The trade, domestic and foreign
by Henry Charles Carey
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Domestic and Foreign:





The subject discussed in the following pages is one of great importance, and especially so to the people of this country. The views presented for consideration differ widely from those generally entertained, both as regards the cause of evil and the mode of cure; but it does not follow necessarily that they are not correct,—as the reader may readily satisfy himself by reflecting upon the fact, that there is scarcely an opinion he now holds, that has not, and at no very distant period, been deemed quite as heretical as any here advanced. In reflecting upon them, and upon the facts by which they are supported, he is requested to bear in mind that the latter are, with very few exceptions, drawn from writers holding views directly opposed to those of the author of this volume; and not therefore to be suspected of any exaggeration of the injurious effects of the system here treated as leading to slavery, or the beneficial ones resulting from that here described as tending to establish perfect and universal freedom of thought, speech, action, and trade.

Philadelphia, March, 1853.


























Slavery still exists throughout a large portion of what we are accustomed to regard as the civilized world. In some countries, men are forced to take the chance of a lottery for the determination of the question whether they shall or shall not be transported to distant and unhealthy countries, there most probably to perish, leaving behind them impoverished mothers and sisters to lament their fate. In others, they are seized on the highway and sent to sea for long terms of years, while parents, wives, and sisters, who had been dependent on their exertions, are left to perish of starvation, or driven to vice or crime to procure the means of support. In a third class, men, their wives, and children, are driven from their homes to perish in the road, or to endure the slavery of dependence on public charity until pestilence shall Send them to their graves, and thus clear the way for a fresh supply of others like themselves. In a fourth, we see men driven to selling themselves for long periods at hard labour in distant countries, deprived of the society of parents, relatives, or friends. In a fifth, men, women, and children are exposed to sale, and wives are separated from husbands, while children are separated from parents. In some, white men, and, in others, black men, are subjected to the lash, and to other of the severest and most degrading punishments. In some places men are deemed valuable, and they are well fed and clothed. In others, man is regarded as "a drug" and population as "a nuisance;" and Christian men are warned that their duty to God and to society requires that they should permit their fellow-creatures to suffer every privation and distress, short of "absolute death," with a view to prevent the increase of numbers.

Among these various classes of slaves, none have recently attracted so much attention as those of the negro race; and it is in reference to that race in this country that the following paper has recently been circulated throughout England:—

"The affectionate and Christian Address of many thousands of the Women of England to their Sisters, the Women of the United States of America:

"A common origin, a common faith, and, we sincerely believe, a common cause, urge us at the present moment to address you on the subject of that system of negro slavery which still prevails so extensively, and, even under kindly-disposed masters, with such frightful results, in many of the vast regions of the Western World.

"We will not dwell on the ordinary topics—on the progress of civilization; on the advance of freedom everywhere; on the rights and requirements of the nineteenth century;—but we appeal to you very seriously to reflect, and to ask counsel of God, how far such a state of things is in accordance with His holy word, the inalienable rights of immortal souls, and the pure and merciful spirit of the Christian religion.

"We do not shut our eyes to the difficulties, nay, the dangers, that might beset the immediate abolition of that long-established system: we see and admit the necessity of preparation for so great an event. But, in speaking of indispensable preliminaries, we cannot be silent on those laws of your country which (in direct contravention of God's own law, instituted in the time of man's innocency) deny, in effect, to the slave, the sanctity of marriage, with all its joys, rights, and obligations; which separates, at the will of the master, the wife from the husband and the children from the parents. Nor can we be silent on that awful system which, either by statute or by custom, interdicts to any race of man, or any portion of the human family, education in the truths of the gospel and the ordinances of Christianity.

"A remedy applied to these two evils alone would commence the amelioration of their sad condition. We appeal, then, to you as sisters, as wives, and as mothers, to raise your voices to your fellow-citizens and your prayers to God, for the removal of this affliction from the Christian world. We do not say these things in a spirit of self-complacency, as though our nation were free from the guilt it perceives in others. We acknowledge with grief and shame our heavy share in this great sin. We acknowledge that our forefathers introduced, nay, compelled the adoption of slavery in those mighty colonies. We humbly confess it before Almighty God. And it is because we so deeply feel, and so unfeignedly avow our own complicity, that we now venture to implore your aid to wipe away our common crime and our common dishonour."

We have here a movement that cannot fail to be productive of much good. It was time that the various nations of the world should have their attention called to the existence of slavery within their borders, and to the manifold evils of which it was the parent; and it was in the highest degree proper that woman should take the lead in doing it, as it is her sex that always suffers most in that condition of things wherein might triumphs over right, and which we are accustomed to define as a state of slavery.

How shall slavery be abolished? This is the great question of our day. But a few years since it was answered in England by an order for the immediate emancipation of the black people held to slavery in her colonies; and it is often urged that we should follow her example. Before doing this, however, it would appear to be proper to examine into the past history and present situation of the negro race in the two countries, with a view to determine how far experience would warrant the belief that the course thus urged upon us would be likely to produce improvement in the condition of the objects of our sympathy. Should the result of such an examination be to prove that the cause of freedom has been advanced by the measures there pursued, our duty to our fellow-men would require that we should follow in the same direction, at whatever loss or inconvenience to ourselves. Should it, however, prove that the condition of the poor negro has been impaired and not improved, it will then become proper to enquire what have been in past times the circumstances under which men have become more free, with a view to ascertain wherein lies the deficiency, and why it is that freedom now so obviously declines in various and important portions of the earth. These things ascertained, it may be that there will be little difficulty in determining what are the measures now needed for enabling all men, black, white, and brown, to obtain for themselves, and profitably to all, the exercise of the rights of freemen. To adopt this course will be to follow in that of the skilful physician, who always determines within himself the cause of fever before he prescribes the remedy.



At the date of the surrender of Jamaica to the British arms, in 1655, the slaves, who were few in number, generally escaped to the mountains, whence they kept up a war of depredation, until at length an accommodation was effected in 1734, the terms of which were not, however, complied with by the whites—the consequences of which will be shown hereafter. Throughout the whole period their numbers were kept up by the desertion of other slaves, and to this cause must, no doubt, be attributed much of the bitterness with which the subsequent war was waged.

In 1658, the slave population of the island was 1400. By 1670 it had reached 8000, and in 1673, 9504.[1] From that date we have no account until 1734, when it was 86,546, giving an increase in sixty-one years of 77,000. It was in 1673 that the sugar-culture was commenced; and as profitable employment was thus found for labour, there can be little doubt that the number had increased regularly and steadily, and that the following estimate must approach tolerably near the truth:—

Say 1702, 36,000; increase in 29 years, 26,500 1734, 77,000; " " 32 " 41,000

In 1775, the total number of slaves and other coloured persons on the island, was................. 194,614 And if we now deduct from this the number in 1702, say........................................ 36,000 ———- We obtain, as the increase of 73 years............ 158,614 =======

In that period the importations amounted to......... 497,736 And the exportations to............................. 137,114 ———- Leaving, as retained in the island................ 360,622 [2]

or about two and two-fifths persons for one that then remained alive.

From 1783 to 1787, the number imported was 47,485, and the number exported 14,541;[3] showing an increase in five years of nearly 33,000, or 6,600 per annum; and by a report of the Inspector-General, it was shown that the number retained from 1778 to 1787, averaged 5345 per annum. Taking the thirteen years, 1775-1787, at that rate, we obtain nearly ........... 70,000

From 1789 to 1791, the excess of import was 32,289, or 10,763 per annum; and if we take the four years, 1788-1791, at the same rate, we obtain, as the total number retained in that period................. 43,000 ———- 113,000 =======

In 1791, a committee of the House of Assembly made a report on the number of the slaves, by which it was made to be 250,000; and if to this be added the free negroes, amounting to 10,000, we obtain, as the total number, 260,000,—showing an increase, in fifteen years, of 65,386—or nearly 48,000 less than the number that had been imported.

We have now ascertained an import, in 89 years, of 473,000, with an increase of numbers amounting to only 224,000; thus establishing the fact that more than half of the whole import had perished under the treatment to which they had been subjected. Why it had been so may be gathered from the following extract, by which it is shown that the system there and then pursued corresponds nearly with that of Cuba at the present time.

"The advocates of the slave trade insisted that it was impossible to keep up the stock of negroes, without continual importations from Africa. It is, indeed, very evident, that as long as importation is continued, and two-thirds of the slaves imported are men, the succeeding generation, in the most favourable circumstances, cannot be more numerous than if there had been only half as many men; or, in other words, at least half the men may be said, with respect to population, to die without posterity."—Macpherson, vol. iv. 148.

In 1792, a committee of the Jamaica House of Assembly reported that "the abolition of the slave trade" must be followed by the "total ruin and depopulation of the island." "Suppose," said they,

"A planter settling with a gang of 100 African slaves, all bought in the prime of life. Out of this gang he will be able at first to put to work, on an average, from 80 to 90 labourers. The committee will further suppose that they increase in number; yet, in the course of twenty years, this gang will be so far reduced, in point of strength, that he will not be able to work more than 30 to 40. It will therefore require a supply of 50 new negroes to keep up his estate, and that not owing to cruelty, or want of good management on his part; on the contrary, the more humane he is, the greater the number of old people and young he will have on his estate."—Macpherson, iv. 256.

In reference to this extraordinary reasoning, Macpherson says, very correctly—

"With submission, it may be asked if people become superannuated in twenty years after being in the prime of life; and if the children of all these superannuated people are in a state of infancy? If one-half of these slaves are women, (as they ought to be, if the planter looks to futurity,) will not those fifty women, in twenty years, have, besides younger children, at least one hundred grown up to young men and women, capable of partaking the labour of their parents, and replacing the loss by superannuation or death,— as has been the case with the working people in all other parts of the world, from the creation to this day?"

To this question there can be but one reply: Man has always increased in numbers where he has been well fed, well clothed, and reasonably worked; and wherever his numbers have decreased, it has been because of a deficiency of food and clothing and an excess of work.

It was at this period that the Maroon war was again in full activity, and so continued until 1796, when it was terminated by the employment of bloodhounds to track the fugitives, who finally surrendered, and were transported to Lower Canada, whence they were soon after sent to Sierra Leone.

From 1792 to 1799, the net import was 74,741; and if it continued at the same rate to 1808, the date of the abolition of the trade, the number imported in eighteen years would be nearly 150,000; and yet the number of slaves increased, in that period, from 250,000 to only 323,827—being an annual average increase of about 4500, and exhibiting a loss of fifty per cent.

In the thirty-four years, 1775-1808, the number of negroes added to the population of the island, by importation, would seem to have been more than 260,000, and within about 50,000 of the number that, a quarter of a century later, was emancipated.

In 1817, nine years after importation had been declared illegal, the number is stated [4] at 346,150; from which it would appear that the trade must have been in some measure continued up to that date, as there is no instance on record of any natural increase in any of the islands, under any circumstances. It is, indeed, quite clear that no such increase has taken place; for had it once commenced, it would have continued, which was not the case, as will be seen by the following figures:—

In 1817, the number was, as we see 346,150. In 1820, it was only 342,382; and if to this we add the manumissions for the same period, (1016,) we have a net loss of 2752.

In 1826, they had declined in numbers to 331,119, to which must be added 1848 manumissions—showing a loss, in six years, of 9415, or nearly three per cent.

The number shown by the last registration, 1833, was only 311,692; and if to this we add 2000 that had been manumitted, we shall have a loss, in seven years, of 19,275, or more than five per cent. In sixteen years, there had been a diminution of ten per cent., one-fifth of which may be attributed to manumission; and thus is it clearly established that in 1830, as in 1792, a large annual importation would have been required, merely to maintain the number of the population.

That the condition of the negroes was in a course of deterioration in this period, is clearly shown by the fact that the proportion of births to deaths was in a steady course of diminution, as is here shown:—

Registered: —————- 1817 to 1820............. 25,104 deaths, 24,348 births. 1823 to 1826............. 25,171 " , 23,026 " 1826 to 1829............. 25,137 " , 21,728 "

The destruction of life was thus proceeding with constantly accelerating rapidity; and a continuance of the system, as it then existed, must have witnessed the total annihilation of the negro race within half a century.

Viewing these facts, not a doubt can, I think, be entertained that the number of negroes imported into the island and retained for its consumption was more than double the number that existed there in 1817, and could scarcely have been less than 750,000, and certainly, at the most moderate estimate, not less than 700,000. If to these we were to add the children that must have been born on the island in the long period of 178 years, and then to reflect that all who remained for emancipation amounted to only 311,000, we should find ourselves forced to the conclusion that slavery was here attended with a destruction of life almost without a parallel in the history of any civilized nation.

With a view to show that Jamaica cannot be regarded as an unfavourable specimen of the system, the movement of population in other colonies will now be given.

In 1764, the slave population of ST. VINCENT'S was 7414. In 1787, twenty-three years after, it was 11,853, having increased 4439; whereas, in four only of those years, 1784-87, the net import of negroes had been no less than 6100.[5] In 1805, the number was 16,500, the increase having been 4647; whereas the net import in three only, out of eighteen years, had been 1937. What was the cause of this, may be seen by the comparative view of deaths, and their compensation by births, at a later period:—

Year 1822.................... 4205 deaths, 2656 births. " 1825.................... 2106 " 1852 " " 1828.................... 2020 " 1829 " " 1831.................... 2266 " 1781 "

The births, it will be observed, steadily diminished in number.

At the peace of 1763, DOMINICA contained 6000 slaves. The net amount of importation, in four years, 1784 to 1787, was 23,221;[6] and yet the total population in 1788 was but 14,967! Here we have a waste of life so far exceeding that of Jamaica that we might almost feel ourselves called upon to allow five imported for every one remaining on the island. Forty-four years afterwards, in 1832, the slave emancipation returns gave 14,834 as remaining out of the vast number that had been imported. The losses by death and the gains by births, for a part of the period preceding emancipation, are thus given:—

1817 to 1820................. 1748 deaths, 1433 births. 1820 to 1823................. 1527 " 1491 " 1823 to 1826................. 1493 " 1309 "

If we look to BRITISH GUIANA, we find the same results.[7]

In 1820, Demerara and Essequebo had a slave population of............................... 77,376 By 1826, it had fallen to......................... 71,382 And by 1832, it had still further fallen to....... 65,517

The deaths and births of this colony exhibit a waste of life that would be deemed almost incredible, had not the facts been carefully registered at the moment:—

1817 to 1820................. 7140 deaths, 4868 births. 1820 to 1823................. 7188 " 4512 " 1823 to 1826................. 7634 " 4494 " 1826 to 1829................. 5731 " 4684 " 1829 to 1832................. 7016 " 4086 "

We have here a decrease, in fifteen years, of fifteen per cent., or 12,000 out of 77,000. Each successive period, with a single exception, presents a diminished number of births, while the average of deaths in the last three periods is almost the same as in the first one.

BARBADOES had, in 1753, a slave population of 69,870. In 1817, sixty-four years after, although importation appears to have been regularly continued on a small scale, it amounted to only 77,493. In this case, the slaves appear to have been better treated than elsewhere, as here we find, in the later years, the births to have exceeded the deaths—the former having been, from 1826 to 1829, 9250, while the latter were 6814. There were here, also, in the same period, 670 manumissions.

In TRINIDAD, out of a total slave population of 23,537, the deaths, in twelve years, were no less than 8774, while the births were only 6001.

GRENADA surrendered to the British forces in 1762. Seven years after, in 1769, there were 35,000 negroes on the island. In 1778, notwithstanding the importation, they appear to have been reduced to 25,021.

In the four years from 1784 to 1787, and the three from 1789 to 1791, (the only ones for which I can find an account,) the number imported and retained for consumption on the island amounted to no less than 16,228;[8] and yet the total number finally emancipated was but 23,471. The destruction of life appears here to have been enormous; and that it continued long after the abolition of the slave trade, is shown by the following comparison of births and deaths:—

1817.......................... 451 births, 902 deaths. 1818.......................... 657 " 1070 "

The total births from 1817 to 1831, were 10,144 in number, while the deaths were 12,764—showing a loss of about ten per cent.

The number of slaves emancipated in 1834, in all the British possessions, was 780,993; and the net loss in the previous five years had been 38,811, or almost one per cent. per annum.

The number emancipated in the West Indies was 660,000; and viewing the facts that have been placed before the reader, we can scarcely err much in assuming that the number imported and retained for consumption in those colonies had amounted to 1,700,000. This would give about two and a half imported for one that was emancipated; and there is some reason to think that it might be placed as high as three for one, which would give a total import of almost two millions.

While thus exhibiting the terrific waste of life in the British colonies, it is not intended either, to assert or to deny any voluntary severity on the part of the landholders. They were, themselves, as will hereafter be shown, to a great extent, the slaves of circumstances over which they had no control; and it cannot be doubted that much, very much, of the responsibility, must rest on other shoulders.



In the North American provinces, now the United States, negro slavery existed from a very early period, but on a very limited scale, as the demand for slaves was mainly supplied from England. The exports of the colonies were bulky, and the whites could be imported as return cargo; whereas the blacks would have required a voyage to the coast of Africa, with which little trade was maintained. The export from England ceased after the revolution of 1688, and thenceforward negro slaves were somewhat more freely imported; yet the trade appears to have been so small as scarcely to have attracted notice. The only information on the subject furnished by Macpherson in his Annals of Commerce is that, in the eight months ending July 12, 1753, the negroes imported into Charleston, S. C., were 511 in number; and that in the year 1765-66, the value of negroes imported from Africa into Georgia was 14,820—and this, if they be valued at only 10 each, would give only 1482. From 1783 to 1787, the number exported from all the West India Islands to this country was 1392 [9] —being an average of less than 300 per annum; and there is little reason for believing that this number was increased by any import direct from Africa. The British West Indies were then the entrept of the trade,[10] and thence they were supplied to the other islands and the settlements on the Main; and had the demand for this country been considerable, it cannot be doubted that a larger portion of the thousands then annually exported would have been sent in this direction.

Under these circumstances, the only mode of arriving at the history of slavery prior to the first census, in 1790, appears to be to commence at that date and go forward, and afterwards employ the information so obtained in endeavouring to elucidate the operations of the previous period.

The number of negroes, free and enslaved, at that date, was.................................... 757,263 And at the second census, in 1801, it was......... 1,001,436

showing an increase of almost thirty-three per cent. How much of this, however, was due to importation, we have now to inquire. The only two States that then tolerated the import of slaves were South Carolina and Georgia, the joint black population of which, in 1790, was............................. 136,358 whereas, in 1800, it had risen to.................. 205,555 ———- Increase.......... 69,197 =======

In the same period the white population increased 104,762, requiring an immigration from the Northern slave States to the extent of not less than 45,000, even allowing more than thirty per cent. for the natural increase by births. Admitting, now, that for every family of five free persons there came one slave, this, would account for....................... 9,000 And if we take the natural increase of the slave population at only twenty-five per cent., we have further.............................................. 34,000 ——— Making a total from domestic sources of............ 43,000 And leaving, for the import from abroad............ 26,197

Deducting these from the total number added, we obtain, for the natural increase, about 29-1/2 per cent.

Macpherson, treating of this period, says—

"That importation is not necessary for keeping up the stock is proved by the example of North America—a country less congenial to the constitution of the negro than the West Indies—where, notwithstanding the destruction and desertion of the slaves occasioned by the war, the number of negroes, though perhaps not of slaves, has greatly increased—because, since the war they have imported very few, and of late years none at all, except in the Southern States."—Annals, vol. iv. 150.

The number of vessels employed in the slave trade, in 1795, is stated to have been twenty, all of them small; and the number of slaves to be carried was limited to one for each ton of their capacity.

From 1800 to 1810, the increase was 378,374, of which nearly 30,000 were found in Louisiana at her incorporation into the Union, leaving about 350,000 to come from other sources; being an increase of 35 per cent. In this period the increase of Georgia and South Carolina, the two importing States, was only 96,000, while that, of the white population was 129,073, carrying with them perhaps 25,000. If to this be added the natural increase at the rate of 25 per cent., we obtain about 75,000, leaving only 21,000 for importation. It is probable, however, that it was somewhat larger, and that it might be safe to estimate it at the same amount as in the previous period, making a total of about 52,000 in the twenty years. Deducting 26,000 from the 350,000, we obtain 324,000 as the addition from domestic sources, which would be about 32 per cent. on the population of 1800. This may be too high; and yet the growth of the following decennial period—one of war and great commercial and agricultural distress—was almost thirty per cent. In 1810, the number had been 1,379,800.

In 1820 it was 1,779,885; increase 30 per cent. " 1830 " 2,328,642; " 30.8 " " " 1840 " 2,873,703; " 24 " " " 1850 " 3,591,000; " 25 " " [11]

Having thus ascertained, as far as possible, the ratio of increase subsequent to the first census, we may now proceed to an examination of the course of affairs in the period which had preceded it.

In 1714, the number of blacks was 58,850, and they were dispersed throughout the provinces from New Hampshire to Carolina, engaged, to a large extent, in labours similar to those in which were engaged the whites by whom they were owned. One-half of them may have been imported. Starting from this point, and taking the natural increase of each decennial period at 25 per cent., as shown to have since been the case, we should obtain, for 1750, about 130,000. The actual quantity was 220,000; and the difference, 90,000, may be set down to importation. Adding, now, 25 percent, to 220,000, we obtain, for 1760, 275,000; whereas the actual number was 310,000, which Would give 35,000 for importation. Pursuing the same course with the following periods, we obtain the following results:—

Actual Natural Actual Years Number. Increase. Increase. Importation. ——- ———- ————- ————- —————— 1760..... 310,000..... 77,500..... 152,000..... 74,500 1770..... 462,000..... 115,500..... 120,000..... } 1780..... 582,000..... 140,500..... 170,000..... } 34,000 1790..... 752,000, number given by first census.

For a large portion of the period from 1770 to 1790, there must have been a very small importation; for during nearly half the time the trade with foreign countries was almost altogether suspended by the war of the revolution.

If we add together the quantities thus obtained, we shall obtain a tolerable approximation to the number of slaves imported into the territory now constituting the Union, as follows:—

Prior to 1714..................................... 30,000 1715 to 1750...................................... 90,000 1751 to 1760...................................... 35,000 1761 to 1770...................................... 74,500 1771 to 1790...................................... 34,000 And if we now estimate the import subsequent to 1790 at even........................ 70,000 ———- We obtain as the total number................... 333,500 =======

The number now in the Union exceeds 3,800,000; and even if we estimate the import as high as 380,000, we then have more than ten for one; whereas in the British Islands we can find not more than two for five, and perhaps even not more than one for three. Had the slaves of the latter been as well fed, clothed, lodged, and otherwise cared for, as were those of these provinces and States, their numbers would have reached seventeen or twenty millions. Had the blacks among the people of these States experienced the same treatment as did their fellows of the islands, we should now have among us less than one hundred and fifty thousand slaves.

The prices paid by the British Government averaged 25 per head. Had the number in the colonies been allowed to increase as they increased here, it would have required, even at that price, the enormous sum of................................ 500,000,000

Had the numbers in this country been reduced by the same process there practised, emancipation could now be carried out at cost of less than.. 4,000,000

To emancipate them now, paying for them at the same rate, would require nearly................ 100,000,000

or almost five hundred millions of dollars. The same course, however, that has increased their numbers, has largely increased their value to the owners and to themselves. Men, when well fed, well clothed, well lodged, and otherwise well cared for, always increase rapidly in numbers, and in such cases labour always increases rapidly in value; and hence it is that the average price of the negro slave of this country is probably four times greater than that which the planters of the West Indies were compelled to receive. Such being the case, it would follow that to pay for their full value would require probably four hundred millions of pounds sterling, or nearly two thousand millions of dollars.

It will now be seen that the course of things in the two countries has been entirely different. In the islands the slave trade had been cherished as a source of profit. Here, it had been made the subject of repeated protests on the part of several of the provinces, and had been by all but two prohibited at the earliest moment at which they possessed the power so to do. In the islands it was held to be cheaper to buy slaves than to raise them, and the sexes were out of all proportion to each other. Here, importation was small, and almost the whole increase, large as it has been, has resulted from the excess of births over deaths. In the islands, the slave was generally a barbarian, speaking an unknown tongue, and working with men like himself, in gangs, with scarcely a chance for improvement. Here, he was generally a being born on the soil, speaking the same language with his owner; and often working in the field with him, with many advantages for the development of his faculties. In the islands, the land-owners clung to slavery as the sheet-anchor of their hopes. Here, on the contrary, slavery had gradually been abolished in all the States north of Mason & Dixon's line, and Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky were all, at the date of emancipation in the islands, preparing for the early adoption of measures looking to its entire abolition. In the islands, the connection with Africa had been cherished as a means of obtaining cheap labour, to be obtained by fomenting discord among the natives. Here, on the contrary, had originated a grand scheme for carrying civilization into the heart of Africa by means of the gradual transplantation of some of the already civilized blacks. In the islands, it has been deemed desirable to carry out "the European policy," of preventing the Africans "from arriving at perfection" in the art of preparing their cotton, sugar, indigo, or other articles, "from a fear of interfering with established branches of commerce elsewhere."[12] Here, on the contrary, efforts had been made for disseminating among them the knowledge required for perfecting themselves in the modes of preparation and manufacture. In the islands, every thing looked toward the permanency of slavery. Here, every thing looked toward the gradual and gentle civilization and emancipation of the negro throughout the world. In the islands, however, by a prompt measure forced on the people by a distant government, slavery was abolished, and the planters, or their representatives in England, received twenty millions of pounds sterling as compensation in full for the services of the few who remained in existence out of the large number that had been imported. Here, the planters are now urged to adopt for themselves measures of a similar kind. The whole course of proceeding in the two countries in reference to the negro having been so widely different, there are, however, difficulties in the way that seem to be almost insuperable. The power to purchase the slaves of the British colonies was a consequence of the fact that their numbers had not been permitted to increase. The difficulty of purchasing them here is great, because of their having been well fed, well clothed, and otherwise well provided for, and having therefore increased so rapidly. If, nevertheless, it can be shown that by abandoning the system under which the negro race has steadily increased in numbers and advanced towards civilization, and adopting that of a nation under whose rule there has been a steady decline of numbers, and but little, if any, tendency toward civilization, we shall benefit the race, it will become our duty to make the effort, however great may be the cost. With a view to ascertain how far duty may be regarded as calling upon us now to follow in the footsteps of that nation, it is proposed to examine into the working of the act by which the whole negro population of the British colonies was, almost at once and without preparation, invested with the right to determine for whom they would work and what should be their wages—or were, in other words, declared to be free.



The harmony of the universe is the result of a contest between equal and opposing powers. The earth is attracted to the sun and from the sun; and were either of these forces to be diminished or destroyed, chaos would be the inevitable result. So is it everywhere on the earth. The apple falls toward the centre of the earth, but in its passage it encounters resistance; and the harmony of every thing we see around us is dependent on the equal balance of these opposing forces. So is it among men. The man who has food to sell wishes to have a high price for it, whereas, he who needs to buy desires to have it cheaply; and the selling price depends on the relation between the necessity to buy on one hand, or to sell on the other. Diminish suddenly and largely the competition for the purchase of food, and the farmer becomes the prey of the mechanic. Increase it suddenly and largely, and the mechanic becomes the prey of the farmer; whereas a gradual and gentle increase in the demand for food is accompanied by a similar increase in the demand for the products of the loom and the anvil, and both farmer and mechanic prosper together, because the competition for purchase and the competition for sale grow together and balance each other. So, too, with labour. Wages are dependent upon the relation between the number of those who desire to buy and to sell labour. Diminish suddenly the number of those who desire to sell it, and the farmer may be ruined. Diminish suddenly the number of those who desire to buy it, and the labourer may become the slave of the farmer.

For almost two centuries, men possessed of capital and desirous to purchase labour had been induced to transfer it to the colonies, and the government secured to them the right to obtain labourers on certain specified terms—such terms as made the labourer a mere instrument in the hands of the capitalist, and prevented him from obtaining any of those habits or feelings calculated to inspire him with a love for labour. At once, all control over him was withdrawn, and the seller of labour was converted into the master of him who was thus, by the action of the government, placed in such a situation that he must buy it or be ruined. Here was a disturbance of the order of things that had existed, almost as great as that which occurs when the powerful steam, bursting the boiler in which it is enclosed, ceases to be the servant and becomes the master of man; and it would have required but little foresight to enable those who had the government of this machine to see that it must prove almost as ruinous.

How it operated in Southern Africa, where the slave was most at home, is shown by the following extracts from the work of a recent traveller and settler in that colony:—[13]

"The chain was broken, and the people of England hurraed to their heart's content. And the slave! What, in the meanwhile, became of him? If he was young and vicious, away he went—he was his own master. He was at liberty to walk to and fro upon the earth, 'seeking whom he might devour.' He was free: he had the world before him where to choose, though, squatted beside the Kaffir's fire, probably thinking his meal of parched corn but poor stuff after the palatable dishes he had been permitted to cook for himself in the Boer's or tradesman's kitchen. But he was fain to like it—he could get nothing else—and this was earned at the expense of his own soul; for it was given him as an inducement to teach the Kaffir the easiest mode of plundering his ancient master. If inclined to work, he had no certain prospect of employment; and the Dutch, losing so much by the sudden Emancipation Act, resolved on working for themselves. So the virtuous, redeemed slave, had too many temptations to remain virtuous: he was hungry—so was his wife—so were his children; and he must feed them. How? No matter."

These people will work at times, but they must have wages that will enable them to play much of their time.

"When we read of the distress of our own country, and of the wretched earnings of our mechanics, we are disgusted at the idea of these same Fingoes striking work (as Coolies) at Waterloo Bay, being dissatisfied with the pay of 2s. a day. As their services are necessary in landing cargo, their demand of 3s. a day has been acceded to, and they have consented to work when it suits them!—for they take occasional holidays, for dancing and eating. At Algoa Bay, the Fingoes are often paid 6s. a day for working as Coolies."

These men have all the habits of the savage. They leave to the women the tilling of the ground, the hoeing of the corn, the carrying of water, and all the heavy work; and to the boys and old men the tending of the cattle, while they themselves spend the year in hunting, dancing, eating, and robbing their neighbours—except when occasionally they deem it expedient to do a few days' work at such wages as they may think proper to dictate.

How it has operated in the West Indies we may next inquire, and with that view will take Jamaica, one of the oldest, and, until lately, one of the most prosperous of the colonies. That island embraces about four millions of acres of land, "of which," says Mr. Bigelow,—

"There are not, probably, any ten lying adjacent to each other which are not susceptible of the highest cultivation, while not more than 500,000 acres have ever been reclaimed, or even appropriated."[14]

"It is traversed by over two hundred streams, forty of which are from twenty-five to one hundred feet in breadth; and, it deserves to be mentioned, furnish water-power sufficient to manufacture every thing produced by the soil, or consumed by the inhabitants. Far less expense than is usually incurred on the same surface in the United States for manure, would irrigate all the dry lands of the island, and enable them to defy the most protracted droughts by which it is ever visited."[15]

The productiveness of the soil is immense. Fruits of every variety abound; vegetables of every kind for the table, and Indian corn, grow abundantly. The island is rich in dyestuffs, drugs, and spices of the greatest value; and the forests furnish the most celebrated woods in the greatest variety. In addition to this, it possesses copper-mines inferior to none in the world, and coal will probably be mined extensively before many years. "Such," says Mr. Bigelow,—

"Are some of the natural resources of this dilapidated and poverty-stricken country. Capable as it is of producing almost every thing, and actually producing nothing which might not become a staple with a proper application of capital and skill, its inhabitants are miserably poor, and daily sinking deeper and deeper into the utter helplessness of abject want.

"'Magnas inter opes inops.'

"Shipping has deserted her ports; her magnificent plantations of sugar and coffee are running to weeds; her private dwellings are falling to decay; the comforts and luxuries which belong to industrial prosperity have been cut off, one by one, from her inhabitants; and the day, I think, is at hand when there will be none left to represent the wealth, intelligence, and hospitality for which the Jamaica planter was once so distinguished."

The cause of all this, say the planters, is that wages are too high for the price of sugar. This Mr. Bigelow denies—not conceding that a shilling a day is high wages; but all the facts he adduces tend to show that the labourer gives very little labour for the money he receives; and that, as compared with the work done, wages are really far higher than in any part of the Union. Like the Fingo of Southern Africa, he can obtain from a little patch of land all that is indispensably necessary for his subsistence, and he will do little more work than is needed for accomplishing that object. The consequence of this is that potatoes sell for six cents a pound, eggs from three to five cents each, milk at eighteen cents a quart, and corn-meal at twelve or fourteen dollars a barrel; and yet there are now more than a hundred thousand of these small proprietors, being almost one for every three people on the island. All cultivators, they yet produce little to sell, and the consequence of this is seen in the fact that the mass of the flour, rice, corn, peas, butter, lard, herrings, &c. needed for consumption requires to be imported, as well as all the lumber, although millions of acres of timber are to be found among the unappropriated lands of the island.

It is impossible to read Mr. Bigelow's volume, without arriving at the conclusion that the freedom granted to the negro has had little effect except that of enabling him to live at the expense of the planter so long as any thing remained. Sixteen years of freedom did not appear to its author to have "advanced the dignity of labour or of the labouring classes one particle," while it had ruined the proprietors of the land; and thus great damage had been done to the one class without benefit of any kind to the other. From a statistical table published in August last, it appears, says the New York Herald, that since 1846—

"The number of sugar-estates on the island that have been totally abandoned amounts to one hundred and sixty-eight, and the number partially abandoned to sixty-three; the value of which two hundred and thirty-one estates was assessed, in 1841, at 1,655,140, or nearly eight millions and a half of dollars. Within the same period, two hundred and twenty-three coffee-plantations have been totally, and twenty partially abandoned, the assessed value of which was, in 1841, 500,000, or two millions and a half of dollars; and of cattle-pens, (grazing-farms,) one hundred and twenty-two have been totally, and ten partially abandoned, the value of which was a million and a half of dollars. The aggregate value of these six hundred and six estates, which have been thus ruined and abandoned in the island of Jamaica, within the last seven or eight years, amounted by the regular assessments, ten years since, to the sum of nearly two and a half millions of pounds sterling, or twelve and a half million of dollars."

As a necessary consequence of this, "there is little heard of," says Dr. King, "but ruin."[16] "In many districts," he adds—

"The marks of decay abound. Neglected fields, crumbling houses, fragmentary fences, noiseless machinery—these are common sights, and soon become familiar to observation. I sometimes rode for miles in succession over fertile ground which used to be cultivated, and which is now lying waste. So rapidly has cultivation retrograded, and the wild luxuriance of nature replaced the conveniences of art, that parties still inhabiting these desolated districts, have sometimes, in the strong language of a speaker at Kingston, 'to seek about the bush to find the entrance into their houses.'

"The towns present a spectacle not less gloomy. A great part of Kingston was destroyed, some years ago, by an extensive conflagration: yet multitudes of the houses which escaped that visitation are standing empty, though the population is little, if at all diminished. The explanation is obvious. Persons who have nothing, and can no longer keep up their domestic establishments, take refuge in the abodes of others, where some means of subsistence are still left: and in the absence of any discernible trade or occupation, the lives of crowded thousands appear to be preserved from day to day by a species of miracle. The most busy thoroughfares of former times have now almost the quietude of a Sabbath."

"The finest land in the world," says Mr. Bigelow, "may be had at any price, and almost for the asking." Labour, he adds, "receives no compensation, and the product of labour does not seem to know how to find the way to market." Properties which were formerly valued at 40,000 would not now command 4000, and others, after having been sold at six, eight, or ten per cent. of their former value, have been finally abandoned.

The following is from a report made in 1849 and signed by various missionaries:—

"Missionary efforts in Jamaica are beset at the present time with many and great discouragements. Societies at home have withdrawn or diminished the amount of assistance afforded by them to chapels and schools throughout this island. The prostrate condition of its agriculture and commerce disables its own population from doing as much as formerly for maintaining the worship of God and the tuition of the young, and induces numbers of negro labourers to retire from estates which have been thrown up, to seek the means of subsistence in the mountains, where they are removed in general from moral training and superintendence. The consequences of this state of matters are very disastrous. Not a few missionaries and teachers, often struggling with difficulties which they could not overcome, have returned to Europe, and others are preparing to follow them. Chapels and schools are abandoned, or they have passed into the charge of very incompetent instructors."—Quoted in King's Jamaica, p. 111.

Population gradually diminishes, furnishing another evidence that the tendency of every thing is adverse to the progress of civilization. In 1841, the island contained a little short of 400,000 persons. In 1844, the census returns gave about 380,000; and a recent journal states that of those no less than forty thousand have in the last two years been carried off by cholera, and that small-pox, which has succeeded that disease, is now sweeping away thousands whom that disease had spared. Increase of crime, it adds, keeps pace with the spread of misery throughout the island.

The following extracts from a Report of a Commission appointed in 1850 to inquire into the state and prosperity of Guiana, are furnished by Lord Stanley in his second letter to Mr. Gladstone, [London, 1851.]

Of Guiana generally they say—

"'It would be but a melancholy task to dwell upon the misery and ruin which so alarming a change must have occasioned to the proprietary body; but your Commissioners feel themselves called upon to notice the effects which this wholesale abandonment of property has produced upon the colony at large. Where whole districts are fast relapsing into bush, and occasional patches of provisions around the huts of village settlers are all that remain to tell of once flourishing estates, it is not to be wondered at that the most ordinary marks of civilization are rapidly disappearing, and that in many districts of the colony all travelling communication by land will soon become utterly impracticable.'

"Of the Abary district—

"'Your Commissioners find that the line of road is nearly impassable, and that a long succession of formerly cultivated estates presents now a series of pestilent swamps, overrun with bush, and productive of malignant fevers.'

"Nor are matters," says Lord Stanley, "much better farther south—

"'Proceeding still lower down, your Commissioners find that the public roads and bridges are in such a condition, that the few estates still remaining on the upper west bank of Mahaica Creek are completely cut off, save in the very dry season; and that with regard to the whole district, unless something be done very shortly, travelling by land will entirely cease. In such a state of things it cannot be wondered at that the herdsman has a formidable enemy to encounter in the jaguar and other beasts of prey, and that the keeping of cattle is attended with considerable loss, from the depredations committed by these animals.

"It may be worth noticing," continues Lord Stanley, "that this district, now overrun with wild beasts of the forest; was formerly the very garden of the colony. The estates touched one another along the whole line of the road, leaving no interval of uncleared land.

"The east coast, which is next mentioned by the Commissioners, is better off. Properties once of immense value had there been bought at nominal prices, and the one railroad of Guiana passing through that tract, a comparatively industrious population, composed of former labourers on the line, enabled the planters still to work these to some profit. Even of this favoured spot, however, they report that it 'feels most severely the want of continuous labour.' The Commissioners next visit the east bank of the Demerara river, thus described:—

"'Proceeding up the east bank of the river Demerary, the generally prevailing features of ruin and distress are everywhere perceptible. Roads and bridges almost impassable are fearfully significant exponents of the condition of the plantations which they traverse; and Canal No. 3, once covered with plantains and coffee, presents now a scene of almost total desolation.'

"Crossing to the west side, they find prospects somewhat brighter: 'a few estates' are still 'keeping up a cultivation worthy of better times.' But this prosperous neighbourhood is not extensive, and the next picture presented to our notice is less agreeable:—

"'Ascending the river still higher, your Commissioners learn that the district between Hobaboe Creek and 'Stricken Heuvel' contained, in 1829, eight sugar and five coffee and plantain estates, and now there remain but three in sugar and four partially cultivated with plantains by petty settlers: while the roads, with one or two exceptions, are in a state of utter abandonment. Here, as on the opposite bank of the river, hordes of squatters have located themselves, who avoid all communication with Europeans, and have seemingly given themselves up altogether to the rude pleasures of a completely savage life.'

"The west coast of Demerara—the only part of that country which still remains unvisited—is described as showing only a diminution of fifty per cent. upon its produce of sugar: and with this fact the evidence concludes as to one of the three sections into which the colony is divided. Does Demerara stand alone in its misfortune? Again hear the report:—

"'If the present state of the county of Demerara affords cause for deep apprehension, your Commissioners find that Essequebo has retrograded to a still more alarming extent. In fact, unless a large and speedy supply of labour be obtained to cultivate the deserted fields of this once-flourishing district, there is great reason to fear that it will relapse into total abandonment.'"

Describing another portion of the colony—

"They say of one district, 'unless a fresh supply of labour be very soon obtained, there is every reason to fear that it will become completely abandoned.' Of a second, 'speedy immigration alone can save this island from total ruin.' 'The prostrate condition of this once beautiful part of the coast,' are the words which begin another paragraph, describing another tract of country. Of a fourth, 'the proprietors on this coast seem to be keeping up a hopeless struggle against approaching ruin. Again, 'the once famous Arabian coast, so long the boast of the colony, presents now but a mournful picture of departed prosperity. Here were formerly situated some of the finest estates in the country, and a large resident body of proprietors lived in the district, and freely expended their incomes on the spot whence they derived them.' Once more, the lower part of the coast, after passing Devonshire Castle to the river Pomeroon, presents a scene of almost total desolation.' Such is Essequebo!"

"Berbice," says Lord Stanley, "has fared no better: its rural population amounts to 18,000. Of these, 12,000 have withdrawn from the estates, and mostly from the neighbourhood of the white man, to enjoy a savage freedom of ignorance and idleness, beyond the reach of example and sometimes of control. But, on the condition of the negro I shall dwell more at length hereafter; at present it is the state of property with which I have to do. What are the districts which together form the county of Berbice? The Corentyne coast—the Canje Creek—East and West banks of the Berbice River—and the West coast, where, however, cotton was formerly the chief article produced. To each of these respectively the following passages, quoted in order, apply:—

"'The abandoned plantations on this coast,[17] which if capital and labour could be procured, might easily be made very productive, are either wholly deserted or else appropriated by hordes of squatters, who of course are unable to keep up at their own expense the public roads and bridges, and consequently all communication by land between the Corentyne and New Amsterdam is nearly at an end. The roads are impassable for horses or carriages, while for foot-passengers they are extremely dangerous. The number of villagers in this deserted region must be upward of 2500, and as the country abounds with fish and game, they have no difficulty in making a subsistence; in fact, the Corentyne coast is fast relapsing into a state of nature.'

"'Canje Creek was formerly considered a flourishing district of the county, and numbered on its east bank seven sugar and three coffee estates, and on its west bank eight estates, of which two were in sugar and six in coffee, making a total of eighteen plantations. The coffee cultivation has long since been entirely abandoned, and of the sugar estates but eight still now remain. They are suffering severely for want of labour, and being supported principally by African and Coolie immigrants, it is much to be feared that if the latter leave and claim their return passages to India, a great part of the district will become abandoned.'

"'Under present circumstances, so gloomy is the condition of affairs here,[18] that the two gentlemen whom your Commissioners have examined with respect to this district, both concur in predicting "its slow but sure approximation to the condition in which civilized man first found it.'"

"'A district [19] that in 1829, gave employment to 3635 registered slaves, but at the present moment there are not more than 600 labourers at work on the few estates still in cultivation, although it is estimated there are upwards of 2000 people idling in villages of their own. The roads are in many parts several feet under water, and perfect swamps; while in some places the bridges are wanting altogether. In fact, the whole district is fast becoming a total wilderness, with the exception of the one or two estates which yet continue to struggle on, and which are hardly accessible now but by water.'

"'Except in some of the best villages,[20] they care not for back or front dams to keep off the water; their side-lines are disregarded, and consequently the drainage is gone; while in many instances the public road is so completely flooded that canoes have to be used as a means of transit. The Africans are unhappily following the example of the Creoles in this district, and buying land, on which they settle in contented idleness; and your Commissioners cannot view instances like these without the deepest alarm, for if this pernicious habit of squatting is allowed to extend to the immigrants also, there is no hope for the colony.'"

Under these circumstances it is that the London Times furnishes its readers with the following paragraph,—and as that journal cannot be regarded as the opponent of the classes which have lately controlled the legislation of England, we may feel assured that its information is to be relied upon:—

"Our legislation has been dictated by the presumed necessities of the African slave. After the Emancipation Act, a large charge was assessed upon the colony in aid of civil and religious institutions for the benefit of the enfranchised negro, and it was hoped that those coloured subjects of the British Crown would soon be assimilated to their fellow-citizens. From all the information which has reached us, no less than from the visible probabilities of the case, we are constrained to believe that these hopes have been falsified. The negro has not obtained with his freedom any habits of industry or morality. His independence is little better than that of an uncaptured brute. Having accepted none of the restraints of civilization, he is amenable to few of its necessities, and the wants of his nature are so easily satisfied, that at the present rate of wages he is called upon for nothing but fitful or desultory exertion. The blacks, therefore, instead of becoming intelligent husbandmen, have become vagrants and squatters, and it is now apprehended that with the failure of cultivation in the island will come the failure of its resources for instructing or controlling its population. So imminent does this consummation appear, that memorials have been signed by classes of colonial society, hitherto standing aloof from politics, and not only the bench and the bar, but the bishop, clergy, and the ministers of all denominations in the island, without exception, have recorded their conviction that in the absence of timely relief, the religious and educational institutions of the island must be abandoned, and the masses of the population retrograde to barbarism."

The Prospective Review, (Nov. 1852,) seeing what has happened in the British colonies, and speaking of the possibility of a similar course of action on this side of the Atlantic, says—

"We have had experience enough in our own colonies, not to wish to see the experiment tried elsewhere on a larger scale. It is true that from some of the smaller islands, where there is a superabundance of negro population and no room for squatters, the export of sugar has not been diminished: it is true that in Jamaica and Demerara, the commercial distress is largely attributable to the folly of the planters—who doggedly refuse to accommodate themselves to the new state of things, and to entice the negroes from the back settlements by a promise of fair wages. But we have no reason to suppose that the whole tragi-comedy would not be re-enacted in the Slave States of America, if slavery were summarily abolished by act of Congress to-morrow. Property among the plantations consists only of land and negroes: emancipate the negroes—and the planters have no longer any capital for the cultivation of the land. Put the case of compensation: though it be difficult to see whence it could come: there is every probability that the planters of Alabama, accustomed all their lives to get black labour for nothing, would be as unwilling to pay for it as their compeers in Jamaica: and there is plenty of unowned land on which the disbanded gangs might settle and no one question their right. It is allowed on all hands that the negroes as a race will not work longer than is necessary to supply the simplest comforts of life. It would be wonderful were it otherwise. A people have been degraded and ground down for a century and a half: systematically kept in ignorance for five generations of any needs and enjoyments beyond those of the savage: and then it is made matter of complaint that they will not apply themselves to labour for their higher comforts and more refined luxuries, of which they cannot know the value!"

The systematic degradation here referred to is probably quite true as regards the British Islands, where 660,000 were all that remained of almost two millions that had been imported; but it is quite a mistake to suppose it so in regard to this country, in which there are now found ten persons for every one ever imported, and all advancing by gradual steps toward civilization and freedom; and yet were the reviewer discoursing of the conduct of the Spanish settlers of Hispaniola, he could scarcely speak more disparagingly of them than he does in regard to a people that alone has so treated the negro race as to enable it to increase in numbers, and improve in its physical, moral, and intellectual condition. Had he been more fully informed in relation to the proceedings in the British colonies, and in these colonies and states, he could scarcely have ventured to assert that "the responsibility of having degraded the African race rests upon the American people,"—the only people among whom they have been improved. Nevertheless, it is right and proper to give due weight to all opinions in regard to the existence of an evil, and to all recommendations in regard to the mode of removal, let them come from what source they may; and the writer of the article from which this passage is taken is certainly animated by a somewhat more liberal and catholic spirit than is found animating many of his countrymen.

That the English system in regard to the emancipation of the negro has proved a failure is now admitted even by those who most warmly advocated the measures that have been pursued. "There are many," says the London Times, "who think that, with proper regulations, and particularly with a system for the self-enfranchisement of slaves, we might have brought about the entire emancipation of the British West Indies, with much less injury to the property of the planter and to the character of the negro than have resulted from the Abolition Act. Perhaps," it continues, "the warning will not be lost on the Americans, who may see the necessity of putting things in train for the ultimate abolition of slavery, and thereby save the sudden shock which the abolitionists may one day bring on all the institutions of the Union and the whole fabric of American society."

The Falmouth [Jamaica] Post, of December 12, 1852, informs us that, even now, "in every parish of the island preparations are being made for the abandonment of properties that were once valuable, but on which cultivation can no longer be continued." "In Trelawny," it continues, "many estates have been thrown up during the last two years, and the exportation to the United States of America, within a few months, of upward of 80,000 tons of copper, which was used for the manufacture of sugar and rum, is one of the 'signs of the times,' to which the attention of the legislature should be seriously directed, in providing for the future maintenance of our various institutions, both public and parochial. Unless the salaries of all official characters are reduced, it will be utterly impossible to carry on the government of the colony."

Eighty thousand tons of machinery heretofore used in aid of labour, or nearly one ton for every four persons on the island, exported within a few months! The Bande Noire of France pulled down dwelling-houses and sold the materials, but as they left the machinery used by the labourers, their operations were less injurious than have been those of the negroes of Jamaica, the demand for whose labour must diminish with every step in the progress of the abandonment of land and the destruction of machinery. Under such circumstances we can feel little surprise at learning that every thing tends towards barbarism; nor is it extraordinary that a writer already quoted, and who is not to be suspected of any pro-slavery tendencies, puts the question, "Is it enough that they [the Americans] simply loose their chain and turn them adrift lower," as he is pleased to say, "than they found them?"[21] It is not enough. They need to be prepared for freedom. "Immediate emancipation," as he says, "solves only the simplest forms of the problem."

The land-owner has been ruined and the labourer is fast relapsing into barbarism, and yet in face of this fact the land-owners of the Southern States are branded throughout the world as "tyrants" and "slave-breeders," because they will not follow in the same direction. It is in face of this great fact that the people of the North are invited to join in a crusade against their brethren of the South because they still continue to hold slaves, and that the men of the South are themselves so frequently urged to assent to immediate and unconditional emancipation.

In all this there may be much philanthropy, but there is certainly much error,—and with a view to determine where it lies, as well as to show what is the true road to emancipation, it is proposed to inquire what has been, in the various countries of the world, the course by which men have passed from poverty to wealth, from ignorance and barbarism to civilization, and from slavery to freedom. That done, we may next inquire for the causes now operating to prevent the emancipation of the negro of America and the occupant of "the sweater's den" in London; and if they can once be ascertained, it will be then easy to determine what are the measures needful to be adopted with a view to the establishment of freedom throughout the world.



The first poor cultivator is surrounded by land unoccupied. The more of it at his command the poorer he is. Compelled to work alone, he is a slave to his necessities, and he can neither roll nor raise a log with which to build himself a house. He makes himself a hole in the ground, which serves in place of one. He cultivates the poor soil of the hills to obtain a little corn, with which to eke out the supply of food derived from snaring the game in his neighbourhood. His winter's supply is deposited in another hole, liable to injury from the water which filters through the light soil into which alone he can penetrate. He is in hourly danger of starvation. At length, however, his sons grow up. They combine their exertions with his, and now obtain something like an axe and a spade. They can sink deeper into the soil; and can cut logs, and build something like a house. They obtain more corn and more game, and they can preserve it better. The danger of starvation is diminished. Being no longer forced to depend for fuel upon the decayed wood which was all their father could command, they are in less danger of perishing from cold in the elevated ground which, from necessity, they occupy. With the growth of the family new soils are cultivated, each in succession yielding a larger return to labour, and they obtain a constantly increasing supply of the necessaries of life from a surface diminishing in its ratio to the number to be fed; and thus with every increase in the return to labour the power of combining their exertions is increased.

If we look now to the solitary settler of the West, even where provided with both axe and spade, we shall see him obtaining, with extreme difficulty, the commonest log hut. A neighbour arrives, and their combined efforts produce a new house with less than half the labour required for the first. That neighbour brings a horse, and he makes something like a cart. The product of their labour is now ten times greater than was that of the first man working by himself. More neighbours come, and new houses are needed. A "bee" is made, and by the combined effort of the neighbourhood the third house is completed in a day; whereas the first cost months, and the second weeks, of far more severe exertion. These new neighbours have brought ploughs and horses, and now better soils are cultivated, and the product of labour is again increased, as is the power to preserve the surplus for winter's use. The path becomes a road. Exchanges increase. The store makes its appearance. Labour is rewarded by larger returns, because aided by better machinery applied to better soils. The town grows up. Each successive addition to the population brings a consumer and a producer. The shoemaker desires leather and corn in exchange for his shoes. The blacksmith requires fuel and food, and the farmer wants shoes for his horses; and with the increasing facility of exchange more labour is applied to production, and the reward of labour rises, producing new desires, and requiring more and larger exchanges. The road becomes a turnpike, and the wagon and horses are seen upon it. The town becomes a city, and better soils are cultivated for the supply of its markets, while the railroad facilitates exchanges with towns and cities yet more distant. The tendency to union and to combination of exertion thus grows with the growth of wealth. In a state of extreme poverty it cannot be developed. The insignificant tribe of savages that starves on the product of the superficial soil of hundreds of thousands of acres of land, looks with jealous eye on every intruder, knowing that each new mouth requiring to be fed tends to increase the difficulty of obtaining subsistence; whereas the farmer rejoices in the arrival of the blacksmith and the shoemaker, because they come to eat on the spot the corn which heretofore he has carried ten, twenty, or thirty miles to market, to exchange for shoes for himself and his horses. With each new consumer of his products that arrives he is enabled more and more to concentrate his action and his thoughts upon his home, while each new arrival tends to increase his power of consuming commodities brought from a distance, because it tends to diminish his necessity for seeking at a distance a market for the produce of his farm. Give to the poor tribe spades, and the knowledge how to use them, and the power of association will begin. The supply of food becoming more abundant, they hail the arrival of the stranger who brings them knives and clothing to be exchanged for skins and corn; wealth grows, and the habit of association—the first step toward civilization—arises.

The little tribe is, however, compelled to occupy the higher lands. The lower ones are a mass of dense forests and dreary swamps, while at the foot of the hill runs a river, fordable but for a certain period of the year. On the hillside, distant a few miles, is another tribe; but communication between them is difficult, because, the river bottom being yet uncleared, roads cannot be made, and bridges are as yet unthought of. Population and wealth, however, continue to increase, and the lower lands come gradually into cultivation, yielding larger returns to labour, and enabling the tribe to obtain larger supplies of food with less exertion, and to spare labour to be employed for other purposes. Roads are made in the direction of the river bank. Population increases more rapidly because of the increased supplies of food and the increased power of preserving it, and wealth grows still more rapidly. The river bank at length is reached, and some of the best lands are now cleared. Population grows again, and a new element of wealth is seen in the form of a bridge; and now the two little communities are enabled to communicate more freely with each other. One rejoices in the possession of a wheelwright, while the other has a windmill. One wants carts, and the other has corn to grind. One has cloth to spare, while the other has more leather than is needed for its purpose. Exchanges increase, and the little town grows because of the increased amount of trade. Wealth grows still more rapidly, because of new modes of combining labour, by which that of all is rendered more productive. Roads are now made in the direction of other communities, and the work is performed rapidly, because the exertions of the two are now combined, and because the machinery used is more efficient. One after another disappear forests and swamps that have occupied the fertile lands, separating ten, twenty, fifty, or five hundred communities, which now are brought into connection with each other; and with each step labour becomes more and more productive, and is rewarded with better food, clothing, and shelter. Famine and disease disappear, life is prolonged, population is increased, and therewith the tendency to that combination of exertion among the individuals composing these communities, which is the distinguishing characteristic of civilization in all nations and in all periods of the world. With further increase of population and wealth, the desires of man, and his ability to gratify them, both increase. The nation, thus formed, has more corn than it needs; but it has no cotton, and its supply of wool is insufficient. The neighbouring nation has cotton and wool, and needs corn. They are still divided, however, by broad forests, deep swamps, and rapid rivers. Population increases, and the great forests and swamps disappear, giving place to rich farms, through which broad roads are made, with immense bridges, enabling the merchant to transport his wool and his cotton to exchange with his now-rich neighbours for their surplus corn or sugar. Nations now combine their exertions, and wealth grows with still increased rapidity, facilitating the drainage of marshes, and thus bringing into activity the richest soils; while coal-mines cheaply furnish the fuel for converting limestone into lime, and iron ore into axes and spades, and into rails for the new roads needed for transporting to market the vast products of the fertile soils now in use, and to bring back the large supplies of sugar, tea, coffee, and the thousand other products of distant lands with which intercourse now exists. At each step population and wealth and happiness and prosperity take a new bound; and men realize with difficulty the fact that the country, which now affords to tens of millions all the necessaries, comforts, conveniences, and luxuries of life, is the same that, when the superabundant land was occupied by tens of thousands only, gave to that limited number scanty supplies of the worst food; so scanty that famines were frequent and sometimes so severe that starvation was followed in its wake by pestilence, which, at brief intervals, swept from the earth the population of the little and scattered settlements, among which the people were forced to divide themselves when they cultivated only the poor soils of the hills.

The course of events here described is in strict accordance with the facts observed in every country as it has grown in wealth and population. The early settlers of all the countries of the world are seen to have been slaves to their necessities—and often slaves to their neighbours; whereas, with the increase of numbers and the increased power of cultivation, they are seen passing from the poorer soils of the hills to the fertile soils of the river bottoms and the marshes, with constant increase in the return to labour, and constantly increasing power to determine for themselves for whom they will work, and what shall be their reward. This view is, however, in direct opposition to the theory of the occupation of land taught in the politico-economical school of which Malthus and Ricardo were the founders. By them we are assured that the settler commences always on the low and rich lands, and that, as population increases, men are required to pass toward the higher and poorer lands—and of course up the hill—with constantly diminishing return to labour, and thus that, as population grows, man becomes more and more a slave to his necessities, and to those who have power to administer to his wants, involving a necessity for dispersion throughout the world in quest of the rich lands upon which the early settler is supposed to commence his operations. It is in reference to this theory that Mr. J. S. Mill says—

"This general law of agricultural industry is the most important proposition in political economy. If the law were different, almost all the phenomena of the production and distribution of wealth would be other than they are."

In the view thus presented by Mr. Mill there is no exaggeration. The law of the occupation of the land by man lies at the foundation of all political economy; and if we desire to know what it is that tends to the emancipation of the people of the earth from slavery, we must first satisfy ourselves that the theory of Messrs. Malthus and Ricardo has not only no foundation in fact, but that the law is directly the reverse, and tends, therefore, toward the adoption of measures directly opposed to those that would he needed were that theory true. The great importance of the question will excuse the occupation of a few minutes of the reader's attention in placing before him some facts tending to enable him to satisfy himself in regard to the universality of the law now offered for his consideration. Let him inquire where he may, he will find that the early occupant did not commence in the flats, or on the heavily timbered-land, but that he did commence on the higher land, where the timber was lighter, and the place for his house was dry. With increasing ability, he is found draining the swamps, clearing the heavy timber, turning up the marl, or burning the lime, and thus acquiring control over more fertile soils, yielding a constant increase in the return to labour. Let him then trace the course of early settlement, and he will find that while it has often followed the course of the streams, it has always avoided the swamps and river bottoms. The earliest settlements of this country were on the poorest lands of the Union—those of New England. So was it in New York, where we find the railroads running through the lower and richer, and yet uncultivated, lands, while the higher lands right and left have long been cultivated. So is it now in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio. In South Carolina it has been made the subject of remark, in a recent discourse, that their predecessors did not select the rich lands, and that millions of acres of the finest meadow-land in that State still remain untouched. The settler in the prairies commences on the higher and drier land, leaving the wet prairie and the slough—the richest soil—for his successors. The lands below the mouth of the Ohio are among the richest in the world; yet they are unoccupied, and will continue so to be until wealth and population shall have greatly increased. So is it now with the low and rich lands of Mexico. So was it in South America, the early cultivation of which was upon the poor lands of the western slope, Peru and Chili, while the rich lands of the Amazon and the La Plata remained, as most of them still remain, a wilderness. In the West Indies, the small dry islands were early occupied, while Porto Rico and Trinidad, abounding in rich soils, remained untouched. The early occupants of England were found on the poorer lands of the centre and south of the kingdom, as were those of Scotland in the Highlands, or on the little rocky islands of the Channel. Mona's Isle was celebrated while the rich soil of the Lothians remained an almost unbroken mass of forest, and the morasses of Lancashire were the terror of travellers long after Hampshire had been cleared and cultivated. If the reader desire to find the birthplace of King Arthur and the earliest seat of English power, he must look to the vicinity of the royal castle of Tintagel, in the high and dry Cornwall. Should he desire other evidence of the character of the soil cultivated at the period when land abounded and men were few in number, he may find it in the fact that in some parts of England there is scarcely a hill top that does not bear evidence of early occupation,[22] and in the further fact that the mounds, or barrows, are almost uniformly composed of stone, because those memorials "are found most frequently where stone was more readily obtained than earth."[23] Caesar found the Gauls occupying the high lands surrounding the Alps, while the rich Venetia remained a marsh. The occupation of the Campagna followed long after that of the Samnite hills, and the earliest settlers of the Peloponnesus cultivated the high and dry Arcadia, while the cities of the Argive kings of the days of Homer, Mycenae and Tiryns, are found in eastern Argolis, a country so poor as to have been abandoned prior to the days of the earliest authentic history. The occupation of the country around Mero, and of the Thebaid, long preceded that of the lower lands surrounding Memphis, or the still lower and richer ones near Alexandria. The negro is found in the higher portions of Africa, while the rich lands along the river courses are uninhabited. The little islands of Australia, poor and dry, are occupied by a race far surpassing in civilization those of the neighbouring continent, who have rich soils at command. The poor Persia is cultivated, while the rich soils of the ancient Babylonia are only ridden over by straggling hordes of robbers.[24] Layard had to seek the hills when he desired to find a people at home. Affghanistan and Cashmere were early occupied, and thence were supplied the people who moved toward the deltas of the Ganges and the Indus, much of both of which still remains, after so many thousands of years, in a state of wilderness. Look where we may, it is the same. The land obeys the same great and universal law that governs light, power, and heat. The man who works alone and has poor machinery must cultivate poor land, and content himself with little light, little power, and little heat, and those, like his food, obtained in exchange for much labour; while he who works in combination with his fellow-men may have good machinery, enabling him to clear and cultivate rich land, giving him much food, and enabling him to obtain much light, much heat, and much power, in exchange for little labour. The first is a creature of necessity—a slave—and as such is man universally regarded by Mr. Ricardo and his followers. The second is a being of power—a freeman—and as such was man regarded by Adam Smith, who taught that the more men worked in combination with each other, the greater would be the facility of obtaining food and all other of the necessaries and comforts of life—and the more widely they were separated, the less would be the return to labour and capital, and the smaller the power of production, as common sense teaches every man must necessarily be the case.

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