Footnotes are at the end of each chapter, except at the end of each section in Chapter I. Duplicate notes were on adjacent pages in the book.
Right-hand-page heads are omitted.
Names have been corrected (except possibly "Hurlburt").
LoC call number: E470.K18
SLAVERY AND FOUR YEARS OF WAR
A POLITICAL HISTORY OF SLAVERY IN THE UNITED STATES
TOGETHER WITH A NARRATIVE OF THE CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES OF THE CIVIL WAR IN WHICH THE AUTHOR TOOK PART: 1861-1865
BY JOSEPH WARREN KEIFER BREVET MAJOR-GENERAL OF VOLUNTEERS; EX-SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, U. S. A.; AND MAJOR-GENERAL OF VOLUNTEERS, SPANISH WAR.
VOLUME I. 1861-1863
G. P. Putnam's Sons New York and London The Knickerbocker Press 1900
BY JOSEPH WARREN KEIFER
The Knickerbocker Press, New York
memory of the dead and as a tribute of esteem to the living officers and soldiers who served immediately with and under the author in battles and campaigns of the great American rebellion
This Book is Dedicated
The writer of this book was a volunteer officer in the Union army throughout the war of the Great Rebellion, and his service was in the field.
The book, having been written while the author was engaged in a somewhat active professional life, lacks that literary finish which results from much pruning and painstaking. He, however, offers no excuse for writing it, nor for its completion; he has presumed to nothing but the privilege of telling his own story in his own way. He has been at no time forgetful of the fact that he was a subordinate in a great conflict, and that other soldiers discharged their duties as faithfully as himself; and while no special favors are asked, he nevertheless opes that what he has written may be accepted as the testimony of one who entertains a justifiable pride in having been connected with large armies and a participant in important campaigns and great battles.
He flatters himself that his summary of the political history of slavery in the United States, and of the important political events occurring upon the firing on Fort Sumter, and the account he has given of the several attempts to negotiate a peace before the final overthrow of the Confederate armies, will be of special interest to students of American history.
Slavery bred the doctrine of State-rights, which led, inevitably, to secession and rebellion. The story of slavery and its abolition in the United States is the most tragic one in the world's annals. The "Confederate States of America" is the only government ever attempted to be formed, avowedly to perpetuate human slavery. A history of the Rebellion without that of slavery is but a recital of brave deeds without reference to the motive which prompted their performance.
The chapter on slavery narrates its history in the United States from the earliest times; its status prior to the war; its effect on political parties and statesmen; its aggressions, and attempts at universal domination if not extension over the whole Republic; its inexorable demands on the friends of freedom, and its plan of perpetually establishing itself through secession and the formation of a slave nation. It includes a history of the secession of eleven Southern States, and the formation of "The Confederate States of America"; also what the North did to try to avert the Rebellion. It was written to show why and how the Civil War came, what the conquered lost, and what the victors won.
In other chapters the author has taken the liberty, for the sake of continuity, of going beyond the conventional limits of a personal memoir, but in doing this he has touched on no topic not connected with the war.
The war campaigns cover the first one in Western Virginia, 1861; others in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, 1862; in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, 1863; and in Virginia, 1864; ending with the capture of Richmond and Petersburg, the battles of Five Forks and Sailor's Creek, and the surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomattox, 1865. A chapter on the New York riots of 1863, also one on the "Peace Negotiations," will be found, each in its proper place.
Personal mention and descriptions of many officers known to the writer are given; also war incidents deemed to be of interest to the reader.
But few generalizations are indulged in either as to events, principles, or the character of men; instead, facts are given from which generalizations may be formed.
The author is indebted to his friends, General George D. Ruggles (General Meade's Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac, late Adjutant-General, U.S.A.), for important data furnished from the War Department, and to his particular friends, both in peace and war, General John Beatty and Colonel Wm. S. Furay of Columbus, Ohio, for valuable suggestions.
J. W. K. December, 1899.
CHAPTER I Slavery: Its Political History in the United States, (I.) Introductory—(II.) Introduction of Slavery into the Colonies —(III.) Declaration of Independence—(IV.) Continental Congress: Articles of Confederation—(V.) Ordinance of 1787—(VI.) Constitution of the United States—(VII.) Causes of Growth of Slavery—(VIII.) Fugitive-Slave Law, 1793—(IX.) Slave Trade Abolished—(X.) Louisiana Purchase—(XI.) Florida—(XII.) Missouri Compromise—(XIII.) Nullification—(XIV.) Texas—(XV.) Mexican War, Acquisition of California and New Mexico—(XVI.) Compromise Measures, 1850—(XVII.) Nebraska Act—(XVIII.) Kansas Struggle for Freedom—(XIX.) Dred Scott Case—(XX.) John Brown Raid—(XXI.) Presidential Elections, 1856-1860—(XXII.) Dissolution of the Union—(XXIII.) Secession of States—(XXIV.) Action of Religious Denominations—(XXV.) Proposed Concessions to Slavery—(XXVI.) Peace Conference—(XXVII.) District of Columbia—(XXVIII.) Slavery Prohibited in Territories—(XXIX.) Benton's Summary—(XXX.) Prophecy as to Slavery and Disunion.
CHAPTER II Sumter Fired on—Seizure by Confederates of Arms, Arsenals, and Forts—Disloyalty of Army and Navy Officers—Proclamation of Lincoln for 75,000 Militia, and Preparation for War on Both Sides
CHAPTER III Personal Mention—Occupancy of Western Virginia under McClellan (1861)—Campaign and Battle of Rich Mountain, and Incidents
CHAPTER IV Repulse of General Lee and Affairs of Cheat Mountain and in Tygart's Valley (September, 1861)—Killing of John A. Washington, and Incidents—and Formation of State of West Virginia
CHAPTER V Union Occupancy of Kentucky—Affair at Green River—Defeat of Humphrey Marshall—Battles of Mill Springs, Forts Henry and Donelson —Capture of Bowling Green and Nashville, and Other Matters
CHAPTER VI Battle of Shiloh—Capture of Island No. 10—Halleck's Advance on Corinth, and Other Events
CHAPTER VII Mitchel's Campaign to Northern Alabama—Andrews' Raid into Georgia, and Capture of a Locomotive—Affair at Bridgeport—Sacking of Athens, Alabama, and Court-Martial of Colonel Turchin—Burning of Paint Rock by Colonel Beatty—Other Incidents and Personal Mention —Mitchel Relieved
CHAPTER VIII Confederate Invasion of Kentucky (1862)—Cincinnati Threatened, and "Squirrel Hunters" Called Out—Battles of Iuka, Corinth, and Hatchie Bridge—Movements of Confederate Armies of Bragg and Kirby Smith—Retirement of Buell's Army to Louisville—Battle of Perryville, with Personal and Other Incidents
CHAPTER IX Commissioned Colonel of 110th Ohio Volunteers—Campaigns in West Virginia under General Milroy, 1862-1863—Emancipation of Slaves in the Shenandoah Valley, and Incidents
J. Warren Keifer
Andrew H. Reeder, first governor of Kansas Territory, Flight in Disguise, 1855 [From a painting in Coates' House, Kansas City, Missouri.]
Map of the United States, 1860 [Showing free and slave States and Territories.]
General Ulysses S. Grant, U.S.A. [From a photograph taken 1865.]
Confederate Silver Half-Dollar
John Beatty, Brigadier-General of Volunteers [From a photograph taken 1863.]
Rich Mountain and Cheat Mountain Country, W. Va.
General William T. Sherman, U.S.A. [From a photograph taken 1881.]
Major-General O. M. Mitchel [From a photograph taken 1862.]
Brevet Brigadier-General Wm. H. Ball [From a photograph taken 1864.]
Rev. William T. Meloy, D. D., Lieutenant 122d Ohio Volunteers [From a photograph taken 1896.]
Major-General Robert H. Milroy [From a photograph taken 1863.]
Lieutenant James A. Fox, 110th Ohio Volunteers [From a photograph taken 1863.]
Map of Shenandoah valley [From Major W. F. Tiemann's History of the 159th New York.]
Rev. Milton J. Miller, Chaplain 110th Ohio Volunteers [From a photograph taken 1865.]
Rev. Charles C. McCabe, D. D., Bishop M. E. Church, Chaplain 122d Ohio Volunteers [From a photograph taken 1868.]
SLAVERY AND FOUR YEARS OF WAR
SLAVERY AND FOUR YEARS OF WAR
CHAPTER I SLAVERY: ITS POLITICAL HISTORY IN THE UNITED STATES (I.) Introductory—(II.) Introduction of Slavery into the Colonies —(III.) Declaration of Independence—(IV.) Continental Congress: Articles of Confederation—(V.) Ordinance of 1787—(VI.) Constitution of the United States—(VII.) Causes of Growth of Slavery—(VIII.) Fugitive-Slave Law, 1793—(IX.) Slave Trade Abolished—(X.) Louisiana Purchase—(XI.) Florida—(XII.) Missouri Compromise—(XIII.) Nullification—(XIV.) Texas—(XV.) Mexican War, Acquisition of California and New Mexico—(XVI.) Compromise Measures, 1850—(XVII.) Nebraska Act—(XVIII.) Kansas Struggle for Freedom—(XIX.) Dred Scott Case—(XX.) John Brown Raid—(XXI.) Presidential Elections, 1856-1860—(XXII.) Dissolution of the Union—(XXIII.) Secession of States—(XXIV.) Action of Religious Denominations—(XXV.) Proposed Concessions to Slavery—(XXVI.) Peace Conference—(XXVII.) District of Columbia—(XXVIII.) Slavery Prohibited in Territories—(XXIX.) Benton's Summary—(XXX.) Prophecy as to Slavery and Disunion.
Slavery is older than tradition—older than authentic history, and doubtless antedates any organized form of human government. It had its origin in barbaric times. Uncivilized man never voluntarily performed labor even for his own comfort; he only struggled to gain a bare subsistence. He did not till the soil, but killed wild animals for food and to secure a scant covering for his body; and cannibalism was common. Tribes were formed for defence, and thus wars came, all, however, to maintain mere savage existence. Through primitive wars captives were taken, and such as were not slain were compelled to labor for their captors. In time these slaves were used to domesticate useful animals and, later, were forced to cultivate the soil and build rude structures for the comfort and protection of their masters. Thus it was that mankind was first forced to toil and ultimately came to enjoy labor and its incident fruits, and thus human slavery became a first step from barbarism towards the ultimate civilization of mankind.
White slavery existed in the English-American colonies antecedent to black or African slavery, though at first only intended to be conditional and not to extend to offspring. English, Scotch, and Irish alike, regardless of ancestry or religious faith, were, for political offenses, sold and transported to the dependent American colonies. They were such persons as had participated in insurrections against the Crown; many of them being prisoners taken on the battle- field, as were the Scots taken on the field of Dunbar, the royalist prisoners from the field of Worcester; likewise the great leaders of the Penruddoc rebellion, and many who were taken in the insurrection of Monmouth.
Of these, many were first sold in England to be afterwards re-sold on shipboard to the colonies, as men sell horses, to the highest bidder.
There was also, in some of the colonies, a conditional servitude, under indentures, for servants, debtors, convicts, and perhaps others. These forms of slavery made the introduction of negro and perpetual slavery easy.
Australasia alone, of all inhabited parts of the globe, has the honor, so far as history records, of never having a slave population.
Egyptian history tells us of human bondage; the patriarch Abraham, the founder of the Hebrew nation, owned and dealt in slaves. That the law delivered to Moses from Mt. Sinai justified and tolerated human slavery was the boast of modern slaveholders.
Moses, from "Nebo's heights," saw the "land of promise," where flowed "milk and honey" in abundance, and where slavery existed. The Hebrew people, but forty years themselves out of bondage, possessed this land and maintained slavery therein.
The advocates of slavery and the slave trade exultingly quoted:
"And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hands of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off; for the Lord hath spoken it."—Joel iii, 8.
They likewise claimed that St. Paul, while he preached the gospel to slaveholders and slaves alike in Rome, yet used his calling to enable him to return to slavery an escaped human being—Onesimus.( 1)
The advocates of domestic slavery justified it as of scriptural and divine origin.
From the Old Testament they quoted other texts, not only to justify the holding of slaves in perpetual bondage, but the continuance of the slave trade with all its cruelties.
"And he said, I am Abraham's servant."—Gen. xxiv., 34.
"And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the King said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. . . .
"Then the King called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul, and to all his house.
"Thou, therefore, and thy sons, and they servants shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat," etc. "Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants."—2 Samuel ix., 2, 9-10.
"I got me servants and maidens and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me."—Eccles. ii., 7.
"And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence comest thou? and she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
"And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself to her hands."—Gen. xvi., 8, 9.
"A servant will not be corrected by words; for though he understand, he will not answer."—Prov. xxix., 19.
And from the New Testament they triumphantly quoted:
"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather."—I Cor., vii., 20-22.
"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ," etc.
"And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."—Eph., vi., 5-9.
"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God."—Col. iii., 22.
"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."—Col. iv., 1.
"Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrines be not blasphemed," etc.—I Tim., vi., 1, 2.
"Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things."—Titus ii., 9, 10.
"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward."—I. Pet. ii, 18.
The advocates of slavery maintained that Christ approved the calling as a slaveholder as well as the faith of the Roman centurion, whose servant, "sick of a palsy," Christ miraculously healed by saying: "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."—Matt. viii., 10.
They also cited Dr. Adam Clark, the great Bible commentator; Dr. Neander's work, entitled Planting and Training the Church, and Dr. Mosheim's Church History, as evidence that the Bible not only sanctioned slavery but authorized its perpetuation through all time.( 2) In other words, pro-slavery advocates in effect affirmed that these great writers:
"Torture the hollowed pages of the Bible, To sanction crime, and robbery, and blood, And, in oppression's hateful service, libel Both man and God."
While the teachings of neither the Old nor the New Testament, nor of the Master, were to overthrow or to establish political conditions as established by the temporal powers of the then age, yet it must be admitted that large numbers of people, of much learning and a high civilization, believed human slavery was sanctioned by divine authority.
The deductions made from the texts quoted were unwarranted. The principles of justice and mercy, on which the Christian religion is founded, cannot be tortured into even a toleration (as, possibly, could the law of Moses) of the existence of the unnatural and barbaric institution of slavery, or the slave trade.
Slavery was wrong per se; wholly unjustifiable on the plainest principles of humanity and justice; and the consciences of all unprejudiced, enlightened, civilized people led them in time to believe that it had no warrant from God and ought to have no warrant from man to exist on the face of the earth.
The friends of freedom and those who believed slavery sinful never for a moment assented to the claim that it was sanctioned by Holy Writ, or that it was justified by early and long-continued existence through barbaric or semi-barbaric times. They denied that it could thus even be sanctified into a moral right; that time ever converted cruelty into a blessing, or a wrong into a right; that any human law could give it legal existence, or rightfully perpetuate it against natural justice; they maintained that a Higher Law, written in God's immutable decrees of mercy, was paramount to all human law or practice, however long continuing; that the lessons taught by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount and in all his life and teachings were a condemnation of it; and that an enlightened, progressive civilization demanded its final overthrow.
In America: Slavery is dead. We return to its history.
Greece had her slaves before tradition blended into history, though, four centuries before Christ, Alcidamas proclaimed: "God has sent forth all men free: Nature has made no man slave."
Alexander, the mighty Macedonian (fourth century B.C.), sold captives taken at Tyre and Gaza, the most accomplished people of that time, into slavery.( 3)
Rome had her slaves; and her slave-marts were open at her principal ports for traffic in men and women of all nationalities, especially Christians and captives taken in war.
The German nations of the shores of the Baltic carried on the desolating traffic. Russia recognized slavery and carried on a slave trade through her merchantmen.
The Turks forbade the enslaving of Mussulmans, but sold Christian and other captives into slavery. Christian and Moor, for seven hundred years in the doubtful struggle in Western Europe, respectively, doomed their captives to slavery.
Contemporary with the discovery of America, the Moors were driven from Granada, their last stronghold in Spain, to the north of Africa; there they became corsairs, privateers, and holders of Christian slaves. Their freebooter life and cruelty furnished the pretext, not only to enslave the people of the Moorish dominion, but of all Africa. The oldest accounts of Africa bear testimony to the existence of domestic slavery—of negro enslaving negro, and of caravans of dealers in negro slaves.
Columbus, whose glory as the discoverer of this continent we proclaim, on a return voyage (1494) carried five hundred native Americans to Spain, a present to Queen Isabella, and American Indians were sold into foreign bondage, as "spoils of war," for two centuries.
The Saxon carried slavery in its most odious form into England, where, at one time, not half the inhabitants were absolutely free, and where the price of a man was but four times the price of an ox.
He sold his own kindred into slavery. English slaves were held in Ireland till the reign of Henry II.
In time, however, the spirit of Christianity, pleading the cause of humanity, stayed slavery's progress, and checked the slave traffic by appeals to conscience.
Alexander III, Pope of Rome in the twelfth century, proclaimed against it, by writing: "Nature having made no slaves, all men have an equal right to liberty."
Efficacious as the Christian religion has been to destroy or mitigate evil, it has failed to render the so-called Christian slaveholder better than the pagan, or to improve the condition of the bondsmen.
It may be observed that when slavery seemed to be firmly planted in the Republic of the United States of America, Egypt, as one of the powers of the earth, had passed away; her slavery, too, was gone—only her Pyramids, Sphinx, and Monoliths have been spared by time and a just judgment. Greece, too, had perished, only her philosophy and letters survive; Israel's people, though the chosen of God, had, as a nation, been bodily carried into oriental Babylonian captivity, and in due time had, in fulfillment of divine judgment, been dispersed through all lands. God in his mighty wrath also thundered on Babylon's iniquity, and it, too, passed away forever, and the prophet gives as a reason for this, that Babylon dealt in "slaves and the souls of men."
Rome, once the mistress of the world, cased as a nation to live; her greatness and her glory, her slave markets and her slaves, all gone together and forever.
Germany, France, Spain, and other slave nations renounced slavery barely in time to escape the general national doom.
Russia, though her mighty Czars possessed absolute power to rule, trembled before the mighty insurrections of peasant-serfs that swept over the bodies of slain nobles and slave-masters from remote regions to the very gates of Moscow. Catherine II., Alexander I., Nicholas I., and Alexander II. listened to the threatened doom, and, to save their empire, put forth decrees to loosen and finally to break the chains of twenty millions of slaves and serfs. Even Moorish slavery in Northern Africa in large part passed away. Mohammedan,( 4) Brahmin, and Buddhist had no sanction for human slavery.
England heard the warning cry just in time to save the kingdom from the impending common destiny of slave nations.
It was not, however, until 1772, that Lord Mansfield, from the Court of the King's Bench of Great Britain, announced that no slave could be held under the English Constitution. This decision was of binding force in her American colonies when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, and the "Liberty Bell" proclaimed "Liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof."
The argument that the institution of slavery was sanctified by age ceased, long since, to be satisfying to those who learned justice and mercy in the light of Christian love, and who could read, not only that human slavery had existed from the earliest times, but that it had existed without right, only by the power of might, not sanctioned by reason and natural justice, and that in its train a myriad of coincident evils, crimes, and immoralities had taken birth and flourished, blasting both master and slave and the land they inhabited, and that God's just and retributive judgment has universally been visited on all nations and peoples continuing to maintain and perpetuate it.
Murder has existed in the world since Cain and Abel met by the altar of God, yet no sane person for that reason justifies it. So slavery has stalked down the long line of centuries, cursing and destroying millions with its damning power, but time has not sanctioned it into a right. The longer it existed the more foul became the blot upon history's pages, and the deeper the damnation upon humanity it wrought.
When all the civilized nations of Europe, as well as the nations and even tribes of Asia, had either abolished slavery and taken steps effectually to do so, it remained for the United States to stand alone upholding it in its direst form.
The nations of the ancient world either shook off slavery in attempts to wash away its bloody stain, or slavery wiped them from the powers of the earth. So of the more modern nations.
Our Republic, boastful of its free institutions, of its constitutional liberty, of its free schools and churches, of its glories in the cause of humanity, its patriotism, resplendent history, inventive genius, wealth, industry, civilization, and Christianity, maintained slavery until it was only saved from its common doom of slave nations by the atoning sacrifice of its best blood and the mercy of an offended God.
More than two centuries (1562) before Lord Mansfield judicially announced freedom to be the universal law of England, Sir John Hawkins acquired the infamous distinction of being the first Englishman to embark in the slave trade, and the depravity of public sentiment in England then approved his action. He then seized, on the African coast, and transported a large cargo of negroes to Hispaniola and bartered them for sugar, ginger, and pearls, at great profit.( 5) Here commenced a traffic in human beings by English-speaking people (scarcely yet ceased) that involved murder, arson, theft, and all the cruelty and crimes incident to the capture, transportation, and subjection of human beings to the lust, avarice, and power of man.
Sir John Hawkins' success coming to the notice of the avaricious and ambitious Queen Elizabeth, she, five years later (1567), became the open protector of a new expedition and sharer in the nefarious traffic, thus becoming a promoter, abettor, and participant in all its crimes.
To the "African Company," for a long period, was granted by England a monopoly of the slave trade, but it could not be confined to this company. In 1698, England exacted a tariff on the slave cargoes of her subjects engaged in the trade.
From 1680 to 1700, by convention with Spain, the English, it is estimated, stole from Africa 300,000 negroes to supply the Spanish West Indies with slaves. By the treaty of Utrecht (1713) Spain granted to England, during thirty years, the absolute monopoly of supplying slaves to the Spanish colonies. By this treaty England agreed to take to the West Indies not less than 144,000 negroes, or 4800 each year; and, to guard against scandal to the Roman Catholic religion, heretical slave-traders were forbidden. This monopoly was granted by England to the "South Sea Company."
England did not confine her trade to the West Indies. In 1750, it was shown in the English Parliament that 46,000 negroes were annually sold to English colonies.( 6)
As early as 1565, Sir John Hawthorne and Menendez imported negroes as slaves into Florida, then a Spanish possession, and with Spain's sanction many were carried into the West Indies and sold into slavery.
( 1) Epistle to Philemon.
( 2) The references to the Bible are taken from the most learned advocates of the divinity of slavery, in its last years. Ought American Slavery to be Perpetuated? (Brownlow and Pryne debate), p. 78, etc. Slavery Ordained of God (Ross), 146, etc., 176, etc.
Rev. Frederick A. Ross, D. D. (the author), a celebrated Presbyterian minister, was arrested in 1862 at Huntsville, Alabama, while it was occupied by the Union forces, for praying from the pulpit for the success of secession.
Parson Brownlow was a Union man in 1861, was much persecuted at his home in Knoxville, Tenn., later advocated emancipation.
( 3) It is interesting to note that more than fifteen hundred years (twelfth century) after Alexander's conquests, Saladin, the great Sultan, and other Mohammedan rulers, and Richard Coeur de Lion, and other crusade leaders in Syria, respectively, doomed their captives to slavery, regardless of nationality or color.— Saladin (Heroes of Nations, Putnams), 229-232, 338.
( 4) Slavery and the slave trade, in spite of the teachings of the Koran, grew up in Mohammedan countries. The traffic in slaves, however, had been frequently proclaimed against by the Ottoman Porte.
( 5) But the first trace of negro slavery in America came in 1502, only ten years after its discovery, through a decree of Ferdinand and Isabella permitting negro slaves born in Spain, descendants of natives brought from Guinea, to be transported to Hispaniola.— Life of Columbus, by Irving (Putnams), p. 275.
( 6) History for Ready Reference, vol. iv., p. 2923.
II INTRODUCTION OF SLAVERY INTO THE COLONIES
In August, 1619, a Dutch man-of-war sailed up the James River in Virginia, landed and sold to the colony at Jamestown twenty negroes as slaves. This event marked the beginning of negro slavery in English-American colonies. Two centuries and a half did not suffice to put an end the Ethiopian slavery and the evils of a traffic begun on so small a scale.
One year later (1620) the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock, bringing with them stern religious convictions and severe morals which soon ripened into written laws and were likewise woven into social, political, and religious life, the resultant effect of which, on human existence in America, is never to end. One year later still, cotton was first planted in the virgin soil of America, where it grew to perfection, and thenceforth becoming the staple production, made slavery and slave-breeding profitable to the slaveholder.( 7)
The earliest importation of negro slaves into New England was to Providence Isle in the shp Desire (1637).
From Boston, Mass. (1645), the first American ship from the colonies set sail to engage in the stealing of African negroes. Massachusetts then held, under sanction of law, a few blacks and Indians in bondage.( 8) But slavery did not flourish in New England. It was neither profitable nor in consonance with the judgment of the people generally. The General Court of Massachusetts, as early as 1646, "bearing witness against the heinous crimes of man-stealing, ordered the recently imported negroes to be restored, at the public charge, to their native country, with a letter expressing the indignation of the General Court." Unfortunately, persons guilty of stealing men could not be tried for crimes committed in foreign lands.
But the African slave trade, early found to be extremely profitable, and hence popular, did not cease. England, then as now, the most enterprising of commercial nations on the high seas, engrossed the trade, in large part, from 1680 to 1780. In 1711, there was established a slave depot in New York City on or near what is now Wall Street; and about the same time a depot was established for receiving slaves in Boston, near where the old Franklin House stood. From New England ships, and perhaps from others, negroes were landed and sent to these and other central slave markets.
But few of these freshly stolen negroes were sold to Northern slaveholders. Slave labor was not even then found profitable in the climate of the North. The bondsman went to a more southern clime, and to the cotton, rice, and tobacco fields of the large plantations of the South.
As late as 1804-7, negroes from the coast of Africa were brought to Boston, Bristol, Providence, and Hartford to be sold into slavery.
Shipowners of all the coast colonies, and later of all the coast States of the United States, engaged in the slave trade.
But it was among the planters of Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas that slaves proved to be most profitable. The people in these sections were principally rural; plantations were large, not subject to be broken up by frequent partition, if at all. The crops raised were better suited to cultivation by slaves in large numbers; and the hot climate was better adapted to the physical nature of the African negro.
The first inhabitants of the South preferred a rural life, and on large plantations. The Crown grants to early proprietors favored this, especially in the Virginia and Carolina colonies. The Puritans did not love or foster slavery as did the Cavalier of the South. Castes or classes existed among the Southern settlers from the beginning, which, with other favoring causes, made it easier for slavery to take root and prosper, and ultimately fasten itself upon and become a dominating factor in the whole social and political fabric of the South. Slavery there soon came to be considered of paramount importance in securing a high social status or a high, so-called, civilization.
But we have, by this brief resume, sufficiently shown that the responsibility for the introduction and maintenance of slavery and the slave trade does not rest exclusively on any of our early colonies, North or South, nor on any one race or nationality of the world; it remains now to show, in a summary way, how slavery and the slave trade were treated and regarded by the different sections of the United States after allegiance to England was thrown off.
While slavery died out from local and natural causes, if not wholly for moral, social, and religious reasons, in the States north of Maryland, it flourished and ripened into strength and importance in States south, casting a controlling influence and power over the whole of the United States socially, and for the most part dominating the country politically. The greatest statesmen and brightest intellects of the North, though convinced of the evils of slavery and of its fatal tendencies, were generally too cowardly to attack it politically, although but about one fifth of the whole white population of the slave states in 1860, or perhaps at any time, was, through family relationship, or otherwise, directly or indirectly interested in slaves or slave labor.
Old political parties were in time disrupted, and new ones were formed on slavery issues.
The slavery question rent in twain the Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian churches. The followers of Wesley and Calvin divided on slavery. It was always essentially an aristocratic institution, and hence calculated to benefit only a few of the great mass of freemen.
In 1860, there was in the fifteen slave States a white population of 8,039,000 and a slave population of 3,953,696. Of the white population only 384,884 were slaveholders, and, including their families, only about 1,600,000 were directly or indirectly interested in slaves or their labor. About 6,400,000 (80 per cent.) of the whites in these States had, therefore, no interest in the institution, and yet they were wholly subordinated to the few who were interested in it.
Curiously enough, slavery continued to exist, until a comparatively recent period, in many of the States that had early declared it abolished. The States formed out of the territory "Northwest of the River Ohio" cannot be said to have ever been slave States. The sixth section of the Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery forever therein. The slaves reported in such States were only there by tolerance. They were free of right. The Constitution of Illinois, as we shall presently see, did not at first abolish slavery; only prohibited the introduction of slaves.
The rebellion of the thirteen colonies in 1776 and the war for independence did not grow out of slavery; that war was waged neither to perpetuate nor to abolish it. The Puritan and Cavalier, the opponents and the advocates of slavery and the slave trade, alike, fought for independence, and, when successful, united in the purpose to foster and build up an American Republic, based on the sovereignty of individual citizenship, but ignoring the natural rights of the enslaved negro.
The following table, compiled from the United States Census Reports, may be of interest.
It shows the number of slaves reported in each State and Territory of the United States at each Federal census.( 9)
North 1790 1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 Cal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conn. . . . 2,759 951 310 97 25 17 . . . . . . Ills. . . . . . . . . . 168 917 747 331 . . . . . . Ind. . . . . . . 135 237 190 3 3 . . . . . . Iowa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 . . . . . . Kansas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Maine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . . . . Mass. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . . . . Mich. . . . . . . . . . 24 . . . 32 . . . . . . . . . Minn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Neb. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 N. H. . . . 158 8 . . . . . . 3 1 . . . . . . N. J. . . . 11,423 12,422 10,851 7,557 2,254 674 236 18 N. Y. . . . 21,324 20,343 15,017 10,088 75 4 . . . . . . Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 3 . . . . . . Oregon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Penn. . . . 3,737 1,706 796 211 403 64 . . . . . . R. I. . . . 952 381 108 48 17 5 . . . . . . Utah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 29 Vermont . . 17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 . . . . . . ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— Totals . 40,370 35,646 27,510 19,108 3,568 1,129 262 64
/South/ 1790 1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 D. C. . . . . . . . . . 3,244 5,395 6,377 6,119 4,694 3,687 3,185 Ala. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41,879 117,549 253,532 342,844 435,080 Ark. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,617 5,476 19,935 47,100 111,115 Del. . . . . . . 8,887 6,153 4,177 4,509 3,292 2,605 2,290 1,798 Florida . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16,501 25,717 39,310 61,745 Ga. . . . . . . 29,264 59,404 105,218 149,654 217,531 280,944 381,682 462,198 Ky. . . . . . . 11,830 40,434 80,561 126,732 165,213 182,258 210,981 225,483 La. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34,660 69,064 109,588 168,452 244,809 331,726 Md. . . . . . . 103,036 105,635 111,502 107,397 102,994 89,737 90,368 87,189 Miss. . . . . . . . . . 3,489 17,088 32,814 65,659 195,211 309,878 436,631 Mo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,011 10,222 25,091 58,240 87,422 114,931 N. C. . . . . . 100,572 133,296 168,824 205,017 245,601 245,817 288,548 331,059 S. C. . . . . . 107,094 146,151 196,365 258,475 315,401 327,088 384,984 402,406 Tenn. . . . . . 3,417 13,584 44,535 80,107 141,603 183,059 239,459 275,719 Tex. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58,161 182,566 Va. . . . . . . 293,427 345,796 392,518 425,153 469,757 449,087 472,528 490,865 ———- ———- ————- ————- ————- ————- ————- ————- Totals . . . . 657,527 857,095 1,163,854 1,519,017 2,005,475 2,486,326 3,204,051 3,953,696 ———- ———- ————- ————- ————- ————- ————- ————- Grand totals . 697,897 892,741 1,191,364 1,538,125 2,009,043 2,487,455 3,204,313 3,953,760
( 7) It is curious to note that 1621 dates the first bringing into Virginia and America bee-hives for the production of honey.
( 8) The following letter of Cotton Mather will show the Puritan's intolerance of Wm. Penn and his Society of Friends, and the prevailing opinion in his time on slavery and the slave trade.
"Boston, Massachusetts, September, 3, 1681. "To ye Aged and Beloved John Higginson: There be now at sea a skipper (for our friend Esaias Holderoft of London did advise me by the last packet that it would sail sometime in August) called ye Welcome (R. Green was master), which has aboard a hundred or more of ye heretics and malignants called Quakers, with W. Penn, who is ye scamp at ye head of them.
"Ye General court has accordingly given secret orders to master Malachi Huxtell of ye brig Porpoise to waylaye ye said Welcome as near ye coast of Codd as may be, and make captives of ye Penn and his ungodly crew, so that ye Lord may be glorified, and not mocked on ye soil of this new country with ye heathen worshippe of these people. Much spoil can be made by selling ye whole lot to Barbadoes, where slaves fetch good prices in rumme and sugar. We shall not only do ye Lord great service by punishing the Wicked, but shall make gayne for his ministers and people. Yours in the bowels of Christ,
( 9) Slavery was abolished in the District of Columbia by law of Congress, passed April 16, 1862.
President Lincoln's proclamation of January 1, 1863, emancipated all slaves in the seceded States (save in Tennessee and in parts of Louisiana and Virginia excepted therefrom) to the number of 3,063,395; those remaining were freed by the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution, December 18, 1865.
III DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
The Declaration of Independence, though accepted at once and to be regarded through all time by the liberty-loving world as the best and boldest declaration in favor of human rights, and the most pronounced protest against oppression of the human race, is totally silent as to the rights of the slaves in the colonies. It is true that Jefferson in his draft of this instrument, in the articles of indictment against King George III., used this language:
"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in the transportation thither, . . . determined to keep open a market where white men should be bought and sold; he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce."
To conciliate Georgia and South Carolina, this part of the indictment was struck out. These colonies had never sought to restrain, but had always fostered the slave trade. Jefferson, in his Autobiography (vol. i, p. 19), suggests that other sections sympathized with Georgia and South Carolina in this matter.
"Our Northern brethren . . . felt a little tender under these censures: for though their people had very few slaves themselves, yet they had been considerable carriers of them to others."
Jefferson said King George preferred the advantage:
"of a few British corsairs to the lasting interests of the American States and to the rights of human nature, deeply wounded by this infamous practice."(10)
While it is not true, as has often been claimed, that England is solely responsible for the introduction of slavery into her American colonies, it is true that her King and Parliament opposed almost every attempt to prohibit it or to restrict the importation of slaves. Colonial legislative enactments of Virginia and other colonies directed against slavery were vetoed by the King or by his command by his royal governors. Such governors were early forbidden to give their assent to any measure restricting slavery in the American colonies, and this policy was pursued until the colonies became independent.(11)
The treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States, signed at Paris, September 3, 1783, contained a stipulation that Great Britain should withdraw her armies from the United States "with all convenient speed, and without causing any destruction, or carrying away any negroes or other property of the American inhabitants." Both governments thus openly recognized, not only the existence of slavery in the United States, but that slaves were merely property.
While slavery was deeply seated in the colonies and had many advocates, including noted divines, who preached the "divinity of slavery," there were, in 1776, and earlier, many great men, South as well as North, who looked confidently to an early emancipation of slaves, and who were then active in suppressing the African slave trade, among whom were Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and the two Adamses.
Washington presided at a "Fairfax County Convention," before the Revolution. It resolved that "no slaves ought to be imported into any of the British colonies"; and Washington himself expressed "the most earnest wish to see an entire stop forever put to such a wicked, cruel, and unnatural trade."(12)
John Wesley, when fully acquainted with American slavery and the slave trade, pronounced the latter as "the execrable sum of all villanies," and he inveighed against the former as the wickedest of human practices.
The Continental Congress of 1776 resolved, "that no slaves be imported into any of the thirteen United Colonies."
There had then been imported by the cruel traffic above 300,000 blacks, bought or stolen from the African shore; and the blacks then constituted twenty per cent. of the total population, a greater per centum than at any time since.
During the century previous to 1776, English and colonial slavers had carried into the West Indies and to English colonies nearly 3,000,000 negroes; and it is estimated that a quarter of a million more died of cruel treatment on shipboard, and their bodies were cast into the sea.
The words of the Declaration: "We hold these truths to be self- evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," were not accepted in fact as a charter of freedom for the enslaved African, but it remained for a Chief-Justice of the United States (Taney) more than eighty years later (March 5, 1857), in the Dred Scott decision, that did so much (as we will hereafter show) to disrupt the Union, to say:
"The language used in the Declaration of Independence shows that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used."
And the Chief-Justice said further:
"They [the negroes] had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit."
Quoting the Declaration, "that all men are created equal," he continued:
"The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at this day would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this Declaration."
Notwithstanding this interpretation of the Declaration, free negroes fought for American independence at Bunker Hill; and although later it was decided that colored men should not be accepted as enlisted soldiers, General Washington did accept them, and thereafter they served in his army to the end of the war,(13) notably in large numbers at Yorktown.
The Royal Governor of Virginia in vain tried to induce slaves to revolt against their masters by promising them their freedom.
During Lord Howe's march through Pennsylvania it is said the slaves prayed for his success, believing he would set them free.
The British Parliament discussed a measure to set the slaves in the colonies free with a view to weaken their masters' ardor for freedom. In Rhode Island slaves were, by law, set free on condition that they enlisted in the army for the war.
(10) Parton's Life of Jefferson, p. 138.
(11) History Ready Reference, etc., vol. iv., p. 2923.
(12) Sparks's Life of Washington, vol. ii., p. 494.
(13) Bancroft, History of the United States, vol. iv., 223,322.
IV CONTINENTAL CONGRESS—ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION 1774-1789
The Continental Congress, which assembled for the first time, September 5, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, assumed few powers, and its proceedings were, until the adoption by it of the Declaration of Independence, little more than protests against British oppression. Nor was any central government formed on the adoption of the Declaration. That Congress continued, by common agreement, to direct affairs, though, in the beginning, possessing no delegated political or governmental powers.
Slavery existed in the colonies or States prior to the Declaration by the connivance of British colonial authorities without the sanction of and against English law; and after the Declaration, by mere toleration as an existing domestic institution, not even by virtue of express colonial or State authority.
In 1772 Lord Mansfield, from the Court of the King's Bench, announced that slavery could not exist under the English Constitution.
The Articles of Confederation did nothing more than formulate, in a weak way, a government for the United States, solely through a Congress to which was delegated little political power. This Congress continued to govern (if government it could be called) until the Constitution went into effect, March 4, 1789.
The "Articles of Confederation," adopted (July 9, 1778) by the Continental Congress of the thirteen original States in the midst of the Revolution, were substantially silent on slavery. They constituted in all respects a weak and impotent instrument. But they recognized the existence of slavery by speaking of free citizens (Art. 4).
They provided for a "Confederation and perpetual Union" between the thirteen States, but provided no power to raise revenue, levy taxes, or enforce law, save with the consent of nine of the States. The government created had power to contract debts, but no power to pay them; it could levy war, raise armies and navies, but it could not raise revenue to sustain them; it could make treaties, but could not compel their observance by the States; it could make laws, but could not enforce them.
Washington said of it:
"The Confederation appears to be little more than a shadow without the substance, and Congress a nugatory body."
Chief-Justice Story said:
"There was an utter want of all coercive authority to carry into effect its own constitutional measures."
The Articles were, professedly, not in the interest of the whole people.
They provided only for a "league" of states, guaranteeing to each state-rights in all things.
Art. IV. runs thus:
"The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States of this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States," etc.
What a classification of persons for exception from the privileges of government!
Free negroes were not of the excepted class. Nor were criminals, unless they became fugitives from justice.
For ten years the new Republic existed under these Articles by the tolerance of a people bound together by the spirit of liberty and the cohesion of patriotism.
The Articles created no status for slavery, nor did they interfere with it in the States. They made no provision for a fugitive-slave law, if, indeed, such a law was dreamed of until after the Constitution went into effect.
The Articles of Confederation provided no executive head, no supreme judiciary, and they provided for no perfect legislative body, organized on the principle of checks and restraints, possessed of true republican representation. Congress—the sole governing power —was composed of one body, each State sending not less than two or more than seven representatives. The voting in this body was done by States, each State having one vote.
It therefore soon became necessary to frame and adopt a new organic act, supplementing the many deficiencies of these Articles.
V ORDINANCE OF 1787
The memorable Congress of 1776 was willing to do much to the end that slavery might be restricted, hence, as we have seen, it resolved "that no slaves be imported into any of the thirteen United Colonies."
Had it been possible thus early to stop effectually the slave trade, and to prevent the extension of slavery to new territory, slavery would have died out. Jefferson sought, shortly after the treaty of peace, to prohibit slavery extension, and to this end he prepared and reported an Ordinance (1784) prohibiting slavery after the year 1800 in all the territory then belonging to the United States above the parallel of 31 deg. North latitude, which included what became the principal parts of the slave States of Alabama and Mississippi, all of Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as the whole Northwest Territory. In 1784 the United States owned no territory south of 31 deg. North latitude.
This Ordinance of freedom was lost by a single vote. Had that one vote been reversed, what a "hell of agony" would have been closed, and what a sea of blood would have been saved! Slavery would have died in the hands of its friends and the new Republic would have soon been free in fact as well as name.
Jefferson, though himself a slaveholder, was desperately in earnest in advocacy of this Ordinance, and, speaking of its prohibitory slave-clause two years later, he wrote:
"The voice of a single individual would have prevented that abominable crime. Heaven will not always be silent; the friends to the rights of human nature will in the end prevail."(14)
The most important victory for freedom in the civil history of the United States (until the Rebellion of 1861) was the Ordinance of 1787, reported by Nathan Dane,(15) of Massachusetts, as a substitute for the defeated one just referred to, but differing from it in two important respects:
(1) It applied only to the territory northwest of the River Ohio recently (March 1, 1784) ceded to the United States by Virginia;
(2) It prohibited slavery at once and forever therein. Its sixth section is in these words:
"There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."
But it has been, with much force, claimed by those who denied the binding character of this Ordinance, that as it was an act of the old Congress under the Articles of Confederation, and established a territorial form of government, not in all respects in conformity with the Constitution, it was necessarily superseded by it.
This view was general on the meeting of the First Congress (1789) under the Constitution, but the Ordinance, so dear to the hearts of Jefferson and other lovers of liberty, was early attended to.
On August 7, 1789, the eighth act of the First Congress, embodying a long explanatory and declaratory preamble, was passed, and approved by President Washington. This act in effect re-enacted the Ordinance of 1787, adapting and applying it, however, to the Constitution by requiring the Governor of the Northwest Territory to report and become responsible to the President of the United States, instead of to Congress as originally provided.(16)
The territory which the ordinance governed was in area 260,000 square miles, and included what is now the great states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, with, in 1890, 13,471,840 inhabitants.
The Ordinance is a model of perfection. It was the only great act of legislation under the Articles of Confederation. There is evidence that, as some members of the Congress that enacted the Ordinance were at the same time members of the Convention that framed the Constitution,(17) there was much intercommunication of views between the members of the two bodies, especially on the slavery clause of the Ordinance. It is probable that the clause of the Constitution respecting the rendition of slaves, as well as other provisions, was copied from the Ordinance.(18)
Upon the surpassing excellence of this Ordinance, no language of panegyric would be extravagant.
It is a matchless specimen of sagacious forecast. It provides for the descent of property, for the appointment of territorial officers, and for extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty by securing religious freedom in the inhabitants. It prohibits legislative interference with private contracts, secures the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus, trial by jury, and of the common law in judicial proceedings: it forbids the infliction of cruel or unusual punishments, and enjoins the encouragement of schools and the means of education.
The Ordinance has not only stood, unaltered, as the charter of government for the Northwest Territory, but its clause respecting slavery was incorporated into most of the acts passed prior to the Rebellion providing for territorial governments.
Historically, it will stand as the great Magna Charta, which, by the prescient wisdom of our fathers, dedicated in advance of the coming civilization the fertile and beautiful Northwest, with all its possibilities, for all time, to freedom, education, and liberty of conscience.
Frequent efforts to rescind or suspend the clause restricting slavery were made, especially after Indiana Territory was formed in 1800.
At the adoption of the Ordinance some slaves were held in what is now Indiana and Illinois by immigrants from Southern States. Slavery also existed at the Vincennes, Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and other French settlements, where it had been planted under the authority of the King of France while the territory was a part of the French possessions. The Government of Great Britain authorized the continuance of slavery when the territory was under its jurisdiction. Indians as well as black men were held as slaves in the French settlements.(19)
Immigrants and old inhabitants favorable to slavery united in memorials to Congress asking a suspension of the article prohibiting slavery. The first of these was reported on adversely by a committee of Congress, May 12, 1796. Governor William Henry Harrison, December, 1802, presided, at Vincennes, over a meeting of citizens of the Indiana Territory, at which it was resolved to make an effort to secure a suspension of this article. A memorial was drawn up, which Governor Harrison, with a letter of his own favoring it, forwarded to Congress. They were referred to a special committee, of which John Randolph, of Virginia, was chairman.
He, March 2, 1803, reported:
"That it is inexpedient to suspend, even for a limited time, the operation of the sixth article of the compact between the original States and the people and States west of the river Ohio."
Adding, by way of reason, that:
"The rapid population of the State of Ohio sufficiently evinces, in the opinion of your committee, that the labor of slaves is not necessary to promote the growth and settlement of the colonies in that region."
This did not end the effort to secure slavery in the Indiana Territory. In March, 1804, a special committee of Congress reported in favor of the suspension of the inhibition for ten years; a similar report was made in 1806 by Mr. Garnett, of Virginia; and in 1807 Mr. Parker, delegate from Indiana, reported favorably on a memorial of Governor Harrison and the Territorial Legislature, praying for a suspension of that part of the Ordinance relating to slavery. These reports were not acted on in the House. Subsequently, Governor Harrison and his Legislature appealed to the Senate and a special committee to suspend the article, but when the committee reported adversely, all efforts to break down the legal barrier to slavery in the Northwest Territory ceased.(20)
But notwithstanding the mandatory terms of the Ordinance, and the repeated failures in Congress to suspend the provision relating to slavery, it existed in the Northwest throughout its territorial existence and in the State of Illinois until 1844.(21) The early slaveholding inhabitants well understood the Ordinance to mean the absolute emancipation of their slaves, and hence manumitted them or commenced to remove them to the Spanish territory beyond the Mississippi. Some few of the inhabitants complained to Governor St. Clair that the inhibition against slavery retarded the growth of the Territory. He volunteered the opinion that the Ordinance was not retroactive; that it did not apply to existing conditions; that it was "a declaration of a principle which was to govern the Legislature in all acts respecting that matter (slavery) and the courts of justice in their decisions in cases arising after the date of the Ordinance"; and that if Congress had intended the immediate emancipation of slaves, compensation would have been provided for to their owners. But he admitted Congress "had the right to determine that property of that kind afterwards acquired should not be protected in future, and that slaves imported into the Territory after that declaration might reclaim their freedom."(22) This unfortunate opinion operated to continue slavery in the Territory, and fostered the idea that the sixth article might be annulled and slavery be made perpetual in the Territory. Governor St. Clair was President of the Congress when the Ordinance was passed, and his opinion in relation to it was therefore given much weight.
By Act of Congress, passed May 7, 1800, what is now the State of Ohio became the Territory of Ohio, and that part of the Northwest Territory lying west and north of Ohio was erected into the Territory of Indiana; by like Acts, January 11, 1805, the Territory of Michigan was formed, and February 3, 1809, all that part lying west of Indiana and Lake Michigan became the Territory of Illinois. Prior, however, to the last Act, the Legislature of Indiana Territory (September 17, 1807) passed an act "to encourage emigration," making it lawful to bring negroes and mulattoes into the Territory, "owing service or labor as slaves."
The act provided that these people and their children should be held for a term of years, and if they refused to serve as slaves they might be removed, "within sixty days thereafter," to any place where they could be lawfully held. This statute was substantially re-enacted by the Legislature of the Territory of Illinois in 1812.
The first Constitution (1818) of Illinois did not prohibit slavery. The first section of Article VI, declared that: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall hereafter be introduced into this State, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes." Slavery existed in Illinois after it became a State. The French and Canadian inhabitants or their descendants continued to hold colored and Indian slaves, and others were held under the Territorial Acts of 1807 and 1812. The old slaves and their descendants, held at the time of the cession by Virginia to the United States, were sold from hand to hand in the State, and transported to and sold in other slave States.(23)
The Constitution of Indiana (1816) prohibited slavery, but slaves were held therein until its Supreme Court in 1820, in a habeas corpus case, held the Constitution freed all persons hitherto held in bondage, including the old French slaves, regardless of the Ordinance of 1787, of the deed of cession of Virginia, or of any treaty stipulations.(24)
After the separation (1805) of Michigan from Indiana, the former's Territorial Chief Justice held slavery existed in Michigan by virtue of the Jay treaty (1796) with Great Britain (not otherwise) notwithstanding the Ordinance of 1787,(25) but Michigan's Constitution (1837) put an end to slavery in the State, as did also the Constitution (1802) of Ohio, likewise the Constitution (1848) of Wisconsin. Slaves shown by census reports in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin after they became States, were there by tolerance, not by legal right.
Whatever contrariety of views obtained, and regardless of the conflicting opinions of the courts or judges as to the effect of the great Ordinance on the condition of the slaves in the Northwestern Territory, certain it is that the Ordinance operated to prevent, after its date, the legal importation of slaves into the Territory, and hence resulted in each of the States formed therefrom becoming free States. In the light of history it seems certain that at least Indiana and Illinois would have become slave States but for the Ordinance.(26)
This Ordinance contained a clause requiring the rendition of fugitives from "service or labor," and being applicable to only a part of the Territory of the United States, partook of the nature of a compromise on the slavery question,(27) and was the first of a series of compromises, some of which are found in the Federal Constitution, others in the Act of 1820 admitting Missouri as a State, and also the Compromise Measures of 1850, in which Clay, Webster, Calhoun, Seward, and others of the great statesmen of the Union participated, all of which were, however, ruthlessly overthrown by the Nebraska Act (1854), of which Douglas, of Illinois, was the author.
The slavery-restriction section of the Ordinance was copied into and became a part of the Act of 1848 organizing the Territory of Oregon, the champions of slavery, then in Congress, voting therefor; and three years after the enactment of the Compromise Measures of 1850, this provision of the Ordinance was again extended over the newly organized Territory of Washington by the concurrent votes of substantially the same persons who voted, a year later, that all such legislation was unconstitutional.
But neither origin, age, nor precedent then sanctified anything in the interest of freedom,—slavery only could appeal to such things for justification. The propagators of human slavery were on the track of this Ordinance; they overtook and overthrew it by Congressional legislation in 1854; then by the Dred Scott decision of 1857, as we shall soon see. But it reappeared in principle, in 1862, as we shall also see, and spread its wings of universal liberty (as was its great author's purpose in 1784) over all the territory belonging to the United States, to remain irrepealable through time, immortalized by the approval of President Lincoln, and endorsed by the just judgment of enlightened mankind.
Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia each held territory not subject to the Ordinance of 1787.
North Carolina (December, 1789), in ceding her territory west of her present limits, provided that:
"No regulations made or to be made by Congress shall tend to emancipate slaves."
Thus Tennessee became a slave State.
A year later (1790) Virginia consented to relinquish her remaining territory; as Kentucky it was (June 1, 1792) admitted into the Union and became a slave State, without ever having a separate territorial organization.
Georgia, in 1802, ceded the territory on her west to the United States, and provided that the Ordinance of 1787 should extend to the ceded territory, "the article only excepted which forbids slavery." Thus, later, Alabama and Mississippi each became a slave State.(28)
(14) Jefferson's Works, vol. ix., 276.
(15) The authorship of the admirably-drawn Ordinance has been much in dispute. Thomas H. Benton, Gov. Edward Coles, and others attribute the authorship to Jefferson; Daniel Webster and others to Nathan Dane, while a son of Rufus King claimed him to be the author of the article prohibiting slavery. Wm. Frederick Poole, in a contribution to the North American Review, gives much of the credit of authorship to Mr. Dane, but the chief credit for the formation and the entire credit for the passage of the Ordinance to Dr. Manasseh Cutler, St. Clair Papers, vol. i, p. 122.
(16) On the continuing binding force of the Ordinance on States formed out of the Northwest Territory there has been some contrariety of opinion. In Ohio it was early held the Ordinance was more obligatory than the State Constitution, which might be amended by the people of the State, whereas the Ordinance could not. (5 Ohio, 410, 416.) But see: 10 Howard (U. S.), 82, and 3 Howard, 589.
(17) Madison of Virginia, Rufus King of New York, Johnson of Connecticut, Blount and Charles Pinckney of South Carolina, and Few of Georgia were members of both bodies.—Historical Ex., etc., Dred Scott Case (Benton), p. 37 n.
The Ordinance was adopted July 13, 1787; the Constitution was adopted by the Convention September 17, 1787.
(18) St. Clair Papers, vol. i, p. 134.
(19) Dunn's Indiana, p. 126.
(20) St. Clair Papers, vol. i, pp 120-1, note. Historical Ex., etc., Dred Scott Case, pp. 32-47, etc. Political Text Book, 1860 (McPherson), pp. 53-4.
(21) Not until 1844 did the highest court of Illinois decide (four to three) that a colored man, held as a slave by a descendant of an old French family, was free. Jarrot case (2 Gillman), 7 Ill., 1.
(22) St. Clair Papers, vol. i., pp. 120, 206, and vol. ii, pp. 117-119, 318, 331.
(23) Much valuable information in relation to the legal history of slavery in the Northwest has been obtained from the manuscript of "An Unwritten Chapter of Illinois," by ex-U. S. Judge Blodgett, of Chicago.
(24) State vs. Lasselle, 1 Blatchford, 60.
(25) Cooley's Michigan, pp. 136-7.
(26) For an exhaustive legal history of the slavery restriction clause of the Ordinance and its effect on slavery in the Northwest Territory, see Dunn's Indiana, pp. 219-260.
(27) St. Clair Papers, vol. i., p. 122, note.
(28) Political Text-Book, 1860 (McPherson), p. 53.
VI CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES
The Convention to frame the Constitution met in Philadelphia (1787). George Washington was its President; it was composed of the leading statesmen of the new nation, sitting in a delegate capacity, but in voting on measures the rule of the then Congress was observed, which was to vote by States.
The majority of the thirteen States were then slave States, and all, save Massachusetts, still held slaves; and all the coast States indulged in the African slave trade.
Massachusetts provided for the abolition of slavery in 1780 by constitutional provision declaring that:
"All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights," etc., by which declaration its highest judicial tribunal struck the shackles at once from every slave in the Commonwealth.
Connecticut provided in 1784 for freeing her slaves.
New Hampshire did not prohibit slavery by express law, but all persons born after her Constitution of 1776 were free; and slave importation was thereafter prohibited.
Pennsylvania, in 1780, by law provided for the gradual emancipation of slaves within her territory. To her German population and the Society of Friends the credit is mainly due for this act of justice. This Society had theretofore (1774) disowned, in its "yearly Meeting," all its members who trafficked in slaves; and later (1776) it resolved:
"That the owners of slaves, who refused to execute proper instruments for giving them their freedom, were to be disowned likewise."
New York adopted gradual emancipation in 1799, but final emancipation did not come until 1827.
Rhode Island, in the first year of the First Continental Congress (1774), enacted:
"That for the future no negro or mulatto slave shall be brought into the colony . . . and that all previously enslaved persons on becoming residents of Rhode Island should obtain their freedom."
New Jersey in 1778, through Governor Livingstone, made an attempt at emancipation which failed; it was not until 1804 that she prohibited slavery in what proved a qualified way, and it seems she held slaves at each census, including that of 1860, and possibly in some form human slavery was abolished there by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
The census of 1790 showed slaves in all the original States save Massachusetts alone; Vermont was admitted into the Union in 1790; her Constitution prohibited slavery, but she returned at that census seventeen slaves.
The first census under the Constitution, however, showed, in the Northern States, 40,370 slaves, and in the Southern States, 657,572; there being in Virginia alone 293,427, nearly one half of all.
The Convention closed its work September 17, 1787, and on the same date George Washington, its President, by letter submitted the "Constitution to the consideration of the United States in Congress assembled," saying:
"It is obviously impracticable in the Federal Government of these States to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each and yet provide for the interest and safety of all. . . . In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety; perhaps our national existence."
This Constitution by its preamble showed it was, in many things, to supersede and become paramount to State authority. It was to become a charter of freedom for the people collectively, and in some sense individually. Its preamble runs thus:
"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Nine States were, by its seventh article, necessary to ratify it before it went into effect.
The ratification of the Constitution, on various grounds, was fiercely opposed by many patriotic men, Patrick Henry among the number. Some thought it did not contain sufficient guarantees for individual freedom, others that private rights of property were not adequately secured, and still others that States were curtailed or abridged of their governmental authority and too much power was taken from the people and centered in the Federal Government. Mason, of Virginia, a member of the Convention that framed it, led a party who opposed it on the ground, among others, that it authorized Congress to levy duties on imports and to thus encourage home industries and manufactories, promotive of free labor, inimical and dangerous to human slavery. The best efforts and influence of Washington and other friends of the Constitution would not have been sufficient to secure its ratification had they not placated many of its enemies by promising to adopt, promptly on its going into effect, the amendments numbered one to ten inclusive. (The First Congress, September 25, 1789, submitted those ten amendments according to the agreement, and they were shortly thereafter ratified and became a part of the Constitution.)
By a resolution of the Old Congress, of September 13, 1788, March 4, 1789, was fixed as the time for commencing proceedings under the Constitution. At the date of this resolution eleven of the thirteen States had ratified it. North Carolina ratified it November 21, 1789, and Rhode Island, the last, on May 29, 1790.
Vermont, not of the original thirteen States, ratified the Constitution January 10, 1791, over a month prior to her admission into the Union. This latter event occurred February 18, 1791.
Thus fourteen States became, almost at the same time, members of the Union under the Constitution, and each and all of which then held or had theretofore held slaves.
Notwithstanding all this, there were many of the framers of the Constitution and its warmest friends who sincerely desired to provide for the early abolition of slavery, some by gradual emancipation, others by heroic measures; and there were many from the South who favored emancipation, while by no means all the leading and influential citizens of the Northern States desired it.
It may, however, be assumed, in the light of authentic history, that the majority of the framers of the Constitution, and a majority of its friends in the States, hoped and believed that slavery would not be permanent under it. In this belief it was framed. Slavery was not affirmatively recognized in it, though there was much discussion as to it in the Constitutional Convention. There was no attempt to abolish it; such an attempt would have failed in the Convention, and the Constitution, so necessary to the new nation, had it even provided for gradual emancipation, would not have been ratified by the States.
It can hardly be said that the Constitution was framed on the line of compromise as to the preservation of human slavery, though it was necessary, in some occult ways, to recognize its existence. This was in the nature, however, of a concession to it; the word slave or slavery was not used in it.
The Supreme Court of the United States, however, early interpreted the third clause of Section IV., Article 2, as providing for the return from one State to another of fugitive slaves. This interpretation has been, on high authority, and with much reason, in the light of history, stoutly denied. The clause reads:
"No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor is due."
The "service or labor" here referred to, it is claimed, was that owing by persons who were under indentures of some kind, growing out of contracts for transportation into the colonies of persons from the Old World, and possibly growing out of other contract obligations wherein they had agreed, for a long or short term, to perform "service or labor." Many such obligations then existed.
Slaves were not then nor since regarded by their owners as "persons" merely "held to service or labor," but they were held as personal chattels, owing no duty to their masters distinguishable from that owing by an ox, a horse, or an ass.
But the supreme judiciary and the executive and legislative departments of the government came soon to treat this as a fugitive- slave clause. It is only now interesting to examine its peculiar phraseology and the history and surrounding circumstances under which it became a part of the Constitution, to demonstrate the great care and desire of the eminent and liberty-loving framers of the Constitution to avoid the direct recognition of African slavery.
The only other clause in which the adherents of slavery claimed it was recognized is paragraph 3, Section 2, Article I., which provided that:
"Representation and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States . . . according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons."
The "other persons" referred to here, if only slaves, are very delicately described. But this clause, too, came to be recognized by all the departments of the government as referring to slaves. It is quite sure that if the good and plain men of the Revolutionary period had been dealing with a subject not shocking to their consciences, sense of justice, and humanity, they would have dealt with it in plain words, of direct and not doubtful import.
The clause of the Constitution giving representation in the House of Representative of Congress and in the Electoral College in the choice of President and Vice-President, came soon to be regarded as unjust to the free States. Three fifths of all slaves were counted to give representation to free persons of the South; that is, three fifths of all slave property was counted numerically, and thus, in many Congressional districts, the vote of one slaveholder was more than equal to two votes in a free State. For example, in 1850, the number of free inhabitants in the slave States was 6,412,605, and in the free States, 13,434,686, more than double. The representation in Congress from the slave States was 90 members, from the free States 144. Three fifths of the slaves were 1,920,182, giving the South 20 (a fraction more) members, the ratio of representation then being 93,420. If the 234 representatives had been apportioned equally, according to free inhabitants, the North would have had 159 and the South 75, a gain of fifteen to the free and a loss of that number to the slave States, a gain of 30 to the North.
The same injustice was shown in levying direct taxes. (All this, however, has been changed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.)
The same discriminating language is used (Sec. 9, Art. I.) when obviously referring to the African slave trade. A strong sentiment existed in favor of putting an end at once to the traffic in human being; the Christian consciences of our forefathers revolted at its wickedness, and there was then beginning a general movement throughout the civilized world against it. Some European countries had denounced it as piracy.
It was, however, profitable, and much capital was invested in it, and there was even then an increased demand for slaves in the cotton, rice, and tobacco States.
It was feared so radical a measure as the immediate stoppage of this trade would endanger the Constitution, and as to this, also, it was deemed wise to compromise; so Congress was prohibited from legislating to prevent it prior to the year 1808. This trade was not only then carried on by our own people, but, through ships of other countries, slaves were imported into the United States. Each State was left free to prohibit the importation of slaves within its limits.
We have now referred to all the clauses of the Constitution as originally adopted relating, by construction or possibility, to slavery or slave labor.
The Republic, under this great charter, set out upon the career of a nation, properly aspiring to become of the first among the powers of the earth, and succeeding in the higher sense in this ambition, it yet remains to be told how near our Republic came, in time, to the brink of that engulfing chasm which in past ages has swallowed up other nations for their wicked oppression and enslavement of man.
Slavery, thus delicately treated in our Constitution, brought that Republic, in less than three quarters of a century, to the throes of death, as we shall see.
VII CAUSES OF GROWTH OF SLAVERY
It may be well here, before speaking of slavery in its legislative history under the Constitution, to refer briefly to some of the more important causes of its growth and extension, other than political.
First in importance was cotton. It required cheap labor to cultivate it with profit, and even then, at first, it was not profitable. The invention by Whitney of the cotton-gin, in 1793, was the most important single invention up to that time in agriculture, if not the most important of any time, and especially is this true as affecting cotton planters.
Cotton was indigenous to America; the soil and climate of the South were well adapted to its growth. Its culture from the seed was there very easy, but the separation of the seed from the fibre was so slow that it required an average hand one day to secure one pound.
Whitney's cotton-gin, however, at once increased the amount from one to fifty pounds.
This invention came at a most opportune time for slavery in the United States, as the cheapness of rice, indigo, and other staples of the South were such as to prevent their large and profitable production even with the labor of slaves. Cotton was not, in 1794, the date of Jay's treaty with Great Britain, known to him as an article of export. Soon, by the use of the cotton-gin, cotton became the principal article of export from the United States; cotton plantations rapidly increased in size and number, and their owners multiplied their slaves and grew rich. Cotton production increased from 1793 to 1860 one thousand fold.
It is highly probably that Eli Whitney's cotton-gin operated to prevent the much-hoped-for early emancipation of slaves in America, and that thus the inventive genius of man was instrumental in forging the fetters of man.
Other products, such as rice and sugar, were successfully produced in the South, but the demand for them was limited by competition in other countries, in some of which slave labor was employed. The ease of producing cotton stimulated its common use throughout the world, and it soon became a necessary commodity in all civilized countries. "Cotton is king" was the cry of the slaveholder and the exporter. Southern aristocracy rested on it. In the more northern of the slave States, where cotton, on account of the climate, could not be successfully grown, the breeding of slaves with which to supply the cotton planters with the requisite number of hands became a source of great profit; and the slave trade was revived to aid in supplying the same great demand.
Tobacco and some of the cereals were also produced by slave labor, but they could be produced by free labor North as well as South. Of the above 3,000,000 slaves in the United States in 1850, it has been estimated that 1,800,000 were employed in the growth and preservation of cotton alone, and its value that year was $105,600,000, while the sugar product was valued, the same year, at only $12,400,000, and rice at $3,000,000. The total domestic exports for the year ending 1850 were $137,000,000, of which cotton reached $72,000,000, and all breadstuffs and provisions only $26,000,000.(29)
(29) DeBow's Resource, etc., vol. iii., p. 388.
VIII FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW—1793
Contemporaneous with the cotton-gin came, in 1793, the first fugitive- slave law.
The Constitution was not self-executing, if it really contained, as we have seen, a clause requiring escaped slaves to be surrendered from one State to their masters in another.
The Governor of the State of Virginia refused the rendition of three kidnappers of a free negro, on the requisition of the Governor of Pennsylvania, from which State he had been kidnapped, on the sole ground that no law required the surrender of fugitive slaves from Virginia. The controversy thus arising was called to the attention of President Washington and by him to Congress, and it ended by the passage of the first fugitive-slave act. It was for a time tolerably satisfactory to the different sections of the country, though in itself the most flagrant attempt to violate state-rights, judged from the more modern secession, state-rights standpoint, ever attempted by Federal authority.
It required state magistrates, who owed their offices solely to state law, to sit in judgment in fugitive-slave cases, and to aid in returning to slavery negroes claimed as slaves by masters from foreign States. The act provided for the return of fugitive apprentices as well as fugitive slaves.
In time the Northern States became free, and the public conscience in them became so changed that the magistrates were deterred or unwilling to act in execution of the law. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania each passed a law making it penal for any of their officers to perform any duties or to take cognizance of any case under the fugitive-slave law. Other States, through their judiciary, pronounced it unconstitutional, even some of the Federal judges doubted its consonance with the Constitution, but, such as it was, it lasted until 1850. It did not provide for a jury trial. The scenes enacted in its execution shocked the moral sense of mankind, and even the slaveholder often shrank from attempting its execution.
But it was not until about the time of the excitement of the fugitive- slave law of 1850 that the highest excitement prevailed in the North over its enforcement, and of this we shall speak hereafter.
IX SLAVE TRADE: ABOLISHED BY LAW
In the English Parliament, in 1776, the year of the Declaration of Independence, the first motion was made towards the abolition of the slave trade, long theretofore fostered by English kings and queens, but not until 1807 did the British moral sense rise high enough to pass, at Lord Granville's instance, the famous act for "the Abolition of the Slave Trade." As early as 1794 the United States prohibited their subjects from trading in slaves to foreign countries; and in 1807, they prohibited the importation of slaves into any of the States, to take effect at the beginning of 1808, the earliest time possible, as we have seen, under the Constitution. But it was not until 1820 that slave-traders were declared pirates, punishable as such.
The prohibition of the slave trade by law did not effectually end it, nor was the law declaring it piracy wholly effectual, though the latter did much, through the co-operation of other nations, to restrict it.
There were active movements in 1852 and 1858, in the South, to revive the African slave trade, and especially was there fierce opposition to the "piracy act." Jefferson Davis, at a convention in Mississippi, July, 1858, advocated the repeal of the latter act, but doubted the practicability then of abrogating the law prohibiting slave traffic.(30)
It is worthy of mention here that April 20th, eight days after Sumter was fired upon, Commander Alfred Taylor, commanding the United States naval ship Saratoga, in the port of Kabenda, Africa, captured the Nightingale of Boston, flying American colors, with a cargo of 961 recently captured, stolen, or purchased African negroes, destined to be carried to some American part and there sold into slavery. This human cargo was sent to the humane Rev. John Seys, at Monrovia, Liberia, to be provided for. One hundred and sixty died on a fourteen-days' sea-voyage, from ship-fever and confinement, though the utmost care was taken by Lieutenant Guthrie and the crew of the slaver for their comfort.(31)
The laws abolishing the foreign slave trade and prohibiting the introduction of African slaves (after 1807) into the United States even helped to rivet slavery more firmly therein. They more than doubled the value of a slave, and, therefore, incited slave-breeding to supply the increasing demand in the cotton States, and in time this proved so profitable that the South sought new territory whence slavery could be extended, and out of which slave States could be formed.
The "Declaration against the Slave Trade" of the world, signed by the representatives of the "Powers" at the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, and repeated at the Congress of Paris at the end of the Napoleonic wars, was potential enough to abate but not to end this most inhuman and sinful trade.(32)
Even as late as 1816, English merchants, supported by the corporations of London and Liverpool, through mercantile jealousy, and pretending to believe that the very existence of commerce on the seas and their own existence depended on the continuance of the slave trade, not only opposed the abolition of the black slave traffic, but they opposed the abolition of white slavery in Algiers.(33)
This nefarious traffic did not cease in the United States, although at the Treaty of Ghent (1815) it was declared that: "Whereas the traffic in slaves is irreconcilable with the principles of humanity and justice," and the two countries (Great Britain and the United States) therein stipulated to use their best endeavors to abolish it.
The revival of the slave trade was openly advocated by leading Southern politicians, and the illicit traffic greatly increased immediately after the admission into the Union of Texas as a State and the aggressions on Mexico for more slave territory, and especially just after the discussions over the Compromise measures of 1850 and the Nebraska Act of 1854, followed by the Dred Scott decision in 1857. It was principally carried on under the United States flag, the ships carrying it denying the right of search to foreign vessels engaged in suppressing the trade. British officials claimed in June, 1850, "that at least one half of the successful part of the slave trade was carried on under the American flag." The fitting out of slavers centred at New York city; Boston and New Orleans being good seconds. Twenty-one of twenty-two slavers taken by British cruisers in 1857-58 were from New York, Boston, and New Orleans.
"During eighteen months of the years 1859-60 eighty-five slavers are reported to have fitted out in New York harbor, and these alone transported from 30,000 to 60,000 slaves annually to America."(34)
The greed of man for gain has smothered and will ever smother the human conscience. The slave trade, under the denunciation of piracy, still exists, and will exist until African slavery ceases throughout the world. So long as there is a demand, at good prices, this wicked traffic will go on, and in the jungles of Africa there will be found stealers of human beings.
(30) Rhode's Hist. United States, vol. ii., p. 372.
(31) Official Records, etc., Navies of the War of the Rebellion, vol. i., p. 11.
(32) It stands to the eternal credit of Napoleon that on his return from Elba to Paris (1815) he decreed for France the total abolition of the slave-trade. This decree was confirmed by the Bourbon dynasty in 1818. Suppression of African Slave Trade U. S. (DuBois), p. 247.
(33) Osler's Life of Exmouth, p. 303; Slavery, Letters, etc., Horace Mann, p. 276.
(34) Sup. of African Slave Trade (DuBois) pp. 135, 178-9.
X LOUISIANA PURCHASE
In 1803, Napoleon, fearing that he could not hold his distant American possession, known as the Louisiana Province, acquired from Spain, and which by treaty was to be re-ceded to Spain and not disposed of to any other nation, put aside all scruples and good faith, and for 60,000,000 francs, on April 30th signed a treaty of cession of the vast territory, then mostly uninhabited, to the United States. This was in Jefferson's administration.
The United States bought this domain and its people just as they might buy unoccupied lands with animals on it.
It was early claimed as slave territory. There were only a few slaves within its limits when purchased, though slavery was recognized there. This purchase was a most important one, although at the time it was not so regarded.
The Louisiana Purchase was much greater, territorially speaking, than all the States then in the Union, with all its other possessions.(35)
It comprised what are now the States of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, nearly all of Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, large parts of Colorado and the Indian Territory, and a portion of Idaho. These States and Territories in 1890 contained 11,804,101 inhabitants.
At the time of this great acquisition a conviction prevailed that slavery was rapidly diminishing. Adams and Jefferson, each, while President, entertained the belief that slavery would, ere long, come to a peaceful end. It might then have been possible, by law of Congress, to devote this new region to freedom, but, as slavery existed at and around New Orleans in 1812 when the State of Louisiana was admitted into the Union, it became a slave State. This fate was largely due to the claim of its original inhabitants that they were secured the right to hold slaves by the treaty of cession from France.
Later on, the provision of this treaty, under which it was claimed slavery was perpetuated, was a subject of much discussion, and on it was founded the most absurd arguments on behalf of the slave power.
Its third article was the sole one referred to as fastening forever the institution of slavery on the inhabitants of this vast empire. There are those yet living who deny that, even under the present Constitution of the United States or the constitutions of the States since erected therein, slavery is lawfully excluded therefrom.
This article reads:
"The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States; and in the meantime they shall be maintained and protected in the enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion they profess."