THE JUST LIMITATION OF SLAVERY IN THE LAWS OF GOD, COMPARED WITH The unbounded Claims of the AFRICAN TRADERS and BRITISH AMERICAN SLAVEHOLDERS.
BY GRANVILLE SHARP.
With a copious APPENDIX: CONTAINING,
An Answer to the Rev. Mr. Thompson's Tract in favour of the African Slave Trade.—Letters con∣cerning the lineal Descent of the Negroes from the Sons of HAM.—The Spanish Regulations for the gradual Enfranchisement of Slaves.—A Proposal on the same Principles for the gradual Enfran∣chisement of Slaves in America.—Reports of De∣terminations in the several COURTS OF LAW AGAINST SLAVERY, &c.
—Take away your Exactions from my People, SAITH THE LORD GOD!
Ezekiel xlv. 9.
LONDON: Printed for B. WHITE, in Fleet-Street, and E. and C. DILLY, in the Poultry.
TRACT I. THE Just Limitation of Slavery.
THE opinion of the lords Hardwick and Talbot, which I laboured to refute in my Tract against Slavery in En∣gland1, (printed in 1769,) has since been effectually set aside by a clear deter∣mination, in the Court of King's-Bench
2, in favour of James Somersett, a Ne∣gro, against his former Master, C****** S******, esq. in the year 1772.
Page 2But it is not enough, that the Laws of England exclude Slavery merely from this island, whilst the grand Enemy of man∣kind triumphs in a toleration, throughout our Colonies, of the most monstrous op∣pression to which human nature can be subjected!
And yet this abominable wickedness has not wanted advocates, who, in a va∣riety of late publications, have attempted to palliate the guilt, and have even ven∣tured to appeal to Scripture for the sup∣port of their uncharitable pretensions: so that I am laid under a double obliga∣tion to answer them, because it is not the cause of Liberty alone for which I now contend, but for that which I have still much more at heart, the honour of the holy Scriptures, the principles of which are entirely opposite to the selfish and
Page 3uncharitable pretensions of our American Slaveholders and African Traders.
A late anonymous writer, who calls himself "An African Merchant," re∣marks, that,—
By the Law of Moses, the Israelites might purchase Slaves from the Heathens, and even their own people might become Slaves to their brethren.A Treatise on the Trade from Great-Britain to Africa, &c. by an African Merchant. P.
Now, with respect to the first part of his observation, it is true, indeed, that the Israelites were expressly permitted to keep Bond-Servants, or Slaves,
of the Heathen, (or, more properly, of the Nations〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) that were round about
the children of the stran∣gers that sojourned among
them. (Levit. xxv. 44 to 46.) But we must re∣member, that these Heathen,
Page 4that were round about them;
were an abandoned race of people, already Slaves
of devils, and by them led to debase human nature,
and to pollute themselves with the most un∣natural and abominable vices:
For in all these,
(said the Almighty,)
the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the Land is defiled; THEREFORE I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vo∣miteth out her inhabitants,&c.
For all these abominations have the men of the land done which were before you, and the land is defi∣led,&c.
See Levit. xviii. And the "children of the strangers,"
abovemen∣tioned, were (probably) also of the same detestable nations of Palestine, the Amo∣rites, Canaanites, &c.
which were ex∣pressly doomed to destruction
that by the hand of the Israelites, who were commanded to shew them no pity4
But no doctrine must be drawn from these commands to execute God's vengeance upon the said wicked strangers, without considering, at the same time, that very contrary treatment of strangers which was equally enjoined in the Law: for the Israelites were positively commanded not to vex or oppress a Stranger.
Page 6shalt love him as thyself,
said Moses, by the express command of God.
If a Stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex
him. But the Stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself: for ye were Strangers in the land of Egypt.
Levit. xix. 33.34. And again:
The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty and a terrible, which regardeth not persons nor taketh reward: he doth execute the judgement of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the Stranger, in giving him food and rai∣ment. Love ye, therefore, the Stran∣ger; for ye were Strangers in the land of Egypt.
Deut. x. 17 to 19. In all these passages, and many others, the Is∣raelites were reminded of their Bondage in Egypt:
for so the almighty Deli∣verer
warned his people
and moderate the bondage,
which the Law permitted, by the remembrance of their own former bondage
in a foreign land, and by a remembrance also of his great mercy in delivering them
from that bondage:
and he expressly referred them to their own feelings,
as they themselves had experienced the intolerable yoke of Egyptian Tyranny!
Thou shalt not oppress a Stranger; for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Exod. xxiii. 9. And again:
Thou shalt remember that thou wast a Bond-man in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee:
Deut. xv. 15.
We must, therefore, necessarily con∣clude, when these very opposite com∣mands are considered, that the Heathen, or nations that were "ROUND ABOUT," or in the environs of the promised land, and also the children of the strangers, that
Page 8dwelt among them, mentioned at the same time, whom the Israelites were per∣mitted to retain in perpetual bondage, were not intended to be included and ranked under that general denomination of Strangers, to whom so much real af∣fection, benevolence, and consideration, are strictly commanded, in the texts to which I have just now referred. And, consequently, it must be allowed, that the particular nations, (the seven nations of Palestine, see Deut. vii. 1.) which were expressly devoted to destruction, were the only Strangers whom the Jews were permitted to hold in absolute Slavery; so that the wicked practice of enslaving the poor African Negroes would have been as unlawful, under the Jewish Dispensation, as it certainly is, now a-days, to Englishmen, and other sub∣jects of Great-Britain, that profess the Christian Religion; in whose consideration, ALL STRANGERS, from every
Page 9other part of the world, are, without doubt, entitled to be ranked, esteemed, and beloved, as brethren, which I have elsewhere particularly demonstrated; and which even the law of Moses expressly commanded: —
But the stranger, that dwelleth with you, shall be unto you as one born among you, and THOU SHALT LOVE HIM AS THY∣SELF; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Levit. xix. 33 and 34.
This excellent system of benevolence to strangers, which the Israelites were so strictly enjoined to observe, cannot, I ap∣prehend, be otherwise reconciled with the permission to the Israelites of retaining in perpetual bondage the heathen that were round about them, and the children of the strangers that sojourned among them: for, if this permission were to be ex∣tended to strangers in general, it would
Page 10subvert the express command concerning brotherly love due to strangers; because a man cannot be said to love the stranger as himself if he holds the stranger and his pro∣geny in a perpetual involuntary servitude. The observation therefore of the African Merchant, that
THE ISRAELITES might purchase Slaves from the heathens,
will by no means justify the enslaving
of mo∣dern heathens,
or by any other nation now subsisting. The Israel∣ites, at that time, might not only purchase Slaves of those particular heathen nations, but they might also drive out these hea∣then;
(I mean, these which were particu∣larly named;) nay, even kill5
them, and take possession of their ci∣ties, houses,
All these acts of violence might
the Israelites do without sin,
though the like would justly be esteemed
if practised by any other nation, not under the like peculiar circumstances: so that the example of the Israelites affords no excuse for the uncha∣ritable practices of the African Merchant
and West-India Planter!
The Israelites had an express commission
to execute God's vengeance, without remorse7
, upon several populous nations, which had ren∣dered themselves abominable in the sight of
and therefore deserved no consider∣ation; so that even mercy,
in the Israelites, was a sin
, when it interfered with this positive command of God!
The commission there given, however, was but temporary; and no other nation,
Page 13except God's peculiar people, was char∣ged with the execution of it; and there∣fore, though the Europeans have taken upon themselves, for a long time past, to attack, destroy, drive out, dispossess, and enslave, the poor ignorant Heathen, in many distant parts of the world, and may, perhaps, plead custom and prescrip∣tion (to their shame be it said) for their actions, yet, as they cannot, like the Is∣raelites, produce an authentic written commandment from God for such proceed∣ings, the offenders can no otherwise be esteemed than as lawless robbers and op∣pressors, who have reason to expect a se∣vere retribution from God for their tyran∣ny and oppression. It is unreasonable, therefore, to suppose that the severe treat∣ment of the ancient Heathen, by the Isra∣elites, under the dispensation of the Law, either in killing, dispossessing, or enslaving, them, should justify our modern acts of
Page 14violence and oppression, now that we profess obedience to the Gospel of Peace.
And, with respect to the second part of the African Merchant's observation, concerning the Israelites, (viz. that even
their own people might become Slaves to their brethren,
) I must remark, that he does not deal fairly by the Jewish Law, to quote that circumstance, with∣out mentioning, at the same time,
the Just Limitation
to which it was sub∣ject, and the admirable provision, in the same Law, against the involuntary servi∣tude of brethren;
because no Hebrew could be made a Slave
without his own consent,
and even desire,
which was to be "plainly"
declared in a court of record:
if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children, I will not go out free, then
(says the text)
his master shall bring him unto the Judges,
an acknowledgement in a court of re∣cord
is plainly implied,)
and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
Exod. xxi. 5.6. But, without that public ac∣knowledgement
of voluntary consent before the Judges,
the Hebrew master had no authority to bore the servant's ear
in token of bondage: and, in every other case, it was absolutely unlawful
for the Is∣raelite to hold a Brother Israelite in Sla∣very!
The Law expressly declares,
If thy Brother, (that dwelleth)
by thee, be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not
compel him to serve as a bond servant: (but)
as an hired servant;Page 16
and as a sojourner
he shall be with thee; (and)
shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: and (then)
shall he depart from thee, (both)
he and his chil∣dren
(and the reason of this command immediately follows;) "for they are my servants,
" (said the Lord,)
which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt:
(i. e. which God himself delivered from Slavery:
they shall not be sold as Bond-men: thou shalt not rule over him with rigour, but shalt fear thy God.
Levit. xxv. 39 to 43. And again, in the 55th verse, "For unto me
" (said the Lord)
the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Thus it appears that the involuntary servitude of brethren is entirely inconsist∣ent with the Jewish Law; which, there∣fore,
Page 17is so far from justifying the African Merchant, that it absolutely condemns him. But he is still more mistaken, when he insinuates that Slavery is not inconsistent with the Gospel.
Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind and Founder of our religion,
left the moral laws and civil rights of mankind upon their old foundations: his king∣dom was not of this world, nor did he interfere with national laws: he did not repeal that of slaves, nor assert an universal freedom, except from sin: with him bond and free were accepted, if they behaved righteously.
But how can a man be said to
who sells his brethren,
or holds them in Slavery against their will?
For, though, with Christ,
bond and free are accepted,
yet it behoves the Afri∣can Merchant
very diligently to examine, whether he is not likely to forfeit his own
if he does not most heartily repent of having enslaved his brethren,
and of having encouraged others to the same uncharitable practices,
by misinterpreting the holy Scriptures.
Under the Gospel Dispensation, all man∣kind are to be esteemed our brethren. Christ commanded his disciples to go and teach (or make disciples of) all nations, "〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉." Matth. xxviii. 19. So that men of all nations (who, indeed, were brethren before, by natural descent from one common father) are now, undoubt∣edly, capable of being doubly related to us, by a farther tie of of brotherhood, which the law of Moses seemed to deny them, and of which the peculiar people of God (jealous of their own adoption) once thought them incapable; I mean, the inestimable privilege of becoming sons, al∣so, to one almighty Father, by adoption, as well as the Jews, and, consequently, of
Page 19being our brethren, through Christ, by a spiritual, as well as a natural, relation∣ship.
The promises of God, likewise, in eve∣ry other part of the New Testament, are made to all mankind in general, with∣out exception; so that a Negro, as well as any other man, is capable of becoming "an adopted son of God;" an
heir of God through Christ10
temple of the Holy-Ghost11
a partaker of the divine na∣ture13
; "a joint-heir with Christ14
; and capable, also, of being joined to that glorious company of Saints, who shall one day "come with him to judge the world;"
for "the Saints shall judge the world.
" 1 Cor. vi. 2.3. — And, therefore, how can any man, who calls himself a Chris∣tian, presume to retain, as a mere chattel, or private property,
his fellow man and brother,
who is equally capable with himself of attaining the high dignities abovementioned! Let Slaveholders be mindful of the approaching consumma∣tion of all earthly things, when, perhaps, they will see thousands of those men, who were formerly esteemed mere chat∣telsPage 21
and private property,
in the clouds
, with their heavenly Master, to judge tyrants and oppressors, and to call them to account for their want of brotherly love!
The Ethiopians, or Negroes, received the Christian faith much sooner than the Europeans themselves: their early con∣version was foretold by the Psalmist:
Page 22(Psalm lxviii. 31.)
Princes shall come out of Egypt,
(or from Mizraim
); "and Ethiopia"
shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.
And, accordingly, we find the Ethiopian
particularly mentioned in Scripture among the first converts to
Christianity: and that extraordinary exer∣tion of the HOLY SPIRIT, in favour of the eunuch, was, perhaps, the foundation of the ancient Church of Habassi∣nia
, which, notwithstanding all worldly disadvantages, remains in some degree of purity
to this day, as a lasting monument of Christianity among the sons of Ham,
even in the most remote and inaccessible part of Africa!
Certain it is, (say the learned Assembly of Divines,) that Ethiopia, according to this unquestionable prophecy,
(Psalms, lxviii. 31.)
was one of the first kingdoms that was converted to the Christian faith; the occasion and means whereof we read of Acts viii. 27, 28.&c.
The progress of the truth must have been very rapid in Africa, because we read of a council of African and Numi∣dian Bishops, held at Carthage, so early as the year of Christ 215
21; (though our Anglo-Saxon ancestors remained in the grossest pagan darkness near 400 years afterwards;) and, in the year 240, a council of 99 Bishops was assembled at
Page 25Lambesa, an inland city of Africa, on the confines of Biledulgerid, against Privatus Bishop of Lambesa on a charge of Heresie.
22 The fourth Council of Carthage in the year 253 was held by 66 Bishops, concerning the Baptism of Infants.
23 And in the eighth Council at that place (anno 256) be∣sides
24 Priests, Deacons and Laymen, there were present 87 Bishops. In another council of Carthage, about the year 308, no less than 270 Bishops of the Sect of the Donatists
25 were pre∣sent; and in the year 394, at Baga, an inland City of Africa, 310
26 Bishops were collected together, though the
Page 26same was long before the conversion of the English and Dutch, the great traders in African slaves; and though the Africans have, since, lamentably fallen back into gross ignorance, yet we must not, on that account, look upon them in the same light that the Jews did upon "the children of the strangers," whom they were permitted to hold in slavery (Levit. xxv. 45.) because we cannot do so without becoming strangers ourselves to Christianity; and hastening our own apostacy, which seems already too near at hand.
27 We may la∣ment
Page 27the fallen state of our unhappy brethren, but we have no commission
Page 28under the Gospel to punish them for it, as the Israelites had to punish the
Page 29Heathens that were condemned in the law! Our endeavour should be rather
Page 30to restore the Heathens to their lost privileges, than to harden them in
Page 31their prejudices by tolerating amongst us a greater degree of despotism and op∣pressionPage 32than was ever permitted among the Jews, or even among the ancient
Page 33Heathens! for in one of our own anti∣christian colonies, even the murder of a negro slave, when under private punishment, is tolerated (see the 329th act of Barbadoes); and by the same diabolical act of assembly a man may
of wantonness, or of bloody minded∣ness, or cruel intention
(it is expressly said) "wilfully kill
a negro, or other slave
of his own,
" without any other penalty for it than a trifling fine of
£15 sterling. (See remarks on this act in my tract against slavery in England,
p. 66 and 67.) Many instances of West-India cruelty have fallen even within my own knowledge, and I have certain proofs of no less than three married women being violently torn away from their lawful husbands,
even in London, by the order of their pretended proprietors! Another re∣markable instance of tyranny, which
came within my own knowledge,
was the advertizing a reward (in the Gazetteer of the 1st June, 1772) for apprehend∣ing
an East-India black boy about 14 years of age, named Bob or Pompey:
he was further distinguished in the advertizement by having
round his neck a brass collar, with a direction upon it to a house in Charlotte-street, Bloomsbury-square.
Thus the black Indian Pompey
was manifestly treated with as little ceremony as a black name∣sake of the dog kind
could be. I inquired after the author of this unlawful and shameful advertizement; and found, that he was a merchant even in the heart of the city of London, who shall be nameless; for I do not want to expose individuals,
but only their crimes.
Now if masters are capable of such monstrous OPPRESSION, even here in England,
where their brutality renders
them liable to severe penalties, how can we reasonably reject the accounts of TYRANNY in America,
howsoever hor∣rid and inhuman, where the abominable plantation laws will permit a capricious or passionate master, with impunity, to deprive his wretched slave even of life.
I am frequently told, nevertheless, by interested persons from the West-Indies, how well the slaves are used; and that they are much happier than our own poor at home. But though I am willing to believe that some sew worthy West-Indians treat their slaves with humani∣ty, yet it is, certainly, far from being the general case; and the misery of our own poor will not be any excuse for the oppression of the poor elsewhere! When any of our own countrymen at home are miserably poor, it is not always clear whether themselves, or others, are to
Page 37be blamed: all we can know for cer∣tain is, that it is the indispensable duty of every man to relieve them according to his ability; and that the neglecting an opportunity of doing so, is as great an offence before God as if we had denied assistance to Christ himself in the same wretched condition; sor so it is expressly laid down in Scripture,
30Page 38through the mercy of God towards the poor: but it is obvious to whom the misery of a slave is to be attributed: for the guilty possessor will certainly be answerable to God for it; and every man, who endeavours to palliate and screen such oppression, is undoubtedly a partaker of the guilt. The slave∣holder deceives himself if he thinks he can really be a CHRISTIAN, and yet
Page 39hold such property. Can he be said to love his neighbour as himself?31 Does he behave to others as he would they should to him?
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you (said our Lord himself) love your enemies, &c. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust;
(Matth. v. 44, 45) so that Heathens
are by no means excluded from the benevolence of Christians.
Thus Christ has enlarged the antient Jewish doctrine of loving our neighbours
Page 40as ourselves; and has also taught us, by the parable of the good Samaritan, that all mankind, even our professed ene∣mies (such as were the Samaritans to the Jews) must necessarily be esteemed our neighbours whenever they stand in need of our charitable assistance; so that the same benevolence which was due from the Jew to his brethren of the house of Israel is indispensably due, under the Gospel, to OUR BRETHREN OF THE UNIVERSE, howsoever opposite in religi∣ous or political opinions; for this is the apparent intention of the parable.
No nation therefore whatever, can now be lawfully excluded as strangers, according to that uncharitable sense of the word stranger, in which the Jews were apt to distinguish all other nations from themselves; and, since all men are now to be esteemed
under the Gospel, none of the Levitical laws relating to the bon∣dage of strangers
are in the least appli∣cable to justify slavery among Christians;
though the same laws bind Christians
as well as Jews
with respect to all the les∣sons of benevolence
which are every where interspersed therein; be∣cause these are moral doctrines
which never change, for they perfectly corre∣spond with "the everlasting Gospel."
(Rev. xiv. 6.) As for instance,
Thou shalt not oppress a Stranger, for ye know the heart of a Stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Exod. xxiii. 9. This is an appeal to the feelings
and ex∣perience of the Jews who had them∣selves endured a heavy bondage,
so that it clearly corresponds with the "royal law" or "law of liberty"
in the Gospel.
Page 42"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Gal. v. 14. or as our Lord himself has more fully expressed it.
All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for THIS IS THE LAW AND THE PRO∣PHETS.
Matth. vii. 12.
If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex or (oppress him) (but) the stranger that dwelleth with you, shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou SHALT LOVE HIM "(viz. the stranger)" AS THYSELF; for ye were STRANGERS in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
(Levit. xix. 33.) Let every slaveholder consider the importance of this command and the unchangeable dignity of him who gave it. "I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD"!—for
the LORD YOUR GOD is God of Gods, and Lord of Lords, a great God, a migh∣ty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons
(not the Masters more than any slaves)
nor taketh reward. He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and LOVETH THE STRAN∣GER, in giving him food and raiment. LOVE YE therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Deut. x. 17, 18, 19. And how can a man be said to love
and much less to love him as himself
(see the express command above) who presumes to vex and oppress him with a per∣petual involuntary bondage? Is this obedience to that great rule of the Gos∣pel, which Christ has given us as the sum of the law and the prophets?
Would the American slaveholders relish that con∣temptuous and cruel usage with which they oppress their poor negroes; and
that the African31strangers
should do even so to themselves without the least personal provocation or fault on their part,
viz. to be branded with a hot iron, in or∣der to be known and ranked as the cattle and private property of their oppressors? Like the cattle also to be ignominously compelled by the whip of a driver to la∣bour hard "without wages"
or recom∣pence? If the African merchants and American slaveholders can demonstrate that they would not think themselves in∣jured by such treatment from others, they may perhaps be free from the horrid guilt of unchristian oppression
which must otherwise inevitably be imputed to them, because their actions will not bear the test of that excellent rule of the Gospel abovementioned, which Christ has laid down as the measure of our actions—
All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets.
Math vii. 12. I must there∣fore
once more repeat, what I have be∣fore advanced, that the permission for∣merly granted to the Jews of holding heathens and strangers
in slavery is vir∣tually repealed, or rather superseded by the Gospel, notwithstanding the contrary assertion of the African merchant, that Christ "did not repeal that of slaves"
The African merchant has also re∣published the letters of his fellow ad∣vocate Mercator, who professes in the same manner to draw his authority "from Sacred history"—
To the sedate, to the reasonable, to the Christian read∣ers (says he) I shall more fully set forth the lawfulness of the slave trade from the express allowance of it in Holy writ:
(ibid appendix: B. iv.) but the very first insinuation concerning the origin of slave•
y which follows this specious address to the sedate &c. is founded on TWO false assertions
Page 47even in
ONE sentence, and therefore I can∣not esteem him worthy of any further notice than that of pointing out these proofs of his little regard to truth;
As to its origin (says he) it may possibly be derived from that sentence expressed against Canaan (from whom the Africans,
says he, are descended
) by his father No∣ah at the hour of his death.
Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren.
But though the author afterwards allows that
both the origin of slavery and the colour of the Africans are incapable of positive proof,
yet the futility of his insinuation concerning the
Page 48descent of the Africans
is not like the other two circumstances
incapable of positive proof.
For the Africans
are not descended from Canaan,
if we ex∣cept the Carthaginians (a colony from the sea coast of the land of Canaan
who were a free people, and at one time ri∣valled, even the Roman common wealth, in power. The Africans
are principally descended from the three other sons of Ham,
viz. Cush, Misraim,
and to prove this more at large I have sub∣joined to this tract a letter which I re∣ceived (in answer to mine on the same subject) from a learned gentleman who has most carefully studied the antiquities of the line of Ham:
the insinuation there∣fore concerning the
sentence expressed against Canaan
can by no means justify the African slave trade,
so that Mercator
seems indeed to write like a mere trader,
for the sake of his iniquitous Traffic,Page 49
more than for the sake of truth,
not∣withstanding his professions of regard for the Holy Scriptures.
If we carefully examine the Scrip∣tures we shall find, that slavery and op∣pression were ever abominable in the sight of God; for though the Jews were permitted by the law of Moses (on ac∣count of the hardness of their hearts) to keep slaves, as I have remarked in my answer to the Reverend Mr. Thompson on this subject (which is subjoined,) yet there was no inherent right of service to be implied from this permission, be∣cause whenever the flave could escape he was esteemed free; and it was ab∣solutely unlawful for any man (who be∣lieved the word of God) to deliver him up again to his master (see Deut. xxiii. 15, 16.) whereas in our co∣lonies, (which in acts of OPPRESSION
Page 50may too justly be esteemed antichristian) the slave who runs away is
and a reward of £ 50 is offered to those who SHALL KILL or "bring in alive any rebellious slave"
(see the 66th act of the laws of Jamaica.) By an act of Virginia (4 Ann, ch. 49 § 37 P. 227.) after proclamation is issued against slaves that
run away and lie out
LAWFUL for any person whatfoever to KILL and DESTROY SUCH SLAVES by such ways and means as he, she, or they SHALL THINK FIT, without accusation or impeach∣ment of any crime for the same,
&c. See the remarks on these, and such other diabolical acts
of plantation assem∣blies in pages 63 to 73, of my re∣presentation of the injustice and dan∣gerous tendency of tolerating slavery in England. Printed in 1769.
By another act of Virginia, (12
Page 51Geo. 1. chap. 4, § 8. P 368.) if a poor fellow is taken up as a runaway and committed to prison, the goaler may let him out to hire, in order to pay the fees, even though he is not claimed,
and his master or owner (says the act) cannot be known;
and in a following clause the goaler is ordered to
cause a strong IRON COLLAR TO BE PUT ON THE NECK of such negroe or runaway, with the letters (P. G.) stamped thereon;
a most abominable affront to human na∣ture! our spiritual enemy must have had a notorious influence with the plantation law makers to procure an act so contradictory to the laws of God,
and in particular to that (last cited) from Deutrenomy, viz.
not deliver unto his master the ser∣vant which is escaped from his master
unto thee; He shall dwell with thee, among you. in that place which he shall choose
(that is manifestly as a free man)
in one of thy gates where it liketh him best; thou shalt not oppress him.
Deut. xxiii. 15, 16. This is clearly a moral law,
which must be ever binding as the will of God;
because the benevolent intention
of it is apparent,
and must ever remain the same: for
which reason I conclude that AN AC∣TION of TROVER cannot lye for a slave;
and that no man can lawfully be prose∣cuted for protecting a negroe, or any other slave whatever, that has
escaped from his master
because that would be punishing a man for doing his in∣dispensable duty
according to the laws of God:
and if any law, custom or prece∣dent should be alledged to the contrary it must necessarily be rejected as null and void;
because it is a maxim of the com∣mon law of England, that
the inferior law must give place to the superior, man's laws to God's laws.
(attorney general Noy's maxims P. 19) And the learned author of the Doctor
asserts, that even Statute law
ought to be accounted null and void,
if it is set forth contrary to the laws of God.
ETIAM SI ALIQUOD STATUTUM ESSE EDITUM, CONTRA EOS NUL∣LIUS
VIGORIS in legibus Angliae cense∣ri debet, &c
— chap, vi.
The degree of servitude, which the Israelites were permitted to exact of their brethren, was mild and equitable, when compared with the servitude which (to our confusion be it said) is common among Christians? I have al∣ready quoted from Leviticus a specimen of the limitation to the servitude of BRETHREN; but the Jews were not only restrained from oppressing their BRETHREN, but were also bound by the law to assist them generously and bounti∣fully according to every man's ability, when they dismissed them from their service; which is a duty too seldom practiced among Christians! (see Deut∣renomy xv. 12.)
If thy brother an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years;
Page 57then in the
SEVENTH YEAR thou shalt let him
GO FREE from thee.
34 And when thou sendest him out
FREE from thee, thou shalt
NOT LET HIM GO AWAY EMPTY: Thou shalt furnish him
LIBERALLY out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy wine press:
(of that) wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee, thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that
THOU WAST A BONDMAN in the land of E∣gypt,
AND THE LORD THY GOD RE∣DEEMED THEE: THEREFORE I com∣mand thee this thing to day.
These are the very utmost limits of servitude
that we might venture to exact of our bre∣thren even if we were Jews!
and how much more are we bound to observe every thing that is merciful in the law whilst we pro∣fess Christianity?
What then must we think of ourselves if we compare these Jewish
limitations with our Plantation laws! A bountiful recompence
for the service is plainly enjoined,
whereas the whole sub∣stance perhaps, of the most wealthy English
slaveholders would not suffice to pay what is due, in strict justice,
to those who have laboured in his service,
if the reward is to be proportioned to their sufferings: but it shall one day be required of them—
Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall EAT YOUR FLESH AS IT WERE FIRE: Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. BEHOLD THE HIRE OF THE LABOURERS which have rea∣ped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, CRIETH: and THE CRIES of them WHICH HAVE REAPED are eutered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth
ARMIES) James. v. 3 and 4.
Page 59The slaveholder perhaps will say, that this text is not applicable to him, since he cannot be said to have
kept back by fraudthe hire of his labourers,
because he never made any agreement with them for wages,
having bought their bodies
of the slave dealer,
and thereby made them his own private property;
so that he has a right
(he will say) to all their labour without wages.
But this is a vain ex∣cuse for his oppression,
because it is not so much the previous agreement
as the LA∣BOUR which renders wages due:
THE LABOURER is worthy of HIS HIRE
(Luke x. 7.) and the sin which
CRIETH in the ears of the Lord of Sa∣baoth
is the using
a poor man's LABOUR "WITHOUT WAGES;" so that whether there is an agreement for wages,
or no a∣greement,
yet, if THE LABOUR is perfor∣med,
the wages are due;
and those, who keep them back, may be said to build their house in unrighteousness:
as the prophet
Jeremiah has declared in the strongest terms (Jer. xxii. 13.)
Wo unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteous∣ness, and his chambers by wrong; (that) USETH HIS NEIGHBOUR'S SERVICE WITHOUT WAGES, AND GIVETH HIM NOT FOR HIS WORK.
And the holy Job, even before the law, declared his detestation of UNRE∣WARDED SERVICE.
If my land
(said he) cry against me, or that the furrows like∣wise thereof complain:
IF I HAVE EAT∣EN THE FRUITS THEREOF WITHOUT MONEY, or have caused the owners there∣of to lose there life:35let thistles
Page 61grow instead of wheat, and cockle in∣stead of barley!
Job. xxxi. 38.—40
The wise son of Sirach has also add∣ed his testimony to the same doctrine
He that defraudeth the LABOURER of his hire is a bloodsheder.
Ecclesiasticus xxxiv. 22. The slaveholder will per∣haps endeavour to evade these texts also, by alledging, that though, indeed, he
useth his neighbour's service WITHOUT WAGES, yet he cannot be said to give him nothing for his work,
because he is at the expence of providing him with food and cloathing
and there∣fore this severe text is not applicable to him. But let such a one remember (if he calls himself a Christian
) that Chris∣tian
masters are absolutely bound to have some regard to the interest
of their ser∣vants, as well as to their own interest.
Masters, give unto your SERVANTS that which is JUST AND EQUAL, know∣ing that YE ALSO have a MASTER in heaven.
Colloss. iv. 1.
But slaveholders in general, have no idea of what is "JUST AND EQUAL" to be given to servants according to the Scriptures!
It is not a mere support in food and necessaries, as a master feeds his horse or his ass to enable the creature to perform his labour: but as man is superior to brutes, a further reward is "just and equal" to be given to the human servant. I have already sufficiently proved that every man under the Gospel is to be considered as our neighbour AND brother, and conse∣quently, whatever was "just and equal" "to be given by a Jew, to his neighbour, or Hebrew brother under the Old Testa∣ment,
Page 63the same must, necessarily, be considered as "just and equal," and abso∣lutely due from Christians to men of all nations without distinction, whom we are bound to treat as brethren under the Gospel in whatever capacity they serve us. Let the American slaveholder therefore remember, that even according to the Jewish law, (if he argues upon it as a CHRISTIAN ought to do) he is absolute∣ly indebted to each of his slaves for every days labour BEYOND the first six years OF HIS SERVITUDE.
In the SEVENTH year (said the Lord by Moses,) thou shalt let him GO FREE from thee. And when thou sendest him out FREE from thee, thou SHALT NOT LET HIM GO AWAY EMPTY. Thou shalt furnish him LI∣BERALLY out of thy FLOCK, &c. wherewith the Lord thy God hath bless∣ed thee, thou shalt give unto him
Page 64If this was the indispensable duty even of Jews! how much more is it "JUST AND EQUAL to be observed by Christian? The same command, when applied to the American planter, will in∣clude a proper stock of plants for cul∣tivation, as Sugar-Canes, Tobacco, In∣digo, &c. as well as cattle and stores, to enable a poor man to maintain him∣self and family upon a small farm, or lot of spare ground, lett, for a certain li∣mited time, on reasonable terms; and renewable on equitable conditions; which are the only true means of re∣ducing the price of labour, and provisions. Let not the planter grudge to part with his servant when he has served a reason∣able time in proportion to his price, (agreeable for, instance, to the regula∣tions adopted by the Spaniards which I have already recommended to the English planters See Appendix 5.) for the word of God forbids any such base reluctance.
It shall notPage 65
SEEM HARD UNTO THEE when thou sendest
HIM AWAY FREE from thee; for he hath been worth a double hired ser∣vant
(to thee) in serving thee six years: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.
Deut. xv. 18
The slaveholder perhaps will alledge that, though the Jews were bound to shew this benevolence to their brethren of Israel, yet the same laws do not bind the American planter, because his slaves are for the most part heathens or (as some of the negroes are) Mahometans, and therefore he is not bound to consider them as his brethren; being rather justi∣fied by the law, which permitted the Jews to keep heathen slaves, and
the children of the strangers,
in perpetual bondage &c. They shall be your bondmen for ever
—see Leviticus xxv. 44, 45, and 46.—But I have already guarded against
this objection, in the former part of this tract; and it must clearly appear, by the several points since mentioned, that as Christians,
we must not presume to look upon any man whatever in the same light that the Israelites
once did upon "the children of the strangers,"
whether they be black
or white, Hea∣thens
If a Heathen, or a Mahometan, happens to fall into our hands, shall we confirm his prejudices by oppression, instead of endeavouring to instruct him as a bro∣ther? Surely the blood of such a poor infidel must rest on the guilty head of that nominal Christian, who neglects the opportunity of adding to the num∣ber of his brethren in the Faith! And therefore, let that man, who endeavours to deprive others of their just privileges as brethren, take heed lest he should there∣by unhappily occasion his own rejectionPage 67in the end, when that dreadful doom, which the uncharitable must expect will certainly be pronounced!—For then "the KING" (the King of King's)
shall answer, and say unto them,— Verily I say unto you,—In as much as ye have done (it) unto one of the least of these MY BRETHREN,
(for that glorious KING will esteem even the meanest SLAVES as HIS BRETHREN, if they believe in him,)
ye have done (it) unto ME! DEPART FROM ME YE CURS•D into everlasting Fire, pre∣pared for the Devil and his Angels.
(Matt. xxv. 40, 41.) I know you not! (xxv. 12.)—I never knew you;—De∣part from me ye that work iniquity!
(Matt. vii. 23.)
Soli Deo Gloria et Gratia.
APPENDIX (No. 1.)
An ESSAY on SLAVERY, Proving from SCRIPTURE its Inconsistency with HUMANITY and RELIGION; By GRANVILLE SHARP.
"With an introductory PREFACE," (by a Gentleman of the Law, in West Jersey) "containing the Sen∣timents of the Monthly Reviewers on a Tract, by the Rev. T. Thompson, in Favour of the Slave Trade."
The Lord also will be a Refuge for the Oppressed— a Refuge in Time of Trouble,
Psalm. ix. 9.
BURLINGTON: WEST JERSEY, Printed, M.DCC.LXXIII.
LONDON: reprinted, 1776.
Preface by the American Editor.
THE following Essay, though wrote, as the Author signifies, in haste, is thought to have such merit as to deserve a publication.—The copy was sent to one of the Writer's particular friends, whether for his own peculiar sa∣tisfaction, or the press, is uncertain; but as the subject is Liberty, so it is expected the Freedom which is here taken, cannot justly give him offence, or be unaccepta∣ble to the public.
IT was designed to confute a piece wrote by Thomas Thompson, M. A. some time fellow of C. C. C. entitled,
The Afri∣can trade for Negro Slaves shewn to be consistent with principles of humanity, and with the laws of revealed religion.
'Printed at Canterbury.'
IN order to shew that the Essay Writer has not misrepresented the text, nor is single in his observations upon it, the sen∣timents of the Monthly Reviewers on that pamphlet in May, 1772, are here insert∣ed.
"We must acknowledge," say they,
that the branch of trade here under considera∣tion,
is a species of traffic which we have never been able to reconcile with the dic∣tates of humanity, and much less with those of religion. The principal argu∣ment in its behalf seems to be, the neces∣sity
of such a rescource, in order to carry on the works in our plantations, which, we are told, it is otherwise impossible to perform. But this, though the urgency of the case may be very great, is not by any means sufficient to justify the prac∣tice. There is a farther consideration which has a plausible appearance, and may be thought to carry some weight; it is, that the merchant only purchases those who were slaves before, and possi∣bly may, rather than otherwise, render their lituation more tolerable. But it is well known, that the lot of our Slaves, when most favourably considered, is very hard and miserable; besides which, such a trade is taking the advantage of the ig∣norance and brutality of unenlightened na∣tions, who are encouraged to war with each other for this very purpose, and, it is to be feared, are sometimes tempted to seize those of their own tribes or families that they may obtain the hoped for ad∣vantage: and it is owned, with regard to our merchants, that, upon occasion, they observe the like practices, which are
thought to be allowable, because they are done by way of reprisal for theft or damage committed by the natives. We were pleased, however, to meet with a pamphlet on the other side of the ques∣tion; and we entered upon its perusal with the hopes of finding somewhat ad∣vanced which might afford us satisfaction on this difficult point. The writer ap∣pears to be a sensible man, and capable of discussing the argument; but the li∣mits to which he is confined, rendered his performance rather superficial. The plea he produces from the Jewish law is not, in our view of the matter, at all conclusive. The people of Israel were under a theocracy,
in which the Supreme Being was in a peculiar sense their King, and might therefore issue forth some or∣ders for them, which it would not be warrantable for another people, who were in different circumstances, to observe. Such, for instance, was the command given concerning the extirpation of the Canaanites, whom, the sovereign Arbiter of life and death might, if he had pleased, have destroyed by plague or famine, or other of those means which we term na∣tural causes, and by which a wise Provi∣dence fulfils its own purposes. But it would be unreasonable to infer from the
manner in which the Israelites dealt with the people of Canaan, that any other na∣tions have a right to pursue the same me∣thod. Neither can we imagine that St. Paul's exhortation to servants or slaves, upon their conversion, to continue in the state in which christianity found them, affords any argument favourable to the practice here pleaded for. It is no more than saying, that Christianity did not particularly enter into the regulations of civil society at that time; that it taught persons to be contented and diligent in their stations: but certainly it did not forbid them, in a proper and lawful way, if it was in their power, to render their circumstances more comfortable. Upon the whole, we must own, that this little treatise is not convincing to us, though, as different persons are differently affected by the same considerations, it may prove more satisfactory to others.
'IN another place they observe,'
since we are all brethren, and God has given to all men a natural right to Liberty, we al∣low of no Slavery among us, unless a per∣son forfeits his freedom by his crimes.
THAT Slavery is not consistent with the English constitution, nor admissable in Great Britain, appears evidently by the late solemn determination, in the court of
King's Bench at Westminster, in the case of James Somerset, the Negro; and why it should be revived and continued in the colonies, peopled by the descendents of Britain, and blessed with sentiments as truly noble and free as any of their fellow subjects in the mother country, is not easi∣ly conceived, nor can the distinction be well founded.
natural rights, such as life and Li∣berty, receive no additional strength from municipal laws, nor any human legistature has power to abridge or destroy them, un∣less the owner commits some act that a∣mounts to a forfeiture;a
the natural Liberty of mankind consists proper∣ly in a power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or controul unless by the law of nature; being a right inhe∣rent in us by birth, and one of the Gifts of God to man at his creation, when he en∣dued him with the faculty of free will:
If an act of Parliament
is controulable by the laws of God and nature;c
and in its consequences
may be rendered void for
absurdity, or a manifest contradiction to common reason:
Christianity is a part of the law of England;e
'Christ expressly commands,
Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,
at the same time declaring,
for this is the law and the law and the prophets,a
And if our forefathers, who emigrated from Eng∣land hither, brought with them all the rights, liberties, and privileges of the British constitution (which hath of late years been often asserted and repeatedly contended for by Americans) why is it that the poor sooty African meets with so different a measure of justice in England and America, as to be adjudged free in the one, and in the other held in the most abject Slavery?
WE are expressly restrained from mak∣ing laws, "repugnant to," and directed to fashion them, as nearly as may be, agreeable to, the laws of England. Hence, and because of its total inconsis∣tency with the principles of the constitu∣tion, neither in England or any of the Colonies, is there one law directly in fa∣vour of, or enacting Slavery,
but by a kind of side-wind, admitting its existence, (though only founded on a barbarous custom, originated by foreigners) attempt its regulation. How far the point liti∣gated in James Somerset's case, would
bear a sober candid discussion before an impartial judicature in the Colonies, I cannot determine; but, for the credit of my country, should hope it would meet with a like decision, that it might appear and be known, that Liberty
in America, is not a partial privilege, but extends to every individual in it.
'I MIGHT here, in the language of the famous JAMES OTIS, Esq ask,
Is it possible for a man to have a natural right to make a Slave of himself or his posteri∣ty? What man is or ever was born free, if every man is not? Can a father super∣sede the laws of nature? Is not every man born as free by nature as his father?
There can be no prescription old enough to supersede the law of nature, and the grant of God Almighty, who has given to every man a natural right to be free.
The Colonists are by the law of na∣ture free born, as indeed all men are, white or black. No better reason can be given for the enslaving those of any co∣lour, than such as Baron Montesquieu has humourously assigned, as the foundation of that cruel Slavery exercised over the poor Ethiopeans; which threatens one day to reduce both Europe and America
to the ignorance and barbarity of the darkest ages. Does it follow that it is right to enslave a man because he is black? Will short curled hair like wool, instead of christians hair, as it is called by those whose hearts are hard as the nether mill∣stone, help the argument? Can any lo∣gical inference in favour of Slavery, be drawn from a flat nose‖ a long or a short face? Nothing better can be said in fa∣vour of a trade
that is the most shocking violation of the laws of nature; has a direct tendency to diminish every idea of the inestimable value of Liberty, and makes every dealer in it a tyrant, from the director of an African company, to the petty chapman in needles and pins, on the unhappy coast.
To Those who think Slavery founded in Scripture, a careful and attentive perusal of the Sacred Writings would contribute more than any thing to eradicate the er∣ror, they will not find even the name of Slave
once mentioned therein, and applied to a servitude to be continued from parent to child in perpetuity, with approbation. —The term used on the occasion in the sacred text is Servant;
and, upon a fair construction of those writings, there is no necessity, nor can the service, consistent
with the whole tenor of the Scripture, be extended further than the generation spo∣ken of; it was never intended to include the posterity.
THF mistaken proverb which prevailed in that early age,
The fathers had ea∣ten four grapes, and the childrens teeth were set on edge,
was rectified by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who de∣clared to the people, that
they should not have occasion to use that proverb any more;—Behold all souls are mine, as the soul of the father, so the soul of the son, the soul that sinneth it shall die;—the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son;—the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.a
And the apostle Peter assures us, after the ascension of our Saviour, that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him is ac∣cepted of him.b
It is also remark∣able, that at that time, an Ethiopian,
a man of great authority,c
was ad∣mitted to the freedom of a Christian, whatever we may think of the colour now, as being unworthy of it.
But admitting Slavery to be established by Scripture, the command of the Sove∣reign Ruler of the universe, whose eye takes in all things, and who, for good reasons, beyond our comprehension, might justly create a perpetual Slavery to effect his own purposes, against the enemies of his chosen people in that day, cannot be pleaded now against any people on earth; it is not even pretended to in justification of Negro Slavery, nor can the sons of Ethiopia, with any degree of clearness, be proved to have descended from any of those nations who so came under the Di∣vine displeasure as to be brought into ser∣vitude; if they are, and those denuncia∣tions given in the Old Testament were perpetual, and continue in force, must we not look upon it meritorious to execute them fully upon all the offspring of that unhappy people upon whom they fell, without giving quarter to any?
MANY who admit the indefensibility of Slavery, considering the subject rather too superficially, declare it would be im∣politic to emancipate those we are possessed of; and say, they generally behave ill when set at liberty. I believe very few of the advocates for freedom think that all ought to be manumitted, nay, think it would be unjust to turn out those who
have spent their prime of life, and now require a support; but many are in a fit capacity to do for themselves and the public; as to these let every master or mistress do their duty, and leave conse∣quences to the Disposer of events, who, I believe, will always bless our actions in proportion to the purity of their spring. But many instances might be given of Negroes and Mulatoes, once in Slavery, who, after they have obtained their li∣berty, (and sometimes even in a state of bondage) have given striking proofs of their integrity, ingenuity, industry, ten∣derness and nobility of mind; of which, if the limits of this little Piece permit∣ed, I could mention many examples; and why instances of this kind are not more fre∣quent, we may very naturally impute to the smallness of the number tried with freedom, and the servility and meanness of their education whilst in Slavery. Let us never forget, that an equal if not a grea∣ter proportion of our own colour behave worse with all the advantages of birth, education and circumstances; and we shall blush to oppose an equitable emanci∣pation, by this or the like arguments.
LIBERTY, the most manly and exalt∣ing of the gifts of Heaven, consists in a free and generous exercise of all the hu∣man
man faculties as far as they are compati∣ble with the good of society to which we belong; and the most delicious part of the enjoyment of the inestimable blessing lies in a consciousness that we are free.
This happy persuasion, when it meets with a noble nature, raises the soul, and rectifies the heart; it gives dignity to the countenance and animates every word and gesture; it elevates the mind above the little arts of deceit, makes it benevolent, open, ingenuous and just, and adds a new relish to every better sentiment of huma∣nity.
On the contrary,
Man is bereaved of half his virtues that day when he is cast into bondage.b
THE end of the christian dispensation, with which we are at present favoured, ap∣pears in our Saviours words,
The spi∣rit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the bro∣ken hearted; to preach deliverance to the captives; and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
THE Editor is united in opinion with the author of the Essay, that slavery is contra∣ry to the laws of reason, and the principles
of revealed religion; and believes it alike inimical and impolitick in every state and country;
righteousness exalteth a nation, so sin is a reproach to any people.
Hence whatever violates the purity of equal justice, and the harmony of true li∣berty, in time debases the mind, and ulti∣mately draws down the displeasure of that Almighty Being,
is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on ini∣quity.b
Yet he is far from censuring those who are not under the same convic∣tions, and hopes to be understood with cha∣rity and tenderness to all. Every one does not see alike the same propositions, who may be equally friends to truth, as our education and opportunities of knowledge are various as our faces. He will candidly confess to any one who shall kindly point it out: any error which in this inquiry hath fell from his pen. There can be but one beatific point of rectitude, but many paths leading to it, in which persons differing in modes and non-essentials, may walk with freedom to their own opinions; we may much more innocently be under a mistake, than continue in it after a hint given, which occasions our adverting thereto; for it seems a duty to investigate the way of
truth and justice with our utmost ability.
A much more extensive and perfect view of the subject under consideration, has of late prevailed than formerly; and he be∣lieves nothing is wanting but an impartial disinterested attention to make still greater advances. Thus, by a gradual progression, he hopes the name of Slavery will be eradi∣cated by the general voice of mankind in this land of Liberty.
THE mode of manumitting negroes in New-Jersey is such as appears terrific, and amounts almost to a prohibition, because of its incumbering consequences, which few prudent people chuse to leave their fa∣milies liable to. It is much easier in se∣veral other colonies. In Pennsylvania a recognizance entered into in THIRTY POUNDS to indemnify the township, is a compleat discharge. In Mariland; where Negroes are so numerous, I am informed, the master or mistress may at pleasure give Liberty to their slaves without the least obligation, and be clear of any future burden. Both these are exceptionable, and may be improved. Proper distinctions are necessary; for as the freedom of all gratis might be unjust, not only to the publick but the Slave: so any clog upon the owner who gives up his right at an age when he cannot have received much or any advantage from the labour of the
individual, would be unreasonable. The wisdom of a legislature earnestly disposed to do good, will I hope be directed to sur∣mount every little difficulty in pointing out a scheme more equal and perfect, by steering a middle course; and proper care being kindly taken to assist and provide for the usefulness of those deserving objects of benevolence, the approbation of Divine Providence will I doubt not, attend such laudable endeavours, and crown them with success.—That the legislative body of each province in America may give due atten∣tion to this important engaging subject, and be blessed to frame and establish a plan worthy of the united jurisprudence, wisdom, and benevolence of the Guardians of Liberty,
is the sincere wish of
AN ESSAY on SLAVERY, Proving from Scripture its inconsisten∣cy, with Humanity and Religion,
A REVEREND author, Mr. Tho∣mas Thompson, M. A. has late∣ly attempted to prove
that the Afri∣can trade for Negroe Slaves is con∣sistent with the principles of humanity and revealed religion.
FROM Leviticus xxv. 39 to 46, he draws his principle conclusion, viz.
that the buying and selling of Slaves is not con∣trary to the law of nature,
he) the Jewish constitutions
were strictly therewith consistent in all points:
and these are in certain cases the rule by which is determined by learned lawyers
and casuists, what is, or is not, contrary to nature.
I have not leisure to follow this author me∣thodically, but will, nevertheless, ex∣amine his ground in a general way,
in order to prevent any ill use that may be made of it against the important question now depending before the judges.
THE reverend Mr. Thompson's pre∣mises are not true, for the Jewish con∣stitutions were not "strictly consistent" with the law of nature in all points, as he supposes, and consequently his prin∣cipal conclusion thereupon is erroneous. Many things were formerly tolerated among the Israelites, merely through
Page 20the mercy and forbearance of God, in consideration of their extreme frailty and inability, at that time, to bear a more perfect system of law. Other laws there are in the five books (besides the ceremonial laws now abrogated) which are merely municipal, being adapted to the peculiar polity of the Israelitish com∣monwealth, on account of its situation in the midst of the most barbarous na∣tions, whom the Hebrews were at all times but too much inclined to immi∣tate.
THE universal moral laws and those of natural equity are, indeed, every where plentifully interspersed among the peculiar laws abovementioned; but they may very easily be distinguished by every sincere Christian, who examines them with a liberal mind, because the benevolent purpose of the Divine Author
Page 21is always apparent in those laws which are to be eternally binding; for
it is the reason of the law which consti∣tutes the life of the law,
according to an allowed maxim of our own country, "Ratio Legis est anima Legis," (Jenk. Cent. 45.) And with respect to these moral
laws, I will readily agree with the Reverend Mr. Thomp∣son, that they are the best rule by which
learned judges and casuists can deter∣mine what is, or is not, contrary to nature.
BUT I will now give a few examples of laws, which are in themselves contra∣ry to nature or natural equity, in order to shew that Mr. Thompson's premises are totally false:
THE Israelites were expressly permitted by the law of Moses to give a bill of di∣vorce
Page 22to their wives whenever they pleased, and to marry other women; and the women who were put away, were also expressly permitted, by the Mosaic law, to marry again, during the lives of their for mer husbands.
ALL which practices were manifest∣ly contrary to the law of nature in its purity, though not perhaps to the nature of our corrupt affections and desires; for Christ himself declared, that
from the beginning it was not so,
Matt. xix 8, 9. and at the same time our Lord infor∣med the Jews, that
Moses, because of the hardness of their hearts, suffered them to put away their wives.
NEITHER was it according to the law of nature, that the Jews were permitted in their behaviour and dealings, to make a partial distinction between their
Page 23brethren of the house of Israel, and strangers. This national partiality was not, indeed, either commanded or re∣commended in their law—but it was clearly permitted or tolerated, and pro∣bably, for the same reason as the last mentioned instance—
thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother,
unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury &c. Deut. xxiii. 19.—Again— of a foreigner thou mayest exact;
(that is, whatsoever has been lent,
as ap∣pears by the preceding verses) but that which is,
thine, with thy brother, thine hand shall release,
Deut. xv. 3
Now all these laws were "contrary to the law of nature" or "natural equi∣ty," (whatever Mr. Thompson, may think) and were certainly, annulled or rather superseded, as it were, by the more perfect doctrines of universal be∣nevolence taught by Christ himself, who
Page 24"come not to destroy, but to fulfill the law."
IN the law of Moses we also read,
Thou shalt not avenge or bear grudge against the children of thy people but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy∣self,
Leviticus xix. 18.
THE Jews, accordingly, thought themselves sufficiently justified, if they confined this glorious perfection of cha∣rity, viz. the loving others as themselves, to the persons mentioned in the same verse, viz.
the children of their own people;
for they had no idea that so much love could possibly be due to any other sort of neighbours
But Christ taught them by the parable of the good Samaritan,
that all strangers whatever
even those who are declared enemies, (as were the Samaritans to the Jews) are to be esteemed our neigh∣boursPage 25
whenever they stand in need of our charitable assistance.
"THE Jewish institution" indeed, as Mr. Thompson remarks
permited the use of bondservants,
but did not per∣mit the bondage of brethren:
STRAN∣GERS ONLY could be lawfully
retain∣ed as bondmen
—"of the heathen," (or, more agreeable to the Hebrew words, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉of the nations
that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bond men and bond maids. More∣over of the children of strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy,
They shall be your bondmen for ever.
Levit, xxv 39 to 46.
THIS was the law, I must acknow∣ledge, with respect to a stranger that was purchased; but with respect to a brotherPage 26or Hebrew of the seed of Abraham, it was far otherwise, as the same chapter testifies; (39th verse) for,
if thy bro∣ther that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: but as an hired servant, and as a so∣journer he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of ju∣bilee. And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him,
&c. This was the utmost servitude
that a Hebrew could lawfully
exact from a∣ny of his brethren
of the house of Israel, unless the servant entered voluntarily
into a perpetual servitude: and, let me add, that it is also, the very utmost servitude
that can lawfully
be admitted among christians:
because we are bound as christians to esteem EVERY MAN as our brother,
and as our neighbour,
which I have already proved; so that this consequence
which I have drawn, is absolutely un∣avoidable.
The Jews indeed, who do not yet acknowlege the commands of Christ, may perhaps still think them∣selves justified
by the law of Moses, in making partial distinctions between their brethren
of Israel, and other men?
but it would be inexcusable
in christians to do so! and therefore I conclude, that we certainly have no right to exceed the limits of servitude,
which the Jews were bound to observe, whenever their poor brethren
were sold to them: and I ap∣prehend that we must not venture even to go so far,
because the laws of brother∣ly love
are infinitely enlarged, and ex∣tended by the gospel of peace, which proclaims "good will towards men,"
without distinction; and because we cannot be said to
love our neighbours as ourselves;
or to do to others as we would they should do unto us
retain them against their will,
in a des∣picable servitude as slaves,
and private property,
or mere chattels!
THE glorious system of the gospel destroys all narrow, national partiality; and makes us citizens of the world, by obliging us to profess universal benevo∣lence: but more especially are we bound, as christians, to commiserate and assist to the utmost of our power all persons in distress, or captivity; whatever
the worshipful committee of the compa∣ny of merchants trading to Africa,
may think of it, or their advocate, the reverend Mr. Thompson.
CHARITY, indeed, begins at home; and we ought most certainly to give the preference to our own countrymen, whenever we can do so without injus∣tice; but we may
not do evil that
Page 29good may come;
(though our states∣men, and their political deceivers may think otherwise) we must not, for the sake of Old England,
and its African trade,
or for the supposed advantage, or imaginary necessities of our American
colonies, lay aside our christian charity,
which we owe to all the rest of mankind:
because, whenever we do so,
we certain∣ly deserve to be considered in no better light than as an overgrown society of robbers,
a mere banditti,
who, per∣haps, may love one another,
but at the same time are at enmity with all the rest of the world.
Is this according to the law of nature?
—For shame Mr. Thompson!
I HAVE much more to communi∣cate, but no more time to write:—if I had, I could draw from the scriptures
Page 30the most alarming examples of God's severe judgments upon the Jews, for tyrannizing over their brethren, and, expressly, for exceeding the limits of servitude just now mentioned.
a I must find time however to adopt one observa∣tion even from the reverend Mr. Thomp∣son, (p. 11.) viz.
This subject will grow more serious upon our hands, when we consider the buying and sell∣ing Negroes,
not as a clandestine or piratical business, but as an open pub∣lic trade, encouraged
and promoted by acts of parliament; for so, if being contrary to religion it must be deemed
A NATIONAL SIN;
and as such may
have a consequence that would be always to be dreaded.
May God give us grace to repent of this abominable "NATIONAL SIN," before it is too late!
If I have vindicated the law of Mo∣ses, much easier can I vindicate the be∣nevolent apostle Paul, from Mr. Thomp∣son's insinuations, with respect to slave∣ry; for he did not entreat Philemon to take back his servant Onesimus,
in his former capacity,
as Mr. Thompson
has asserted, in order to render bond∣age
consistent with the principles of re∣vealed religion,
—but St. Paul
not now as a servant, but,
Page 32above a servant,*
a brother beloved,
&c. So that Mr. Thompson
has notori∣ously wrested St. Paul
IN the other texts where St. Paul recommends submission to Servants, for conscience-sake, he at the same time enjoins the master to entertain such a measure of brotherly love towards his servants, as must be entirely subversive of the African trade, and West-IndianPage 33slavery. And though St. Paul, recom∣mends christian patience under servi∣tude, yet, at the same time, he plain∣ly insinuates, that it is inconsistent with
Page 34christianity, and the dignity of Christ's kingdom, that a christian brother should
Page 35be a Slave.
Can'st thou be made free?
(says he to the christian servants)
choose it rather,
for he that is called
of the Lord, being a servant,
is the freeman
of the Lord; and, in like
manner, he that is called, being free,
is the servant of Christ,
Ye are bought with a price; BE NOT THERE∣FORE THE SERVANTS OF MEN.
The apostle, indeed, had just before
recommended to his disciples to abide in the same calling,
wherein they were called, and, "being servants, not to care for it:"
That is, not to grieve on account of their temporal
state; (for if, instead of thus enjoining submission,
he had absolutely declared the iniquity of
SLAVERY, tho' established
by the laws of temporal
govern∣ments, he would have occasioned more
among the multitude of SLAVES, more striving for temporal
happiness; yet it plainly appears, by the insinua∣tions, which immediately follow, that he thought it derogatory to the honour of christianity, that men, who
with the inestimable price of Christ
's blood, should be esteemed servants;
that is, the Slaves,
and pri∣vate property of other men; and had christianity been established by tempo∣ral
authority, in those countries where Paul
preached, as it is at present in these kingdoms, we need not doubt but that he would have urged,
nay, compelled the masters, as he did Phile∣mon,
by the most pressing arguments, to treat their quondam slaves,
NOT NOW AS SERVANTS, BUT ABOVE SERVANTS—AS BRETHREN BE∣LOVED.
On the miserable STATE of an African SLAVE, by the celebrated and ingeni∣ous William Shenstone, Esq
—SEE the poor native quit the Lybian shores,
Ah! not in love's delightful fetters bound!
No radiant smile his dying peace restores,
Nor love, nor same, nor friendship heals his wound.
Let vacant bards display their boasted woes,
Shall I the mockery of grief display?
No, let the muse his piercing pangs disclose,
Who bleeds and weeps his sum of life away!
On the wild beach in mournful guise he stood,
Ere the shril boatswain gave the hated sign;
He dropt a tear unseen into the flood;
He stole one secret moment, to repine.
Yet the muse listen'd to the plaints he made;
Such moving plaints as nature could inspire;
To me the muse his tender plea convey'd,
But smooth'd, and suited to the sounding lyre.
"Why am I ravish'd from my native strand?
What savage race protects this impious gain?
Shall foreign plagues infest this teeming land,
And more than sea-born monsters plough the main?
Here the dire locusts horrid swarms prevail;
Here the blue asps with livid poison swell;
Here the dry dipsa wriths his sinuous mail;
O can we not here, secure from envy, dwell?
When the grim lion urg'd his cruel chace,
When the stern panther sought his midnight prey,
What fate reserv'd me for this christian race?
O race more polish'd, more severe than they!
Ye prouling wolves pursue my latest cries!
Thou hungry tyger, leave thy reeking den!
Ye sandy wastes in rapid eddies rise!
O tear me from the whips and scorns of men!
Yet in their face superior beauty glows;
Are smiles the mein of rapine and of wrong?
Yet from their lip the voice of mercy flows,
And ev'n religion dwells upon their tongue.
Of blissful haunts they tell, and brighter climes,
Where gentle minds convey'd by death repair,
But stain'd with blood, and crimson'd o'er with crimes
Say, shall they merit what they paint so fair?
No, careless, hopeless of those fertile plains,
Rich by our toils, and by our sorrows gay,
They ply our labours, and enhance our pains,
And feign these distant regions to repay.
For them our tusky elephant expires;
For them we drain the mine's embowel'd gold;
Where rove the bratal nations wild desires?—
Our limbs are pucchas'd, and our life is sold!
Yet shores there are, blest shores for us remain,
And favour'd isles with golden fruitage crown'd,
Where tusted flow'rets paint the verdant plain.
Where ev'ry breeze shall med'cine ev'ry wound.
There the stern tyrant that embitters life
Shall vainly suppliant, spread his asking hand;
There shall we view the billow's raging strife,
Aid the kind breast, and waft his boat to land."
APPENDIX (No. 2.)
Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman in Maryland, to his Friend in Lon∣don.
BUT whether I shall go thither or return home, I am yet undeter∣mined; indeed, no where shall I stay long from England, for I had much ra∣ther enjoy the bare necessaries of life there, than the most affluent circumstan∣ces in this country of most wretched Sla∣very; which alone would render the life of any humane man most miserable. There are four things under the Sun, which I equally abhor and abominate, viz. Slavery (under which I comprehend all cruelty, oppression and injustice) and licentiousness, pride and impudence, all which abound here in a monstrous de∣gree.
The punishments of the poor negroes and convicts, are beyond all conception, being entirely subject to the will of their
savage and brutal masters, they are often punished for not doing more than strength and nature will admit of, and sometimes because they can't on every occasion fall in with their wanton and capricious hu∣mours. One common punishment, is to flea their backs with cow hides, or other instruments of barbarity, and then pour on hot rum, superinduced with brine or pickle, rub'd in with a corn husk, in the scorching heat of the Sun. For cer∣tain, if your judges were sensible of the shocking treatment of the convicts here, they would hang every one of them, as an infinitely less punishment, and trans∣port only those, whose crimes deserve the severest death. Better be hanged seven
hundred times, than serve seven
years here! and there is no redress, for magis∣trates and all are equally interested and criminal. If I had a child, I had rather see him the humblest scavenger in the streets of London,
than the loftiest ty∣rant in America,
with a thousand slaves at his beck.
APPENDIX, (No. 3.)
A Letter from Granville Sharp, to Ja∣cob Bryant, Esq concerning the Descent of the Negroes.
I Have conceived a very high opinion of your abilities, by perusing your learned account of Egypt, and the Shep∣herd Kings, &c. and as you seem to have studied, very particularly, the history of the Cuseans and antient Arabians, you can (I apprehend) easily resolve some doubts, relating thereto, which occurred to me on reading your book.
I HAD always supposed that black men in general were descended from Cush, be∣cause a distinction in colour from the rest of mankind, seems to have been particu∣larly attributed to his descendants, the Cu∣shim, even to a proverb.
Can the Cushi (commonly rendered Ethiopian) change his Skin,
&c. (Jeremiah, xiii. 23.) and
therefore I concluded that all negroes as well East Indian as African, are en∣titled to the general name of Cushim, as being, probably, descended from dif∣ferent branches of the same stock, be∣cause the proverb is equally applicable to both, with respect to their complection, tho' in many respects they are very dif∣ferent. But in p. 254, of your learned work, where you are speaking of the Cu∣seans in general, you say, that they are to be found within the tropics, almost as low as the Gold coast, &c. as if you apprehended, that the negroes on the Gold coast, and below it, were not de∣scended from Cush.
Now, Sir, I shall think myself greatly obliged, if you will be pleased to inform me, whether you really have any particu∣lar reason to apprehend that the negroes on the coast of Guinea (from whence our plantations are most commonly supplied) are descended from any other stock? Or whether their descent can at all be traced?
I AM far from having any particular esteem for the negroes, but as I think myself obliged
to consider them as Men,
I am certainly obliged,
also, to use my best endeavours to prevent their being treated as beasts,
by our unchristian countrymen, who deny them the privileges of human Nature;
and, in order to excuse their
will scarcely allow that negroes are human Beings.
THE tracing their descent, therefore, is a point of some consequence to the subject, in which I am now engaged for their defence.
* * * *
I am, SIR, Your most obedient, humble Servant, GRANVILLE SHARP.
Old Jewry,19th Octr. 1772.
JACOB BRYANT, Esq
APPENDIX (No. 4.)
Mr. Bryant's Answer to the foregoing Letter.
Cypenham,20th Octr. 1772.
I MOST sincerely wish you success in your laudable purpose: and am very glad to find in these base times, that there is a person, who will stand up in defence of human nature; and not suffer it to be limited to a set of features and complexion. There is nothing, I believe, in my wri∣tings, that can affect any argument, which you may think proper to urge in favour of those, whom you would patro∣nize. But to take away all embarras∣ment, and uncertainty, I will give you my opinion upon the subject, which you have stated to me in your letter, in respect to the origin of the Nigritae or Negroes. You seem to think, that all, who are of that very deep tint, which is
observable in the natives upon the coast of Guinea, are the offspring of Chus:
and all black men in general are of the same origin. To this I take the liberty to answer, that all the natives of Africa
are more or less swart: and even among the negroes there are a great variety of tints, from a light copper colour to the darkest black. All the inhabitants of this vast continent are assuredly the sons of Ham:
but not equally descended from Chus.
For though his posterity was very dark, yet many of the collateral branches were of as deep a die: and Africa
was peopled from Ham,
by more families than one. It was possessed by some of them, as there is good grounds to sur∣mise, before the Cushites
came into Egypt.
We learn from scripture, that Ham
had four sons, Chus, Mizraim, Phut
Gen. x. v. 6. Canaan
and the country called by his by his name: Mizraim Egypt:
passed deep into Africa,
and, I believe, most of the nations in that part of the world are descended from him: at least more than from any other person. Josephus
says, that Phut was the foun∣der of the nations in Libya,
* and the
Page 49people were from him called,
(〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
he understands, as the Greeks
in general: for the particular country, called Libya
proper, was peopled by the Lubim,
one of the branches from Mizraim,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
. Chron. Paschale, p. 29.
THE sons of Phut,
settled in Maurita∣nia,
where was a country called Phutia,
and a river of the like denomination. Mauritaniae Fluvius usque ad praesens tempus Phut
dicitur, omnisque circa eum regio Phutensis.
. Tradit. Hebraeae.) — Amnem, quem vocant▪ Fut:
(Pliny, lib. 5. c. i.)—Some of this family settled above Egypt, near Aethi∣opia, and were stiled Troglodytae. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
syncellus, p. 47. many of them passed inland, and peopled the Mediterranean
country. In process of time, (after their expulsion from Egypt,
) the sons of Chus
made settlements upon the sea coast of Africa,
and came into Mauritania.
Hence we find traces of them also in the names of places, such as Churis, Chusares,
upon the coast: and a river Cusa,
and a city Cotta,
together with a promontory Cotis
all denominated from Chus;
who at dif∣ferent times and by different people was called Chus, Cuth, Cosh
The river Cusa
is mentioned by Pliny,
c. 1. and by Ptolomey.
Many ages after these settlements, there was another ir∣ruption of the Cushites
into these parts, under the name of Saracens*
who over ran Africa,
to the very extre∣mities of mount Atlas.
They passed over, and conquered Spain
to the north: and they extended themselves southward, as I said in my treatise, to the rivers Sene∣gal
and as low as the Gold Coast.
I mentioned this, because I do not think, that they proceeded much far∣ther: most of the nations to the south being, as I imagine, of the race of Phut.
The very country upon the river Gambia
on one side, is at this day called Phuta,
of of which Bluet,
in his history of Juba Ben Solomon,
gives an account.
It is not possible to discriminate at this aera of time the several casts among the black nations, but I should think, that we may be pretty certain, that they were not all Cushim,
The Negroes are woolly headed; and so were some of the Aethiopes
but nothing can be inferred from this: for many of the latter had long hair, as we learn from He∣rodotus,
lib. 7. c. 70. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
find from Marcellmus,
that the Egyp∣tians
and had a tendency to woolly hair: so that this circumstance can∣not always be looked upon as a family characteristic.
THIS, Sir, is my opinion concerning the people in question, which I submit to your consideration, merely as matter of opinion: for I cannot pretend to speak with certainty. It makes very little dif∣ference in respect to the good cause, which your humanity prompts you to es∣pouse, whether the Nigritae are Phutians, or Cushites. They are certainly the sons of Ham: and, what is more to the pur∣pose, they are the work manship of God▪ formed in his image with a living Soul; as well as ourselves. Consequently they deserve better treatment, than they have generally experienced from those, who look upon themselves, as more enlighten∣ed, and possessed of a greater degree of humanity. I join with you sincerely in detesting the cruel traffic: and am, with great truth, SIR,
Your most obedient, and most humble Servant, JACOB BRYANT.
You are pleased to observe, that a distinction in colour from the rest of man∣kind
Page 52seems to have been particularly attri∣buted to the descendants of the Cushim.
They certainly were very dark: but so were all the sons of Ham.
And it is difficult to say, who were the darkest, as it was a circumstance depending upon the situation of the people spoken of, and upon many occult causes. The same family in differ∣ent parts varied from itself, as I have shewn from Herodotus.
The sacred writers speak of the Cushi
's complexion particularly, be∣cause they were most acquainted with it, as being very near Shem.
There were se∣veral regions, called Cushan
one of which was upon the confines of Judaea,
but still nearer to Midian.
Hence the prophet Habbakuh
says in a vision,—I saw the tents of
Cushan in affliction, and the cur∣tains of
Midian did tremble.
C. iii. v. 7. These were the Araba Cushitae;
with whom the Israelites
were most acquainted. Of the sons of Phut,
and of the Ludim, Lebabim,
and other descendants of Ham,
they had probably little or no cognizance, excepting only the Mizraim,
and the Aethiopians
immediately above them to the south of Syene.
With these they were acquainted. Should it be in my power to give you any farther satisfac∣tion, I shall be very proud of your com∣mands. * * * * * *
THE whole of what you mention, that all Moors, Negroes, and black persons are from one common stock is most assuredly true, if you make the head of that family Ham, instead of Chus. One remove higher makes every thing strictly consonant to the truth.
APPENDIX, (No. 5.)
The Regulations lately adopted by the Spaniards, at the Havanna, and some other Places, for the gradual enfran∣chisement of Slaves, are to the follow∣ing Effect.
AS soon as a slave is landed, his name, price, &c.
are registered in a public register; and the master is oblig∣ed, by law, to allow him one working day,
in every week, to himself, besides Sundays;
so that, if the slave chuses to work for his master on that day, he receives the wages of a freeman
for it; and whatever he gains by his labour, on that day, is so secured to him by law, that the master cannot de∣prive him of it. This is certainly a con∣siderable step towards the abolishing abso∣lute slavery.
As soon as the slave is able to purchase another working day,
the mas∣ter is obliged to sell it to him at a propor∣tionable price, viz.
one fifth part of his
original cost; and so, likewise, the re∣maining four days, at the same rate, as soon as the slave is able to redeem them; after which he is absolutely free:
This is such encouragement to industry, that even the most indolent are tempted to exert themselves. Men, who have thus work∣ed out their freedom, are enured to the labour of the country, and are certainly the most useful subjects that a colony can acquire. Regulations might be formed upon the same plan to encourage the in∣dustry of slaves that are already imported into the colonies,
which would teach them how to maintain themselves, and be as useful,
as well as less
expensive to the plan∣ter. They would by such means become members of society, and have an interest in the welfare of the community; which would add greatly to the strength and se∣curity of each colony: whereas, at pre∣sent, many of the plantations are in conti∣nual danger of being cut off by their slaves,
a fate which they but too justly deserve.
APPENDIX, (No. 6.)
Extract of a Letter from the Author, to a Gentleman at Philadelphia.
—and surely there needs no argu∣ment to demonstrate the weakness and dan∣ger of the more southern colonies, from the immense multitude of slaves, that are forci∣bly detained therein!
THE congress have acted nobly in for∣bidding the iniquitous importation of more slaves;
but the business is but half done, 'till they have agreed upon some equitable and safe means of gradually enfranchising
those which remain. No time should be lost in forwarding this equitable measure; —and, to secure the affections of the ne∣groes, assurances should be immediately given of such friendly intentions towards them, lest any attack should, in the mean while, be made in those quarters, which
might encourage an insurrection.
I tremble for the probable consequences of such an event! for though domestic slavery,
(which I detest from my heart) would thereby be abolished, yet that effect would be wrought at the expence of public Liberty;
and the tyranny
and injustice of private individuals would seem, perhaps, to be too severely punished by that horrid carnage and im∣placability, which usually attend the con∣flicts between masters and slaves!
LET private interest therefore give place to justice and right, which will most effec∣tually administer to the public safety.
LET it be remembered that many of the negroes are natives of the colonies, and consequently have a natural right to a free existence therein, as well as the Land∣holders themselves. I shall not presume to advise the mode of effecting this im∣portant and necessary enfranchisement, but will only offer a few hints in order to promote the consideration and determina∣tion of those who are best able to judge of the matter.
SUPPOSE the value of every slave now in the colonies, was to be fairly estimated, by juries appointed for that purpose, and the value to be entered, under their inspection, (as a pecuniary debt
due from each negroe to his master,) in a public register for each district. Suppose also that the landholders,
who do not occupy all their grounds, were advised to divide what lands they can spare into compact little farms,
with a small wooden cottage to each, which should be allotted to those negroes only, who are natives of the colony, or else have been so long in it, that their dispositions are sufficiently known, whether or not they may safely be entrust∣ed with their liberty. Let such negroes hold these small portions of land by leases, for a certain term of years; and at equitable rents, to be paid in such portions of the produce
from time to time, as shall be thought most reasonable, leaving the ten∣ants a moderate gain, (besides their neces∣sary subsistence) to encourage industry, and yet so as to yield the landlords a due profit from each portion of their estates, besides an adequate allowance to reimburse (within the limited time) not only the registered price of their quondam slaves, but also whatever sums they may have advanced to∣wards the expence of building,
of live stock,
of seed, &c. &c.
the amount of which ought to be added to the first debt and registered, in like manner, before the leases are executed. By these means the landlords will lose nothing of their wealth, and yet the most useful and worthiest of the negroes will acquire a natural interest
in the welfare and safety of the community, which will insure their assistance against
any hostile attempt of the rest. Other negroes, that are not capable of managing and shifting for themselves, nor are fit to be trusted, all at once, with liberty, might be delivered over to the care and protection of a county committee, in order to avoid the baneful effects of private property in men;
and might, by the said committee, be let out, as hired servants,
to such persons as would undertake the charge of them, to be paid (also in produce
) towards the dis∣charge of the registered debt for each man's original price; and the labourer himself in the mean while to be allow∣ed one day in a week (beside the Sun∣day) for his own profit, or be paid for it according to the mode of the Spanish regulations,
(which I before trans∣mitted) that he may have an opportuni∣ty to acquire a little property of his own, which will prepare his mind,
as well as his circumstances for freedom,
by enabling him, as a member of the community to shift for himself at the time of his dis∣charge. By some such regulations, as these, slavery might be changed into a condition, more nearly resembling that of hired servants,
as no master would be the absolute proprietor
of those he employs, and yet all reasonable advantages arising from their labour, would remain; which must occasion a reciprocal improvement in the morality and humanity both of mas∣ters
and servants; and in process of time, instead of wretched slaves,
a new and use∣ful order of men, at present unknown in America, (where every freeman
cultivates his own ground only) would be established amongst you; I mean a hardy body of free peasants,
serving either as trusty ten∣ants
to improve the estates of landed gentlemen, or else as laborious cot∣tagers,
who might be employed with in∣finite advantage to the neighbourhood, wherever established, especially if they were encouraged by an allotment of a small patch of land for a potatoe ground or garden, with a right of pasture for a little live stock upon some common field in the neighbourhood of their little cot∣tages.—Landholders by this means would have their estates better peopled and im∣proved, and yet avoid the guilt and dan∣ger of oppression. In the mean while, the hours of labour should be uniformly regu∣lated, to prevent the oppression of avari∣cious exactors, and the danger of discon∣tent: and schools should be opened in every district, to give the poor labourers and their children, some general ideas of morality and religious knowledge, which constitute the most effectual bond of peace.
These regulations I mention only by way of hint: you have the same earnest regard
for the cause of general liberty,
and the natural rights of mankind
that I have, and much greater abilities to defend them, and to propose a more perfect system than what is here suggested. Let me therefore intreat you to consider this matter, and to forward, as soon as possible, some scheme of general enfranchisement, because Ame∣rican liberty cannot be firmly established 'till this is done.
I am with great esteem, Dear SIR, Your affectionate friend and humble servant. GRANVILLE SHARP.
London, 18 July, 1775.
APPENDIX, (No. 7.)
Extract from Mr. Morgan's Book, in∣tituled,
A Plan for the Abolition of Slavery, in the West Indies.
Nothing can be more opposite to every idea of justice and mo∣rality than the present practice of buying slaves, to cultivate the West Indian islands and the southern provinces on the conti∣nent of America; nor can any thing, I think, be eventually more fatal—***
Yet something, out of worldly prudence ought to be done;—for, as this evil has been violently introduced, contrary to the natural course of things and the constitution of the world, it will one day find a remedy even in its excess. Matters will be fatally brought to a crisis, and nature will vindicate her own laws,
and restore the credit of her equal and just administration, to the lasting punish∣ment of those who abused it. THIS WILL BE WHEN THE BLACKS OF THE SOUTH-THERN COLONIES ON THE CONTINENT OF AMERICA SHALL BE NUMEROUS ENOUGH TO THROW OFF AT ONCE THE YOKE OF TYRANNY TO REVENGE THEIR WRONGS IN THE BLOOD OF THEIR OP∣PRESSORS, AND CARRY TERROR AND DESTRUCTION TO THE MORE NORTHERN SETTLEMENTS. Such a revolution can∣not take place in the islands until this period, on account of the want of intel∣ligence and communication between the slaves of one island and another and of the easy communication and mutual as∣sistance of whites. But an insurrection on the continent, once communicated, will be an incitement in the islands, and a sig∣nal for a general and (but that every Englishman is alike concerned, and the planter not peculiarly criminal) A MERIT∣ED CARNAGE.
Nothing can be conceived MORE DE∣STRUCTIVE, MORE INSATIATE, THAN THE WARS WHICH WILL FOLLOW THIS EVENT; they will be every where marked with THE MOST HORRIBLE CRUELTIES, and THE MOST FURIOUS REVENGE. The distinction of black
have so unreasonably made the marks of freedom
will then become the obvious colours of mutual hostility and revenge; and it seems likely that these wars MAY END TO THE DISADVANTAGE OF THE WHITES; because the blacks, as will be presently observed, will increase faster, and because their nature seems better able to bear the severity of cold, than the whites can that of heat.
APPENDIX, (No 8.)
A Copy of what
is said to be the substance of Lord Mansfield's speech in the case of Somerset and Knowles:
ON Monday the 22d June, in Trinity term, 1772, the court of King's Bench, proceeded to give judgement in the Case of Somerset and Knowles, upon the re∣turn of the Habeas Corpus. LORD MANS∣FIELD first stated the return; and then spoke to the following purport, which is taken from the second edition of a Tract, printed in 1773, intituled,
Considera∣tions on the Negroe Cause, so called, ad∣dressed to the right honourable lord Mans∣field, lord chief justice of the court of King's Bench, by SAMUEL ESTWICK, A. M. Assistant Agent for the island of Barbadoes.
page vii. viz.
WE pay due attention to the opinion of Sir Philip Yorke
and Mr. Talbot,
in the year 1729, by which they pledged themselves to the British planters for the
legal consequences of bringing Negroe-slaves into this kingdom, or their being baptiz∣ed; which opinion was repeated and re∣cognized by lord Hardwicke, sitting as chancellor, on the 19th of October, 1749, to the following effect: he said,
that trover would lay for a negroe-slave: that a notion prevailed, that if a slave came into England, or became a Christian, he there∣by became emancipated; but there was no foundation in law for such a notion: that when he and Lord Talbot were attorney and solicitor general, this notion of a slave becoming free by being baptized per∣vailed so strongly, that the planters indus∣triously prevented their becoming chris∣tians: upon which their opinion was taken; and upon their best consideration they were both clearly of opinion, that a slave did not in the least alter his situation or state to∣wards his master or owner, either by be∣ing christened, or coming to England: that though the statute of Charles II. had abolished
tenure so far, that no man could be a Villein regardant;
yet if he would acknowledge himself a Villein
engrossed in any court of record, he
knew of no way by which he could be en∣titled to his freedom, without the consent of his master.
We feel the force of the inconveniences and consequences that will follow the decision of this question: yet all of us are so clearly of one opinion upon the only
question before us, that we think we ought to give judgment without adjourning the matter to be argued before all the judges, as usual in the habeas cor∣pus, and as we at first intimated an inten∣tion of doing in this case. The only ques∣tion then is, Is the cause returned sufficient for the remanding him? If not,
he must be discharged. The cause returned is, the slave
absented himself and departed from his master's service, and refused to return and serve him during his stay in England;
whereupon, by his master's orders, he was put on board the ship by force, and there detained in secure custody, to be carried out of the kingdom and sold. So high an act of dominion must derive its autho∣rity, if any such it has, from the law of the kingdom where
executed. A foreig∣ner cannot be imprisoned here
on the au∣thority of any law existing in his own coun∣try. The power of a master over his ser∣vant is different in all countries, more or less limited or extensive, the exercise of of it therefore must always be regulated
by the laws of the place where exercised. The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of being now intro∣duced by courts of justice upon mere rea∣soning, or inferences from any principles natural or political; it must take its rise from positive law;
the origin of it can in no country or age be traced back to any other source. Immemorial usage preserves the memory of positive law
long after all traces of the occasion, reason, authority, and time of its introduction, are lost, and in A CASE SO ODIOUS AS THE CONDITION OF SLAVES MUST BE TAKEN STRICTLY. (Tracing the subject to natural princi∣ples, the claim of slavery never can be sup∣ported.)‡
THE POWER CLAIMED BY THIS RETURN WAS NEVER IN USE HERE: (or acknowledged by the law.
) No master ever was allowed here to take a slave by force to be sold abroad because he had deserted from his service, or for any other reason whatever; WE CANNOT SAY, the cause set forth by this return
OR APPROVED OF BY THE LAWS OF THIS KINGDOM, and therefore the man must be discharged.
Upon this Mr. Estwick has been pleased to observe as follows,
i must confess (says he) I have been greatly puzzled in endeavouring to reconcile this judgement with this state of it, and with my comprehension,
But the writer quoted by the African merchant
before mentioned, is not so modest in his censure of this judgement, nor so honest in his re∣cital
of it, as Mr Estwick,
for he partially conceals the most material part of the learn∣ed judge's speech, because it happens to make against his own wicked cause; and tells us by way of excuse for so notorious and partial an omission—that
the remain∣der of the speech is too vague to come into consideration,
&c. (p. 12.) Another anony∣mous writer (author of a pamphlet, intitled
CANDID REFLECTIONS upon THE JUDGE∣MENT lately awarded by the Court of King's Bench, in Westminster Hall, on what is com∣monly called the NEGROE CAUSE, by a Plan∣ter,
) after comparing this JUDGEMENT of the King's Bench, with the opinions of the judges Holt
and those of the attorney and solicitor general, York
&c. is pleased to reflect
thereupon as follows.
(says he) upon which these great Oracles of the law have published
Page 70such opposite sentiments, seems as far as ever from being established upon the solid ground of absolute
PRECISION. The planters of course have been left
(says he) as much puzzled by this
DELPHIC AMBIGUITY, as the sages themselves appear to have been, in forming their judgements upon the subject. The mat∣ter having been
CONFOUNDED in this
&c. (p. 57.) But these heavy charges of the want of "PRECISION," of "DELPHIC AMBIGUITY," and of being
CONFOUNDED in GRAND UN∣CERTAINTY,
&c. are so far from being "CANDID REFLECTIONS," (as this author would have us believe them,) that even his own evidence
on the proceeding page, clear∣ly proves the falsehood and injustice of this censures; for he has there given us the EFFECT of that late judgment of the court of King's Bench, in THE CLEAREST TERMS, without the least doubt
so that the delphic ambiguity,
of which he immediate∣ly after
complains, must be (even accord∣ing to his own evidence,) a mere calumny!
After reciting the opinion of lord chief justice Holt, he immediately adds as follows.
Lord chief justice mansfield (says he) adds to this effect.
That the laws of Great Britain do not authorize a master to reclaim his fugi∣tive SLAVE, confine or transport him out of the kingdom. In other words;
that a negroe slave, coming from the colonies into Great Britain becomes, ipso facto, FREE.
Thus, notwithstanding the un-candid re∣flections of this author about DELPHIC AM∣BIGUITY, yet even he himself has without doubt or difficulty, declared THE certain and unavoidable EFFECT of the judgement de∣livered by Lord Mansfield! That this au∣thor (notwithstanding his prejudices, and unjust censures about ambiguity) has real∣ly stated the certain and unavoidable EFFECT of the said judgment, will appear by the following remarks upon it.
APPENDIX, (No. 9.)
Remarks on the Judgment of the Court of King's Bench, in the Case of Stewart and Somerset. By Gran∣ville Sharp.
THIS judgment will not appear doubt∣ful and inexplicit, (as some have too hastily esteemed it) if the whole be taken together, and THE EFFECT of it be duly considered.
LORD Mansfield pronounced the senti∣ments or judgment of the whole bench, and therefore if any thing was wrong, the blame ought not to rest on him alone; ne∣vertheless, if we fairly examine what was said, we shall find no room for blame or cavil, His lordship said,
WE pay due attention to the opinion of Sir Philip York and Mr. Talbot, in the year 1729,
Page 73Now the purport of that opinion was, that the master
may legally compel his slave to return to the plantations.
LORD Mansfield modestly declined giving a direct contradiction, in express words, to the opinion of two such very eminent and learned lawyers; but chose rather to con∣demn it, tacitly, by the effect of the judg∣ment, which he was about to pronounce; and therefore he merely recited the opinion without the least comment, and proceeded to the determination of the court upon the case before them; which is clear and incon∣trovertible with respect to the main point of the question, viz. the power claimed by the master, of carrying away his slave by force.
The power claimed by this return, (said the chief justice) was never in use here, or ac∣knowledged by the law.
Now it was cer∣tainly the duty of the court to give judg∣ment according to the known laws,
and not to be influenced by any opinion
THEY acknowledged, indeed, the having "paid due attention" to the said opinion; but as their determination was diametrically opposite to the assertions in that opinion, it is manifest, that the court did not think it grounded in law, according to which alone they were bound to determine. The con∣clusion of lord Mansfield's speech contains
Page 74more substantial and unanswerable reasons for the judgment he was about to give, than the generality of his hearers, perhaps, were aware of; for he very ingeniously expressed in the small compass of two short sentences, that the masters claim was contrary to three principal foundations of the English law, viz. NATURE, USE, (or Custom,) and the WRITTEN LAW; which last also includes two other foundations, viz. MAXIMS and STATUTES. With respect to the first, he said —
traceing the subject to NATURAL princi∣ples, the claim of SLAVERY never can be supported.
With respect to the second, he said,—
The power claimed by this return, was never in USE here,
and thirdly, that it was "never acknowledged by
THESE seem to have been the reasons of the determination; and consequently the court was obliged by the common law (which always favours LIBERTY)
‖ to dis∣charge the man from the unnatural and un∣precedented claims of his master, which was accordingly done, so that the true meaning of this determination is rendered clear and incontrovertible, as well by the effect of it, as by the unanswerable reasons above men∣tioned.
Page 75THAT there is nothing doubtful or inexplicit in this judgement, delivered by lord Mansfield, will further appear by the following report of a case in the PREROGATIVE COURT, wherein this very determination on Somerset's case, is expressly cited, and the EFFECT of it clearly and fully declared by a learned judge of that court. And the propriety of the said judgment has very lately been still fur∣ther confirmed by a decree also in THE HIGH COURT OF ADMIRALTY, after a very learn∣ed and solemn debate concerning the legality, or, illegality of slavery in England, wherein the merits of the question on both sides was fully examined and discussed. A short state of the Case, together with the substance of the decree will be found in Appendix, No. 11. The offence expressed in this latter Case was so flagrantly wicked in all its cir∣cumstances, and upon the whole, was so notorious a contempt of the laws and con∣stitution of this kingdom, as well as of natu∣ral right, and common honesty, that all persons, who have any regard for justice, must be moved with indignation against the authors of the mischief, and must wish to see them corrected by some adequate and exempla∣ry punishment, instead of a decision against them for the mere recovery of wages. In order therefore to prevent any unjust prejudice of well meaning people, against the manner of proceeding in this case for redress, it is ne∣cessary
Page 76to remark, that the negroe did not 'apply for redress of these injuries,' till more than two years after they were committed, whereby he was deprived of the satisfaction to which THE HABEAS CORPUS ACT would otherwise have entitled him
IN ANY OF HIS MAJESTY'S COURTS OF RECORD,
to recover his treble costs, besides damages, which damages so to be given, (lays the act) shall not be less than FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS,
that is five hundred pounds
offen∣dor,—frm every individual
concerned (and these seem, in the present case, to have been more than 4 or 5) that had either been 'ad∣vising aiding,
' in so flagrant a breach of the peace; and they would like∣wise have been subject to all the 'pains, pe∣nalties, forfeitures, losses
ordained in THE STATUTE of
PRAE∣MUNIRE! See my
Representation of the injustice, and dangerous tendency of tole∣rating Slavery in England,
printed in 1769, pages 25 to 29.
APPENDIX, (No. 10.)
CASE, Prerogative Court, May 11th, 1773. CAY and CRICHTON.
—A. B. deceased, in 1769, among other effects, left behind him a negroe servant. CRICHTON, the executor, was called upon by CAY, to give in an inventory of the de∣ceased's goods and chattels, which he accord∣ingly did, but omitted the negroe.
This omission was made a ground of excep∣tion to the inventory, as being, therefore, not perfect.
UPON argument, it was said by the coun∣cil on behalf of Crichton, that by a very late case in the King's Bench, of Knowles
Page 78a and Somerset, negroes were declared to be free in England, and consequently, they could not be the subjects of property, or be con∣sidered as any part of a personal estate.
IT was answered, that the case above∣mentioned was determined only in 1772; that A. B. died in 1769, at which time negrees were in some respects, considered as property, and therefore that he ought to have been included in the account,
THE judge (Dr. Hay,) said that this court had no right to try any question rela∣ting to freedom and slavery; but as Negroes had been declared free by the court which had the proper jurisdiction, that determina∣tion referred to them, as well at the pre∣ceeding time, as at the present, and therefore directed, that article, in which the negroe was mentioned, to be struck out of the ex∣ceptive allegation.
APPENDIX, (No. 11.)
High Court of Admiralty, before Sir Geo. Hay, Knt. L.L.D. June, 29, 1776.
ROGERS, alias RIGGES against JONES.
- Dr. Wynne
- Dr. Bever
- Proctor Torriano.
- Dr. Harris
- Dr. Calvert
- Proctor Holman.
GEORGE ROGERS alias RIGGES, a negro about nineteen years of age, had been a servant to several gentlemen in England,
and in the summer of 1766,
being then out of place, became ac∣quainted with John Latter
and John Sessins,
who contracted with Arthur Jones
for the sale of him; an assignment was accordingly drawn for that purpose, and signed by John Latter,
by which Rogers
was transferred to Messrs. Mason
as a slave, for the sum of twelve guineas.
SOME time in August, 1766, after the sale above mentioned, Rogers,
under some false pretences, was carried on board the ship Britannia,
then lying at Deptford,
of which Messrs. Mason
were owners, was there detained against his will, and that hemight not escape, was carried down into the sail room, by order of the chief mate, and the gratings were put upon him. In this confinement he was kept, till the ship set sail, when he was released, and suffer∣ed to go about upon deck; but not being entered in the ship's books as a mariner, nor having any particular office, or wages assigned to him, he was set to work about the ship's duty in general till he was ap∣pointed as an assistant to the cook, which office he executed sometimes as assistant, and sometimes as principal cook, during the whole voyage. The ship first sailed to the coast of Africa,
on the SLAVE TRADE,
and from thence to Porto Rico,
where he was offered to sale, by the captain of the Britannia,
as a prime slave; but Rogers
having found an opportunity of relating his story to the Spanish
merchants, they refused to purchase him; he therefore returned with the ship, in which he still acted in his former capacity of assistant cook; and upon their arrival in the port of Lon∣don,
1768, when the other ma∣riners were paid and discharged, he was still detained on board against his will.
HERE he continued for some time, till he contrived to give the officers the slip, and by the assistance and advice of some friends, went to Doctors Commons,
and ap∣plied to Mr. Faulckner,
a proctor, to put him in a way of recovering his wages, or some other recompence for his labour. Mr. Faulckner
accordingly wrote to Arthur Jones,
one of the owners, for that purpose; and Rogers
being ap∣pointed likewise to meet Jones
at the proctor's office, was waiting at a pub∣lic house, in Doctors Commons,
till sent for; when Jones, Seffins,
and another man, came into the house, forced Ro∣gersPage 82
into a coach, conveyed him back, and forced him on board another ship, where he was chained to the main∣mast, till he was released by the deputy∣marshal of the High Court of Admiralty, with the assistance of Mr. Shea,
one of his old masters, and some other friends, who had obtained a warrant to take him out of his confinement.
SEVERAL reasons prevented his ap∣plying for redress of these injuries, till the beginning of the year 1774, when Mr. Torriano was employed to commence an action against Arthur Jones, as one of the owners, for the purpose of recovering the usual wages, or some other recompence in lieu there∣of.
AFTER the usual proceedings, the cause was brought for hearing on June, 29, 1776; when the facts being all clearly proved as above stated, the prin∣cipal question was,—How far the plea of SLAVERY, set up by the defendant, could be admitted in bar of the demand of wages?
IT was insisted on by the counsel on be∣half of Rogers,
that the kind of slavery, here spoken of, never had any existence under the laws of England;
and in support of that, referred to the well known Case
before lord Mansfield;
and likewise to a late one in the PREROGATIVE COURT, of Cay
THE counsel for the defendant argu∣ed, that, till the case of Somerset, the law of England admitted slavery; and in support of this, they quoted the au∣thority of Lord Chief Justice Hale; and, in particular, the opinions of the Lords Talbot and Hardwick.
THE Decree of the Court thereupon was, in substance, as follows.
THERE are two principal points in this cause; (said the Judge)
1st. Whether such a service is proved (as stated in the summary Petition) as to enti∣tle the plaintiff to the wages demanded? and
2dly. Whether the plea of slavery shall be a sufficient bar to the claim?
With regard to the
FIRST, it appears by the fullest evidence, that the plaintiff had serv∣ed on board the ship, either in the capacity of assistant to the cook, or as cook himself, during the greatest part of the voyage, and consequently was entitled to some recompence for his services; but not being entered as a mariner in the ship's book, nor having any
Page 84stipulated wages assigned him, it being proba∣ble that the owners meant to sell him again in the West Indies, he cannot be allowed any spe∣cific sum under the name of
WAGES; but as be certainly performed the duty to which he was assigned, without any objection to his be∣haviour in it, the maritime law clearly gives him a
QUANTUM MERUIT. The cook's wages appear to have been
6d. per Month, which is more than
Rogers, mast probably, could fairly deserve. But upon in∣spection of the mariners contract, it appears that there were several negroe boys in the same ship, in the quality of apprentices, who were allowed from
6d. per month;
he signified his opinion therefore, that
Rogers might fairly deserve
15s. per month,
which he accordingly decreed him, from the time of his being first carried on board.
With regard to the SECOND point, it was urged (said the judge) that the plaintiff was a SLAVE, and consequently was not entitled to any reward for his service at all.
The practice of buying and selling slaves (the learned judge remarked) was cer∣tainly very common in England, before the case of SOMERSET, in the Court of King's Bench, 1772, but however it might have been the law of the Royal Ex∣change,
it never was the law of England.
The OPINIONS of lord Hardwicke, and lord Talbot, when Attorney and Solicitor general, have been quoted in support of this practice, and have formerly given too much countenance to it, though they seemed origi∣nally to have been only applied to the diffe∣rence created by baptism.
But by a late determination of one of the ablest judges that ever presided in this king∣dom, these opinions have been held to be mis∣taken and unsound; and there can be no fur∣ther doubt, that the claim of SLAVERY is not maintainable by the laws of England.
The law therefore was the same before the time of the above opinions, as since; and, con∣sequently, refers to all sales whatsoever of this nature; which are every one illegal: and therefore the pretended sale in the present case, in 1766, was an absolute nullity; and when the allegation, stating the sale, was admitted on behalf of the owners, had Rogers appeared, under protest, upon this point of law, it would have been received in bar of the plea!
The owners seem to have acted upon a mistaken notion of their right; but as the claim of slavery is clearly against the law of this country, and as it appeared that
Page 86had always acted in some useful capacity dur∣ing the whole time of his having been on board,
the judge said, he thought
him entitled to a QUANTUM MERUIT for his service,
—which he accordingly fixed as above; and condemned the owners in costs; which were immediately taxed to the amount of £81. 11s.
APPENDIX, (No. 12.)
Page 94Page 95
From the General Evening Post, No. 6033. June 13th, 1772.
To the Editor of the General Evening Post.
AS the great cause depending between Mr. Stuart, and Somerset, the negro, is at present one of the principal topics of general conversation, by inserting the fol∣lowing you will afford a seasonable and ra∣tional entertainment to your readers. I am your's, &c.
Extract of a letter from a person in Mary∣land, to his friend in Philadelphia.
I am so happy as to think as you do, with regard to trading in man, or keep∣ing
him a slave. The custom is wicked and iniquitous, neither consistent with reason, or the laws of God or man. Poor unhappy slaves, particularly those forced from their places of nativity, are most certainly deplorable objects of com∣miseration. I never bought more than two during twenty years residence here. One proved to be the son of an African Prince; he was a most comely youth: hav∣ing observed his uncommon good parts, I sent him to school, and used him like a free man during his stay with me. The directors of the African Company having enquired, and offered a reward for him, I by a public act presented the poor crea∣ture with his freedom, gave him an order for the reward aforesaid, and sent him to London; from whence the following year he remitted me the same sum he cost me, and sundry rich goods to the amount of three hundred pounds and upwards, and therewith a letter in his own native lan∣guage, translated by Dr. Desaguillier, of Cambridge.
The next I purchased was an unhap∣py lad, kidnapped from his free pa∣rents at the taking of Guadaloupe. During his stay with me he decayed or pined so much, and expressed so sensible a sorrow of cruel separation from his
aged parents, relations, and countrymen, that actuated by the unerring good provi∣dence which directs us in all our good deeds, I likewise set this poor creature free, and sent him to his native place. Providence again would not excuse my being further rewarded, for performing this my duty as a Christian. The truly honest father, from the produce of his plantations, has made me presents to the amount of fifty pounds sterling, with direction to draw upon him for the full cost of the poor youth, which I do never intend, being more than paid by presents
I write this to convince you that the in∣habitants of Africa are not such senseless brutish creatures as thoughtless authors represent them to be: they undoubtedly are capable of receiving instruction, and far out-do Christians in many commend∣able virtues. Poor creatures! their great∣est unhappiness is being acquainted with Christians.
The following is a letter from the Negro Prince, some time after he arrived at London, to his master in Maryland. Translated by Dr. Desaguillier, of Cambridge, 1743.
From the great city, 3d moon after my release.
O my kind merciful master, my good white brother, too good, a very good son of a good woman, and of a very good old man, created good old people by the GREAT SPIRIT, who made my country, thy poor (I should say heretofore poor) most grate∣ful black prisoner, now rendered rich by thy goodness and mercy, is now most dead, most drunk, most mad with joy! Why is he so? because he is going to his good warm country, to his good old mo∣ther, to his good old father, to his little sister and his brother. In my good warm country all things are good, except the white people who live there, and come in flying houses to take away poor black priso∣ners from their mothers, their fathers, their sisters and brothers, to kill them with hun∣ger and filth, in the cellars of their flying∣houses, wherein if they do not die fast
enough, and poor prisoners talk for bread and water, and want to feel the wind, and to see THE GREAT SPIRIT, to com∣plain to him, to tell him all, or to see the trees of his good warm country once more for the last time, the King of the white people [prabably the negro meant the captain
] orders the officer called Jack, to kill many of the black prisoners, with whips, with ropes, knives, axes and salt. The governor of thy flying house has been to shew that which is to carry me and him to my good warm country; I am glad, very glad indeed! He goes there with wine. Should he be sick, (and white people seldom escape being so there,) be∣cause of thee my kind merciful master, and good white brother, and because he has been good to me, and is a very good white man too, I will nurse him myself, my mother, my father, my little sister, and my brother, shall be his brother, his mother, his father, and his sister too; he shall have one large heap of ele∣phants teeth and gold, for thee my kind merciful master, and kind brother, and one for himself also (but smaller.) He at present is my father, I eat at his house, and lie there too upon the bed thou pre∣sented me with. His woman is my mo∣ther,
and kindly nurses me, being very sick of the sea and fire made of black stones. I have received a great quantity of gold, besides what thou did present me with by means of thy hand writing, to the people who are to send me to my country, some part whereof I have given to the governor of thy swimming-house, to be sent to thee; had I an houseful should send the whole with equal plea∣sure; however, thou shalt see hereafter, that black people are not beasts, and do know how to be grateful. After thou my kind merciful master and good white bro∣ther left me in thy swiming-house, we, thy white people, and we thy grateful black prisoners, were by the GREAT SPIRIT, who was angry with us, sent by the wind into an immense great river, where we had like to have been drowned, and where we could see neither sun nor moon, for six days and nights. I was dying during one whole moon, the governor was my father, and gave me those good things thou presented me with on my bed, he lodged me in the little room thy carpenter built for me. Thou gave me more cloaths than I could carry, yet I was very cold; nothing avail∣ed with poor black prisoner, till at last hav∣ing THE GREAT SPIRIT to send me safe to thy house on shore, I thought I was carried
there, [this appears to have been a dream
] where thou my good white brother did use me with wonted goodness, spake to THE GREAT SPIRIT, and TO HIS SON, that I might keep so during the voyage and af∣terwards, which they have done for thy sake; they will always do me good because of thee my good white brother; therefore my kind merciful master, do not forget thy poor black prisoner. When thou dost speak to THE GREAT SPIRIT and TO HIS SON, I do know he will hear thee, I shall never be sick more, for which I shall be thank∣ful. Pray speak for my good old mother, my good father, my little sister, and my brother; I wish they may be healthy, to many very many moons, as many as the hairs on thy head; I love them all much, yet I think not so much as I do thee, I could die in my country for thee, could I do thee any kindness. Indeed THE GREAT SPIRIT well knows I mean no lie, shall always speak to him for thy good, believe me my good white brother, thy poor black prisoner is not a liar.
Dgiagola, son of Dgiagola, Prince of Foal,
INDEX OF Texts referred to in the foregoing Work.
||6, 9, 42.
||44 to 46.
||3, 26, 65,
||39 to 43.
||39 to 46.
||App. 18, 25.
||5, 11 n.
||17 to 19.
||12 to 14.
||38 to 40.
||3, 4, 20.
||34 to 46.
||App. 35, 36.
||5, 6, 7.
|The Intention of the whole Epistle considered as far as it relates to Onesimus.
||App. 31 to 38.
- ADMIRALTY, report of a Determination against Slavery in the Admiralty Court before Sir George Hay, in the Case of Rogers, alias Rigges, against Jones, App. 75. 79.
- Africa, the Gospel of Christ received there earlier than in Europe, 21. The antiquity and purity of the church of Habassinia, 23. Early councils as∣sembled there, 24. Lamentable apostasy of the African church, the cause of the present barba∣rous ignorance which now prevails there, 26. This Example cited by Abp. Sharp as a Warning to Britain, 44, note. All the inhabitants of, assuredly the descendants of Ham, App. 48.
- African Merchant, the justification of slavery from the Mosaic law, by a writer under that name, examined, 3. Prince, letter from, to his master in Maryland, App. 90.
- Africans, their descent inquired into, 48. See Ne∣groes.
- America, a proposal for the gradual enfranchifement of negro slaves there, App. 57.
- Aristotle, his argument in justification of slavery re∣futed, 27, note.
- Barbadoes, the killing of negroes there, only punished by a fine, 33.
- Beattie, Dr. his examination of Aristotle on the subject of slavery, and of Mr. Hume on the mental inferiority of negroes, 27, note.
- Benevolence, universal, the distinguishing characte∣ristic of Christianity, App. 28.
- Bishops, numerous Assemblies of them in the Ec∣clesiastical Synods of Africa, 24, 25.
- Blackwell, Dr. his definition of liberty, App. 13.
- Bond-servants among the Israelites, who might le∣gally be made so, 3. The law of, repealed by the Gospel, 46.
- Brethren, all mankind connected under the idea of, by our Christian obligations, 40. It is inconsistent with Christianity that any of them should be slaves, App. 33.
- Bryant, Mr. his letter to the Author concerning the descent of the negroes, App. 47.
- Canaan, falsely reputed the Father of the African negroes, 47, 48.
Candid Reflections upon the Judgement lately awarded by the Court of King's Bench, &c. on the Negroe Cause. The Author of a Book so entitled, con∣victed of uncandid Reflections, App. 69 to 71.
- Cave, Dr. his Account of the great Ecclesiastical Synods in Africa cited, 24, 25.
- Cay and Crichton, report of the case of, in the Pre∣rogative Court, App. 77.
- Charity, Christian, is not to be partial in its objects, App. 28.
Christianity, the benevolent spirit of, totally in∣consistent with the tyrannical claims of slave∣holding, 17. Negroes, as well as the rest of mankind, included under the Gospel dispensation, 19. Connects all the human race under the idea of brethren, 40. None of the Levitical Laws can justify slavery under, 41.
- Chusim, the usual Name for Negroes in the Old Testa∣ment, 22. See also Letters on the Descent of the Negroes, App. 44. 47.
- Congress, American, their prohibition of the impor∣tation of slaves, should be followed by the gradual emancipation of those now in the country, App. 56.
- Councils, Christian, a list of those held in Africa during the third and fourth centuries, 24.
- Dgiagola, Prince of Foat, released from Slavery by his Master in Maryland, App. 88. His grateful Letter for that favour translated by Dr. Desaguillier, App. 90.
- Desaguillier, see above.
- Elegy on the miserable state of an African slave, by Mr. Shenstone, App. 39.
- Emancipation of slaves, in the Colonies, a com∣parative view of the different modes of, App. 16. This work remains to be done by the American Congress, App. 56.
- Estwick, Mr. his report of the late Judgement in the Court of King's Benech by Lord Mansfield, in the Case of Somerset and Knowles, App. 65. His own Remarks thereupon, App. 69. Answered by other Remarks on that Judgement, App. 72.
Ethiopians, received the Christian faith before the Europeans, 21. Their descent traced, 22, note.
Foot, a Region in Africa, probably the same that is called Phuta from Phut the Son of Ham, App. 93.
- Habassinia, Church of, remains a Monument of Christianity among the Sons of Ham, 23.
- Habeas Corpus Act. Severity thereof against those who attempt to carry away any person by force out of this Kingdom, App. 76.
- Ham, the common father of all the inhabitants of Africa, App. 48.
- Havanna, regulations adopted by the Spaniards there, for the gradual enfranchisement of negroes, App. 54.
- Hay, Sir George. See Admiralty and Prerogative Court.
- Heathen, under the Mosaic law, who were implied by that term, 3. Were devoted to destruction for their abominable vices, 4. Distinguished from strangers, 5. The bondage they were doomed to, not to be excluded from the benevolence of Christians, 39.
- Hume, Mr. his opinion of the mental inferiority of Negroes, controverted by Dr. Beattie, 28, note.
- Jews, were by the Mosaic law permitted to make bond servants or slaves of the Heathen, 3. And
Page 103why, 4. Were commanded to treat strangers kindly, 6. Over whom their legal power of bondage extended, 8. Their national privileges not to be claimed by any other people, 10. The limitations under which they might hold their brethren in bondage, 14. Such bond brethren were to be generously assisted on dismission, 56. Their constitutions not strictly consistent with the law of nature as asserted by Mr. Thompson, App. 19. Instances of contrariety, App. 21.
- Infidelity of the present age, so many proofs of our growing apostasy from the Christian Religion, 26, note.
- King's Bench, report of a Determination in that Court before Lord Mansfield against Slavery, in the Case of Somerset and Knowles, or Stewart, App. 65. Remarks on that Determination, ditto 69. A Defence of, ditto, ditto, 72.
- Labourer always worthy of his hire, 59.
- Law of England, both common and statute, not to contradict the laws of God, 55.
- Letter, from an African prince to his master in Maryland, App. 90.
- Liberty, the universality of, asserted by Mr. Otis, App. 9. Definition of, App. 13.
- Lutholf, his account of the antiquity and purity of the church of Habassinia cited, 23, note.
- Mansfield, Lord, the substance of his speech in the case of Somerset and Knowles, App. 65. Remarks on it, App. 69. See King's Bench Court.
Maryland, account of the cruel treatment of the ne∣groes and convict slaves there, App. 42.
- Mason and Jones, App. 80.
- Mauritania, how first peopled, App. 49.
- Mercator, the pleas in behalf of slavery by the writer under this title, refuted, 47.
- Monthly Review, considerations on negroe slavery extracted from, 3.
- Morgan, Mr. extract from his Plan for the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, App. 62.
- Mosaic law, how far, and on what account, slavery was tolerated under it, 3. The benevolent treat∣ment of strangers strongly inculcated by, 6. Will not justify slavery under the Christian dispensa∣tion, 41. Is superseded by it, 46. Not strictly consistent with the law of nature, as asserted by Mr. Thompson, App. 19. Instances of contrariety, App. 21.
- Negroes, the enslaving of, not to be justified from the Mosaic law, 8. Are branded by their masters with hot irons, 15, note. Are equally intitled to the promises of God in the Gospel, with the rest of mankind, 19. Received the Christian faith before the Europeans, 21. Dr. Beattie's defence of, against the insinuations of Mr. Hume, 28, note. Their murder compounded for by money in Bar∣badoes, 33. One advertised for in London, and described by a brass collar like a dog, 35. Are not treated according to the Christian law of doing as we would be done by, 43. Are treated like cattle, 45. Not descended from Canaan, 47, 48. also App. 12. Rewards offered by our Colony laws for killing them when they run away, 50. Their different treatment in England and America inconsistent with reason, law, and religion, App.Page 1057. Ought to be emancipated, App. 12. Exami∣nation into the most prudent means of emancipa∣tion, App. 16. Their cruel treatment in Maryland, App. 42. Queries respecting the descent of them, App. 44. Reply to, App. 47 Regulations adopted by the Spaniards for the enfranchisement of, App. 54. A Proposal for the gradual enfran∣chisement of the British American slaves, App. 57. May thus be converted into free peasants, App. 60. Natural tendency of our retaining them in slavery, App. 62. Remarks on the judgement of the Court of King's Bench in the case of Somerset, App. 72.
- Neighbours, all mankind intitled to be esteemed so, under the Christian dispensation, 40.
- Onesimus, in what sense he was recommended back to his former master Philemon by St. Paul, App. 31. Was then a minister of the Gospel, App. 34, note. Became bishop of Ephesus, App. 37, note.
- Otis, Mr. asserts the universality of liberty, App. 9.
- Palestine, the seven nations of, the only strangers whom the Jews were permitted to hold in absolute slavery, 8.
- Paul, St. his Exhortation to Slaves to continue in the State in which they were called, affords no Argu∣ment for slavery, App. 6. Is vindicated from Mr. Thompson's charge of justifying slavery, App. 31.
- Philemon. St. Paul's Epistle to him considered, App. 31—38. See Oncsimus.
Planters, American, their pleas for slavery invali∣dated, 59.
- Prerogative Court, report of a Determination in that Court before Dr. Hay against Slavery, in the Case of Cay and Crichton, App. 75.77.
- Proposal by the Author for the gradual enfranchise∣ment of negroe slaves in America, App. 57.
- Reports of Determinations in the several Courts of Law against Slavery, viz. King's Bench, App. 65. Admiralty Court, ditto 79. Prerogative Court, ditto 77.
- Retribution, Law of, referred to, App. 30.
- Rogers, alias Rigges, against Jones, report of the case of, in the high court of Admiralty, App. 79.
- Saracens, query relating to their descent, App. 50, note.
- Servants, fugitive, how treated in the British Colo∣nies, 50, 51. Comparison between their case and that of negroe slaves, 52, note.
- Sharp, Abp. his warning to England by the example of God's Judgements against the Africans, 44, note.
- Shenstone, Mr. his elegy on the miserable state of an African slave, App. 39.
- Slavery, is not to be justified by any of the Levi∣tical laws under the Christian dispensation, 41. Considerations on, from the Monthly Review, App. 3. No positive law in favour of, either in England or America, App. 8.
- Slaves, who might legally be made so by the Is∣raelites, 3. Are branded with hot irons in the
Page 107British plantations, 15, note. The killing of them compounded for by act of assembly at Barbadoes, 33. One advertised for and described by a brass collar like a dog, 35. The holders of, cannot be real christians, 38. How treated on running away, by our American laws, 50. Examination into the most prudent means of emancipating, App. 16.
Somerset and Knowles. Case of, see King's Bench.
- Spaniards, regulations adopted by, for the gradual enfranchisement of negroes, App. 54.
- Strangers, benevolence toward, strongly enjoined by the Mosaic law, 6. 41. The parable of the good Samaritan teaches Christians to consider all men as neighbours, App. 24.
- Theophylact, Abp. his plea for slavery on the au∣thority of St. Paul, refuted, App. 32, note.
- Thompson, Rev. Mr. examination of his defence of the negroe slave trade, App. 18.
- Wages, always due for labour, 59. Are decreed by the high court of Admiralty to a negroe slave, App. 83.
By the same AUTHOR.
Printed for B. WHITE, at Horace's Head, in Fleet-Street.
- I. A Short Treatise on the English Tongue. Being an Attempt to render the Reading and Pronunciation of the same more easy to Fo∣reigners. 1767.
- II. Remarks on several very important Prophecies. 1st Edition 1768. 2d Edition 1775.
- III. A Representation of the Injustice and dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery; or of admitting the least Claim of Private Property in the Persons of Men in England. Being in Answer to an Opi∣nion given in the Year 1729, by the (then) Attor∣ney General and Solicitor General concerning the Case of Slaves in Great Britain. 1769.
- IV. Remarks concerning the Encroachments on the River Thames near Durham Yard. 1771.
- V. An Appendix to the Representation of the Injustice and dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery, &c. 1772.
- VI. Remarks on the Opinions of some of the most celebrated Writers on CROWN LAW, respecting the due Distinction between Manslaughter and Mur∣der. 1773.
- VII. In Two Parts. 1. A Declaration of the Peoples Natural Right to a Share in the Legislature; which is the fundamental Principle of the British Constitu∣tion of State. 2. A Declaration, or Defence of the same Doctrine, when applied particularly to THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND. 1774.
Page [unnumbered]The following TRACTS by the same AUTHOR, Printed for B. WHITE, at Horace's Head, Fleet-Street, and E. and C. DILLY in the Poultry.
- VIII. The Law of passive Obedience; or, Christian Sub∣mission to personal Injuries.—Wherein is shewn that the several Texts of Scripture which command the entire Submission of Servants or Slaves to their Masters, cannot authorize the latter to exact an involuntary Servitude: and also that the several Texts which enjoin Submission to Rulers and Ma∣gistrates, do not justify the dangerous Doctrine of an unlimited passive Obedience. 1776.
- IX. "The Law of Liberty;" or (as it is called in Scripture by way of eminence) "the Royal Law," by which all Mankind will certainly be judged! 1776.
- X. The Law of Retribution; or a serious Warning to Great Britain and her Colonies, founded on un∣questionable Examples of GOD's temporal Vengeance against Tyrants, Slave-holders, and Oppressors. The Examples are selected from Predictions in the Old Testament of national Judgements, which (being compared with their actual Accomplishment) demonstrate "the sure Word of Prophecy," as well as the immediate Interposition of divine Pro∣vidence, to recompence impenitent Nations ac∣cording to their Works. 1776.
Now in the Press for Publication, by B. WHITE, in Fleet-Street, and E. and C. DILLY, in the Poultry.
- I. A Tract on the Law of Nature, and Principles of Action in Man.
- II THE CASE OF SAUL; being an Appendage to the former Tract, wherein the compound Nature and various Principles of Action in MAN (with the Reality of supernatural, spiritual Influence, both good and bad) are proved by unquestionable Exam∣ples from the History of that unfortunate Mo∣narch, and also from many other parts of Scripture.