedily as is 
consistent with the safety and well-being of the parties more im- 
mediately concerned. 



Thb main object of the preceding article is stated to have been, 
" by exhibiting a series of facts, to fix the value of certain general 
principles which apply to the condition of Negro slavery, in all 
divisions of the civilized world ; and to demonstrate that in its 
leading characteristics, and more prominent tendencies and effects, 
it is, when uncontrolled by some powerful external influence 
which shall make the emancipation of the slave the ultimate end 
of its regulations, the same revolting institution, whether it be 
administered by Spaniards or Portuguese, Frenchmen or Dutch. 


men, Englishmen or Americans." This is also the main purpose 
of the present publication. In pursuing it, however, we are 
anxious to avoid the imputation of unfair dealing towards the 
holders of slaves in the British colonies. We might have brought 
forward, in abundance, proofs of the excessive rigour of the slave 
code in the colonies of the French and Dutch. We might have 
shown, by an induction of particulars, resting on the best autho- 
rity, with what terrible ferocity that code is often administered in 
practice ; how it serves to divest the female character of its most 
amiable attributes, rendering not the masters only, but the mis- 
tresses of slaves, dead alike to the feelings of tenderness and 
delicacy ; and how it converts even the most sacred functions of 
criminal justice into the means of indulging the worst passions of 
the human heart, and of gratifying a barbarous and sanguinary 
thirst of vengeance. It might be said, however, that, in doing 
this, we were exciting unjust prejudices against our own West 
India planters ; that our own colonial institutions bear in them- 
selves a much milder aspect than those of the French and Dutch, 
and are besides administered by Englishmen, in the spirit, and 
according to the maxims, of English jurisprudence. We will not 
now stop to controvert the correctness of this statement ; we will 
give our countrymen the benefit of the plea, so far at least as to 
abstain, for the present, from illustrating our general position by 
facts drawn from the foreign colonies of the West Indies. The 
proofs already exhibited, in confirmation of it, have been drawn 
from the nature and effects of the slave system in the United 
States, the general spirit of whose legislation and jurisprudence is, 
to sav no more, as liberal as our own; and we mean, in what 
follows, to confine the examination to the British islands. 

Here, again, we propose to take a view of the state of slavery, 
which must be admitted, by West Indians themselves, to be the 
least unfavourable to the character of their system. We shall not 
now have recourse to the writings of that able and faithful delinea- 
tor of Negro slavery in our own islands, the Rev. James Ramsay; 
because the scenes he witnessed, however they may serve to mark 
the genius of that institution, it might be alleged, are now upwards 
of forty years old. Neither shall we have recourse to any part of 
the evidence taken before the Privy Council, or before Parliament, 
when the question of the Slave Trade was first agitated in this 

country. We shall not even cite, in support of our general views,, 
the testimony of Dr. Pinckard ; nor the recorded atrocities com- 
municated by Lord Seaforth in 1S04, as illustrative of the state of 
slavery in the oldest of our colonies, Barbadoes ; lest it should be 
argued, that these authorities do not apply to the actually existing 
state of things. We shall abstain even from laying any stress on 
the still more recent exemplifications of the spirit and tendency of 
colonial slavery, which are furnished to us in the cases of Huggins 
of Nevis, Hodge of Tortola, and Rawlins of St. Kitts ; lest we 
should be charged with too much confining our view to small and 
insulated communities, where individuals are less influenced bv 
public opinion than in larger societies*. We recollect, indeed, to 
have heard West Indians, when these cases were alluded to in 
Parliament, challenge the opponents of the slave system to look, 
for a just, appreciation of its character, not to our smaller islands, 
but to Jamaica, which exceeds them all in extent of population, 
and the liberal nature of whose institutions they did not hesitate to 
set up as a model for general imitation. We accept the challenge ; 
and we propose, therefore, for the present, to confine our view to 
a consideration of the slave system as it exists in Jamaica, the 
colony in which we are told that it may be seen under the most 
favourable circumstances, and where we are also told that the 
slaves are under the protection of a humane code of laws, humanely 
and equitably administered. 

In this delineation, also, of slavery, as it exists in Jamaica, we 
shall abstain from selecting particular instances of cruelty, and 
shall further abstain from specifying such cases of general treat- 
.ment, in the management of plantations, as might be deemed to 
be peculiarly harsh and rigorous. On the contrary, we shall select, 
for our most prominent example, the case of an estate, the owner 
of which is distinguished even in this country for gentlemanly and 
kindly feeling; and (which is perhaps of still more importance) is 
possessed of wealth which relieves him from the necessity, to which 
many by their circumstances are unhappily driven, of exacting 
from their slaves an undue portion of labour, or of denying them 

* Let it not be supposed, that we admit the validity of the objections to which, ia 
the present instance, we think proper to defer; We may have other opportunities of 
showing that they have no real force whatever. 



the requisite supplies for their sustentation and comfort. In short, 
the proprietor in question, it is well known, is himself an excellent 
master to his slaves, and ..does all in his power to render their 
situation comfortable. But he lives in this country, and is there- 
fore obliged to trust to the agency of others ; and in point of facr, 
his best efforts appear to have been employed in vain to mitigate 
the intrinsic oppressiveness of the system. 

The Rev. Thomas Cooper published, in the course of the last' 
year, in a periodical work called The Monthly Repository, several 
papers, with his name affixed to them, on the subject of Negro 
Slavery in the West Indies. These papers attracted considerable 
notice, being evidently the production of an able, intelligent, and 
upright man ; and naturally induced persons taking an interest in 
the question to communicate with him upon it. The following 
statement is the result of these communications ; and it is now 
given to the public with the permission of Mr. Cooper himself, 
who, we are most happy to announce to our readers, is engaged in 
preparing for the press a more complete detail of his observations 
on Negro Slavery during his residence in the West Indies, as well 
as a fuller development of his views on the subject. 


In the year- 1817, Robert Hibbert, Esq. of East Hide, near 
Luton, Bedfordshire, engaged the Rev. Thomas Cooper to go 
over to Jamaica, for the express purpose of ascertaining the prac- 
ticability of improving, by means of religious instruction, the con- 
dition of the Negroes on his estate of Georgia, in the parish of i 
Hanover, in that island. With a view to render his task as agree- 
able as possible, Mr. Cooper was authorized to adopt his own plans 
of tuition, ei provided they should in no respect be found incompa- 
tible with the order and management of the plantation." A house 
was provided for him, pleasantly situated about a mile from the 
Negro village, and he was made quite independent of the other 
White people connected with the slaves. He reached the estate 
on Christmas day, 1817, and continued upon it for upwards of 
three years, after which he returned to England, where he now 

The' owner of this estate, who himself resides in England, is, as 
may be inferred from his proceedings in this very instance, a man 

37 , 

of great benevolence. He was at the entire expense of Mr, Cooper's 
mission, and he seemed disposed to spare no outlay which he thought 
likely to contribute to the comfort of his slaves, of whom there were 
about 400 attached to the estate. The estate, had formerly been 
made to produce 400 hogsheads of sugar ; but Mr. Hibbert, con- 
sidering that the labour required for the production of so large a 
quantity pressed too heavily upon his slaves, directed that only 300 
hogsheads should be made, and it is to this moderated scale of 
employment, and to a gang of Negroes thus favourably circum- 
stanced, in relation to their proprietor, that Mr. Cooper's infor- 
mation refers. 

One great obstacle to his success as a religious instructor, which 
Mr. Cooper had to encounter at the very outset ~of his undertaking, 
was this, that the slaves had no time to attend upon him. This 
will require a somewhat lengthened explanation, which will serve, 
at the same time, to throw light incidentally on several material 
features of the slave system. 

The season of crop, in other words, the sugar harvest, commenced 
about the time of Mr. Cooper's arrival in Jamaica, and continued 
for about five months. During that period, the general plan is, 
aud that plan was followed on Georgia estate, to begin the manu- 
facture of sugar on Sunday evening, and to continue it generally, 
without intermission, either day or night, till about midnight of 
the following Saturday, when the work stops for about eighteen or 
twenty hours, to commence again on the Sunday evening*. In 
order to prevent any interruption of this process during the week, 
the slaves capable of the labour, are, with some necessary exceptions, 
divided into two gangs or spells, which, besides being both fully oc- 
cupied in the various occupations of the plantation during the day, 
are engaged the whole of the night, on alternate nights, in the bu- 
siness of sugar-making f. Their labour, during crop time, is thus 
equal to six days and three nights in the week. And in the exac- 
tion of this labour, no distinction is made between men and wo- 
men - T both are subjected to the same unvarying rule. 

* By an act of the Jamaica legislature of Dec. 1816, it is forbidden to set the 
su^ar mills to work before five on Monday morning. But this regulation appears to 
have been practically disregarded in this instance. 

f On many estates the two gangs or spells, instead of alternating the whole of the 
night, labour half of.each night, the one being replaced by the other at midnight. 


The canes are carried on the backs of mules, or in carts, from 
the field to the mill. The men employed in this part of the work 
have no regular time of rest, either night or day. Their task is to 
keep the mill regularly supplied with canes, and it is only when they 
have been able, by exertion, to accumulate a quantity there, that 
they can venture to take rest. It seldom happens that they get a 
whole night's rest at one time. Besides the alternate night of rest 
allowed to the other slaves, that portion of them who were not at- 
tending the sugar works had half an hour allowed them to sit down 
in the field to eat their breakfast, and two hours further interval of 
labour allowed them in the middle of the day, generally from one 
to three. The same allowance of time for breakfast and dinner was 
continued to the labouring slaves the whole year round*. 

During the five months of crop, therefore, it is pretty evident, 
that it would have been found " incompatible with the order and 
management of the plantation" to allot any portion of time for re- 
ligious instruction, unless it were on Sunday. 

But here it will be said, that Sunday was the very day on which 
that instruction might most conveniently and appropriately have 
been given ; and that it could hardly be alleged, with any fairness, 
that the Negroes had no time to attend to religious instruction, I 
when the middle of that day might have been set apart for the pur- 
pose. To this arrangement, however, Mr. Cooper found there were 
insuperable objections. In the first place, the persons who had 
been toiling for six days and three nights in the preceding week, 
many of whom had continued that toil till past midnight on Satur- ■ 
day, could not be expected voluntarily to assemble, at a very early | 
hour, to listen to lessons which they had not learned to appreciate. 
In the next place, Sunday was the only day which was allowed 
them, during the five months of crop, for cultivating their provi- 
sion-grounds ; for bringing thence the food requisite for their sus- 
tenance during the week ; and for going to market. 

It may not be generally understood, that not pnly is Sunday a 
market-day in Jamaica, but that, for the Negroes, whether as ven- 
ders of the fruit or vegetables or poultry or other articles of food 

* The law referred to above specifies these periods of half an hour and two hours 
as the proper intervals of labour during the day; and it adds that, except in crop 
time, the slaves are not to be obliged to work before five in the morning / or after 
seven in the evening. 


they may have to dispose of, or as purchasers of the little necessa- 
ries or comforts they may wish to huy in return, Sunday is the only 
market-day . Such, however, is the fact. 

The distance of the place of market, varying from one to five, 
ten, and even more miles, and which must be twice traversed by 
such slaves as go to it, and who have generally heavy loads to carry 
thither, tends further, independently of the time required for their 
sales and purchases, to abridge the hours which could, by any pos- 
sibility, be given to religious worship on the Sunday. 

It is some labour even to fetch on that day from their provision- 
grounds the plantains, or yams, or eddoes, or other food which they 
may require, to feed themselves and any children they may have, 
during the succeeding week ; a labour which is often aggravated 
by the distance of those provision-grounds from the homestall of 
the plantation, — a distance often extending to six, and sometimes 
even to ten miles. The distance of the provision-grounds on Georgia 
estate was about three miles from the Negro village, which was 
thought moderate. Still the very walk thither and back was suffi- 
cient to diminish, by two hours, the brief respite from plantation- 
labour which Sunday afforded to the slaves. 

But besides these different uses to which the Sunday was neces- 
sarily appropriated, there remained another of a still more engross- 
ing nature. Sunday was the only day which was allowed to the 
slaves, during crop, for cultivating and keeping in order their pro- 
vision-grounds, from which provision- grounds they derived their sole 
means of subsistence, if we except a weekly allowance of seven or eight 
herrings to each adult, and half that number to each child, and a 
small present of a pound or two of salt- fish at Christmas. If, there- 
fore, they neglected to employ in their provision-grounds a sufficient 
portion of the Sunday, to secure to them an adequate supply of food, 
they might be reduced to absolute want ; and although the want 
might be supplied, yet the neglect would not fail to be punished. 

When all these circumstances are weighed, we shall have no dif- 
ficulty in comprehending how it was that Mr. Cooper, during the 
first five or six months of his residence on Georgia estate, could 
find no time for the religious instruction of the slaves, which was 
compatible with its order and management. 

Nor was their case, in this respect, on Mr. Hibbert's estate, at alj 


peculiar. It was the common lot of the plantation slaves generally 
throughout the island. 

Crop-time, however, lasted only for four or five months of the 
year. How did Mr. Cooper succeed during the remaining months ? 
During those months, as well as during crop-time, the Sunday 
being applied, in the case of the slaves, to the various secular ob- 
jects already mentioned ; but chiefly and above all, to the cultiva- 
tion of their provision -grounds, which were the allotted source 
of subsistence for themselves and their families while engaged in 
the weekly labours of the plantation, it was felt to be impossible 
to require that a portion of it should be given to attendance on 
religious instruction, at least unless an equivalent portion of time 
had been given them, during the week, for the purpose of cultivat- 
ing their grounds. But, even then, to have enforced such attend- 
ance on the Sunday would have proved a grievous imposition. It 
would have operated as an interdict from attending market, on 
the only day on which there was any market to attend. Under 
these circumstances, even Mr. Cooper was forced to admit that it 
would have been the greatest cruelty to compel the slaves to attend 
Divine worship on Sundays. 

But it may be asked whether no time, except Sunday, is given 
to the slaves for the raising of food. The law of the island requires 
that one day in a fortnight, except during the time of crop, should 
be allowed to the slaves, exclusive of Sunday, for cultivating their 
provision-grounds ; and by the consolidated slave-law, passed in 
Dec. 1816, it is provided, that the days so given shall amount to 
not less than 26 in the course of the year, being a very important 
improvement, not more than about 14 to 16 days having been pre- 
viously allotted to them bylaw. 

As this time, however, had been given them for the express pur- 
pose of raising their food, it would have been unjust to the slaves, 
and would have placed both religion and its minister in an odious 
light, had any part of it been authoritatively diverted from its ori- 
ginal destination, with a view to attendance upon him. Accord- 
ingly it was agreed that, out of crop, an afternoon every fortnight 
should be allowed for religious worship and instruction. Mr. Cooper 
had thus an opportunity of preaching to the slaves about eleven or 
twelve times in the year. But the moment crop began, there was 


an entire cessation for five or six months of all meetings of the 

After remaining in this unsatisfactory state for upwards of three 
years, Mr. Cooper, as has been already remarked, quitted Jamaica 
and returned to Great Britain. He justly observes, that it could 
perhaps hardly be expected that he should have consented to con- 
sume his time amongst a people to whom he could preach only 
twelve times in the year. 

Having thus made our readers in some measure acquainted with 
the respectable witness to whose testimony we mean in the first in- 
stance to refer them, we shall now proceed to adduce his further 
evidence, both as it respects the particular estate on which he re- 
sided, and the condition of the slaves generally in the island. When 
the statements are general, they are to be considered as compre- 
hending Georgia, unless that estate be particularly excepted. 

1. State of Morals and Religion. 

' This, Mr. Cooper states, is as bad as can well be imagined both 
among Whites and Blacks. With scarcely any exceptions, all of 
the former description, residing on plantations, live in a state of 
open and avowed concubinage with Black or Coloured women. The 
general profligacy, in this, respect, is perfectly notorious and undis- 
guised * ; and one effect of it is, that the young women on estates, 
instead of becoming mothers of children, are at an early age made 
the mere instruments of licentious gratification. It is well known 
that the morals of nineteen out of twenty White men are ruined 
before they have been a month in the island. They get into habits 
of debauchery, and every idea of religion vanishes. Mr. Cooper 
does not recollect to have seen a single White man there, who 
showed any serious concern about religion, excepting some Mis- 

There is no regular marriage instituted amongst the slaves ; in- 
deed, the women will say they would not be such fools as consent 

to be confined to one man : their engagements, therefore, are 

* So undisguised, indeed, is it, that, when visitors stay all night on an estate, they 
are accustomed, on going to bed, to desire the domestic who attends them to bring 
them a girl, with almost as little ceremony as theywould ask for a candle. 


merely temporary, and are not considered as at all binding. 
Mr. Cooper never heard of any attempt, by agreement between 
masters, to bring together on the same plantation a man and wife 
who lived on different plantations. -Nor could it in general be of 
any very great use to do so, while there is no such thing among 
them as a marriage-tie. 

It is, doubtless, in part owing to this cause, and to the universal 
profligacy of manners prevailing among Black3 and Whites, that 
the Negroes in Jamaica are a very unprolific race : not that they 
are so naturally, — but they are made so by the brutalizing and de- 
moralizing system of government under which they live, which is 
notoriously most unfriendly to the production of life, and, in several 
ways, tends directly to its destruction. Among other things, it 
causes the women to be extremely careless of themselves when 
breeding, so that miscarriages are very common ; and it produces 
also the most miserable neglect of their children. 

The Negroes on Georgia estate do not keep up their numbers. 
There were in one year only seven births, though the whole popu- 
lation is about four hundred. Mr. Cooper attributes this non-in- 
increase to their morally degraded condition ; to prostitution and 
its various consequences, including disease ; to hard work, and to 
severity of punishment. Indeed, he considers that having no other 
motive to exertion in their present state, they would not work at all, 
were it not that neglect would be visited with severe punishment. 

In Jamaica the slaves are scarcely ever taught to read. 

In every parish there is a rector, who, generally speaking, preaches 
every Sunday morning at the parish church ; and a curate, who hasi 
a chapel. The service, however, takes place at the very time which 
may be called high-change at the Negro market. Mr. Cooper, 
when he attended church, may have seen twenty or thirty Negroes 
there, (whether slaves or free he could not say,) and probably about 
a dozen Whites. The greater part of the congregation consisted 
of free Mulattoes. The regular church -service was read, and a 
sermon preached, which, however, was not at all adapted to the 
Blacks. It is required by law that there should be service in the 
afternoon, after market should be over, to suit the time of Ne- 
groes, — when all who might attend should be catechized : but this 
had not been done in the parish of Hanover ; and, he believes, not 


in the adjoining parishes, excepting for a short time at first. It 
may have dropped in consequence of the non-attendance of the 

To obviate the complaint that had been made in England of the 
want of Christian instruction for the slaves, an act was passed in- 
stituting a curacy in each parish, expressly for their benefit. The 
act states that the curate shall appropriate two days in every week 
to go to some one or other of the estates in rotation, and there to 
perform the duties of his office, and to instruct all slaves willing to 
be instructed, provided the consent of the person in possession of the 
estate he first obtained. In consequence of the necessity of obtain- 
ing this consent, Mr. Cooper was informed, by the curate of Hanover 
parish, that he might apply to ten estates before he got leave to 
preach on one. These applications had a reference only to week- 
days ; for it would have been cruel to compel the attendance of the 
slaves at worship on Sunday. Both the rector and curate of Ha- 
nover parish said (and the same was true of the adjoining parishes) 
that they were of no use to the slaves as instructors, and that, 
under existing circumstances, it was impossible they should. And as 
for the Curates' Act, it was generally held there to have been passed 
for the satisfaction of England, and not for any good it was likely 
to produce. 

The character given by Mr. Cooper of the slaves, is such as might 
be expected to be formed by a state of oppression and degradation 
such as theirs, and in the total absence of all intellectual, or moral 
and religious culture. He represents them as addicted to thieving; 
but he adds, that to this vice, in some cases, they are strongly 
tempted, by the unreasonable conduct of the planters themselves. 
These generally refuse to sell any of their sugar in the island ; the 
consequence is, that those who are not sugar-planters can procure 
it only in a concealed and smuggled way, in the Negro market, 
where it is all stolen sugar. Mr. Cooper, who refused to buy any 
such, was obliged to tell the attorney of Georgia, that if he would 
not allow him to have some sugar on the estate, he must send to 
London for it. 

The following passage we give entire. It is taken from a letter 
of Mr. Cooper's in the Monthly Repository of 1822, p. 494. 

" Liberty seems evidently to be the natural right of every human 
being. Why not then admit of their being prepared for the en- 


joyment of privileges which cannot beheld from them without 
acting contrary to the sacred laws of truth and justice ? The 
planters, however, are not the only persons with whom I would 
remonstrate upon this subject ; for all who indulge in the con- 
sumption of West India produce, or contribute in any way to the- 
maintenance of the present order of things in our sugar islands, 
ought in common fairness to bear their share of the blame. With 
what propriety can a consumer of rum or sugar cast a stone at the 
cultivator of the sweet cane ? The Negro is the injured individual ; 
he is robbed of his liberty, and, with that, of every thing that can 
render a rational existence desirable. He is denied all the advan- 
tages of education, condemned to the vilest ignorance, lest, by be- 
coming informed, he should discover and seek to remove the cause 
of all his unmerited misfortunes. He cannot marry, and is thereby 
not merely tempted, but in a manner compelled, to form the loosest 
and most disgusting connexions. I would appeal to the common dis- 
cernment and feelings of mankind, whether marriage can exist where 
a third person has it in his power to step in and disannul the holy 
league. Now, every one knows that this is virtually the case with 
respect to the slaves in the West Indies. The connexions which 
they form do not always take place between individuals belonging to 
the same proprietor ; in numerous instances they are the property of 
different masters. But it is no uncommon thing for the inhabitants 
of one plantation or settlement to be removed to another, situated 
perhaps on the opposite side of the island ; and consequently, in 
all such cases, husbands, wives, and children, belonging to other 
gangs, are, contrary no doubt to the wishes of the respective 
masters, left behind. Others again are seized, and sold to pay the 
debts of their owners. These evils might be removed by attaching 
them to the soil, but then others would remain of a nature almost 
equally formidable. Every slave being compelled, under pain of 
corporal punishment, to yield implicit obedience to the will of the 
master, the wife as well as the husband would be under the neces- 
sity of joining a gang under the command of a driver, and, in case 
of not giving him satisfaction, to submit to the most degrad- 
ing chastisement administered in the most indecent manner. I 
have known them point to things of this description, for the pur- 
pose of showing that it is impossible for them to marry. Over their 
children it is obvious that thev could have no authority resembling 


that which parents in a free country possess : they could only leave 
them the same wretched inheritance which they received from their 
ancestors. Hence those who have children are generally careless 
in respect to the habits they form, and the lives they lead. They 
know they can never sink lower in the scale of society than they 
already find themselves placed, and they have no hope of rising. 
A regular line of orderly conduct may save them from the lash, but 
it can effect no radical change in their condition. The highest 
office to which they can ever aspire is that of a driver,-^-an office 
which no one, not destitute of every manly and generous feeling, 
could wish to hold. In short, they have nothing to gain and 
nothing to lose ; they have no character at stake ; a good name, 
which Solomon says, ( is rather to be chosen than great riches,' is 
of no avail to them. Their worth is estimated by the strength of 
their bodies, and the talent and disposition to perform their masters' 
work. The greatest villain, therefore, in a moral respect, may be, 
and sometimes is, the most valuable slave; the natural consequence 
of all which is, that the Negroes, as a people, are as destitute of 
correct morality as they are of liberty. Chastity is utterly out of 
the question amongst the whole tribe, and both men and women 
are found to vindicate as innocent, practices which it is scarcely 
allowable to name amongst Christians. This is followed by low 
cunning and contempt of truth, a determined resolution to thieve, 
and the greatest aversion to every species of labour. Gratitude, 
affection, fidelity, activity, and courage, make no part of the cha- 
racter of the West India slave ; and yet thousands and tens of 
thousands have been e received into the congregation of Christ's 
flock, and signed with the sign of the cross,' &c. &c. I have been 
present, more than once, at the christening of two or three 
hundred of them, and repeatedly conversed with^ persons who have 
been thus regenerated. Need I add that the whole is a solemn 
mockery of what the people are exhorted to regard as a Christian 
rite ? No effort whatever, that I could ever learn, is made to pre- 
pare them for the ceremony, or, after it is performed, to enforce 
its design. The poor creatures get a new name, with which they 
are mightily pleased, and some of them are said to fancy themselves 
out of the reach of Obeah or witchcraft. Within the last few years, 
it is true, curates have been sent out for the avowed purpose of 


instructing them in religion ; but, it is to be feared, they meet with 
no adequate success. The Negroes cannot attend on their service on 
a Sunday ; and when I left Jamaica no regulations had been made, 
or I believe thought of, for allowing them time in the week. 
These Missionaries are expected to visit several estates every week, 
for the purpose of preaching to the slaves, if they can obtain leave 
of the proprietor, or person acting in his place, to do so. But this 
they very seldom get; on some estates not at. all, on others once 
or twice in the year ; so that their presence in the island can be of 
little importance. I have heard it, indeed, repeatedly declared 
that the Curates' Act was intended for England, not for Jamaica; 
and this really appears to me to be viewing the subject in its true 
light; for it must have been known, before it was passed, that the 
planters would not allow the slaves any opportunity for attending 
on their new instructors, and that, consequently, such a law could 
have no tendency to improve their condition. In a thousand in- 
stances the clergy are rather to be pitied than blamed ; and I have 
not the least doubt that many a curate most deeply laments that 
ever he crossed the Atlantic." 

In a subsequent letter Mr. Cooper observes, that if a man would 
but fjj fix on his mind a clear picture of a master treading on his 
slave with the feet of despotism, he would perceive the cruel 
mockery of the same individual pretending, while in such an atti- 
tude, to raise his wretched victim with the hand of mercy." There 
is, he affirms, among slave-holders generally, " the strongest pre- 
judice to any thing which is in any way calculated to open the 
minds of their people." — " Ignorance, gross ignorance," is con- 
ceived to be " the grand prop of Negro slavery." Nay, he believes 
it to be the common opinion in Jamaica, " that the Negroes are 
an inferior species." 

2. General Treatment. 
The gangs always work before the whip, which is a very weighty 
and powerful instrument. The driver has it always in his hand, 
and drives the Negroes, men and women without distinction, as he 
would drive horses or cattle in a team. Mr. Cooper does not say 
that he is always using the whip, but it is known to be always 
present, and ready to be applied to the back or shoulders of any 


who flag at their work, or lag behind in the line*. The driver, 
who is generally a Black man, has the power not only of thus 
stimulating the slaves under him to exertion, by the application of 
the whip to their bodies while they are proceeding with their work ; 
but, when he considers any of them to have committed a fault de- 
serving of a more serious notice, he has the power also of pro- 
strating them (women as well as men) on the ground, causing them 
to be held firmly down by other Negroes, who grasp the hands and 
legs of their prostrate companion, when he may inflict upon the 
bare posteriors such a number of lashes as he may deem the fault 
to have merited ; the whole number which he may inflict at one 
time, without the presence of the overseer, being, by the Slave Act 
of 1816, limited to ten. One of the faults which the driver most 
frequently punishes in this way, is that of coming too late to the 
field either in the morning or after dinner. Those who arrive after 
the fixed time are pretty sure to get a few, perhaps five or six 
lashes. Mr. Cooper, on one occasion, saw three or four old 
women come too late ; they knew they were to be whipped, and 
as soon as they came up threw themselves down on the ground to 
receive the lashes ; some of them received four, others six lashes. 
These minor punishments, Mr. Cooper says, are very frequent. 
He believes that seldom a dav passes without some occurring ; and 
he has heard of as many as sixty Negroes being flogged in one 
morning for being late. 

More serious punishments are only inflicted by the authority of 
the overseer; and the mode of their infliction is usually the same 
as has been already described. Whether the offender be male or 
female, precisely the same course is pursued. The posteriors are 
made bare, and the offender is extended prone on the ground, the 
hands and feet being firmly held and extended by other slaves; 
when the driver, with his long and heavy whip, inflicts, under the 
eye of the overseer, the number of lashes which he may order ; each 
lash, when the skin is tender and not rendered callous by repeated 
punishments, making an incision on the buttocks, and thirty or 

* In one of his printed letters, in which he is replying to an objection, Mr. Cooper 
incidentally but very insignificantly remarks, that "to a Jamaica man" it would be 
truly astonishing "to learn that the whip was not needed, or that its sound was 
rarely heard." He is sure at the same time that the planters of Jamaica " would be 
glad to throw aside the whip if they saw they could doit with safety." 


forty such lashes leaving them in a lacerated and bleeding state. 
Even those that have become the most callous cannot long resist 
the force of this terrible instrument, when applied by a skilful hand, 
but become also raw and bloody ; indeed, no strength of skin can 
withstand its reiterated application. 

These punishments are inflicted by the overseer whenever he 
thinks them to have been deserved. He has no written rules to 
guide his conduct, nor are the occasions at all defined on which he 
may exercise the power of punishment. Its exercise is regulated 
wholly and solely by his own discretion. An act of neglect or of 
disobedience, or even a look or a word supposed to imply insolence, 
no less than desertion or theft or contumacy, may be thus punished ; 
and they may be thus punished without trial and without appeal, 
at the mere pleasure and fiat of the overseer. Doubtless, any slave 
may, after having leen punished, complain of his overseer to the 
attorney of the estate, or to a magistrate ; but such complaint 
often does him more harm than good. 

The law professes to limit the number of lashes which shall be 
given at one time to thirty-nine ; but neither this law, nor any other 
which professes to protect the slave, can be of much practical be- 
nefit to him 5 it cannot, under existing circumstances, be enforced. 
A Negro, especially one who is the slave of an absentee proprietor, 
may be considered as entirely in the power of the overseer, who is 
his absolute master, and may be at the same instant his lawgiver, 
accuser, and judge, and may not only award sentence, but order 
its execution. And supposing him to act unjustly, or even cruelly, 
he has it in his power to prevent any redress from the law. The evi- 
dence of a thousand slaves would avail nothing to his conviction ; 
and, even if there were any disposition in the inferior Whites to. 
inform or to bear testimony against him, he has only to take care 
that the infliction does not take place in their presence. 

In point of fact, Mr. Cooper believes that the limitation of the 
number of lashes to thirty-nine is practically disregarded, whenever 
the overseer thinks the offence deserving of a larger measure of 
punishment. The information he received on this subject all went 
to show that the law was not attended to. One overseer told him, 
that a woman had disobeyed his orders, and he put her in the stocks 
by way of punishment. She complained to the attorney of this pro- 
ceeding. He ordered her to be thrown down on the ground, in the cus- 


tomary manner, and thirty-nine lashes were inflicted on her naked 
posteriors ; after which she was raised up, and immediately thrown 
down again, and received thirty-nine lashes more, applied in the 
same manner. 

The law permits the Negroes to make their complaints to 
magistrates. In one case several Negroes went to complain to a 
magistrate of their want of houses, or proper accommodation. Mr. 
Cooper saw them, on that occasion,, at the magistrate's door. The 
magistrate, however, told him it would never do to interfere in such 
matters ; for, if they did, there would be no getting on between 
masters or overseers, and magistrates ; and, with respect to these 
complainants, what he did was to desire them to return home and 
trust to their master's kindness : and Mr. Cooper thought that, all 
things considered, he could not well have done otherwise. 

Two women, who were pregnant, desired to quit the field during 
rain, on account of their pregnancy. The overseer refused them 
permission. They went to complain of this refusal to a magistrate, 
but were stopped in their way by a neighbouring overseer, and by 
him thrown into the stocks until he sent them back to their own 
overseer, who put them again into the stocks on their own estate, 
and had them flogged. Of this proceeding they complained to the 
attorney. The attorney was of opinion that the overseer had acted 
with undue severity ; but he considered the women to have been 
highly to blame for attempting to complain to the magistrate ; 
whereas, he said, they ought in the first instance to have complained 
to him. 

It is common for 'Negroes, who have been guilty of what is 
deemed a serious offence, to be worked all day in the field, and 
during the intervals of labour, as well as during the whole night, 
to be confined with their feet fast in the stocks. In the case of 
one Negro, who was so confined for some weeks, Mrs. Cooper 
begged hard to obtain a remission oPhis punishment, but did not 
succeed. Another Negro, belonging to the estate, was a notorious 
runaway. Being taken, he was flogged in the usual manner, as 
severely as he well could bear, and then made to work in the field. 
During the interval of dinner-time he was regularly placed in the 
stocks, and in them also he was confined the whole night. When 
the lacerations, produced by the flogging he had received, were 
sufficiently healed, he was flogged a second time. While the sores 

E . 


were still unhealed, one of the bookkeepers told Mr. Cooper that 
maggots had bred in the lacerated flesh. Mr. Cooper mentioned 
the circumstance to the attorney, who did not manifest any sur- 
prise on hearing it. 

An old African Negro, well known to Mr. Cooper, who appeared 
to possess a sound and superior mind, and was reckoned the best 
watchman on the estate, was placed to watch the provision-grounds 
for the use of the overseer's house. These were robbed, and the 
robbery being imputed to his neglect, he received a very severe 
flogging. The old man -declared (Mr. Cooper does not vouch foi 
the truth of the excuse) that he could not help what had happened, 
the grounds being too extensive for him to guard them effectually 
so that while he was on one side of them, the Negroes could easilj 
steal on the other. This flogging made a great alteration in the! 
old man, and he never seemed well after it. In two or three week: 
another robbery occurring, he received a still more severe flogging 
than before. One morning, while Mr. and Mrs. Cooper were ai 
breakfast, they heard a groaning, and going to the window, savij 
this poor man passing along in a state which made Mrs. Coopejj 
shrink back with horror. Mr. Cooper went out to him, and foumlr 
his posteriors, which were completely exposed, bleeding and mucl|/i 
lacerated. He seemed much exhausted. He attempted to explai M 
the case, but was incapable from fatigue and suffering. A Negri j 
boy was standing by ; the old man pointed to him, and saiclJ 
" Massa, him tell you." The poor old man from this time Wsj 
never well or cheerful, and he soon afterwards died. 

Mr. Cooper never saw a Negro, who, when uncovered, did not exh'j 
bit marks of violence, that is to say, traces of the whip, on his bodiM 

It has been already mentioned that the Negroes on this estatij Jr ( )> 
and the same is the case generally throughout the island, have n 
food beyond a small allowance of salted fish, except what they rais) i 
on their own grounds; Sundays, and a certain number of days b( 
side, being allotted for their cultivation. 

The Negroes have in general too few houses ; but the having 
house to themselves, be it ever so bad, gives some feeling of in 
portance. On Georgia there are many houses built in rather a si 
perior style, which have cost the proprietor a heavy sum of monej 
but in general their huts are like sheds. They are made with pos 
put into the ground. The sides are wattled, some being piasters 


with mortar, and some not. They are thatched, sometimes 
shingled. They often have one room to sit in, with one or two for 
sleeping. They He on boards, or on a door covered with a mat of 
:heir own making, and sometimes a blanket for covering; but they 
nave not all blankets. A woman with children has a blanket, and 
ilso the aged men ; but many men have none. 

3. Emancipation. 

If the mother be three degrees removed from the Black, her 

hild by a White man is free, and classes, in point of privilege, with 

White men occasionally give freedom to their mistresses and 

heir children. But this, in all cases where the mistress and her 

hildren are not the slaves of the White man, must be effected by 
purchase, and, of course, with the owner's consent. But such pur- 

hases cannot be effected when the estate is mortgaged, or the 
r i'wner is a minor. White men often complain that the owner is not 

ampelled to give freedom to their children, on his being paid their 
,. alue. In all cases where slaves are made free, a bond must be 

iven that they shall not become chargeable. 
„| Free Blacks and persons of Colour pay all taxes, and perform 
. lilitary duty in the colonial militia, precisely as the Whites. Ac- 
. srding to the number of Negroes which each planter possesses, he 
■ . obliged to have upon his estate a certain number of White persons, 
. ,;• to pay a certain sum for each deficiency. This is with a view 

> prevent the militia from falling off in numbers. Free people of 
N ,;olour, though they are bound to serve in the militia, yet are of no 
j- '/ail in freeing any estate belonging to Whites, on which they may be 
.... nployed, from this penalty. Indeed, from the prejudice existing 

Gainst them in the minds of the Whites, it is in very few cases that 
. ;iey are so employed ; which, considering the perfect competency of 

,any of them, they feel to be a great hardship. So far indeed are 

, iey from being encouraged in Jamaica, that their increase is viewed 

ith apprehension, as adding to the danger of insurrection. Much 

, lalousy is entertained of them, especially when they have been 

'..ucated in England, where they have been treated as men, and on 
'ooting of equality with their White brethren. And yet Mr. Cooper 
of opinion, and in that opinion we entirely concur, that " the 

e 2 


principle of gradual emancipation," though the subject of so mucl 
alarm to West Indians, affords the best means of remedying the evil 
of the system, with safety to the master and the slave. 

It is a strong proof of the degrading light in which free person 
of Colour are viewed by the Whites, that these last never introduc 
even their own children into company. It was thought a very ex 
traordinary thing, on one occasion, to see a father riding in a gi 
with his own Coloured daughter. Coloured persons reputed to r 
children of the owners of the estates are sometimes held as slav< 
upon them, and have been even sold along with them. 

Many of the free Negroes are industrious, and succeed very wel 
although they never think of hiring themselves to the planters I 
work in the field. It could not indeed be expected that they shou 
submit to the degradation of working under the lash. They are ol 
jects of great respect to the slaves, but are kept at a distance by tl 
free Browns, who consider themselves as rising in rank as they a] 
proach to the colour of Whites. 

Very great difficulty is experienced by Negroes in obtaining the 
freedom, even when they are able to pay for it ; because those wl 
by their industry and frugality have realized the means of purcha 
ing their freedom, and who, therefore, are most worthy of it, a 
also likely to employ it most beneficially, are the most valual 
hands. Mr. Cooper knew three valuable men who wished to pi- 
chase their freedom. They had long applied in vain to the agen 
of the proprietor resident on the spot. They at length, howev, ■ 
obtained their end, by an application to the proprietor himse, 
then in England. After this a fourth made many efforts to obtn ; 
his freedom by purchase; but they proved unavailing, and he su. 
in consequence into a state of despondency, and became of comp 
ratively little value. 

The number of Brown slaves, the children of White men, is w 
considerable. In general, however, they are not employed in i J 
field : Mr. Cooper knew only one estate on which Brown sla 5 
were so employed, viz. Roundhill in Hanover. They are usury 
employed as domestics, or taught mechanic arts, as earpent<'» 
coopers, masons, smiths, &c. 


4. Miscellaneous Observations. 

A large proportion of all the estates are mortgaged ; and estates 
are frequently sold to pay off the debts upon them. The slaves 
themselves, too, or a part of them, are often seized for the payment 
of the master's debts ; and this is done without any reference, in a 
nultitude of cases, to family connections. It is felt by them as a 
grievous hardship to be separated from their connections : it some- 
imes produces a species of rebellion ; and has been known to occ- 
asion the death of many, through the distress of mind which it 

i Small proprietors often undertake to do work on estates by job, 
'hich they employ their slaves. to execute. When they are thus 
,:nt to different places, they carry their own provisions with them, 
id usually sleep on the ground under a tent, all huddled together, 
:ough sometimes they are accommodated in the sugar-works of 
le estate, or by the Negroes of the estate in their houses. 
Task-work is very uncommon in Jamaica. It is held to be dan- 
;rous to allow the slave much spare time. 

If a Negro is deemed to be incorrigible by plantation-discipline, 
: is often sent to the workhouse of the parish, where he is chained 
another Negro, and employed, with others chained in the same 
aimer, two and two, in repairing the roads during the day, being 
ut up during the night. This punishment is inflicted without the 
;ervention of any magistrate, by the mere desire of the master or 
wseer, who may protract it for any length of time. 

When Negroes are sent out in pursuit of runaways, they are 
ually armed with a cutlass, and are authorized, in case of resist- 
cze, to chop, that is, to cut down the runaway. The Maroons are 
ao encouraged by rewards to take up runaways. They carry fire- 
ans, and may shoot them if they resist. 

There is on every estate what the Negroes call a Hothouse or 
r spital, which a medical practitioner is expected to visit once or 
t\ce a week. The Negroes have generally a great dislike to 'being 
si t up in this Hothouse, where they are separated from the kind- 
n's of their friends, and would prefer being in their own houses, 
via though in a miserable state. 
Vhite women, who are owners of slaves, will, in general, without; 


any scruple, order their slaves to be flogged, and some of them will 
even stand by to see them stripped bare, and punished in the usual 
disgusting manner. 

Just before Mr. Cooper quitted the island, as he was walking in 
the streets cf Lucea, the port-town of Hanover parish, in company 
with the captain of the vessel in which he had taken his passage, 
they saw an old man who appeared to have been recently flogged. 
He was standing in the public street with his posteriors exposed and 
bleeding, and yet he seemed to excite no attention whatever from 
any one but Mr. Cooper and the captain. 

. Such is the unbiassed testimony of this respectable Christian mi- 
nister on the subject of Negro slavery, as it exists at the present 
time in our island of Jamaica. The statements he has made do 
not consist of instances of cruelty collected in a long series of years, 
or from different parts of the island; but they refer to one neigh- 
bourhood, and mostly to one estate ; and that estate, too, nol 
singled out for the harshness or inhumanity of its treatment, bui . 
such an estate as would be as likely as any other to have been se- 
lected in order to convey the most favourable representation o 
Negro bondage ; being an estate the owner of which is conspicuou 
for his benevolence, and seems sincerely desirous of sparing no ex 
pense to make his slaves as comfortable as circumstances will allow 
Do not these facts, therefore, furnish a strong presumption, we wil _ 
not say against the owners of slaves, but against the system whiel 
they administer, as incurably vicious, unless the British Parliament 
shall interfere to apply a remedy adequate to the occasion, by pav 
ing the way for a gradual emancipation, and in the mean time b 
abating the evils which will otherwise be found to be inseparabl 
from that degrading and disgusting state of society which exists i 
our West India islands ? 

The valuable statements of Mr. Cooper appear to us to posse; 
this great recommendation, that they are given (as may be moi 
clearly seen by a perusal of his papers in the Monthly Repository 
wif,h an admirable dispassionateness, and without the slightest fee 
ing of irritation towards the planters, whether proprietors or ove 
seers. On the contrary, with a candour that does him the highe 
honour, he becomes, in some respects, their apologist, attributii 
the evils which he specifies and deplores, and in this we entirelvcoi c 


cur with him, mainly to the system they are called to administer, 
rather than to any particular disposition, on their part, to administer 
it oppressively, or to abuse the tremendous power they possess. He 
conceives them to be forced, by circumstances, " to continue to 
whip on their unwilling gangs, as a postboy does his hacks from 
mile to mile/' What an idea does this single sentence convey of 
the nature of Negro slavery ! 

But, after all that can be said in favour of the slave-holders is 
admitted, we would ask, Is it possible to expect that such power as 
theirs should not be abused ? or that many of the men who possess 
it, and who are stated to experience little or no control from di- 
vine or human laws, should not be tyrannical, capricious, and cruel ? 
To suppose this, would be to suppose the planters of Jamaica to 
be angels, and not men. 


In the year 1 SI 7 Dr. Williamson published a work, in two vo- 
lumes 8vo, entitled " Medical and Miscellaneous Observations 
. relative to the West India Islands*, by John Williamson, M.D. 
Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, formerly 
Surgeon of the Caithness Highlanders, and late of Spanish Town, 
Jamaica." He dedicates this work to the Earl of Harewood, on 
whose estate of Williamsfield, in the parish of St. Thcmas in the 
Vale, Jamaica, he had lived for about four years in a professional 
capacity f. His residence in the island appears to have extended 
from August 179S to April 1812, a period of nearly fourteen years. 

The testimony of Dr. Williamson will be less liable to exception, 
in the estimation of West Indians, as he shows himself, on all oc- 
casions, a sturdy advocate of their system ; and when he finds fault 
with them, it is manifestly with extreme reluctance. He even 
hopes, by an exhibition of facts, to place in their true light the 
unfair representations of the enemies of the colonies, " the officious 
would-be friends" (as he calls them) "of humanity," who, he as- 
sures us, have only to " leave the Negroes to their own judgement, 
and to improvement by the wisely framed resolutions of their own 

* See an able review of this work in the Edinburgh Review, vol. xxviii. p. 340. 

f On this estate Dr. Williamson states, that every thing was conducted on princi- 
ples of liberality highly honourable to his lordship. He resided there free of expense, 
and every comfort was afforded him he could have wished for. Vol. i. p. 76, 


colonial assemblies," in order to their being " a happy people/' 
who will " fully appreciate the value of their superior condition." 
Vol. i. p. 338. — He sometimes expresses himself in terms almost 
approaching to rapture, when speaking of the condition of the Ne- 
groes in the West Indies ; nay, he even doubts whether the aboli- 
tion of the slave trade was not a great evil, inasmuch as it prevented 
the removal of Africans from a state of barbarism and misery, in 
their own land, to that state of civilization and improvement, a 
West Indian plantation ! (Vol. i. p. 3/1. ii. p. 332, &c. &c.) 

One of the blessings attending this removal he rather amusingly 
discovers to be, that "indolent, good-for-nothing Negroes," (and it 
seems there are many of these in Jamaica,) who, " if they were 
left to their own free wills, uncontrolled by wholesome laws which 
encourage industrious habits, would become idlers and piuuderers, 
and return to barbarism," (vol. i. p. 345.) here find the control of 
suck wholesome laws. In other words, their indolence finds a cure, 
and their industry an incentive in the ivholesome discipline of the 
cart-whip. In short, whenever Dr. W. speaks in general terms, 
he seems at a loss to find words strong enough in which to eu- 
logize the humanity and tenderness of West India proprietors and 
overseers. But let us come to particulars, in order to see how far 
his facts tend to contradict or to corroborate his panegyric ; and, 
that this may be better understood, we shall range our extracts 
from this work under the same general heads which we adopted va 
the case of Mr. Cooper's information. 

1. State of Morals and Religion. 

" The manner in wkich Sunday is spent," observes Dr. W., " will 
appear extraordinary, and very contradictory to the duties inculcated 
on that clay. A great market is kept by the Negroes, which is, in 
truth, also a market for the Whites. The merchants attend at 
their stores and counting-houses." (Vol. i. p. 42.) 

" The sacred observance of Sunday appears to me," he says, 
" necessary, if we expect any good effect from the commands ol 
God. In countries where the duties of that day are becomingly 
attended to, a greater proportion of virtue, &c. is to be observed 
On the contrary, where the Sabbath is violated, the manners of th( 
mass of the people are vicious, regardless of every commendablf 
principle, and afford examples of human depravity which, it is witl 

57 " 

reluctance I must say, is too applicable to that country (Jamaica). 
It is much to be wished, that the fourth commandment were more 
fully taken into consideration. It seems possible to do away Sunday 
markets, and cultivating the ground. Sugar-mills should not be 
at work on that day, indeed no labour allowed. It was appointed, 
by Divine authority, to be a day of rest and devotion, in which no 
work should be performed." (Vol. i. p. 108.) 

" It must be admitted," he goes on to remark, " that the means 
of religious instruction to Negroes, in Jamaica, are yet extremely 
defective ; and, it is still more painful to add, that the White in- 
habitants are culpably inattentive to public religious duties. It 
were well if that were all. Contempt for religion is openly avowed 
by a great proportioii of those to be met with in that country ." 
(Vol. i. p. 32S.) 

" The propriety of matrimony," he tells us, " is seldom impressed 
on the minds of the Negroes, by the clergy or any other White per- 
sons. Indeed, the latter, themselves, show the example of a libi- 
dinous course of life, and follow that promiscuous intercourse which 
can scarcely be justified in savages." (Vol. i. p. 329.) 

" At our parish-church, the people of Colour behaved themselves 
with the greatest propriety, but the White persons conducted them- 
selves with great indecency." — " It is impossible, however, to do 
any thing," (in the way of religious improvement,) " unless a be- 
coming observance of the Sabbath is enforced. At present, it is a 
day of labour, marketing, and exchange, and too often is concluded 
by scenes of excess and brutal debauchery . That system is autho- 
rized by the Whites. But until done away, and that, as an intro^ 
duction to Christian habits among the Negroes, nothing can be so 
futile as to attempt to reconcile Christianity with a violation" of one 
of its most important commandments." (Vol. i. p. 331.) 

" Such a state of things among a people arrogating to themselves 
the designation of Christians," he adds, " is of a nature so crimi- 
nal, that to that we may ascribe the destructive line of conduct 
followed by the Negroes, affecting their lives and health, and the 
ultimate interests of those who are the cause of these evils." — " No 
circumstance is, in my opinion, so adverse to the prevalence of 
Christianity among Negroes as the conduct of the White inhabi- 
tants, who treat the Sabbath with a violation of its most sacred 


duties, and make it, by the established customs of the island, a 
day of marketing, labour, dancing, and excesses of every kind." 
(Vol. ii. p. 285.) 

Sunday, Dr. W. conceives, is the only day on which instruction 
can be conveniently given. But " on that day the Negroes," he 
tells us, " are engaged in marketing and labour. They are thus 
taught to disobey the command which enjoins the observance of the 
Sabbath ; and it is impossible to suppose that a consistent impres- 
sion can be made on the minds of Negroes, where the slightest 
sagacity on their part must expose the absurdity. While the legis- 
lature of Jamaica does not provide that Sunday shall be a day of 
rest, and enforce attention to it, I cannot persuade myself to be- 
lieve their sincerity." (Vol. ii. p. 287.) 

Let us hear Dr. Williamson's testimony respecting another class 
of evils : — " A stranger is much surprised to observe the domestic 
attachments which many of the most respectable of the White inha- 
bitants form with females of Colour." — -" Among the Negroes, 
licentious appetites are promiscuously gratified ; and the truth re- 
quires that it should not be concealed, the Whites on estates follow 
the same habits, on many occasions, to a greater extent. Black 
or Brown mistresses are considered necessary appendages to every 
establishment : even a young bookkeeper, coming from Europe, is 
generally instructed to provide himself; and however repugnant 
may seem the idea at first, his scruples are overcome, and he con- 
forms to general custom." (Vol. i. pp. 42. 49.) 

Dr. Williamson, after enumeratinga variety of causes of disease 
to which the circumstances of the Negroes expose them, adds, 
" Feelings of humanity and interest concur to deplore that condition 
of moral turpitude which has proved the source of so many evils to 
that devoted country." — " That unrestrained habit of promiscuous 
intercourse, which almost universally prevails in Jamaica, is, in 
itself, an insuperablejbar to population." — " Negro women, in that 
unrestrained and corrupt line of conduct they are apt to pursue, on 
arriving at puberty, contract habits inimical to all decency, and 
particularly adverse to all probability of increasing numbers on the 
estate." He then proposes a plan for placing them under discreet 
superintendence, until married to persons of their own colour j and 
adds, somewhat obscurely, but with a dreadful significancy, u Such 


a- course would preclude that barbarous and violent line of conduct 
adopted on such occasions'."* (Vol. ii. pp. 131. 199.) 

From these, and similar causes, " the diseases of pregnancy," 
Dr. W. thinks, " are aggravated in Negro women. Abortion is so 
frequent as to lead to an opinion, that means are taken to procure it, 
on account of ill disposition f to their masters, and other barbarous 
reasons, for which there can be no excuse." — " Unless means are 
adopted to bring the women to civilized habits, it will undoubtedly 
follow that every year will discover a prodigious decrease in our 
Negro population." (Vol. ii. pp. 199, 200.) 

" An unlucky'" (what a singular epithet to employ on the occa- 
sion !) " an unlucky habit of debasement has established itself, by 
long custom on estates, of bookkeepers attaching themselves to 
mistresses, slaves on the estate," &c. (Vol. ii. p. 252.) 

But enough of this. 

2. General Treatment . 

" An imperfect, confused manner is adopted in Jamaica," Dr. 
Williamson informs us, " for providing suitably for sick Negroes 
in the Hothouse, or Hospital." 

'". The utmost" he can say in their favour is, " that in extreme 
cases, where dagger is represented, the most humane attentions 
are in general" rendered,' and nothing wanting which can conduce 
to comfort or recovery." — Chronic diseases, and lues, he says, are 
little attended to; and though it would be for the interest of the 
proprietors, and of humanity, if they were attended to, yet " any 
attempts at innovation are resisted." 

"If the practitioner were earnestly disposed to insist on his 
prescriptions and other instructions being obeyed, he would find 
his best efforts ineffectual ; and it would be better, on the whole, 

* This sentence furnishes one of the many instances which occur in Dr. William- 
son's book, of reluctant admissions, or dark intimations of evils, the combined result 
of profligacy and hard-heartedness (lust and cruelty) in persons armed with power, 
which, however intelligible they may be to his West Indian friends, can convey no 
very clear ideas to persons used only to the decencies and restraints of European 

\ One perceives, in such expressions as these, the influence of colonial society, 
even on a mind so humane and considerate as Dr. Williamson's. Thus, on another 
occasion, he tells us that the wretched slaves, who commit suicide, do so from being 
ill disposed to their masters. (Vol. i. p. 93.) 


by cultivating friendship with the overseer, to promote that object." 
In short, he confesses that ff the nature of medical practice was 
unsatisfactory on estates and plantations." He complains of over- 
seers dismissing patients from the Hospital, in opposition to the 
advice of the medical attendant; thus accounting for the many 
instances of irrecoverable venereal cases. The liberal and humane 
intentions of proprietors*, he further complains, are not carried 
into effect. He has had often to lament that his own well- 
considered prescriptions to subdue a chronic disease, and to restore 
an additional healthy labourer to his employer, (( were completely 
frustrated by the negligence of overseers." Dr. Williamson, in 
another place, specifies an instance where, in attempting the cure 
of a chronic complaint, which was proceeding favourably, " the 
unfortunate man was turned out to work by the overseer ; and, 
though he might labour for a while, would most probably become 
a victim to incurable disease." (Vol. i. pp. 55. 63. 65. 185.) 

" The Yawy Negroes," he further observes, i( on estates, seemed 
to me to be in a very neglected state. In the progress of disease, 
that maintenance was not afforded them which, with a view to 
cure, should be liberally dispensed. A disease, itself injurious to 
the constitution, is thus aggravated; whereas, if. nature were sup- 
ported by Jit diet, clothing, cleanliness, and comfortable hotising, 
she would work her own cure in most cases. An immense deal of 
labour is thus lost to the proprietor. But this is not all ; for, 
owing to patched up cures, there is a premature disappearance of 
the Yawy eruption, and the disease lies lurking in the system ; 
bone-aches attack the unfortunate Negro ; the master loses a valu- 
able servant ; and the servant drags on a miserable existence." — 
" The legislature has not interfered in this important matter." 
(Vol. i. p. 88.) 

" The great mortality among infants, the first two 'weeks after 
birth," ought, he says, to have secured " the notice of all engaged 
in plantation-interests, from the proprietor downwards." In St. 
Thomas in the Vale, " the loss of infants was great beyond what 
could be imagined." On inquiry, the bad management accounted 
to him for the mortality. (Vol. i. p. 130.) 

* It was while residing on the estate of the Earl of Harewood that Dr. Williamson 
penned these remarks; and though the remarks themselves are strong, yet how much 
more strong are the implications which they convey ! > 


" At Newhall estate, where tlie Negroes were indulged, and 
considered of dissipated habits, a great deal of bad health oc- 

" The hospitals on estates are much in want of hot and cold 
baths, which might be erected at a moderate expense. A plan 
had been given in some time before for that purpose j and the 
liberal proprietor of Newhall had directed his overseer to have it 
done: but his orders were not obeyed." (P. 155.) 

" It is painful for me to remark," observes the Doctor on 
another occasion, " that on an estate, a valuable Negro was pre- 
vented, by the commands of an overseer, from availing himself of 
medical prescriptions, while labouring under a pulmonic complaint. 
My opinion was given to the overseer, with a prescription. Several 
weeks after, the Negro met me. An increased illness was expressed 
by his general appearance, and he declared lie had neither received 
medicine nor indulgence, as I had directed. The consequences 
were, in a short time, fatal to a decent Negro, whose overseer 
could not deny him to have been a dutiful servant, and respectable 
in his station.* 

On another estate, " a woman, for a trivial offence, was con- 
fined in the stocks, in a cold room, night and day, and her life 
endangered by neglect." Again, " A pregnant woman was con- 
fined to the stocks for misconduct, and only liberated a few days 
before her delivery. Her health had suffered severely, and, after 
bringing a child, she discovered symptoms of puerperal fever, 
which terminated her existence in a few days." (Vol. i. p. 191.) 

Negroes are represented by Dr. Williamson as " very liable to 
affections of the mind, which produce diseases of various kinds." 
Among these Dr. Williamson reckons the mat d'estomac, or dirt- 
eating, which " when it has once established itself among a gang 
of Negroes, we cannot possibly calculate on the extent of its ravages. 
It has been observed, however," he adds, W that on estates where 
the Negroes are extremely comfortable, this disease is seldom, if 
ever, discovered." (Vol. ii. p. 261.) 

The professional pursuits of Dr. Williamson have, naturally 
enough, led his thoughts chiefly to the medical treatment of the 

* He speaks of another case of a female, where he promised himself success in 
the treatment : but he says, " The overseer wanted labour ; and in these circum- 
stances we must not attempt t& thwart the overseer/' (Vol. i. p. 249.) 


Negroes. It is to this point that his observations are principally 
directed. Still, much incidentally breaks out, which throws light 
on the prevailing spirit and tendency of the colonial system, as it 
affects the well-being of the slaves. Some of the following ex- 
tracts, however, from Dr. Williamson's work, have a more general 
bearing : — 

" The overseer of an estate indulged a disposition to amorous 
connection with a handsome Negro woman, the adopted wife of a 
Negro cooper, with whom she had lived as such for some time. 
She was the mother of children to her husband, and they lived 
together in a comfortable way. The woman declared herself un- 
willing to indulge the overseer in a wish so injurious to her hus- 
band's happiness : but his -orders were to be obeyed, and she 
yielded to his desires ; and he aggravated the act by insisting that 
she should altogether live with him. It is painful to me to be 
obliged to add, that the woman's husband became the object of his 
resentment. He was annoyed for having expressed discontent at 
such an invasion of his happiness. His life became a burden ; and 
though his wife was the companion of the overseer's bed, plots for 
his destruction were contemplated by the woman and her injured 
husband." Arsenic was mixed in lemonade for the overseer. He 
perceived the metallic taste, and did not drink of it ; but a book- 
keeper took a draught of it, which produced uneasy sensations ; 
but a brisk emetic being administered, prevented fatal' - conse- 
quences. After an inquiry, iS it was pretty clearly ascertained, 
that the Negro woman, seduced from her husband, had mixed the' 
dose," hoping that the overseer would have been " the just object 
of vengeance, by forfeiting his life." (Vol. i. p. 374.) 

Dr. Williamson proceeds no further with the story. He does 
not inform us what became either of the Negroes or of the over- 
seer. It was due to the character of the country to have stated 
this. In a subsequent part of his work, (vol. ii. p. 201.) he again 
briefly adverts to the occurrence^ but without attempting to satisfy 
our curiosity as to the fate of the parties concerned. He founds on 
it indeed a salutary monition to Whites, against pursuing the gra- 
tification of their Uc.entious appetites, by the exercise of authority; 
and states it as his opinion, that nothing operates more injuriously 
on the comfort of the Negro women than such cruel invasions of 
their domestic enjoyments. (Vol. ii. p. 201.) 


Dr. Williamson remarks, " that where corporal punishment is 
least exercised, that property is always under the best manage- 
ment." And he recommends that, in all cases of punishment, 
" the Negro's name, his crime, the extent of punishment and of 
confinement, should be regularly entered in a book, and that no 
overseer, or person under his authority, should inflict any punish- 
ment which should not thus be brought within notice, or punish a 
Negro in any shape, but in the presence of a White man belonging 
to the estate,* whose name must be entered in the book ; the 
whole to be sworn to by the overseer." (Vol. i. p. 193.) 

He afterwards recurs to this subject, and is so impressed with 
the injurious nature of the punishments which it is in the power of 
overseers to inflict, that he recommends that they should take 
place, " if possible, in the presence of the plantation-doctor, who 
should be empowered to limit the extent of punishment." (Vol. ii. 
p. 219.) 

We shall make orrlv one extract more under this head. 

" An abuse," observes our author, " at present existing on 
some properties, is arming the drivers with power to inflict punish- 
ment in the field." — i( When punishment is inflicted by flogging, 
the limit should not be extended above 39 lashes, which the over- 
seer is only empowered to inflict by law. It cannot, however, be 
denied that this limit is often out-done, and by repeatedly punish- 
ing offenders the parts become insensible to the lacerations which 
tear up the skin. When that barbarous consequence is arrived at, 
the infliction of the lash becomes a matter of indifference to the 
unfortunate Negro, and new sources of torture must be found out 
by which the commission of crime may be checked. It can 
scarcely be necessary. to add, that such a condition of torpor in the 
parts to which punishment is applied can never be justified on any 
pretext ; and I blush to reflect that White men should be the di- 
rectors of such disgraceful deeds. Opinions have been given that 
it would be well altogether to do away the possession of a large 
heavy whip from the driver's hands ; and whether we consider 
the frightful sound which reaches our ears every minute in passing 

* This recommendation is obviously intended by Dr. "Williamson to supply some 
remedy for that principle of colonial lav/, which excludes the evidence of slaves from 
being received, in cases affecting persons of free condition. 


through estates, by the crack of the lash ; or the power with 
which drivers are provided to exercise punishment ; it would be 
desirable that such a weapon of arbitrary and unjust authority 
were taken from them. It is at present customary to crack the 
whip to turn out the gangs, at stated hours, to the field. When a 
Negro seems to be tardy at his work, the driver sounds the lash 
near him, or lets him feel it as lie thinks proper." * From all this 
the " impression made upon the passenger, who is probably a 
stranger, is horrible indeed." — " Every consideration of humanity 
and policy points out that the frequent infliction of the heavy 
whip to cut up and lacerate severely" is improper. " That ex- 
treme punishment f, if awarded, should be only admitted on occa- 
sions of very aggravated crime ; and it would be well, even under 
these circumstances, not to inflict it on the single opinion of any 

" By abandoning the severity of punishment, unless in cases of 
very aggravated transgression, the condition of the Negroes will be 
immensely improved. A Negro, subjected to frequent and severe 
punishment, has an appearance and manner by which he is easily 
known. If, in a warm day, we pass by a gang vihen they are un- 
covered behind, it is a reproach to every White man to observe in 
them the recently lacerated sores, or the deep furrows, which though 
healed up, leave the marks of cruel punishment. If the manag e- 
ment of Negroes can be conducted without such unperishing tes- 
timonials of uncalled-for cruelty, let not future crimes disgrace us, 
and let our future humanity towards them compensate for the past." 
(Vol. ii. pp. 222, 225.) 

* Speaking of the driving system, Dr^ Williamson observes* in rather an obscure 
way, that " however much it may be the wish of proprietors and attorneys of estates 
to condemn every step which tends to bear down the Negro incapable of the usual 
labour of the healthy, it is too true that due consideration is not sometimes givea to 
this point. The interests of proprietors are thus sacrificed to a barbarous poticy. 
On estates this fault is not so common as in jobbing-gangs ; but in both the crime is 
equally culpable, and inimical to their true policy." (Vol. ii. p. 223.) 

Now the plain English of this passage we take to be, that on sugar-estates, but 
still more in jobbing-gangs, the weaker part of the gang are sometimes over-driven, 
by the impulse of the lash, in order to keep up with the stronger. 

f What Dr. Williamson justly calls extreme punishment it is nevertheless in the 
power of every overseer to inflict summarily, at his own discretion, for any fault, or 
for no fault at all. 

-3, Miscellaneous Observations. 

General remarks are rare in the work of Dr. Williamson, nine- 
tenths of it being devoted to medical facts and comments ; but such 
as we have been able to glean, we shall now give. 

"The constitution of this island," the Doctor tells us, te in its 
political establishment, renders it necessary to keep up distinctions 
in society, ivhich exclude all persons of Colour from admission into 
that of Whites. This exception at first appears extraordinary ; 
but some consideration will point out its necessity." Dr. W. does 
not, however, inform us of the process by which he arrived at this 
conclusion, nor does he explain why distinctions in society should 
attach to colour exclusively. 

After speaking of a certain gang of Negroes, who had been pur- 
chased at the Marshal's sales, and who, having been seized and sold 
for payment of their master's debts, had, of course, been forcibly 
separated from their connections in different parts of the island, he 
states that medical care was lavished on them in vain. " Depres- 
sion of mind spread among them." — " They candidly confessed that 
death was their wish." He then goes on to observe as follows : 
" Negroes anticipate that they will, upon death removing them 
from that country, be restored to their native land, and enjoy their 
friends' society in a future state. The ill-disposed to their masters 
will sometimes be guilty of suicide, or, by a resolute determination, 
resort to dirt-eating, and thus produce disease, and, at length, 
death. It is often necessary to check that spirit ; and as Ne- 
groes imagine that, if decapitation be inflicted after death, the trans- 
ition to their native country cannot follow, a humane principle 
leads the proprietor to have the head of such a Negro placed in 
some prominent situation ; and this has been found a salutary mode 
of deterring the rest from conduct so destructive." (Vol. i. p. 93.) 

The Marshal's sales spoken of above, Dr. W. informs us, take 
place at Spanish Town, which is the seat of the courts of justice for 
the county of Middlesex ; and he speaks of the practice, though 
; conformable to the existing laws, as being the hardest and the most 
irreconcileable to a feeling mind that can be conceived. He then 
indulges in we know not what day-dreams of the early abolition of 
this power of seizing a Negro, with as little ceremony as an ox or a 



cask of sugar, and selling him to pay his owner's debts. Six jears 
have since elapsed, and the practice still exists, in every British 
slave- colony, in all its horror. 

Dr. Williamson speculates, with equal good nature, on the happy 
effects which the humanity of colonists and of colonial legislatures 
will infallibly derive from that, in his view, very questionable measure 
of policy, the abolition of the Slave-trade : and, we fear, with some- 
thing of a like result. ""Those who had the barbarity" (it seems 
there were such) " to count on supplies of slaves from Africa, at the 
expense of the Negroes already in their possession, working them 
severely, clothing and. feeding them imperfectly, will now find> it 
their policy to take good care of Negroes for selfish reasons. For 
some time after I went to Jamaica, it was customary on a few pro- 
perties," (he does not say on what proportion of those he was ac- 
quainted with,) (< not to encourage the rearing of children, on account 
of the loss of labour incurred by the mother's confinement, and the 
time afterwards required in rearing the infant." But now " pro- 
prietors and attorneys," (he says nothing of the overseers of non-re- 
sident proprietors, by far the most numerous class, and who exer- 
cise a more decided influence on the happiness and increase of the 
Negro popuiation than any other,) but now " proprietors and at-' 
torneys will increase their exertions to protect Negroes. On every 
property, inducements will be held out to encourage the propagation 
of children, which would be materially promoted by introducing 
marriage among them." (Vol. i. p. 372.) 

This grand and indispensable mean, however, of encouraging: 
population, has not yet been introduced by these proprietors and- 
attorneys, on whose enlightened humanity Dr. Williamson x is dis- 
posed to place so generous and unbounded a reliance : his warning: 
was given five or six years ago, and has hitherto produced no effect. \ 


J. M. is the son of a respectable tradesman in London, who, 
wishing to do something for himself, went out, about the beginning 
of the last year, 1822, to the island of Jamaica, to be a book-keeper 
on Bushy Park estate, in the parish of St. Dorothy's ; a large es- 
tate, belonging to a wealthy and liberal proprietor, and which has 

' 67 

the reputation of being managed as well or rather better than 
usual *. He had no complaint whatever to make against the owner, 
attorney, or overseer, for any harsh or unkind treatment of himself; 
but the state of things he found there was so grating to his feelings, 
that he could not have remained, even though his health had been 
quite unaffected, which, however, was not the case ; and after a few 
weeks' residence on the estate, he resolved to return to England, in 
which he met with no opposition. His statement is as follows : 

" The slaves on the estate were constantly attended by drivers 
with cart or cattle whips, which they were in the habit of using as. 
here carmen use their whips on horses ; and occasionally one or 
more slaves were ordered out of the line of work, laid prostrate on 
the ground, and received a few lashes (from two or three to ten) on 
their posteriors, for no other offence that he could perceive or ever 
heard of but that of being indolent, or lagging at their work, or 
being late. He saw a few working with iron-collars round their 
necks, connected with each other by a chain ; a punishment which, 
he understood, was usually inflicted for running away, and continued 
sometimes for several weeks. The huts of the slaves were very in- 
different, and almost destitute of furniture. On Sunday they either 
attended market, or worked in their own grounds; but none went, 
or were expected to go, to any church or place of worship ; nor did 
he ever see or hear of any instruction, religious or otherwise, being 
bestowed upon them. Many of the slaves had women living with 
them as their wives ; but as for marriage being used, either as a 
means of civilization or for any other purpose, he never even heard 
the word mentioned as it respected them. He understood that the 
While servants were not allowed to take those women who so lived 
with particular men ; but as for any others, they not only chose 
and took such as pleased them, but they were expected to do it as a 
matter of course. Accordingly, he was invited to follow the ge- 
neral practice, the very first day he arrived on the estate, in a 
spare house, kept for the occasional use of persons coming thither 
for a few days, were women whom he understood to be at the service 
of whoever came to occupy the apartments, and two of them were 
spoken of as the children of a former proprietor. 

" But little provisions appeared to him to be given to the slaves. 

* New Hall Estat8 (see p. somewhere about 62.) also belongs to him. I 



Herrings and such fish, rather as sauce than as food, were given 
them. But they had grounds allotted them, and the Sunday, 
throughout the year, for their cultivation, with every or every other 
Saturday out of crop-time (the practice on this head differing) ; and 
while strong and in good health, this he thought might do very 
well. But in crop- time (on some estates nearly half the year) they 
could have very little leisure or inclination to work for themselves, 
being often greatly fatigued by extra night-work and watching. He 
understood that, by the law of Jamaica, only thirty- nine lashes could 
be given at once ; but he was told, on the spot, that an overseer could 
easily, when so disposed, evade it." 

The agreement of the three witnesses who have been produced, in 
all material points, must appear remarkable, especially when it is 
remembered that they resided on different parts, widely removed 
from each other, of the same island. Mr. Cooper resided on the , 
north side of the island, the last-cited witness on the south side, 
and Dr. Williamson, while engaged in plantation-duty, nearly in the 
centre of it. But we have a fourth witness to bring forward. 


In the month of January, 1816, there appeared in a periodical 
work (the same which afterwards contained the review of Hall and 
Fearon, inserted above,) an article entitled " Review of the Reasons , 
for establishing a Registry of Slaves." In that article there occurred 
the following statement, viz. : — 

" It is among the many opprobrious peculiarities of the West 
India system, that it has created a legal presumption in favour of 
slavery; so that every person in the islands, who does not boast a 
pure European descent, is, in all judicial proceedings, assumed to 
be a slave, until he can prove himself to be a freeman. 

"When the importations of African Negroes into our colonies 
commenced, and for some years after that period, it was, doubtless, 
the fact that a Black complexion was the certain indication of a 
servile condition. It was then probably true, without one excep- 
tion, that every African who was found in a British settlement had 
been previously reduced bv violence to a state of bondage. The 


West Indies possess a written and an unwritten law. Their statute- 
book contains the former: usage, of an origin comparatively mo- 
dern, is the sole foundation of the colonial lex nonscripla. En- 
glish lawyers would, we apprehend,' vehemently dispute the validity 
of this whole body of traditionary West Indian law ; but difficulties 
of this kind are not much regarded in the supreme courts of Ja- 
maica or Barbadoes. Relying on customs which have had their 
birth far within the date of legal memory, it is the doctrine of those 
tribunals, that the offspring of a female slave necessarily inherit the 
terrible condition of their mother. In the earlier times of our co- 
lonial history, it was, after this principle had been once established, 
probably true, that Mulattoes as well as Negroes were really in a 
state of slavery. The mixture of European with Africau blood 
could not vary their condition, for that they derived ex parte mi- 
terna, and a White mother of Mulatto children was probably never 
seen in the West Indian islands. If, therefore, manumissions had 
never been introduced into our colonies, or if free Blacks had never 
migrated thither from Great Britain, or other countries, or if a time 
had never arrived when the importation of the natives of Africa 
was declared illegal, it would have been strictly true, that a Negro 
and his remotest posterity were necessarily slaves, and the legal 
presumption of the servile condition of such persons would have 
been fairly supported by the real state of the case. 

" But the emancipations by purchase, by grant, and by will, have 
been in use from a time little posterior to the origin of the Slave- 
trade ; and though during the last nine years it is the admitted fact 
that large numbers of African Negroes have been liberated in our 
colonies by the operation of the abolition-laws, yet, strange to say, 
the courts of justice of every one of the islands continue to act on 
this cruel legal presumption, with as little attention to the case of 
manumitted and free Negroes, as if such a class of society had not 
existed. As the law at present stands, if a White person asserts a right 
to hold his fellow-creature in perpetual slavery, the burden of proof 
lies, not on the asserted owner, but on the alleged bondsman. He 
is required, at the peril of the most severe personal affliction to 
which men can be subjected in this world, to prove a negative ; to 
show that he is not a slave. In making this proof, he is, by an- 
other most iniquitous principle of law, excluded from producing as 
evidence in his favour the testimony of any of that class of society^ 


the Black or Coloured slave population, to whom alone his right 
to freedom and the grounds of it may often be known. In Bar- 
badoes, and till the year 1S13 hi Jamaica also, he^ was even un- 
able to summon, as witnesses, the few persons of his own com- 
plexion with whom alone he can ever associate, and on his descent 
from whom his title to liberty frequently depends. If manumitted 
in the colonies, the loss of the deed of enfranchisement would de- 
stroy the only evidence by which his claim could be substantiated. 
Or should he be among the number of those recently imported from 
Africa, and restored by the Abolition-act to freedom, his ignorance 
of the language of the country, to which he has been removed, would 
of itself prevent his asserting his right to that inestimable blessing ; 
nay, even if he were born in this happy island, and had the un- 
happiness to visit our West Indian colonies, he would be liable to be 
seized as a runaway, and sold into perpetual bondage, for want of 
a deed of manumission, which, under the circumstances of his birth, 
he could never have possessed. 

" Such is the law, and such also is the daily practice of British 
colonies. It is not merely the individual European claimant, but 
the State itself, the Crown of Great Britain, as represented by 
the Executive Government of its colonies, which continually holds 
the miserable descendants of Africa to this dreadful probation. 
Let any man take in his hands a file of Jamaica newspapers ; one 
will scarcely be found without numerous advertisements to the fol- 
lowing effect : ' Whereas , a man of Colour, who asserts himself 

to be free, has been committed to the public gaol of ■ ; notice • 

is hereby given, that unless within — days the said shall I 

satisfactorily prove his title to freedom, or shall be claimed by his 
lawful owner, he will, at the expiration of that time, he sold for 
the benefit of the public.' This we assert to be the exact sub- 
stance of advertisements which frequently appear in the West In- 
dian Gazettes ; and any man who will take the trouble of looking 
into them, may satisfy himself of the fact. Nor is this shameless 
public insult on national justice unsanctioned by law. There is not 
an island in which this course of proceeding is not expressly autho- 
rized, in the case of persons taken up and committed on suspicion 
of being runaway slaves ; persons, that is to say, who are found in 
any of the colonies without a master, and without \)\e legal proofs 
of their freedom. 


" Nor let it be imagined that such cases are merely supposititious 
or of unfrequent occurrence. The Royal Gazette of Jamaica itself 
— the island whose pretensions to the character of justice and 
mercy, in its legislative acts, are sounded loudly in our ears— need 
only to be opened, in order to furnish numerous cases of the most 
aggravated description. We have now before us the file of that 
paper for 1815 ; and we will give a specimen or two of the evidence 
which it furnishes. On the 20th May, 1815, we find the following 
specification of persons confined in the common gaols of the island 
as runaways : — 

" George Thomas, an American ; says he is free, but has no do- 
cument thereof. 

" Samuel Menderson, a Portuguese Creole (no mark, &e.) ; 
says he is free, but has no document thereof. 

" Joseph, a native of St. Domingo (no brand-mark, &c.) ; says 
he is free : to be detained until he proves his freedom. 

" Willian Kelly, a Creole ; says he is free : to be detained until 
his freedom is proved. 

"John Francis; says he is a native of Curagoa, and that he is 
free, but can show no document thereof. There are marks of flog- 
ging on his back, which he says he got on board the Hebe frigate. 

" Thomas Hall ; says he is free. 

"Antonio Belfour, a Sambo; says he is an American, and that 
he is free. 

" David Barrow, a Samboo ; says he was born at Barbadoes, and 
that he is free. 

" Alexander Antonio ; says he is a Spaniard, and that he is free. 

"John Rose, an American Sambo, a sailor; says he is free. 

" Antonio Moralles, a Creole, of the island of St. Thomas ; says 
he is free, but has no document thereof : came here as carpenter of 
the schooner Sparrow. 

" In the very last paper which arrived from Jamaica, that of the 
18th November, 1815, we find the following insertions in the gaol- 
lists, viz. : — 

"John Dixon, a Creole ; says he is free, but has no document 
thereof. < 

" John Messar ; says he is free, but has no document thereof. 
" Edward Brian Wardins, a Mulatto Creole ; says he is free, but 


has no other document than a pass signed John Wardms, who says 
that he is his son, and was born free. 

" William Bennett, a Creole; says he is free, but has no document 

"The Gazette of each week exhibits similar and not less nume- 
rous instances. 

" Here let it be recollected, that all the individuals in the above 
list (and these form, probably, not a tithe of the cases of precisely 
the same nature which have appeared in the Royal Gazette of Ja- 
maica during the last year alone) allege that they are free. There 
is no contrary allegation ; they are not claimed by any one as 
slaves. And yet because they cannot produce documentary evidence 
of their freedom, (a species of evidence which, perhaps, they never 
could have possessed, or may have lost,) they are, after a certain 
time, by the fiat of the Jamaica Legislature, to be sold to the best 
bidder, precisely as strayed horses or mules which have been impound- 
ed, but not claimed, would be sold ; and the proceeds of this sale, 
(the price of blood !) after defraying the gaol expenses, are to be 
paid into the treasury of the island. Is it possible for an Englishman 
to contemplate such a state of things as this without horror ? and 
are we not bound, in the sight of God and man, to provide an ade- 
quate remedy ? " 

One would naturally have imagined that so cruel and oppressive 
a system as this could hardlv have been exposed to the view of the 
British Parliament and public without leading to inquiry at least, 
if not to some measures of a remedial nature. Seven years, how- 
ever, have elapsed since the above exposition of this great and cry- 
ing evii, and no step whatever has been taken to abate it. Charity 
might suggest that this otherwise unaccountable omission may have 
arisen from ignorance or inadvertence. West Indians, in this 
country especially, may not have, been aware of the true state of 
the case, and they may never have seen the article from which the 
above extract has been taken. There is, however, the most deci- 
sive proof to the contrary. On the 19th June, 1816, Mr. Palmer, 
himself a Jamaica planter, and a leading and influential person among 
the West Indians, quoted largely from this very article, in a speech 
of great length and ability which he made in the House of Com- 
mons, on an occasion to which we shall hereafter find it necessary 

to advert. The article was therefore weU known to him. But 
although the very address to the King which Mr. Palmer then 
moved, in his preface to which he particularly referred to this 
article, prayed His Majesty "to carry into effect every measure 
, tending to promote the moral and religious improvement, as well 
as the comfort and happiness, of the Negroes," it is the fact, 
that the evil in question remains to this day without any effectual 
redress. To this very day, every Black or Coloured person in the 
British West Indies is assumed to be a slave, unless he can adduce 
legal proof of his being free. 

The evidence of the existence of this principle, not merely in 
some statute which it might be alleged was obsolete and inoperative, 
but in active and constant operation, was then drawn from the 
Royal Gazette of Jamaica. From the same respectable and 
authentic source we derive the proof, that, up to this day, the 
same principle continues still to be maintained in law, and acted 
upon in practice. 

From the Royal Gazette of September, 1822, we extract the 
following notices of persons taken up, and confined as runaways, 
viz. : — 

lk In St. Andrew's work-house, Robertson, a Mandingo ; says he 
is a discharged soldier, of the second West India regiment, and 
that he is free.'" 

" In St. James's work -house, Joseph Lee, a Creole ; no appa- 
rent hrand-mark* : says he is free, but has no document thereof." 

In Spanish-Town work-house, Edward Quin, a native of Mont- 
serrat, elderly; no mark : says he is free, but no document." 

" In Clarendon work-house, Harry, a Creole; formerly be- 
longed to Mr. George, who died before the Maroon war (1797); 
has had no owner since : grey-headed." 

But what proof is there that these persons were actually sold ? 
We can adduce no evidence on this point. These persons may, 
for aught we know, have been able, before the period of their im- 
prisonment expired, to establish their freedom by legal proof. But 
1 if they were unable to do this, it would only have been following 
the course prescribed by the law, to sell them, by public auction, 

* Slaves are -very frequently marked with the owner's name, like sheep or cattle, 
The operation is performed with a heated brand. 


as slaves. Of this fact the very numbers of the Gazette which have 
supplied the above extracts furnish evidence. We observe in it the 
following advertisement : — 

" Westmorland Work-house, Aug. 27, 1822. 

" Notice is hereby given, that unless the under-mentioned slave 
is taken out of this work-house prior to the 22d October next, he 
will on that day, between the hours of ten and twelve in the fore- 
noon, be put up to public sale, and sold to the best bidder, agree- 
ably to the work-house law in force, for payment of his fees : viz. 
John Williams, five feet nine inches and a half high, no Irand- 
mark ; says he is a Maroon of Charles-Town, whereof John 
March, Esq. is superintendant, but which is supposed to he false, 
as he is apparently a foreigner by his speech. He had for some 
time been seen skulking near Glasgow estate, in this parish." 

The following names and descriptions are appended to similar 
advertisements, viz. : — 

" Kingston work-house. — Mary Johnson, an aged Creole ; no 
Irand-mark : says she belonged to William Johnson, a Maroon, 
who has been dead eight years; since which she has maintained 

" Spanish-Town work-house. — Joe, a French Creole; no brand: 
very black : says he belongs to his father and mother in St. 

" Clarendon work-house. — Robert, an Eboe, elderly ; belonged 
to Mr. Macbean, who died some time ago; has no owner at 

Now, is it possible to conceive a more tremendous instrument of 
oppression than the power which the laws of the West Indies con- 
vey, to every man in the community, of thus treating as slaves and 
criminals all whose countenance indicates that they are of African 
descent, or that they have African blood in their veins; of imprisoning 
them as runaways, and of having them afterwards sold into a per- 
petual bondage, where they, and in the case of women their off- 
spring too, may wear out their wretched lives under the cattle-whip ? 
As those who take up runaways, and commit them to a work-house, 
are entitled to a reward for this service, it is obvious that there 


exists a strong temptation to abuse this power. Any needy ruffian, 
to whom a few dollars are an object, may first rob a poor wretch of 
his document of freedom, and then commit him as a runaway. 
Besides, what a fearful tenure it is by which to hold that precious 
possession of personal liberty, that if the certificate of it, which a 
man ought to have in his possession, shall have been lost by acci- 
dent, or consumed by fire, or stolen, or destroyed by the various 
insects which abound in tropical climates, he shall be exposed to 
this appalling risk !< But how many free Black and Coloured per- 
sons may reside in our islands, or be led to visit them, who may be 
hi this predicament; or who may be ignorant of the requisitions 
of this cruel law; or who may never have had the means of esta- 
blishing their freedom by documentary evidence ! They may have 
been born and liberally educated in England. They may have mi- 
grated thither from one or other of the numerous provinces of 
North or South America. They may have been liberated under 
the Abolition-acts. They may have served in the navy or army of 
Great Britain, and may have bled in fighting her battles. But if 
they have either never had such a document of freedom as West 
Indians have pronounced legal; or, having had it, have lost it, 
they are liable to undergo the merciless and relentless operation of 
the work-house law : and after having remained in confinement for 
some months, they may then be put up to auction and sold into ir- 
remediable bondage, the proceeds to be applied first to the payment 
of their fees, and when that end is answered ( proh pudor I ) tore- 
plenishing His Majesty's treasury ! ! ! — Comments would only weaken 
the effect which the bare statement of such facts is calculated to 

* It might be thought disingenuous not to notice in this place the assertion of the 
Jamaica Assembly, that persons thus taken up as runaways are allowed to establish 
their liberty by the process called hondne replcgiando, a provision to that effect having 
been introduced into their last consolidated slave-act. But it may be sufficient to 
remark, that this process still leaves upon the alleged slave the burden of proving his 
freedom. To those who wish to examine this question more fully in all its legal 
bearings, we would particularly recommend a pamphlet, published by Butterworth in 
1816, and entitled " A Defence of the Bill for the Registration of Slaves, by James 
Stephen, Esq., in Letters to William Wilberforce, Esq. ; Letter the Second." The, 
whole subject will be there found fully and most luminously discussed at p. 25 — l?l 
The discussion is particularly deserving of the attention of professional gentlemen. 


Having now detailed the evidence which it was our design to 
exhibit, in illustration of the more prominent features of Negro 
slavery, as it actually exists at the present day in our own colonies, 
and particularly in Jamaica, we shall not exhaust the patience of 
our readers, nor weaken the effect of the preceding statements, by 
any lengthened observations of our own. We beg, however, to be 
permitted to subjoin a few brief remarks. 

During upwards of thirty years we have heard many boasts 
made, both in pamphlets and in parliamentary speeches, of the im- 
provements that have taken place in the condition of the Negro slave; 
and we were led to indulge a hope, that assertions so confidently 
made, and so constantly repeated, must have had some foundation 
on which to rest. On looking narrowly, however, into the facts of 
the case, we have met with nothing to sustain that hope. We 
have not been able to discover any substantial amelioration in the 
nature of the slavery of the present day, when compared with that 
which, from the evidence adduced before the Privy Council and 
Parliament in the years 17S8 — 1791, we learn to have then pre- 
vailed. The slavery of both periods appears to us to be identically 
the same state of existence. 

We do not mean to deny that many, perhaps very many, individual 
planters, as Mr. Hibbert and others, may have been induced, by the 
discussions which have taken place, and by their own benevolent feel- 
ings, to act a more liberal and indulgent part towards their slaves 
than formerly. Neither do we mean to affirm that the influence of 
public opinion, excited by the public agitation of the subject, has had 
no effect in restraining the abuses of power. What we mean to 
affirm is, that during the sixteen years which have followed the 
abolition of the Slave-trade ; nay, during the thirty-five years 
which have elapsed since the condition of Negro slavery has be- 
come a topic of controversy in this country, that unhappy state of 
being has undergone no real or substantial improvement whatever — 
no improvement, that is to say, which does not depend, we may 
say wholly, on the dispositions and conduct of the proprietor, or of 
his delegated agent, for the time being. 

We admit that various colonial acts have been framed, professing 
to improve the condition of the slave 5 but they have been generally 


inefficient to their professed object, whatever other purpose they 
may have served. Of the Curates' Act of Jamaica, for example, 
Mr. Cooper informs us, that he had heard it repeatedly declared, 
that it was il intended for England, and not for Jamaica;" for, he 
adds, " it must have been knoiun before it was passed, that under 
the peculiar circumstances existing there, such a law could have no 
tendency to improve the condition of the slaves." So, with re- 
gard to the Register Act of the same island, it is impossible to 
read it without perceiving that it is inoperative to the main ends for 
which chiefly a registration of slaves was proposed*. 

It is true, also, that the leaders of the West India body hi Par- 
liament have stood forward, at different times, as the advocates of 
measures of amelioration. 

In 1797, Mr. Charles Ellis moved an address to His Majesty, 
praying him to call on the different colonial legislatures to adopt 
such measures as should " appear to them best calculated to obviate 
the causes which have hitherto impeded the natural increase of the 
Negroes already in the islands, gradually to diminish the necessity 
of the Slave-trade, and ultimately to lead to its complete termi- 
nation ; and particularly, with a view to the same effect, to employ 
such means as may conduce to the moral and religious improve- 
ment of the Negroes, and secure to them throughout all the British 
West India islands the certain, immediate, and active protection of 
the law." 

All the West Indians then in Parliament supported this motion; 
and although they were considered by the abolitionists as wrong in 
expecting any effective measures of reform from the colonial legis- 
latures, yet they had at least credit given them for good intentions. 
It afterwards, however, came out, somewhat awkwardly, that one of 
the chief movers in this business had held a different language in his 
confidential correspondence with the local authorities, from what 
he held in Parliament. There the West Indians professed to make 
the amelioration of the condition of the slaves and the abolition of 
the Slave-trade their ultimate objects. In the correspondence, 
however, which was evidently not intended to see the light, an 
effort was made to conciliate the acquiescence of the colonists, by 

* See," A Review of the Colonial Slave Registration Acts," printed for Hatchard 
in 1820. 

78 ; , 

assuring them that the main object of tlw motion was (not, what it 
professed, to terminate the Slave-trade, and improve the condition 
of the slaves, but), as it was expressed by Sir William Young, in 
a circular letter addressed to influential persons in the West Indies, 
(i to stop for the present, and gradually to supersede the very 
pretensions at a future period, to a measure of direct abolition by 
the mother country, — a measure which would blast the root of all 
our settlements of property ; change the foundation of every be- 
quest, loan, and security ; turn every mortgage into an annuity on 
the lives of the Negroes; institute a general system of foreclosure; 
and, depreciating our estates, preclude all immediate resources, and 
ruin every interest'*." 

Nor were the resolutions of the Committee of the West Indian 
body in London, which accompanied the above letter, less explicit. 
They state, that " unless some plan of regulation shall be brought 
forward" by the colonies themselves, " many persons of weight and 
character," seeing no alternative proposed which is ff at all com- 
patible with their ideas of humanity," u will feel themselves under 
the necessity" of supporting the measures of Mr. Wilberforce. 
" That, consequently, for the joint purposes of opposing the plan 
of Mr. Wilberforce, and establishing the character of the [Vest 
India Body, it is essential that they should manifest their willing- 
ness to promote actively the cause of humanity, by such steps as 
shall be consistent with safety to the property of individuals, and 
the general interests of the colonies." (See House of Commons' 
papers, ordered to be printed, 8th June, 1804, marked H. Lee- 
ward Islands, No. 119.) 

The West India Committee, or rather their organ, Sir W. Young, 
having neglected in express terms to enjoin secrecy on their cor- 
respondents abroad, these confidential communications were re- 
corded, by the legislatures of St. Vincent's and of the Leeward 
Islands, as the basis of their proceedings, and as such they made 
their appearance unexpectedly on the table of the House of 

In consequence of this correspondence, some, but not all, of 
the colonial legislatures were induced so far to yield a decent com- 

* It is needless to say that these were vain fears, and that the West Indies have, in 
fact, been saved from these frightful consequences, by the very measure which was then 
as vehemently opposed by the Planters, as the reforms which it is now proposed to effect. 

79 i 

pliance with the Royal requisition, as to pass what they called 
meliorating acts. These, however, have generally, we may say 
universally, proved a dead letter. The Governor of Dominica, 
General Prevost, when called upon by the Secretary of State, Earl 
Camden, in his circular letter of the 4th of October 1804, to 
specify what had been their effect in that island, replied, that 
" from the many years I have passed in the West Indies, and as a 
resident in most of the colonies, I may venture to represent to Your 
Lordship the legislature of Dominica as distinguished by the laws 
, it has passed, for the encouragement, protection, and government 
of slaves ; but I am sorry I cannot add, that they are as reli- 
giously observed as you could wish." — As for " the act of the 
legislature, c An Act for the Encouragement, Protection, and better 
Government of Slaves,' it appears to have been considered, from 
the day it was passed, until this hour, as a political measure to 
avert the interference of the mother -country in the management 
of slaves. Having said this, Your Lordship will 'not be surprised 
to learn that the seventh clause* of that bill has been wholly neg- 

In other cases the avowal of the motives was not so explicit, but 
in all the return was NiL.f 

In , June 1816, Mr. Palmer, an eminent planter of Jamaica, 
moved in the House of Commons, as chairman of the West India 
body? another address to the Crown, praying, among other things,. 
that His Majesty would be graciously pleased " to recommend, in 
the strongest manner, to the local authorities in the respective 
colonies, to carry into effect every measure which may tend to 
promote the moral and religious improvement as well as the com- 
fort and happiness of the Negroes." One effect of this motion was 
to frustrate Mr. Wilberforce's Bill for the Registration of Slaves ; 
in other words, " to avert the interference of the mother-oountrv in 
the management of slaves." But there, we fear, its effect has ter- 
minated : at least, we are not aware that, during nearly seven years 
which have now elapsed since this address was moved, the condi- 
tion of the Negro slave has undergone any substantial legal amelio- 
ration in any of our colonies ; and with respect to the largest of 

* A clause requiring certain returns to be made for the declared purpose " of se- 
curing, as far as possible, the good treatment of the slaves." 

f See papers ordered to be printed by the House of Commons, 25th February, 1805. 


them, Jamaica, the evidence we have now adduced seems to esta- 
blish the contrary conclusion. But that we may not be accused of 
adopting this conclusion on insufficient grounds, we shall specify 
some particulars, of vital importance to the well-being of the Negro 
race, in which there is manifestly no real improvement. 

1. The Negroes in Jamaica are still driven at their zcork by the 
impulse of the cart-whip, as cattle or horses are driven in this 
country. — This fact is undeniable. But let us only consider for 
one moment all the depressing and brutalizing effects of such a 
system. — a system which shuts out the Negro from even the pre- 
tence to a higher motive for exertion than the fear of the lash, and 
which extracts labour from him, not in the measure which his 
strength affords, or his interest prompts, but in the measure which 
an overseer or a driver may choose to draw from him by the im- 
pending terror or the actual infliction of corporal punishment ; — 
let us only consider this one feature of colonial bondage, and we 
shall at once see enough to account for more than half of its 
multiplied evils.* 

* The following description of the driving system has been given by one who was 
long an eye-witness of its practical operation. It is contained in a pamphlet, pub- 
lished by Hatchard in 1802, entitled " The Crisis of the Sugar " Colonies. " (p. 8 — 

" That West Indian Slaves, whether French or English, are the property of their 
master, and transferable by him, like his inanimate effects ; that in general he is ab- 
solute arbiter of the extent and the mode of their labour, and of the quantity of 
subsistence to be given in return for it ; and that they are disciplined and punished 
at his discretion, direct privation of life or member excepted : these are prominent 
features, and sufficiently known, of the state of slavery. Nor is the manner in which 
the labour of the slaves is conducted a matter of less publicity. Every man who 
has heard any thing of West Indian affairs, is acquainted with the term Negro- 
drivers, and knows, or may know, that the slaves, in their ordinary field-labours, are 
driven to their work, in the strict sense of the term, ' driven ' as used in Europe : 
though this statement no more involves an intimation, that, in practice, the lash is 
incessantly, or with any needless frequency, applied to their back, than the phrase 
' to drive a team of horses' imports, that the waggoner is continually smacking his 

" But a nearer and more particular view of this leading characteristic may be 
necessary to those who hare never seen a gang of Negroes at their work. 

" When employed in the labour ,of the field, as, for example, in holeing a cane- 
piece, that is, turning up the ground with hoes into parallel trenches, for the recep- 
tion of the cane plants, the slaves of both sexes, from twenty, perhaps, to fourscore 
in number, are drawn out in a line like troops on a parade, each with a hoe in his 
hand ; and close to them, in the rear, is stationed a driver, or several drivers, in 

2. They are still liable to severe punishments, inflicted in the 
most revolting and disgusting manner, at the mere will, uncon- 
trolled ly law, of the master, or of the overseer who acts for him. 
— If we contemplate only the mode in which women continue to be 
punished on estates in Jamaica, we shall have another most im- 
pressive evidence of the depth of the slave's degradation. The. 
British Parliament have lately thought it right entirely to prohibit 
the flogging of women in this country, in any mode or for any 
crime, although that punishment could not have been inflicted 
without a regular trial, the finding of a British Jury, and the sen- 
tence of a British Judge. But in Jamaica, to, this very day, every 
overseer retains the power, at his own entire discretion, for any 
offence, or for no offence, of exposing in the most shameless 
manner, in the presence of the whole gang, the person of every 
female, young or old, who is placed under his authority, and of 

number duly proportioned to that of the gang. Each of these drivers, who are 
always the most active and vigorous Negroes on the estate, has in his hand, or round 
his neck, from which, by extending the handle, it can be disengaged in a moment, 
a long, thick, aud strongly plaited whip, called a cart- whip, the report of which is as 
loud, and the lash as severe, as those of the whips in common use with our wag- 
goners, and which he has authority to apply at the instant when he perceives an 
occasion, without any previous warning. Thus disposed, their work begins, and 
continues without interruption, for a certain number of hours, during which, at the 
peril of the driver, an adequate portion of the land must be holed. 

M As the trenches are generally rectilinear, and the whole line of holers advance 
together, k is necessary that every hole or section of the trench should be finished 
in equal time with the rest ; and if any one or more Negroes were allowed to throw 
in the hoe with less rapidity or energy than their companions in other parts of the 
line, it is obvious that such part of the trench as is passed over by the former will be 
more imperfectly formed than the rest : it is therefore the business of the drivers not 
only to urge forward die whole gang with sufficient speed, but to watch that all in the 
line, whether male or female, old or young, strong or feeble, work as nearly as 
possible in equal time and with equal effect ; the tardy stroke must be quickened, and 
the' languid invigorated; and the whole line made to dress, in the military phrase, as 
it advances ; no breathing time, no resting on the hoe, no pause of languor to be 
repaid by brisker action or return to work, can be allowed to individuals : all must 
work or pause together. 

" I have taken this species of work as the strongest example, but other labours of 
the plantation are conducted upon the same principle, and, as nearly as may be prac- 
ticable, in the same manner. 

"In short, with a few exceptions, the compulsion of labour, by the physical im- 
pulse or present terror of the whip, is universal ; and it would be as extraordinary 
in a West India island to see a line of Negroes without a driver behind them, as it 
would be in England to see a team of horses on a turnpike-road without a carman: 
or waggoner." i 

. G 


inflicting on those very parts which it would be deemed in this 
country an intolerable outrage to expose at all, and which it is 
indecent even to name, thirty-nine lacerations of the tremendous 
cart-vvhip; and the same power, though in a. more limited extent, 
is possessed by every driver on every sugar estate in Jamaica. Let 
the women of Great Britain hear this, and let them unite their 
efforts in rescuing their miserable fellow-subjects, the Negro. women 
of Jamaica, and our other colonies, from this cruel profanation. 

Nor is it merely the power of corporal punishment which is pos- 
sessed by the master or overseer, but that of adding to it the oppres- 
sive imprisonment of the stocks, and that for any length of time, 
accompanied by hard labour in the field. Here is a subject worthy 
of the attention of our committees of prison-discipline. Even in 
this land of freedom, with all our guards of law and magistracy, a 
free press, and enlightened public opinion, they have found ample 
room for their benevolent vigilance. Let them not stop there. 
Let them turn their attentiorLto our slave-colonies. Let them look 
through the many thousands of places of confinement existing in 
the West Indies, subject to no legal controul, to no controul, in- 
deed, but that of the owner or overseer of the estate, who is at 
once the accuser and the Judge, the executioner of the sentence, 
and the jailer of his victim. Let them examine the stocks, and 
the bolts, and the fetters, and the chains, and the stripes which 
-await his judgement or caprice, and say whether there be not here 
a new field worthy of their best exertions. 

We have supposed, in what we have said under this head, that 
the overseer, in the punishments he inflicts, confines himself 
strictly within that measure of severity which the letter of the law 
permits him to exercise. But the peculiarity of colonial jurispru- 
dence, to which we shall next advert, serves almost wholly to 
absolve him from any obligation to make the law the rule of his 
conduct in the administration of plantation-discipline, and renders 
almost every attempt to limit the exercise of his authority vain and 

3. In Jamaica and the other islands the evidence of slaves is, 
still wholly inadmissible, not merely in cases implicating; their 
owner, hut in all cases whatsoever, whether civil or criminal, 
affecting persons of free condition. — Any White man may inflict 
not only thirty-nine but three hundred and ninety lashes on a, 
slave j he may even murder the slave outright; yet, if . the- crime 


be not committed in the presence of other persons of free condition 
willing to testify against him, he is secure from punishment. A 
thousand other slaves may have been present, but not one of the 
thousand would be permitted to offer his testimony in a court of 
justice against the criminal. The Jury would not even be allowed 
the opportunity of judging of the credibility of his evidence. The 
mere circumstance of his being a slave would be at once an insu- 
perable bar to his statements being heard. His evidence would be 
wholly inadmissible. It is equally so in all civil causes, even when 
the suit involves a question of personal freedom. 

It is unnecessary to point out the enormities which must result 
from such a system. About 345,000 inhabitants of Jamaica alone, 
for example, are thus shut out, by the operation of this universal 
principle of colonial law*, from any fair hope of obtaining legal 
redress for anv injury, whether civil or criminal, which they may 
sustain from any one of the privileged order, amounting, perhaps, 
to a fifteenth or twentieth part of the whole population ; while 
the persons composing that order have th'is further pledge of im- 
munity, that it is their common interest to discourage attempts, 
on the part of the slaves, to obtain the efficient protection of magi- 
strates or of courts of justice. 

4. The slaves in Jamaica and other are still regarded 
by the law, and treated, in point of j 'act, not as human beings, 
hut as chattels ; and, as such, are liable to be seized and sold for 
the debts of their master, with as little ceremony as a horse' 
or a cart, or a piece of furniture , would be seized and sold in 
execution in this country, — Much has been said of the ex- 
cessive cruelty of this practice even by West Indians. Bryan 
Edwards has eloquently exposed the many miseries which it -pro- 
duces to the slaves : he even brought a Bili into the British 
Parliament about 1795, which passed into a law, for removing the 
impediments it was alleged our statute-book threw in the way of 
a remedy being applied to the evil by the humanity of the colonial 
legislatures. Nearly thirty years have since elapsed, and notwith- 
standing the removal of all impediments; notwithstanding the 
eloquent denunciations of Bryan Edwards ; notwithstanding the 
undivided support he received from the whole West India body in 

4 One exception ought to have been made, namely, that of Dominica, where the 
evidence of slaves is partially and most inefficiently admitted in a certain specified 

G 2 


Parliament ; not a single attempt has yet been made, in' any one 
colony under the British Crown, to remedy the evil; The nearest 
and dearest relations may still, by the ordinary process of law in 
civil suits, be torn asunder and separated for ever*, dragged from 
their homes and their families, and sold even into a distant colony. 
— Great Britain has abolished the African Slave-trade. Even the 
West Indian planters, who strenuously fought its battles to the > 
last, now join in reprobating its iniquity. But is there any thing 
in the African Slave-trade which can exceed in horror the practice 
in question, — a practice, too, specifically sanctioned by the colo- 
nial laws, — a practice not of rare and occasional, but of constant 
and almost daily, recurrence, and which takes place openly and 
publicly in the chief towns of our colonies ? In our eagerness to 
induce other nations to abolish their Slave-trade, let us turn our 
eves on the abominations of our own. 

It seems unnecessary to point out how much the evil of this 
detestable principle of law must have been aggravated by the 
pecuniary difficulties under which the West India planters have 
been labouring, by their own admission, for many years past; and 
how intensely its pressure on the wretched slaves must be aug- 
mented at this present moment by the acknowledged increase of 
those difficulties. 

5. It is a further proof of the hitherto unmitigated degradation 
of the African race in Jamaica and our other colonies, that, as we 
have already shown, a black skin, or even the visible tinge of 
African blood in the countenance, furnishes a legal presumption 
of slavery, and exposes the unhappy individual, who cannot repel 
that presumption by legal evidence, to all the pains and penalties 
of a cruel and interminable bondage. But on this point, after 
what we have said above (p. 68 — 7>), we need not now enlarge. 

• 6. Besides this, nothing has been done during the last thirty 
years to promote the gradual manumission of the slave-popula- 
tion, or to remove the obstructions which impeded it ; but, on the 
contrary, those obstructions have in some instances been materially 
increased-\\ — While in the colonies of Spain and Portugal, and 

* This has been denied, and it is affirmed that by law the members of the same 
family must be sold by the Marshal in one lot. But this can only be done when all 
the members of the same faiiily happen to be seized together in execution. No law 
has insured,-***" can insure, their being seized as well as sold together. 

+ Papers laid on the table of the House of Commons in the last session (1823), 


particularly of the former, the manumission of slaves has heen 
liberally encouraged ; in our own colonies, it has every where met 
with discouragement, and in some of them the infatuated policy of 
the local authorities has even imposed heavy fines on manumissions. 
The happy effects of the more liberal policy of Spain are visible 
even in Cuba, notwithstanding the immense importations of new 
Negroes which have taken place of late years into that island. 
But in all the other colonies of Spain, where these importations 
had ceased, it has issued at length in the almost entire extinction 
of Negro slavery, and that without any convulsion, nay, without 
loss to the master or injury to the slave*. 

we are happy to remark, show that in several of the colonies where it previously ex- 
isted, the tax on Manumissions has been done away. In others, however, it is still 

* We annex the substance of a statement on this subject, which has recently been 
laid before the public. It is to the following effect: — 

In the Spanish American possessions it has always been the established practice to 
encourage manumissions. A slave had a right by law to his freedom, as soon as he 
could repay to his master the sum he had cost. In order to enable the slave to do 
this, he was not only allowed the undisturbed enjoyment of the Sabbath, either for 
rest or for religious purposes, or for his own emolument, as he might like best, but' 
he was allowed also one day in the week for the cultivation of his provision-grounds ; 
his master being entitled to the labour of the other five. As soon, however, as the 
slave, by his industry and frugality, had accumulated the fifth part of his value, it 
was usual for the master, on being paid that amount, to relinquish to the slave 
another day of the week, and so on until he had repaid the whole of his original cost, 
and thus became altogether free. H« continued, however, in some cases, during 
the days which were his own, and even after his complete emancipation, to labour 
for hire in his master's service. By this process, not only was the master's capital 
replaced without loss, but a peasantry was formed around him, which had learned 
by experience the happy effects of industry and frugality, and were therefore indus- 
trious and provident. Notwithstanding this liberal policy, the enfranchised slaves 
have never been known in the Spanish possessions to rise against their former 
masters, or to excite those who were still slaves to seek any other method of deliver- 
ance than they themselves had pursued ; whilst they formed, by their number and 
hardihood, a valuable means of defence from foreign aggression. In consequence 
of this admirable system, the whole Negro population of the Spanish possessions 
were so rapidly approximating to emancipation, that about the year 1790, the num- 
ber of free Blacks and people of Colour somewhat exceeded, in all of them, the 
number of slaves. Since that time, in Cuba alone, in consequence of the immense 
importations from Africa into that island, has this proportion been diminished ; but 
even there the free Black and Coloured population amounts to from a third to a half 
of the number of the slaves. In the other trans- Atlantic possessions of Spain their 
number has gone on progressively increasing, until now slavery can hardly be said ' 
to have an existence there. And this happy consummation has been effected without 
any commotion, and with the ready concurrence of the master, who has not only 


Now, if it be not intended by the local legislatures that the state of 
slavery which now exists in the English colonies shall be perpetual, 
and that it shall be handed down as the inheritance of the Negro 
race from age to age, how happens it that nothing effectual has yet 
been done by them for relaxing the chains of so many thousands 
of our fellow-subjects? — Let it not be forgotten that in the year 
1792 Mr. Dundas (afterwards Lord Melville), whose regard for 
West Indian interests no one has ever questioned, announced his 
intention of proposing a plan for extinguishing the bondage of our 
colonies. His plan was simply this, that all children who should he 

not been a loser, but a gainer, by the change. How opprobrious to Great Britain is 
the contrast which this system exhibits to that of our colonies ! 

The happy effects of this admirable mode of manumission are well illustrated in 
the following extract from Humboldt's Travels : 

" We observed with a lively interest the great number of scattered houses in the 
valley inhabited by freedmen. In the Spanish colonies, the institutions and the 
manners are more favourable to the liberty of the Blacks than in the other European 
settlements. In all these excursions we were agreeably surprised, not only at the 
progress of agriculture, but the increase of a free, laborious population accustomed 
to toil, and too poor to rely on the assistance of slaves. White and Black farmers had 
every where small separate establishments. Our host, whose father had a revenue of 
40,000 piastres, possessing more lands than he could clear, he distributed them in 
the valley of Aragua among poor families who chose to apply themselves to the cul- 
tivation of cotton. He endeavoured to surlound his ample plantations with freemen, 
who, working as they chose either on their own land or. in the neighbouring planta- 
tions, supplied him with day-labourers at the time of harvest. Nobly occupied on the 
means best adapted gradually to extinguish the slavery of the Blacks in these colonies, 
Count Torur flattered himself with the double hope of rendering slaves less necessary 
to the landholders, and furnishing the freedmen with opportunities of becoming 
farmers. On departing for Europe, he had parcelled out and let a part of the lands 
of Cura. Four years after, at his return to America, he found on this spot, finely 
cultivated in cotton, a little hamlet of thirty or forty houses, which is called Punta 
Zamuro, and which we afterwards visited with him. The inhabitants of this hamlet 
are nearly all Mulattoes, Zumboes, or free Blacks. This example of letting out 
land has been happily followed by other great proprietors. The rent is ten piastres 
for a vanega of ground, and is paid in money or in cotton. As the small- farmers 
are often in want, they sell their cotton at a very moderate price. They sell it even 
before the harvest ; and the advances thus made by rich neighbours, place the debtor 
in a state of dependence, which frequently obliges him to offer his services as a la- 
bourer. The price of labour is cheaper here than in France. A freeman working as 
a day-labourer (Peor) is paid in the valleys of Aragua and in the Llanos four or five 
piastres a month, not including food, which is very cheap on account of the abun- 
dance of meat and vegetables. I love to dwell on these details of colonial industry, 
because they prove to the inhabitants of Europe, what to the enlightened inhabitants 
of the colonies has long ceased to be doubtful, that the continent of Spanish America 
can produce sugar and indigo by free hands, and that the unhappy sieves ate capable 
of becoming peasants, farmers, and landholders." 

born in the West Indies after a fixed day (the 3 1st Dee. 1799, we be- 
lieve,) should be freCj and, being free,, should' be educated by the mas- 
ters of the parents, and, when arrived at such a degree of strength as- 
should qualify them for labour, should work for five or for ten years, 
or whatever period it might be, for the payment of the expense of 
their previous education and maintenance. Thirty-one years have 
since passed, and we seem further removed from such a consum- 
mation at the present moment than we were at that period. Mat- 
ters, on the contrary, have been getting worse : the local authori- 
ties have adopted no active measures to promote manumissions, 
they have been so far from empowering slaves, as in the Spanish- 
colonies, to demand their freedom, when by their industry and fru- 
gality they have acquired the means of purchasing it, that hi many 
instances they have even discouraged the voluntary manumissions- 
of meritorious slaves by their masters. 

In May 1801, an act was passed in Barbadoes to increase the 
fines on manumissions from 50/. to 300/. on each female manu- 
mitted, and to 200/. on each male*. In July 1802, the legislature 
of St. Kitts imposed a fine of 500/. currency on the manumission* 
of slaves born in the island, to be increased to 1000/. in the case 
of slaves not born in the island f. In some of the other islands fines 
of inferior amount were imposed J ; and in the Bermudas an act was* 
passed to prohibit emancipation altogether, and to prevent persons 
of Colour being seized of real estate. Such has been the spirit of 
colonial legislature even at a recent period ! 

7. But let us further look at the moral condition of our slave-co- 
lonies, and we shall be better able to judge of the real progress of 
improvement as contrasted with the blasts to which we have alluded. 
The marriage of' slaves has not yet been legalized in Jamaica or in 
any one of our slave colonies. The most unrestrained licentious- 
ness prevails, almost universally, on estates, among all classes, 
whether While or Black. The face of society presents, withfeiv 
exceptions, one unvarying scene of open concubinage and prosti- 
tution. The Christian Sabbath, instead- of being a day of rest 
and religious observance, continues to be the universally authorized 
market-day, and in almost all the colonies, and especially in Ja- 

* This fine has again been reduced to 501. 

f It has been affirmed that this law is not now in force, but we have not met with 
any act repealing it. 

\ Some of these have recently been repealed. 

maica, a day of compulsory labour for the slaves ; — we say com- 
puhory lahour p for though they may not be actually driven in their 
provision grounds, on the Sunday, yet they are compelled to cul- 
tivate them on that day on pain of starving 7, — they toil under the 
lash for six days in the week, and during the time of crop many 
of them for six days and three nights, making nine days labour in 
the week for a great part of the year ; and yet they are denied the 
rest of the Sabbath : — they must toil on that day also to avoid 

And while in our colonies the Negro slaves are denied the Sab- 
bath as a day of repose or devotion, in the colonies of Spain and 
Portugal the conduct pursued is widely different. There, the Sab- 
bath is appropriated in the case of the slaves to rest or religious 
observances, and another day in the week, besides thirty holidays 
in the year, is regularly allowed them to cultivate their grounds, 
or otherwise to be employed for their own benefit. The contrast is 
striking and opprobrious ! 

When we take this circumstance into view, and when we con- 
nect with it the fact of the non-institution of Marriage, and the 
open and avowed profligacy of manners which prevails ; and when 
we take into the account, moreover, the driving system, and the 
arbitrary power of punishment placed in the hands of the Whites, 
can we wonder that the Negro population should be decreasing im 
most of our colonies, and especially in those where sugar is ex- 
tensively cultivated ? * If the human race could increase under such I 
circumstances, it would be contrary to all our received notions * 
of the tendency of the moral government of God. 

To look also for the effectual communication of religious instruc- 
tion to the slaves by their masters, under such a system, must be 
considered as hopeless. We have seen, indeed, striking effects 
produced by the labours of Missionaries, among the slaves, in several 
of our islands; but the attempts of these Missionaries have this 
advantage over any attempts which the masters themselves might 
make, that they are not rendered abortive, in the very outset, by the 
glaring inconsistency, which even the slaves themselves must be struck 
with, of having Christianity offered them by men whose system of- 
proceeding outrages its most sacred obligations. 

Before the planters can hope to succeed in any efforts they may 

* See supra, p. 30, note. 


make to convey religious instruction to their slaves, they must, at 
least, begin by giving them the Sabbath. ' 

We purposely omit many other circumstances in the legal con- 
dition of the Negro slave, which tend to aggravate the hardship of 
his condition, from a fear of too much swelling the present pam- 
phlet. We allude to such circumstances as these. He is debarred 
the common right of self-defence, if the person assaulting him be a 
White : death, or some other severe punishment, is denounced 
against him for striking, or attempting to strike, struggling with, 
resisting, or opposing any White person. He is subject not only to 
the general criminal law, but to a peculiar penal code of extreme 
harshness and severity : for example, he is liable to suffer death for 
obeah or witchcraft ; he is liable to death, or other severe punish- 
ment, for running away ; he is liable to thirty-nine lashes for 
drumming, dancing, drinking, using insolent language or gestures, 
&e. We will not, however, dwell on this part of the case at present, 
enough having been brought forward to establish our general po- 
sition respecting the severity of the existing colonial bondage. 

Now, after this view of the subject, when we read again the 
motions of Mr. Charles Ellis in 1797, and of Mr. Palmer in 
1818, (both planters of eminence in Jamaica,) calling upon His 
Majesty, to take measures for promoting "the moral and reli- 
gious improvement, as well as the comfort and happiness of the 
Negroes," in what light are we compelled to regard such motions? 
We should be glad, at least, to learn how many of the West In- 
dian gentlemen who supported those motions, have done what 
in them lay to promote " the moral and religious improvement*', 
as well as the comfort and happiness of their slaves;" — how many 
of them have secured to their own slaves (for this, at least, was in 
their power) the undisturbed enjoyment of the Sabbath as a day of 
rest, by giving them the same time, on other days, for the culture 
of their grounds ; — how many of them, also, have made Sunday, 
on their own estates, a day of religious worship and instruction. 

* We have observed with sincere pleasure, since the publication of this pamphlet, 
and the discussion of the subject in parliament, that many of the planters resident in 
.England are strongly impressed with the necessity of making strenuous efforts for 
the religious instruction of their slaves. To this the. example and exhortations of 
; Sir George Rose have greatly tended, in concurrence with the growing conviction 
among the planters, that it is both their duty and their interest to pursue this course. 
We trust that the increased impulse which has been given to the Society for the conver- 
sion of the slaves founded by Mr. Boyle, will be found to produce the xnoit happy effects. 



We should further be glad to learn, what efforts they have made 
to -prevent the profanation of that day by public markets and 
forced labour ; — what measures they have adopted for repressing, 
on their own estates, the shameful irregularities which have been 
shown so universally to prevail ; — -what substitute they have found 
for the driving system ; — and what effective restraints thev have 
imposed, in their own cases, on the tremendous power possessed 
by overseers. Let them show what they themselves have done in 
these respects, before they can hope to derive any credit from the 
barren generalities of a parliamentary address ; which, whatever 
may have been its real purpose, has produced no beneficial results 
of a legal and permanent kind to the Negro population. 

We admit that the legislature of Jamaica has passed an act ap- 
pointing curates for the instruction of the slaves, and giving these 
curates salaries ; but still the slaves have no Sabbath. We also 
admit that many of the slaves have been christened ; but still they 
have no Sabbath. The very men who vaunt that Curates' Act and 
those christenings, as a proof of their zeal for Christianity, still 
deny to their slaves the Christian Sabbath. This fact speaks for 

We shall abstain from any further observations on the present 
occasion, although the subject is very far indeed from being ex- 
hausted. But we are anxious, before we conclude, to take this 
opportunity of calling upon influential West Indians in this coun- 
try, and especially upon such of them as sit in either House of 
Parliament, to consider dispassionately the facts we have brought 
before them, and to ask themselves whether they have done their 
duty in permitting a state of things, so repugnant to every prin- 
ciple of humanity and justice, to continue so long unredressed. 
It is surely worthy of such men as Lord Darlington, Lord Hare 
wood, and Lord Holland, not to mention the numerous West 
India planters and merchants in the lower House of Parlia- 
ment, to come forward to investigate and reform the abuses of a 
system which their high names have served, in some measure, to 
rescue from merited reprobation. To the last-mentioned noble- 
man, iii particular, we would make our appeal, in the confidence 
that it will not be made in vain. He stands pledged to the African 
race, not merely by the hereditary obligations which are attached to 
the revered name of Fox, — not merely by the engagements which he 


early entered into, and has often renewed in the face of the country 
— not merely by the liberal principles which he professes on all occa- 
sions to be the guides of his public conduct; — but, above all, by the 
circumstance that he is himself a planter, and derives a part of 
his revenue from the cruel and debasing bondage which we have 
here attempted to delineate. It seems, therefore, peculiarly in- 
cumbent on him to take a leading part in instituting an inquiry 
into its nature and effects, and in applying, without delay, a remedy 
to its evils. 

We would also remind those distinguished friends of justice and 
humanity in both Houses of Parliament, (our Gloucesters, Gren- 
villes, Greys, Lansdownes, and Harrowbys ; our Wilberforces, 
Smiths, Cannings, Broughams, and Mackintoshes,) who have toiled 
so ardently in the cause of the wretched African, that a great duty 
devolves upon them ; and that to them will the public, when their 
eyes are fully opened to the enormity of the system which prevails 
in our slave colonies, naturally look for the zealous and consistent 
prosecution of the principles which animated them in their struggles 
to suppress the Slave-trade. 

But let the public also do their duty. Let them strengthen the 
hands of their leaders by a general, distinct, and concurrent appeal 
to the Legislature on this momentous subject. If, through their 
supineness in making their wishes known, the dreadful evils of 
colonial bondage should be indefinitely prolonged, will not the 
guilt become theirs ? They cannot plead ignorance of the exist- 
ence of these evils. Proof has been produced, sufficient to satisfy 
everv reasonable man, that at least a parliamentary investigation 
is indispensable. Let them then unite in calling for such an in- 
vestigation, and for such remedial measures as that investigation 
may show to be requisite. And let them remember, to stimulate 
their efforts, that at present, they (the British public) do not only 
tolerate this system, but they actually support it. It could not 
exist for a single year, but for !he aid of the public purse ; which, 
to the extent of two or three millions, is, at this moment, annually 
expended in bolstering up this fabric of iniquity. But it cannot 
last. Such a combination of impiety and licentiousness, of op- 
pression and cruelty, of war with all human sympathies, and con- 
tempt for all divine laws, cannot continue to meet with counte- 
nance and support in this country. It only requires to be known 
and appreciated, in order to be effectually reformed. If we could 


for a moment anticipate a contrary result, we should tremble f< 
our country. If, after these practices are known, we should con- 
nive at their continuance, nay, if we do not do our best to suppress 
them, we shall be justly chargeable, in the sight of the Almighty, 
with all their turpitude and criminality. 

But what, it may be asked, are the practical measures it is proposed 
to adopt ? On these we may think it necessary hereafter to address 
the public. In the mean time our object is simply to expose the 
enormity of the evils of Negro slavery, with a view to excite the 
attention of the public, and, through them, of Parliament, to the 
subject. On the wisdom and justice of Parliament we place an 
implicit reliance. Let the evils be only examined and ascertained, 
and we cannot doubt that appropriate remedies will be discovered 
and applied. Neither can we doubt that, in applying them, a due 
regard will be paid to whatever claims West Indian planters may 
have on the liberality of the nation. 

The present publication, it seems right to mention, has. originated 
with an association at Liverpool, formed for the express purpose of 
employing all lawful and prudent means for mitigating and finally 
abolishing the state of slavery throughout the British dominions. 
Similar associations are already formed in the metropolis and in 
other parts of the United Kingdom. But it became Liverpool, long 
the deepest in the guilt of the Slave-trade, to come forward the 
first to protest against the perpetuation of the original injustice of 
that criminal traffic, in the persons of the descendants of its earlier 
victims. Such associations, we 'trust, will be multiplied in every 
corner of the realm, and will never intermit their united and 
strenuous efforts , until -by exposition, petition, remonstrance, and 
every legal methiod of intervention, they wipe out this foul stain 
from the character of their country, and deliver themselves from 'all 
participation in a, system which, as has now been demonstrated, in- 
volves the violation of every acknowledged prjnciple of the religion 
of Christ. 


Printed by Ric hard Taylor, 
Shoe-Lane, London.